Wednesday, October 09, 2013

What to Do with All These . . . Figs?


Luckily, it is now fig season in southern California. Perhaps the strangest and most wonderful fruit of all to eat fresh, figs satisfy like no other fruit. They are packed full of rich nutrition, hearty, not-too-sweet taste, and ooey-gooey goodness.
Figs are high in dietary fiber and are a rich source of magnesium and potassium. They are also relatively high in vitamins A, B, and C and low in calories, about 50 calories each.

Sadly, you do not find fresh figs in the market very often as they don’t ship well. But the good news is that if you live near where they grow—in Florida or California or any Mediterranean climate areas worldwide—you will have the pleasure of enjoying an exotic food with a low carbon footprint.


The only thing not to love about figs is that period of not knowing what on Earth to do with an abundance of them. A ripe fig lasts for only a couple of days, and then it's a furry mess. If you have a tree—which we do right beside our front stoop—you will find that one day you have a fig or two and the next day you have 50.

What to do with all these figs while you have them? Here are some recipes I came up with myself--some dessert, some savory. Enjoy.


WhatEye8's Figgy Salad Dressing
You simply cannot imagine how good this salad dressing is until you try it, nor how it will turn a humble salad into a taste explosion that will make you take three helpings of salad.

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon demerara sugar (if you use turbinado, it's too chunky to blend in well—demerara works perfectly)
Sprinkling of granulated garlic of 1 clove crushed garlic
Sprinkling of salt
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 ripe fig, chopped into small pieces

Add all ingredients in a shakable container, such as a jar with a lid. Smoosh the fig bits with the back of a fork until mostly smooshed (is that technical terminology or what?). Close the container and shake, shake, shake. Serve with a spoon and allow guests to drench their own salad. Goes well over a nice mixture of lettuces, cukes, carrots and other crispy veggies—but do not serve with tomato. Tomato somehow interferes with the flavor/acidity of the fig and is not a good pairing. Toss on some crunchy nuts and you have a salad fit for royalty.


Fig Compote

Serve this heady fig compote on toast, pancakes, ice cream, or even in a little bowl topped with fresh whipped cream.


1 pound fresh figs, about 10
1/4 cup of water
3/4 cup of demerara sugar
1/2 of a freshly squeezed lemon

Remove the hard stem ends from the figs, then cut each fig into 8 pieces. Put the figs in a saucepan with the water, adding in the lemon juice and sugar. Cook uncovered over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until the figs mixture is thick and resembles jelly. Allow to cool.


Fig Ice Cream
Fig ice cream is a trippy flavor you have to try while you are still on this planet. I’ve never tasted anything like it. The fig is subtle, almost vanilla-y. And once you’ve made the compote, you are oh-so-close to the ice cream of your life—go for it.


Add the fig compote [directions above], after it is completely cooled, to one cup heavy whipping cream. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and proceed as directed by the manufacturer. This does not make a lot, but the fig ice cream is so rich, you need only a scoop—along with some extra crispy cookies—to be in paradise.



WhatEye8’s Fig Appetizer

6 fresh figs

¼ cup crumbled goat cheese (chevre)

1 tablespoon agave nectar (or honey)

Remove the hard stem ends from the figs. Slice each fig into four quadrants, lengthwise. Arrange the figs on a platter in a loose group, sprinkle with the goat cheese, and then drizzle with the agave nectar. Serve with small forks and salad plates. Although this isn’t exactly a finger food, it’s a lovely way to perk up the appetite before a meal.


Monday, September 09, 2013

What to Do with Tofu, Part I: Mabodofu, Yummy Tofu With Meat Sauce (Szechwan Style)


Ever wonder what to do with tofu? Something delicious and different so that your guests will ask, "How did you make this? It's wonderful!" Think Chinese cooking is scary and mysterious? This simple and simply delightful recipe can change all that in one stroke. My family loves mabodofu (also written as mabo-dofu, mabo tofu, mapo dofu, etc.) and it's so easy that it gives me a break. Mabodofu means delicious, easy tofu-based entrée everyone will enjoy.
Traditional Chinese versions of mabodofu (from the Szechwan province) use ground pork, but we love it with ground turkey—the meat is so light, you won't need to drain it after cooking. However, if you'd like to, you can try this with ground pork, beef, or lamb—but be sure to drain off the fat before continuing with the recipe.
Another variation that I prefer is sweet white onions instead of green onions, which is the traditional style. Your choice there. My tendency is to use what I have on hand. If you have leeks or shallots, why not use those?
Also, because I am cooking for a four-year-old, I usually make this with ketchup instead of hot chili paste. To make up for it, I serve the dish with chili paste on the side, so the grown-ups can experience the Szechwan kick. (If you think ketchup is icky, you'll be surprised—it's a subtle flavor you can hardly detect and it adds a nice mellowness.)
The recipe below serves six—or four, if you are hungry. And it is a good way to stretch a dollar too—one pound of ground meat along with the tofu serves that many.

