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Every Grain of Rice

Simple, healthy Chinese cooking that's better than (and almost as easy as) takeout

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My grandma Bunny had a rule about dining out. She believed that if you were going to eat at a restaurant, you had to choose one that served food that you weren’t able to make at home. In Bunny’s case, that meant that she passed on the Italian and American joints in her neighborhood and opted instead for Mexican, Vietnamese, and Chinese.

This always seemed to be me to be sound advice and so, throughout my adulthood, I’ve always made a point to seek out restaurants serving food that was outside my own skills as a cook.

I’ve always found Chinese food to be a particularly mysterious cuisine to cook at home, with all the different sauces, spices, and fermented condiments. So in the past, when I’ve had a craving for flavorful beef with tender crisp broccoli, or cold, spicy noodles, I reached for the takeout menu. MORE

The Whole Chicken Project TM_WC_SPATCH_FI_001

For this month’s Whole Chicken Project, we’re going to talk about spatchcocking. Go ahead, giggle. It does sound like an impossibly dirty thing to do to a poor bird. The first time I heard the word, I conjured
up mental images of a raw chicken being trussed up and given a
firm rub-down.

In reality, you spatchcock a bird by taking a pair of sturdy kitchen shears and using them to cut out the chicken’s backbone. It can take a little persistence to convince your scissors through the bones, but once you remove that one-inch strip, a world of quick-cooking options opens up.
MORE

Conflicted Kitchen TM_CK_BROCC_FI_001

Over here in the elitist foodie bubble, there’s now talk of the “stem to root” trend in vegetable cooking. The phrase refers to the impulse to minimize waste by using all parts of the plant. It’s a close cousin of the “snout to tail” movement that brought crispy pig’s tails and pickled lamb’s tongues to upscale restaurant menus. I appreciate conservation, but how visionary can it be if for the last two decades busy dieters and soccer moms have unknowingly been stem-to-root trailblazers, buying veggie scraps that were previously used as animal feed thanks to one of the oldest broccoli packers in America?

Sometimes we culinary trendsetters can pick up a trick from everybody else. MORE

Conflicted Kitchen TM_CK_ROVEG_FI_001

In many households, a Sunday roast is a weekly tradition. Whether it’s a simple roast chicken or a brawny pork shoulder, the meal brings everyone to the table and provides welcome, convenient leftovers for days.

But the Sunday roast shouldn’t be restricted to the carnivores among us. Vegetables are equally good roasted. Just as with meat, the oven’s dry heat caramelizes the exterior, drawing out natural sugars. Even unpopular plants like Brussels sprouts lose their slightly bitter, vegetable edge as they become sweet and tender in a roasting pan.

Recently, I’ve been focusing my own weekend roasting on local heads of cauliflower and broccoli. Butternut squash, beets, carrots, parsnips and leeks are all good seasonal choices as well. MORE