Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Elaine's Mom-style Chinese Chicken Curry

I love my mom's curry. It is amazing. But since I am not my mom, I can only make half-amazing curry, despite following her every direction as she hovers over me in the kitchen. Someday she will bequeath whatever secret she has to amazing curry (it better not be love) and I will be able to do it. But until then, here's how I make mine.

1/2 onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled. Sliced, if you don't mind finding all sorts of ginger in your food
2 small potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly 1" cubes
8 chicken wings including tips, separated into the three chicken wing pieces
1 can coconut milk
1-2 tbsp yellow curry powder. Like soy sauce, I have 4 kinds of curry in my house. I use Jamaican yellow curry for this recipe
Roughly 1-2 tsp fish sauce or soy sauce to taste

Let's do it!
Stir fry the onion, ginger and garlic in some oil in a pot with a lid. Stir fry until the onion is soft.

Add potatoes and fry for a little while longer.

Add curry paste and stir around for a couple of minutes. Everything is going to start to stick to the bottom of the pot. Add coconut milk, stir, scraping the bottom of the pot (with a wooden spoon, obviously) and cover. Simmer on low until the potatoes are half done.

Add chicken wings, add a pinch of salt and cover and simmer until the chicken is done. Add soy sauce/fish sauce to taste.

Serve over rice.

This recipe is pretty easy, and not very spicy (unless you get spicy curry). It's one of my comfort foods. I particularly enjoy mashing the potatoes into the rice.

Unfortunately, my husband is not into curry, so UNFORTUNATELY I have to eat it all by myself. Right now I have some in the freezer. I'll let you know if it freezes well.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Basic fried rice

Fried rice is another one of those recipes that use up all the leftovers in the fridge. All you really need is rice, soy sauce, veggies, protein and oil. You can have an endless amount of combinations. I have yet to make a combination that tastes bad, but that doesn't mean this recipe is infallible. Think before you mix. If I'm using leftover meat, I won't use any meat that's got a sauce on it. In terms of veggies, I had a cucumber in the fridge, but thought it might not mix well with the other flavours. Plus, cooked cucumber? Gross.

3 servings of cooked rice, cooled (preferably overnight)
1/2 onion, diced
1/2" slice of ginger, peeled and left intact (Unless you like eating ginger)
2 dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked in water, stems removed and diced. Water reserved
1/4 tsp shrimp paste
1 egg, beaten
1 serving meat (I used frozen smoked sausage), diced
1 tsp light soy sauce (or more, to taste)
Optional: any other kind of veggies or meat you have diced. I tossed in some chives from the garden, though green onion would make more sense.

I'm sure there's some kind of science around why you want the rice to be old and cold. I don't know it, but it's a tip I got from my brother and it seems to get good (i.e. not mushy) results. If you're not using brown rice (and why not?), you can rinse it after it's cooled, to rinse out any residual starches.

In terms of the dried mushrooms and shrimp paste, they're not completely necessary, but I find that they really elevate the dish from rice that's fried to FRIED RICE. Both can be found in an Asian grocery store (but not the Asian area of any grocery store that I've been to) or on the internet. Shrimp paste smells like rotten shrimp, but is a fantastic addition to a lot of Asian dishes.

Let's do it!
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wok on medium heat. Pour in the scrambled egg and let sit until it's mostly cooked. Turn it over to cook on the other side. Slide out of the pan and chop it up into 1" x 1/2" slices, or diced, or whatever you want. Put aside.

Throw the onion and ginger in the pan. Saute for about 4 minutes, until the onions start to soften. Throw in the other veggies (mushrooms, and whatever else you have). Cook for another 3 minutes to meld the flavours. Add the meat and cook for another 3 minutes.

Turn the heat up to medium high and throw in the rice. Stir fry it. Mix 1 tbsp of mushroom water, the shrimp paste and soy sauce in a bowl until it's blended well. Add it to the wok and mix everything well. Add the egg. Taste the rice. Is it salty enough? If so, you're done. If not, add a bit more soy sauce.

That's it!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chinese-style pork, broccoli and brown rice with pickled cucumbers

I’ve sort of been craving Cantonese pork ribs lately, but really didn’t want to mess with the bones at work, so I went with pork chops. Sorry about the grossness of the picture. It’s biking season and everything sort of got bashed around.

Chinese-style pork

2 pork chops, sliced into strips
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
½ tbsp cooking sherry/rice wine (you can find this in Asian grocery stores)
a small splash of sesame oil
1 tsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp cornstarch mixed in water for later

Let’s do it!
Mix all the sauces and sugar together and taste. Adjust for sweetness/saltiness. It’s okay if it’s pretty salty, it will be mixing in with pork, and later rice.

Marinate the pork while you’re making the broccoli.

Heat a pan/wok, pour in some oil and fry the pork and marinade until cooked. Add in the cornstarch and water at the end. Stir until thick. That’s it.

