Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chiang Mai Curry Noodles

This is without a doubt the most beautiful cookbook I've ever read. The authors have spent years traveling throughout Southeast Asia.  As they traveled they learned how to cook like the locals.  This book is part cookbook, part travel/photo essay, and it's gorgeous.  They follow the Mekong River, noticing how the cooking of the regions are similar, yet different as the river flows - sort of like we group Mediterranean cooking together.  There are similarities, yet each region has its own take on its dishes.  I happened upon this book via a new friend.  The first time we had lunch with their family, she has make a chicken noodle dish from us from this book.  The second time, she made an Indian dal dish from another of their books, Mangoes and Curry Leaves.  The cooking was so delicious and so what my husband and I enjoy that we ordered both books from Amazon. 
I decided that the first dish I cooked would be this soup from Northern Thailand.  It was quite simple to put together and very tasty.  It was even better the next day as the flavors really had a chance to melt together.

2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp ground tumeric
1 tsp salt, plus a pinch
1 tbsp red curry paste
1 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
3 cups coconut milk, with 1/2 cup of the thickest milk set aside
1/2 pound boneless flavorful beef (sirloin tip or trimmed stewing beef), cut into 1 inch chunks
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup water
3 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
peanut oil for deep frying noodles (optional)
1 pound Chinese egg noodles (bamee)

Toppings and Condiments: Fried noodle nests
1/2 cup coursely chopped shallots
1/2 cup minced scallions
1/2 cup pickled cabbage (Thai style)
1 lime, cut into wedges

Finely mince the garlic, place in a small bowl with the tumeric, a pinch of salt and curry paste and mix well together.
Place a large heavy pot or wok over high heat.  Add the 1 tbsp oil and when it is hot, toss in the curry mixture.  Stir fry 30 seconds, then add the reserved 1/2 cup coconut milk and lower the heat to medium high.  Add the meat and sugar, stirring frequently for 4-5 minutes, until the meat has changed color all over.  Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups coconut milk, the water, fish sauce and the remaining 1 tsp salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and cook at a strong simmer for about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice.  (this soup can be prepared up to an hour ahead and then reheated just before serving).
Meanwhile make the crispy noodles (optional, but I heartily recommend them).  Place a plate lined with several layers of paper towels by your stove.  Place a large wok or heavy pot over high heat and add about a cup peanut oil, or 1/2 inch oil.  When the oil is hot, drop in a strand of uncooked noodle to test the temp.  It should sizzle slightly as it falls to the bottom and immediately puff and rise to the surface: adjust the heat if necessary.  Toss a handful (about 1 cup) of noodles into the oil and watch as they puff up.  Use a spatula or long tongs to turn them over and expose all of them to the hot oil.. They will crisp up very quickly (less than 1 minute).  Lift the crisped noodles out of the oil and place on paper towel lined plate.  Give the oil a moment to come back to temperature, and then repeat with a second handful of noodles.  (the noodles can be made ahead of time and left standing at room temperature for several hours).
To serve: bring a large pot of water to a vigorous boil over high heat.  Drop in the remaining noodles (or all noodles, if you didn't make the crispy noodles), bring back to a boil and cook until tender but not mushy (about 6 minutes) - drain well.
Divide the drained noodles among 4 large bowls.  Ladle over the broth and meat.  Top with crispy noodles and a pinch each of the shallots and scallions (I just used shallots).  Serve with the remaining condiments set out in small bowls so guest can garnish their soup as they wish.  Provide each guest with chopsticks and a large spoon.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Chicken Korma

This is the third recipe I've tried from Jamie's Food Revolution and the third recipe that we've loved (I'm seeing a pattern here with this book).  I made it mild (omitted the chili) so my kids would try it too.  My oldest (who is 5) decided he didn't like it because the chicken was pink (he decided this before tasting, he did admit it tasted good after one bite).  My 2nd (who is 3) surprised the heck out of me by eating all of his because he is usually so picky, but he really like this.  I'll have to make it again.  It was fun plating it out to look pretty with the garnishes.  I served it with basamati rice and Na'an bread.

