Birthday Shenanigans, tofu squares and phyllo fuck ups

So for those unaware, last Wednesday was my birthday.

*pauses for applause*

Ever since breaking up with my girlfriend last year, I haven’t been particularly concerned with birthday’s – honestly, that was always her kick, not really a big thing for me. To be honest, my birthday should be about my mom, who did the work…I didn’t have much to do with the process.

After enough text messages and calls though, I had to acquiesce and throw myself a party. My poor non vegetarian friends would get another chance to sample some more of my awesomeness, and I’d get an excuse to clean the townhome and cook some more recent ideas.

I received the first idea from Lindsay over at The Kitchen Opera’s, and wanted to do some phyllo dough ‘nests’  filled with herbed Chevre and caramelized onions, topped with balsamic reduction and truffle salt.

Phyllo fuck ups

The Pieces

Prep Time: 5 minutes, unless you suck that hard at cutting onions, then its 10

Cook Time: nearly an hour, all told

Feeds: About 6 drunks and 2 stoners. If I had to guess.

  • 8 oz Chevre, or other herbed goat cheese
  • 4 large sweet onions
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 8 oz or so of Phyllo dough, properly defrosted and separated
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (not EVOO, or canola, just regular fucking Olive Oil)
  • PAM, or some other spray non stick stuff

The Puzzle

Theres a reason I call this ‘recipe’ Phyllo Fuck ups. I fucked up. The original idea had been to use a muffin tin, place a few sheets of Phyllo inside, and have cute little nests.

Turns out I don’t have a muffin tin.

How this happened, I’m not entirely sure, but in a fit of improvisation I just used a few cookie sheets, and layered the nests so they were closer to sandwiches. So it wasn’t a complete disaster…just didn’t turn out quite as pretty as I’d hoped for

Lets be quaint and call this 'not the best presentation ever'

0. Preheat your oven to 400

1. Dice your onions (all four)

2. Heat your 1/4 cup of oil in a large flat bottomed pan – once its hot, but not smoking, reduce the heat to medium-high

3. Add the diced onions.

4. Stirring every 5 minutes or so, cook for about 30 minutes. By this time the onions should be quite wilted and browned

5. Add 1 tbsp sugar and stir to coat. Cook for another 10 minutes or until nearly black and sweetly caramelized. Set aside

6. Tear a bunch of phyllo sheets to create a 3″ square bed

7. Form your assembly line, pictured below.8. For each pasty, fill with a decent amount (no more than 2 tbsp) onion, top with crumbled Chevre, then finally a phyllo ‘hat’

9. For your cooking sheet – even if its nonstick, spray it down. Then once the pastries are placed on top, spray again for that golden brown color

10. Bake until golden brown, or about 10 minutes – during this time, make your balsamic reduction by simmering the vinegar with the last tbsp of sugar until reduced by half

Laura taking point on the balsamic reduction...in a rather stabby way

11. Once the pastries are done, drizzle with reduction, top with your crazy ass expensive truffle salt I just convinced you to buy because it will change your life and enjoy!

I’m kind of glad to get that one out of the way. Don’t get me wrong, they were tasty – damn tasty – but just…a mess.

Breaded Tofu Squares with Spicy Peanut Slaw

So, even before I started those little piles of fail, I’d gotten my tofu ready for the finale by marinating the slices in a mixture of peanut sauce, soy sauce, and Sriracha (affectionately referred to as ‘Cock Sauce’ around the house). The sauce was simple, the prep time low, and presentation was quite nice. Definite success.

The Pieces – Sauce (use half for marinade)

12 ounces pre made thai peanut sauce.

