February 28, 2010

Fried Rice Shortcut and No-fail Rice

This fried rice is quick, easy and healthy. Its shortcut is using bagged frozen vegetable medley, which cuts way down on the prep.

Vietnam Fried Rice
Adapted from More-with-Less by Doris Janzen Longacre

4 T vegetable oil
1/4 or 1/2 c skinless chicken breast cut in thin strips (you could use just about anything though, including tofu)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 t sugar
1 1/2 T soy sauce (low sodium preferred)
1/4 t powdered ginger (or Penzey's Chinese 5-spice blend)
3 cups cooked rice (white, jasmine or even brown)
1 c frozen vegetable medley (with peas, carrots, green beans, etc.)
2 eggs, well beaten
Dash or three of Tabasco sauce
Cilantro for garnish (optional, but recommended)

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high and add the onion and let soften for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, soy sauce and ginger. Stir fry until chicken is cooked through, 3 minutes. Add the cooked rice. Stir fry for 5 minutes and then add the frozen vegetable medley. Continue cooking until vegetables are warmed through. Clear some space by moving the rice mixture to the side. Pour in the eggs and scramble. Once they are scrambled, mix the egg throughout.

Serve right away with cilantro garnish.

No-fail Rice
It seemed like one out of every four batches of rice I made got screwed up somehow. Either underdone, gummy or just bad. I seriously considered getting a rice maker. And I still am. But, I found a really great approach to making the perfect rice. It's called dumbed-down rice from Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift's How to Eat Supper. The trick? Treat it just like you would pasta.

You can use this approach with any rice, but the cooking times vary. For fragrant rices (jasmine, basmati), rinse several times to remove excess starch, which can make the rice gummy.

Boil lots of water (add salt if you'd like). Add the rice and boil for 8 to 10 minutes or until it is slightly undercooked. Drain using a sieve or the pot cover. Return rice to the pot and cover. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

February 21, 2010

You Deserve a Massive Sandwich

Every now and then you just have to have a massive sandwich. One with gobs of meat and cheese and some sort of strong relish or mustard. This Muffuletta, from Roadfood Sandwiches, is enough to make you cry. With happiness.

Roadfood Sandwiches includes Jane and Michael's picks for the best sandwiches in the US from their trips to and fro among amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties. This particular Muffuletta was discovered at All Star Sandwich Bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

One heads up--the olive salad needs to marinate for at least 12 hours, so plan ahead for your sandwich feast.

from Roadfood Sandwiches

1 large fresh Italian boule (hard crust is essential)
5 to 6 ounces thinly sliced Genoa salami
5 to 6 ounces thinly sliced ham
5 to 6 ounces mortadella (I omitted in my version and it still tasted great)
5 to 6 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese
Olive salad (recipe below)

Slice the boule in half horizontally and scoop out about half of the soft interior from the top and bottom (as evenly as you can). Brush the bottom half of the loaf with juice from the olive salad marinade. Layer on the cold cuts and cheese. Top with as much olive salad as you can fit without it spilling out. Top with the remaining half of the bread and cut into quarters. Serve room temperature with beer.

Olive Salad
1 c coarsely chopped good quality green olives
1/4 c finely diced celery
1/4 c finely diced carrot
2 t finely chopped garlic
2 T dried oregano
1 t freshly ground pepper
1/4 c olive oil (or more if you like)
2 T red wine vinegar
2 T fresh lemon juice

Thoroughly mix together all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and let marinate for 12 hours at room temperature. The salad will keep for several days refrigerated but will gradually become more mild.

Cinnamon Swirl

Baking bread is a lot of fun. Yes, it can be a lot of work, but it always feels like a good use of time. It forces you to slow down a bit.

This bread is not overly sweet. The cinnamon adds warmth. And I love how the spirals peel away from one another.
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