1 3/4 pounds skinless chicken breasts
2 medium onions
1 fresh green chili (optional)
a thumb size piece of fresh root ginger
a small bunch of cilantro
1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans
peanut or vegetable oil
a pat of butter
1/2 cup korma or other mild curry paste (I used Patak's Tandoori mild)
1 14 oz can of coconut milk
a small handful of sliced almonds (I had slivered on hand)
2 heaped tsp unsweetened shredded coconut
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups natural yogurt
1 lemon

Cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces.  Peel, halve and finely slice onions.  Halve, seed and finely slice the chili (if using).  Peel and finely chop the ginger.  Pick the cilantro leaves and finely chop the stalks.  Drain the garbanzo beans.
Put a large pan on high heat and add a couple lugs of oil.  Add the onions, chili, ginger and cilantro stalks with the butter.  Keep stirring it enough so it doesn't catch and burn but turns evenly golden. Cook for about 10 minutes.  Add the curry paste, coconut milk, half the almonds, the beans, coconut and chicken.  Fill the empty can with water, pour it into the pan and stir again.  Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes with lid on.  Check the curry regularly to make sure it's not drying out (add extra water if neccessary).  When the chicken is tender and cooked, taste and season with salt and pepper.  (I let the korma continue to simmer with the lid off after 30 minutes to let the sauce thicken up a bit).

Serve with rice.  Add a few spoonfuls of yogurt dolloped on top, and sprinkle over the rest of the sliced almonds.  Finish by scattering over the cilantro leaves and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Cracking Burger - post 2

As requested from comments in my previous post, here is a picture of Jamie Oliver's Cracking Burger.  This is the reheated version (as are the home fries - I know they don't look great, but they taste good).  Even re-heated my husband was raving about this burger, it's just that good!
After much contemplation I did decide to post the recipe.  It goes along with the premise of the book.   He wrote it with the intention of getting people to cook again.  The recipes are easy to follow and have picture tutorials throughout.  He also wants people to pay it forward with cooking. Well I recently moved and don't know anyone out here well enough to tutor them in cooking so my blog will have to do it for me.  Here's the recipe:

12 cream or plain crackers
8 sprigs of fresh Italian parsley
2 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
1 pound ground beef
1 large egg
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
olive oil

Wrap the crackers in a kitchen towel and smash up until fine, breaking up any big bits with your hands, and put them in a large bowl.  Finely chop the parsley, including the stalks.  Add the parsley, mustard, and ground beef into the bowl.  Crack the egg and add a good pinch of salt and pepper.  With clean hands, scrunch and mix everything up well.  Divide into 6 and pat and mold each piece into a roundish shape about 3/4 inch thick.  Drizzle the burgers with oil, put on a plate, cover and place in the refrigerator until needed (this helps firm them up).

We BBQ-ed them and melted cheddar on top.  Jamie reccommends using a grill pan as well to cook the burgers.  Place into a toasted bun and top with your favorite burger toppings.  Enjoy!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Cracking Burger

I posted a few days back how I'd bought 3 new cookbooks that have re-energized my cooking efforts. I had so much fun grocery shopping today as I looked towards the next couple of weeks of meals. But now I'm hit with a quandary. Here's what happened.
We had friends over for dinner tonight. We rolled out the old BBQ and I prepped Jamie Oliver's Cracking Burger from his Food Revolution cookbook. Along with it I served a Cesar salad and my own special home fries. One bite of this burger and was hooked. YUM! much tastier (I think) than the home burgers I've been making. The rest of the table enjoyed them too. So here's my question: I generally don't post recipes as is found in a cookbook. I will post them if I have made my own taste changes and note them appropriately. I just don't want to get into any copyright issues; therefore, no picture as there was no intention to post. This cookbook was designed, however, for the purpose of sharing the recipes with friends, teaching them to them to add to their repetoire (the pay it forward notion of cooking). So what do I do? I'm planning I think 4 of his recipes over the next 2 weeks. If these burgers are any indication then I know already how good the other food is. Do I post the recipes? Review the recipes? Help me out here foodie friends! What do you do with published recipes? I'd really like to know.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Having Fun Catching Up

I've spent a little time today catching up on your blogs - lots of fun. I've been minimal at blogging the last while (adding a 3rd child to the mix will do that), but I still love visiting you (and drooling over your food). Several of my favorite bloggers have also taken breaks (good for you! - we will welcome you back when you are good and ready to come back) Happy eating!

