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Showing posts from January, 2011

Goulash - Eastern European Comfort Food

I’ve had many versions of this dish all over the Czech Republic and in Budapest. Sometimes it’s more of a soup and sometimes it’s more of a stew. You can adjust it to more of a soup consistency by adding an additional cup of beef broth. This is the simplest variation of this dish I know of, and I like it because is does not use lard, as many of the typical recipes. If you want to make it a bit more authentic, you can substitute lard for the vegetable oil. I like to serve this with hearty dark bread and a great Czech beer like Pilsner Urquell. Ingredients 2 lbs Beef Chuck, cut into medium size cubes 1 lbs of White Onion, sliced thinly on a mandoline ½ cup of Vegetable Oil ½ cup of dark Beer 1 Tbsp of Salt 2 Tbsp of Sweet Paprika, you can mix some Hot Paprika in if you want some heat. 2 tsp of Marjoram 4 cloves of Garlic, crushed 1 tsp of Caraway Seeds 1 can of Tomato Paste 2 cups of low sodium Beef Broth 2 slices of stale dark Bread, cubed

Meatballs with Mushroom Cream Sauce

This is a wonderful comfort food dish. It is hearty, has lovely flavor and is easy to bring together. It’s sort of a fusion between Swedish meatballs and a Stroganoff mushroom cream sauce and then you add the noodles for a perfect finish. This would be perfect with a nice French Burgundy or Pinot Noir. Ingredients   24 Meatballs, rolled to 1 inch in diameter To prepare the meatballs, use 1-1 ½ lb of ground Beef. Season the beef with Black Pepper, Celery salt, ½ tsp Sugar, a bit of freshly ground Nutmeg, Worcestershire Sauce and one beaten Egg and a Tbsp of Breadcrumbs. Mix gently and then form into meatballs. 1 Onion, sliced 1 lb Mushrooms, sliced in two 2 Tbsp Butter ¼ cup dry Sherry or Marsala 1 pint/two cups of heavy Cream or Crème Fraiche Green onions, just the green or chopped fresh chives Egg Noodles Prepare the meatballs and allow them to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Then heat 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil in a sauté pan and

Gai Pad Khing/Ginger and Lime Chicken

This is one of my favorites, because it’s combines the salty, sweet and sour taste so common in Thai cooking. It is not common in this form on most Thai menus, but is more of a fusion dish. In Thailand, they often use tamarind paste to create this sour effect, but this is hard for many people to find, and it requires a longer cooking time to blend well. Ingredients ¾ lb. Skinless, boneless Chicken Breast, sliced 1 large thinly sliced Onion. 1 large thinly sliced sweet Red Pepper 1 can Bamboo Shoots, drained 2 Tbsp. of Peanut or another Vegetable oil 3 cloves chopped Garlic 2-inch piece of fresh Ginger Root, sliced very thin. 1-2 Thai Chili, chopped Sauce, this will be added towards the end of the cooking process. 3 Tbsp. Fish Sauce 1 Tbsp. White sugar or brown sugar or palm sugar Juice from one lime Hint: I prefer the “Three Crabs” or “Tra Chang” brand, as it is very flavorful but not too salty compared to others I’ve tasted. Start t

Gai Yang - Thai BBQ Chicken

This is the most wonderful marinated grilled chicken dish. It is a staple in Thailand on most any street corner and it is delicious. I have also used it on pork (Moo Yang) and beef and it is just as good. The key is to use the best ingredients and make sure to let it marinade overnight. Ingredients ½ cup Coriander/Cilantro Roots– These roots are not easy to find, even in Asian markets, as most markets cut off the coriander roots before putting them out. I always look through the bunches and if I find some with roots, I buy them all and then wash them, dry them and put into freezer bags and freeze the roots for later use. If you can’t find the roots you can substitute 1 cup of fresh cilantro stems. 3 cloves Garlic 1 Tbsp freshly grated Ginger Root 2 tbsp freshly ground Black Peppercorns 4 Tbsp Thai Fish Sauce 1 tbsp Soy Sauce 1 tbsp Sugar 1 tbsp Lime Juice 1 small can Thai Coconut Milk Grind all dry ingredients and then combine into a food processo

Nam Pla Prik - Fish Sauce with Chilies

This versatile dipping sauce is perfect with any Thai meal and great on Thai style omelettes, rice and noodles dishes, spring rolls and Gai Yang (Thai BBQ Chicken). Ingredients  6 Tbsp. Fish Sauce, here is where you will really see the difference in using a top Thai fish sauce. 2 cloves finely sliced Garlic 1 tsp. of white or palm Sugar 5 finely chopped Thai Chilies 1/2 lime, sliced Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Allow to rest for a day to let the flavors mingle. This will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Making your Own Chili Paste

