Browsing Category: too much alone time

Blog News: How to Get Food the Wong Way, Right Away?

What do you call some one who works on contract for a scribe? A sub-scriber!

A yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk. How do you get Food the Wong Way posts right away? A short bit of blog news here: you can now subscribe to get email alerts via the ‘Subscribe!’ option on this main page. On full web browser: it’s to the right, below the ‘Hello’ section. On mobile: it’ll be below that ‘Hello’ section at the very bottom of your browser. I promise not to sell your info to a spam list.

Little-known secret: not everything that goes up here goes up on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram accounts, and some times what does go up did not go up right away. Thanks for putting up with my corny jokes. ;D I made that one up myself, just for you.

Oven-baked Sweet Plantains

In honor of the South American countries and their gracious hosting of the World Cup: baked plantains. A little late in posting, but better than never. Recipe was from my local grocery store (see photo)!

Slice, oil, bake, flip, bake.
Slice, oil, bake, flip, bake.

Ingredients:
1 plantain (ripe = black spots all over)
high heat cooking oil and a pastry brush, or just cooking spray

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. Coat a non-stick pan with spray, or cover with parchment.
3. Cut plantain diagonal into 1/2 inch slices.
4. Arrange in single layer on pan and coat with oil.
5. Baked for 10-15 minutes, flipping each one until golden and very tender.

If you need another reason to try plantains, here’s an article on the recent worry that they will soon be extinct due to a deadly disease dubbed “the HIV of banana plantations” by the media, slowly making its way around the globe.

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
4 of 5 stars.
I don’t eat bananas much, so this was pretty novel.
Likelihood of Repeat: 15%
Bananas are still just too sweet for me. They might go good as a treat atop of cold ice cream or whipped coconut dessert, might be interesting in thinner pieces too.
Lesson Learned: All that sugar can burn really fast if you don’t keep an eye on it.

Mung Bean Sprouts

I was looking for bean sprouts at the grocery store for those summer rolls i posted about, but I couldn’t find any fresh ones, besides which they always go bad so fast when fresh that I don’t get to use them before they all go bad. I am so sad when that happens that I don’t buy them much, so this time I found some mung beans from the bulk section to sprout myself, in smaller portions. It helped that my spouse was out of town at the time, so if anyone was poisoned, it was only me.

Ingredients & Supplies:
mung beans
water
mason jar
cheesecloth
a tray and towel

Sprouts: day 1
Sprouts: day 1

Procedure
1. Pick over the beans and throw anything that looks suspect out (see reference links for warnings about sourcing), rinse with running water.
2. Pour rinsed beans into jar, cover jar with a secured cheesecloth (with an open mason jar lid, or rubberband), soak for 8-12 hours.
3. Drain the water and rinse through the cheesecloth, then set it upside down to drain in a dark space, atop the tray and towel (to absorb the water).
4. Tedious: rinse and set to drain at least twice a day, returning to dark space, until sprouts are appropriate length, 2-5 days. I stopped after four because that was when I wanted to make summer rolls.

Sprouts days 2, 3, 4 and 4.
Sprouts days 2, 3, 4 and 4.

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
4 of 5 stars.
Very novel, never tried sprouting stuff before. Was it slightly more interesting with an edge of self-poisoning danger? Maybe…
Likelihood of Repeat: 15%
Ugh, so tedious to remember to check it day and night whenever I woke up or was trying to go to bed. One of the references below even says “as frequently as four times a day,” who has time for that?!
Lesson Learned: Somebody else spends a lot of time sprouting beans so I can enjoy their crunchy deliciousness when I’m eating out. I am ever grateful. Also: home-sprouted beans can taste more nutty, in a good way.

References:
Primary: Serious Eats: How to Grow Bean Sprouts in a Jar
Secondary: Sproutpeople.org on Mung Bean Sprouts

Stock Sunday

It’s that time again, about every quarter, my freezer starts to get too full of vegetable scraps, at which point I take ’em all and make some stock. In today’s case, I didn’t happen to have any leftover meat scraps that would have made it into a 4, 6 or 8-hour+ long process. Pffft. Unless you have no day job, or work from home, even the vegetable stock process requires a good chunk of time at home, even though it’s not active tending. This is certainly a recipe for the “60 Minutes – Multiday” folder, due to the freezer, and the collecting of scraps over time.

