Friday, February 25, 2011

Welcome Home Hubby! ... Meal

The Hubby was in his native Dominican Republic taking care of business for several weeks and boy did I miss him!  I was thinking about what to make him for his first dinner when he came back home, and I knew it had to be something with rice (he wants it literally almost everday, probably everyday if I would actually do it!) and something mimicing meat.  While he was in DR I am sure his mother was feeding him an abundance of meat and was thinking that he was either 1) sick of eating so much meat and wanted to stay away from the analouges for a while, OR 2) became obsessed/conditioned to eating so much that he automatically wanted to eat it everyday.  Anyway, I knew I had some pepper steak in the freezer and I knew he liked that, plus it has a very "meaty" texture, which I knew he would appreciate.  I also had some leftover tempeh bacon, and after discussing with the girls at work what I should make with it, I decided to add it to some collards, which would also lend a nice meaty-ness to the dinner.

So, I ultimately decided on making rice with gravy (he doesn't like the rice plain - he says it always needs some sort of sauce), pepper steak, and bacon sauteed collards.  It was a delicious welcome home dinner if I do say so myself!  And he certainly enjoyed it, saying how much he missed and appreciated my cooking.  That always makes me smile :)  So happy he is back home!  It's time to be more excited about cooking.  When you are just cooking for yourself, it can get boring because who are you really trying to impress?  Pretty much the whole time he was gone, the meals that I would cook would be eaten for at least three days straight and I was really bored of eating.  It's fun again.  Thanks Hubby!

Rice & Gravy, Bacon Sauteed Collards, Pepper Steak:

Collards with Tempeh Bacon, Rice & Gravy, Pepper Steak

Serves 2 (with a little extra gravy, but who doesn't love gravy!)

1 cup long grain white or brown rice, rinsed and cooked with 2 cups water, kept warm

2 prepared pepper steaks, thawed out and cooked in a small amount of oil for a couple minutes on each side

2 tablespoons oilive oil
1 medium onion, small diced, about 1 cup
3 tablespoons unbleached flour
6 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon tamari/shoyu
2 cups water, or more as needed
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Bacon Sauteed Collards:
2 tablespoons olive oil
6-8 1/2 strips homemade tempeh bacon

1/2 bunch collard greens, deveined and sliced into strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

1.  Begin by blanching the collards.  Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and submerse the collards in the water for about one minute, or until they turn a vibrant green and become tender.  Drain  the pot over the sink into a colander and allow the collards to drain and cool.  (The reason I blanch my greens briefly is so that they cook more evenly and there is not a chance for them to become bitter.)
2.  Make the gravy: In a medium pot over medium heat, add the 2 tablespoons of oil.  When it is hot, add the onions and saute until cooked, not browned.  Add the flour and nutritional yeast and whisk together.  Note that there is not a lot of oil in the gravy so this will not make a roux.  The idea is to toast the flour and yeast to give them flavor.  I was thinking that there was enough fat elsewhere in the meal, so reducing it sounded good to me!
3.  Once the flour, yeast, oil mixture has toasted for about three minutes, add the shoyu/tamari and whisk together.  Add the water and whisk immediately.  If you are not quick enough about whisking once the liquid is added, you will get lumps in the gravy.  The gravy will be very thin, but keep whisking periodically and it will thicken considerably.  Season with salt and pepper.
4.  Prepare the bacon: in a medium saute pan over medium heat, add the oil  and allow it to become hot.  Once it is hot, add the bacon slices and cook for a couple minutes on each side until nicely browned and fragrant.  Drain on a plate lined with paper towel.  (Remember to keep an eye on your gravy.)  Once the tempeh bacon is cool enough to handle, chop the bacon into small pieces.
5.  After about 10 minutes of cooking and stirring, your gravy should be cooked through and nicely thickened.  Season to taste and keep over low heat to stay warm.
6.  Prepare the collards: in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat, add the tablespoon of oil.  Once it is hot, add the garlic and cook for about one minute, or until the garlic is golden and fragrant.  Add the blanched, drained collards and saute for a minute until they are hot.  Add sea salt and black pepper to taste and carefully stir in the cooked bacon.  If you stir too vigorously, the bacon will crumble.
7.  To serve, portion a mound of rice on the plate, top with desired amount of gravy, and add a side of the collards and one of the pepper steaks. 



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