Monthly Archives: March 2016

Thai Pineapple Curry With Shrimp

This dish is the first that I made with the help of my handy new homemade red curry paste. The ingredients are as follows:

  • Red curry paste (aforementioned; 4 tablespoons)
  • Coconut Milk (2 cans)
  • Shrimp (1 pound)
  • Pineapple (2 cups, crushed)
  • Fish sauce (1/2 cup)
  • Sugar (3 tablespoons)
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The ingredients.

If you haven’t cut a pineapple before, this will show you the way.

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Cutting a pineapple, part 1.

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Cutting a pineapple, part 2.

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Cutting a pineapple, part 3.

Once you’ve got the pineapple chopped – or maybe before, if you’re so daring – put the coconut milk in the pan and get it moving towards boiling.

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Coconut milk, a pan, and fire underneath.

Oh – at the same time, you can add the red curry paste, the sugar, the fish sauce, and the pineapple chunks. Basically, everything except the shrimp.

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The curry paste goes inside the pan, not underneath it.

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Same with the sugar and the fish oil.

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And the pineapple – in the pan, not in your hair.

Once the curry has been boiling for a while, feel free to add the shrimp. Now timing becomes important, because you don’t want to overcook the shrimp. Doing so will simultaneously turn them into a gelatinous mass and make them radioactive. So keep the heat on for 3-6 minutes after adding the shrimp, depending on how frozen they were when you added them.

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Adding the shrimp.

And then you’re done – enjoy!

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Yum.

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Green Curry Paste

Next, the green curry paste. The ingredients are slightly different:

  • Fresh jalapeno peppers (10)
  • Fresh Thai chili peppers (5 green)
  • Shrimp paste (1 tsp)
  • Cumin (1 tsp)
  • Garlic cloves (8)
  • Galangal (5 thin slices)
  • Lemon grass, chopped (1/4 cup)
  • Shallots, chopped (1/4 cup)
  • Cilantro stems (chopped, 1/2 cup)
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The ingredients.

Once again, this recipe is mostly about blending stuff together – even more so, since we won’t fry this paste at the end. So basically: add everything together and blend it until it’s smooth.

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Adding the jalapenos.

Thai chili peppers are some of my favorite hot peppers. They’re pretty easy to find at an Indian or Asian grocery; they’re much smaller than jalapenos but pack a wallop of heat.

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Adding the Thai chilis.

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Adding the cilantro.

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Adding the garlic.

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Adding the shallots.

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Adding the lemongrass.

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Adding the galangal.

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Adding the rest.

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Blend until smooth, and then you’re done!

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Red Curry Paste

Curry pastes – in particular, red and green curry pastes – are the basis of a lot of Thai cooking, so to make many of the meals in my beautiful Thai cookbook, I first had to make the curry pastes, which can be preserved for later in the refrigerator. First, the red paste – the ingredients are:

  • Onions (1/2 cup, chopped)
  • Garlic cloves (8 or so)
  • Salt (1 tsp)
  • Shrimp paste (1 tsp)
  • Cumin (1/2 tsp)
  • Cilantro stems (1 tablespoon, chopped)
  • Lemon grass (2 tablespoons)
  • Dried red jalapeno chilies (10)
  • Galangal (4 thin slices)
  • Coconut oil (3 tablespoon)
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The ingredients.

Galangal – that ginger-looking thing on the right-hand side – wasn’t easy to find. I went to an Asian market, and even they had to fetch me one from the back room. The dried red chilies might also have been difficult to find, but we happened to have a bouquet of dried hot peppers in our kitchen, which included several jalapenos.

The next step is simple: you put everything (except the oil!) into a blender and process until it’s smooth.

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Adding the onion.

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Adding the garlic.

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Adding the peppers.

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Adding the galangal.

Galangal is easy to prepare – just use it like you would ginger (i.e. trim off the outer skin). For lemon grass, you also peel away the outer layers and – well, here, this link will help (if you need it).

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Adding the lemon grass.

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Adding the cilantro.

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Adding the cumin.

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Adding the shrimp paste.

Once everything is added, run the blender! Run it for a while, until everything runs together.

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Bzzzz.

Then take everything out and add it all to a skillet with the oil, and fry the paste on medium-high heat for five minutes or so. I fried mine for longer, because I found it was helpful to add a wee bit of water in the food processing stage – if you also add water to help the medicine go down/help the blades go round, you may also want to fry the paste for a little longer. But beware! With all those hot peppers, the aroma may leave you sniffling or sneezing.

