Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cherry Mushroom Farro Risotto

(yeah, another lumpy bowl of food photo)

ever had one of those times when a strange food calls you
then you get it home and the adventures begin
whatever do I do with this stuff?
this happened to me recently at Costco
I bumped into a bag of Farro Perlato
Triticum Dicoccum or Emmer Wheat
a really old type of wheat that has been replaced
with the modern wheat we all know
the wheat in common usage has higher yields
than the heritage varieties

Farro Perlato, a peasant food is making a comeback
in gourmet restaurants all over Europe
the current name in use is from the Italian

after the third time I see this stuff, I buy a 3 lb bag
cooking for myself, whatever am I going to with this?
I remember going to a staged Medieval dinner
being served a barley risotto
with dried cherries and mushrooms
and I began to compose a dish

6 oz Crimini mushrooms
chopped, sautéed in olive oil, set aside
3 Shallots, chopped
about a cup of Farro
sauté in olive oil until shallots are wilted
about ½ cup White wine,
a nice fruity Spanish imported Viura
Low Sodium chicken Broth as needed
add and incorporate the wine first
then a ¼ cup at a time add broth
When Farro is tender add
¼ cup Dried Bing Cherries, chopped
Grated Parmesan Cheese

I kinda cheat on risotto making
instead of constantly stirring and adding liquids
add some liquid, cover and simmer
mix and repeat until grain is at your desired consistency
Farro has a slightly nutty flavor
I did have help eating this and there are no leftovers

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Friday, October 22, 2010

Jook or Congee, a Rice Porridge

one of the many special things
about the San Francisco Bay Area
is the diversity of cultures close by
last week I went to Little Viet Nam
in San Jose, California
we went into a little bakery for lunch
where they had packages of
rice wrappings stuffed with
who knows what, but it all tastes good
I asked if they had shredded pork
and there it was on the counter
been looking for this ingredient
for about five years - not with any diligence
when I flew to Bali on Eva Air
I had Jook for the first time it was so good!
the Vietnamese woman next to me
explained what I was eating
told me those delicious little puff balls
were indeed shredded pork
now I had to make Jook or Congee
every recipe on line was different
what they had in common was
start with a cup of rice and an awful lot of water
lot of recipes called for making a stock first,
either turkey or chicken
my version uses prepared
low sodium chicken stock 1 ½ quarts
one cup of sushi rice
about two inches of fresh ginger
and half of a sweet onion
cooked for two hours or
until desired thickness is reached
serve topped with sliced scallions
and shredded pork
I fed it to my bonsai instructor
he said I'd done it right

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman


listening in amazement
to a chef extol the virtues of cooking pasta
as if it was rice and one was making risotto
and thinking “my Mother did that”
only to us it was not a fancy dish
but one of her standard quick dinners
my Mother who worked inside
and outside the house
did not appreciate us asking
“what’s for dinner?”
her curt reply was “glop”
there are many folks who say they make
a similar dish
I start with ground beef
a much better grade than the one Mom used
chopped onions, I prefer the sweet ones
fresh mushrooms, like crimini
shredded carrots
noodles, any kind of flat ones will do
a beef bouillon cube
Worcestershire sauce to taste
A-1 steak sauce to taste
this batch, shown above, had several grinds
of Trader Joe’s Every Day Seasoning
the carrots and mushrooms are optional
sauté ground beef and onions
in a little oil to start
here is where you would
add the mushrooms, if you have them
add noodles and continue cooking until
noodles are coated with the meat juices
add carrots if desired
add seasonings, including bottled sauces
and beef bullion
pour in a cup of water and cover
let cook for 5 minutes
remove cover, check liquid level
add another cup of water
cook covered for 5 more minutes
remove lid and continue cooking
while stirring until all liquid is gone
and noodles are cooked to
your desired consistency

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Monday, October 11, 2010

Crepes and Comets, Oh My!

went trekking off on a comet chase
that was headed for Mono Hot Springs
on the east side of the Sierras
but weather prevented that choice
ended up in the Big Sur Mountains instead
never did see the comet
but met a class act professor of Astronomy
and Gastronomy
imagine a class where the professor makes
you a breakfast of French Crepes with
your choice of fresh fruit fillings

Richard Nolthenius (right) was not about to share his recipe, but I watched with a bit of disbelief as he mixed everything right there with a hand beater and ate one of the best crepes ever

he used:
Wesson oil
milk (I’m guessing at this, didn’t see it go in)
whole wheat pastry flour
and maple syrup

I always mix my batter the night before
to assure a creamy consistency
I use
either whipping cream, or half and half
white pastry flour
a couple of teaspoons of powdered sugar adds
if you are planning a sweet filling

Rick’s offering of do it yourself fillings included:
mixed chopped fruit
strawberry preserves (more on this later)
lemon curd
whipped cream
(whipped by driving all day in a rocking car)
and chocolate chips

Our class room

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

You Take What You Have

the root vegetables in the last photo
were destined to become another broth
but the freezer still had some of the last batch
did I make more to put into cold storage
perhaps for the rest of my life
or should I do something else
like a vegetable soup that used broth from the freezer?

starting in my usual manner
good virgin olive oil
a sweet onion and some garlic
I started composing a soup sonata
the rosemary bush outside
released a fragrance last time I passed that way
picked some of that
while the chopped onion and minced garlic
were becoming translucent in the heated olive oil
the vegetables were cut up and soon joined the onions
parsnip, rutabaga, turnip, golden potatoes, yellow beets or whatever you have
the fresh leaves off a short branch of rosemary went into the pan
then the prepared broth
and some seasoned salts
I use a variety,
Morton Nature's Seasons
Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning

after 20 minutes of simmering
half of the vegetables were pureed in the blender
and went back into the pot
with about ¼ cup of sour cream
I adjusted the seasonings to taste

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sandy’s Vegetable Stock

as the weather gets cooler
we begin to think of hot and hardy soups
I prefer to make my own stocks
to control the amount of added sodium
in making a vegetable stock
one needs to collect as many different
root vegetables
carrots, rutabaga, turnips, parsnips, onions,
celery root, yellow beets, come to mind
celery or leeks are a plus
to this I add an assortment of whole spices
like cloves, coriander, celery, and mustard seeds
bay leaves all spice, whole black pepper
I try to get some celery flavor in the stock,
but don’t usually use more than one source at a time
simmer all of this in enough water to cover
for about 8 hours
cool and strain
press veggies to get as much liquid out as possible
this does not give you a clear broth, but it is healthier
toss veggies, the good parts are in the stock

use this stock to make a creamy squash soup
with a hint of hot peppers
bake and puree squash in a blender with the broth
add cayenne to taste and a bit of cream, sweet or sour
curried carrots are another option

© 2010 Sandy Vrooman

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Breakfast Burritos

one of my favorite tenants was Frank
he was always helpful
and kept his area from intruding on mine
we shared the kitchen
he taught me how to make breakfast burritos
the main ingredient in most of his cooking
was Pace Picante Sauce
while experimenting
I came across a corn relish/salsa at Trader Joe’s
and began using that in scrambled eggs
I’ve also used things like peach salsa
for some reason my cast iron griddle
never gets put away
it lives on the stove
(range? Home on the range?)
if you heat up a cast iron griddle
put your dampened tortillas on it
turn it off and put a lid over all
by the time you scramble your eggs
the tortillas are warm and flexible
I use about 2 tablespoons of salsa
for 2 eggs
2 eggs per tortilla
really easy and tasty

©2010 Sandy Vrooman