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.

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Beans and Rice, Always Nice April 23, 2010

Filed under: beans,capital area food bank,easy,hunger awareness project,rice,thrift — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 4:45 pm

beans and rice, dependable staples at our house

We’ve been eating our pinto beans and rice for a few days now.  Actually, we eat some kind of beans and rice almost every day.  Click “beans” on my categories for more posts on leguminous variations.  This current batch of beans, very basic, contains a couple of chopped onions (nutritious and generally inexpensive), some garlic, a homegrown bay leaf, toasted backyard Mexican oregano and a bit of paprika.  I used the slow cooker and added a dab of bacon grease to the pot—never throw away tasty fat!

For the kindergartner’s lunch I make quick tacos:  I heat up a flour tortilla in the toaster oven with a little cheese (the glue!) and fill it with the beans and rice.  It’s portable and requires no utensils, perfect for a young bean lover.

Beans—good and good for you!

 

Dirty Rice is Nice March 14, 2010

Filed under: rice,thrift — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 6:23 pm

For the kindergartner’s birthday party I busted out my free frozen turkey (work perk!) and had my ways with it.  Not a green bird, unfortunately, but a freebie, and I cannot resist crisp poultry skin.  I cut off the breasts and brined and roasted them for the celebration:  1 cup brown sugar, ½ cup kosher salt, several garlic cloves, smashed and peeled, 3 bay leaves, ½ cup or so of fresh ginger, chunked and smashed, a handful of fresh thyme sprigs and a spoonful of allspice berries, crushed, all brought to a boil in a few cups of water.  Add ½ cup maple syrup and ½ cup soy sauce plus ice and a quart or so of cold water.  Brine breasts in mixture in the refrigerator for a day and a half.  Pat the breasts dry and roast at 350º until done.  Chill well and slice very thinly.  Party!

purdy dirty

Working the rest of the bird, the legs quarters went into the slow cooker with a bag of frozen broth scraps.  For turkey tacos, we shredded the dark meat and stirred in some green salsa to fill Margarita’s corn tortillas nuked up with Full Quiver Farm‘s cheddar.  The wings got roasted, as did the back and torso, plus loose fat chunks.  Lots of crispy skin and swoonful eye rolling at that point.  Roasting pans were deglazed with leg broth.   Now the freezer holds savory promises of gravy and stir-frys.  And that bag of giblets?  Those offal parts found their calling in a pot of rice, like so many foods around this house.

DIRTY RICE serves several

  • 1 set of turkey giblets plus the neck
  • about 3 Tablespoons bacon grease.  Mine’s leftover from Dai Due‘s smoked Richardson Farms pork belly.
  • finely chopped organic or local celery, at least a cup.  I haven’t had local this season.  If you go to the HOPE market, check out Finca Pura Vida, my previous source.  Say “Hola” to Edgar for me!  Otherwise, Newflower Market’s selling organic celery for only 99¢ a bunch, through March 17.
  • chopped local onion, a cup or so.  Did I really just cook through a year in Central Texas with an uninterrupted local allium supply?  We have arrived!
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • scant ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 or 4 cloves domestic organic garlic, minced.  I just bought young garlic from Hairston Creek Farm and Montesino on Saturday.  Get local if you’ve got it!
  • 2 cups pepper broth, more if necessary.  In season this dish requires bell peppers.  I’m making do with my liquid capsicums right now.  Most any rich broth will work.
  • 2 bay leaves.  Fresh is best, so get growin’!
  • 1 teaspoon salt.  I like Real Salt.
  • generous handful fresh local parsley, widely available, from Central Market to the farmers markets to maybe your own backyard.
  • several local green onions, chopped.  Plenty to choose from at our farmers markets.
  • lots of fresh cracked black pepper

Trim the giblets (remove any excess fat and cut the tough membrane off the gizzard) and cut the neck into 2 to 4 pieces to fit in your pan.  Grind the gizzard and heart in your food processor.  Remove and set aside and then puree the liver.  Heat up the grease on medium-high in a large (3-quart size is good) saucepan.  Brown the neck pieces well and then add the gizzard and heart mixture.  Stir and brown then add the liver and brown some more.  Add the celery and onion and saute until translucent, stirring in the dried herbs as well.  Stir in the garlic until fragrant, then pour in the broth.  Add the bay leaves and salt and bring the mixture to a boil.  Cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the neck meat is tender.

