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    Entries in fast and easy (72)


    Noodle Fu!

    I learned to make this Cantonese dish when I worked in a small town Chinese restaurant. It's amazingly simple to make, but it really doesn't taste simple. It's 3 of the 4 food groups in one dish, so it's healthy, and it uses a relatively cheap cut of beef (and the other ingredients cost virtually pennies) so it's a great budget dinner. And it's fast. From start to finish you can be eating in probably about 20 minutes.

    The trick to the fast cooking is a hot pan. You're going to have to be ready for it. Crunch time can create the feeling that multi-tasking is the best way to go, but this, you really need to just take a breath and do all the chopping first before you start putting things in the pan. Besides, there isn't much chopping and 5 minutes of doing one thing only won't kill you. It might kill me, but you should be fine. 

    Chow fun noodles, the namesake of this dish, are wide flat rice noodles. You (well, I) buy them fresh in the deli part of the grocery store. They're usually near the tofu, so if yours keeps tofu near the veggies, that's where they might be, but mine keeps all the asian foods next to the sushi stand which is near the deli...


    Beef Chow Fun

    What you need (you need to take the freaking coffee pot of the counter when you're taking pictures of dinner):

    1/2 lb flank steak, or some other not expensive cut of lean beef
    2 tsp peanut oil
    1 tsp sesame oil
    1 inch chunk of ginger, minced or grated
    a few cloves of garlic, minced
    1 onion, sliced
    1 pkg noodles (separate them by hand a bit before you toss them in)
    soy sauce
    few handfuls of beansprouts
    2 green onions, chopped,
    handful of cilantro, chopped
    lime juice (optional)

    What you gotta do:

    Since you need to have everything chopped and ready to go before you start cooking, do the fresh stuff first, then the veggies you're going to cook, then the meat. You'll end up needing (and having to wash) only one cutting board that way, and still manage to avoid cross contamination. 

    If you're using the lime, chop it in half. Chop the cilantro, and the green onions. Set these aside on a clean plate to keep them away from the raw meat. 

    Mince the garlic and ginger. If you have lemongrass, and feel like using it, mince about a tablespoon of it. I had lemongrass, so I used it.

    I also had a few lemongrass stalks that I'd put in water a while ago... they've got roots!

    Cut the onion in half and then slice each half into widths similar to your noodles. Noodle widths will vary but are usually about half an inch (or 1 cm if you are anywhere in the world other than the US).

    If your onions are freakishly strong and your eyes water just looking at them, cover them with a wet paper towel. Onions contain sulphur compounds that combine with the water in your eyes to make sulphuric acid. (Inorite! Ouch!) The water in the towel will absorb the compounds and prevent it from getting into your eyes. And yes, it's safe to touch, it's not strong acid or anything, it's just that the amount it takes to irritate eyes is ridiculously miniscule.

    Slice the beef into thin strips, going against the grain of the meat.

    Now that you've got everything chopped and ready (see, took no time at all) heat half the peanut oil in a wide flat pan (or a wok if you have one) over medium high heat. Add half the sesame oil, half of the ginger, half of the garlic, and all the beef.

    Stir fry until the beef is mostly browned, just a few minutes, and then remove it from the pan.

    Add the rest of the peanut oil to the pan, and once it's hot, the rest of sesame oil, the rest of the ginger and garlic, and all the onions.

    Give them a minute or so of being shoved around in the hot oil before you add the noodles and soy sauce. All you're really doing to the noodles is heating them until they separate from each other. Breaking them up by hand a bit before you add them helps, as does a minute with a cover on the pan.

    Once the noodles have softened and separated, put the beef back in the pan, add the beansprouts, cilantro, green onion and lime juice. Toss until it's all combined and heated.

    This makes dinner for two and a bit of leftovers for lunch the next day.

    Chopped peanuts probably wouldn't be out of place in this dish, but they didn't add them at the restaurant so I don't.

    I love noodles. It's really hard to get anything decent in Winnipeg that's got good noodles in it. For some reason, chow mein here means stir fried cabbage with deep fried egg noodles on top as a garnish. No, I have no clue why; it makes no sense to me at all. It just means that I never go out for Chinese here. Why would I? I can make it myself. And it's only one pan to wash! ;)

    What's your favourite noodle dish?



    Leg humpingly good. 

    I first had hummus about 20 years ago when I'd dropped out of highschool for a year to work for Greenpeace. I was fundraising door to door, not riding Zodiacs out to whaling boats, so no, not exciting at all. But there was this great little Lebanese deli around the corner from the office and I could get a huge platter full of falafels, hummus and pita for less than 5 bucks.

    Hummus is really just a bean dip. It's Mediterranean in origin, part of both Greek and various middle eastern cuisines, vegetarian (vegan even), and works as a dip for bread and veggies, or as a spread in a sandwich.

    I loved the stuff. But I had no idea how to make it. And after I moved away from home I had to make do with a mix from the local whole foods store. Or from some other deli, but the texture was off, and the seasoning lacked. Nothing was as good as Cedars. I figured out the ingredients, and made it a few times myself, but it was never quite right. Something was always missing.



    He promised it was tasty. He assured me it would be the best hummus I'd ever had. He said once I'd tasted it, no other hummus would ever satisfy.

    I literally humped his leg the first time he put it in my mouth.

    Holy crap. It's the best hummus I've ever had. Leg humpingly good hummus.

    And he told me I can show it all to you.


    What you need:

    1 19 oz tin of chick peas

    3 cloves garlic

    ¼ c fresh, chopped parsley

    ½ tsp dried, ground cumin

    ½ tsp dried, ground coriander

    ¼ tsp cayenne

    ½ tsp salt

    ¼ c tahini**

    3 tbsp lemon juice

    ½ c olive oil

    **Usually found in the import or health food section of a grocery store, or at a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern market.

    What you gotta do:

    Drop the garlic into the food processor and give it a whirl for a few seconds to chop it up a bit. You could do this with a knife but you've already got the processor out so you may as well use it.

    Drain the chick peas, don't bother rinsing them, and cover the garlic with them. Then add the parsley, cumin, coriander, cayenne and salt.

    Top with tahini and lemon juice.

    Start your engines! Whiz it until it's still a bit chunky. You'll know the texture is right because you'll have a dire need to add liquid to it. 

    Scrape down the sides, and put the lid back on. Through the chute in the top, drizzle in the oil as the processor does it's thing. Basically, it's making an emulsion. The oil need to be whipped really fast into the lemon juice, and the tahini and speed are helping do that.

    At this point you get to decide what kind of texture you want. The longer you run it, the smoother and creamier it will be.

    Hummus is a regular part of a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern finger food meal called Mezze. It's usually served with tzaziki, stuffed grape leaves, meatballs, cheese, pickled veggies and pita breads. Any or all of these on a table makes a great meal or snack. (I really need servingware.)

    It also works great as a veggie dip at parties, or, as an instant food to have in the fridge for when you get home from school or work starving.

    Hm... There's an empty plate in that picture... what would you want on your Mezze platter to go with the Leg Humpingly Good Hummus?




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