May 10, 2013
I don’t have photos of last night’s dinner. It was one of those that had a lot of prep work but the dishes mostly came together at the last minute, and then it was time to eat, not take pictures. Sorry. It was good, and it was relatively attractive, too.
I’d invited a couple of friends, one of whom is engaged in a huge renovation/construction/business opening project at the same time as the other is preparing to stage a 10-day music festival (Oh! to be young again and have that kind of energy!) over for dinner. I’d thought about German food, as they’re both beer connoisseurs, but it had gotten warm, and, well, I hadn’t had any good Asian food in a while. So I hit three countries with a dinner that featured okonomiyaki, fried rice and bahn mi lettuce wraps, and added a side of steamed snow peas in sesame sauce, for good measure, before finishing up by a return to the South with strawberry shortcake.
January 12, 2013
Not to mention it’s the first Saturday in a month I haven’t been traveling, or doing something else that took me out of the house. A run to the grocery and Sams may take me out of the house today, but that’s about it.
So, before we commence to ponder on what we might cook today, let us first review a meal I made for the kids last week in Nashville. I’d read the recipe for this salad in the New York Times’ Recipes for Health section; I altered it a little (subbed quinoa for wheatberries, so Child C and I could eat it, gave it a bit of an Asian dressing, and made shrimp fried rice to go with it.
Got too much oil in the dressing, but remedy that and you’d have you a good salad.
May 19, 2012
By my calculation, this week has been approximately 17 days long.
And I think it’s been at least eight days since I came back from Atlanta this past Wednesday. The 20-hour day on Thursday might have had something to do with that.
Don’t ever take a 6:05 a.m. flight out of Atlanta. Because those SOBs at Hartsfield do not start selling coffee until 6 a.m., at which time you are in your seat, phone turned off, pushing back from the gate. Never again.
It took me two double-shot lattes in Houston before I got over that.
April 6, 2011
It was dumpling week, over on Food 52, and they seem to be concentrating on Asian dumplings. I had been jonesing for fried rice. And it doesn’t take much time to toss together some Japanese pickles. So that was the name of dinner tonight.
Which I even plated on a cute little sushi plate for the photograph, because I really wasn’t hungry because, trust me, had I been, this would have in no way been enough fried rice for me. As it was, I sampled it to see how it was without the mirin I could not find in my pantry (answer: Not bad. Not as good as with it, but certainly edible, and in fact pretty damn tasty). I ate most of the pickles and both of the dumplings, and called that dinner.
That and a Red Stripe. Because I didn’t have any Tsing Tao or Sapporo or Kirin. Hey, call it fusion dining.
January 10, 2010
And me as the mad scientist. Even Mary Shelley had a good day every once in a while.
Even Child C liked the roast pork. The fact that both she and I liked it put it in the lexicon for good.
And it all started because I was thinking about posole. And I had this big honkin’ piece of pork shoulder, about six pounds worth, that I had (like a damn fool) put in the freezer all in one piece. Obviously, I had forgotten it was Not Summer, when I could’ve popped that baby on the grill and smoked him all day.
November 17, 2009
Some nights, I’m a little better than average, and some nights, what comes out of my kitchen really sucks out loud.
Tonight, I was ON.
April 18, 2009
Once I finally got up and going, after a solid 10 hours’ sleep, I got out and got busy today, fortunately getting home from all but the final errand — getting my nails done and picking up laundry detergent I’d forgotten at WalMart — before the rain started. Don’t have to leave the house tomorrow.
Memphis Farmers’ Market opened today. It’s early to have a whole lot, but I bought some potted herbs and some goat feta cheese. I never had goat feta cheese before; figured it was worth a shot. I was hoping the folks would be there with the artisan bread, but if they were, they sold out before I got there.
I bought curry, thyme, oregano, marjoram, purple basil, lemon verbena and parsley, in 4-inch pots, $4 apiece. Green tea with lemon verbena leaves is pretty wonderful, and they add a lot to salads and anything Vietnamese. Chiffonade the leaves and go. The herb chick said I could use them in anything that called for lemongrass, though they’re slightly sweeter, but that they’d have lemongrass in a month or two. I won’t be here in a month or two, but I can have someone go get it and bring it to me.
