Monday, April 8, 2013
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Guilt seems to be an overriding theme in my life. Blogging guilt crept in after not posting for more than seven months. Gardening guilt overtook me when I missed all of the windows for planting spring and summer vegetables. And grapefruit guilt attacked when I contemplated the wasted citrus in my back yard.
Last year, I didn't have to deal with grapefruit guilt. I simply posted a message on our local RIPE produce exchange group and citrus pickers would magically arrive to harvest the fruit. But after an area fruit fly quarantine put the kibosh on fruit sharing, untouched yellow orbs fell to the ground or languished on the branches.
To the rescue came two small appliances - my De Longhi citrus juicer (lightweight, easy to store and use and just $15) and my Cuisinart ice cream maker (purchased online for less than $50).
2 cups grapefruit juice (about five grapefruits)
1/4 cup simple syrup (1/4 sugar and 1/4 cup water, heated until clear)
1 cup water
Let the simple syrup cool, stir the three ingredients together and start looking for a front-porch swing.
I found this recipe for Grapefruit Mint Sorbet on the blog for Produce in the Park, a volunteer-sponsored food and produce-sharing group in Monrovia. I love it when I have all the simple ingredients - grapefruits, mint, sugar and vodka - on hand for a delicious and refreshing dessert.
2 cups grapefruit juice (and some pulp if you’d like)
2 cups water
1.5-2 cups of sugar (according to taste and sweetness of your fruit, but start on the low end)
2-4 sprigs of mint
1-2 shots of vodka or tequila
In a small pot, combine the juice, water, 1.5 cups of sugar and mint. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low for 10 minutes. Let steep for an additional 10-20 minutes, remove the mint, pour in the alcohol, then chill (the juice, that is).
At this point, you can either place the juice in an ice cream maker for about 25 minutes, or put it in the freezer. If you opt for the freezer, just make sure to scrape/mix it every 30 minutes while it’s freezing to incorporate some air.
The fresh-from-the-maker sorbet gets weeply quickly, but an hour in the freezer produces a firmer version (see above photo).
Saturday, October 9, 2010
I was delighted to learn later that Fraiche in Culver City baked their own gougères and even served their hamburgers on the puffy buns.
But, alas, I discovered during my September visit that Fraiche no longer bakes or serves the bread.
"Where can I buy fresh gougères?" I asked the Food Librarian, who had just posted about the perfect puffs she made at home.
"In your own kitchen," she wrote back.
I was about to pop open a bottle of champagne I'd been saving and decided that gougères would be the perfect accompaniment.
I turned to the master source, the Tartine cookbook that I had purchased during a recent visit to the venerable bakery. I'd no longer have to journey to SF to sink my choppers into a gougères.
But this beautiful cookbook was not a fit for baking-challenged moi. The ingredients and directions were listed on two different pages and I had to keep flipping back and forth. The directions were written in long, narrative paragraphs, not bullet points. And the directions left some confusion. (It said to stir in the flour. Should I turn off the flame first or keep it on high?) They didn't say, so I guessed wrong and turned off the flame.
Perhaps that's why my puffs were a flop, as flat as giant buttons. But that didn't stop friends and family from asking, "Are there more?" I baked up tray after tray of the flops, and they greedily ate them.
Just imagine how gaga they'll go over a gougères done right. (Next time I'll follow Tartine-loving Jen's instructions on Oishii Eats.)
(PS It may be a while before I can bake up another batch of gougères. I broke a hip, had pin surgery and will be hobbling about on a walker for a few weeks.)
Friday, August 20, 2010
In our household, eggs are a given. And I can always count on those "baby" carrots that we buy but seldom eat. Some kind of leftover meat - ham, Canadian bacon or leftover chicken - is usually lurking. I can unearth wilted green onions and half of a forgotten red pepper. And I'm never without peas in the freezer and garlic in the pantry.
I have the fixings for one of my favorite go-to meals - fried rice. It's easy, delicious, nutritious and a great way to use up the bits and pieces in your fridge.
The trick is to have cold, leftover rice on hand. You can bring home the uneaten rice from an Asian restaurant. Or you can make extra rice and chill. Both are good options, but aren't always available when the urge for fried rice strikes.
So I'll share with you a little secret to ensure that you always have all the fixings for fried rice on hand: brown rice from the freezer section at Trader Joe's.
No need to defrost. Just dump a bag of the frozen grains into your sizzling wok or fry pan. And, believe it or not, the results are superior to the leftover Japanese short-grained brown rice that I sometimes use. The TJ's frozen rice produces beautiful, separate grains, and that's the secret to a great, mush-free meal.
