Posts Tagged With: spicy

quick lunch – 5.29.12 – kimchi fried rice

As soon as I saw the recipe for Kimchi Fried Rice on coolcookstyle, I knew Micah would love it.

Not only is Micah borderline obsessed with kimchi (Korean spicy fermented cabbage), but also, any food description that includes the word “fried” sets his salivary glands a-squirtin’.

Plus, this dish includes one of Micah’s other very favorite foods: hot dogs.

So on Tuesday, when I spied one last lonely frankfurter in the fridge, then spotted a container of kimchi from Fook’s, I knew it was time to try this recipe out.

Of course, I couldn’t follow the instructions exactly because I was missing some ingredients and had the wrong amounts of several others. So, as usual, I improvised.

The first obstacle I had to overcome was not having (or ever having heard of) gochujang, a spicy, fermented chili-and-soybean paste.

I searched Google for alternatives and found a recipe for making your own gochujang substitute, which of course I also modified based on what I had in the pantry and my lazy desire NOT to mince three cloves of garlic.

The gochujang substitute recipe, with my own additional substitutions indicated:

  • 1 tablespoon miso paste
  • 3 tablespoons finely ground red chile pepper sriracha chili garlic sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine tawny port (the only cooking wine I had in the house)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

The resulting mixture was less of a paste and more of a thick sauce, and I have no idea if it tasted anything like it was supposed to, but it was pungent and spicy and garlicky and salty, so it at least captured a pretty accurate flavor profile. 🙂

Once I had some semblance of gochujang, it was time to get cooking!

Here’s the lunch Micah eventually came home to:

please forgive the slightly withered cilantro….
(fresh would’ve been better, but this was what I had to work with)

What’s in it:

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil, divided
  • 1 large hot dog, cut longways and then sliced into half-moons
  • 2 cups cooked rice (mine was not a day old as suggested, so when I cooked it, I used less water than usual to keep it a bit dry)
  • 3/4 cup kimchi, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang or gochujang substitute
  • soy sauce to taste (which is what I used instead of salt to season at the end)
  • 2 eggs
  • cilantro (mine was accidentally dried after too long in the fridge–oops!)

Step-by-step:

  • Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
  • Add the hot dogs and cook until lightly browned around the edges.
  • Add the rice, spreading it evenly over the hot dogs, and drizzle it with the rest of the sesame oil. Cook undisturbed for a minute or two.
  • Stir in the kimchi and gochujang (or subsitute). Spread the rice mixture out evenly over the bottom of the pan again, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook undisturbed for 3-4 more minutes or until the rice on the bottom starts to brown and crisp a little.
  • Season to taste with soy sauce.
  • Divide the mixture between two bowls and stick ’em in a low oven or the microwave to stay warm.
  • Return your pan to the stove, adding a little oil or cooking spray if you’d like. Crack the eggs into the skillet. (The original recipe recommended using a separate pan for the eggs, but I didn’t feel like washing two pans, so I didn’t.)
  • Cook the eggs until they reach your preferred level of doneness. (We prefer ours runny-sunny-side-up.)
  • Top each bowl with an egg, then sprinkle with the cilantro and serve.

Micah and I both really enjoyed this lunch. The rice had just the right amount of bite to it, and the flavors were pungent and spicy and tangy. That hot dog gave things a meaty, savory punch, and it also worked with the egg to make this hearty enough to stand alone as a one-dish meal.

Like this recipe? Go visit coolcookstyle for more delicious inspiration! That gal really knows what she’s doing. 🙂

Categories: people, recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

supper tonight – 5.21.12 – hoppin’ john griddle cakes

Before you read on, I must tell you that this recipe lacks two main hoppin’ john ingredients: rice and salt pork. So it’s not quite exactly hoppin’ john.

Confused about who John is and why he’s doing all that hoppin’, anyway?

For all y’all non-Southerners, here’s some background:

Hoppin’ John is a classic soul food dish of field peas (or black-eyed peas) and rice, traditionally served on January 1st, often with a side of collard greens and some iron skillet cornbread.

Legend has it that this magical plate of food will bestow the eater with wealth and good fortune in the new year–and considering this meal’s easy-on-the-wallet ingredients and its hearty, homey flavors, I’d say it succeeds on both counts.

Anyway, rice and salt pork aside, our dinner last night did include the obligatory beans, greens, and cornbread, and it was certainly a fortunate experiment.

PBR not required, but highly recommended for maximum satisfaction 🙂

What you can see: savory cornmeal pancakes topped with a mess o’ collard greens.

What you can’t see: all the sweet, spicy, tangy potlikker those griddle cakes absorbed, plus a hearty layer of black-eyed pea hummus smeared between them.

Man, oh man.

