Archive | May, 2013

A Tuesday two-fer: Two sweet-and-sour salad recipes

28 May Carolina Coleslaw
Carolina Coleslaw

Carolina Coleslaw

Today’s blog is a two-fer because if you don’t like cabbage, or you don’t have a cabbage, or you’re sick of cabbage, you can substitute cucumbers and follow the exact same recipe. Use three large cucumbers, peeled and sliced thin, or two English cucumbers, which you can peel or not .

I’ve been making this recipe for years. I adapted it from a recipe I clipped from a magazine. It’s attributed to “Mrs. McCollum.”  I use about half the dressing originally called for, and it’s ample. You can adjust the amounts and use even less if you use less cabbage. You can substitute Splenda for the sugar with no ill effect (unless, like my kids, you think using Splenda in the first place is an ill effect).

This salad will keep for two weeks or more in the refrigerator.

Carolina Coleslaw

Ingredients:

1 large cabbage, about 3 lb., quartered, cored and shredded finely (or cheat and use a bag of coleslaw mix)
1 bell pepper, any color, sliced thinly or diced
1 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. celery seeds
½ cup vinegar
⅓ cup vegetable or olive oil

Sweet Sweet & Sour Cucumber Salad

Sweet & Sour Cucumber Salad

Directions:

Combine cabbage, pepper and onion in a large bowl. Mix sugar, salt, mustard and celery seeds in a small saucepan. Add vinegar and oil and bring to a boil. Continue to cook a few minutes over low heat until sugar dissolves. (Alternatively, put everything into a large measuring cup and heat to boiling in the microwave. Stir well to make sure the sugar is dissolved.)

Pour the hot dressing over the cabbage and toss well to mix. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Plan to let it sit at least three hours before you serve it.

Serves about 12

Chicken Stir Fry

21 May Chicken Stir-Fry

Chicken Stir-FryWe had a lot of chicken left over after I made roast chicken Friday for just the two of us. Even after making chicken salad for lunch, I still had leftover cooked chicken. A stir fry for supper was the ideal way to use it up.

I don’t usually follow a recipe when I make a stir fry. I wing it, following a few basic principles. I use a lot of veggies, but the exact mixture depends on what I have on hand or what’s available inexpensively at the store. I like to use garlic and ginger for flavor. For a sauce, I concoct something from soy sauce, honey or sherry, and chicken or vegetable stock, thickened with a little cornstarch. If I want a little heat, I mix in some chili paste (available in the Asian section of the grocery store or Asian food stores.) Sometimes I just use a bottled sauce like Soy Vay or Trader Joe’s Soyaki.

If you want to make a vegetarian stir fry, use cubed firm tofu instead of chicken — or just use an additional 2 cups of vegetables.

Sometimes I use a little sesame oil in place of some of the vegetable oil. (Sometimes I don’t, because I forget I have sesame oil available before Iput the vegetable oil in the wok!) You don’t want to use all sesame oil because it’s very strongly flavored and also very expensive, compared to plain old cooking oil.

The essence of stir frying is to use just a little bit of oil. Make it very hot before you add the other ingredients, and cook them quickly over high heat, constantly stirring as the ingredients cook. Vegetables should retain their crunch.

I know this is all very vague, so I wrote down what I did last night, because it was yummy. You can easily substitute other vegetables, including broccoli (cut it into small flowerets and blanch in boiling water for about a minute before stir frying), sliced bok choy, julienned carrots, julienned zucchini, asparagus broken into 1-inch pieces, sliced or diced water chestnuts, or bean sprouts. Use about 3 cups vegetables total for two servings, and about 2 cups of cooked chicken (or thinly sliced rare beef).

Ingredients:

3 Tbs. soy sauce
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. bottled ginger (or use fresh grated)
1 tsp. honey
½ tsp. chili paste with garlic
½ cup vegetable or chicken stock
2 Tbs. vegetable or peanut oil
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
½ cup thickly sliced mushrooms
¼ cup diced red pepper
1 cup snow peas, strings removed
½ cup bamboo shoots
2 scallions, sliced
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed

Directions:

Mix the soy sauce and cornstarch until smooth. Add the ginger, honey, chili paste and vegetable or chicken stock and set aside. Heat the oil in a wok or a large, heavy skillet. Fry the garlic for a few seconds, then add the mushrooms and red pepper and stir fry. When they start to soften, after a minute or two, add the snow peas and bamboo shoots and stir fry for a another minute or two until the peas are tender. Add the scallions and stir fry for another 30 seconds. Add the sauce, and stir constantly until all the vegetables are coated and the sauce thickens a bit. Finally, add the chicken and stir to coat it with the sauce and mix it with the vegetables. Cook just another minute or so until the chicken is hot. Serve over rice.