Meanwhile, cook up your rice .  See Jasmine Rice.

Remove the cooked neck pieces from the pan and let them cool a bit on a plate.  If your meat mess is too soupy, boil it down some, uncovered, over high heat to evaporate the excess broth.  Pick the meat from the neck and add it back to the pot.  Taste for salt, stir in the parsley and green onions and black pepper.  Fold in the hot rice.

Serve.


 

Canned Recovery March 9, 2010

Filed under: beans,easy,fast,rice,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 3:07 pm

Ya mon!

Post-kindergartner’s birthday party, the cook needed a break.  Cans to the rescue!  This easy and nutritious Jamaican inspired one-pot dish, adapted from a recipe served by friend and coworker Suzanna (of SouthAustinFoodie Adventures) several years ago, hits the spot without breaking the bank or my back.

Right now—and tomorrow, too—Whole Foods is selling Lowell Farms Texas-grown organic jasmine rice for only 99¢ a pound.  That’s even cheaper than ordering from the farm!  Stock up on this truly gourmet Texas staple and be prepared to sophisticate your starch.  Or just lowbrow your lunch.  Delicious across the spectrum, and even recommended by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid of Seductions of Rice, this righteous rice hits the spot quick!

JAMAICAN STYLE RICE AND BEANS serves several

  • 1½ cups Lowell Farms Texas-grown organic jasmine rice
  • 1 15-ounce can organic kidney beans, drained.  Reserve liquid for cooking your next batch of homemade beans or soup.  Whole Foods and Central Market brands generally sell for less than national brands.
  • 1 13-14-ounce can organic coconut milk, light or regular.  Whole Foods brand usually sells for the best price.
  • 1 cup water or broth.   Pepper broth pairs perfectly here.  Carrot cooking water (never throw it away!) lends complementary sweetness.
  • a Tablespoon or so of fat—I like using leftover pig grease, such as from Dai Due‘s yummy salt pork.
  • ½ Tablespoon or so minced fresh domestic organic ginger root.  You may already know that I almost never peel ginger.  It’s your call though.
  • stalk of Texas-grown spring onions (leftover from using the bulb portion for another purpose), quartered, core reserved for the stock pot, and thinly sliced.  If the farmers markets have eluded you recently, Central Market’s selling these for $1.69 for a triple-bunch.
  • 2 bay leaves—fresh if you’re growin’.  This bush is easy enough that you oughta cultivate it yourself.  You’ll love the deep aroma of fresh bay leaves.
  • hot chile, if you got one—habanero or Scotch bonnet work well for this, but serranos are fine, too.  Seed (if desired) and mince your pepper.
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme.  Easy to grow, just ensure adequate drainage.  If you’re fresh out of fresh thyme, ½ teaspoon dried thyme will suffice.
  • 1 teapoon salt.  I like Real Salt.
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice.  I crush mine in a small mortar and pestle.

In a large (’bout 3-quart) saucepan, heat up your grease over medium-high.  Saute the ginger root, bay leaves, onions and peppers if using.  Add the thyme and rice and stir around.  Pour in the coconut milk and broth and stir in the salt and allspice.  Bring to a boil and stir in the beans.  Cover and simmer on LOW for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes before fluffing.

Serve with hot sauce or hot pepper jelly for a tangy or sweet hot kick.

 

Texas Bread February 25, 2010

Filed under: bread,bread machine,locavore,rice — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 6:25 pm

100% wild-cultured sourdough leavened

local loaf

Texas slice

I recently read about Carla Crownover‘s “No Grocery Store Challenge for a Year” on the Austin Farm to Table blog.  Inspired by her quest for bread, I began developing a 100% wild cultured sourdough starter with Richardson Farms locally-grown, fresh-ground whole wheat flour.  I succeeded in baking up two small, but well-risen loaves, sweet(!) and tasting nuttily of fresh wheat.  I strengthened the dough with organic white flour for my wild starter’s virgin attempt at leavening, intending to advance to a 100% naturally leavened, 100% whole wheat loaf next.

