Archive | October, 2011

The BBC’s Ingredients. An Amazing Resource.

20 Oct

I always read recipes that are adapted from the BBC, especially from British writers and chefs. As I was exploring their site this morning I stumbled across the section titled Ingredients, under the Food category at the bottom of their home page. It is a library of food facts and recipes listed alphabetically by ingredient with amazing photos (like the one above) and great ideas. I thought I would share it with you all as it would be a great place to turn when you are stuck with another pound of blueberries and can’t handle another bite of  jam, or just as an additional source of inspiration for building your knowledge and skills in the kitchen. Stay posted for more recipes soon, and until then, check out the link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/ingredients/by/letter/a

The Basque Culinary Center

17 Oct

I lived overseas when I was younger back and forth for about two years. When I first came back to the states, all I wanted to do was go back. Now, over five years later, I have really grown to love this country and all it has to offer, as well as the opportunities that are available to you living in your legal land. About a year ago I decided it was time to run away again, time for something new. After a few impulsive nights of searching for fitting options abroad however, I decided that what I have going is good and there is no need to run just yet. During my research I stumbled across news of the then future Basque Culinary Center. I love Spain, and have always dreamed of going back to live again, so I have since followed the schools progress thinking I would keep it in my “future file”. Last month this University level Culinary School in San Sebastian with an all-star crew at its lead (Ferran Adria and Rene Redzepi to name a few) opened its doors to the first class going through its bachelors and masters programs. The school also offers shorter term classes for professionals and culinary enthusiasts.  The BCC focuses on gastronomy, research and creation, as well as business/restaurant management. By checking out the website you will quickly see that this school will be so much more than just a place to learn how to cook, as they emphasize the worlds food issues, nutrition, food culture and so on.  And surprisingly it’s all at a much less expensive cost than you would think, racking up to only 8,000 Euros per year. I think that it is so awesome that Spain now has a top notch center of their own, as in my opinion and the opinion of many others, they are the top dogs in the future of food.

If you are into this kind of stuff check out the site. You can translate it into English on the top right, or if you are feeling like practicing that high school Spanish of yours, here is your chance.

http://bculinary.com/public_home/ctrl_home.php

If you know of any off the wall culinary programs, feel free to share them with the crowd.

 

Thai Salad Rolls with Homemade Sriracha Peanut Sauce.

14 Oct

As promised, here are the recipes for Hand Rolled Salad Rolls with Basil, Cilantro & Green Onion, as well as my Sriracha Peanut Sauce. The fun thing about both of these recipes is you can modify however you like, adding different veggies, herbs and spices to make them fit your preferences. The ingredients listed below are a good starting point. These are a wonderful healthy snack and store well in the fridge for quick grab-and-go lunches during the week. The prep for the rolls is also great practice for those of us perfecting our knife skills. So, poor yourself a nice cold Thai beer and move slow. Here we go. Hand Rolled Salad Rolls with Basil, Cilantro & Green Onion Ingredients:

  • 1-pack 12 inch round rice paper wraps (you can buy these at any grocery store in the the Asian section)
  • small head of red leaf lettuce, separated and rinsed
  • 4-medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin 4-inch long match sticks
  • 2-small red bell peppers, sliced into thin matchsticks
  • 1/4-pound rice noodles, cooked and chilled
  • 1-small bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1-bunch basil, leaves left whole (the more the better)
  • 1-bunch green onions, cut into long, thin slivers
  • whatever protein you please: tofu, shrimp, chicken, pork, steak, cooked and cut into long thin-ish pieces
  • 1-avocado, sliced (only if you plan on eating them all right away as avocado will begin to brown quickly
  • 1-lemon cut in half
  • fish sauce
  • Other ingredients that would be delicious: mint, bean sprouts, daikon, cucumber, mango…

Directions: Fill a large metal bowl with hot water. Organize your prep and set up a clean rolling station, such as a large cutting board or counter top. Dip 1 rice paper in hot water, covering completely for about 10-15 seconds. The first time around, you will probably make a mess and rip them, but it’s okay, it will all turn out just fine. Lay the now soft rice paper out on your rolling station. Try to remove wrinkles. These work best when they are still pretty wet, even though it seems counter intuitive. Start by adding a piece of lettuce on the bottom section of the paper, leaving a good bit of room on all sides. Then strategically add other veggies, noodles, herbs and meat into a compact yet elevated pile. Add a splash of lemon juice and fish sauce before rolling for a bit of flavor. Rolling is a technique that takes time, so don’t stress at first, as you will find the strategy that works best for you. Imagine rolling a huge cigarette or burrito, it’s the same idea except the paper will stick to itself, so its even easier. Once one is rolled, set aside and continue on until all ingredients are used, or until you can’t handle it anymore. Serve with Peanut Sauce and wrap extras in saran and keep in the fridge for easy eating.
Sriracha Peanut Sauce Note: This recipe is not exact, I’m not known for my measuring skills. You want to find a nice thick yet creamy consistency with good spice, sweetness, acid and a good kick of fish sauce. Again, modify to your liking. This is a backbone that will get you a good base to go off of. Directions:

