Shrimp and Chinese Sausage Quinoa Fried “Rice”

While browsing the Fridgg website, I decided to google the term ‘quinoa’ and ran across this great idea for a fried rice dish using quinoa. There was no need to add any protein to the dish, other than the traditional fried egg, but I like to go above and beyond whenever possible.

Shrimp and Chinese Sausage Quinoa Fried “Rice” –  makes 4 cups, about 3 servings

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup carrot, small dice
3 large mushrooms, medium dice
1 small pepper (red, orange or yellow), small dice
2 green onions, bottoms added to the saute and tops used as garnish
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
3 large raw shrimp, peeled and tailed, halved and diced
1 raw Chinese sausage, halved and diced
1 large egg, slightly beaten
~ 3 cups cooked quinoa
2 tbsp Kikkoman soy sauce
shake or two ground white pepper

In a large saute pan, add the butter and oil and over medium heat, saute the carrot, pepper, onion bottoms and mushrooms until the carrots are tender. Add the peas, shrimp and sausage and fry for a couple of minutes until the shrimp are white and the peas are warmed through.

Push the veggies and meat to one side and add the beaten egg to the cleared area. Fry for a minute or two until the egg is almost completely set and then stir into the veggie and meat mixture.

Add the cooked quinoa, mix into the veggie and meat mixture and sprinkle the soy sauce and ground white pepper over the top. Stir through and taste. Add more soy sauce if needed.

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Mini “Magic” Coconut Pie Plus a Chocolate Variation

NOTE: I corrected the amount of flour listed in the recipe below as I realized I had written it incorrectly as the full (rather than the halved) recipe amount.

I had plans for a coconut dessert this weekend, as well as the chili etc., but it didn’t happen. I still had a coconut craving when I got home from work today, though, so I made a “Magic” coconut pie.

What does the term refer to, you may ask? Well, it’s one of those dishes in which all the ingredients are whisked together and then, during baking, they separate into a crust, filling and some sort of top. And because I didn’t want to be eating it daily – and doesn’t that sound familiar – I decided to scale down the recipe, which supposedly serves six, to half that. I had to do a couple of adjustments since my shredded coconut was unsweetened, and I used melted margarine instead of butter. I’m posting the revised recipe below.

Mini ‘Magic’ Coconut Pie – serves 3 (2 is more realistic)

2 tbsp  flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp  baking powder
1/4 cup  sweetened shredded coconut*
6 tbsp (1/4 cup and 2 tbsp) milk
2 tbsp melted butter**
pinch of salt**
1 egg
1 tsp  vanilla extract

* Replaced the sweetened shredded coconut with unsweetened coconut and an additional tbsp of sugar
** Replaced the melted butter and salt with just melted margarine

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium sized bowl, mix all the ingredients together with a whisk or hand blender. Pour into a buttered and floured 5 1/4-inch wide pie dish. Place on a baking sheet in case of spills.

Bake in a 350 deg F oven for 35 min or until golden brown and set. (You may want to test with a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean.)

Let cool, slice and serve with a scoop of sweetened whipped cream or a small scoop of ice cream or gelato.

Chocolate Variation: Substitute 1 tbsp of cocoa powder for 1 tbsp of the flour in the recipe above.

NOTE: Visual progress of the pie

After 20 minutes, the pie showed little change.
After 25 minutes, it’s puffed up to almost double in size, there’s cracking on the surface, which is pale. The custard inside seems moist.
After 30 minutes, the surface of the pie has darkened somewhat and the custard seen through the cracks seems more set.
After 35 minutes, a toothpick inserted into the ‘custard’ filling comes out clean and the top is nicely browned.
Upon removal from the oven, the pie slowly deflates and about half an hour later, there is a definite depression in the central 2/3 of the pie.

The crust is defined but a bit soft and not like a ‘regular’ pie crust. Taste-wise, it’s delicious. And not overly sweet.

Paprika Chicken (Paprikás Csirke)

Whole chickens were on sale this week at $1.67 CDN per pound … so I bought two for just under $13.

I usually spatch-cock or joint my chickens but I decided to roast one whole (1 hr at 400 deg F, covered with a sheet of aluminum foil, and then uncovered at 375 deg F, for 45 minutes) … on an actual roasting pan from my mom’s place, for a change. It was seasoned very simply with dried oregano and parsley and salt and pepper. A sprinkling of sweet paprika helped give it a beautiful bronze finish. A delicious smelling and looking dish.

But the ‘pièce de résistance’ was Paprikás csirke (pronounced paprikash cheerke). This classic Hungarian dish combines fall-off-the bone tender chicken with a creamy sour cream based sauce served over nokedli, mashed potatoes or plain rice, as in this case.

Paprika Chicken (Paprikás Csirke) – serves 4-6

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 3 1/2-4 pound chicken, jointed
1 medium sweet pepper (red, orange or yellow, or Hungarian yellow), small dice
1 medium onion, finely diced or grated
2 tbsp sweet paprika, Hungarian if possible
1 large, peeled and seeded tomato, diced or 1 cup canned diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp salt, plus more, if needed
1/2 cup sour cream, plus more if desired to serve
1 tbsp flour
water as needed

Cut the chicken breasts in half. If they’re particularly thick, cut them in thirds so they can be submerged in the stock. Sprinkle the salt over the top of the chicken.

In a large saute pan, over medium-high heat, heat up the oil and saute the onion and sweet pepper for about 5 minutes until the onions get soft and translucent.

Add the sweet paprika and toast it in the oil for a minute or two.

Add the diced tomatoes with juice and the chicken stock.

Place the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables and add enough water to just barely come to the top of the chicken pieces (about 1 cup.) When the liquid comes to the boil, cover the saute pan with the lid and turn the heat down to a simmer.

Simmer for 1 hour or until the chicken is tender. Every 15 min, check to see that the chicken has not stuck to the bottom and that the liquid hasn’t evaporated. If too much liquid has evaporated, add a bit more water to the saute pan. Turn the chicken pieces a couple of times to make sure that the thicker pieces cook evenly.

When the chicken pieces are tender, remove them to a dish or bowl and reserve.

Remove the saute pan from the heat and using a stick blender, puree the vegetable mixture until it’s relatively even. (You can put it into a stand blender or food processor too.)

In a medium sized bowl combine the sour cream and the flour. Whisk together. Add a ladle full of the vegetable puree to ‘temper’ the sour cream so that it will not curdle. Stir well, add another ladle full of the puree and stir again. Pour the flour/sauce mixture back into the saute pan with the rest of the puree and place the reserved chicken pieces on top.

Tempering the sour cream

Return the saute pan to the heat just until the chicken is warmed through. Taste the sauce and add more salt if needed.

Serve the chicken and sauce over nokedli, mashed potatoes or rice. Polenta also makes a wonderful base for the paprika chicken.

Paprika Chicken ready to serve

Roast chicken

More Ducky Treats … Shredded Duck Tortilla Stack and Duck Crackling Croutons

If you’re on a tight food budget, minimizing waste is important. The dishes below are re-imaginings or by-products of previous dishes.

I occasionally bake sourdough breads but, in the meantime, I store the sourdough starter in my fridge. It’s fed only once a week the minimal amounts to keep it going. Nevertheless, it DOES accumulate so, every 6-8 weeks, I make a batch of flour tortillas, leaving only enough starter behind to keep the culture going. The tortillas freeze well and make great wraps for sandwiches and crusts for individual pizzas. And you can flavour them with various dried herbs, pureed spinach, finely minced sun-dried tomatoes and pastes like pesto, tomato paste, chipotle in adobo and even, cocoa powder.

I happened to run across the last of a tub of gochujang (Korean chili paste) in my fridge recently so I added two rounded teaspoons to a batch of the tortilla dough for a mild spicy flavor and pretty orange colour.

Gochujang Sourdough Flour Tortillas

 

My duck ragu was delicious but I wondered if I could use it in another interesting way, similar to the way I used pulled pork, combined with barbecue sauce, as a topping for flour tortilla pizzas. But I didn’t WANT pizzas. A Mexican tortilla stack came to mind even though tostadas or corn tortillas are usually used for that. I ended up with something that was delicious and let me clear out more items from the fridge (an avocado that was past its prime) and a scant cup of home made refried beans from the freezer. Monterey Jack cheese, recently bought on sale, was shredded and added to the creation. The rest of the cheese, ungrated, was bagged, labelled and dated,  and tossed in the freezer.

Shredded Duck Tortilla Stack with Salsa Rice

Shredded Duck Tortilla Stack – serves 2 or 3

3 7-8 inch diameter flour tortillas (bought or home made, regular or sourdough)
1/4 cup shredded duck ragu
1 cup refried beans
1/4 -1/3 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 tbsp sour cream
diced avocado and green onion sliced on the diagonal, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a pie dish with a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to wrap around your tortilla stack.

Spread half of the refried beans on two of the flour tortillas, spread one tablespoon of sour cream over each stack and then top with half of the duck ragu. Sprinkle a tablespoon or so of grated Monterey Jack cheese over the top.

Place one of the stacks in the prepared pie dish and then place the other stack on top of the first. Top with the last flour tortilla and wrap the aluminum foil around the stack. Bake in the oven for half an hour.

Take the pie dish out of the oven, unwrap and top the tortilla stack with the rest of the grated cheese. Return to the oven and bake uncovered until the cheese melts and is bubbly.

Remove from the oven, cut into desired serving portions, top with the diced avocado and sliced green onions and serve with Mexican rice and salad for a complete meal.

Duck Crackling Croutons

When I made the duck ragu, I removed the thick, fatty skin from the breast, and wrapped it up and then refrigerated it. Since I had the oven on today, I cut the skin into strips about 1 1/2 inches wide, made shallow cross-hatched cuts across the surface of the skin for easy drainage of the rendered fat, and placed the strips of skin on a baking dish. Then I put them in the oven (350 deg F) along with my tortilla stack. Periodically, I drained off the melted fat and, when the strips were nice and crunchy, I removed the baking dish from the oven and let the duck crackling strips cool. Then I diced them and sprinkled them on a Caesar salad in place of croutons.

Caesar Salad with Duck Crackling Croutons

Fast and Easy Duck Breast Ragu

By using leftover duck breast, from a duck roasted back in February, I cut down on some of the cooking and preparation time for this dish. And it ended up being a very economical meal, as one large duck breast made enough ragu for three servings.

Duck Breast Ragu

Duck Breast Ragu – serves 3

300 gm dried fettuccine or spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

NOTE: For a low/no-carb version, substitute well drained/squeezed spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles or cauli-rice for the pasta.

1 tbsp unsalted butter or olive oil
1 large leftover duck breast
1/2 cup (1 medium) onion, finely diced
1/2 cup (1 medium) carrot, finely diced
1/2 cup (1 stalk) celery, finely diced
1 cup crushed tomatoes*
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
1 dried bay leaf
1-2 fresh sage leaves, or 1 large dried sage leaf
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp apple cider vinegar**
2-3 cups of water, divided
salt and pepper to taste
~1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

* About a cup of tomato products may be used in the ragu. ie. 2 large fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced or 1 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes with liquid, 1 cup marinara sauce or 1 cup of crushed tomatoes. For an extra hit of tomato, add a tablespoon of tomato paste as well.

** In place of 1/4 cup of white wine, I added the apple cider vinegar to the chicken stock

If your duck breast was frozen on the bone, remove it and cut the breast in half horizontally, to minimize the thickness of the breast, and reduce cooking time.

In a large saute pan, over medium-high heat, melt the butter and saute the onion, carrot, celery and garlic until the vegetables are softened and the onion is transparent. Add the crushed tomatoes (start with the tomato paste first, if using, and cook a couple of minutes to bring out the maximum flavour) and then add the chicken stock and apple cider vinegar scraping the bottom to free up any bits stuck to the pan.

Add the dried bay leaf, the sage leaves and the duck meat, including the bones that the breast was attached to for extra flavour.

 

Add another cup of water, or as much as is needed to cover the meat. Add about 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/8 tsp of ground black pepper. The amount of salt added depends on how salty your chicken stock was. Remember, the liquid will reduce so go easy on the salt. Bring the contents to a boil, cover and then reduce the heat so that the ragu mixture is just simmering. Simmer for one hour, checking after half an hour and then every 15 minutes to make sure that there’s still some liquid left. Stir to prevent sticking as the contents reduce. Add more water if need.

After one hour, test to see if the meat is tender enough to be shredded. If it is, remove to a shallow bowl, shred, and then return the meat to the saute pan. Discard the bones. (If there was any meat left on the breast bone and ribs, pick them off and return to the saute pan … or eat it. It’s the cook’s treat.) If not, simmer for another 10-15 min and check again, adding more water if needed.

NOTE: Bring a pot of water to the boil, season with a generous tablespoon of salt and cook your pasta, until it still has a bit of a bite to it (al dente). Drain, rinse with cold water, return to the pasta pot and cover.

Continue cooking the ragu, with the lid off, until it’s as thick as you like. Taste for salt and pepper level.

Add the reserved cooked pasta to the ragu, stir through and serve.

Garnish with a teaspoon of grated Parmesan cheese.

Italian Easter Ham Pie

This Italian Easter ‘pie’ has many names and several variations as to crust and fillings. This is the version that I decided to make, but if you want to look for others, here are some names to look for:  Italian Easter Ham pie, pizzagaina (or chiena,chena,cena), pizza rustica, pizza ripiena, pizza piena.

Italian Easter Ham Pie for Two – makes 2 4-inch diameter mini deep dish pies

pastry for a pie crust bottom only

140 gm dry curd cheese or cottage cheese or ricotta**
40-50 gm grated Mozzarella cheese
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten, 1 tbsp removed for egg wash
1/2 tsp dry parsley
1/8 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6-8 slices diced deli meat (pepperoni, Genoa salami, capocollo or smoked ham)

Egg wash – 1 tbsp beaten egg and a splash of cream or milk

** Home made paneer cheese (an Indian dry curd cheese) was used. I got 290 gm (10.44 oz) of drained cheese from 2 liters (8 cups) of milk and 1/4 cups of white vinegar.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roll out two bases (8 inches in diameter) and two tops (5 inches in diameter) and line two deep dish disposable aluminum pie tins with the bases. Set aside the tops.

