Monday, June 25, 2012

Apricot Cherry Fold-Over Pie

Lately, I've been quite inspired (or should I say "ins-PIE-ered") by the Three Babes Bakeshop. Anna and Lenore (who are in search of a third babe, lest you accuse them of false advertising) create pie-fection, from deeply caramelized, flaky crusts, to unbelievably tasty fillings such as local key lime, salty honey walnut, apricot tayberry, and cherry berry crumble, just to name a few. Their selection changes weekly, and their ingredients are always organic and locally grown.

Pie mecca can be found (unfortunately close to my yoga studio) every weekend at a be-tableclothed stand on the sunny patio of Stable Cafe where the babes sling pies by the slice, whole, and even in individual mason jars. Every pie is a star, and it's hard not to order one of everything.

Inspired by their luscious fruit pies, and by a Deborah Madison recipe for apricot fold-over pie, I set to work to make some pie.

Fold-over pie (a.k.a. Lazy Ladies' Pie) is essentially a galette baked in a pie pan. It's a simpler way to get fruit into crust than dealing with two crusts, weaving a lattice, or making a crumble topping, and it satisfies like a pie with a high fruit to crust ratio. Just roll out a larger-than-usual round of dough, letting its copious edges hang over the pan, fill it with fruit tossed with sugar and thickener, and fold the top over the fruit.

Apricots and cherries work together the way strawberries and rhubarb do, the apricots becoming more tart with baking and giving dimension to the sweet cherries. The apricots break down into soft slivers, while the cherries stay whole and slightly toothsome. Instant tapioca thickens the pie to a gooey compote, staying clear and disappearing on the palate; 6 tablespoons makes a messily-sliceable pie. I added only a bit of lemon zest and juice for flavor, but when I took a bite of pie with vanilla ice cream, I could have sworn I tasted ginger, and several guests at the party where it was served asked which spices I used. A scant cup of sugar in the filling lets the sweet-tart flavors of the fruit come through, also working with the tapioca to set the fruit.

Though the fold-over pie is s snap to assemble, it did take me 4 tries to achieve a Three Babe's-worthy dessert that was pleasing to look at as well as to eat, with a softly-set filling that was firm enough to slice. As with any pie, using locally-grown fruit at the peak of its season, and taking care to make a flaky dough, will ensure deliciousness. But here are a few tips specific to fold-over pies that I've picked up during my week of pie experiments:

Pie #1 - too little overhang
  • Shake it, Sugaree: Sugar in pie dough adds tenderness and flavor, but it also promotes browning, which this pie does a lot of, so leave it out this time. (A sprinkling of coarse sugar on top makes a pretty pie with a bit of crunch, however.) 
  • Size matters: Use a ruler to check the size of your dough round. For a standard, 9" pie plate, you want a good 3 inches of overhang, which means rolling the dough out to a 16-17" circle for starters. A too-short overhang will tend to gap more (see the last tip); too long will mean that the dough is too thin and in danger of burning, and the fruit may be covered up entirely when the ends are folded in. You want about 3 inches of fruit peeking out from the center when the unbaked pie is assembled. As the pie bakes, the fruit will bubble and expand, pushing the dough outward, so you'll be left with a larger window when the pie has baked and cooled.
  • Fit and trim: Ease the dough into the pie plate, pressing it into the corners, and trim into an even circle. Trimming will create a pretty, pro-looking pie, and show off your flaky layers of dough. 
  • Mind the gap: Fold-over pies (and double-crusted ones, too) tend to gap when the baked fruit cools and settles down away from the crust. Gently but firmly packing down the fruit into the unbaked crust minimizes this. Additionally, you can press the crust down, flush with the fruit, after the baked pie has cooled for 15 minutes but is still hot. 

Pie #2 - too much overhang

Pie #3 - overhang just right, but too soupy to slice

All in all, the fold-over pie is a lazy way to get your pie fix. Vary the recipe with any fruit (or combination thereof) you like. Some classics are blueberry-peach, apricot-raspberry, apple-blackberry, cherry-berry, cherry-rhubarb, and rhubarb-berry.

Pie #4 - just right (finally!)

