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I work from home, so that enables me to cook my lunches most days. The key is fast and easy. So here’s a riff on thai curry panang I came up with today. I’ve been traveling for work and dinners were very heavy on the meat content.  So, I’ll be trying to cut back a little this week. That means, trying to be creative in a low-meat kind of way.  My go-to meat substitute is eggs.

Breakfast doesn’t usually go off at the home front without eggs. Usually, I just put a couple fried eggs on top of whatever left over is available and call it breakfast. Same idea here for lunch. Though, I thought I’d seen a similar idea on a cooking show.  All else, I know the Japanese love their eggs over rice bowls.  I just prefer mine a little more cooked.

The basics of this dish is make a quick curry with veg on-hand, then bring the sauce to a low simmer and crack the eggs into the sauce. Let them poach until firm.

Thai Curry Panang (Dwain-style anyway)
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1/2 cu of coconut milk (solids from can)
1 small onion halved and sliced fine
1 clove garlic
2 tsp. thai red chili’s (mine were from the store-bought jar)
1 tsp. lemongrass (squeezy bottles in stores are great for this)
1 tsp. ginger
1/3 cu. carrots diced on bias
1/3 cu. celery diced on bias
2 tsp peanut butter
1 tsp. Soy paste
1 tsp Fish Sauce
1/4 tsp thai basil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup Chicken stock
Sriracha to taste
Cilantro for garnish (optional)

Over medium high heat, in a wok or sided saute pan, place coconut milk solids. Let solids melt and bubble until most of the water is removed, essentially making it coconut oil, about 1 min. Add onions, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, thai red chili and cook for 30 seconds while stirring. Add celery and carrots, toss to coat and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add peanut butter, soy paste and fish sauce to pan and stir into sauce. If sauce is too thick add chicken stock to thin to just coating the back of a spoon consistency. Lower heat to medium, allowing the sauce to simmer and soften the vegetables, approximately 2 minutes. Add thai basil, stir to incorporate. Thin sauce as required with chicken stock again. Crack whole eggs into sauce, allowing for space between. Allow eggs to cook, spooning sauce over egg yolks occasionally. Cook to desired hardness.
To plate, Spoon sauce and vegetables into a wide bowl, being careful not to break the eggs. Add steamed white rice in a mound in the center. Carefully plate the eggs over the rice. Garnish with cilantro and a little more Sriracha.

Note: additional veg, if I’d had it on-hand, would’ve been sliced sweet red peppers.

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Trying to blog from my trip via my handset. This ought to be interesting. At least you know the posts will be short!

Since we’ve gone low meat and all, I decided for a quick white bean stew on this coldish day.  It is quick and easy-peasy.

Italian / Catalan -esque white bean stew

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3 slices smoked bacon

1 med onion – fine dice

1 stalk celery – fine dice

2 cloves garlic (pressed)

1 bay leaf

1 large bunch spinach (stems trimmed off)

6 sun-dried / smoked tomatoes (softened in 1 cup boiling water)

1 can Cannelloni beans (16 oz)

1 cup homemade tomato sauce *see the tomato sauce recipe in the stuffed zucchini recipe.

1/8 tsp pimenton (spanish paprika)

salt (to taste)

pepper (to taste)

In a large saute pan render bacon.  Remove bacon to paper towel and drain off till only 1 Tbsp of oil remains in pan.  Saute onion over medium heat, season with salt and pepper.  Saute till translucent.  Add celery, till softened (2 min).  Add garlic, stir and then add the spinach.  Toss spinach in pan until spinach is reduced.  Add a bay leaf.  Add homemade tomato sauce and stir to combine.   Add cannelloni beans (drained).  Stir to combine.  Add sun-dried tomatoes with soaking liquid.  Season with salt, pepper and Spanish pimenton (smoked paprika).  Let it all simmer to combine (10 min).

Plate in bowls, topping with diced bacon for garnish.

*Note: if you don’t have the tomato sauce, use 2 tbsp tomato paste with water or stock to reach the desired consistency.

Ok, I over-cooked for the cast party.  They said 60.  Do you know what it is like to plan for 60?  Unfortunately only about 25 showed up.  That is okay, since it just means I have “prepared ingredients” on hand.  I pretty much went through the Steak and Guinness pie and Colcannon without issue.  The pork loin, has taken on new forms.  After a couple of Sammies with plenty of Tzatziki, I decided I needed to use up some of the loin in a different form.  I had a ton of carrots, mushrooms and onions from the party.  So I decided to do a little home-cooked pork fried rice.

There are a couple of good tips for good fried rice:

1. Use rice that has been cooked and allowed to sit over-night in the fridge.  This allows all the grains to really separate well.

2. Oyster Sauce – this was a tip I learned from a lady while in TX.  She had offered an in home cooking course for the local public TV station.  Jen and I got it and had a few friends over.  That’s where I learned my special tricks for oriental cooking, making rice, oyster sauce for fried rice, corn starch for crispy breading, and ginger wine.  So special thanks to Gee Gee Bessey and her hand book : Wok With Gee Gee.  It was only a couple of hours, but I’ve been using those tips and tricks ever since!  I’ll probably hit the ginger wine and corn starch tricks on a later post.

Fried rice is a great fridge cleaner.  I usually have celery, carrot, onion for mirepoux, so this is an easy go to for clean-out dinners.  This also uses up leftover (“prepared”) 🙂 meats – pork, chicken, beef or shrimp.

Since you are Stir-frying, which is a high heat method, you must be prepared to add your ingredients.  This mean Mise En Place, everything in its place!  Have all of your veg chopped and ready to add.  I like to use little bowls to hold the prepared ingredients, and then just dump in.  Mise en place,  is not just for those TV cooks!  Mise en place will make you a better cook AND make cooking more enjoyable!

Pork Fried Rice

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1 Tbsp – Vegtable Oil (Sunflower / Peanut preferred)

2 celery ribs – cut on bias

2 carrots – diced

1 med. onion – fine dice

8 oz Shiitake Mushroom – sliced

1.5 cup Pork = pre-cooked and cut into small cubes

1 egg – mixed with fork

2 garlic cloves – crushed and diced

1 tbsp grated ginger or prepared ginger (squeezy ginger works great!)

3 cups cooked rice (cooled overnight in fridge)

1 can bamboo shoots – drained

1 can water chestnuts (sliced) – drained

3 Tbsp Oyster sauce

1 Tbsp Soy Sauce

2 tsp Fish Sauce

2 tsp Mirin

white pepper to taste

In a large wok, heat vegetable oil on high.  Add and stir-fry onion and season with salt to assist in drawing out the moisture.   Continuously stir-fry the onion for 30 sec, as the high heat may cause it to burn.  Add mushrooms, and continue to stir fry for another 30 sec.  Turn down heat to medium high, add carrot and celery and stir-fry for 1 min.  Add pork and stir fry for 30 sec.  Move contents up the sides of the wok, exposing the bottom.  Add egg to bottom and scramble.  Add garlic and ginger to egg and continuously stir for 30 sec.  Stir cooked egg into other ingredients.  Add Bamboo shoots and Water chestnuts and stir for 1 min.   Turn heat down to medium.  Add cooked rice and stir in to combine.  Add in seasonings – Oyster sauce, Soy Sauce, Fish Sauce, Mirin, white pepper.  Allow to heat through completely on low heat.  Serve with soy sauce and Sriracha on the side.

Additions:

I always like to use bean sprouts or maybe some Thai basil to liven it up.

To add a little crunch, peanuts are a good topping or chow mein noodles.

Well, as Robbie Burns used to say, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley”.

