Category Archives: Ethnic

Fried rice!

I think there are very few people out there who haven’t had fried rice. It’s an amazing, tasty thing…but you know, for a long time, I didn’t like it. My dad makes it with Spam and oyster sauce, which is really popular in Hawaii, but the two tastes together always made me quick to put my fork down. The flavors in it just didn’t jive with me.

And so, for a long time, I wasn’t a big fan of fried rice…until I finally made my own. And boy, was it good! M likes hers with egg, which I don’t, but I love adding tofu, bean sprouts, sauteed cabbage… The flavor and texture combinations are endless. In this one, I used both egg and boiled peanuts, along with the usual veggies. Pheasants! Fried rice is the perfect vehicle for vegetables! Don’t forget this. You can put essentially any tasty vegetable in it…the more, the merrier, although I usually stick to a 1.5:1 rice to veggie ratio to keep it rice-y.

As for rice types, I prefer to use whatever I have in the fridge at the time…long grain or short, I’ve never noticed much of a difference, as long as the rice is chilled and not too mushy.

Pheasant’s fried rice

2 1/2 c rice, chilled

1 c mixed veggies (frozen is perfect!)

1 egg

4 tbsp minced onion (the real stuff, not dehydrated)

1/4 c “party style” peanuts

3 cloves garlic, minced finely

1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce (Aloha brand highly recommended)

3 tsp fish sauce

3 tsp garlic or vegetable oil

First, heat some water to boiling and place your peanuts and veggies into a bowl large enough to fit them as well as some hot water. Pour the boiling water over them, and let it all soak for about ten minutes. If you like your peanuts softer, drain and repeat the process.

Heat your pan or wok to medium-high. Add 1 teaspoon of oil and allow it to heat. Scramble your egg, add a little water (a tablespoon or so) and add it to the pan. You want to cook it to a soft scramble…it should be creamy and not too dry. Take them from the pan, place them on a plate, and cut into little curdles, like so: 

Now, place your onion mince in the pan and allow it to sauté until softened and browned. Add in your garlic; allow this to sauté as well, and then add in your rice. You’ll want to add in the remaining oil now…make sure to spread it around so that it evenly coats everything. Now toss it like your life depends on it!

Once the rice and onion/garlic are mixed, drizzle in the fish sauce and soy sauce, making sure to also spread it around. Live action shot time: 

Stir the rice again, and let it cook for about three more minutes. Once this is all done, add in your drained peanuts and vegetables, making sure to mix it all up so that it’s nicely divided and scattered. Then, add in your egg bits, stir, cook for another five minutes, and…oh, ma belle, oh, ma chérie….you are beautiful. 

 

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Filed under Ethnic, Pastas, grains and oatmeal

Arroz con carne: an adventure in Meatland

There is a very, very slim line between juicy meat and tough, chewy mess. We all probably know that from one experience or another. I must say, though, that I feel like I’ve had my fair share of “tough times.”

Today, I’d been planning a crock pot recipe for you. Rejoice, you crock pot-less readers of mine! This recipe is delicious, simple, and really, really tasty. A small caveat for you though: those of you who don’t like it spicy should skip or massively cut down on the chipotle puree you put into the sauce.

This dish, though, is quite nice…it comes out soft, moist, tender, and just spicy enough to kick your mouth into action. The rice beneath it  soaks up all that lovely, delicious gravy, and…it’s just delicious. I served it with some roasted broccoli, and it made for a very tasty meal.

If you decide you don’t want to go through all the work of cutting up an eye of round roast, just buy as much chuck roast, puree up the sauce and stick it in the crock pot. Easy as pie!

Pheasant’s arroz con carne

10 oz eye of round roast (or similar non-marbled cut), heavily chilled

4 whole tomatoes, cored and seeded

3 tbsp beef or chicken broth, or tomato juice

1/2 c thinly-sliced onion

3 cloves garlic

3 tbsp canned enchilada sauce (or bottled salsa)

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp chipotle puree (or adobo sauce)

Puree together all the ingredients but the meat. Taste and adjust for salt.