6 re-used yogurt containers of veggie scraps in the freezer? Time for stock Sunday!
6 re-used yogurt containers of veggie scraps in the freezer? Time for stock Sunday!

When my brother heard I make my own stock, he remarked “how…Depression Era..” I used some wee sage sprouts in the ‘miscellaneous herbs’ category from an herb starter kit gift from same brother this time. Haw.

Vegetable stock
Makes about 4 cups, after 2nd boil for 45 minutes

Ingredients:
5, 32 oz reused yogurt containers of loosely packed frozen veggie scraps*
3 Liters (around 9 cups) boiling water
arbitrary amount of miscellaneous fresh herbs (8/18/13: green onions, oregano, crushed garlic cloves and parsley)
olive oil

Steps
1. Consolidate vegetable scraps in a mixing bowl, and separate out any onions, garlic, celery, herbs and mushrooms.
2. Boil water in percolator.
3. Optional step but tasty: in large stock pot, sauté onions, garlic, celery, mushrooms and miscellaneous fresh herbs in olive oil over medium heat, about 3 minutes or however long to sweat them.
4. Add remaining vegetables to pot and pour in boiling water until vegetables are just covered (approximately get to 1:1 ratio of ingredients to water).
5. Bring almost to a boil, then simmer for 30-40 minutes. Skim any scum off the top occasionally.
6. Pour boiled contents into a mixing bowl with colander, remove spent ingredients with colander.
7. Optional: return liquid to stovetop and boil down to desired more-concentrated volume; I boiled it for another 45ish minutes.
8. Pour liquid through second strainer, and let cool.
9. Chill to use immediately, or freeze stock (I like using an ice cube tray, then transferring after frozen to ziploc bags and labelling with a sharpie).

*I avoid saving the following vegetables, as they have too heavy a taste, or tend to dye the stock a scary deep red: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages (includes brussel sprouts), and red beets. I like using clear plastic yogurt containers, or at least with a clear top so you can tell what’s inside once it’s frozen.

Storage Note: the stock should keep in the freezer for 4-6 months.
Meatification tip: Veggies take around 2 hours, the rest goes: simmer +3 hours for chicken, +5 hours for pork, +7 hours for beef or veal. I tried beef once and it felt like forever since I boiled it down after removing the spent veggies in the last hour. I am never doing that again, too tedious, for similar flavor. One time my house accidentally smelled of curry for 3 days after..
Usage tip: when you use these for a recipe, you may want to salt a little more to taste, since it won’t be as salty as commercial stock.

Saute, boil, skim, strain, boil, freeze.
Saute, boil, skim, strain, boil, freeze.

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
1 of 5 stars.
The novelty herein lines in the additional 1/3 of my freezer that is now empty, and 5% now has some free, homemade stock ready for use in soups, roux, cooking rice, risotto, and other things. That, and I like giving my vegetables a second life before they go on to the food/yard waste for their third life as compost.

I measured the stock as I poured it in the ice tray, so I know this freezer ziploc of stock will be 2 cups in liquid form.
I measured the stock as I poured it in the ice tray, so I know this freezer ziploc of stock will be 2 cups in liquid form.

Likelihood of Repeat: 100%
Stock-making has become a chore-Sunday routine every several many months. I see no likelihood of dropping it.
Lesson Learned: from making this, and other items destined for the freezer (like too much soup), I have learned that it’s useful to keep a sharpie nearby in a kitchen drawer for easy labeling of ziplocs.

References:
Salon.com on How to Make Stock
Alton Brown’s chicken stock recipe

Food-Related Entertainment: Street Food Market in NYC, and a whiny letter to you

One of my favorite food celebrities is working on bringing a street food market to New York City. Anthony Bourdain!

See this article from grubstreet for more details.

Well, that’s exciting, especially for New Yorkers, I imagine. You know what’s not exciting? The gastroenterological issues I found with the most recent food combo I took a gander at. Yes, dear Reader, despite having had a cold seemingly for time immemorial, I had a post all drafted up for you a few days ago for it, but I am still unscientifically testing if some of the after effects are truly from this combination, in which case, I’m scrapping the post. Relatedly, writing a blog with free (but not exceptionally novel) food info has grown tedious and a little like yelling down into a well without hearing an echo back.

Is anyone reading?
Does anyone care?
Do you laugh when you read this?
What else would you like to hear about?

