Monday, September 19, 2011

Corn and Cashew Nut Curry

It's hard to believe that the summer is already coming to an end. This year, like every other, I try and savor all the beach days, the cold beers on sticky evenings, the smell of sunscreen and just plain being out in the sun.

Thought it's still in the upper 80s here in Okinawa, I know that October will soon be upon us and, after that, the zooming by of holidays in one fell swoop.

So, in an attempt to hold on, just a little bit, to summer, but still welcome the fall, I'm sharing this recipe (from my India's Best cookbook) for Corn and Cashew Nut Curry. I recommend serving this over a bed of jasmine or basmati rice.

Ingredients:

  • 2 kaffir lime leaves (*I can't get them out here so I go without.)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • scant 1 C cashew nuts (*or an abudant cup-and-a-half if you're like me)
  • 1 tsp Thai red curry paste
  • 14 oz. potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 lemon grass stalk, finely chopped
  • 7 oz. can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 C boiling water
  • generous 1 C drained canned whole kernel corn
  • 4 celery sticks, sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp palm sugar or light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Thai fish sauce (*I omit. ::shivers::)
  • 4 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
  • a small bunch of fresh basil, chopped
Directions:
  1. Remove the central rib from the kaffir lime leaves. Roll the leaves into tight cylinders and, using a sharp knife, slice through the cylinders to give thin strips.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan or wok. Add the shallots and stir-fry over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add the cashew nuts and stir-fry for a few minutes until golden.
  3. Stir in the red curry paste. Stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the potatoes, lemon grass, tomatoes and boiling water.
  4. Bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
  5. Stir the corn, celery, lime leaves, tomato ketchup, soy sauce, sugar and fish sauce into the pan or work. Simmer for a further 5 minutes, until heated through, then spoon into warmed serving bowls. Sprinkle with the sliced spring onions and chopped basil, and serve.
Et voila!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Speaking of THAI Chicken Pizza ...

I guess this would be an opportune time to shout from the rooftoops mention that I'll be hanging the apron up and heading to ... Thailand! I can't wait for the adventure that lies ahead. We'll get our big-city fix in "The City of Angels" (Bangkok) and then head down south for a little piece of sandy paradise, and if, I play my cards right, maybe even a little elephant playtime. :)


<3 <3


Thai Chicken Pizza

As you can imagine, I miss certain things that I don't have access to here in Okinawa. Obviously my friends and family are what I miss the most, but next in line (in no particular order, but probably something close to reality) are: Ross, Starbucks Gingerbread Lattes (they do offer Pumpkin Spice out here, though!), AC Moore/Michael's, driving through the Virginia mountains in early fall, wineries, and just being able to share those things with my closest family/friends.

I was reminiscing the other day about my trip back in March/April to Hawaii with my dear friend Kara. We were so blissfully happy the day we found a Ross, even if it was in a rough-and-tumble, we're-gonna-see-Dog-the-Bounty-Hunter-for-sure area. Almost as exciting was the night we had California Pizza Kitchen after a hot, but fun at the Honolulu Zoo. It reminded me so much of my cherished Mom/Daughter Dates I used to share with my mom. We used to go C.P.K. and order two personal Thai-Chicken Pizzas and, wouldn't you know, it's one of the few things in this world than can slow down any of our conversations because it's just that good. In honor of kinda-sorta missing home as well as kinda-sorta being really proud of myself for adjusting so well to living on the other side of the world/being a better cook, I'm sharing this Thai Chicken Pizza recipe from Pillsbury - a dead-ringer for a taste of "home."



Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6


Ingredients/Directions for Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/4 C honey
  • 1/4 C smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp crunch peanut butter (optional)
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger root (*Substitute a heaping tsp of ground ginger if you need to.)
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy!)
Combine and stir all the ingredients in a small bowl. (Try not to taste-test too much ... you won't be able to stop!)

Ingredients for Pizza:
  • (1) 11 oz. can Pillsbury refrigerated pizza crust
  • 1/2 C Thai peanut sauce (Use what you made above if you're not using store bought.)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 C chopped cooked chicken
  • 1/2 C julienne (matchstick-cut) carrots
  • 1/4 C sliced green onions (4 medium)
  • 1/4 C chopped salted peanuts
  • 1 1/2 C (6 oz.) finely shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Directions for Pizza:
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray or grease 15x10" or larger dark or nonstick cookie sheet. Unroll dough onto cookie sheet; starting at center, press dough into 15x10" rectangle (filling the entire sheet).
  2. In a small bowl, mix peanut sauce and ground ginger; spread to within 1/2" of edges of dough.

