Monday, April 29, 2013

Chinese Fried Rice with Shrimp and Venison Kielbasa

Pittsburghers will probably find this surprising, but I was well into my twenties before I had even heard of kielbasa for the first time, let alone taste it. That momentous "first time" was at a holiday gathering with R.'s family in the Pittsburgh area well before I moved here, and I remember liking the juiciness of the kielbasa and the tanginess of the sauerkraut that went along with it. It took me awhile, however, to realize the prominent place that kielbasa holds in "Pittsburghese cuisine," if there is such a thing.

Now that we are locals ourselves, it seemed fitting to have some of our venison made into kielbasa. We brought some along to a Steelers game tailgate back in December, but I was wholly disappointed by the dryness of the sausage - it was nothing like the juicy stuff I remember from that family holiday party!

While the venison kielbasa did not resemble what I know to be kielbasa, it did remind me a little bit of lap cheong - a Chinese sausage that's smoked and also very dry. (That's about where the resemblance ends, though.)

I decided to pull out an old Chinese fried rice recipe that my dad gave me eons ago and tried it with sliced venison kielbasa substituting for lap cheong. It worked out well, adding a rich layer of flavor to the fried rice.  I'm not sure we'll be getting venison kielbasa again, but if we do, this is what I will be making with it.

Venison Kielbasa
Venison kielbasa

Chinese Fried Rice with Shrimp and Venison Kielbasa
Chinese Fried Rice with Shrimp and Venison Kielbasa

Chinese Fried Rice with Shrimp and Venison Kielbasa
Chinese Fried Rice with Shrimp and Venison Kielbasa

  • 1½ cup long-grain white rice
  • ½ lb venison kielbasa
  • ½ lb shrimp, peeled
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup frozen green peas
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • ½ lb fresh pineapple chunks
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil, divided (may substitute with canola oil or corn oil)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp Chinese soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil (optional)
  • Sriracha sauce (optional, but highly recommended)
  • Fermented bean curd (optional; available in jars at Chinese supermarkets)
  1. Cook rice in rice cooker or according to package directions. Let cool before frying. (Better yet, cook a day ahead to let the rice dry some before frying.)
  2. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Place kielbasa in a pan and cover with aluminum foil. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until done. Slice kielbasa using a serrated knife. Spray a skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium high, and cook each side of the kielbasa slices for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Cook green peas according to package directions.
  4. Wash and season shrimp with salt and pepper. In a wok or a skillet, fry shrimp in 1 tbsp peanut oil for about 3 minutes. Remove shrimp from wok/skillet and drain excess liquid.
  5. In the wok/skillet, add 1 tbsp peanut oil, and fry ¾ of the eggs under high heat; chop them with a spatula as you fry. Add salt to taste.
  6. Lower heat to medium, add rice and cook. Add 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp sesame oil, and salt to taste.
  7. Add kielbasa, shrimp, green peas, scallion, pineapples, and the remainder of the eggs. Mix well and fry for 3-5 minutes.
  8. Serve with Sriracha sauce and/or fermented bean curd.
Yields 4-5 servings

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cinnamon Apple Almond Quinoa with Venison Maple Sausage

Some of the venison meat we got out of R.'s deer was made into maple sausage. R. likes eating it as is.  Me, I'm not much of a breakfast sausage kind of person, but he raved about it so much that I thawed a package of the maple sausage and cooked a little bit of it just to try, foolishly wondering if this was the wonder sausage that would turn me into a breakfast sausage kind of person.

Well, though tasty as it was - and boy, did it smell wonderful! - I thought the sausage was far too salty to stand on its own.

So no, this did not turn me into a breakfast sausage kind of person. Now what am I going to do with more than a pound of just-thawed venison maple sausage??

As per usual, I took to the internet, and found this recipe by Iowa Girl.

The original recipe calls for just 3 oz of maple sausage, so I had to multiply everything by 6 in order to use up all the venison maple sausage I had on hand. This means making a big batch with plenty of leftovers...but now we have another problem: Chopped raw apples turn brown quickly and don't last as a leftover dish.

So I made a slight modification by cooking the chopped apples in cinnamon butter. I also cooked the quinoa in a rice cooker rather than on the stovetop, as I find the consistency to be much better this way- probably a reflection of my subpar ability to cook grains or anything grain-like without a rice cooker.

