Sunday, January 31, 2010

New Recipes!

We're going to the grocery store! I'm going to make peda and creamed spinach (instead of palak paneer bc my food processor is 800 miles away).


Creamed Spinach
Leek & Cheese Couscous Cake

Shopping List

Milk powder
Unsalted butter
Minced garlic, if sale price
Leeks (2)
Fruit for the week

Saturday, January 30, 2010

In a pinch, we find a way: Tomato-Lentil Cous Cous

I never did get around to choosing recipes this week (might try paneer and palak paneer tomorrow), but it didn't matter bc we were too lazy / used the cold as an excuse to not step foot outside the apartment today. The menu? Pancakes, scrambled eggs for breakfast; last night's leftovers and cookies for lunch; and here it is: the lazy girl's version of stew over couscous.

Tomato-Lentil Cous Cous
Total cook time: about 5-10 minutes
~2 servings


1 can Wegman's low-sodium Minestrone (any tomato-based vegetable soup w/ beans will do, especially if it has garbanzo beans or a variety of lentils)
1 box Near East tomato-lentil cous cous
~3/4 cup tomato sauce (I used Tutturosso marinara)
1 tsp liquid from a can of olives


1. Prepare cous cous according to stove top directions on the back of the box.
2. Heat the soup, adding the tomato sauce and olive liquid (or salt to taste if you don't have any).
3. Serve cous cous in individual serving bowls when ready, spooning the liquid over the center of each bowl.


Khao Soi Ready-Made Mix

Turns out I could've used this ready-made mix instead of running around for red curry paste and turmeric. But that one recipe has lasted us a whole week, on egg noodles first, then on rice (with extra chicken, coconut milk, and sugar to round out the heat/salt). I also verified that coconut milk doesn't curdle when reheated to boiling like cow's milk does. So nothing really to complain about!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Peanut butter frosting?

I just had the most amazing chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting. Normally I'm not a fan of alternative cupcakes (chocolate w/ vanilla frosting I love, but not yellow w/ chocolate), but this was amazing!

Of course, the whole point of this cooking blog is to choose healthy recipes and entrees to improve our day-to-day diet. So I'll just put this peanut butter frosting recipe here, for someday in the future...

Peanut Butter Frosting
(for chocolate cupcakes)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Apparently mochi, but not har gow, makes the dumpling shortlist.

Flipping through The Dumpling: A Seasonal Guide by Wai Hon Chu & Connie Lovatt, I saw all sorts of dumpling-related wonder...brilliantly colored photos, intricate diagrams explaining the various folds, recipes that altogether made the book at least an inch thick. Strangely, strawberry-anko mochi found its way amongst its more homely cousins, and somehow, the frustrating har gow "pau" fold failed to make an appearance.

Nevertheless, I had fun on my weekend adventures in har gow and mochi-making.

The "skin" of the har gow is made from tapioca and wheat starch.

I was afraid the dough would be sticky or difficult to work with, but the texture was actually quite springy and didn't stick at all.

I had neither a rolling pin or a heavy pot, though, and getting the "skin" to the right thin-ness is the most important part about good har gow. Thinness and shape...with practice!

Mochi is made with yet another type of flour -- glutinous rice flour ("mochiko"). This is sweet, or sticky, rice ground up into a white powdery substance not unlike tapioca or wheat starch. It is mixed with sugar and water. The resulting textures are very interesting: before cooking, the above is actually pretty watery. As for after cooking...'s fairly difficult to work with! (ever seen videos of Japanese men taking huge mallets to mochi?). I would definitely work with smaller quantities if I attempt mochi again in the future.

Above: my first, much misshapen but much-loved mochi containing a white chocolate-covered raspberry. I also left some mochi plain, to eat with ice cream at a later date. Stressful cookery, but yum!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Khao Soi Curry Noodles

Khao Soi is a dish popular in the northern regions of Thailand, though nowadays you can find specialty dishes from all over the country in and around bustling Bangkok as well. People lament that as these specialty dishes have become more and more "mainstream", the excellent traditional preparations are passing out of memory -- so much so that even if you travel north to Chiang Mai, you won't find the dish nearly as good as it was before. But on your next visit to Thailand, try it out for yourself -- and be sure to snag the recipe!

Khao Soi Curry Noodles
Recipe modified from Recipezaar
Note: This recipe isn't the most fragrant or flavorful... to us it seemed more like a salty heat. I'll be trying something else next time.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon pre-minced garlic
2 tablespoons red curry paste
3/4 lb boneless chicken, cut in big bite-sized chunks
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons ground turmeric or curry powder
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt (I thought this was too much, so you might start w/ 1/2 tsp and add to taste later)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lb Chinese egg noodles

1. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and then add the garlic. Toss well and add the red curry paste, mashing and stirring to soften it in the oil, about 1 minute. Add the chicken and cook 1 to 2 minutes, tossing now and then to brown it evenly and mix it with the curry paste.

2. Add the coconut milk, chicken broth, turmeric, soy sauce, sugar and salt and stir well. Bring to a gentle boil and adjust heat to maintain a lively simmer. Cook about 10 minutes until meat is cooked through.

3. Stir in lemon juice, remove from heat and cover to keep curry warm while you prepare the noodles.

4. Cook the noodles in a large pot of rapidly boiling water until tender but still firm. Drain and divide the noodles among individual serving bowls. Ladle on hot curry, and sprinkle each serving with the shallots, cilantro, green onions, and crunchy noodle nests (optional). Serve hot.

(You'll note the egg noodles above are nicely pre-apportioned in the package. If I had to choose a culinary pet peeve, bits of dried noodle flung all over the kitchen is definitely one of them!)

Note: I've never cooked with coconut milk before today. If you don't use the whole can, put it in an airtight container. It keeps for 1 week in the refrigerator and much longer in the freezer. As for where to get it, coconut milk from American grocery chains appear to cost nearly twice as much as in Asian food market. Brand-wise, I've been told Chef's Choice is the best, and "the usual suspects" (Chaokoh, Aroy-D, etc) are all pretty on par. I used Chaokoh for this recipe.

Review: America's Choice Cinnamon Rolls

Who can say no to near-instant dessert or breakfast? These cinnamon rolls were pretty good, though a little salty for our taste. M blew through 5 of these this morning, no problem.


It's getting on 1am when M and I realize we're hungry. The result: guacamole!

Modified from "Perfect Guacamole"

2 ripe avocados
1/4 red onion, minced
Some cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh lime or lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Dash of black pepper
1/2 ripe tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped

1. Cut avocados in half. Remove seed. Scoop out avocado from the peel, put in a mixing bowl.

2. Using a fork, mash the avocado. Add the chopped onion, cilantro, lime or lemon, salt and pepper and mash some more. Adjust to your taste. Keep the tomatoes separate until ready to serve.

3. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole to prevent oxidation from the air reaching it. Refrigerate until ready.

4. Just before serving, add the chopped tomato to the guacamole and mix.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Recipes for Week 2

I have to remind myself that I'm supposed to be broadening my entrée repertoire, and should probably choose recipes to coincide with skill level, or, to be even more effective, specifically to learn/improve basic skills like knife work, use of spices, etc.

Instead, I think to myself: I have 2 avocados that I randomly bought bc the grocery store arranged a magnificent display front-center, now is as good a time as any to try my hand at guacamole! Or, oh, there was that really neat mochi recipe I wanted to try, maybe I'll do it this weekend?

Khao Soi Curry Noodles (mod)
Har Gow

Three Mochi Treatments (haven't chosen one yet)
White Chocolate Raspberry Mochi
Chocolate Nutella Mochi
Assorted Mochi

Shopping List
Wheat starch
Tapioca starch
Rice flour, glutinous (Mochiko)
Water chestnuts
Bamboo shoots (2 tbsp)
Sesame oil
Spring onion (1 stalk)
Shrimp (0.5 lb)
Red onion (1)
Cilantro leaves (2 tbsp)
Tomato (1)
White chocolate?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday is recipe-picking day!

We're coming up on the end of Week 1, and it's time to choose new recipes! If I'm not too tired to cook when I get home tonight (your vote: between 7-11pm, do you cook/wash up bc you're starving, hop on the treadmill during dinnertime bc the fitness center is less crowded, work on your NaNoWriMo outline bc you haven't been...?), simplified Khao Soi is on the menu.