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 chopped medium sweet onion (can also use green onions)
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1.25 lbs ground turkey (you can also use ground beef, pork, chicken, or lamb)
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste, to taste (we like Sriracha brand from Thailand)
    —OR—
    If cooking for children, 3 tablespoons ketchup instead of chili paste—serve the chili paste at the table
  • 2 cups chicken stock (I use water and Superior Touch “Better than Bouillon” chicken stock paste, 1 tablespoon to reconstitute)
  • 3-4 tablespoons soy sauce (to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons sake (rice wine or other white wine)
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 2 (14 ounce) containers silken tofu (drained and cut into cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 pinches ground white pepper (white pepper is the quintessential Chinese flava—you gotta get some!)
  1. In a large sturdy frying pan (preferably a 12" one), sauté the onions and the garlic in the oils until onions are somewhat tender (sauté less if using green onions).
  2. Add in the ground meat and chop it up with your spatula as you stir-fry. Continue until meat is no longer pink (takes only a few minutes--do not overcook!).
  3. Add in ginger, chili paste (to taste--leave it out if cooking for a toddler), sake or other wine, soy sauce, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, skimming off fat, if needed.
  4. Add in the cubed tofu and stir gently, while trying to avoid breaking up the cubes. Cook only until tofu is coated and hot (not long!).
  5. Stir the cornstarch into a few tablespoons of water--just to moisten--and add this mixture slowly to the meat and tofu--stirring constantly.
  6. Cook, simmering, for about five minutes so that the tofu gets saturated with the sauce and heated through.
Scoop heaping portions of the mapo dofu over steamed white rice and let guests add in more chili paste, if they desire. Great accompanied by Chinese broccoli (broccolini) that's been lightly sauteed.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Massaged, Rubbed, Subjugated (whatever you want to call it) Raw Kale Salad That Is Palatable, If Not Scrumptious


The title above is a misnomer. As anyone who has eaten raw, unadulterated kale knows, it is not unpalatable. It only looks that way. Intimidatingly curly, tough, bitter—or all three at the same time. But when you taste it, you realize the rugged tangle of green leaves that is kale is not half bad even in its virginal state. But once you do a little doctoring, a wee bit of manipulation, kale can easily be transformed into a delightful rich salad vegetable, like a darker, more ethnic cousin to cabbage.

So how do you do the kale legerdemain? How does one massage kale anyway? Sounds slightly kinky. But it isn’t complicated. There are simply a few rules of raw kale to know. And with those rules, you can be as free as you want in whipping up raw kale salads in many variations that are gobbled down with great relish by even the non-crunchy crowd. And don’t forget one of the big reasons for kale’s burgeoning popularity—turns out it is one of the powerhouses of antioxidants and nutrients that grows in the garden. Now making it delicious too is your new super-power.

Lose the Stems. Kale leaves aren’t so tough—they are easily subdued. But the stems are bad boys, through and through. Get rid of those right away, by ripping, slicing—any way you like. Compost 'em, fearlessly.

Cut leaves into small, easy-to-eat pieces. Like cabbage, which is similar in toughness, kale has a hearty tooth resistance. Cut it into small slivers, though, and like cabbage, it submits to your will. Unlike more tender salad greens, you cannot simply tear and toss and expect good results. Do your diners’ teeth a favor and make kale pieces easy to bite. If the pieces are the size of your mouth, you will find them hard to chew. Let your sharp kitchen knife do the dirty work ahead of time. You don’t have to mince— smallish pieces are good enough.

