pressed tofu with garlic mint sauce

After all my dietary sins this week, I atoned for it with this meal. I felt quite virtuous about it, too; a good Catholic enjoys doing penance. The tofu was quite tasty–slightly lemon-y, mint-y, and garlic-y.  It’s a tad redder than it should be because I got over-enthusiastic with the paprika. Nevertheless,  I enjoyed the garlic mint sauce, but I would ramp up the flavors, as I have noted in the recipe. I like to follow a recipe exactly the first time I try it, but I was a bit alarmed by the directions in the original. It said to press the tofu  while it was cooking by weighting it down with another skillet and a large can of tomatoes. My top skillet got hot and I worried about heating an unopened can of tomatoes. It’s far safer to press the tofu before cooking, so I’ve given directions how to do this.

Pressed Tofu with Garlic Mint Sauce

Ingredients:

2 packs firm tofu, cut into 3/4 inch slices
4-6 cloves garlic
1 1/2 -2 teaspoons salt
1/4 – 1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
lemon zest from 1 lemon
3 tbs lemon juice (half a lemon)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 cup vegetable broth

Directions:

1. In a large bowl or dish, make the marinade. First, mash garlic and salt together into a paste. Combine with mint, lemon zest, lemon juice, paprika, and 1/2 cup vegetable broth and mix. Set aside.

2. Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels and place tofu in a single layer on top. Cover the tofu with more paper towels. Place another large rimmed baking sheet on top of the paper towels. Weight down the baking sheet with canned goods or books or both. Let sit for 20 minutes until tofu slices are flattened and the paper towels are soaked.

3. Place tofu slices into marinade, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

4. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Heat skillet on medium.  Gently shake tofu slices to shake off excess marinade, and place them in the pan to brown, about 4 minutes per side. You may need to do this in batches. Save the marinade.

5. After you remove the last batch of tofu, add the reserved marinade and the remaining 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Simmer until the sauce is reduced by one third. Pour garlic-mint sauce over the tofu slices. Serve with hot rice and eat Chinese-style with chopsticks!

Moroccan grilled chicken and sautéed peas with shallot and mint

I was enjoying the sunny cool weather on Broadway last Sunday afternoon when I came across a street fair on the east side of 103rd Street. At the very first table I looked at I found this George Foreman grill  marked $5.00. The lady said, oh, no, it’s more than that. She wanted ten. I figured she had bought it at another street fair for $5.00 and now she was selling it at 100% markup. The thing had never been opened and never been used. I figured $10.00 was still a steal so I bought it.

Moroccan Spiced Grilled Chicken Breasts (from Simply Recipes)
INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts

METHOD
1 Mix the marinade ingredients (yogurt, cilantro, olive oil, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper) together in a medium sized bowl. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and thoroughly coat with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator from 6 to 10 hours.
2 . Grill the chicken breasts until cooked through, about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes in the Foreman grill. Take care not to overcook, as chicken breasts can easily dry out.

Honestly, this recipe had a very light flavor. That’s probably because I only marinated the chicken for 45 minutes instead of the recommended 6-10 hours. This website didn’t give the nutrition information so I can’t begin to estimate the number of calories, fat, protein, and sodium that are in it. In the Foreman grill, I could only cook each chicken breast one at a time. I discovered that I had to wipe the grill plates once halfway through cooking the fillets because charred bits tended to stick to the chicken. The grill was slanted so that the  fats and juices ran down into the little trough that came with the grill. This bargain Foreman grill performed very well; the chicken was tender and juicy. I think I got my $10.00 worth. I’d make this again but I would marinate the chicken longer.

Sautéed Peas with Shallot and Mint (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
Serves 4
I made some changes to this recipe because the amount of salt in it is alarming. Two things to remember: it isn’t necessary to thaw the frozen peas first and the purpose of adding the lemon juice is to prevent the peas from turning brown. But mine did anyway.  However, the lemon imparted a light flavor that enhanced the sweetness of the peas. The mint wasn’t too strong; next time I will buy mint from Whole Foods. Their herbs tend to be fresher but more expensive.  I would make this again because the peas were firm enough to chew but not creamy soft. I liked that.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon) (I used red onion)
Salt (omit salt if using chicken broth)
1-2 garlic clove(s), minced
1 pound frozen baby peas (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water
1/4 teaspoon sugar (I left this out)
1/4 cup fresh mint, minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Dash of Mrs. Dash’s Italian Medley (I added this to compensate for the low salt)
Pepper

  1. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the shallot and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in the peas, broth or water, and sugar, if using. Cover and cook until the peas are bright green and just heated through, 3-5 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking.
  3. Stir in the mint and butter until incorporated. Turn off the heat. Stir in the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Per serving: Cal 130; Fat 4g; Sat fat 2g; Chol 10mg; Carb 17g; Protein 7g; Fiber 5g; Sodium 110mg (will vary if you use water instead of broth)


Jamaican mint-ginger tea

When I was a girl in Jamaica, my mother used to make this tea. I had forgotten how good it is because it’s not the same as a peppermint tea, which I abhor. I had a bunch of mint sitting in the fridge. After chiffonading a few of the leaves for a tzatziki sauce I was left with the problem of what to do with the rest. Solution: mint-ginger tea!

2 cups fresh mint leaves with stems, washed and picked over
1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and crushed
4 cups boiling water
sugar, optional

I cut off the brown tips on the leaves and trimmed the stems. Then I put the mint and ginger in a one-quart saucepan. After pouring boiling water all over the leaves and ginger, I covered the pan and heated it over medium high heat.  When it came to a boil, I turned off the heat. I strained the tea into a tea pot.  You can sweeten it to taste if you wish. The leaves and ginger can be used again. Not sure how many times they can be re-used but I got two pots of tea out of them!

Jamaican Mint-Ginger Tea