Archive for the ‘rice’ Category

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Red Curry Fried Rice

There are times during the year when it is hard for me to get in the kitchen and cook. Often this happens for me in the weeks just preceding Thanksgiving. This year is no exception.

Right now I am being pulled in so many directions. Business is busy with clients and scheduling Thanksgiving prep (but there is always room for another client or two). Training for this years Lavaman Triathlon has just started, and with that, my Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fundrasing has started as well. I had the bright idea to sell pies for Thanksgiving (donating the proceeds to LLS) and the response has been overwhelming (for which I am grateful). Last weekend I made 19 pies, This weekend I will be making at least 26 (orders are still coming in today). To top all that off, our dog Jones had to have surgery last week so quite a bit of time has been dedicated to his recovery.

I have so much to do, I can’t decide where to start. Right now, if it doesn’t have a deadline, it just isn’t going to get done.

With so much time spent in the kitchen for my clients and with the making of many pies, cooking for pleasure has, sadly, gone out the window. Right now, I am cooking just to eat. However, I am not without cravings. Spicy food is my comfort food right now (well that, and cookies). Fried rice is a quick to cook meal and the addition of the curry sauce made it spicy enough to fit the bill. Plus, it used leftovers from two other meals as well as a baby bok choy that was starting to wilt.


Here’s the ingredients.

Oil should really be in this picture too, because it is essential to the process. The leftovers I speak of are the rice (leftover from a simple beans and rice meal) and half a can of coconut milk (left from a lovely curried squash soup, which I will be blogging soon). I almost always make extra rice when I cook it at home. It is such an easy go to for the start of a great meal. It’s important to use cold rice to make fried rice, it helps to separate the individual grains of rice.

It’s also important to have everything ready to go, veggies chopped, sauce mixed, before you start cooking. The cooking process goes faster than you think.

I used a wok to make this meal. However, it can certainly be made in a large skillet or frying pan. The only reason I even own a wok is because my dad bought it, never used it, so then it was passed to me.


Start by heating a little oil in the wok. While it heats, beat an egg or two (I used a duck egg because I love them, but any old egg would do) then add it to the oil.

Keep it moving to scramble it. It will cook pretty quick so keep your eye on it.

Once it is cooked take it out of the wok.

Add a little more oil to the wok. Once it is hot, add the chopped bok choy stems and fry them for about a minute.

Next, add the chinese pork and fry that for a minute. Keep it moving.

Finally add the peas and the bok choy leaves. Fry the whole shebang until everything is just warmed through.

Then take that out of the pan.

Add a little more oil to the pan and once it’s hot, add the rice.

Once the rice is hot, add the vegetables back to the mix,

And then the sauce (which I had stirred together before I started cooking).

Warm it through and then stir in the egg and chives. Done and done.

This is not your traditional fried rice since it has a sauce but I love the creamy texture it gives to the dish. It’s also a lovely one dish meal, protein, starch and vegetable all in one. For me, this could have been a little spicier (though the husband said it was just fine) but it was nothing a little Sriracha couldn’t fix.


Serves 2 generously with leftovers

If you don’t have (or don’t like) the vegetables that I’ve used, use whatever you happen to have around. Just start with the vegetables that require the longest cooking time, and add the vegetables that require less cooking as you progress.

1 cup coconut milk
2-3 Tablespoons red curry paste
2-3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup corn or vegetable oil
1 duck egg or 2 chicken eggs, beaten
1 baby bok choy, stems and leaves chopped separately
6 ounces Chinese barbecued pork, chopped
3/4 cup frozen peas
3 cups cooked white or brown rice
1/2 cup chives, chopped

Stir together coconut milk, red curry paste and soy sauce. Taste for spiciness and saltiness and add more curry paste or soy sauce if desired. Set aside.

