Friday, 29 February 2008
Are you looking for coconut shrimp recipes or delicious shrimp recipes? Here are three shrimp recipes using coconut milk:
Shrimps with Coconut Milk
1 medium onion, finely chopped
In a saucepan, heat oil and butter; sauté garlic and onion for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, season with salt and cook under low heat for 15 minutes. Add shrimps and chili peppers. Cook until shrimps are done (around 10 minutes) and the sauce is thickened. Add the coconut milk and cook for 2 minutes more. Serve with rice.
Shrimp Skewer with Coconut Dip
24 large cooked shrimps, peeled and deveined
For the Dip:
In a bowl, mix the soy sauce, orange and lemon juice, and Vermouth. Add the shrimps, mix well, cover and let marinate for 30 minutes. Peel and core pineapple. Cut into bite-size pieces. Wash and clean scallions. cut scallions crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Wash and dry cherry tomatoes. Take the shrimp out of the marinade. Thread the shrimps, pineapple, scallions, and tomatoes alternately on skewers. Season with salt and pepper. In a frying pan, heat oil and fry for 4-6 minutes per side or until until the shrimp are cooked through. Serve with coconut dip.
Dip: Mix the coconut milk with the whipping cream. Season with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice.
Coconut Shrimp Scampi
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
In a saucepan, heat olive oil; sauté shrimps and garlic. In another saucepan, mix the milk, coconut milk, butter and cornstarch. Cook, stirring constantly over medium heat until thickened. Add whipping cream and Parmesan cheese. Stir in cream cheese and shrimps. Season with salt. Transfer to baking dish and bake for 10 minutes. Serve immediately with rice.
Enjoy your meal !!
Thursday, 28 February 2008
Believe it or not, the Spanish, French, and Italians are very fond of canned tuna. However, they like solid chunks of tuna packed in olive oil. I know that everyone seems to be watching their fat intake, but the water packed tuna seems to disintegrates into mushy little shards in the can. Olive oil preserves and even adds greater nuance to the flavor as it ages.
The tuna is caught, quickly killed, gutted, and either processed, or flash frozen for later processing. At the packing plant it is then butchered, cooked in either water, olive oil, or both, and then packed with olive oil in cans or jars. A number of small fisherman/packers in California and the Pacific Northwest have recently begun to follow this Mediterranean practice with great success.
Four tuna species make up the bulk of canned tuna offerings. The most prevalent and least costly are the yellow fin and the big eye, two species that resemble one another in the water, in the can, and on the plate. The yellow fin is the more plentiful of the two, and it is mainly taken off the coast of Spain, The Azores, and in the Western Mediterranean. The big eye sometimes swims along with its look-alike cousin the yellow fin. However, it tends to dive deeper, and so it has a higher fat content resulting in a slightly richer tasting fish. When cooked yellow fin meat tends to have a very light yellow to light brown color. The meat is quite firm, and while rich in flavor it is not overpoweringly "fishy." The big eye has similar characteristics in the can, but usually leans to light brown in color. Because it is often difficult to tell them apart, they are both processed together, and sold simply as "Tuna," "Atun Claro" in Spain and "Tonno" in Italy.
The prized catch for Atlantic fishing boats is the albacore tuna, or "Bonito del Norte" as they call it in Spain. The prime ground for this delicious fish with the pale white meat is off Spain's north coast. Its firm white meat is cooked in water and packed in oil. While much of it is put in cans, larger fillets are often packed in clear glass jars that have a greater eye appeal than the most colorful labels. Albacore has the most delicate flavor of all the canned tunas.
A number of Pacific Northwest fishermen have recently begun packing some of their catch in olive oil with a twist on the European procedures - their other option is packing au natural and just relying on the juices thrown off by the fish during cooking. The Europeans cook the tuna first and then pack it in olive oil, usually second press oil. Here in the Pacific Northwest they pack the raw tuna with extra virgin olive oil and then cook it in the can. Cooking it in the can locks in all the natural liquids present in the tuna and this means more tuna flavor. Starting out with extra virgin olive oil also means more flavor in the can - the oil/liquid in the can is so unbelievably flavorful that you won't want to pour it off into the sink. It makes the perfect base for a salad dressing. The result is an Albacore tuna that tastes meatier than the European counterparts.
What is my favorite tuna? Like most high quality ingredients that have a range of flavor and texture, it depends on what I'm going to do with the tuna. If I just have time to pop open a can and eat it all by its lonesome, I would go for a smallish can of Bonito del Norte or Papa George's Albacore in California Olive Oil so that I could savor the lighter flavors. A small can would also work as a part of a salad for one. If I was entertaining and wanted a spectacular presentation, larger Bonito del Norte loin pieces would create a memorable Salad Niçoise. The flavor of this fish also goes very well with salad greens and light vinaigrettes. For dishes that have any heat applied I would use the Atun from As do Mar. The darker meat and more robust flavor of this fish is also perfect for a Mediterranean style tuna sandwich: a half a can of Atun thoroughly flaked in a bowl with its oil and maybe a light squeeze of lemon, two slices of rustic bread, generously doused with some extra virgin olive oil, and some fresh arugula leaves.
Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Do you find yourself scrounging on the cabinets and scratching your head around dinnertime each night? Do you have trouble finding breakfast for your family each morning? Do you hate to even add up how much money you've spent eating out in the past month? Then, you probably can say that you need help with the meals in your house, and that you could stand to save some money in the process.
If you agree, then most likely, you could benefit from menu or meal planning. Meal planning is simply deciding on your meals for a week or more at one sitting, and then shopping for those particular meals on your next trip to the grocery store. Meal planning allows you to know ahead of time what you'll have for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and even snacks if you choose to go that far, and it helps you to save yourself, time, money and even a little sanity as you're traveling the isles of the grocery store, because you will be prepared.
Planning your meals out ahead of time is a very easy practice. Just sit down one night a week or even one night a month and plan the meals for the following month or week, whichever you so choose. You will want to take a look in your pantry, fridge and freezer if you have one, in order to see what you already have on hand that you might use in your meals, this too will save you money.
Then you will sit down with a pen and paper, and begin compiling a list of the different meals that you plan to make. Keep in mind those busy nights where your kids have soccer practice or you have to work late. Those are the nights when you want to plan to fix something easy, or throw something in the crockpot that morning.
Once you have your list of meals, you create a shopping or grocery list from that list and then you go shopping. It is that simple.
Tuesday, 26 February 2008
Marinara Sauce: This is a really simple sauce, and it is meant to be simple, as most Italian sauces. This sauce is traditionally flavored with tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. The translation of Marinara or "Marinaro" means Sailor, and thus means Sailor Sauce. There are several different variations of this sauce, and they are easy to make, and just as popular. There is a Cacciatore sauce and, a Pizzola sauce which I are at the bottome of this recipe.
The ingredients you will need: 2 Tbps of a good olive oil 2 cloves of garlic, or as one of my chef instructors would say toes of garlic 4-5 lbs of fresh tomatoes, the best and ripest you can find, cut into 1/2"-3/4" pieces 1/4 - 1/2 c up fresh basil depending on your taste or love of basil, chopped, or chiffonade Salt and Pepper to taste = the level of salt or pepper you want in your sauce
Lets make Sauce: In a large sauce pan you will heat your olive oil over a medium heat. When the oil is starting to shimmer in the bottom of the pan you will add your garlic and saute for around 15-30 seconds, do not burn your garlic. It will make your sauce taste bitter. You want a very small amount of color, or it to look translucent. Add your tomatoes with all of the juice from them, and stir with the garlic. You will bring to a simmer, which is a very low bubble in the pan if at all. You will stir occasionally to make sure it is cooking evenly, and not sticking to the bottom of your pan. You do not want to burn the sauce. After about 30- 40 minutes you will taste for salt and pepper content, and this is when you will add them to fit your taste. Then you will add your fresh basil and stir. If you want to garnish your sauce on top of your favorite pasta, then save some of the basil, and add after you plate your pasta dish. Some Parmesan cheese as garnish on the top would go well with this sauce if you prefer.
If you would like to put a full meal together. I suggest while your sauce is simmering, add a pot of water to the stove and start over a high heat. Bring the water to a boil, and before you add the pasta you prefer add a generous amount of salt to the water. Add your pasta, and stir to keep it from sticking. While your pasta is in the boiling water you will have about 7-10 minutes of free time to get a salad ready and possibly some garlic toast. I hope that you enjoy this recipe it its very easy, and it is fresh, and much better than a jar sauce. It will show those that matter most, that they are special, and that you cared enough to make a great family meal. Enjoy.
I am going to list 2 other variations of this sauce one is a Pizzola, and the other is a Cacciatore.
This is a Pizzola Italian sauce and will be great for any type of pasta dish. It is very simple to prepare and will be a definate hit for a family meal.
Ingredients you will need:2 T of Olive Oil ,2 Cloves of Garlic , 4-5 Lbs of the freshest Tomatoes you can find , 2 T of fresh Basil for garnish , 2-3 T of dried Italian herb mix= Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Oregano , 1 tsp of crushed Red Pepper flakes , 1/4-1/2 shredded Parmesan Cheese for garnish
Lets make Pizzola sauce: In a large sauce pan you will heat your olive oil over a medium heat. When the oil is starting to shimmer in the bottom of the pan you will add your garlic and saute for around 15-30 seconds, do not burn your garlic. It will make your sauce taste bitter. You want a very small amount of color, or for the garlicit to look translucent. Add your tomatoes with all of the juice from them, and stir with the garlic, and add your dry herbs and spices. . You will bring to a simmer, which is a very low bubble in the pan if at all. You will stir occasionally to make sure it is cooking evenly, and not sticking to the bottom of your pan. You do not want to burn the sauce. After about 30- 40 minutes you will taste for salt and pepper content, and this is when you will add them to fit your taste. If you want to garnish your sauce on top of your favorite pasta, then save some of the basil, and add after you plate your pasta dish. Some Parmesan cheese as garnish on the top would go well with this sauce if you prefer.
The Cacciatore sauce is just another variation of the Marinara sauce. If you have looked at my Marinara recipe the cooking principles are the same, other than a few additional ingredients.
The ingredients you will need: 2 Tbps of a good olive oil 2 cloves of garlic sliced thin, or as one of my chef instructors would say toes of garlic. 1 red and 1 green bell pepper, thin sliced with the stem and pith removed, no seeds. 1 can of slices button mushrooms, or 4-6 ounces of fresh button mushrooms if you prefer fresh ones. 1-1/2 to 2 tsp of dried Italian spice blend which is oregano, basil, thyme and rosemary. 4-5 lbs of the freshest tomatoes you can find cut into 1/2 - 3/4" cubes with all of the juice. 2 T of fresh basil, thin slices or chiffonade. Salt and Pepper to taste = the level of salt or pepper you want in your sauce
Lets make Sauce: In a large sauce pan you will heat your olive oil over a medium heat. When the oil is starting to shimmer in the bottom of the pan you will add your bell peppers, and mushrooms and saute for around 3-4 minutes, do not burn them just lightly saute. Then add your garlic, and saute for around 15-30 seconds. If you burn them it will make your sauce taste bitter, so be careful not to over cook. You want a very small amount of color, or them to look translucent, or tender. Add your tomatoes with all of the juice from them, and your herbs and stir. You will bring to a simmer, which is a very low bubble in the pan, if at all. You will stir occasionally to make sure it is cooking evenly, and not sticking to the bottom of your pan. You do not want to burn the sauce. After about 30- 45 minutes you will taste for salt and pepper content, and this is when you will add them to fit your taste. If you want to garnish your sauce on top of your favorite pasta, then add some of the 2 T. of basil from your ingredients list, on the top of the sauce, on your pasta dish. Some Parmesan cheese as garnish on the top would go well with this sauce if you prefer.
Chef Shelley Pogue, Cum Laude, Le Cordon Blue graduate and Executive Research and Development Chef for Vertical Sales and Marketing, San Ramon, CA.
Monday, 25 February 2008
Soup, properly made, is one of the healthiest and most enjoyable styles of cooking. While most canned soups are way too high in fats and salt, when you make it yourself, you can get the nutrition without much of the bad stuff. You can create hundreds of tasty and healthy meals using this outline of the basic steps for making healthy soups. Learn the basics and enjoy the rewards for life.
The Base: We're going for simple and easy, here, so, instead of figuring out all the perfect soup base ingredients, let's just use bouillon cubes. They're cheap and easy to use. Just add 3 cubes to a gallon of water in a 6 quart Dutch oven or large pot. Use Chicken cubes for poultry soups and beef cubes for beef, lamb or pork. Get the water to start boiling before adding anything but the cubes. Your ingredients determine when to start the base. For example, a meat and vegetable soup can cook for 1 hour, but if bony meats and dried beans are included, it could take 2.5 hours. Actual prep time is about 30-60 minutes...the rest is simmering time.
The Bones: For bones (like left-over turkey, ox tails, etc.), start the base 1/2 hour early and boil the bones, then cool and remove edible parts to return to soup. Bones and shells are O.K. in soup if you warn people when serving.
Dried Beans, Rice, Noodles, etc: The dried stuff determines how long your soup will take to cook. Over 2 hours for dried beans, one hour for lentils, dried peas or rice, 45 minutes for noodles. I keep a variety of all that stuff in the pantry because I never know what I want to add until I'm cooking...it's usually 3-4 different things. A total of one cup of dried stuff usually gives the soup a solid quality. If you like thinner soups, this is where to do the thinning.
Meat: 1 pound of meat is usually plenty for this size soup. cut in 1/4" by 2" strips. Some meats can be cooked ahead and shredded using 2 forks, for a different texture. Raw meat should be added to the soup to cook about 45 minutes.
Vegetables: Make sure to include 8-10 cups of raw vegetables. My main 3 vegetables are carrots, celery and onions. Any vegetable will work, so be creative. Always press and chop 3-6 buttons of fresh garlic to add. It's a great flavor and aroma enhancer and it is very good for you. Fresh vegetables should be added to cook the last 30 minutes, except green beans (45 min) and leafy vegetables (10 min).
Spices: Most people add spices way too early, cooking off all their flavor. Spices should be added the last 15-30 minutes if you want to notice their contribution to the flavor of the soup. I use a lot of dried basil, fennel seeds, parsley flakes and fresh ground black pepper. This is an area of personal taste, though, so, follow my Mom's advice. "It's easier to put it in than to take it out." Because the Bouillon cubes have enough salt, you should not add more.
If you follow this basic recipe, you can make an unlimited variety of soups. I've used this system for about 10-15 batches of soup per year for over 15 years. Using whatever we had at the time, none of the soups were the same, but all were enjoyed. Soup is one of the easiest ways to stretch the food dollar. The ingredients I listed cost about $ 0.50 per serving.
Wow, health, creativity and economy all poured into one bowl. Enjoy!
Friday, 22 February 2008
Winter time is the time for comfort food. Classic Beef Stew is perfect for the causal meal around the fire place. Surprise your family with this change in your dinner routine.
Build a fire in your fire place. Put a washable blanket down like you are spreading a blanket for a picnic. Add comfortable pillows to sit or lean up against while you are eating. Put your pot of stew in the middle of the blanket with bowls and spoons around the pot of stew. Put your drinks in glasses with a lid. Make a pan of cornbread, cut into squares and place on a plate. Invite your family in for dinner. Enjoy sitting around the fire and enjoying a family meal together. You might just make this a tradition for those cold winter nights.
CLASSIC BEEF STEW
2 pounds beef stew meat
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a Dutch oven, or large soup pot, brown the beef in oil. Drain. Return meat to pan. Add onion, tomatoes, beef broth, tapioca, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Cover and bake for 1 and 1/2 hours. Stir in carrots, potatoes and celery seed. Bake covered 1 hour longer or until meat and vegetables are tender. You may need to add additional beef broth and/or water during cooking time. Remove bay leaf before serving. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
1 cup yellow corn meal
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups. Blend all ingredients about 20 seconds. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Thursday, 21 February 2008
Planning sounds like such a chore, but then cooking can sound like such a chore too. If you know what you're having and have the ingredients for that meal, then isn't cooking a lot easier?
Menu planning should be a regular part of your grocery shopping list. If you do it right you shouldn't have to do it too often. Here are some tips that will help you:
1. Use the time you are already making out a grocery list to plan a few meals. I suggest thinking of 12-15 meals.
2. As you think of a meal you like, put it on one side of a piece of paper. This will become your meal plan.
3. List the ingredients you don't have for that meal on the other ½ of the sheet of paper. This will become your grocery list.
4. This will make grocery shopping so much easier because you will just be shopping for what is on your list. When you're all done shopping you know that you will have everything you need to make 12-15 meals.
5. Don't worry about assigning a day for meals. Then if unexpected things come up in your month you won't mess up your whole plan.
6. Just look at your list of meals each morning and decide what you feel like cooking that day. Then cross off the meal that you decide to make that day.
7. When your list of meals to choose from gets down to 2 or 3 you know it's time to make out another grocery list and meal plan.
Cooking shouldn't be a stress in your day. It should just be another thing to check off your list so that you can get on with other things you enjoy more than cooking. If you enjoy cooking, then this system can make it even more enjoyable for you.
Wednesday, 20 February 2008
Consumers who know the basics of food safety may say one thing and do another, according to Janet B. Anderson, MS, RD. Anderson is Director of the Food Safety Institute at Utah State University. She videotaped 122 participants as they prepared food. Each received a bag of groceries, a recipe, and completed a survey after fixing the recipe.
The results are reported in "What Consumers Say They Do . . . What They Actually Do: A Comparison." Sixty per cent of the participants said they washed their hands before preparing food. Reality: 52 % washed their hands. Seventy-five per cent of the participants said not washing hands after handling raw eggs was dangerous. Reality: 60% failed to wash their hands. Anderson's study contains more eye-opening statistics.
The lesson here is that we often know things but don't do them. Though you know food safety basics, you may not follow them because you are thinking of other things or in a hurry. Post this list in your kitchen and follow these tips. Make sure your kids follow them too.
* After handling food wash your hands with hot soapy water for two minutes.
* Wash your hands after blowing your nose, touching your face, changing dirty diapers, touching pets, and going to the bathroom.
* Dry your hands on paper towels.
* Do not eat, smoke, or chew gum while preparing food.
* Wear rubber gloves if your fingers are chapped, cracked, or cut.
* Use separate cutting boards for produce and meat.
* Wash the cutting board well after each use.
* Clean counter tops with a weak bleach solution.
* Launder dishcloths, sponges, dish towels and hand towels daily.
* Make sure your refrigerator is set between 32 and 40 degrees.
* Thaw food in the refrigerator or cold water, not on the counter.
* Refrigerate hot food immediately.
* Do not baste food with marinade that has been used on raw meat.
* Use a thermometer to check the inner temperature of food. Hamburger should be cooked until it reaches 160 degrees.
* When grilling, use separate plates for raw and cooked food.
* Clean your microwave -- walls, ceiling, rotating plate -- regularly.
* Follow slow cooker instructions to the letter.
For more food safety tips see the USDA publication, "Food Safety and Security: What Consumers Need to Know."
"Cooking for Groups: A Volunteer's Guide to Food Safety," Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/pubs/cfg6.htm
"Hand Washing: A Simple Way to Prevent Infection," www.mayoclinic.com
State of Wisconsin, Department of Health & Family Services. "Food Handling & Housekeeping," dhfs.wisconsin.gov/hometips/dhp/food.htm
University of Wisconsin (Madison), Department of Food Science. "Food Safety in Your Home," www.foodsafetyinyourhome.org/5_Steps_to_safety.html
Copoyright 2007 by Harriet Hodgson
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
You will be shocked and amazed at all the sinfully rich and delicious meals and side dishes that are out there, that are amazingly quick and easy to prepare. This means that you will not run the all too common disaster scenarios that you hear about and will still manage to have a wonderful meal that is enjoyed by all.
The trick is in choosing a rather simple meat dish and dressing it up with the more decadent side dishes. Incredibly rich side dishes that are simple to prepare are greater in number than meat dishes that require little culinary effort. You should also keep in mind the audience for your special occasion. Sometimes a family favorite makes the occasion seem much more special than an all out effort for chicken cordon bleu or veal Marsala. There is no point in going to an extreme effort to create a culinary masterpiece if it is going to be riddled with picky children proclaiming that they do not like this or that about your meal.
Another great idea when it comes to cooking for special occasions is to prepare as much as possible ahead of time in order to alleviate the pressure during the event and to allow you more time to enjoy the event rather than dealing with the details of meal preparation. The greatest gift you can really give yourself when cooking for special occasions is the time necessary in order to enjoy these special occasions. This is not to say that there isn't some cooking that will need to be done.
Foods that can be prepared ahead of time and reheated just prior to serving are often the best when it comes to cooking for special occasions. There are all kinds of appetizers, entrees, and desserts that will work perfectly in this particular instance. You can often find them by performing a simple Google search online or by sorting through many of your favorite cookbooks at home. The important thing is that you do not get so caught up in the idea of cooking for special occasions that you forget to actually enjoy the occasion.
If this is not the way you prefer to do things that is perfectly understandable. Some of us do thrive in high stress situations. The key for those who prefer to do all the meal preparation when cooking for special occasions at the time of cooking is planning properly and allowing plenty of time for possible hiccups in the process. Mistakes occur when people feel rushed and hurried in their culinary efforts.
Another common mistake that is made when cooking for special occasions is cooking outside of your comfort zone. When you are preparing a challenging recipe it is best if you do this during a time when you are not going through the stress of potential visitors or insuring the best possible of circumstances. In other words, it is best to challenge your culinary talents when you do not have a vested interest in success.
Special occasions are a great time for friends and family. The hope is that you will have many special occasions throughout your life. Do not waste too much time and energy fretting over cooking for special occasions. Instead, put all of your effort into enjoying those occasions.
Monday, 18 February 2008
Being married to a Thai for the last few years has meant learning a fair amount about Thai food. This isn't such a great accomplishment because it's usually the main topic of our conversations.
My wife once told me that a Thai would be most happy if she could eat seven times a day and I think she is pretty close to that mark. Any time she's not actually eating she can be counted on to be thinking of what or where to eat next.
There's obviously some kind of health secret here. If she's carrying two pounds extra, I have no idea where she's hiding it. If I ate like she did, it would take a crane to get me out of bed in the mornings. The answer must be that what she's eating must be healthy as well as delicious. Her number one favorite meal, snack, between meal pick-me-up, comfort food and health potion is ... somtam.
I confess that I had been thinking of somtam as a low class street vender food until I read a newspaper review of a local restaurant in Chiang Mai (Huen Phen) that quoted world class chef and author, Anthony Bourdain as saying that "their papaya salad is in fact the best salad he has ever eaten." Interesting.
Since then I've eaten it there, ordered it in other restaurants and stood beside street vendors in back alleys as they made some for me. It's always very good and I'm reminded of the great line that David Mamet wrote in Wag the Dog,"There are two things I know to be true. There's no difference between good flan and bad flan, and there is no war in Albania." My wife tells me that all somtam is good but there are some she likes more than others.
Regardless of where you get your somtam in Thailand, what I like is that it is always prepared fresh and usually in the front section of the restaurant (or behind the small glass booth perched on the street cart.)
The essentials are basic: a sharp knife, a spoon and a morter and pestle. The preparation is a blur of culinary poetry.
Throw a handful of chilies into the morter and give a good pound or two with the pestle to release the heat. In quick succession add some coarsely chopped tomato, a dash of sugar, a good splash of fish sauce (available now in most oriental markets,) a small spoon of lemon juice, a clove or two of garlic and (usually) some MSG.
The sauce is finished with the addition of a few tiny, whole crabs (poo) and some salted, fermented fish (balak.)
Pound and stir to bruise and mix the sauce then quickly julienne a firm green papaya and add the spaghetti sized pieces to the brew.
Pound and stir one last time to wilt the green fruit in the sauce. Spoon the salad to a plate or bowl and it will invariably look naturally elegant.
Now for the vocabulary to make sure it's done to your taste. Order Somtam Lao if you want the pungent, sour taste of the balak (fermented fish.) Somtam Thai omits the balak and adds peanuts, which I prefer.
"Mai Sai Poo" means hold the crab. "Mai Pom Chulot" is "no MSG." The somtam beginner should say, " mai phet" meaning "not spicy." I like to order "phet mai mak" or "not too spicy." Only a serious masochist should say "phet gadai" and should not then whine about the fiery pain that the true somtam addict craves.
Hot or not, somtam blends soft with crisp and has an intense but surprisingly balanced flavor that is sweet, salty, sour and bitter in every bite.
Wednesday, 13 February 2008
Why is soup so common in all the world's cultures? What is it about soup that makes it so appealing, regardless of what local ingredients there are?
I think it is because every culture in history has had a "lower" class that has had to make do with the cheapest, least sought after ingredients. Higher "quality" ingredients often have as much to do with texture as with flavor, and the richest people in any society get the pick of the tenderest cuts of meat, the finest spring vegetables, and the freshest fruit. In contrast, the "peasantry" lives on the tougher cuts of meat, the bones often included, root vegetables and leftover fruit that has either been dried or fermented.
But these "lower" cuts of meat and root vegetables are not devoid of flavor, in fact they often have much more owing to what makes them less desirable: their texture. Tougher foods are denser, and contain more flavor, more varied tissues, and often more nutrients. Compare, for instance, an onion and an asparagus. Which has the more flavor? Sure, if you had to eat one raw you would probably pick the asparagus. But ask your self which one you would give up for life if you had to!
But using tougher foods does not mean you have to give up texture for the extra flavor; nor does intensity of flavor mean you have to have less subtlety. What it does mean is that you have to treat it differently from the way you treat "finer" foods.
For instance, a tenderloin, the tenderest cut of meat in most animals, is one that must be cooked quickly lest it get tough. But this type of cooking does little for the flavor, as it has no time to develop or convert the flavors that already exist. Again, the finer cuts are more about texture. But a flank steak, being much tougher already, benefits from a low, slow, wet cooking process that both extracts flavor and reduces toughness. Soups and stews are perfect for this method, as is braising. What you end up with is something at least as tasty as the tenderloin, and nearly as tender. And certainly cheaper!
Let's take this one step further, and ask what can be done with bones and gristle. Certainly no one wants to chow down on a hunk of bone, unless one is of the canine persuasion. But there is a lot of flavor, and a ton of nutrients just begging to be let out. After all, a lot of nutrients went into making them! This is where soup stock comes in.
Bones, gristle and similar tissues contain, among other things, collagen. This is a protein used in connective tissues, and it has some very interesting properties. Firstly, it dissolves in hot liquid. Second, it coagulates when it cools down, provided it is concentrated enough. If this makes it sound like gelatin, then you are correct: collagen is one of the main ingredients in gelatin. The third property of collagen that is of interest in the kitchen is that is carries flavors that water cannot.
By extracting the collagen from bones and tough tissues, we can get a lot of flavor and nutrients that would otherwise be thrown away. This can be done with any meat product. In restaurants, veal bones are often used for their high collagen content, but beef and chicken are also very common. Fish and seafood stocks can be made from bones, gills, fins, and shells. Ham hocks are often used to make a ham stock.
Martin Yan, the famous Chinese Chef, said it most succinctly: when you have a good stock, you can make a good soup. If I can sum up in a word what makes soup so universal, it would be "extraction". The slow, patient process of getting the most out of your ingredients. And that's what cooking with love is all about.
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
If you want to make a difference this Valentine, try cooking that special meal for your loved one. Express your Valentine wishes in a different way by preparing a theme valentine recipes. Or you can do it together, isn't that a great way to kickstart a great romance or rekindle an old one.
Strawberries In Red Wine
* 3/4 cup Fresh Strawberries
For each serving, spoon 3/4 of a cup quartered fresh strawberries into a large wine glass. Sprinkle with 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon orange-flavored liqueur and 1/2 teaspoon Cognac. Fill each glass with red wine to cover the berries. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours
Steak Lover`s Fettuccini Alfredo
* 1 ounce clarified butter
Heat butter. Sear meat and add veggies. Add heavy cream and reduce down. Add Parmesan cheese. When it begins to thicken add to pasta. Serve hot, topped with scallions and Parmesan cheese.
Or if you prefer fish, you can opt for Salmon steaks for the main dish:
Special Salmon Steaks
* 2 salmon steaks
Saute the mushrooms in the butter until thoroughly cooked but not yet browning.
Add the sherry and let simmer until the alcohol has evaporated. Add the cream and chicken stock. Thoroughly rinse the capers (they're usually purchased in brine and you don't want the acidic taste) and add to sauce Broil the salmon steaks - about 5-7 minutes a side, depending on thickness. The sauce should simmer while the steaks are cooking, to thicken it a bit. when the salmon is cooked pour the sauce over to serve. Extra sauce is great on potatoes.
Ultimate Valentine's Day Cookie
* 1 cup powdered sugar
Creamy Decorator's Frosting
* 2 cups powdered sugar
Heat oven to 400 F. Beat powdered sugar, butter and vinegar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in remaining ingredients except food color. Divide dough in half. Mix food color into one half. (If dough is too dry, stir in milk, 1 teaspoon at a time.)
Roll dough 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured cloth-covered surface. Cut into heart shapes with various sizes of cookie cutters. Place smaller hearts on larger hearts of different color dough if desired. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until set but not brown. Cool 1 to 2 minutes; carefully remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. If desired, decorate with white and pink Creamy Decorator's Frosting.
Creamy Decorator's Frosting: Stir together all ingredients until smooth and spreadable. Tint with food color if desired
Monday, 11 February 2008
For the crock pot beef, create as follows:
5 lbs. stew beef
4 (14 oz) cans beef broth
2 (4 oz) cans chopped green chilis
Combine all ingredients in crock and stir. Cook on high 6-8 hours. Crock pot tip: If you won't be looking at the crock for more than 8 hours, just add another can of water. Meat will be even better the longer you cook it - you just don't want the liquid to run down.
Serves 4, Cook time: 3 minutes, Prep time: 2 minutes
1 lb. cooked beef mixture (approximately 1/5th of the meat mixture)
2 packages of Uncle Bens 90 second rice.
Reheat beef mixture on the stove top while microwaving the rice for approximately 3 minutes. (90 seconds each rice and then some for the beef0
Serves 4 , Cook time: 5 minutes, Prep time: 5 minutes
1 lb. cooked shredded beef mixture (1/4 of the remaining mixture from Monday)
1 can (16 oz) kidney beans
1 can (16 oz.) pinto beans
1 can (16 oz.) corn
1 can (24 oz.) crushed tomatoes
1 envelope ranch dressing mix
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
Rinse beans thoroughly. Drain beans and corn. Combine all ingredients and cook on the stovetop. Stir constantly and serve once heated through.
Wednesday's beef and cheese casserole
Serves 4 Cook time: 15 minutes, Prep time: 5 minutes
1 lb. cooked shredded beef mixture (1/3 of the remaining mixture from Monday)
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1/2 small onion chopped and browned
1 small can black olives
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cottage cheese
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1 (8 oz.) package Doritos or other taco flavored chips
Combine beef, cooked onion, black olives and tomato sauce (A). Combine sour cream and cottage cheese(B). Layer A then B, then cheddar cheese and chips two times. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.
Thursday's faux shepherd's pie
Serves 4 Cook time: 30 minutes, Prep time: 5 minutes
1 lb. cooked shredded beef mixture (1/2 of the remaining mixture from Monday)
1 package refrigerated mashed potatoes (I use Bob Evans)
2 jars beef gravy (I like Boston Market)
1 envelope onion soup mix
Combine beef, gravy and onion soup mix. Spread into a baking pan. Cover with the potatoes. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Optional alternative: only 1 jar of gravy
Friday's beef barley soupServes 4 Cook time: 15 minutes Prep time: 15 minutes
1 lb. cooked shredded beef mixture (the remainder from Monday!)
1 (14 oz) can crushed tomatoes with basil (if possible)
10 cups water
2 cups of chopped cooked celery, onions and/or shredded carrots
6 beef bouillon cubes
½ cup quick-cooking barley
2 T. dry mustard
2T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. dried basil
Combine all ingredients except barley in large pot on stove top. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add barley. Reduce heat to medium low and cook until barley is cooked through (about 10 minutes). As with all soups, keeping it on low and cooking longer improves the flavor so do that if you have the time. Time saving tip: Buy the shredded carrots. They are much easier to add to soups and look great on salads.
Even the leftover hater in the family will be delighted with this assortment that tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen. Ciao and enjoy!
Friday, 08 February 2008
Do you want to start taking care of your health from this day forward? Did your doctor just recommend that you need to start heart healthy cooking? Do you know you need to lose a large amount of weight? Heart healthy cooking can be the solution you are looking for!
Depending on whom you talk to heart healthy cooking can mean many different things. Like many things in life, everyone has a different opinion regarding most things. Food is not different. There are meat lovers, vegetarians, people who fast regularly, and even fruitarians (people who only eat fruit products). Each of these people believes that their way of preparing food is the very best way to eat. This is when you must make your own decision based off what you learned and what feels right to you.
Heart healthy cooking can be as simple as making little changes to your diet. Cooking with less oil, no butter or low fat or nonfat butter substitutes can make a huge difference. Exchanging sour cream with yogurt can be another small, but significant change in the caloric intake. Small changes like these will keep you from gaining more weight and you might soon start to see the difference in your dresses sizes dropping!
Choosing to add nonfat salad dressings to your salads, skipping heavy fat desserts for healthier options, i.e. maybe deciding to have fresh strawberries dipped in yogurt could be a wonderful dessert alternative! It is not only a sweet treat, but it is good for you and filling!
When you make a spaghetti dinner dish, choose tomato based sauces versus cream based sauces. Cream based sauces tend to have more fat and oils while tomato based sauces tend to be let fattening choices. Or why not make a wonderful vegetable soup dish? You can add whatever you want, make it as flavorful as possible and yet create a dish that you will love! Add spices, add pepper. Be as creative as you want to be. Why not use salsa as fish marinade? It is healthy, simple, flavorful, and will be good to your heart!
Heart healthy cooking can be fun! You can learn many things about a new way to live your life. You can learn new recipes and dazzle your friends with great tasting, healthy dishes that they will for sure want seconds and thirds of. They will want to know your secrets. They will admire your efforts and wish they could cook just like you! And, you will have learned so many new recipes you will have them amazed for as long as you keep learning new ones!
Wednesday, 06 February 2008
Welcome to the Gourmet Chicken Series. Today we bring you the the Italian dish that chefs from Rome to Venice said couldn't be done and was sacreligious. This Chicken Lasagne is the greatest taste sensation to ever grace the dinner table!
Whether it is pasta, lasagne or pizza, the recent addition of chicken to all these global favourite dishes has made a new favourite item on italian restaurant menus around the world.
Ingredients: 1 tbsp. butter or margarine, 1/2 large onion, 1 can undiluted reduced fat cream of chicken soup,1 container refrigerated reduced fat alfredo sauce, 1 jar diced pimiento undrained, 1 jar sliced mushrooms drained, 1/3 cup dry white wine, 1/2 tsp. dried basil, 1package frozen chopped spinach thawed, 1 cup cottage cheese, 1 cup ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1 large egg lightly beaten, 9 lasagna noodles cooked, 2 1/2 cup chopped cooked chicken, 3 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese divided
Tuesday, 05 February 2008
If you're anything like us, family meals can take too much time. Whether you're working full time, taking care of the kids or simply running errands and enjoying life, finding time to whip up a fresh dinner every night is hard. But if you've been replacing home-cooked meals with too much takeout, you might be putting your health at risk - and your waistline!
Celebrate 2008 by making a resolution to eat well. With homemade dinners that are healthy, easy and never dull, you'll feel better - and look better, too. To get you started, check out these six no-fail tips from our own kitchens:
With these six simple tips, you can make weeknight dinners fun and easy. Chicken marinades, dipping oils, simmer sauces and more from Made In Napa Valley taste great - and are good for you, too. This year, make your New Year's resolution to eat well - the wine country way!
Monday, 04 February 2008
Where has the family dinner hour gone? There once was a time when we would all come home from a long day and sit down with our family for a nice home-cooked meal. In today’s fast paced world, we need more bonding time with the family. One might say that in today’s day where people pile way too much on the plate of life, that it is impossible to have a family dinner everyday. I disagree. Wouldn’t you like to get back to the way it used to be?