  3. Top with chicken, carrot, onions and peanuts; sprinkle with cheese.

  4. Bake 14 to 17 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with cilantro.
Et voila!
(I recommend this with a nice, cold glass of Chardonnay - mmmm!)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Zucchini Bread

As some of you know, I teach English to Japanese adults here on Okinawa. I sort of found the job by accident online (I have a degree in Communication/Event Management), but it's been so rewarding getting to meet people from the local community and learning about Okinawan traditions and Japanese pop culture.

Just the other day, I was teaching some of students at the local spa. (Let me just say that I *really* adore them. They're fun and quick to laugh - mostly at me, but I'll take it.) Anywho. We've been talking about food (hussah!) the last few weeks and I asked them to share some of their favorite go-to recipes.  (The answers included pan-seared vegetable and meat rolls and quick miso soup - yum!) When the girls asked me what my favorite is, I knew I'd never be able to pick just one so I offered a new favorite instead - zucchini bread!

Would you know, they had no idea you could make bread with zucchini! They were totally floored when I said it and were hanging on every word as I explained how to make it. In all fairness, I had never actually made zucchini bread until the week before we discussed it (hides face in hands). I promised to bring them a couple loaves when I returned for work the next time. I did (leaving the two loaves for them to try in private so they could honestly react to it with each other) and wouldn't you know, in typical Japanese fashion, the next time I returned, they had baked me Okinawan donuts (called "sata andagi") in return to say thank you. I'm still not sure who got the better end of that deal ... ;)

This recipe comes from AllRecipes, has been saved by over 100,000 members, and has a five-star rating.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Yields: 2 loaves


Ingredients:

  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 C white sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 C grated zucchini
  • 1 C chopped walnuts
Directions:
  1. Grease and flour two 8x4" pans. Preheat oven to 325. 
  2. Sift flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon together in a bowl. 
  3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and walnuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pans, and cool completely. 
Et voila!
(Ok, I don't have a photo of the finished product, but how 'bout a photo of an equally delicious berries 'n' cream tart from Jyo-gi Patisserie in Naha?)

 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Aebelskiv...(huh?!) and Typhoon Muifa

I'm writing this as hubby, puppy and I ride out the last half of Typhoon Muifa. She's been sluggish and moody! It's been wildly windy and the rain has been pelting the house (and sneaking under the front door!) for almost 24 hours now. No worries, though, as I have not only great company but also a fun new birthday present to try out (thanks Momma G!).

I present to you ... aebelskivers. They're delightful little pancake-y puffs that are often served on holidays in Denmark. I first learned about them while thumbing through the latest Williams-Sonoma catalog (::sigh::). I was so excited not only to receive a large box from my mother-in-law (Momma G) on my birthday, but to open it up and find my very own ("Norpro") Aebelskiver pan!

The cast iron pan is small, but extremely efficient. It heats up quickly, retains the heat and distributes it really evenly. I recommend looking into them for your own kitchen if you think you might use it often enough.

This recipe is the one that came with the pan (I figured it was probably pretty trustworthy and a good place to start). We made these yesterday for breakfast, but also snacked on them for dessert. Hubby has convinced me to try a dinner version of these -- maybe little hamburgers? We'll see.

Yields: about 40 Aebelskivers
Ingredients:

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 C buttermilk (*Like I mentioned, we're in a mandatory lockdown while the typhoon rips through so going to the commissary wasn't an option. I don't keep buttermilk on hand and I never end up using more than, oh, a quarter of it. I Googled [yes, that's a verb] "buttermilk substitute" and found this recipe. You'll need to make two batches, but it was quick and worked great!)
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • *Optional: Apple slices or other fruit for filling. (*We used applesauce, apricot preserves, and chocolate pieces.)

The set up.
(Note the giant punch bowl: I was testing an iced coffee recipe I can't wait to share with you! Oh, and one of my favorite mugs from back home: "When the going gets tough, tell me I'm beautiful!")

Directions:
  1. Sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Add buttermilk and egg yolks. Beat egg whites until light and fluffy, forming soft peaks. Gently fold egg whites into batter.
  2. Heat Aebelskiver pan on medium heat. Grease each cup (with a little butter or oil, or spray vegetable oil) and fill 2/3 full.


  3. Cook for approximately 1 to 1 1/2 minutes (per side) until golden brown. Flip using skewers. When both sides are done, serve with a sprinkle of confectioner's sugar. (Best when served warm.)
  4. Optional: Fill each cup only 1/3 full with batter. Place a small amount of fruit in each cup and cover with an additional 1/3 batter.
Et voila!

And in case you're wondering what it looks like here outside Cafe Groenhout:
It may be hard to decorate, but I'm thankful for my very sturdy little concrete bunker!

And how my little chef (Banks) is handling it:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mango, Macadamia & Goat Cheese Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

One of my favorite things to do on an early summer evenings is to eat outside with my hunny, puppy, and a cold beer. While the view isn't perfect (read: there is a massive, netted trampoline in the neighbor's touching backyard), it's relaxing to watch the sun go down, see the palm trees in the other neighbors' yards, and to just live on island time. The Bud Light Limes really help with all that, too.

