Category Archives: appetizers

Leek Duo … from the Sublime to the Ridiculous

The first time I ever tasted leeks was in soup made from a packet of “Knorr Cream of Leek”. It was creamy and subtly flavoured and became my ‘standard’ of a leek soup. This soup surpasses that in flavour, nutrition and, time wise, it’s not bad either.

Cream of Leek and Potato Soup

I didn’t use any thickeners (cream, cornstarch or flour) to make this soup, other than the two diced potatoes. Although I was tempted to use bacon fat to sautee the 1/2 cup of diced onions, one clove of minced garlic and one large sliced leek, I decided to use 2 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp white pepper to highlight the subtle flavours of the leeks. I wish I had had some home made chicken stock, but I didn’t, so I used a tablespoon of low sodium “Better than Bouillon” to 4 cups of water, which isn’t bad at all. The thickness of the soup was perfect for me, but if you find that as your soup cools, it gets too thick, you can thin it out with some extra chicken stock, or even just some water, in a pinch. Check for seasoning before serving, in that case.

I often make pizza dough from scratch but, having a package or two of flatbreads or flour tortillas, in the freezer, is convenient for quick, last minute meals.

Shiso Pesto, Roasted Leek and Paneer Flatbread Pizza

I ran across some tasty pizza topping ideas using leeks in my recent web search and adapted them to what I had on hand so the leeks sauteed in white wine and cream became leftover roasted leeks with a base of shiso pesto, from the freezer. And, instead of goat cheese, I crumbled some home made paneer cheese, also from the freezer, over the leeks. A sprinkle of green onion for a fresh touch was added, about half way through the baking process and, before serving, grated Parmesan cheese was sprinkled over the top.

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Sushi Rice Creations … Cream Cheese and Lox Onigirazu, Philadelphia Roll and Okaka Onigiri

My favourite starch sides are potatoes, pasta and rice … in that order. Since I haven’t had any potatoes in the house for almost two weeks, I’ve been relying more on the other two in my cooking. Especially rice.

Whether long, medium or short grain, rice is quick to prepare and a fitting neutral base for many flavours and add-ins.

Sticky, short grain rice brands, like the Nishiki ($2.20 / lb), Calrose and Kokuho Rose varieties, available locally, are something I’ve only been eating for about five years, mostly in sushi dishes, though you can make a great sweet rice pudding with them too. And risotto, usually made with Arborio and Carnaroli, can also be made with ‘sushi’ rice brands.

To switch things up, I decided to make “onigirazu”, a type of sushi rice sandwich wrapped in a full sheet of nori. Like the rice balls, “onigiri”, I posted a while ago, this is a portable sushi food item often found in bento boxes.  Depending on the fillings, the onigirazu may be served cold, room temperature or warmed slightly.

Okaka Onigiri and Cream Cheese and Lox Onigirazu

I’ve been putting off making this dish because I made the mistake of buying a package of (400) half sheets of nori, a while ago, and am too ‘frugal’ to buy more before I use them up. However, I’ve made thicker sushi rolls using two overlapping nori half sheets, so I thought I’d use that technique and attempt this dish.

Another variation/adaptation of the regular onigirazu is that instead of making a square block of rice on top of the nori sheet, placing the fillings on top, then covering it with the same amount of rice, shaping that into a square block and wapping the whole with the nori sheet, I used a mold into which the sushi rice would be placed etc. This is similar to the technique I used to make the Spam “musubi” some time ago. Since I didn’t have a square mold, I thought I’d use a short tin can with the top and bottom removed. An English muffin ring may be used if you have one. About 1/3-1/2 cup of rice is used for both the top and the bottom of the ‘sushi rice sandwich’.

A few pictures of how to assemble the onigirazu … start with a sheet of food wrap over your assembly area then lay down your sheet of nori and center your mold on the sheet.

Cream Cheese and Lox Onigirazu

    

    

I really like smoked salmon so I went with two layers.

Philadelphia Roll – there are several versions of this roll but they all include smoked salmon and cream cheese. Other ingredients include sliced avocado or julienned cucumber.

 

Okaka (dried bonito flakes moistened with soy sauce) Onigiri – ingredients needed for this include about a cup of cooked sushi rice, 2 tbsp of bonito flakes, enough soy sauce to moisten, a 1-1 1/4 inch strip of nori and a large pinch of salt to flavour the rice.

Add the soy sauce a few drops at a time to your bonito flakes and stir them in, repeating, until most of the flakes are moistened.

 

Baker’s Dozen of Onigirazu Filling ideas

… as found on various web sites especially “Just One Cookbook”. Nami makes her many Japanese recipes accessible to the western home cook and her website is a valuable resource for new ideas and adaptations of classic dishes.

1. Spam, fried egg, iceberg lettuce (for crunch, you may also use the more tender butter lettuce)
2. Chicken or pork katsu, finely shredded lettuce, mustard and tonkatsu sauce
3. Beef bulgogi, sauteed mushrooms and shredded carrot, blanched spinach and bean sprouts, and fried egg
4. Sliced ham, cheese and Japanese sweet rolled omelette (tamago)
5. Tofu – plain or marinated (sweet teriyaki, spicy BBQ, dijon mustard and garlic or honey mustard, lemon herb) and grilled
6. BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato)
7. Western Omelette (diced ham, green bell pepper, and onion)
8. Clubhouse (sliced cooked chicken or turkey, fried bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise)
9. All Veggie – romaine lettuce, julienned carrot, thinly sliced English cucumber, tomato, red onion, avocado, red cabbage, mustard and mayonnaise
10. Chicken, egg or tuna salad sandwich
11. Teriyaki salmon and grilled asparagus
12. Avocado and lox (smoked salmon)
13. Hot dogs and lettuce

Slow Weekend for Cooking … Soup, Bread, Mayonnaise and Hummus

Parts of the world need rain but here, in south-western Ontario, we’ve had rain 4 out of the last 5 days, including this weekend. A bit of sun would be greatly appreciated. Since I have lots of food in the freezer, I decided to take a break from cooking … though I did want to use up the last few leaves of kale in my crisper, and some of the sweet peppers I bought on sale (4-pack for $1.88) since areas were getting ‘soft’. The carrots are getting a bit tired too. And, for a change of pace, I soaked some white quinoa to add to the soup in place of rice, potatoes or pasta/noodles.

The result, a Veggie, Turkey and Quinoa soup with the tiny bit of turkey breast left in the fridge after eating it for most of the past week.

If you have some diced tomatoes (canned or fresh) or marinara sauce, you can add that to the soup as well. I just had some tomato paste, so, with that, dried thyme and chicken stock, I made this delicious soup.

Work lunches need bread and since I prefer buns, I made a batch of yeast dough and played with the shaping. Some of it ended up as kaiser rolls (~70 gm) and the rest … well, with Halloween and Thanksgiving (US) ahead, and the Canadian one behind, I shaped some of the dough into pretty little pumpkins (~50 gm) with a whole clove for a stem. For a bit of texture/nutrition/fun, I added a cup of finely ground and sifted rolled oats in the dough in place of a cup of all purpose flour.

Rolled Oats Flour Bread

 

Rolled Oats/Ground Oatmeal Bread – makes ~840 gms of dough

1 cup milk, scalded
2 tbsp butter
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water
4 cups flour (1 cup rolled oats, fine ground and ~3 cups AP flour), divided
1 tsp salt

Scald the milk in a pyrex measuring cup in the microwave. Stir in the butter and let cool until just barely warm.

In a small bowl, combine the warm water and 1 tsp out of the total sugar. Stir in or sprinkle on the dry yeast. Let sit in a warm place to proof until the yeast is nice and foamy (5-10 min).

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of the finely ground rolled oats, 1 cup of the flour and the salt.

Whisk in the warm milk mixture and the proofed yeast. Beat well with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth batter. Gradually stir in the rest of the flour, starting with about 1/3 of a cup at a time, until it’s too thick to stir and forms a ball around your wooden spoon.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, using part of the reserved flour. Knead for about 10 minutes. Cover with the mixing bowl, and let rest for about 5 min. Continue kneading for another 5 minutes until you have a firm but supple dough. Shape the dough into a round ball.

Add a couple of tsp of vegetable oil to a large bowl, place the ball of dough into the bowl and roll around several times to coat the ball of dough. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap or a damp towel (so the surface doesn’t dry out) and place in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 45 min. An electric oven with just the light on works well.

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.

