Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rice Kalabush

I've been thinking... There are so many beautiful cooking/baking blogs out there with wonderful photos. Probably by the millions. Why should I continue with this blog? It certainly doesn't get read by the masses. Why load the world wide web with yet another mediocre cooking blog? I have contemplated on quitting. But then it occurred to me that by having this blog I end up trying to create nice-looking and tasty dinners. It kind of "forces" me to do so. So if I get something out of it, why not keep doing it?

One such nice-looking and tasty dinner was the one I made last night:

I wanted it to be quick and easy and use whatever vegetables we had in the fridge and needed to be used immediately.
I titled it rice kalabush because I used kielbasa as a proteinaceous topping and kalabush (meaning a prison in Turkish, I think) sounds close enough. Also, this could be a good prison food :)

The ingredients I used (feel free to substitute with whatever vegetables you have and need to use:
  • Chopped 1/2 onion
  • Chopped 1/2 green bell pepper
  • Chopped 3 large roma tomatoes
  • Coarsely chopped 5 large white button mushrooms
  • Chopped ~1 c fresh spinach
  • 2 Tofurky kielbasas, sliced 1/2"
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 T vegetable broth powder
  • 1.5 c non cooked rice
  • Salt
The way I made it:
  • Cooked the rice
  • In a large frying pan over medium-high, heated oil and sauted onion
  • Added the kielbasas, until both sides were browned, then pulled them out and set aside
  • Added the green bell pepper
  • Added the rest of the vegetables
  • Added vegetable broth powder and salt
  • Cooked until it seemed juicy enough to soak the rice in, reduced heat to low
  • Added the cooked rice, stirred, took off flame
  • Served, topped with kielbasa slices
Even though the vegetables are full of flavor, it might be worthwhile experimenting with some spices. Maybe paprika?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hanging Pasta and Crazy New Dishes

I never liked this clothes drying rack I got - it's very small and the access to most of the "wires" is very inconvenient. So I was happy to find a better one in IKEA and try to use the old one as a pasta drying rack.

It worked out very well for the hanging and drying parts, but then, taking the pasta off was a mess. I guess this rack is good for nothing!

The pasta turned out very good, and we had it with a black-cherry-pesto sauce, this time not overdosing it with pasta. It was delicious! I adapted it to the ingredients I had on hand, so the recipe goes like this:

in a large frying pan over medium-high heat combine :
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 1/2 c chopped basil
  • 1/8 c chopped garlic
  • 1 chopped scalion
  • 2 c grape tomatoes, cut in half
Reduce heat to low when it looks about ready, and add 1/2-1 c walnuts.
Stir well and mix with the 2 servings of pasta. Top with plenty of good, grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Isn't it lovely?

The pasta was served in the dishes I got from a friend as a late-wedding-gift that was totally unnecessary since we got married secretly. But I appreciate it and think their craziness gives them some charm. So thanks, Kelly!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monkeying Around

I found this monkey sitting against the cushion on our couch. The cushion looked significantly slimmer and not well at all. Turned out the monkey sucked the fluff out of it!

The next day, apparently, the monkey was done sucking fluff, and tired of not being able to see anything, him being so small, he climbed up to the top of the couch:

He didn't seem to be at all remorseful about practically killing the cushion... Since the lives of two other cushions are at hand, I decided to find him a new home. He now lives with a one year old. Hopefully she will resist the urge she naturally has to stick fingers in mouths and eyes of people when dealing with him.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Stewed Mushroom Quesadilla

I had it first at the El Rodeo Restaurant in Raleigh. The one on Hillsborough, not the downtown one. They share the same name, and probably owners, but differ significantly in quality. It was so good, I did not believe I could ever make it myself. I kept getting pretty much the same thing whenever I went there (how I miss all those prospective-student-lunches and lab-outings!).
Finally I decided to give it a try, and was very surprised to find how easy it is!

It may not look very good, but believe me - it is delicious!

Here's how you make it:
  • Cut mushrooms into medium-sized chunks
  • Saute the mushrooms in a bit of olive oil
  • Add salt and oregano
  • Stir until the juices exuded from the mushrooms have all evaporated
  • Remove from heat
  • Warm up a griddle, and with the help of a flipper (spatula) spread a little bit of olive oil (1T for 2 large tortilla is plenty)
  • Now here's a trick I saw somewhere online. It yields great crispy quesadillas, and yet, quesadilla cooking shows never use it: You flip the tortillas every 10 seconds until they start to bubble and tan a bit
  • Now you have to be fairly quick: On half of the tortilla spread Mexican cheese, mushrooms, and cheese again, and fold
  • Press with the spatula and flip after a few seconds and press again until all cheese is melted
Serve with your favorite salsa!

