Geek Chef

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Comfort food September 11, 2008

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 12:28 pm
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I’ve been in a mood lately. Perhaps it’s a feeling of displacement after moving. Whatever it is, I’ve been craving comfort food. Rich starchy goodness that hugs me from the inside. Here are a few goodies in case you are feeling down.

Potato and portobello mushroom gratin

1 1/2 cups hot water
1 1/2-ounce package dried porcini mushrooms – or any wild mushroom of your liking
1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms
12 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced 4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes or white-skinned potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine 1 1/2 cups hot water and porcini in small bowl. Let stand until mushrooms soften, about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving 2/3 cup soaking liquid. Chop porcini; set aside. Remove and chop stems from portobellos; place in large bowl. Using small spoon, scrape away dark gills from portobellos and discard. Cut portobello caps into 1/2-inch pieces; add to bowl.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped portobello stems and caps and sauté 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and reserved porcini and sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat each of two 13x9x2-inch glass baking dishes with 1 tablespoon oil. Combine remaining 7 tablespoons oil, potatoes, parsley, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper in large bowl; toss to coat. Layer 1/6 of potato mixture in each prepared dish (there will not be enough to overlap slices). Top potatoes in each with 1/4 of mushroom mixture. Repeat layering. Top with remaining potatoes. Pour 1/3 cup reserved porcini soaking liquid over potatoes in each dish. Cover dishes with foil.

Bake gratins 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until tops are brown and potatoes are tender, about 40 minutes longer. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Cover with foil and rewarm in 350°F oven about 20 minutes.)

Rice Porridge or Jook

This is a traditional Chinese breakfast. Super easy and yummy, a perfect way to start a cold winter’s day.

1/2 cup rice: white, long grain or glutinous works (jasmine is my standard)
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of sesame oil or peanut oil
2-4 cups water (depending on desired thickness)
2-4 cups chicken stock (depending on desired thickness)
a good chunk of ginger, sliced
an equal amount of chopped green onion
1 tablespoon of soy sauce

Rinse the rice, then add all ingredients into a large pot. Slow cook the rice for about 1 1/2 hours, time will differ depending on the amount of fluid used. After about a half hour, stir to loosen the grains on the bottom of the pot. Stir occasionally and add more water/stock as you see fit.
I like my jook nice and thick, but traditionally it’s pretty thin. You must decide what works for you… Just remember that the more water you add the thinner the taste.

Once the porridge is about the consistency of cream of wheat it’s ready to go. By itself it’s pretty plain, that’s where toppings come into play. Leftovers are a good place to start. Meat, sausage, diced onion, cilantro, tuna and fishballs are all great , chop it up small and toss it in and enjoy. My fav is egg and bonito flakes with a little extra soy.

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