Marinate ahead of time. Again, unlike salad greens, kale is tougher and actually gets better when doused with salad dressing ahead of time (cabbage does too!). It even tastes great the day after marinating--really! Any combination of oil-acid-salt will work (you probably want to stay away from creamy dressings because kale will turn them green). Be sure to dress your kale at least 20 minutes or more before serving. This softens and lets the leaves be saturated with flavor. It’s lovely—trust me on this. And I don’t mean soaking chopped kale in a bucket of liquid. I mean splashed with dressing, tossed to coat, and left to sit.

Sweeten and go. Because there can be a slight—and I do mean slight—undercurrent of bitterness to kale, you can banish it once and for all with a bit of honey, or sugar, or you-get-the-idea. Just a little is all you need.

Get your hands dirty. After you have done the steps above, dig your hands into your bowl of chopped, marinated, and sweetened kale and stir things up. You do not have to massage it per se. You can simply toss and push and cajole and squeeze occasionally. Do this hand-tossing thing for a couple of minutes without trying too hard and you are finished.

That’s all there is to it. Massaged kale salads are going for double-digits in chichi restaurants all across the country. Congratulations! You have just transformed $2.50 cents worth of grocery store kale (or, my husband says, clipping it from the backyard garden--nada!) into the same thing. Without the fancy name, of course.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Know What's Cooler than a Cucumber on a Hot Day?


Cucumbers taste cool, to be sure—even when it's hot out. But what's even cooler than a cucumber? No, not a cucumber popsicle. Tzatziki. Greek cucumber-yoghurt salad—or relish. I type this just as I am finishing the tzatziki I made last night—wonderful leftover as well. And it makes my tummy feel refreshed. Light. Happy. Greeks, who know something about hot summer days and about cuisine—having worked on it for thousands of years—deserve our fondest respect for their many great culinary contributions to world cuisine.

If you can't find Greek yogurt, you can make it from plain yogurt--just pour yogurt into cheesecloth and let strain for a few hours. Discard the whey and use the resulting creamier yogurt that remains. Greek yoghurt that is sold in stores is much richer, denser, and less sour than regular yogurt. It lends itself well to both sweet and savory dishes and is a wonderful substitute for sour cream.

Go Greek tonight--serve a tomato, spinach, and feta salad, and this fabulously cooling tzatziki with a nice flatbread. Add lamb sliders, if you can find ground lamb. Opa!

Tzatziki, a la WhatEye8

1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
6 cloves crushed garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pink Himalayan salt to taste (or other salt)
1 long English cucumber, peeled and then chopped into tiny bits or grated

Saute the garlic in the olive oil (this step makes the garlic milder and more subtle). Let cool. Add the cucumber and lemon juice to the yogurt. Stir in the garlic and olive oil mixture. Stir and add salt to taste. Sprinkle with something green, such as chopped oregano, basil, chives, mint leaves, etc.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Underloved But Cute as Heck: Brussels Sprouts—Worth One More Try


How many of you actually like Brussels sprouts? Raise your hands. Aww, shucks, this is starting off badly. Um, how about this? How many of you who do not like Brussels sprouts would be willing to try them one more time if they are fresh and prepared well? Now we are getting somewhere. I was in that category myself until my Great Brussels Sprouts Epiphany recently, wherein I bought fresh Brussels, made them in fun ways, and enjoyed the heck out of them. And me, someone who up until recently swore there were only two foods I hated: Brussels sprouts and sea turtle (served in Japan, accompanied by the fresh turtle blood. Thought to be an aphrodisiac, but still ick. But I'm getting off track).

What's the matter with Brussels? They are so iddy bitty and so gosh-darned cute. Like baby cabbages, with adorable curvy little green leaves all over dere widdle globular bodies. They look like something fun to pop into your mouth. I've tried to like them and tried to like them, but one bite of that annoying bitter taste, and well, there's good bitter (like freshly brewed gourmet coffee) and there is bad bitter (like arugula that's been allowed to go to seed but you still try to eat the leaves anyway. Think green quinine. Yuck. There I go again--sorry!).

Trying one more time, I bought some fresh Brussels at a grocery store. Tried to cook them as little as possible, and served them with a lemon-butter-almond sauce. The result was pretty darned good, though not drop-dead from delight yummy. Encouraged, though, I tried again--this time with the idea of roasting them. How delicious many veggies are when roasted--how irresistible, how, well, sweet. And that was when I began to think of Brussels as my newly discovered old friend. And this recipe is ridiculously easy, beautiful to behold, and, my gosh, is that me reaching for seconds and thirds of Brussels sprouts? Now I'm down to hating only sea turtle.

