One of these days I will finally sort through my reflections from hiking Sahale Arm and seeing a Glacier up close, or adventures in the Catskill Mountains of New York, but in the mean time, this:
The days are getting shorter, the weather’s getting crisper early in the morning. School supply ads reign supreme on live television between sports games. Before you know it, it’ll be Fall, and then Winter, and you might find yourself scrambling to put together a gift for that office party exchange, or family get-together where everyone draws a number from a hat. Well..
Do you have lots of leftover expired coconut oil?
No no, I mean LOTS.
Do you have a weakness for collecting empty containers your spouse/housemate/talking cat keeps suggesting you recycle, but perhaps they are the classy-looking “biscuit” tins you brought back from London last November, and they make you nostalgic for your travels to the the land of tea time, so you keep saying you’ll make candles with them?
I did some other research on soy wax, and paraffin wax and decided beeswax was my preferred option, as I try to avoid ingesting processed soy for myself and paraffin is a petroleum byproduct, so it strikes me as a little odd to be breathing either in. See citations at bottom of post for more. Mad props to my co-conspirator Jillian who balanced out my OCD-craziness with wingin’ it like a boss, plus ensuring I didn’t burn my house down in the process somehow.
Okay folks, I admit, I’ve been a little distracted by the glorious Pacific Northwest summer, traipsing about in the mountains. Between that, work, and other personal projects, feeding the Internet Blog Machine has gotten a little backlogged. So without further ado, here’s one more..
Quite some time ago, I went to school in the other Washington -the District of Columbia. While there, I was exposed to the experience of an even more humid climate than my native Midwest summer. Wandering the concrete jungle blocks from my job at a nonprofit and nerd-exciting statistics classes, I was exposed to my first taste of Korean food ever. It was ironically a vegan Korean shop, and my favorite dish was tofu japchae. In retrospect it was an easy gateway crossover from my beloved childhood Cantonese restaurant dish of beef chow fun (see fellow pun lovers’ recipe at Woks of Life, and really, anything noodle. That first taste opened me up to a whole other cuisine full of spicier, more vegetable-filled and bbq-beef-laden meals like dolsot bibimbap and tofu soup!
Fast forward to years later on a warm Seattle summer day, living with some one who eats low carb, and here is my experiment in turning Japchae paleo friendly.
I staged another upo squash battle, so stay tuned for another installment of the upo trials soon. But for now…
Here’s a first for the blog: a recipe trial based off a magnet! Specifically this one, which I bought from my home state long ago and always meant to use. With Autumn in full swing, the slight chill in the Pacific Northwest air puts me in mind of the Midwest Fall, with its brilliant, last-ditch burst of colors before the real cold sets in. With that, comes the impulse to make hot mulled cider (which I brought to spectate a Spartan Race the other weekend), and making tons of soup.
You will note there are some vague parts in this recipe, like, you can use 10 slices of bacon, OR and indeterminate amount of chicken. Continue Reading
I looked in the fridge, and all we had were drumsticks, an onion, and a bag of frozen pineapple. I had just a little extra time before my spouse would arrive home from his 20 mile bike ride, so, seized with a mild feeling of inspiration, I took a shot at this classic filipino dish of comfort food (perfect for old school methods of non-refrigeration preservation).
1.5 – 2 lbs dark meat
1/4 Cup Canola Oil
5 Cloves Peeled Garlic, Minced
About 1 tsp minced ginger
1/2 Large Onion, Peeled and Julienned
1 Cups Soy Sauce (for gluten-free: try tamari sauce)
3/4 Cups White Vinegar
1/2 c Fresh Pineapple, Crushed (used frozen, but I’d go with fresh if I had it in reach)
1 TB Black Pepper 3 Bay Leaves (didn’t have any in the house)
Thanks to Abby for loaning me a spiralizer so I could try it out!
Thanks to Fitnessista for this recipe combo, the proportions I made up from my trial.
For the pesto:
1/2 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
1 tsp garlic
1 cup spinach
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoon goat cheese
For the rest:
1 large yam, peeled
your protein add of choice (shown below are seared scallops, made the Alton Brown way).
Purée sunflower seeds, garlic, spinach, basil, oil, goat cheese and lemon zest and juice until smooth. Season with salt. Thin pesto with water if too thick.
Cut off ends of sweet potato and install flush against spiralizer, spiralize to your heart’s content.
Boil sweet potato spirals in water no more than 3 minutes.
Combine with pesto.
Serve with blindfold on.
Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 stars.
Extremely novel. Likelihood of Repeat: 50%
I couldn’t get my ‘roommate’ to eat much of it, but I’d like to try it again -next time with the julienne blade of my food processor. Lesson Learned: If you boil it too much the ‘pasta’ crumbles fast (similar risk with reheating). Yes, you could buy a single-purpose tool like a spiralizer if you think you’ll eat a lot of spiralized things every week, but a food processor might work just fine for a rare occasion. Also, I always forget how easy it is to make pesto, I need to do this more, especially since you can make cheaper versions without pine nuts! Yum! I have read that real sweet potatoes are more dense and jam up the machine, better stick with the soft orange ones –yams? Whatever they are called..