This recipe comes from The Bride and Groom First & Forever cookbook we received from a catering company we were interviewing for our wedding. The macadamias give it the perfect crunch, the goat cheese gives it the perfect earthiness, and the mango (canned peaches work great, too) just brings it on home. Please do yourself a favor and try this as soon as you can ... outside!

Mighty Mint Vinaigrette
Makes: 1 C


Ingredients:

  • 3/4 C EVOO
  • 1/2 C firmly packed fresh mint leaves (*Even if you don't have fresh mint leaves, this vinaigrette is perfect with the salad!)
  • 1/4  Cwhite wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
Directions:
  1. Combine the olive oil and mint in a blender and blend until pureed, about 15 seconds. 
  2. Add the vinegar, mustard, honey, kosher salt, and pepper to taste and blend until just incorporated, about 5 seconds. Do not overblend or the vinaigrette will be too thick. The vinaigrette will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.
Butter Lettuce with Mango, Goat Cheese, and Vinaigrette
Serves: 2

Ingredients:
  • 4 C lightly packed torn butter lettuce leaves
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 C roughly chopped mango (*Again, canned peaches are great, too!)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 C macadamia nuts, roasted and salted, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp crumbled goat cheese (*We use a LOT more. Do it "to taste.")
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped green onions, both white and green parts
  • 3 tbsp mighty mint vinaigrette, or as needed
Directions:
  1. Put the lettuce in a large bowl and season lightly with kosher salt and pepper to taste. 
  2. Add the mango, macadamia nuts, goat cheese, and green onions and toss with enough vinaigrette to coat.
  3. Serve immediately.
Et voila!
(P.S. Check out my new everyday salad gear I purchased at the Marine Gift Shop!)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Balsamic-Grilled Summer Veggies with Basil-Quinoa Salad

I've mentioned our unofficial "Scrounge Nights" around here when we basically hunt through the cabinets and try to make a meal out of whatever we can piece together. Here's a delicious summer recipe that doesn't require a trip to the grocery (well, if you keep fresh produce on hand)! Even if you don't stay well-stocked, this recipe is definitely worth the trip to the store.

This recipe comes from VeggieBelly. I've mentioned it here before and want to do so again. Sala, the chef/blogger/photographer behind it all, is really a girl after my own heart! She loves bright colors, fresh foods, hunger-inducing food photography, and popcorn (::swoon::).

Serves: 2 hungry adults


Ingredients for Balsamic Dressing:

  • 1/4 C balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp EVOO
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper
Ingredients for Main Dish:
  • 1 small Italian eggplant (about 2 C when cut into big cubes)
  • 1 small zucchini (about 2 C when cut into big cubes)
  • 1/2 small red onion (1/4 of a large one)
  • 3/4 C cherry tomatoes
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped (*As always, you can use dried thyme if that's all that you have. Just a dash ought to be sufficient.)
Ingredients for Basil-Quinoa Salad:
  • 2 C water
  • 1 C quinoa (*We didn't have quinoa in the cabinets, so we substituted with couscous and it came out great!)
  • 1/4 C basil leaves, loosely packed, chopped
Other Ingredients:
  • 1/2 C pearlini mozzarella balls, or bocconcini mozzarella balls, tossed in a little salt and pepper (substitute with pan-fried tofu or toasted pine nuts or walnuts for a vegan dish)
Directions:
  1. Whisk together all the balsamic dressing ingredients and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, boil water for the quinoa salad. Add quinoa and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer covered, til all the water has been completely absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  3. While quinoa is cooking, cut the eggplant and zucchini into 1 1/2" cubes. Cut the red onion into rings. Place cubed eggplant, zucchini, red onion, tomatoes and thyme leaves in a bowl. Pour half the balsamic dressing over the vegetables and toss well.
  4. Brush grill grates (indoor or outdoor) with EVOO or non-stick spray. Heat grill to medium-high. Grill the vegetables about 3 minutes on one side or until grill marks appear. Flip them over and grill the other side until vegetables are tender but still a bit firm. Tomatoes will cook quicker, remove them from the grill as soon as they start to blister.
  5. *If you don't have a grill, broil the vegetables on the top rack of the oven until one side is golden. Flip and broil the other side.
  6. Reserve the balsamic dressing that remains in the bowl, to serve with the meal.
  7. When the quinoa finishes cooking, toss it with the second half of the dressing. Stir in chopped basil, salt and pepper.
  8. Spread quinoa on a platter or bowl. Arrange the grilled summer vegetables and mozzarella around quiona. 
  9. Serve warm with reserved balsamic dressing on the side.

(I couldn't pick just one photo now that I'm lusting to make it again so you can enjoy both photos, too.)
Et voila!