And do have a pint or two of vanillaginger, or cardamom ice cream on hand (or at least a bit of whipped cream or crème fraîche), which rounds out the flavors in the pie.

Although if you're extra lazy (and live in the Bay Area), just visit The Three Babes at Stable for a slice – or five.

Stone fruit love:
Cherry Frangipane Tart
Apricot-Cherry Clafoutis
Vanilla Brown Butter Peach Buckle

High on pie:
Berry Crumble Pie
Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Pie
Huckleberry Fig Crumble Tart

One year ago:
Roasted Turnips with Bacon and Turnip Greens
Two years ago:
(Gluten-free) Chocolate Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake

Apricot Cherry Fold-Over Pie

Inspired by Deborah Madison's Seasonal Fruit Desserts

If you lack buttermilk for the crust, you can omit it, or try subbing sour cream or plain yogurt (the acids in cultured dairy promote tender flakiness, but aren't essential). For the flakiest dough and a well-set, sliceable pie, allow 5-7 hours from start to finish, which is mostly inactive chilling/baking/cooling time. (The dough can be made ahead and chilled for up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 2 months.) 

I give two options for making extra-flaky dough: fraisage, and folding (details in the recipe, below). I always do both now, since it doesn't take much more time and effort, and results in a shatteringly-crisp, tender crust. But feel free to be lazy and stop after you've added the ice water. Also feel free to swap out other types of fruit for the apricots and cherries (I give some suggestions in the post, above), though the amounts of sugar and tapioca may need adjusting. 6 tablespoons of tapioca make this pie sliceable; reduce the amount to 4 or 5 tablespoons if you prefer a softer set. A scoop of ice cream (suggestions also above) turns a slice of this pie into a spiritual experience.

Makes one 9" pie, 8-10 servings

Flakiest, All-Butter Crust:
3 tablespoons ice water
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole spelt (or whole wheat pastry) flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (6 ounces/ 1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, sliced 1/4" thick and chilled
3 tablespoons buttermilk

Cherry-Apricot Filling:
1 3/4 pounds ripe but firm apricots, pitted and quartered (about 5 cups)
1 1/4 pounds sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted (about 3 cups)
zest of 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons instant tapioca
1/4 teaspoon salt

For Finishing:
1 tablespoon milk or cream
2 teaspoons coarse sugar

Make the crust:
Fill a 1 cup measure with ice cubes, and add cool water to cover. Set aside.

In a large bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) stir together the flours and salt. Scatter the butter slices over the flour and rub in with your fingertips (or the paddle, on low) until the mixture resembles sandy gravel with lots of almond-sized butter chunks. Stir together the buttermilk and 3 tablespoons of ice water. Drizzle this mixture over the flour mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a rubber spatula (or mixing on low), until the dough just holds together when you give it a squeeze and no dry, floury bits remain. Add more ice water by the teaspoon directly to the dry bits if needed.

You can call it here, or you can do either or both of the steps below for extra flake:

Option 1 - fraisage: Dump the dough out onto a counter, divide it roughly into 6 portions, and fraisage by dragging a portion of dough across the counter using the heel of your hand. (See the photo here.) Scrape up the dough (a metal bench scraper works well here), gently press it into a ball and flatten into a disc. Slip it into a plastic bag, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Option 2 - roll, fold, roll: On a lightly floured surface, roll the chilled dough out into a rough square that is about 1/4" thick. Fold it in thirds like you're folding a letter, then roll up from a skinny end into a loose spiral. Gently press to flatten it slightly, and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

While the dough chills, pit the cherries and quarter the apricots.

Remove the dough from the fridge, unwrap, and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough into a 16-17" circle, dusting the dough lightly with flour as needed, rotating and flipping it to prevent it from sticking. (If you've folded the dough, it will want to roll into a rectangle, so make sure that the narrowest parts measure 16-17" across.) Ease the dough into a 9" (glass) pie plate, fit it into the corners, and trim it to a 3" overhang. Place the plate on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment for easy clean-up, and chill while you prepare the fruit.

