Garden, Plant, Cook!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Thrillin' Grillin' at the Arboretum

Howdy Folks,

Once or twice a year I do a food demo at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in conjunction with their annual Fall or Spring plant sale. Today's demo recipes are below. (The demo is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Click on the title of this post to go to the Arboretum site.

I do some foods cooked directly on the grill and prepare some side dishes ahead of time to go with them. The whole point is to illustrate how to prepare foods without salt or fats being the main focus of flavor.

In today's menu I have decided to highlight rosemary, along with garlic, black pepper (I'm using one of my own blends "RosemaryPlus" but you can put your own version together) and an herb jelly for marinating. I usually do one or more side dishes with tofu or green soy beans (edamame) because so many folks either have never tried them, don't know how to cook with them, or think they taste awful. I've 'converted' many to the wonderful ways with tofu (its blessing and its curse is its blandness), and introduced many to the nice nuttiness of green soy beans (the immature soy bean). Since this food is one of only two (known to this point) complete protein from plant sources (the other one is quinoa), its all around nutrient density, plus fiber is something everyone should add once or twice a week to their meal planning.

This summer I got to experiment with making herb jellies using one of my favorite convenience foods -- frozen juice concentrate (remember only get the 100% no-sugar-added varieties -- see my post Sodas and Sorbets), and I was pleased with how they turned out. If you have ever glazed a chicken or turkey with fruit preserves, or made a ham with pineapple slices then using an herb jelly as a marinade is the same concept.

The sugars carmelize the meat, and add a sweet/savory note to it.

If I don't see you today, enjoy experimenting on your own.

Marinated Chicken Thighs
Kiwi/Strawberry/Lavender Jelly and a little Olive Oil for marinade
Cranberry/Raspberry/Rosemary Jelly and a little Olive Oil for marinade

1 to 1 a half pounds of skinless, boneless chicken thighs
half a cup of herb jelly
1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil

Gently warm the jelly to liquify. Place rinsed chicken thighs in a ziplock bag or glass container. Add olive oil to jelly, pour over chicken, seal bag and gently mush the chicken with the marinade. Let rest in refrigerator for 4 hours before grilling. Grill approximately 20 minutes, turning first about 5 minutes, and then turning every 4-5 minutes or so for even browning. Serve and enjoy.

Tofu Salad
Substituting tofu for tuna** in a blend of ingredients gives you a tasty and satisfying sandwich 'salad' that can be served in a pita pocket or a hollowed tomato, avocado, or with crackers.
14 oz. firm tofu, drained and diced fine
half to one small apple diced, and acidified* (I like gala apples for this)
1/3 cup+ diced celery (use the inner stalks and leaves)
1/3 cup of ground walnuts
1 tablespoon drained capers or green olives, minced
2 teaspoons of RosemaryPlus
pinch of salt (tofu needs a little salt because of its blandness)
Enough mayonnaise (or soy mayo for Vegans) to bind together (I prefer real mayo, but the soy mayo works okay - a little sweet for my taste).
Most tofu comes in a sealed tray with water, cut the plastic cover cleanly off, but don't discard, drain container water, put the plastic back on (or replace with plastic wrap) and weigh down with a large can (28 oz type of tomatoes or fruit) for about 15 minutes. The weight presses more moisture out of the tofu, leaving it firmer and drier. Dice tofu into small (1/4 inch) dice.
Toss tofu with RosemaryPlus and salt and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes to enhance flavor. Add remainder of ingredients, mix well with out mashing. Serve and enjoy.
*Placing diced apple in lemon water keeps the apple from turning brown.
**replace tofu with two 6 ounce cans of water-packed tuna, drained. No additional salt is needed.

Bean and Potato Salad
I have a faster way for potato salad when I do not have a lot of time to boil, cut etc. I use frozen diced potatoes (Potatoes O'Brien will also work and sometimes the diced are sold as "Southwest style hash browns"). The addition of green soy beans (or one-inch cut green beans) adds color, and crunch. The lemon juice brings out the real flavor of the potatoes, and rosemary is a super herb with potatoes.
2 lbs frozen diced potatoes
1 lb frozen shelled green soy beans (Edamame)
half a red bell pepper, diced
half a yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon of RosemaryPlus
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
Olive oil (approximately 1/2 cup)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Gently squeeze frozen potatoes in bag to break up — do the same with the frozen soy beans.
Place potatoes in a pot of cold salted water and bring to a boil. They will be done just about when the water comes to a full boil — about 10 minutes, don't over cook, drain and put back into the hot pot to ‘dry out a little'
Meanwhile bring another pot of salted water to a boil. Pour in soy beans, stir, set the timer for 6 minutes, bring back to a boil and remove from heat once it reaches a low boil. Cover and let sit until the timer goes off. Drain.
As soon as both the beans and potatoes are done sprinkle with seasoning, toss gently. Add olive oil toss as you go (the starch in the potatoes soaks up a lot of oil). Sprinkle with lemon juice, add peppers and toss to mix. Taste for S&P and adjust.

Send this to family and friends and suggest they subscribe to the blog. Have a great day!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady