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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Ginger Fried Rice

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Let the holiday gorge of Prime Rib, sugar cookies, and green bean casseroles come to end! I need a holiday food detox, STAT. I love the holidays but once a year is definitely enough and nothing has “end of the holiday’s” written all over it like fried rice. I’ll make this quick because I know most of you are probably still running around preparing for your New Years Eve’s festivities tonight.

This is a simple dish but not so simple that it makes you feel like you’re coming down too fast from all that decadent holiday food. Plus, be honest with me, are you one of those people that have so many leftover ingredients that you don’t know what to do with them? Don’t lie to me. I’ve seen some of your refrigerators and the game of Tetris you’ve been playing just trying to get the orange juice to fit back on the shelf. This is the answer. Fried rice is a versatile dish that is delicious no matter what you put in it.  I put bacon in this one, but if you’ve got some leftover scraps of chicken (or even prime rib if you can still stomach looking at it) dice it up and throw it in. If you’ve got a few handful of different vegetables that you don’t know what to do with – chop them up and throw those in too.  All of your friends will be wondering how you still have the energy to throw together such a fabulous dish when really all you’ll be doing is getting rid of all the extras you’ve been worrying about spoiling. No need to thank me. I’m here to help.

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I’ll be honest, I’ve only made fried rice a handful of times in my life but every time I do, I’m very happy. I did have to rewrite this recipe a little bit after making it this last time because I fell into what I like to call “The ginger trap”, that is to say, I always forget that a little ginger goes a long way. Really, it does. I love ginger and no matter how many times I try and remind myself to remember not to overdo it, somehow I still have a way of reasoning with myself that maybe just a touch more would be even better. That’s when it turns into ginger overkill. Maybe i’ll add “remember to take it easy with the fresh ginger” to my ever-growing and long list of new year’s resolutions that i’ve already penned for myself. Is it wrong to have more then one resolution? I’ve officially given up on my normal resolution of “stop biting my nails” seeing as I just can’t seem to make it happen, but I do have some other resolutions, both food related and non-food related that i’m looking forward to making a conscious effort to accomplishing. I hope everyone else is looking forward to the new year and everything that it has to offer. Hopefully together we can all make it even better then the last for not only ourselves but for the others around us as well.

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Ginger Fried Rice

The secret to good fried rice is to use day old rice. I’m serious. So if you had a stir fry for dinner last night and have a bit of rice left over – this is a good way to recycle it. Rice preference is up to you – there are tons of different rices that you can experiment with to find your favorite. The other secret is to cook your eggs, and then remove them from the wok, adding them back later to keep them nice and fluffy throughout the dish.  Remember. Day old rice and remove your eggs. Got that? Good, let’s cook.

Ingredients:

  • 2 plus 1 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 5 eggs, beaten, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 5 thick-cut slices of bacon cut into lardons
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon of minced fresh ginger
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of dry sherry
  • 5 1/2 cups of white rice, chilled
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 5 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal.

Directions

1. In a large wok, heat 2 tablespoons of peanut oil until very hot. Cook the eggs until just one and then remove them to a paper towel lined plate, about 1 minute.

2. Add the bacon and cook until crispy, stirring occasionally, and remove from wok to the same plate as the eggs. Pour off the excess grease and wipe out the wok.

3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of peanut oil. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for about 45 seconds. Add the onion and cook until golden. Pour in the sherry and cook for about 3 minutes to burn off the excess alcohol and until the sherry is reduced by half. Add the rice and stir. Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Stir. Add the half of the scallions, bacon, and eggs, and stir. Cook until rice is hot throughout then season with salt. Sprinkle with remaining scallions and serve.

French Onion Soup

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I’ve been MIA in the blog world for a little bit and i’m aware. I’ve come down with a little touch of pneumonia recently and with all the added holiday work and stress, it took me about a week and a half to actually realize I was sick. I’ve been blaming my chest pains on employees who don’t listen so lets just keep this little secret to ourselves. They seem to work harder when they think i’m actually capable of a heart attack at 24.  It’s not as bad as it sounds, though. The doc gave me a good ol’ course of antibiotics and i’ll be back to 100% in no time. Plus, on the bright side, it’s given me another excuse to discuss one of my favorite topics; Soup! French Onion to be exact.

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French onion soup is easy to make. Seriously, you should try it. It’s good. You know how you know it’s good? I went out of my way to buy new soup bowls specifically for this recipe. I don’t buy new cookware for just any recipe. Ask around.  I’m not saying i’ll bake you your birthday cake in a sheet because the cake pans are missing, but sometimes soup in a mug is suffice. Plus, I got them in three different colors. Things are getting fancy in my kitchen. I’ve also  finally mastered my brat of a stove. It’s old. I’m not sure how old, but it’s up there. The first time I attempted caramelized onions, I put them on the stove, left to check my email, only to come back to a burnt mess, realizing later that my back burner doesn’t work properly and has no heat regulation. It serves one purpose: cooking on high. It’s fantastic for boiling water.  The front right burner is a little finicky as well. Only the left half of  it works. It makes for a great simmer. The fact that I can finally navigate this stove without burning or under-cooking food has felt like an accomplishment and one of those useless skills that only I seem to appreciate but there’s nothing really to be done about it.  We rent and I’m not about to buy a new stove myself.

