Thursday, February 25, 2010

Savory Rice Waffles

A great idea for whole-grain, organic and savory waffles: rice waffles! They are made using cooked brown rice (I used brown basmati rice), whole-grain pastry flour and miso. The waffles are wonderful on their own, or can be with grilled vegetables and goat cheese.

Ingredients (makes 2 waffles):
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup whole-grain pastry flour
1 TB red miso, thinned out in warm water (ca. 1/2 cup)
1/2-1 TB spicy red pepper powder (optionally)

Special equipment: waffle maker

Preheat the waffle maker, and spray with oil or brush with oil. In a bowl, mix the rice, flour, miso and spicy red pepper powder. Pour half of the batter into the waffle iron, and bake on medium high for about 3-5 minutes (depending on your device). The waffle should keep it shape well and peel off easy from the iron. Once it cools, it will become crispy.

ps. one waffle is about 220kcal.

Maine Shrimp Risotto

A half pound of Maine shrimp, peeled and deveined, and wonderful home-made shrimp stock were waiting in the fridge to be converted into a risotto. Ideally, I would have made it with saffron, but I was out of it, so I looked into a different spin: roasted red peppers. One of my favorite store-bought food items is the sweet tasting red pepper spread from Trader Joe's own brand; combined with some kick using spicy red pepper flakes the risotto taste, color and texture was rounded out.

Ingredients (1 Portion):
1/4 cup Arborio rice, washed and rinsed
1/2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion or 1 shallot, finely minced
1 garlic clove, finely minced
splash of dry white wine
1/2 TB red pepper flakes
1 - 1 1/2 cup of shrimp stock (see recipe below)
1/2 cup of fresh Maine shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 TB Trader Joe's red pepper spread
salt, pepper to taste
2 TB fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1) Heat the olive oil in a heavy sauce pan on medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sweat until translucent. Then add the washed rice, stir and toast for 30 seconds on medium heat. Now, add the white wine, and wait until it is cooked off. 

2) Turn down the heat to low, and start ladling in 1/4-1/2 cup of hot shrimp stock to the risotto. Cook the risotto gently on low heat until the liquid is evaporated (4-5 min). Also add the red pepper flakes. Once the stock is cooked off, add another 1/2 cup of hot shrimp stock. Repeat until the rice is soft and cooked (about 20 min).

3) Add the red pepper spread, and the raw shrimp and cook another 3-4 minutes  until the shrimp are just cooked. 

4) Add the parmesan cheese and gently stir in. Serve!

Shrimp stock:
One advantage of buying fresh Maine shrimp is that peeling them makes for a good amount of shrimp shells and a perfect basis for home-made shrimp stock.

shells of 1 pound of Maine shrimp
1/2 onion, peeled and cut into big chunks
1 TB juniper berries
1 TB pepper corns
2-3 peeled garlic cloves
1 fresh bay leaf

Bring to a boil, and cook on ultralow heat (a bare simmer) for 2-3 hours. Discard shells, and sieve the stock. Freeze or keep in the fridge until use. 

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Maine Shrimp

It is the time of the year again to get inexpensive, delicious, fresh Maine shrimp. Since they need little cooking time, but a bit more time goes into preparation. I peeled all of the unfrozen shrimp that I had, and saved the shells for a shrimp stock (likely being used for a Maine shrimp risotto later on..). A handful of shrimp made a great lunch, with a Belgian endive sauteed in herbs des provence, some white wine, garlic and olive oil.  

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Trader Joe's Indian Spiced Veggie Burger

Rummaging in the freezer section at Trader Joes, I found an item I had not tried before: Vegetable Masala Burgers. This sounded promising. The burgers are made from potatoes, carrots, green beans, corn, bell peppers and Indian spices, and they have a wonderful tender, sweet taste and flavorful aroma. Sauteing them on the stove top with some butter just adds to the nutty, earthy flavor. Highly recommendable!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The upgrade

Chanelle starred at me in sheer disbelief and horror, eyes wide open and ears pointing to the ceiling, the other cats had ran away: the first green smoothie in the new Vita-mix blender was just finished and ready for consumption. I was wondering, was Vitamix really doing a better job than a regular blender? (It'd better with this kind of price tag).

I had tried out a combination of kale, a banana, yogurt and some ice cubes plus a scoop of progreens dried micronutrients. Once I pushed all the ingredients towards the blade, it did a great job emulsifying the ingredients. There was not a simple lump of ice in the smoothie, and the kale was finely chopped. My one regret: I think kale does not work for me in smoothie, it is too bitter and has too much fiber. Baby spinach is still my base of choice for a green smoothie, sweet and tender. Otherwise? Great!

Monday, February 8, 2010

My first attempt at Onigiri

I am still in the honeymoon phase with my new neuro fuzzy logic rice cooker, and have moved on to sushi rice. Accidentally, I came across a post of how to make onigiri this morning, all with photo instructions. I've seen those seran-wrapped rice balls in Japan many times, as Japanese 'fast food' in 7-11s or supermarkets, but did not really see the appeal in, well, eating a chunk of sticky rice. Nevertheless, this did not keep me from another culinary adventure in my kitchen and trying out of how to make them. As you can see in the photo, my technique improved from the first overstuffed one.

For instructions, see the Just Hungry blog.

I stuffed mine with a mixture of a a boca burger, a few Trader Joes meatless meatballs, a few scallions, 1 TB of Korean chilli paste, garlic, ginger, all ground in the food processor and then fried in some chili oil.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hungry for a smoked salmon bagel?

Scruffy South Portland spot with legendary bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches served on fresh-baked bagels.
158 Benjamin W. Pickett Street; 207-799-8998
South Portland, ME

Bon Appetit's Where to eat in America's foodiest small town 2009

Friday, February 5, 2010

Raw Beet Salad with Spiced Walnuts and Gorgonzola

A lone beet was still waiting; the rest of the bunch had been roasted a few days ago. The sun was shining brightly, the weekend on the horizon, and at least in the house, it is cozy and warm. Made me think of a raw beet salad, with some spring like accents: fresh squeezed orange juice, a dash of black cherry vinegar, fresh candied spicy walnuts and some gorgonzola.

1 raw beet, peeled and grated
1 carrot, peeled and grated
juice of 1 orange, fresh
1 TB gorgonzola, crumbled
1 TB spicy candied walnuts (*)

Grate beet and carrot (I used the grating blade in my food processor), and mix. Arrange on a serving plate, and drizzle the orange juice and the balsamic vinegar over the beets. Add gorgonzola and candied walnuts.

(*)Spicy candied walnuts:

1/4 cup walnut halves
1 TB butter
1 TB brown sugar
1/4 ts cayenne pepper or hot chili powder

Chop the walnuts into smaller pieces. Melt the butter in a small skillet on low-medium. Add the brown sugar, and stir, until both the butter is melted and the sugar is mixed in. Add the cayenne and the walnuts, and stir well so that all the walnuts are covered. Continue stirring 1-2 min until you start smelling the walnuts being slightly roasted and the brown sugar caramelized. Take off the stove and stir for about a minute, and cool.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Asian Noodle Bowl

Here, we go again -- another noodle bowl! It's just the time of the year..... This time, a typical Asian version of a hot noodle bowl to keep warm in a cold winter.

1 package organic dry udon noodles (typically packages in 3 oz bundles)
1 TB. fresh grated ginger
1 TB low-salt soy sauce
1 garlic clove, microplaned
1/2 cup sliced fresh shitake mushrooms
1/4 cup frozen edamame
handful baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup thawed raw shrimp and scallops
2 scallions, diced
1 fresh lime

In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups water to boil.  Grate in ginger, garlic and bonito-based soup base as well as hot chili paste and soy sauce. Stir, and add udon noodles, cook 3 minutes. Now, add in shitake mushroom, edamame and baby spinach. Cooked for another 2-3 min, and add in the shrimp and scallops.  Finish cooking until shrimp and scallops are just cooked.  Turn off heat, stir in scallions and serve with fresh limes to squeeze.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hearty Chicken Rice Soup