Thinly slice your meat. You want it somewhere between average deli roast beef slices and about 1/3 centimeter. The thinner the better.

In a 10-12″ skillet with a lid, pour in the sauce and put the meat pieces in, making sure to cover each piece in the sauce. Add a little beef broth to thin it out if need be, but it’s unlikely.

Set the pan to medium-low. Bring it to a simmer and let the meat go for 3-4 hours, checking occasionally for tenderness. The liquid should never quite come to a boil, but it should have the occasional bubble.

Once your meat is done, dish it up over some rice, and enjoy! 

 

 

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Filed under Ethnic, Red meat

Chicken and spinach enchiladas

If there was ever a point in my life where I was forced to eat only one ethnic group’s food for the rest of my life, I’d probably pick Mexican food. All the pungent flavors, bright colors, and different textures just sing to me when I eat it. It’s beautiful! Red tomatoes, green peppers, yellow rice, brown beans, and slowly-cooked meats marinated in deliciously spicy (or sometimes sweet-savory) sauces…how can you go wrong?

When M and I first moved into our current apartment, I was unsure of my cooking skills as chef, even if I had been cooking for over a decade. So, when we began planning out the meals we’d eat, M decided she wanted enchiladas, and I readily agreed. Simply to make and easy to eat, enchiladas are a great meal to make, whether cooking for a crowd or just two people. M and I always make four enchiladas, and eat two apiece. This night was an anomaly, but I chalk it up to the veggies in the enchiladas…they’re great filling!

I mixed up a canned enchilada sauce with chipotle peppers, roasted garlic and spices to make it taste better than ever, and add some to the filling to make the flavors pop. You can use any kind of shredded cheese you like, although I always reach for Tillamook. When wrapping, it’s easiest to roll with the flap on top so that you don’t get filling all over everywhere.

Cheesy chicken and spinach enchiladas

3 chicken thighs or 2 chicken breasts, poached and shredded

4 flour tortillas (we used medium ones, as large is too big)

2/3 c shredded cheese

3 c spinach, wilted and chopped

2/3 c refried beans

3/4 c canned enchilada sauce (we use Rosarita brand)

1 tbsp chipotle pepper puree (or adobo sauce, if you prefer)

1/2 tbsp roasted garlic, mashed into a paste

cumin, cayenne, pepper and garlic powder to taste.

Preheat your oven to 350°F (176°C.) Line an 8×8 inch cake or brownie pan with foil.

In a pan, heat the refried beans and season with some cumin, cayenne, garlic powder and pepper. Mix and cook until heated through, then set aside. While it’s cooking, use a small bowl to mix the enchilada sauce, roasted garlic, pepper and chipotle puree. Taste and adjust for spice.

In a large bowl, mix together the shredded chicken, chopped spinach, and about a 1/3 cup of the shredded cheese, as well as 3 tablespoons of the enchilada sauce. Spread two tablespoons’ worth of enchilada sauce across the bottom of the foil-lined pan. Place a tortilla inside the pan and spread 1/4 of the beans across the tortilla. Fill it with the chicken and spinach mixture, then fold it and flip it over. Repeat with the remaining three tortillas.

Once all your tortillas are folded, spoon the remaining sauce over the enchiladas, making sure to spread it around evenly. Top with the remaining cheese, and pop them in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is entirely melted. If you like, place them under the broiler for a few minutes for color, but keep an eye out to make sure the cheese doesn’t burn.

Once you’ve taken the enchiladas out, serve them up with beans, chips, pico de gallo and whatever else you like! 

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Filed under Ethnic

TYCMiaR, part IV: personal spoonbread

My dear friend Sai has been telling me how much she loves my “things you can make in a ramekin” posts, and I must admit, it’s been a while. So, I got to thinking: what did I want to do for the next post? There are so many things! Sai and I have been going over the possibilities all morning. Finally, though, I hit on this: we’re having the last of my mother’s (amazing, stupendous, best-ever) fried chicken for lunch today. Why not keep it Southern and go with a little spoonbread? Little, being the operative word here.

