Link Roundup for 1 March 2013

Web chart

Are you making any of these? Probably my biggest one is not actually reading through the recipe first.

Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet

Another vote for the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil rules

My Uncool Kitchen Tool: Cheap Aluminum Garlic Press

This one I debated about including. I love my garlic press but it doesn't work for stir frying and my experience with cheap ones is not good. I finally bought an expensive a couple of years ago and it works great. What are your experiences with cheap garlic presses?

photo credit: Marc_Smith via photopin cc

A lower carb version of the Caribbean stir fry

Low carb Caribbean stir fryI made my Caribbean stir fry to take into work tonight and I was pondering how I might save some carbs. I'd like to serve it over rice but, as a diabetic, I really have to watch how much rice I eat.

As I thought about it, I remembered that cabbage is a regular part of Caribbean food. So, not wanting to spend a lot of time shredding cabbage, I picked up a package of cole slaw mix and added that to the stir fry. Viola! A more substantial meal without all the carbs.

If you'd like to follow along at home, I added the cabbage about a minute after I added the pineapple and peppers. That gave it enough time to wilt a little but still have some crunch. I also added a little more mustard and rum to the sauce.

If you try it, let me know what you think.

Wok Wednesday – Minced Pork in Lettuce Cups

Lettuce CupsThe Wok Wednesday project this time around was Minced Pork in Lettuce Cups. For various reasons, not least of which was I forgot, Wok Wednesday fell on a Saturday this go round. They say forgetfulness is a sign of higher intelligence, that's what I tell myself at least.

As always the recipe comes from Grace Young's Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge and the ground "pork" I used was inspired by a recipe from Bryanna Clark Grogan's Authentic Chinese Cuisine, which, despite it's name, is actually a vegan cookbook.

One of the great things about joining a group like Wok Wednesdays is it forces you to make some recipes you wouldn't normally prepare. I'm not much of an appetizer person but this was interesting and tasted good. What more can you ask?

Check out other folk's efforts here.

Link Roundup for 22 February 2013

Web chartSome of the things I've found interesting around the web this week.

3 Homemade Popcorn Seasonings

Sometimes you just want a snack. But instead of grabbing that bag of chips, how about some popcorn instead? You can even make it in a wok!

Mediterranean diet may be best for diabetes

Another study in support of a Mediterranean diet. With so many amazing food cultures arrayed around the Med, this is certainly good news for diabetics who like to eat well.

5 minute low-carb noodles

I've done the julienne veg bit before with quite good results but this is a different take on the idea and looks really good.

Problem: cast iron wok, extra hot, burning aromatics and such

This forum question sparked an interesting discussion on woks, heat and how to handle your aromatics. I don't know that I agree with all of the posts but it certainly brought out some ideas.

HOW TO: Season cast iron on a Barbecue Grill

This video is isn't specifically about woks but cast iron pans are wonderful in their own right and share a number of similarities with woks. It's also a nice reminder that spring isn't too far away and woks are great for outdoor cooking!

The One Kitchen Item Worth Splurging On

I'd find it hard to argue against the buy good knives position but check out the story for some other possibilities if you've got some money burning a hole in your pocket.

photo credit: Marc_Smith via photopin cc

Caribbean stir fry

Caribbean stir fryWhen I originally came up with the idea for this dish, I never imagined the hardest part would be finding Caribbean hot sauce! I wanted something that would capture the fresh, vibrant flavors of the region and include a bit of heat. I think I've succeeded in producing a flavorful dish with at least some of the regional characteristics.

Caribbean stir fry
Author: 
Recipe type: Stir fry
Cuisine: Caribbean
 
A stir fry that draws its inspiration from the islands!
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons oil, plus more as needed for the protein
Bowl A
  • 8-12 oz of a protein, your choice
Bowl B
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, shredded
Bowl C
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
Bowl D
  • 15 oz can pineapple chunks in juice, well drained
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
Bowl E
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 1 tablespoon Caribbean hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
Instructions
  1. Prepare the item(s) in Bowl A.
  2. Heat the wok to smoking and swirl in the oil.
  3. Add the contents of Bowl B and stir fry until fragrant. Probably not more than a few seconds.
  4. Add Bowl C and stir fry for a minute.
  5. Add Bowl D and stir fry for two minutes.
  6. Add the protein and Bowl E, stir fry until heated through

Administrivia

Old School mainframe computersJust a few quick notes about some changes that are happening on the site. First off, I'm sure you've noticed a new theme. I really like the clean new look. I'm still working my way through all the different options so if you notice anything not working or just a little off, please drop me a note using the contact me item at the top of the page.

And speaking of the contact form, I had to add a CAPTCHA to it. I know those are annoying but the spammers have found the site. And while I appreciate their concern for the state of my manhood or the size of my breasts, I'll seek my own solutions. Thank you very much.

I'm also planning on adding a gallery for photos of some of the dishes I've made that don't really warrant their own post.

Update: Corrected spelling of title. Stupid fingers ...

A tale of a shopping trip gone awry

Empty grocery store shelvesThe best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men
Gang aft agley

-- Robert Burns

Mr Burns certainly has a point, although probably not a spellchecker. After my recent adventure with Italian in a wok, I was up for some more. I knew I wouldn't have whole lot of time to cook today so I decided on a simple tomato and garlic saute with fresh basil served over pasta.

