Cooking

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Rand's Cooking


I've always been working on my cooking. In the 80's, it was Chocolate Chip Cake, Lasagna and Tuna Fish Sandwiches with Avocado and Sprouts. In the 90's I got turned on to cooking with a wok and pressure cooker. Pressure cooking short grain brown rice became a staple. In the 2000's, I started getting into Indian Cuisine. I've amassed a nice collection of recipes that I have posted on my food page (the menu). I'll write on this page about some of my discoveries and techniques in the kitchen.





Pressure Cooking Short Grain Brown Rice

There is a subtle thing going on with this recipe. I read a whole book on this technique by a Chinese woman. She talked about how all her meals revolved around this technique. Here is how it goes:

Rinse the rice in water 2-3 times and drain. Put the rice, water and salt in the pressure cooker and put the lid and rocker on. I use a 4-Quart Presto Stainless Steel pressure cooker and only use it for making rice. Put the heat on high to bring it up to pressure. When the rocker starts rocking, lower the heat to low or just above low. Just enough so the rocker continues to rock. Then keep the heat on for 20 minutes. Then turn the heat off and let it set for 10 minutes. Then take the rocker off to release the pressure.

If you let it cook a little longer than that, you can get it so the bottom gets a little crunchy. It can really have a nice nutty texture to it. I make up a batch of this and put it in the fridge and then have it with my oatmeal in the morning. This is how that works:

Bring the water to a boil. Add the oats and the salt. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the water is almost gone and it starts to crackle. Add a big scoop of the cooked short grain brown rice and mix it in. Serve with a pad of butter and a teaspoon of brown sugar.

Pressure Cooking White Indian Basmati Rice

I like getting the white rice imported from India for my curries in the evening. Here is how I do it in the pressure cooker:

Rinse the rice and drain. Add the rice, water and salt in the pressure cooker and put the lid and rocker on. Put the heat on high to bring it up to pressure. When the rocker starts rocking, lower the heat to low or just above low. Just enough so the rocker continues to rock. Then keep the heat on for 3 minutes. Then turn the heat off and let it set for 10 minutes. Then take the rocker off to release the pressure.


Soups

On most Saturday afternoons I find myself doing some prep cooking for the week. I often make soup stock. It's a good way to use up the older vegetables and save some money and packaging that comes with buying soup stock. I usually do something like this:

In a large pot, add the oil and turn the heat on to medium high. Add the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the celery and carrots. Mix it up and the put the lid on to braise for 2 minutes. Add the cabbage and other vegetables and braise with the lid on for another 2 minutes. Add the 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on for almost an hour. Strain the vegetables out with a colander and discard the vegetables. I take the extra effort and do another strain with a fine screen. Add the salt and paprika. Pour into mason jars and put in the fridge. Makes about 3 quarts of vegetable stock.

Butternut Squash Soup

This is one of my main recipes that I did myself. Making good Butternut Squash soup is simple. I slice the Butternut Squash in half lengthwise and take the seeds out. I put it face down in a casserole dish. No need to oil or season it. Preheat the oven to 320 degrees. Put the dish in the oven. No need to cover with foil. It's face down so it will steam itself. Cook for 50-60 minutes and then turn the heat off. Leave it in the oven for another 20-30 minutes. Take it out of the oven.

Then scoop out the squash into a medium saucepan. Add one quart vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add 1 tsp Salt, 1/2 tsp Paprika and 1/4 tsp Fine Ground Black Pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes. Put the soup in a blender and puree. That's it. I've found that I prefer this soup cold.




Rice and vegetable stock are a good foundation. My cooking really expanded when I started studying recipes. I would go downtown to Powell's Books and browse through the cooking section until I found a book that had a recipe that really turned me on. My philosophy is that if I can get just one good recipe out of a book, it's worth the cost of the book. If I get others, that's a bonus. I've found two Indian cookbooks that are jam packed with good recipes:

My Butternut Squash Soup was inspired by Kurma's Pumpkin Pie recipe. The technique for cooking a ghord. The subtitle for 660 Curries is "The gateway to Indian cooking." I've noticed that the combinations of spices and vegetables is fairly delicate. I love how most of the curries in the book are cooked with water instead of coconut milk. It's got a lot of meat recipes in it, but there are so many recipes that it works great for vegans and vegetarians.

Popping mustard seeds like popcorn is about the best thing ever for a chef. Once you take the lid off, there is this wonderful aroma. Then you add an onion to it and stir fry. I love starting a meal like that.





English Muffins

I've been making english muffins lately. I've been using the bread machine for years, but I was still buying english muffins for my garden burgers. I don't use the bread machine for these, but the process really isn't that complicated.

https://www.bakedbyanintrovert.com/homemade-english-muffins/






Chocolate Chip Cake

I've been making this since high school. Mom clipped it out of a magazine.

Preheat oven to 350.

I make this by creaming the sugar, butter and eggs first. I usually do it with the cold butter, but it might be better if you let it soften up a bit at room temperature.

Then I add the powdered ingredients and mix. Then I add the sour cream.

Pour that out onto a greased 6x9 or similar cassorole dish. Sprinkle your desired amount of chocolate chips on top. Sprinkle some sugar on top. Cook for 35 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes and then have some while the chocolate chips are still melted!

I've been calling this a coffee cake lately.