Shaping:

I cut the dough in half (>400 gms each), and shaped one half into 8(~50 gm) pumpkin rolls) and the other half into 6 (~70 gm) kaiser rolls. I let the rolls proof for about 30 minutes in a warm place, covered, then brushed the top with a whole egg beaten well with 1 tbsp of cold water, and then baked the rolls until well browned (15-20 min) and cooked through.

Let cool on wire rack.

For Pigs in Blankets:

300 gms of dough was rolled out into a 6 inch by 12 inch rectangle and cut across the short side into 1 inch strips and then wrapped around each Jumbo hot dog. The wrapped sausages were placed on a baking sheet and baked, unglazed, for 15-18 min, until the top was a golden brown and the bottom was firm and lightly golden as well.

Tasty sandwiches sometimes need a spread, like mayonnaise, and since I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store, I made a batch of blender mayonnaise. It failed on the first try, so I poured the oily mixture into a measuring cup, added a 3rd egg yolk, a squirt of French’s mustard and a bit of lemon juice back to the blender cup and then slowly poured in the failed oil mixture while my immersion blender was running again. Success. (Every once in a while I get a mayo fail, but I never throw it away. It’s worth adding another egg yolk or 2 to get a thick creamy mayo. In fact, it may have been a bit TOO thick.)

There was one red pepper in my 4-pack, so while my oven was still hot from baking the rolls, I cut it up, brushed some oil over the top, put the pepper on a lined baking sheet and then placed the sheet under the broiler to blister and turn black in places. Peeled and added to a batch of hummus, it made for another great sandwich spread or dip for veggies or pita breads.

Red Pepper Hummus

PS: I made dessert, too, but I’ll save that for a separate post.

Home Made Sushi featuring a Volcano Roll and a Red Dragon (sort of) Roll

I get periodic sushi cravings and try to shop appropriately for making it at home cause I’m trying to be financially responsible when it’s a choice between a tank of gas (or getting my grass cut) and going out for sushi.

I had bought an avocado a week (or more) ago, and I had a package of tempura shrimp in the freezer. I was going to make tempura shrimp onigiri, but … plans change.

I had good quality salmon in my freezer and decided to risk raw salmon rolls. When I cut into my avocado it was bruised and yucky. I couldn’t save any of it so it went into the garbage. Luckily, I bought a mesh bag of little avocados a few day ago so I cut into the ripest looking of the bunch.

After making four pretty boring regular rolls on Saturday: spicy raw salmon, spicy tempura shrimp, tamago (sweet omelet) and avocado, and baked teriyaki salmon and avocado, I challenged myself with two specialty rolls on Sunday.

Volcano Roll  – There are different kinds of volcano rolls depending on where you go. Classically, julienned cucumber sticks and cream cheese fill the rolls. Then, they’re sliced and topped with a mixture of mayonnaise, Sriracha and some sort of seafood. (I’ve had shredded fake crab legs but you can use diced raw shrimp, salmon and scallops, alone or in combination.) The topped rolls are placed in a toaster oven, or put under the broiler in your regular oven, until the topping is hot and bubbly and browned and the raw seafood is cooked. I’ve read that shrimp may take a bit longer to cook so you can partially saute them before adding them to the mixture. Or just use cooked and thawed shrimp.

Since I didn’t have any cream cheese and I don’t care for cucumber, I was going to use sliced avocado in my volcano roll filling. But I got distracted and used the strips of raw salmon that I was going to use in the red dragon roll. You can also use roasted asparagus, sweet potato or yam.

I didn’t have any fresh green onion to garnish with so I topped the roll with frozen sliced green onion before baking. A bit wilted but they gave the volcano rolls a nice look.

Red Dragon Roll – This is a roll within a roll. The red dragon roll I’ve had at my favourite sushi restaurant is an inside out roll filled with tempura shrimp, sliced avocado and julienned cucumber. Thin slices of raw salmon are overlapped over the top. The green dragon roll is covered with overlapping thin slices of avocado. There’s a rainbow roll which has alternating bands of salmon, sea bass (or white tuna) and avocado. The latter is my favourite but I didn’t have a second kind of raw fish so I stuck to the salmon. The filling was just sliced avocado.

 

Cover the roll with a sheet of plastic wrap and use your sushi rolling mat to press down and firm up the salmon covering.

