Category Archives: Dinner

Spicy Cold Tofu Tacos

One of my favorite food cultures in the world is Korean.  With the introduction of peppers via Japan via Portugal they developed one of the most unique and delicious flavor profiles in the world.  One of the best things in the world is Gochujang, it’s a red pepper paste mixed with glutinous rice and fermented soy beans(miso).  It can be found in a lot of Korean cooking, and for good reason, it has a nutty earthy heat to it with a palate pleasing texture.  Korean food also gained a spot in my heart for their ability to make tofu taste amazing, and today’s tacos are based off a marinated or braised tofu dish called dubu jolim (or jorim, have seen it both ways).   When making this with friends for a taco night, we decided it wasn’t salty enough, but adding more soy sauce could over power the flavors so we added crumbled cotija cheese and it really turned it into something amazing.  These Korean inspired delights are vegan and vegetarian friendly, but I guarantee carnivores will destroy them also!

 

tacos nomnomnom2

 

SPICY COLD TOFU TACOS

TACO INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package – Small Corn Tortillas
  • 8oz – Firm Tofu, 1″ cubes
  • 2 – Green Onions, white and some green parts sliced thin
  • 1/3cup – Crumbled Cotija Cheese (feta may be substituted)

DRESSING INGREDIENTS

  • 2tsp – Sesame Oil
  • 1tbsp – Soy Sauce
  • 1tsp – Grated Ginger
  • 2tsp – Grated Garlic (2 smaller cloves)
  • 2tbsp – Gochujang (Korean pepper paste, no substitutions, available in Asian Markets, Kochujan in Japanese markets)
  • 2tbsp – Kimchi Liquid
    • Garnish – Kimchi sliced into ribbons
    • Garnish – Green Onion julienne
    • Garnish – Chopped Cilantro
    • Garnish – Lime Juice

    spicy tofu tacos

RECIPE

  1. Spread tofu out on paper towel or tea towel and cover with more towels and drain/dry for about 5 minutes
  2. Combine all ingredients and whisk until Gochujang is fully dissolved and garlic/ginger are well incorporated
  3. Place tofu in a mixing bowl with cotija cheese, cover with sauce and fold very gently, then sprinkle with green onions, drizzle with additional sesame oil if you desire
  4. Heat a cast iron skillet to high heat and toast tortillas lightly until pliable
  5. Place 1tbsp of the tofu mixture in tortilla, top with garnishes of your choosing, and enjoy!
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How to Make Spaetzle

 

Spaetzle - photo from Foter
Spaetzle – photo from Foter

Spaetzle is one of those simple dishes that’s hard to perfect, but easy to do.  I had eaten spaetzle and seen how it was made, but had always thought it looked hard to do, well. . . I was wrong!  It’s really simple and is one of my favorite fast pastas to make.  It’s also a lot of fun to make and does require two pieces of special equipment: a perforated sheet pan and something to rub the dough through said sheet pan.  Basically you just shlop your dough/batter together, let it sit for a little to allow the gluten to settle, and then you form it by pushing it through the perforated pan into the boiling water.  Actual cooking time?  3 minutes.  What sauce does it work well with?  ALL THE SAUCES!  Now that you’re not intimidated by this delicious dish, here’s the recipe!

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Cup AP Flour
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/3 Cup Milk
  • 1 TSP Salt
  • Pinch Nutmeg

Spaetzle cooking stock

RECIPE

  1. Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl
  2. Whisk together egg and milk in separate bowl
  3. Make a well in the flour/salt, put a pinch of nutmeg in the bottom of your well
  4. Add 1/3 of the liquid, mix until incorporated, repeat until you have a batter (slightly lumpy is okay, but very small lumps only)
  5. Let set 15 mins
  6. Boil salty water in a large wide pot
  7. Use a perforated sheet pan, a pizza pan, a perforated roasting pan, anything with equal size little wholes in it, preferably something that will cover the top of the boiling pot, and pour your batter on top, then use a rubber spatula to rub all the batter through the holes into the water.  Work in batches so that the batter doesn’t cook to the perforated pan faster than you can push it through
  8. Allow to cook about 3 minutes or until they’re floating, reserve and toss with your favorite sauce!

That wasn’t so hard was it?  Let me know how your spaetzle experiments turn out!  I want to try putting fresh herbs into my dough/batter next.  Sage spaetzle with brown butter sauce?  mmmmmMMMMmmmmmm!!!!