  • 1-cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 2-medium sized garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2-inches raw ginger, peeled and chopped
  • Roughly 1/2-cup coconut milk (as much as you need to get the right consistency)
  • 2-tablespoons soy sauce to start, add more for more saltiness
  • 1-tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3-tablespoons honey, more for more sweetness
  • 2-tablespoons sriracha, more for more spice
  • 2-tablespoons fish sauce to start, add more if the flavor needs more intensity
  • juice of 1-2 limes
  • dash of rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4-1/2 cup peanuts, if you like a little crunch

Directions: You can either saute the garlic and ginger and add everything to the pan, OR the way I do it is in a food processor, literally throwing everything in raw. For this method, start by adding peanut butter and coconut milk to find a good texture, a bit on the thick side as you will be adding lots of liquid with all the different sauces. Then add the rest of the ingredients, minus the peanuts at the start. Blend together until creamy and taste. Season with more of whatever ingredient your sauce seems to be missing, and then when it is just about right, add peanuts and pulse for a few seconds to add a nice texture element. Heat before serving and reserve extra in the fridge. This sauce is great served over rice with veggies as well as with marinated chicken or steak. Or just rubbed on your face, that works too. I hope you enjoy these fun and easy recipes and stay posted for more to come soon!

Thai Food.

12 Oct

So, I have been on a pretty serious Thai food kick for the past few months. It has gotten to the point where I am starting to feel like that weird person that goes to the same place for lunch everyday and orders the same exact off the wall thing, the ‘nice but kind of strange’ girl that shows up wearing the sweat shorts and winter hat to get my daily fix, shaking slightly until the plate reaches the table. And the problem is that this routine continues everyday with a short five minute walk out my front door in either direction to one of two of my favorite Thai places in Portland:

Mee Sen for authentic street style Thai food with unique dishes and powerful flavors, and Monsoon for your more typical American-style comfort Thai.

Pete brought back fresh spot prawns and huge king crab legs from work the other day, so we decided to make our own Thai feast. On the table we had:

  • House Rolled Salad Rolls with Basil, Green Onion and Cilantro
  • Fresh Sriracha Peanut Sauce
  • Spot Prawns with Broccoli, Cashews and Sweet Soy Pan Sauce
  • King Crab Curry with Potatoes, Galangal and Green Beans

Everything was great, but we were mainly excited by how easy it was to re-create our personal favorite, Cashew Nut Beef, only using prawns instead of meat.

Ingredients 

Makes about 4 servings:

  • 2-pounds spot prawns, shelled and cleaned
  • 2-tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1-yellow onion, cut into chunks
  • 2-cloves garlic, sliced horizontally
  • 1-inch piece ginger, minced
  • 2-bell peppers, chopped
  • 2-small heads broccoli, separated into small pieces
  • 1-small can water chestnuts (I know they are not typically in Thai food, but they add great texture)
  • dash of red chili flake
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2-cup soy sauce
  • 2-tablespoons honey
  • good splash sesame oil
  • good splash of sriracha (more or less depending on how much you like spice)
  • dash of cornstarch
  • 1/2-cup roasted cashews
  • Thai basil and cilantro, chopped

Directions:

Melt coconut oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger and cook until onions are partially cooked, about 4-5 minutes. Add peppers, broccoli and water chestnuts and cook for another few minutes. While these are cooking, mix soy sauce, honey, sesame oil and sriracha in a small bowl. Season to meet your preference, doubling the recipe if you like a lot of sauce.**Remember soy sauce is super salty, so balance as needed. Throw shrimp into the saucepan with the vegetables. Cook for a few minutes until almost cooked through, deglazing the pan with lime juice and seasoning with chili flakes. Once shrimp are cooked through, remove them from the pan, keeping them covered to not lose heat. Now, in the same saucepan, add your sauce mix, stirring together and adding cornstarch once heated to thicken. Once sauce is hot add shrimp back to the pan, top with cashews and serve immediately over white rice. Garnish with herbs and enjoy!

Stay posted for Homemade Peanut Sauce and Salad Rolls coming soon.

