Tag Archive: curry


Spaghetti with ShrimpIt’s finally Spring, at least, I think. With the sudden rush of sunshine and warm weather, I find myself feeling like something fresh and flavorful. Spring is my favorite season by far and I always almost forget how wonderful it is – every year, until it happens again 🙂 This season is proving to be warmer by the day, and perhaps even more delightful is the fact that a lot of fruit and veggies seem to be in season suddenly as well. Ahh Spring, how did I forget you? And how I remember you now that you’re actually here.

I find people underrating seafood these days, so it’s only fitting this post involve the fresh, salty cuisine. Other than being devastatingly delicious, shrimp tend to pack enough flavor that you don’t need a huge amount. I found this recipe in a “quick & easy”-themed Fine Cooking magazine. Quick? Shrimp cooks in like 3 minutes, so check. Easy? Definitely. Other than some chopping at the beginning and a lot of stirring in between, this was easy enough. I did up the veggie content and mix a few things up recipe-wise, but here’s my version. The best part? The cream sauce. The recipe was titled ‘shrimp & pasta with a “light” curry cream sauce’ so I took this to mean light in content, but rich in taste; I accomplished this by quadrupling the amount of curry I added (I’m pretty sure moCreamst people do this too…)

Okay, I’ll admit it. I have a problem. My problem is with cream. Seriously, WHY did we make the stuff? Oh yeah because it’s amazing, because it takes things like sauce, dip, dessert, or a cup of iced coffee and makes it simply spectacular, I’d go so far as to say divine. I love to hate cream because it keeps adding to the comfortable layer already around my waist 😉 but thank god they make low-fat versions of the sinful stuff and sell it in little itty bitty containers, otherwise I might be a little rounder about now. My secret ingredient? That’s right, the cream. No lie. Because what IS sauce without it? I’ll tell you: it’s runny , it’s grim, it’s lacking in texture and depth – but WITH cream? Ahh, then we’ve hit culinary nirvana, again. Remember that a little goes a long way and for this sauce, it’s more than enough.

Pasta + veggies = boring … Pasta + veggies + shrimp? Mmm … pasta + veggies + shrimp … + cream sauce? Now we’re talking 😀

Spiced Shrimp with Soy Beans, Basil, and Mushrooms in a Light Curry Cream Sauce

Ingredients

(for pasta)

1 package spaghetti or linguinicurry-powder

1 package frozen & shelled edamame (soybeans), defrosted

1 package mushrooms (any), stemmed & sliced

1 package frozen mixed veggies (like peppers, or a wok mix with corn, carrots, snap peas, etc.)

4 garlic cloves, sliced

1 package large shrimp, peeled & deveinedChiffonade-Basil

2 Tbs. sesame seeds

1 Tbs. chili flakes

olive oil

coarse sea salt

(for sauce)

1/3 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup dry vermouth (or white wine)

1 cup creamEdamame

4 Tbs. yellow curry powder (sub any other curry powder)

1 lime

cooking oil

sea salt & chili flakes

fresh Basil leaves for serving, chiffonade

(1) Fill a large pot with water. Add a pinch of salt and a spoonful of olive oil. Cover and set over medium-high heat until at a rolling boil. (2) In a large saute pan or skillet, heat 2 Tbs. cooking oil over medium-high heat. When hot (and oil is shimmering), add the garlic and mushrooms, stirring occasionally until browned, about 8 minutes. (3) In a medium bowl, season shrimp with the sesame seeds, sea salt, and chili flakes. (4) Add the frozen veggie mix and endamame to the skillet and cook another 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, push the veggie ingredients to the side of the skillet and add shrimp and cook, stirring often until semi-pink but not completely cooked through (3 minutes max). (5) Add broth and vermouth, lowering the heat to maintain a simmer and, stirring occasionally, let the liquid reduce by half. (6) Once the large pot of water is boiling, add pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and return to the pot. Juice the lime over the pasta and stir until moistened. Cover to keep warm and set aside (7) Add the curry powder and cream to the skillet, mixing well, and let the mixture bubble another 2-3 minutes, until sauce is thickened. (8) Pour curry sauce with shrimp and veggies over thShrimpe pasta and stir to combine. Season to taste with sea salt and chili flakes. Serve steamin’ in bowl garnished with a generous pile of fresh Basil leaves.

Serves 4

Well, it looks so time-consuming here when I spell it out step-by-step, but just re-thinking making this recipe gives me this strange desire to cook similar things… involving seafood + cream… hmm like seared scallops with creamy pea puree, or something like that (!)

My question: What is your favorite dish with cream in it?

Seriously, I want to know.

Yes, ice cream counts.

5.6.2014

Mussels 4 Ways

musselsAhh, mussels. It’s hard to describe precisely why I like these crusty, salty bivalves. Once in a while I get a little piece of shell as I’m eating, and I think to myself: why do I do this? Simply speaking: mussels are delicious. Labor-intensive, yes. Delicate and high maintenance, a little. Dirty and fishy, often enough. So what’s the big deal? Again, mussels are delicious – and good for you to boot. Plus, making mussels (avec le bouillon) is an art form that I have a lot of respect for – the art of broth-making.

