Tortilla roll ups
February 26, 2011, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Nibbles, Quick and Easy

World’s easiest appetizer (except for a can of nuts). You want pictures? Wot? oh well.

4 large burrito sized tortillas, plain if you’re a wimp, jalapeno-cheddar for spark. I use 2 of each for interest
2 8-oz packages of cream cheese- whichever, regular, light, nonfat. Softened to room temp.
1 little (4 oz?)can chopped black olives
1 little can chopped green chilis
1 small jar chopped pimentos
1 generous handful (you could call it a cup, if you’re precision driven) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 skimpy handful (I don’t know…1/2 a cup?) fresh cilantro, chopped fine
Mix everything together in a bowl.
Spread about a cup of the filling on each tortilla, all the way to the edge. Roll up gently, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for a couple of hours. Slice about 3/4 inch thick, saving the ugly ends for your Significant Other to snack on so s/he’ll stay out of the pretty ones until the Event. Put on a tray and garnish with a bit more cilantro, or diced pepper, or a sprinkling of cayenne or paprika.

If you want something quick-like for eating while watching Manos Hand of Fate, you can substitute salsa for the olives and peppers. If you balk at the idea of anything from a can, use fresh peppers and fancy-pants olives from the deli. I reckon (tho I haven’t tried this) you could bust out all Mediterranean and use feta cheese instead of cheddar, oregano instead of cilantro, kalamata olives and bell pepper, and throw in some lemon zest. Go ahead and play around with it and see what happens. Like most things I cook, it’s more a concept than rigid recipe.


Lemon garlic vinagrette dressing
February 21, 2011, 12:22 pm
Filed under: Quick and Easy, salad

I’ve been cooking, making new things and all, but never remember to have the camera until I’m nearly done with it.

Also, Spring is here, the garden is planted with salad greens and English peas and I’m all bouncing up and down, checking it twice a day to see if anything is up yet. It’s been a WHOLE WEEK since planting! Why isn’t anything up yet? When will I be able to cut fresh greens and steam some peas and have those delicious salad lunches of mesclun mix and peas and a sprinkling of queso fresco and warm lemon-garlic vinagrette? NOT SOON ENOUGH. I have salt issues, and can’t have commercial salad dressings, indeed why would I want it, with this incredibly easy to make dressing?

Lemon Garlic Vinagrette enough for 1 big lunch salad

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 few grindings black pepper, coarse
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 teaspoon sugar
a couple of squeezes fresh lemon juice
Warm the olive oil in a small skillet and add the garlic. Let it sinner for a few minutes but don’t brown the garlic as that will make it bitter. Add the black pepper anytime in there. Turn off the heat, add the juice, sugar and zest. Let sit for a few minutes, stir, and pour over your salad.
This is also excellent with some chopped fresh oregano added, if you think of it.

Gee, Congee!
February 1, 2011, 5:27 pm
Filed under: Asian, Grains

Congee is wonderful stuff. It’s basically rice porridge with a bunch of chopped stuff in bowls so you can customize it. In Asian countries it’s eaten for breakfast or a late, light supper. Around here we have it for supper and maybe lunch the next day if there’s leftovers.

I remember the first time I had it. I went to The Oriental Pearl in the Chamblee section of Atlanta with a Korean friend. She announced that my culinary world was about to expanded, and we had their excellent Saturday Dim Sum. That is a WHOLE ‘nother post…but one of the carts was a congee cart, and she said “you MUST try this” and had the person fix up a bowl of congee,with all the trimmings and I was hooked. Now, whenever we plan a trip to Atlanta, it nearly always includes Saturday Dim Sum. But that’s a WHOLE ‘nother post.
Which kind of rice you use and how it’s cooked depends on who you ask and what country they’re from. It’s as individual as chicken noodle soup. I have heard some rice cookers actually have a ‘congee’ setting, but I don’t own a rice cooker,so that’s hearsay. I like to use sweet (or sticky or glutinous) rice and cook it in chicken broth. Now, if you’re cooking regular rice as a side dish, the proportions are 1:2 rice to liquid. For congee, you’re cooking the rice much longer in more liquid so it cooks to a pulp and thus you’ll want much more liquid. Some recipes go as high as 1:13 rice to liquid. With sweet rice you’l need it a pretty high ratio, I use about 1:5 rice to liquid,and add more if I think it needs it. Sweet rice REALLY makes a thick kind of glop, but that’s what we like.

It’s all about the condiments. My kids call congee “Chinese tacos” even thought it absolutely does not resemble tacos in any way except for the bowls of chopped up stuff on the table. Everyone gets a bowl full of rice porridge, and can decorate it themselves with whatever’s set out. A family favorite is Pork Fu, this funky incredibly processed and probably terrible for you pork product that comes in little tubs and never ever spoils. It looks like fiberglass insulation (only brown instead of pink),and kind of almost dissolves in the congee. It has a distinctive porkish-soy sauce flavor and we love it. It’s not something used like Americans use most meat, in huge quantities, but rather something to be sprinkled on lightly, like you would an herb. Other additions include chopped cilantro, roasted peanuts, sliced green onions, that chicken leftover from the soft tacos Friday night, soysauce, Sriracha for kick, toasted coconut (not the sweet kind) if I have any. Sometimes I’ll reconstitute dried shiitake mushrooms and slice them thin, or chiffonade some spinach…seriously, it’s like this blank slate you can put whatever’s laying around on top of and make a custom bowl of tasty and filling goodness. It’s not bad the next day, either, just kind of gloppier.

serves 4 with leftovers, if you’re lucky

1-1/2 cups sweet (sticky or glutinous) rice (or regular old white rice,but the texture will be a bit different from what’s pictured)
8 cups chicken broth (c’mon….use homemade. it’s not hard to make…)
in a great big pot, put in the broth and rice and bring to a very low simmer. Cook for a nice long time, stirring once in a while…how long depends on what kind of rice. If you don’t want to baby it along, do this in a crock pot.

Now for the condiments-I figure about a cup of each, maybe a bit more or less depending on your taste.
Cooked chicken,shredded (I like to cook it again in a skillet to make it crispy)
Pork Fu or Moo Yong
chopped fresh cilantro
sliced green onions
chopped toasted peanuts
what else ya got? some kimchee? those teeny dried fish? fried onions or garlic how about some little bitty shrimp?
And sauces! Sriracha,soy sauce, maybe some leftover peanut sauce from the last time you made a satay?
Seriously,start with the rice base, and the rest is only limited by your imagination.