Saturday, January 14, 2012

Day 7: In Honor of My Father

Not gonna lie--my dad one pretty badass culinary genius when it comes to Chinese food. Long story short, my twin sister and I were raised by multiple nannies growing up, who were all students that got free room and board by helping my mom take care of us in return. When we were in pre-school/kindergarten, we had a Chinese student come over named Yiping. She grew up extremely poor (I'm talking no-running-water-nor-electricity-in-her-house poor) and fled the student riots in Tiananmen Square (kind of like the student protests revolving around Occupy Wall Street right now). While taking care of us, my dad helped her get her degree, learn English,  and in return, she taught him the ways of Chinese cuisine. Now, my dad is a so-called Chinese food expert, and makes banquets every year, and he wrote a kosher-Chinese cookbook titled, From Lokshen To Lo Mein. Because of this, I made the recipe in his honor and used quinoa, which is a really good source of protein along with the tofu noodles! More Chinese recipes to come as Chinese New Year a week from Monday! AND it's the lucky year of the Dragon, so my dish will definitely be special. :)

Chinese Four-Layer Vegetarian Tier
Makes 2 servings

1/2 c. quinoa
half package of tofu noodles (same brand as mentioned in previous blogs)
1/2 c. crushed almonds
1 egg
1 c. frozen collard greens
1/2 c. fresh or frozen spinach (I had fresh)
1/4 of large eggplant (basically cut off one end, like in the stuffed eggplant boats recipe)

Chinese Oil:
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp light soy sauce (I used La Choy brand because it's gluten-free)
1/2 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp garlic adobo
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp allspice (should really be Chinese 5 Spice but I didn't have any)
1 packet of Splenda
2 tsp lime juice

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2) Cook quinoa in microwave on high for about 10 minutes (same as rice and it will have directions on the box) and let it settle for a few minutes
3) Grind almonds if you bought them whole (if not, ignore this step, haha)
4) Drain tofu noodles in colander
5) Zap the eggplant in the microwave for 2-3 minutes
6) Combine ingredients to make the Chinese oil in a small bowl.
7) In a larger bowl, mix quinoa with egg and almonds
8) Pour in half of the Chinese oil and stir until the mixture clumps together.
9) Line cupcake pan with aluminum cups and spoon in the quinoa mixture, topping it with a small spoonful of the tofu noodles.
10) Bake in oven for 35-35 minutes--until the tofu noodles look somewhat crispy on top.
11) Meanwhile, pour the remainder of the chinese oil into a large skillet and heat on medium heat for a few minutes
12) Dump in remainder of the tofu noodles along with the collard greens and spinach leaves.
13) Sautee on medium heat until the greens look wilted, lower the heat and let it simmer until the quinoa is done.
14) Once the quinoa is baked, I TRIED to remove the quinoa from the cupcake liners, thinking I'd have  nice quinoa cakes, but they fell apart, SO, just carefully separate the crispy tofu noodle topping and spoon out baked quinoa from 1 liner onto the center of a plate--you can save the remaining quinoa for a later dish. *Note: I think next time, I'll throw 2-3 more eggs in to see if it'll form a sturdier cake.
15) Place wilted greens on top of quinoa with the sautéed tofu noodles on top.
16) Layer the eggplant on top the tofu noodles and then top that with the crispy tofu noodle garnish and voila! A pretty tiered dish to eat!

Bon Appetit and Gambé! (That's 'Cheers' in Chinese)

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