There’s something salivating about a big pot of mussels on the table, filled with dark shells submerged in a broth that smells something of butter and wine. Furthermore, mussels are one of those magical foods that become heavenly when cooked with/in alcohol. The catch? You have to take care when making them, or at least pay some attention. I used to buy the poor creatures alive, keep them padded with damp paper towels in my fridge for 24 hours while I got my act together to go ahead and steam them for dinner. A quarter of the little guys would die as I was trying to de-beard them between the sink and the hot stove. I’ll agree, that’s way to much work… My solution? The seafood section at the grocery store is huge, have you checked it out? There’s all sorts of stuff there, including — mussels, in the shell, beautiful and ready to go. I buy a huge, flash-frozen batch for around $9.00 and keep it in the freezer until I’m ready. The best part? No defrosting, you get to concentrate on the broth and as soon as that’s ready you crank up the heat, add frozen mussels, and five minutes later (less, really) you’re ready to dig in.

strained-mussels-judy-mercer

Mussels seem like a poor man’s food but when you’re eating the poached and pinkened sea creatures between pieces of a baguette and some roasted garlic, it’s close to heaven 😉 My advice is to make mussels in any form — and experiment a little with your favorite seafood spices and sauces. Get the mussels frozen and save them in your freezer for a rainy day. I’ve been playing around with mussel recipes and these particular 4 I made up from looking over the various versions in existence (and my own taste and favorite ingredients). Belonions1ow are what I think are the best ways to serve these sweet & salty little things. As always, when making a big pot of mussels, remember to serve them in bowls with big spoons; and other than the mussels + steaming broth, all you really need is a lot of bread and, oh yeah, napkins.

My star ingredient? The onion family. In every one of these mussel recipes, one of the onion family is used; and thank god it’s a big family. Cooking the onions/garlic is how this dish begins and the finished product would not taste the same without this aromatic group of ingredients. The super hero ingredient? Vegetable bullion allows you to make broth with some hot water in seconds, and it can sit in your spice drawer until needed for months. Just be aware it packs a salty taste. But broth is what makes mussels such a sensational dish, so be sure NOT to water down the both any more than is needed, or maybe just water it down with wine instead 😀

Mussels – 4 Ways (!)

(1) American – Beer Mussels with Bacon, Red Beans, Roasted Garlic, & Fresh Thyme

2 lbs. frozen musselsbeer_mussels

Broth: 1 bottle (light) beer, 5 pieces of bacon, 5 shallots (sliced), 3 Tbs. butter, 3 cups vegetable broth, 1 can kidney beans (drained & rinsed),

Season with: fresh Thyme (minced)

Serve with: whole wheat baguette (sliced), 4 heads of garlic (roasted), & aged Parmesan (shredded)

(1) To roast garlic: preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 Fahrenheit). Cut the top off 4 heads of garlic with a serrated knife. Season lightly with oil, salt, & pepper and wrap OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAtightly in foil. Bake for 60-65 minutes until cloves are golden and sweet. Let cool and remove from foil before serving. (2) Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add shallots and cook about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. (3) Add bacon sliced and cook until fat had rendered and the pieces have browned slightly, 4-5 minutes more. Remove bacon from pot and chop (or chop in the pot with a pair of scissors). (4) Return bacon to the pot. Add broth, beans, and a Tablespoon of fresh Thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat; simmer, covered until reduced by 1/3, 10-15 minutes. (5) Return heat to high and add frozen mussels and beer. Cook covered, stirring occasionally until mussels are pink and fragrant, 5 -6 minutes. (6) Season the broth to taste with salt, pepper, and fresh Thyme. Serve immediately in bowls accompanied by bread, roasted garlic, & cheese.

Serves 4

(2) Asian – Spicy Mussels with Saki, Thai Chilies, Mushrooms, & Sesame Seeds

2 lbs. frozen musselsmussels_asian

Broth: 1 cup saki, 1 bunch green onions (sliced), 3 Tbs. butter, 2 cups mushrooms (sliced), 1 small can bamboo shoots (drained & rinsed), 1 small can water chestnuts (drained, rinsed, & sliced), 3 cups vegetable broth, 2 Thai chilies (sliced), 1 piece fresh ginger (peeled & sliced), 1/2 Tbs. soy sauce.

Season with: sesame seeds (toasted) & chili flakes

Serve with: garlic bread or steamed rice

(1) Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add green onions and cook about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. (2) Add mushrooms and 1/2 Tbs. sesame seeds, stirring occasionally until slightly browned.  (3) Add ginger, bamboo shoots, chili-flakesand Thai chilies, stirring often until fragrant, another 5-6 minutes. (4) Add the broth, soy sauce, and water chestnuts. Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat; simmer, covered until reduced by 1/3, 10-15 minutes. (5) Return heat to high and add frozen mussels and saki. Cook covered, stirring occasionally until mussels are pink and fragrant, 5 -6 minutes. (6) Season the broth to taste with salt, chili flakes, and sesame seeds. Serve immediately in bowls accompanied by rice and/or bread.

Serves 4

(3) French – Provencal Mussels with White Wine, White Beans, Dill, & Fresh Tomatoes

2 lbs. frozen musselsMUSSELS-PROVENCAL

Broth: 1 cup white wine, 2 red onions (sliced), 3 Tbs. butter, 2 tomatoes (chopped), 1 can white beans (drained & rinsed), 1 celery stalk (sliced), 3 cups vegetable broth, 1 can artichoke hearts (drained, rinsed & chopped), 1 Tbs. dried Dill, 2 garlic cloves (sliced).

Season with: sea salt, cracked pepper, & lemon juice

Serve with: buttered bread & dollops of Greek yogurtwhite_beans

(1) Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add red onions, celery, and garlic. Cook about 3-4 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally. (2)  Add tomato, dried dill, and artichoke hearts, stirring often until fragrant, another 5 minutes. (4) Add the broth, and white beans. Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat; simmer, covered until reduced by 1/3, 10-15 minutes. (5) Return heat to high and add frozen mussels and white wine. Cook covered, stirring occasionally until mussels are pink and fragrant, 5 -6 minutes. (6) Season the broth to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Serve immediately accompanied with buttered bread & dollops of Greek yogurt 🙂

Serves 4

(4) Indian – Curry Mussels with Chickpeas, Red Wine, Leeks, & Cashews

2 lbs. frozen musselsCurry-Mussels

Broth: 1 cup red wine (sub Indian beer), 1 bunch leeks (washed & sliced), 3 Tbs. butter, 2 celery stalks (chopped), 2 carrots (peeled & chopped), 3 Tbs. curry powder (any), 1 can chickpeas (drained & rinsed), 3 cups vegetable broth, 1/2 cup cashews (salted), 1/2 cup milk (or cream), 3 garlic cloves (sliced).

Season with: roasted paprika & fresh cilantro (minced)

Serve with: garlic naan & seared veggies

(1) Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add leeks, celery, carrot, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand garlic. Cook about 10-12 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally. (2)  Add cashews, curry powder, and chickpeas, stirring often until fragrant, another 5 minutes. (4) Add the broth and bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat; simmer, covered until reduced by 1/3, 10-15 minutes. (5) Return heat to high and add frozen mussels and red wine. Cook covered, stirring occasionally until mussels are pink and fragrant, 5 -6 minutes. (6) Season the broth to taste with milk (adding more if needed), salt, roasted paprika, and fresh cilantro. Serve immediately accompanied with buttered naan or seared veggies of your choice.

Serves 4

painting_musselMy “trick,” if you will, is that I only add the wine/saki/beer to the pot of broth when I throw the mussels in, that way the little critters basically poach in alcohol, versus it just burning off in all the boiling… Steaming hot and wreaking of herbs and butter, it’s hard not to get a little messy devouring dishes like these 😛

My question: what is your all-time favorite seafood dish to eat ? – something you wouldn’t make for yourself, but might treat yourself to? Mine would still have to be lobster tail, mmm… 🙂

9.4.13

The Best of the Season

Now that we’re in the full swing of Summer, there’s plenty of tasty things in season – apples, apricots, avocados, basil, bell peppers, berries, melon, carrots, cherries, chilies, cilantro, eggplant, fennel, figs, grapes, garlic, green beans, green onions, lettuce, limes – veggies that are relatively inexpensive and arriving at the local markets in abundance. The last two weeks I’ve had my best friend here from the U.S. I cooked up a storm, really couldn’t help myself and we probably ate 90% of what’s on that in-season list. Granted we drank a lot of Sangria too, so I think it’s all a balance 🙂

In this post I’ve sketched out a complete day’s menu. I tried to make it a colorful, tasty spread with a good mix of both rich and fresh, spicy and sweet flavors. The menu is divided into the day’s meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. If I had to categorize it, I’d call the breakfast Danish, the lunch Hawaiian, and the dinner just plain European…I’d be lying if I said the dessert wasn’t Italian 😀

Probably one of this menu’s more bombastic contributions, the breakfast pâté I found in last month’s Bon Appétit. I just happened to have frozen pâté in my freezer, made in the last month of my pregnancy. A container of frozen pâté is one of the best things I’ve ‘lost’ and found again in my freezer. The steak, carrot, and chicken salad recipes I read in Cooking Light a couple years ago (and pineapple dressing for salad – genius!) The dessert is from Cucina La Italiana, still one of my favorite cooking magazines 😀 (nope..no endorsement yet, but a girl can dream).

On a random side note, I have switched from using olive oil to sunflower oil in all of my recipes that involve cooking at high temperatures. I recently read in an email sent from a very helpful friend of mine that when you cook certain oils (most oils, actually) to a certain high temperature, they burn and consequently go rancid. Rancid oils are carcinogenic, which are bad no matter what form they come in. So – as delicious as olive oil is – I guess it’s best to be served with dishes that aren’t cooked. Perhaps I should have known this but hey, I thought olive oil was delicious in any form I used it.

The star ingredient in this menu is citrus, I used mostly oranges but lemons and limes too. I’ve made the case for this fruit time and time again and I never seem to tire of it. I have a tupperware full of citrus slices sitting in the fridge for my water, juice, wine, etc. and I throw orange peels into stir-fries, zest copious amounts of lemons for batches of strawberry lemonade, and am making lime simple syrup for what I think might be the perfect mohito. This family of fruits can sit in the fruit bowl on the counter long after all other fruits there have molded and bruised, all the while giving off verbena aromas in the kitchen. I put unripe fruit in a bag with oranges or other citrus for a day to make them soft and ready to eat. Since I get a lot of my citrus from Spain, I’ve now gotten into the habit of scrubbing the outer rinds with soap and warm water before I zest or peel for cooking. At first what I thought was a pregnancy craving, turns out to be a lifelong addiction to Vitamin C, perhaps? Or maybe I’m just wanting some extra energy 😉 Either way, there’s something wonderfully refreshing about these sweet and sour fruits. If I had to pick a favorite – and it would be hard – I would have to say lemons. When life gives you lemons, you can make just about a million things to eat..

Breakfast

Liver Pâté Crostini with Savory Berry Salad

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups chilled liver pâté (can be chicken, duck, or beef)

1 baguette, sliced

(for the salad)

1 container of fresh blackberries

1 container of fresh blueberries

1 Tbs. olive oil

2 Tbs. fresh chives, minced

2 Tbs. fresh Parsley, minced

1 lemon, juiced

salt & cracked pepper

(1) To make the salad, combine all ingredients – blackberries through lemon juice – in a sealable container. Season with salt & pepper and chill until ready to serve. Turn the oven on to a low broil. (2) In a large metal or glass oven pan, lay out the baguette slices and season both sides lightly with olive oil and pepper. (3) Put pan into the oven about 10 cm from the top and broil, turning once, until both sides are browned, 3-4 minutes total. (4) Serve each of the toasted bread slices with a layer of chilled pâté and a spoonful of the berry salad on individual plates, or set it all in the center of the table and let everyone make their own.

Serves 4

Lunch

Blackened Chicken Spinach Salad with Spicy Pineapple Dressing

Ingredients

(for the chicken)

1 lb. (or 1/2 kg) chicken breasts

1 Tbs. ground coriander

1 tsp. chili flakes

1 Tbs. garam masala

1/2 Tbs. curry powder

1 /2 Tbs. ground black pepper

1 Tbs. cajun seasoning

1 Tbs. paprika

sunflower oil

(for the salad)

1 bag of baby spinach, washed & stemmed

1 package of baby bean sprouts, washed

1 red bell pepper, seeded & thinly sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded & thinly sliced

2 red onions, peeled & thinly sliced

3 carrots, peeled & cut into matchsticks

1/2 of a ripe pineapple, peeled & cubed

(for the vinaigrette)

1/4 cup beer

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup cubed pineapple

2 Thai chilies, coarsely chopped

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, stemmed & chopped

1/2 bunch of fresh chives, chopped

2 oranges, juiced

3 Tbs. honey

3 Tbs. yogurt

1 Tbs. rice vinegar

3 garlic cloves, chopped

(1) First, make the vinaigrette: combine all ingredients (beer through garlic) in a blender and puree until smooth. Season to taste with honey and cracked pepper, cover, and chill in the fridge. (2) Second, for the salad, make sure all veggies are washed and the greens are dry. In a large bowl, toss all veggies for the salad together, spinach through pineapple pieces. Cover with a damp paper towel and refrigerate until ready to eat. (3) Third, make the chicken: combine all spices for the chicken- coriander through paprika – in a small bowl. Wash and trim chicken breasts, dry, and then rub with 1 Tbs. sunflower oil. Rub the spice mix on both sides of chicken. (4) Heat 2 Tbs. of sunflower oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. When hot, add the chicken and cook, turning once until both sides are browned and the meat is cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and cover with foil; let rest 5 minutes. (5) When ready to serve, lightly toss salad with the chilled vinaigrette. Slice blackened chicken lengthwise and top each salad bowl with 4-5 pieces. To make the salad as a weekly snack, keep vinaigrette on the side and separate salad into sealable containers, covering with damp paper towels; close and seal the containers and refrigerate until needed, adding the vinaigrette just before eating. Salad goes well with garlic bread or toasted pita triangles 🙂

Serves 4

Dinner

Beef Tenderloin Steaks with Pomegranate-Pinot Noir Sauce

Ingredients

4 beef tenderloin steaks

1 1/2 cups Pinot Noir (or Cabernet-Merlot blend)

4 shallots, peeled & minced

2 oranges, juiced

2 pomegranates, seeded

1 cup of beef broth

2 Tbs. butter

sunflower oil

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Season both sides of steak with salt and pepper. Let meat stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. (2) Heat 2 Tbs. of oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the steaks and cook 3 minutes per side, until  seared on the outside and medium-rare when cut into. Remove steaks from the skillet and cover with foil. (3) Pour 1 Tbs. of oil into the skillet, add shallots and cook about 3 minutes until slightly golden. Add all of the red wine, beef broth, and orange juice next, bringing the sauce to a boil. (4) Stirring occasionally, cook until the liquid has been reduced by half. Lower heat and stir in the butter; season to taste with salt & pepper. (5) Serve the steaks with a generous spoonful of red wine sauce and 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds per plate, cracking black pepper across the top.

Serves 4

Steamed Carrots with Garlic-Ginger Butter

Ingredients

1 lb. (or 1/2 kg) carrots, peeled & quartered

4 cloves of garlic

5 Tbs. fresh grated ginger

3 Tbs. butter

5 limes, zested & juiced

sunflower oil

Sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Mince all of the garlic and mix with the fresh ginger and lime zest; set aside. Fill the bottom of a large pot with 3 cm of salted water; cover and bring to a boil over high heat. (2) Put the carrots in a colander and then into the pot; cover and steam veggies until tender and easily pierced with a fork, 10-15 minutes. (3) In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbs. sunflower oil and add the garlic-ginger mixture, cooking 1 minute or until fragrant. (4) Lower the heat to medium and add carrots and lime juice, mixing well. Cover the skillet and cook, stirring often, until carrots have absorbed liquid, about 4-5 minutes. (5) Stir in the butter until melted and serve immediately with cracked pepper.
Serves 4

and Dessert..

Honey-Citrus Gelatin with Cream & Cracked Pepper

Ingredients

1 packet unflavored gelatin

3 oranges

1 lemon

4 Tbs. honey

2 Tbs. brown sugar

1/2 cup cream

cracked pepper

(1) Zest and juice all 3 oranges. In a medium saucepan, add orange juice, zest, honey, and brown sugar; bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer until thickened and reduced by half. (2) Juice the lemon and add to saucepan, add the gelatin powder and cook for 1 minute more. (3) Remove from heat and cover, letting stand a minimum of 30 minutes. Once cool, put in the fridge (keeps 3 weeks chilled). (4) When ready to serve, put spoonfuls of the warm (or chilled) gelatin into small bowls and pour cream over the top, garnishing with 1/2 tsp. cracked pepper.

Serves 4

So, my Summer menu has turned out to be both long and filling. Det er både lang og godt fyldende 🙂

My question: What is the best sauce to serve with a steak?

Red wine sauce is still one of my reigning favorites…

8.1.12

Spicy Asian Flavors

The new semester is in full swing and amid all the ruckus of studying, reading, and working – I find myself with basically one evening a week free to cook, and that is Sunday. Well, it seemed like a great excuse for a little sophistication last weekend so I chose a supper menu that was Asian-inspired and had plenty of spice, salt, greens, and all that other good stuff. Also since I am feeling just a little sick, (I know, it’s just unfair..) I thought it would be best to cook something with strong flavors that would clear the sinuses and settle heavily in my ever-expanding belly 😉 The wilted greens though, turned out to be the best idea and had lots of vitamin C to increase those white cells and boost what’s left of my immune system, with plenty of Calcium for baby who will take it from my bones if he doesn’t get enough – ahhh!

The recipes I reference here originally came from two different sources, with the meat recipe (which originally called for pork) from the September edition of Bon Appetit and the cooked greens recipe from last December’s Food & Wine. Of course I had to implement some changes here and there in both recipes since the bazaar I shop at doesn’t stock pork (anywhere I guess, bummer..) and the veggies took quite the search just to find an acceptable substitute for collard greens. While the task of shopping, chopping, and preparing it all seemed a bit daunting at first, I’m glad I made the effort because in the end — while consuming it at a rapid rate — I had to admit how tastefully worth it the meal turned out to be 😀

The star ingredient in this spicy Asian menu is garlic. Typical, right? …And I’m sure I’ve used this ingredient somewhere before 😉 The fact of the matter is I used garlic in various forms throughout the preparation of this meal, with minced garlic in the greens, garlic sriracha sauce in the marinade, and some of the same savory spiciness reserved for serving with the seared meat (now that’s alliteration:-) Garlic has its own host of immune-benefiting properties by boosting antibody production, but I’ve elaborated on this topic before so I’ll stop there.. Either way, it is an incredibly flavorful ingredient/medicine/vegetable which ranks it among the best of (cheap) kitchen staples. I find myself with plenty of fresh garlic these days and was happy to use some of it (okay, a lot of it) in our evening meal.

Spicy Marinated Beef Shoulder with Curried White Rice

Ingredients

1 lb (or 1/2 kg) beef shoulder

olive oil, for cooking

(for the marinade/sauce)

1/2 cup sake or white wine

1/4 cup fish sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 Tbs. olive oil

6 Tbs. garlic sriracha sauce (or regular sriracha, plus 5 cloves of minced garlic)

(for the rice)

2 packets (or 2 cups) white rice

1 Tbs. curry powder

1 Tbs. ground Coriander

1 Tbs. rice vinegar

salt & pepper

(1) Combine all ingredients for the marinade (white wine/sake through sriracha) in a medium bowl and whisk until blended. Reserve 1/2 cup of this sauce for serving. (2) Wash the beef shoulder and pat dry, trim excess fat, and cut the shoulder into 1/2 inch (or 1/3 cm) thick slices. Put all the beef pieces in the marinade, turn to coat, and let marinate at room temperature 35-45 minutes. (3) Meanwhile, heat salted water in a saucepan over medium-high heat (according to package instructions) and add rice when boiling; lower the heat and simmer until soft and most of the liquid is absorbed, 15-20 minutes typically. When cooked, drain the rice and rinse with warm water. Stir in curry, coriander, and vinegar, mixing well. Cover the rice and set aside until ready to serve. (4) After the meat has marinated, heat 1 Tbs. of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the beef pieces, shaking off excess marinade. Sear each side, turning once, until meat is cooked to medium, and browned on the outside, 4-5 minutes. If the beef gives off too much liquid while searing, stir excess into the rice. (5) Let the meat sit covered for 5 minutes before serving over rice with a side of the reserved sauce.

Serves 4

Cumin-Braised Kale with Onions & Garlic

Ingredients

6 Tbs. olive oil

1 large yellow onion, halved & thinly sliced

5 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbs. ground cumin

1 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 bunch kale (or collard greens substitute)

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 Tbs. butter

salt & pepper

(1) Wash the greens thoroughly and remove stems, cutting off any browned or wilted pieces. Slice into thin ribbons. (2) In a large wok or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, cumin, and red pepper and fry until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. (3) Next, add all of the chopped greens and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, another 3-4 minutes. (4) Stir in the chicken broth, cover and let everything cook until greens are tender and the liquid is gone, 5-6 minutes more. Remove from heat, salt generously, and stir in a Tablespoon of butter. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

So more of my meddling in Asian cooking has proven (yet again) worthwhile, producing minimum leftovers which I try to take as a good sign. Valentine’s day came and went and instead of planning another huge meal, I opted for a series of snacks–papaya, feta cheese, cherries, garlic sausage, and dark chocolate–ahh, I’m all about ease during the week. We’ll have to see what cooking madness may develop this weekend when I finally find myself with a little more freetime }:-)

My question: What is your favorite green to eat cooked (that is, slightly wilted)…and why?

Is it because it’s salty, or healthy–or both? I used to hate the stuff, not so much anymore!

2.16.12

Chilled, Cheap, Cheerful Chicken Salad

Turns out I need to be adding a bit more protein to my diet than I originally thought. Luckily for me, protein is easy to come by and includes some of my more favorite foods: cheese, yogurt, eggs, and–you guessed it–chicken! I love chicken because it’s simple (me and my simplicity :-), inexpensive to buy, easy to cook, low in fat, and there’s SO many possibilities in how you can choose to prepare it. My first thought in reveling on chicken-centered student meals: some kind of savory, spicy chicken salad mmm…

So this week I’m sharing meals with a couple of friends and I wanted to bring something we could eat that would travel well in my backpack, still taste delicious when I whip it out, and fit into this tasty, light brunch/lunch category. And what’s one ingredient that enhances in flavor as it sits in the fridge? Curry. And god bless it!

I like this particular version of chicken salad because it contains a lot of healthy raw fruits and vegetables (but isn’t every salad supposed to, in some form or the other?) I softened the raisins in hot water, baked the chicken with lemon juice, salt & pepper, and used 5 green little pears I picked off the tree myself (I’m telling you, this picking fresh fruit yourself stuff does not get old). Mix it all together and you get a wonderfully fresh medley of flavors–the crunchiness of raw onion and carrot, smoothness of crème fraîche, savoriness of cubed peppery chicken–and all with plenty of zing in using mint, curry powder, and mustard. My only advice (ha) would be to make sure you chop everything, especially the crunchy counterparts, into finer bits;  yeah, a blender would have definitely saved me some time and energy here…

And no, there is no mayo in this chicken salad recipe, unlike the more common versions out there. I went for low-fat crème fraîche and a little bit of milk to make it creamy. All in all, it turned out seriously delicious and I’m really not ready for it to be over :[ Any type of bread will do for making the sandwiches, whole grain especially (you know, something with nuttiness:-) and it’s best layered on thickly with slices of a good white cheese and a few strips of lettuce.

The star ingredient in this recipe would have to be the crème fraîche, which I guess is the ‘french’ version of sour cream (and here I’m thinking they’re 2 totally different things…and I call myself culinary!) This dairy goodness adds a creaminess that’s hard to substitute; and since the combination of all these ingredients in the salad is so full of substance, I think it’s necessary to add an entire container of the stuff just to smooth it all out–at least you’ll have plenty of extra for other, later sandwiches. It’s also good to note that in using ‘lite’ crème fraîche there’s no need to feel bad about the fat content (remember, it’s NOT mayo;-). Curry powder is a close second star ingredient in this recipe because the salad would simply not be as tasty without it. I think that for such a fine, yellow pile of powder, this spice lends the most flavor to the salad and is pretty inexpensive so curry away! I used Madras curry powder but any other substitute, like yellow, red, or brown curry powder would give the same delicious effect.

Curried Chicken Salad Sandwiches with Pears, Raisins, and Fresh Mint

Ingredients

(for the salad)

3 lbs. chicken breast, trimmed

3 carrots, peeled & grated

1 bag/box of raisins

5 pears, finely chopped

2 yellow onions, finely chopped

1 bunch fresh mint, minced

1 tub lite crème fraîche (3-5%)

1/3 cup milk

4 Tbs. Dijon mustard

5 Tbs. Madras curry powder

1 Tbs. allspice

3 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar

1 Tbs. sugar

lemon juice

olive oil

sea salt & cracked pepper

(for the sandwiches)

12 slices thickly sliced bread, pref. whole grain

lettuce (or spinach) leaves

6 thick slices of Gouda cheese (sub Havarti or white cheddar)

(1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or 190 degrees Celsius). Put all the chicken breasts in a large oven-proof dish and sprinkle with a little lemon juice, seasoning both sides with salt and pepper. (2) When oven has preheated, bake the chicken 20-25 minutes until cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. (3) Put the raisins in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water, letting sit until softened, about 5 minutes. (4) In a large (and I mean large) mixing bowl, add the shredded carrot, fresh mint, allspice, chopped onions & pears. Next, cube the cooked chicken, drain the softened raisins and add both to the bowl; mix everything together very well. (5) Moisten the salad with all the remaining ingredients: vinegar, crème fraîche, Dijon mustard, milk, and 2-3 Tbs. of lemon juice, stirring all the while. Season with salt and pepper and finally add the curry powder before trying a spoonful, adding 1-2 tablespoons more depending on your taste. (6) Let the chicken salad chill in the fridge 1 hour (or overnight) before serving. To make the sandwiches, put a thick piece of Gouda cheese on bottom slice of bread, top with a generous layer of chicken salad, a lettuce leaf, and another slice of bread. Cut sandwich in half, accompany with a cold beverage, and enjoy :]

Serves 6

Sandwiches are the ideal student snack. Lately I’ve been forced to watch my fellow colleagues munching away on them so I’m glad to have made some of my own; I’ll be eating them ravenously all week };-) Sure chicken salad is a little messy, but it’s tasty and that’s all that really matters (to me at least!!) My next culinary attempt will have to be something equally savory, if not a little more spicy 🙂

My question: What is your favorite type of curry powder/paste?

I should know more variations of this delicious spice…

9.28.11

Oodles of Noodles

When it rains (which is a lot), I find myself craving hot food ]:| This week I wanted to make a noodle dish that contained some of the salty, spicy elements from Asian cooking complete with plenty of broth (…the more the better). Asian food encompasses some of the best hot dishes that involve both noodles and broth. I love the soupy, herbaceous, peppery combinations that can be made from just a handful of ingredients. With a full kitchen at my disposal, I elaborated on my original ideas about the recipe in an effort to make something uniquely flavorful (but still steaming hot!)

The meal I ended up making most closely resembles the Chinese ramen recipe Shōyu which contains soy sauce, chicken/vegetable broth, curly noodles, and green onions. But there is always room for variation and adaption when working with dishes like this since the recipes themselves take on a regional forms depending on the ingredients available.  Many of the recipes are closely kept secrets so I suppose I’m taking my liberty in sharing mine ;] but hey, it was so tasty (and easy!) I felt compelled .

Since the vegetarian version of this dish is a bit lacking, I made my recipe with meat from a rotisserie chicken which I tore into manageable pieces before mixing into the broth. It’s almost too easy (and fairly inexpensive), to buy a rotisserie chicken which is already cooked and already spiced; the only hard (what I mean is messy) part is dividing the chicken up into portions and pulling out all the greasy bones yourself (trust me, if you like crispy chicken skin like I do, the job is not so bad…) One rotisserie chicken makes two meals as well as a hefty snack which I always do right after tearing it all apart because I’m already pretty greasy at that point };)

The star ingredient of this dish is the scrambled eggs. Why? While certainly contributing some texture to the meal (not to mention protein), scrambled eggs taste delicious (de-licious!), especially when topping noodles and curry. Maybe it’s the South African blood in me, but there is something devilishly delectable about eggs in curry, or some combination thereof. My advice for replicating this dish would be to use any fresh ingredients available–asparagus, peas, mushrooms, bean sprouts, celery, onions, cauliflower-anything you can soften and stir-fry will add only flavor (and nourishment:-)

Spicy Chicken Noodles with Green Beans, Green Onions & Scrambled Eggs

Ingredients

2 packets of ramen noodles

1 bunch of green onions, finely chopped

2 cups frozen (or fresh) green beans, chopped

2 cups of rotisserie chicken meat, torn into small pieces

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbs. dried Basil

1 Tbs. spicy mustard

1 Tbs. soy sauce

1 tsp. sriracha sauce

1 Tbs. rice vinegar

1 Tbs. lime juice

1 Tbs. yellow curry powder

1 cube chicken bullion (or 2 cups chicken broth)

3 eggs, beaten

olive oil

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Heat 1 Tbs. of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat; when hot, add the garlic, and 1/2 of the green onions, cooking for 3-4 minutes. Next add the green beans, cooking another 3 minutes. (2) In a separate pot, bring the proper amount of salted water to a boil and cook the ramen until soft, about 3 minutes; remove from heat and set aside. (3) Stir in all of the ingredients from dried Basil through chicken bullion and add 1/2 cup water, mixing well. Let cook 5-6 minutes until the broth is reduced (if the mixture becomes too dry, add some water from the noodles). (4) In a small frying pan, heat 1 tsp. olive oil over medium heat. Pour beaten eggs into the pan and whirl around to make an even layer. Brown both sides of the omelette, flipping once in between (this may get messy, but that’s alright). When done transfer eggs to a cutting board and let cool before cutting into strips. (5) Next, add the cooked ramen and chicken pieces to the vegetables and lower the heat, simmering until heated throughout (and preferably steaming:-). Stir in the remaining green onions, setting aside some for garnish. Serve the meal in bowls, topped with a generous portion of scrambled egg strips, a sprinkle of green onions, and a dot of sriracha.

Serves 4

I don’t think I’m alone when I say sriracha sauce is one of my favorite condiments (if not my favorite); you just can’t beat that bite! As the rain will persist this week, I’ll have to come up with some other meals that are hot and soupy enough to hold me over 😉

My question: What is your favorite form of hot sauce?