Please post and share. Otherwise, this blog may be short-lived, as I would otherwise use my time to connect with real humans rather than the spam-bots I keep having to review.

Sincerely,
y

Accordion Potatoes

Saw this recipe via the latest blog I’ve been persistently sucked into perusing, Brit + Co. which led me to A Beautiful Mess’ Accordion Potatoes. I only had 3 large yukon potatoes, so scaled it down thus:

3 large yukon gold potatoes, washed and dried.
1/4 cup of butter
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 teaspoons minced rosemary
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic

Per instructions in the link above,
-Preheat oven to 375.
-Slice potatoes 3/4 through in accordion style.
-In a microwave safe bowl combine the butter, oil, rosemary and garlic.
-Cook just until melted, about 45 seconds.
Use a kitchen brush to coat each potato, make sure the butter gets between each slice.
Bake at 375°F for 38-40 minutes. The goal is to make sure they are done on the inside and crispy on the edges.
-Then brush with another layer of the butter mixture and serve.
-Served with sides of cream cheese, chopped green onions and shredded cheddar cheese. yum!

what the accordion say?
what the accordion say?

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
3 of 5 stars
This was really quite tasty with the cream cheese I had left over from cookie-making, and I’d like to try it again for more crisp using smaller potatoes..
Likelihood of Repeat: 45%
…but it was pretty heavy on the carbs, minutely tedious to brush the mix on, and not consumed largely by my dining companion at home. I may only try making it again when he’s out of town, and I’ve pre-burned a lot of calories.

Meatless Moping: Chickpeas with Chard & Pan-Roasted Tomatoes

I like making meals my spouse isn’t a big fan of when he’s out of town, which usually means no meat, and more carbs. Today’s recipe is one from Real Simple Magazine shortly after a honeymoon to New Zealand, where for breakfast we had thick-cut bacon, a fried egg and a succulently delicious sautéed tomato half almost every morning we were there. Surprisingly, I found the tomatoes the tastiest feature of the dish, despite my love of bacon, and missed it when we got home (along with the warm friendliness of the kiwis on our travels). So of course, this is a reminder of that nostalgic deliciousness, even though roma tomatoes out of season from the stores here don’t taste nearly as good as in New Zealand on honeymoon. It’s a quick fixup, goes good with your staple grain/false grain of choice, with a side of Mindy Project and silent moping about.

the finished product
the finished product

Chickpeas With Chard and Pan-Roasted Tomatoes
Original Real Simple recipe here, version below is minorly altered. Time adjusted to match a gas stovetop, you may need a minute or so longer for an electric range.

Serves 4
Hands-on Time: 20m
Total Time: 50m

Ingredients
* optional: serve with brown rice, spaghetti squash, or quinoa
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 4 small roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
* 1 small bunch Swiss chard, thick stems and ribs removed and leaves torn (about 8 cups)
* 1/3 cup golden raisins or dried cranberries
* 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
* kosher salt and black pepper
* 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
* 2 tablespoons lemon juice

rainbow chard, roma tomatoes, dried cranberries, sliced garlic, chickpeas, lemon juice and salt.
the ingredients

Directions

1. Cook your grain/squash/fake grain of choice accordingly.

2. Twenty minutes before the grain is done, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, cut-side down, and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until browned and starting to soften 2-3 minutes; turn and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate.

3. Reduce heat to medium and add the chard, raisins/cranberries, garlic, 2 tablespoons water, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the skillet. Cook, tossing, until the chard wilts, 2 minutes.

4. Return the tomatoes to the skillet, add the chickpeas and lemon juice, and toss until heated through, 1 minutes. Serve over the rice/squash/quinoa.

Notes:
I don’t ever have golden raisins on hand, and regular raisins don’t look too appetizing in this dish, so the dried cranberries usually in my pantry work fine to add a little sweetness on top of the tomato flavor. I tried this with heirloom tomatoes once too, and I don’t recommend it. Their complex flavor was lost when they turned too mushy in the pan too fast. For this post, I only made a half portion, as I had other methods to try for the rest of that chard.

ChickpeasChardTomato_Collage

Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 2 of 5 stars
Made it before, but I mostly only make it when my “roommate’s” out of town, so it’s still a little rare..
Likelihood of Repeat: 75%
It’s too fast to NOT do!