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Frying.

Eventually you’ll end up with something like this, which you can bottle up (as I did) and put in the fridge.

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For later!

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Salmon With Bread Crumbs

This recipe is delicious, easy to make, and hard to get wrong. The original version comes from thekitchn.com; mine is a slight variation. The ingredients are:

  • Salmon (about 2 pounds)
  • Mayonnaise (half a cup)
  • Fresh dill (3 tablespoons, chopped)
  • Lemon zest (from one large lemon)
  • Salt (half a teaspoon)
  • Bread crumbs
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The ingredients

First, grease up a pan and lay the salmon, skin-side down, in the pan. Dry off the top of the salmon with a paper towel, and start pre-heating the oven (at 425 degrees).

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Salmon in a pan.

Next, zest the lemon. A microplane works wonders here, but follow the link to learn more about zesting, if you need to.

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Lemon zested.

Once you’ve zested the lemon, add the salt, as well as the mayonnaise and the dill.

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Adding the salt…

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…And the mayonnaise…

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…And the dill.

Mix it all together and spread the mixture liberally over the top of the salmon.

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Spreading the mixture.

Next, sprinkle the top (again, liberally) with bread crumbs. Panko works especially well.

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Adding bread crumbs.

Now pop it in the oven. As the original recipe says,

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or about 4 minutes for every 1/2-inch of thickness, until the salmon is just under done. Run the salmon under the broiler to toast the panko and finish cooking. The dish is ready when the panko is golden, the crust is bubbling, and the salmon flakes easily with a fork.

I’ve rarely found my salmon is done in that amount of time – be prepared to bake it for longer before broiling, and keep a close eye on it.

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Done and delicious.

When it’s done, it’ll look like this, and taste absolutely amazing.

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Gambas al Ajillo

Gambas al Ajillo (garlic shrimp) is a famous Spanish tapas recipe that is mesmerizingly delicious. These are the ingredients:

  • About a pound of frozen shrimp (roughly 25), heads and tails off, medium or large
  • 10 large cloves of garlic
  • Half a cup of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Dry sherry, either a quarter cup or a third of a cup
  • Lemon juice
  • Black pepper
  • Chopped parsley for garnish
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The ingredients

The first step is to finely chop the garlic, and add it to the olive oil.

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Add that garlic!

Then let the shrimp marinate for a while. The longer they marinate, the more garlicky they’ll be, but 30 minutes is fine. This is also when you add the salt and the baking soda. The baking soda helps keep the shrimp crunchy, and together, the salt and baking soda help the shrimp retain their juiciness.

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Marinate the shrimp.

Next, remove the shrimp and dump everything else in the pan. Cook the garlic for about five minutes on medium-high heat to bring out more of the flavor.

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Cook the mixture (minus the shrimp).

Next, add the red pepper flakes, and cook for another minute or so.

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Add the red pepper.

Add in almost everything else – the shrimp; the sherry; the pepper (to taste); the lemon juice (again, to taste). Don’t overcook the shrimp! About 4 minutes on the medium-high heat should be good enough.

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Add everything else, except the parsley.

That’s plenty of time to chop the parsley for the garnish.

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Chopped parsley!

Then add the parsley and you’re done. The shrimp are delicious, but the oil is too – it’s incredibly flavorful, and perfect for mopping up with a baguette.

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Delicious.

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Turkey & Arugula Appetizer

This is another easy but tasty appetizer. The ingredients are:

  • Sliced turkey – preferably sliced thick
  • Arugula
  • Pesto
  • Mayonnaise
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The ingredients

The first step is mixing the spread – half a cup of mayonnaise mixed with a tablespoon of pesto.

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Mixing the spread.

Spread this mixture over the sliced turkey. These were thinly sliced, so I doubled up on the slices.

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Spreading the spread.

Cut the slices into quadrants…

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Cutting the quadrants.

…Then add the arugula and roll. I found it was easier to roll lengthwise, and that I preferred three or four pieces of arugula. But you do you.

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Adding the arugula.

Spear it all together with a toothpick, and you’ll be surprised how something so simple could be so tasty.

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Yum.

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Bacon-Wrapped Dates

This appetizer is delicious, decadent, and easy to make. These are the ingredients:

  • Medium or thick-cut bacon
  • Pitted Dates
  • Blue cheese (or gorgonzola)
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The ingredients

Pitted dates have had the pits removed; you can usually find bags of 25 or so at your local grocery. Simply look for the seam and open them up. While you’re at it, you should pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

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Split the dates.