Tabasco? Sriracha? Frank’s Red Hot…Chipotle, Green chile, Harissa, Jalapeno…

7.18.11

Keepin’ it Light & Spicy

So these days I’m keeping it light and simple but still trying to eat healthier, when the opportunity arises }:) I’ve come across so many things I want to eat just walking around here…lavender flowers, strawberries, rosemary leaves, huge pink chive blossoms; there is so much rain on this side of the ocean that everything grows big and green (and juicy;)

I’ve come to find out that my beloved father (Happy Father’s Day if you’re reading this!!) is on a new diet that involves a lot of green things and fewer calories, so I wanted to write some posts that could contribute to this temporary healthful regimen (-: you know, just omit/substitute the sugar, dairy, salt…) I wanted to avoid shopping so I compiled a list of things we had and made this recipe up on the spot. The soy-paprika glaze for the shrimp was a little spicy but the creamy curry dressing smoothed it over with enough crunch to call this a salad (success!) I find that it’s hard to go wrong when using such wonderfully uncomplicated ingredients as curry powder and minced garlic 🙂

Arugula, Spinach, & Bean Sprout Shrimp Salad with Curry Mustard Vinaigrette

Ingredients

(for the salad)

1 cup Arugula (they call it Ricola over here:)

1 cup spinach

1 cup bean sprouts

1 cup mixed greens (such as red leaf lettuce, watercress)

1/4 cup cucumber, thinly sliced

1/2 cup baby  tomatoes, halved

1 golden apple, cored & chopped

(for shrimp w/glaze)

12-15 medium shrimp, (tail-on) peeled & deveined

2 Tbs. soy sauce

2 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. olive oil

1 Tbs. dried Basil

(for vinaigrette)

1/3 cup fat-free Greek yogurt

1 Tbs. curry powder

2 Tbs. Dijon mustard

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 Tbs. lemon juice

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbs. oyster sauce

3 Tbs. fresh chives, chopped

1 Tbs. white vinegar

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Wash all the greens and lay out to dry. Cut the bean sprouts in half and mix all of the greens together in a bowl; cover and refrigerate. (2) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (I will persist with the Fahrenheit;). Mix together the soy sauce, paprika, and olive oil for the glaze in a small bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to coat, letting sit for five minutes. (3) To make the vinaigrette, combine all the ingredients above from yogurt through vinegar, seasoning to taste with salt & pepper. Let chill in fridge until ready to serve. (4) When preheated, put the shrimp in the oven for 5-7 minutes until cooked through, turning once midway through and reapplying the glaze. When done, remove from oven and let stand covered for 3 minutes. (5) Mix all the chopped vegetables and fruit into the salad greens, tossing well. Distribute the salad among plates and top with warm shrimp and horizontal lines of the vinaigrette. Serve with warm/toasted bread if desired 🙂

Serves 4

So, as I meddle with all these salad combinations I take comfort in the fact that, at least I’m not on a diet! (sorry Dad;) but I am making an active effort to eat more of these colorful summer vegetables while they’re fresh and inexpensive (but no, I’m not giving up cheese!) There’s something wonderful about summer in the kitchen and now that I am in Europe it feels (and maybe this is just me) so much prettier and romantic, it’s just ahhhh…

My question: what is one of the most delicious salad vinaigrettes you’ve ever had? I’m looking for flavor, something new and interesting }:-)

6.19.11

Green Fields and Sunny Skies

Hello everybody! Well, I have landed in a country of spacious green fields and blooming lilac bushes 🙂 it’s very pretty here and I just love being by the sea again. Just now, we are having a few days of sun and the skies are very blue. I’m afraid that my present circumstances don’t allow a lot of time for some of the more imaginative cooking I like to partake in, but I am trying as much as I can of Danish food, which is admittedly delightful }:)

I haven’t had the chance to cook much of anything myself, but I did manage to get my hands on some Danish carrots (ha) which looked crisply wonderful upon being spotted in the produce section of the local grocery store. And while I cannot read any of the labels, it’s almost more fun to guess what things are and go for the good-looking things 😉 I can tell you it involves a lot of pate (no bummer there), bread, and cheese!!

For this recipe I had to come up with something creative, but still simple so I used curry powder (seriously, don’t be shy), dried basil, and plenty of Danish beer =) which is definitely my favorite part of being in Denmark so far. The meal was served with toasted dark bread and again, more beer. I’ve been reading carrots are good for your complexion, eyes, and stomach with plenty of cancer-fighting goodness, so I thought to try to incorporate some of the fresh spring harvest that’s here. So…at last, my first culinary posting in Denmark 🙂

Sautéed Onion & Carrots with Curry Powder, Basil, and Beer

Ingredients

1 lb. fresh carrots, trimmed & halved

2 small yellow onions, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 Tbs. butter

1 Tbs. curry powder

1/2 cup Carlsberg Pilsner beer (or sub Heineken)

1 Tbs. dried basil

1 tsp. basil oil

3 Tbs. creme fraiche

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Wash and scrub the carrots well, they tend to be a little dirty in the Springtime 😉 Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat in a saute pan; add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, until soft. (2) Next, add the carrots, curry, and beer; cover with lid and let the carrots steam until soft, 5-8 minutes. (3) Remove the lid and let the liquid reduce until thickened; season with salt, pepper, and basil oil, mixing thoroughly. (4) Serve the carrots with a dollop of creme fraiche sprinkled with dried basil 🙂

Serves 4

So, while my adventures in Danish kitchens continue, I am excited to try more of the delicious recipes. Mikkel and I were thinking of a making a roast }:] that involves tea leaves, pork neck chops, and veal broth, but we will see…

My question: What is one of the best tasting vegetables that can be sautéed on the stove? I’m dying for some suggestions…

6.4.11