Heat a wok or frying pan and add 1 Tablespoon oil. When it is very hot, add the egg and scramble until they are cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside

Return the wok to the heat and add 1 Tablespoon oil to the pan. Fry the meat and vegetables starting with the bok choy stems, followed by the barbecued pork, peas and bok choy leaves, cooking for about a minute between each addition. Once the vegetable are soft and the meat is heated through, remove from pan and set aside.

Return the wok to the heat and add 1 Tablespoon oil to the pan. Add the rice and heat it until it is warmed through, about a minute, stirring to make sure thatit doesn’t stick and to break up any clumps.

Add the sauce and continue to cook until it is warmed through. Stir in the egg and chives. Enjoy.

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Stack-ups, The First Thing I Cooked

I saw a tweet from Shauna a.k.a. @glutenfreegirl yesterday, “Just a quick reminder: many of us are doing blog posts tomorrow on the first food we cooked when we were kids”. Immediately I started thinking. As a youngster I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. We had an open kitchen so even when I was coloring, watching tv or doing my homework, I was most likely sitting at the bar, kitchen adjacent.

When I was little my mom was in nursing school and then working as a nurse with crazy hours so I remember my dad doing most of the cooking. The times that I remember in the kitchen with my mom it was always a baking project.

One time we made Pfeffernuesse for a class project where I was supposed to cook a recipe that represented where I was from. I’m of mostly German decent and the recipe belongs to my great Aunt Bernice. Unfortunately this is when we found out that I was allergic to Anise. While shaping the cookies to bake I broke out in a terribly itchy rash up to my elbows. I didn’t even get to eat any of the finished cookies for fear that I would have another allergic reaction.

I remember another occasion when we cooked together for a girl scout badge (but I don’t remember what we made) and then there is this awesome cake that my friend Chrissy and I made and decorated for a cake walk at our school carnival (we went to Mckinley and Vikings were our mascot).

I mean, look at the craftsmanship, how did I not go into cake decorating? Ice cream cones for horns and black licorice for the beard, genius.

So as far as I remember, my dad was in charge of most of the meals at my house. For breakfast that meant instant oatmeal (brown sugar and cinnamon flavor), some kind or sugary cereal or, if I was really lucky, Pop-Tarts (the frosted kind of course).

I can remember watching with great fascination as my dad made Minestrone. The recipe went something like this: brown one pound of hamburger then add a can of peas, a can of corn and a can of green beans (with their liquid). Then add a large can of tomato juice and some elbow macaroni and simmer until it’s dinner time. Now this is a version of minestrone I can’t even imagine making these days. Mine would be full of seasonal fresh vegetables and probably vegetarian. And canned peas, well there is just no reason for canned peas. However, I happily slurpped it up at the time.

In addition to spending time together in the kitchen we also we spent time together in the garden. I think we’re tending strawberries in this one (and you can see that I am a lot of help).

And here is evidence that we at least tried to grow lettuce, radishes and carrots.

The garden must not have worked out though since all the veggies in the minestrone were canned.

The meal I remember most (and the one I still make to this day) is something that (as far as I know) my dad invented, he called them Stack-ups. It starts with a layer of rice which is then topped with a slightly sweet tomato and beef sauce (made with tomato sauce and ketchup), then peas, then cheese (American cheese to be exact).

Over the years I’ve tried making changes to the recipe. For a while I tried onions in the sauce, then I tried adding oregano, then cayenne. I even tried making it vegetarian for a while. None of the changes made the cut. In an effort to be healthier, I used brown rice instead of white. I liked this change, but the husband said it needed to go back to white. The only change that has stuck over the years is a shift from American to a sharp cheddar cheese (I really like the Tillamook extra sharp white cheddar so I usually use that).

I started making stack-ups again in college (because they are dead easy and pretty cheap) and I still make stack-ups once every couple of months. This is by no means a fancy or gourmet meal. It’s simple and pleasing.

After I lost my dad in 1996 this became one of ultimate comfort foods. It reminds me of home. I reminds me of my dad. It makes me happy.


