Friday, June 9, 2017

Cooking: Fried Rice

Recently we subscribed to Blue Apron because I wanted a break from cooking and for my husband to slave in the kitchen once in a while and because we needed a change to our usual meal rotations. Above are the Thai Lettuce Steak Cups with Spicy Green Beans and Sushi Rice along with a cucumber and cherry tomato pickled salad.  It was delicious!  We also had leftovers, which I decided to turn into a breakfast of fried rice.
My mise-en-place of chopped baby carrots, a celery stalk, a green onion, leftover steak which I cut into bite-sized pieces, leftover sushi rice as well as sesame oil and ponzu sauce.  I forgot to take out the leftover spicy green beans.  Oh well.  There's now leftovers  enough for another meal.

I heated my individual sized cast iron skillet with a little bit of canola oil and then sautéed the vegetables a couple minutes.  I then threw in the meat and rice and tossed until heated through, about 5 minutes.  I would've just eaten as is right in the cast iron but wanted a heartier breakfast.
I plated the fried rice and put in the oven to remain warm while I fried an egg in the same cast iron pan.
Voila!  Breakfast is served.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Cooking: Peanut Noodles with Shrimp

I used Mark Bittman's recipe for Peanut Noodles with Shrimp but with some variations on my own.  Below is how I cooked the dish.
Start a pot of water boiling in which to soak your rice noodles.
Make the peanut sauce by whisking lime juice, peanut butter, sugar, and fish sauce.  Thin with water if the consistency is too thick.
Once the water is boiling, turn off the burner and add your rice noodles to soak--soft but not mushy.
While the noodles soak, grate a carrot and mince a jalapeño and a couple cloves of garlic.
Get your sauté pan hot with a tablespoon or so of peanut oil and have your deveined and peeled shrimp ready.
Once the oil is hot, toss in your shrimp and a sprinkle of a half teaspoon of salt.

Toss in the grated carrot and minced jalapeño and garlic.  Stir fry your veggies and aromatics with the shrimp until pink, about 2 minutes.  Do not let your shrimp get rubbery or overcooked.  Turn off the burner and let cool a bit.  And while the shrimp is cooling, chop some cilantro and scallions, ready to sprinkle on your finished  noodles.

Here's the tricky part.  Test your noodles.  If they're in the least bit al dente like when you cook wheat pasta, that's no good.  And neither is mushy, mealy noodles.  You want your noodles soft and limp.
Toss your rice noodles and shrimp in the peanut sauce; let it soak up all the deliciousness.
Slide sauced noodles into a serving bowl and sprinkle with your scallions and cilantro.  It looks like I went overboard on the green sprinkles above, but toss the noodles again and I promise it's just right and even prettier.
Serve and enjoy.  Plastic wrap what's leftover really well as rice noodles tend to get a little hard if not kept moist.  You can also sprinkle a little bit of water atop your noodles if they get too firm.

Quilting Work in Progress: Embroidery Panel for Halloween Quilt

Monday, May 8, 2017

Work in Progress: Mariachi Embroidery Panel for Day of the Dead Quilt

Another weekend down, and the mariachi papel picado embroidery panel is done!  I took a pic even though the panel is damp (I soaked it to get rid of the tracing lines).Onward and onward.  

Monday, May 1, 2017

Work in Progress: Embroidery Panels for a Quilt

It took me all weekend and part of a Monday to finish the bride and groom, but I finally completed it and then got started on the mariachi band.  While embroidering these Day of the Dead panels,  I remembered the Cotton + Steel fat quarters from their Boo!collection that I bought and poring through Susan Beal's Modern Log Cabin Quilting: 25 Simple Quilts and Patchwork Projects last summer.  Eureka!  My embroidery will be the center panel of a bunch of log cabins.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Work in Progress: Tumbling Blocks Wall Quilt

George Will said the pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement.  He's right.  I was getting a bit demoralized at seeing some not so parallel lines and at all the bits and knots of gray bobbin thread coming up to the front from the back.  And so that's when I stop sewing for the night.  
Then I come back to the quilt and find charm in my unsophisticated stitching and resume again.  Besides getting better and realizing what to do differently next time is where all the fun is. 
The back is a hot mess, but I'll take some time to pull and snip these loose threads. 

And being close to done is better than being perfect.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Cooking: Shellfish Stew

Before my trip to New Orleans last week, I had bought a fennel bulb and a leek, intending to make a bouillabaisse and just didn't get to it.  Luckily, these root vegetables remained fresh enough in the vegetable drawer, which made for a delicious midweek dinner.
My mise en place:  a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, olive oil, 2 bottles of clam juice, Chardonnay.  I started by dicing half of a large yellow onion and mincing 2 large cloves of garlic.
I then chopped and diced the fennel and sliced half the leek into thin segments.  I normally discard the tops and fronds of the fennel, but decided this time to finely chop the fronds and am glad I did as they added lovely color to the broth and a bit more of that licorice flavor to the stew.
I had already tossed my onion and garlic into the soup pot along with a glug of olive oil.  Then I tossed in the sliced leek and let the aromatics sweat with a sprinkle of salt on medium high heat.
After about 5 minutes of sautéing the aromatics, I then added my chopped fennel bulb as well as its fronds.
While the fennel was sautéing further with the onions, garlic and leek, I got to chopping and dicing 4 Yukon gold potatoes from my garden. 
When I added the diced potatoes into the soup pot, I also added a couple knobs of butter.
I also added a couple bay leaves and then shook a couple of teaspoons of saffron into my palm to rub and crush and add to the pot.
Next I added what was left in my wineglass after sipping.
Then in went the canned tomatoes and the bottles of clam juice.
I let the soup simmer for a good 45 minutes to meld the flavors and cook the potatoes, occasionally adding water and tasting to add more sprinkles of salt.  This is the broth after the simmer.  I then took out my shellfish from the freezer.
I had bought a bag of frozen shellfish:  cooked mussel in the shell, deveined and peeled shrimp, calamari rings, and scallops.  I had already cheated by not making my own fish stock, so this is another shortcut by not buying the seafood fresh from the fishmonger.  I added half the package or 3 soup bowls full of seafood.
I hate when shellfish gets overcooked, and so I added it before serving rather than letting it get rubbery.  It only needed to cook for a couple minutes in the bubbling broth.
A toasted piece of baguette rubbed with a bit of garlic clove and a slather of butter, a glass of ice cold white wine and a bowl of shellfish stew made for a lovely and ooh la la meal.