Canola as Vegetable

Saturday, March 24, 2007
Back in Canada I knew my way around a grocery store blind, but living in China is like being on another culinary planet - I can hardly identify many of the products, or read much of their labels. Many things I do recognize are used in completely new ways. Grape tomatoes, for example, are a fruit - they decorate pastries and take dips in chocolate fountains. This plant is another example. I was looking for a green vegetable and bought a rag-leafed plant called you cai, or oil vegetable. This ended up being nothing more than canola, which we grow great huge fields of at home with the sole purpose of harvesting it for oil. Here it is eaten just as it buds, and is my new favourite green - lots of flavour without being overly bitter or grassy. I like it more than spinach, raw or cooked.

Dumplings for Biscuit Mix Day

Wednesday, March 14, 2007
The superb Mimi has a biscuit mix event going on and this is my entry. Dumplings cooked on top of stew or soup are very comforting and I love the economy of cooking them in the same pot and burner as your main course. They are very fast to make if you have the mix on hand. I made these to eat with a feeling-better chicken soup that I've been eating over the past few days.

Start the stew heating, and measure biscuit mix - I use 2/3 cup per person, or less if the stew is full of starchy things like potatoes. Sprinkle with milk, by the tablespoon, until you have a soft dough, and if desired add some seasoning that will go with your stew. (You could add some sharp cheese if you are making the lentil and tomato soup.) Drop by tablespoons on the hot surface, without crowding. Cover well, preferably with a glass lid to watch, and cook for about twelve minutes until dumplings are cooked through and fluffy - they need the lid left on during cooking time to rise.

Kidney Bean Sandwich Spread

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

When I was taking Home Ec. in junior high back in Fairview, Alberta one of the most memorable cooking projects was a sandwich day. We made a sandwich filling out of carrots, peanut butter, and raisins and another out of mashed kidney beans, mayonnaise, and chopped onion. This is a leaner version of the kidney bean sandwich, sharpened with cumin. I also like using it as a dip with crackers.

Mash one 14 oz can of red kidney beans and stir in one tablespoon minced onion, half a teaspoon toasted ground cumin, and salt to taste (the beans might have been canned with enough salt already). Use as a sandwich filling or dip with crackers or chips. Better the next day.

The carrot salad shown is from a Food TV blog. I love this salad - brightness, tang, crunch. Both these recipes you can make on Sunday night and eat for the next couple of days.

Noodles with Eggs and Peanut-Chili Oil (or Salsa!)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

When I was planning this post I realized I was doing three peanut featuring recipes in a row, and then veggie paparazzo reminded me that many people can't handle peanuts. So for the peanut avoiding, I am presenting an equally tasty alternative topping - salsa. If you have salsa made or in a jar, this takes five minutes to prepare.

Frugal Cuisine is nearly a year old and, in reading my previous posts for the label updates I was a little embarassed to see the chili oil recipe - it is hot, but has nowhere near the complexity of bought Asian chili oils. So ignore the advice in that post and go out and buy some. The kind I am using is dark red with plenty of chilies, peanuts, the occasional preserved black bean, and other great stuff in it.

This recipe also features the Wonder Bread of the noodle world - flat white Chinese wheat noodles. I am using the carbonara-like technique of stirring an egg into just cooked noodles to make a sauce, and then topping them with something more flavourful.

The salsa for the peanut free option is minced onion, tomato, and hot green pepper with salt and lemon juice. I'm not giving amounts since it is strictly taste as you go. We have really great grape tomatoes here, sold in the fruit section, so I used those for the salsa.

Boil flat white noodles or linguine in a lot of salted water until nearly tender, then drain. ( I use a portion of noodles about one quarter in diameter per person.) Stir one egg per person and continue stirring over lowered heat until the egg cooks into a thick sauce. (Keep the eggs in motion as they heat - you don't want the protein to cook into chunks.) Turn noodles into a plate or bowl and top with chili oil or salsa. Mix up and eat.