Sunday, April 17, 2011

Breakfast Reinventions: Part I: Oatmeal

The first I heard of savory oatmeal was in an interview of Roy Yamaguchi in Honolulu Magazine where he described adding all sorts of unconventional toppings to his oatmeal, including eggs and green onions.  After doing some web research I began to think of oatmeal as a risotto-like base and decided to, hesitantly, give it a shot. My reluctance came from a general dislike of mixing sweet and salty; if syrup touches my eggs, for example, I might gag. But alas, the trusted Roy came through again, and this whole savory oatmeal thing is my new obsession*.

Savory Oatmeal
serves 2

1 cup oats
2 1/4 cups water or stock (if on hand)
2 handfuls torn spinach
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 eggs
salt & pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan boil the water and add the oats, cooking over medium heat. After about 2 minutes, add the spinach. Cook about 5 minutes total, or until liquid is absorbed and oats are tender. Mix in the cheese and cover. In a small frying pan heat some butter over medium high heat and fry up a couple eggs to preferred doneness. Spoon oatmeal into bowls and top with eggs.

Additions: mushrooms, onions, bacon, sausage

Substitutions: cheddar or whatever for parmesan, poached eggs instead of fried

*I must admit that my husband did not like this recipe. Which is really shocking because he likes everything. He said it was "weird." So add it to the only-for-me list. But still, I can't wait to try this out as a supper entree in other combinations, will have to wait for a night when he's not home;) 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Easy Mini Pizzas

So canned biscuit dough is not my usual definition of healthful fare, but it makes for such an easy weeknight dinner that I figure as long as they are loaded up with lots of good-for-you toppings, it all evens out in the end. Plus, I love tearing open the paper seal and hearing the POP, makes me nostalgic. Of course, you can choose whatever suits your fancy to top these little pizzas, (or better yet, whatever is in your cupboard) but here is a fun and unexpectedly good recipe to try.

Easy Mini Pizzas - Squash Version (don't be scared)
(serves 4)

1 can biscuit dough (such as Pillsbury, make sure there are at least 10 biscuit in the can)
3 cups or so (depends how thick you want it) cooked and mashed squash (here in Hawaii I use Kobocha, but butternut will do just fine)
1 clove chopped garlic
1 TBL olive oil
1 cup or so shredded parmesan reggiano cheese
salt & pepper

Heat oven according to package directions on biscuits (usually 425). Place the biscuit dough about 1 inch apart in cookie sheets and press them until very thin and flat, about 1/4 inch thick. In a small bowl, combine squash, garlic and oil and mash together with a fork. Generously heap each pizza with the squash mixture. Top with cheese. Bake according to biscuit package specs (usually 8-10 minutes). That's it! Serve with salad.

So squash pizza sounds weird, but trust me, it is so good! It has such a rich and comforting flavor. In the past I've also made squash pizzas with mushrooms, sage, and gorgonzola. Use whatever cheese sounds good to you, but probably avoid cheddar. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chayote Squash Curry

I bought some chayote squash at the farmer's market and the vendor suggested making a curry out of it. It's helped me a lot to ask how to prepare the veggies when buying something unfamiliar, and chayote was a little out of my veggie comfort zone. Chayote is in the gourd family (along with cucumbers, melons, and other squash) and originates from Mesoamerica (Mexico, central America). Below is the recipe I ended up with, adapted from a Southeast Asian Squash Curry recipe found on Epicurious.

Chayote squash
Chayote Squash Curry
Makes at least 4 servings

2 or so TBL vegetable oil
2 chayote squash peeled, seeded and sliced into bite sized pieces
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 can coconut milk (don't stir after opening)
2 tsp chili garlic paste (Sambal Oelek)
1 tsp curry powder
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 whole cloves
5 cups or so fresh, torn spinach
1 TBL fish sauce
brown rice (for serving on top of)

Over medium high heat, cook the cumin seeds and squash in 1 TBL oil for 8-10 minutes or until squash begins to brown. Remove squash from pan and set aside. Turn down to medium heat, adding more oil, and cook onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Spoon 1/4 cup of the coconut milk into the onions (just the fat part at the top, not the liquid part) and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the Sambal Oelek and curry powder and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add squash, water, cinnamon, cloves, and remaining milk and simmer, covered until squash is fork tender, about 15 minutes. Add the spinach and cook for another minute or so, then finally, stir in the fish sauce.

This came out wonderful considering it was my first attempt at a curry. A couple tips, make sure you peel the squash well before slicing, it is totally unchewable. Also, in the original recipe I adapted, it calls for red curry paste versus the Sambal Oelek and curry powder, this might be a better option if you have it, there just wasn't any in my cupboards. It just goes to show that you never have to follow any recipe exactly, just improvise! 


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