Stir-fried broccoli with garlic and ginger

1 head broccoli, rinsed
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
½ inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into matchsticks

Let’s do it!
Chop up the broccoli: peel the thick skin off the stalk, and cut the bottom of the stalk off. Slice the stalk into thin rounds until you get to the florets. Take the florets apart with your hands (you will lose less of them this way) for any florets with thick stalks, slice only the stalk, then pull it apart with your hands.

Heat up a wok with some oil. When the oil is shimmery, add the garlic and ginger. Fry until golden. Move it around a lot, or it will burn. Add the broccoli and stir around, flipping them. Add ¼ cup of water and cover, letting it steam for maybe 10 minutes until dark. That’s it.

Pickled cucumber

1 cucumber, seeded and sliced thinly
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp water
1 tsp sugar
dash of salt

Let’s do it!
Mix all this stuff together and let marinate for at least an hour.

Lunch it up!
Put the pork and broccoli on a bed of brown rice in a microwavable container. If you like to keep things separate, then do so, but I would warn against heating stuff up in plastic containers. If you're a guy, you'll get boobs. If you're a girl, you'll get an extra uterus.

Keep the pickles separate, obviously. For some spiciness, I added some sriracha to the pork and broccoli at the last minute.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Vegan kale lasagna

Thanks to a Mother's Day family bbq (and let's face it, laziness), I've been eating leftovers for the past 2 days, therefore no new posts. Now that mom's delicious noodle salad (a post for later when I attempt it) is all gone, I'm back in full force.

This recipe is a variation of Chow's Winter Greens Lasagna. It was such a hit among the non-vegetarians at my friend, Steph's dad's 60th birthday, I had to try to make a non-dairy version. Seriously, her family, much like my own, doesn't consider it a meal unless 4 different kinds of animal are served. They LOVED this dish. And despite being allergic to dairy, I allowed myself one incredible, luscious bite. So worth the pain. One note on that recipe: if you can eat dairy, make the creme fraiche yourself. It's totally worth it.

4 layers worth of lasagna noodles, cooked to package directions
About 8 cups or so Basic tomato sauce. Actually, err on having more sauce. It'll keep for a few days.
6 cups kale (roughly one bunch)
1/2 tub Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
1 package Daiya mozzarella flavoured cheese-like substance
400ml can of coconut milk, shaken vigorously
1 tbsp butter, or vegan substitute for butter (I've tricked my body into accepting butter)
Olive oil
Salt to taste

Let's do it!
Rip the kale leaves from the stems and rinse. Chop finely, or chop in a food processor in batches (which is what I did)

Heat some olive oil in a saucepan and throw in the kale. Sautee until dark, roughly 10 minutes. Yes, I like to cook the ever living crap out of kale, when I do decide to cook it. Add butter, cream cheese and a short pour of coconut milk, roughly 1/4 cup. Stir until the cheese melts. Add enough coconut to make the mixture like a thick batter. If you're using the kind of lasagna noodles you don't precook, add enough milk to make it like a thin batter. Add salt until it's really really good. I added almost 1 tsp. Hey, this is vegan, I didn't say it was HEALTHY. Everything in this is fake except for the kale and tomato sauce.

At this point, you should probably preheat your oven to whatever the lasagna package says you need to put it to.

Ladle a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish. Layer with noodles. Ladle 1/2 the kale mixture and spread flat. Sprinkle on 1/3 of the Daiya and top with more tomato sauce. Repeat this once more, then top with tomato sauce, Daiya, and some coconut milk in a criss cross kind of pattern. Bake to lasagna package instructions.

When the lasagna is done, I like to keep enough for one meal for both of us, then freeze the rest in single serving portions, for those (increasingly common) days when I'm too lazy to cook. It reheats pretty well.

Diagnosis: Delicious!
Holy hell, this lasagna is tasty! If you can't have dairy, and enjoy the taste of Daiya cheese, you will lose it over this.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Donburi... type thing

The problem: Leftover rice and other stuff in the fridge
Difficulty: Don't want to make fried rice, despite being Chinese and that being my most common fallback.
X-factor: Don't need to make lunch for husband, so I can be as crazy as I want with this.
Solution: Donburi, or a variation thereof. A Japanese dish that is basically a bowl of cooked rice with some other food served on top of it.

This was a favourite of mine in college, where I could get a vegetarian donburi from the food court that would fill me up for about $5. Rice, soup, protein, veggies, how can you go wrong?

Cooked rice
1 tbsp Organic red miso paste
1 tbsp mirin
1/4 c Japanese soy sauce (yes, there is a difference. At home I have four kinds of soy sauce. God only know how many my mom has.)
2 raw eggs
Raw spinach (or field green salad mix, which is what I had in the fridge)

Let's do it!
Boil maybe 2 cups of water on the stove. Mix the miso paste with some water in a bowl until it's blended, then add to the boiling water. Add the mirin and soy sauce and simmer for maybe 5 minutes. That's pretty much it until you get to work.