P.S. Fresh Brussels sprouts are NOT bitter unless overcooked. Bitter ones are either not fresh or boiled to death. Fresh
Brussels, prepared well, you are gonna love!

P.P.S. You can always toss in crumbled cooked bacon (or pancetta) for a cheat that might make leary eaters try--and maybe fall for--Brussels.

P.P.P.S. You can also grow Brussels in the garden. They make gorgeous spires with the Brussels sprouts as the buds on the spires. Some grocers now carry Brussels-on-the-spires, too.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Roasted Tricolor Veggies, Italian Style

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1 pound of fresh Brussels sprouts, each head cut into half lengthwise
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1" chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I used Meyers lemon, but any kind will do)
6 cloves fresh pressed garlic (lots of garlic makes this dish delish!)
3 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary (or 1 tablespoon dried)
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon salt (I love Vege-sal)

Parboil the sweet potatoes for two minutes, and then drain. Add the veggies and all the other ingredients to a large bowl and toss to mix thoroughly and to coat the veggies. (Don't worry that the sweet potatoes are steaming hot--just don't burn yourself.) Spread onto a baking sheet or lasagna pan and roast at 350 F for 45 minutes, turning every 15 minutes to make sure veggies get even heat exposure.

I cannot tell you how wonderful and colorful and charming this dish is. Sure, you can use lots of other combinations of vegetables, but the green, orange, red are gorgeous together. And the flavor of those slightly crunchy little Brussels is phenomenal--completely rounded out by the sweet flavors of the sweet potatoes and roasted peppers. Enjoy!

Monday, May 20, 2013

What to Do with All That Leftover . . . Ham—Asian-style Ham Noodle Salad

Do you have pounds of leftover ham in your refrigerator that you don't know what to do with? Do you find you can't face another plate of, well, sliced ham? Here is an easy and fabulous trick to serve your loved ones leftover ham that has almost no hint of its former origin. You will win praise and admiration, and secretly know you were smart to use up rather than toss out. Also, if you love Asian restaurant ginger-soy salad dressing, you will find this great recipe below.

Ingredients

· 1 (12 ounce) package chow mein noodles (you could also substitute soba noodles, or rice noodles)
· 2 cups cooked ham, julienned
· 1 cup pineapple, julienned (optional)
· 1 cup vegetables (julienned carrots, cooked haricot verts green beans [the skinny kind], mushrooms, asparagus cut in 1-inch pieces, etc.)
· 3 cups salad greens

Directions

1. Cook a 12 oz. package of chow mein noodles (they look like spaghetti noodles), as directed, rinse in cold water to stop them from growing, drain, and then set aside.
2. Julienne about half a pound (a couple of cups worth) of ham--long, thin slices work well with the chow mein.
3. Add in veggies. Make sure if you are using crunchy veggies to cook first if necessary (green beans).
4. If you have pineapple on hand, julienne it, and add to the ham.
5. Toss ham-veggie mixture with Asian Restaurant Ginger-Soy salad dressing (recipe below), along with the noodles, and serve over a bed of fresh greens, such as spinach, romaine, endive, etc.

Asian Restaurant Ginger-soy Salad Dressing

o 1 tablespoon ginger juice , from fresh ginger
o 2 tablespoons soy sauce
o 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
o 1/3 cup salad oil
o 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Grate enough fresh ginger root (a couple of tablespoons) to squeeze out 1 tablespoon of ginger juice. To the ginger juice add 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, and 1/3 cup of salad oil. If you have sesame seeds, toss in a tablespoon (especially love the toasted kind, called irigoma). Remember how to make this dressing--it is to-die-for delicious with so many other salads, and is ridiculously easy to make.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Don't Be Afraid of Goi Cuon: Vietnamese Salad Rolls Demystified



You've probably either had these lovely delicacies or at least seen them—translucent-skinned salad roll-ups with shrimp, sprouts, and who-knows-what-else, served at Vietnamese restaurants. They look too cool for words and have a subtlety that is jazzed up by dipping them into some kind of mystery Vietnamese dipping sauce.
Do not be afraid—you can make these bad boys at home. My four-year-old made one herself (with only a little help from the grown-ups). My suggestion is to array the fillings of choice on a platter, have a big bowl of warm water for dipping the rice-paper wrappers in, and maybe a couple of choices of dipping sauces. So fun for guests to pile their own toppings on the rice paper (look for rice paper wrappers [Bahn Trang] at Asian stores or buy online), roll up, and dip. I'm all about participatory eating: Shabu-shabu, Peking Duck, Fondue, Make-your-own-tacos—you name it. If you help create it, somehow, food tastes even better.

