Thursday, April 29, 2010

India = Success

I was a little scared to continue on Mate's journey after the way Nepal turned out. But, I pressed on. Mate and Shawn are with Shawn's parents now (they are missionaries, too) in India. They will leave here on Sunday. So, I thought I should cook before the weekend arrived and life got crazier. We have a ton of leftovers.

Spicy Shrimp in Coconut Milk - I had coconut milk leftover from a previous country, so this worked out well. And, since I cooked shrimp for my family last night and Bob missed out, I decided to cookshrimp for him tonight. I tasted the sauce for this and I really liked it. I found I needed to double what the recipe calls for in spices.
1/4 cup oil, 1 cup chopped onion, 1 tbsp minced garlic, 2 tsp minced fresh ginger, 2 tbsp coriander, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp cayenne, 1/8 tsp turmeric, 1 can diced tomatoes - drained, 2 1/2 cups coconut milk, 1/2 cup water, 1 tsp salt, 1 1/2 lb shrimp

- Heat oil in a large skillet (really large!). Add onions and cook for 3 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes. Add next 5 ingredients and cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook 1 more minute.
- Add coconut milk, water and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer until thickened. (This is where I tasted it, thought it was bland and dumped more spices (coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne and turmeric) in.)
- Add shrimp and cook until done.

Chole - Which I thought was Chloe. So, I thought I should make something named after my smallest Best Friend. Close enough, right? This was pretty yummy.
2 medium onions - chopped, 1 tbsp grated ginger, 2 tbsp chopped garlic, 1 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 2 medium tomatoes - chopped, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp turmeric, salt, 1/2 tsp cayenne, 2 cans garbanzo beans - rinsed and drained, 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tbsp lemon juice
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat cumin, bay leaf and cinnamon until very fragrant.
- Add ginger and garlic until the smell fills the air.
- Saute onions until translucent (add drops of water to prevent sticking).
- Adds tomatoes, coriander, tumeric, salt and cayenne. Bring to a boil.
- Add garbanzo beans, cover and reduce heat. Simmer on low for 10 - 15 minutes.
- Stir in garam masala and lemon juice right before serving.

Golden Basmati Rice - this makes a ton! But, it was good. And, everyone needs a good starch when eating Indian food, right?
2 cups brown basmati rice, 4 cups water, 1/2 tsp cumkin, 3/4 tsp turmeric, 5 cloves, 1/3 cup chopped onion, 1/2 tsp salt

- Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cover and let cook 15 - 20 minutes.
- Check after 15 minutes and let it continue to cook until the water's gone.
- Let rice sit, mostly covered, for 7 - 10 minutes.

Potatoes with Indian Spices - If the 12 servings of Basmati rice were not enough, I thought I would serve some more carbs. But, I liked these. Bob could not taste these very well because he has a cold. I ate my portion and then some. Yes, I am a starch-itarian!
2 lbs peeled potatoes, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp chili powder, coarse salt, 1/2 tsp cumin
- Slice potatoes into half-inch rounds. Dice into small pieces.
- Fry potatoes over high heat (this makes them stick to the pot which makes Bob not so happy to clean the dishes). Turn heat down and cover. When the potatoes are a little more than half done, add turmeric, chili powder and salt, closely followed by the remaining spices. Stir to combine and put the lid back on.
- Cook until done (soft and mushy).

Speaking of Mush - Badam Burfi - "a North Indian speciality that's rich and lick-your-fingers yummy." I kinda substituted some stuff, so this did not turn out like it was supposed to. And, I did not like the texture (it was a little like the texture of coconut). Bob liked it. This was supposed to cut into squares. We just had a glop of stuff in a bowl. We have now put it in the fridge to see if it hardens up.
1 cup finely ground almonds, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup whole milk (I used skim), 2 tbsp ghee or clarified butter (I used my organic butter)
- Grease a shallow 6x6 inch pan with ghee (I only have 8x8 inch dishes).
- In a frying pan, over a low flame, mix almonds, sugar and milk. Stir.
- After 5 minutes, add ghee.
- Continuing stirring until the mixture thickens to the consistency of bread batter and starts leaving the sides of the pan. Stir for a few more minutes. (Maybe I have never seen bread batter)
- Remove from flame and pour into prepared greased dish.
- 20 minutes later, after it partially cools, cut into 1 inch squares (or scoop some glop into a bowl).
- Cool completely.

Nepal = Fail

I was so excited to cook from Nepal. Mate and Shawn spent their time in Nepal with Summer and Beau. Summer went to LSU with Mate and Shawn and she and her husband are now missionaries in Kathmandu. I was kind of jealous that Summer got to play with Mate and talk to her every day, but I got over it. Hopefully, I will get to see Summer and Beau at El Gato in July...we really like them.
Anyway...I asked Summer for some recipes that natives eat and she helped me out. We had our friend, Chuck over for dinner since Rhonda was out of town (we need to make sure he does not starve while she is away). And, it was one liked the same thing - except the egg rolls and dessert. I was kinda bummed with the way Nepal turned out (no offense, Summer). Here is what I made:

Kathmandu Spring Rolls (yes, I homemade egg rolls) - Chuck gave these a 4.5, Bob gave these a 4.75 and I gave them a 5.
spring roll wraps, 1 cup chopped onion, 1 cup chopped celery, 1 cup grated carrot, 1/2 cup chopped scallions, 3 tbsp cilantro, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tbsp curry powder, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp sesame oil

- Combine all filling ingredients and mix well.
- Spread out wrap and moisten edges with water.
- Spread mixture across middle of wrap. Fold both edges over mixture and roll over.
- Heat a bunch of oil (this has to be low in Weight Watchers Points!) and deep fry spring rolls until golden brown. (I got to use my asparagus steamer for the first time...a basket dipped in oil)
- Drain excess oil on a towel. Serve warm

Achaar - I did not know what to do with this. Summer said it is like salsa and you can serve it on your lentils if you would like. We used it like Duck Sauce on our egg rolls. Bob and Chuck gave it a 4.
1 lb chopped tomatoes, 3 - 4 diced green chilies, 1/2 onion - chopped, 1 tsp turmeric

- Heat some olive oil and saute vegetables. Add turmeric and a little salt.
- Cover and cook a few minutes (gotta love the measuring the crazy Nepalese missionaries do!).
- Uncover and mash. Recover and cook a few more minutes.

Vegetables - Not sure if these have a better name, but this is the one I was given. Bob and Chuck both gave this a 4. I did not think they had much flavor.
1 chopped onion, 2 chopped potatoes, some green beans, 4 chopped carrots, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp masala (please note that the only things I was given measurements for were the onion and the spices...maybe I used too many of the other veggies)
- Heat enough oil to saute the onion.
- Add potatoes, green beans, carrots and spices.
- Cook until tender.

Dahl Bat - Summer says this is one of the main dishes in Nepal. I liked this, but Bob gave this a 1.5 and Chuck gave it a 2.25. Maybe the Nepalese people make it better than I did. (I think Bob could not get over the way this looked!)
1 cup lentils, 1 chopped onion, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp masala, 1 tsp salt

- Wash the lentils. Soak in warm water for about an hour.
- Saute onion in oil. Add lentils, turmeric and masala.
- After a few minutes, add enough water to cover the lentils.
- Add salt, cover and cook until done (Summer had to let me know these are done when they get mushy).

Chicken Bhutua - Since I did not think the boys could make a meal of vegetables and lentils, I decided to make some meat for them. This got a 4 from Bob and a 4.25 from Chuck. Chuck took all of the leftovers home.
1 1/2 lb chicken, 5 minced garlic cloves, 1 inch ginger - minced, 3 red chilies - minced, 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tbsp olive oil (recipe calls for musturd oil...I could not find that), 1 cup green onions - cut 1" in length, 4 tbsp olive oil (or musturd oil if you can find it), 1 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 5 cloves, 1 tsp fenugreek
- Combine chicken, 1 tbsp oil, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
- Heat 4 tbsp oil. Add fenugreek until they turn dark. Add cloves and fry for 15 seconds. Add chicken and brown.
- Add garlic, ginger and red chilies. Stir fry chicken on medium heat until cooked through (if it seems dry, add a little water).
- When chicken is done, add green onions and cinnamon, mix and heat through.