In the mean time, if anyone DOES want  to buy me a new stove for Christmas, I’ll happily repay you in bowls of soup.

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French Onion Soup

Caramelizing onions is easy. You can throw some onions on the stove and go check you’re email, just don’t get impatient. There’s a special place in heaven for slowly cooked caramelized onions.  French onion is even better if it sits overnight so don’t feel that you have to serve it immediately. You can get a lot of longevity out of one pot. Just make sure that you aren’t melting cheese over cold soup. Heat your soup first before constructing your french onion. That way you or your guests won’t be digging into some deliciously melty cheese only to find cold soup on the bottom. This is a really simple and delicious soup to make. Besides the cheeses, I find that I usually have all of these ingredients in my kitchen making it inexpensive dish to make as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of olive oil plus 3 tablespoons
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 5 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1.5 pounds of sliced onions
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of dry sherry
  • 2 quarts beef broth
  • 1 baguette, sliced (1/2 inch)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan
  • 1/4 pound of provolone cheese, thickly sliced
  • 1/4 pound of Swiss cheese, thickly sliced

Directions:

For baguette slices: 

Heat oven to 375 F

Heat a small pot over medium heat and add the 1/2 cup of oil and smashed garlic cloves. Simmer for about 40 minutes. Remove from heat and add three tablespoons of butter. Brush baguette slices on both sides with oil mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for about 5-7 minutes or until golden. Set aside.

For soup: 

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add oil. Add the onions, thyme, salt, and pepper, toss to coat, and cook until the onions are caramelized, about 25 minutes.  If the onions are cooking too fast you can turn the heat down or add a touch more oil. When onions are sufficiently caramelized add the sherry, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until wine has evaporated and the onions are dry. Remove the the thyme springs. Add beef broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer for at least 1/2 an hour. Season to taste.

For Serving:

In a wide soup bowl (or a mug if you’re in a pinch), place a couple of the sliced baguettes, poor the soup over them, top with a slice of provolone, a slice of swiss, and sprinkle with parm cheese. The parm will give the cheeses a nice crust. Place under broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Brussels Sprouts with Red Cabbage and Carrots

Brussels Sprouts with Red Cabbage and Carrots

Brussel Sprouts with Red cabbage and Carrots

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There’s 2 things you should know before I tell you this story. 1.) At first, you’re probably going to think it’s not the best representation as to why you should cook with brussel sprouts, but bare with me,  and 2.) If 8 year old me was a doctor, I’d be terrible at diagnosing.

So, here we go;

When I was in elementary school, I caught a really nasty flu.  I’m talking the kind that leaves you on the couch for a couple of days, with no school, and nothing to entertain you but The Price is Right and re-runs of Judge Judy. While that actually doesn’t sound THAT bad, trust me, it was. (I’ll spare you the details). To make a long story short, right before I had fallen ill, we had Brussels sprouts for dinner, and like any logical 8 year old, I blamed the vegetable for what ailed me. I was having none of it when everyone was trying to explain it to me that it was a virus that sweeping around my second grade classroom. That was preposterous.

Why, then, were all my classmates sick too? Let 8 year old me tell you why.

“Because their Mothers had obviously made them eat Brussels Sprouts too, duhhh.”

How stubbornly witty.

Luckily, I was resilient enough to recover from the Great Brussels Sprouts plague of ’95, but the damage was done, and some sixteen years later, I’m consumed with regret.

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Have you ever accused someone of something that wasn’t true? It’s a terrible feeling. I feel as if I’ve aided in convicting someone who had nothing to do with the crime.

Reparations must be made and so i’m here today to issue a public statement, that I, Karla, was wrong. Yes, I said it, I was wrong. (Don’t tell Jamie. I’ve built a solid foundation for our relationship on never admitting to being wrong.).

My official public service statement is as follows;

My sincerest apologies to the brussels sprouts family. They are extremely delicious and will in no way, or capacity, give you the flu.

Make this recipe.

Brussels Sprouts with Red Cabbage and Carrots

Brussels Sprouts are seriously one of my favorite vegetables (yes, i’ve had a complete change of heart). Not only are they really yummy but they’re really good for you too. A lot of the problem is that there are a lot of people who don’t know how to properly cook them. Overcooking them will give them a terribly tinny flavor and a mushy brussel sprout is just not worth the time. More often than not, I blanch my sprouts first, and then finish them in the pan. If you’re a cabbage lover (or you’re Polish, like me) you’ll love this simple recipe too.

Ingredients

2 cups of Brussel Sprouts halved or quartered, outer leaves removed

2 tablespoons of butter

3 medium sized carrots, julienned

1 cup of shredded red cabbage

half a cup of sliced onion

3 cloves of garlic minced

Directions:

Bring a small pot of salted water to  a boil. Blanch your brussels sprouts in the water for about a minute. Remove the sprouts and shock in a small ice bath or run them under cold water, set aside.

In a medium saute pan, sweat your onions and garlic over medium heat. Add the Sprouts and Carrots and cook for about 3-4 minutes.

Add the red cabbage and continue cooking for about 2 more minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.