I needed to whip up a nice backdrop for an easy but satisfying Sunday night dinner with a treat of seared scallops.* I had turkey bacon and egg on hand, and picked up some bucatini.
This one from Nook and Pantry has been sitting at the ‘bottom’ of my Evernote recipe box for a while, since the first time I tried my hand at carbonara with pancetta my arteries could hardly take it. However, turkey bacon took some of the punch out of it (so I could swap it out for butter & olive oil for the scallops).
Pasta alla Carbonara
+Optional Turkey Downgrade
Makes 2 servings for some one trying not to gorge, but only if you pack half of it away for the next day before you start eating.
Approximately 2 slices of thick-cut turkey bacon, sliced into 1/4 inch wide strips, chopped
1 eggs, beaten
1 ounce finely grated parmesan (or pecorino romano)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces bucatini
Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until it is crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a piece of paper towel.
Bring a large pot of water, salted generously, to a boil for the pasta. Cook pasta according to package instructions, until it is al dente.
Temper the egg thus: with one hand beat the egg and with the other slowly drizzle approximately 1/8 cup of hot pasta water with a measuring scoop or cup into the egg mixture. Set aside.
Before draining the pasta, set aside about 1/4 cup of the boiling pasta water to loosen the pasta if needed.
Quick! When the pasta is al dente, drain the pasta then return back into the hot pot. Keep the pot off heat. The residual heat in the pot and pasta will thicken the sauce. Add the drained bacon, ground pepper, pasta and with one hand, stir pasta while pouring in the tempered egg mixture.
Keep stirring to mix the cheese and egg evenly and the sauce will be thickened and silky smooth. Add a bit of the pasta water if needed.
Optional: top with extra freshly ground pepper and grated cheese before serving.
Novelty Rating: 5 of 5 stars Likelihood of Repeat: 85%
The richness is definitely toned down with turkey bacon rather than pancetta, decide for yourself if you want that or not, of course.. Lesson Learned: How did I go so long without cooking bucatini all the time? The hollow noodles give the perfect al dente chewiness! Nom nom nom nom nom. This blends well with seared scallops, too. Due to the speedy timing, it’s definitely best to have everything else you want to eat ready before you sear scallops the Alton Way.
*I recently became allergic to some shellfish. The great news is, the allergist said to keep eating scallops regularly, to help prevent my body from identifying it as a foreign body. Most enjoyable medical advice worth following, ever!
My friend Jenni, of Lasagna Cupcake fame, expressed a burning desire to find out what I made the other night when I sent her a thank-you photo of my dinner with the single-serving tower of wine she kindly gifted me last month. It was perfect for being able to cook with, and have a few modest sips -especially on a day when I wanted to avert a cold but still relax for the weekend!
The critical tip here is: watch those scallops closely! No more than 3 minutes searing total (90 seconds per side)!
If you read the last post and haven’t tried ribboning scallions, here’s your chance. I was too impatient with the icing, which is why you don’t see any scallion curls in the photos here.
Corn & Potato Chowder with Seared Scallops
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Total time: ~45 mins
A filling soup with a meaty seared scallop garnish.
3 slices bacon, cut into small dice (I used turkey bacon this time)
2-3 sea scallops, patted dry
kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
1 lone but large yukon gold potato, cut into a 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream (or coconut milk, in my case)
1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh (from 2 ears) or frozen
1/4 of a sprig of scallion, diced or julienned into curls
Optional: 1/2 cup canellini beans, rinsed
In a large skillet, over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes, a little more for turkey. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
If you don’t quite have 1 tablespoons of bacon drippings; supplement with olive oil and butter.
Increase heat to medium-high.
Season scallops with ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper; cook until golden brown, about 90 seconds per side. Transfer to a plate.
Add the onion to the drippings in the skillet and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add the potatoes, sear for 2 minutes.
Add beans (optional), wine, broth, and cream/coconut milk; cover partially and reduce heat. Simmer gently until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Add the scallops and corn and simmer gently to heat through. Sprinkle with the scallions and bacon.
Today’s Trial Recipe Rating: Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 stars.
I don’t make a lot of creamy soups, so this was delicious, yet not as painfully heavy (or later as unhappy for my stomach) as using cream. Likelihood of Repeat: 65% Lesson learned: next time chop the potatoes even smaller, almost pea-sized. When I divided the original recipe proportionately, I ended up with a wet pile of potatoes with corn, and had to add more liquid mix after the fact. I have altered the proportions here for a more soup-like mix. Doesn’t really look like the original recipe’s picture, but whatever. I think I’d use real pork bacon next time, and regular coconut milk rather than lite.
P.S. Did you notice the new Twitter and Instagram feeds on the right? If you wish you had more content from this blog, consider following me on those media feeds!
