Tag Archives: cooking

10 Cheeses You Have Never Tasted or Heard Of – New Food Friday Flash

19 Sep Cheese-Eating Mouse

This New Food Friday Flash I am writing about cheeses that you most likely have never tasted or even heard of. As demand for new and interesting foods is growing in America, we have seen many new cheeses in the dairy case of our favorite supermarkets. As a cheese lover, and a person who watches her calcium intake daily, I am always on the lookout for a new cheese. The cheeses I mention below however, are not at my grocer yet…maybe in the future. Some have strange names as you will see! Some have interesting pairings. All are popular in their native countries. More cheese please!

 

Smetana

Made by Russian dairy workers, this cheese is more of a sour cream and essential as a topping for soups, an accompaniment to blinis and caviar, and mixed hors d’oeuvres called zakuski that are eaten with shots of vodka. (We drink wine with our cheeses, they drink vodka.) Some Smetana are sweeter, some are more sour. Some have a butterfat content of 20%; some 40%. Not surprisingly, the best smetana is artisanal smetana. Skoal!

 

Skyr

We never hear much about Icelandic cooking if ever, but this cheese was introduced to Iceland by the Vikings. Icelanders consider skyr a national specialty. Skyr is similar to yogurt but it is not a yogurt. Skyr is a low-fat cheese made from milk that has been curdled using rennet then drained. It has added bacteria to it similar to what is found in yogurt. It is digested more quickly and easily than milk and considered to be a healthy food as it doesn’t contain stabilizers nor skim milk powder often used in the manufacture of yogurts. Icelanders traditionally eat skyr at breakfast or with dessert. Flavored versions are also made in Iceland. Try some on your next trip to Iceland, the country with no army.

 

Sakura Cheese

I don’t know about you, but I love award-winning cheeses and wines. Sakura is a handmade cheese created by a farmer from a country not known for its cheesemaking: Japan. It is made in Hokkaido, Japan from Swiss Brown cows’ milk and has been winning prizes since 1998, including a gold medal at the Mountain Cheese Olympics. (There’s an Olympics for cheeses? Who knew?) One of the methods of creating this cheese is that it is placed on salted leaves of the Sakura cherry tree and left for eight days to ferment so that the cheese absorbs the fragrance of the leaves. A salted pink cherry blossom flower is placed on top of each cheese before they are packed into boxes. I’ve experimented making my own yogurts but this farmer makes me want to try my hand at making my own cheese!

 

Stinking Bishop

The story behind the name of this cheese is far more interesting than the cheese itself! Apparently, there was a farmer called Bishop with a bad temper who once shot a kettle containing hot water because it didn’t boil! This cheese was developed in the 1990s. The creator, a conservationist, hails from Gloucestershire and is a collector of the Worcestershire pear trees and the main force behind saving the heritage breed of Gloucester cattle. (At least he put his anger to good use.) As you might imagine, the aroma of the cheese lives up to its name. Closepins anyone?

 

Serra da Estrela

This cheese is a sheep’s milk cheese from sheep that may well be on the endangered species list. If it wasn’t for making this cheese, they might have already become extinct! The sheep and the cheese come from the highest region of Portugal called Serra da Estrela. The sheep are predominantly black coated and are known as Bordeleira sheep. How sad if they were to become extinct because this cheese is known as the “king of Portuguese cheeses.”  The milk is curdled with rennet from the cardoon thistle. The Portuguese spoon it onto their traditional cornmeal bread called broa. It has a sweet taste with undertones of burnt toffee. Because these sheep are so rare, milk from other species is increasingly used.

 

Taleggio

Wasn’t there a character named Taleggio in the Godfather? But I digress. This is a cheese from Lombardy, Italy and until 1918 had been known as stracchino (not to be confused with the word stacchino which means toothpick) a dialect word (the last I heard, Italy had 42 dialects) that relates to milk from cattle that were tired after their  seasonal droves from the alpine pastures into the valleys. Taleggio is a full-fat cheese with a powerful aroma for which it is famous. Its ripening process lasts more than a month and its surface is smeared with a brine solution and inoculated with a mold and bacteria. Taleggios from Valtellina, Valsassina, and Valtaleggio (Val meaning valley) have a distinctive taste that can be meaty, beefy, mushroomy, fruity, nutty, and salty, all at once. No wonder it is protected by a DOP (Protected Designation of Origin). Call me biased, but the Italians sure know how to eat!

