Monday, March 25, 2013

Brown rice - Are you nutty, or what?

It came to a pot of brown rice;
Not fluffy like white, but quite nice.
When cooked with some lovin',
It goes in the oven.
Says Alton, you don't roll the dice.

Don't you just hate when TV cooks add lots of "love."? I've found that hatred and anger don't actually change the taste of my food, as long as nothing gets thrown at anyone. But enough about me.

I'm a huge fan of white rice, but partner Peter always cooks brown. Recently the brown rice had not been turning out to be what our pea-pickin' hearts desired. I found this method from Alton Brown on the Food Network page. What's unusual about it is the use of the oven. It turned out to be quite superb. One caveat: he said bake for one hour. If I had not checked it after 50 minutes it would have been ruined.

Alton Brown's brown rice (stick around until I find how to make Betty White's white rice)
1 1/2 cups brown rice, rinsed
2 1/2 cups water (or, if using broth, go to 2 3/4 cups)
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place water, butter and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Place rice in a square glass baking dish  or 8" square casserole with a lid. Pour liquid over rice. Stir. Cover with foil or lid and bake for 50-55 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed. I find it a life-saving technique to set a timer with a loud signal tone.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Angel's in America

My first non-food related posting in perhaps forever. After 6 weeks of trying to see through a gas bubble in my right eye which replaced my vitreous fluid when a detached retina threatened my vision, I have another foster (dog up for adoption who needs a place to crash). In this case, Angel, who is in renal failure and is considered un-adoptable. There are no real symptoms at the moment, other than the need to go out to pee at least every couple or three hours (except for 10 pm to 5:30 am when she snoozes in her crate without protest).

Her prime foster parent, Chris, needed a vacation from the U. S. Army and I agreed to take Angel into my home for the duration (9 days). She is a shy and loving bit of canine joy.

I feel blessed to be able to give her my attention, love, and careful care, however briefly.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gumbo, the movie

Okay, it isn't a movie. But I did movie around the kitchen a fair amount making this. I am no longer a gumbo virgin. This was a gumbo three-way (me, and two versions of the dish). My one current personal chef client wants seafood once a week. It's a challenge to prepare in advance any fish dish and have it be fresh and tasty when re-assembled at home. I've learned a lot by doing this.

Version 1: the real thing
Make a roux (two tablespoons chicken fat and two tablespoons flour). Separately saute the "trinity", celery, onion and green bell pepper. Add broth (in my case 2 1/2 cups). Add andouille sausage (in my case 4 oz.). Add frozen cut okra. Add 6 oz crushed tomatoes. Cook 10 minutes. Cook rice separately. When you're ready to eat, add 10 oz. shrimp and let it bubble for 3 minutes. Serve over white rice or stir it in (as per the photo). My seasoning was one thing: Cajun seasoning from the market. It has cayenne and salt. This is not a very detailed plan, but do what I did and go to Google where you'll find a thousand variations on the theme.

Version 2: not the real thing
My client didn't want okra, so I pureed zucchini as a substitute. My client didn't want andouille, so I added liquid smoke. Result: a very good, if slightly different, flavor. She did want shrimp. And I gave her some shredded chicken into the mix. Tomatoes and rice as before. Can you spell swell?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

White on rice

When cooking a pot of white rice,
Some knowledge is handy and nice.
It needs to be timed;
Not nickled or dimed.
It's not about throwing some dice.

Once upon a time, yours truly was married to an Asian lady of great talents and skills, one of which she taught me: how to cook white rice. So what did I do when I was off on my own, far, far away from those halcyon days? I forgot how to do it. Until I remembered.

I was surprised to learn how many Asians on the west coast use rice cookers. I understand they can do other things, but I consider them essentially mono-taskers. Like Alton Brown, I have no room for mono-stuff in my kitchen.

This method is extremely simple; but you must pay attention. It had been years since I had rinsed my rice, but three changes of water is what you start with. Next you place 1 cup of rice in 1 3/4 cups water. Set your timer for 20 minutes and hit start. Bring the water and rice to a boil and let it go until the water is absorbed/evaporated to the point where holes punch up through the grains. Reduce the burner to minimum and cover the pot. When the timer goes off, turn off the burner and DO NOT OPEN THE POT FOR 5 MINUTES. Now you drop in a tablespoon of butter (optional) and a sprinkle of salt and fluff with a fork. Serve up rice cumuli to your fans, your family, even your enemies. You will be a conquering hero.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The other white meat, pork

Remember those billboards about "the other white meat?" I think that was a brilliant ad campaign. Not as good as a limerick, but pretty good nonetheless.

I wanted to cook up some pork;
So tender it cuts with a spork.
Some poaching in butter;
My heart all a-flutter.
Not bad for a champion dork.

So, I'm developing ideas for a gypsy food truck (that means unlicensed) run out of my van, and serving various sandwiches. One I would like to master would be a pork cutlet cooked so as to be tender enough to be eaten without my dentures (I made that up; I don't have dentures).

Boneless pork loin cutlets, brined for some hours, dried, pounded to 1/4 inch, seasoned a bit (but no salt due to the brine), poached in butter for 2 minutes per side (starting from room temperature). For the sandwich I'd top it with chayote slaw, Asian flavored.

BULLETIN: It worked!!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Calamari critters

Never made this before. Will make it again. We love calamari. We even love squid. And there's nothing tentacled about that opinion.

1 lb. squid, cleaned and with the tentacles
big can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbs tomato sauce
medium chopped onion
garlics (as much as your significant other can stand to sleep next to)
fennel (yep, and with fronds too) chopped
salt and pepper
red wine (or in my case 1/2 cup Shiaoxing)
1/2 box whole wheat spaghetti (or better, linguini if you can find it)

Have you noticed that the 16 oz. box of pasta which had morphed into 14.5 oz. is now 13.25 oz? That's like reducing a quart of milk to 30 oz. and calling it a "sort of" quart, or a quart "wannabe." How long before we get 26 oz. of tomatoes in a 28 oz. can?

The factory's methods are lewd,
By weight we are now getting screwed.
They must think we're dumb;
Sit sucking a thumb.
We ought to declare a great feud.

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