Monday, August 6, 2018

Teriyaki Tofu with Green Bean Ceviche and Tomato Salad

The Riverview Farmers Market is a weekly event that takes place every Sunday in the Heights of Jersey City. It features anywhere from three to five local farmers, an organic meat guy (who I think also serves as the butcher), a honey guy, food trucks, bands, and a bunch of stuff to keep kids occupied. For us home cooks, it also serves as a set palette for what veggies are peaking and which ones are coming into season.
Often, I'll run into neighbors and friends who know of my affinity for cooking veggies and they'll ask what I'm doing with this week's selection.
The truth is, not much, or more accurately, as little as necessary.
I liked the way the green beans, corn, red cabbage, and tomatoes looked this week, so for Sunday night I made a simple tomato salad with olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped parsley; green bean civiche with toasted sesame seeds and nuts; and teriyaki-marinated tofu. Pictures below:

I am going to try to make this a weekly thing, so until next week...

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Vegetarisches Deutsches Essen? Ja!

It seems that everywhere one looks these days another beer garden is popping up, and personally, I couldn't be happier. Afterall, one of my top three favorite dishes of all time was served at a bar in northern Germany.
It was 2006 and A bunch of family and friends went to the World Cup and spent our first three days in the town of Bad Herrenalb, mostly at a tavern called The Hobbit Hole. The Hobbit Hole was down the cobblestone street, across the park, and over the footbridge (probably built pre-renaissance) from our hotel. It was a dark (yet clean) bar located in an old Tudor-style row house in the center of town. Everything (from what I recall) was cooked and served in cast-iron skillets, directly out of the oven, delivered by a pair of hands in heat-resistant gloves, usually with a smile, definitely with a full stein.
I love the simplicity of traditional German food and this dish was no exception. Roasted cubes of turkey, pepper-blackened halved mushrooms, spatzle (linked for proper pronunciation—one time I actually got yelled at by an old German woman for mispronouncing it), and a silky pan gravy. It was simple, properly seasoned, and went perfectly with beer and soccer, which is probably the main reason I ordered it five out of nine Bad Herrenalb meals. I used to have a good photo of the dish—double paned, one side just served/one side just finished; unfortunately, it was lost to Superstorm Sandy a few years back.
I wanted my wife and son who are strict vegetarians (and good sports for accompanying me to local beer gardens where their selection is minimal at best) to experience legit German food. This is what I came up with: Salted and dehydrated tofu schnitzel served with rosemary-roasted potatoes, a cucumber and dill salad (gurkensalat), and a dollop of lingonberry sauce. I sliced and salted the tofu for a few hours and patted them dry; then an egg wash, a breadcrumb dredging, and directly into the fryer.
The gurkensalat was super easy; mandolin the cucumber (two large), slice the onion (one small), chop the dill (hand-full), and add all to a bowl; then, equal parts olive oil and vinegar (1/3 of a cup) and equal parts salt and sugar (1.5 tsp). Toss and let sit in the refrigerator for about an hour.
The potatoes were par-boiled in salty water for about 10 minutes, tossed in olive oil and herbs and spices and roasted in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees, removed from the oven, and tossed in the olive oil/herb/spice mix again. The lingonberry sauce was complements of Ikea. :-)
I made this for the first time two months back, and since then has been recreated-by-request at least a half-dozen times. Now that I think about it, the way my son and wife react to this dish is pretty much the exact way I reacted to the food at Hobbit Hole. Prost!!