Savor The Earth

eat tastier, eat greener, eat cheaper

Nasi Goreng-ey…Fry that Rice! May 2, 2010

Filed under: easy,fast,leftovers,locavore,rice — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 8:08 pm

go nasi goreng!

Although I try to approach cooking and eating, and life in general, from an eco-friendly angle, thrift has always informed my style.  To that end, this blog aims to help folks find, afford and enjoy sustainable foods, i.e. local and/or organic.  In this society, where a truly bewildering variety of choices both tempts and confounds eaters, lucky cooks can find themselves overwhelmed by options.  Our full cups may runneth over us, laden with delicious novelties from far-flung cuisines.   Those less fortunate, the food-insecure, must make do with what they have, when they’re lucky enough to find something in their cupboards.

On this happy Sunday morning the toddler let me sleep in about an hour and a half later than usual.  I feel nearly human!  Coming into the kitchen area, I noticed that our pot of rice, just cooked last night, had been left out.  Although the house still isn’t warm at night, it’s definitely not cold.  So I put the pot into the fridge, determined to re-cook this rice soon.  Nasi goreng-style fried rice coming up!

Inspired by last week’s Capital Area Food Bank Hunger Awareness challenge, I’ve been trying, even more than usual, to make use of odds and ends stashed away, maximizing my thrift.  Nearly forgotten condiments, combined with cheap seasonal produce, the incredible, affordable egg, and leftover meats or inexpensive soy foods, resurrect abandoned rice.  Lubing the lot with a lagniappe of sustainable fats utilizes even more precious foodstuffs that might some folks just discard.

Here’s this morning’s fried rice, Indonesian-inflected and fortified with goods on hand.  Just a general guideline for creating your own tasty and budget-conscious quick meal.

NASI GORENG-EY

  • rice, cooked and chilled, I love Lowell Farms Texas-grown organic jasmine rice.  Don’t use fresh-cooked rice.
  • organic coconut oil, peanut oil, or local pork fat (Dai Due‘s salt pork yields a wonderfully savory grease, compatible with many cuisines.  Don’t throw this rendered gold away!)
  • organic tempeh (or tofu), cubed and tossed with 1/8 tsp. ground star anise, 1/8 tsp. ground roasted Szechuan peppercorns, ¼ tsp. ground turmeric and some kosher salt.  Or you can use up leftover cooked meats such as lightly seasoned chicken, pork or duck (lucky you if you’ve got duck!), cut or shredded into bite-sized pieces.
  • several local eggs, widely available at our farmers markets or maybe your own backyard, beaten thoroughly with a little salt.
  • minced scallions or spring onion greens.  Gorgeous alliums galore at our markets and Central Market is selling Texas 1015 spring onions for $1.69 per bunched trio.
  • a couple Tablespoons kecap manis, which I never keep in my cupboard, or dark soy sauce mixed with about ½ Tblsp. palm sugar (I very rarely buy this) or turbinado sugar (now that I always have!) and a bit of ground star anise.  Whatever you use, mix in about ½ tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. ground coriander and a pinch of salt, too.  To keep this dish kid friendly, I add 1 tsp. paprika.  You can use spicy peppers, dried or fresh, depending on season, to your own tolerance.
  • about a Tablespoon minced fresh ginger root.  If you’ve been following this blog for long you know that I almost never peel fresh ginger.  Neither did Barbara Tropp when she cooked at home.
  • minced garlic.  Lots of local garlic available again!  Check out Tecolote Farms at the Sunset Valley location.
  • Small dab of shrimp sauce or paste.  I use Lee Kum Kee shrimp sauce, readily available at my work, and it flavors fine for my purposes, although it’s not the same as the more solid shrimp paste of Thai and Indonesian cookery.  I bought the little jar and it will probably last my lifetime.  Use what you have—if your cooking encompasses Southeast Asian specialties,  not only should you already have all the ingredients necessary for nasi goreng, you don’t need my guidance.  Carry on!
  • 1 Texas 1015 onion, either from your spring onion bundle or a mature specimen (on sale for $1.29 a pound through Tuesday at CM), halved pole to pole, each half bisected at the equator and sliced medium-thin
  • ¼ of a medium-sized head of Texas-grown cabbage (not available much longer this season), halved and sliced thin.  In another season, use any stir fry-suitable local veggie, and/or Austin-grown (or homegrown!) mung bean sprouts.