Stir-Fried Tofu w/ Brown Garlic and Mandarin Chili Sauce

Two things inspired this dish, well three really, but two people.  The first is the site Blogging Over Thyme, who I follow on facebook and she had posted an article about Grilled Asian Tofu Bowls, and the second inspiration is my coworker/classmate Aurora who’s vegan, and the third inspiration was. . . what I had in my fridge.  None-the-less, these things are what made this fast stir-fry come together, and it was really tasty!  The sauce has its roots in Korean and Thai cooking with a take on a Thai citrus+lemon grass pairing and Korean with a faux gochujang (chili paste+Korean miso+Sesame Oil).

Stir Fried Tofu - Photography by Nick Kern
Stir Fried Tofu – Photography by Nick Kern

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 – Large Cloves Garlic, Roughly Torn Into 6 or 7 Pieces
  • 1/3 – Package of Firm Tofu, cut vertically into 5 or 6 1/2″ strips
  • 1/2 Cup – Broccoli Slaw Mix
  • 1/4 Cup – Shredded Carrots
  • 1 TSP + 1 TSP – Ground Lemon Grass
  • 1 TSP – Red Miso Paste
  • 1 TSP – Sriracha Sauce
  • 1TSP + 1/2 TSP – Sesame Oil
  • 2 TSP – Veggie Oil
  • 2 TSP – Salt
  • 1 TSP – Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1 TSP – Black Sesame Seeds *OPTIONAL*
  • 1 TSP – Green Onion, Chopped *OPTIONAL*
  • 1 – Mandarin Orange or Clementine
  • 1 TSP – Mandarin Orange Zest
  • 1/4 Cup – Water

RECIPE

  1. Zest your orange
  2. Combine the 1 TSP sesame oil with the veggie oil in a small saute pan
  3. Heat it to high heat
  4. Salt your tofu chunks well
  5. Add 1 TSP lemon grass to the hot oil, stir it for 2 seconds, then add your tofu, placing it all in the pan
  6. Then add your garlic around the tofu in the oil
  7. Let them sear about 3-4 minutes per side, shaking the pan every minute or so to make sure the tofu isn’t sticking, after both sides are seared, plate your tofu slices
  8. Keeping the garlic in the pan (it should be quite brown now), add your broccoli slaw and carrots
  9. Saute 2-3 minutes until it’s tender crisp, just barely getting soft, then squeeze on the juice of half the mandarin orange
  10. Saute another 2 minutes
  11. Place the sauteed veggies on top of the tofu and the garlic around the base of the tofu
  12. In the pan add the water, sriracha, miso paste, 1/2 TSP sesame oil, crushed red pepper, zest, and the juice of the other 1/2 of mandarin orange.
  13. Bring to a boil, reduce until sauce consistency (about 3 minutes), add the lemon grass, stir to combine, and take off heat.  Taste and correct the seasoning
  14. Drizzle the sauce all over your vegetables and tofu
  15. Garnish with black sesame seeds and green onions!

This one was really fast to come together as there isn’t much prep, but it has a ton of flavor!  It’s got a bit of ingredients for the sauce, but all of which can be found in Asian Markets.  I hope you “On the go” people like this one as I made it in about 7 minutes total from start to finish, so I’d expect it to take the normal person about 10-15 minutes tops.  Also, you can just boil a package of ramen noodles, strain them, and stir fry them, put them under the tofu if you want to make it more substantial!  So hopefully you all enjoy this vegetarian and vegan friendly meal that’s filling and delicious!

Chicken Parmesan

I went with the family to visit my sister(and meet my new nephew!) in Maryland over the holidays, and it turns out my brother-in-law’s favorite dish is Chicken Parm, so my mom thought it’d be nice if I cooked it up, and it turned out great!  Any time there’s no leftovers you know you did a good job.