Why I Love the Pacific North West.

6 Oct

Yes, its true. It really does rain more than a lot here, and yes, it is also true that it lasts for more than a long time. The one thing  that is often overlooked however is what it does aesthetically to our environment.

California is beautiful and it’s coastline is untouchable, but the level of lush, green-ness that we have up here will never compare.

My old crazy (in a fantastic way) french manager Rodolphe decided to quit it all a while back and become Farmer Ro, buying a beautiful piece of property for himself and his family on the way to the beach about an hour or so from town. Fortunately for us, he shares the wealth by hosting awesome parties every few months, filled with amazing food, booze and great company.

As promised, a few more pictures from the Pig Roast and of the beautiful landscape that is, lucky for us, Portland’s back yard…


Roasted Potato Salad with Bacon, Fresh Herbs & Roquefort

4 Oct

I don’t know about you, but I love potato salad. I have experimented with every different type of potato you can think of, and have come to love whole baby fingerlings or small rustic yellow potatoes, skin on and cooked whole.

I made this yesterday for a pig roast out at my old managers house in Vernonia, hence the dirty looking tablecloth (yes, there is a whole pig on the table, and yes, that is his nose). More pictures to come on the pig roast, and until then a little side dish to tide you over…

Roasted Potato Salad with Bacon, Fresh Herbs & Roquefort

Makes a medium metal bowl-full. Would serve 8 comfortably.

Ingredients:

  • 3-pounds fingerling potatoes, or another small type of potato
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 5-slices bacon, chopped into small chunks
  • 1-large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1-batch homemade aioli (2 egg yolks to one cup of oil), with extra lemon juice. Recipe in previous post if needed.
  • 5-or so green onions, chopped
  • big handful of basil, chopped
  • big handful of parsley, chopped
  • handful dried cranberries
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • roquefort, or any other good blue cheese, broken into little pieces

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss potatoes in a bowl with a generous amount of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown. Broil for the last few minutes. Skin should be slightly wrinkled.

In a cast iron pan on the stove, brown bacon and onion, until onion is golden and slightly caramelized. Make sure not to burn the onions. Put aside to cool.

While potatoes are baking, whip up a batch of homemade aioli, making sure it is extra lemony. You could skip this step and use store bought mayo, but it will definitely not be the same.

When potatoes are finished baking, put them in a large bowl to cool. Once cooled, add bacon and onion mix, aioli, and fresh herbs. Mix together and season with salt and lemon juice. Let sit for a few hours, or sprinkle with cranberries and blue cheese and serve right away. Would be a great addition to any potluck, roast or winter party.

Stay tuned for more to come!

Curried Chicken Salad

1 Oct

This is one of my favorite go to lunches. Either placed between your favorite bread for a sandwich, or served over fresh mixed greens, this chicken salad is always a great mid day meal. It’s also a great way to use those chicken breasts you bought earlier in the week and forgot to use until now. Play around with ingredients, as you could really add whatever combination you wanted.

Here’s my favorite:

Curried Chicken Salad (serves 4 or so)

Ingredients:

  • 1½ lb boneless chicken breast
  • 5 cups chicken stock or water
  •  1/2 to 3/4 of a cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (can use plain goat yogurt too for extra tang, or if you don’t do cow dairy)
  • 4-5 teaspoons curry powder **Note: Get the good stuff. This is what will determine most of the flavor in this dish. You want it to smell fresh. I like the more yellow looking curry powder over the orange.
  • 1+ tablespoon honey
  • 1 green apple, cored and chopped
  • a good bit of green onion or chive, chopped
  • ½ cup red grapes- you can also use raisins if that’s more your style.
  • ½ cup almond slivers, or whole almonds toasted and chopped. Try adding pistachios or cashews instead for a different twist.
  • lemon juice (more than you think)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Optional: fresh herbs such as basil or mint, even cilantro could be good. This is a great place to test my personal theory that fresh herbs usually make everything taste better.

Directions:

Bring 5 cups of stock (or water) to a simmer in medium saucepan. Add chicken and simmer uncovered, 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat and cover, then let stand until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and cool for at least 10 minutes. Chop into 1/2-inch pieces or peel with your hands like you would a rotisserie chicken.(You could also just make this with a rotisserie chicken which would be really good too). While chicken is cooling, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, curry, honey, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Once taste is right, add chicken, apple, green onions, grapes, almonds and herbs. I like this dish a couple hours later, as the flavors enhance with some time to get to know each other. So, either serve immediately if it’s that kind of day, or chill in the fridge for an hour or so and enjoy!