Gulab Jamun - Milkballs in Syrup. We all loved these and did not have any left. Summer says this is a popular dessert in Nepal (along with plain yogurt and fruit...we opted not to have that!). Mine looked a little funny and had a funny texture, but they sure were yummy!
3 cups sugar, 7 cups water, 2 tsp cardamom, 1 tsp turmeric, 2 cups powdered milk, 2/3 cup flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- Make a syrup by boiling sugar and water until sugar dissolves.
- Turn off heat and add cardamom and turmeric. Set syrup aside on stove.
- Mix by hand in a bowl powdered milk, flour and baking soda. Gradually add in cream and mix to form a soft dough.
- Make into walnut sized balls, set aside and cover with a damp cloth.
- Heat 4 cups of vegetable oil. Add milk balls a few at a time in a basket (again, using the asparagus steamer!). Fry to an even dark brown, shaking basket continuously. When browned, drain excess oil off. Dip each ball into the syrup and transfer to a serving dish.
- Boil syrup again for 15 minutes and pour over milk balls.

Next time, I will just have Summer cook for me.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bangkok - I cheated!

So...after realizing I only had 3 days to cook Bangkok food, I realized I was in a bind. Mate should not travel this fast! I did not even know where Bangkok was. So, I looked it up and found out it is the largest city in Thailand. Then, I scrolled down Mate's list of stops and saw that she and Shawn are returning to Thailand for a longer stay in a few weeks. So, I cheated. For the first time while on this journey. It was on a Tuesday night (after I weighed in at Weight Watchers), so we ate good with our Weight Watchers gang!!

Bob and I were introduced to Thai Cuisine Express a little over a year ago by our good friends, Chuck and Rhonda.

See the front window? A True Taste of Thai! If you live in the Asheville area, or are just visiting, you must stop by. This is a complete hole in the wall restaurant, but it is amazing! Bob and I go here about twice a month. There are only 4 booths in the whole restaurant, and your plates never match, but this adds to what makes this place so awesome!! We are on a first name basis with the owner/Chef, Pom. He knows what we want and knows what to leave out and what to add (I get 5 stars...that is super spicy and makes my nose run!). And, while Mate's brother, Russell lived in Asheville, he was also a regular here.

The above is my Cashew Tofu. I branched out this time. For the sake of the blog. I usually get Pineapple Fried Rice (see below) with Tofu or Pa Ram with Tofu. I have yet to get anything bad here. Since we have proved ourselves to Pom, he knows I am serious when I ask for a 5 star meal. He adds extra spice in mine...and I love it!

Bob got Pineapple Fried Rice with Beef. YUM (well, minus the beef!)!!

And, even though we did not catch Bob smiling, he had a great time and a great meal. This is us with Pom. Isn't he cute? I want him to come to my house and cook every night! And, if you come and visit me, I will probably take you to visit him. You will like him, I know!
Thai Cuisine Express...on Smoky Park Highway across from Fisherman's Quarters and between the Pawn Shop (next to the Funeral Home) and the car wash (Pom does not give change for the car wash). And, just so you do not have to go alone, call me! I'll be up for it any day!

Orient Express - A Little Late

From April 15 - 17, Mate and Shawn took the Orient Express through Indonesia. I think they had fun. And, this was, by far, one of the best meals I have made. I pulled a sample menu from the Orient Express, Mate and Shawn could have had this while on the train!

The night's presentation started with the Menu Cards. I made these at work letting our guests (Bob, Mom, Adrienne, Richard, Chloe, Claire and I) know what they were having for dinner. I printed out a step-by-step guide for folding napkins. Bob made some amazing Bishop's Hats. If you need to know how to do this, go to It was very impressive!

For our Amuse Bouche (which I learned is a fancy term for appetizer!), we served Reduced Fat Wheat Wafers (Wheat Thins) and Assorted Cheeses of the World (a quote from one of my favorite movies...Red Wine and Cheeses of the World!! (if you guess the movie, you earn a point)) - which included Smoked Gouda (because I love it), Jalapeno Havarti and some Tuscan Cheddar.

Also, for our starter, I served Yucca Chips. These were rated 5 out of 5 and were gobbled up and we did not get pictures.

1 lb yucca, 2 - 3 tsp Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning, 2 tsp salt (or to taste...I used too much!), 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Wash and peel yucca. Slice 1/8 inch thick.
- Slide the yucca pieces onto bamboo sticks and place across a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes to blanch.
- When steam subsides, immerse immediately in a bowl of water with lemon juice and a few ice cubes.
- When cool, pat dry on towels.
- Preheat oven to 450.
- Place yucca and spices in a bowl and mix well. Spread in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet.
- Bake for 10 minutes, turn and bake an additional 10 minutes. Watch them to make sure they do not burn (ours were kinda burned, but Mom likes them that way).

We started the meal with Pan Fried Sea Scallops. Another 5 out of 5.
1 1/2 lb sea scallops, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, 1/8 tsp paprika, 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup white wine

- Mix bread crumbs, salt, pepper and paprika in a bowl. Roll scallops thoroughly in the bread crumb mixture.
- In a large skillet, heat butter until frothy. Add scallops and saute until lightly browned.
- Gently remove scallops from skillet. Add wine to butter left in skillet. Boil gently while stirring for 1 minute. Pour sauce over scallops and serve.
(My breadcrumbs did not stick to the scallops, so they kinda floated around in the serving bowl...oh well!)

Next, we had Medallion of Beef. This was kinda funny. I asked our butcher for Beef Tenderloin because I did not see it out in the case. It was kinda early in the morning and I had just showered and was not quite awake. I did not think I looked THAT bad. But, the butcher looked at me and said, "It is very expensive." I said "Ok, can I have it, please?" He then said again, "It's pretty expensive." So, I asked again, nicely, "My recipe calls for beef tenderloin. Can I have 2 pounds?" So, he went back in the back and cut me a 2 lb piece. When he handed it to me, he said, "Now, this is $25." I just smiled and said thanks. I took a picture of Jack eating the leftovers for my butcher. I totally felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when she was told she could not shop.

Anyway...back to the Medallion of Beef. This was given a 5 out of 5.
1 lb beef tenderloin, 3 tbsp butter, 2 large shallots, 3/4 cup sliced mushrooms, 1/2 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp rosemary, 1/2 tbsp flour, 3/4 cup broth, 3/4 cup dry red wine

- Start by cutting the tenderloin into 6 pieces, about 1/4 inch thick. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a medium skillet, melt a tbsp of butter. Add beef and saute until outside is brown, but inside is still very pink. After browning, remove each tenderloin from pan and keep warm.
- Add remaining butter to skillet, and, when melted, add mushrooms and shallots. Saute until tender. Sprinkle sugar over the mixture and cook until deep brown.
- Add vinegar, garlic, herbs and flour and stir for one minute, until liquid is absorbed. Add broth and wine and bring to a boil.
- Cook until liquid is thickened.
- Return beef to pan and cook through.
- Arrange beef on plate and serve sauce on the side.
We served this with Oven Roasted Green Beans. These have been a tried and true recipe in my house for awhile. We love these!
2 lbs green beans, 2 tbsp olive oil, sea salt to taste, black pepper to taste, Tony Chachere's to taste

- Preheat oven to 400.
- Wash, dry well and trim green beans.
- Put green beans on a cookie sheet.
- Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings. Use your hands to ensure all beans are coated and spread evenly on pan.
- Roast for 20 - 25 minutes, turning after 15 minutes, until beans are fairly brown in spots and shriveled.

And, to go with those, some Pan Roasted Broccoli. Again, another staple in our house.
3 tbsp water, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, 2 tbsp olive oil, broccoli florets

- Stir water, salt and pepper together in a small bowl until salt dissolves.
- In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat and add broccoli in an even layer. Don't stir for about 2 minutes, until broccoli starts to brown.
- Add the water mixture and cover, cooking for an additional 2 minutes.
- Uncover and cook until desired done-ness.

Linguine with Parmesan and Herbs.
1 box of Pasta Roni Pasta with Parmesan, whatever ingredients the box calls for

- Cook according to package directions. Very hard!

And, for dessert...Pineapple Tarte Tatin.
1 1/2 cups sugar, 5 tbsp butter, 4 pineapple rings, 1 puff pastry

- Preheat oven to 400.
- Put sugar into an ovenproof pan and heat gently without stirring until it carmalises, turning golden brown. (This is super sticky and almost ruined our may need Bob for this process, he is good (and patient) with cleaning tough to get out stuff!)
- Remove from heat. Add in butter and stir gently.
- Place pineapple rings in the caramel.
- Place the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Cut out a circle slightly larger than the pan. Place the pastry over the pineapple and caramel, tucking the edges of the pastry into the sides of the pan.
- Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the pastry is brown.
- Remove tart from oven and set aside to cool for 4 minutes.
- Place a serving plate on top of the pan and invert it, so that the tart slips out with the pastry on the base and the pineapple on top (think pineapple upside down cake).

And, when we were done, we napped. This took a lot of effort, but was well worth it to see and hear my family's delight! I hope Mate and Shawn ate this well while on the train.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Singapore Night = Another Trip to the Chinese Grocery Store!

Heehee!! Mate was in Singapore April 11 - 15. I had to act fast since we had two birthdays during that time and neither of them chose Singapore food for their birthday dinner! We made this dinner for our good friends, Chuck and Rhonda. I brought all of my ingredients to their house and cooked. And, after I cooked my all 5 ranking meal, I managed to win a game of Corn Hole. Sweet!

For the first course, I served Orange-Carrot Soup. This got a 5 out of 5 and was pretty yummy.

2 tbsp peanut oil, 1 lb carrots - chopped, 3/4 cup chopped leeks - white part only, 1 tbsp ginger, 3 cups broth, 1 1/2 cup orange juice, salt

- Heat the oil. Saute carrots, leeks and ginger. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.
- Puree the solids. Return the pureed mix to the pan and stir in the orange juice. Season with salt.
- Recipe says to serve chilled, but we prefer hot soup, so I served warm.

For our salad, we had Singapore Cucumber Salad. While this was not my favorite, it was given a 5 out of 5 from the group.

1 cucumber - thinly sliced, 1 bell pepper - thinly sliced, 1/2 cup chopped red onion, 1 navel orange - cut into small pieces, 1 tbsp soy sauce (again, I use Bragg's), 2 tbsp cooking sherry, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp sriracha (this is the Asian hot sauce they have on the tables at Asiana. It's red and has green Chinese animals on the bottle. They sell this at Kim's Chinese grocery store.), 2 tsp sesame seeds

- Mix all ingredients well.
- Keep in fridge, but allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

Main course - Singapore Five Spice Stir Fry. YUMMY!! I just finished my leftovers yesterday and I am sad I do not have any more. I served this over spaghetti.

For the sauce - 1/2 cup orange juice, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 3/4 tsp Chinese 5 Spice Powder (can be found at Kim's), 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (you know I use more!), 2 tbsp soy sauce (or Bragg's), 1 packet Splenda

For the stir fry - 1 cup baby carrots - chopped, 1 onion - chopped, 2 garlic cloves, broccoli (I use's my favorite!), chicken or tofu (I did batch of each)

- Cook the pasta.
- Combine all sauce ingredients and set aside.
- Saute vegetables and chicken or tofu.
- Add sauce and cook until thickened.
- Add noodles and stir until well mixed.
*I marinated both the chicken and tofu overnight in another batch of sauce. Not sure if this is why it tasted so yummy, but I thought it couldn't hurt! *

And, for dessert...Banana Fritters! Mate loves bananas, but I am not sure if she would like these. She is just so dang picky! These got a 5 out of 5 and were nibbled as they were coming out of the pan. My lovely assistant, Rhonda, did the sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar.

4 eggs, 12 tbsp flour, 4 bananas, oil for frying (this has to be good for you!), cinnamon, powdered sugar

- Slightly beat eggs with flour and 1/2 cup water.
- Mash bananas with a fork (this part made me feel like a little kid) and mix with the egg mixture.
- Drop by the spoonfuls into the heated oil and fry until golden brown on each side.
- Drain on a towel.
- Dust with cinnamon and sugar. Enjoy!

And, then, Mate and Shawn hopped on the Orient Express. I was so excited about this meal. Check back later for my post on that one. You will not want to miss it!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bali Hai

So, tonight I cooked food from Bali for my family. It was also a hit. Mom, dad, Adrienne, Richard, Chloe and Mollie Claire all came to our house for dinner. I sure do love having everyone together.

There were a few ingredients I could not find - and I went to our healthy grocery store and Kim's Oriental Pavilion (the Chinese grocery store) and the regular grocery store. So, I did something I very rarely do...I made some stuff up. And, surprisingly, it turned out ok. I am not sure what makes these things Balinese foods, but they all came up on searches for Bali recipes. Hopefully I came close to what Mate is eating tonight.

To start off with, we had Fried Peanuts. Those received a 5 out of 5 and were immediately gobbled up.

1 cup oil (I used soybean oil...which I found at the Chinese grocery store), 1 cup shelled raw peanuts and some seasoning

- Heat oil until moderately hot.

- Add peanuts and fry for 5 minutes until crisp.

- Drain on towel and sprinkle with seasoning salt just before serving.

To drink, I served a Bali Fruit Punch. This also received a 5 out of 5 and I do not have any left to drink. And, it was a huge hit with Chloe (the super-picky almost 5 year old).

1 small box cherry Jell-o, 1 cup hot water, 1 can frozen orange juice, 1 can frozen lemonade, 1 large can pineapple juice, 24 oz ginger ale

- Mix all ingredients and serve cold.

For our first course, I served Corn Soup (which turned out more like creamed corn). This got a 5 out of 5. It did not make a whole lot and everyone wanted more.

5 – 6 ears corn, 15 tbsp coconut milk, 3 tbsp butter, 3 tbsp flour, salt and pepper to taste

- Boil corn for 20 minutes. Let cool. Remove corn from ears.
- Grind corn in food processor.
- Heat the butter and flour and mix evenly. Spoon in corn. Add milk and heat over medium high heat.

Yummy-ness for me! Cah Kacang Paniang (some Balinese words for green beans with tofu and tempeh). This got a 5 out of 5 and there is none for my lunch.

9 oz green beans, 14 oz pack firm tofu, 7 oz packet of tempeh, 2 large green chilies, 5 garlic cloves, salt and pepper, soy sauce (I use Bragg’s liquid aminoes), 2 tbsp soybean oil (I found this at Kim’s Chinese grocery store)

- Cut tofu and tempeh into cubes.

-Wash and trim green beans. Blanch (stick them in boiling water for a few minutes and then super cold water for a few minutes) green beans.

- Saute green beans in soybean oil and then remove beans from pan.

- In the same oil, fry garlic, tofu, tempeh and chilies. Stir constantly. Season with salt and pepper.

- Add in green beans and soy sauce. Stir until everything is mixed well.

Because I did not know how my chicken would turn out, I made Bali Beef Casserole. This got a 5 out of 5, but made a lot, so I have some left over.

1 ½ lbs beef (I used veggie crumbles), ½ tsp salt, 1 tsp curry powder, 1 ½ cups cooked rice, ½ cup minced onion, 1 clove garlic – minced, 16 oz diced tomatoes, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

- Brown beef (or, thaw veggie crumbles).

- Combine with all other ingredients and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

But…the chicken turned out great! Be Siap Base Kalas (which means you will not be able to find any ingredients the recipe calls for, but if you just throw some stuff in a pan and call it Balinese, everyone will believe you and it will taste good). 5 out of 5. And, I think the bowl was licked.

2 tbsp coconut oil, 3 stalks lemongrass – chopped, 1 ½ lb boneless skinless chicken breast – cut into bite-sized pieces, 1 ½ cup chicken broth, 1 ½ cup coconut milk, salt and pepper

- Heat oil over low heat in a heavy saucepan. Add lemongrass and chicken. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until chicken is pretty much done.

- Pour in chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add coconut milk and bring to a boil again. Simmer until chicken is cooked and sauce thickens.

I served the chicken over Nasi Kuning. This is yellow rice that is eaten to celebrate weddings and the birth of children. We served this in honor of Mollie Claire. I am not sure of the ranking of this, but everyone said they liked it, but, the leftovers got thrown away. This also did not cook like the directions said it would.

1 lb long grain rice, 2 cups coconut cream (different from coconut milk), 1 tsp turmeric, pinch of salt, 2 whole cloves, some curry powder

- Soak rice in water for 1 hour. Wash and drain the rice.

- Place in saucepan with coconut cream, turmeric, salt, cloves and curry.

- Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 5 – 6 minutes until rice has absorbed all coconut cream.

- Reduce heat to low and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

*Supposedly this is all it takes. But, my rice was crunchy. And, stuck to the bottom of the pot. I added a bunch of coconut milk (what else am I supposed to do with the half-gallon I had to purchase today?), cooked it a bit longer on higher heat on the stove. It was still a little crunchy, so I stuck it in the microwave and heated it until it was not so crunchy.

And, for dessert, we had Rujak. This is Balinese for super spicy fruit salad that calls for some weird stuff (some of which I left out) and is so spicy, it makes your family from Louisiana choke. This got a 5 out of 5.

1 orange, 2 pears, 1 apple, ½ pineapple, 1 cucumber, 1 tbsp dried tamarind (I have no clue what this is, but it can be found at Earth Fare – it comes in a block with a picture of shrimp on the front, but no listed ingredients), 1 red chili (I thought that was not enough, so I used 4…that was too many!!), 3 tbsp brown sugar, pinch of salt

- Cut up all fruit, cucumber and chili. Put in a bowl.

- Put 5 tbsp boiling water in a bowl. Slice the tamarind and put on top of water. After a few minutes, some brown liquid stuff appears and you can remove the rind (or whatever the hard stuff you sliced is). Throw hard part away and pour liquid over fruit.

- Mix in brown sugar and salt.

- Stir well. (I used my hands to make sure it was all mixed good!)

*This recipe also calls for Shrimp paste (which was found at Kim’s Chinese store for $1.69). After opening the jar and smelling it, my family decided we did not want that anywhere near our dinner.

And, I cooked one more thing…the ever popular Balinese Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. If Chloe joins us for dinner, we must cook something she can eat. And, this is her favorite.

Next stop – Singapore. I wonder what they serve there.

I sure hope Mate is getting enough to eat. I know she would not eat any of the stuff I have been making. And, I sure do miss her. It’s hard going from talking everyday (at least once) to talking once in 3 months.

Monday, April 5, 2010

G'Day Mate!!

From March 12 - April 1, Mate was in the land of Mates. Australia! Sweet! I waited until March 31st to cook my Australian meal. And, it was a huge hit (though it took about 3 hours to make)! Even my crocodile from Down Under served as our entertainment for the evening singing "I Come From a Land Down Under." I was so sad not to be able to talk to my Mate on this evening, though.

For an appetizer, we had Eggplant Dip, which received a 5 out of 5. I served it with Stacy's Pita Chips (which are like crack to my Bible study group).
1 eggplant, 1 cup bread crumbs, 2 garlic cloves - crushed, 1/2 cup parsley, 2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp paprika, 2 tbsp lemon juice and 1/4 cup natural yogurt

- Place whole eggplant on an oven tray. Bake, uncovered at 350 for 40 minutes, or until soft.
- Place eggplant in a paper bag and seal for 10 minutes.
- Remove the skin and chop the insides (Julia did this for me).
- Blend eggplant with remaining ingredients.
- Chill until ready to serve.

For one side, we had Zucchini Bites, which received a 4.75 out of 5.
1 tbsp olive oil, 1 finely chopped onion, 1 lg carrot - grated, 1 lg zucchini - grated, 3 eggs, 1 cup grated cheese, 1/4 cup cream, 1/2 cup self-rising flour

- Saute onions in oil until translucent. Add carrot and zucchini (which Mom grated) and cook an additional 2 minutes.
- Transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Beat the eggs, cream and cheese. Season with garlic powder.
- Stir egg mixture into zucchini mixture. Stir in flour.
- Grease a muffin tin and spoon mixture into the little holes.
- Bake at 350 for 15 - 20 minutes.

We also had Smashed Potatoes, which received a 4.25 out of 5.
16 small potatoes (I just bought a little bag of small potatoes...I did not count them), 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp thyme, salt and pepper to taste

- Preheat oven to 475.
- Boil potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and transfer to a lightly greased baking dish. Squash each potato flat.
- Brush the tops of each potato with olive oil, cumin, thyme and salt and pepper.
- Bake 20 - 25 minutes until crisp and golden.

The main course was Australian Meat Pie. This received a 5+ out of 5. It called for Kangaroo meat, but Ingles does not carry that, so I had to settle for ground beef. Maybe I can find Kangaroo for next time(?).

1 lb ground beef, 1 onion - chopped, 1 cup water - divided, 2 beef boullion cubes, 1/4 cup ketchup, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, pepper, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1 pinch nutmeg, 3 tbsp flour, 2 puff pastry sheets (this was in the frozen bread section), 1 egg - beaten

- Preheat oven to 425.
- Brown meat and onion. Add 3/4 cup water, boullion, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, oregano and nutmeg. Boil for 15 minutes.
- Blend flour with 1/4 cup water until it becomes a smooth paste. Add to meat mixture and let cool.
- Grease a pie plate and line with one of the puff pastries. Add cooled meat mixture. Brush with egg. Put remaining puff pastry on top. Press the edges down and glaze the top with egg.
- Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and 350 for 25 minutes.

And, for dessert, Lemon Slices. These got a 4.5 out of 5.
2 cups flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 stick butter (gotta love this part!), 3 eggs, 1/4 cup lemon juice, zest of 1 lemon (Mom did this part, too), 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup self rising flour

- Preheat oven to 320.
- Place flour, powdered sugar and butter in a food processor and mix until a ball is formed (a ball did not actually form...but close enough!).
- Grease a baking dish and pour in mixture. Press flat. Bake for 20 minutes.
- In the same food processor, add eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and self-rising flour. Process until well-combined.
- Once base has cooked, pour filling on top and cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until set in the middle.
Next stop, Bali. Mate arrived there on April 1st and will be there until April 11th. I will cook a Bali-nese (?) meal on Wednesday, the 7th. And, I will post about it on the 7th or 8th. I will try not to keep you in suspense for so long! to Bali!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

New Zealand - Take 2's been awhile since I blogged about my cooking experiences. And, I have fallen completely off the research train. So, I will switch to just cooking meals and not doing my research. Life is too crazy for that and I will just read what Mate tells me she is learning. But, we do have a new niece and we were in a wedding since I last wrote! Did I mention my life is crazy?!?

I did cook the second New Zealand dinner like I said in my last post. I just did not write about it. It was not nearly as impressive as the first dinner, but was still pretty good.

Chili Garlic Mushrooms - 3.5 out of 5
1/3 cup olive oil (I used a little less)
2 oz butter
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red Thai chili, finely chopped
2 lbs mushrooms
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

- Heat oil and butter in a large frying pan. Cook garlic, chili and mushrooms, stirring for about 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.
- Add remaining ingredients and serve immediately.

Otaki Potatoes - 3 from Bob (he thought they were nothing special) and 4.5 from me
4 large potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
4 tbsp butter
1 1/4 cups tomato sauce
salt and pepper
3/4 cup water
- Slice potatoes 1/2" thick.
- Heat butter in a saucepan. Add onion and cook until golden brown. Add potatoes, tomato sauce and water. Season to taste.
- Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender.

Cottage Beef and Pasta - 4.5
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef (or veggie crumbles!)
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
14 oz canned tomatoes
1/4 cup beef stock
3 tbsp parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
8 oz corkscrew pasta (I used penne)
2 eggs
8 oz cottage cheese
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

- Cook the onion in oil for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional one minute. Set aside.
- Add ground beef to the pan and cook until meat is no longer pink. Add onion and garlic back in. Add celery, bay leaf and dried herbs, tomatoes, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and beef stock. Cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente.
- When meat is cooked, remove bay leaf and stir in the parsley. Mix the pasta with the meat then turn into a baking dish.
- Beat the eggs with the cottage cheese and grated cheese. Pour over the meat/pasta mixture.
- Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, until the top has browned and the sauce is bubbly.

And, that, my friends is New Zealand. Mate was here through March 12th and then headed to Australia. I will see you there!