Tonight, Nashville is mourning the loss of one of its own, Mister Charlie Louvin. I’ll never forget the first time I saw him play live. I believe it was three years ago. He had a new album out and our friend Mike was elated to have him play in his record shop. It was quite crowded but we arrived early and were standing right in front so I could get some photos. As he sang, I noticed a shiny penny on the floor right between Charlie and me. After he played, he reached down, picked up the penny, handed it to me and said, “Don’t say I never gave you anything.” I still have that penny from Charlie Louvin but he gave me so much more- the songs he created with brother Ira years ago will live on forever. Their beautiful harmonies set the bar pretty high for aspiring songbirds. His stage banter was sometimes unsettling- off color jokes, sexist remarks- you never knew what was going to come out of that man’s mouth but when the music started, you suddenly knew the world was truly blessed by his presence.
Thank you, Charlie Louvin, and I hope you left knowing just how much better the world is because of your musical contributions.
(And now I plan to write about food that Charlie Louvin would have probably hated!)
On to some cooking… Winter is kicking my butt this year! I have been freezing cold and it just seems more difficult to eat healthy in the winter months. There are not as many yummy fresh seasonal fruits and veggies available to choose from and with the colder temperatures, I think I get an unconscious urge to bulk up with comfort foods.
I try not to eat too many soy products but in moderation, soy can be a healthy substitute for meat and there are many health benefits to eating fermented soy in the form of miso or tofu. We have been experimenting some these past couple of weeks. Here are a few simple recipes we came up with. Grant is the genius behind this first one…
Pan Roasted- Miso Marinated Salmon
2 Tbsp red miso
2 Tbsp tamari
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2-3 Tbsp warm water
2 pieces salmon
1 tsp olive oil
Mix all ingredients together to form a saucey paste. Place marinade in a bowl and place salmon, skin side down in the marinade for one hour. Flip salmon over for another hour. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Place salmon in a cast-iron skillet or any other oven proof dish with a drizzle of olive oil on the bottom to prevent sticking. Roast salmon, skin side down with some of the miso paste on top for approximately 10 minutes. Add more miso paste to top of salmon and then set under high broiler for about 2 minutes until top is brown and bubbly.
Miso soup can be as easy to make as adding a spoonful of miso to some hot water! This seems too easy for me so I usually have a more elaborate plan… I like to saute onions, tofu, mushrooms, and garlic and then add some Nama Shoyu, brown rice vinegar… In a separate pot, heat some water for noodles. Add in soba noodles. When the noodles are almost done, add in a couple big spoonfuls of miso. Next, add sauteed veggies and some frozen corn. Add some spinach leaves & cilantro and eat it up!
Next, I offer up a few tofu recipes. I will admit, I don’t love tofu by itself and these recipes aren’t the healthiest ways to eat tofu but they do make the tofu taste pretty yummy! One of my very first introductions to eating tofu was when I was in college and living in Athens, Georgia. One of the hippest vegetarian restaurants (then and now), The Grit, serves up good ol’ Southern food but vegetarian style. One of their most popular dishes is the Grit-style Tofu. You can find this and many more yummy vegetarian recipes in their cookbook.
1 block firm tofu
grape seed oil
Tamari or Nama Shoyu
Cut tofu in cubes. Lightly oil a skillet and place over high heat. Allow oil to heat slightly and then add tofu. Saute, tossing with a spatula until evenly lightly golden brown. Sprinkle lightly with the tamari and saute briefly to further brown tofu. Remove from skillet, draining and discarding any excess oil.
Rinse and wipe skillet dry. Lightly oil skillet and place over high heat. Allow oil to become very hot. Saute tofu again, tossing with a spatula until evenly browned. Sprinkle with tamari to taste. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast to coat, tossing vigorously. Saute for a few seconds and then remove from heat.
Because tofu is most commonly used in Asian cooking, I sometimes forget about cooking it in other styles. I came up with this next recipe as a way to broaden my thinking of tofu. I think it turned out quite nicely. We’ve been really hungry for Mediterranean food lately (and wishing for a Mediterranean climate!). There was a Greek restaurant in Seattle called Yanni’s that served the most amazing lemon roasted potatoes. We think of those potatoes quite often. They were the main inspiration for this dish. We served the potatoes and tofu steaks with a Greek salad.
Greek Style Tofu Steaks with Lemon Potatoes
1 block tofu, cut into 2 thin blocks approx. 1” thick
1 cup flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt (I used homemade rosemary sea salt)
freshly ground black pepper
grape seed oil
Mix flour with spices. Coat tofu steaks with flour mixture. Get skillet hot, add grape seed oil (2-3 Tbsp). Add tofu steaks to skillet and brown on each side, using tongs to flip.
4-6 red potatoes, washed
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp sea salt (or less)
freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tsp water
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cut potatoes into cubes. Place in a baking dish with olive oil. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon on top and toss with salt and pepper. Add 1 tsp water. Place in oven, stirring every 15 minutes. After half an hour, add more lemon juice. Roast for a total of 45 minutes to an hour.
And for my last tofu trick… this dish was inspired by a dish we had at a Chinese restaurant long ago.
Chinese Style Tofu with Mushrooms & Baby Bok Choy
1 block extra firm tofu, cut into little triangles
1-2 cups flour
1 tsp 5 Spice
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 Tbsp grape seed oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
2 cups mixed mushrooms (shiitakes, chantrells, button…), sliced
3 bunches baby bok choy, chopped
2 Tbsp Nama Shoyu
2 Tbsp Mirin (rice wine)
1 Tbsp organic cane sugar
1 Tbsp organic corn starch
2 Tbsp water
Cut tofu into triangles. Mix flour with next 5 ingredients in a medium size bowl. Heat pan on the stove on medium high. Add 2 Tbsp grape seed oil. Coat tofu wedges in flour mixture and place in oil. Brown tofu on both sides and then place on paper towel to drain. In another pan (or same one, cleaned), heat 1 Tbsp grape seed oil. Add onion and saute. Add in garlic, mushrooms, and bok choy. Add in Nama Shoyu, Mirin, and stir. Mix corn starch with water and sugar. Add tofu back into the pan and coat with the vegetables and sauce. Add corn starch mixture. Stir. Serve over brown jasmine rice.
All week, we’ve been totally enjoying Espresso Banana Muffins for breakfast. I found this recipe in Heidi Swanson’s cookbook, Super Natural Cooking. They are delicious!
And, I will close with another cookie recipe. This is another variation of those yummy Flat & Chewy Cookies from the Saveur and NY Times cookbook that I blogged about a few weeks back. I think the secret to making really delicious and much healthier food is using really good quality ingredients. I think you can really taste and feel a difference.
Pistachio & Cacao Cookies
1 cup packed organic brown sugar
1 cup organic cane sugar
2 sticks unsalted organic butter, softened
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour (White Lily’s the best!)
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
⅓ cup raw cacao powder
1 cup roughly chopped raw pistachios
In a bowl, beat sugars and butter with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, 1–2 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time; beat in vanilla. Add flour, salt, soda and stir in. Add cacao and nuts. Mix until just combined. Chill. Once batter is cold, form into 3 small logs about ¾”-1” thick. Wrap in plastic and keep in refrigerator or you can freeze.
Heat oven to 350°. Slice dough logs into ½” thick discs and transfer to parchment paper–lined baking sheets spaced 3″ apart, and gently flatten. Bake 12-14 minutes.
Over and out… hey, which reminds me that I should blog about my love of Trucker Music soon!!