HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

MAY COTM Flexitarian Table SUMMER MEAT and VEG MAINS

Post both meat and vegetarian recipe discussions for the Summer Menu Section.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I've been chomping at the bit to report! Having followed beetlebug's Flexitarian thread avidly trying to decide whether or not to buy yet another cookbook, the probability of it being COTM pushed it into the "buy" column and I'm so glad.

    During one of Boston's lovely summery days last week, I made the much lauded Tofu with Lemon, Soy, White Wine and Butter Sauce, p. 126 and served it with its suggested Quinoa Salad, p. 128.

    Made the meal according to each recipe with no changes, except that I forgot to buy pumpkin seeds for the salad. This was quick, easy, delicious and absolutely lovely! Outside of Asian preparations we don't really eat tofu but this recipe will change that. I can't imagine even the staunchest tofu-haters not liking this meal.

    20 Replies
    1. re: mirage

      It really is killer, isn't it?? I'm so glad that you liked it.

      1. re: mirage

        I made the Tofu dish one day and the fish dish another day last week (I used halibut). I posted on my blog http://toomanycookbooksofe.blogspot.com pictures of both. We loved them, and especially the tofu. This was a unique preparation, generally our tofu consumption is strictly japanese soups, noodles & shabu shabu. My 9 year old liked the tofu much better than the fish. There was a fight over the last bit of the sauce to pour over rice at the end, too! I will definitely be making this again very soon (especially since a package of tofu is 90 cents and halibut at costco was 10 dollars!
        )I did not do the quinoa salad, I just did plain jasmine rice with both dishes and served a veg on the side (stir fry mixed veg with the tofu & green beans with the halibut).

        1. re: mirage

          I love this tofu dish, too! And, it's super quick and easy!

          ~TDQ

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            You've probably posted about this somewhere else, TDQ, but I'm too lazy to search. Did you cut back on the butter? and if so, by how much? With all these great reports (and the ingredients on hand) I'd kind of like to try it, but it's that butter that's been keeping me away.

            1. re: JoanN

              Ah, you're like a mind-reader. Yes, instead of butter, I used 4 tsp of Canola oil (serving 2 people). I'm sure it's even more delicious with butter, but I enjoyed it just fine without. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/43410...

              ~TDQ

              1. re: JoanN

                I cut back on the butter - I don't have my book, but I think I used half or a quarter of it. My 6 year old son loved the tofu. I thought it was good, but not mindblowing - perhaps it needed the butter? My husband didn't like the texture, and my 4 year old son didn't like it at all (texture I think). Mine also wasn't that brown, and I used wheat free tamari instead of soy sauce.

            2. re: mirage

              We had this with the salad for dinner last night. I had a 14 oz block of tofu, but just cut it into 6 slices, and used extra firm tofu, rather than firm, thinking that my husband would prefer the texture. I had the damnest time finding a pan that would work on the stove top and in the oven that wouldn't be too big, so I ended up using the fish pan I bought last year and never used! Quick and easy to put together, delicious flavors infused into the tofu. My only caveat is that I really had expected it to have the browned look somehow and as you can see from my photos, it wasn't.

              Wondering if maybe some more experienced w/ tofu than I can figure out how to get that beautiful color on the tofu - it almost looked like it has a crust? I used Pearl River Light Soy Sauce. Next time I may well fry it first and then cook in the liquid.

               
               
              1. re: MMRuth

                One of the tofu recipes is pan fried. My vague memory is that you first press it (to get the water out), marinate it and then fry it. I think the marinade had rosemary in it. Anyway, the finished product had a lovely color and was definitely more "meaty." For this prep, I wonder if you press it, then pan fry it and lastly simmer it in the tofu if that would give you the color and crust that you seek.

                1. re: beetlebug

                  Thanks - I've been reading through the book more this afternoon and I think the Crispy Pressed Tofu w/ Garlic and Mint will give me the chance to try the pan fried method. The one you refer to is the "Pan Seared Rosemary Tofu" on p. 254. Just reading it makes me want to eat duck though!! I'm glad we're doing this this month - for some reason I'm more inspired by the Spring/Summer menus than the Fall/Winter ones (even though it's cool here).

                  1. re: beetlebug

                    I did do that once with the tofu, but I too the sauce from memory. Everyone liked it better that way mostly because they are used to their tofu baked or pan fried.

