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ItinerantKitchenElf's Profile

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Leftover Buttermilk, what can I use it for?

Maybe an oddball suggestion, but I use buttermilk in my hummous (skinned canned chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, buttermilk, a little olive oil, salt, and cayenne pepper, food-processed until whipped and creamy) - and hummous (at least this one) freezes well, which might provide follow-on benefits...

What do you make when you need leftovers next day?

Do you have a rice cooker? I have a similar weeknight time crunch, and have lately been making a lot of Indian curries (Madhur Jaffrey recipes for the most part) on Sundays, then freezing (most curries freeze well) and microwaving the leftovers on busy weeknights. The rice cooker is what makes this a dream solution, as cooking weeknight dinner essentially involves pushing two appliance "on" buttons.

Your stir fry recipes

Thai stir fries (or my bastardized versions of them) are a favorite of mine, and trend much more towards the hot/sour than the sweet. I like to stir-fry chopped ginger, fresh chilies, lemongrass, and spring onions in peanut oil, then add ground pork or chicken. When the meat is nearly browned, I add an equal amount of raw shrimp or scallops, sliced shitaake mushrooms, and bean sprouts, and fry until the shellfish and veggies are almost cooked through. Then I add chopped cilantro and mint, chopped unsalted peanuts or cashews (I food-process these in advance and keep in the freezer), nam pla (thai fish sauce), and lime juice to taste. Serve with jasmine rice or cellophane noodles, with a bottle of sriracha or bottled Thai sweet chili sauce and lime wedges.

Package to a soldier

Coming up with that list made me...well, nostalgic wouldn't be the right word, but it made me remember the possible utility of passing on shopping lists for the friends and family of eager cooks serving in Iraq who've rigged a hotplate to a generator (or whatever; there are infinite variants).

Reality: anyone serving in Iraq, regardless of electricity supply, has little time to cook. But I remember that the once-a-month I did manage to find the time had a great effect my and everyone else's morale, especially during the holidays.

So just in case this is useful: here are shopping lists for a number of meals that can be cooked with a one-burner hotplate and the (very) basic cooking equipment described in the previous post. (All assume you've prepped your cook by sending (1) those small supermarket salt-and-pepper grinders, and (2) a carton or tin of olive oil.

Penne with Marinara, Black Olives, and Feta: Pomi Marinara Sauce (Carton), Dried Penne or other Pasta, Shrink-Wrapped Parmesan, Dried Oregano, Fresh Garlic, Black Olives, Feta Preserved in Olive Oil

Spaghetti with Chili-Tuna Sauce: Canned Chopped Tomatoes, Dried Spaghetti or other Pasta, Tinned Tuna, Dried Fennel Seeds, Dried Red Chili Flakes, Fresh Garlic, Clam Juice (Canned), Anchovies (Tinned and Optional)

White Beans with Sundried Tomatoes and Chorizo*: Canned Canellini or other White Beans, (Dried Spanish, like Palacios) Chorizo, Fresh Garlic, Dried Fennel Seeds, Sundried Tomatoes (Dried), White Wine or Sherry Vinegar (*also great with tinned Tuna instead of Chorizo)

Mushroom Risotto*: Risotto Rice, Chicken Stock (Carton), Fresh Shallots or Onion, Dried Porcini Mushrooms, Saffron, Shrink-Wrapped Parmesan, Grater (*requires a microwave if your Iraqi hotplate is one-burner. If your Iraqi hotplate is two-burner, you're good to go with no nuke)

Wild Rice Salad: Wild Rice, Dried Apricots and Cranberries, Slivered Almonds, Chicken Stock (Carton), Balsamic Vinegar, Fresh Shallots or Onion, Dried Bay Leaves, Shelf-Stable Orange Juice

Lentils with Mustard Vinaigrette: Puy or Beluga Lentils, Chicken Stock (Carton), Fresh Shallots or Onion, Fresh Garlic, Dried Bay Leaves, Dried Thyme, Mustard, White Wine or Sherry Vinegar. To serve alongside: Gruyere or other similar Cheese, Crackers or Flatbread

Jacked-Up Crack and Cheese: Annie's Pasta and Shells with White Cheddar, Fresh Sharp Cheddar (Shrink-Wrapped or Wax-Wrapped), Grain Mustard, Hot Sauce.

