Thai Red Chicken Curry

red thai curry

I grew up with a fairly narrow view of ethnic cuisines.  Anything outside of Chinese take-out or “Mexican food” served at Taco Bell was considered “icky”.  As far as I was concerned, Pad Thai was the only acceptable Thai dish to my American palate.

Luckily my tastes changed as I got older and was exposed more and more dishes and flavors from all around the world.  I can’t imagine what life would be like now without all of the different cuisines I eat on a weekly basis. Thai food being among my favorites!

My friend introduced me to Thai curries at a restaurant in Hollywood that features a Thai Elvis impersonator who croons to you during your meal.  She suggested I try her panang curry and I’ve been hooked ever since.

curry paste

I’ve been experimenting with some Asian ingredients and attempting to make more authentic Asian meals at home.  When I figured out I could make Thai curry at home, it was all over.  Now, I can’t handle spice like a normal person (I’m from the Midwest, after all), but I do love the way this dish makes me sweat and my nose run.  This recipe tastes authentic compared to what I’ve had in Thai restaurants, but I used ingredients that are easy to find.

mise en place for thai curry

This dish has all of the aspects of Thai cooking that I have come to love: sweet, sour, spicy, and salty.  Once you get the right balance of flavors, you can’t go wrong.  I make this red curry at least every other week and I’ve made it enough times that it only takes about 15 minutes from start to finish.

thai curry simmering

Thai Red Chicken Curry

  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced
  • scant 2 Tbsp. curry paste
  • 2 chicken breasts – sliced thinly
  • 1 red pepper – cut into strips
  • 1 green pepper – cut into strips
  • 1/2 yellow onion – sliced
  • 1 14 oz. can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. corn starch + 1 Tbsp. water – whisk together to make a slurry (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped basil (Thai basil is best, but Italian basil works in a pinch)
  1. Pat chicken strips dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat until shimmering.  Add curry paste and garlic until it starts to brown slightly (about 1 minute).
  3. Add chicken to the pot and mix until chicken is fully coated with the curry paste. Cook for about 1 minute.
  4. Add coconut milk and water, and bring to simmer.  Simmer for about 4 minutes.
  5. Add peppers and onions, simmering for another 4 minutes.
  6. If you want thicker curry (I always do), add the optional corn starch and water slurry now.  Stir in and simmer until the curry has thickened.
  7. Remove from heat and add the rest of the ingredients through basil. Taste and adjust as needed.
  8. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Notes on this recipe: You can add any veggies to this dish, but peppers and onions are my favorite.  I frequently see carrots, baby corn, tomatoes, snap peas, and green beans in other versions of this curry.

I’ve found that 2 Tbsp. of the curry paste is just right.  Any more and it’s so spicy I can’t eat it.  Any less and I can’t taste the curry flavor.  If you can handle heat better than this Midwesterner, you can always add an extra teaspoon or two at the end of cooking.

You can make homemade curry paste or you can buy a giant tub at a local Asian market or on Amazon.com for about $5.  One tub will last forever in the fridge; I’ve made about 10 curries with the same tub. Don’t skip or substitute the curry paste…it’s essential.

More traditional recipes call for kaffir lime leaves, but I find lime juice works just as easily and is a lot easier to find at the grocery store.

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Thai red curry

Do you cook a variety of ethnic cuisines at home?  What’s your favorite to prepare?

-Mads

 

Elimination Diet: Day 1

I’ve officially started the elimination diet to try to cure my acid reflux with clean eating!  I’m giving up dairy, gluten, eggs, citrus fruits, nightshade vegetables (like tomato and eggplant), and chocolate.  It’s going to be a challenge, but I hope it will reduce my symptoms.  

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I won’t be blogging this daily.  Let’s be real.  But I will update you from time to time with my progress and a few recipes.

The diet kicked off yesterday with an arduous meal plan, a trip to the grocery store, and finding a food journal to record my daily ups and downs.  I am using this food journal to track everything.  I say the meal plan was arduous because I kept wanting to make my normal routine work with this new routine, or at least make a seamless transition.  Trust me, there is no seamless way to go from eating Dominos to eating only vegetables and brown rice…eventually you just have to eat the damn vegetables.  That was a giant mental hurdle.

After several hours of whining, I finally came up with 6 days of meals to get me started on the right track.

Day 1:

  • Breakfast–Fruit and veggie smoothie
  • Lunch–Potato soup
  • Dinner–Chicken and veggie stir fry (substitute soy sauce for things like chili paste and rice wine vinegar)

Day 2:

  • Breakfast–Hot rice cereal with apple, coconut, and peanut butter
  • Lunch–Leftover stir fry
  • Dinner–Quinoa with potato, onion, toasted walnuts, and asparagus (recipe here)

Day 3:

  • Breakfast–Fruit and veggie smoothie
  • Lunch–Leftover quinoa
  • Dinner–Pesto (without the parmesan) spaghetti squash with sautéed shrimp

Day 4:

  • Breakfast–Fruit and veggie smoothie
  • Lunch–Spinach salad with berries, walnuts, red onion, and balsamic glaze
  • Dinner–Braised pork, sweet potato fries, and steamed veggies

