Stir-fry

This is more of a template than a recipe, since you can use any combination of vegetables and protein you like, with a very simple but delicious sauce.

I tend to do onion, broccoli, red bell pepper, and mushrooms as a basic veggie formula. Recently, in order to save myself all the chopping time, I’ve been using frozen stir-fry vegetables. These can be expensive, but Costco has a nice mix for a reasonable price, and it’s a good thing to keep in your freezer for emergencies.

Here’s the method:

Choose your protein. I’ve used chicken, shrimp, and tofu all very successfully. This gets cooked first. Cube the chicken or tofu, or peel the shrimp, and cook on high heat with a little canola oil until cooked through (in the case of chicken/shrimp) or browned on most sides (tofu). Note on tofu: it always sticks to my wok something awful, so I tend to do it in a separate non-stick skillet. Remove to a plate or bowl.

Add a little more oil to your skillet or wok and start cooking vegetables. If using fresh vegetables, add the ones that need the longest cook time first (e.g. onion and broccoli) and proceed in order every few minutes. If using frozen vegetables, put a lid on the skillet for part of the time so the steam can help the veggies defrost faster.

Sauce. In a small glass measuring cup, combine 1 cup vegetable broth, 3-4 T tamari, and a heaping T corn starch. Whisk.

When the vegetables are almost cooked but still crispy (or thawed and almost hot), add the protein and the sauce to the wok and stir. As soon as the sauce starts to boil, it will thicken and turn clear, and you are done. Serve with the spiced coconut rice.

Variations and Remarks: I’ve made the sauce with chicken broth, but I actually like it better with vegetable broth (even when using chicken in the stir-fry) because the chicken broth is too overpowering of the other flavors.

Last week I was unexpectedly out of broth of all sorts, so I improvised. San-J has a line of gluten-free Asian sauces, and I had bought a few to experiment with, so I had a GF teriyaki sauce in the fridge. I dumped a third of the bottle in with my veggies, and fearing that the water from the frozen veggies would dilute it too much, recklessly added a splash of tamari and a sprinkle of corn starch. Brooks claims this was the best stir-fry of all time although I don’t necessarily recommend using your good teriyaki sauce on it on a regular basis.

Sofrito (Daisy Martinez’s version)

From Daisycooks.com:

There is no other recipe I could have chosen to open with. This is the one indispensable, universal, un-live-withoutable recipe. Having said that, it is incredibly easy to make with ingredients you can find at the supermarket. And if you can’t find all the ingredients I list below see the note that follows for a very simple fix. What sofrito does is add freshness, herbal notes and zing to dishes — you can do that with the onion, garlic, bell pepper, cilantro and tomato alone.

In my house, sofrito makes its way into everything from yellow rice, black bean soup, sauce for spaghetti and meatballs to braised chicken and sautéed shrimp. Not only that, it freezes beautifully, so in about In 10 minutes you can make enough sofrito to flavor a dozen dishes. I’m telling you, this stuff does everything but make the beds. Try out your first batch of sofrtio in the recipes you’ll find throughout this site, or add sofrito to some of your own favorite dishes that could use a little boost. You will change the way you cook. I guarantee it.

Makes about 4 cups.
If you can’t find ajices dulces or culantro, don’t sweat. Up the amount of cilantro to 1 ½ bunches.

2 medium Spanish onions, cut into large chunks
3 to 4 Italian frying peppers or cubanelle peppers
16 to 20 cloves garlic, peeled
1 large bunch cilantro, washed
7 to 10 ajices dulces (see note below), optional
4 leaves of culantro (see note below), or another handful cilantro
3 to 4 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into large chunks
 

Chop the onion and cubanelle or Italian peppers in the work bowl of a food processor until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, add the remaining ingredients one at a time and process until smooth. The sofrito will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It also freezes beautifully. Freeze sofrito in ½ cup batches in sealable plastic bags. They come in extremely handy in a pinch. You can even add sofrito straight from the freezer to the pan in any recipe that calls for it in this book.
Pantry Notes: Ajices Dulces, also known as cachucha or ajicitos are tiny sweet peppers with a hint of heat. They range in color from light to medium green and yellow to red and orange. They add freshness and an herby note to the sofrito and anything you cook. Do not mistake them for Scotch bonnet or Habanero chilies (which they look like)–those two pack a wallop when it comes to heat. If you can find ajicitos in your market, add them to sofrito. If not, up the cilantro and add a pinch of cayenne pepper. Culantro is not cilantro. It has long leaves with tapered tips and serrated edges. When it comes to flavor, culantro is like cilantro times ten. It is a nice, not essential addition to sofrito. (See Sources for both the above.)

Cranberry Pear Conserve

Yes, the much-lauded Robinson Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.

1 orange, peel grated
2 c. sugar
2 lbs pears, peeled, cored, and cut into small-ish pieces
1 c. golden raisins
4 T lemon juice
24 oz. cranberries
Cinnamon
Cloves

In a food processor, pulse the grated orange peel and sugar together until well mixed. Pour into a large pot with the remaining ingredients, mix well, and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently until the cranberries skins have burst and the sauce is thick and dark red.