This is so easy and you can make a fantastic chili paste that is healthy and free of any artificial ingredients. Most store bought brands have preservatives and chemicals. This one is just chili paste and nothing else. This is a fiery chili paste, which was shared with me from my friends in New Delhi. It is wonderful and a must for chili and garlic lovers. Ingredients 1 lb. Red Bullet chilies (or ripe jalapenos), or other hot red chili 2.5  oz. fresh Garlic cloves, peeled and crushed Juice of two Lemons 2 Tbsp. of Rice Vinegar 1 tsp Salt 1 tsp Sugar  Grind everything together in a food processor and store in the refrigerator in a glass jar. It is better after aging for a few days to a week. It will keep for months.

Gai Pad Prik/Chicken with Hot Chilies

T hailand has always been one of my favorite places to visit. There are wonderful people, amazing sights and fantastic food. What more could you ask for? I wanted to share some simple Thai recipes, as I know most of you love Thai food, but many people think it's complicated to prepare. Actually it's very easy if you follow a few simple steps. Bottom line, you need to have everything prepared and ready to go before you start and then it's just a matter of putting it all into the wok in sequence. Make sure you are careful with your ingredients, as the flavor is well balanced, so the ingredients are key. If you have any questions about the ingredients, just refer back to the "Thoughts on Setting up your Kitchen" post in December 2010. Experiment and have fun. Here is a very basic Thai stir fry dish, which can be ready in 20 mintues from start to finish.  This is my absolute favorite, and it is very easy to make. Warning: it can be really hot, and in Thail

Poulet au Lyonnais/Chicken in Dijon Cream Sauce

This is a wonderful dish, which reflects the rustic cuisine of the Lyon region perfectly. The use of Dijon mustard is a must. Should you want to lighten it up a bit, you may also use plain Greek style yogurt instead of the sour cream, but be careful as the yogurt tends to break if cooked too much. It won’t affect the taste to much, but the sauce will be less pristine and authentic. Ingredients  8 Chicken Thighs with bone in 4 Tbsp Butter 1 Large Onion chopped 16 oz of Mushrooms, sliced in half 1 Shallot minced 1 cup of Chicken broth 1 pint of Crème Fraiche or Sour Cream 1 pint of Heavy Cream 1/2 bunch of fresh Tarragon, chopped 1 cup of White wine 3 Tbsp Dijon Mustard Salt and Pepper to taste Egg Noodles Salt and pepper the chicken breasts on both sides. Heat the butter in a heavy sauce pan which is able to hold all of the chicken breasts. If you use a smaller pan, then cook them in batches. After browning them well, remove them and s

New Cookbooks

Okay, finally in London and hit my favorite store for cookbooks. Here are my top choices to find new and interesting cookbooks. If you are laughing, then you need to come to London, because it  IS a major food scene. The old story of London being awful for food was 20 years ago. Now stop laughing! Here are some new cookbooks to search out, and some may be a bit tougher to find than others, but most will be available on "The Silver Spoon"- Certainly not new, but the top selling cookbook in Italy for the last 50 years and now in English. Must have something going for it. "Saraban" - Amazing book detailing a journey through Persian cooking. I am predicting this will be the next BIG cuisine. "Serendip"-  A wonderful book of the under appreciated Sri Lankan cuisine. Very interesting and great food. "Balance and Harmony" - The new cookbook from Neil Perry, famous Australian chef and owner of Rockpool, Rockpool Cafe

How to make your own Vanilla Extract-Update

Okay, now we are in week four and the color is noticeably darker than last time we looked and the aroma is clearly coming around. I am thinking that it will be at least another 2-3 weeks and they should be ready. As you can see from the pictures, the Tonga beans are quite a bit darker than the Tahitian beans. The aroma is clearly very different, with the Tonga beans giving off a pleasing fig like aroma versus the Tahitian which is quite floral and bright. If you want to try this project it couldn't be easier. Just buy a bottle, order the vanilla beans from and fill with vodka. Then be patient.