Due to lack of ingredients, there’s gonna be a couple of changes to the menu.  I had no luck getting a lamb shoulder.  Drat.  I’ve always wanted to do that.  Big ‘ol hunk roasting in the oven, with garlic, rosemary, plenty of olive oil.  Well, doesn’t look like it is going to happen this time around.  What I did find was a big whopping pork loin.  I mean the whole darn back of the pig.  I believe Alton Brown would call it a primal cut.  Darn thing practically won’t fit in the fridge.  Better yet, it was on sale.  So I only paid about $14 for the whole thing.  Dang.  Party estimates are running about 60 people, if everyone invites a guest.  60 people.  Yeah, most I’ve done is about 20 before.  Should be… fun…

Since I couldn’t find lamb to do the Shepherd’s pie, I’m going to have to go off topic and try little mini kebabs.  Jaime Oliver has a nice recipe which I’ll riff on. see : posh roast pork party kebabs I’ll probably go make some Tzatziki sauce, as I already have the yogurt and cucumber ready to go.  I’ll just need to find some mini pitas or something.  Add in a little greens, tomato, and that’s a good dish to feed a ton of people.

Also, unfortunately, I think I won’t have time to try the Yorkshire pudding.  Instead, I’m going to go with a bread pudding with whiskey sauce.  I only had Gail’s Triffle as a sweet, so this is probably a better sub.

Menu

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Steak and Guinness Pie

posh roast pork party kebabs

Colconnon

Mushy Peas (Minted Peas) – Jamie’s Dinners Pg 21.

Fruit and Cheese tray with:

Stilton, Irish Cheddar, crackers

Gherkins, Apples, Dates, almonds, dried cherries

Bread pudding with Whiskey sauce

Triffle (Gail)

I’ve already got the Steak and Guinness pie innards cooking away over night in the dutch oven.  I’ll shred the meat then probably add a couple sauted parsnip and turnip to fill out the casseroles.  Day of the event, I’ll just slap on a puff pastry lid and bake till the pastry is done and the casserole is bubbly.

Lucky and I are in the local production of Red Mask’s production “Tom Jones”.  Tech week has arrived.  As per tradition, cast parties occur usually at one of the cast and crew’s house, post-show.  Much rumination and ribbing over flubbed lines and “long pauses” ensue, with the help of a little libation and nibbles.

The production fortuitously fall’s on Charmed’s (my)  birthday.  So we get to do a combo-party for cast and Bday.  That’s not saying much because, if we did throw a Bday party, many of the same folk would already be on the list.  BTW – the cast for Tom Jones is huge, 24 actors, plus production crew.

Since it is Tom Jones, I decided to take a stab at “British fare”.  For all those, in the know, that is something of a challenge as our friends from Merry ‘Ol England are not usually known for their food.  However, good to note of late, the UK seems to be taking their food up a notch with the help of Jamie Oliver .  I have quite a few of his cookbooks, and I love the informal style of prose of his recipes.

The added bonus is that I’ll have to be totally prepped for this and have assistance to put items in the oven, as I’ll be on stage.  We’ll see how that goes…

So here are the ideas to feed the hungry masses:

Menu

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Steak and Guinness Pie

Spring Lamb Shepherd’s Pie

Colconnon

Mushy Peas (Minted Peas) – Jamie’s Dinners Pg 21.

Yorkshire pudding

Fruit and Cheese tray with:

Stilton, Irish Cheddar, crackers

Gherkins, Apples, Dates, golden raisins, dried red currants

Triffle (Gail)

Simple Sides

Ok, sometimes you just don’t have time to have your two veg and meat quickly prepared.  The next couple of posts are  easy side dishes I throw together, when I’m short on time.  Remember, make the most of your “pre-cooked / prepared ingredients” a.k.a leftovers…

Red and Green Rice

This is the easy use for left over prepared white or brown rice.  Since plain rice is sometimes “boring”, I try to zip it up with a little spice and herbage.  I grab the big bottle of Sriracha and one of the squeezy tubes of cilantro.

I’ve become a fan of the “squeezy” herbs.   They usually keep better than if I buy fresh, but then lose half the bunch to the rubbish bin.  So, for things like this, squeezy tube it is!

Red and Green Rice

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2 cups cooked white or brown rice *usually leftover / chilled from fridge

1/2 tsp. Sriracha or to taste

1/2 tsp cilantro or to taste

Pull that leftover rice out of the fridge, give a squirt of Sriracha and a sploosh of cilantro.  Mix into the rice.  Reheat in the microwave.

Using the R/G rice, I can enjoy focusing on finishing out the chop or steak on the grill.  And maybe sip a bier, whilst I wait.