Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Green Curry with Chicken, Bell Pepper, and Potato

School is now in session. I have one more year with a hanging-on semester. I like to think of it like that so that it doesn't seem too far out. But who am I kidding? It really does seem like a far distance away. I am eager to just jump into work full time since I am in love with my new job. School seems so pale in comparison. I've also been really lucky lately with the people around me. They're my role models of sorts, and asking for their advice, or getting a book recommendation from them, seems so much more beneficial than a classroom setting.

I just got back from a camping trip with my highly adored company, and getting back into the swing of things has been sort of tough. To make dinners easy I've been making things that appeal to my gut, to time spent, and ease of thought-process. So curry it is.

Green curry is one of those things for me that really represents purity and restoration. Have a go at it. It's really easy and really satisfying. For curry paste, I highly recommend using Mae Ploy, if you can get your hands on it (if you're in the Phoenix area ask me for recommendations). Another thing that makes this dish wonderful is the simple essence of Kaffir Lime Leaves. We had not cooked with them much before, but got lucky in the fresh produce section at the Asian Market. I hope you'll have the same luck, because it is the magical touch that will put your curry over the edge. I hope you enjoy.

Green Curry with Chicken, Bell Pepper, and Potato
Cook's Note: For a Vegetarian option, replace chicken with tofu. Either add tofu at the end to steam with lid on, or bake tofu until firm and then add to mixture. For vegetarian, also omit the Fish Sauce. Yield: 4 large servings Total Cook Time: 45 min - 1 hr

2 tbsp coconut oil
1, 14 oz can coconut milk, divided
1 1/2 tbsp green curry paste (The brand we use is Mae Ploy, found at the Asian Market)
4 small red potatoes, cubed
2 chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise, from top to bottom, then halved
2-3 kaffir lime leaves, sliced (Purchased fresh at our local Asian market, or can be bought dried from Specialty stores like Whole Foods. If you can't find it, add the zest from 1 lime)
1 small onion, cubed
1/2 tbsp soy sauce (Or to taste. We use Gluten-Free, low-sodium Tamari)
1/2 tsp fish sauce (Or to taste. Omit for vegetarian option)
1/2 tsp sugar (Or to taste. I use organic, unbleached sugar. You may also use Palm Sugar)
1 green bell pepper, julienned

2 sprigs of fresh basil and mint, for garnish
Steamed Jasmine Rice, for serving

How To:
Heat a wok over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil. Quickly add coconut milk, and curry paste. Once mixture becomes fragrant, and starts to sizzle, add cubed potatoes. Don't immediately toss potatoes, but let them fry in the oil (avoiding burning). After a minute or two, toss potatoes, and add chicken. Let mixture sizzle for a few minutes.

Toss mixture and make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the wok. Pour in the rest of the coconut milk. Add about 1/2 cup of water (depending on your taste, you may add more or less). Add kaffir lime leaves. Once coconut milk starts to boil, turn heat down to medium. Put lid on wok to allow the potatoes to steam for 7-10 minutes. During this time, add the cubed onions.

Add green bell peppers. Add soy sauce, fish sauce, and sprinkle sugar evenly over the surface of the curry. Stir well and replace the lid. Cook with lid on for another 5-7 minutes.

Remove lid, and turn heat down to medium-low. Let mixture continue to simmer without stirring it for another 6 or so minutes. This is to help thicken it. If you desire a thicker consistency, allow it to continue to simmer. Check for the tenderness of the potatoes and overall taste of the curry. Adjust to your preference if need be. Serve with rice and sprigs of basil and mint.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Daily Smoothie

Pretty much every day I have a smoothie. The days I don't get to make myself one, I feel tired and sluggish, or my body seems to want more of the not-so-good stuff.

I started researching longevity just for the heck of it, and came across a very cool people group that live into their 100s and beyond. This group is the Okinawans, on an island of Japan. Since learning about their lifestyle, I was totally inspired! I have incorporated a lot of their philosophy into my life, although all of it isn't practical for me unfortunately. I can however, participate in like exercise, and like food practices to the extent of what's available to me in Arizona.

