Repurposed Rice

An offering

Coconut curry on Saturday and Tofu, Broccoli, and Mushroom Stir-fry on Sunday means two containers of plain-ish rice in the refrigerator today. A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchencomes to the rescue. THIS time, the rice won’t get shoved to the back of the refrigerator until it remains undiscovered until it is too late.

There is a little old German woman who lives in my head. Through the years, she has been more of a detriment than anything else – no fun (except for the college years when she inexplicably disappeared), unreasonably high standards, and a little obsessive compulsive. She hates waste. She is the reason I pile all the “seen better days” food at the end of the counter before I can actually admit that it has gone bad. Lately, I have been trying to make the best of her frugal ways and find ways to repurpose leftovers before they go south. Why not? It’s good for the environment and saves money. Leftover rice is perfect for fried rice the next day.

I love ordering fried rice at Chinese restaurants, but when I have attempted it at home the result has been woefully bland. This is the first fried rice recipe I have been happy with. It is a bit more than vegetables, egg and rice. There is fried tofu (or Quorn as was the case this particular night) and this lovely coconut milk-soy sauce-lime-sugar mixture poured over the rice at the end.

It’s a win-win. Tasty fried rice and the little old German lady (and Alia) is appeased . . . for today anyway.

Curried Fried Rice with Tofu, Red Onions and Sugar Snap Peas

Adapted from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk (I use light coconut milk and freeze what is in the rest of the can. It is a little curdly but totally useable at a later date.)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil (The original recipe calls for peanut, which I don’t have at this time.)

1/2 medium red or yellow onion, chopped (The original recipe calls for TWO onions. That’s way too much for me.)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup frozen peas

8 oz Quorn Chik’n Tenders (or tofu – see original recipe)

1 serrano chile, stemmed, seeded and minced.

2 medium garlic cloves

2 teaspoons curry powder (1 1/2 teaspoons mild, 1/2 teaspoon hot)

5 cups cooked and chilled long grain rice, large clumps broken up

Chopped cilantro to taste

Combine the coconut milk, soy sauce, lime juice and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the eggs and cook until they begin to set, about 20 minutes. Scramble and break up the eggs with a spatula. Continue to cook until eggs are cooked through but still tender, about 30 seconds. Transfer the eggs to a bowl.

Raise the heat to high and add 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil to the empty skillet. When oil is shimmering, add onions and cook, stirring often, until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the peas and Quorn. Cook until thawed. Add the chile, garlic, and curry powder. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add rice and coconut milk mixture and cook, stirring constantly until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and cilantro and stir to distribute evenly. Serve immediately.

Ratings:

Me:  A+ (I have had this for breakfast, lunch and dinner since I made it. I love it.)

Scott:  N/A (Scouts)

Luca:  N/A (Scouts)

Alia: B- (In the beginning, she was enthusiastic, but this waned as time went on. She did finish her bowl though.)

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Make It Into a Cake!

Spring chives

With the exception of Spanish rice and Some Kind of Tube Pasta with Broccoli and Pumpkin Seed Pesto, the little people in this house aren’t too keen on leftovers. That’s unfortunate because we almost always have them so I make an attempt to re-purpose in hopes of cutting down on dinnertime whining. My solution is generally to put a fried egg on top or make it into a cake. Since Scott made a big, delicious pot of risotto last night, I opted for cakes tonight.

I took special delight in making this quick meal of risotto cakes and salad because my oft neglected pot of chives sprouted and are tall enough to provide a decent yield for the cakes and dressing. This recipe represents a basic formula: sticky rice mixture like risotto/ rice and beans + some sort of cheese + some sort of fresh herb + 1 egg + panko  = quick, tasty dinner.

Tonight’s cakes had an Italian theme (risotto, shredded mozzarella, chives), but you could also easily do more Southwest/Latin flavors with, say, beans and rice, cheddar and cilantro. The panko and pan frying gives a nice contrasting crunch. Your family may never know they are eating leftovers.

Risotto Cakes (Luca has named them “Rice Cakes” and Alia “Flattened Rice Cakes”)

adapted from Risotto Cakes with Mixed Greens

2 tablespoons chopped chives or scallion greens

2 cups leftover Risotto, chilled

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup or more panko bread crumbs

Vegetable oil for shallow frying (I use sunflower oil.)

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Stir the chopped chives or scallions, mozzarella and egg into the chilled risotto. Season with salt and pepper (I find food loses some of its seasoning after being chilled, so check and season to taste). Form into 8-10 patties, using about 1/4 cup risotto mixture for each.

Place the panko breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Lightly dredge each risotto cake in the crumbs, turning to coat evenly. Place on a plate lined with wax paper, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a medium large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the cakes, 2 or 3 at a time, until evenly browned and crisp, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain; season with salt and pepper immediately.

I served these with a simple romaine lettuce and cherry tomato salad topped with a mustard vinaigrette (I omitted the parsley and capers). The vinaigrette is a great one to have in your arsenal . . . tasty on leafy greens and pasta salad with cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower. It has tons of tang from Dijon mustard and sherry vinegar.

Ratings:

Me:  A (How can you go wrong with breaded and pan fried?)

Scott: A (“The crunch of the breadcrumbs adds a lot.)

Luca:  A+ (“This is better than the risotto.”)

Alia:  C (She said “A,” but there was much prodding for her to eat her dinner. She did finish it, so I would say a “C.”)