There is a Curry for Everyone

When we visited my in-laws I wanted to do a curry night because my father-in-law loves curry  but knowing that my mother-in-law isn’t a huge fan of curries I planned on doing something for her as well.  Especially since the curry I wanted to make was the tomato garlic beef curry which is really spicy.   When my MIL said that it’s the heat that turns her off of the curry I thought I would make her the mild chicken curry I make for those that aren’t into the spicy side of things.

This recipe uses thai curry paste.  I agree with both camps of buying the paste or making it.  Making it isn’t difficult if you have some time and all the ingredients.  However, we had the kids this weekend and now that the weather is warm we have to work on a ton of projects, so time was limited.

My husband also made naan to go along with this.

Coconut chicken curry 1 2016

Because this was just for me and my husband I cubed a breast and a half of chicken and heated up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet.  Start cooking the chicken.  Finely chop 3-4 cloves of garlic and slice a couple of scallions.  Cook for a few minutes.

Coconut chicken curry 2 2016

Slice a few mushrooms and about a cup of pepper.  I chose orange to make the dish pop.  Add half a cup of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Add Thai Green Chili paste.  Start off with a little bit and build up to the heat level you would like.   Add 1/2 -3/4 cup of coconut milk.  Adjust the heat level with the curry paste.  Season with cilantro (coriander leaf) and a teaspoon of garam masala.

Coconut chicken curry 3 2016

Once the chicken is cooked through serve in a bowl with the naan.  My husband also made a wonderful mango chutney to go along with this.

Coconut chicken curry 4 2016

When I made this for my mother in-law she really enjoyed it.  Success!  It was nice to make something she liked since she had made us so many yummy meals while we visited.  We ate very well!

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Beef Vindaloo to Welcome my Husband Home

You know, Christmas comes the same time every year.  Yet every year I find myself in full scramble to get it all done.  I swear I will start in September.  Unfortunately good intentions are not a guarantee!

I should finish the gifts I’m making today and get everything wrapped and under the tree.  Then there is the dump run and grocery shopping.  But I should have plenty of time tomorrow to decorate the Christmas cake.

My husband had to do a business trip last week.  Luckily it was only four days rather than the two weeks last December but I still wanted to make a nice home cooked dinner for him.

I was in the mood for curry and thought I’d try beef vindaloo.  Beef you say?  There are areas in West India that have Muslim and Christian communities that eat beef and add in the fabulous flavours you find in India, amazing dishes happen.

Vindaloo has it’s roots in Portugal and was originally based in wine and garlic but gradually evolved to have vinegar instead of wine.  When a lot of people hear vindaloo they think off the charts for spicy food but that isn’t always the case.  I didn’t make this crazy spicy but you can if you add more hot pepper.

Beef vindaloo 1 2015

I adapted a recipe from the Best-Ever Curry cookbook.  I used ground cumin instead of the seeds and I could have sworn we had fenugreek but nope so I had to leave that out.  The recipe did call for a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds.  To be honest I didn’t miss it.

In a spice grinder, grind up 3-4 chili peppers or hot peppers of your choice, 1 teaspoon of black peppercorn, 5 green cardamon pods, and 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds.

In a small bowl add the spice mix, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, and 4 tablespoons of white vinegar.

Beef vindaloo 2 2015

Set that aside.  Chop up a large red onion and saute in olive oil until softened.

Beef vindaloo 3 2015

In a food processor add the onions and spice mix.  Process until it is a paste.  In the skillet add a bit more oil and start browning stewing beef.  I used just under a pound.  The recipe called for two pounds.  As it is browning, finely chop a couple of garlic and grate a piece of ginger about 1-2 inches square/3-4 cm square.

Beef vindaloo 4 2015

Cook for a couple of minutes then add the onion spice paste.  In addition to that add a scant tablespoon of ground cumin, 2 teaspoons of ground coriander, and 1/2 a teaspoon of ground tumeric.

Beef vindaloo 5 2015

Stir well then add 300ml/1 1/4 cups of water.  Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer.  Cook for at least an hour.  You want the sauce reduced and the meat tender.  My husband made naan to dip into this curry.

Beef vindaloo 6 2015

I was a bit worried because there was only enough for about 1/2 a cup a serving for the four of us.  But with the naan we were stuffed.  I love that our kids love the spicy flavours, they really liked this.

Grilled Thai Steak and Ever So Grateful

It was a very long week last week but everything went well with my dad’s surgery.  Yesterday they discharged him from hospital and now he is recuperating at home.  We were all breathing a sigh of relief.  Still are if you want to know the truth.

So he’ll be causing trouble for a good long while now and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

As you can imagine I’m a bit backed up with blog posts and getting everything else back on track.  Kids are back at school this week so we’re winding down the summer the next couple of days.  Making sure they get back into the routine of things.

Last weekend I was in the mood for Thai flavours and decided to do a grilled steak with rice noodles.  We have had some success with growing fresh garlic this year and we also had ginger and cilantro on hand.

Grilled Thai Steak 1 2015

In a bowl mix 2 tablespoons peanut oil, 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, 2 tablespoons amino acid, 1 tablespoon lime juice, one to two teaspoons of fresh chopped cilantro, a large clove of garlic, finely chopped, and salt and pepper.  Add the steak to marinate for at least an hour.

Grilled Thai Steak 2 2015

When it is time to cook, heat up a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil.  Add a few cloves of garlic, finely chopped, and a couple of scallions, chopped.  Saute until the garlic starts to soften.  Add a cayenne pepper.  When slicing use gloves, saves on burning skin.  We keep the seeds but some may find that too hot.  Saute for a few minutes.

Grilled Thai Steak 3 2015

Add a cup of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  I made the mistake of adding the rest of the veg too soon.  I like my veg on the crispy side.  If you like them soft then add the peppers and mushrooms when you add the stock.  Also add carrots.  I added a couple of tablespoons of green curry paste, a tablespoon of oyster sauce, a tablespoon of amino acids, and a splash of lime juice.  Continue to simmer.  As it cooks adjust the flavour to your liking.

Grilled Thai Steak 4 2015

Grill the steak to medium rare.

Grilled Thai Steak 5 2015

Take the leftover marinade and add it to the skillet and continue to simmer.  While the steak is resting add half a cup light coconut milk.  Add a few more teaspoons of freshly chopped cilantro at this stage as well.

Grilled Thai Steak 6 2015

While this is being created cook rice noodles according to the package.  Toss the noodles in the sauce and serve.  Top with the steak and peanuts.

Grilled Thai Steak 7 2015

I enjoyed this dish.  The heat was mild but you could always add more hot pepper as you cook.  Tonight we are doing Pad Thai for dinner.  Another one of our favourites!

Kung Pao Chicken and Maybe Going Overboard on the Healthy Bit

Despite my obsession with crisps and chocolate I do try to have very healthy food at the house.  It’s important to me to put good food into my family.  But my husband, ahem, has made it known to me that I might go a little overboard in my endeavor.

Conor from One Man’s Meat posted a wonderful Kung Pao Chicken the other day that I wanted to try. Of course you need rice for this dish so off I went and bought brown rice.  My husband inquired as to why I didn’t get white rice. I replied but brown rice is healthier.  He just shook his head and let me know it’s ok to go crazy and have white rice!  LOL

At any rate, I had most of the ingredients to give this dish a go.  Could not find Schezwan peppercorns anywhere though so I had to use regular black peppercorns.  Also, I stuck with amino acids for the soy sauce due to cutting out a lot of gluten in my diet.

Kung Pao Chicken 1 2015

Prep everything before you start cooking as it doesn’t take long to cook.  Also, prep the rice as well.

Coarsely chop 3-4 cloves of garlic and about an inch and a half(3-4cm) of fresh ginger.   Slice the about 2 scallions into inch (2-3cm) slices and the chilies about half that size.  Depending on how hot you want your dish, you can deseed the chilies or leave them in.  Because we didn’t have the Schezwan peppercorns I left the seeds in the dish.

Kung Pao Chicken 2 2015

Because I was making this dish for two I used two small chicken breasts.  In a separate bowl mix 1 tablespoon of the amino acid, 1 tablespoon of Mirin (rice cooking wine), a tablespoon of corn flour, and about 1/2 a tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper.  Coat the chicken and set aside.

Kung Pao Chicken 3 2015

In a separate bowl mix 3 tablespoons of amino acid, a teaspoon of corn flour, the garlic, ginger, and chilies.  Set aside.  Heat up the wok with 2 tablespoons of peanut oil.  When the oil is good and hot fry a heaping 1/2 cup of peanuts.  If you have peanuts that haven’t been dry roasted use those.  The ones we have on hand were already dry roasted but they worked fine.  These will not take long to fry so keep an eye on them.  Once golden brown set aside.

Kung Pao Chicken 4 2015

Add a bit more oil if needed then cook the chicken.  If you are doing more chicken than I did then doing it in batches would be a good idea.

Kung Pao Chicken 5 2015

Add the sauce with the ginger and garlic and most of the scallions.  I have to admit this is when it started looking different from Conor’s as his pictures show a lot more sauce than mine.  I read it and reread it and I followed the amounts.  So if this happens to you add equal amounts of the amino acid and Mirin to increase the sauce being careful to keep the balance of the flavours.

Kung Pao Chicken 6 2014

Once it is the chicken is cooked through serve immediately over the rice.

Kung Pao Chicken 7 2015

We really enjoyed it.  The heat was really balanced with the flavours.  And it’s a dish that is easily adjusted to make it milder or hotter depending on your taste.  My drink of choice for this dish was a lovely Mexican Mule, the ginger was a great pairing.

Asian Meatballs and the Education System

Mind boggling.  That is how I felt last night when we were talking about school.  Both kids had tests yesterday.  Both mentioned how they had to finish them today.  I asked what they meant finishing it a day later.  Apparently that is the norm in our school system.  If you don’t finish it in time that is ok.  This just blew my mind.  Growing up if I didn’t finish a test in the set amount of time that was on me.

This really concerns me because as a parent I want the best education for our kids.  I don’t want education to be a limiting factor to whatever progress our kids make.  Last year the US was ranked 14th in the world when it came to education.  The past couple of years think tanks have mucked about with different ways the kids should be taught without really vetting the programs.  Common core has been a nightmare.  I’m sorry 2+2 does not equal 5!  I get that kids should learn to think through the process and understand how they got to the answer but it is not ok if the answer is wrong.

It is hard for me to understand the overall disconnect between what I see our teachers doing locally and how our students stand vs other countries.  The teachers our kids have, bar one, have been amazing.  They are dedicated to our kids, they work long hours, they work to try to tailor lessons for each student, and communicate with us.  So I have to think our system is held back at the higher level.  For example there is an OK senator who wants to cut funding to the AP History classes because it “teaches students what is bad about America”  It doesn’t promote “exceptionalism”.   Constantly chanting “We’re #1” isn’t leadership, it’s insecurity.

To rise back up the ranks, kids need to have positive learning experiences while being prepared for the real world.  They need to stop being let down by those who forget separation of church and state actually exists, to be allowed to actually learn science and the truth about history, and to know that 2 + 2 doesn’t equal 5.

We are fortunate that our kids love to learn and seek out ways to learn new things.  But not all kids have that support.

We did have a nice meal to go along with the enlightening conversation.  I was in the mood for meatballs and wanted an Asian flair.  And guess what my husband found at the co-op?

Asian meatballs 1 2015

Galangal!  How cool is that?  In a bowl I mixed up a half pound of beef with a few tablespoons of freshly grated galangal.  I found it to be very dry and flaky.  I also added chopped chives and couple of teaspoons of amino acids.  Otherwise known as gluten free soy sauce.  Then roll the meat into meatballs about an inch to an inch in a half in diameter.  In a skillet heat up a few tablespoons of peanut oil.

Asian meatballs 3 2015

Brown the sides of the meatballs then finish off in an oven heated to 350F/175C.  Meanwhile, saute chopped veg of your choice.  I did up peppers, scallions, garlic, carrots, and mushrooms.

Asian meatballs 4 2015

I messed up on the portion of sauce vs the portion of rice noodle.  I made enough sauce for two people but enough noodles for 4.  So I would double what I’m putting here.  Otherwise the dish ends up bland and trust me, the sauce wasn’t bland!  I added 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, a couple of teaspoons of amino acids, a few splashes of fresh lime juice, and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes.  Bring to a simmer and add a cup of homemade chicken stock.  Reduce down a bit then add the meatballs.

Asian meatballs 5 2015

Cook the rice noodles per the directions then serve with the meatball sauce.

Asian meatballs 6 2015

Next time I make this I will definitely increase the sauce because the flavour was amazing.  Just wish the rice noodles hadn’t dulled it down.

Warming Ramen Soup

Awhile back my son and I were checking out new food shows and came across “The Mind of a Chef”.  It’s a bit dull but they did an episode about ramen in Japan.  It piqued my son’s interest so I added it to the list of things to try.

The fascinating thing about this soup is how varied it can be from town to town.  So I did a bit of research and came up with my own.  It is fairly easy to make and full of flavour.

Prep the ingredients before you begin cooking.  Do up the soft boiled eggs and set aside to cool a bit before shelling.  Also cook up some frozen corn and set aside.

For this soup I wanted to use the flank steak we had on hand so I seared both sides in peanut oil.  If you like the steak medium rare keep it on the rare side after the sear.  Cover with tin foil and let it rest while you cook the rest of the soup.

Ramen soup 1 2015

I chopped up red onion, carrots, scallions, some mushrooms, and a few cloves of garlic.  The amount depends on how many servings you are doing.  Total for the five veg I had about a cup and a half.  In a saucepan saute the onion, carrots, garlic and mushrooms in peanut oil.

Ramen soup 2 2015

Add four cups of veg bouillon and bring to a simmer.  Grate about inch or two of fresh ginger, add about a cup of mung bean sprouts, and add a couple of teaspoons of fresh cilantro.  A few squeezes of fresh lime juice brightens the soup. Meanwhile cook the noodles according the package.  Drain the noodles.

Ramen soup 4 2015

In the bowls add the noodles and layer with the sliced beef.  Add the soup over the noodles.  The broth will cook the beef to medium rare at this point.  Top with half an egg, corn, and the fresh scallions.

Ramen soup 5 2015

Omit the noodles if you need to be gluten free.  It’s a very filling soup without the noodles.  I look forward to trying different flavour profiles with different proteins.  🙂

Grilled Sockeye Salmon with an Asian Flair

The local co-op had some lovely fish for sale which put me in mind to grill some salmon.  I got all excited when I saw the Scottish salmon but then I paused when I saw it was farm raised.  What popped into my head was the thought how humane can it be to farm raise salmon, never mind fish in general?  Salmon go miles in their life cycle.  So how can you properly raise them in the cages?  Plus there are places that do GMO farm raised salmon and thus far the label laws in the States are appallingly lax it makes sense to avoid farm raised.  Which is such a shame as Scottish salmon is amazing.

However all was not lost!  They also had some wild sockeye salmon which is fabulous.  As it is seasonal I look forward to this time of year when it shows up in our stores.

I had a bit of oyster sauce left over so I thought I’d an Asian inspired marinade for the salmon.

Asian salmon 1 2014

I chopped up a small scallion and 2 cloves of garlic.  In a small bowl, mix 1-2 tablespoons of peanut oil, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, a splash of fresh lime juice, some grated fresh ginger and 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce with the scallion and garlic.  Mix well.

Asian salmon 2 2014

Season the salmon with salt and pepper.

Asian salmon 3 2014

Earlier this year I started grilling the salmon on lemon slices.  I love how it adds citrus notes to the meal.

Asian salmon 4 2014

Grill until it’s cook to medium.  Serve with the grilled lemons.

Asian salmon 5 2014

My daughter and I enjoyed this with grilled corn and potato while my husband and son had jalapeno chicken sausages.  All in all a great meal!

Oh Pad Thai, Where Have You Been?

I have yet another example of oh duh, why didn’t I try this before?  I suppose it is similar to writer’s block.  You know the dish exists and you hear good things about it but for some reason you don’t try it.  There isn’t any rhyme or reason to it.  But after making this dish I am really wishing I tried making it before.  I’ve never had it before but I knew my husband liked it so I wanted to make it for him.

It’s not overly complicated but there are a few steps.  I followed this pad thai recipe somewhat closely with just a minor change or two.

About an hour before making the dinner I got the sauce and chicken prepped.  I cubed a half pound of chicken and tossed it in 2T of low sodium soy sauce and 1 tsp of cornstarch.  Place in the fridge until it’s time to cook.

Pad Thai 1 2014

In a separate bowl mix the juice of two limes, 2T rice vinegar, 5T oyster sauce, 5T brown sugar, and at least 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes.  If you want more heat add more flakes.  The original recipe asked for fish sauce but I had oyster sauce.  I’ve been waiting for a recipe to come along so I can try it.  It’s fabulous so I need to find more recipes!

Pad Thai 2 2014 Pad Thai 3 2014

Before starting to cook get the rice noodles ready for the dish.  Follow the directions on the packet.  The noodles will be finished off in the wok so don’t cook them all the way separately.  Finely chop 4 cloves or so of garlic and a 1/4 cup of chopped scallion.  Heat 2T of sesame oil then saute the garlic and scallion for a few minutes.

Pad Thai 5 2014

Add the chicken and cook through.

Pad Thai 6 2014

Remove the chicken, garlic and scallions and set aside.  Add a bit more oil to the wok and beat 3 eggs.  Add the eggs to the wok and start to scramble.

Pad Thai 7 2014

When the eggs are about halfway cooked add the oyster sauce mixture and stir well.  Add the chicken, noodles, about a cup of bean sprouts, and chopped cilantro.

Pad Thai 4 2014 Pad Thai 8 2014

The original recipe says to cook until the sprouts are soft but we like them crunchy so I cooked it until it was heated through.  Serve immediately garnishing with chopped peanuts, lime, and cilantro.

Pad Thai 9 2014

This was delicious!  I am kicking myself for waiting so long to make this.  And even try Pad Thai.  This has moved up the list of meals I like to make on a regular basis.  🙂

Siracha Lime Chicken For Some Salad Daze…

A sure sign of spring for us is when the farmer’s market opens up outside.  Despite the overcast skies and two women “entertaining” us with folk songs there was an energy in the air and a happiness to see everyone again.  The market had loads of local meats that I snapped up for future dinners.  Fresh chicken isn’t in season yet, we’ll have to wait a few more weeks but I’ll be stocking up as I need the bone for chicken stock.

Our dogs were super excited to head over there.  They remember the smells, the water bowls, and if they are lucky the dog treats.  They are more than happy for me to take my time figuring out what to buy.  There is one booth that loves dogs.  The woman loves to take pictures to post on her Facebook page.  I think there are more pictures of dogs than her chutney!

I came across a recipe for chicken skewers that used honey, siracha, and lime.  I thought this would be perfect for a salad.  This is my take on that recipe.  The prepping and the cooking is less than half an hour.  How long you marinate for is up to you.

For the marinade I added 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, 3 tablespoons of low sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of honey, a couple of tablespoons of lime juice, 2 tablespoons of siracha sauce, salt and pepper to taste, fresh chopped cilantro, and some red pepper flakes.  The recipe called for garlic and I spaced on that.  Next time I’ll add some.  Mix it well then add the chicken breasts to marinate.

Siracha chicken 1 2014

When you are ready to put everything together fire up the grill and grill the chicken.  I threw together a quick salad of greens, bok choi, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers.

Siracha chicken 2 2014

When the chicken is done slice it and top the salad with it and a bit of shredded cheese.  I did up a quick dressing of olive oil, lime juice, cilantro leaves, siracha, salt and pepper.

Siracha chicken 3 2014

The bit I would change is to add more siracha and red pepper flakes.  The marinade itself had heat and I didn’t want to scorch the kids but once cooked it wasn’t as spicy.  So I would dial it up so we’d get more of that on the chicken.

Time to Banish the Cold with Spicy Thai Curry

We’ve been experiencing what would be in normal times unbelievable frigid temps.  But it is positively balmy compared to the Midwest.  It’s mind blowing the temps they are experiencing.  Walking our dogs in all our winter gear trying to stay warm and watching the dogs get what we call flat tyres with their paws lifted off the ground left me wondering what we would do if that type of cold made it to us. You can’t not walk the dogs.  I’m thinking we should be looking into getting coats for them but what are the chances?  I would have thought zero until this past week and the polar vortex.

I was actually wondering last night what we had for old winter coats that could be used in case the cold hits us.  I think the dogs would fight us on that one!  I can just imagine trying to zip them up.

Because it’s cold and I still have that cold going round I thought I would make a spicy dish for my husband.  A knock your socks off, make Texas stand up and take notice, evict the cold dish.  That was the plan.  I thought it was spicy while my husband thought it had a lovely mild heat.  I put a habanero and two serranos in the dish!

Before I begin the recipe please excuse the photos.  Something is going on with my camera and I have to figure it out.  Suddenly in the kitchen the camera has slowed down on the shutter speed.  When I do it manually the pictures come out dark as can be.  Plus it keeps thinking there is a memory card error or it thinks the card is full.  It works fine in natural light as I tested it this morning.  The lights in the kitchen overhead are now all fluorescent instead of a mix, could that be an issue?  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Back to the food!

In a skillet brown some chicken and when they are nearly cooked add sweet pepper and garlic.  To that add about a cup of plain tomato sauce and grated ginger (about an inch square though you can add more).

Spicy Thai Chicken curry 1 2014

Simmer for a couple of minutes then add about 7 or 8 oz of coconut milk, a bit of lime juice, cilantro, and a couple of spoonfuls of red thai curry paste.

Spicy thai chicken curry 2 2014

While this is simmering I diced up a habanero pepper and two serranos.  I use gloves to do this as the pepper oil sticks on me for days and it burns.  Add the peppers to the dish a long with a good handful of chopped scallions.

Spicy thai chicken curry 3 2014 Spicy thai chicken curry 4 2014

I let the mixture reduce a bit to concentrate the flavours.  I did add more of the curry paste to kick it up a bit.  Serve over rice of your choice.

Spicy thai chicken curry 5 2014

This would have knocked the kids back.  I felt the heat.  And my husband enjoyed it.  🙂  The beauty of this dish is you can make it as hot as you would like.  I wonder how many peppers I would have to add for my husband to go Whoa!