Giveaway Alert!

Deb is having a cookbook giveaway and from what she has posted the recipes look delicious! Check it out here

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Getting Inspired...

It seems like wherever I turn these days I am getting the , same message about food. Go a little more natural, less preservatives, less sugar filler just the beauty of the food brought out. Use spices and herbs to enhance flavour. Snack on the basics to meet your cravings (I'm currently munching on nuts and raisins instead of my usual chips and dip and liking it). Stock up with more fruits and veggies. Drink more *gasp* water (I'm really bad at this). So I'm trying a little at a time to untroduce some changes. I figured this blog would be a good outlet for my venture (and hopefully being public about it will help me along). I also bought 3 (count 'em 3) new cookbooks this week.
The first is Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. You knew that was coming didn't you? I'm usually not one to get on a cooking bandwagon. I don't watch cooking shows very often (weird for a foodie I know). This is, in fact, the first Jamie Oliver cookbook I've ever bought. I'd been hearing a lot about this book and caught one episode of his show of the same name. I liked what I saw. I checked out his website and the recipes he left on Oprah's site and really liked what I saw, so I bought the book. Yum! I love what's inside. (I love reading good cookbooks - not so strange for a foodie)
The other two books I credit a new friend with. We recently moved and have been meeting new people. We've dined twice at the home of this lovely cook. Her secret to amazing food comes from these books. So, we splurged and bought 2 of them. They are Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's beautiful recipe books. I bought 'Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia', and 'Mangoes and Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent'. I would love to get more of their books (hint, hint). I really look forward to creating with these books. We love authentic ethnic food and I have craved being able to recreate that in my kitchen.
Onto more of my goals in eating these days. 1-better breakfast, I'll blog on that another day. 2-more salads. This is one of my favorites which I never made because my husband doesn't like raw spinach. It just occurred to me that I could just make a smaller salad for myself (well duh!). Very simple, a handful of baby spinach leaves, some sliced strawberries, a shake of slivered almonds and a spoonful of Renee's poppyseed dressing. Renee's is the best I've found when it comes to salad dressings. Sorry my American friends, this is a Canadian brand, I hope you have an equivalent.

Tonight's dinner had this salad on the side of Salmon baked in a honey hoisin sauce (PC brand out of the jar) and some of Jamie Oliver's nutmeg and garlic rice. The family verdict? Salmon - very yummy, salad - only I ate it and loved it, rice - mixed opinion. My oldest son (who is 5) tried it and wasn't a fan. My husband thought it was a nice change for once in a while. I did too.
I used a basimati. Cook the rice first. Separately, in a large frying pan, over low heat, heat a bit of olive oil and a pat of butter. Add 8 cloves of garlic (peeled and thinly sliced), add a little salt & pepper to season. When garlic is just starting to turn colour add a tsp of ground cinnamon and 1/4 ground nutmeg. Add cooked rice and blend altogether. Remove from heat, squeeze juice of 1 lemon over all and serve hot.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cauliflower Muffins

Yes you read that title correctly! These muffins have cauliflower in them and they are delicious! I am constantly on the hunt for ways to get my 3 year old to eat veggies and I picked this beauty of a recipe up from Gourmet Gin. You can find the recipe at her site here. I didn't even tell my husband about the secret ingredient until they were all gone (he was duly impressed). My 5 year old noticed the cauliflower cooking when we were making the muffins (the boys are my assistant cooks) but missed the step where I put it into the batter. Most importantly my 3 year old loved them. In fact, he asked just this morning if we could make them again.
*You'll notice that the chocolate chips in mine melted that's because I didn't let the cauliflower cool down before adding it to the batter.

Giveaway Alert!

My friend Jill and I are hosting a giveaway on our parenting blog site Clever Mamas. Pop on over and take a look here!