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Red Curry with Chicken

September 3, 2013 Leave a comment
Red Curry with Chicken

Red Curry with Chicken

Over the past two months I’ve had some sort of Thai food more times than I care to admit.

I’ve dined on the ever popular Pad Thai (with Shrimp).  I sampled its wider noodle cousin but very different tasting (in a good way), Pad See Eaw (with chicken).  I’ve tasted Spicy Noodles (with beef and again with shrimp).  I even tried something new, Lhad Nha (hard to eat and not one of my favorites).  And of course, I’ve tried curry, which, besides Pad Thai, is probably the most recognized of all Thai dishes. (I’ve had red and green, the former with seafood and the later with chicken both with added fruit, mango and pineapple respectfully).  

Nicky's Pad Thai

Nicky’s Pad Thai

I order all of my Thai with a spice level 5 — I like it hot, but not too hot so middle of the road seems about right.

Ok, so clearly, I have an addiction (or at the very least, a current food obsession).  Although, I must mention that while I’ve sampled all of these dishes, some have been in the form of sharing.  I love food, I’m not quite a glutton (quite).

For my money, the best places in Pittsburgh to enjoy Thai is either Nicky’s Thai Kitchen on the Northside of town, or Smiling Banana Leaf in the Highland Park area of the city.  There is debate as to which is better, but honestly, you can’t go wrong with either.

IF I had to choose one over the other, I would choose Nicky’s simply for convenience purposes.  Plus, I love their outside dining area.  When the weather is nice, request to sit outside and you’ll be delighted by the experience.  Very tranquil.

The outdoor seating area at Nicky's Thai Kitchen, Pittsburgh

The outdoor seating area at Nicky’s Thai Kitchen, Pittsburgh

Since dining out enough to satisfy my Thai cravings was starting to add up, I figured I better start doing some research so I can begin to recreate these dishes at home.

I found all sorts of recipes — they range from complex (Pad See Eew) to simple (Curry).

Since it was my first attempt at homemade Thai, I thought I’d keep it simple and start with the curry.

I think the flavor for my first attempt came out good, but admittedly I need to add a bit more curry to get it to the right spice level (the recipe below will have it mild for the whole family to enjoy).

Feel free to substitute any of the vegetables or protein. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from bevcooks.com

Ingredients:

Serves 2-4

  • 3 Tablespoons Red Curry Paste (or more if you like it spicy)
  • 1 can coconut milk (14oz), divided, (do not shake – fat from top will be used)
  • 1/2 Cup Low Sodium Chicken Stock (homemade if possible)
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup snow peas
  • 1/2 cup peas (frozen)
  • 1/4 cup carrots (julienne)
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
  • Juice of half of lime
  • 1-2 scallions, chopped for garnish
  • Olive Oil
  1. Heat large, deep, saute pan over medium heat.
  2. Add one drizzle olive oil and a tablespoon of fat skimmed from the top of the coconut milk.
  3. Add curry paste and 1/4 can of the coconut milk.  Whisk to combine until lumps from paste are gone.
  4. Add remaining coconut milk, chicken stock, and fish sauce. Stir to combine.
  5. Add all vegetables (except peas) and stir.
  6. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until carrots soft but not mushy)
  7. Add peas and chicken and cook for approximately 3 minutes to heat through.
  8. Squeeze lime juice in to pan.

Ladle in to a bowl and serve with rice on the side.

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Beef and Broccoli

March 2, 2013 Leave a comment
Beef and Broccoli

Beef and Broccoli

Yesterday, like millions of other people, I flipped my calendar to March.  For most, present company included, that means Spring is right around the corner.  Looking out my front window this morning, I’m hard-pressed to believe that to be the case. I will try to remain optimistic.  IT. IS. NOT. WORKING.  I blame it on that rodent.

I need Spring to arrive soon.

I need it to come so I can ride my new bike.  I need it so I can see the trees and flowers in bloom.  I need it so I can take that first hike along the beautiful trails of Western Pennsylvania.  I need it so I can open the windows and feel a decently warm breeze.

But mainly I need Spring to arrive so I can properly wash the cars.  They are filthy!

Now granted, I’m not the best when it comes to keeping my car clean year round, but I do love when I rid myself of the reminders of the cold winter.  Be gone salt and grime and make way for bird crap!

DAMN IT!

***********************************************************************************************

I often hear that making good Chinese food at home is difficult.  This recipe will prove to you that its not.

I adapted this recipe from the bazillion beef and broccoli recipes scattered all over the Internet.

The one common theme I found to have great success with this dish is to slice the beef against the grain then marinade it.

Slicing against the grain is simply examining the beef  to find the lines that are all running in the same direction.  This is the grain.  Now cut against it (not with it). Cutting with the grain will ensure that your beef is extremely “stringy” and tough to chew. This isn’t very tasty.