If using tempeh or tofu, brown it up in your fat of choice in a large well-seasoned or nonstick skillet.  Place the browned chunks on a plate and set them aside.  If using leftover meat, toss it with the tempeh seasonings and add it in later.  In the same pan, saute your minced scallion greens in a little more fat before adding your eggs.  Give the eggs a few stirs as they cook before letting them set into a kind of pancake.  I like to put the lid on the pan and turn the heat off so the eggs can finish cooking.  Flip the pancake to brown the other side if desired, then turn the eggs out onto a plate and set aside.

Combine the minced garlic and shrimp paste/sauce.  Heat up some more fat and sizzle your ginger.  Add the garlic mixture and stir it around to release the fragrance before quickly adding the onion slices.  If you’re using spicy chiles, fresh or dried, add them as well.  When the onions are ’bout done to your liking, add the tempeh or tofu chunks (or cooked meat) and stir the mess around.  Dump in the rice and continue to fry, breaking up the clumps.  Add the kecap manis or soy sauce mixture and stir fry until everything is well-coated with sauce.  Turn mixture out onto a large platter.

Using a large skillet again (I prefer not to use nonstick for this step), heat the pan up very hot on HIGH.  Add a little cooking fat (organic peanut oil is great here) quickly swirl to coat the cooking surface and briskly stir fry the cabbage.  Add a pinch each of turbinado sugar, kosher salt and ground roasted Szechuan peppercorns while you’re cooking.  Turn the cabbage out onto the fried rice mixture.

Slice the egg pancake into bite-sized strips to top off the nasi goreng.  Let your diners add soy sauce, salt, sugar, a little lemon juice and Asian-style chile sauce to taste to their own portions.

 

Turophile’s Treat—Locavore’s Leftover Lasagna March 20, 2010

Filed under: grains,leftovers,locavore,meat,thrift,vegetables — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 5:31 pm

plush mush

pourin' pone

In these first two photos I have just finished baking a batch of polenta, bound and enriched by my parmesan broth.   Adorned with nothing more than black pepper, this gruel was plainly the most luscious version I’d ever cooked.  Good enough to justify hoarding all those Reggiano rinds!  Because I had plans for this corny slab, I managed to limit my portion that morning to a small sampling.  Destined for the limelight in the layers of a catch-all casserole, my polenta plank rested overnight before joining forces with an ensemble cast of leftovers and fresh local flavors.

A hefty Texas-grown leek ($2.99 a bundle at Central Market—inspect the tag for provenance), sliced and sauteed with local young garlic, (available from Montesino Farm and Hairston Creek Farm at Sunset Valley Farmers Market) and seasoned with fresh backyard sage and thyme, provided an aromatic foundation for chopped and browned Kitchen Pride cremini mushrooms plus roasted local spaghetti squash from the freezer (that’s the end of that!).  In its gobbling finale, a generous helping of the last of the poached turkey leg meated its match.  Moistened with a bit of broth (freezer clear-out again) and greenly flecked with fresh Texas-grown parsley, the fleshy hash stratified between sheets of polenta, richly laminated with lots of shredded local cheese (I love Full Quiver Farm’s sharp cheddar.  Look for their booths at the Austin Farmers Market and Barton Creek Farmers Market.)

cast off casserole

pretty please with cheese on top

I baked the mess until browned and bubbling.  After a 10-minute eternity, we dug on in.  A taste of winter on a wintry first day of spring.

Happy Vernal Equinox!

 

Barely Barley Risotto March 18, 2010

Filed under: easy,grains,leftovers,locavore,slow cooker,vegetables,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 11:38 am

barley barely risotto

I couldn’t wait for spring.  I’ve already started cleaning out the freezers.  Who knew I had accumulated so many parmesan rinds?  Time to make broth!  If you have just a couple of rinds, you can throw them into most any soup or stew—not just minestrone—to add depth.  If family life (or life life) keeps you from your rinds beyond their metastasis, you can brew a full-on parmesan broth.  I pressure cooked the cheesy stock for 20 minutes and was rewarded with an indulgent infusion, perfect for a catch-all slow cooker risotto-style side dish.  (I will warn y’all about the goopy pan residue.  But we’re in the mood for cleaning now anyways, right?)  Making my way through a frozen cache of roasted spaghetti squash, plus some stashed barley, I came up with this autumnally nuanced, comforting blend.