Pizza Dough / Cinnamon Rolls

This is my mom's dough recipe:

I've been using the bread machine for this lately. To do that, put the water, oil and egg in the bread machine. Then mix the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Then pour that over the liquids in the bread machine. Make a pocket for the yeast in the flour and put the yeast in it. Then set it on the dough cycle and let it do it's thing. Then you have dough!

To make pizza with the dough, I lightly flour a surface and knead the dough a couple times on it. Then I cut the dough into two pieces and put each one on a lightly floured plate. Then I stretch them out into a pizza crust, put my toppings on them and then fold them in half and seal them to make a calzone. Then I make 3-4 slits in the top of them and put them on a baking sheet. I put them in the oven for 18 minutes at 400F.

To make cinnamon rolls with it, I lightly flour a surface and keead the dough a couple times. Then I stretch/roll it into a rectangle. Then I spread whipped butter over it. Then I sprinkle brown sugar on it. Then I sprinkle some cinnamon on it (a teaspoon or two). Then you roll it up, cut it into 16 rounds and put them in a lightly oiled baking pan. Cover that with a towel and let it rise for an hour on the counter. Then bake it in the oven at 350F for 18 minutes until golden brown on top.


Pie Crust

Pie crust is simple to do, but can be a little tricky to get right. Here are the ingredients:

OK, this is how I do it... I keep a 32 ounce jar of water in the fridge so I always have cold water. Put the flour and salt in a medium size bowl and mix. Then cut the cold butter into 1 tbsp pieces and put it in with the flour. Then use a pastery knive to cut the butter up into the flour. If you don't have a pastery knife, I guess you can use a fork. The trick is that you want to mix it in so that it has a crumb like texture. Don't over mix though. The more you mix and longer it takes, the warmer the butter will get. When you make a pie crust, the goal is to keep the butter cold!

Then start mixing in the cold water 2 tbs at a time. Mix as little as possible. Once it is a fairly non-sticky dough, form it into a disc. Then wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes or more. It's very important to form the disc and put it in the fridge. We've got to get that butter cold again.

Now you can take it out of the fridge and roll it with the roller and a little bit of flour. Because it's cold and in a disc shape, it'll roll out into a nice circle. If you don't put it back in the fridge, it's nearly impossible to roll out correctly. Once you have it rolled out, take the pie plate and put it face down on the dough. You can use it as a guide to make an even cut around the outside.

Great! You have a pie shell! Now put it back in the fridge (in the pie pan with plastic wrap if you wish), we still have to keep that butter cold! When I make a pumpkin pie with it, I then mix the filling and pre-heat the oven. When the oven is almost up to temperature, I take the pie crust out and put the filling in it right before putting it into the oven. Keeping the crust cold and dry right until you put it in the oven is how you get it to be flakey!




Rand's Curry

For the Chickpea Dumplings (from 660 Curries):

For the Curry:

Make the chickpea dumplings:

Combine the garbanzo bean flour with the rest of the dry ingredients and mix in a medium bowl. Add the sour cream and mix with your fingers to form a ball. Get as much of the mixture as you can (within reason) off your fingers and wash your hands. Drizzle the oil on the dough. Lightly flour a surface and knead the dough on it a few times. Form the dough into a rectangle and cut into 6 strips. Roll each strip with your fingers into a 6 inch log.

Heat an omelette pan filled 2/3 with water to a boil. Add the chickpea dumpling logs and cook for 15 minutes, turning them occasionally. Drain the logs in a collander and rinse them with cold water. Line up the logs on your cutting board and cut them crosswise into 1/2 inch segments. You can make these ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. The longer you keep them in the fridge, the more likely they are to give you a little gas when you eat them.

To make the curry:

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on medium high heat. Add the mustard seeds and cover. The seeds will pop like popcorn. After they are done popping, add the onion and stir fry for 3-5 minutes. Then add all of the spices and gently cook them for about one minute.

Add the 2 cups of water and the carrot. Cover and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Then add the chickpea dumplings and cook, covered for 5 minutes. Then add the sour cream and cilantro and cook, uncovered for 3-5 minutes. Serve with white rice.

I often use just a half batch of the chickpea dumplings and then make the same dinner the next day with the other half. I use a lot of water in this recipe because I like to have a lot of sauce for the rice.


The 2020 Curry (split pea soup)

Soak the split green peas in water for 6 hours or overnight. It's good to drain the water and refill at least once.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on medium high heat. Add the mustard seeds and cover to pop them like popcorn. After they are done popping, remove the lid and add the split yellow peas. Cook for 10 seconds, then add the hot pepper and cook for 10 seconds. Then add the cumin, fenugreek, turmeric and salt. Gently cook the spices for 15 seconds. Add the water and split green peas and bring to the boil. Partially cover and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for 20 minutes. Then add the carrot and simmer, partially covered for 10 more minutes. Remove the lid and add the sour cream. Raise the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Server over rice.


Sambhar Masala

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018036-sambhar-masala

It's really quite fun making this spice mixture!


The 4040 Curry

Soak the split yellow peas in water for 6 hours or overnight. It's good to drain the water and refill at least once.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on medium high heat. Add the mustard seeds and cover to pop them like popcorn. After they are done popping, remove the lid and add the dry split yellow peas. Cook for 10 seconds. Then add the sambhar masala , turmeric and salt. Gently cook the spices for 15 seconds. Add the water and split yellow peas and bring to the boil. Partially cover and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for 25 minutes. Then add the diced tomato, raise the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Add the sour cream and cook for another 5 minutes. Server over rice.