Then cram the inside – where that pit used to be – with blue cheese, and close them up again.

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Fill them with cheese.

Then wrap with bacon. A single slice should be cut in half, because half a strip is enough for wrapping a single date. Secure in place with a toothpick if you have them; you can make do without if not.

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Wrap them in bacon.

The convenient way to cook them if to line a baking sheet with parchment paper, because the grease will pool on the paper and be easy to dispose of. But again, you can make do without if need be.

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Lay them out and put them in the oven!

Cook them in the oven for roughly 30 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your bacon. Then pull them out and enjoy!

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Yum.

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Hande’s Beef with Bell Peppers

My Turkish friend Hande had a food blog for a while, and I can’t get enough of her beef-with-bell-peppers recipe. I’ve made a few alterations, so this is my version below:

  • Beef (2 pounds or so)
  • Bell peppers (3-5, of any color)
  • Habanero pepper (I like 2, you do you)
  • Black pepper (3 tsp)
  • Garlic powder (3 tsp)
  • Salt (3 tsp)
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The ingredients

This recipe is incredibly easy to make, and goes really well served over rice. My first step was cutting up the bell peppers in strips like so:

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The peppers

Cut the beef in strips as well. This meat is frozen, but feel free to use fresh:

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The beef

Add some oil to the pan and start cooking the meat over medium-high heat.

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Cooking the beef

After a while, I added the habanero peppers, which I diced. Be careful! Don’t rub your eyes after touching the peppers, and once you put them in the pan, they’ll start giving off their spice in aromatic form. You may cough a little, but hopefully not too much. If so, adjust the heat or cover the pan.

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Adding the heat

Next, add all the spices – the pepper, the salt, the garlic powder. Mix in. I like my dish with a bit of fluid, and if you feel the same, you may want to add some water at various points, because the cooking will tend to boil it away.

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Adding the spices

Finally, add the peppers. Cover and cook until the peppers are as soft as you’d like them.

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Delicious.

Honestly, I think I’ve made this dish ten times over the last few months. Given how easy it is to make and how tasty it is, you may fall in love with it too.

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Meat & Potatoes

For lack of a better title, I’m calling this dish ‘Meat & Potatoes’ because if nothing else, it’s an apt description.The ingredients are:

  • Meat
  • Potatoes

Okay, just kidding. The real ingredients are:

  • 2-4 boneless pork chops
  • 8 large gold potatoes (or another kind if you prefer
  • 2-3 cartons of beef broth
  • Eggs
  • Bread crumbs
  • Salt
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The ingredients

First, slice the potatoes. I usually cut them about half an inch wide, but you do you.

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A potato murder.

Also, start the broth on the stove, and bring it to a slow boil.

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Cooking the broth

Then add the potatoes and cover.

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Cooking the potatoes

Meanwhile, coat the pork chops in egg…

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The eggs help the bread crumbs stick to the meat.

…Then in bread crumbs…

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See?

…Then fry in vegetable oil (or your oil of choice).

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Fried meat is yummy

You should get them looking brown like this:

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Golden brown

When the pork chops have been browned, add them on top of the potatoes, and then re-cover.

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Cooking some more

Your dish is done when the potatoes are soft. Add salt to taste, and eat up!

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Enjoy.

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Yellow Curry Chicken

This is another recipe from the Thai cookbook. And it’s pretty simple. The ingredients are:

  • oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of minced garlic
  • 2-3 cans of coconut milk
  • 2 lbs of sliced chicken
  • 5 tablespoons of yellow curry powder
  • 1/2 cup of fish sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
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The ingredients.

I heard this described as “delicious comfort food” after I made it – and it is delicious. The first step is melting some oil in the pan. I use coconut oil, but use what you like.

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Melting the oil.

Then add the chopped onion and garlic, and fry until…until…

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Fry…

…well, until it looks something like this.

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Golden.

Then remove the mixture from the pan like so – but keep it, you’ll be adding it back in later.

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The empty pan.

Now add the coconut milk, and heat it until it’s boiling.

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The coconut milk.

Meanwhile, slice the chicken. I use semi-frozen chicken breasts because they’re easier to slice, but you do you.

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Slicing the chicken.

Then add it to the pan and cook until it’s, well, cooked.

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Cooking, cooking…

When the chicken is ready, add the onions and garlic back into the mix. This is also the time when you add in everything else – the curry powder, the sugar, and the fish oil.

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Adding everything else in.

The final result will be delicious – enjoy! I eat it over rice.

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Yum!

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