                    1. re: jsaimd

                      I tried it again, but this time took the thyme off the stem and chopped a bit, greatly reduced the butter and cooked in the toaster oven for 30 minutes. It was a nice happy medium - still soft, very lemony and good, but with crispy edges. And I didn't have to do much except put it in and then wash a silpat. My 6 year old still really likes this tofu. I like it, and it seems to be growing on me since I have made it several times! My younger son doesn't like it, but he is super picky about tofu.

                2. re: mirage

                  Tofu with Lemon, Soy, White Wine and Butter Sauce (Summer menu 5, pg. 126)

                  Not much more to say this dish other than I just love it. I served this with Spring Greens in Dill Vinaigrette (pg. 52) and the rice with herbs (pg. 75).

                   
                   
                  1. re: beetlebug

                    I had to try it too, after all these comments! I cut the butter in half, everything else the same. Our first reaction was it was nice, but we wondered what the fuss was about. However, the more we ate it, the more we liked it, which was interesting. Though this isn't going to make a tofu lover out of DH, because he's just not fond of anything with a custardy texture (which I adore). I'll try the crispy tofu recipe on him sometime instead.

                  2. re: mirage

                    Tofu with Lemon, Soy, White Wine and Butter Sauce, p. 126

                    We finally tried this dish after hearing so much about it. I really loved how quickly it came together with simple, pantry staples. This was the first time my husband has eaten a whole meal of tofu. I think he even liked it. His only complaint was that it was not filling enough for him...the pretzels and chocolate pudding fixed that.

                    1. re: mirage

                      Tofu with Lemon, Soy, White Wine and Butter Sauce

                      This tofu dish has been on my "to make" list forever, and on Friday I finally got around to it. I don't have this book but used the proportions and directions posted by Beetlebug many eons ago. Happy to report that this dish was just as good as expected based on the numerous positive reports I've read over the years. My husband and I both liked it a lot, and my son happily ate the leftovers, which is great because I'm always looking for tofu preparations that he likes. My only issue was -- I wanted more sauce! Do others have this problem? Maybe I reduced the sauce too much?

                      1. re: mirage

                        Better late, right? It was having made, and loved, the very similar Striped Bass with Lemon that finally got me to try the Tofu with Lemon, Soy, White Wine and Butter Sauce and even after all the raves I was still surprised that I, too, liked it better than the Striped Bass version. That I used the full amount of butter did not, I am sure, hurt in the least. Will probably cut it by at least half next time.

                        Curious, those of you who have been making it for years now, what do you serve it with? The Qunoa Salad with Corn and Tomatoes that is recommended sounds lovely for this time of year, but the Tofu strikes me as a year-round dish. Do you just make rice and call it a meal, or do you serve it with other dishes?

                        1. re: JoanN

                          I make this tofu dish year-round, and usually accompany it with some kind of pilaf-y dish (bulgur, etc.) - but then, I don't that often make rice at home - and some kind of in-season vegetable. That's probably too vague to be helpful, I know, but I find that it's easy to just pair it with any sauteed greens, or roasted or steamed veggies, and having some kind of grain dish that you can spoon any extra sauce over is nice.

                          I've never used the full amount of butter, but I have used some olive oil instead of butter on occasion, and it's definitely (not surprisingly) better with butter! I usually flip the tofu when the pan comes out of the oven and goes back on the stove, so the other side can spend a bit of time in the sauce before serving.

                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                            Thanks, Caitlin. Not too vague at all. In fact, probably more helpful than a make xxx on page 123 of yyyy would have been. Flipping the tofu is a good Idea. I found myself basting it to achieve a similar effect. I plan to try giving it a quick sear before braising as well. If nothing else, it would perhaps make it look more like the photo in the book.

                            1. re: JoanN

                              You know, I was reading through this thread again the other day, when your post on the striped bass brought it up, and noticed the post below (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5148...) where ArikaDawn said she browned the tofu after it came out of the oven, and I thought that seemed like a good idea because it will have already spent time in the sauce. On the other hand, there's a compelling argument (to me) for doing the quick sear first as you suggest, which is that it wouldn't involve dirtying a second pan.

                          2. re: JoanN

                            This dish is still the most loved tofu dish I make. I always serve it with plain jasmine or basmati rice - to me it just makes sense for soaking up the nice sauce. Then usually a roasted vegetable. My preference is for something green like broccoli or green beans for eye appeal. I did either sweet potatoes or squash once and somehow it just didn't look good.