So, I scoured the internet for ideas, tweaked a recipe, and came up with these beautiful, tiny, lovely corn cakes. They’re soft, sweet, and oh, so tasty. Studded with corn kernels and bursting with silky, sweet Southern flavor, this cake is a must-have for all those “supper for two” nights. It also works well as a cold breakfast cake the next morning, with a little cream and brown sugar on top!

Pheasant’s corn spoonbread

Makes two ramekins’ worth

1/4 c plus 1 tsp yellow cornmeal

1/3 c creamed corn

2 tbsp sour cream or mayo

1 tsp sugar or honey

1 1/4 tbsp water

1/8 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

scant 1/8 tsp cayenne

scant 1/16 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 350°F (176°C.)

Spray two 6 to 8 oz ramekins with Pam. In a small bowl, mix together the dry goods, stirring thoroughly. Add in the corn, sour cream or mayo, and honey if you’re using it. Mix it all together, divide between the ramekins, and place in the oven for 20 minutes.

When the timer goes off, check the cakes. Insert a toothpick. If it comes out clean, they’re done. If not, give them another four or five minutes.

As soon as the ramekins have cooled, you can dig in! Drizzle them with honey or chipotle compound butter. They’re even tasty just as they are, of course! 

On a related note, what are your favorite types of Southern food? I love cornbread, mashed potatoes, and fried chicken! Fried chicken is definitely my favorite…on a related note, am I the only girl north of Dixie who enjoys her fried chicken doused in hot sauce?

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Filed under Baking, Ethnic

Roasted garlic

I love garlic. Everything about it: it’s taste, the texture, the sharp, heady smell of it. It’s beautiful. M loves the smell of my fingers after I’ve sliced into a clove of garlic. She says the smell is sexy. I disagree; I think everything about garlic is sexy. It’s the ultimate flavoring when it comes to soups, sauces and roasts. It can add a sharpness to a vinaigrette like nothing can, and it makes pasta approximately fifteen times better just from basking in its presence.

There is something, however, that regular garlic cannot add that roasted, it does…the sweet, caramel-y flavor of roasted garlic is unmatched. Spread on toast and drizzled with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, it makes for an amazing antipasto treat. Crushed into mashed potatoes, it drives such a comforting American dish up to a level it had never before attained!

I think that roasted garlic can go on or in absolutely anything your mind can dream up, but, more than anything, I love it piping hot from the oven, sweet and warm, spread on a piece of crusty, crunchy crostini. There’s nothing like sitting around on a hot day with your lover eating little swipes of this caramel-colored, sweetly-scented roasted garlic with a nice cup of black tea.

Remember that, when picking heads of garlic for roasting, you want to choose firm, heavy heads with tightly-closed cloves. No sprouts!

Roasted garlic for one

1-2 heads garlic

Olive oil for drizzling (not extra-virgin)

Preheat your oven to 350°F (171°C.) On a 12×12 inch square of foil, drizzle about one tablespoon of olive oil. On a chopping board, cut off the top of the garlic head so that just the tops of the cloves are exposed.

Set the garlic cut side down onto the oil. Drizzle another tablespoon of oil over the garlic and close the foil in a tight package. Set the garlic in the oven and set your timer for one hour.

It is your duty to enjoy the lovely smells as they waft from your oven. Bask in it. Bathe in it!

Once the timer goes off, take out your little packet. Let it sit for ten to fifteen minutes (if you can resist!) Eat it just like that with toast, or let it cool and use it in any recipe you can come up with. Don’t forget to save at least two cloves for my next post, though…or just make two heads. That’s generally what I do 🙂

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Filed under Ethnic, Miscellaneous

Supping with beauty

I don't know why those leaves are purple...they were green on the plate.

I just wanted to update everyone on the lovely and wonderful supper I made for M today…not only did I make her those fabulous baked chicken thighs, but I also cooked up some crispy chow mein that could kill a man with one look. It’s that beautiful.