My dad suggested the following recipe (though it's unclear whether the recipe itself is novel, or how Google translation butchered it):

Pancake sweet basil chicken.

ส่วนผสม แป้งแพนเค้ก Mix flour pancake.
แป้งเค้ก 200 กรัม Cake flour 200 grams.
ผงฟู 1 ช้อนชา Baking powder 1 tsp.
ไข่ไก่ 1 ฟอง 1 egg foam.
น้ำตาลทราย 2 ช้อนโต๊ะ Sugar 2 tbsp.
นมสด 1 ถ้วยตวง Tgwitwg fresh milk.
เนยละลาย 50 กรัม 50 g butter melt.

วิธีทำ How to do.
1. ผสมแป้งกับผงฟูรวมกันพักไว้ 1. Mixing flour with baking powder together hold.
2. ตีไข่กับน้ำตาลทราย 2. Beat eggs with sugar. จนกระทั่งขึ้นฟู ใส่เนยละลาย หรือน้ำมันพืชหรือของเหลวชนิดอื่นๆ (เช่น น้ำมันสลัด น้ำผึ้ง) ผสมให้เข้ากัน Add butter until the full melt or liquid vegetable oil or other types (such as salad oil, honey) to mix together.
3. แบ่งส่วนผสมแป้งออกเป็น 2-3 ส่วน ใส่ทีละส่วน ผสมให้เข้ากัน 3. Divided into 2-3 parts starch mixture at the mix to put together. เตรียมไว้ตักหยอด Prepared coffee scoop.

ส่วนผสมกระเพราไก่ Mix mine pretty chicken.
ไก่สับหยาบๆ 1 อก Cursory chopped chicken breasts 1.
ข้าวโพดแกะเป็นเม็ดๆ 2 ฝัก The lamb is grain corn sheath 2.
หอมใหญ่หั่นเป็นสี่เหลี่ยม 1 หัว Onion split is 1 square head.
พริกขี้หนูสับละเอียด 10-15 เม็ด Pepper minced 10-15 tablets.
กระเทียมสับละเอียด 5 กลีบ Garlic, minced 5 lobe.
ซีอิ๊วขาว 2 ช้อนโต๊ะ ซีอิ๊ว white 2 tbsp.
น้ำตาลทราย 2 ช้อนชา Sugar 2 tsp.
ใบกระเพรา 1 กำ 1 leaf freckles pretty clutch.
น้ำมันพืชสำหรับผัด (เล็กน้อย) Vegetable oil for stir-fry (small).

วิธีทำ How to do.
1. ตวงน้ำมันใส่กะทะ ใส่กระเทียม พริกขี้หนูผัดพอหอม เติมไก่ หอมใหญ่ ข้าวโพด ผัดพอสุกปรุงรสด้วยซีอิ๊วขาว น้ำตาลทราย ชิมรสใส่ใบกระเพรายกลงจากเตา 1. Measure put oil pan put enough garlic pepper onion powder add enough chicken fried onion corn cooked with seasoning ซีอิ๊ว white sugar savor mine put an upgrade into the oven looking.
2. ตักแป้งแพนเค้กที่เตรียมไว้ตักหยอดบนกะทะเทฟลอน 2. Scoop flour pancake prepared to get on the front Teflon pan. จี่จนกระทั่งแป้งสุก Bake until cooked starch.
3. ตักไส้ใส่ด้านหนึ่งของแป้ง 3. Lap enter the nucleus of the flour. พับแป้งส่วนที่เหลืออีกด้านปิดไส้ให้มิด Fold the remaining flour in tightly closed to spare.

Monday, January 18, 2010

3-ingredient "kap"

The Thai word for food is "ahaarn". But in informal conversation, we don't use this word too often and say "rice" or "with rice" (any foods eaten with rice). So "Have you eaten yet?" literally translated can be "Have you eaten rice yet?"

I bring this cultural tidbit up bc I don't really have a name for the dish we had for dinner tonight -- basically ground turkey, chopped broccoli, and soy sauce.

Simple as anything to toss into a pot for a few minutes and serve up with rice, and tasted better than the moo shu we had for dinner yesterday. 8oz of ground meat will probably suffice for 2 people.

