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

 

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Korean Gochujang Beef BBQ

Once every few months, my friends get together for a “meat-up”.  This entails shoveling our faces full of all-you-can-eat meat at any local BBQ establishment.  If you’ve never had Korean BBQ before, it is quite an experience.  You point to whatever types of meat look tasty on the menu (bulgogi beef, kalbi pork, squid, chicken, etc.) and it’s brought to you raw at the table.  Each table has a little grill and you grill the meats while you chat and dine on side dishes.  Then you feast!

A recent "meat-up" at a Japanese BBQ.  Meat fields forever.

A recent “meat-up” at a Japanese BBQ. Meat fields forever.  The dishes taste very different from Korean BBQ, but the concept of grilling endless amounts of meat at your table is the same.

The all-you-can-eat aspect of KBBQ is really the highlight.  Perfectly marinated meats of all varieties endlessly served on platters upon platters.  *Drool*

grillin meat

Japanese BBQ grilled directly at the table.

I’ve been making Korean marinades at home to replicate our meat-ups, but I haven’t written down a recipe until now.  This isn’t authentic bulgogi, but the Korean chili paste adds extra oomph to this Asian-style marinade.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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Korean Gojuchang Beef BBQ

  • 1 lb. beef steak (sirloin or flank are good cuts for this)
  • 4 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Thinly slice the steak or cut into bite sized cubes.  Toss into a ziplock bag.
  2. Add all of the rest of the ingredients into the ziplock and squish the bag around with your hands until all of the ingredients are combined and all of the meat is covered in the marinade.
  3. Seal it closed and marinade in the fridge for at least 30 minutes…if you have time to marinate it overnight, do that.
  4. In a skillet over medium-high heat, add half of the meat mixture and brown both sides (1-2 minutes on each side, depending on how thin you sliced the meat).  It should be a nice golden color.
  5. Remove from pan and set aside.
  6. Repeat step 4 with the other half of the meat mixture.
  7. Serve over rice with a side of steamed broccoli.

Notes on this recipe: You can find gochujang paste at any Asian market, but if you have trouble finding it near you, Amazon sells it online.  Magic!  It lasts an exceptionally long time in the fridge, but you can use it in meat marinades, soups, stir fry, dips, sauces, etc.  I was hesitant to buy a whole jar of an ingredient that I was only using a tablespoon of in this recipe, but it’s so versatile you will have no trouble using it up.

Cooking the meat in two batches ensures your pan will remain hot enough to get that lovely golden brown sear to the meat.  If you add all of the meat at once, the pan cools off just enough so that your beef will steam.  Nobody wants yo’ steamed meat!

If you want to substitute fresh raw ginger you can.  We like a mellow ginger flavor at our house, so we use the ground powder.

kbbq marinade

Now we can have a version of KBBQ at home!  The marinade is so easy to whip together that we eat it about once a week with different types of meat and veggies.

What’s your favorite secret ingredient in Asian marinades?

-Mads

Beef Empanadas

beef empanadas

Jonathan and I went to a Spanish tapas bar for our date night last week and it was delicious!  I love grazing on my dinner like cattle…truly I do, and tapas give me an excuse to try a bit of everything. I’ve been scheming ways to make some at home every day since.  While our schedules don’t currently allow for hosting a tapas party, I knew I needed to make something at home to satisfy my urges.

Enter stage right: beef empanadas.

empanada filling

I tend to shy away from making pastries or frying food at home because it can be a lot of work.  However, I happened to have a few pie crusts hanging out in my freezer that needed love and attention.  You can easily use Pillsbury crescent rolls if you want to cut out a few steps and save time.  As for the frying?  Well, you can bake these puppies instead, but why would you do that to yourself?

dough

These beef empanadas are packed with flavor and have a perfect flaky and buttery crust.  I love that they are only three bites, which makes me feel a little better about eating fried foods.  So if I’m doing my math right, eating 6 of them is practically a health food.  Math is hard!

Beef Empanadas

Makes approximately 20 empanadas with beef filling to spare!

  • 2 tsp. bacon grease (optional)
  • 1/2 jalapeño minced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste (Please taste it!  Salt and pepper are the key to tasty meat! I used about 1/4 tsp. of each.)
  • 3 Tbsp cilantro roughly chopped
  • 1/4 c. shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • No Excuses Pie Crust or Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
  • approximately 20 oz. frying oil such as Canola
  1. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté onions, jalapeño, and garlic in bacon grease (or olive oil) for 2 minutes or until slightly soft.
  2. Add beef and cook until brown, breaking it up into tiny bits.  Drain fat from pan and set back on heat.
  3. Mix in the tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Taste the beef mixture and add more seasonings as you see fit.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. In a heavy-bottomed pot or a dutch oven, heat fry oil until 375 degrees.  Give it at least 10 minutes over medium heat to come to temperature.  Adjust until you get to 375 degrees.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it’s approximately 1/8 of an inch thick.  Use a large cookie cutter or whatever tool you have on hand (I used an empty 28 oz. can of pumpkin as an empanada cutter) to cut circles out of the dough.
  7. Dip your finger in the beaten egg and spread it around the outer edge of each empanada.  This is the “glue” for the dough and prevents the empanadas from bursting open in the fry oil.
  8. Place approximately 2 tsp. meat mixture, 1 tsp. cheese, and a pinch of cilantro into the center of each empanada.
  9. Gently fold the dough over the filling and crimp the edges together.  You can use a fork or your fancy fingers to crimp it closed.
  10. Fry empanadas three at a time, flipping after about 2 minutes…just keep your eyes on it…when it’s golden brown, it’s ready to flip.
  11. Use a slotted spoon to move the empanadas to a plate with a paper towel to allow it to drain off excess grease and cool.
  12. Enjoy!

Notes on this recipe: I’ve been saving bacon grease in a mason jar in my fridge lately.  It feels a little Howard Hughes-esque, but my life has significantly improved now that I have bacon grease on hand for sautéing vegetables and other things.  If you happen to keep a jar of the stuff (you are a champion), then feel free to use it to sauté the onions, but you could easily substitute olive oil.

You should buy tortillas to go with this recipe because you will have extra filling, but lucky for you, the filling tastes great as tacos too!

empanada cutter

beef filling

empanada collage

One more little note…crimping the edges of empanadas, and any pies for that matter, is my kryptonite.  I would like to show you my two trial run empanadas just to stay humble:

fail

#FAIL They still tasted damn good.

Do not be like me.  Be delicate and graceful and an empanada savant.

Do not attempt to glue the rips in the dough together with more dough.  Your food will look like a burn victim and it will appetize no one.

There’s a solid chance I rolled out the dough too thin.  Don’t do that.

If you are like me (bless you!), don’t worry.  Hot fry oil cures all ails.  Pop those bad boys in their little jacuzzi until golden brown!

frying empanadas

Can you hear them sizzling?

I already miss them.  Their poor little lives were cut too short.  Until we meet again, my fried friends.

-Mads

PUMPKIN WEEK: Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Frosting

*please excuse the pictures in this post.  I decided to make this cake at night after a few glasses of wine.  

Hello hello,

It’s time for another rendition of theme weeks and this week is brought to you by pumpkin!  (insert pumpkin foofaraw here)  Truth be told, it’s still 80 degrees in SoCal right now, so my mind is not registering “Pumpkin Week” quite yet.  However, in the spirit of team camaradarie, I decided to join the party with a pumpkin spice cake.

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I know you’re probably thinking, “Pumpkin spice cake?  Yawn.”  But let me tell you, this cake is a delicate balance of pumpkin, spices, and sweetness that you will want to add to your repertoire of “classic” recipes.

Now, in researching pumpkin spice cake, I found there were not many variations in recipes.  Some called for buttermilk or sour cream to moisten things up, but I felt like the pumpkin would create enough moisture on its own.  Other recipes went crazy on spices, but I wanted to let the pumpkin shine through.

This cake turned out perfect!  The cake was full of flavor and the sweetness of the maple frosting balanced with the spiciness of the cake.  I am definitely making this again for Thanksgiving.

For the cake, you will need:

  • 1.5 sticks softened butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2.5 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. allspice
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside (flour, baking soda, salt, spices).

The finest of supermarket spices.

The finest of supermarket spices.

Using a mixer, beat together butter and sugars until combined.  Add eggs one at a time and vanilla.  Beat until creamy.

wet pumpkin ingredients

Then add the canned pumpkin until just combined.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.

Pour batter into greased bundt pan (or use my pal, Comfortably Domestic’s handy baking pan conversion chart).  Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes (check with a toothpick).

pumpkin batter

For the frosting, you will need:

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 Tbsp. maple syrup (I used the real maple syrup.  You might want to taste as you go if you are using the imitation stuff because it’s a little stronger.)
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar

Wait until the cake has cooled completely.

Beat butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and syrup together until creamy.

Add powdered sugar one cup at a time until it is as sweet as you would like.  I think I stopped at 3.5 cups, but I was eye-balling it.  I should stop doing that when I’m developing a recipe, but whatever.

Spread the frosting over the entire cake until it’s as perfect or messy as you like.  Mine was rather messy, as you can see.

frosted cake

-Mads

Please check out the other wonderful recipes for Pumpkin Week!