Taking these steps will ensure your homemade beef and broccoli is Chinese take-out tender.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:For the meat marinade:

  • 2 pounds flank steak, sliced across the grain in thin strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the baking soda, sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce and olive oil.
  2. Add the strips of flank steak.
  3. Coat all of the meat with the marinade.
  4. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  5. Continue with the next steps below.

For cooking:

  • 1 head of broccoli, florets only
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce (if you don’t have low sodium, use 1/4 cup of regular)
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • Zest of half of an orange
  • 1 squeeze of a quarter of the orange
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, flour and vinegar until smooth. Set aside.
  2. In a large saute pan (or wok if you own one, I don’t), heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over high heat.
  3. Once the oil is hot, add broccoli and saute 3-4 minutes, stirring often until bright green and slightly tender.
  4. Transfer broccoli to a plate.
  5. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the hot pan.
  6. Add the marinated meat and half of the sauce mixture and saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until the meat is barely cooked through (its ok to be slightly pink).
  7. Add the orange zest and juice.  Stir.
  8. Stir in the broccoli and remaining sauce and saute for another minute or so.

Serve with rice or noodles.

My wife wasn't impressed with my presentation

My wife wasn’t impressed with my presentation

Stir-Fry

January 12, 2013 Leave a comment
Stir Fry

Stir Fry

Over the holiday’s my hard-drive crashed.

If this has ever happened to you, my condolences.  Clearly you felt my pain.  If you haven’t, then let me tell you it sucks.  Its a significant gut-wrenching, heart-stopping moment.

After the initial punch-in-the-face you step back and realize you’re just an average user and you didn’t lose your 500 page “masterpiece”  that was in the final stages of refinement before shipping to your publisher.   It’s not that bad.

You probably lost some music which isn’t a true loss because you probably have it all on iTunes.

Maybe it was some some pictures of your cute puppy, which, lets be honest, have probably already been overly shared on Facebook or Instagram.  Again, easy to get back.

Even important stuff like taxes are most likely stored through your online tax service or if you’re “old school”, you have printed versions.

Yes I can get my music back, same with some recent pictures of the dogs and my tax information.  What I can’t get back are pictures that I wasn’t ready to share. Namely a few hundred unedited senior pictures I took of my step-son. It’s not the end of the world but for a parent of a kid that isn’t the most photogenic to begin with, that’s a huge loss. Things happen so we’ll try again in the spring.

There is a lesson to be learned here and that is back up files and back them up often. Ironically I do have a back-up hard drive but its only as good as the frequency in which you take advantage of it.  For me it was about every 6-8 weeks or so…which clearly isn’t enough. I also learned that “Google Drive” is now my new best friend.

By the way, I also lost a bunch of photos I had ready for the blog, which is partly to blame for my hiatus.  Also, the batteries in my “grown-up” camera are dead hence the use of my smartphone picture for today’s post.  I clearly need to step up my game.

While I throw myself a pity-party, here’s a healthy, immensely flavorful stir-fry dish for you to try.  I made this version with pork but you could substitute chicken or shrimp.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chicken broth (low sodium please)
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce (again, low sodium)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • A few grinds of fresh ground black pepper
  • 5 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, cut in to pieces (same size for even cooking)
  • 1 onion, slivered
  • 1 red bell pepper (or combination of red/yellow/green)
  • 2 cups bean spouts
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced pineapple (optional)
  1. In a medium sized bowl combine the broth, soy sauce, honey and black pepper.  Wisk to combine ensuring all of the honey is dissolved.
  2. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the mixture to a separate bowl, stir in cornstarch until combined and set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of canola (or olive) oil in a large skillet (or wok) over medium heat.
  4. Add pork and cook, stirring often until cooked through (about 3 minutes).  Transfer to plate.
  5. In same skillet, increase heat to medium-high and add another tablespoon of oil.
  6. Add ginger, onion, bell pepper and bean spouts and cook for about 3 minutes.
  7. Add broth mixture (not reserved cornstarch mixture) and bring to a boil, stirring for about 3 minutes.
  8. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the pork and the reserved cornstarch mixture.
  9. Cook, stirring until thick, 2-3 minutes.
  10. Add pineapple and stir to warm through.

Serve with rice or noodles — eggroll optional.

Stir Fry with Egg Roll

Stir Fry with Egg Roll

Chinese Pork with Rice and Broccoli

November 17, 2012 1 comment
Chinese Pork with Rice and Broccoli

Chinese Pork with Rice and Broccoli

I started a new job recently.  I’m still with my same company but was looking for a fresh start outside of the day to day Project Management role that I’ve been playing more than half of my career.  The new role keeps me involved in projects (which I like) but allows me the opportunity to expand the role beyond project plans and issue logs.