For variations, you can use pork instead of ground turkey, and finely chopped onions, green pepper, or celery instead of broccoli. My personal favorite combination would be pork, onion, and green pepper, "overcooking" the onion and green pepper so that it becomes slightly caramelized.

I use La Choy soy sauce bc it's easier to come by, but my preference is Healthy Boy Thai soy sauce, mushroom flavored (~$3 at Asian supermarket).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Moo Shu Fail.

I've only had moo shu pancakes once in my life, and they were quite good. The moo shu vegetables recipe I used today didn't really do it for me (from Eating Well, Sept/Oct 2008).

If you do choose to try this recipe, I recommend using a wok w/ a cover if you have one, to eliminate side spills and reduce cook time.

Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes

I chose this recipe for its simplicity and bc I only needed to buy a few additional ingredients. I've never cooked w/ ground meat before though and used a non-stick skillet to brown the meat. Next time I'll use a metal pot and fork to make it easier to break it up.

Usually not a huge fan of using the microwave to do all the cooking, potatoes are an exception bc they otherwise take about an hour to bake in the oven. Since the potatoes were so hot coming out of the microwave, I used a dishcloth to grip them as I scooped out the insides. Go slowly -- the skins are delicate and break easily.

Note: I made this recipe a second time with peeled potatoes and enjoyed it much more. The recipe below is the peeled variation; not pictured here.

Recipe modified from Eating Well, March 2006

4 medium russet potatoes, peeled
8 ounces lean ground turkey
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Steamed broccoli, to serve on the side

1. Peel potatoes and pierce all over with fork. Place in microwave-safe dish covered with a moistened paper towel and microwave on Medium, turning once or twice, until the potatoes are soft, about 15-20 minutes. (Or use the “potato setting” on your microwave and cook according to the manufacturer’s directions.)

2. Meanwhile, drizzle oil and brown turkey in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

3. Carefully cut off the top third of the cooked potatoes; reserve the tops for another use. Scoop out the insides into saucepan containing the ground turkey. Place the potato shells back into the microwave-safe dish. Add 1/2 cup Cheddar, sour cream, salt and pepper to the potato insides and mash everything together with a fork or potato masher.

4. Evenly divide the potato mixture among the potato shells, making an indent in the top to hold cheese. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Microwave on High until the filling is hot and the cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve with an extra dollop of sour cream, if desired.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What would you do?

I wasn't going to start food blogging yet. But today, I pretty much had it with poor diets and a sickly looking bf (M). Every time we drive past the grocery store -- so conveniently a 30-second turn away -- we find some reason why we shouldn't go right then. And then when we get home, we veg on crap and watch HGTV for 4 hours straight. Real productive-like.

(To be fair, M hates the grocery excursions...they inevitably take about an hour and $80 per hit. And I did learn about engineered hardwood, gîtes, and the rent value of a soaking tub).

So harebrained idea numero eleventy-thousand? Pick 2-3 new recipes each week to serve as the base of a shopping list, instead of scrambling to fill the empty gaps of essentials like eggs, milk, what-have-you with little else in the kitchen to work with. The real scarcity in this apartment is fresh produce: 1) requires frequent trips to the store or market, 2) requires motivation, which 3) when it does exist, dwindles as quickly as the fresh produce rots in the fridge. The point is the make it a habit -- and save, too, bc it won't likely cost more than the impulse dinner out once or twice a week.

Yup. And so it begins... The blog, of course, to track (any) progress.

New recipes for this week:

Loaded Twice-Baked Potatoes
Moo Shu Vegetables
Curried Squash & Chicken Soup

Things to buy:

Medium russet potatoes
Ground turkey (8oz+)
Shredded Cheddar
Sour cream
Frozen pureed winter squash (10oz)
Coconut milk
Boneless, skinless chicken breast (8oz+)
Baby spinach (6oz)
Lime juice
Thai red curry paste
Toasted sesame oil
Shredded mixed vegetables, such as “rainbow salad” or “broccoli slaw”
Mung bean sprouts
Rice vinegar
Hoisin sauce
Chicken stock (canned)
Mushroom flavored soy sauce
Red bell peppers
Tortilla chips
Vegetable soup