S T A C K – U P S
3-4 servings

1 cup white rice
1 pound ground beef
6 oz can tomato paste
1/2 to 3/4 cup ketchup
1 1 /2 cup frozen peas
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Cook rice according to package instructions. While rice cooks, brown ground beef in a large saute pan. When it has browned add tomato paste, 2 cans of water (12 oz total), and 1/2 cup ketchup. Season with salt and pepper and taste for sweetness. If a sweeter sauce is desired add additional ketchup. Simmer sauce until rice is cooked, stirring occasionally. When 5 minutes is left in rice cooking time heat peas for 3 minutes in the microwave (or until cooked through) or on the stove top according to package instructions.

In a shallow bowl or on a plate layer rice, sauce, peas and cheese. Enjoy.


Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Sausage and Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

I’ve had an acorn squash sitting in my pantry for a couple of months (luckily squash are forgiving when it comes to going bad). Now, I love squash so I’m not sure why it has been sitting there taunting me for so long, but that is just the way it goes some times.

I decided that it was finally time to cook the thing. And since it had been waiting patiently for me to cook it, I decided that I wanted to try something new and maybe a little special.

Here’s the ingredients:

1 cup rice, cooked (I used a brown and wild rice mix, but any old rice would work)
2 chicken sausages, casings removed (I used a hot Italian variety but another kind of sausage would work too)
1/2 onion, diced
5 mushrooms, sliced
2 clove garlic, minced
4-5 leaves sage, chopped
2-3 sprig thyme, chopped
2 Tablespoon Alfredo sauce (yes, I could have made a little bechamel sauce here but I had half a jar of sauce leftover from a lazy/tired night of cooking dinner, so I used that instead, and it worked great, so why go to the extra effort)
1-2 ounces Parmesan cheese, plus a little more for the top
1 acorn squash, cut in half with the seeds and what not scooped out

To start, I cooked the rice in my rice cooker. While that was going I browned the sausage along with the onion, then after a couple of minutes I added the mushrooms, garlic, sage and thyme (some rosemary would have been great too, but alas, the super cold week we had here killed off my rosemary) and continued to cook the mixture until the onions were translucent and the mushrooms were browned. I removed this from the heat and stirred in the cooked rice, Alfredo sauce and Parmesan cheese. At this point I cooled the mixture down and stashed it in the fridge (I had a big spurt of cooking energy so I cooked this filling while I made a different dinner), but I could have easily continued on at this point.

A couple of days later I continued on with my cooking. I stuffed the rice mixture into the cavity of the squash and then piled some more on top for good measure. I made a couple of rings out of aluminum foil and placed each of the squash halves on each of the rings so that they couldn’t roll around while they were in the oven.

I covered this loosely with a piece of aluminum foil and popped it in a 350 degree oven. After an hour of cooking, I took the foil off and added a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. After another 20 minutes the squash was cooked through and the rice mixture was nice and bubbly.

I served the stuffed squash alongside a pear and romaine salad.

This turned out really good. With each bite a little bit of rice, a little squash and a little sausage, yummy. The husband really liked it too, a lot. And he is not a huge squash fan so that surprised me a little. I can imagine a few variations on this meal (different rice, different meat (or no meat), different cheese) and I can hardly wait to try them.

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Grilled Pork Loin with Picadillo-Seasoned Mango Stuffing

The meal today was inspired by the Serious Eats blog. The have decided to start something called the Weekend Cook and Tell:

“Each Wednesday the food sections from newspapers all over country feature many great ideas and recipes. Here at Serious Eats we are kicking off a new feature called Weekend Cook and Tell. Every Wednesday we are going to share a particularly interesting article or recipe from a food section. We want you to use this as a jumping off point for a weekend cooking project, come up with an idea inspired by the featured article or recipe, cook it over the weekend and then tell us all about it and share photos of your dishes.”

For the first go-around they decided to feature an article from the New York Times about “off-cuts” of meat.