                        2. Summer Menu 10 (part only)

                          The Flexitarian book called to me before its time, and I tried the Falafel p 164 a week or two ago. I also made my own pita bread, but used a recipe from another book, because I got confused and thought there wasn't one in the Fexitarian book. I took his suggestion to toast the cumin and coriander before grinding, and I used all cilantro. Enclosed you will find a picture of what I guessed he meant by cracker-like crumbs for the mix. I found I had to process it further at the end so that the mixture would hold its shape. The falafel browned very nicely and held their shape (that picture is slightly overexposed, though). I've never had falafel before, so I can't compare it to anything. I found it a bit bland by itself. If I did it again, I'd use more cayenne and other seasonings, but then, I like Thai food and other hot things. Also, I thought they were a dryish food, compared with other deep-fried and molded items, but I don't know if that is standard for falafel.

                          I stuffed the pitas with falafel, sauce, lettuce (I ran out of onion), tomato, and cucumber. The presence of sauce is essential! I didn't use his sauce, though, as I was tired that day. It was a very nice food that way, sort of salad-like and fresh. I wish I had baked the pitas the same day, though. They lost a little since I made them the previous day and reheated. I got better pockets on the slightly thinner pitas, it seemed. My one thickish one did not make a pocket. The one you see pictured is made with the right ratio of wheat to white, even though it was cooked at a lower temp than Berley wanted.

                          Oh, my husband liked the "ratios" better with the pita laid flat and topped, instead of stuffed.

                           
                           
                           
                          1. Seafood (Tofu) Ceviche with Quick-Pickled Red Onion (Summer menu 6, pl. 132)

                            I didn't use the hiziki because I couldnt' find it; also didn't serve it with the lettuce, but apart from that followed the recipe exactly using flounder. Very pleasant, very much like ceviche I've had in restauants. The chopped vegetables are very pretty and tasty - the pickled onion adds a lot, in my opinion. That all said, it was ceviche ... very nice and refreshing on a hot southern evening, but it wasn't anything particularly spectacular. Served it with a saffron and garlic soup which I dismally over-salted.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: LulusMom

                              Where is the saffron & garlic soup recipe from? I'd love to try another garlic soup after my troubles w/ the SH one, and love saffron.

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                It's an epicurious recipe. I think it would have been really nice if not over-salted. And really easy to make. Here is the link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  Thank you - I'm going to give that a try this week - since it has 4 garlic cloves instead of 4 heads of garlic, it should be a bit milder in garlic flavor - and I just came across an "extra" little container of saffron in the pantry.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    I hope you like it. I think it would have been a hit without all that darned salt. I like the way the bread cubes thicken it.

                            2. Crispy Pressed Chicken, pg. 38

                              This was a total winner! I prepared the chicken and DH cooked it. Used Aleppo pepper powder since that's what I had in the pantry, but added a teaspoon of red pepper flakes just because. Very easy to prepare and it was absolutely delicious! Juicy, flavorful. I had 5 bone in chicken thighs, and we had 2 1/2 between us. I could have eaten 12......well maybe not. The marinade is the key..... let it sit for 1/2 hour as per the directions. Utterly beautiful!

                              I cobbled together a menu utilizing several of PB's suggestions....the asparagus salad on pg 56 without the hard boiled egg, and the roasted vegetables on pg 25....Spring Vegetables with cumin and lime. More about those in the appropriate threads, but I thought I'd let you know what the entire menu consisted of. This Is Fun!!

                              EDIT: Oh gosh... I just saw that I should have reported this in the Spring thread.....
                              Mea culpa!!!

                              1. Shrimp in Harissa
                                I actually made all of summer menu 3 this weekend in 2 different meals, I will post the sides in the sides thread.
                                I was unable to find caraway seed (however did see at the store YESTERDAY after I already made this dish, duh), so just left it out and used a tad more fennel & cumin. The shrimp was nice, the heat of the cayenne was balanced by the warmth of the fennel & cumin. I did them on the stove in a grill pan. Because of timing I think I marinated them a bit too long, but the flavors were spot on. I would definitely make this again.

