Day 53/365 {cooking}

Angela Chang Photography Day 53 of 365This may not be the most artistic photo I’ve ever taken, but it is one of my favorites.  It’s very “us”.  The kitchen is in a state of disarray, shoes all over the floor, but we’re cooking something in the kitchen.

 

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Chicken coconut curry soup

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A few weeks ago, I was stuck in a rut with dinner ideas.  I posted this on Facebook, asking for my friends’ recent favorite recipes.  I got a list of very exciting suggestions.  One of them came from an old friend, Don.  I tried it, and it was a total success.  The curry was so flavorful and fragrant.  I used some pretty potent curry powder, so the dish was quite spicy (and therefore I didn’t give this to the kiddos).  Cliff and I both loved it.  I served it over rice, and it was so delicious and warms you up from the inside on a cool night.

Thanks, Don!!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons curry powder (I used Trudy Ann’s curry powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 pounds skinless chicken thighs (I used drumsticks)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, cut into 3-inch pieces and bruised with the flat side of a knife
  • 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled, cut into 3 slices and bruised with the flat side of a knife
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 carrots, peeled, cut on the diagonal into 2/3-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 medium sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch cube

Garnishes:

  • 1/2 cup Asian basil leaves, cut in half
  • 8 sprigs cilantro, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 scallions, chopped

Direction:

1. Combine 2 tablespoons of the curry powder and the salt in a bowl. Add the chicken and turn to coat the meat evenly. Set aside for 30 minutes.

2. Heat the oil in a medium pot over moderate heat. Add the shallot, garlic, chili paste and the remaining 1 tablespoon curry powder, and stir until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the chicken and cook until the edges of the pieces are golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass, ginger and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Add the carrots and cook for 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk, onion and sweet potato and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with Asian basil, cilantro and scallions, and serve.

 

Green Mac N Cheese

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My friend told me about a green mac and cheese recipe, but for the life of me I couldn’t find it when I needed it.  So I called up my buddy, Google, and he gave me a Weelicious recipe that looked good.  The problem is, if Joshua can see vegetables, he’ll reject it before even trying it.

So I made the “base” green mac and cheese based on the Weelicious recipe with a spinach cheese sauce, and skipped adding the broccoli and peas for Joshua.  I figured if there’s *some* spinach in the sauce, that’s better than no vegetables at all.

First of all, let me just say that Joshua’s pickiness is 99% my fault.  He used to eat fruits and vegetables.  But when he started to become picky, I just let it happen.  I made separate meals for him (a big no-no) because he won’t eat what I eat and I didn’t feel like fighting him.  I have no one else to blame but me.  For the most part, I try not to worry about his lack of fruits and veggie intake.  But I am trying to convince him that fruits and vegetables CAN taste good without forcing him to eat it.

Joshua saw the mac and cheese and asked me what it is.  I said it’s green mac and cheese.  He asked again what it is.  Damn it, he knew I was trying to avoid his question.  I said it’s a spinach mac and cheese.  “Spinach?” he said.  He shook his head.  I scooped up a few pieces of the macaroni, and said, “try just one bite.”  He slowly took the bite.  Then he pulled his chair out, climbed onto his seat, ate the entire bowl, and asked for seconds.

Here’s the recipe I modified, based on the Weelicious one.  All measurements approximate.

Ingredients

  • about 6 cups of cooked macaroni
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups grated cheese (I like guyere, but any fatty melty cheese will do)

Direction

  1. Cook pasta in salted water until al dente.
  2. While the pasta is cooking. Place the milk and spinach in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth. This is key for us, to blend until no visible spinach pieces is left.
  3. In a large pot melt the butter and then add the flour, whisking continuously over low-medium heat for 2-3 minutes to make a roux. Slowly whisk in the spinach milk mixture and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until sauce is gently bubbling and starting to thicken.
  5. Add cheese and whisk until melted. Stir in the pasta.  Serve with freshly grated cheese.

For my own portion, I added cooked broccoli florets and green peas.  Yummy!

My picky eater chowing down the green mac and cheese!

My picky eater chowing down the green mac and cheese!

Ginger molasses cookies

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I love a good, spicy ginger molasses cookie.  Most of the recipes I tried are just a little lacking in the “bite” department.  The recipe below came from Epicurious, but I tweaked the spices to my liking.  I made a batch for Cliff to take to work, and they were a hit.  Have one of these with a cup of tea in the afternoon…heavenly!

If you’re in Vancouver, a good place to get these ground ginger, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, etc is Parthenon on W. Broadway.  They are about $1 or $2 a little bag, rather than $4 or $5 in the grocery store spice isle.

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening at room temperature
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses (not robust or blackstrap)
  • About 1/3 cup granulated sugar for tops of cookies

Preparation

Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, and salt in a bowl until combined.

Beat together shortening, butter, and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a stand mixer (preferably fitted with paddle attachment) or 6 minutes with a handheld. Add egg and molasses, beating until combined. Reduce speed to low, then mix in flour mixture until combined.

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 375°F.

Roll 1 heaping teaspoon of dough into a 1-inch ball with wet hands, then dip 1 end of ball in sanding sugar. Make more cookies in same manner, arranging them, sugared side up, 2 inches apart on 2 ungreased baking sheets.

Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until undersides are golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes total, then cool on sheets 1 minute. Transfer to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies with remaining dough on cooled baking sheets.

Black bean soup

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So a friend (hello Maggie!) commented that I haven’t been blogging about food very much lately.  It’s true.  To rectify the situation, here’s a quick little entry for a black bean soup recipe I tried recently.

Let me just say that I don’t really like black beans.  I find them kind of boring.  And they give me heartburns.

BUT!  This recipe is actually quite good.  So if you aren’t a black bean fan, I would recommend trying this one.  It’s a tasty and hearty soup, and as a bonus, it’s very easy to put together.  Throw a nice chunk of bread on the side, you’ve got yourself a week night dinner.

Oh, don’t skip the green onions, cilantro, and feta cheese (unless you don’t like them).  They really make the dish.

This recipe came from…you guessed it, Epicurious.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped jalapeño chile with seeds, divided
  • 2 15- to 16-ounce cans black beans, undrained
  • 1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Chopped green onions
  • Crumbled feta cheese

Direction

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and garlic; sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Mix in cumin and 1 teaspoon jalapeño. Add beans, tomatoes with juice, and broth; bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer 3 cups of soup to blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to pot. Simmer soup until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon jalapeño, if desired.

Ladle soup into bowls. Pass cilantro, green onions, and feta cheese separately.

 

Easy summer dinner: Grilled Caesar salad with chicken breast

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I have blogged here before that I did not like chicken breast.  I used to find the meat bland and dry.  Last year, I found a few recipes that work really well for chicken breast, and I have been converted ever since.

This particular chicken breast recipe was found on The Kitchn.  The recipe guarantees moist and tender boneless skinless chicken breasts.  Once the breast meat is cooked with this recipe, the possibilities are endless.  I’ve served the meat with salads, cubed it to throw in curries, added to stir fries, etc.  One of my favorite salads is a grilled Caesar salad, so I’m also going to share a recipe here for it.  I love the romaine lettuce grilled because it gives it an extra layer of flavor.  Of course, if you don’t grill the lettuce, that’s fine too (I’m looking at you, Itti!).  You can use the dressing on the uncooked lettuce.

The chicken breast and the Caesar salad can all be made ahead of time, and pulled out of the fridge to eat the next day.  It makes for a great summer dinner.

Chicken Breast

Ingredients

1 to 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon freshly chopped herbs (optional)
Olive oil
1/2 tablespoon butter

Equipment

10-inch sauté pan with lid

Direction

1. Pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness with the handle or flat of a knife.

2. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts.

3. Mix about a half teaspoon of salt in with the flour along with a little pepper. Chop the herbs finely, if using, and mix in as well.

4. Quickly dredge the chicken breasts in the flour, so that they are just lightly dusted with flour.

5. Heat the sauté pan over medium-high heat. When it is quite hot, add the olive oil and butter. Let them melt, and swirl the pan.

6. Turn the heat to medium. Add the chicken breasts. Cook for just about 1 minute to help them get a little golden on one side (you are not actually searing or browning them). Then flip each chicken breast over.

7. Turn the heat to low. Put the lid on the pan. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and walk away. Do not lift the lid; do not peek.

8. After 10 minutes have elapsed, turn off the heat. Reset the timer for 10 minutes and leave the chicken breasts in the pan. Again, do not lift the lid; do not peek.

9. After the 10 minutes are up, take the lid off, and tada! Soft, tender, juicy chicken breasts that aren’t dried out in the least. Doublecheck them to make sure there is no pink in the middle. Slice and eat.

 

Grilled Caesar Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 canned rolled anchovy fillets with capers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 to 3 large head romaine lettuce, cut lengthwise into halves

Direction

Mince 3 garlic cloves in processor. Add mayonnaise, anchovies with capers, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and mustard and process to blend. Transfer to medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Brush the dressing on the romaine lettuce halves.  Grill the lettuce on medium-high heat on the BBQ for 2 minutes, turning occasionally. Cut the grilled lettuce into bite size pieces.  Drizzle more dressing on the lettuce.  Sprinkle 1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese on the salad.  Serve with chicken breast (see recipe above).

Cold sesame noodles

It feels so luxurious to have so many days of sunshine in a row in Vancouver.  We’ve been having soooo many picnics lately.  I’ve spent many lunches and dinners at the edge of a water park or playground.

Here’s one of my favorite dishes we’ve tried lately.  It’s great to pack as a picnic food, or have for a super quick and easy dinner on a warm night in a West facing apartment that has been baking in the sun all afternoon.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sesame paste (I used tihini from a Greek grocer), almond butter, or peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon or more chili-garlic sauce
  • 1 lb of noodles (I used whole wheat spaghetti, but feel free to use whatever you noodles you like)
  • Fixings: here we used cucumbers, carrots, yellow bell peppers, green onion, cilantro, and a cooked chicken breast…but use whatever veggies or meats you like!

Direction:

1. Whisk the first 6 ingredients together.

2. Cook the noodles of your choice.  Run under cold water, drain well.

3. Toss the noodles with the sesame sauce.  Top the noodles with fixings of your choice.