Then out to Bronte Bistro at Davis-Kidd Bookstore, where I met some friends for lunch and had some extremely wonderful tomato-basil soup and a Monte Cristo that was just average, and not what I would call a Monte Cristo at all. It was much more a Croque Monseuir, except it was served with bread that had been made into French toast. And it had TURKEY on it, ferchrissakes. I mean, that’s just wrong. It tasted good, but I had my mouth set for a Monte Cristo, and that bore no resemblance to one, because I knew Monte Cristo, Monte Cristo was a friend of mine, and you, Bronte Bistro, make no Monte Cristo.
Points to anyone who can ID that reference.
I will give them credit for a very good raspberry sauce for the not-Monte; it had a fair helping of horseradish in it, although it billed itself as Raspberry Dijon sauce. Good kettle chips, and a crispy-crunchy-cold dill pickle spear.
I was a good girl — I refrained from going to Lucchesi’s, because I would have spent $50 or more on cheese, and I didn’t need to do that today. I did go to Easy Way, got tomatos, asparagus, baby spinach, white corn, okra, strawberries. Dinner tomorrow will be creamed corn, spinach caprese salad, asparagus in some preparation I have not yet decided (last time I did sauteed and finished with a dash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of sugar), old fashioned fried okra, and Vietnamese spiced pork chops. And my standby dessert — strawberries, creme fraiche and brown sugar. Why try to improve on perfection?
Finished up at WalMart, buying household necessities (mousse, shaving cream since Sara refuses to use regular soap to shave her legs, moisturizer, all that crud) and some basic groceries (corn oil, cereal, tomorrow’s pork chops, some ground pork because I want to make gyoza and I have those won-ton wrappers; these may be square gyoza that look a lot like ravioli, but that’s OK). Came home and put the perishables away, and went back and got my nails done, which they badly needed.
All in all, a worthwhile Saturday. I was going to go by the liquor store and get boxes, but I forgot. Ain’t gonna pack this weekend, anyway. Will pack next weekend before I leave (SUNDAY!) for four days on the beach. Can’t WAIT.
And I’m about to go make myself some fried rice, because I got some shelled green peas at Easy Way as well and it happens I have leftover rice in the rice cooker and it seems to be the right thing to do tonight. If I get ambitious I’ll make the gyoza to go with it. Now, if I could make sushi, and if I had some good fresh fish to put in it, and would learn to make miso soup, I could save myself some $20 lunches at Sekisui.
Will report in tomorrow on the veggie feast. Tell y’mama ‘n ‘em to plant those gardens REAL BIG for this summer.
I love Mark Bittman more every time I make fried rice. If you do not own a copy of his How To Cook Everything, go get it. Soon.
Tonight’s fried rice has water chestnuts, onion, shallot, carrots, wonderful fresh English peas, and two cans of tiny salad shrimp. I used the gluten-free soy sauce, which is much milder than regular, in the event Child B wants to take some home tomorrow, so I doubled up on the sesame oil. Lunch for a week.
See the earlier post on fried rice for Mark’s recipe.
March 14, 2009
Mark Bittman rules! As does Lynne Rosetto Kasper. As do the people who compiled my go-to Asian cookbook. And Friday night’s dinner was damn good, if it did take me longer to put together than I’d anticipated, and I didn’t get around to dessert.
We had vegetable fried rice; chicken and mushroom lettuce wraps; and shrimp in coconut curry sauce. Gentleman Caller once again was awed by my culinary prowess. (Still glowing with success this morning, I even cooked biscuits, country sausage, eggs and a cheese grits casserole.)
The lettuce wraps are courtesy of Lynne and her weekly Weeknight Supper newsletter. As she noted, they’d have done for a light entree on their own. I just wanted something more vegetable-y on the plate than the rice. I will note that I could not find butter lettuce, as she calls for, so I substituted leaf lettuce, which does not wrap worth a damn. So I carved mine up and ate it like a salad.