The young adults in my household thumb their noses at plain brown rice, but when it's fried with meat, veggies and egg, they gobble it down. Even my one-year-old grandson can't get enough. And, best of all, we never get bored because the variations are endless.
- See my previous post on Thai fried rice.
- Check out Shiok's tips on great fried rice.
- Go to Wandering Chopsticks for several fried rice recipes, including this one with Chinese sausage, frozen vegetables and egg. I credit her for teaching me to make fried rice.
- We loved this Thai pineapple fried rice from Closet Cooking. It's special enough to serve to company.
- Some fried rice recipes call for cooking the egg separately and adding it in later. Another technique (my favorite) is to saute the meat and veggies, push them to the side and cook the egg in the well in the center.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
I expected the barista to serve a cup from a pot or urn. Instead, she measured and ground fresh beans. Just for me. What came next was even more surprising. I was familiar with percolating, pressing and dripping methods for brewing coffee. Roaster Family Coffee uses a siphon brewing method. Invented in 1840, the brewing contraption looks like something from an antebellum mad scientist's lab.
The brewing method might be so two centuries ago, but the heating method - a halogen burning system - is 21st century.
The decor is a lot like the brewing system - a mix of the old and new.
Roaster Family Coffee
521 W Main St.
Alhambra, CA 91801
713 W Duarte Rd.
Arcadia, CA 91007
For more information about syphon-brewed coffee, visit the Coffee Geek or the New York Times.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
One of my high school/Facebook friends recently shared her family's Independence Day tradition: eating ice cream for breakfast. She wrote, "It's a coal camp thing," one that's endured for five generations in her family.
I searched the Web for references to ice cream for breakfast on the Fourth of July and came up empty handed, but that didn't hold me back. When I announced my intention to start a new tradition, I received enthusiastic endorsement from the young adults in the family.
We would declare our independence and pursue our happiness by starting off the day with a bowl of vanilla. Of course, to show our colors, we added bananas, strawberries and blackberries to the bowl.
When it came right down to it, I didn't have the constitution to eat early morning ice cream. Instead, I started out with an egg in a toast cup and a cup of Joe. (Cut a hole in a slice of bread, fill the hole with an egg and fry in butter. Make sure to fry the round piece of bread in butter too, and then dip it into the soft egg yolk.)
After my savory dish, I still wasn't ready to indulge in a frozen dessert, but I ate the sliced strawberries, bananas and blackberries. Everyone else, including the grandson, shoveled down their ice cream and wished that every day was the Fourth of July.
Happy Independence Day!
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
When I worked late, I would often slide solo into my favorite seat by the window, listen to the sounds of the water wall and order Thai crab fried rice and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Sue would always top off my glass with whatever was left in the bottle.
Alas, Sue eventually sold the restaurant to a clueless entrepreneur who replaced the wall of water with a giant flat screen TV. Not a good sign. When he changed the menu, the crab fried rice was one of the the first casualties.
I've ordered crab fried rice in other Thai restaurants, but it never measures up. Maybe it was Sue's nurturing or the soothing sounds of the water or that extra touch of white wine that made that dish so special.
I was about to give up until I found this recipe on Wives with Knives. I made it for lunch today, and it was nearly as good as the version that Sue's mom used to cook up for me at Nana.
Thai Crab Fried Rice
- 3 to 4 cups rice, cooked the day before and refrigerated overnight (I used Japanese brown rice because it's more nutritious than white, but I think basmati rice makes the best fried rice.)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup raw carrot, grated (I used frozen, but I like the idea of fresh.)
- 1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen
- 1/4 cup green onion, sliced in 1/4 inch slices
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 ounces or more Dungeness crabmeat (I used lump crab meat from Whole Foods.)
- salt to taste (I found that, with the salty soy and fish sauce, salt wasn't necessary.)
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- cilantro (Original recipe called for parsley, but I prefer cilantro with Thai food.)
Mix together the fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
Add 1/4 cup vegetable oil to a large wok or fry pan and heat until it just begins to smoke. Add peas, carrots, green onions and ginger and cook for about one minute, stirring so it doesn't burn. Add rice and lightly mix, then add liquid mixture and blend well. Fry for 4-5 minutes, watching that the rice doesn't burn.
Make a well in the middle of the rice and pour in the beaten eggs. Wait for about 30 seconds and then cover the eggs with rice. Leave for another 30 seconds and then continue to stir fry until the eggs are cooked and are mixed well with the rice.
Remove from heat and gently stir in the crab meat, garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley and serve with lime wedges.
The only thing that could have made it better is a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.