Tag Archives: Recipes

Sometimes, I Want the Spicy

Well, that was an Oregon summer.

I guess it’s over? This week the sun promptly faded and the rain came out. I’m a bit sad that the sun went bye-bye and the rain and humidity are once again making macaron-baking a struggle, but on the bright side, soup season is here! I love soup season. I really do.

Okay, so this is really more of a stew/braise, but I’m all about the curry right now. My life has been touched by ambiguous curries. My dad used to make…well, who knows what my dad got up to with a dutch oven and free reign over the spice aisle, but he use to make these searingly hot (to my ten year old palate) concoctions, full of spicy meat and vomit-colored sauce. When I complained he’d just say, “You don’t know what’s good.”

The basis of all that is holy and good

Well, crap if he wasn’t right. I don’t know when the shift occurred; maybe sometime during the weekly dinner outings to the Thai place in Pacifica where my parents used to go. We went out a lot after my Dad died, something we almost never did when he was alive. It was a shift in the dynamic between mother and daughters; suddenly I could relate to my Mom in a way I couldn’t when I was younger. The three of us would go out for lunch like girlfriends, giggling over spicy curry and Thai iced tea, and it was like us against the world. Learning to like spicy food was like a rite of passage, one that I wasn’t capable of passing until just then.

Ah, jeez. Are you crying yet? If not, go chop an onion. Chop it good.

Anyway, this is an experimental sort of curry. I can only barely make Chinese recipes and I’m half Chinese, so I reserve the right to not know what the fuck I’m doing when it comes to Thai flavors. Thai-ish. I believe I adapted this recipe from a spicy soup recipe from Epicurious, and also from some other random recipe that called for sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes, they spoke to me. I made it once, I think at my mom’s house? And it was so good that I made it again a few weeks later for a work potluck. Last week when the weather turned gray I made it for the third time. And oh, I’ve missed it.

WARNING: If you do not enjoy the smells of delicious curry cooking, you should not make this. There is no escaping the tantalizing aromas. Neighbors and roommates will be very envious of/annoyed with you. But they can suck it.

Also I do not have any stovetop process photos, because even though my Dad was right about spicy meat being good, I was right about the sauce. It ain’t pretty. And my kitchen gets terrible lighting. If I could make a scratch and sniff website, I would. Actually, I might not, because that would be embarrassing and inappropriate in libraries and such.

Youll need tome rice, of course

I’d advise doing ALL the prep at once, marinating the chicken while you chop everything else. Once this baby gets going you’re not gonna want to stop. I made the mistake of forgetting to peel/chop my sweet potatoes until the last minute, and let me tell you, peeling potatoes is even less fun when you’re trying to do it on the fly. Also don’t shake your coconut milk when you buy/use it. Ideally I like to find the dingiest, dustiest can in the store, so the fat is nicely separated from the water. We’re gonna deglaze with that fat, baby. I’ve been told the fat helps to toast the spices and bring out extra yummy flavors, but I forget where I heard that or whether it makes any sense. But it looks impressive, and it makes it easier to incorporate the thick curry paste into the sauce.

Garnish with lime, green onion and cilantro

Experimental Curry

2 T. vegetable oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. lemongrass, minced
2 T. ginger, minced
2 T. curry paste (I used red curry paste, available in asian markets)
2 T. curry powder, divided
1 t. chili garlic sauce (The kind with the rooster on it…I call it cock sauce. You can use another name.)
2 cans coconut milk
2 c. chicken broth
2 1/2 T. fish sauce
2 t. sugar
3 c. sweet potato, cut into 2 inch chunks
3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, halved

Toss the chicken with half the curry powder, let marinate while you prepare the other ingredients, about half an hour.

Heat the oil in a large dutch oven and brown the chicken in 3-4 batches, over high heat, turning as soon as the pieces brown enough to unstick themselves from the bottom of the pan. Place the browned chicken in a bowl and set it aside. reduce the heat to medium and, in the same pot, sautee the onion, garlic, ginger and lemongrass until the onions are translucent and some of the liquid has released. Add the remaining curry powder, curry paste, and chili sauce, along with the fatty part of the coconut milk, skimmed off the top of the can. Stir it together and let it cook down a few minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

Add the remaining coconut milk, the chicken broth, fish sauce, and sugar, and bring to a boil. Add the chopped sweet potatoes and the browned chicken and reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer until the potatoes are cooked through and the chicken pulls apart easily, about half an hour.

Serve with steamed rice and garnish with cilantro, green onion and fresh squeezed lime.

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It’s true what they say about blond(ies)

Yeah, I had two. What?

Summertime, and the livin’s easy. Well, except for the fact that is was hot as balls last week.

Fun fact: not a single apartment in Portland has air conditioning. I spent most of my days wandering around the house in short shorts and a tank top moaning about the heat, sitting directly in front of the fan gulping ice water, or spending unnecessary money in big box stores and movie theaters, which are kept at a blessedly frigid sixty degrees.

It finally cooled down couple days ago, at least enough that I could turn on the oven without wanting to stick my head in it and die. I celebrated by baking. Lots of baking. Also by turning on the camera without gumming up the ports with sweat.

Butter and sugar. I could probably just eat this.

This recipe is from the [INSERT POPULAR PBS SHOW HERE] cookbook, which my Grandma gave me for Christmas a couple years ago. It’s quickly become my baking go-to, second only to my beloved Fannie Farmer Baking Book, which technically belongs to my mother and lives with her in California. The only problem with [BOOK BASED ON VERY THOROUGH MAGAZINE] is that they’re quite, ahh, protective of their recipes. Also, their Asian recipes are not especially reliable. But that’s another post! Let’s just say that [RECIPE FROM THAT BOOK YOU KNOW THAT ONE] is pretty good, even if the company that owns it is a bit poopy. And I can’t not use it, because buying reasonably priced items at Costco and gifting them to family members is like the highest form of praise in my family.

Eggs and vanilla in.

Eggs and vanilla in.

I like blondies because they’re easy. They’re so easy, in fact, I’m starting to get icky thoughts about how maybe they got their name because of some antiquated notions about the sexual habits of blondes. Hopefully that is not the case? Anyway, they use what my pastry teacher used to call the ol’ “melt & mix” technique, which is exactly as exciting as it sounds. I like making blondies more than making brownies because you don’t have to melt the stupid chocolate in the stupid microwave and nobody will catch you licking the chocolate/butter spoon. Not that that ever happens to me.

You could probably swirl this in ice cream and it would be the bomb.

You could probably swirl this in ice cream and it would be the bomb

I baked these in an 8×8 pan rather than a 9×13 because I love fudgy bar cookies and also because I don’t own a 9×13 pan. I know, right? Sad. Likewise, I dropped the oven temp to 325 degrees and baked them an additional ten minutes or so to avoid death by my oven, aka “the burninator.” The last time I made these I actually overbaked them, so I was more conservative this time and they came out super fudgy, even when I did the “knife pokey/comes out clean” test. On a third try I’d try to hit it somewhere in between, as these were pretty dang rich. But oh, the brown sugar goodness. Excuse me, I have to go drool for a bit.

Delicious Blondies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
4 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups A.P. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter or spray an 8×8 inch square pan and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar and whisk out all the lumps. Whisk in the 2 eggs and vanilla until smooth, then add the flour, salt and baking powder and mix until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts and pour batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it into the corners. Bake until the top is shiny and crinkly and a knife or skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes. You can wait until it’s cool and cut it into cute little squares, or you can pull a stoner move and eat it with a big spoon. Actually, please do not do that. Please?

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