Beautiful Photos by Tim Kern (Breading Process)
Beautiful Photos by Tim Kern (Breading Process)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1x1lb – package chicken tenderloins
  • 1x1lb – package pounded chicken breasts
  • 1-2 Cups – Wheat Flour
  • 2 TBS – Salt (around 1/4 Cup)
  • 1 TBS – Black Pepper
  • 1-2 Cups – Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
  • 2 – Eggs
  • 1TBS – Milk
  • 2×1/2 Cup – Grated Parmagiano Regiano (or any Parmesan totaling to 1 cup)
  • 8-10 – Slices Mozzarella Cheese
  • A lot – Vegetable Oil for Frying
  • 2 Jars – Pasta Sauce (We used 1 Vodka, 1 Tomato Basil Bertolli Brand)
  • 1 Package – Angel Hair Pasta
  • 2-3 TBS – Butter
  • 2 TBS – Minced Parsley Leaves (fresh if you got it!)
  • 2 TBS – Minced Marjoram Leaves
An elusive photo of me breading chicken, PHOTO BY TIM KERN
An elusive photo of me breading chicken, PHOTO BY TIM KERN

RECIPE

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. In 3 separate dishes, get your flour, eggs, and bread crumbs
  3. Add the salt and pepper to the flour, stir to combine
  4. Add the milk to the eggs, and whisk them until they’re all combined
  5. Add 1 of the 1/2 cups of cheese to the bread crumbs, stir to combine
  6. Now the sticky part, dredge your chicken breasts in the flour, shake off excess, then dredge them in the egg wash, and finely into the bread crumbs.  Make sure each piece is evenly coated, then shake off any excess and place them on a sheet pan.  Set aside and wash your hands
  7. *NOTE* To avoid ending up with bread hand, you can:
    A. Use gloves
    B.  Wash your hands every couple dredges
    C.  Use one hand to do the flour and bread crumb dredging, and the other hand to do the eggwash dredge
  8. Combine your two jars of pasta sauce in a large pot, bring to a simmer, cover
  9. In a large saute pan, fill up about 1/2″ of oil
  10. Set your pan to medium-high heat, it should take about 3 minutes to come up to heat
  11. Place in your chicken tenderloins, but don’t put them all in at the same time or you’ll lower the temperature of the oil, work in batches.  Fry for 3-4 mins per side, until just golden brown, then set aside on a clean sheet pan(cut the biggest one in half, it should still be a bit raw in the center, but only in the center

    Frying up chicken parm PHOTO BY TIM KERN
    Frying up chicken parm PHOTO BY TIM KERN
  12. In an ungreased baking dish, ladle in enough tomato sauce to cover the bottom of the dish, then make a layer of the chicken tenderloins.  Then another layer of sauce, then a layer of the pounded chicken breasts with just a bit of sauce ladled over the center of them in a line so there are still crunchy parts exposed.  Top it all with the grated Parmagiano Reggiano and mozzarella slices
  13. Place in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is starting to get brown and bubbly
  14. While it’s in the oven, bring a large pot of water to a boil
  15. Add your pasta, return to a boil, cook for 5-7 minutes until al dente, drain
  16. Toss the pasta with butter, parsley, and marjoram
  17. Put the pasta in a bowl, and when the chicken comes out of the oven use a spatula to break the cheesy crust, and cover your pasta with sauce and chicken and cheesy goodness!
Not my best plating, but tasty!  PHOTO BY TIM KERN
Not my best plating, but tasty! PHOTO BY TIM KERN

This is a fun easy family night dinner.  It’s not a fast one, but it’s really not too labor intensive, and it involves getting your hands dirty which I, at least, consider quite fun.  Kids love it, and it’s something that always tastes better when you do it yourself.  I find whenever I get chicken parm at a restaurant or to-go it’s usually undercooked oversauced noodles with a dry over-fried piece of cardboard meat.  When yo do it at home, you’re going to end up with juicy crunchy well seasoned chicken, a sauce that you control (we sauteed garlic, onions, and mushrooms in some olive oil before adding the jars of sauce), you can also cook the noodles however you want, and you can use whatever noodles you want.  I personally don’t like penne pasta for much more than pasta salads, but for some reason it always ends up being the noodle in my chicken parm at restaurants, so I was really happy when we had angel hair!  Anyways, that was a tangent, and you’re ready to get cooking, so stop reading and get in the kitchen!