What’s in it (the collard greens):

  • 1 tablespoon butter (or bacon/sausage grease for some yummy, porky flavor)
  • yield from 1 pound of collard greens, stems removed, washed, and chopped
  • 1 cup broth/stock (we used chicken)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (we used habanero hot sauce from TaylOrganic, a local purveyor of excellent canned goods)
  • 1 tablespoon sorghum syrup (you can sub molasses or brown sugar)

Step-by-step:

  • Heat the fat of your choice in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Toss the collard greens into the fat and stir them around for about 10 minutes or until they start to wilt.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10-15 minutes or until the collard greens are tender.

(Most collard green recipes call for the leaves to be boiled in large quantities of liquid for an hour or more, but we thought these turned out perfectly tender in very little liquid and less than half the time. Maybe the 10 minutes of sauteing helps…?)

What’s in it (the cornmeal pancakes–heavily adapted from this recipe):

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt

Step-by-step:

  • Heat a skillet or electric griddle on medium to medium-high heat (about 350-375°F)–you’ll know it’s ready if a drop of water will skitter around on the surface.
  • Mix together the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Pour the water over the dry ingredients and mix to form a thick paste.
  • Stir in the melted butter, then the eggs, then the Greek yogurt.
  • Use a ladle or measuring cup to spoon about 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle for each pancake. (I got 8 pancakes doing it this way.)
  • Cook the pancakes for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until they’re nice and golden brown.

(My pancakes omit the sugar from the original recipe because true Southern cornbread isn’t sweet, and I also left out the flour to really play up the cornmeal-y taste. I also subbed Greek yogurt for the buttermilk, just because I could. 🙂 Finally, I skipped and combined some steps at the beginning. Blame my friend Lazy for that one.)

If you follow all these steps, you’ll have four servings, with two pancakes per person. But, of course, if you’re really hungry or just don’t want leftovers, you could easily make two massive servings instead. (We were tempted to do this, but decided we didn’t want to have to roll ourselves away from the table!)

To put it all together, start each plate with one cornmeal pancake. Top it with a generous dollop of black-eyed pea hummus, then another pancake, then a towering pile of collard greens. Finish by spooning a good-sized ladle of potlikker over the top of the whole thing. Enjoy with beer, or an ice-cold glass of sweet tea.

I promise–you’ll feel quite lucky indeed.

Categories: recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

supper tonight – 4.12.12 – an Ethiopian feast!

I mentioned a while back that I was reading the book Cutting for Stone (which, I’m ashamed to admit, I still haven’t finished–things really have been busy around here!).

Anyway, my book club meets monthly, and last Thursday it was my turn to host the group for dinner and conversation about the novel. The story is set mostly in Ethiopa, so I decided I would try cooking some native dishes for us to enjoy.

We have one vegetarian in our group, so my search centered around recipes that she could enjoy with us, and except for the chicken stew, the entire meal was not only vegetarian but also super-easy to veganize. Also, each individual recipe was quite easy, though cooking all of them in a few nights proved a bit of a challenge. 🙂

I quickly figured out that before you can cook Ethiopian food, you need two key ingredients:

  • Berbere: a spice mixture that combines the heat of dried chiles with the cozy warmth of all those great pumpkin pie spices (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice)…not to mention a couple of ingredients that I had to shop for (fenugreek, cardamom pods).
  • Nit’r qibe: a spiced butter that aromatics are usually cooked in before other ingredients are added.

So, my first task was making big batches of berbere and nit’r qibe, because almost every recipe I found called for one or both, and I figured they might be good things to have around the house for future cooking adventures. And let me tell you, I fully intend to keep both of these in stock at all times, because they’re really damn good.

I also went ahead and mixed up dough for injera, the traditional Ethiopian sourdough flatbread that customarily serves as both dish and eating utensil. I still planned to provide plates and forks to my guests, but thought the bread would be good for sopping up all the stews and veggies I was making. If I were Ethiopian (or had access to a really good African grocery), I would’ve used teff flour, but I had no idea where to find that, so I followed this recipe instead.

Well, my injera dough was nice and thin like crepe batter, just like the recipe said. My pan was nice and hot, a solid medium-high, just like the recipe said. My dough spread thin and got nice and bubbly on top, just like the recipe said.

But  (why is there always a “but”?) somehow, despite being less than tortilla-thick, my bread was sticky and doughy in the middle no matter how done the outside was.

So, I scrapped that kitchen disaster and got Micah to implement the back-up plan, a mixture of white and brown basmati in the rice cooker. Not the traditional starch for an Ethiopian meal, but it was perfectly fine.

What did we eat with our not-so-Ethiopian rice?

The finished feast:

clockwise from 9:00 - fosoleay, atar alecha,
doro wat with hard-boiled eggs, misr wat,
gomen wat (plus rice in the middle)

Not only was dinner delicious, but we enjoyed a yummy pre-dinner snackie called dabo kolo. These are spicy little peanut-sized nuggets, kind of like a cracker. They’re traditionally fried, but mine were baked per the recipe I used and still ridiculously addictive! In fact, we kind of ate them all before I could snap a photo. But this is what they look like:

well, okay, these are much prettier than mine turned out!
(image from abreadaday.com)

Finally, I was at first saddened to learn that Ethiopia doesn’t really have a traditional dessert. But I did read about a traditional layered fruit drink that sounded light, sweet, cool, and pretty much perfect for ending our hearty, spicy meal. So I made my own version with pureed honey-sweetened avocado, mango, and strawberries:

So thick, you have to eat it with a spoon. The avocado at the bottom was the best part!