One way to make family dinners easier to prepare is by planning ahead. Often times I find myself going to the grocery store every other day to pick up needed items, and this is how family time gets lost. Spend a little time planning out dinner ideas for the coming week. Pick meals that are quick and easy for your dinners during the week and save the more time consuming recipes for the weekend. Did you know that software has been developed that makes meal planning a breeze? With a click of the mouse you can organize your recipe collection into daily meal plans complete with nutrition facts and shopping lists. With the computer generated shopping list you won’t have to worry about forgetting a needed item when you go grocery shopping.
Another great way to ensure that your family eats together most nights of the week is to share the responsibility of preparing dinner. It can be difficult for one family member to be responsible for cooking everyday. Each member of the family can take turns cooking each night. This is also a good way to add some new flavors to your meals since each member may have a different cooking technique. For those family members who don’t cook often, this can prove to be a great learning experience. Review each family member’s weekly schedule and delegate the meal preparation tasks such as grocery shopping, cooking, and clean up. Working as a team is a great way to build strength as a family.
“Not meatloaf again!” I’m sure everyone has heard the complaints from that same meal being served week after week. Keep your family dinners exciting by trying different variations of your favorite recipes. An even better idea would be to test out some new recipes. Surprise your family with a delicious new dinner tonight and they will be sure to come back to the dinner table tomorrow. Nothing is more important than your family. It’s worth the effort to make sure that your family eats together daily. Besides the needed nutrition, this time spent together will help open the lines of communication and make your family bond stronger.
I recently discovered an online service that saves time and money while providing you with new dinner ideas daily. Get access to powerful recipe management software, daily meal plans, money saving coupons and more at SendMeRecipes.
Saturday, 02 February 2008
With dance practice, basketball, the science project that's due tomorrow and Tae Kwon Do, who has energy to cook a decent meal for the kids for dinner? You do! You can have time if you prepare an easy to cook kids meal.
Sure it's a no-brainer to throw a hot dog in the microwave or set a tortilla in a frying pan on top of the stove, add some cheddar cheese and 90 seconds later have a simple quesadilla, but what's the joy in that? How about trying a casserole or one-pot dish? They generally go over well with the kids; and are easy to whip together.
Taste this simple kids recipe:
1 – lb. ground beef
Place beef into a 3-qrt glass casserole and microwave for 4-5 minutes, or until beef is no longer pink. Stir & turn halfway through cooking time. Strain Beef. Stir in sauce, water and macaroni. Microwave another 12 minutes, stirring halfway through. Sprinkle cheese on top and allow to stand covered about 7 minutes before eating. Serves 2-3 starving kids.
There are numerous meals you can create with ground beef. Any recipe that calls for ground beef will work just perfect substituted with ground turkey, chicken or venison as an alternative. The simple recipe below uses ground meat. It takes close to an hour to cook but merely a moment to prepare.
2 pounds ground meat
Crinkle Cut French Fries
Brown hamburger and drain the grease. Add both soups to drained hamburger and place into a 9x13 greased pan. Top off with frozen crinkle cut French fries and cook at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until fries are golden brown.
Taco salads are very quick and easy to make. Start with lettuce. Add cheese, tomato and onion (if your kids will approve of it.) Fry up some ground beef and toss in a packet of taco seasoning – or just include some taco sauce to the meat. Then add crumbled tortilla chips or Fritos. Top off with salsa or Ranch salad dressing. Don't forget the sour cream and guacamole too! Kids love this meal!
For a fast, on the go, healthy, cold meal try:
Large lettuce leaves (not pre-cut lettuce in a bag)
Step 1: Remove a large lettuce leaf.
How about a unique twist on the famous macaroni and cheese kids recipe?
1 (16 ounce) package macaroni (elbow, seashell, bowtie – doesn't matter, just not spaghetti)
1. Prepare macaroni according to package instructions.
Incorporate a bit of creativity to create a spin on a standard recipe and even with the chaotic evening activities you will muster up time to prepare a delicious meal for the kids evening meal.
Friday, 01 February 2008
How many times have you stood in your kitchen and wondered what you were going to make for dinner? What about those times when you want to plan a dinner with friends but skip it because pulling a meal together is too much work?
What if you had a one stop resource to make meal planning, and preparing, successful? To plan a meal every chef needs a few items. Once you have these basic items at your fingertips, meal planning and preparing really can be a simple process. Here are the 'must haves' to make this possible.
Recipes. It is incredibly important to have somewhere to go first off to put a meal together. Depending on the meal you may need anywhere from one to a handful of recipes. Chefs usually need a whole encyclopedia of recipes for a complete meal including starters and dessert.
Tools. Creating a meal without the proper tools is like creating a painting without paintbrushes. You don't have to have fancy tools, however it does pay to have quality ones. That way your baking pans, spatulas, and whisks are not breaking in the middle of making a meal. Of course there are some tools that just making cooking more fun like palm peelers, cookie presses, and a culinary torch.
What about tools that make cooking easier? Professional blenders like the VitaMix get any job done quickly and cleanup is unbelievably simple. The NuWave oven makes it possible to make a five course meal in one shot and in half the time it would normally take.
Pantry Staples. When you're preparing a meal there's nothing worse than opening your spice cabinet or pantry and finding that you don't have what you need. Stock your pantry with the supreme gourmet pantry items like spices, sauces, and rubs.