Cinnamon Applie Quinoa with Venison Maple Sausage
Cinnamon Apple Almond Quinoa with Maple Venison Sausage

So here is my version of the the Cinnamon Apple Almond Quinoa with Venison Maple Sausage:


  • 3 cups quinoa
  • 6 cups chicken broth (water is OK too)
  • 3 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 18 oz maple breakfast sausage
  • 12 green onions, sliced
  • 6 small apples, chopped
  • 1.5 cup chopped almonds
  • 3/4 cups dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

  1. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer under cold, running water. Cook quinoa in rice cooker with chicken broth. When finished, transfer to a  large bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add sausage then brown and drain, if necessary. In another skillet, melt butter on medium high heat.  Add cinnamon, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add apples and cook until the cinnamon butter is absorbed.
  3. Add cooked sausage, green onions, apples, almonds, and cranberries to the quinoa. Toss to combine then serve.
Yields about 9 hefty servings.

Recipe heavily adapted from:
Iowa Girl (get the original recipe here)

Friday, April 26, 2013

North Hills Food Truck Roundup

North Hills Food Truck Roundup March 2013
North Hills Food Truck Roundup (March 30, 2013)

I love the North Hills. I love Pittsburgh food trucks. And I love Coffee Buddha.

Therefore, I can confidently say that my favorite new event as of late is the North Hills Food Truck Roundup at the Coffee Buddha parking lot, which is organized by my buddy James of Pgh Taco Truck and debuted in February with four participating mobile yummy food vendors: Pgh Taco Truck, BRGR Truck, Oh My Grill, and the Pierogie Truck.  The first go-round generated so much buzz and was so well-attended that it is now becoming a monthly tradition.  The March event attracted four additional trucks: the Fukuda Truck, the Franktuary Truck, Dozen Bake Shop Truck, and the Pittsburgh Ice Cream Truck, filling the parking lot to full capacity.

Here are some scenes from the first two roundups:

North Hills Food Truck Roundup Feb 2013 (2)
North Hills Food Truck Roundup (February 23, 2013)

North Hills Food Truck Roundup Feb 2013
North Hills Food Truck Roundup (February 23, 2013)

Pgh Taco Truck at North Hills Food Truck Roundup March 2013
North Hills Food Truck Roundup (March 30, 2013)

North Hills Food Truck Roundup March 2013 (3)
Enjoy food truck food

BRGR Truck at North Hills Food Truck Roundup March 2013
The BRGR Truck at the North Hills Food Truck Roundup

Dozen Bake Shop Truck at North Hills Food Truck Roundup March 2013
These kids had a tough time deciding what treats they wanted from the Dozen Bake
Shop Truck

Fukuda Truck at North Hills Food Truck Roundup March 2013
Fukuda Truck at the North Hills Food Truck Roundup

Fukuda Truck at North Hills Food Truck Roundup March 2013 (2)
Owner Hoon Kim greeting customers of the Fukuda Truck

Although I haven't had a chance to try all the trucks yet, what I've had has been fabulous so far!

Butternut Squash Taco with Smoky Salsa at Pgh Taco Truck
Butternut Squash and Smoky Salsa Taco from Pgh Taco Truck
This taco made its debut at the first roundup, for which I waited 1 hour and 45 minutes!
It was well worth it, and the wait time has since improved. By the way, this photo was
previously featured in this post.

The Wine and Cheese at Oh My Grill Truck
Wine and Cheese from Oh My Grill
Mild and Creamy Brie, smoked ham, and bosc pear slices on white bread served
with a red wine reduction dipping sauce

Indian Butter Chicken Taco at Pgh Taco Truck
Indian Butter Chicken Taco from Pgh Taco Truck
As exotically delicious as it sounds!

Okonomiyaki at Fukuda Truck
Okonomiyaki from Fukuda Truck
Napa cabbage, dashi, chicken, ginger, qewpie mayo, topped with kasuobashi
flakes (fish flakes that "dance" on top of your pancake!)

Robatayaki at Fukuda Truck
Robatamiyaki from Fukuda Truck
Grilled chicken on a bed of grilled scallions, served with a homemade
yaki sauce

Spicy Tuna Roll at Fukuda Truck
Spicy Tuna Roll from Fukuda Truck

It is truly exciting to see that mobile food is becoming a trend Pittsburgh - and not just any mobile food, but extremely high quality, carefully crafted, gourmet mobile food.

Enticed? The next North Hills Food Truck Roundup will take place on Saturday April 27, from noon to 4:00 pm.  Check it out! Or "like" Pgh Taco Truck on Facebook to get updates on future events!

The Coffee Buddha is located at 964 Perry Hwy, Pittsburgh, PA.

View Larger Map

PGH Taco Truck on Urbanspoon Oh My Grill Mobile Food Truck on Urbanspoon Fukuda on Urbanspoon

Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta

Pumpkins: It is what brightens the fall season when the skies get dark earlier.

I love pumpkin smoothies, and I try to extend my personal "pumpkin smoothie season" for as long as possible by stockpiling pie pumpkins every fall weekend, puréeing, then storing it in the freezer.  When the winter ended (finally!), however, it was also time to say goodbye to the last bit of my frozen pumpkin purée and pray that fall comes around again soon.

I had just enough pumpkin purée left to try something different with it: a pumpkin pasta sauce, to go along with some fresh pumpkin fettuccine I had gotten from Penn Mac. I figured it might work well with sausage, fall spices, and some herbs, and came across this Rachael Ray recipe that seemed to fit pretty much what I was trying to go for.  I used my own pumpkin purée, of course, as opposed to the canned variety called for in the recipe, and was a bit more generous with the cinnamon and nutmeg, because, well, I like my fall spices.

Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta
Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta

Next time I might try it with spicy Italian sausage and use parsley instead of sage.  I didn't mind the sage, but I think I might prefer something a little less dominant. it fall yet?

Recipe courtesy of:
Food Network (get the recipe here)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Venison Bulgogi

One of the cuts of venison we got from my husband's kill was simply marked "steak" on the package. Now when I think steak, I think beef sirloin or filet mignon, so naturally I had assumed that this would be a similar cut. Once thawed, however, I discovered that it was more like bone-in flank steak, with tendons running down the length of the meat. As venison is already a tougher meat, it looked like the only way to enjoy the steak was to slice it thinly across the grain and marinate the heck out of it.

So the next question was, how does one serve meat this way? Well, like Korean bulgogi!

I found this great bulgogi sauce recipe online and used it to marinate my meat overnight. Once the meat is marinated, I cooked it on a preheated, oiled grill (pan frying in an oiled skillet under high heat works too) until slightly charred on both sides. I served it with rice, topped with more bulgogi sauce (I made a second serving for the topping).

Venison marinating in bulgogi sauce
Venison marinating in bulgogi sauce

Venison Bulgogi
Venison Bulgogi

Super delicious!

Recipe courtesy of:
Savory Sweet Life (get the recipe here)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Runners United to Remember

I know what you're thinking:  This is a food blog, so what does it have to do with running?

Well, a lot. When you eat like I do, the calories have to be expended somehow, you know?

Truth be told, I don't identify myself as a runner, for my version of "running" is nothing more than moving at a slightly higher pace than walking. I have only ever entered one race in my life - a 5K back in 2004 or 2005 - and have been confined to treadmill running since I started having problems with my prematurely aging knees. I have never run a marathon, or even a half-marathon, and I'm pretty sure I never will. But, running is an important part of my routine, and is pretty much the only reason I am not overweight right now.

Like many, I was saddened by Monday's unspeakable tragedy at the Boston Marathon, not just as a sort-of runner, but as a human being. I wanted to do something to help...but what?  On Monday night, I received an invitation to a virtual Facebook event called Runners United to Remember encouraging the running community to run or walk wherever they are, to "both honor the victims as well as display an act of unity and solidarity in the running community." Great idea, I thought, but I wanted to go beyond supporting the victims in just a symbolic fashion. After mulling this over for a day, I came up with this:

Between April 17 (today) and May 5, I pledge to run a minimum of 26.2 miles in support of those affected by Monday's tragedy. In addition, for every mile I run, I will donate $1 to One Fund Boston which provides financial support to the victims and their families.

Why am I announcing this on my food blog? Well, now that I've shared my plans with the whole world, I can't back out now, can I? ;)  Also, I'm hoping there is a small chance that someone reading this might be interested in joining me in supporting the victims. This can be done in any way you wish - either by running or walking, or donating whatever you can afford. Join me!

I completed my first 3.95 miles today, which means I have 22.25 miles left to go. I will update my progress on Twitter on the days that I run. So, cheer me on, for the more I run, the more money will be donated!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Thai Peanut Tofu Pizza

In an earlier post, I wrote of my experimentations with the perfect whole wheat pizza crust. Naturally, part of that experimentation also involved trying different pizza toppings. In my google search for creative pizza topping ideas, I came across this post by Iowa Girl Eats and was tempted to try it right away! My first attempt was good, but I felt it could use more peanut sauce, so the next time I doubled the amount of peanut sauce and it was absolutely perfect! Even R., who had initially been skeptical about tofu on a pizza, was sold after he tried it, proclaiming this to be his favorite pizza!

I've also filled crispy wonton cups with a variation of this topping and it was a huge hit! More on that in a future post.

(Some) ingredients of the Thai Peanut Tofu Pizza
Some of the ingredients

Adding toppings to the Thai Peanut Tofu Pizza
Ready to bake!

Thai Peanut Tofu Pizza
Thai Peanut Tofu Pizza - the finished product, garnish and all

Thai Peanut Tofu Pizza 2
Thai Peanut Tofu Pizza

This is becoming one of my favorite pizzas, too! Thanks, Iowa Girl!

Recipe courtesy of:
Iowa Girl Eats (get the recipe here)