Seared Cod w/ Polenta and Asparagus

With Brussel Sprouts
Photography by Lauren Williams

I’m a bit of a cod noob, but I saw it on sale and knew I wanted to do something other than batter it and fry it.  I wanted to just try its natural flavor, or lack there of, and see what it’s capable of.  It’s a very lack luster fish as far as having its own flavor goes.  BUT it does give you a crazy palette to work with.  You could use it as a nondescript protein in almost any stir fry or soup.  So I seared the cod filets after a little salt and pepper, and then drizzled them with a little lemon and paprika.  I liked this dish a lot as a light healthy dinner, I love the crunch from the asparagus, and the creaminess of the polenta.  It’s just a fun weeknight dish that’s easy to make and not too many ingredients!

 

INGREDIENTS COD & ASPARAGUS

  • 1/2 lb Cod Filet
  • 12-14 Asparagus Stalks
  • 1 Lemon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Olive Oil

 

INGREDIENTS POLENTA

  • 1/2 Package of precooked polenta (about 1 1/2 – 2 cups)
  • 1/4 Sweet Yellow Onion
  • 1 8oz Can Peeled Whole Plum Tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Pasta Sauce
  • 1 Cup Frozen Brussel Sprouts
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Bay Leaf

 

 

RECIPE COD & ASPARAGUS

  1.  Cut the Cod Filet in 2
  2. Rub both filets with olive oil, salt, and pepper
  3. Do the same thing with the Asparagus
  4. Squeeze just a little bit of lemon juice on the asparagus
  5. Preheat oven to 450
  6. Preheat a pan to medium high heat
  7. Wrap the Asparagus up in foil and place in oven
  8. Let cook for 15 minutes
  9. Remove from oven
  10. Drizzle a little olive oil in the pan
  11. Place the cod in the pan
  12. Sear for 3-4 minutes
  13. Flip
  14. Cook another 3-4 minutes until opaque
  15. Remove from heat
  16. Drizzle with a little bit of lemon juice
  17. Sprinkle with paprika

 

RECIPE POLENTA

  1. Pour your can of tomatoes into a pot
  2. Finely chop the garlic and onion
  3. Add them to the pot
  4. Add 1/2 can of water to the pot
  5. Bring to a boil
  6. Pour in blender and blend until smooth
  7. Return to the pan
  8. Add 1 bay leaf
  9. Add the polenta
  10. Mush it up
  11. Add the brussel sprouts
  12. Cook 4-7 minutes longer over medium heat

 

As far as plating goes, my cod actually broke up a bit, so I used the sheets that cod flakes into to make a sheet over a bed of polenta.  It was a great way to make sure those flavors get combined, but it was also a little weird when you’d get a bite of brussel sprouts and think it was fish at first, so I recommend not doing that.  It would be best to have the filet, asparagus, and polenta take their own space on the plate.  I garnished with a splash of lemon juice and cilantro.  It was a really light flavorful dish, the asparagus  still had some snap, and the cod was juicy and flaky.

Seared Sea Scallops w/ Pan-Fried Polenta

With Pan Fried Polenta
Photography by Lauren Williams

This is a date night dish.  This is when you want to step up from your B game to your A game and really impress whomever your significant other might be.  This was my first time ever cooking polenta, and first time in years cooking scallops, but I knew I would love the malleable nature of polenta and have always had an affectionate spot in my heart for scallops.  This dish is a combination of extraordinarily strong contrasting flavor profiles.  The polenta and scallops themselves are both mild in nature, just great texturally when seasoned and seared well.  The plum malt liquor reduction is ridiculously tart and sweet, while the roasted onions are extremely salty and the avocado is smooth and creamy while the seared leeks are crunchy.  But when you get a bite of all of the ingredients together you get an ecstasy enducing bite that has crunchy seared polenta, with smooth inside polenta, and crunchy seared scallop with smooth inside scallop, and all the flavors I just explicated.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Large Sea Scallops (or diver scallops if you can find them)
  • 20 oz Malt Liquor (I used half a St. Ives 40 oz)
  • 5-7 Dried Plums
  • 1 Can of Apricots in Juice
  • 1 Tsp Honey
  • 1 Cup King Crab & Lobster Stock (Replace with any seafood stock or broth you can find)
  • 1 Medium Sized Leek
  • 1 Sweet Yellow Onion
  • 5 Baby Eggplants
  • 1 Can of Peeled Whole Plum Tomatoes
  • 2 Tsp Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Marjoram
  • Oregano
  • 1 Tsp Rosemary
  • Dried Sweet Basil

 