 

Ardrahan

Foods from Ireland are beginning to make a mark in America, witness by the cooking shows from Ireland and their native popular chefs. Andrahan cheese belongs to the family of modern Irish cheeses pioneered during the 1980s. This cheese appeared in a farmhouse in County Cork from the family’s herd of pedigree Friesians. It is a pasteurized, semisoft, washed-rind cheese using vegetarian rennet (as opposed to animal rennet). Bacteria is inoculated into the brine with which they are wiped during early ripening. Low in fat and cholesterol, it is a popular cooking cheese in its native Eire. It is regularly served at the White House on St. Patrick’s Day!

 

Olomoucke Tvaruzky

If you can pronounce it, you can eat it! OT is one of the Czech Republic’s best-known traditional cheeses. It was first documented in the late fifteenth century, when it was reputed to be a favorite of Czech king Rudolf II and was awarded a prize at the first Austrian Dairy Exhibition held in Vienna in 1872. It even has a museum dedicated to it in the town of Lotice. This cheese is either one of the best tasting cheeses ever or it has one heck of a public relations agent behind it because it was also included in a Czech-Chinese banquet when Olomouc cheese dumplings in ginger sauce were served as a dessert. It is commonly eaten with bread and is a staple ingredient of Czech cuisine. As you might have guessed, it found its way to the bar scene and is a popular bar snack that can also be fried in batter.

 

Churpi

Churpi comes from the shaggy-haired yak found in Tibet, India, Nepal and Bhutan. However, farmers also have made churpi from buffalo or cow’s milk. It is also unusual in the sense that like most cheeses which are cut with a knife, churpi is broken into pieces using a hammer. (Make an appointment with your dentist now!) It is then sucked on or chewed over a long period of time from 10 minutes up to an hour to get the distinctive flavor. For this reason, it is a portable, nutritious, and energy-giving cheese. It is very popular in Nepal where it is chewed like chewing gum. Tibetans fry churpi with young tendrils of a local fiddlehead fern called ningro. You may find this cheese in your dairy case eventually thanks to the Chinese government putting its weight behind yak dairy initiatives.

 

And last but not least…

 

Moose Cheese

That’s Moose Cheese, not Mouse Cheese. Two Swedes in the sleepy community of Bjurholm adopted a couple of abandoned moose. Long story short, they now own more than a dozen moose on their dairy farm. Would you believe it is the only moose dairy farm in Europe. I believe it. Maybe somebody should tell Amy Poehler’s brother (Greg) who stars in the new sit-com “Welcome to Sweden.” Funny show. Greg (Bruce Evans) is unemployed and looking for a job. Working on a moose farm would fit just perfectly into that show. But maybe they’ve already thought of it. Stay tuned! Anyway, this story just gets stranger….People travel to the Algens hus (Moose House) to pat the domesticated moose and to try the unique moose cheese. I have seen a moose up close and personal at a drive through zoo many years ago. The one I saw was a male that was ugly, big, and mean looking! The females, on the other hand, while still no beauty contestant winners, produce about a gallon of milk a day which is similar to cow’s milk but higher in protein and fat. The cheese is extremely expensive and is sold in upscale restaurants and a few exclusive outlets in Sweden. There are three different types of moose cheese, one of which is best described as a feta type and stored in rape oil. How do you get people to eat cheese from a moose? You raise the price to an outrageous level.

 

I don’t know how I’m going to top this in next month’s New Food Friday Flash. I may have to retire while I’m at the top of my game!

 

Happy traveling and if you get the opportunity to travel to the countries mentioned above and try any of these cheeses, please drop me a line in the comment section! Variety is the spice of life. It keeps life interesting and your mind alert. It’s good for your health!

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8 Vegetables You Have Never Eaten (and May Never Want to Try) – New Food Friday Flash

15 Aug Farm in Minnesota

I’ve covered some of the fruits you’ve never tried or even heard of in the last two New Food Friday Flashes and I could do more. Maybe I’ll come back to fruits in the future. Today I’m covering vegetables that you’ve never tried or heard of.  It’s good for your health to eat your vegetables but in some of the vegetables listed below, it might be better for your health if you avoided these vegetables!

