My friend, Kiley, dropped off a big bag of root vegetables that she had inadvertently stockpiled - weeks of CSA overflow. There were turnips and rutabagas and watermelon radishes and a long bumpy piece of horseradish, but I didn't know that when I opened the bag. Apart from the horseradish, they all looked like turnips.
I'm going to tell you right now - this is a bit more labor-intensive than what I would usually make for dinner on any given Thursday, but it was just so delicious that I could see it becoming a regular in our kitchen. Maybe I can get a kid to dip cubes of tofu in sesame seeds.
I was skeptical of the recipe too. I feared the tiny seeds wouldn't stick. I thought they would just burn in the hot oil. I thought the sauce had too much hoisin, and that it probably shouldn't be there at all. I hate steamed broccoli. And it was kind of a lot of work for something that I was pretty sure wasn't going to work.
But it did. As soon as I pulled one plump little pillow of sesame encrusted tofu from the sweet tart sauce and popped it in my mouth, I was totally hooked. And I needn't have feared the still crisp broccoli.
The recipe comes from Donna Klein's new cookbook, The Chinese Vegan Kitchen. She spent a year in Hunan province, where the food is spicy and fresh, teaching English in a middle school and committing herself to learning all about Chinese home cooking. We are so fortunate that she came home and wrote a book about it.
Over the summer when Desmond's swim teacher asked him what his favorite food was, he answered, "Indian food."
I'm not sure if that is entirely true or if that was simply all he could recall eating.
Cookbook author, Anupy Singla is completely responsible for my recent obsession with Indian cooking and my five-year-old's worldly palate. She's an Indian American Mom and former reporter who so, so successfully translates complex Indian flavors to the time constraints of the home cook without dumbing down the dishes one bit. Her recipes are realistic and super flavorful.
Nana called on Saturday. From the kitchen I could hear Desmond's side of the conversation:
Not so good.
I have a harlot fever.
A harlot fever.
A harlot fever.
To cut to the chase, he's sick, with Scarlet Fever. Did you know that people still got scarlet fever (and that my son's brain autofills for the word, harlot)? Me neither. So comfort foods (and not writing) have been at the top of our list this week. There have been tons of action-packed smoothies and miso soup with tofu to slither right down a sore throat. It turns out that scarlet fever is basically strep throat with a rash. Who knew?
I also recently discovered that my first born son's favorite meal is spaghetti with marinara sauce. Totally dull, I know, but we'll cut him some slack because he's five and he's got the harlot fever.
Here's our current family recipe. It's super simple and nicely balanced with a big ol' carrot adding a touch of nutritional variety as well as some mild sweetness to offset tart tomatoes. It's a great basic sauce to smother ravioli or dip a calzone or stir into baked ziti or just put on top of some curly whole grain pasta to please the simple palate of a sick kid.