Leave the plastic wrap on the roll and cut through it so you don’t mess up the salmon layer. Then, garnish with black sesame seeds or nigella seeds and volcano sauce (mayonnaise and Sriracha).

Salmon Filet – Portioning for Freezing

Recently, I picked up a whole fresh salmon filet at Costco and, when I got home, I portioned it up so I could freeze it for future meals. It wasn’t as pretty as this wild caught Canadian salmon, that I got for a crazy cheap price some years ago, but I cut it up the same way so I’m recycling pictures from an earlier post on LJ.

Here’s what I did with some of the Canadian salmon – teriyaki basted and baked buttery rich and tender salmon belly meat and crispy salmon skin. (Yes, teriyaki IS my favourite baste/glaze for salmon)

As for the butchering technique:

First, rinse off the filet and pat it dry with paper towels. It looks so lovely and red, doesn’t it? 🙂

Then, cut into the filet at the tail end, about 2-3 inches from the end. (My fridge was REALLY cold. You can see some shards of ice forming on top of the salmon.)

If you have a sharp knife, and are confident in your knife skills, you can hold on to the tail with a folded over paper towel and run a sharp knife between the flesh and skin from the tail to the head portion of the filet. However, once you make that first cut through to the skin and get about an inch under the flesh, you can remove the knife and use the back edge of your hand ‘in place of the knife’ to free the flesh from the skin while firmly holding on to the tail. There’s no risk of cutting the skin or hacking up the underside of the flesh if you use your hand. Which is what I did.

The result is a sheet of salmon skin, a cleaned filet and the couple of inches of salmon from the tail cut off the skin.

I flipped the cutting board around, trimmed the fatty belly meat off and then portioned the rest of the salmon into 7 portions. I used the width of 3 fingers as my portion guide. The weight of each portion ranged from 3-5 oz depending on the position on the filet.

The underside of the skinned salmon pieces

And, what I ended up with … wrapped for the future.

On the right, in the Ziploc container: 6 lovely salmon portions wrapped up in pairs of similar size and weight. On the left, in the smaller container: the scraps from the tail portion that I used to hold onto when I removed the skin from the rest of the filet, the next tail portion, and the belly meat cut into about 5 strips. The salmon skin was baked until crispy and served with seasoned seaweed.

Crispy Salmon Skin

salmon skin, no meat remaining
neutral vegetable or grapeseed oil
salt, as needed

Preheat the oven to 375 deg Farenheit.

Place a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil brushed with oil on a baking sheet.

Cut the skin into approximately 2 by 3 inch portions. Use a pastry brush to brush both sides with oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Place on the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, turning over the skin after 10 minutes. Remove the skin as it crisps up. Some pieces may be slightly thicker so may require an extra couple or three minutes. Transfer to a doubled sheet of paper towelling and let cool. Cut or break into shards and use as garnish.

August/Summer Wrap-Up … Butter Saffron Basmati Rice and Pepperoni Pizza Sourdough Bread Loaf

PICTURE HEAVY WARNING

Summer has been much too short. Of course, I didn’t get much accomplished. In fact, I can’t even remember the semi-ambitious plans I had made.

Next year, I’m going to have to make and post a list of To Do‘s to keep me on track.

I hope work calls are more frequent this fall than last year and that my insomnia doesn’t flare up again. Going to bed at 5am is a bad habit and I need to get my sleep patterns back on track if I keep getting 6am phone calls to work.

And now, for a quick clear out of dishes I’ve cooked and pictures that I haven’t shared in August. Posting should slow  down quite a bit as work starts again.

I made butter saffron basmati rice with which to serve some leftover green chicken curry.

Butter Saffron Basmati Rice – ~3 cups

1 cup basmati rice
1 1/3 cup water
1 tbsp butter, unsalted
1/2 tsp salt

Saffron garnish
pinch or two of saffron threads
2 tbsp boiling water

Combine the boiling water and the saffron threads in a small bowl/ramekin and set aside.

Cooking the rice:

Wash the rice in several changes of cold water and then pour into a colander and drain.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and then add the drained rice. Saute for a minute or two. Add the water and salt to the saucepan and bring to the boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to the minimum setting on your stove and cover.

Cook for 20 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the rice continue to steam for another 5-10 minutes.

Fluff with a fork. Every rice grain should be separate from every other. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle the saffron over the top.

