Recently I had one of those nights when I came home late and exhausted and all I wanted to do was flop down on the couch and watch something fun on TV (current obsessions: House of Cards, True Detective, Ripper Street, The Americans and don’t even call me on Sunday nights once Game of Thrones is back BECAUSE I WILL NOT ANSWER THE PHONE).
Those are the nights when I want to cook something fast and easy, and I don’t want to have to make a special trip to the store to get ingredients. I looked in the pantry and thought “Yes! You can do this, Clifton. Find something in there to make that doesn’t suck!” Well, I’ll tell you this. A warm bowl of homemade tomato soup does not suck.
Until tomato season comes round again (it’s hard to remember a time when the yard wasn’t basically permafrost), big cans of good tomatoes are a perfect pantry standby. You can make this soup with either crushed or whole plum tomatoes, if you don’t mind crushing them with your hands. Some of you might quite enjoy doing that, I don’t know, that’s your business. Either way, you will want a stick blender to finish the job.
NOTE: If you’re feeling extra-fancy, make a little grilled cheese sandwich to go alongside your masterpiece. I, of course, was far too lazy even for that and just spread some goat cheese on a cracker and sprinkled some black pepper and scallions over it. Oh, and some chopped radishes on the side because they’re also red.
The first thing that every schoolchild learns about King Alfred is that he burned some loaves. The history books clearly could not come to an agreement on what Alfred actually looked like, but they all agreed that he was a big old loaf-burner.
The schoolchild later, of course, goes on to learn about Alfred’s leadership of the Anglo-Saxons, his fortification of London and his effective resistance against the Danish incursions of England in the 9th century AD, but the first thought that gets dredged up at the mention of his name is, inevitably, “That Alfred, eh, couldn’t even work an oven properly”.
Which goes to show two things.
First, don’t leave a king to do a baker’s work, he’s going to have his mind thoroughly busy with keeping the Vikings out of Mercia, of course he’s not going to pay attention to mundane culinary matters. And secondly, it doesn’t matter how effective you are in your chosen career (eg, King of England), everyone’s going to remember that one time you ruined a batch of bread.
Which brings me to the subject of today’s post.
Yes, these chocolate truffles are decadent and luxurious but they’re also simple to put together and they will wow a party or an intimate dinner for two.
INT. MATT AND EMILY’S LIVING ROOM. 2PM, VALENTINE’S DAY.
Fast-paced close-up montage of: Fastening crampons. Pulling on ski mask. Adjusting gloves. Snapping on protective goggles.
EMILY: This is madness! You’re never going to make it!
MATT: I’ve got to try! Don’t you see? (Looks out window at a wall of swirling white, a brutal blizzard)
MATT (CONT’D): (Quietly) I have to at least try.
EMILY: Okay. Be careful.
MATT: Wait, what? (Looks back out window as a chicken blows past, another victim)
MATT (CONT’D): Are you insane? It’s crazy out there! Isn’t there anything we can make with just chocolate, butter and eggs?
EMILY: (Also looks out window, into the middle distance) Yes. Yes there is.
HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES!
All you need is day-old steamed rice, some good garlic, and an egg to make a quick breakfast, lunch or supper – garlic fried rice.
Blah blah, winter. Blah blah snow. Blah blah thiswinterismakingmeinsane. Okay, obligatory whining done. Whew, I actually feel better.
Rice! (I love a good non-sequitor). Is there a a container of leftover rice in your refrigerator right now? If so, you are in luck, my friend. Why, you ask? Because your mission (a delicious, quick and easy breakfast) should you choose to accept it, involves that rice, some garlic and an egg.
Basically, this is a garlic fried rice recipe from the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook, that I used to make all the time. I’m pretty sure the recipe was actually called the Philippine Breakfast and it’s so simple, I didn’t even need to look it up to remember how make it again.
Don’t be put off by the garlic. It gets lovely and nutty when cooked this way. Not pungent at all. I like to serve it with a few slices of avocado, a lime wedge and a sprinkle of Maldon salt. Matt loves it with a squirt of sriracha.
- Be careful not to burn the garlic. Burned garlic is horrifying and if you really scorch it you should really throw it out, clean the pan and give it another go.
- Garlic fried rice works with pretty much any kind of rice (except wild rice which isn’t really rice at all).
- If you like things extra-spicy, try using a habanero pepper, but don’t sue me if you burn your bits and pieces off.
- The pepper vinegar gets better and better as it sits, so make extra and store it in the fridge for next time.
Okay, as those of you who live on the east coast of the U.S. know, winter has decided to be extremely, um… generous with us lately. In fact, we are pretty much being bent over it’s knee and spanked like a naughty toddler. We still have a foot of snow on the ground and there’s another snowstorm coming tonight. Yay? (I figure if I pretend to be cool/whatever about it as opposed to horrified, winter will get bored and GO AWAY).
WINTER: Warm weather is life’s great lie! Once you accept your icy fate, this frozen hell-scape will welcome you and you will know peace!
EMILY: [Chomps on a gingery noodle] Okay.
WINTER: Is that all you have to say? No begging? No mewling?
EMILY: [Goes for seconds] Nope.
WINTER: Well, that’s disappointing. [Makes a small child slip and drop his hot chocolate]. Ah, better.
Nerd warning: Want to see a picture of Matt trying to get to the grocery store? Winter is still coming, it seems. Bloody hell.
No joke, for the first time in my life I had to drive on a highway through a blizzard and it was not fun (remember, this New York City girl just got her driver’s license a year ago). Matt practically had to pry my hands off the steering wheel when we got home because I was gripping it so tightly.
Luckily there are some dishes that work well regardless of the season, and this is one of them. I would happily make this on a warm summer night (remember those?), or on a freezing cold one. It was inspired (again) by a Melissa Clark recipe, though I changed the ratios a bit (more bok choy, added hoisin and sriracha). It’s got a great kick from the ginger and chili, and you should feel free to make it as spicy as you like.