Friday, July 31, 2009

Shrimp Fried Rice

I know this is weird but, after boiling up some shrimp for dinner, I had leftovers. (There was leftover shrimp -- when does *that* ever happen?)

Not wanting to let shrimp go to waste (because they're shrimp and not using them up would be a crime against both nature AND the culinary gods) I went off in search of a fried rice recipe.

Kian and Sadie LOVE fried rice. We've taken them to Japanese teppan/hibatchi restaurants Plum Garden and Da Ru Ma (where I always order the lobster and filet mignon combo because, c'mon, how can I not?) and, on top of loving the cooking theatrics, the kids dive right into the fried rice.

I came upon this post for fried rice by Jaden Hair, hosted on Simply Recipes -- it is fantastic. Not only does Jaden provide a stand-up recipe, she explains the hows and whys behind fried rice: use day-old rice for an ideal end result, cook over high heat, fry the ingredients separately.
You don't need a wok, either. Read her post for more details.

The recipe is dead simple, comes together quickly, and tastes fabulous. Plus, once you've tried it out, you can easily see where substitutions can be made. No shrimp? Try chicken or pork -- or leave the meat out altogether and just roll with the eggs. Go vegan my swapping out the meat and eggs in favor of tofu. I replaced green onions with Bianca Di Maggio onions from my CSA (admittedly, not a *huge* difference); garlic scapes or even some diced white onion would work, too. I snuck in some whole grains and fiber by using brown rice over white rice.

So, take look what you've got in your fridge and pantry and let your mind play with the possibilities of tonight's dinner: fried rice.

Shrimp Fried Rice (adapted)

8 oz. cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp, chopped into bite-sized pieces if needed
2 Tbsp. cooking oil, divided
3 eggs, beaten
2 stalks green onion, minced
4 cups leftover brown rice, grains separated well
3/4 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil

Heat a wok or large sauté pan to medium heat; add 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil and swirl to coat pan. Add the eggs, stirring to break up and scramble the eggs with a spatula (use a high-heat proof plastic spatula if cooking on a non-stick surface). When the eggs are almost cooked through (they should still be slightly runny in the middle), scoop out the eggs to a separate bowl and set aside.

Wipe out the wok or sauté pan with a paper towel, add the remaining cooking oil and turn to high heat, swirling to coat. When the oil is very hot, add the green onions and fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add in the rice and stir well to mix in the green onions throughout. Spread the rice all around the pan and let the rice heat up, untouched, until you hear the bottoms of the grains sizzle, about 1-2 minutes. Use the spatula to toss the rice, again spreading the rice out over the surface of the pan.

Drizzle the soy sauce over the rice and toss. Add the peas, the cooked eggs, shrimp and sesame oil, tossing to mix evenly. Let everything heat back up again, taste and add an additional teaspoon of soy sauce if needed.

Serves 4.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Black Raspberry Muffins

Guess what? This is post #501. What a long, strange trip it's been...

"If I were stranded on a deserted island and could only bring one food," said Sadie, "it would be these muffins."

You will have to make them yourself to see if you agree.

Black Raspberry Muffins (adapted from Cook's Illustrated, via The Bitten Word)

2 cups fresh black raspberries, washed and picked over
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar, and another 1 tsp. sugar, separated
2 large eggs
4 Tbsp. (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
¼ cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup whole milk
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
More sugar for sprinkling (I used vanilla sugar)

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425-degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with muffin liners, and lightly oil the top of the pan with oil.

Bring 1 cup berries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to ¼ cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

Whisk remaining 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar together with the eggs in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not over mix.)

Use an ice cream scoop, large spoon or 1/3 cup dry measuring cup to divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon a teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion. Sprinkle additional sugar evenly over muffins.

Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating muffin pan from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins

Thomas has nothing on me.

And certainly nothing on Nicole, who developed this recipe.

In the convenience of your own kitchen, you can whip up cinnamon-raisin English muffins -- from scratch -- in about an hour. (And most of that is sitting around, waiting for the yeast to do its thing.) Your kitchen can be filled with the scent of cinnmony goodness, your toaster can pop up tasty little treats, and your mouth can be made happy by a breakfast favorite -- made that much better because these babies are fresh.

I may never buy another packaged English muffin again. Sorry, Thomas.