Recipes on request. And for meals requiring a hefty credit card bill but no recipe...

The Best Cold Cuts Ever: There are a lot of reasons you're probably not supposed to do this, legal and health included. But heck. One Christmas, friends and family sent out a Niman Ranch Jamon Royal, a Smoked (smoked is key) Turkey Breast, and several Andouille Sausages. (The meat was frozen before shipping, put into small USPS Flat Rate boxes - which travel fastest - and shipped in mid-winter.) They also threw in cheddar, gruyere, leyden, murcia al vino, and goat cheddar. Plus mustard and pickled onions, and some (a lot of) cocktail rye. And cornichons. Oh yes, and See's chocolates (again, winter). Mindful that there are very few people anywhere who get Christmas dinners of that caliber (we woke up at 0400 after an 0100 bedtime to cook the wild rice salad and the lentils as accompaniments), let alone folks serving in Iraq, we spread the wealth as far as we could. And it was awesome.

Package to a soldier

I appreciated (honestly) everything that showed up in the care packages I received while in Iraq, but the real hits from a gastronomic point of view were:

(1) White Cheddar Popcorn and Caramel Corn;
(2) Those lunch packets of tuna, crackers, and mayonnaise;
(3) Sipping cans of Campbell's Soup, for those with access to a microwave;
(4) Cheddar / other hard or waxy cheeses - shrink-wrapped, these survive;
(5) Big tins of Dean and DeLuca Rugelach. Oh, wow, those were a hit;
(6) Nuts - cashews, pistachios, macadamias, almonds.;
(7) Walker's Shortbread - well, any shortbread, well-wrapped;
(8) Hot chocolate mix (in winter - it can get cold there);
(9) Dried apricots, cranberries, apples, prunes, pears, etc.;
(10) Nutella, peanut butter, good jam, etc., with cookies/wafers/crackers;
(11) Wasabi peas.

If your soldier friends have access to a hotplate (you'd be surprised; some people get pretty creative), let me know - I have a wealth of recipes that can be cooked on a one-burner Iraqi hotplate using packaged foods sent in by mail, a saucepan and lid, a cast iron skillet, a grater, a can opener, a knife, and a wooden spoon, including a killer wild rice, cranberry, and almond salad with balsamic-orange dressing I made once by reducing little cartons of long-life orange juice pilfered from the chow hall:)


I like to use it in a salad of white beans, chorizo, and shrimp, served at room temperature - cook the white beans in chicken stock with some white wine and bay, then when they're done, saute (in a separate pan) some garlic in olive oil, add sliced chorizo, saute until it starts to crisp, add raw shrimp, saute until pink, then tip in cooked white beans, chopped parsley, salt and pepper, and a splash of sherry vinegar.

Veggie sides w/lamb tenderloins

Yeah, I end up topping the ratatouille with dairy (yogurt, feta, goat cheese) primarily when I'm feeding meat and non-meat eaters at the same meal. Lamb is rich enough on its own, for the carnivores...glad it was delish!

Veggie sides w/lamb tenderloins

I'm a big fan of serving a roasted or grilled vegetable ratatouille with lamb...which would go well with rice pilaf as well. Often top the ratatouille with Greek yogurt and pine nuts, which, with a starch and green salad, makes the meal vegetarian-friendly if needed...

Favorite quick weeknight meal?

I've been doing a lot of simple, quick Thai shrimp noodle stir-frys when coming in late...first soak some bean-thread vermicelli or rice stick noodles in boiling water (I use an electric kettle) until softened, and drain. Then saute chopped garlic, spring onions, fresh chilies, and lemongrass in a wok, add shrimp*, and fry until almost pink. Add a splash of Thai fish sauce, some lime juice, and some chopped mint, cilantro, and/or basil. Toss in the noodles, mix, and serve topped with chopped peanuts or cashews. Takes about 25 minutes start-to-finish, including chopping and noodle soaking time...