Make the fruit filling: In a large bowl, combine the apricots, cherries, lemon zest and juice. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, tapioca and salt. Gently fold the sugar mixture into the fruit, tossing to coat, and let sit for 10-20 minutes to begin to release the fruit's juices and dissolve the sugar.
Pour the fruit and its juices into the chilled crust, and pack it down gently but firmly; it should sit just above the sides of the pan. Fold the overhang over the top of the fruit, as if folding a galette; make the pleats as small or as large as you like. Brush the top of the dough with the cream and sprinkle with the coarse sugar. Freeze the pie for 20 minutes, while you position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 450ºF.

Place the pie, still on its parchmented sheet pan, in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350º and continue baking until the fruit is bubbling furiously and has overflowed the crust a bit, 60-70 more minutes. Let the pie cool completely, at least 2-4 hours, or up to overnight. The pie is best shortly after being cooled, but will keep at room temperature for a day or two, and longer in the fridge, though bring slices to warm room-temperature for the most pleasant experience.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sweet Corn Cheddar Spoonbread

Spoonbread, where have you been all my life?

All those times when I wanted a quiche but was too lazy to make a crust, I could have had you. All those brunches with gluten-intolerant company when I laboriously stirred polenta for hours, I could have baked you in the oven. All those summers when I wanted to gussy up corn kernels into a substantial, one-dish meal, I could have suspended them in your cheesy batter.

Indeed, spoonbread is pretty much the answer to everything. Too much sweet corn? Spoonbread. Got a problem with dry cornbread? Spoonbread. Vegetarian, gluten-intolerant guests? Breakfast, lunch or dinner? Spoonbread.

Yes, but what is spoonbread? you may ask. Spoonbread is magic. It's like a cheese souffle meets cornbread meets quiche. Fresh from the oven, you can scoop out servings with a spoon. When cooled, it settles into sliceable wedges.

Spoonbread can be sweet or savory. It can be enjoyed with honey and berries for breakfast or dessert, or (in this case) packed with chives, chiles and cheddar cheese for a savory brunch or supper. This version is adapted from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, by the mama of vegetarian cooking, Molly Katzen. Every recipe in there is a gem. If you are a hippy, foodie, vegetarian, or lover of cookbooks, you should own this book. Though the base recipe is flawless, I added chives and minced jalapeño for kicks, and increased the cheese a bit, because even with 3 cups of sharp cheddar, this spoonbread still manages to taste light, in a rich sort of way, if that makes any sense. The original recipe says that the egg yolks are optional, which is convenient for avid custard makers who might have extra whites lying around after making, say, a batch of mint chip ice cream.

Spoonbread is quick and easy to throw together. Heat the milk, add it to the cornmeal, stir in the flavorings and egg yolks, whip the whites and fold them in, pour the whole thing into a hot skillet and bake. The spoonbread puffs into a sturdier and less snooty souffle of sorts, with a craggy top and crispy edges. Corn kernels burst in your mouth, tasting like sweet sunshine.

I hope you fall for spoonbread the way we have. Just don't try to physically spoon it; that would be messy.

Corn, sweet and savory:
Corn and Scallion Griddle Cakes
Sweet Corn and Roasted Poblano Chowder
Sweet Corn Grits with Berries and Honey

Sweet Corn Cheddar Spoonbread

Adapted from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest

As I mentioned above, the egg yolks in this recipe are optional - use as few or as many as you like. I've made this with both two and six yolks, and the spoonbreads weren't noticeably different. Other additions that might be tasty are chopped, roasted green chiles, scallions, crispy bits of bacon (omit the butter and use bacon fat to grease the pan), shredded zucchini, or different herbs, such as basil, marjoram, thyme or sage. Many cheeses pair well with corn; you could add or substitute smoked cheddar, goat gouda, gruyere or parmesan, just to name a few. Jalapeños vary in strength, so give yours a tiny lick to determine how much you wish to use. This batter just fit in my 10" cast iron skillet with 2" high sides; alternately, use any baking dish with a 2-quart or greater capacity.

Makes 8 servings

3 large ears of corn, shucked

2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon salt

1 bunch chives, snipped into 1/4" bits
12 ounces sharp cheddar, grated (about 3 cups packed), 1/2 cup reserved for sprinkling on top
1/2 - 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (optional)

6 large eggs, separated (see headnote)

2 tablespoons butter

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400ºF.

Stand an ear of corn in a wide, shallow bowl, and use a sharp knife to cut off the kernels. Reverse your knife and scrape the juices from cob into the bowl. Repeat with the remaining cobs and set aside.

Heat the milk in a small saucepan over a medium flame until it comes to a rolling simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent it from burning on the bottom or boiling over. Place the cornmeal and salt in a large bowl. When the milk is near boiling, gradually whisk it into the cornmeal (which will thicken and clump and become difficult to whisk, so you may need to switch to a spoon). Stir in the corn kernels, then the chives, 2 1/2 cups of the cheese, the jalapeño, and (optional) egg yolks.

Place the butter in a 10" oven-proof skillet (see headnote) and place in the oven to melt. When melted, brush the butter up the sides of the pan.

In a spanking clean, dry bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), whip the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Quickly stir 1/3 of the whites into the batter to lighten it, then quickly but gently fold the rest of the whipped whites into the batter until no white streaks remain.

Scrape the batter into the hot, buttered pan, sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese, and place in the oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the spoonbread is puffed, deeply golden, and set when you give it a wiggle.

Serve immediately with a spoon, or let it settle a bit for cleaner slices. The spoonbread keeps beautifully, refrigerated, for up to a few days. Reheat in an oven or toaster oven.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Black Sesame Granola

Along with having longer days (and therefore, more time to take pictures of food!), a favorite part of spring is when the eternal question of "what to eat for breakfast?" ceases. Strawberries have become reliably sweet and red; apricots, peaches and nectarines ripen and smell like summer; blue, black and raspberries lower their exorbitant prices. I bake a batch of granola to keep on the counter. The morning ritual becomes quick, simple, reliable; cool and light, yet nourishing, for warm mornings.

I never tire of nuts and oats caramelized in butter and honey (or maple syrup) sprinkled over tangy, whole-milk yogurt and summer fruit. I do like to mix things up, so I concocted this variation, based on my favorite granola formula which I pilfered from my pastry teacher, Clair Legas, several years ago (she had stolen it from Casey Hayden of Moose's). I've made honey-cardamom and chocolate-coated versions of it in years past. This time I paired the oats and almonds with ginger, orange zest, coconut sugar, and my latest culinary fixation: black sesame seeds. 

Last month, my chef described a black sesame brittle he had enjoyed at a restaurant in Peru that had garnished a certain dessert. I had been wanting to experiment with black sesame, so I mixed up a lace tuile batter, laced, as it were, with lime zest and dark brown sugar. It took a few tries to get it right, but I now spread the batter into the shape of a long, skinny triangle, which, when baked, garnishes a coconut flan served with fresh strawberries and slivers of mint. It all looks rather dramatic, and the tuile lends an intriguing crunch to the familiar flavors of the dessert.

While flipping through David Lebovitz' latest food pornographic book, Ready for Dessert, I came across a black sesame almond tuile recipe. I must have had that image in my mind when I came up with my tuile recipe, but I was intrigued by David's use of toasted sesame oil in his cookies. 

While I can't often justify making tiny, labor-intensive cookies at home, I can always rationalize baking up a batch of granola, so I decided to turn his cookies into just that. I mixed rolled oats with orange zest, black sesame seeds, toasted sesame oil, honey, butter, coconut sugar, and minced, candied ginger. I baked it in a parchment and sheet pan sandwich, which cuts out the need to stir the granola as it bakes, then I broke it up into large chunks and crumbles, and let it dry out further in a low oven until it had a candy-like crispness.

I love that this granola bakes into a big, granola-bar-like sheet that you can break into whatever size clusters you like. It is addictively crunchy, spicy and nutty, with a hint of chewiness from the honey and ginger. The toasted sesame oil adds a savory note that will transport you to a Chinese restaurant at first bite; then the sweetness takes over and you're in a sun-drenched kitchen, eating an intriguingly flavored breakfast again.

This granola is heaven for breakfast, sprinkled over plain yogurt and ripe fruit. Or make it dessert by pairing it with Fresh Ginger or Honey Yogurt Ice Cream.

And don't be surprised of you find yourself dipping into the jar for occasional noshes at all hours of the day.

