Shrimp Fried RiceSurprisingly good. And easy. That’s what I’ll call this meal. The “Shrimp Fried Rice” and the “Baked Egg Foo Yong,” both from the February 2013 issue of Eating Well, were crowd-pleasing winners. The sauces were the clinchers here: perfectly sweet and tart and salty. Truly, this is all we could hope for in the best Chinese-American food, I say.

For the fried rice, I went ahead and used three cups worth of leftover cooked rice, knowing this is a smart key to good fried rice. I chopped each shrimp into three pieces, to get more “mileage” out of each shrimp. Of course, you could put anything you want into your fried rice. The snap peas and bell pepper and eggs were right on. I also appreciated the ginger. Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and toasted sesame oil made up the magical sauce combo.

Baked Egg Foo YongAsk me to make a meal in a muffin tin, and you’ll stimulate my lazy curiosity. Really? Can I do this? Sure! The “Baked Egg Foo Yong” indulges in 10 eggs, but is otherwise vegetarian. It’s too easy to whip everything together -- a nice mix of peas and carrots and mung bean sprouts and scallions -- then pour the batter into 12 oiled muffin cups.

Sure enough, the vegetable broth, mirin, soy sauce, and white pepper become a salty/tangy sauce, thickened by cornstarch. Admittedly, my family is an eggy family. These cute “foo yongs” were guaranteed winners. Have fun with these.

PRICES:
Shrimp (8 oz.) = $7.41
Snap Peas (12 oz.) = $2.01
Red Bell Pepper (1) = .77¢
Mung Bean Sprouts (7 oz.) = $2.99
Scallions (1 bunch) = .94¢

PREP TIMES: use pre-cooked rice, chop your shrimp and veggies, and fried rice takes mere minutes to cook; the egg foo yong can be eaten after less than an hour of prep and baking
TASTES:
shrimp and eggs are fortified by sweet/tart/salty/tangy sauces

Next time, I want to design my own “Winter Stew,” coached by the February/March 2013 issue of Fine Cooking (recipe below). I’ll indulge in pork and potatoes and mushrooms and more. I’ll also make the “Radish and Pecan Grain Salad,” from Food52. Come back to my site soon, to see what happens.

Winter Stew
Fine Cooking, February/March 2013
Serves 5-6

Brown the Meat
3 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 1/2-2-inch pieces
2 oz. thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1-3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the Aromatics
Vegetable oil, as needed
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 medium celery stalks, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
fresh oregano
bay leaves

Add the Liquids
1 cup beer
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water

Add the Vegetables
2 cups fingerling potatoes
2 cups shallots
2 cups mushrooms

Finish the Stew
1/4 cup preserved lemon
1 can garbanzo beans
1/4 cup parsley

Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and heat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Spread the meat on paper towels to dry for 10-20 minutes before browning. (You can use this time to prepare the aromatics.) If the meat is very wet, pat it dry.

In a 6-qt. Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot, cook the bacon in 1 Tbsp. of the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned but not crisp, 6-8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Do not wipe out the pan.

Season about one-third of the meat with salt and pepper and arrange it in a single layer in the pot (there should be at least 1/2 inch of space between the pieces). Brown well in the bacon fat on at least 4 sides, adjusting the heat as necessary; each batch should take about 10 minutes to brown.

Transfer the meat to a large bowl or rimmed baking sheet as it browns and repeat with the rest of the meat, seasoning with salt and pepper before browning. Once all of the meat is browned, remove the pot from the heat to let it cool for a few minutes.

Pour off all but 2 Tbsp. of the fat from the pot. If there is not enough, add oil to equal 2 Tbsp.. Return the pot to medium heat, then add the onion, celery and carrot. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often and scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula, until the vegetables begin to soften, 5-6 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, fresh oregano, and bay leaves and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

Return the cooked bacon to the pot. Add the beer, stirring with the wooden spatula to dissolve any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Raise the heat to medium high and boil to reduce by about half, 5-8 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and the 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil.

Return the meat to the pot along with any accumulated juice. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer.

Crumple a 12×16-inch piece of parchment, then flatten it out. Place the parchment directly on the surface of the stew, allowing the ends to come up the sides of the pot.

Cover and cook in the oven until it’s time to add the vegetables.

Add the potatoes and shallotsafter 30 minutes of stewing. Add the mushrooms after 1 hour of stewing. Cover with the parchment and lid after each addition and cook until the meat is fork tender, approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour longer.

Stir in the preserved lemon, garbanzo beans, and parsley. Degrease the stew if you like and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve or let cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.