Also, I couldn’t find a photo of any of these vegetables but I found a nice photo of what is a “forgotten farm in Minnesota” according to the photographer and selected it for my featured image.

 

Ackee

The alternate name for Ackee is vegetable brains. Is that because if you eat it you will get smarter? Unfortunately not. It’s because it looks like brains. Does it taste like brains? No. How do I know? I’ve eaten a brain sandwich at a country fair once. It was fried pork brains. It had a mild flavor and was served on a bun with either mustard or ketchup. I asked for one side mustard and the other ketchup. But I digress. Vegetable brains, (Ackee) tastes like scrambled eggs according to some. Looking at a photo of Ackee as it is ripening on an evergreen tree, totally creeps me out. It can only be picked when it has turned completely red, has been split open showing it’s “smile” revealing two black seeds that look like eyes. Anything other than the creamy yellow pulp cannot be eaten nor can the unripened fruit because it is fatal! Yipes! You can find this vegetable in the forests of the Ivory Coast and Gold Coast of West Africa. Served with salt cod, it is Jamaica’s national dish! Canned Ackee is available around the world and completely safe. Don’t forget to eat your veggies!

 

Celtuce

You would think that Celtuce is a cross between celery and lettuce but it isn’t. It is sometimes called Chinese lettuce as it originated in China. It is grown mainly for its thick, tender stem, but its leaves can also be eaten. In China, the stems are broiled or boiled, added to soups, and used in stir-fries with meat, poultry, or fish. It is grown mostly in home gardens and is not widely known. When cooked, the stem tastes like a cross between squash and artichoke which means that I would like it a lot!

 

Marsh Samphire

This vegetable is shaped like miniature Arizona cacti but flourishes in the mud of salt marshes around the coastlines of England and France. Collecting and cleaning it is messy and time-consuming. Marsh Samphire is also known as glasswort and was once used in glassmaking! Today, however, it and its relatives are seen as plants of the future because they will grow in salty conditions. To cook, blanch without salt (because it is salty) and add butter. It is served in salads and on trout. Cultivated varieties can be imported from Israel and the Gulf. Its nickname is sea asparagus.

 

Angelica

The healing powers of Angelica, according to the people in France’s marshy Poitou-Charente region where Angelica has grown for centuries, have used it as an antidote to poisons. Hmmm, possibly good to eat after you eat Ackee (above)? Angelica is a member of the parsley family and also grown in Italy, Scotland, Germany, Scandinavia, Russia, and parts of North America. It can withstand the temperatures of Iceland and Greenland. The leaves can be shredded in salads and used in omelets and fish dishes. The stems are often stewed with rhubarb or made into preserves and jams. Today, it is most commonly used as a candied confection for cakes, sweet breads, and cheesecakes. The leaves and stems taste like licorice.

 

Golden Needle

One of the least familiar ingredients to the Western world is golden needles also known as tiger buds. That is, unless you’ve heard of the folk song, “Silver threads, golden needles can’t unbend this heart of mine….” Sound familiar? These buds range in color from pale gold or orange to dark amber in its dried version. They are often added to noodles and meats prepared over high heat. Their sweet, musky flavors complement woodears, enokitake, and misos and appear together in recipes across China and Japan.

 

Ratte Potato

Unlike other vegetables or fruits with names that mislead you to believe their taste, shape, or lineage is why they were so named, this particular vegetable actually was named Ratte Potato because it, alas, looks like a rat!  Eeeeks! Leave it to the French to take care of that problem: they called it Quenelles de Lyon. Ratte’s texture is dense, firm, resistant to breaking down, and yet smooth. They have a nutty taste similar to chestnuts.

 

Huitlacoche

Huitlacoche is also known as corn smut. Part of its name is the Aztec word for dung. I’m not making this up folks. Truth is stranger than fiction. It is a naturally occurring fungus that disfigures growing corn. I’m surprised I never heard of it, considering that Indiana is a corn-growing state. We (we?) must call it something else. The corn kernels swell and mutate into distorted silvery blue lumps with black interiors. How divine. It has a mushroom-like flavor with hints of corn and licorice. It is usually sautéed with garlic and onion and used to flavor traditional Mexican dishes. It can be difficult to find fresh huitlacoche outside of Mexico, but specialty food stores in the US and Canada often stock flash-frozen or canned versions in the event you are dying to try this.

