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This Week’s Death Match: Maple Syrup

May 9, 2011

My family and I just spent Spring Break in my home state of Vermont.  You know, for the sun, as you do…  Sugaring season is just over, and in a tribute to my home, and in the spirit of trying to set up the friendly competition so that I am bound to win – this week’s ingredient is Maple Syrup.

In the event that you have a great idea for maple syrup that you’d like to throw into the fray, please post it in the comments.

See you Friday, with my endeavor, and, as always, a link to Janet’s blog.  I plan on making my world famous “Pancakes with Maple Syrup”


I almost forgot! Friendly Competition, Week 3

April 19, 2011

Grilled Cheese week is over, and it’s time to announce our next friendly competition ingredient in my quest to dominate Janet over at This is Beige
This week’s ingredient: Quinoa!  Grain of the Gods!

Grilled Cheese Showdown – Results

April 15, 2011

I wanted to create the perfect grilled cheese for week two of my friendly competition with Janet over at This is Beige.  But the more I thought of taste combinations the more it occurred to me that all grilled cheese is perfect grilled cheese.

I was wrong, it turned out.  I narrowed myself down to two ideas, and then decided that I’d go with the one that thrilled Charlie, my tester, the most.  I am presenting the one he did not spit into the sink.  It turns out that some 16 year olds are not so much for the gourmet grilled cheese.  But I tasted them both, and, while I did not share the impulse to spit one out, I did enjoy the one presented here more.

I give you:

Grilled Mango Brie with red onion

  • 2 slices of Trader Joe’s Tuscan Pane bread (or similar bread with a sort of sourdoughy texture)
  • Very soft Brie cheese, rind removed
  • 1/4 of a mango, sliced thin (if you have a mandoline, use that)
  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced thin (ditto)
  • 1 T olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a cast iron pan at a medium/lowish setting.  (Mine goes from 1-9 – I used 4).  Spread the cheese on one slice of bread, and layer with the onion and mango.  Toast your sandwich for about 5 minutes in the pan, until the bread is golden brown, with the cheese side on top.  Flip it, and toast the other side.  Cut in half, and eat.

Ta da!

Friendly Competition – Grilled Cheese Throwdown

April 11, 2011

This week in our ongoing competition to do weird but delicious things with food, Janet over at This is Beige and I are attacking a favorite of kids everywhere – the venerable grilled cheese sandwich.

Let your imagination run wild, and post your creations here in the comments on Friday.  I’ll be publishing my entry here, and a link to Janet’s entry as well.

Whilst I was quite certain that what Janet came up with for the oatmeal challenge would be superior, I plan to give her a run for her money this week!  Cheese makes everything more delicious!

Sticky Rice and Mango for 48ish

April 9, 2011
tags: ,

Or, How I can Turn the Simplest Request into a Production

Out of my mind?  Yes, I would say I was out of my mind.  Last Friday, we were having dinner after Nahm had been home sick, and I got a call from one of her friends telling me that their Relay for Life team had an international theme, and could I make a Thai dessert for them to sell.  Well, sure!

Could I tell her what I’d make?  Well sure!  I’ll make khao niew mamuang!  What???? she said?  Sticky rice with mango.  Could you spell that?

All week, I knew I had to get up to Philly to the awesome Asian supermarket.  This is always fun, and always an adventure.  I am usually one of a handful of white people there, and that feeling of being the decided minority is always a good change in perspective.  The produce is always beautiful, although decidedly not local, and I always spend too much time, wandering and wondering, what could I do with this…  The prices are good.  If you spend more than thirty dollars there they give you something free at checkout, with increasingly better things, the more you spend.  I have not spent actual money on rice in years, and I do not recommend the case of “Grass Drink” that I once thought might be an interesting experiment.  I once got an ounce of saffron in the spice section for 99 cents.  And, of course, there is the question of the fish…

Not to mention the heads and feet on poultry.  What first drew me to this place is their propensity to offer lobster at 6 dollars a pound on occasion.  But I digress.

On Thursday I headed up there after work to get the things I needed.  Mangoes were way cheaper by the case than by the each (8.00 for a case of 6 huge mangoes) and I didn’t know exactly how many I’d need.  I also needed sticky rice, which I didn’t remember until I was in the checkout line, and that would have been a disaster if I hadn’t thought of it til I was on my way home…  I also picked up some ingredients for the Savory Oatmeal Challenge, as well as some Thai peppers, and some asparagus, and, as always, Pocky and Mama Noodles at about the third of the price listed here.

So, anyway – Sticky Rice and Mangoes takes a while to put together but is really incredibly simple, when you break it down.  The actual active time is minimal, unless, you know, you’re making 40 or so servings.

Here are the ingredients I used:

That's It!Five ingredients!  That’s It!

Out of each mango, we got about 8 servings.  You can see from the photo how big they are.

For the rice

  • 7.5 cups of glutinous rice

Measure rice into a big bowl and rinse it repeatedly until the water comes out mostly clear.  I rinsed it about 10 times, and decided it was good enough.  Cover rice with warm water and a clean dishtowel, and leave it to soak for several hours or over night.  I remembered I needed to do this on Friday morning right before work, so mine soaked for about 6 hours, which seemed sufficient.

Not necessary, but good to have

Although the special equipment shown here is certainly not necessary, I find that it makes cooking the rice much easier, for a number of reasons.  This is the equipment that would be used in Thailand, and it is made, I think, specifically for steaming sticky rice.  You could use a colander and a regular pot.  The issues I’ve had with this method are, I think, due to the fact that I don’t really have the right equipment for it.  If I use this basket in a regular pot, it flops around, or the rice gets soggy.  My colander’s holes are too big for the rice, and some escapes.  Steam escapes around the sides, and I think you really want as much of the steam in the rice as possible.  I believe, but will need to double check, that I bought mine at the Asian Superdupermarket for much less than they are offered here.  Put the rice in the basket, put a clean dishtowel over the top, and cover with a heavy lid of another pot.  Put water in the pot first.  Simmer the water and cook for 45 minutes.   This came out PERFECT!

For the Rice Sauce

  • 5 Cups of coconut milk
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp of salt

I buy coconut milk by the case at the asian market, so I didn’t have to get any on this trip.  Each can seems to be about 1 2/3 cups, so this was 3 cans of coconut milk.  Put all these ingredients in a pan while the rice is steaming, and stir well.  Cook over medium heat and let it simmer briefly.  Turn off heat, and wait for the rice to finish.

When the Rice is done, mix it well with the coconut milk mixture.  It will be very wet.  Let it sit, and it will dry out some.

Chop up 6 mangoes.

For the Finishing Syrup

  • 1 can (1 2/3 c) Coconut Milk
  • 3/4 c. plus 3 T sugar.  I used brown sugar, because I was out of white sugar.

To Assemble

  • Separate rice into 48 containers.  I suspect you could get 50 out of this recipe. We used little plastic containers.
  • Add one 48th, or 50th of the mango to each container.  Close.
  • When serving, drizzle the finishing syrup over them, in a lovely design, if you are so inclined.

Some notes:

  • If you are not out of your mind, and can do math, you will note that 1/6 of this recipe serves 8.
  • HOWEVER Do not underestimate the size of the mangoes I had. lists a regular sized mango at 205 grams.  The ones I had were about 625 grams each.
  • In Thailand, I had this with both green and ripe mangoes.  I preferred the green.  With ripe mangoes it is lovely, and sweet and desserty.  With green (not quite ripe) mangoes it has a nice tartness too it, which is balanced by the rich sweetness of the coconut syrup.  The mangoes I used were a nice combo of ripe and green, sometimes within the the same mango.
  • If you want a ripe mango, you want the skin to be almost entirely red/yellow.  These are a little soft.  A green mango is green.  You heard it here first.
  • The salt is important.  It adds another dimension to the flavors.
Nutritional Info per serving: Calories 213 Calories from Fat 57.9. Total Fat 6.43g, (9% dv), Saturated Fat 4.31g (21% dv), Cholesterol 0mg (0% dv),Sodium 35.23mg (1% dv), Total Carbohydrate 32.83g (10% dv),Dietary Fiber 0.96g (3% dv), Sugars 4.63g, Protein 2.6g (5% dv).

Savory Oatmeal Recipe Challenge – Oatmeal Jook

April 8, 2011

When I lived in Thailand as an exchange student, one of the major joys each morning was coming down the stairs to breakfast where, as if by magic, a savory rice porridge awaited each morning.

When Janet mentioned savory oatmeal for our recipe challenge, this was where my mind wandered first.  This week got away from me with a trial and a trip to Philly to the Asian market for ingredients for Sticky Rice and Mangoes for 30 plus the piles of work to be done, plus cooking dinner each night in an unfinished kitchen, and a night of sleep deprivation after the brand new just put in pipe shorted out our alarm system, causing it to go off for about 3 hours the night before my full day custody trial, plus, waaaaah.  So, the long and the short of it is, I haven’t made this in its final form, and it may need some tweaking is all I’m saying.

But my entry this week is an Oatmeal Jook, or Congee.  And this is the recipe.

For the Oatmeal

  • 1 cup of steel cut oats
  • 9 cups of water, vegetable broth, or a combination of both
  • 2 Tablespoons of Maggi seasoning sauce, or soy sauce
  • About 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro

Put those things in the slow cooker before you go to bed.