“These unfamiliar cuts are readily available, inexpensive, and underutilized but full of flavor and really delicious when prepared using the right techniques.”

I knew that I had a pork loin (not tenderloin) in the freezer so I started it thawing and considered what to do with it. Now, they recommended it as a cut for roasting, but with the weather warming up I thought grilling was in order. Indirect grilling provides basically the same kind of cooking as roasting, but with the additional deliciousness of charcoal and wood that you can’t get from the oven.

A Cook’s Illustrated recipe that I had used before came to mind. It featured pork loin stuffed with an apple-cranberry filling. However, apples and cranberries bring to mind feelings of fall and winter, and it is trying desperately to be spring here. I wanted to stick with a fruit filling but the best looking fruit right now is strawberries, and that just didn’t seem right. Then I thought about the great mangoes that have just come into season and decided that might be the way to go. I did a little searching online and found a recipe for picadillo that featured mango as one of the ingredients (and seemed like a great start for a flavor profile). After a little more searching and comparing a few different regional recipes, I came up with the following for my version.

Here’s the ingredients:

8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 onion, diced
1 mango, diced
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 Tablespoon capers
2 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
a couple of dashes cayenne
1/2 cup almonds, toasted
3 lb boneless pork loin

In a saucepan I combined all of the filling ingredients except for the almonds and brought the mixture to a boil.

I turned down the heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

After the simmering I strained out all the solids.

Then returned the liquids to the pan so that I could make a glaze.

I let the liquid reduce by half.

Meanwhile, I let my stuffing mixture cool, then I stirred in the almonds.

I butterflied the pork loin.

Spread the stuffing over (to within about a 1/2″ of the edges).

Then rolled it back up and tied it.

Unfortunately, I seem to have been distracted at this point and I forgot to take a picture (doh).

I let this sit on the counter while I started my coals. I have a fancy charcoal grill that has not only baskets for indirect grilling, but also, propane ignition. So, I loaded the baskets and set them aflame.

While I waited for the coal to be ready for cooking I put some smoking chips in water to soak.

When the coals were ready, I drained the chips and tossed a handful on the coals. Finally I added my pork loin (which I had basted with oil and seasoned with salt and pepper) to the grill in between the baskets and closed the lid (this is what makes it oven like).

I expected the pork to take about an hour to cook, so after a half-hour I flipped the pork over. When the pork was 15 degrees from being done I started basting it with the glaze

While the USDA would like you to cook pork to 160 degrees, I like my pork to have a remnant of moistness (plus I like to live on the edge). So, I cooked it to 135 degrees and then let it rest, covered The carryover cooking brought it to 145 degrees.

One of the ingredients that seemed to be fairly unanimous for picadillo was green olives, but rather than add it to the filling, I decided to add it to my rice side dish. I cooked up some yellow rice with a little butter and then stirred in some sliced green olives.

I sliced a zucchini into planks, drizzled them with oil, seasoned them with salt and pepper and grilled them once I had removed the pork loin.

Once the loin had rested for 10 minutes I sliced it and plated it with some of the rice and zucchini.

How was it? Delicioso! The filling kept the pork super moist and had a nice mix of sweet and sour. I loved the olives in the rice (and I was glad that I opted to put them in the rice rather than the stuffing). This one is going on the permanent repertoire. I might try it again with peaches instead of mango later in the summer. I think that’ll be tasty too.

About Me

I'm a personal chef living happily with her picky-eater (but willing to try anything) husband, neurotic black lab and a red heeler puppy.

I watch way too much TV and enjoy hip-hop more than any reasonable grown-up should.

I'm an avid swimmer and sometime triathlete (whenever I'm not nursing an injury).

Find out more about me here.

About This Blog

I started this blog at a time when my personal chef business was quite slow and I needed to keep my mind busy and my skills sharp. But now, business is booming so I've had to put the blog on the back burner. So, no new recipes for now, but please enjoy my archives.

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