Simply put, I wok-fried some sugar snap peas, green onions and split baby bok choy. I cooked the chow mein in boiling water per package directions, then separated it into little bird’s nests, put some hot oil in a frying pan, and cooked them until they were crispy. A little sprinkling of soy sauce and a tall glass of cool water were just icing on the cake for this amazing meal.

I will caution you, however, to invite people over whenever you make chow mein. If you aren’t careful…a one pound bag goes from a meal for four to six, to a meal for two… And, it’s party-friendly. Some wonderful friends of ours, hereon out known as Pippi and Midlander, came over last Saturday night for some boozing and chow mein. It was grand.

So, make chow mein for your next family gathering and watch the compliments pour in. Eat well and smile on, my pheasants!

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Filed under Ethnic

Lemon-dill sole and cucumber salad

I apologize for the white on white...I keep telling M we need colored plates!

I love Mediterranean food. Then again, if you know me in person, you probably know that I love every kind of food. But, Mediterranean holds a special place in my heart. I love the fresh, bright, wholesome flavors. And of course, I love the ease of preparation and low fat generally found in Mediterranean cooking.

Whenever I have a need for something fast, healthy and simple, I almost invariably head for Greek or Italian cuisine. It’s simple, satisfying, and oh, so delicious. And lately, I’ve been working harder than usual. Yay for the holidays! Boo for the holiday shopping rushes! So, tonight, I present to you my baked sole, covered in a creamy lemon, dill and pepper sauce. I served it up alongside some delicious cucumber salad and quinoa.

I first had this cucumber salad while staying with my aunt C and her family down in California, about two years ago. It was amazing…I remember she cooked up some grilled chicken, fragrant, delicious rice pilaf and served it up alongside roasted tomatoes, and this cucumber salad. I was in love at first bite. Well, who am I kidding? I was practically head over heels just going off smell alone. It was heavenly. I’d never had anything so simple, yet so beautiful. And that, pheasants, is why I am passing this beautiful side dish along to you. It’s great on its own, or on sandwiches, with rice, or in a gyro. You can make it creamier or less so, depending on your tastes.

Lemon Dill Sole

4 medium to large sole fillets

20 large, multicolored peppercorns (or more or less, depending on how peppery you like it)

2 tbsp dried dill

1/2 tbsp sea salt

1 large, rolled lemon (and zested)

1 tbsp fat free sour cream (or yogurt)

1/4 tsp sugar

Preheat your oven to 350°F (177° C) and line a jelly roll pan with foil. Spray the foil with Pam, and lay out your fillets. Crush 15 of the peppercorns in a mortar, adding in 1 1/4 tablespoons of the dill and half the sea salt. Mix it all together, then sprinkle lightly and evenly over your fillets until the mix is gone. Zest half the lemon, sprinkling the zest over the fillets. Then, cut the lemon in half and squeeze a few tablespoons over the fillets. Place in the oven for ten to thirteen minutes.

While the fish is cooking, take out a small saucepan and put it on medium. Add all the remaining lemon juice and the other half of the lemon’s zest. Add 1/2 the salt left, the sugar, remaining dill, and sour cream. Bring it all to a simmer until thickened. Taste and correct for spices, then set aside to thicken further. I made ours sweeter, because M doesn’t like the bite of lemon.

Once the timer goes off, take the fillets from the oven and set them somewhere to rest for a moment; then, plate them up, spoon the sauce over, and enjoy!

Cucumber Mint Salad

1 whole, large cucumber, ends trimmed

2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

2 tbsp minced red onion

1 small clove garlic, minced fine

6 large or 10 small mint leaves, minced, pureed or muddled

3-6 tbsp plain yogurt

salt and pepper to taste

Halve your cucumber lengthwise and slice it into thin but manageable slices. Combine them in a bowl with the onion, garlic, tomato and mint. Then, add in the yogurt and mix until everything is coated. Salt and pepper lightly, tasting as you go along.

Allowing this to sit for an hour or so will deepen the flavors.

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Filed under Ethnic, Seafood, Seasonal, Summer