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins (adapted from Baking Bites)
1/3 cup water, warm (about 110 degrees F)
1 Tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup fat fat milk (100-110 degrees F)
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups flour
1/3 cup raisins

Whisk together water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl; let mixture stand for 10 minutes until slightly foamy.

Stir in remaining ingredients, except the raisins, and mix until smooth. Stir in the raisins, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 45 minutes to relax and rise.

Lightly grease a frying pan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat.

Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls (it will be sticky) onto the pan and cook until medium brown on the bottom. The top and sides will appear set and/or a bit dry; this should take a few (or maybe more) minutes. Flip over and cook other side until brown.

Cool on muffins on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes. To serve, split with a fork and toast.

Makes about 10 muffins.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Grilled Flank Steak with Soy-Chili Glaze

Try to look past the messy composition of this picture, and just stare at the deliciousness of this flank steak. Because it is frickin' amazing.

This steak comes from Bedient Farms, which I can not heap enough praise upon. I don't know what owner Angela Bedient feeds her cows but it must be something fabulous. I think they might actually live like the cows in those Californial cheese commercials.

Speaking of commercials, when you bite into this steak -- well, after you've recovered from the explosion of flavor bursting on your tongue, and after you've regained consciousness from delicious-overload -- that Beef: It's What's for Dinner song will pop in your head and you will remember all that is wonderful about eating beef again.

Grilled Flank Steak with Soy-Chili Glaze (adapted)

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 1/4 pounds flank steak
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Lime wedges

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. In a small saucepan, heat the oil. Add the garlic and ginger and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic begins to turn golden. Add the soy sauce, sugar and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until syrupy, about 3 minutes; let cool.

Season the steak with salt and pepper. Grill the steak for 10 minutes for medium-rare meat, turning once; during the last minute, brush all but 2 tablespoons of the glaze over the steak. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let stand for 5 minutes.

Thinly slice the steak and brush with the reserved 2 tablespoons of glaze. Transfer to a platter and serve with lime wedges.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee (Hot, too)

Photo courtesy of Kanko'

One of my favorite summer drinks is iced coffee. A jolt of caffeine and a hit of sugar, mellowed by a bit of cream is the best way to start the day.

The thing is that, if I buy iced coffee – from Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts or even the coffee bar at Wegmans – I’m out about $3 each day, which, if you remember your multiplication tables, can add up to $21 a week.

That’s a lot of cash for a beverage, especially when it’s watered down, overly bitter and not alcoholic. (Plus, I could use that money to buy something at deep discount from Anthropologie.)

So I’ve started making my iced coffee at home, using the cold brew method. It’s very simple: mix ground coffee with water, let it sit for 12 hours, filter out the grounds, then mix the coffee concentrate with water and ice for a delicious iced coffee. If you’re in the mood for hot coffee, mix the concentrate with water in a mug and nuke it in the microwave and –-bam-- hot cold-brewed coffee.

It’s easy, it’s fun, it tastes good. What are you waiting for?

Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee (source)

1/3 cup ground coffee (medium-coarse grind is best)
1 1/2 cups water
Milk & sugar (optional)

In a pint jar, stir together coffee and water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours.

Strain twice through a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. In a tall glass filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk and sugar.

NOTE: To make hot coffee, dilute concentrate one-to-one with water and heat in the microwave.

Yield: Two servings.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Very Vanilla Ice Cream

It's summer and we need to eat ice cream.

Vanilla isn't usually my go-to flavor; I like something different, something a little more adventurous. But when making ice cream at home, for a crowd, vanilla is a flavor everybody likes. And, frankly, when vanilla ice cream turns out this well, it should be a go-to flavor.

This recipe yields a wonderfully rich and creamy ice cream that packs a strong vanilla punch. It's not a wallflower vanilla; it can stand on its own. But if you felt like pairing it with other things, like some blueberries and blackberries heated up on the stove with a bit of berry jam, or in a tall, fizzy root beer float, fear not: this vanilla ice cream plays well with others.

Very Vanilla Ice Cream (adapted)

1 vanilla bean
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs

With a knife, halve vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape seeds into a large heavy saucepan and stir in extract, cream, milk, and sugar. Bring mixture just to a boil, stirring occasionally, and remove pan from heat.

In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add hot cream mixture to eggs in a slow stream, whisking, and pour into pan. Cook custard over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until a thermometer registers 170-degrees. (This may happen instantaneously; do not let boil.) Pour custard through a sieve into a clean bowl and cool. Chill custard, its surface covered with wax paper, at least 3 hours or until cold, and up to 1 day.

Freeze custard in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions, in 2 batches if necessary. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden. Ice cream may be made 1 week ahead.

Yields 1.5 quarts.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

Wishing you, your friends and your family a festive and fun-filled 4th of July!

Glazed Sugar Cookies

For the cookies:
3/4 cups butter, softened
1 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes and place cookies 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheets.
Bake 6 to 8 minutes until light golden brown. Cool completely before glazing.
Yields about 30, 2-inch cookies


1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
2 Tbsp. water or milk
food coloring, if desired (I used gel food coloring)
1 tsp. extract (almond, orange, etc.; vanilla extract will turn white icing tan)

Stir confectioners' sugar, corn syrup, and water together. Stir in food coloring if desired. Stir glaze before each use to ensure a uniform color.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Risk of mad cow disease from farmed fish?

Jesus H. Christ, are you kidding me?

Fri Jun 26, 2009 4:59pm EDT

Risk of mad cow disease from farmed fish?

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Three U.S. scientists are concern about the potential of people contracting Creutzfeldt Jakob disease -- the human form of "mad cow disease" -- from eating farmed fish who are fed byproducts rendered from cows.

Mad cow disease, also called bovine spongiform encephalopathy is a fatal brain disease in cattle, which scientists believe can cause Creutzfeldt Jakob disease in humans who eat infected cow parts.

In the latest issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, Dr. Robert P. Friedland, a neurologist at University of Louisville in Kentucky and colleagues suggest that farmed fish fed contaminated cow parts could transmit Creutzfeldt Jakob disease.

[Farmed fish are fed COW PARTS? --LRK]

The scientists want government regulators to ban feeding cow meat or bone meal to fish until the safety of this common practice can be confirmed.

Eating fish at least two times a week is widely recommended because of the beneficial effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on the heart and brain, they note.

"We are concerned," Friedland and colleagues write, that eating farmed fish may provide a means of transmission of infectious proteins from cows to humans, causing variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease.

"We have not proven that it's possible for fish to transmit the disease to humans. Still, we believe that out of reasonable caution for public health, the practice of feeding rendered cows to fish should be prohibited," Friedland said in a prepared statement. "Fish do very well in the seas without eating cows," he added.

The risk of transmission of made cow disease to humans who eat farmed fish "would appear to be low," the scientists emphasize, because of perceived barriers between the species, but that's no guarantee that it can't happen.

"The fact that no cases of Creutzfeldt Jakob disease have been linked to eating farmed fish does not assure that feeding rendered cow parts to fish is safe," Friedland said.

"The incubation period of these diseases may last for decades, which makes the association between feeding practices and infection difficult," he points out.

"Enhanced safeguards need to be put in place to protect the public," Friedland concludes.

SOURCE: Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, June 2009.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Roasting kohlrabi

See these things?

These are kohlrabi. Kohlrabi are in the broccoli family; both the root and the leaves are edible. Though they're available year-round (if you can find them; I only see them in this area through my CSA or sometimes at the farmers' market) they're most abundant in early summer.

So what do you *do* with them? Lots and lots; from : "Cut into slices or wedges and add to Chinese stir-fry or Indian curry. Combine peeled kohlrabi with potato when making scalloped potatoes. Dip kohlrabi slices or sticks into tempura batter and deep-fry. Add shredded kohlrabi to coleslaw for extra crunch."

But for a very easy prep, remove the leaves, throw away the stems and any tough center ribs, then shred the leaves. Saute with a bit of olive oil and garlic; finish with salt and pepper. (Or use leaves in any recipe that calls for a slow-cooked green.)

As for the bulbs, pare away the tough outer skin then jump into Alanna's recipe for roast kohlrabi. Essentially, you'll dice the peeled kohlrabi, toss with olive oil, garlic and salt, then roast in a 450-degree oven for about 30 to 35 minutes, stirring the cubes every five minutes once you've reached the 20 minute mark. Once they're done, serve immediately as is, or toss with your favorite vinegar.

It really doesn't get much easier than that. The finished product is reminiscent of broccoli but better as the roasting caramelizes the kohlrabi's sugars and the garlic perks the whole thing up. So easy, so delicious.