Saturday, May 01, 2010

A Friday Night Feast

Well, it's coming to the end of the semester, which for me means very little except there are lots of loud parties taking place around my neighborhood.  For Steve though, the end of the semester means lot's and lot's and lot's AND LOT'S of work.  For the next week or so we basically only see each other when he goes to bed and I'm getting up. Since he's been so busy and stressed I decided to treat him to a nice meal Friday night.  I'm really lucky because 90% of the time Steve makes us dinner, so I wanted to say thank you for that.  I also wanted him to be able to get some work done while I made dinner ( which means I probably shouldn't have supplied him with wine). 

Since I had forgot to take any meat out of the freezer and I didn't want to buy more since we have an entire farm in our freezer I decided to do a vegetarian meal.  I started off with Carrot and Tofu soup.  I know this sounds kind of weird but trust me it's very good!  Steve said it tasted like lobster bisque, which I've never had, but maybe that's a good thing?  Not only is it very tasty, it's very filling since it's filled with tofu.  This could easily be a meal on it's own.
 For the main course I made a Turnip and Parsnip Gratin.  Although this is probably not an ideal spring food (it'd be better suited for a cold winter night) it was very good; a definite comfort food.
 I finished the night off with strawberry shortcakes (no pictures).  I cheated though and bought the store brand spongecake things.  I did make fresh whipped cream though! 

All said I was really happy with how everything turned out.  Nothing was  really difficult so it was a mostly stress free meal (except for the minor fire in my broiler because Steve left a pan with food gunk in there! UGH!).

Tofu-Carrot Soup - Recipe copied From Better Homes and Gardens

  • 1  8-oz. pkg. sliced button mushrooms (2 1/2 cups)
  • 2  stalks celery, sliced
  • 1  medium onion, sliced
  • 2  cloves garlic, minced
  • 2  Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4  cups sliced carrots
  • 1  12.3-oz. pkg. silken-style firm tofu (fresh bean curd), cut up
  • 3  14-oz. cans vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 1  5-oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1  tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2  cup dairy sour cream
  •   Fresh thyme (optional)
  •   Cayenne pepper (optional) 

In 4- to 6- quart Dutch oven cook mushrooms, celery, onion, and garlic in hot oil over medium heat for 5 minutes or until softened. Add carrots and broth to mixture. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until tender.
Let soup cool slightly. Cut up tofu. Place the tofu and half of the broth mixture in a large food processor or blender. (If you don't have a large food processor or blender, process mixture in smaller batches.) Cover and process or blend until smooth. Repeat with remaining broth mixture and evaporated milk. (I just left it all in the pot and used an immersion blender.) Cover and process or blend until smooth. Return all blended soup to Dutch oven and heat through. Stir in the 1 teaspoon thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Top servings with sour cream thinned with 2 to 3 teaspoons water, snipped thyme, and pepper.

Turnip-Parsnip Gratin - Recipe copied from Cooking Light 

  • 3 3/4  cups  (1/8-inch-thick) slices peeled turnip
  • 3 3/4  cups  (1/8-inch-thick) slices peeled parsnip
  • 6  cups  water
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  cup  whole milk
  • 1/3  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  • 1  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) shredded Gruy√®re cheese
  • 2  tablespoons  butter
  • 1/4  cup  panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

I used an 11x13 pan so I doubled the recipe and it worked out nicely.  It also left lot's for leftovers!

1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 7 minutes or until almost tender. Drain; let stand 5 minutes. Arrange about 1/2 cup vegetable mixture into each of 8 (5 1/2-inch) round gratin dishes coated with cooking spray.
3. Combine milk, broth, flour, salt, and pepper in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a simmer. Cook 4 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk until thick. Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Spoon about 3 tablespoons sauce over each serving.
4. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add panko; toast 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over cheese mixture. Place dishes on a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown on top. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.