Vegetable Fried Rice

>> Tuesday, November 22, 2011

One of the best things about fried rice is that it's one of those dishes you can throw together using whatever leftovers are in your fridge. When Meatless Monday rolled around, I found a container of cooked green beans, a couple of ears of grilled corn, some broccoli that was nearly past its prime, a limp green onion, and half a red pepper. In the spirit of reducing our meat intake and being thrifty with our food budget, we whipped together a fairly hearty dinner. Use any vegetables that strike your fancy when making your own version; surely this is one of the reasons fried rice was created!


2 cups white or brown rice
4 cups water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup broccoli, cut into small florets
1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup green beans, sliced
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 cup corn
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp chili garlic sauce
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup chicken broth


Pour water and rice into a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes for white rice or 40 minutes for brown rice.

Heat oil in a wok until it shimmers. Add carrots and broccoli and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add pepper, beans, onion, corn, and garlic, and fry an additional five minutes, or until crisp-tender. Stir in rice, cover, and reduce heat to low.

Whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour over rice and mix well. Heat through before serving.

Serves 4.


Rouladen - German Stuffed Beef Rolls

>> Monday, November 14, 2011

Rouladen - German Stuffed Beef Rolls

This is a classic German recipe that I learned from an American family that lived in Germany for some time. The first version is their rather Americanized (but still delicious) version.

The second recipe is a more authentic German version; we learned it at a German cooking class at the DANK Haus - the German-American Cultural Center in Chicago.

These beef rolls can be served with German spaetzle, egg noodles, dumplings, or mashed potatoes.

Version #1

Makes 6 Servings


1 1/2 pounds round or flank steak
German stone ground mustard, to taste
1/2 pound thick sliced bacon
2 large onions, chopped
1 (16 ounce) jar tiny dill pickles
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup sour cream

Rolling German Beef Rolls


  1. Cut the flank steak into thin filets; about 1/4 inch thick and 3 inches wide. Generously spread one side of each filet with mustard to taste.
  2. Place bacon and pickle on each filet and form into a roll. Use string or toothpicks to hold the roll together.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Brown the rolls on all sides.
  4. Place rolls into a crock pot and add the chopped onions. Pour the mushroom soup and 1/2 can of water over the rolls.
  5. Simmer for four hours, or until tender.
  6. After removing the beef rolls, make a gravy by stirring the sour cream into the soup mixture. Serve the rolls with the gravy on the side.
Version #2

Makes 6 servings


1 1/2 pounds flank steak
German stone ground mustard, to taste
1/2 pound thick sliced bacon
2 large onions, sliced
1 (16 ounce) jar dill pickle slices
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 cups beef stock
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup sour cream

Rouladen ready for cooking


  1. Cut the flank steak into thin filets; about 1/4 inch thick and 3 inches wide. Generously spread one side of each filet with mustard to taste.
  2. Place bacon, onions and pickle slices on each filet and form into a roll. Use string or toothpicks to hold the roll together. 
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat and melt butter. Place the rolls in the butter and saute until browned.
  4. Pour in beef stock and wine and stir.
  5. Simmer the rolls for at least an hour.
  6. After removing the beef rolls, stir in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and bring to a boil, stirring the liquid until thickened. Serve gravy over the rolls or on the side.


Greek Meat Rub

>> Friday, November 11, 2011

Joe: "I developed this meat rub and seasoning mix after being unsatisfied with commercial blends. If you want to start out with fresh ingredients and dry them yourself, double the initial amounts, and then dry slowly in the oven at 175-200 degrees for several hours."


1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried mint

Mix together well, and place in a dry sealed container. Rub on meats about 30 minutes before roasting or grilling. Add to vegetables before steaming or sauteeing.


Peking Duck

>> Friday, November 4, 2011

Angela: "This recipe has one of the most interesting preparation steps we have ever tried - wait till you see the work-in-progress photos! The key to really good Peking Duck is a crispy, sweet skin, and though the steps are a little odd, it's not hard to do. Actually, the most difficult part was getting the rice wrappers to warm without getting stuck together or breaking. I think we will try a different brand next time."

Joe: "We combined recipes from four different Asian cookbooks to create this one. The taste is unbelievably good. It was the perfect meal to celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary on September fifth, and we paired it with a bottle of mellow Malbec."


  • 1 4 1/2 to 5 lb duck
  • 6 cups boiling water 
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 tablespoons orange peel
  • 2 tablespoons red vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 10 scallions or green onion stalks, julienned
  • 1/2 large cucumber, julienned
  • 2/3 cup hoisin sauce 
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil 
  • Chinese pancakes

Cut off duck wings at second joint, remove excess fat and any innards, rinse and dry well. Place the duck in a large bowl or pan and pour the boiling water over the bird. Let set for five minutes, then drain, reserving the boiling liquid.

Mix together honey, vinegar, water, and orange peel in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove orange peel and combine with salt, sugar, garlic, onion, and five-spice powder. Add the boiling liquid to the reserved liquid from step 1.

Using kitchen twine, loop under each of the wings so that it holds up the duck for hanging. Tie up the duck in a drafty place, or hang in front of a fan. Place a bowl underneath the bird. (Note: we hung ours from a plant hanger in the living room, but any hook or doorknob will do. Be sure to make your bird pet-proof, if you have pets that love poultry as much as our cats do.)

Pour the liquid over the bird and let it drain into the bowl for about five minutes. Repeat five times. Discard the liquid and let the bird dry for at least 1, preferably 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350. Take down duck and remove twine. Fill the cavity with the spice mixture. Tie or sew shut, if desired.

Put roasting pan on lower oven rack and fill with 2-3 inches of water. Oil a poultry rack and place in the pan with the bird on top, breast side down. Roast duck for 1 hour, basting occasionally.

Turn duck side up and roast until dark brown, about 25 minutes per pound in total. 
Carve duck into thin slices. Mix hoisin with sesame oil and 1 tablespoon hot water. Heat pancakes or steam them. Serve by spreading hoisin sauce on the pancakes, and laying the cucumber, onions, and duck slices on top, then rolling up the pancake.

Serves 6-8.

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