Peanut and Rice Porridge

peanut and rice porridgeOn my continued quest for savory, comforting breakfast meals, I came across this wonderful recipe for Peanut and Rice Porridge (or Khao Poon Tua Lin) in the beautifully researched Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid.

An equal combination of boiled peanuts and cooked rice ( I used a brown rice mix), blended together with a bit of peanut oil, soy sauce, and salt, then topped with braised greens and other textural condiments, this porridge overwhelmed me with flavor and texture, and it kept me going strong through a long day. I chose to top my porridge with braised spinach, fried tofu, crunchy toasted chickpeas, fried shallots, fresh coriander, chili oil, and a bit of chili sambal, but you could make your porridge much simpler. The flavor of the peanuts and rice, even alone, is wonderful comfort food.

This isn’t a quick dish – I had to boil the peanuts for about an hour to soften them, but instead of adding raw rice to the cooked peanut water, I saved some time and cooked the rice and prepared the condiments while the peanuts boiled. This porridge lasts nicely for a few mornings or afternoons: just add a bit of water and stir well to loosen the porridge before heating.

Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango

This soba salad pulls no punches. Piles of fresh cilantro and basil, mango, fried eggplant (and I added tofu) hot peppers, sesame oil, red onion, rice vinegar and fresh garlic (I’m not afraid of fresh garlic. Love me, love my garlic). It has four major components – sauce, noodles, fried things and chopped things – so it takes a little bit of effort. But the flavor is bright and sharp, with a nice earthy balance from soba noodles. The salad itself is so colorful, my camera phone picture is just not doing it justice.

Me being me, I added an extra hot pepper from the garden, some fried tofu, and used some really big garlic cloves. You could adjust as is your want. Another great recipe from Plenty.

Fu Wah Tofu Hoagie

How is it that I’ve never talked about the Fu Wah Tofu Hoagie? Famous through West Philadelphia, this is no bahn mi – it’s made on a soft, short hoagie roll, not a crispy french baguette. In between those soft buns nestles sweet soy marinated tofu, pickled carrots and daikon, dressed with siracha, fresh cilantro and jalapeno peppers, all for under $4. I like to pick one up and head to Clark Park and eat it in the sunshine.

Brunch in the House

While I LOVE to go out to brunch, it can be a big hassle, cost a lot of money, and feel frustrating. Sometimes you’d rather just sit on your couch and watch the Sunday morning news shows (or is that just me?) Either way, sometimes I surprise myself with the ability to quickly whip-up a pretty amazing brunch with ingredients already in my kitchen. Pictured above:

Jalapeno corn cakes topped with black beans (garlic, onion, adobo), fresh avocado, fried eggs, homemade pico, more jalapenos, shredded cheddar cheese, fresh cilantro hot sauce and BAM, breakfast. Of course, I made a bloody mary to go along with it, since that’s how I roll with brunch.

Mexican Chop Salad

Mexican Chop Salad
Mexican Chop Salad

Because I love the Mexican Chop Salad at El Vez, but don’t really like going to El Vez, I’ve been trying to replicate it on my own. And you know what, I’m really really close. I didn’t have any radish or jicama when I made this salad, but a 1/2 cup of either, chipped finely, would add great kick and extra crunchy texture.

Mexican Chop Salad
serves 6

4 cups romaine lettuce, sliced very thinly
1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped seeded tomato, or sliced cherry tomatoes
1 cup fresh (or frozen, thawed) roasted corn kernels, uncooked

Toss salad ingredients in a large bowl.

garnishes
3 small corn tortillas, sliced thinly
vegetable or corn oil
1/2 cup queso fresco or goat feta, crumbled
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper

Heat enough oil to fry the tortillas in a medium skillet. When the oil is hot (a flick of water should sizzle) carefully add half of the tortilla slices. Fry slowly, turning every few minutes. When they are golden brown, remove them from the pan with a slotted spatula and drain on paper towels. Fry the second batch, draining on the same towel. In a small skillet, heat just a dab of oil (or a spray of Pam) over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and cumin, tossing to coat. Toast the seed gently until they brown slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool. Add 3/4 of both garnishes to the salad, reserving the rest for final garnishing.

cumin lime vinaigrette
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
large pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tbs. vegetable (or olive) oil
1 plum tomato, chopped, or 6 cherry tomatoes

Combine all of the salad ingredients and pulse in a blender or food processor until even in texture and the tomato is fully blended. Add the dressing the salad, toss well, and then top with the remaining garnish. Add a generous grind of fresh black pepper.

Roasted Red Pepper, Garbanzo and Chipotle Salad

Roasted Red Pepper, Garbanzo and Chipotle Salad
Roasted Red Pepper, Garbanzo and Chipotle Salad

I’ve been meaning to post this salad I made for a work lunch, but since I originally made it for 30 people, it took some motivation to decide to cut the recipe down. Michelle, the assistant to the director, says it tastes just like a Chipotle burrito, but without all the fat! Warning – it’s spicy!

roasted red pepper, garbanzo and chipotle salad

serves 5

6 cups of mixed baby greens or red leaf lettuce
1 12 oz. can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
6 oz. roasted red peppers, sliced thinly
3 ripe plum tomatoes, sliced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin

dressing

2 oz. (or two small) canned chipotle peppers
1 Tsb. olive oil
2 Tbs. lime juice
1/2 tsp. salt

Lightly toss together all of the salad ingredients. Spray a medium saucepan with a touch of olive oil (or Pam), and warm over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and cumin, tossing to coat. Toast the seed gently until they brown slightly, about 5 minutes. Add to the salad.

In a food processor or blender, add all of the dressing ingredients, pulsing until the peppers are chopped very finely. The texture should be smooth, and the color a creamy red. Add to the salad and toss well to coat.

All those pretty salad ingredients, waiting to be tossed
All those pretty salad ingredients, waiting to be tossed

Southwestern Quinoa Soup

Quinoa, roasted corn, and avocado soup
Quinoa, roasted corn, and avocado soup

Always in search of new ways to use quinoa, I’ve run across a few ways to combine quinoa, corn, and avocado in a soup. Here’s my version, which turned out quite tasty, and with a little kick! Leftovers made great lunch all week – just add the avocado at the last minute, or mash it into the soup if you’ll be eating it later in the week.

Southwestern Quinoa Soup
serves 4

2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped
2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. cumin
1 cup of quinoa (I often use red, but white works fine)
1 tsp. salt
4 cups of vegetable stock, homemade is best
1 large, dried chipotle pepper
1 cup or roasted corn, frozen of fresh
1 Tbs. of your favorite hot sauce (I used sriracha)
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
handful of greens (I used baby arugula this time)
pepper to taste
1 avocado, sliced and salted
1 lime, quartered

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and fry until the onion is soft, and the garlic is lightly browned. Add the cumin, stirring to coat the onion. Add the vegetable stock, quinoa, dried chili and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and keep covered, until the quinoa softens and sprouts “tails” – about 12 minutes. Stir in the roasted corn, greens, hot sauce, and cilantro, stir, and heat through. Remove the soup from heat and ladle it into four bowls. Garnish each bowl with 1/4 of the avocado, sliced, fresh cilantro, a wedge of lime, and black pepper.

Carrots and Zucchini with cumin
Carrots and Zucchini with cumin

I had some leftover carrots and zucchini, so I lightly steamed the carrots and gave them both a toss in the skillet with a tad of olive oil, salt, and a generous pinch of cumin.