27 October 2009

A Miss and a Few Hits

It's easy to get too ambitious in the kitchen.  I'm all for trying new things and I've become increasingly open to foods I may not have even heard of only a few years ago.  Often, braving the world outside of my culinary comfort zone brings about positive results--such as broadening my palate and fostering creativity--but sometimes the venture introduces food I do not particularly enjoy.  That, of course, can also be positive in the sense that I at least will have discovered that I do not like a certain item and can store that knowledge away for future reference.  I am no stranger to such "learning experiences."

I discovered tonight, for example, that I am not a fan of broccoli rabe.  I bought a small bundle of it on a whim the other day, and having heard that it is slightly bitter, ended up boiling it in vegetable broth.  I thought that a good, long simmer in the salted broth would take care of the bitterness, but when I bit into it, the leafy green veggie seemed to bite back; it was sharp, bitter, and a little too unappetizing for me.  It reminded me of how I have yet to develop a taste for mustard greens, another bitter vegetable that, on multiple occassions, I've tried hard to like, with little success.  Needless to say, I won't be giving either green a go for awhile.

Thank goodness for tempeh.  Yes, it is also slightly bitter if not cooked properly, but I've learned that simmering the tempeh for a bit in salted water or broth will take care of that quite nicely.  Sauces or other seasonings also help, of course.  What is wonderful about tempeh, too, is that it is sturdy enough to undergo a good boil, grilling, or probably any other way one might want to cook it.  Tonight, I browned boiled cubes of tempeh before simmering them in a maple-shoyu -garlic sauce.  It turned out sweet and savory without being too much of either, and paired well with mashed, roasted cauliflower and potatoes (the broccoli rabe made no further appearances, unfortunately).  A sprinkling of toasted almond pieces added a nutty crunch.
Another success, and one that is hard to mess up: raw frozen yogurt.  It's amazing how a food processor can transform a frozen banana into a convincing frozen yogurt facsimile.  It makes a great dessert (or snack), either plain or topped.  I particularly enjoy this fool-proof treat with a bit of granola or a drizzle of chocolate sauce.  And when not everything goes as planned, it never hurts to end with a winner.

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