Sunday, May 9, 2010


Spring is here...and that means asparagus is, too. I like to pick my own asparagus. If you haven't done this, you must. Asparagus is a perennial, so it just keeps returning and growing in a random fashion. You just find mature stalks and snap them right there...and you can eat asparagus raw right out of the ground. It's so tender and sweet!

I made a fritatta out of some of my asparagus. There are no pictures, but it was yummy...mushrooms, asparagus, and eggs. What's not to love?

Anyway, here's what the asparagus looked like in its natural habitat.

And here's what it looked like when I was finished with it.

You might notice that the sesame seeds are missing. That's because I toasted them separately (not with the tofu, as directed). I added them at the end, after I took this photo. I did take photos, but I didn't like any of them, so you don't get to see them.

Sesame Tofu Stir-Fry over Rice - from Cooking Light

1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 (1-pound) package firm or extrafirm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons peanut oil
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
Cooking spray
4 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 3/4 pound)
3 cups (2-inch) slices asparagus (about 1 pound)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee)
2 cups cooked long-grain brown rice

Combine sesame seeds and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add the tofu cubes; toss gently to coat. Combine oils in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu; stir-fry 5 minutes or until tofu is golden. Remove tofu from pan; keep warm.

Return pan to heat; coat with cooking spray. Add mushrooms; stir-fry 3 minutes or until mushrooms begin to brown. Add asparagus; stir-fry 4 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Reduce heat to medium; stir in green onions.

Combine broth and next 4 ingredients (broth through garlic sauce). Add broth mixture to pan; remove from heat (sauce will thicken). Add tofu and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss gently to combine. Serve over rice.

A Non-Easter Bread Pudding

So, what's a girl who doesn't celebrate Easter to do on Easter Sunday?

I don't know. But why not make a bread pudding and feed it to your Episcopalian friend who is celebrating the fact that she can drink alcoholic beverages again, now that those 40 days are over? That's what I did.

I know what you're thinking. Easter was a long time ago. It's true. What can I say? I'm working on a doctorate, so sometimes other things slide a bit. Especially when those other things are my "Hey, no pressure!" projects.

Back to the bread pudding.

First I jaunted over to my neighborhood bakery and got some of that yummy, crusty, European style bread. I cut it up into cubes and put in in a dish suitable for baking.

Then, I measured out some goat cheese.

You know a dish is going to be good when it calls for gobs of goat cheese.

Next? Add some milk. Mine got a fleck of bread crust in it, so if you want to follow in my footsteps, make sure yours does, too. But know that the recipe doesn't call for it.

And now...more cheese! Cottage, this time.

That's not very appetizing. Throw in some pepper to cover up those unappealing lumps.

Now, add some eggs. I don't have a picture for this step. Sometimes I take photos and they look fairly splendid on my little 1.5 inch viewer and not so splendid when I can see them full size.

So, use your imagination. You know what eggs look like. Just picture them mixed into that white, pepper-flecked concoction up there.

Pour that yummy cheesiness over the bread crumbs and add some green onions. Admittedly, this was a mistake on my part. The onions were supposed to be saved for last.

Bake it, and then it gets all golden and gooey and delicious. Trust me on that last part. I am now a HUUUUUUGE fan of savory bread puddings. So easy and tasty! That said, I can almost guarantee that the glass of wine I had with it wasn't nearly as good as my friend's. Forty days will make a cheap white taste spectacular. At least, that's what I hear.

The recipe instructed me to wait 40 minutes after removing this scrumptiousness from the oven, so that it would have time to set. I am not nearly that patient. I served it immediately and bit into it as soon as I felt reassured that my tongue wouldn't suffer any injury.

Savory Bread Pudding with Goat Cheese - from Cooking Light

1 (1-pound) loaf firm white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 12 cups)
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled goat cheese, divided
2 cups fat-free milk
1 cup 1% low-fat cottage cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs
3 large egg whites
1/4 cup sliced green onions

Preheat oven to 350°.

Arrange bread in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Combine 1/2 cup goat cheese and next 5 ingredients (through egg whites) in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Pour milk mixture over bread; top with remaining 1/2 cup goat cheese. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Remove bread pudding from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Uncover and bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until set and golden brown. Sprinkle with onions.