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Fried Rice

13 Jul

Fried rice

This is more a method than a recipe, so take the amounts given below a little loosely.

Basically this is a great way to use up leftover rice and vegetables — and also chicken or beef, though those are not essential.

In my house, there are usually only two of us for dinner and it’s hard to make some things in small amounts. Stir-fried vegetables is one of those things, since you need a decent variety of veggies, and by the time to slice up even a small amount of half-a-dozen kinds of vegetable,  you’ve got more than you need for two side-dish servings.

Ditto with rice. My go-to rice-making method calls for 1 cup of rice, which makes enough for 4 servings, so we almost always have leftovers.

The other day I served rice and stir-fried veggies and I intentionally prepared more vegetables than I’d need so that I’d have some to use the next day with the leftover rice in a dish of fried rice. I used a small onion (sliced vertically), a few strips of red pepper, a quarter-pound of sliced mushrooms, a small summer squash (sliced), about a cup and a half of snow peas and three stalks of bok choy (sliced).

I also used bean sprouts, but I didn’t add them in with the other vegetables because they cook so quickly and get overcooked easily. When the vegetables for the first night’s dinner were almost done, I took out and set aside half of them for use the next day in the fried rice. Then I added the bean sprouts to my dish of stir-fried veg. and cooked for just a minute or so more The next day, when I made the fried rice, I added some fresh bean sprouts (and also a sliced scallion) to the leftover stir-fried vegetables.

Use any combination of vegetables that appeals to you; good choices include onion, mushrooms, snow peas, red pepper, broccoli, sliced bok choy, zucchini, sliced celery, matchstick carrots. Chop the vegetables into small pices. Stir-fry the veggies according to how much cooking time they need; start with the onion, followed by mushrooms, then do broccoli, red pepper, snow peas, celery, bok choy, carrots, etc. If you use bean sprouts and scallion, add them last because they take next-to-no-time to cook.

Make a thin pancake out of a beaten egg and slice it into threads. Alternately, you can scramble the egg and chop the cooked egg into small pieces.

The fried rice comes together very quickly as you heat a little bit of oil then fry up the cooked rice, the cooked veggies and the egg shreds. Finish with a little soy sauce and you’ve got a great supper!

Ingredients

1 egg
1½ to 2 cups cooked white or brown rice
2 cups chopped mixed stir-fried vegetables
1 cup leftover chicken or thinly-sliced cooked beef (optional)
1-2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 Tbs. soy sauce

Directions

Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat. Whisk the egg, and when the pan is hot, add a few teaspoons of oil and heat for 10 seconds, then add the egg and swirl it into a pancake. When it is firm but not brown, flip it quickly to set the other side and then slide out onto a plate. Roll the flat sheet of egg into a tube and slice. Set aside.

Heat the rest of the oil and add the rice, stirring quickly to coat it with the oil. Add in the vegetables and the chicken or beef if you use it, and the egg slices and stir to heat everything evenly. Add the soy sauce and stir for another minute or so to coat everything in the pan, then serve.

Serves 2

 

Smoky Brussels Sprouts

30 Nov

brussels sprouts, smoky

As long-time readers of this blog will know, I get a lot of my best recipes from Cooking Light magazine, which I have subscribed to for years. So I was devastated to see a notice in my most recent issue that it would be the last issue! Because my subscription still has about two years to go, I will instead get something called Eating Well, which they promise will have lots of the same features as Cooking Light. Color me cynical.

Meanwhile, try this easy and delicious recipe. I happened to have all the ingredients on hand, even smoked paprika. The sprouts came out crunchy and with a very nice flavor from the almonds, paprika and vinegar.

Combine the garlic, brown sugar, paprika and salt ahead of time in a small dish; you may want to measure out the vinegar too. This will make it easier to add them at the right time.

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved if large
1 Tbs. chopped garlic
2 tsp. light brown sugar
1 tsp. smoked paprika
¼ tsp. kosher salt
3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs. chopped salted smoked almonds

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring often, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the garlic, brown sugar, smoked paprika and salt. Cook, stirring often for another minute, then remove from heat. Stir in the vinegar. Sprinkle with the chopped almonds and serve.

Serves 4

Roasted Eggplant with Garlic Tahini

8 Nov

eggplant-tahini-sauce.jpgThis is a good dish to serve as an appetizer, salad, or to accompany a main dish.

If you’ve never used tahini paste, be aware that it behaves in a very weird fashion. Usually the oil separates from the rest in the jar, so before you measure it, be sure to stir it well.

When you add liquid to tahini paste, it gets very stiff. Keep stirring and keep adding liquid (usually water or lemon juice) slowly while stirring until you get the consistency you want. It should be easily spreadable but still thick, a little like sour cream.

You can prepare this several hours in advance of serving and just keep it at room temperature.

Ingredients:

1 large clove garlic
Pinch salt
⅓ cup tahini paste
2 Tbs. lemon juice
⅓ cup water
4 to 6 small eggplants (“Italian” are good, or baby eggplants)
¼ cup olive oil, plus a little more for drizzling
4 sprigs rosemary
¼ cup chopped parsley
Kosher or coarse salt and ground black pepper
2 to 4 Tbs. toasted pine nuts

Directions:

Mash garlic and salt with a mortar and pestle until it forms a puree.

Combine tahini paste, garlic and lemon juice; the tahini will become stiff. Whisk in the water until it reaches a sauce-like consistency. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Roast the eggplant: cut each eggplant in half and score the flesh with the tip of a paring knife in a cross-hatch pattern at 1-inch intervals.

Place eggplant halves on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet, cut side up, and brush each with oil, letting each brushstroke get absorbed before brushing on more. Season with salt and pepper and put a piece of rosemary on each.

Roast eggplant until completely tender and well charred, about 25 to 35 minutes.

Toast pine nuts in a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently (be careful, they burn easily).

Arrange the eggplant halves on a serving platter and spread with tahini sauce. Sprinkle with the pine nuts, parsley and rosemary, and drizzle with a little additional olive oil (optional).

Serve at room temperature.

Serves 6 to 8

Charred Orange-Chile Broccoli

15 May

Broccoli, Orange-ChiliParve

Adapted from the May, 2018 issue of Cooking Light.

I found this recipe in Cooking Light magazine only about a month ago, and already I’ve made it twice, it’s that good.

Broccoli is so good for you! And did you know that by roasting it you not only improve the flavor, you shrink down the pieces so you can eat a lot more of it? When I boil or steam broccoli, we eat only about half a head at a time. When I roast it, we can easily eat a whole head between the two of us. So the recipe is right on when it tells you two heads will feed four people. (Of course if they are large heads of broccoli, you can probably stretch this to feed six.)

The sauce is very flavorful but not at all overwhelming, because you use only a little of it, and the ingredients meld very nicely together.

Ingredients:

2 heads broccoli, cut into florets
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. orange juice
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. light brown sugar
2 tsp. Asian chile-garlic sauce
2 tsp. dark sesame oil
2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Toss the broccoli with the olive oil and place on a large baking sheet. Roast until tender, 25 to 30 minutes, turning once or twice during the roasting.

While the broccoli is roasting, combine the orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar and chile-garlic sauce in a small saucepan or measuring cup and boil on the stove or microwave for about two minutes until it is reduced and slightly thickened.

Stir in the sesame oil, and drizzle the sauce over the roasted broccoli. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Joy’s Pineapple Kugel for Passover

27 Mar

Passover pineapple kugel

This is a very easy Passover recipe from my machatenista Joy Gardin. If you are not Jewish, you may not know that very useful Yiddish term for the mother-in-law of your child. A child’s father-in-law is a mechutan and together they are the machatunim. 

Anyway, this makes a nice change at Passover because it doesn’t contain any matzo meal, farfel or anything else to give it a distinctive Passover taste. It would be a good recipe for gluten-free people as well. Serve it as a side dish or even for dessert, because it’s sweet enough.

Ingredients:

4 eggs
½ cup oil
½ cup sugar
4 Tbs. potato starch
1 Tbs. vanilla sugar (optional)
1 tsp. baking powder (optional)
1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients except pineapple and stir well. Add drained pineapple and mix. Bake in a 9-inch round pan for about 40 minutes or until firm and lightly browned.

Serves 6 to 8

 

Cambodian Spiced Eggplant

7 Mar

I like to go to dinners organized by a group called Dining for Women. It’s a deceptively simple concept: invite a bunch of women to a potluck and contribute the money you would have spent on a restaurant meal to a nonprofit that helps women and girls in a third-world country.

Well, a dozen or so women in the suburbs or Detroit aren’t going to donate more than a few hundred dollars, but when the dinners are repeated in dozens of locations all over the country, some serious moolah  can be raised. The national organization chooses the recipient nonprofit, and provides a DVD for the dinner hostess showing the work the nonprofit does.

Last month’s dinner featured an organization in Cambodia that helps street children by giving them a place to live and teaching them useful skills so they can earn a living.

I looked for a simple Cambodian vegetarian recipe and found this one. Now the problem with eggplant — I admit it! — is it’s so visually unappealing, at least to me. If that’s your impression of eggplant too, get over it! It’s a delicious vegetable, and this combination of spices is very complementary.

I couldn’t find Asian eggplants so I used a large regular eggplant. And I didn’t have the fresh herbs for sprinkling on top, but the dish was still delectable. It’s also very easy to make, and leftovers reheat nicely.

Ingredients

6 Asian eggplants (small skinny ones) or two small or one large regular eggplant
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. white wine or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
½ tsp. ground coriander
Fresh coriander and mint to serve

Directions:

Chop the eggplant into pieces about a half-inch square.

Heat the oil in a wok and add the eggplant. Fry over a medium heat for about 4 minutes.

Combine all the other ingredients except the fresh coriander and mint in a small bowl and mix well.

Add the seasonings to the frying eggplant and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the eggplant is softened.

