We gave up restaurant dining* for Lent, so you’d think I would have a bunch of new recipes to share here! Instead, we’ve gotten into a comfortable groove with some of the favorites from the last two months – we’ve made the 1-pot curry a couple of times – multiple times in a week, in fact, because the recipe doesn’t use up an entire can of curry paste, and since it only lasts about a week in the fridge (and we love it so), we’ll make it again within a few days. We have roasted vegetables with awesome sauce** and a starch (generally quinoa or brown rice) on the regular. And we’ve been making chococado pudding** a couple of times per week. N has also mastered an amazing and simple marinara that serves as the base of an excellent puttanesca, though we’re both burned out on pasta at the moment.
So while it’s been a good month for cooking, it hasn’t been a great month for cooking new things.
1. Chocolate Cake with Date Frosting – My New Roots
I don’t get to bake very often – it’s better for us to not have treats in the house – but I like to use N’s birthday to make something sort of over-the-top. The My New Roots cookbook has a recipe for just such a cake, with layers of chocolate and blood orange and deep chocolate frosting. N (wisely) decided he didn’t need an entire cake, so I scaled down the chocolate cake recipe to make four cupcakes – the right amount for us after a treat-filled weekend. The blog post linked above is frankly more over-the-top than the cake itself, which, while delicious, was a little too wholesome for my birthday cake tastes – but this wasn’t my cake, and N was delighted, so we’ll mark this one a success.
2. New Brunswick – Serious Eats
While prepping last month’s Jeweled Rice, I kept thinking how nicely the aromatics would pair with whiskey. While the fresh mint and orange zest were gone long before we restocked the liquor shelf, I made use of other things we had on hand to try a few new cocktails. The New Brunswick made efficient use of the pink grapefruit that had been lingering on our counter – and is my new drink obsession, as it is a nice balance of sweet and tart.
3. Wild Rice Salad – My New Roots
This seemed really promising, but the soaked wild rice was just…weird. Normally I’m a fan of dishes that mix textures, but this wasn’t one of them. It was a little too creamy with not enough crunch.
4. Baked Tofu
OK, this isn’t really a recipe so much as it is a different technique. I’ve never been super happy with my attempts to prepare tofu at home – sometimes the flavor is good, but the texture is almost always too soft for my liking. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve baked tofu a couple of times, and it’s SO MUCH BETTER. Baking cubed extra-firm tofu for 400F for 30-40 minutes yields chewy – maybe even a little crispy – cubes that are perfect for throwing in a salad or serving with roasted vegetables and awesome sauce. I’m super happy to have figured this out, and will be baking tofu like this ALL THE TIME going forward.
* We gave up restaurant dining for Lent with a couple of caveats. First, N’s birthday always falls during Lent, which means that he almost always has to make an exception to whatever he’s given up in order to enjoy his birthday. This year was no exception to that rule – we went to Dusek’s and had a really wonderful dinner, though not quite as spectacular as my birthday dinner in January. Second, I had a few days of work travel about halfway through Lent, and while I could have technically avoided restaurants, trying new foods in different cities is one of my favorite things about travel. Third, we exempted meals/dishes that were already paid for via gift cards or other freebies since the intent was to save money. Finally, we exempted grocery store takeout since that’s often a weeknight sanity-saver on nights when we have to run errands and won’t otherwise have time to cook.
** I somehow haven’t talked about awesome sauce OR chococado pudding here. I will remedy that in another post.