8 ounces low sodium Soy Sauce

4 ounces Sriracha (or more depending on how spicy you like it)

The Rest of the Pieces

8 oz bag of Panko Bread Crumbs

2 12 oz packages Extra Firm Tofu

1 fresh cucumber (although I guess ‘fresh’ is a given. Unless it was a pickle…)

1 16 oz package Broccoli Slaw

2 tbsp Olive Oil

The Puzzle

0. Toss your broccoli slaw with your sauce (this is half the mixture I listed in the ‘sauce’ section) and set in the fridge for at least 30 mins

1. Drain your tofu. Slice it in half horizontally, then cut vertically to achieve squares. Line up in your casserole pan, pour the marinade on top, as pictured.

If you don't have enough marinade using half, add more soy sauce

2. Once the tofu has marinated for at least an hour, dredge it in panko breadcrumbs

Whats with the hammer, you say? Good question

3. Heat your oil in a large flat bottomed pan and pan fry the tofu in batches til golden brown on each side

4. While this is happening, slice your cucumber thinly and as your squares come out of the pan, top them with one cucumber slice

5. After all the Tofu’s been cooked, top with a cute little pile of the broccoli slaw, thusly:

Let cool in the fridge for about 5 minutes, and enjoy!

I’ll be linking some new pics  here so check ’em out!

Blasphemous Bruschetta

First recipe – and a goddamn good one at that. I’ve seen a lot of different recipes for what could possibly be my favorite snack,  but none quite so awesome as mine.

Ok…I might be pumping this up a little. This is really a poor mans quick bruschetta fix that ends up tasting damn decent. Give it a shot, let me know what you think.

The Pieces

Prep time: 10 mins if you can chop fast

Cook time: 10 mins for the garlic/bread, and at least another 30 for the tomato mixture to marinate

  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella – if you need to settle, try picking up some of this.
  • 1 fresh baguette
  • 1 16oz can diced roma tomatoes, drained. Make sure they’re packed in water, no salt added.
  • 2 full garlic bulbs
  • 1 bunch fresh Basil
  • 4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsps aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cayenne pepper

Its blurry...I know. iPhone camera.

Alright, now before we begin I want to clear something up – the term bruschetta doesn’t actually reference the topping. This is a pretty common misconception, but the reality is that bruschetta is the bread, which is grilled, oiled and rubbed with garlic.

The Puzzle

1. Preheat the oven to 375.

2. Take one bulb of garlic and slice off the tops. Place this in tinfoil with the sides crimped, and drizzle 1 tbsp of EVOO in the bulb.

3. Place this in the stove to roast until golden brown

4. Chop time – take your basil leaves, stack ’em, roll ’em, and slice. This trick is called a chiffonade. From here dicing should be much easier, and provide a more standard size.

5. While waiting for your garlic to roast, pop open that can of tomatoes and plop them into a fine sieve (or strainer) to get the extra juice out.

6. Grab your baguette and slice pieces approximately 1/4 inch thick, on the bias. Brush each slice with a little olive oil and set aside.

7. Throw the olive oil brushed baguette onto a grill – if you do not have one, use the preheated oven and toast til golden brown.

NOTE: I made this recently, and as I lacked a baking sheet where I was cooking, I actually used a saute pan, with great results! A much deeper flavor.

My dear friend Laura basks in the golden brown glory of the bread. Never hurts to snap some pics of a few hot ladies, yes?

8. Once the bread is toasted/grilled, its important you rub each bread piece with garlic as soon as its cool enough.

9. By this time your garlic should be roasted – take it out of the foil and mince finely. This is the part I hate the most, as much as I love garlic, since invariably my fingers smell for hours later…use some gloves, or rinse your hands with lemon juice after, to prevent this.

Almost done...although the garlic isn't as golden as I'd like.

10. Time to combine…in a large mixing bowl add the garlic, basil, tomatoes, remaining EVOO and all the vinegars. Two pinches each of salt, pepper, and cayenne. Toss to combine.

11. Set this in the fridge for at least a half an hour

12. Slice your mozzarella ball in half, then cut into thin strips

And your done! When eating, spoon a hefty amount of the tomato mixture onto a piece of bruschetta, top with mozzarella, and enjoy!.