Sprinkle with the chopped fresh herbs.

Serve over hot cooked rice.

Serves 4 – 5

Corn Cakes

11 Oct

corn-cakesEvery August my son plays with his bluegrass band at the Wilson County Fair in Tennessee. One year he brought us back a bag of “traditional stone ground corn” from the Livesay Grist Mill at Fiddlers Grove in Lebanon, Tenn.

On the back of the bag is a recipe for “Miss Valerie’s Hot Water Cornbread” — which I ignored for the longest time because it doesn’t include eggs, like my usual cornbread recipe, and I wondered how it could be any good. Then my daughter said she’d tried it and loved it, so I gave it a try, and she was right!

I think of cornbread as something baked in a square  or round pan and then cut into squares or wedges. In this recipe, the cakes are fried on the top of the stove.

These corn cakes are very easy to make, and the they taste yummy with a drizzle of maple syrup.

Ingredients:

1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbs. sugar
1 cup boiling water

Directions:

Mix dry ingredients, then pour in hot water and mix quickly.

Heat 1/4-inch oil in a skillet, and drop the batter by tablespoons into the hot oil. Fry until golden on both sides.

Makes about 8 to 10 cakes.

Oven-roasted “fries”

29 Dec

Oven Fries

When my husband and I were in our carefree early 20s and living in London, we had a deep-fry pot, with an insert basket that let you put the food into the hot oil and then lift it out to drain. We kept the oil in the fryer on the stove, adding a little fresh oil every time we used it. We ate “chips” (aka French fries) almost every day.

Now, alas,  we don’t have a special pot in which we can keep oil just for making fries — nor would we want to, given our middle-aged metabolisms. So when we eat “fries,” they’re usually made in the oven.

Most of the time I don’t need a recipe. I just peel a couple of nice large baking potatoes and cut them into thick strips. Then I preheat the oven to 425 degrees. I put foil on a baking sheet and spray it with non-stick spray, like PAM. Then I put the potatoes on the sheet and spray them well with non-stick spray. I roast the potatoes in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning them over once so they brown evenly.

It you want to get a little fancier, here’s a nice recipe I got from Weight Watchers more than 30 years ago. The potatoes come out tasty-spicy but not hot-spicy.

Ingredients:

2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into strips
¾ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. chili powder
2 egg whites
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and coat it with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with a fork until frothy, then stir in the spices. Add the potato strips and toss until they are completely coated. Put the strips in a single layer on the baking sheet, and bake until barely tender, about 15 minutes. Turn the oven to Broil and broil until potatoes are crispy, about 10 minutes.

Serves 4

Baked Beans

15 Dec

Baked beans by Kelly GarbatoYou might think of baked beans as a summer-barbecue type dish. But if you want to make it from scratch, you need to leave it in the oven for many hours, making it a perfect recipe for these cold days of the year.

The recipe comes from Dr. Robert Wright, who oversaw the graduate program  in the Religion Department of Temple University, where I worked as a secretary right after we were married. At the end of the year, Dr. Wright had a barbecue for his students and invited us. He served these delicious baked beans and gave us the recipe.

These are old-style Boston baked beans, flavored with molasses and brown sugar rather than tomato sauce. It’s an inexpensive but hearty and satisfying dish, and the leftovers are good too

You can cook it overnight if you like. You can also make this in a slow cooker (on high) if you don’t want to keep your oven on that long.

Ingredients:

1 lb. white or pinto beans
1 large onion, sliced thin
3 Tbs. molasses
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
Pinch black pepper

Directions:

Soak the beans overnight, and then boil them in the same water for 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Drain beans but reserve the water.

In a large, heavy, oven-proof pot, layer the beans and the onions. Add the rest of the ingredients. Pour the bean water over so that the beans are just covered. Cover the pot tightly and bake for 8 hours.

Serves 8

Tunisian Couscous Pilaf with Chickpeas, Dates and Almonds

1 Dec

Couscous with Chickpeas. Dates amd AlmondsThis is adapted from a recipe I clipped from the Detroit Free Press. If you have turkey left over from Thanksgiving, consider chopping some into cubes or strips and adding it to this pilaf for a one-dish meal.

This dish has a nice range of flavors, from the sweet dates and almonds to the standard onion and garlic, the exotic combination of cumin, paprika, cinnamon and corinader, and just a hint of heat from the cayenne pepper.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
3 cups defatted low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
4 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup chopped, pitted dates
1 box (10 oz.) or 1½ cups couscous
½ tsp. salt or more to taste
¼ cup sliced, unblanched almonds, toasted
Black pepper to taste
1 cup thinly sliced green onions

Directions:

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.

Add the garlic, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, coriander and cayenne. Cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Add the broth, lemon juice, lemon peel, chickpeas and dates. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.

Add the couscous and salt, stir, then remove from heat and set aside, covered, for 5 minutes. The couscous should absorb all the liquid.

Fluff the couscous with a fork and add additional salt, if desired, and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds and the green onions.

Serves 8