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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Citizen Steff: El Guerrilla Culinario!

About eight or nine years ago, I helped one of my mom's friends pull off her New Year's Day afternoon brunch thingie (for $75).

She made this awesome stuff, chicken curry with veggies and she baked them in phyllo, like samosas, but wetter. Well, in the years since, the "wraps" phenomena got wack and all that, so I've vamped up the recipe. I think it's ironically more traditional/ethnic now, and she's East Indian, and I'm white on rice.


Now, it's a whole wheat tortilla wrap, Thai red rice cooked scented with cinnamon, a cumin yogurt I made, and the chicken curry. It's pretty wicked. Really, there are moments, if you're someone like myself -- an appreciator of all things foodie, and a pretty snazzy cook, to boot -- who happens to like "inventing" foods, when you realize "fuck, I'm on to something here!"

Dad, if you remember, I made you about 30 of these wraps when you had your leg surgery. :) But they're WAY funkier now, and healthier! No potato anymore, broccoli instead, and peaches'n'cream corn, and red pepper, and,and,and.

So, I want to share! Here're the recipes.

Thai Goes East -- Steff's Curry Red Rice Wraps

Dice 8 boneless-skinless chicken thighs into 1/2 cubes or strips. Put 2 tbsps of peanut oil into large wok. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Add one 400-mil can coconut milk. Get it up to medium heat and keep it there. Add 1/2 cup of madras curry powder (or more, or less if you're a wuss) and three teaspoons of chili powder. Don't worry, there's yogurt to come, and the veggies absorb a lot of the bite.

Finely chop two red peppers, one large sweet onion, and one small bunch baby carrots, add it all to the curry mix. Then, add 2 cups of frozen peaches'n'cream corn. Let it cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, divide and conquer a large crown of broccoli. (Make it into smaller bits, and feel free to julienne the stalk and throw it in as well.) After 15 minutes, add the broccoli to the curry. Add 2 cups of green peas as well, and one to two tablespoons of sea salt. Let it get happy. Turn the heat down a bit and simmer for an hour.

Either make Thai red rice in your rice cooker or a pot, but it'll take 45-50 minutes. It's worth it, it's really nice and nutty. I made 2.5 cups of the Thai red rice (with 5 cups water) with one stick of cinnamon and a dot of butter and salt. There was a little leftover, but I might make a raisin-rice pudding with it.

At any time during the simmering process, add 2 cups of yogurt to the curry and continue simmering for a bit. Check the seasoning. I added another teaspoon or two of chili powder.

Take a cup and a half of Balkan style or even the strained Greek yogurt, and mix 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons of sugar, with just a bit of coarse cracked black pepper. (I just thought it'd taste nice together. Now I want to put it in chicken pita sandwiches with caramelized onions, cherry tomatoes, funky cheese, and other goodies!)


On a large work surface (I use my kitchen table), spread out 10 or 12 10-inch whole wheat tortillas. (I saw some spicy chipotle ones that would be nice.) For each wrap:

  • Put 1/2 cup of the rice.
  • Put a strip of 2 tablespoons of the yogurt up the centre of each pile of rice.
  • Smother it with about 1/2 - 3/4 of a cup of the curry mix.
  • Crack some black pepper over each, and then roll them up.


I tend to do this while watching telly. The first bit, the curry, takes 45 minutes to get going. Then I have an hour of mixing it here or there. Then I need to let it cool down for 20 minutes or so. After that, I use the commercials to do things in steps:
  • Lay out the tortillas.
  • Scoop out the rice.
  • Telly.
  • Mix cumin yogurt.
  • Stripe it down each rice mound.
  • Telly.
  • Smother mounds with curry sauce.
  • Then let sit 1/2 hour. The sauces will absorb into the rice a bit and will not be as messy to eat. Don't let 'em sit too long or your tortillas will dry out. An hour, tops.
  • In commercials, roll up the wraps, then wrap in cellophane.
Freeze 'em. Makes 10-12. Nuke for 2-3 or more minutes. Awesome for work lunches. No dishes to wash -- wrap some paper towel around it and make it finger food. Eats fast. All healthy, but really rich flavours.

Lunch is looking up!

Next time I might drizzle some honey into the yogurt and more pepper.

But now I have a dozen lunches in my freezer. Next on the horizon... hmm. Something to ponder. This weekend, though, I'm going to attempt Anthony Bourdain's beef stock, and then I'll make a reduction with half, which I might use in the making of risotto soon. I bought three pounds of soup bones from a delishus Granville Island butcher, and the helpful man cut it into 2-3" diameter pieces. Lotsa marrow there. This is good! I'll apparently be simmering this for 12 hours Saturday. Then there's the reduction. Oy.

But then there's the bounty:

True French Onion Soup. I will purchase cheese from the cheese shop, croutons, and a loaf of Ecco Il Pane bread. Soup, bread. Nothing else. Vidalia onions, butter, thyme, rye whiskey, (maybe port?) my stock, a bay leaf, and nothing more. Then cheese and bread. Whee! I bet this will be THE best soup I've ever made. Homemade beef stock? Wow. And the bones only cost $4, the veggies about $2-3, and a can of tomato paste, $0.50. It costs $9 a litre at G.I.'s Stock Market. This will make 3-4 litres. My chicken stock's as good as theirs these days, all thanks to the wisdom of Bourdain and their silly necessity of listing their ingredients. I will peruse what their beef stock has in it, too, this weekend. ;) I will report. Maybe I'll share that recipe, too.