                                14 Replies
                                1. re: ErikaK

                                  It's funny, when I first made this dish, I didn't believe the "marinate for *15* minutes." That seemed too short. But, I did it and the flavors were perfect. It still seems too short to me, but I haven't deviated off that timing and now won't after your experience.

                                  1. re: ErikaK

                                    I just made this tonight and I have to echo what everyone else says -- it's amazing how much flavor the shrimp picked up after only 15 minutes in the marinade. I was a little worried about the amount of lemon juice (some marinades and salad dressings are just too lemony for my taste, even though I like lemon), but it nearly disappears here.

                                    I'm not a fan of caraway (had a bad ham on rye sandwich years ago that colored my view of caraway forever, even though the caraway wasn't to blame -- funny that), so I doubled the fennel and it was delicious. I think I will kick up the cayenne a bit the next time I make it too, wasn't as spicy as I expected.

                                    I grilled them, and after 3 min on the first side, they were nearly done. Guess my grill is hotter than his.

                                    1. re: ErikaK

                                      My turn on the Shrimp in Harissa. We loved this. I only marinated for 10 minutes because I was worried that the lemon would start to "cook" the shrimp before it got on the grill. Still gave it time to get the flavors, which were fantastic. I don't know how anyone could make this menu without someone else around to help. I had my husband out on the back porch grilling the shrimp while I worked on the tomatoes.

                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        That seems to be what happened to my shrimp, because of the timing, the edges sort of "cooked" due to the lemon juice - they marinated a bit too long.
                                        But, still yummy.

                                      2. re: ErikaK

                                        We loved this as well. I made it as written, apart from I cut down on the amount of oil and lemon juice a little bit. I grilled the shrimp (prawns to us Brits!) over charcoal after marinating for the requisite 15 minutes. They had a fantastic flavour and will definitely become a summer barbecue staple. Mr GG was also impressed.

                                        1. re: ErikaK

                                          I made the grilled shrimp in harissa and fresh corn polenta with sauteed cherry tomatoes from summer menu #3 last night (I posted about the polenta and cherry tomatoes here http://www.chowhound.com/topics/51482... ). I, too, skipped the caraway seed because the market I stopped by last night didn't have it. I just left it out. We did it over our gas grill outside. (YAY! Spring!) I used 2 tsp of olive oil instead of the 5 TBSP the recipe calls for. This turned out lovely--we'll definitely try it again.

                                          ~TDQ

                                           
                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            I was worried that if I cut back on the oil too much, the spices would overwhelm the prawns. I'm interested to see if you thought it was a problem, TDQ.

                                            Is there a national US shortage of caraway seed, btw. I seem to be the only person who used it! ;-)

                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                              I don't think the spice overwhelmed the prawns...I think you do have to be extra careful not to marinate too long, though. The polenta and the corn aren't that spicy, so, the prawns are just fine.

                                              The problem with caraway seeds is that when I'm at a bigger grocery store that is certain to have it, I always think I have it--and then I get home and discovered that, once again, I've misremembered. The small market I was at yesterday only have a few basic spices--I guess caraway isn't a "basic" spice in the U.S.

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                I used caraway! And I loved it ...

                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                  I use it too - not sure why it's been so hard to find - but, I actually am not a big fan of it - I'll add it if it's one of a number of spices, but would be unlikely to use it on its own.

                                                2. re: greedygirl

                                                  greedygirl, et al.: I have a gripe against caraway seed because, although I DO have it in my spice cabinet, I ALWAYS have to open cumin, caraway, and a couple of other spice jars and bite into the seeds to see which one is caraway....I know, I know, why don't I just LABEL them? Every hear the word "Lazy"?

                                                  I'm going to try this tonight.

                                              2. re: ErikaK

                                                So many good reports on the Shrimp in Harissa I had to give it a try. I liked it a great deal, but have so many other spicy shrimp recipes I like even better I doubt I'll do this again (although I'll probably copy it out--just in case!). I think the real reason I'm even bothering to post is that I like the way the photo turned out. And mine looks almost totally different from TDQ's. Probably because I let the polenta warm at too high a heat for too long.

                                                 
                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                  I like your photo better--the shrimp looks like it took up more of the flavor somehow compared to the shrimp in mine, which is sort of pale.

                                                  ~TDQ

                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    Yeah, mine too!! But to be fair I did my shrimp in a grill pan instead of on the grill.
                                                    Might do tonight on the grill, too hot to cook indoors.