It is cold outside, the winter not making any plans to leave, and Punxsutawney Phil couldn't agreed more. Spring break is a month away, and who knows how long until spring. Sigh. To keep warm, I made another "chicken noodle soup", which basically consists for me of some fresh chicken on the bone (like drumsticks) for the extra flavor that the bone adds to the broth,  many different vegetables, fresh or frozen, and often pasta, but this time I used long grained, enriched rice (got a new rice cooker!), all simmering for about a half hour in just plain water. The result is lovely flavorful and natural. This time, the combination was inspired: I added dried porcini mushroom, fresh baby spinach and a cube of frozen basil to the soup. The porcini mushroom add a wonderful rich, earthy flavor, the baby spinach a great texture, and the basil a flavorful aroma. I am sure I will make this often. Hope, you like it, too!

3-4 cups water
2 fresh large chicken drumsticks, skin cut off
1/2 bag of frozen broccoli and cauliflower mix
1/4 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen, cubed butternut squash (or fresh)
1 fresh carrot, peeled and diced
2-3 fresh scallions, cut on diagonal
a handful dried porcini mushroom
handful fresh shitake mushroom (optional)
1 fresh bay leaf
1 cube frozen basil (or handful fresh basil, cut in stripes)
1 garlic clove, whole

2 handfuls fresh baby spinach leaves
a few cherry tomatoes, halved, or a large tomato, cut in chunks
1 cup pre-cooked long-grained rice

1/2 ts chicken boullion (I like Maggi pollo boullion)
fresh ground black pepper, some Mrs Dash garlic and herbs

Fill a pot with the cold water, and start heating it. Add chicken drum sticks, the frozen vegetables and the other ingredients (but not the spinach, tomatoes and rice yet, they would overcook), and bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, lower the temperature to a low simmer, and heat the soup for 20 min with a closed lid. Now, add the fresh baby spinach and cherry tomatoes as well as the rice, and simmer for another 10 min.  Remove the drumsticks from the soup, cut the chicken meat into chucks, put the meat back into the soup, and discard the bones.  Add some added salt or chicken bouillon to taste.  Serve ! 

Makes about 3-4 servings.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Blog Bites: Palak Daal

Ever since I traveled to Mumbai last December, I've been looking for authentic Indian recipes. The recently posted recipe by Heidi S. seemed to fit the bill (now, I only wish I could eat at Kasa myself!): ivory lentils with spinach, or palak daal. Unfortunately, I could not find ivory lentils, and so pink ones had to do. Also, I used frozen spinach since I had some thawing in the fridge, but everything else was fresh, including the tumeric that I recently found at the Natural Living Center. I even located the small container of asafetida, which I had inherited from my first Indian grad student (this was still the time when my guests had to cook because I had no clue). Overall, my proportion were slightly off, because I used an entire package of spinach and just a half cup of lentils. Nevertheless, a very tasty vegetarian dish!

The originial recipe can be found at the 101cookbooks site.
My adaptation (makes 3-4 servings):

1/2 cup white lentils (white urid or urad daal), well-rinsed (you can find them at Indian grocery stores)
3 cups water, plus more if necessary
2 large handfuls of baby spinach, washed and finely chopped
1/2 TB ginger, peeled and microplaned
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 medium green chile peppers, finely chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1/4 ts salt
0.5 TB ghee (clarified butter)
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 ts red chile powder
a pinch of asafetida, optional
more salt to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
In a large pot over medium-high heat combine the white lentils and the water. Bring to a boil, and add the  ginger, turmeric, 3/4 of the green chiles, and the tomato. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the lentils are extremely soft. You may need to add a bit more water during the cooking process to keep the lentils soupy. After an hour and a half, stir in the salt and the spinach.

In a separate pan, heat the ghee until very hot, and add the cumin to roast it until the cumin seeds start to pop and become fragrant. Turn down the heat, and add the red chile powder, asafetida, and roast for another 15 seconds. Add this mixture to the lentils and allow to cook for another five minutes. Taste, and season with more salt if needed. Serve topped with cilantro and a few of green chiles.