Friday, November 30, 2007

Smoked Fish and Green Mango (pg. 174)

I thought I would try my hand at asian-fusion cooking tonight. I realize you can barely see the photo but I thought this photo would help make my case that this salad is so good even the little one is licking her chops in anticipation. The title doesn't seem enticing but I really enjoyed this one. I may not have made this one quite right. I'm not sure what a green mango is (maybe an underripe one???) ... well, I found a perfectly ripe one so I had to get it instead. I barely used any of the dressing because the mango was so juicy ... it really didn't need much more. The asian fusion comes in because I put this over a bed of arugula. Really, this is a great dish, the contrast of the ultra sweet mango and smoky salty fish and fresh cilantro was a wonderful combination.

Chiang Mai Curry Noodles pg 134

Even thought I knew Mark would hate it, I had to make at least one curry dish. I love the curries! This one looked pretty easy and different to others I had made before. I used ground turmeric, half full-fat half low-fat coconut milk, sirloin steak, and egg fettuccine in this dish. I topped it with store bought fried lo mien noodles and green onions. The results was a very mild curry dish. I liked it, but I think I would like the curries that KAJ made a little more. The flavor is probably a little more intense.

The good news with the mild curry is that my 15 month old seemed to enjoy it!

Mainly he just ate the noodles and the meat with a little sauce.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Our Favorite Noodles with Greens and Gravy

Again, I apologize for the horrible picture quality but we are in the final week of this challenge and there are a few I wanted to knock off my list. This was a really tasty noodle dish. It was really similar to Rad Nah which I posted back a few months ago. I did sub thinly sliced brocolli for the bok choy but kept everything else the same. The flavor was great, the problem I have with these stir-fried noodle dishes is that I can never get my noodles soft enough ... they are always pretty chewy even after soaking for 20 minutes. The couple times I've had success with these type of dishes is when I double the amount of liquids so that there is plenty of broth to let the noodles steep in for 5-10 minutes at the end.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Eggs Scrambled with Tomato with Quick and Tasty Yunnanese Potatoes

Sorry for the poor picture quality but I realized after I made everything that my camera is with my husband on a business trip and I had to resort to my computer cam. Both dishes were great, especially after a week of being a carnivore with the holidays. The potato dish would go with nearly anything ... it was so good. I did not use a wok as the recipe says but got great results with a nonstick saute pan. This time, I backed off the amount of salt they state in the recipe and it was a good idea.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Duck in Green Curry Paste (Pg211)

So, I did buy a duck for this, but it was frozen solid. I went with some pork shoulder. The Green Curry paste is considerably less spicy than the red curry paste...hmmm, I wonder why? I followed the recipe but instead of all eggplant, I include onion, mushroom, red pepper, carrot, shallot, and tomato. I topped it with avocado because that is what they do at the Thai restaurant we go to.

Again, no lime leaves, just zest. We also went with some noodles instead of rice to mix it up!! My husband asked for it and it was delicious. We will be making this and the red curry for years :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Does this count? Iced Coffee With Sweetened Condensed Milk

So, I was trying to decide which recipe to make for dinner this week, but to be honest, the thought of most of them turns my stomach! Ahhh, the 11th week of pregnancy... I probably would have soldiered on, but with Thanksgiving this week, I just don't need the extra stress. However, I just can't fail in my monthly challenge. I came across this recipe on page 304 and since I had all the ingredients (I'm sure my pumpkin pie can spare 2T of sweetened condensed milk), I thought I would give it a try.

The picture of this one in the book is very impressive, the white milk topped with the black coffee in a glass with ice. When you read the recipe, there is really no way that happens. I don't know, maybe I read it wrong. Anyways, I followed the recipe which is to combine the milk and the coffee and mix well, then pour into a tall glass with ice. I used decaf espresso and a knife instead of a long spoon. I have to say, it was pretty bitter. I ended up adding an extra spoonful of sugar, and all my ice melted, so I added a few more cubes. It was nice little coffee drink, but it really wasn't anything special.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hui Beef Stew with Chickpeas

Disclaimer: This recipe is not for those who do not like to be tied down to the kitchen. This stew took forever but was great in the end. The anise gave it a truly chinese taste ... it was wonderful. We started putting the stew together around noon and were finally ready to try it around 7pm! I ended up adding a whole extra liter of water during the stewing as I felt it was getting really dry. I would make this again but found two things I might do differently.

1) The recipe does not say to soak your dried chickpeas (if it did, I missed it) ... so I didn't. I never got my chickpeas to "practically melt" as the recipe states after cooking them for 7 hours. I really think I should have soaked them first and I probably wouldn't have had to keep adding so much water if I had soaked them.

2) Again ... I oversalted this one. I thought a whole Tablespoon sounded like a lot ... and in the end ... it was. I would cut the salt down to half and add more at the end if it needs it.

I served this with a Turkish flatbread as the book suggested and it was a nice change from rice.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Shan Salad With Cellophane Noodles and Ginger (pg 145)

Also, Grilled Chicken with Hot and Sour Dipping Sauce

I have most of a head of napa cabbage leftover from the Vietnamese Chicken Salad I made last week. I went to the index of HSSS specifically to find another recipe to use it in, and this Shan Salad looked like a good one to try.
This salad does have a lot of steps, but they are all pretty easy and it works well if you want to do an alternative to plain rice for a grilled meat dish. A few notes: I actually found dried shrimp at this little store here in town, but wasn't brave enough to use as much as it called for. I used half and you couldn't taste it at all. Like fish sauce, it smells terrible, but it must all work out in the end. I also got the cellophane noodles from the same little place, and wasn't at all sure they were what I was looking for. They were a little heartier than what I had seen in the grocery store, but I think that worked out well in this dish. I followed the directions on the package rather than the ones in the book. All in all, a nice fresh tasting salad with a good balance of hot sour salty and sweet.

As for the grilled chicken. This one was a hit. I loved that peppery marniade, but the dippin' sauce was a little too sweet for us. I used boneless breasts instead of bone-in and that seemed to work out well.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Quick Red Chicken Curry(Pg210)

I used the store bought red curry paste when I couldn't find any galangal or shrimp paste:( This dish was quick and delicious. I added the extra chiles...that was a mistake because the curry paste was "hot" enough for us. I also used lite coconut milk and added onions and mushrooms, but wished I would have added some carrots and maybe tomatoes. We also put alittle more sweet by adding some "sugar". I used lime zest instead of lime leaves. We will definitely revisit this recipe again!!

Aromatic Steamed Fish Curry (pg. 180)

I wasn't planning on cooking from the book last night but as I was half-heartedly flipping through it I noticed this recipe and realized I had all the ingredients already except the fish plus I had some of that great leftover yellow rice to serve with it. This is the thing I really love about cooking from this book if you make a good run to the asian grocery and get a few staple items it is easy to cook many different recipes and only have to pop out to the store for some fresh meat, fish or veggies. I didn't quite understand the directions for steaming the fish in the recipe but the headnote said the original recipe was cooked in banana leaves. I actually had some frozen banana leaves so I used these and made little packets to steam the fish in. I wasn't a big fan of this dish. It may be my fault ... I definitely over-salted the fish so it brought out the tangy-ness of the lime and cilantro and was a bit overpowering. I also threw in a couple of shrimps to each packet. Although we were not fans for the marinade, we both agreed that steaming the fish and shrimp in the leaves really works perfectly and doesn't overcook the fish or shrimp. Here is how we cooked the banana leaf packets in case anyone runs across some and feels like being experimental, we cooked it at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes and then let it sit outstide the oven for 5 more minutes before opening the packet.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Shrimp and Rice Soup

I decided to make this soup in addition to the "Grilled Lemongrass Beef" skewers last night. The beef was a hit, although I would probably use a more tender cut of beef next time. The soup turned out pretty good too. For me and my DH, we thought it was a little too fishy for leftovers, but we ate what we had and enjoyed it. We will definitely make the beef again, but although we enjoyed the rice soup (very little liquid in it), it's probably seen its only opportunity.

It might sound odd, but I really do recommend the soup. If you hate "fishy fish" this is not for you. Ironically, the fish sauce with chiles was a good match. Go figure.

And BTW, lemongrass is confusing. I peeled so many layers that I had none left (they all had some purple). I eventually just threw in a bunch of stuff, including some of the greenery. Fortunately, neither of us ended up hallucinating or anything!

I think we are getting a little Thai'd & Vietnamese'd out right now. We might need some enchiladas before hitting this book again :)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Grilled Chicken with Hot and Sweet Dipping Sauce (Pg199)

So, this one is husband approved. Brian loved it!! I made the Pepper-Coriander Root Flavor Paste(Pg 184) just like the book said in a mortar. It was tough work...especially with two screaming kids. I also had to marinade it for a little over 3 hours. The sticky rice was an after-thought, so we just had jasmine rice with grilled veggie. LOVED IT!!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Rau Ram - Mel style

I know this was already posted on the blog this month, but since I was told I would like it, I took a leap of faith and made it. Since you already know the recipe, here are some highlights - Mel style.

First, fish sauce smells. I mean, really smells. I made the fish sauce w/chiles and dang, it smells.

