Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Are “Scotch” Eggs Technically Irish?

Still not sure.  But when our local Irish pub advertised its St. Patty’s Day offerings and Scotch Eggs were on the menu, this was convincing enough for me to try a vegetarian version for my annual Irish meal in honor of my husband’s (and children’s) ancestry.  I’ve only ever seen Scotch Eggs in cooking shows and was positively giddy while I was cooking and realized that a meat-free alternative was not only possible, but absolutely delicious!  I used the kind of faux sausage product that you can mold (e.g., Lightlife “Gimme Lean”) and basically followed the simple recipe in the Joy of Cooking.  Also on the menu was colcannon, Irish soda bread, and, of course, the adults washed it all down with Beamish Irish Stout.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Inaugural Use of my Stand Mixer

I finally became the owner of a long-coveted KitchenAid Stand Mixer last Christmas, thanks to my sister-in-law.  So, now that I have this thing, what to make?  I felt like its first use should be special, should have meaning.  But the possibilities were endless and I couldn’t decide.  In the end, I flipped through a Williams Sonoma Baking cookbook and stopped randomly on…cheesecake?  Sure, why not?  Here are few steps in the process of making this absolutely fantastic espresso cheesecake.  A great start to what I hope will be a beautiful relationship between my mixer and I.      

This was the closest thing to a "chocolate wafer" that my husband could find at the store.  We lovingly scraped away the Oreo filling to make the cheesecake crust.

Just seeing a picture of this mixer makes me giddy.

A small slice of the finished product, served as part of a brunch for some friends who were expecting their first child.  With a newborn ourselves, I made sure to use decaf espresso!  

Monday, August 06, 2012

Kiss my Shrimp and Grits!

One of the first signs that I am slowing turning into a Southerner was when I found myself craving sweet tea.  Another is that, over the last several months, “shrimp” and grits has become my go-to, easy meal to whip up quick.  I have no idea whether the version I make comes close to mimicking the real thing, but I do know that when I’ve made this for dinner my husband and I have practically licked our bowls clean.
No real recipe here.  I make the grits following instructions on the box and add a ton of grated cheese.  I sauté lots of garlic, vegetarian shrimp (I’ve found this in Asian stores and, just recently, in Whole Foods), spinach, and/or whatever else I have on hand (e.g., pine nuts, shallots, the tiny nubs of chard I have growing in my container garden on the deck…) and serve on top of the ooey gooey grits. 
I’ll have to figure out a substitute for fried oysters to complete my transformation. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lentils: Good Enough for Meat Club!

My husband is in a Meat Club.  Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like—a group of guys (of course) who get together and eat meat.  Most of the time, they check out a restaurant that has, say, all-you-can-eat sirloin or is well-known for a particular dish.  However, one of the members recently had a house-warming party and invited the Meat Club over for a barbeque (family and vegetarians welcome!).  What’s a vegetarian to do at a Meat Club event?  I decided to consult my trusty “Quick Vegetarian Pleasures” cookbook (no joke, not one recipe has yet let me down) and make “Crunchy Lentil Salad” to share.  Pretty simple—lentils, finely diced veggies like celery, carrots, and onion, tossed with some lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs, but soooooo delicious!  Although my husband was certain that others would scoff at my meatless contribution, I’m proud to say that it was a big hit.  The host even asked to keep the small amount that remained at the end of the evening.  Move over bacon, now there’s something “meatier”!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Faan with Grammy and Grandpa

Family faan was even more special last week because Grammy and Grandpa joined us from California!  On the menu: lotus root stir-fry (similar to my inaugural meal), my version of "beef" with broccoli, and kung pao tofu.  Sort of.  I envisioned kung pao tofu but had forgotten that this dish has peanuts instead of the cashews that I thought were involved.  Ah well, I'm not so sure that kung pao tofu is terribly authentic anyway.  

Faan (June 3)

I made spring rolls for our next Family Faan!  Now these turned out as lovely as I envisioned.  Also on the menu: braised radish (from another dormant Chinese cookbook) and my own concoction of noodles with black bean sauce (buried under the tofu, bok choy, and swirl of extra sauce).  Delish!   

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Family "Faan"

My mother recently taught my husband some Cantonese.  “Sic faan” is perhaps the most essential of all phrases to know since it basically calls everyone to the table for a meal.  Seems like a fitting label for my new tradition of Sunday Chinese dinners.
For May 27th’s Faan, I tried my hand at siu mai, Chinese greens, porridge, and tofu.  The original plan was to make sui mai with tofu, inspired by a small Chinese cookbook that’s been lying dormant in the back of the closet, mainly because I’ve already been too overwhelmed with trying to convert grams to pounds or milliliters to cups.  I was also planning to make porridge with salty duck egg whites as an accompaniment.  I ended up changing things up a bit when I did some googling in an effort to figure out what to do with the yolks!  After seeing an interesting recipe, I switched gears and used vegetarian ham for my siu mai and the only package of tofu I had on hand for this...
The siu mai came out better in my head than in reality.  I don’t know if it had something to do with the wrappers (not sure if wonton wrappers are the same as siu mai wrappers, but the wontons were the closest thing I could find at the store), but the “skin” or “pei” was sort of chewy.  The filling resembled my typical filling for dumplings, perhaps because the flavor of vegetarian ham overpowers everything else.  You couldn’t even really taste or tell that there were handfuls of baby turnip greens from my container garden in there!* A fun first try though. 

*With encouragement (and seeds) from my Master Gardener sister, I started a little container garden this year.  While I planted, my husband kept asking different questions about my overall process to which I repeatedly replied, “I have no idea what I’m doing!”  Indeed.  I recently learned from my sister that I should have only sowed one or two seeds in the relatively small pot that I selected for the turnips, rather than the hundred or so that I planted!  My plan was to thin the seedlings out (see my daughter helping) and use the baby greens to add a turnip-y bite to the siu mai.  I’m glad they didn’t go to waste but I’m not sure they added much to the flavor.