*...if you have some ground pork in the house, a little of this is great mixed in with the shrimp (I also use scallops sometimes). I'll often throw in veggies - sliced shitaake mushrooms, frozen peas, and/or bean sprouts - when the shrimp are about halfway done. Finally, if you have leftover rice in the fridge, you can use that instead of the noodles - when I do that, I often throw in an egg or two near the end...

What do you put on your bagel?

If near a good cheese source - dutch cheese with caraway / cumin / mustard seed, with a scrape of mustard, sliced tomato, salt, thinly sliced red onion, and sprouts. Yum.

favourite meatless lentil recipes

This time of year, I like making platters of lentils topped with roasted vegetables. I use Puy or beluga lentils cooked with sauteed red onion or shallots and garlic, with bay leaf, thyme or rosemary, wine, and vegetable stock. When the lentils are cooked, I mix in a teaspoon or so of vinegar (red or white wine, depending on which color I used to cook the lentils), and usually some chopped parsley. Then I spread the cooked lentils onto a platter and top with some combination of grilled portobellos (I use a cast-iron grill pan), grilled zucchini, roasted peppers, roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted fennel, roasted garlic, etc., depending on what I could find at the store. Finally, I'll top off the platter with crumbled goat cheese or feta, and black pepper. (Alternative topping: Greek yogurt and toasted pine nuts.) A great winter supper, served with a green salad dressed with a tart vinaigrette - when friends are around and hoping for a big meal, I'll add crusty bread, olive tapenade, and hummous.

Your best "no muss, no fuss" recipe

Really good call on the rhubarb -- have done the same; delicious. Also, cranberries make a great addition to apple crisp as long as you toss the fruit filling with sugar before baking to compensate for the tartness.

Your best "no muss, no fuss" recipe

I actually pull the butter out of the freezer (I don't use much butter, so that's where it tends to be kept), cut it into small shards or cubes with a knife, then mix it by hand with the oats, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Keeps it in a loose crumble form, which browns up nicely.

You could absolutely do this with canned peaches. Or fresh peaches. Or fresh or frozen berries. I've made excellent crisp with plums and pears, as well. It's a great what-fruit-did-I-forget-to-eat-this-week-that's-now-about-to-go-bad dessert, especially as it works well with a mix...

Your best "no muss, no fuss" recipe

The proportions I pass along are 4 large / 6 small apples, sliced and arranged in a pie plate or brownie pan or whatever comes to hand, topped with a mix of:

3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup Quaker oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1 pinch cinnamon

But this is a very forgiving dish; you can tweak all of those proportions substantially and still end up with something delicious.

Bake at 350 F for half-an-hour until the apples seem appetizing when pierced with a fork and the topping is browned (if the former happens before the latter, move the crisp up to the top rack of the oven for five minutes).

Your best "no muss, no fuss" recipe

Does he have a sweet tooth? I taught a few military friends (young, single, male) of mine how to make apple oatmeal crisp -- simplest recipe I could find, just apples, brown sugar, butter, flour, cinnamon, Quaker oats, salt -- a few years ago, and was bemused recently to find out they're all still making it regularly, one of them for breakfast every weekend:)

Making Hummus for the first time

I remove the skins from the chickpeas as well - it makes the hummous smoother and creamier. A tip I picked up in Iraq, from a shopkeeper who made (excellent) hummous using tinned chickpeas: rather than removing the skins pea-by-pea, put your cooked chickpeas into the bottom of a large bowl, and fill the bowl with water. Submerge your hands and rub the chickpeas together between your fingers gently. After a few minutes, pull out your hands and wait -- the chickpea skins will float to the surface. Skim the skins off and discard, then repeat two or three more times until most of the skins are removed. Then tip the chickpeas into a sieve or strainer -- the last few skins will be obvious and easy to pick out. Hope that helps...

