Sunday, February 13, 2011


A few months ago, the tipster and I go to see our granddaughter perform in a choral concert. But before it begins, her parents and we drive to a nearby Chinese restaurant for supper. Everything changes through the years; Kung Pao and Szechwan are now popular, but when I saw Eggs Foo Yung on the menu, it brought back some wonderful memories. They were delightful.
I remember that old fifties rock ‘n roll song with the lyric: “I went to Chinatown, to get some Eggs Foo Yung” when I was still in high school. I forget the song’s title (maybe it was “Ling ting tong”), but one of the first oriental foods I ever made was this one. There are many ways to prepare it; I always like the individual omelets in gravy that was so popular in Chinese restaurants years ago. Many versions today are like scrambled eggs with filling.
I went and made some the other day and still love it. Eggs Foo Yung is easy to make, delicious, economical, and great for a quick supper or lunch or part of a more substantial dinner.
Here is a basic Eggs Foo Yung that serves two or more, depending on side dishes, I like steamed rice with it and perhaps a simple soup.

· 6 eggs, beaten
· 1 cup of filling (your choice of cooked shrimp, roast beef, cooked chicken, cooked pork etc)
· 2 cups of bean sprouts; if using canned, drain thoroughly
· 4 green onions, sliced thinly
· 1 onion, quartered and sliced thinly
· ½ teaspoon of sugar
· A pinch of ground black pepper
· 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
· ½ cup stock or water
· Gravy- recipe follows
· Vegetable oil

Prepare the gravy and turn the oven on slow, 250F (120C).
Put a platter in the oven to warm.
Mix everything except the gravy and oil in a large bowl.
Heat a large skillet. When it is hot, add oil to come up the sides about a half-inch (1.5 cm). Keep temperature medium hot.

Stir the omelet mixture. Take a scoopful quarter-cup size amount of the egg mixture and carefully pour into the skillet. When it begins to firm up, push to edge and stir mixture and add another scoop. Flip gently when brown. Your omelets can be about the same diameter as a yo-yo, or whatever size you may prefer.
As the omelets are browned on each side, put them on paper towels to drain, put in the oven platter to keep warm till all are done.

Serve with the gravy:

· 11/2 cups of stock
· 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
· 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
· Pinch of salt and pepper

Mix everything, put in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until thickened. Shut off flame.

Serve the omelets with the gravy and enjoy it.

Let the oil in the skillet cool down, and then strain into a glass container for future use.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Recently, I noticed a whole bunch of opaque plastic bowls in a friend’s cupboard, being used as storage containers. They came from some frozen prepared “meal” from a supermarket. Not only relatively expensive but loaded with chemicals. It doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you are a cooking beginner, a busy student or a bachelor, or almost anyone, you can eat well with a minimum of trouble. (I guess if you’re in prison you don’t have much choice, but everyone else does).

There are some simple fundamentals which quickly mastered will simplify cooking; taking it from a hassle to a welcome way to dine; less expensive and healthier than take-out or packaged factory-made “meals” found in supermarkets.

I remember years ago in the New York Times, they used to have a column by a French chef, Pierre Franey. He left his native France and worked at the N.Y. world’s fair in 1939. After that he was renowned for his dishes at LePavilon restaurant in Manhattan. Coming from a humble background, he wanted to show that French cooking need not be a snooty, time-consuming affair. He proved this with his 60 Minute French cooking column.

A popular food most people appreciate is chicken. Chef Franey taught how to quickly broil a chicken with minimum seasoning, and then vary that with different herbs and spices. He then added a simple rice, noodle or potato side dish as well as a vegetable to accompany it. Since this is little more difficult than heating a corporate factory-made meal, I wanted to mention it. If you live alone, you could save the rest for another day, or invite others to join you. A simple Poulet Grille with vegetables and a nice dessert will make you feel good.

Here is an example of wonderful, easy food at home, inspired by the 60 Minute French Cooking column from years go, still relevant today.

BROILED CHICKEN (Poulet Grille) serves 4

2 ½ lbs chicken parts (you can use any parts you like)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of peanut or other vegetable oil

  • Preheat broiler
  • Rinse the chicken and dry thoroughly
  • Rub the oil all over the chicken
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Put the chicken in an ovenproof skillet or broiling pan
  • Put the skillet/pan in the broiler about 5 or 6 inches from the heat source
  • Broil about 5-10 minutes, watch chicken for a nice browning
  • Turn chicken over to broil the other side. If the chicken is browning before 5 minutes, you may need to lower the rack
  • After broiling both sides, shut off the broiler and leave chicken in hot broiler 10 minutes to finish cooking
  • Remove the chicken from the oven and baste with pan juices

    When you first put the chicken in the broiler, you can make some rice. Simply put one cup of rice into 1-½ cups of boiling water with a little salt and boil gently for 12-15 minutes. Taste a grain of rice to see if it is done. When done put a tablespoon of butter into pot and cover the pot off heat. Just before serving, stir rice with a fork.

    If you like, you may easily make some string beans (green beans). Start these just prior to broiling the chicken, when you put the rice on.

    String Beans with Lemon

    1 pound string beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch long pieces
    Boiling water
    ½ teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons butter
    Juice of half of a lemon or one tablespoon bottled
    Chopped parsley is really nice to add. About 2 tablespoons will do
    Ground black pepper to taste

    Put a pot of water on to boil. Rinse beans and put into salted boiling water to cover. Boil gently, uncovered, for eight to ten minutes. Taste one to check if done.

    Drain the beans and put back into the hot pan with the butter. Now sprinkle the juice, parsley and pepper into the beans. Stir and serve.

    There you have it, a tasty meal in the French style. Made quickly. Real food, Enjoy.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


We are eating sleeping and existing in the living room for a couple weeks now, preparing to tile the bedroom floor. Feeling somewhat recovered we prepare to start, when my spouse notices a crack in the concrete floor, running the breadth of the room, all the way into the carpeted closet. So, yet another delay.
While still feeling logey the other day, I pull out my slow-cooker, and after some preliminary frying; I dump a bag of plain lentils in the pot and slow cook them for 6 hours. I check it and add a half a box of frozen spinach and cook another hour. It is so good and simple to do, and thrifty as well. If you are harried or hurried, but want good tasting groceries, try this delicious dish. Just a few minutes at the stove, then the crockpot takes over. While it is cooking you can be doing something else. These lovely lentils go good over steamed rice, or cornbread, or toasts.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil (coconut oil is good, or anything else you have on hand)
1 ½ cups of chopped onion

3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons gingerroot, minced

1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 cups of vegetable stock, or chicken or beef broth, or any combination you like
Half a can (3 ounces) tomato paste
2 cups lentils (the regular brown -coloured ones are fine)

1 stick of cinnamon
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon salt

1 can of coconut milk
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Half a 10 ounce box of chopped spinach

Fry onion in oil in a large pot or dutch oven until soft. Then add the garlic and gingerroot and fry till onion browns.

Add the four spices, stirring well.

Add the stock, tomato and lentils and bring to a boil.

Transfer to crockpot and add the cinnamon and bay leaf.

Cook on “low” setting 6 to 8 hours.

½ hour prior to serving, add the coconut milk, cayenne pepper and 5 ounces of chopped spinach. Stir well and re-cover crockpot. Thirty minutes later it’s ready to eat. Enjoy.
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