Serve.

I tested the suggestion that using bread flour instead of all-purpose flour in my sourdough baking would give me better oven spring. The result did not bear that out but as I made some other changes to my ‘go to’ no-knead sourdough recipe, they’re not conclusive. The add-ins (1 oz diced hot pepperette, 1 tbsp tomato paste, 1 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, 2 oz shredded mozzarella cheese, and 1 tsp Italian herb seasonings), at least, gave me a very tasty, if flat, oval loaf of pepperoni pizza bread.

It was great as a dip for marinara sauce and toasted or plain, with butter, peanut butter or as a base for an open faced egg salad sandwich.

 

Mushroom and Tofu Egg Drop Miso Soup – It’s hard to take a nice picture of miso soup

A shrimp appetizer

Shrimp and Mushroom Scampi over home made Fettuccine pasta

Some breakfasts/lunches

 

Spicy pepperoni and mozzarella cheese stuffed omelette

Sourdough tortilla pizzas have been appearing often on my plate – from the classic pepperoni/mozzarella, with or without sweet peppers, Canadian bacon and fresh basil to pulled pork/bbq sauce to shrimp or mushroom on a base of shiso pesto. A bacon and mozzarella pizza made today isn’t pictured.

 

 

I was sure I had some fudgy chocolate cupcakes in the downstairs freezer for a quick dessert (even had a frosting idea that I was excited about) but then I had to scramble for a new plan when I discovered that I had eaten them all up, and all that was left were nine red velvet cupcakes. Making a cream cheese frosting was my immediate thought and, after weighing what was left of the last brick of Philly cream cheese (77 gm) in  my fridge, I searched my hard drive for one of the many ‘one day, I must try this’ frosting recipes that I could scale down. I was very pleased with the result … a thick, pipeable frosting with a touch of lemon juice to cut through the cloying sweetness of so many cream cheese frostings.

The last of the raspberry cupcakes with raspberry curd

Bakudan Onigiri (Bomb Rice Balls)

ETA (08/23/2017) : Some additional notes on onigiri ideas added to bottom of post.

In these last couple of weeks, before school starts again, I’ve been in a frenzy of cooking.

I broke open the one kilo bag of frozen raw shrimp, from Costco, and made two different pasta dishes (I’ll post a picture of the second one soon) with home made semolina pasta. Sales on fresh fruit meant that I finally made another batch of raspberry curd so I could take some pictures. It’s hard to believe the last time I made raspberry curd was before I owned a camera. I made red chile pulled pork for tamales … and then changed my mind and made a vegetarian filling instead and froze away the rest of the pork.

The nigiri in this post had been planned for on the same weekend that I did the last bbq. In fact, I was going to grill a foil wrapped package of teriyaki basted salmon belly meat on the grill, for the onigiri, at the same time. And then I forgot the salmon in the fridge. So I had to bake it off in the oven. Instead of shaping the onigiri into the most commonly seen triangles, I made rice balls or ‘bombs’.

Bakudan Onigiri Platter

Two different ways of serving the rice balls

Instead of stuffing the salmon, or other seasoning, in the middle of the balls, it was stirred into half of the hot rice. Wrapping the rice balls in a half sheet of nori keeps it moist longer. For including in your bento/lunch bag, wrap the rice ball up tightly in food/saran wrap. Biting into the neat package can be a wonderful surprise if you’ve made an assortment.

And for something even simpler, a couple of tablespoons of furikake (rice seasoning or topping) were stirring into the other half of the rice.

Making the Rice Balls:

1 cup of raw sushi rice, cooked with 1/2 tsp of salt
6-8 half sheets of nori
90-100 gm cooked salmon, flaked for ver. 1
2 large shiso leaves, julienned for ver. 1
2 tbsp furikake (rice seasoning) for ver. 2

Garnishes (optional)
tobiko (fish roe)
bonito flakes, moistened with some soy sauce

The cooked rice was divided into two halves and the salmon (and julienned shiso leaves) and furikake were stirred into each respective portion. The salmon portion was divided into 4 larger rice balls as the salmon added a lot of bulk, while the furikake half only made 3 somewhat smaller rice balls.

