Thursday, September 29, 2011

Curry in a Hurry

There's almost no point to making Thai food at home when you live in NYC. There are no less 18 Thai restaurants within a 10 block radius of my apartment. I took a Thai cooking class at ICE years ago and it was awesome, but I have yet to EVER make the recipes ever again! So why make a green curry at home? Because I need another way to make shrimp! Haven't you noticed how many posts I have on shrimp? They cook quickly and are tasty but I can't keep making garlic shrimp over and over again (but I do). And this green curry is not made like it was in my Thai class where we made the curry paste from scratch. I just bought the little jar o' paste at the grocery store. I don't think the addition of peas is authentic, but I like the slight sweetness paired with the spicy sauce. And the extra green looks purdy.

Shrimp Curry with Coconut Rice

Cooked basmati rice
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small jalapeño pepper, minced
1 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
1 1/2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped basil leaves
3 tablespoons minced cilantro
Freshly ground pepper

1. In a medium skillet, toast the coconut over moderately low heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Sprinkle over the cooked rice.

2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the jalapeño and cook for one minute. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and cook 1 minute per side. Transfer to a bowl.

3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the onion and the ginger and cook over moderate heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the coconut milk, stock, and curry paste and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Simmer the sauce for 5 minutes, until thickened. Add the cooked shrimp, peas, 1/3 cup of the basil, 2 tablespoons of the cilantro and simmer until heated through, 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with the remaining 2 tablespoons of basil, 1 tablespoon of cilantro. Serve immediately with the coconut rice. Serves 4.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Eggplant Assemblage

Holy cow. How good does that look?!? Sometimes I totally surprise myself. Thank you Melissa Clark. Thank you The New York Times. Thank you random folder of recipes that I keep even after the invention of this thing called the web. This recipe is delish.

I've been feeling super lame because I haven't been blogging regularly (get ready because that is going to change!) so this past weekend I decided that I wanted to make something simple yet seasonal and I think I hit the nail on the head with this deconstructed eggplant parm by Melissa Clark. It's fresh and flavorful and you don't have to bake it in the oven! There are more steps than I normally endorse, so takes awhile (2 hours if you are talking on the phone at the same time) but it's worth it! You cook the eggplant, cook the sauce, brown the bread crumbs, assemble, and voila...a gorgeous veggie starter.

Eggplant Parmesan Assemblage

1 large eggplant sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
Black pepper to taste
About 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
5 garlic cloves
4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
4 sprigs fresh oregano
3 sprigs fresh basil, plus 5 large leaves
5 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup ricotta
2 ounces fresh mozzarella

1. Place the eggplant slices in a colander over a bowl or in the sink. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand for 20 minutes. Drain and pat the slices dry with a paper towel. Season with pepper.

2. Working in batches, heat some of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat (you will need about 1/2 cup total for frying, less with a nonstick pan). Add as much eggplant to the skillet as fits comfortably in a single layer. Cook, without moving, until the undersides are dark golden, about 4 minutes; flip and cook 3 to 4 minutes more. Transfer the eggplant to a platter. Repeat with the remaining oil and eggplant.

3. Let the skillet cool for a few minutes. Return it to medium heat and add 3 tablespoons of the oil. Smash and peel 4 garlic cloves and add them to the skillet. Cook until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and oregano. Cook, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spatula, until the tomatoes start to form a sauce, 15 minutes. Add the basil sprigs and 4 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Simmer 5 minutes longer.

4. While the sauce simmers, in a small skillet over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil. Mince 1 garlic clove and add it to the skillet with the bread crumbs. Toast, stirring, until the bread crumbs are just golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the 1 remaining tablespoon of Parmesan and a pinch of salt.

5. Arrange the eggplant on a large platter. Spoon dollops of the ricotta over the eggplant and top with the sauce. Scatter the bread crumbs over the sauce. Top with the mozzarella and garnish with torn basil leaves. Drizzle with more oil and serve. Makes 6 to 8 side dish or appetizer servings.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I'm still here! My blog hasn't died a long slow death! I just got really, really, really lazy after going on vacay...check out some pics I tweeted (and some I didn't) while I was away! And now all I do is shout!!!

Backcountry Picnic Spot

Jazz Aspen Pre-Steely Dan performance

Premiere Picnic Table


The View

Sepia Hike

View of downtown Aspen and Ajax Mountain from my hike

With fall approaching, I am ready to get back into the swing of things and cook like the wind! Fortunately I came across a cookbook, Ying's Best One-Dish Meals, that held a promise of good eats. I uncovered it when I had the good fortune to pack years and years and years of office crap to move to a new (smaller!) office space. It sucks to pack your own stuff for your own move, but let me tell you, it sucks a million times more to pack the accumulated works of other people! Who you've never even met! Now that I think about it, I've had to move at nearly every job I've ever had. Coincidence? Bad timing? Or maybe I just linger too long at these jobs...Hmmm. So between purging old magazines and outdated files, and taking home nonsense that had piled up in my office/closet/annex, I decided to keep this one particular cookbook that looked simple and healthy, and had some interesting recipes.

I first tried the shrimp in spicy garlic sauce, which was essentially a healthier version of General Tso's, but without all of the fried tastiness. It was good, but I would suggest that calling this a garlic "sauce" is a stretch. It's a stir fry. There needs to be liquid to make a dish sauce-y. I did decide to take a few extra minutes to make my own candied walnuts though. The recipe calls for a purchased version, but since they are really easy to make and super delish on salads...or to snack on while watching the Real Housewives of Anywhere, I made my own. Even if you don't make the shrimp, try making the walnuts. Trust.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Candied Walnuts

3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
1 pound medium raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 medium bell peppers, cored and cut into strips
1 small white onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup candied walnuts (store bought or see recipe below)

1. Whisk the garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Heat a nonstick saute pan over high heat and coat with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the shrimp, reserving the marinade. Cook until the shrimp turns pink, about 2 minutes. Remove and place on a plate.

3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the peppers, onion, salt, additional red pepper flakes if using, and the reserved marinade. Cook until the onion and peppers soften, about 5 minutes. Return the shrimp to the pan and stir to heat through. Garnish with the candied walnuts. Serve immediately with rice or quinoa. Serve 4.

Candied Walnuts

1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 ounces walnuts (about one heaping cup; try not to use pieces)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the sugar, cayenne and salt.

2. Bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Add the walnuts and blanch them for 2 minutes. Drain well and then immediately roll the walnuts in the sugar mixture until thoroughly coated. (The sugar will melt slightly.)

3. Transfer the walnuts to a baking sheet or pan and bake, stirring occasionally, until they are a deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Watch carefully because the sugar can burn easily. Let cool completely before serving.