>> May 03, 2009
i always have bell pepper problems. i buy them, and then i never use the whole thing and it goes bad. i know it's completely non-economical to buy produce pre-packed by the store (especially wegmans), but the little baby bell peppers were so cute. they follow the intuition of those "choose-a-size" paper towels, letting me pick if i want 1 or 2 or 3 in my recipe. oh yeah, did i mention that they're adorable?
i had some tofu to use up, so my first foray into the baby pepper world was with my standby of tofu-paprikash, which turned out significantly better than last time. i let it simmer for almost an hour and added way more paprika and chili powder, amping the color and flavor. this is such a solid dish. go make it.
friday night i decided to break into the canned veggies i've had stocked for the apocalypse (going home next week = pantry reduction!) i found the fresh olives i bought after the iron chef olive episode last weekend (things get lost in the fridge when 4 people have to share) and immediately knew that a puttanesca of sorts was in order. behold: balsamic mushroom-olive ragout.
it was so ridiculously simple that posting a recipe would be absurd. diced tomatoes with basil and oregano, f sliced mushroom pieces, a few sliced kalamata and green olives, a tablespoon each of balsamic vinegar and minced garlic, a few dashes dried basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and marjoram. bam. done. fantastic. (i know i was talking about peppers, but they seemed a bit out of place in here. i spared the babies from this one.)
though you can't tell from the picture, my set polenta attempt number 3 failed. i follow all the recipes perfectly, let it cool on the counter, in the fridge, in the freezer... no matter what it just won't set! PLEASE post some suggestions. all i want are baked polenta squares!
last night i had the worst craving for chinese. i've been spending a lot of money lately, and the end-of-semester need to eat up all the food in the kitchen deterred me from calling up uncle chen. i also have a problem with take-out chinese in that it's way too oily for my lack of lipase. sesame oil and i don't get along, so i always have to order off the "diet" menu where they steam everything and give you the sauce on the side... watery cabbage and steamed tofu is foul. trust me. it's also way more expensive than the specials, making take-out a really silly dinner choice. unfortunately, i eat the mushy cabbage and steamed tofu dipped in brown sauce more than it's lack of appeal should merit.
so last night, i went old-school. i found an orange in the back of my fridge (it's a magical place; first the olives, now the orange) and took off. from now on, i'm making my own chinese food. the result was much, much healthier, cheaper, and 100% tastier (don't worry, uncle chen. you're still the best for spring rolls and hot&sour soup).
spicy orange stir-fry
for the sauce:
1 medium navel orange
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon thai chili sauce
1/2 teaspoon honey
zest from 1/2 orange
for the stir-fry:
1-2 cups broccoli spears
1 cup sugar-snap peas
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (mine were canned and rinsed)
3-4 baby bell peppers, seeded and sliced
(dry-fried tofu would be a perfect addition -- i forgot to drain mine in advance and was too hungry to wait)
prepare the sauce: cut the orange in half the long way and squeeze out the juice from one half into a small bowl. peel the other half (save the peel!) and chop finely. combine the orange mush with the juice and other ingredients.
heat a skillet over medium-high heat (if you have a wok, break it out!). add in the vegetables and warm for a minute. pour the sauce over and stir to coat. bring the sauce to a simmer and allow to cook until the sauce is reduced and very thick. you may add in a dash or two of sriracha (i used tabasco) if you like it hot.
serve over rice (to sop up the rest of the yummy sticky sauce) with the orange zest (and sesame seeds or scallions if you have them).