With a composition more veggie than grain, this recipe keeps it light enough for spring time.

CLEARING HOUSE SLOW COOKER BARLEY RISOTTO serves a big family as a side dish, or a smaller family as a main course

  • 2/3 cup organic pearled barley.  I buy barley in bulk.  Remember to bring your own container.
  • 2 cups cooked local spaghetti squash.  I recommend roasting.  I just roast the whole thing on a baking sheet at 350º until it collapses.  I scrape out the pre-shredded flesh with a fork and freeze what I won’t be using soon.
  • 3½ to 4 cups good broth.  Reggiano broth works very well for this recipe and keeps the dish vegetarian.
  • one sprig of fresh backyard sage.  This heady herb’s easy to grow.  Give it a try!
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon salt.  I like Real Salt.
  • 1 or 2 drops almond extract
  • plenty of fresh local parlsey, chopped

Put everything except the parsley in the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 3 to 3½ hours, until the barley is done “to your own tooth.”  Stir in parsley.  Serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Texas’ own Veldhuizen parmesan, available from Greenling‘s local food delivery service.

 

Pretty in Pink March 10, 2010

Filed under: easy,fast,leftovers,locavore,vegetables,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 8:34 pm

psyche-out salad

Leftover shredded carrots (from carrot cake for the birthday party) took on a psychedelic hue combined with brine from Dai Due‘s pickled beets.  Tossed with Texas-grown spring onions, fresh backyard thyme, Pure Luck goat feta (Yay!  Dripping Spring’s famous chèvre operation is back in production following the cold season hiatus) a touch of olive oil (Central Market’s brand is on sale for $6.29) and plenty of fresh-cracked black pepper, with or without a little local sauerkraut for that salty squeak (I got mine from Dai Due.  Look for Full Quiver Farm‘s lacto-fermented version at the Sunset Valley Farmers Market.), the quickly pink (pinkly quick?) salad hit the rods and cones—as well as taste buds—just right.

 

Frito Meringues January 25, 2010

Filed under: cookies/brownies,dessert,easy,leftovers — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 11:46 am

corny cookies

This title sounds like wordplay to my ears.  Can’t place that pun though.  Let me know if you get it.

Using up the last of the game night Central Market organic corn chips (had to arm our pantry with plenty of frito pie fixin’s), I took advantage of a cloudless, low humidity day to whoop up meringue cookies.  The salty and the sweet, all crunchy to boot.  And easy.

FRITO MERINGUES makes about 30 cookies

  • 3 egg whites (90 grams) from local eggs—not a trace of yolk (or any other fat) in here, please
  • 10 ½ ounces (1 ½ cups, packed) organic light brown sugar.  Central Market brand is usually the best buy.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or homemade vanilla rum
  • 1 6-ounce bag Central Market organic corn chips—This is the only organic brand I’ve found  (and I’ve searched for years!!)

Get to whoopin’ up your egg whites, preferably using a stand mixer.   Meanwhile, crush up the corn chips.  I spin ’em in the food processor.  When your egg whites are foaming up to nearly soft peaks, add the sugar and continue whipping until the meringue looms lofty and stiffly peaks.  Beat in the vanilla.  Fold in the crushed corn chips, in two batches if you wish, and scoop out 2 Tablespoon portions (I use a spring-loaded scooper) onto parchment lined baking sheets, leaving a couple inches between mounds.

Bake at 300º for about 20 minutes, until cracked and the surface has set, but the cookies are still soft and moist inside.  Place cookie sheets on racks to cool for a minute or two before carefully loosening meringues from parchment with a pancake turner and setting the cookies on the cooling rack to finish cooling.


 

tomato paste cake January 19, 2010

Filed under: cake,dessert,easy,leftovers — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 11:04 am

lookin' for a burnt orange "hook 'em" cake?