Despite the confidence-building rise of these initial breads, however, the light bulb part of my brain flickered and I thought, why not just sift out most of the bran from my whole wheat flour?  The sharp edges of the bran particles slice into the dough’s gluten strands, reducing volume and creating a denser texture.  Less bran=lighter loaf (not factoring in additives ).  Plus, according to BBC’s TV program Gardener’s World, bran is the best slug deterrent.  You needn’t throw it away.  Apparently the gooey pests eat it up and expire.  And then your chickens gobble the slugs.  Gotta love that food chain!

Here’s a not-necessarily-but-possibly totally local sandwich loaf (except for the salt—only Tuscans can get away with saltless yet edible pane, and yeast). Light-textured and wheaty, this bread makes fine sandwiches, fluffy/crisp toast and of course, an accommodating base for a thick swath of butter.

TEXAS BREAD

I used the bread machine to mix and knead the ingredients.  Place the ingredients into your bread machine in the order indicated by your instruction manual.  In my machine, that would be the order listed.   When the machine stops, take the pan out, cover it with plastic and let the dough rise.  A cooler first rise promotes flavor development, so I banished the dough to the cold laundry room for a couple hours.

With buttered hands, press the dough down and shape it into a loaf.  Cradle your bread baby into a buttered 9″ X 5″ loaf pan, cover the pan with a very large upturned bowl and let rise until the dough feels puffy when you poke it.  It should be risen to 1″ over the edge of the pan in the center.

Slash the top of the loaf and bake in a 350º oven for about 40 minutes, until well-browned.  Remove the loaf from the baking pan and let it cool on a cooling rack before slicing.

Keep it local!

 

Pepper in Your Pot: Dai Due Kielbasa and Rice with Cabbage February 19, 2010

Filed under: Dai Due,Indian,meat,rice,slow cooker,thrift — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 4:56 pm

sausage and rice is nice

The house smells great right now.  I’m brewin’ up some pepper broth (finally!) with the frozen bag of pepper trimmings that has rested undisturbed since the last local bell graced our kitchen—some weeks ago, at least.  Before a friend enlightened me about her family’s practice of distilling sweet peppers’ essence from the stems, seeds and ribs, I had always tossed the remains into the compost.  What a waste!  Now the pepper parts warrant their own freezer bag.  Augmented by the occasional onion end (not too many, please), the bag broths up savory and deeply aromatic, with nary a meat scrap or bay leaf.

Taking it easy on myself (somebody has to), I just dump the capsicum contents into the crock and slow cook ’em on HIGH for a couple hours or so.  The mouthwatering fragrance fills the air with a delectable scent that promises a delicious dish ahead:  Dai Due sausage and rice.  Again?  Yes.  Thankfully, again!  And an easy Indian-style cabbage side for a bonus.

You’ll be using 2 separate large skillets for this two-pot meal.  Remember you can purchase most spices in small amounts from your grocery store’s bulk department.  I bring in my own containers.

SAUSAGE AND RICE serves the family plus leftovers

  • 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed well (3 times!) soaked in water and/or pepper broth for 10 minutes, drained (save the soaking liquid) and rested for at least 10 minutes
  • 4 Tablespoons ghee.  I make my own ghee from Organic Valley butter.  Click for instructions.
  • 1 Tablespoon high smoke point oil, preferably organic.  I like Spectrum‘s oils.
  • 1 pound excellent local sausage links, such as Dai Due’s kielbasa (which blends seamlessly with these seasonings)
  • 1 local or organic onion, halved and thinly sliced pole to pole.  Hillside Farms, at the Sunset Valley Farmers Market, was still selling reds and yellows the last time I checked.
  • a couple of thin quarter-sized slices of organic ginger root.  I almost never peel fresh ginger.  Handle your own root as you please.
  • 1″ piece cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 black cardamom pods (or 3 or 4 green, but I prefer the large smoky pods of black cardamom for this dish.)
  • 1 bay leaf.  Get growin’!
  • 1 star anise
  • pinch of turbinado sugar.  I buy this in bulk at Central Market.

Heat 2 Tablespoons ghee in a large (12″) skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and ¼ teaspoon salt (I like Real Salt) and stir and fry until the slices are well browned.  Remove pan from burner and replace with another large skillet (not nonstick here).  Heat it up on HIGH and add the tablespoon of oil followed quickly by the sausage linksBrown the sausages on both sides .  Place the links on a plate and set aside (they shouldn’t be cooked through).  Set the pan aside, as well.