Day 5:

  • Breakfast–Hot rice cereal with pear, maple syrup, and cinnamon
  • Lunch–Corn taco with black beans, sweet potato, onion, and cilantro (modified recipe here)
  • Dinner–Thai lettuce wrap with chicken, carrot, red onion, peanut, and cilantro

Day 6:

  • Breakfast–Potato hash with bacon and veggies
  • Lunch–Leftover Thai lettuce wrap
  • Dinner–Roasted chicken, sautéed green beans, and acorn squash

Dessert/Snack options:

  • Banana/Apple with peanut butter and coconut flakes
  • Kalamata olive hummus and veggies
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Corn chex
  • Applesauce

Can you tell I really struggled with the snack and dessert options?  Anybody have ideas?

I will try to stick to this as strictly as possible, but I have a feeling I will resort to easy stir fry on long workdays.  I’m not a cyborg, after all.

So there it is!  It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.  I’m not a nutrition expert, so if you see anything glaringly obvious that will be detrimental to my success, please let me know in the comments section.  Again, I’m doing this for the first time, so there is a large learning curve.

I can’t wait to hear from anyone else who has tried this or who wants to try it!

-Mads

 

Balcony Garden Pests

Hello friends,

Summer is in full swing in sunny Ca-li-forn-eye-ay and my balcony garden has come to life!  It’s quite the jungle out there on the 4 X 10 space reserved for a table, two chairs, a grill, and an overflowing garden of herbs and vegetables.

Then and now garden

To update you on a few things from the last post, I ended up not using fertilizer.  About once per week I dumped my used coffee grounds in the soil, but the plants grew just fine without chemicals.

I pruned the basil here and there for sprinkling on dishes, but I also had enough to make pesto every few weeks.  Having homegrown and homemade pesto on hand at all times was well worth the effort.

And it was an effort.  Let me tell you.

About a month into the gardening endeavor I started to notice giant holes in my basil.  Soon the holes spread to my tomato plant and eventually spread to my bell pepper.  Somebody was eating my hard-earned vegetable bounty!

I read about all sorts of natural bug repellent remedies on the internet like creating a beer/soap trench for the bugs to drown in, sprinkling banana peels in the soil, etc.  As it turns out, it is much more effective to identify the pest and then find the appropriate remedy.

caterpillar

I posted this picture on Facebook and instantly got several comments that I had caterpillars (caterpillar=not pictured, caterpillar poop=full frontal).  Sure enough, I found one big beast wrapping himself in a cocoon in a basil leaf.  Filthy bastard!

The trick to killing the little jerks is to mix in a saucepan over medium heat 2 cups water with anything spicy and a small amount of dish soap.  I added what we had on hand, which was chopped garlic, onion, jalapeno, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Then I put the concoction in a spray bottle to spritz the plants down every few days (make sure to spray at night because the soap might burn leaves in hotter temps).

The pest situation is finally under control AND the tomatoes are actually starting to ripen!  Tomatoes are ready to eat when they turn red and pulling them off the vine takes almost no effort at all.

tomatoes

I made a lovely caprese salad with these 3 beauties earlier this week.  They were sweet and mild and oh so satisfying.  I highly recommend planting your own mini garden because it is definitely rewarding.

How do you deal with garden pests?  What’s the worst critter you’ve battled?

-Mads

P.s. If you noticed I neglected to mention the cilantro, there is a reason.  More updates to come.

Gnocchi and Pesto Soup

Hello hello!

I’m back from my honeymoon to Belize!  It was absolutely fabulous and relaxing in every way possible.  Pictures and posts about that will be up shortly.  In the meantime, I’ve returned to a life of cooking for myself…life is hard.

Which brings me to my next point, this week is SOUP WEEK!

Gnocchi and Pesto Soup...a spin off of the classes potato and vegetable soup

Gnocchi and Pesto Soup…a spin off of the classes potato and vegetable soup

14 bloggers have come together to warm your bellies and your hearts through a week of soup recipes!  I hope you are as excited as I am!  As usual, there is a GIVEAWAY on one of the blogs listed below.  Enter for your chance to win Le Creuset!

When creating this recipe, I wanted to incorporate all of the stick-to-your-ribs goodness that we all crave during the winter months.  I think my body went into major hibernation mode this winter because all I wanted was mac n’ cheese, pizza, and hot mashed potatoes.  The result was an additional 8 pounds (holy hell) that I am still trying to work off.  Damn the winter!

“Winter” is also a relative term.  In California, it means that we will be shaking in our boots in 50 degree weather, but it’s -10 in Minnesota today.  Either way, my body is feasting like a bear in survival mode to live through the chill.  :P

Where was I?  Oh yes, stick-to-your-ribs.  To start, I used my absolute favorite bold garlicky pesto recipe.  This recipe is something my family has been making for years “by feel”, but I finally wrote the ingredients down and posted the recipe here.

Presto Pesto!

Most of the potato soup recipes I’ve used in the past and the ones I’ve seen online are fairly similar.  You start with the mirepoix (fancy term for onion, carrot, and celery), then add potatoes and boil with your liquids.  The twist on this one is the addition of gnocchi and pesto for extra winter tummy-warming heartiness.