Serves 2

Cheese Souffle

14 May

Cheese SouffleTonight starts the Jewish festival of Shavuot (Weeks). It’s customary to eat dairy foods. You may ask why. You won’t get an answer here. There’s no definitive answer. There’s a lot of speculation, too detailed and esoteric for me to get into now. My answer must echo Tevye: “Tradition!”

Here’s a nice recipe for a delicious dairy supper. It isn’t a true souffle, which would involve starting with a white sauce, adding cheese and egg yolks and then folding in beaten egg whites. This is a lot easier because you start with stale bread cubes. It’s actually more of a savory bread pudding, but what comes out of the oven looks and tastes a lot like a souffle, so go ahead, call it a souffle!

I always turn bread that’s past its prime into bread cubes. I keep them in a large bowl on the counter to dry out, tossing them occasionally. If there’s a big holiday coming up that calls for a turkey, I’ll use it for stuffing. Otherwise, when I get enough I make a bread pudding of some sort. The dry bread cubes will keep for weeks as long as they don’t get wet!

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. butter (optional)
1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
4 scallions, chopped (optional)
2 Tbs. white wine (optional)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 to 6 slices stale white bread, crust trimmed and cut into cubes
4 eggs
2 cups milk
¼ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. dry mustard
dash of Worcestershire sauce or cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions:

If you plan to use the mushrooms, scallions and wine, melt the butter in a skillet, add the mushrooms, scallions and wine and cook until the mushrooms are soft and the liquid is evaporated.

Trim the crusts from the stale bread and cut it into cubes. Grease a casserole or soufflé dish and place the bread cubes in it. Add the mushroom-scallion mixture and the cheese. Beat the eggs well. Add the milk, thyme and mustard, and the Worcestershire sauce or cayenne pepper if you use it. Pour over the bread cubes and mix lightly to be sure all the cubes are coated with the egg-milk mixture. Wait at least 10 minutes, preferably a little longer, for the egg-milk mixture to be absorbed into the bread. (You can leave it to soak as long as overnight, but cover it and put it in the fridge if you are going to wait more than an hour or two, and then bring the dish back to room temperature before baking.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake the soufflé for 35 to 45 minutes until it is puffed and golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. It will sink a little as it cools.

Serves 4

Spinach and Cabbage Salad

7 May

Spinach and Cabbage SaladYikes! I needed a dish for a potluck and didn’t have any time to cook. Solution? This wonderful Spinach and Cabbage Salad, which is soooo easy and soooo yummy!  You can eat mountains of it without worrying about calories too much, because it’s full of fiber and not too heavy on the dressing. The hardest part is picking over the baby spinach to get rid of any really long stems and slimy pieces. If you buy a package of spinach a day or two before you’re making the salad, and it has a good “use by” date, you shouldn’t have to throw away much at all.

If you make this for a potluck and need to drive a long way, or if you have to mix up the ingredients more than an hour before you serve it, add the dressing at the last minute.

Don’t use the entire half-bottle of dressing to start. If you prefer a lightly-dressed salad, you might want to use less. So start with one-quarter or one-third of the bottle and add more if you need to.  Just be sure all the vegetables are coated and the salad seems moist.

You can eat any leftovers the next day, but after that it will be too soggy to enjoy.

Ingredients:

3 cups shredded cabbage or pre-packaged slaw mix (or just use the whole package, which is probably more than 3 cups)
1 bag baby spinach (pick over it to get rid of long stems and slimy bits)
½ cup toasted slivered or sliced almonds
½ cup golden raisins
½ bottle Vidalia onion salad dressing (Westborn Market makes a good one)

Directions:

Combine cabbage, spinach, almonds and raisins. Add dressing just before serving and toss well so that all the ingredients are coated.

Serves 8 to 10