Transfer the onions to a separate plate and put the onion pan back on the burner over medium heat.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons ghee and the spices and toast them until they smell good and roasty to you.  Add back the onions plus the ginger slices and drained (and rested) rice and stir and saute until the rice grains glisten and separate.

Pour in the soaking liquid (use 1 2/3 cups) and sugar plus another ¼ teaspoon salt, turn the heat to HIGH and bring to a boil.  Place a tight-fitting lid on top, lower the heat to lowest and cook for 10 minutes.  Quickly remove the lid, slide the sausages on top of the rice and replace the lid.  Continue cooking for another 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let rest 10 minutes before fluffing the rice and removing the whole spices.  Serve with the cabbage.

This easy cabbage preparation, revelatory in its combination of caraway and cardamom, plays cross-cultural ambassador with the Indo-European flavors of the  kielbasa and rice.

NORTHWEST INDIAN STYLE CABBAGE serves the family, with leftovers a possibility depending on their love of kohl

  • 2 or 3 Tablespoons ghee
  • 1 local or organic onion, halved and sliced pole to pole
  • ¼ teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • heaping ¼ teaspoon cardamom seeds (from green cardamom pods).  You can buys these already popped out of the pods (decorticated) but I just crack the pods and pick them out myself.
  • heaping ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika or cayenne—I have to keep this dish rated G for the young ‘uns
  • 1 cup organic canned whole tomatoes, crushed.  I use a potato masher for this.  If you didn’t stock up on Muir Glen when it was on special recently, you can find Whole Foods 365 brand and Central Market brand organic canned tomatoes at reasonable prices.
  • 1 clove organic domestic garlic, pressed or minced
  • half a 3-pound local cabbage, outermost leaves removed if tough, cored, quartered and sliced into shreds.  You’ll find plenty of affordable Texas-grown cabbage at our farmers markets and local grocery stores.
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala.  Click for a recipe.
  • several Tablespoons fresh chopped local cilantro, easy to find right now.  Try growing your own.  Tis the season, before it gets too hot.

Heat the ghee in the sausage skillet on medium heat.  Add the whole spices and fry until toasted to your taste.  Add the onion and saute until softened.  It’s quite alright (and deliciouser) for the onion to pick up some brown patches.  Dump in the ground spices (except garam masala), give ’em a stir and then add the tomatoes and garlic.  Cook and stir until thickened, then add the cabbage and salt.  The pan will be very full.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the cabbage is wilted to your liking.  If the sauce sticks to the pan and browns a bit, that’s fine.  Just add a few tablespoons of water to deglaze.  The tomato fond will enrich the dish, deepening the flavors.

When your cabbage is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cilantro.  Correct the salt if necessary and serve.


 

Rutabaga Rice January 28, 2010

Filed under: Dai Due,Indian,meat,rice,sunset valley farmers market,vegetables — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 6:01 pm

luscious links

A recent purchase of Dai Due‘s bison and ginger sausage (Thunderheart Bison and local(!) ginger root) got me hankerin’ for Indian food (no, really?).  Armed with a rotund rutabaga, courtesy of Johnson’s Backyard Garden at Sunset Valley Farmers Market, I assembled a one-pot meal, spiced rice dish.  Carnivores dug in, lured by lengths of meat.

I don’t cook rutabaga much.  It tastes good and sweet and rooty-tooty, and I totally go for that kind of thing.  But big bad ‘bagas just don’t show up in our local markets with the same frequency as turnips, radishes and kohlrabi.  I offer a cooking suggestion anyways:   Cut it into small cubes (take care busting into it–rutabaga’s a tough tuber to crack), then simmer it in a little apple juice with a dab of mustard, a dash of garam masala, a pinch of turmeric and salt to taste. Finish the dish with your best butter (I recommend Lucky Layla from Texas or Organic Valley Pasture butter), fresh cilantro or parsley, and a squeeze of lemon juice.  I’d pepper it with lots of cracked black pepper, too, but not on the kids’ portions.

If you just can’t get enough rutabaga—I mean if you can get enough, to grace your table again, that is, try this Indian-inspired pilaf.

RUTABAGA RICE WITH SAUSAGE serves a family with possible leftovers, depending on your family size!

  • 2 cups Indian or Pakistani basmati rice, rinsed well, soaked in water for 10 minutes, then drained and rested in a sieve for another 10 minutes.  I buy 10-pound bags at Fiesta or MGM.
  • 1 pound local sausage.  Dai Due’s bison and ginger sausage, seductively succulent, blended well with the Indian-spiced flavors in this dish, but a local kielbasa would work, too.  I’d also consider it in a bun with sauerkraut and spicy mustard.  But that’s a different post.
  • 1  good-sized local rutabaga, about as big as a largish grapefruit, well peeled and cut into batons (about 1/3″ thick “short french fry” pieces)
  • 3 Tablespoons yogurt.  I make my own and it’s easy.  Click to see how.  I usually use Swede Farm Dairy‘s goat milk, available at SVFM.  Other local options include Wateroak Farms’ goat milk (SVFM) and now Way Back When’s cow’s milk available at SVFM and Austin Farmers Market.
  • 2 teaspoons minced or grated fresh ginger root—I use a Microplane.
  • 2 teaspoons minced hot green chile, if you have it and you wanna.  Otherwise use about ½ teaspoon paprika.
  • 2 Tablepsoons minced local cilantro—growin’ right now!
  • ¼ cup organic dessicated shredded coconut—I like Let’s Do…Organic brand, available at our local grocery stores like Central Market and Whole Foods.
  • 1 or 2 Tablespoons organic coconut oil.  Nutiva in the big ole jar or Whole Foods 365 are usually the best buys.
  • 9 whole cloves
  • about a 2½” piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1 large bay leaf, preferably fresh.  Try growing your own!  Bay is hardy and easy to care for.  My specimen is proof.
  • 2 ½ teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 ½ to 3 teaspoons salt.  I like Real Salt.  Whole Foods carries it in the bulk department.
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar—I buy this in bulk at Central Market.
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice from a local and/or organic lemon.  I got a mind to puttin’ in a lemon tree soon.  Ask your neighbors.
  • 3 ¼ cups water
  • several very well peeled broccoli stems, diced small.  Yep.  I’m still going whole hog on broccoli.  Use it or lose it!
  • lemon wedges, if desired

Combine yogurt with the next four ingredients and mix in the rutabaga.  Let the mixture sit while you prepare the rest of the recipe.  Combine the whole spices (cloves through the cumin) in a small dish and combine the powdered seasonings (salt through the turbinado sugar) in another small dish.  Keep these spice stashes handy.

In a large saute pan or wide casserole pan (stovetop safe), brown the sausage links on all sides over medium-high heat.  Remove to a plate and set aside.  Add the coconut oil and whole spices to the pan and toast on medium-high heat until the cumin smells as browned and toasty as you like.  Dump in the rutabaga and stir and fry until the tuber has browned some.  Add the powdered spices, lemon juice and water, raise the heat to high, cover the pan with a lid (I prefer a see-through top) and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to LOW and cook for 10 minutes.  Quickly lift the lid and scatter the broccoli stems over the surface and place the sausages on top.  Replace the lid and continue cooking on LOW for another 10 minutes.  When finished, place the pan on a cooling rack or trivet and let sit for 10 minutes before carefully fluffing the rice.

Slice the sausages if you want to.  And squeeze some lemon juice over individual servings for a little zing.

  • 3 ¼ cups water

 

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.

 

Quinoa is the New Black November 19, 2009

I recently brought home a box of Alter Eco‘s organic black quinoa to play around with (work perk!).  The folks at AE work with small scale farmers and producers to maintain artisanal methods and ecological balance.  Alter Eco’s Mission Statement proclaims:

We believe that Fair Trade is a viable and successful alternative to conventional commerce. This business model will gradually close the gap between rich and poor, so-called developing countries and industrialized countries.

Sounds good and green.

My family eats quinoa regularly and I usually keep a cooked pot of this “super grain” in the fridge for quick nourishment (see Queen Quinoa).  Reheated with cheese (or not), and plenty of fresh cracked black pepper (or not—as for the minors), quinoa makes a fast, tasty and nutritious light meal.  The black variety, with its exotic color, piqued my palate so I gave it a whirl.  Plus the Quechuas of Bolivia believe black quinoa supports kidney health.

