Tag Archives: boil

Leftovers Congee with Faux Fish Katsu and Crispy Garlic

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 sticks and crispy garlic, ..and a fried egg, and chives, and corn hiding underneath..
Leftovers congee with faux fish sticks and crispy garlic, and a fried egg, and chives, and corn hiding underneath..

Leftovers Congee* with Faux Fish Katsu and Crispy Garlic

Ingredients:
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**

Optional Toppings:
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.

Directions:
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.

Reader Input:
Do you make a ridge porridge? What variations do you like to do, and what are your favorite things to top it with?

Cauliflower & Sausage Casserole

The Kitchn’s Cauliflower Sausage Casserole caught my eye since it did not for once call for loads of cheese, per your traditional Midwestern casserole (er, ‘hot dish’) style. While loads of cheese is delicious, it’s arguably not the healthiest for you, and definitely not the best for lactose-intolerant yours truly. The Kitchn’s version used chicken sausage, but I just went with standard italian sausage for flavor, especially as it wasn’t that big a proportion of the whole thing.

Ingredients marshalled:
CauliflowerSausageCasserole1

Procedure:
The Kitchn’s Cauliflower Sausage Casserole steps. I didn’t alter them at all. I served it atop quinoa. You could definitely make it without the parmesan entirely too.

blanch, saute, saute, saute, bake.
blanch, saute, saute, saute, bake.

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 stars.
Looks so familiar and homey, but doesn’t make my stomach upset!
Likelihood of Repeat: 20%
There were too many partial-cook steps in this, part of the point of a casserole is that you put it all in the dish and bake the crap out of it (the other part of the point is that it may involve leftovers). If I’m going to be blanching cauliflower before baking it, then I might as well just directly roast it in the oven like I usually do (with butter, olive oil, and later lemon and mustard). This recipe was good, but just not remarkable enough for me to add it to the regular rotation.
Lesson Learned: Procedure and time spent ratio to delicious reviews from consumers can be way out of wack. Sigh.

Served over quinoa.
Served over quinoa.

Milan, Italia!

That’s right, for the few of you who may have puzzled at the last post, I was in Milan last week a few weeks ago visiting my good friends, J & G. A confluence of events created a last minute opportunity I just couldn’t pass up, despite the usual work pressures. Sleeping in on Monday was all the sweeter for having worked so much extra before.
The last post was of delicious butternut squash risotto, compliments of J & G. There are few things sweeter than the hospitality of friends, in my opinion, and it’s even better when those friends are good cooks, as these two are! They even demonstrated in that last post that it is perfectly possible to cook a good meal with a kitchen the smaller than an American storage unit. Bam.

How did I repay their generous hospitality in sharing a one-bedroom loft apartment with me and my spouse for a week? More, food, of course!

A request for something somewhat light (and fast) was made, so I scaled down the portions of pasta (er, to what was in the pantry), and did one of my favorites -but only if you do it right: seared scallops. G did a great job slapping a salad together to go with, and we hunted up a delicious strawberry tart from pasticceria marchesi, a super old school classic pastry place.

Thanks for the salad, G!
Thanks for the salad, G!

Got the scallops from the local fishmonger, and I was stoked to find they delivered each precious scallop still attached to the shell. I’ve seen it on tv, but never found sea scallops sold this was in the states. They did appear to already have some guttiness removed, though, which was a minor relief.

Pescheria Spadari: yummy seafood source!
Pescheria Spadari: yummy seafood source!

First, I prepped the lemon garlic pasta, since if you cook them ‘the right way’ (er, the Wong way), it takes very little time and you want to be paying enough attention to get them off the pan before they are overcooked. This classic in my arsenal has remained largely unchanged since my (other) friend J and I started making it about 15 years ago, from a Byerly’s cookbook, of all things. The main thing different is just a little less oil, and more garlic (always):

garlic n’ lemon pasta

1/2 pound dry angel hair pasta
1/4 cup olive oil (or a smidge less, for a less oily product)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic (or TWO teaspons. go wild.)
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley

1. cook angel hair pasta according to package directions in boiling water with 1 teaspoon salt; drain.
2. In small saucepan, heat oil and butter, stir in garlic, lemon peel, lemon juice, marjoram, salt and pepper, simmer 2 minutes.
3. transfer pasta to heated serving bowl. toss with oil mixture and parsley. serve immediately.

6 cups.

Similarly, 8+ years ago I decided I only liked sea scallops when they were seared in butter and olive oil, and just barely raw in the middle. I found Alton Brown’s recommendations the most useful: click here for Alton Brown’s Seared Scallops recipe. In this instance, I had one extra (exciting) step, to cut the scallops off the shell, which wasn’t really challenging but still entertainingly novel. My only other advice to myself in my notes on this recipe is just not to get distracted, but resist the urge to move the scallop until just the right time for the 90 second flip, and then removal after the second 90 seconds. Any more time and you’ve overcooked them, any less and you may not get that delicious sweet brown crust.

Voila! Dinner in ~under 30 minutes.

scallops on the half shell!! lemon and pasta ingredients, scallops patted dry and prepped with salt and pepper for the pan, and finally: scallops in the pan full of butter and olive oil.
scallops on the half shell!!
lemon and pasta ingredients, scallops patted dry and prepped with salt and pepper for the pan, and finally: scallops in the pan full of butter and olive oil.
The final product: plated
The final product: plated

Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
4 of 5 stars.
Very novel to get scallops still in their shells, and even better to serve it to friends living as expats.
Likelihood of Repeat: 90%
Some part of this will be repeated, the lemon garlic pasta has been good for meals for co-workers with new babies and it keeps well enough to serve cold at picnics.
Lesson Learned: Umm…everything is better with friends?