Secret ingredients for that extra OOMF!

Secret ingredients for that extra OOMF!

For the soup portion of the recipe, you will need:

  • 4 russet potatoes (peeled and cubed)
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 2 carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 stalks celery (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 package potato gnocchi
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Pesto (store-bought or homemade…please do yourself a favor and make homemade)
  • Shredded parmesan cheese for topping
  1. Make sure the onion, carrot, and celery are all chopped to roughly the same small size.  A uniform size ensures they cook evenly in the pan.

    Mirepoix.  I love saying that.

    Mirepoix. I love saying that.

  2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and saute onion, carrots, and celery until slightly softened and starting to brown (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add potatoes and garlic, sautéing for a minute or two.  You just want a little bit of brown on the edges for extra flavor.
  4. Season the veggies with salt and pepper, then add the broth.

    If you don't have a big enough pot (I didn't), just use two!  Also, if you prep your veggies the night before, your potatoes will start to oxidize and turn purple in the fridge.  Don't be like me.

    If you don’t have a big enough pot (I didn’t), just use two! Also, if you prep your veggies the night before (like me), your potatoes will start to oxidize and turn purple in the fridge. Don’t be like me.

  5. Bring to a boil until potatoes are tender (about 10 minutes).
  6. Give the broth a quick taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
  7. Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender in batches), blend the soup until it’s nice and creamy.Blending away!
  8. Add the gnocchi and continue over medium heat until the gnocchi is completely cooked (about 3 minutes).photo
  9. Add the heavy cream and stir until combined.

    BTW, it is incredibly difficult to pour with one hand and get a picture of the pour with your other hand.  That's why this picture is not focused correctly.  I need a soux chef/photographer!

    BTW, it is incredibly difficult to pour with one hand and get a picture of the pour with your other hand. That’s why this picture is not focused correctly. I need a soux chef/photographer!

  10. Do a final taste test to make sure the seasonings are correct.
  11. Pour into your bowl and top with a dollop of pesto and a sprinkling of parmesan!IMG_5320

As far as soups go, this recipe was very easy and the taste was fantastic!  You want to eat this.

What are you making to keep warm this winter?  Did you suffer from the hibernation feed-me-all-the-things feelings this winter?  

-Mads

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Please check out these other bloggers over the course of the week.  These women create some of the tastiest recipes and most entertaining stories on the internet.  (Links to soup posts will become available throughout the week.)

Monday:

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Thursday:

Friday:

Saturday:

SALAD WEEK: Zesty Steak and Arugula Salad

Hey there internet, did you miss me?  I sure did miss you!  While La Petite Pancake was taking a little hiatus from blogging, the internet was pulling late night hours organizing a salad week for you all.  How splendid!

Seriously though, the folks that brought you Cake Week, Pie Week, etc., have turned a new leaf (that was a play-on word) to celebrate Salad Week!

I have a bit of a secret though…

I’m a salad snob.

Big time.

If a salad doesn’t have lots of ingredients (usually gourmet), I gag.  Chopped carrots over a head of iceberg with ranch will make me shudder and convulse.  I’m not usually a picky eater, but you couldn’t pay me to eat that cafeteria crap.

Thank goodness the Barefoot Contessa is also the Queen of Salads.  She pulled out a winner with her Grilled Filet Steak and Arugula Salad.  I make this salad sans-steak every other week, and I keep the dressing around to spice up sandwiches, roasted veggies, and pizzas.  “How easy is that?”  (Barefoot Contessa jokes, anyone?  Bueller?  Bueller?)

For the salad, you will need:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp ground pepper

Bunch of arugula (Ina calls for baby arugula, but I like the bite of the adult middle-aged over-the-hill arugula)

1 (4-ounce) chunk good Parmesan cheese

Lots of good stuff happening here. (Please use better olive oil and mustard than I did.)

When you don’t have a salad spinner, your counter will ultimately look like this:

Rabbit Food

Mix all of the ingredients together, except for the Parmesan.  I use a Mason Jar so I can shake it up without spilling and save the leftovers easily.

Shake shake shake, shake shake shake, shake your dressing

The perfect way to transform any dish into something that looks fancy shmancy is to use the vegetable peeler.  Et voila:

We topped our salad with grilled steak and thinly sliced red onions.  If you’re feeling frisky, toss the leftover salad into a pita pocket, and have yourself some tasty next-day lunch!

-Mads

Please check out the other salads from Salad Week for a departure from the blasphemous plain iceberg:

Wannabe a Country Cleaver-Chicken Mole Salad

Comfortably Domestic-Simple Caser Salad

Grier Mountain-Spiced Lamb and Lentil Salad

Inside NanaBread’s Head-Creole Potato Salad

Tenaciously Yours-Cheese and Calavo Salad

Decadent Philistines Save the World-Reworked Cabbage Ramen Salad

Bakeaholic Mama-Ranch BLT Salad in Bacon Cups (6 slices of bacon were involved…6!!!)

The Grom Mom-Tropical Chicken Salad in a Papaya Boat