Black Sesame Almond Granola

Adapted from Casey Hayden of Moose’s via Claire Legas

This granola takes a bit longer to dry out and crisp up than others, due to the honey and candied ginger, but it is well worth the wait. (For a crispier version, you can substitute 3/4-1 teaspoon powdered ginger for the candied ginger and 2 ounces of agave for the honey; though I prefer the flavor of the version posted below.) 

To make this vegan, substitute coconut oil for the butter and agave for the honey. If you're allergic to gluten, make sure your oats are certified gluten-free. All ounce measurements are by weight. 

Makes about 5 cups

2 1/2 cups (1/2 pound) whole oats
1 cup (4 ounces) whole, raw almonds
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (2 ounces) coconut sugar (or light brown or unrefined cane sugar)
zest of 1 large naval orange
1/4 cup minced, candied ginger
3 tablespoons black sesame seeds

4 tablespoons (2 ounces/ 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons (2 ounces) mild-flavored honey
1 teaspoon sea salt (yes, 1 teaspoon)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 300º. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Have a second rimmed baking sheet and piece of parchment ready.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, sugar, orange zest, ginger and black sesame seeds. In a small saucepan set over a low flame, melt together the butter, sesame oil, honey and salt, stirring to dissolve the salt. Pour over the oat mixture, tossing to combine thoroughly.

Dump the mixture onto the lined baking sheet, and spread it into a thin sheet no thicker than an almond. Ideally, the edges will be slightly thicker than the center as they will bake faster. Lay the second piece of parchment over the granola, and place the second sheet pan on top, right-side up, making a little granola sandwich.

Slide the whole thing into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate and continue baking another 20 - 30 minutes, peeking under the parchment to make sure the edges aren't burning, until the granola is a rich golden brown. It will still be soft, but should crisp up as it cools. (If the granola is still soft after cooling, break it up into large clumps and return it, uncovered, to a low oven [around 150º] and let it dry out for 30 minutes or so. If it still isn't crisp, leave it, uncovered, in a turned-off gas oven with a pilot light, overnight.)

Let the granola cool completely, then break up into large sheets or clumps, and store in an airtight container for up to a month.

Enjoy over fruit and yogurt for breakfast, alone for a crunchy snack, or over ice cream for a decadent dessert.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Spring Vegetable Fried Rice

In cooking terms, mise en place means to have your tools and ingredients prepped and at hand for the dish you're about to cook. When baking, I tend to grab ingredients out of the cupboards willy-nilly. But I've learned that, when making a stir-fry, "meez" (as Anthony Bourdain calls it in Kitchen Confidential) is not optional. A thin wok that conducts heat very quickly is placed over a high flame, and ingredients are added in quick succession, one by one, getting coated with hot oil which locks in flavor, color and moisture. If you stop stirring for a minute to chop a vegetable, the ones in the pot will either burn or overcook and turn soggy and dull. (I know this from experience.)

While I generally don't condone culinary scare tactics that cause amateur cooks to shy away from making things like pie dough (DON'T ADD TOO MUCH WATER!!!) or ice cream (STIR CONSTANTLY!!!), in the case of stir fry I decree: HAVE YOUR MISE EN PLACE PREPPED AND READY BEFORE YOU HEAT THAT WOK...OR ELSE!!!

Histrionics aside, fried rice has become a secret weapon of mine. It's a handy way to use up odd vegetables (like the bunches and bunches of greens, turnips, and cabbage we continue to get in our box even though it's already almost summer; not that I'm bitter). Chewy, comforting rice infused with toasted sesame oil and tamari mixed with gingery vegetables and bits of fluffy, scrambled egg make a quick, nutritious meal that's appropriate for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

When we've used up all the odd produce and have the luxury of actually buying the vegetables we want, this is my favorite version. Crisp-tender asparagus and carrots, glazed and crunchy snap peas, a bunch of scallions, a flurry of cilantro (which, I admit, actually did come in our box, as did the super-golden eggs) make a pretty bowlful of spring.