 

Stinky Tofu

Known as ch’ou doufu in Mandarin, it has a mild, faintly sour, beany flavor which is far surpassed by its gargantuan aroma. As you might have guessed, it is a fermented concoction made with vegetables, herbs, shrimp and sometimes other seafood items. There are many, many fermented vegetables served around the world but I chose this one because it is often eaten as street food in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong where you might encounter it in your travels. It is deep-fried until crusty then dressed with spicy sauces, and topped with chili oil and garlic in Hunan. How will you know it? Your nose knows.

 

Based on some of the description of these vegetables, is it any wonder kids don’t eat their vegetables? Poison? Used in glassmaking? Rats? Dung, and Stinky? Those are hardly enticing descriptions. Consider yourself lucky. You didn’t have to look at the photos of these vegetables as I did when doing the research! On the other hand, don’t little boys love gross things? The grosser the better? Maybe you can tempt your non-veggie eater with a plate of Ratte Potato or Ackee!

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Bean Relief Tip-Puree Them!

14 Jul Beans (sxc.hu - adyna)

Lot’s of people have intestinal gas from eating beans and lentils. These legumes can cause problems in their whole form.

According to a mini-magazine I received in the mail, you can avoid this issue by eating puréed chickpeas (beans) and lentils. Puréed chickpeas are also known as Hummus. You can also make lentil soup and purée the soup.

These puréed legumes are less likely to trigger symptoms! Now there is no excuse not to eat your beans! I don’t know if this works with all beans, but if you try it out, let me know!

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10 Fruits You Never Heard Of – New Food Friday Flash

20 Jun Fill Your Cart With Fresh Fruits

We take for granted all the varieties of apples, pears, plums, oranges, and other fruits, that we find in our supermarkets everyday. Many of these fruits are shipped from across the nation and beyond so that they can be on our table, fresh, sweet, and ready to eat. But have you ever thought about what fruits are served at kitchen tables in France, Germany, Russia, Australia, Central America, India, or Africa?

 

The 10 fruits I’m covering today in this New Food Friday Flash are fresh fruits that turn up on kitchen tables more commonly in other countries. If you do find any of them at your local grocery store, let me know! But how can you try these fruits? Well, you could ask your grocer if he could order them for you or you could plan a trip to the country they come from, vacation there, and as part of your adventure, try the new fruit!

 

Here is the list of 10 fruits below. Do you recognize any of them?

 

Casseille

 

Sea Buckthorn

 

Riberry

 

Marula

 

Mazhanje

 

Mamoncillo

Mamoncillo Fruit

Mamoncillo

 

Griotte

 

Acerola

 

Davidson’s Plum

 

Jamun

 

For more information about them, the ways they are used, and which country each is from, read the article I’ve written here.

 

The next New Food Friday Flash will contain 10 more fruits you’ve never eaten and a link to more in-depth information about them.

 

Fruit is good for your health and travel is good for your mind!

 

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New Food Friday Flash – Dandelion

16 May dandelion-sxc-hu-theartistg

Wait! Wait, you exclaim! dandelion is a food? You want us to try a new food called dandelion? Yes, fellow foodies. As I have been known to say, “Try it, you’ll like it.”  Or, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Or, “Variety is the spice of life!”

While I wouldn’t want to see you grazing on your lawn masticating the stuff, you could try the supermarket version of dandelion. It’s nutritious and delicious. Why else would I post it here if it wasn’t?

Naysayers halt your protests because this New Food Friday Flash is about the controversial weed called dandelion.

It’s controversial because we hate seeing it in our lawns but we (some of us anyway) love seeing it on our dinner plates.

Did you know that dandelion is a relative of endive? That doesn’t sound so bad does it? It’s low in calories, high in potassium, vitamin C, and calcium. If you want to know more about the dandelion, how it got its name, who gave their child the name, and other amusing and interesting facts about dandelion, click here.

Otherwise, I’ll let the thought about eating dandelion percolate in your brain for a while and when you’re ready, you can click on the above link. Far be it from me to force you to eat something that you perceive as negative. 