Mix together the filling ingredients and fill the pie tins. Press down a bit on the filling to compact it.

Moisten the edges of the bases, put on the tops, seal and, with the tines of a fork, seal again. Place the pie tins on a baking sheet for convenient transfer to the oven.

Brush the top of the pies with the egg wash and bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the two pie tins to a cooling rack. Cool for 30 minutes to set the filling.

The pies may be eaten warm, room temperature or cold with a salad for a complete meal or on their own for a snack.

Happy Easter! (2018)

Happy Easter!!

Dinner

Cheddar cheese sourdough loaf

Creamy broccoli and potato soup

Lamb shoulder chops, potato wedges and carrots drizzled with duck fat and sprinkled with dry rosemary before being roasted

Creamed spinach served with above

Dessert

Cream puff filled with sweetened vanilla bean whipped cream and trimmings from an Easter fudge

Easter Fudge –  1 pound of chocolate fudge topped by half a pound of pink vanilla fudge, with jelly beans and sprinkles over the top

Gozleme or Turkish Flat-bread

Lately, I’ve taken to experimenting with various breads of the world … tortillas, fatayer, khachapuri. Not only are they tasty, but they’re filling and inexpensive and, by switching up the fillings, they’re rarely boring.

Gozleme are Turkish flat-breads, rolled very thinly, like burek or strudel dough, and then folded over or around greens (spinach or beet tops) and cheese (feta, cheddar or other hard melting cheeses), seasoned meat mixtures, sauteed mushrooms or even seasoned potatoes and then brushed with olive oil or clarified butter and sauteed in a pan.

The dough may be unleavened or leavened (yeast or baking powder) and the liquid used may be water, milk or yogurt.

For my first attempt, I decided on a simple recipe in which the dough is made with self-raising/rising flour, yogurt and a bit of salt. For the filling, I just used some grated cheddar.

The dough was a bit wetter than I expected but I resisted adding additional flour and used as little flour as possible to do the kneading. The results were successful … a smooth, silky dough that was fairly easy to roll out to the size called for (20-25 cm/8-10 inches).

The only problem was the cooking temperature. Knowing my stove, I was leery about cooking the flatbread over medium-high heat, so I turned the heat down to medium. Even after only one minute, in my cast iron frying pan, the flat-bread was almost charred black, so I decided to cook the rest of the flat-breads over medium-LOW heat, for 1-2 minutes per side, until they were golden.

I also played around with the shaping and found that the simplest method, a circle of dough half covered with the filling and folded over into a half moon was the most successful as the more elaborate folded rectangle or square packets ended up with the thicker (multi-layered) side did not fry in the time expected and resulted in an underdone/gummy flatbread.

World Down Syndrome Day – Rock Your Socks!

March 21st, 2018
is

World Down Syndrome Day

 

The S.T.E.P.S. (Skills To Enhance Personal Success) program at one of our local high schools is fundraising by selling socks as part of the LOTS OF SOCKS campaign.

Here are 2 of the patterns I bought to support the effort

Wear your craziest pairs of socks and help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities.

Pie Crust – Blind Baking Techniques

Lots of pictures but I think the results are worth it.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

First, I want to say that I HATE blind baking.

I know how to do it. I HAVE done it. I have a jar of chickpeas set aside for the purpose. A single layer of the chickpeas over a round of parchment paper works pretty well.

But I don’t LIKE the concept.

I’ve attempted the alternative … DOCKING.

Here’s what I started with. Now, using the tines of a fork, prick the pie crust all over. The base AND the sides. (Sorry, I didn’t take a picture.)  And then bake as long as your recipe calls for. Then cool and fill.

And here’s the result … shrinking and bubbling up of the pie crust resulting in a shriveled up pie shell. NOT pretty.

But there’s a THIRD option. I found the technique on the King Arthur Flour website.

Blind baking using  a second pie pan of the same size and laying it over the pie crust.

Then you FLIP THE TWO PANS OVER and bake.

Here’s a picture of a mini aluminum pie plate and a regular sized metal pie plate ready to go into the oven.

After your chosen bake time, flip the two pans back over, remove the pie plate on top and THEN dock. (I forgot to do this in this case.) And complete baking. I covered the full sized pie crust with a round of parchment paper to prevent sticking to the pie plate on top

I probably baked this a bit too long but I forgot that it continues cooking when you take it out of the oven.

Flip/dock or just docking … which would YOU use?