The must-have table sauce was pretty good and relatively easy to make. I don't like the fact that it only lasts 3 days and the fish sauce with chiles lasts forever. Somebody should reverse those :)

Lesson 1 - Serrano peppers can be subbed for bird peppers. I know they warn us about the capsaicin, but what the %*(#??? It totally took my breath away and sent me into coughing spells. Nice. For fish sauce. Nicer.

Lesson 2 - vietnamese coriander was subbed for basil. Wirrek mentioned sweet basil. What is that? I found basil-basil and used that. Geesh, this book is not for beginners.

Lesson 3 - Salad leftovers are not an option. Bummer. I tried eating the leftovers today, but it was so soggy I had to throw it out.

Lesson 4 - the salad itself was really delicious and DH loved it too. It's definitely a unique flavor, and it was very much enjoyed.

I am branching out tomorrow for two new recipes. They both involve lemongrass. I bought a couple of branches from the grocery store, and now it looks like a tree growing in my fridge. Twigs anyone?

I can't make 90% of the things in this book, but I'll work through the few that I can! I'll keep you posted. Please be sure to put all the substitutions in your post since I sure as heck need the additional help!!

A Question about Garlic?

Thought I'd post this picture of my garlic dilemma. Since I'm going through a billion heads of garlic this month, I thought I would post this question. At my weekly farmer's market they have two types of garlic, one called fresh garlic which is the white one on the left (see how the stem and papery wrap is thick?) and the other is garlic or sometimes dried garlic which is always what I thought fresh garlic was. The one on the left, fresh garlic, is 3 times the price of the dried garlic. So my question is ... what's so special about this fresh garlic? Anyone up for some homework?? :)

Lao Yellow Rice with Duck

This was a really tasty rice dish. This dish reminded me of the Grilled Chicken dish I made last week because it had a heavy pepper taste (as in black pepper) ... both are Laotian influenced so that could explain it. We halved the recipe and have plenty of leftover rice and I used one large duck breast and cut it into 3 medallions then sliced a medallion each and put it over the rice. The recipe also says you can use beef with good results. Kerri, you should really try this dish ... no tang or peanutty taste whatsoever!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Aromatic Lemongrass Patties

These were very very good! I used ground pork as I had some in the freezer and blended it with the other ingredients in the food processor.

I loved these on their own but I also followed the directions to make them into a salad, which I served over rice. Not very photogenic but very delicious!

I'll definitely make these again!!

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Cellophane Noodle Salad with Oyster Mushrooms(Pg144) and Classic Vietnamese Spring Rolls(Pg274)

So, I Finally got my book in the mail! I guess that is what happens when you buy it on Amazon. Brian DID NOT like the salad. I was very weary at first, but I enjoyed it:) The spring rolls weren't stellar either, but that is probably my fault as well. The had to sit in the fridge for almost 4 hours and the oil wasn't hot enough and I pierced the paper... The meal was good in my opinion, but I only got a hang of rolling the spring rolls on the last couple. There is no such thing as rice paper that is too wet, but it is difficult to work with when it is not wet enough.

We also added more red pepper to the must-have table sauce(Pg 28)...Brian also added extra sugar. I think after some fine tuning these recipes will be delicious. I really enjoy how the book tells you to plate the dishes as well as how to make them :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Rau Ram

I might be spelling that wrong. Sorry about that.

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Another easy one for this week, but it was pretty tasty. This turned out to be filling, but a fairly light dish. Mel, you would like this one. I subbed sweet basil for the vietnamese corriender, but followed the recipe with everything else. I really loved the napa cabbage in this dish. It was crunchy, but not overwhelming. I really should use it more. My husband thought it was "too citrus-y". I told him that was the SOUR of the hot sour salty sweet so he needs to get used to it!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Best Eggplant Dish Ever?

That's what it's called in the book anyway. It's quite good but I think the best eggplant dish I've ever had is The Imam Fainted(see my blog for recipe).

This would have been a perfect dish to use my mandolin. But as I keep it stored away I forget I have it. I sliced the eggplant a bit thicker than what they indicated and I didn't cook it down to mush. Maybe next time.

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A Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet Sunday Brunch

We dove head first into the challenge this weekend and invited 6 of my husband's co-workers over for a Thai brunch. The menu included the following recipes from the book:

Grilled Chicken with Hot and Sweet Dipping Sauce

Grilled Lemongrass Beef

Vietnamese Grilled Pork Balls

Aromatic Jasmine Rice

We also served a couple of sauces:
Vietnamese Must-Have Table Sauce
Vietnamese Peanut Sauce
Vietnamese Herb and Salad Plate

To supplement the meal we purchased some rice paper rollups (summer rolls) from our neighborhood Vietnamese Cafe.