So here's a quick-and-dirty how-to for building a Gui Cuon, Vietnamese Salad Rolls (or Spring Rolls) meal:

Potential Filling Ingredients
Choose the ones you like or have handy, but at least have cucumbers, sprouts, and noodles.
  • Fried tofu strips
  • Cilantro
  • Thai basil
  • Mint leaves
  • Shiso leaves
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Carrots, julienned
  • Cucumber, julienned
  • Rice noodles or bean thread noodles (I prefer bean thread because you are already eating rice with the rice paper wrappers), soaked in hot water until soft for 10 to 15 minutes and then drained
  • Sirloin strips, marinated in lemongrass/garlic/fish sauce/sugar marinade, and grilled
  • Shrimp, deveined, butterflied, cooked
Dipping Sauces

Friday, April 19, 2013

Make Your Own Taco Seasoning or Mexican Red Sauce the Easy Way

A couple of things I know for sure and that is that Mexican home cooks do not keep little containers around their kitchen labeled "Taco Seasoning" or "Chili Powder." Same for Indian home cooks and "Curry Powder." They just don't. Both of those are gringo (or gora) interpretations and simplifications (if not perversions) of Mexican and Indian flavors. But if you are one of those people--like me--who doesn't use garlic powder when there is perfectly good fresh garlic just sitting there waiting to be crushed, then read on.

I started learning how to make the Mexican flavor after I noticed, years ago, that the ingredients in any jar of chili powder are basically, dried ground chilies, salt, garlic, oregano, and cumin. Those are items I have in the pantry, so why pay for some dinky and even expensive packet that serves one or two meals and contains a ton of salt? It makes no sense. Also, I have a treasured copy of a 1970s Sunset cookbook called, Mexican Cooking to give me guidance. And it contains non-gringo-fied authentic recipes that contain actual lard (YUM!) and other mainstays of made-from-scratch Mexican cookery. The Sunset recipe for taco meat is that you first make red sauce. Surprise! If you learn to make red sauce you will not only be able to make the sauce that goes on enchiladas (and that tortillas are dipped in for enchiladas), but you will also be able to whip up tacos-any-flavor, using your preferred meat or fish (or vegetarian equivalent--tempeh tacos, anyone?)

The old-fashioned and correct version is to start with those lovely dried chilies you see in the Mexican section of grocery stores. They could be anchos, pasilla, or California chiles. You toast the dried chiles in the oven, remove, cool, rip out the seeds, soak in water, and then blend. But I am lazy and if it requires going through that dried-to-pureed chili cha-cha, I just won't make tacos or red sauce very often. Here's my lazy cheater's version that still tastes authentico and you probably have the ingredients lying around anyway.

  • Olive oil
  • Fresh garlic, crushed
  • Paprika, smoked paprika, any kind of dried ground chili powder you have on hand (you can buy a variety in the Mexican section of most grocery stores for around $1 per packet--a common one is "Chile California Molido" in El Guapo brand)--any combination of mild ground chiles
  • Oregano--fresh if you have it, dried if not
  • Ground cumin
  • Tomato paste if you have it, if not, ketchup. Yes, ketchup--don't get all snooty on me.
  • Chicken stock (if you get a jar of Better Than Bouillon Chicken Stock on hand, it will last months in the refrigerator
  • Salt to taste
  • Corn starch with water to blend it

Start with olive oil in a frying pan. Add crushed garlic and saute quickly--do not allow to brown. Add any combination of mild ground chiles, as listed above. If paprika is all you have, use that. Be generous--you want it to be red colored. Add chicken stock, tomato paste, cumin, oregano, and stir to mix. Add a slurry of cornstarch and water (1 tablespoon cornstarch per cup of liquid). Stir quickly as it will thicken into a gravy. A Mexican gravy. Taste and adjust seasonings. How much you add of each is up to you. You should have a reddish, savory, just-salty-enough red sauce, also known as salsa de chile rojo.