I like brown jasmine rice best for its deep flavor, but you can use any rice you like: long, short, white, brown, black or red, or a "wild" rice blend (which usually doesn't include actual wild rice, but makes a pretty dish, nonetheless). Or take a cue from Heidi Swanson and use millet (or quinoa) instead. Either way, I've found that adding a bit of oil to the cooking grains helps them separate better, preventing sticky clumps of mushy rice. You can make it vegan by subbing tofu, crisped in oil until golden, for the eggs.

Heidi Swanson is the goddess of one-dish vegetarian meals, and this recipe is adapted from her Millet Fried "Rice" in Super Natural Cooking. Thank you, Heidi, for teaching me the ways of the fried grain!

The recipe isn't hard and fast, so feel free to swap in your own bizarre vegetables if you like.

But do have your meez prepared before you heat that pan...or else.

Vegging out:
Crispy, Sesame Kale Chips
Creamy, Sesame Soba Noodles
Saffron Risotto with Spring Vegetable Ragout

One year ago:
Pasta Alla Carbonara (this is all I ever want to eat these days - made it for a dinner party the other night, and was just as enamored as ever!)
Two years ago:
Rhubarb Streusel Coffeecake

Spring Vegetable Fried Rice

As I droned on about in the post above, be sure to have all ingredients prepped and ready to go before you heat up your wok. A wok is the ideal vessel for cooking the stir-fry (though I've found that the eggs stick less in my cast-iron skillet). Lacking a wok, cut the recipe in half (or cook it in two batches) and use a large, 10" skillet. 

If you start with pre-cooked rice, you'll need 6 cups for this recipe. To make this dish vegan, substitute 8-12 ounces of cubed, extra-firm or nigari tofu, cooked in sunflower oil until golden and crispy, for the eggs. Many other vegetables can stand in for the ones I used here: shiitake mushrooms, spinach, cabbage, bok choy or other greens, English peas, broccoli, cabbage, or anything else you like. If you enjoy spice, drizzle some hot chile oil over the finished rice. I use sunflower oil for a flavorless cooking oil, but coconut would probably be a worthy substitute.

Makes 6 entree-sized servings

The rice:
1 3/4 cups medium-grain brown rice (such as jasmine)
3 cups water
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 teaspoon salt

The eggs:
6 large eggs, well-beaten with a big pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

The veg:
6 scallions, sliced on the diagonal 1/4" thick, soaked in cool water to clean any sandy dirt stuck in its crevices, drained well
2 medium or 4 small carrots, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 pound asparagus spears, fibrous ends snapped off, sliced into 2" diagonals
1/2 pound snap peas, stems pulled off

The flavorings:
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2-3 teaspoons minced, fresh ginger
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce (more to taste)
1/2 small bunch cilantro, cleaned well and chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Cook the rice:
Place the rice in a mesh strainer, and shake under running water for about 30 seconds to clean the rice of dust and starch. Drain well. In a large saucepan with a snug-fitting lid, combine the rice, 3 cups water, sunflower oil and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to very low and cover the pot. Let cook until all the water is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Check the rice for doneness; if it isn't soft enough, add a few tablespoons more water and continue cooking. When the rice is done, let stand off heat, covered, for 10 minutes, then use a large fork to gently fluff and separate the grains of rice. Use immediately, or cool to room temperature (about 2 hours), then chill until needed, up to 3 days.

Scramble the eggs:
In a medium (6") skillet, heat the oils over medium heat until they shimmer. Add the beaten eggs. Let cook for 30 seconds, then use the tines of a fork to pull the cooked, outer edges inward. Repeat this a few times. When the eggs are mostly cooked, use a spatula to break them up a bit and flip them over. When fully cooked, slide the eggs onto a plate and set aside.

Fry the veg and rice:
Have all your ingredients measured out, prepped, and waiting for you in various bowls next to the stove, goshdarnit!

Heat the sunflower and sesame oils in a large wok over high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the ginger and garlic, and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula, for 30 seconds. Add the scallions and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the carrots, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Repeat with the asparagus, then the snap peas. The vegetables should be crisp-tender; cook longer if needed.

Add the rice and tamari, stir to combine, cook to heat through, then gently fold in the egg, cooking and stirring gently to heat everything through. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped cilantro. Taste for seasoning, adding more tamari if needed.

Serve the fried rice immediately, sprinkled with sesame seeds. Leftovers keep well for 2-3 days.