For the “Meat”

  • 1/2 pack of extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, also cut into 1/2 inch dice  (by small I mean  SMALL – no longer than the size of your palm, no wider than the width of your 3 middle fingers)
  • A piece of ginger about the length of your thumb, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 T of olive oil

Sautee the ginger and garlic in a pan with 1 T of the oil, until garlic is soft and you can smell the ginger everywhere.  Add the rest of the ingredients, and sautee just until the tofu and sweet potatoes are starting to brown.  Roast them at 325 until they are soft.  Do this the night before, and rest them, uncovered.

In the morning

  • 1/2 onion, sliced very thin
  • 1 T olive oil

Sautee the onion until it is crispy burny crunchy

Chop up some:

  • Scallions
  • Fresh Cilantro

Scoop jook into a bowl, mix in the tofu/ginger/garlic/sweet potato topping.  Garnish with scallions and cilantro.

Serve with Maggi Sauce, Fish Sauce, Soy Sauce and or Sriracha Sauce, as your people like.

Go to work or school with a warm, full belly.

Janet’s entry – Savory Oatmeal Pancakes with Zucchini, Cream cheese, and Prosciutto sounds delicious and is up over at her blog – This is Beige.

If you have your own savory oatmeal recipe, or a suggestion for future challenges, please leave them in the comments.  I’ll be trying Janet’s pancakes shortly.

Friendly Competition – A new feature!

April 3, 2011

I am pleased to announce a New Feature here at the Grody Gourmet!  In conjunction with my friend Janet of This is Beige we are offering, for your cooking pleasure, a weekly (I hope) friendly cooking competition.

Here’s how it will go:

  1. Each week, on Monday, we will announce an ingredient or type of dish that will serve as that week’s theme.  With the exception of this week’s theme, the ingredient, and or type of dish will be chosen by my friend Margaret, the former Ivana Trump of Cincinnati.
  2. Janet and I will have until Friday of the week to try different recipes, and come up with our best bet, which will be posted on Friday on our individual websites.  Mine will be here, you can find Jan’s at the link above.
  3. Over the weekend, Janet and I will make our dish, and the other person’s dish for our families, who will be the judges, along with Margaret, who will have to make both dishes.  The votes will be sent to Margaret, who will tally the votes, and announce the winner on Mondays, along with the new theme/ingredient.  This will mean Margaret will need to get a blog.
  4. Janet and I will not tell our families what we’re up to, we will just ask them at the end of the week, “Hey, did you like the peanut butter and jelly pasta better, or the macaroni and spam?”, tally the results and send them to Margaret.
  5. Our panel of judges are:
  • Scott – My terrific Husband and favorite kitchen tool.  Will eat just about anything, but does not much care for beets or brussels sprouts.
  • Charlie – My youngest child, 16.  He likes cereal.  He will sometimes like anything you cook, and other times, hate everything.  I expect him to be a firm vote for Janet every. single. week.  Charlie’s favorite dinnertime quote “What is in this?”
  • Nahm – My youngest daughter, and exchange student from Thailand, 17.  Nahm’s favorite Thai food is spaghetti carbonara.  When I asked her favorite Thai dessert for an upcoming event I’m cooking for, she said “chocolate cake.”  She does not care for most fruits or vegetables, although I have turned her on spinach since she’s been here.  I expect to be able to win her vote by putting croutons and chocolate in every dish.
  • Vince – Janet’s Husband.  Does a mean jigalo.  I assume he is a good eater, because Janet is a really good cook.
  • Sean – Janet’s oldest.  I think he is 15.  I do not know what he eats or doesn’t eat.  He runs track, fueled by ricotta pancakes.
  • Elise – Janet’s middle child, and only daughter.  I think she’s in her early teens.  She aspires to one day run a kitty farm.  I believe she will love my meat substitutes.
  • Max – Janet’s youngest child.  As you can see, I am a bad friend, because I’m not really sure how old any of her children are.  I suspect he might hate vegetables, however, given that Janet’s children are excruciatingly perfect, maybe not.
  • Margaret – The former Ivana Trump of Cincinnati with a damned good palate.  Believes the four food groups to be wine, cheese, chocolate and bread.  I will use this information to my advantage.
  • Occasional Guest Judge, and, perhaps, official tie breaker, Gabriel, Margaret’s son.  Early teenager, not quite 16.  Very weird taste in food.  Hates some stuff that is empirically delicious, loves some stuff that is officially gross.
  • If you’re up for it, You the reader.  You are welcome to play if you like.  Please submit your votes to Margaret’s soon to be created blog no later than Sunday evenings.

And now, without further ado – I give you – This Week’s Theme.  Savory Oatmeal Surprise.  It’s oatmeal.