Yesterday I wrapped up my first week and I can tell that no day will be exactly the same –something that I think I’ll really enjoy about it.

I bring this up because with a new job comes change.  For the past several years I’ve been fortunate enough to work for a very good boss that allowed me great flexibility. The new job, while I believe affords me a lot of that same flexibility, it’s not 100% the same.

That being said, right now, I’m not sure I’ll have time to put together a lot of the weeknight meals I’ve grown accustomed to. Not that I’ve been putting together 5-course meals, but most of the stuff I made did require a little pre-planning.  So because of that, I’m on the hunt of quick and easy weeknight meals.

Now when I think quick and easy, homemade Chinese doesn’t come to the forefront.  However, this recipe is extremely simple. Not only is it easy, its inexpensive as the whole dinner costs less than $10 and there will be some leftover for lunch the next day.

The main part of this dish is pork blade steaks (they look like this).  If you can’t find blade steaks, you can use any pork (or even chicken or beef).  The pork is added to the crock pot with a couple other ingredients.  Is there anything more simple than a crock pot meal?

When you get home, all you have to do is cook the rice and broccoli.  Together with the pork you have you very own Chinese Take-Out right in the comfort of your own home.  Enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 pounds pork blade steaks
  • 1/2 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • A pinch of kosher salt
  • A few turns of freshly cracked black pepper (or more to taste)
  1. In a bowl mix together the soy, ketchup, sriracha, brown sugar, water and garlic.
  2. Put pork in a crock pot and pour the mix over the pork.
  3. Add salt and pepper.
  4. Cook on low for 6 hours.
  5. Serve over cooked rice and steamed broccoli.
Homemade Chinese

Cheaper than takeout

Spicy Sesame Peanut Noodles and Baked Egg Rolls

August 13, 2012 Leave a comment
Peanut Noodles and Egg Rolls

Spicy Sesame-Peanut Noodles and Egg Rolls

When I met my future wife she openly admitted to me that she wasn’t destined to be crowned “Top Chef.”  Lucky for me (and my family) she didn’t have to be because I love to cook and I take ownership of that responsibility.

Now that doesn’t mean that I’m solely responsible for meals.  She willingly chips in when she has to. However, she knows her limitations.  A crockpot or one dish meal with limited, familar ingredients and she’s typically willing to give it a try.  Complicated ingredients like, ummm, err….rice.  Probably not happening.

So recently I had planned to come home and make Peanut Noodles and Egg Rolls.  I had laid out the recipes and the ingredients so I was ready to hop to it the second I got home.  However, unforeseen circumstances (sometimes I call it Monday) kept me from getting out of the office on time.  I informed my wife of this via text and she replied “I’m going to start dinner, is that ok?”

Since peanut noodles AND egg rolls both fall outside of her comfort level, I wasn’t sure how to respond.  I could have easily played the ‘I’m too busy to respond’ card and would have come home to fabulous gourmet frozen chicken tenders.  But being the good husband that I am, I shot her a text of encouragement simply saying “Yep. It will be easy.”

The meal was excellent and she was VERY proud of her accomplishment.  Not proud because it was good (although she should have been because it was delicious) but rather because she used the food processor without issue.

I love this woman.

I would be remiss if I didn’t tell everyone what a WONDERFUL baker my wife is.  Everyone I know raves about her desserts and my waistline is further proof.  Be sure to come back in the Fall when she goes crazy.  I’ll blog all about it.

And oh, don’t think I don’t know I’m being played for a fool. I know she can cook….but she has me right where she wants me.

For the Noodles

Ingredients:

  • 1 box linguine noodles
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts (for garnish)

Cook noodles according to package.  Drain and rinse well with cold water.

Meanwhile, add all other ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth.

Combine with noodles and toss.  Serve immediately.

For the Egg Rolls (makes 6)

  • 6 egg roll wrappers
  • 1/2 of a one-pound bag prepared cole slaw mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Splash of soy sauce
  • Olive Oil cooking spray

Preheat over to 375.

Meanwhile, put cole slaw mix in a bowl and microwave covered for 3-4 minutes.  Drain well to remove excess liquid.

Add soy sauce, garlic, and ginger.  Mix.

Add heaping spoonful of mix to the center of an egg roll wrapper and fold according to directions.

Repeat for each roll.

Spray baking sheet with olive oil spray.

Line rolls on baking sheet and spray the rolls.

Bake 15 minutes.  Flip.  Bake additional 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with soy, duck sauce, or my favorite, sweet and spicy asian dipping sauce.

Yum

 很好吃 (Very good eats)