Sipping in the Arizona Nights

I've been wanting to do that for ages: sit outside, in the shade, in the nice warm evenings of Arizona, and sip some cold smoothie. What a bliss would that be?!
Well - I could finally do that last night! Yay!

It's a cantapear smoothie: 1/2 cantaloup, 2 small ripe pears and a bit of almond milk. I guess any milk would be great, since the one I used doesn't taste like almonds or anything. It was delicious.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gorgoncoli Risotto

You guessed correctly - we had Gorgonzola and broccoli to consume before they expire. For some reason it's recommended to finish up the cheese within five days from opening the package. As if there's a risk it would get any greener... Anyway, I thought a risotto made with sticky rice would be a simple and quick dish to prepare, and it could use the single crown of broccoli left from the night before.

  • In a medium sized pan, saute the broccoli in a couple of tablespoons of cooking wine until it's soft but still crunchy (about 3-5 minutes).
  • Mix one teaspoon of cornstarch in one cup of milk and add to the broccoli.
  • Add the chopped cheese to the pan and mix until it's all melted and you get a nice, thick, fragrant sauce.
  • Add the rice, mix and serve.
An easy way to cook sticky rice:
  • Soak 1 cup of sticky rice in 1 cup of water for ten minutes or more in a bowl.
  • Microwave covered for 3 minutes.
  • Stir and add a little more water if necessary (for risotto you can add half a cup without any fear).
  • Microwave covered for another 3 minutes.
  • It should be ready by now, but if it's not, stir again and microwave 1-2 minutes more.
On the side we had some fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil salad. Together it made for a very cheesy dinner!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pasta Brocconzola

This was a collaborative idea of Mark and myself.
It turned out very yummy, and, despite its gourmet appeal, it's very simple to make!

  • Caramelize an onion, set aside.
  • Cook pasta
  • Saute broccoli (2 crowns) in the same pan
  • Toast walnuts
  • Chop 4-5 sun-dried tomatoes
  • Mix everything together and add the Gorgonzola (3"x2" block, diced. Can use blue instead)
  • Grate Parmesan or Romano
  • Serve immediately - makes 5 large servings (leftovers are also very good - I just had it for lunch)
I liked it with some ground nutmeg sprinkled on top. Mark didn't.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Stormy Summer Night II

That's what we had for dinner last night:

Light and summery, right? Well, guess what - it rained on us. Again.
Landlord said he fixed it today.

They're easy to make:

  1. Cut tofu into 1"x0.5"x3" slices and marinate it for at least 15 minutes in the same sauce used for the cold Thai noodles, except, omit the peanut butter.
  2. Julienne baby carrots (~0.5 carrot per roll).
  3. Julienne a cucumber (1 Persian cucumber per 10 spring rolls).
  4. Chop some green onion.
  5. Cook rice noodles, rinse and let cool.
  6. Soak rice spring roll wrap in warm water for a few seconds (get it out when it's still stiff - it will soften more later. If you leave it too long, it'll tear).
  7. Pile the filling ingredients in the middle of the wrap. (I find the nicest result is achieved when you start with a bit of the vegetables, then tofu, then some more vegetables, and finally the noodles).
  8. Roll!
  9. Use the marinade as a dressing.
Filling and refreshing at the same time!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Stormy Summer Night

Yesterday I got an email from Vegetarian Times (they started sending me emails after my subscription ended, probably to get me to renew it, which I certainly did), and it enticed me with this recipe, so I tried it. I have to say, I'm not very good at following recipes, especially when I just read them and then try to recreate them from memory. So I completely forgot about the salt and pepper and cheese inside the tomato! And about the baking time! It came out soft and runny. But doesn't it look pretty? Besides, we could finally tell what chervil tastes like!

The salad is spring mix with raspberry-walnut dressing, topped with strawberries, macademia nuts and Gorgonzola cheese bits (you have to cut it small - it's really strong). Yum!

As we were munching, I felt tiny droplets of water on my feet and heard a weird tapping noise seemingly coming from under the floor. Turned out our nice sun roof was leaking! It was raining real hard outside and we got a free sample. :)