So you used a couple tablespoons of tomato paste for a recipe and now what?  Make a cake of course!  After all, Campbell’s canned tomato soup is the “mystery” ingredient in the recipe for “Mystery Cake,”  popularized during the Great Depression, so the practice isn’t without precedent.  Tomato adds tang and depth, and there ain’t nuthin wrong with a little umami in your dessert.

For the topping, I took a cue from Sally and Martin Stone’s fun and clever cookbook Desserts with a Difference, filled with ingenious recipes for vegetable laden sweets.  The coconut/tomato combination unleashes a tasty synergy, certainly familiar to Indian food aficionados.

This recipe also utilizes those egg yolks I had leftover from making “Frito Meringues” (still in beta testing phase) with game night’s surplus Central Market organic corn chips.  Plus I finished up the last of that bag of frozen shredded coconut.  Sweet way to clean house!

TOMATO PASTE CAKE with TOASTED COCONUT GLAZE makes a 9″ cake

  • 6 ounces organic butter, softened.  I recommend Organic ValleyClick for a coupon.
  • zest of one Texas lemon, orange or tangerine, or a combination
  • 4 egg yolks, from local eggs
  • ¼ cup organic sour cream, regular or light (Organic Valley is great), or homemade ½-n-½
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract or homemade vanilla rum
  • 200 grams (2 cups) sifted King Arthur cake flour blend (unbleached!).  Best price at Central Market.
  • 200 grams (1 cup) organic sugar.  Whole Foods and CM sell this in bulk for $1.79 a pound.
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder,sieved.  I like Rumford, aluminum-free and non-GMO.
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda, sieved
  • ½ teapsoon salt.  I use Real Salt.
  • ½ cup organic tomato paste.  CM organics is the best value I’ve found.

Preheat your oven to 350º.  Grease and flour a 9″ round pan (2 ½” to 3″ tall) and line the bottom with waxed paper or parchment (Natural Value and If You Care are environmentally friendlier brands).  I like reusable pan liners—I throw them in the (clothes) washing machine for low maintenance cleaning.

Place the butter and zest in the bowl of a standing mixer.  Combine egg yolks, 3 Tablespoons sour cream and vanilla in a small bowl.  In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and next four ingredients.  Add dry ingredients and tomato paste to butter and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 1 ½ minutes.  The batter will be thick.  Scrape the bottom and sides with a flexible spatula.  Beat in the yolk mixture in three parts, mixing for 20 seconds after each addition and scraping the bowl well (be sure to get at the bottom).

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.  Because the batter is thick, I like to place a rose nail (metal!) flat side down into the middle of the batter, all the way to the bottom.  This is a nifty trick that Rose Levy Beranbaum revealed in her newest book, Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. I recommend using cake strips if you don’t have a rose nail (check out this cute DIY video).  The nail is handy and cheap though.  Buy one at Michael’ s craft store when you get a 40% OFF coupon in the mail or newspaper.  Bake for about 35 minutes, until the cake tests done—a toothpick or bamboo skewer inserted into the middle will come out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before unmolding.  Make this easy glaze while the cake cools a bit:

Whisk together the sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth.  Mix in the coconut.  Glaze will be thick and chunky.  Spread on top of the cake (a warm cake is ideal) right away.



 

Re-in(Chili con)Carne-tion January 13, 2010

Filed under: beans,easy,leftovers,meat,rice,spice blends — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 12:13 pm

Had I enough cooked rice on hand, I'd have stratified that in as well.

To use up the last couple quarts of game night chili, I recently casseroled my cache and topped the whole thing with a bag of crushed Central Market organic corn chips (otherwise known as “fritos” around here).  Melded with middle layers of mashed baked Texas sweet potatoes seasoned with salsa and a generous mop of Organic Valley pepper jack, I served up steamy scoops atop Lowell Farms Texas-grown organic jasmine rice, to rave reviews.  Let’s hear it for luscious leftovers!

I won’t attempt to taunt Texans with my chili recipe, but I will admit to a 3:1 ratio of Richardson Farms’ beef and pork.  Plus my homemade chili powder, a can of Lone Star (the national beer of Texas) and in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll fess up to adding organic canned tomatoes and slow-cooked organic black beans (I swear I’m not trying to be irreverent). Chili how you choose, and resurrect the remainder.