Almond Florentines

Cookies Part 3 of 4.

almond florentine: the orange zest makes all the difference
almond florentine: the orange zest makes all the difference

(originally from a Food Network recipe, with minimal substitution)

Makes: ~5 dozen 3-inch Florentines, or 2 1/2 dozen 6-inch Florentine
Total Time: 1 hr 35 min
Prep 30 min
Inactive 45 min
Cook 20 min

I first had these a few years ago at Zeitgeist Kunst & Kaffee, a coffee shop in downtown Seattle near my work, and it lit up this light bulb in my head that insisted I look it up to make myself an infinite supply. It has a great crunch, and the orange zest with chocolate drizzle is just the right combination.

Ingredients
* 1 3/4 cups sliced, blanched almonds (about 5 ounces) (I still have no idea what unblanched almonds would be, I just buy sliced almonds, however they come)
* 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (can substitute: almond flour, same amount)
* Finely grated zest of 1 orange (about 2 tablespoons)
* 1/4 teaspoon fine salt (I use kosher salt without much consequence)
* 3/4 cup raw sugar
* 2 tablespoons heavy cream
* 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Topping, optional (but why would you ever skip it):
* 2 to 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)

Directions
– Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
– Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pasty. Stir together the nuts, flour, zest and salt in a large bowl.
– Put the sugar, cream, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a rolling boil and sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, then pour mixture into almond mixture and stir just to combine. Set aside until cool enough to handle, ~30 minutes.
– Scoop rounded teaspoons (for 3-inch cookies) of batter and roll into balls. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 to 3 inches (shrink accordingly with cookie size) between each cookie since they spread.
– Bake 1 pan at a time, until the cookies are thin and an even golden brown color throughout, rotating pans halfway through baking time, about 8-10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.

“Optional” chocolate topping:
– Put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl (or smaller saucepan).
– Bring a (larger) saucepan filled with 1 inch or so of water to a very low simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth.
-Drizzle melted chocolate over Florentines as desired (after trial with chopsticks, metal spoons, and other options, a rubber spatula works best).
– Set aside at room temperature until chocolate is set.

Storage tip: Store baked cookies carefully, separated by parchment or waxed paper, in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. Florentines are best stored separated from moist cookies and cakes.

Note: Special thanks to my chocolate-know-how friend for advising that getting any water in the smaller sauce pan (including a porous wooden spoon that’s wet), and using any metal for distribution would cool the chocolate too fast.

Today’s Cookie Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
4 of 5 stars
In my head, this is a big ordeal to make (not especially true), so when I do make them, it still feels novel. Plus, that crunch!
Likelihood of Repeat: 99%
Chocolate, almonds, sugar, and orange zest, yum yum yum! This time I even verified that you can make it with gluten-free flour for your gluten-liberated friends, hooray! Try it with some tea or coffee too.

Sweet & Spicy Almonds

Cookies Part 3 of 4. This one whips up fast, and it’s even vegan!

sweet & spicy almonds: roast, melt the slurry, coat, add dry mix, cool. easy!
sweet & spicy almonds: roast, melt the slurry, coat, cool. easy!

(originally from All Recipes, HQ’d in Seattle! ..one adjustment here)
Makes: 2 1/2 cups almonds
Total processing time: less than 30 minutes

Ingredients
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 1/2 cups whole almonds
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon olive oil

Directions
1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spread the almonds onto a baking sheet, and toast until the nuts start to turn golden brown and become fragrant, about 10 minutes. Watch the nuts carefully as they bake: they burn quickly.
2. Stir together the sugar, salt, and cayenne pepper in a mixing bowl; set aside.
3. Stir together the water, honey, and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the mixture begins to bubble, stir in the toasted almonds until evenly moistened. Pour the almonds into the sugar and spice mixture, and toss until evenly coated. Spread onto baking sheets in a single layer, and cool to room temperature.

Notes: don’t breathe in too deeply when you’re mixing the dry ingredients, or you will end up coughing. I keep reading this note and still doing it. :p Also: you could use agave syrup instead of honey, it won’t stick as well and will feel a little more oily.

Today’s “Cookie” Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 1 of 5 stars
Likelihood of Repeat: 85%
Since these are marginally better for you than cookies, I make them year-round, so they are very familiar. I also like that they don’t require egg whites, another recipe I tried used egg whites and things turned out funny.