Monday:

Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic – Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Beka @ Kvetchin’ Kitchen – Pumpkin Streusel Bread

Tuesday:
Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama – Pumpkin Pie Macarons
Jeanne @ Inside NanaBread’s Head – Hazelnut Pumpkin Waffles with Cinnamon Honey Butter

Wednesday:
Megan @ Country Cleaver – Mini No-Bake Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Crumble Topping
Allison @ Decadent Philistines – Pumpkin Marshmallows & Pumpkin Spice Syrup
Shanna @ Pineapple & Coconut – Creamy Maple Bacon Pumpkin Risotto

Thursday:
Anne @ From My Sweet Heart – Pumpkin Doughnuts with Cream Cheese Icing & Candied Pepitas
Kat @ Tenaciously Yours – Marbled Pumpkin Gingersnap Tart

Friday:
Madeline @ Munching in the Mitten – Savory Pumpkin Tart
Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain – Pumpkin Mousse with Candied Squash
Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic – Pumpkin Kiss Cookies

Saturday:
Beka @ Kvetchin’ Kitchen – Pumpkin Scones
Monica @ The Grommom – Pumpkin Ice Cream

BERRY WEEK: Berry Sangria

Hello internet friends,

Berry Week Logo

As you might have already guessed, my favorite group of bloggers has teamed up again to bring you Berry Week!  I love doing these theme weeks because it spurs on my creativity in using ingredients for something new.  This week I decided to make berry sangria!

I’ve posted several berry recipes in the past, but this “recipe” is one of the easiest and by far the booziest.  I put recipe in quotes because it’s mostly dumping ingredients into a pitcher.  Ain’t nobody got time for a more complicated cocktail recipe. The most complicated recipe we used in college was “D the B”, in other words, drink the booze.

Sangria prep

I had the best time acting as a mixologist for berry sangria because each variation needed its own glass taste test. *hiccup*  In the extensive taste testing, I discovered Triple Sec is the secret ingredient and cannot be omitted.  Also, there are many different schools of thought on sangria, but my own personal beliefs are that wine should never be diluted with soda. Ever.  Amen.

You will need:

  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 bottles chilled white wine, preferably Riesling (I used Firestone)
  • 1/2 cup Triple Sec
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Thoroughly wash all berries.  Slice orange and lemon into rings.

In a large pitcher (or a small pitcher + awkward Tupperware container like me) stir together wine, Triple Sec, and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Toss in the fruit and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.  The long chill time allows all of the booze to soak into the berries.

Berry sangria

The great thing about this recipe is that you can easily halve it if your party is small.  The OTHER great thing about this recipe is that it tastes delicious.  The other OTHER great thing about this recipe is that you get to eat a ton of booze berries at the bottom of your glass.

What’s your favorite use of summer berries?

-Mads

P.s. Check out all of tasty ways you can use summer berries with these fantastic recipes:

Perfect Fudge Brownies

Last week a group of food bloggers threw an internet bake sale to raise money for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.  Through generous bids, we ended up raising a total of $1,680!  
 
I made “Perfect Fudge Brownies” for the event and I’ve listed the recipe below. 
 
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Since I deemed them “perfect”, I had to go through MANY iterations of these brownies before I actually “perfected” the recipe.  I called in my food blog pals to assess why the first few attempts were so cakey (too much leavening with baking powder).  Then I had to remove eggs and add chocolate to increase the fudge factor.  It really was a process. Finally I found the winner!  These bad boys are fudgey, chocolatey, gooey perfections of your traditional brownie.
 
You will need:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp pre-made coffee 
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1.5 sticks butter
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 scant cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 13 x 9″ baking pan.

Melt butter and chocolate over low heat until smooth.  Set aside. 

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In a large bowl mix sugar and eggs.  Add coffee, vanilla, and slightly cooled chocolate mixture. 

Combine cocoa, flour, and salt in a separate bowl.

Slowly add dry ingredients to chocolate mixture until completely combined.  

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Pour batter into greased pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes (mine took exactly 27 minutes).  

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Once cooled, you can top with powdered sugar or frosting.  I prefer them plain and still warm from the oven.  Mmmmm

Thank you to everyone who shared and participated in the bake sale!  
 
-Mads

Cookies for Crohn’s

My dear and lovely friend, Beka, is running her little booty off in a 1/2 marathon to raise money for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.  In order to maximize giving to kids suffering from those awful diseases, she’s throwing a bake sale on the internet!  I don’t know what could possible go together better than gastrointestinal troubles and internet food porn.

Beka and Megan are hosting the event on Megan’s blog, Wanna Be A Country Cleaver.  Click over to check out all of the nummy bake sale treats we are auctioning off to the highest bidder!  Many bloggers have teamed up to bring you cookies, treats, autographed cookbooks, gift packages, and more!  Click over for more information about how to bid on and receive prizes.

I decided to contribute “Perfect Fudge Brownies” (please refrain from any Crohn’s and Colitis jokes for the remainder of this blog post or we’ll have a real mess on our hands).

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Since I deemed them “perfect”, I had to go through MANY iterations of these brownies before I actually “perfected” the recipe.  I called in my food blog pals to assess why the first few attempts were so cakey (too much leavening with baking powder).  Then I had to remove eggs and add chocolate to increase the fudge factor.  It really was a process.Finally I found the winner!  These bad boys are fudgey, chocolatey, gooey perfections of your traditional brownie.

If you’re interested in winning a whole big batch of these brownies, head on over to Megan’s page and bid!

Recipe to follow once the winners have been selected…

-Mads