When I went down to the local megamart to get the ingredients, I found no basil! While I have planted some, all those plants contain at the moment are mouse-ear sized leaves. Not going to work.  So I rethought the plan. Instead of the basil, how about some dried Italian seasoning and black olives? OK, that sounds pretty good.

So it's off to the olive aisle. And, you're probably seeing a theme developing by now, no black olives. Oh they had those dark-as-night olives, but I'm not going to feature those in a rustic pasta dish. Hidden away in sauce sure, but not here. As I scan the shelves, hoping to find a lurking jar, I notice some marinaded green olives. Hmm, that might just work. Drain the brine and use the remaining spices as seasoning. Eureka!

And that's what I did. Heated a wok over medium heat, not high you don't want to burn the olive oil, added a generous amount of the oil and sauteed some shredded garlic for about a minute. Then I added some halved cherry tomatoes and cooked them for about three minutes. Finally I added the drained olives and cooked the whole thing for another couple of minutes.

So what's the moral here? Other than my local megamart needs to stock the shelves better? Being flexible and combining simple, flavorful ingredients can bring you tasty food in very little time. Now I just need to figure out how to get my basil to grow faster.

photo credit: hugovk via photopin cc

Happy Snake Year, everybody!

Spaghetti alla puttanesca

Spaghetti alla puttanesca

It's now the year of the Snake according to the Chinese Lunar calendar and I wanted to celebrate but I also wanted to go a little outside the mainstream. I remembered that long noodles symbolize long life so I decided to do Spaghetti alla puttanesca but do it in the wok.

The eight-year-old in me always gets a chuckle out of this dish's name but it's really quick and quite good.

Spaghetti alla puttanesca
Author: 
Recipe type: Stir fry
Cuisine: Italian
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, shredded
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • 1 28 oz can peeled tomatoes, sliced into ½ inch wedges
  • chili pepper
  • ripe olives
  • noodles
  • olive oil
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook the noodles according to package directions, when complete, drain and coat with olive oil, return to pot and set aside.
  2. Heat a wok to smoking point and swirl in oil. Add the onions and stir fry for about 3 minutes, until colored.
  3. Add the garlic and stir fry until fragrant.
  4. Add the capers, tomatoes and chili. Stir fry for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the noodles and olives and cook until heated through.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Notes
You'll want to adjust the amount of chili to your taste. I had some fresh Thai chilies on hand so I used one of those, split. Other chilies would be fine or just add some crushed red pepper.
Traditionally the recipe would have used anchovies. If you'd like to add those, add about four fillets with the garlic and only use two tablespoons of capers.

 

There you go. Happy Snake Year!

Wok Wednesday – Chicken Lo Mein with Ginger Mushrooms

Tempeh Lo Mein with Ginger Mushrooms

Tempeh Lo Mein with Ginger Mushrooms

This time on Wok Wednesday... Why do I want to read that in a serious TV announcer voice? Anyway, this time on Wok Wednesday we did Chicken Lo Mein with Ginger Mushrooms. As usual the recipe comes from Grace Young's Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge.

Unfortunately my schedule really didn't work this time around and so I'm not all that happy with what I made. On the other hand it tasted really good and I've got a new idea to try out. And I will definitely keep this recipe in mind when the local farmer's market opens and the 'mushroom guy' shows up with his fresh shiitakes!

The notes I have for next time include reducing the amount of noodles I used. A full box of low carb spaghetti is definitely too much and I probably had too much cabbage as well. But the tempeh I used in place of the chicken came out really well, certainly a technique to keep in mind.

You can see how others fared, probably a lot better than I did, over at the Wok Wednesdays site.

A BBQ Explosion! – China meets Memphis

BBQ ExplosionAfter our latest Wok Wednesday adventure I started looking into what's actually in hoisin sauce so I could try to make a low-carb version. While I still have that on the todo list, I was struck by the similarity of hoisin to barbeque sauce. They're both combinations of sweet and hot flavors with a hint of smoke. So I thought, why not do an East-West fusion dish? Here's the result.

BBQ Explosion!
Author: 
Recipe type: Stir fry
Cuisine: Fusion
 
A meeting between East and West, a stir fry that would be at home in a BBQ joint.
Ingredients
Bowl A
  • 16 oz protein, your choice
Bowl B
  • 4 cloves garlic, shredded
Bowl C
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
Bowl D
  • 1 green pepper, cut into strips
Bowl E
  • 1 8 oz can of bamboo shoots, drained
Bowl F
  • 3 tablespoons of barbeque sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon of hot sauce
Instructions
  1. Prepare the item(s) in Bowl A and set aside
  2. Heat your wok to the smoking point and swirl in oil
  3. Add the contents of Bowl B and stir fry until fragrant
  4. Add the contents of Bowl C and stir fry until the onions begin to show some color
  5. Add the contents of Bowl D and stir fry until the peppers are cooked but still crisp.
  6. Add the contents of Bowls E and F as well as the cooked protein and cook until everything is heated through.
Notes
You can very the amounts of BBQ sauce and hot sauce depending on your tastes but you should have 3 or 4 tablespoons in total.