MINCED CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS
- 2 to 3 heads butter lettuce
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 by 1/4-inch thick pieces
- 1 cup finely sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
- 1/2 cup finely sliced green onions
- 1 cup finely chopped water chestnuts
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce (Chinese sweet-spicy sauce)
- 2 tablespoons plum sauce (Chinese duck sauce)
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (can sub chopped almonds)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1. Clean and separate the lettuce leaves. Pick through the leaves, using those that will hold a generous 2 tablespoons of the chicken filling. Place the leaves on a serving platter.
2. Heat a wok over high heat until smoking. Add the oil in a circular motion starting 3 inches up from the bottom of the wok. Add the chicken and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms; stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the ginger, garlic, and green onions and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the water chestnuts, hoisin sauce, plum sauce, and vinegar and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the pine nuts and the cilantro. Stir to incorporate. Remove the mixture from the heat and transfer to a bowl.
3. Place 2 generous tablespoons of filling in each lettuce leaf, and roll up to eat.
I would note that the mixture was a little juicy, so I let it simmer and cook down. Made more than I needed, so I saved the remainder, planning to saute some coleslaw mix and throw in with it and wrap it in spring roll wrappers some time this week. But it was damn fine. You could leave it juicy and just spoon it over lettuce leaves on a plate, if you wished. Lynne says you can use pork, or chicken thighs, if you want, too.
Then there was the shrimp. I’ve made this one before. It’s one of my favorites, and this curry sauce would work on most anything. I think it’d be wonderful on a fish filet, or on chicken. And it’s EASY.
THAI SHRIMP CURRY
- 1 can (about 14 oz.) unsweetened coconut milk, divided.
- 1 tsp. Thai red curry paste (I use more like 1 1/2 tablespoons)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tbsp packed brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. fish sauce
- grated peel of one lime
- 1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
- Cooked jasmine rice
- Pineapple wedges (optional)
- 1/2 cup unsalted peantus (optional)
Pour half the coconut milk into a large skillet. (As it has a tendency to separate in the can, I usually pour it into a measuring cup and stir it up first.) Bring to a boil over medium heat, sitrring occasionally. Cook 5 to 6 minutes; oil may start to rise to survace. Stir in curry paste. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.
Stir together remaining coconut milk and water. Add to skillet with brown sugar, fish sauce and lime peel. Cook over medium-low heat 10-15 minutes, or until sauce thickens slightly.
Add shrimp and basil; reduce heat to low. Cook 3-5 minutes or until shrimp turn pink and opaque. Serve over jasmine rice, garnish with pineapple and peanuts, if desired.
And then there’s the fried rice. Thank you, Mark Bittman! I’ve made fried rice before. I never made fried rice that so much as approached this fried rice. Dear sweet baby Jesus, but it was good. I suspect I may well make another big ol’ pot of it early next week and eat on it all week long.
I’m giving you the vegetable version; Mark’s called for shrimp and/or pork.
MARK BITTMAN’S FRIED RICE (from How To Cook Everything)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen and thawed green peas or snow peas
- 1 cup chopped fresh asparagus
- 1 cup chopped carrot
- 1 cup chopped red bell pepper (I used roasted, because I didn’t have a fresh one, and added it in at the last when the veggies go into the rice)
- 1 tbsp minced garlic, or to taste
- 1 tbsp minced ginger, or to taste
- 3-4 cups cooked long-grain rice (can be any kind, I used brown, should have been cooked the day before and chilled)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup rice wine
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp dark sesame oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper (just noticed these; I think I forgot ‘em)
- 1/4 cup chopped scallion or green onion or fresh cilantro
- 3 tbsp peanut or neutral oil for frying
Put 1 tbsp of the oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat and heat until very hot. Add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until they soften and begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat a touch, if needed. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl.
Add the carrots and asparagus; saute for 2-3 minutes; add the peas and saute for another minute or two. Remove to the same bowl. (if you were using meat, you’d saute it here, just until it was barely done.)
Put the remaining oil in the wok, when hot, add garlic and ginger, and begin adding rice, a little at a time, breaking up clumps with your fingers and stirring into the oil. When all the rice is added, make a well in the center and add the eggs; scramble them a little, then incorporate into the rice. Return the veggies to the wok and stir to mix. Add the rice wine and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the soy sauce and the sesame oil, then taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Turn off the heat, stir in the scallion or green onions or cilantro, and serve.