More for me I always say!

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New Food Friday – Kasha, Groats, Buckwheat

18 Apr Kasha (sxc.hu - yirsh)

I had never tried Kasha until an Internet friend said that she loved it and would eat it for breakfast everyday. So, I bought a box of Wolff’s Kasha at my local Meijer.

Box of Kasha

Box of Kasha

Kasha is buckwheat and it comes in several granulations. I chose medium. This particular box had a small cellophane window so you could see the product inside (which I ignored), and put the box in my cart. When I got home, I placed the box in my pantry. When it was time for me to try the Kasha, I opened the box and began pouring the Kasha into a bowl. Out poured contents that contained Kasha, caraway seeds, and some other type of seeds. I recognized caraway seeds when I saw them and I didn’t think they were supposed to be in this box!

After doing some research, I realized that seeds were not supposed to be part of Kasha! I contacted the company and told them about it. I received a nice letter of thanks for letting them know from the vice president of Birkett Mills. He said they use the most efficient and sophisticated cleaning machinery known in the dry grain processing industry and that rarely even the most advanced technology can be fooled. (Well, we all know how I feel about technology as per my last post, now don’t we!)

In a show of their appreciation, they sent me two more boxes of Kasha (without seeds) and a whole bunch of information about Kasha. I kept one box and gave the other to my son, the other health enthusiast in the family.

Rather than let the box with the seeds go to waste, I used the caraway seeds from the “bad” box of Kasha for my Russian Rye Bread recipe! As you know, the loaves turned out great! To be honest though, I’m not crazy about Kasha for breakfast even though I know how good it is for you and how popular it is in Russia and throughout the Balkan region of Europe.

Map of Europe (sxc.hu - vygnyo)

Map of Europe (sxc.hu – vygnyo)

However, a recipe I found among all the recipes they sent, sounded good and good for your health too, so that I had to chose it for this New Food Friday.

The following information was provided to me from Birkett Mills, established in 1797. (Yes, that date is correct, 1797.) Read the eye-opening information that I have written by clicking this link.

If, after you have clicked the link and read the material you are now convinced that you need buckwheat in your diet, Birkett Mills offers a cookbook with over 50 recipes, many with full color illustrations, for $2.50. Write to: Pocono Buckwheat Cookbook, P.O. Box 440 PC, Penn Yan, NY 14527

Here is one of their recipes that caught my eye.

Grilled Portobello Caps with Kasha Pilaf
1/3 cup diced celery
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion (such as Vidalia)
2 cups water
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Kasha
salt to taste
6 large Portobello mushroom caps
Olive oil
1 1/4 cup grated hearty cheese (such as aged Gruyere or aged Gouda)

Aged Gouda

Aged Gouda

Prepare the Kasha Mixture First
In a 2-qt saucepan on medium-high heat, combine celery, onion, water and 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning. Cook until liquid is very hot, but not quite boiling. (Or, you can microwave it.)

Old Bay and Kasha Granules

Old Bay and Kasha Granules

While the liquid mixture is heating, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the extra virgin olive oil add remaining 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning and the Kasha. Stir Kasha until it is hot and slightly toasted.

Browning Kasha in a Pan

Browning Kasha in a Pan

Reduce heat to low. Carefully add hot liquid mixture and cover pan tightly. Simmer about 10 minutes until kernels are tender and liquid is absorbed.

Remove from heat and “fluff” with a fork. Season to taste with salt. This may be used immediately to stuff mushrooms or refrigerated for up to two days (or frozen for up to 1 month.) Makes nearly 4 cups.

Prepare medium-hot grill fire. Discard mushroom stems, clean gills with soft brush, and wipe caps with damp paper towel. Brush top of caps with olive oil.

Mushrooms (sxc.hu - mzacha)

Mushrooms (sxc.hu – mzacha)

Grill mushrooms gill-side down for a couple minutes. (I didn’t grill mine, I used my skillet.) Use tongs to flip caps top-side up and move them away from the heat while you fill the caps with the Kasha mixture.

Stuffed Portobello Muchroom Caps with Kasha Mixture

Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Caps with Kasha Mixture

Return caps to the heat and continue grilling, with grill lid down for 3-4 minutes. Top each cap with a scant 1/4 cup grated cheese. Lower grill lid and heat until cheese melts.

My mushrooms were not very large so I had left-over Kasha. I used it in another meal and added diced chicken and peas.

This mushroom recipe is good for when you crank up the barbecue. It would go well with my recipe for hot dogs with Chipotle in Adobo Sauce. Add a salad,  corn on the cob, 

Sangria (sxc.hu - matthijs_v)

Sangria (sxc.hu – matthijs_v)

a pitcher of Sangria, and you could invite the neighbors!

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New Food Friday – News Flash!

13 Apr Flash Drive (sxc.hu - mrceviz)

I thought of a way I could keep my New Food Fridays going while reducing the amount of time it takes me to do them. Introducing the New Food Friday Flash. The difference between the regular New Food Friday and the new New Food Friday Flash is that the New Food Friday Flash would be shorter and with less photos. Taking photos and finding good ones on the Internet takes up a lot of time for me when putting together New Food Friday.

I still have one more New Food Friday post ready for April’s post, but then after that, New Food Friday Flash will take its place until further notice. The bones of it will stay the same: 3rd Friday of the month, informative, hopefully entertaining, just shorter and sweeter. A food flash in a pan, in a manner of speaking minus the negative connotation! I think you will enjoy it!

*One more thing; if you’re wondering how things are working out now that I’ve canceled my AT&T Internet service, I don’t miss them one bit! I put my posts and any work I need to do at home on my Flash Drive or what some call a USB Memory Stick. The library computers are fast, much faster than my computer, and accept Flash Drives so I can transfer my work from the Flash Drive to the library computer and into my blog. This is working out great! I wish I had done this sooner! You may want to follow suit!

 

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New Food Friday – Bok Choy or Pak Choi

21 Feb Polenta instead of rice with Bok Choy

If you haven’t tried Bok Choy, you don’t know what you’re missing! Bok Choy is my choice for this New Food Friday.

This Asian staple is full of vitamin A, C, and is high in calcium and many other nutrients.  It resembles celery but doesn’t taste like it and it’s juicy like celery, maybe even juicer. I like to munch on it raw while I’m preparing it for a stir-fry or a soup. Bok Choy is in the cabbage family but it doesn’t taste like cabbage either. Its taste reminds me of escarole except that Bok Choy is mildly sweet and has a slight peppery bite at the end.

The leaves of Bok Choy are very dark green but the stalks are very white.

Bok Choy Stalks

Bok Choy Leaves

It’s a beautiful vegetable! The Chinese have been cultivating it for over 5,000 years.

Recently, my local Meijer had Bok Choy on sale for 88 cents a pound. Oh happy day! I bought 1.75 pounds of it!

Bunch of Bok Choy

Bundled Bok Choy – 1.75 pounds

There are two versions of Bok Choy in this country: there is the Baby Bok Choy and the regular Bok Choy. I’ve purchased both in the past and they taste the same to me. It may be more convenient to cook the Baby Bok Choy because you can cook it whole.

Baby Bok Choy

Baby Bok Choy or Pak Choi (sxc.hu – MeiTeng)

You couldn’t cook the regular Bok Choy whole because you wouldn’t have a pan large enough! I like the larger version which can sometimes be quite large! Ginormous, in fact, so you can expect more prep time with it. Don’t wash it until you’re ready to use it. Bok Choy stays fresh for up to a week in the fridge.

In my research for this post, I was surprised to learn that Bok Choy falls under the category of cruciferous vegetables. As you may well know, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower) contain anti-cancer compounds. All the more reason to try, buy, stir-fry Bok Choy!

Cooking Bok Choy

I typically cook all greens the same way when I use them for a side dish: olive oil, garlic, a few tablespoons of water or broth, cover and cook in my large fry pan. Bok Choy is good this way. But I decided to do a stir-fry with chicken. I found two recipes online that I liked and I combined them and tweaked them too. The results were delicious. I’m posting the recipe for you below. Since one recipe was Chinese and the other was Thai, I’m calling it:

Chinese-Thai Almond Chicken Stir-Fry

1 Tablespoon oil (peanut or coconut, I used olive oil)

1/2 cup whole almonds

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast

1 Tablespoon soy sauce (reduced sodium is best)

1 Tablespoon oyster sauce

Oyster Sauce

Oyster Sauce

1 Tablespoon chili garlic sauce

Chili Garlic Sauce

Chili Garlic Sauce

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

8 oz (more or less) rinsed Bok Choy cut into bite-sized pieces

2-3 Tablespoons Chicken broth if pan seems dry

You can add mushrooms, thinly sliced onions, or whatever you like to this. I added 1/4 cup thinly sliced carrots and 1/4 cup chopped celery.