The major ingredient that I learned about was Sea Kelp, or Kombu. It is extremely nutrient dense and has a ton of calcium! The Okinawans like to say, eat something from the ocean everyday. This is my little way of following that advice, and it's so easy to blend it up in a smoothie. It doesn't add any off flavor, I promise.

I have included a Why? section to this post, just so you can see my reasoning in adding certain ingredients. I hope it helps. Always do research for yourself though, I'd be remiss if I told you to just take my word for it. Do your homework because your health is important!

Kefir because it contains more probiotics, has a good amount of protein, and has more vitamins and minerals than typical yogurt. It also aids in digestion. I choose plain Kefir because I find the flavored ones are too sweet for me.

Coconut Milk because it's awesome for brain health, heart health, and puts moisture into skin and hair.

Kelp or Kombu because it has 10 times more calcium than milk. It's also a great source of vitamins and minerals that our typical American diet doesn't get too often. It is said that it also helps fight cancer and other diseases.

Chia Seeds because they are nutrient dense, have high antioxidant properties, and are a good source of fiber and protein. Chia Seeds also help your body stay hydrated.

Flax Seeds because they are nutrient dense, help with depression, are great for women's and men's health regarding gender specific diseases and issues.

Please research this all for yourself and check with your doctor before adding these ingredients into your life. I have found these ingredients to be a healthful addition into my lifestyle, but I also understand that each person is unique in what their body specifically needs and/or shouldn't have.

Daily Smoothie
Serves 2, or somedays I could drink it all myself.

1/3 cup plain kefir
1/8 cup orange juice
1/8 cup coconut milk, optional
1 banana, organic
4-5 chunks pinneapple, frozen
3-4 blueberries (or one strawberry), frozen
2-4 icecubes, optional
1/2 sheet dried kelp or kombu
few baby leafy greens, or 1/4 kale leaf
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp flax seed

How To: 
If you have a high-power blender such as a Vitamix, add all ingredients into blender and blend on high setting for 30 seconds or so.

If you have a blender that's not so high-power, add in liquid and softer ingredients, blend. As it's blending carefully drop the harder (or frozen) items into the blender as it blends. This will help it incorporate better.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Perfectly Balanced Chicken Red Curry

Let me preface this post by saying how much I've missed blogging, how much I've missed taking photos of food, and definitely missed getting to really study my recipes after creating them. It's been such a good process for me to becoming a better cook.

All that to say, the reason I haven't been around much is that I just got a wonderful new job and no time for blogging! We've been eating delicious still, and enjoying some lovely local restaurants too. Billy has taken over a lot of the cooking, and he is amazing! It's been a lot of fun to see his take on food and cooking, and have the privilege of coming home to an already made meal.

This meal is one of those. An amazing meal that Billy cooked up with a lot of research that he put into it, even before starting. It couldn't go unnoticed. It was definitely begging for a blog post. —Rachel

There was something missing from the red curries I have tried to make in the past. There seemed to be too much salt and sour. When I compensated with sweet, then it became overdone, I could not find the right balance. There was something missing from the depth of flavor. The use of kaffir lime leaves, as opposed to the rural white-guy-stand-in, lime zest, was an immense step in the direction to a more authentic Thai curry. In addition, I remembered the Massaman curry at a local place in our hometown contained Star Anise. Though I couldn't place the taste, as soon as I remembered that ingredient, I knew that was the missing flavor from a well-rounded red curry. Though it may not traditionally belong in a red curry, the addition of star anise, complements the other major flavor components. —Billy

Perfectly Balanced Chicken Red Curry
(Printable Recipe)

1, 14 oz can coconut milk, divided
3 tbsp red curry paste, divided (This was pretty spicy, so if you're sensitive to spice, use half of the amount. The brand we use is Mae Ploy, found at the Asian Market)
2 chicken breast, thinly sliced against the grain
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar (Or more to taste)
1 tbsp soy sauce (Or to taste. We use Gluten-Free, low-sodium Tamari)
2 tbsp fish sauce (Or to taste)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 kaffir lime leaves, chiffonade, divided (Purchased fresh at our local Asian market)
1 red bell pepper, julienned
2 carrots, sliced on the bias
2 small russet potatoes, cubed
3 star anise

2 sprigs of fresh basil, for garnish
Long grained or Jasmine Rice, for serving

How To:
First off, you are going to want the fat of the coconut milk, as it tends to separate, so do not shake the can. Heat a wok over medium-high heat, then pour in the creamy top part of the coconut milk (about 1/6-1/4 of the can). Once it's at a gentle simmer, add 2 tablespoons curry paste. Sauté your curry paste, do not fry it. Stir continuously until coconut milk and curry paste have incorporated and reduced into a thick brownish sauce.

Add chicken, turning occasionally until the surface is cooked, about 6 minutes.

Add the remainder of the coconut milk, remainder of the curry paste, chicken broth, brown sugar, soy sauce and fish sauce. Add in onions, garlic, and four kaffir lime leaves. Let simmer 1-2 minutes. Add in the rest of the vegetables, and star anise. Let simmer 10-20 minutes. The longer you allow it to simmer the better the curry will come together.

Serve over long grained, or Jasmine rice. Garnish with the rest of the kaffir lime leaves and basil.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Matcha Green Tea Drizzle Cake

Although I adore hearts and chocolate, this year for Valentine's I'm going for a non-traditional dessert. I wanted something light in texture, with more of a technical process so that I could have fun while baking. Since I typically don't peruse the dessert section in my cookbooks, it was a great excuse to research. I came across this recipe in Wagamama, and I couldn't help but want it. Green tea, especially matcha, has a special place in my heart. I don't know why I love it so much, but it makes me happy. So I gave it a go. Unlike my last post about cutting down the sugar content from my baked goods, this one has a standard amount of sugar, but it's Valentine's right? So why not splurge a little.

This cake has a light, spongy texture, with a delicate bite. My cake came out marbled, mostly white-ish yellow with green streaks, but I really liked that effect. The drizzle is pretty sweet, but it's accented by the earthy, robust matcha green tea flavor. After pouring the drizzle on is when the cake really gets its dark green color. I really love to eat this cake with a cup of coffee or well-steeped tea, and especially while sitting next to my lovely Billy.

Happy Valentine's Day. I hope you get to make something fantastic that is perfectly you, whether something with hearts or something of the deliciously green persuasion.

Matcha Green Tea Drizzle Cake
(Printable Recipe)
Serves: 8 Time: 1 hr Adapted from Wagamama

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp matcha green tea powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar, preferably organic
4 eggs
1/3 cup butter, melted

1 tbsp matcha green tea powder
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar, preferably organic (or honey would be a lovely substitute, use about 1/4 cup instead)
créme fraîche (or sour cream), for serving

How To:
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare an 8 or 9 inch spring-form pan. Cut a parchment circle to fit the bottom. Butter the bottom for the paper to stick on it, and butter the sides well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, matcha, and baking powder. Set aside.

Set up a double-boiler, or place a sauce pan with two inches of water in it, on the stove top. Bring to a boil, then drop to a light simmer. Place a heat-proof bowl over prepared pan. The bowl should be large enough that steam from below can't come into the mixture above in the bowl. Add sugar and eggs into the bowl. Whip the mixture (an electric mixer works best) until it becomes light and frothy, about 3-5 minutes.

Gently fold in the flour mixture into the whipped eggs. Pour the melted butter into the side of the pan. Gently fold until just combined. Use caution not to over mix. Gently pour into prepared pan. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until wood pick comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, prepare the drizzle. In a small saucepan add matcha powder and a small amount of water. Whisk until combined, and repeat process until matcha is fully blended into the full amount of water. Turn heat to medium. Add sugar. Once mixture begins to bubble, turn heat down and let simmer for ten minutes or until slightly thickened.

When cake is finished baking, let set in pan for 15—30 minutes before inverting. Run a knife or offset spatula around circumference of cake. Invert cake on to a serving plate (and remove the parchment). You may also choose to let the cake rest until it is fully cool before inverting. Using a tooth pick or skewer, poke many holes around the whole cake. Pour drizzle over the top of the cake, reserving about a tablespoon of the drizzle.

In a small bowl, mix a few tablespoons of créme fraîche (or sour cream) with a teaspoon or so of the drizzle. Dollop on to serving slices and sprinkle with a little matcha powder.
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