Lunch it up!
Pack the soup in a non-spill container, pack the rice in another container, and the greens and raw eggs in yet another container. Yes, this is another lunch that will bring ridicule from your workmates, but it will smell/taste delicious and they'll all be jealous. So there.

At work I boiled the soup in the microwave, cracked the two eggs in and covered it for a few minutes. Then I cooked the rice in a bowl, threw the greens on top, then threw the soup on it. A real donburi doesn't have this much soup at all, but whatever. I wasn't going to throw it out.

Not the best thing I've ever made, but not the worst. I think it might need some tweaking in execution and ingredients. Spinach would have been a better choice than field greens (which were mostly lettuce. Soupy lettuce = gross) and the rice should have been cooked more. The soup was okay, but it was too sweet (I actually used a ton of mirin, best use 1 tbsp or adjust the sweetness at home, which is not what I did). I will make this again, but maybe not be so haphazard about it next time.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chicken Basquaise on Rice

This recipe can be described as one of the greatest hits in this house. Nathan's a fan, I'm a fan and it reheats really well. It's based on this recipe from Chow. It consists of chicken cooked in a pipérade.


2 strips of bacon, chopped
1 onion, peeled and sliced into thin strips
2 red peppers sliced into thin strips
3 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thymee
2 tsp paprika

1 chicken leg, deboned, bone reserved

Cooked rice

Let's do it!
Heat the bacon in the pan to extract the oil.

Cook the onion in the oil for about 5 minutes.

Add peppers, herbs, and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes. Add chicken bones, cover and simmer until peppers and onions are soft.

Add chicken meat (chopped), cover and simmer for another 10-15 minutes until it's cooked.

Lunch it up!

Put some rice in a container and top with the sauce, taking out the chicken bones and bay leaf.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chicken and bean tacos/rice

No exaggeration, I got a phone call from my coworker, demanding that I tell her what I was having for lunch, since it smelled so delicious. Let me tell you, it tastes as good as it smells.

1 chicken leg (or big chicken breast, whatever), skin separated and reserved, meat diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves chopped
1/2 cup pinto beans
2 tbsp chili powder
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp oil
1/4 cup tomato sauce

cooked rice and/or tortillas

Let's do it!
Mix the meat, chili powder, cilantro, oil and a bit of salt in a bowl and set aside to marinate (in the fridge, preferably)

Heat a pan on medium and put the chicken skin in it. Cook until the fat renders out and you have some oil for frying everything else. (If you're thinking "ew", perhaps you should know that the key to making things delicious is salt and fat. Because you're getting some fat in you, your body will probably register as fuller earlier and for longer.) Throw in the onion, green pepper and jalapeno. Stir fry until soft. At this point, you can take the skin out and toss it. Unless you're a disgusting person like me, in which case you will keep it in to keep the fatty goodness in the meal.

Add the garlic and beans and saute for another few minutes, until the garlic takes on a goldish hue. Apparently cooking the beans longer takes the gassiness out of them. I don't know if this is true, but beans don't seem to result in hilarious gas with me as they seem to do in popular culture.

Add tomato sauce and chicken mixture and saute until the chicken is cooked.

Lunch it up!
If you're me, then you will pour this mixture over some cooked wild and brown rice. If you're my husband, you will wrap it up in a flour tortilla (mixed with rice, maybe? For fibre? Who am I kidding? It's probably going to be processed cheese slices.). Either way, this is a great way to get a ton of veggies in you with the delicious savouriness of meat, without going meat crazy. I had mine with some field greens in balsamic vinegar and oil, just to get the dark leafy green content in.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Easy pasta salad

My plan today was to buy sushi for lunch. This morning, my cheapness overcame my laziness and I made one of the laziest, but still satisfying, meals I had in my arsenal.

Working Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: roughly 10 minutes


Pasta, cooked as per directions on package (also a great recipe for leftover pasta)
Diced cucumber
Diced red onion
Black olives
Chopped sundried tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp oil of your choice
Optional: any veggies or leftover meat laying around the house. Originally, I was going to put in some baby spinach, but I forgot.

Let's do it!
Cook the pasta as per specifications and prepare the beans. For this recipe I used a rainbow farfalle. Generally I stick to the non-long type pastas, as it's easier to get spoonfuls of pasta and veggies together. I used frozen soy beans so I tossed them into the pasta during the last minute. You can use canned beans, or nuts even.

Chop up everything and throw into a container with a lid. Add the pasta and shake shake shake. Sprinkle with salt.

Pour the oil (I used veggie oil because I get sick of olive oil sometimes) and vinegar into a jar and screw the lid on very tight.

Lunch it up!
This one's easy. Shake up the dressing vigorously, then pour some (or all, if you like a ton of dressing) into your container. Shake shake shake some more, and you have a good, balanced lunch!