Saturday, August 30, 2008

Pictures of my son

5 ways to spice up your white rice

Does the Mendon Foodie serve plain white rice? Yes! I serve it with most stir fry dishes I make. There is nothing quite as good for sopping up a great Eggplant in Garlic sauce or Kung Pao chicken. But if I am stuck for a quick side dish for a more mundane meal, I might use one of the following ideas:

1. Add chopped green onion and cilantro, squeeze a lime over it if you are serving with anything southwestern flavor, or sprinkle with a VERY small amount of soy sauce if it is with anything asian.
2. Use chicken stock instead of water
3. Add sliced almonds.
4. Serve Cuban style, with black beans mixed in. Top with grilled pineapple,
5. Turn leftover white rice into fried rice: Saute any leftover veggies n two tablespoons oil with some chopped garlic and ginger. Add rice and cook until grains separate. Add 3 T soy sauce. Move rice to edges of pan and cook 1- 2 beaten eggs in the center of pan until set. Mix in rice and serve.

I also like to make risotto. I do use arborio rice, but any short grain rice (think asian rice, not regular rice) will do. Try to keep several different kinds of rice around for different uses. I keep it in the freezer to maintain freshness; it is not necessary to thaw it before using. In my freezer you will find the following rices (is that the plural of rice? Not sure): long-grain, jasmine, arborio, short grain Nishiki brand, and basmati. I am ready to whip up any number of rice dishes without much forethought. And I do, because a lot of times I don't really think ahead about what I am going to make.

So, the basic way to make risotto is this: start by sauteing some diced onion in olive oil until translucent. Add some chopped garlic and about a cup of arborio rice. Saute the rice for a minute or two, making sure all the grains are coated. Throw in a 1/2 cup of white wine and let it bubble until absorbed. Add chicken broth a half a cup at a time and stir frequently. Do not add more broth until ALL the previous half a cup is absorbed. Continue adding broth, stirring frequently, and cooking until rice is tender, about thirty minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup Parmesan (remember, if you use cheese in a can you should probably be taken out back and tied to an anthill.)

Now, don't whine at me about it being too difficult or complicated: IT IS REALLY EASY TO MAKE!!! Just try it. And once you are comfortable with that, you can vary it with other add-ins: fresh steamed asparagus at the end, butternut squash and sage ( cook it ahead of time, puree some and keep some in small chunks.) Add the puree towards the beginning of the process and the chunks at the end. Peas and prosciutto can turn the dish into a meal. Porcini mushrooms are sublime; use the soaking liquid for part of the broth. Although this dish is called "Breakfast Risotto" we like it as a main dish for dinner. It is one of our favorites! Risotto is one of those things you can get really creative with, as long as you follow the basic method. SO JUST TRY IT, DAMMIT! I'll even let you use canned chicken broth if you are too lazy to make your own. (Which of course I am not, most of the time!)

Quality ingredients

The nice thing about living in a small town is that you know a lot of people and can stop in unannounced to friend's houses just for the heck of it. When you do, it is important not to notice the dishes in the sink, the dust bunnies peeking out from underneath the couch, or the lack of freshly baked brownies.

So I stopped in to a friend's house the other day, and her kitchen cabinets happen to be open. There, in plain view, I noticed something that should exist in no one's cupboards: a bottle of "pancake syrup." I have deal with this friend: if I notice something amiss in her kitchen, if I detect that she is about to serve hot tea made from Lipton tea bags from water microwaved in a pyrex measuring dish, i will tell her.

So of course, out of the love I have for her, I said, "What the hell is that crap in your cupboard?" She replied, "But June, real maple syrup is $20.00 a quart! And my kids can't tell the difference!"

This begs the question: Is saving mone worth cutting corners on quality?

I think we all know the answer. Never. Not ever.

Real maple syrup bears no relation to the crappy, high fructose corn syrup imitation stuff trying to pass itself off as maple syrup.

And so it goes with all ingredients. Cheese in a can is no substitute for real parmesan. Pure olive oil is not the same as extra virgin.

Do your kids a favor: give them real food instead of imitation. Cook them fresh food instead of heating ujp frozen chicken nuggets. They will be less picky eaters and grow up to love a wide variety of real foods. They will be healthier for it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What I am going to cook for my son

Well, loyal readers, you may know me as a smart-alecky, wise-crackin biatch, but I'm really a softie down deep. At least when it comes to my kids. The ones who don't annoy me, anyway.

So, I am going to Parris Island, SC for my son's graduation from boot camp. When we asked him what he missed most from home, his reply was, "Mom's cooking".

Which means I must spend my vacation cooking. A lot. Ben has lost 40 pounds at boot camp while eating 4500 calories a day. You read that right. 4500 calories. A day. And lost 40 pounds. In three months.

Here are some things I am going to cook for him:

Chocolate Chip cookies
Peach Blackberry Pie
Shrimp Sates with Spiced Pistachio chutney
Deviled eggs
Breakfast sandwiches (fried egg on a toasted bun with cheese and ham)
Anything else he asks for.

I love you, Ben

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Laura is such a pain. Constant nagging and begging for recipes. "Please tell me how to cook such and such", "Do you have a recipe for zucchini?"

As if.

Hey Laura, it is August, we all have zucchini coming out of our asses.

Fire up the google search and get to work.

Well, alright, I'll take pity on you. Today.

Here is a good zucchini recipe.

As is my custom, I don't follow too many recipes. This is my adaptation of one I read somewhere.

Stuffed zucchini

Slice zucchini lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and discard. The scoop out some of the meat to make a boat, reserving scooped squash. Season the inside of the zucchini boats with salt and pepper. (you better grind it fresh and use only kosher or sea salt. Chop squash.

Heat a saute pan and add some olive oil (okay, I don't know how much, just use your judgment). Add some chopped onion and a clove or two of chopped garlic.

Remove casings from 2 or 3 italian sausages and put in a bowl. Mix in the onion, some breadcrumbs, preferably not the nasty kind in a can. Crumble up some nice day old french bread. Add some parmesan (again, if you use the kind in a can you shouldn't even try to cook any of my recipes. You're too dumb to live) Throw in a handful of chopped parsley or thyme or whatever is growing out in your herb garden and the reserved chopped zucchini. Add a generous amount of kosher salt and pepper. Mix it all up with your bare hands and stuff it into those squash. Dot with obscene amounts of butter, at least half a stick. If you use margarine, get off my blog right now and go look at a cooking site dedicated to trailer park cuisine. Cover with foil and Bake in a 350 oven for an hour. Alternately, cook on low or indirect heat on the bbq until the sausage is cooked through and the squash is tender.

Hmm, maybe I'll go out and get some zucchini....