I found that this quinoa cooked up more quickly—a fast 15 minutes—and absorbed less water (less than 2 cups as opposed to a little more than 2 cups) than my usual brands of regular quinoa.  The family wasn’t pleased with the texture, however.  The black bran seems much thicker and heartier than the pale seed coat of standard quinoa.  Too chewy!  Fanciers of substantial grains, however, might like a simple breakfast pilaf of black quinoa with quality butter, good maple syrup and perhaps a splash of cream.

At my house, the black quinoa was relegated to more of a supporting role in which it could show off its striking color against contrasting backgrounds, lighter in taste as well as color.  We enjoyed this quinoa’s black speckles in both an easy, light bread machine bread and an otherwise standard pot o’ jasmine rice.

P B J & Q

Dalmatian Bread (Black Quinoa Bread)

  • ½ cup local milk plus enough water to equal 1 generous cup.  I use either Swede Farm Dairy or Wateroak Farm goat milk.
  • 1 local  egg
  • 130 grams (1 cup) cooked organic black quinoa
  • ¾ teaspoon salt.  I use Real Salt
  • 1 teaspoon local honey.  I buy Good Flow in bulk at Central Market.  Bring your own container and ask an employee to tare the weight for you.
  • 1 Tablespoon organic butter.  Organic Valley‘s my choice here.  Look for the $1 OFF coupon in Whole Foods Whole Deal newsletter, available at their stores.  Or click here.
  • 200 grams organic all-purpose flour.  WF’s 365 brand 5# bag is usually the best buy.
  • 163 grams organic white whole wheat flour.  WF generally has the lowest price per pound on King Arthur’s 5# bag.
  • 1 teaspoon bread machine yeast (rapid rise or instant)

Place the ingredients into your bread machine in the order indicated by your instruction manual.  In my machine, that would be the order listed.  Program the machine on the regular cycle (not whole wheat).  If you’re not heading out to work on bread day, you can use just your machine’s dough cycle, then form a loaf (use a 9″ X 5″ pan), give it a second rise and bake it off at 350º in your oven.  The weather’s perfect for crankin’ it up!

Speckled!

Appaloosa Rice (Black Quinoa Rice)

  • 1 cup minus 1 Tablespoon Lowell Farms organic jasmine rice
  • 1 Tablespoon organic black quinoa, well rinsed
  • 1 2/3 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt–Real Salt.  See above.
  • dab of butter. Organic Valley, see above.
  • 1 fresh bay leaf if you’re growin’ or knowin’ somebody who is.

Place all ingredients in a saucepan, place a lid on it and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to LOW and continue to cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

 

Saveur on the Lamb October 12, 2009

Filed under: meat,rice — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 2:28 pm
luscious layers

luscious layers

browned beauty

browned beauty

The current issue of Saveur magazine (October 2009, #123) offers a paean to luscious lamb flesh.  Given my long-standing love of lamb, I had to whip up a sheepy treat to show off Loncito’s grass-fed Texas lamb.  Available at both Sunset Valley Farmers Market and the Austin Farmers Market for $6.50 a pound (ground).

Unabashedly eggplanty, this dish won’t fool any aubergine-loathers.  But if, like me, you can’t get enough of those glossy globes, you’ll enjoy the unctuousity they bring to this casserole.