To thicken gravy

1 Tablespoon corn starch

1/4 cup cold water

Stir together then pour into pan at the end of cooking until gravy thickens. (I did not do this step. See below.)

Directions

In a small bowl add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, chili garlic sauce, brown sugar, and lime juice. Stir the mixture well to melt the sugar. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a fry pan or wok and add the almonds and heat on medium-high heat until golden about 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn! Remove from pan.

Stir-fry thinly sliced chicken breast in same pan for 2-3 minutes. Add the Bok Choy, then the carrots, celery, mushrooms, onions, or whatever you like and spoon 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce mixture over it; stir and cook 2 minutes. (Cook longer and cover if you prefer your veggies less crispy.) Add a few tablespoons of broth if the mixture seems dry. Taste. If you like it spicier and saltier, add the rest of the soy sauce mixture. If you have any leftover, you can use it to baste most meats. I reserved my leftover for my next Bok Choy meal using the same recipe but substituting bay scallops in place of the chicken. (It wasn’t as good as the chicken.)

Serve with the sprinkled almonds on top. This is a very nutritious dish, low in calories, high in fiber, high in calcium, but also high in sodium which is why I suggested you taste the dish before adding all the soy sauce mixture. If you’re watching your sodium intake you may not want to use all the soy sauce mixture.

This dish is great served over rice and is the typical way it would be served. I wanted to try something different. I already had a pan of polenta that I had made the day before and feeling adventurous, I decided to try it in place of the rice.

Polenta instead of rice with Bok Choy

Polenta with Bok Choy

It was just as good! In fact, it thickened the gravy without using the cornstarch mixture. I liked this recipe so much that I decided to make it again, this time with brown rice.

Bok Choy dish

Bok Choy with a drizzle of sweet & sour sauce and mustard

 

Whichever way you try it, be sure you do try it! It’s delicious!

qǐng màn yòng!

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New Food Friday – Russian Black Bread

17 Jan sxc.hu-uccrow Basil's Cathedral

I have a childhood friend who is originally from Estonia. A little bit of a history lesson is worth mentioning here. Estonia was part of the Russian empire until 1918 when it proclaimed its independence. 

The Russian Basilica-Tallinn, Estonia

The Russian Basilica-Tallinn, Estonia (sxc.hu sx937)

It was  incorporated into the USSR in 1940 by force but regained its freedom in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The last Russian troops left in 1994.

sxc.hu Tallinn Capital of Estonia

Tallinn, Capital of Estonia (sxc.hu  gundolf)

Today, the Estonian economy has one of the higher GDP (gross domestic product) growth rates in Europe.

So, back to my childhood friend. One day my friend gave me a loaf of black bread. I don’t remember if she said it was Estonian black bread or Russian black bread. Maybe they’re one in the same. Anyway, it was delicious! Now, many years later, I have found a recipe in one of my cookbooks for Russian Black Bread. I will share it with you for this New Food Friday.

This recipe makes two round loaves. The bread is delicious, reminiscent of the loaf my Estonian friend gave me and I will definitely make it again. It is made with chocolate, coffee, and molasses. It is a dark color (hence the name black bread) and looks chocolatey! You can almost taste the chocolate and almost taste the coffee. However, it is not a sweet bread. It has a slight sour taste similar to a sour dough bread because of the rye flour and maybe the vinegar but this taste seemed to dissipate after the first day and the chocolate flavor became more pronounced instead.

I’ve already finished off one loaf. I stored the other in the freezer and then let it defrost in the refrigerator when I wanted more. It is just as delicious as the first loaf. In fact, I believe I noticed that the bread tasted even better the day after I baked it and it kept well in the refrigerator. I usually sliced off 3 ounces for my meal, buttered it, and let it warm to room temperature.

