Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Thai Red Curry with Shrimp

So, after a bit of a hiatus, I’m back to blogging! I posted a pic of this dish on Facebook, some people asked about it, so here’s the recipe.

Dan and I both love bell peppers. I especially like the beautiful rainbow of colors available, so we buy a “stoplight” package – one each of red, orange and yellow peppers – plus at least one green pepper, almost every week. In the summer, we grow our own. That saves a lot of money! Can’t wait to get the garden going.

I also grow Thai basil in my herb garden. If you have some, use that; otherwise, regular Italian basil is a good substitute.

Thai Red Curry with Shrimp

Thai Red Curry with Shrimp

2 tbsp. peanut oil
1 medium onion, peeled, halved and sliced
2 cups bell peppers, any colors, seeded, halved crosswise and sliced (I used 1/2 each of red, yellow and orange peppers)
1 stalk celery, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. Thai red curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand)
2 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. palm sugar or light brown sugar
1 14-oz. can light coconut milk
1/3 cup raisins
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tbsp. Thai basil leaves, coarsely chopped (optional)
3 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
3 cups jasmine rice, cooked, for serving
Sriracha hot sauce, optional, for serving

In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté a few minutes to soften. Add bell peppers, celery and garlic and stir a few more minutes. Add curry paste and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in fish sauce and sugar, then coconut milk and raisins. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer till slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Stir shrimp into curry and simmer till just cooked, about 2 minutes.

Remove pan from the heat and stir in basil, if using, and cilantro.

Serve over jasmine rice. Sprinkle with sriracha, if desired, and garnish with cilantro sprigs.

Makes 4 servings.

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Need a calendar for 2013?

If you haven’t received a calendar for 2013, check this out! Twelve pages of yummy recipes and pretty pictures of food. Happy New Year!

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Grilled Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

I am a vinegar fiend. I just checked my cupboard and I have 11 different kinds of vinegar. So when I came across this recipe for chimichurri sauce in Cooks’ Illustrated magazine a few years ago, I really wanted to try it. It’s kind of like a kicked-up version of Italian dressing with a larger proportion of vinegar and uses red-wine vinegar – my favorite.

Chimichurri sauce is a condiment from Argentina generally used as a steak sauce, but it can be used on all kinds of grilled meats. There are variations that include cilantro or oregano, but I found I didn’t like those flavors as well, so I just use parsley. I also am not fond of the bite of fresh onion and garlic, so I reduced the amount of garlic and soaked it and the onion in the vinegar to remove some of their pungency.

Even though summer is unofficially over, there are lots of good grilling days ahead, so try this with your next cookout.

Chimichurri Sauce for Grilled Steak
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

1 cup parsley leaves (reserve stems for another use)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely minced red onion
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp. water
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Add red onion and garlic to red-wine vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until fairly smooth. Taste and add salt, if needed. Will keep refrigerated for one week.

Steak with chimichurri sauce

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Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Homemade Crackers

Daring Kitchen logoDan gave me a KitchenAid mixer for Christmas, so I could expand my cooking in a new direction. But since I’ve never baked much, I have a hard time thinking of things to do with it! So I decided to challenge myself and try new techniques by joining the Daring Bakers, an online group that comes up with a baking challenge each month. All members bake the same item and publish a blog post about it on the same day each month. The item is known only to the members until the publication day. Which was yesterday. Yes, I’m late on my first challenge, but it turned out well!

Our July 2012 Daring Bakers’ Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers! Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.

The only requirement was to use two different methods to make two types of crackers:

  • icebox crackers, where you mix ingredients, shape them into a log, refrigerate to firm up, then slice and bake; or
  • rolled crackers, where you combine ingredients in a mixer, then roll out by hand or with pasta rollers. From here, you can cut out shapes with a cookie/biscuit cutter or cut the sheets into cracker shapes after baking.

Dan and I were out of town the first two weeks of July, so I had limited time to get this done. Last week, I tried a cracker recipe I had printed out years ago – Ina Garten’s Parmesan and Thyme Crackers. But I measured the flour wrong and they crumbled. Lesson learned.

Next I decided to try the Seedy Crisps, an Alton Brown recipe. These are so good! Thin and crisp, filled with poppy and sesame seeds, these crunchy little bites go great with cheese. They rolled out very easily and didn’t stick to my granite countertop, which I love. It’s important to cut them while they’re still warm; otherwise, they just break apart.

Seedy Crisps
Seedy Crisps. Recipe by Alton Brown.

The third recipe I made was really easy, too. I just need to remember to take the butter out to soften! Since I don’t bake much, I’m always forgetting about that part. Anyway, these were Rosemary, Cheddar and Walnut Icebox Crackers from “Garde Manger, The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen” by the Culinary Institute of America. I used pine nuts nuts instead of walnuts since we like those better.

These are like a cheesy, herby little shortbread. These are one of the icebox types; I still have another log in the fridge to bake off later. Because of the high fat content from the cheese and nuts, these will not last as long as the crisps, but the dough will keep in the fridge for days. Now, it just needs to be sliced and baked so we can enjoy it again.

Rosemary, Cheddar and Pine Nut Crackers
Rosemary, Cheddar and Pine Nut Crackers

The recipes and tips are all available on the Daring Kitchen website.

This was a really fun challenge, and I look forward to participating in many more!

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Summer Thirst Quencher: Sangria

New excuse for not blogging recently: We spent the past two weeks visiting family in Michigan and touring up the west coast of the state in a rented RV. We had such a wonderful time playing with the kids, cooking up some great food, and enjoying fresh Michigan corn, cherries and blueberries, we hardly noticed the unusual heat (not). It was a fun trip.

One evening, my sister Andrea and her husband Forrest made fish tacos with fresh pico de gallo for dinner. I thought a nice fruity sangria would go well with the zesty, spicy flavors of the main dish, so I made that.

Sangria is one of those recipes that can handle endless tweaking. I usually make it with pink (rose) wine, because that’s what I usually drink. For this dinner, I made two types – one with Pinot Grigio and another with a fruity red wine. Choose any fruity wine you like and add other fruits for a more complex flavor.

This photo is from a few years ago. Makes me want to get to slicing some citrus!


1 lemon
1 lime
1 orange
1 bottle fruity red or white wine
3 tbsp. brandy or Grand Marnier
2 tbsp. sugar and 2 tbsp. water, or 2 tbsp. honey, or 2 tbsp. agave nectar
1 cup other fruits (optional) such as white grapes or diced peaches for white or rose wine, and cherries, blueberries or red grapes for red wine
6 oz. soda water

Wash, dry and thinly slice the lemon, lime, and orange. Place in a large pitcher and top with optional fruits if desired. Pour in the wine and brandy or Grand Marnier and stir to combine.

Make simple syrup by placing sugar and water in a small microwaveable bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds. Stir till sugar is dissolved and then stir the simple syrup into the mixture in the pitcher. Using simple syrup will ensure that all the sugar is dissolved so you won’t have grainy sangria. Alternatively, you can use 2 tbsp. honey or agave nectar, which dissolve in liquid more easily.

Cover the pitcher and refrigerate overnight. To serve, stir in 6 oz. of soda water (optional). I don’t usually do this, but some people like fizzy drinks 🙂

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Pork & Tomatillo Posole, Revisited

A friend asked for this recipe, so I’m reposting it with a couple of changes I’ve made since I first posted it in 2010. I like to serve this with roasted red pepper and cheese quesadillas.

It takes a long time to chop up all the ingredients, so sometimes I chop them in the evening while watching TV and then make the stew a day or two later. The original recipe called for dicing the pork into bite-sized pieces; that’s really tedious, especially with a bone-in roast, so I found an easier method.

Pork & Tomatillo Posole, Revisited

4 pounds bone-in pork butt or shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into 3-4 large pieces
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola or corn oil
2 yellow onions, diced
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked, cored and chopped
4 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and minced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
8 cups chicken stock
2 cans yellow or white hominy, undrained
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

My Favorite Garnishes
2 limes, cut into wedges
2 avocadoes, cut into slices
Fried tortilla strips

Traditional Garnishes
1/4 small head green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
10 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 limes, cut into wedges

Heat the oil in a large (at least 5.5 quarts) heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle one side of the pork pieces with salt and pepper and add, seasoned side down, to the pot. Brown pork on both sides, making sure to get them nice and golden brown. Season the second side, turn browned side up, and continue browning. Don’t crowd the pot or the meat will steam, not brown. You may need to do this in batches. When done, remove pork to a medium bowl and set aside.

Add the onions and a large pinch of salt to the pot. Saute for about five minutes, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the tomatillos, jalapenos, garlic and oregano and continue to cook for another few minutes to soften the vegetables.

Add the reserved pork, any accumulated pork juices and chicken stock to the pot. Cover it, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Remove the lid, turn the heat to low and simmer until the pork is tender and starting to fall apart, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add the hominy for the last half hour.

Use a slotted spoon or spider to remove the pork from the pot and place it in a medium bowl. Use two forks to pull the meat into large shreds. Return the pork to the pot and simmer for five minutes to reheat the meat.

Stir in the cilantro and taste. Add salt and pepper if necessary. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with the garnishes.

Four jalapenos will make this stew a bit spicy. Most of the heat is in the ribs and seeds of the peppers. For our taste, I remove half the ribs and seeds; feel free to adjust to your heat tolerance.

Mexican oregano is a little different from Italian or Greek oregano and worth seeking out for this recipe. It’s available in Mexican grocery stores, including La Familia Market in Chesapeake.

This stew takes some time to prepare, but the rich broth, pleasant heat and zing from the lime juice combine with the yummy combination of vegetables to make it all worthwhile. It freezes well, or you can invite a group of friends over to share.

Pork & Tomatillo Posole, Revisited
Pork & Tomatillo Posole

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