MOUSSAKA-ESQUE makes a 9″ X 13″ panful    I’d say that’s about a dozen servings

  • 3 good sized local globe eggplants—about 2 pounds.  Hairston Creek Farm is still selling the shiny, inky beauties.
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • plenty of olive oil, organic or local (Texas Olive Ranch)
  • 1/2 pound Kitchen Pride Texas-grown mushrooms, button or cremini cut in half and sliced.  You can find these at local grocery stores and at our farmers markets.
  • 1 pound ground local lamb.  Loncito’s and Premium Lamb will both work.
  • about 1 cup finely chopped onions.  You might be able to find local specimens right now.  I buy organic when my local sources dry up.
  • 1 big red bell pepper or a couple of ripe Anaheims.  I’ve been buying golden Anaheims from Flint Rock Hill lately and they’re sweetly good.
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced. This past Saturday, Morning Glory Farm was still offering local stinking roses.  Otherwise, I buy domestic organic.
  • 1/4 teaspoon or so red pepper flakes, according to your diners’ tolerance
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice—I like to crush this up fresh in a tiny mortar & pestle.
  • 1 cup dry red wine.  Colosi, a delicious red from Sicily, is a good value.  I buy it at Central Market for $11.99 a bottle.
  • 1 28-ounce can organic diced tomatoes.  Sprouts is selling Muir Glen for only $2 a can.
  • 1 15-ounce can organic garbanzo beans.  Westbrae has been on sale at several stores lately, and both CM and WF sell their own brands for a good price.
  • 1/3 cup organic raisins, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 Tablespoons organic butter
  • 6 Tablespoons organic all-purpose flour.  I buy WF 365 organic for the best price.
  • 2 ¼ cups milk.  I buy local goat juice from either Swede Farm Dairy (available at Sunset Valley Farmers Market) or Wateroak Farms (available at SVFM and Whole Foods).
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup yogurt.  I use homemade goat’s milk yogurt.
  • 2 local eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

Cut your eggplants into lengthwise 1/3″ slices, cut the slices into strips and cut the strips in half, crosswise, into “batons”.  Toss the eggplant pieces with the turmeric and kosher salt and let sit, re-tossing now and then, while you get the mushrooms prepped.

In a very large—6-quart if you have one—saute pan (non-stick is helpful here) heat up about ¼ ” of olive oil on high heat until the oil starts to shimmer.  If your pan in smaller, fry the eggplant in two batches.  Make the second batch a little smaller than the first because you’ll be adding your mushrooms to it.  Add your eggplant batons to the oil and stir and fry until fairly browned.  Add your mushrooms and continue to stir and cook until the eggplant is tender.  Drain the whole mass in a fine sieve (I use a splatter screen) over a bowl, reserving the oil.

In the same pan, fry the ground lamb over medium-high heat, breaking up the clumps, until browned a bit.  Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place in a colander set over a plate or a bowl.  Remove all but a couple of Tablespoons of lamb fat from the pan.  I save this sheep grease in the freezer, to use in flatbreads.  Add the onions and peppers to the pan and saute on medium heat until softened.  Add the garlic and spices, through the allspice, and saute a minute.  Pour in the wine and simmer for a couple minutes.  Chop up the eggplant and mushroom mixture and add to the pan.  Add the next three ingredients, plus salt and pepper to taste (at least 1½ teaspoons salt) and cook on medium-low until thickened.  The timing will vary depending on the size of your pan, but expect at least 15 minutes of simmering.

In a 2-quart saucepan or saute pan (I like the larger surface area of the latter), melt the butter on medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook a couple minutes, whisking constantly, until smooth.  Pour in the milk gradually but steadily, whisking all the while.  Add your bay leaf and simmer, whisking frequently, until well-thickened and smooth, a few minutes.  Remove from heat, and let cool a few minutes.  Meanwhile, stir together the eggs and yogurt with a fork.  Season your white sauce with salt and pepper and the nutmeg, discard the bay leaf and whisk in the yogurt mixture.

Preheat your oven to 400º.  Brush some of the reserved olive oil (I save the rest, refrigerated, to saute veggies and lube up quesadillas) all over the inside and top edges of a 9″ X 13″ baking pan.  Spread the cooked rice on the bottom and top with the lamb mixture, spreading it evenly to the sides.  Depending on the depth and exact dimensions of your pan, you may find it quite full.  If you can’t safely pour in the bechamel (white sauce) without an overflow, remove a portion of the rice and meat.  You can feed the excess to the baby or the cook, whoever’s hungriest.  Carefully pour the white sauce all over the lamb mixture.  It’s OK if your bechamel brushes the top edge of the pan.  Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the sauce, place the pan on a baking sheet (to catch any possible overflow) and bake for 30 -50 minutes, until browned and bubbling all the way into the center.  Cooking time will vary depending on the temperature of your components.

Let the casserole cool for at least 20 minutes, to allow the layers to coalesce, before serving.

Baaaaaaaaaa!