Various Types of Onigiri/Omosubi

1. Filled onigiri

fish – salmon (sake), tuna, shaved bonito moistened with soy sauce (okaka), shrimp
umeboshi (pickled plums)
tempura shrimp
tsukudani style kombu (sheets cooked with soy sauce and mirin until tender, shredded and tucked into rice ball)
meat – Japanese friend chicken (karaage) or regular friend chicken ***
miso glazed baked eggplant
fish roe – tobiko (flying fish), tarako (salted sac of cod roe) and mentaiko (spicy sac of cod roe), ikura salmon

*** very perishable, transport refrigerated or on ice packs

2. Mixed rice

sushi and brown rice

3. Seasoned

a) Stir the flavourings into the rice after it is cooked
furikake (nori seaweed and egg, ume (pickled plum), shiso, shrimp, and dried fish)
shredded baked, fried or smoked fish
veggies ie sauteed onion, shaved carrot, edamame, green onion
sesame seeds
pickled ginger

b) Cook along with the rice
julienned gobo (Japanese root vegetable)
peas
hijiki (Japanese dried seaweed)
julienned carrot
dashi kombu/soy sauce/sake/sugar

4. Shaped

triangular (traditional)
bakudan (bomb)
hockey puck – dimple and fill then serve filling side up
cylinder shape or tawara (bale of hay)

5. Grilled (Yaki) – brushed and grilled ** Usually NOT filled

soy sauce
miso butter

6. Wrapped

nori is traditional
takana mustard greens
ooba leaf
tororo kombu kelp
salted lettuce
salted green shiso
parcooked bacon and then grilled

7. Coating

furikake
sesame seeds or salted sesame seeds (black is more striking)
ground shiso leaves

8. Onigirazu

Mexican Street Corn and another try at Mititei/Mici

I set aside a couple of the grilled corn on the cob from last week’s barbecue and finally got around to making the dish I had planned … Mexican Street Corn.

It’s a remarkably easy dish which can add flavour and moisture even to corn that’s no longer at its peak in terms of flavour and texture because it’s been sitting in your fridge for a day or three longer that it should have. Incidentally, the result tasted SO good, I wish I had more grilled corn available.

Mexican Street Corn – serves 2

2 grilled corn on the cob
1 tbsp mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp fresh herb or herb mixture (cilantro, parsley, oregano, thyme, mint**), julienned
1/2 – 1 tsp lime zest
several shakes each smoked or regular paprika and cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes
1-2 tbsp grated cheese (manchego, asiago, Parmesan, Romano**)
1 tbsp sliced green onion
paprika, to taste
lime wedges

** I used mint leaves and the Romano cheese

Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, paprika, cayenne pepper, fresh herbs and lime zest, stir and refrigerate covered for at least one hour to allow the flavours to meld together.

Brush the mixture on all sides of the warm corn on the cob. A silicone pastry brush will help to load the thick mixture onto the corn and help spread it out.

Sprinkle on the cheese, green onion and more paprika to taste. Squeeze the lime wedge over your corn just before eating.

This is my second attempt at making these skinless Romanian sausages called “mititei” or “mici”. (The Serbian version is called “cevapcici” or “cevapi” and uses equal parts ground beef and pork.)

I used a package seasoning mix which contained: garlic powder, salt, onion powder, summer savory, MSG, ground black pepper, ground coriander, bicarbonate of soda, ground caraway seeds as well as a bunch of preservatives.

As suggested on the package, I added the contents to 1 kg of ground beef along with 50 mls of cold water, and hand mixed it for about 10 minutes, though 15 minutes might have been better, but I got bored. If you have a stand blender with a dough hook, it will save you both time and effort. I portioned the meat into 50 gm amounts and then shaped it into 3 inch sausages using wet hands.

Grilling on the barbecue would have been the best way to cook the sausages but I didn’t want to fire it up, so it preheated a cast iron frying pan to med-hot, seasoned with about a tbsp of vegetable oil. I browned the sausages on all sides and then finished the sausages in a 375 deg F oven for 15 minutes. I think 10 minutes would have been plenty as a lot of liquid came out and the resulting sausages were drier than I would have liked.

Served with salad as part of a meal or as a snack with mustard or tzatziki sauce on tortilla wraps, they were very tasty but I know the next trial, with my own seasoning mixture, will be even better.