SCALLOPS AND POLENTA RECIPE

  1. Slice 2 1/3′ thick slices of onion, drizzle with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and marjoram (just a sprinkle)
  2. Preheat oven to 450
  3. Wrap each onion in foil, while maintaining the rings
  4. Place in oven
  5. Cook about 15 minutes wrapped, and 10 minutes unwrapped until golden brown and salty gooey!
  6. Heat non-stick pan to medium high heat
  7. Add 1tbsp olive oil
  8. Slice 1 1/2′ thick slices of polenta
  9. Season with salt, pepper
  10. Place in Pan
  11. cook 3-4 minutes
  12. Flip
  13. Cook 3-4 Minutes
  14. Heat another pan to medium high heat
  15. Add 1 tbsp olive oil
  16. My scallops were frozen, so I thawed them, rinsed them, then patted them dry and hit them with salt and pepper
  17. Place them in your pan
  18. Cook 3-4 minutes per side, be sure to get a nice golden brown sear on both side
  19. Treat the scallops like a steak, poke them to check for doneness, they should be firm on the sear with bouncy recoil when pressed
  20. Set the scallops on plate
  21. Return the pan to medium high heat and add 6, 1/2′ slices of of Leek to the pan, and just get a good sear on both sides (optional for garnish)
  22. Top with onion ring
  23. Top with sauced up onions and plums
  24. Top with polenta
  25. Top with 2-4 thin slices of avocado
  26. Top with seared leeks
  27. Sprinkle with paprika
  28. Serve!

 

PLUM AND MALT LIQUOR REDUCTION RECIPE

  1. Bring malt liquor to a boil
  2. Add your remaining leeks(sliced vertically) to the water as well as the remaining sweet onion(sliced vertically into sticks also), 2 bay leaves, and dried plums(roughly chopped)
  3. Reduce until only 1/4 of the malt liquor remains
  4. Add the juice from the apricots and the honey
  5. Reduce until it’s almost all cooked off, and you have syrupy onions, leeks and plums
  6. Add your King Crab & Lobster Stock and rosemary, and remove the bay leaves
  7. Bring to a boil and reduce until a lot of the liquid has dissolved, but you’ve still got a few tbsp of sauce left in the pan along with the onions and plums

 This is one of the most flavorful and perfectly imbalanced dishes I’ve made in a long time.  It was incredible and next I’ll have the recipe for the single layer eggplant lasagna that went with it!  Do you like scallops?  What’s your favorite seafood?  Be sure to comment!

Salmon Sashimi in Spicy Lemon Soy Sauce

 

In Los Angeles there’s a magical place called Mitsuwa Market, and at Mitsuwa Market there is this wondrous thing known as Sashimi Grade Fish.  This fish is so fresh that it’s allowed to be eaten raw and has passed the USDA’s painstaking investigations into freshness.  Every sushi article you’ve read on Eating in Bed was made possible by Mitsuwa Markets fish section, I’ve done this several times and have never had any food born illness.  YES, I’m trying to put you at ease and inspire you to make your own sushi and sashimi.  And as it’s Health Month here at Eating in Bed, what could be better than raw salmon with its protein density and healthy surplus of Omega-3 Fatty Acids.  If at all buy the wild salmon because it has lower mercury levels.

Now about the food, this is a really light and simple dish, you could do it as an appetizer but it was my entree last night.  It’s just super thin slices of fresh salmon in a salty, acidic, spicy soy sauce.  Extremely simple with bold pronounced flavors!

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2lb Salmon Filet – Sashimi Grade
  • 1 Packet of Wasabi (about 2 tsp)
  • Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
  • 1-2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • Thinly Sliced Green Onion
  • 1/2 Tsp Honey (warmed)

 

RECIPE

  1. Use a very sharp knife and slow the salmon extremely thin, hair thin if possible
  2. Stack your sashimi slices on top of each other
  3. In a small serving bowl, mix together the liquid ingredients
  4. Form the salmon slices into two stacks
  5. Place both stacks in the soy sauce
  6. Garnish with thin slices of green onion!

After a long day of working and after eating too much unhealthy food over the past few weeks, I really wanted something that would be light, above all else, and flavorful.  I personally prefer the flavor of raw fish to cooked fish, and salmon is one of my favorites.

This dish was the perfect level of lightness with a brilliant tart salty flavor from the soy sauce.  Please try this and let me know what you think!  I would love to hear some feedback!