Archive for February, 2012

February 24, 2012

Doling Out a Dose of Summer with Pineapple

by Jen Wanous

It’s a bit premature to be anticipating warm and sunny skies, but taking a bite of pineapple can sure have you believing in the promise of summer. Below is a video on how to tackle the task of cutting up a pineapple, including how to tell when they are ripe. Go ahead, pick up that regal fruit, there is a lot of sunshine in each sweet bite.

Beef Teriyaki with Broccoli and Bell Pepper

This is a recipe from Vivian Sicherman, it is one of her family’s favorites. The meat is marinated and then broiled, imparting a nice charred flavor. Of course, if you have a barbeque, now would be a good time to use it. In light of my current focus on pineapple, I went ahead and added some of the sweet n’ tangy fruit to her recipe. More specifically, I pureed the tough and chewy center – which would normally be tossed and composted – to the marinade.

The enzyme in the core, bromelain, is a natural meat tenderizer. This quality is what makes it a great addition to a steak marinade, breaking down the chewiness of skirt steak. However, if eaten on it own and in great quantities, it will also start work it’s magic on the inside of your mouth. The lesson here, kids, is to take caution when idly gnawing on the woody center of your freshly cut pineapple! The powerful enzyme is concentrated in the core – so, though it might leave your hunger for protein-eviscerating enzymes sated, it will probably leave your mouth feeling like the bio-hazard bin outside of one of Dexter’s charming ‘workspaces.’ Simply put, having a technique for taking it out is key when preparing.

You can use the marinade on planks of extra firm tofu too for a vegetarian version. Serve with rice. Serves 3-4.

Ingredients

2 lbs skirt steak

1 lb broccoli, chopped

1 red bell pepper, sliced

½ cup pineapple, large dice

2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Marinade

Core of a pineapple, pureed

¼ cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons brown sugar

¾ teaspoon ground ginger

1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons white vinegar (apple cider or rice vinegar is fine)

3/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil

Procedure

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a small dish or large Ziploc bag. Add the steak, coat well. Marinade in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.

*If you don’t have a food processor to puree the pineapple core, you can combine all marinade ingredients in a blender.

2. Toss the broccoli, bell pepper, and pineapple with olive oil (or sesame oil if you have it), salt and pepper. Bake 30 minutes, flipping half way.

3. Turn your broiler on high (that part of your oven, on the bottom, that you hardly ever use). On a rimmed baking sheet, place the pieces of meat (retain extra marinade). Broil for 12-15 minutes, flipping half way, until you get some black charring.

4. Pour the extra marinade in a small saucepan. On high heat, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Cut meat, combine with vegetables, and pine apple, top with marinade reduction and serve with rice.

February 5, 2012

Guacamame: A Favorite Dip Reinvented

by Jen Wanous

We all know and love our dear, dear friend: guacamole. Why would anyone mess with a classic like that? Here are two good reasons: 1) avocados are dang expensive and 2) guacamole oxidizes, turning brown quickly. Enter, Guacamame. I had the fine fortune of meeting Guacamame at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco and was wowed by how closely this soybean-based dip resembled the real deal. I came home to Brooklyn determined to figure out how to make this to share with you all.

Mimicking the flavor profile of guacamole was pretty easy since soy, lacking a strong flavor of its own, is a blank slate for all the usual add-ins of guacamole: red onion, garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper, lime, tomato, jalapeño and a little cumin.

My challenge was clear: without using any avocado, how would I achieve the rich, green creaminess of guacamole?

To achieve the signature guac texture, I started with a foundation of thawed and shelled edamame (soy) beans. For the creamy element, I thought firm tofu would do the trick. I blended these together and added the distinctive acid of limejuice. I also added some olive oil to help with the richness and ensure a smooth texture.

With my food processor on high, I let that baby roll for a while, hoping to blend it to the max, for an ultra smooth, creamy consistency. What I ended up with was a stiff rendition that was pale green. The flavors were spot on, but the texture and color left more to figure out.

If firm tofu wasn’t working, maybe sour cream or a firm silken tofu would. I tried both. The sour cream batch, looked too wet and soupy, the one with firm silken tofu was much closer to what I was looking for, however, it still lacked a little creaminess. Why not add a dollop of sour cream? The base of well-blended edamame beans, firm silken tofu and a tablespoon of sour cream was the winning combo for the creamy consistency.

The last puzzle now, how to infuse the necessary green color into this concoction?  I first thought to add a drop of green food coloring but wanted to push beyond that easy way out. The other green elements that I had to work with were cilantro and jalapeño. I decided to add these two ingredients during the blending process, hoping that the pigment in the green herb and pepper would diffuse and lend a greener shade to my guac. Turns out, this easy solution added both green and an even stronger guac flavor. Bonus.

Now, with some frozen edamame on hand, a creamy, delicious dip, reminiscent of your favorite Mexican topping, is always close at hand. The pluses of guacamame: it’s about a quarter of the cost of traditional guacamole, you don’t have to wait until you have a perfectly ripe avocado and the – biggie – it lasts for a week or more, not that it will with how tasty it is.  

Guacamame

This dip mimics a beloved favorite. It can easily be doubled or tripled. Will last for at least a week.

Yields 2 cups

Ingredients

1 cup thawed edamame

¾ cup firm silken tofu (6oz)

1 tablespoon limejuice (half a lime)

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup cilantro

½ jalapeño

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon salt

ground black pepper to taste

hearty pinch of cumin

2 tablespoons tomato, small dice

2 tablespoons red onion, small dice

1 tablespoon sour cream

Procedure

1. In a food processor or blender, add edamame, tofu, limejuice, olive oil, cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, salt, pepper and cumin. Blend on high for three minutes, scrapping sides half way.

2. In a small bowl add the blended mixture with the tomato and onion. Stir in sour cream.

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