Monthly Archives: August 2012

Crisp Black Rice Cakes with Stir-Fried Vegetables

This week’s Food Matters Project recipe wasn’t one that initially popped out at me when first thumbing through the cookbook.  This is one of those simple recipes that I passed over but was asked to reconsider when it was chosen for this week’s recipe by the gals at Small Kitchen College.  And what a great pick it was!  I finally have a functioning stove again and have had the pleasure of cooking for some dear friends who stayed with me this weekend.  The theme of food this weekend was simple, simple, simple.  We had many simple salads, mushroom-lentil burgers, and corn on the cob.  Today for lunch we whipped up this rice cake recipe and it was just what the day called for–simple and healthy.

I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about this one (words spoken by this skeptic:  “Why not just stir fried vegetables over rice?  Why does it have to be cakes?  Why won’t these stick together?  Aargh!”).  But when we sat down on my patio to dig into this rainbow of colors, all doubt slipped away and we all were delighted to be tucking into this light meal before heading out for Sunday fun.

For the original recipe, which uses basmati rice and chicken, head on over to Small Kitchen College.  While you are there, check out the links to budget-friendly meals, an ode to Julia Child, and the girls’ latest impulse buy…truffle salt!  One of my favorite things about the Food Matters Project is checking out everyone’s blogs and this gem doesn’t disappoint.

Now onto my own experience with the recipe…I used black rice in my recipe because it is just so pretty.  Also, a recommendation–the sesame oil really made it difficult for me to shape my cakes and I would have preferred in hindsight to add it to the finished recipe for flavor.  The rice, which was sticky when cooked, did not bind after stirring in the sesame oil so I had to add almond meal until the cakes bound together.  If your cakes do not stay together during the cooking, no biggie!  It will taste just as good all crumbled up, scout’s honor.  I also used whatever veg I had on hand and omitted the chicken.  Feel free to use whatever sticky rice you have and whatever veg you have on hand.  Make it simple!

Crisp Black Rice Cakes with Stir Fried Vegetables; adapted from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook

  • 3 cups soft-cooked rice (I used forbidden black rice)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, or more as needed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 cups diced vegetables such as zucchini, carrots, bell pepper, cabbage, etc.
  • 1 tablespoon nam pla (fish sauce)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • thinly shaved red cabbage for garnish
  • sesame oil for garnish if desired
  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees F.  Sprinkle the rice with salt and pepper then use your hands to form the rice into 1-inch-thick cakes.
  2. Put 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large skillet or double burner griddle over medium heat.  When it is hot, add the cakes to the skillet, working in batches if necessary, and cook, turning once and until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side.  Transfer the cakes to the oven to keep them warm.
  3. Put the remaining 1 tablespooon vegetable oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat.  After a minute, add the onion and garlic and cook for about 30 seconds or so.  Add the remaining vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in the fish sauce, a few tablespoons water, the lime juice, and the tamari/soy sauce.  Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens a bit, about a minute.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Serve the stir fry on top of the cakes, garnished with sesame oil and thinly shaved cabbage.

NOTE:  If your rice cakes are not sticking together, try adding some almond meal bit by bit until the rice sticks.

Greek Salad With Feta Drizzle

If my calculations are correct, this is week 30 of the Food Matters Project!  This week, Megan chose Greek “Nachos” with Feta Drizzle.  An interesting choice!  And a good one for me, since I have been waiting for a new range to replace my old one.  It will be delivered at the end of this week and I can hardly wait to have my cooking capabilities restored.  In the meantime, recipes like this are holding me over.  I had everything I needed for this recipe other than an oven to make the pita chips.  I made a few small tweaks–see below for the recipe.

I made my recipe as just a salad with feta drizzle and served a few wedges of pita on the side.  I packed it up and headed out to the park for a picnic and some disc golf….and then the rain came…!  It ended up being a picnic in the car listening to old country songs that took me back to my school bus days.  The rain cleared, the sun came out, and bellies full, we headed out to the disc golf course to close the gorgeous Michigan summer weekend!

To see what everyone else conjured up this week, head on over to the Food Matters Project website.  To get the original recipe, check out Megan’s blog.  While you are there, I’m sure you’ll stay a while to check out her musings, creative ideas, ramblings, travel, daydreams, and paintings–very entertaining!

Greek Salad With Feta Drizzle

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • 4 oz feta cheese (I buy it in a block rather than crumbled)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt, preferably Greek or whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • Grated zest and juice of one lemon
  • Black Pepper
  • 2 or 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup mixed olives, pitted and halved
  • 1 small red onion, thinly shaved or sliced
  • Note:  I also added caramelized onion leftover from the previous night’s dinner and 1/2 of a red bell pepper, seeded and chopped.  This recipe is so versatile–add what you have on hand that sounds good!
  1. Combine the feta, yogurt, 1/4 cup olive oil, oregano, and lemon zest and juice in a food processor (or use an immersion blender), sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Process until smooth.  If you don’t have a blender or food processor, just mash all of the ingredients with a spoon.
  2. Drizzle the feta dressing on the top of the salad.  Serve the salad with some mixed greens and pita bread.