Mark suggests you can season up your fried rice with hoisin sauce, or curry powder, or chiles. I guess the chiles wouldn’t be bad, but I don’t know why you want to mess with perfection.
Anyway, that was last night, and it was Damn Fine.
Couple of notes on earlier stuff yesterday:
I had to go to a lunch thing. Usually those are completely forgettable meals. This one was excellent. A spinach salad with bacon viniagrette. Roast chicken Napoleon, a chicken breast filet marinated in something that I couldn’t identify but that gave it a marvelous taste, and broiled or roasted with a tiny bit of something clinging to the outside (almost tasted like asiago cheese, but I wouldn’t swear to it). Grilled asparagus (always a Good Thing) and mashed potatos (average, but at least the Real Thing).
Dessert, though, was just Way Cool. A dessert plate with an assortment of tiny little things on it. Creme brulee (be still my heart) in a demitasse cup which I thought was just way cute. A tiny little chocolate eclair, about as big as my thumb. Two little mini-tarts, one lemon and one chocolate. Just beyond precious.
Other note of noteworthiness: I found the Silver Palate cookbook on the bargain shelf at Davis Kidd and bought that puppy. I’ve wanted it ever since Elise at Simply Recipes (see link) posted that kick-ass carrot cake recipe from it. It does NOT disappoint. I suspect we’ll be cooking out of that one next weekend.
Anyway, today I’m off to Garden Ridge to acquire assorted small stuff and a cookbook shelf, with a potential stop by Williams Sonoma just to lust, and then to do the “regular” grocery shopping (yesterday was merely the specialty shopping, Whole Foods and Easy Way produce and Fresh Market). And home to cook something North African, because I can.
So tell Mama ‘n ‘em to have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll be checking back with y’all tomorrow sometime.
March 13, 2009
Ahhhhh, another weekend. I do love my new four-day work week. Except for the fact that I woke up wide awake at 5:30 this morning, after I had to fight myself to wake up the last three mornings at that horrible, horrible hour. I managed to fight off wakefulness, though, and go back to sleep until 7:45.
Cold and rainy, after a wonderful weekend last weekend. Dammit. On the other hand, that makes for good cooking weather. So I’ve got lots on the agenda for cooking for the weekend.
Tonight, I need to redeem myself for Gentleman Caller, since he invited me over to join him and his friends last night to play trivia in a bar, and I blew it big time. Lots of movie questions, and I don’t do movies worth a damn. But I am STILL mortally pissed at myself for missing the oldest continuously published reference work in the English language, first published in 1771. I would have sworn it was the Oxford English Dictionary. It was the effing Encyclopedia Brittanica. I was HOT. So I need to make it up to him, since we came in really poorly, thanks not just to that one, but this moderator guy was pulling questions out of some nether region.
Anyway. Tonight it’s going to be shrimp in coconut curry over noodles, veggie fried rice (to which I can add more shrimp later in the week if I want!) and minced chicken lettuce wraps, courtesy of Lynne Rosetto Kasper. Well, the chicken lettuce wraps are. The fried rice is from Bittman, and the coconut curry is from my Asian cookbook. Tomorrow, I’m thinking a tomato-lentil soup, because I saw a recipe for what looked like a wonderful one that I saved the other day, and it’s a soup kinda weather weekend. And Sunday, Child B has requested red beans and rice, since it’s gotten cold again and it’s probably the last cold snap we’ll have. (Note to self: put andouille sausage on the grocery list. And do I have ham in the freezer, still? I think so. If not, I have a canned one.)
Got a lunch thing with son-in-law in Memphis today, so I’ll make a Fresh Market/Whole Foods run after that. I’m searching for fresh lemongrass. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen fresh lemongrass in Memphis. Going to have to see about growing lemongrass in the spice garden. Too much good stuff calls for lemongrass. And it occurs to me that to go to Whole Foods and Fresh Market takes me right by Davis-Kidd Bookstore, where they always have oodles of cookbooks on the bargain counter…….
And I still have a cookbook shelf to buy.
Stay tuned tomorrow morning for updates on tonight’s dinner. No updates tonight unless I fail to redeem myself and he goes home early. Meanwhile, y’all stay warm and dry, and tell y’mama ‘n ‘em it can’t stay winter forever.