Delicious store-bought follow-up. I will be dreaming of this tart for years. The berries were small but packed with flavor.
Delicious store-bought follow-up. I will be dreaming of this tart for years. The berries were small but packed with flavor.

Cheese Gougeres

Cheese Gougeres
I’ve been meaning to try making these for a while and finally got around to it (and editing the photos, and writing a post). Since I didn’t change a thing besides halving the recipe, I won’t list the steps here but just link to the kitchn’s recipe here.

Counterclockwise: ingredients, prep, plenty of butter, cook, add eggs, pipe out.
Counterclockwise: ingredients, prep, plenty of butter, cook, add eggs, pipe out.

Ingredients
1 cup (8 ounces) water
8 tablespoons (4 ounces/1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder (optional, I forgot to include this)
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup (6 ounces) grated cheese, like gruyère or cheddar (I opted for gruyere)

Procedure
See the kitchn’s recipe.

I used a ziploc instead of a pastry bag, with a corner cut out.
I used a ziploc instead of a pastry bag, with a corner cut out.
Cheese gougeres the diameter of a silver dollar: ready to bake!
Cheese gougeres the diameter of a silver dollar: ready to bake!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
3 of 5 stars.
Completely new recipe, with cheeeeeese! Ding!
Likelihood of Repeat: 60%
These were delicious. I thought making a dozen tiny ones would leave plenty of extra to bring to work, but then I ate them all during a Netflix marathon, with a bit of jam. I think this either means (a)I should never make them again, since they are not the healthiest food to eat, and/or (b)I should only make them when they are destined for other peoples’ houses, so I don’t eat them all. Next time I would definitely rather try baking dollops of dough rather than bothering with the weird-looking piping, and make a full portion so the water ratio is not off.
Lesson Learned: Cheese + flour + butter = oops, ate them all. These were not as difficult for me to make as I imagined.

Cheese gougeres ready to eat, with a tiny side jar of jam.
Cheese gougeres ready to eat, with a tiny side jar of jam.

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

Quinoa, for breakfast?!
Coconut Quinoa Breakfast Blend

An old classmate of mine has been keeping a blog too, Monica’s Cheddar Cheese Popcorn, which includes plenty of food talk. It seems she’s on a new year health kick and has been trying some different food habits. Below is my rendition of the idea I got from her. It plays right into my urge to reinvent my breakfast routine, since the old irish-oats-in-rice-cooker-overnight-plus-toppings drill has started to feel stale.

Coconut_Quinoa_Collage
The viscosity of the coconut milk threw me for a loop: the top looked like whipped cream! Yum! Also: made a total mess of the pot since I kept turning up the heat and letting it boil over. Oops.

I haven’t specified the portions of the toppings below, as I’m sure every one has their own preference for ratios.

Coconut Quinoa Breakfast Blend

Day 1: with pear, et. al.
Day 1: with pear, et. al.
Day 2: with apple, &c.
Day 2: with apple, &c.
Day 3: before heating and adding toppings, transported via mason jar.
Day 3: before heating and adding toppings, transported via mason jar.

Ingredients:
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup quinoa
Toppings: take ’em or leave ’em
cinnamon, to taste (~a dash)
salt, to taste (very little)
sliced almonds
pecans
dried pineapple
dried cranberries
granola (for crunch)
honey
flax seed
chia seeds
pear, sliced

Steps
1. Boil coconut milk and water on high until almost boiling, add quinoa and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 20-30 minutes.
2. While cooking quinoa, lightly toast almonds and pecans, grind flax seed with mortar and pestle (to release the nutritional oils), and slice the pear.
3. Scoop out some quinoa, top with your choice of toppings, and enjoy! Toppings could certainly be simpler, I just got carried away on a day off. I think it might even be good with a little jam on top.

Note: chia seeds are hella expensive. I scavenged some from my house, since it turns out my “roommate” bought a bag a long time ago. I think it’s safe to say that more than a teaspoon of either flax or chia seeds may be too much. I have read that said chia seeds have magical ‘make-you-feel-full’ properties. Beh. I also panicked a little after 20 minutes when the whole mix still looked watery, but after I’d eaten a small bowl (straining out some liquid), I found that the rest of the quinoa left on the stovetop had absorbed the water, so it worked out fine.

Interestingly, my first bowl of this I found I needed to drizzle honey on top, but by the next day, some sliced apples were enough sweetness for me. I packed a little mason jar of this for breakfast at work, and found it turned out to be too filling! How surprising. I tampered with the portioning to half the amount I would normally eat for oatmeal, which means I ended up eating it for breakfast for four straight days, but, no complaints, once I got the portions right (a little quinoa, lots more fruit and nuts).  [Insert lecture here extolling the virtues of quinoa as a healthful false grain, vs. a regular ‘evil’ carb. Then insert lecture on the economic issues of quinoa, driving up the prices so that those who natively ate it as a staple in the Andes switch to more fattening staples. That leaves me, the overthinker, sort of leaving it at a wash for now..]

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
5 of 5 stars The endless possibility of topping variations is quite appealing. I’m interested to find out how much fat I just added to my breakfast routine..
Likelihood of Repeat: 100% Yum! I’m definitely going to try and make oatmeal in coconut milk too, especially since I’ve got some coconut milk left over in the fridge. This combination inches me closer to the USDA MyPlate guidelines.
New standard review note!
Lesson Learned: oy! Don’t let the [coconut] milk boil over! Related lesson: I am really bad at cooking staple grains on stovetop. That’s what my robot butler, a.k.a. rice cooker, is for.

What do you do for breakfast? How do you keep it interesting?

Day 4: with berries and bananas. Still tasty, and very filling. The chia seeds started looking scary fuzzy, but no ill effects so far..
Day 4: with berries and bananas. Still tasty, and very filling. The chia seeds started looking scary fuzzy, but no ill effects.