Chipotle Glazed Squash and Sweet Potato Skewers

I’ve been on board the Food Matters Project train since just about the beginning of this year.  It escapes me how I learned of it but I do remember one thing—when I saw the first posts I was hooked.  The first week of the FMP saw its contributors making chipotle-glazed squash skewers and since that week (which I missed) I have wanted to make them, in large part due to the drool-worthy photos Sarah posted on her blog, 20 Something Cupcakes, to kick off the project.

Lucky for me, this week was a ‘wild card’ week, where FMP’ers will have the opportunity to go back and choose a recipe they missed posting.  I’ve only missed a few (yes, I am patting myself on the back for being dedicated!) so I had to choose from these skewers, cabernet sorbet, or a tomato tart.  This was, hands down, my choice.  I had everything I needed and, like I said, I’ve been thinking about making them since January.

Now, just because I had everything I needed it doesn’t mean I had the best ingredients to work with.  I had a butternut squash I had been hanging onto for a few months.  I think I actually stopped ‘seeing’ it, sitting in the fruit bowl, just like I have stopped ‘seeing’ the one mismatched drawer pull in my kitchen that I cannot remove from the drawer without sawing off the front of the drawer.  Now, this squash looked pretty durned normal from the outside so no issues there.  But when I opened that sucker up, I realized that things had been happening on the inside.  The squash was still okay but instead of a great deal of flesh with some strings and seeds in the center, I found about 50% flesh, 45% stringy stuff, and 5% seeds.  Oops!  Lesson learned…squash changes over time.  Well, I was still able to salvage quite a bit but couldn’t make 1-inch cubes out of the squash so cut it into long strips, which were impossible to skewer.  Because I wanted the skewer effect, I also cubed some sweet potato and a little bit of extra-firm tofu (I love the China Rose brand—wonderful texture and taste).  The prettiest of the three by far was the butternut squash—you can’t beat the color.  All went into the oven on a large sheet tray.

40 minutes later, the result was a hodgepodge of smoky-sweet veggies and tofu.  Good on their own or (as I found out later–see photo below) tossed into a salad.  After the first round of snacking, I took leftover quinoa, black beans, and corn from the fridge and tossed together a quick salad, adding some thinly shredded spinach for a pretty pop of color.

One note:  next time I make this (and there will be a next time) I will add some more honey.  I felt it needed a little more sweet to balance the heat.  Not that the recipe didn’t yield great results…I can just picture it being even better like that!

Chipotle-Glazed Squash Skewers

{total time}: 55 mins; {serves}: 4 – 8

Sweet, starchy winter squash takes well to the smoky heat of chipotle chiles, especially when you concentrate the flavors by roasting slowly. Use any winter squash here, or even sweet potatoes – in either case, these kebabs are drop-dead gorgeous.

  •  1 1/2 pounds butternut or other winter squash (you can also use sweet potatoes), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
  •  1/4 cup olive oil, plus some greasing for the pan
  •  1 or 2 canned chipotle chiles, chopped, with 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
  •  1 tablespoon minced garlic
  •  1 tablespoon honey
  •  Salt and black pepper
  •  Lime wedges, optional
  •  Chopped fresh cilantro, optional

1.  If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 – 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 300 degrees F. Grease a large rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan with oil. Thread the squash tightly on 8 to 12 wooden or metal skewers and put them in the roasting pan.

2.  Combine the 1/4 cup oil, 1 chipotle chile, the adobo sauce, garlic, honey, and some salt and pepper in a small bowl. (A mortar and pestle is ideal here.) Taste and add another chile if you like.

3.  Brush the glaze evenly over the squash skewers and roast for 45 to 60 minutes, turning once or twice and basting with any pan juices. When the squash is tender and deeply colored, remove the skewers from the oven. Serve hot or at room temperature with lime wedges and cilantro if you like.

Corn Cakes with Lemon Dill Sauce and Smoked Salmon

My friend, Richard, told me that dozens of people were lined up last Saturday morning in Grand Haven.  What were they lined up for?  Can you guess?  Dutch Love corn.  That’s right, folks.  Corn season has arrived!  And I found the perfect corn…Hamm family farms at the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market has great corn (along with pretty much everything else, from fava beans to okra to purple french beans to several varieties of basil…).  Even better, I found the perfect recipe to use my corn in.  This months issue featured corn cakes with a lemon chive sauce and smoked salmon.  I didn’t have chives on hand so used dill instead with great results.  Walk…no, run to your farmers market, pick up some Dutch Love corn, and make this dish.

This dish is great savory but if you want something sweet, omit the red pepper and serve the corn cakes with maple syrup.  They may be even better that way….!  I should know…

Corn Cakes with Lemon-Dill Sauce and Smoked Salmon adapted from Cooking Light August 2012

  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon rind
  • 2 1/4 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh corn kernels, divided (about 3 ears)
  • 2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1  large egg
  • 12  thin slices cold-smoked salmon (about 6 ounces)

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl; chill.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through pepper) in a medium bowl. Combine 1 cup corn kernels, buttermilk, butter, and egg in a blender; process until coarsely pureed. Add pureed corn mixture to flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Fold in remaining 1/4 cup corn.

3. Pour about 2 tablespoons batter per pancake onto a hot nonstick griddle or nonstick skillet; spread gently with a spatula. Cook 3 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Carefully turn pancakes over; cook 3 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Arrange 2 pancakes on each of 6 plates; top each pancake with 1 slice salmon and 1 teaspoon lemon-chive cream. Serve immediately.