Dieting Foodie??? (moved from General Topics)

Spotted this a bit late, but my two cents (lost 40 pounds in the past 18 months, much of it walked off, but some from dieting): build a stable of really, really good foods you like that don't pack many calories or much fat, and make sure you treat yourself to them often, even if it means saving up pennies or cooking late after work.

For me, it's stuff like seared tuna with wasabi-soy, swordfish with roasted tomatoes, oysters with lemon & tabasco, thai scallop or steak or pork tenderloin salads (watercress, radishes, glass noodles, mushrooms, etc.), gazpacho with sherry (in tomato season), roasted asparagus with garlic and balsamic vinegar, lots of non-fat fruit sorbets and frozen yogurts with fresh berries.

Deprivation is no fun, but I find that if I'm constantly treating myself with healthy luxuries, I don't crave the unhealthy ones nearly as often.

Farmers' Markets Near Hampton Roads

Just moved to Norfolk, VA -- any tips on good farmers' markets in the Hampton Roads area I can hit before the season ends. Would be willing to drive an hour or two for good heirloom tomatoes...

Can I freeze a pie???

I concur -- have done this before with complete success. Good luck!

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes . . .

Panzanella! I like mine simple: heirloom tomatoes, the mandatory day-old crusty bread, cucumber (peeled, for me), verrry thinly sliced onion, garlic, olive oil, basil, and the best red wine vinegar I can find (cobram estate shiraz caberbet is a current favorite).

I'm a fan of letting the bread soak up the tomato juices, but the fry-or-toast-the-bread variety (which I think Marcella Hazan does?) is good as well.

What to do with pears?

Balsamic would be good; I'll try that. I've also done the salad with a sweetish dressing made from honey, grain mustard, and cider vinegar, which was tasty...

What to do with pears?

It's an old standard, but I like pears sliced into a salad of lettuce, roquefort, and toasted (or caramelized) walnuts, with a sherry (or cider) vinegar and walnut oil vinaigrette...

Roasted Red Peppers ..what to do?

I like to top leftover roasted red peppers with sliced feta cheese, olive oil, oregano, and black pepper, then bake or broil until feta is bubbling...squeeze lemon juice over the top when done, and serve with green salad and bread or bruschetta. for a simple supper.

Your best chicken salad recipe

Mayonnaise (light touch on the mayo), cilantro, mint, green onions, a little sesame oil, and toasted sesame seeds (plus salt/pepper)...served with orange wedges, sliced cucumber, and wholegrain bread. Best with a mix of dark and light meat, rather than all breast.


Sandwiches made from crusty baguettes, butter, thinly-sliced radishes, and salt. Works best with very good bread and butter (and very good radishes, natch).

I also like them in a sort-of-salad (cold summer supper) of sliced grilled steak, sliced radishes, chives, and watercress with lemon juice, olive oil, salt/pepper, and some yogurt-horseradish sauce on the side.

What to serve alongside crab cakes...?

Seconding the suggestion for yogurt-based sauce, which can be refreshing in hot weather: I like a crabcake sauce make by whizzing up Greek yogurt* and roasted red peppers in a food processor or blender, with a squeeze of lemon juice and salt/pepper.

Tzatziki also makes a good crabcake garnish (Greek yogurt mixed with grated, salted, drained cucumber, minced garlic, lemon juice, chopped mint, and salt/pepper).

* If you can't get Greek yogurt at your local market(s), you can just line a sieve or colander with a clean dish cloth or coffee filter papers and strain plain supermarket yogurt for half-an-hour or so until it's thick and creamy.

What's a good recipe book/ blog for untalented beginers? [Moved from Not About Food board]

Seconding the recommendation further up the thread for books/recipes by Nigel Slater, who (unwittingly) taught me to cook when I was a student in the UK years ago, when he was the Sunday food writer for the Observer newspaper (he may still be - don't know).

The recipes in some of his earlier books are in metric (even in so-called US editions), but he's more about technique, ingredients, and ideas than fussy measuring, so printing out a quick conversion chart and using it as a bookmark should cover you.

There aren't many writing today who do comfort food better...or who show as much respect for the potato. (Or bacon, or chocolate, or salt, or...well, it's not health food.)