Chicken Thighs … Green Curry, Crispy Chicken Skin and Schmaltz

I came home with a tray of chicken thighs last week and got to work peeling off the skin, before I began to de-bone them. And then I took a good look at that pile of skin and fat. A quick visit to my desktop, and I came up with a couple of bonus items, from what would have been discarded.

Crispy Chicken Skin … is also known as “chicharron” in Latin America, Spain and parts of the US. And “gribenes” in Jewish cooking.

Crispy Chicken Skin/Chicharron/Gribenes

2-3 pounds of chicken thighs

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel the skin from the thighs. Trim the excess fat from the skin, rinse it, drain and place the fat on the baking sheet.

Rinse and pat dry the skin and stretch it out in one layer on the lined baking sheet. Roast, checking every 5 minutes. Drain as rendered fat accumulates.

It should take 20-25 minutes to get the skin crispy enough, but you may want to continue for another 5 minutes, if you want a darker colour. Be careful not to burn the skin.

Drain the skin on paper towels.

Break into shards and serve with guacamole in place of tortilla chips.

Next time, I may chop up the chicken skins and put them in a frying pan over medium heat. After draining off the fat (or schmaltz) as it renders down, I’ll add sliced onions and continue cooking until everything becomes crispy and delicious. They make a great topping to noodle dishes or an ingredient in potato latkes according to readings and advice from a Jewish fellow blogger.

Here’s a shot of the entire results from seven chicken thighs.

Speaking of Schmaltz … I ended up with about 1/2 a cup of the golden liquid fat which I will use later.

ETA (08/04/2017): Chicken soup with grizgaluska (Hungarian cream of wheat dumplings) made with the schmaltz.

Hungarian Cream of Wheat Dumplings (Grizgaluska) – makes ~20 tbsp sized dumplings, 10 servings at 2 dumplings per person

2 eggs
1 cup Cream of Wheat
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp butter**, slightly melted

** vegetable oil or melted chicken fat (schmaltz) may also be used

Beat the eggs in a small bowl, then stir in the cream of wheat, salt, baking powder and butter. Let rest for 10-15 minutes so the cream of wheat can fully absorb the liquid.

Bring a big pot of water to the boil. Season well with salt. You may want to turn the heat down a bit so the water is not boiling furiously as you may break up the dumplings, especially if they’re on the soft side.

Dip a soup spoon into the hot water and then scoop out a scant tablespoon or so of the stiff batter and drop it into simmering water. Repeat wetting the spoon as needed to help the batter release cleanly. You want to form a relatively triangular ‘quenelle’ as you scoop.

Your dumplings will sink to the bottom as they’re dropped in, so you may want to gently free them in case they stick and don’t float to the top.

Once your dumplings are floating, continue cooking for 3-4 minutes. Cut one open to make sure that they’ve cooked through to the center. You’ll be able to tell as they will be yellower and more dense in texture if they’re still a bit raw. Return to the pot and continue cooking for a few more minutes, or as necessary.

If you will be adding the dumplings to your pot of chicken soup, you may prefer them a bit ‘al dente’. Otherwise, you can transfer them to a bowl with some of your hot chicken stock and keep them warm until ready to serve.

Depending on the size, 2 or 3 will be plenty per serving.

And the main objective of the exercise … Green Curry Yogurt Chicken.

It may not be too pretty (my broccoli rabe wilted down a bit too much during cooking) but it was delicious with basmati rice. Jasmine rice is great as well.

All that for $5.

Sourdough Starter Green Onion/Scallion Pancake

ETA: Compare these to the ‘classic’ green onion/scallion pancakes here.

As a resource, YouTube is amazing. (And a huge way to fritter away a lot of free time … but that’s something we have to deal with in our own way.)

Recently, I ran across an intriguingly titled video, “Never Ever Throw Away Your Sourdough Starter!” on Brothers Green Eats‘ channel and followed it to find one of the easiest SD recipes I’ve ever tried. And, it’s pretty tasty too.

Green Onion/Scallion Sourdough Pancake

 

Dipping Sauce for the Pancake – I use this same sauce for my pot stickers.

Dipping Sauce

1 teaspoon Asian chili sauce, Sriracha or sambal oelek**
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoon sesame oil (reduced to 1/2 tsp)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

** What I used

Mix together until sugar dissolves. Sprinkle some sliced green onions and/sesame seeds on top just to make it look pretty. 🙂