Thursday, April 30, 2015

"Linda's Kitchen" by Linda McCartney - Chinese Egg Fried Rice - for Earth Day!

Date I made this recipe – April 26, 2015 – Belated Earth Day Celebration

Linda's Kitchen – Simple and Inspiring Recipes for Meatless Meals by Linda McCartney
Published by:  Little, Brown and Company
ISBN: 0-8212-2393-3; © 1995
Purchased at Arc's Value Village Thrift Store
Recipe:  Chinese Egg Fried Rice – p. 94

In last week's blog, I told you that the title and cover of the cookbook – Len Deighton's Action Cookbook inspired me to use that book.  This week, it was a song that inspired me; luckily, I also had a "matching" cookbook.

So on or around Earth Day this year, my favorite local radio station, 89.3 The Current, played Paul McCartney and Wing's song Junior's Farm.  Yes, after the Beatles broke up, Sir Paul, his wife Linda McCartney, and assorted other musicians formed the band, Wings.

So "Junior's Farm" led me to think about Sir Paul which led me to think of Linda McCartney which led me to think about her great success as a vegetarian cookbook author (and vegetarian product line creator) which led me to think about how vegetables are an important part of Earth Day which led me to think that this would be the perfect cookbook for the day.  The end.

Now I could just launch into a discussion about the cookbook itself but let's talk first about Linda McCartney, nee Linda Eastman.  I had always, always heard that she was related to the Eastman's as in Eastman Kodak (the photo film manufacturers) but according to Wikipedia, this is not true.  What?  Well burst a bubble why don't you, Wiki?  Still, Linda was an accomplished photographer and published several photos of famous rock and roll stars, including her husband.  In fact, she met Sir Paul while on a photography assignment in London

After the Beatles broke up (some fans never forgave Linda or John Lennon's wife, Yoko Ono for that debacle), Sir Paul started the band, Wings, and made Linda part of the group.  We won't go into the controversy (or, as the Brits say "con-TRO-ver-see") over that move except to summarize:  it didn't go over well.  Still, Paul McCartney and Wings was responsible for the following hits:  Live and Let Die; My Love; Band On the Run; Helen Wheels; and, of course, Junior's Farm.  So there you go.

According to Wikipedia, Linda became a vegetarian as far back as 1975 and by 1990, published her first vegetarian cookbook.  The book I used, Linda's Kitchen, was published in 1995.  That same year, Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer and passed away in 1998 at age 56. 

All of the recipes in this cookbook sounded and looked good although I drew the line at using "vegetarian mince" (meat substitute) or meatless sausages recipes.  I suppose I could have just left that item out but it just seemed easier to find something that was totally meatless.  And because Whole Foods had a special on fresh asparagus, I also added that to the other vegetables she called for.  I love asparagus.

You should know that Linda calls for margarine as a substitute for butter in a lot of recipes, especially desserts, and I get why she would do that, but folks, margarine has been proven to be awful for the body.  So if you decide to try out some of the desserts, see if butter will work just as well—unless, of course, you are truly vegan in which case, never mind!

As to my Chinese Egg Fried Rice, the only seasonings Linda uses are paprika (which I found puzzling) and soy sauce.  Although I used soy sauce sparingly, I did use it as you will need it to add a little punch to the dish.  But talk about feeling healthy!  This recipe calls for green onions, yellow bell pepper, carrots and snow peas and then I added asparagus.  I'm sure you can add more vegetables to this if you choose.

Another tweak I made to the recipe was to use a mixture of dark sesame oil and vegetable oil to stir fry the vegetables.  I love dark sesame oil and I think it enhanced the vegetables but that is just my opinion.  Linda recommends that you can serve this with her sweet and sour sauce on page 153 but I didn't want to goop up my rice with that type of sauce so I passed (but have included it just in case you want to go for broke).

So that's my Earth Day/Paul McCartney/Linda McCartney/Wings/Junior's Farm story.  Enjoy!

Chinese Egg Fried Rice – for 6 (with Sweet and Sour Sauce – optional)
Fried rice:
1 tbsp dark sesame oil
2 free-range eggs, beaten
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 green onions, finely sliced
1yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 medium carrots, cut in fine matchsticks
1 cup sliced canned water chestnuts (Ann's Note:  If I made this dish again, I would skip this.  Sure, they add crunch but they have no flavor.  None. Try celery instead.)
¼ pound snow peas, sliced diagonally
1-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and grated
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/3 cups long-grain rice, cooked
Soy sauce
Sweet and sour sauce (optional and also untried) (makes 1 ¼ cups)
2/3 cup pineapple juice
3 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce or more to taste
1-inch pieced fresh gingerroot, peeled and finely grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 heaping tbsp cornstarch
Freshly ground black pepper

To make the Chinese Egg Fried Rice, heat the sesame oil in a skillet and pour in the beaten eggs.  Stir a little until they set like a thin omelette, then flip over to cook the other side lightly.  Turn onto a wire rack and cool.  Cut in thin strips.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok until very hot.  Stir-fry all the vegetables with the ginger and garlic for 3 minutes, then turn the heat down and cook until they are tender but still slightly crisp, about 3 minutes longer.  Stir in the rice, mixing well, and season to taste with soy sauce and paprika.  Finally, fold in the egg strips and it is ready to serve.  Delicious with the sweet and sour sauce on page 153.

To make the sweet and sour sauce, combine the pineapple juice, oil, sugar, soy sauce, gingerroot, garlic, and 2 tbsp of the lemon juice in a saucepan.  Heat until the sugar dissolves.  Mix the cornstarch with the remaining lemon juice, add to the pan, and stir until the sauce is smooth and thick.  Season with pepper.  Simmer very gently about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

No comments: