Sunday, July 12, 2009

Blueberry Barbeque Tofu

July 13th is the Eastern Orthodox feast day for Saint Margaret of Antioch, the patron saint of child birth, pregnant women, dying people, kidney disease, peasants, exiles, and against dragons. Seriously.

(a 15th century German reliquary for a piece of Saint Margaret's body, attributed to Nicolaus Gerhaert)

Most of Margaret's story is pretty standard for a saint. The pagan authorities in her home town of Antioch (in present day Turkey) tried to execute her for refusing to sacrifice to their gods; first they burned her at the stake, then they tried to boil her in a huge pot. T
hey finally got it right by beheading her.
The really fascinating part, though, happened sometime before all this when Margaret was swallowed by a dragon, only to be saved when her ever-present crucifix irritated the dragon's belly and it spit her back up. The Catholic church has even since the middle ages called bullshit on this story, but that did not stop St. Margaret's cult from being one of the most important - she was even one of the saints said to have appeared to Joan of Arc.

This recipe for Blueberry Barbeque Sauce accomplishes several things:

1. the coffee and spices definitely lend a very Turkish flare to the sauce

2. the habanero gets you pretty damn close to dragon-fire levels of heat (Be really careful when chopping it up! And do nooooot touch your face for awhile! Seriously!)

3. Its a really excellent way to use up seasonal blueberries that are probably just going to go to waste in the fridge.

The recipe is for the sauce only - it is enough to smother 2lbs of tofu. I dry fried and then marinated (using this technique) and stir fried my tofu with some onion and sweet peppers. You could also easily use this sauce to make some baked tofu, though baking things in the middle of July is not super high on my list.

Dragon-Fire Blueberry Barbeque Sauce, used to marinate tofu:

  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1/3 habanero pepper
  • 1/3 c. dark beer (guess you'll just have to drink the rest of it!)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tso ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coffee
  • 1 tsp Durango chili or chipotle powder
Put everything in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer for about 45 minutes. Put it all in a blender (you may want to add 1/4 cup water) and blend it up!
(adapted from The Food Network's Michael Symon's sauce recipe)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

New Feature: Saintly Feasts

Sometimes things that you love in your life fall by the wayside - be it too little time or maybe too many self-defeating habits, sometimes it just takes a little effort to get back into the swing of things. Our little blog has languished in purgatory for too long, and I am hereby resurrecting it with a new bi-weekly, or possibly monthly, or possibly just whenever-I-feel-like-it recipe feature I'm calling Saintly Feasts.

While I'm a pretty strident atheist, I've always had a huge fascination with catholic saints - the strange and mystical powers so many claimed to have, the gruesome deaths, the veneration of relics from pieces of cloth to pieces of foreskin that are housed in tremendously elaborate, beautiful, and mystifying shrines. I just love these guys and what better way to put that love to use than resurrecting the centuries-old tradition of the catholic feast days.

Essentially, every saint has a specific day where those who follow them feast in their remembrance. Most days have more than one saint to venerate, but I'm just choosing the most personally interesting to me. For each of these feast days I will be featuring a recipe that ties in to the saint's story and history - learn some cool cocktail party quips about some fascinating dead people, make some yummy food in their honor, and eat! That's really what all this is about, anyway.

So, Saintly Feasts feature the first: May 18, Saint Venantius of Camerino
Patron of: Camerino, Umbria, Italy
usually portrayed: hanging upside down with smoke/flames coming from his head

In 250 CE at the age of 15 after being accused of the crime of preaching, Saint Venantius was whipped within an inch of his life, his head was set on fire, he was tossed into a pit of lions, tossed off a cliff, beaten so that all his teeth fell from his head, and was then beheaded. At some point he died and a basilica was built outside of Camerino, Umbria where he was buried. Waters from a spring near this basilica could supposedly cure lepers. Which is cool, but not really as cool as this simple, raw Umbrian anchovy sauce or salsa d'acciughe which takes 5 seconds to throw together, turns into the prettiest pale yellow color, and can be used it for nearly anything - use it as a marinade, a baste for some grilled summer vegetables, or toss it with some pasta (this should cover about half a pound) and top with peccorino cheese. I added a roasted tomato to mine for a litlte extra umph. This recipe is adapted from Mary Ann Esposito's Ciao Italia in Umbria.

Salsa d'Ancciughe, Umbrian Anchovy Sauce (makes about 2/3 of a cup)

4 anchovy fillets packed in olive oil, drained

1 tablespoon capers in salt, rinsed and dried

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

2/3 extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1 large lemon

4 mint leaves

sea salt to taste

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Food-process this stuff up (not too much - you don't want to obliterare everything, just process a few seconds to mix and get everything minced) and then let it sit at room temperature for a few hours to marinate.

Now eat it up and don't forget to think of poor Saint Venantius' burning head while doing so!


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Gold Glitter Spray Paint for Life

A few weeks ago, I found this wooden horse wall-art at Savers:

I loved it, but it was the most boring color! So out came the trusty gold glitter spray paint:

I am convinced that gold glitter spray paint is the solution to most problems. Ugly piece of furniture? Spray glitter it! Ugly pair of shoes? Spray 'em! (Though, a note for the wise: Whatever shoes you are wearing when you use glitter spray will probably also be dusted with the stuff. My black oxfords now have a strange gold sheen. Actually, pretty much anything in the area will be a target for this stuff, so make sure to spray outside!)