This bread can vary somewhat in flavor depending on the type of chocolate you use or the type of coffee you use. The recipe also calls for bran cereal so depending on the type of cereal you use, that can also alter the taste. However, I doubt that the varieties you use would make that much difference. Just use the best ingredients that you can afford. There are a lot of ingredients!

4 cups unsifted rye flour

3 cups unsifted white flour

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 cups whole bran cereal

2 tablespoons caraway seed, crushed

2 teaspoons Instant Coffee

2 teaspoons onion powder

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed

2 packages active dry yeast

2 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup vinegar

1/4 cup dark molasses

1 square (1-ounce) unsweetened chocolate

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine or butter

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 cup cold water

Combine rye and white flours. Mix 2  1/3 cups of the combined flour mixture with the sugar, salt, cereal, caraway seed, coffee, onion powder, fennel seed, and undissolved yeast.

Combine 2 1/2 cups water, vinegar, molasses, chocolate, and margarine or butter in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until liquids are very warm (120 – 130 degrees). Margarine and chocolate do not need to melt. Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes at medium speed of an electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1/2 cup flour mixture. Beat at high speed 2 minutes.

Russian Black Bread Batter

Russian Black Bread Batter

Stir in enough additional flour mixture to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board. Cover; let rest 15 minutes. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 to 15 minutes. Dough may be sticky. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk. about 1 hour.

Punch dough down; turn out onto lightly floured board. Divide in half. shape each half into a ball about 5 inches in diameter. Place each ball in the center of a greased 8-inch round cake pan. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. I like to let my bread rise in the microwave with a cup of very hot water. This is a draft-free environment and the cup of hot water makes the small area warm enough for the dough to rise. Important, don’t turn on the microwave!

Russian Black Bread Rising in Microwave

Russian Black Bread Rising in Microwave with Hot Water

Bake at 350 degrees 45 to 50 minutes until done. Meanwhile, combine cornstarch and cold water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to boil; continue to cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. As soon as bread is baked, brush cornstarch mixture over top of loaves. Return bread to oven and bake 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until glaze is set. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Russian Black Bread Cooling

Russian Black Bread Cooling

This recipe comes from my Fleischmann’s Bake-it-easy Yeast Book. I hope you bake this. It’s very good and has a lot of nutritional value! Das vadanya!

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New Food Friday – Gnudi

16 Aug sxc.hu 536766 stylesr1

In order to make this dish, you have to remove all your clothes. Just kidding! The dish being discussed today is called gnudi. They are a form of dumpling and it’s pronounced just like a sunbather who basks in the nude: a nudi! (Or a nudist?) I watched with interest as Martha Stewart made these on her cooking show. See here. She says they are a naked ravioli; a filling without the pasta casing. I am a big fan of ravioli but these were new to me and when I saw her boiling then basting them in browned butter with sage leaves, I knew I had to post them for a New Food Friday.

sxc.hu Gnu Barbara Schneider

This is a Gnu (sxc.hu Barbara Schneider)

First, go to your butcher shop and ask for a fillet of Gnu. Just kidding! There is no meat in this recipe!

Assemble your ingredients as it shows in the Martha Stewart video. I like to use paper plates when I want to roll foods in flour.

Knudi rolled in flour

Knudi rolled in flour

Using paper plates makes cleanup a breeze. I just throw the paper plate in the trash when I’m done.

I filled another paper plate with semolina flour and let the gnudi rest until I finished making all of them.

Knudi sitting on semolina

Knudi sitting on semolina

Then they went into the fridge for 1 hour.

Variations:

I had some leftover crab meat so I included it in my recipe. In my second batch, I added some boiled russet potato.

These gnudi were fun to make and easy! Your children might like to get involved. Since these are boiled, it’s a lot like boiling pasta and it’s the closest I’ve ever come to making pasta.

Knudi ready to be boiled

Knudi ready to be boiled

It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve never made pasta but I know one of these days I will because it’s on my mental to do list! Here are the sage leaves straight from my garden.

Sage drying on a paper towel

Sage drying on a paper towel

Here are the chiffonaded sage leaves in browned butter.

Browned butter with chiffonade sage

Browned butter with chiffonade sage

These were delicious! I will definitely be making them again. I hope you try them!

Knudi ready to be devoured!

Knudi ready to be devoured!

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