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives

So many of you asked for this recipe, so I am happy to share it. This is a modified version of a recipe from Claudia Roden's wonderful book "Arabesque". She has given a very authentic recipe which according to her book is, "the most famous Moroccan chicken dish". Which I can believe, as it is amazing. I have modified it to make it a bit easier to prepare. Firstly, you will need to find a somewhat unusual ingredient, preserved lemon. Don't try to make it without this, as the flavor will just not be there. Check your local Arab or Armenian food market and if you can't find preserved lemons, lemon pickle is a very good substitute. Normally, these lemon pickles will be from Egypt. Serve this with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Ingredients  6 Chicken Thighs, bone in and skin removed, except for one, where you should leave the skin on for flavor. 2 large Onions, chopped very fine 3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil 3 Garlic cloves, crushed Large pi

Chicken Salad with Tarragon ala Martha Stewart

I almost forgot. I have been asked by many of you to post this, so here you are. I first heard about this in Martha Stewart’s cookbook and tried it. It was stunning.  I adjusted a few things and now it is one of my favorite dishes to prepare. It’s easy and the flavor is perfect. The key to this is cooking the chicken perfectly. Ingredients  6 Large or 8 medium Chicken breasts, bone in and skin on. Avoid extra large chicken breasts as they take too long to cook. One large Onion, sliced thinly on the mandoline 1 bunch of fresh Tarragon, set half aside for afterwards 1 Tbsp Butter 5 Bay Leaves 1 handful of fresh flat leaf Parsley 1 bunch fresh Thyme 1 bunch fresh Chives, finely chopped and set aside 1 Lemon ½ cup Duke’s Mayonnaise ½ cup Crème Fraiche or Sour Cream if creme fraiche is not available 1 ½ cups Celery, chopped 1 cup of roasted Pecans Salt and Pepper 1 cup Seedless Grapes- Optional  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Salt and pepper t

Hummus Update- Is making it from scratch really better?

After hearing from many people that making hummus from scratch using the dried chickpeas versus the canned version is vastly superior, I decided to try it and I must say that they are right. It is a completely different texture and certainly has more depth of flavor. So, here is my revised hummus recipe if you are going to make it from scratch. Ingredients  1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas These will need to be soaked overnight in cold water. Use a big pot, as they absorb a lot of water. In the morning, drain them and replace with lots of fresh water in a big pot and bring to a boil. You will notice  a foamy residue, so skim this off.  Continue simmering for at least 2 hours, until the chickpeas are soft. Now drain them, reserving the cooking liquid, and put into a food processor and pulse. They will be somewhat grainy, but don't worry. Then add the following one at a time in this order, pulsing in between. 4 cloves of garlic, crushed 5 Tbsp of Tahini 4 lemons juic

Chicken Jalfrezi

I absolutely love Indian food, as it has so many different spices and there so so many regional variations in the cuisine.  This dish is prepared more in a southern style as it has coconut milk.  Experiment with the level of heat, by reducing the number of chilies or by seeding them. When working with chilies it is important to remember to wash your hands with soap and water , before you continue cooking. The heat and the oils are in the seeds and even more so in the inner membrane, so you can remove these to reduce the heat, but you need to use care as it's easy to forget and rub your eyes and I can assure you if you do this and get these irritant oils in your eyes, you won't forget a second time. I speak from personal experience! This is definitely one of my favorite curries and I like it because it can be made relatively quickly. The key to this dish is to have all of your ingredients arranged, so you aren’t scrambling around the kitchen trying to find t

Persian Food- Kebabs and Salad e' Shirazee

Staying with our Middle Eastern theme, I want to share these two wonderful Persian recipes. When I bought my first house, I was lucky enough to live next to some fantastic neighbors with whom I remain close friends.  And, even more lucky for me, my neighbor's  mother was a fabulous cook and made the best Persian food and frankly the first Persian food I had ever tasted.  I am always surprised with how little people know about Persian food, when it is one of the great cuisines of the world. Here are some of her recipes and I hope she will share some more with us later in the year, so we can all expand our understanding of this unique and interesting food. Kebabs  This is so basic and yet so wonderful. The key is to make sure that you marinate the meat for at least 24 hours and 48 hours is better. This recipe is made with chicken, but you could use lamb or beef also. Ingredients  Chicken Thighs One bunch Green Onions, about 6 3 Lemons, juiced ½ cup

Mezze - Babaghanoush and Hummus

Babaghanoush This is a wonderful and traditional "mezze" dish. Mezze are small dishes that can be served for either lunch or dinner and can also be starters for a larger meal. I personally like to have 4 or 5 different ones and serve them as a meal. There are many versions popular throughout the Middle East, but fundamentally most are quite similar. I like this one because it is smoky and richly flavored. Ingredients  3-4 Medium Eggplants 2 cloves crushed Garlic 4 Tbsp Tahini Juice of 2-3 Lemons 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil Sea Salt Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Take the eggplants and prick them all over. This is essential so they will not explode when you cook them. Turn on a gas flame and brown the eggplant skin on all sides, turning them frequently. A pair of tongs makes this very easy. This will take about 5-8 minutes, but keep a close watch on them. After they are well browned, put them onto an aluminum foil lined baking sheet and