Leftover pumpkin seeds from carving 2 medium-large pumpkins
Arbitrary Amounts of…
Seasoning combinations (amounts to taste):
BBQ: brown sugar, ground cumin, chili powder
Sweet: Sugar, cinnamon
Clean the seeds.
Boil for 10 minutes in salt water.
Drain the seeds in a colander.
Spread seeds onto a baking sheet and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, plus seasoning of your choice (see above for what I did).
Roast seeds at 325F for 15-22 minutes, taste testing a few seeds at 15 minutes.
Optional step: accidentally touch the burning hot pan and spill 1/6 of the seeds.
This Week’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5
I tried roasting fresh pumpkin seeds once years ago, and it was dry and not tasty. This method with boiling first was delicious! Likelihood of Repeat: 75%
Totally worth doing in 365 days when I have fresh pumpkin seeds again! Lesson Learned: Boo! 11/1/14 edit: these are not as crispy and tasty second or third day, unless you toast them up a little again.
Dear Readers -all five of you’s (besides the spammers),
Besides being busy with real life, I’ve had a few dud recipes I am still tinkering with before I admit to having tried them at all. I have more busy life adventures coming up too, so this blog may continue to fall off…
When I’m 80 and looking back (hopefully I’ll be so lucky), I’m pretty sure I won’t say, “aw man, I wish that instead of spending time with people in person I had updated my food blog more!” Plus, I’m pretty sure when you’re 80 and looking back (I wish you the same luck), no one in the history of the world ever said, “aw man! I wish I’d had more blog entries to read about food!”
Random Sunday brunch trial time! ..based in leftover rice from restaurant Revel‘s rice bowl dish with short rib, sambal daikon, and mustard green, plus inspirations from my “roommate”‘s meal selections on trips to Tokyo, and another friend’s rendition of Chicken Arroz Caldo (click here for a random example recipe). My mother would make me really bland congee as a kid when I was sick (or perfectly healthy). Along with fried rice, rice porridge can be a great dish to stretch the rice you have. I took a verbal test in Chinese language once involving a hypothetical dialogue at a fancy hotel, and I still remember my professor being surprised I ordered congee. That was when I learned it’s considered poor folk’s food. Little did he know, they still serve congee at the fancy breakfast buffets in high-end hotels in Asia, because people still like it there too. I seen it with me own eyes.
Leftovers Congee* with Faux Fish Katsu and Crispy Garlic
About 1 cup leftover restaurant rice (the more random delicious flavors in it from, say, short ribs, the better)
~2 cups chicken broth**
~2 cups boiling water**
3 frozen fish sticks
1 tsp chives, minced (could also do scallions)
1 raw egg
1/4 tsp shredded ginger (not included this time, but only because I’m pretty sure there was already ginger in the rice)
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 Tbs olive oil
1/4 cup frozen sweet corn
optional but recommended if you make the garlic: breath mints
*Note: this recipe is titled congee, but there are near-infinite variations on this dish across Asia, and even in Portugal (see wikipedia article).
**Liquid amounts are approximate, usually a 1:4 ratio is good for porridge, but it depends on how you like it. Various areas and individual people prefer from runny porridge, to really thick porridge. If you find it is too thick you can always add more water or broth.
1. Boil rice in broth and water until it reaches your desired consistency, 45-1.5 hrs. This can be done via a rice cooker, or in a more watchable format on stovetop. I actually started mine in my high-tech rice cooker so I wouldn’t have to tend it, then found it was too runny for my taste and boiled it on the stovetop another 10 minutes to thicken.
2. Meanwhile, prepare fish sticks per packaging. Toast for a few minutes at the end for extra crunchiness.
3. Set a frying pan with the olive oil to medium heat, once pan is hot, add garlic slices, flipping a few times and frying for just a few minutes until golden brown on both sides. Be careful to take garlic off the pan before it gets to burning.
4. Use the residual oil in the pan to fry an egg over easy on the pan.
5. Assemble toppings on rice (put the sweet corn on the bottom of your bowl before you load in the soup) and enjoy!
This Week’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 3 of 5 stars
I usually have rice porridge with dried pork sung, but was abysmally low on it in the pantry (since I no longer will just eat it straight out of the package like I did when I was a kid, so supply habits are low), but was on a fish stick kick from yesterday, it was okay but I generally feel a little bad about eating such a processed food. The crispy garlic was quite novel and delicious, though. I may make that again next time i feel like making congee. Likelihood of Repeat: 65%
Unlikely to deign to make frozen fish sticks with this again, but it was worth the shot. I think next time it may be worth trying to boil it with all broth and not water. Lesson Learned: The egg did not need to be completely done to the level desired for eating, since it continues to cook once placed atop the rice porridge, some pickled vegetables might have been nice to try too. I think I would rather have done scallions than chives.. Post-script: I had dragon garlic breath the rest of the day, so it may be good to have some breath mints or a toothbrush and toothpaste on hand.
Do you make a ridge porridge? What variations do you like to do, and what are your favorite things to top it with?