Ready to convert this into taco seasoning? Add your raw beef, chicken, fish, tempeh, etc., and cook while stirring. That's it. Serve with Mexican trimmings and garnish with lime and cilantro.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lazy Leftovers Reconfigured

Everyone has lazy days--or at least should to insure stress-reduction that can help us have a longer life. But on a lazy day or night, do you want to eat fast food or takeout? Or do you want to stay in and use what's already in the fridge and transform it into something yummy? Yes. Me too.

We all know the trick of leftover roast chicken one night becoming chicken soup the next day. The same goes for roast beef to beef vegetable soup. But what about risotto (or pilaf or jambalaya) one day into rice soup the next day (this is a great trick--the broth that is in the risotto makes the water into broth as it cooks!)? And what about leftover mashed potatoes or potatoes au gratin turning into potato soup the next day? (Add water, cook until it disintegrates, and then puree.)

Another lazy leftovers trick: Cube leftover meat or tofu you are feeling unenthusiastic about eating again. Cook rice and allow to cool. Toss in Mediterranean items to jazz it up (tomatoes, cukes, marinated artichokes, kalamata olives), as well as olive and red wine vinegar (or your favorite dressing). Form the rice into a mound, surround it by a moat of chopped lettuces, and top with sauteed chunks of the leftover meat. Serve with a smattering of cilantro. Okay--that's a tad less lazy than the others, but you didn't have to drive to the store. Use what you have on hand is my favorite lazy foodie manifesto.

What is your favorite lazy day leftover transformation? Send yours to WhatEye8.com and we will post them!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Creamed Shrimp with Butter Rice (Ebi no Kurimu ni Bataaraisu Zoe)


A visual treat and a delight to eat, this dish satisfies on every level, and never fails to impress. Although not difficult to prepare, it does require many steps and ingredients. If you have a rice cooker, though, you are halfway there. I took the original recipe from Keiko Hayashi's Japanese Cooking: Try It, You'll Like It, and added more veggies, tarting it up in a distinctly southern California way (I bought the dish a Hurley surf-skirt and some Oakley sunglasses, is all). I'm convinced, though, that despite it's Japanese association, this creamed shrimp dish likely evolved from French cuisine--who else uses so much butter so wantonly (beside me)? Here's what this colorful presentation can look like (above), with many layers and textures. Because salad and starch and entree are all in there together, no need to serve with anything but a large spoon and a smile.

Creamed Shrimp with Butter Rice and Vegetables, a la Tumerica

Shrimp and Sauce
1 pound raw, shelled shrimp
Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons sake or white wine
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup mushrooms (crimini, portobello, white, or shiitake--if dried, reconstitute first)
2 tablespoons brandy or cognac
3 tablespoons flour
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup cream

Butter Rice
1 1/2 cups jasmine or other long-grained rice
2 to 2 1/4 cups chicken stock--to prepare rice according to package directions
2 tablespoons butter

Garnishes
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1 large or two medium tomatoes, chopped
2 cups fresh Swiss chard or spinach leaves, chopped loosely, stir-fried only to wilt

  1. Prepare rice according to package directions (Jasmine rice is 1 1/2 cups of rinsed rice to 2 1/4 cups water), substituting chicken stock for water and adding in butter before the water boils. Set aside, covered.
  2. Sauté shrimp and wine only to cook the shrimp, a couple of minutes, max. Set aside.
  3. Saute mushrooms and shrimp in two tablespoons butter, sprinkle with brandy or cognac off-flame and return to heat. Remove the shrimp and mushrooms and add in the chicken stock.
  4. Melt one tablespoon butter, whisking in flour, and cook until bubbly. Add in the chicken stock mixture., stirring well, and cooking to a smooth consistency. Remove from heat again, and this time add in the whisked egg yolks and cream. Return to heat, add in shrimp and mushrooms, and correct seasonings with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Mold the rice in a bowl and overturn the bowl into the center of a serving platter. Create a well in the center of the rice. Pour the shrimp-sauce mixture into the hollow, letting the sauce dribble down the sides of the rice.
  6. Create a circle of sauteed Swiss chard or spinach around the outside of the rice. Spread evenly to make a ring of green.
  7. Just inside the ring of green, create a ring of red by scattering the chopped tomatoes the same way.
  8. Lastly, garnish with the cilantro in the very center and serve immediately.