This was a fabulous brunch. The beef skewers were the biggest hit, followed by the Grilled Chicken as a close second. We followed the Jasmine Rice method as told in the book and it turned out to be the best jasmine rice I had ever made - so light and fluffy. Of the sauces, the peanut sauce bowl was practically licked clean. Surprisingly, the herb and salad plate was nearly polished off. People would take the lettuce leaves, throw in some herbs and some sauce and roll it up like a lettuce wrap.

We had a pretty good game plan. We made the sauces and marinades the night before. When we got up this morning, we started marinating the meats and formed the pork meatballs. About 30 minutes before guests arrived we started grilling the chicken, then pork, then beef. We kept the chicken and pork warm in a low-heated oven. Everything turned out really wonderful ... all the recipes were great finds. What I should post is a picture of my new biceps ... since I purchased a mortar and pestle this weekend, I decided to get the full Thai experience and pounded all my pastes in the mortar (with the help of my husband) ... by the last sauce we decided to switch to the blender!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Starting off slow - Thai Fried Rice

My husband LOVES asian food, but for some reason he doesn't like thai food. He says it is too "spicy, limey, peanuty." We might have some problems on this challenge. Anyways, I decided to easy into this challenge with the basic fried rice. I followed the recipe for 2 servings, plus added a tomato and the fried eggs. It was pretty good, just your standard fried rice. I am thinking that I might have had too much rice and didn't get a good fried flavor.

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I ate mine with the thai fish sauce with hot chilis. This of course, was too adventuresome for Mark. This sauce really brought this dish to the next level. Sure, it was a level filled with pain of burning lips and tounge and help, give me some crackers quick, but it was oh so good.

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To round out the meal, and provide some cooling relief, I threw together the simple cucumber salad. This was a good basic cucumber salad, but I think I would like something more vinegary. I subbed balasmic vinegar for the black rice vinegar. Did not take a picture.

Just a note about recipes...I think all the regular participants have bought the book, so I will go ahead and make the command decision not to type out the recipes. However, if you are reading this blog and would like the recipe, just post a comment and we will try to type it in at that time.

A not so bold start ....

I decided to jump right into the Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet challenge but chose a simple salad recipe as my first attempt. Above is my attempt at Pomelo Salad. I subbed grapefruit for the pomelo and scallions for the shallots but stuck to the rest of the recipe. I thought this would be a simple recipe to start out with but it is actually a bit difficult because I didn't quite pull off the whole sour, salty, sweet combo. The salad takes a lot of balancing at the end and mine came out too sour ... due to the lime and probably grapefruit. In general, I really love fruit in salads so I think this has potential. Do try if it is on your list.

I paired the salad with a curry dish, which I found in a German cooking magazine called, Lecker. This is a new recipe and I was interested in it because I love curry dishes, but try to indulge in them sparingly as the coconut milk is pretty high in fat. This recipe uses a roux of flour, milk, and broth to get the creamy curry mixture instead of coconut milk. I would like to try this recipe again ... another one that has potential ... but I think I rushed it and half heartedly measured and ended up with a slightly runny curry. Here is my translation of the recipe:

Sesame Crusted Tofu with Vegetable Curry (although I had to sub turkey for Tofu)
1 small head of cauliflower
1/2 lb snow peas (I had to sub green beans)
2 t. vegetable bouillion
3/4 lb. tofu (or, I subbed turkey cutlets)
1 egg
2 T. soy sauce
4 T. flour, divided
6-7 T. sesame seeds (use 1 t. black sesame seeds if you can find it)
1 med. onion
1 T. curry powder
1/2 c. milk
2 T. oil

Wash cauliflower and seperate into florets. Wash beans and trim. On the stovetop, dissolve the bouillion in 1/2 liter boiling water. Add the cauliflower and green beans to the broth and cook gently for 10 minutes. Take out the vegetables and save the veggie broth.

Cut the tofu into cubes ... or if using turkey, I cut each fillet into 3 smaller fillets. Combine the egg with the soy sauce in a shallow dish (for dredging) ... and season with pepper. Put 3 T. flour into another shallow dish for dredging. First, dredge your tofu cubes or turkey cutlets in flour, then the egg mixture, then sprinkle or dredge in your sesame seeds so they adhere well. I found sprinkling the seeds worked better than dredging. In a saute pan, with 2 T. oil cook your tofu or turkey until golden brown, 5-6 minutes. Remove from pan and continue below in the same saute pan.

Cut your onion into fine slices. In a saute pan with 1 T. oil, cook the onion until tender. Add 1 T. flour and the curry powder to the onion and cook for 1 minute. Add the vegetable broth and milk and cook for 5 minutes to thicken. Add the vegetables and tofu/meat back to the curry mixture and toss to combine. Serve with rice.