Micah and I are still enjoying the leftovers from this delicious feast, though I’m sad to say we’ve already devoured the dabo kolo snackies as well as the entire batch of split peas, so I need to make more. Soon.

I knew nothing about Ethiopian food before last week, and I have no idea if my dishes would pass muster with the natives, but I do highly recommend all of these recipes if you’re eager for some culinary globe-trotting. 🙂

Categories: places, recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

quick lunch – 3.13.12 – not my Mammaw’s pimiento cheese

Pimiento cheese is the stuff of the devil.

My Mammaw loved this orange goo at least as much as she loved triple-decker mayonnaise sandwiches, probably because the kind she bought was pretty much a tub o’ mayo (or, more likely, a mayo-like “salad dressing”) with a bit of pasteurized processed cheese food thrown in to give it that bland, vaguely cheese-like color.

For example, the ingredient list for Knott’s Old Fashioned Pimiento Cheese Spread is an entire paragraph long and includes all sorts of things that you won’t find in most people’s kitchens: sodium phosphate, potassium sorbate, calcium disodium EDTA, and even the ever-controversial high fructose corn syrup (which boggles my mind because why, oh why, would you need to sweeten pimiento cheese, anyway?). Yep, Knott’s might claim on the packaging that this old-fashioned cheese product was established in 1947 (when Mammaw was 12), but I’m pretty sure no one’s grandma has ever made her pimiento cheese based on their recipe.

(The jalapeno version was even recalled a few years back due to metal fragments being found in the product. Also not a common ingredient in most home kitchens.)

Anyway, my dislike of pimiento cheese when I was a kid had much more to do with its mayonnaise-to-cheese ratio than any of this, and after trying it once when I was a wee lass, I was sure I’d never want to eat it again. I successfully avoided it throughout my childhood and most of my adult life, even when it was homemade, because it just grossed me out.

Fast-forward to a few years ago, when a late-afternoon visit to Five and Ten changed my life forever.

Micah and I had strolled down to this wonderful restaurant one afternoon for an early dinner, but I wasn’t super-hungry, so I perused the snackies section of the menu for something small that I could enjoy with a cup of soup. Feeling a bit reckless, I decided to order the pimiento cheese. I knew I hated the stuff. I knew it might make me gag. But I figured that if anyone could make me like it, it might be Hugh Acheson. And Micah (who doesn’t share my mayo aversion) promised he would eat it for me if I couldn’t.

Well, Hugh did not succeed in making me like pimiento cheese that day.

He made me love it.

He made me love it so much that I immediately decided I must make my own batch so I could eat pimiento cheese all the freaking time.

The only problem was, I didn’t have his recipe, and I had no idea how he had made it so damn delicious. So, I did what I always do when I don’t know what I’m doing. I winged it. And the results were fantastic.

I’ve been making my own pimiento cheese for three or four years now, tweaking the recipe here and there to suit my own tastes. Since I don’t like hate loathe mayonnaise, and since Micah can’t usually consume a whole jar of the stuff before the expiration date, it’s not something we keep around the house. So one big change in my recipe is using Greek yogurt in place of the mayo. This might sound strange, but I promise–you won’t miss that fatty egg-goo at all, and the yogurt gives you the added bonus of less fat and more protein (not, of course, that anyone eats pimiento cheese for its health value).

Here’s the batch I made this week:

I could eat this whole bowl in one sitting.

Even if you don’t like pimiento cheese–especially if you don’t like pimiento cheese!–you should try this recipe. (Or Hugh’s.) It just might change your life.

What’s in it:

  • 1 pound of sharp cheddar (the sharper, the better)
  • half of a 12-ounce jar of pimientos or roasted red peppers (or just roast your own)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (smoked, if you have it, but regular is yummy, too)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (or chipotle, if you want it smokier, which I like)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a little apple cider vinegar if you like yours tangy (which we do)

Step-by-step:

  • Cut the cheddar into cubes and toss it in the food processor.
  • Add the pimientos, yogurt, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, dry mustard, paprika, and cayenne/chipotle.
  • Process until you’ve got the texture you like. (We like ours creamy and spreadable, but if you like yours chunkier, just process a little less.)
  • Taste it! Add salt, pepper, and/or vinegar if needed.
  • Enjoy!

This makes a pretty big batch, which we eat on toast, crackers, cold sandwiches, or–my favorite–grilled cheese sandwiches. (Heaven!) It’s tangy, salty, smoky, and spicy, just how I like it. I can eat gobs of it in a sitting, and sometimes do.

Yep, pimiento cheese really is the stuff of the devil. 🙂

Categories: recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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