Monday, November 9, 2009

Dinner Simplicity

Halloween is over and still the weather remains magnificent!
The sky was so clear this weekend it was impossible not to stay outdoors. We actually grilled lunch in our backyard on Saturday. After a long hike on Sunday dinner plans needed to be simple. Stir fry seemed to be the way to go. This is the perfect way to clear out all the odds and ends in the fridge and make everything palatable again.

I like to cut carrots into what I call a ROUGH julienne. Not so fussy as a classic julienne, but still with slim angular shapes. I decided to combine the carrots with a few leaves of swiss chard I had on hand.
Hot oil in the wok gets seasoned with chopped garlic and ginger (about a Tbs of each), then the carrots and roughly chopped chard gets a quick cook. I finished the dish with a drizzle of soy sauce, rice vinegar and a tablespoon of oyster sauce.
The chard really cooked down and the carrots kept their shape and firmness. This dish really tasted good and was very simple to prepare.

A large batch of fried rice is always popular with my WHOLE family. Amazing. I chopped up about a cup each of cabbage and onions. I had a half of a cooked sweet potato left over that got cubed up to be included in the mix.

Celery chopped on an angle helps it to stir fry quickly and still keep the crunchy texture.

I like to add something green to the fried rice. I used edamame rummaged from the freezer. Peas and green beans work well too.

Again, I season the oil with garlic and ginger, then add all the vegetables to soften up and get a little golden.

When the vegetables are about done I added cooked rice. After tossing the rice around for awhile I created a well in the center of the wok and poured in 3 beaten eggs which I quickly scrambled and then stirred to combine with the rice. To finish I added 2 Tbs. tomato paste, a splash of soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil.

We ate really well and I managed to get a myriad of vegetables into everyone's belly with a minimum of fuss to boot. Is there a wine that would complement this meal Amanda? Alan had a glass of merlot, but we both agreed it was not a particularly inspired pairing.

I would have to agree on the Merlot. It would not necessarily be my first choice. If red is the preferred wine for these dishes, I would recommend something a little lighter with plenty of fruit, like a Barbera from Italy. It is the most cultivated vine in the region of Piedmont. I would definitely go with a younger Barbera, which  typically has fresh and bright fruit. Due to the low level of tannins, the wine is soft, and elegant. Barbera is a very versatile, food friendly varietal and often results in easy-drinking reds. You can definitely find Barberas in a variety of price ranges, from $10-$30. There are plenty of well-made wines out there for under $15 though. Some of my favorite producers for this wonderfully food-friendly wine are Vietti and Giacomo Conterno.

So, Barbera would be my first choice for red. That being said, my personal preference would actually be Rose. Something again with an abundance of fruit. In my opinion, the ripe fruit flavor of the wines would create a nice harmony and balance with the saltiness of the soy sauce. One of my favorite Roses is the Crios Rose of Malbec from Susana Balbo. It is full, rich and loaded with fruit and spice. I think this would be the ideal match for these recipes.  Susana Balbo is one of my favorite producers from Argentina. She creates more expensive wines under her own name. The Crios wines make up her line of more affordable wines, though the less expensive pricetag is no reflection of quality. Her Crios wines typically sell in the $15 price range. Though the Rose of Malbec can be found for around $10. If you can find her wines locally, I highly recommend them. They are truly special!


  1. I love fried rice and have never made it, but have always wanted to. When I was really little, maybe 6, I watched my Korean friends' grandmother make it and have never forgotten about it. This is how she did it, too--making a well in the center. I want to try this, but I am still working on getting to the black bean soup. Will let you know!

  2. Hi Bubbledancer - Definitely get to the Black Bean Soup! I made it the other day and it is delicious! It thickened up in the fridge, so now I make it two ways. When I want it as soup, I add a little water and heat it up. But last night, I just heated it up in its thickened state, and served it over brown rice. Delicious!


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