Tag Archives: celery

Fried Rice with Soffritto

Most people know what fried rice is, but I bet very few of you know what ‘soffritto’ is. Don’t worry, I’ll give you a hint, in French it’s called ‘mirepoix’. Still no takers? Don’t feel bad. I didn’t know what soffritto was until a few months ago either.

Okay, no more teasing. Soffritto is an Italian flavour base made of onion, celery and carrot. All three ingredients are chopped very fine and then sauteed in olive oil or butter until they soften. When used in a bolognese, for example, the soffritto cooks down so much that you can’t distinguish the separate ingredients. But you can taste the rich flavour they impart to the dish.

For those with an inquiring mind, here’s a link to a full explanation:

http://www.italianfoodforever.com/2011/11/soffritto-the-holy-trinity-of-italian-cuisine/

But what does an Italian flavour base have to do with an Asian dish? It turns said dish into a one-wok meal, that’s what!

This is a picture of what the finished dish looks like:

Apologies for the shadow. My head got in the way.

As you can see from the photo, there’s a lot going on in this dish. Apart from the carrot and celery there’s red capsicum, chopped bacon, sweet corn, spring onions and one egg. The dish would have been a bit healthier if I’d added some pulses, but that was a step too far, even for me. Read on for the recipe.

Ingredients

1 cup of long grain rice cooked using the absorption method [or any kind of rice you have on hand].

2 rashers of middle bacon, rind removed.

1 egg

1/2 of a red capsicum cut into thin strips

1 large stick of celery, washed and cut into thin strips

1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into thin strips

1 corn on the cob, cooked

3 spring onions [mostly the whites]

1 – 2 tablespoons of peanut oil

a few drops of sesame oil

about 1 tablespoon of light Soy Sauce to drizzle over

Method

Add the oil to the wok and bring it to medium heat. [I have a cast iron ring that sits on my gas burner and raises the wok above the flames. Highly recommended as it ensures more even heat to the wok].

Add the chopped bacon and fry gently until the bacon is just coloured.

Add the carrots, celery and capsicum to the bacon, lower the heat and sautee very gently [approx. 10 minutes]. It will look something like this:

Some of you may have noticed that my soffritto vegetables didn’t include onion. That’s because I’ll be using the spring onions to add a slightly more Asian flavour at the end of the dish. Oh, and the capsicum is in there because I really like capsicum. 🙂

While the soffritto mix is softening, cut the kernels of corn off the cob and give them a rough chop:

You can also chop the spring onions but do NOT add them to the dish yet.

Once the soffritto is done, add the corn and toss through the other ingredients:

Allow the corn to heat through for a minute or two and then add the rice:

Break the rice up in the wok and toss it through the soffritto base to absorb all those delicious flavours.

It was at this point of the cooking that I suddenly remembered I hadn’t cooked the egg ahead of time. Oh woe! Luckily, fried rice is a very forgiving dish. I pushed the rice to one side, cracked an egg straight into the wok and quickly turned it into scrambled egg with the spatula I use to toss the rice:

As always, abject apologies for the out-of-focus photo. 😦

Once the egg is incorporated into the rice mixture, there are only 3 ingredients left to add. Sprinkle a few drops of sesame oil over the rice [a little goes a long way]. Next, sprinkle or slosh the soy sauce on top. Add the chopped spring onions and quickly toss through the fried rice.

And that’s it. Serve in a small bowl and eat however you wish, chop sticks, forks, spoons, who cares. 🙂

If you have any rice left over, scrape it into a small saucepan and place in the fridge. When you’re ready to reheat, simply add a teaspoon of water to the pot – to stop the rice from burning – cover and steam gently for about 5 minutes.

Buon appetito!

chī chī chī” 吃吃吃 [I think this mean ‘eat, eat, eat’. Please correct me if it’s wrong!]

cheers

Meeks

 

 


My alpaca proof kitchen garden

The sun is shining and I’m not feeling very cerebral so I’m going to show you some pictures of vegies. I know this will be an instant turn-off to some of you but I’m really excited about my odd kitchen garden even if you aren’t. 😀

First off, let me show you my backyard. And yes, it is huge. I live on 1.6 acres and that amazing view is one reason I love living in this fire-prone fringe suburb. Unfortunately, because this area is fire-prone, one of my top priorities is keeping all that grass nice and short [so that there won’t be much to burn should a fire come through]. To do that I’ve opted for some big, four-legged lawn mowers called alpacas.

Now I know I’ve talked about the alpacas before but I may not have mentioned that alpacas adore lush, green, tasty things… like vegies and roses. In fact they like my precious plants far more than they like all that nice grass so I’ve had to fence off the areas where I’ve planted garden beds. I can get into these fenced off areas but I have to open a small section of fencing to do so and that can be a pain if I have to nip out at night to pick a handful of parsley for dinner.

Being an inventive little person I finally realised that my deck would be the perfect place on which to grow some herbs in pots. That was last year.

As you can see from these photos I’ve been much more ambitious this year. 🙂

Lettuce, glorious lettuce! There’s all sorts of gourmet lettuce in there as well as some ordinary iceberg lettuces right in the middle. They are all still just babies but the beauty of growing lettuce in a big bowl like this is that you can just snip off a few leaves from each individual plant and still have enough for a fresh salad! And of course the plants just keep on growing.

The next photo shows some more iceberg lettuce in a small pot next to spring onions and radishes in the green pot. Radishes are so quick and easy to grow you could probably get a crop by growing them on a windowsill! They are ready to harvest once you can see those lovely red globes start to break the surface. I love small, tender radishes so once these little plants are eaten I’ll plant some fresh seeds.

And finally some of that parsley I was talking about. From left to right we have celery, parsley [and a few extra radishes], green peas and leek.

Once the frosts go away and spring finally decides to stay for more than just a day, I’ll be planting cherry tomatoes, basil and some hot chillies on the deck as well.

I doubt that I’ll harvest enough produce to save me from having to buy any vegies at all but with the artichokes, parsnip, garlic, dill and rosemary I have planted in one of the fenced off areas I’ll have something fresh for most of the year. -dance-

Happy blogging to you all,

-hugs-

Meeks

 


Cold nights and chicken soup

I spent quite some time thinking about this post – all of five minutes – before deciding to indulge the foodie within. If you must blame anyone then please blame Maggie O and SweetMother. Those  dear lady bloggers are talking diets and food at the moment and I’m just too weak to resist such a potent trend so what else could I write about except my Mother’s chicken soup?

My Mum swore that chicken soup could cure anything. Sadly no double-blind experiments were ever done to prove or disprove that assertion so I can’t promise you a cure for cancer or bunions or sagging boobs but it does taste wonderful and is one of the easiest recipes I know. Plus! You don’t have to go out and buy a ton of fancy ingredients. All you’ll need are a few common vegetables, a chicken and some soup noodles. So let’s begin!

Hungarian Chicken Soup Recipe

Ingredients :

1 whole chicken or chicken portions with bones – think wings, drumsticks etc. The flavour comes from the bones people.

1 brown onion

3 cloves of garlic

2 good sized carrots

4-5 sticks of celery

1 parsnip [optional]

1 capsicum [sweet bell pepper]

fresh parsley

salt & pepper [white or black according to taste]

soup noodles

Method :

Put the chicken into a pot at least twice as large as the chicken. Fill with cold water and bring to the boil.

Peel the onions and garlic and throw into the pot whole.

Wash the celery sticks, cut in half and throw in the pot.

Peel the carrots [and parsnip if using], cut in half and throw in the pot.

Wash the capsicum [bell pepper], cut in half and throw in the pot.

Wash the parsley [about 2 small handfuls] and – you guessed it – throw in the pot.

By now the water should be close to boiling and you should see a pale foam starting to come to the top. Skim the foam off a couple of times with a ladle so you end up with a nice, clear broth at the end. Once the foam stops, lower the heat to a gentle simmer, add a little bit of salt and a fair bit of pepper, put the lid on and go away for about 2 hours.

The biggest secret to flavour is time. You’ve put all the good stuff in now let it cook long enough for all those flavours to combine.

When the soup is cooked you will have a number of options :

I’m hungry now option

In a separate pot cook some fine soup noodles [I use angel hair noodles that take about 3 minutes to cook].

While the noodles are cooking grab your trusty ladle and skim off as much of the fat floating on top of the soup as you can.

Drain the noodles, serve up into bowls and top with the cooked carrots and lots of chicken broth. Add extra salt because my recipes are never salty enough and eat!

I’m on a diet option

Nothing terribly tricky for this one, just patience and a bit of organization.

Pour the soup through a strainer into another pot. Reserve the carrots [and chicken if you like boiled chicken] and throw the rest into the compost.

Let the soup broth cool a little then cover and put in the fridge overnight.

When you’re ready for dinner the next night, skim off all the congealed bits of fat floating on top of the broth and discard. What you’re left with is a rich broth with no fat. Reheat and serve as for the ‘I’m hungry now‘ option.

I’ve had enough soup now option

The broth will last for about 3 days in the fridge. After that you can freeze it in smaller portions. I use these portions to add extra flavour to everything from rice to sauces to stews. And of course you can always just reheat them as soup! Nothing goes to waste 😀

I probably shouldn’t write this next bit as it completely ruins the healthy, low fat tone of the soup recipe but… I sometimes whip up some crepes to round off a soup meal and fill those last few holes. They are delicious  served with cinnamon and sugar or jam or even just lemon juice and sugar. If you’re good and ask nicely I may post my recipe for quick, easy crepes on another day when I’m feeling self indulgent…

Enjoy!


%d bloggers like this: