Sunday, February 24, 2013

Crab Cakes with Cilantro Pesto

If you already have you crab picked, this makes for a quick and easy dinner. You could save even more time by skipping on making the pesto and just adding equivalent amounts of cilantro, garlic, and pepper to the mix (Or you could make a large batch of pesto for other recipes and to freeze for later). The crab cake mixture is rather moist, so be careful when dredging in flour. The green color of the cakes is a bit odd, but the taste is worth it.

One year ago: Pork Tenderloin with Crusted Mediterranean Herbs
Two years ago: Stir-fried Orange Beef

Crab Cakes with Cilantro Pesto (from Real Thai)
Sweet-Hot Garlic Sauce
1/2 lb cooked lump crabmeat
1/2 lb ground pork
2 tbsp Cilantro pesto
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1 cup flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
handful of fresh cilantro
3 fresh red chee fah chilies, cut into long thin strips or 9 long, thin sweet red pepper strips

1. In a medium bowl, gently combine crabmeat, pork, pesto, egg, fish sauce, soy sauce, salt, and sugar. Mix well.
2. Put flour on a plate.
3. Shape crab-pork mixture into small cakes, Dip each cake in flour to lightly coat.
4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add crab cakes and saute turning once until golden brown and cooked, 5 minutes per side.
5. Transfer cakes to serving platter and garnish with cilantro and chili. Serve with dipping sauce.

Cilantro Pesto
1 tbsp whole white of black peppercorns
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro roots or leaves and stems
1/2 cup coarsely chopped garlic

1. Grinder peppercorns.
2. Combine pepper, cilantro, and garlic in blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

Sweet-Hot Garlic Sauce

I developed a minor addiction to Thai dipping sauce after being introduced to it by some Australian friends. Who knew it was so easy to make though?

One year ago: Spicy Red Cabbage with Apples and Carrots
Two years ago: Red Lentil, Tomato, and Coconut Soup
Three years ago: Penne with Potatoes and Arugula

Sweet-Hot Garlic Sauce (from Real Thai)

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tbsp finely minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp chili-garlic sauce or coarsely ground dried red chili (or sambal oelek)

1. In a small heavy saucepan, combine sugar, water, vinegar, and salt. Bring to a rolling boil. Stir, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes until mixture thickens.
2. Remove from heat, stir in chili garlic sauce, and let cool to room temperature.

Sauteed Mushrooms with Pork and White Pepper

Dinner in 15 minutes including prep? Yes, please. Even better, the flavors here work great with the earthy combination of mushrooms, garlic, and shallots. The fish sauce adds a nice bit of saltiness to the mix as well. Dinner was looking a bit monotone, so I wilted in some spinach at the last stage. It greatly improved the look of the dish and extra vegetables are always good, right?

One year ago: Wasabi-Ginger Mayonnaise
Two years ago: Gorgonzola Cheese Shells
Three years ago: Broccoli and Roasted Tomato Pseudo-Frittata

Sauteed Mushrooms with Pork and White Pepper (from Real Thai)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp thinly sliced garlic
2 tbsp thinly sliced shallot
1 small onion, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
1/4 lb pork, sliced into thin strips
1/2 lb mushrooms, cut lengthwise into bite-sized pieces
fresh spinach (optional)
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp water
1/2 tsp freshly ground white pepper

1. Heat work over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat.
2. Add garlic and stir-fry until fragrant and golden, 30 seconds.
3. Add shallot and stir-fry until it begins to wilt, 1 minute.
4. Add pork and stir-fry until no longer pink, 2 minutes.
5. Add mushrooms, toss to coat with oil and cook for 1 minute.
6. Add handfuls of spinach if desired and fish sauce, water, and pepper.
7. Cover to wilt spinach if using, otherwise stir-fry for 1 minute.
8. Serve.

Mussamun Curry with Beef, Potatoes, and Peanuts

Last week I had a revelation that I don't cook nearly enough Thai food and decided to fix that problem. This week has been devoted to Thai which has only left me wondering why I didn't delve into this cookbook sooner. This recipe takes a bit of time and a bit of investment in coconut milk and cream, but it could easily be scaled down into something a bit more reasonable. The curry paste lends it a bit of an Indian/Thai mix, but the recipe could easily be used with a pre-made curry paste as well. The most beautiful thing about this recipe though is how tender the coconut milk makes the beef. Also, the flavors only improve the next day after they've had some time to meld.

One year ago: Boston Cream Pie
Two years ago: Cocoa Brownies
Three years ago: Hockey and Baking

Mussamun Curry with Beef, Potatoes, and Peanuts (from Real Thai)
5 cups coconut milk
2 lb boneless beef, cut into 2" chunks
1 cup coconut cream
1/3 cup Mussamun Curry Paste
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar
3 tbsp Tamarind Liquid
12 whole cardamom pods
6 cinnamon sticks
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into 2" chunks
1 large onion, cut lengthwise into thick wedges
1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts
2 tbsp lime juice

1. In a large saucepan, bring coconut milk to a gentle boil over medium heat. Add beef chunks and simmer until tender, about 1 hour. (Note she has you add the potato rather late in the recipe. I was running behind on the curry paste and ended up adding it here somewhat around the 1 hour market to give the potato extra time to cook.)
2. In a small skillet over medium heat, bring coconut cream to a gentle boil. Cook for 6 - 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will become fragrant and thicken.
3. Add curry paste to cream and stir to dissolve. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes until it has a pleasing aroma.
4. Add curry paste to beef and stir well.
5. Add fish sauce, sugar, tamarind, cardamom, cinnamon, and potatoes (if you haven't already). Simmer 10 minutes.
6. Add onions and peanuts and simmer until potatoes are cooked, about 5 minutes (!).
7. Add lime juice to sharpen taste and serve.

Mussamun Curry Paste
1/3 cup dried red chilies
2 tbsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp ground cardamom (I used whole)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground mace
1 tsp ground nutmeg
3 stalks lemongrass
1 tbsp finely chopped galanga or ginger
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped garlic
1/2 cup coarsely chopped shalot
1 tbsp shrimp paste

1. Stem chiles, discards seeds, coarsely chop, and place in bowl. Add warm water and soak for 20 minutes. Drain.
2. Toast whole spices and set aside.
3. When cool, grind whole spices in spice grinder.
4. Toast ground spices and add to freshly ground whole spices.
5. Trim lemongrass stalks and finely chop.
6. Finally, using a method of your choice (food processor, blender, or mortar), grind to a paste.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Spinach and Mushroom Enchiladas with Tomatillo Salsa

If you've been reading this for awhile, you might have noticed that I have a soft spot for enchiladas. For me, it's always a toss-up between comfort food chili gravy and my decade obsession with tomatillo sauce. In this case, tomatillo sauce combines with ricotta, spinach, and mushrooms for a hearty vegetarian dish. (I think I might be over my mushroom aversion!) This dish is so good that the boy complained that I've given him too many delicious options for leftovers this week ... until I point out that this was (almost) vegetarian (I did fry the tortillas in lard and put chicken stock in the salsa).

To make this a little less time intensive, feel free to make the salsa ahead of time. Assembly of enchiladas is always a pain, but it's well worth it.

One year ago: Tangy Seared Chicken Wings
Two years ago: Curried Lentil Soup
Three years ago: Margarita Risotto

Spinach and Mushroom Enchiladas with Tomatillo Salsa (from The Homesick Texan Cookbook)

Tomatillo Salsa
1 poblano chile
1/2 lb fresh tomatillos, husks removed or 1 11 ounced can of tomatillos, drained
1/2 cup cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1 or 2 serrano chiles, stemmed and cut in half
1 tsp lime juice
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vegetable oil
10 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano chile, stemmed and diced
1 lb fresh spinach
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp vegetable oil or lard (you might need extra)
12 corn tortillas
2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated

1. Roast the poblano chile under a broiler until blackened. (She says 5 minutes each side, but mine need quite a bit more.) Place in a paper sack and let steam for 20 minutes. Remove from bag, rub off skin, remove stems and seeds, and chop. Place in blender.
2. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and place fresh tomatillos inside (you can skip this if using canned). Cook for 5 minutes. Drain and add to blender with poblano chile.
3. Add cilantro, garlic, serrano chiles, lime juice, chicken broth, and cumin to blender. Blend.
4. Heat oil in pot on medium low. Add sauce and simmer on low for 15 minutes, stirring.
5. For filling, heat oil on medium in a large skillet. Add sliced mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes. Add pinch of salt and transfer with slotted spoon to large bowl.
6. Add onion to skillet and cook until translucent, 5 minutes.
7. Add garlic and serrano chile and cook for 1 minute.
8. Add spinach and stir until mixed. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until wilted.
9. Season spinach with salt and pepper, drain, and add to mushrooms.
10. Stir ricotta cheese, lime juice, cayenne, cumin, and cinnamon into mushroom-spinach mixture.
11. Preheat oven to 350 and grease large baking dish.
12. In a skillet, heat up oil or lard on medium heat. One at a time, heat tortillas.
13. Drip heated tortillas in salsa (or brush them with salsa). Add 1/4 cup filling to tortilla and roll. Place in greased baking sheet. Repeat until all tortillas have been filled.
14. Pour salsa over enchiladas and top with grated cheese.
15. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and bubling.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thai Bok Choy Stir-Fry

Surprisingly, my Thai book doesn't have many vegetable recipes that don't contain meat as well. While looking for a side dish, this complicated maters a bit. This recipe originally calls for water spinach, but spinach, bok choy, yu choy, baby bok choy, and broccoli rabe are all suggested substitutions. I went with baby bok choy. I didn't have Thai brown bean sauce, so I used a Chinese chile bean sauce that was sitting in the fridge. It gave the dish a little bit extra kick, but that wasn't a bad thing at all. Unless I can find some more Thai vegetable dishes, we may be eating a lot of this one.

One year ago: Chicken Thighs with a Peanut Sauce
Two years ago: City Chicken
Three years ago: Cauliflower, Chickpea, and Tomato Couscous

Thai Bok Choy Stir-Fry (from Real Thai; originally Water Spinach in Flames)

2 lbs greens of your choice (see above)
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown bean sauce (dao jiow)
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1/2 tsp ground pepper

1. Trim greens if needed and coarsely chop. (If there are thicker stems, keep them separate.)
2. In a small bowl, combine fish sauce, bean sauce, and sugar.
3. Heat wok over high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. When smoking hot, add garlic and toss. (If using thicker stems add now and cook 1 minute.)
4. Add fish sauce mixture and mix with oil.
5. Add greens. Toss until it begins to wilt.
6. Transfer to serving platter with cooking liquid. Serve hot or warm.

Burmese-Style Pork Curry with Fresh Ginger

I came to a realization last weekend that although I like Thai and Mexican food very much, I haven't cooked it nearly often enough lately. Determined to fix that, I decided to give this recipe a shot. This recipe was so impressive that next week will be a mostly Thai week. The cooking time for the pork is a little short in this recipe, so you might want to plan on giving it a bit more time. Other than that small issue, the flavor on this is outstanding. Best of all, when eating, the little bits of shallots seemed to be hiding bacon and a bit of heat.

One year ago: Perfumed Basmati Rice with Black Cardamom Pods
Two years ago: Brisket Tacos
Three years ago: Peanut Butter and Nutella Brownies

Burmese-Style Pork Curry with Fresh Ginger (from Real Thai)

1/4 cup finely slivered, fresh ginger
12 small dried red chiles
2 tbsp thinly sliced lemongrass
2 tsp finely diced galanga
1 tbsp shrimp paste
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 lb pork, some fat attached, cut into chunks
1/4 lb fresh bacon (pork belly), cut into chunks
2 1/2 cups water
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp tamarind liquid

1. Place ginger in small bowl. Add warm water to cover and set aside.
2. Stem chiles and coarsely chop. Add to food processor along with lemongrass and galanga. Puree. (Note the book suggests a mortar and pestle, but I think this is a good time to pull out the food processor.)
3. Add shrimp paste to chile mixture and puree.
4. Add brown sugar to child mixture and puree until you have a dark brown, grainy mixture.
5. Place meat in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan and add curry paste (chile mixture). Stir to cover meat and heat over low heat.
6. Cook until meat has changed color, rendered some fat, and paste is fragrant, stirring occasionally. About 20 minutes.
7. Mix together water, turmeric, and soy sauce and add to pot. Simmer over low heat until meat is tender and surrounded by a dark, thick sauce, at least 40 minutes.
8. Add shallot and garlic to curry.
9. Drain ginger and add soaking water to pan.
10. Place ginger in mortar and pound to soften slightly. Add ginger to pan and stir to mix together.
11. Add tamarind. Adjust tamarind, sugar, and fish sauce as needed. Cook long enough to heat through and remove from heat.
12. Let stand for 20 minutes and serve warm.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Crab Quiche

I received a copy of the classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking for my birthday and while I've enjoyed flipping through it, I'm sad to say I haven't really put it to good use. This recipe should be a reminder not to let good resources go to waste. It's a simple, straight-forward recipe that tastes amazingly rich (thanks to cream, crab, and cheese). Now you could use a pre-made pastry base, but the recipe included in the book is too good to pass up. It's rich and flaky with a perfect texture. It also rolls out like a breeze. The original calls for a mixture of butter and vegetable shortening. We don't have shortening, so I substituted lard.

One year ago: Cabbage and Cucumber Slaw with Roasted Peanuts
Two years ago: Ninfa's Red Sauce
Three years ago: Broccoli, Red Pepper, and Cheese Chowder

Crab Quiche (from Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp butter
2 1/4 tbsp lard (or vegetable shortening)
4 1/2 tbsp water
3/8 tsp salt
pinch of sugar
2 tbsp minced shallots or green onions
3 tbsp butter
1/4 lb cooked crab or diced cooked shrimp or lobster
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of pepper
2 tbsp madeira or dry white vermouth
3 eggs
1 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese

1. Place flour, salt, sugar, butter, and lard in large mixing bowl. With a pastry blender or your fingers mix until fat is broken into pieces the size of oatmeal flakes.
2. Add water and blend into a mass of dough.
3. Place dough on lightly floured pastry board. With the heel of one hand, press pastry into a smear. Gather the dough back into a mass, knead into a ball, and wrap in wax paper. Place in freezer for 1 hour or in fridge for 2 hours or up to overnight.
4. Roll dough until it is thin enough to be placed into a 8 or 9" tart pan. Fold dough edges around pan.
5. Place quiche dough in oven until oven is preheated to 400F.
6. Prick bottom of quiche with fork. Cover with aluminum foil. Weight down with beans or pie weights. Bake for 8 - 9 minutes.
7. Remove foil and weights and prick pastry a few more times with weights. Cook another 2 - 3 minutes.
8. Reduce oven temperature to 375F.
9. Meanwhile, cook shallots in butter for 1 - 2 minutes over moderate heat in a medium frying pan until tender.
10. Add crab to onions and warm for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle on salt and pepper.
11. Add wine to crab and boil for a moment. Allow to cool slightly.
12. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with cream, tomato paste, and seasonings.
13. Blend in crab. Pour mixture into pastry shell, sprinkle with cheese, and bake for 30 minutes until quiche has puffed and browned.

Barbecued Quail with Mograbiah Salad

I made this with quail, but I think it would work even better with some dark chicken meat. The rub is fantastic and the fresh herb couscous salad is a great pairing, but to be honest, quail just doesn't provide enough meat for me.

One year ago: Roasted Chicken Legs with Orange and Paprika
Two years ago: Shrimp and Avocado in Tamarind Sauce
Three years ago: Chocolate Souffle Cupcakes with Mint Cream

Barbecued Quail with Mograbiah Salad (from Ottolenghi)

8 large quails, spatchcocked or 4 chicken thighs
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp ground cumin
10 whole cardamom pods
4 allspice berries
1 tbsp ground turmeric
1/2 tbsp paprika
pinch of salt
4 garlic cloves, peeled
30g fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 tbsp honey
180ml olive oil
125g mograbiah (Israeli couscous)
10g unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 mild red chile
1 spring onion
1 lemon
3 tbsp coarsely chopped parsley
3 tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro
3 tbsp coarsely chopped mint

1. Put all spices and pinch of salt in a spice grinder and blend to a powder. Add garlic and ginger and work to a paste.
2. Place mixture in a large bowl and whisk in honey and oil. Add quail and massage with marinade. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
3. Cook the mograbiah by boiling in salted water for 15 - 18 minutes. Strain. Transfer to another bowl.
4. Add butter and coil to cooked mograbiah and season with salt and pepper. Cool.
5. Cut the chile in half and finely chop. Finely slice spring onion. Add both to mograbiah.
6. Thinly slice lemon and add to mograbiah.
7. Grill quail until cooked through. If skin burns too quickly, finish in oven.
8. Stir herbs into mograbiah.
9. Divide mograbiah onto plates and serve quail on top.

Cauliflower with Tahini

The original recipe for this calls for deep-frying the cauliflower, but I opted to roast instead to make it a little healthier and less likely for me to splatter oil. The tahini sauce for the cauliflower is fantastic, but I'm a sucker for anything with tahini and adding pomegranate molasses to the mix made it that much better.

One year ago: Spicy Coriander Salad
Two years ago: Lemon Souffle Pancakes
Three years ago: Sun-dried Tomatoes, Spinach, Feta, and Pine Nut Pasta

Cauliflower with Tahini (adapted from Jerusalem)

2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 medium heads cauliflower (1kg), divided into florets
8 green onions, divided into 3 long segments
180g light tahini paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
15g chopped parsley
15g chopped mint
150g Greek yogurt
1/4 cup lemon juice, plus zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp pomegranate molasses
3/4 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 450F. Place cauliflower in roasting pan and drizzle with oil. Roast for 30 minutes or until tender. Allow the cauliflower to cool slightly.
2. Pour tahini paste into a large mixing bowl and add garlic, chopped herbs, yogurt, lemon juice, zest, pomegranate molasses, and salt and pepper. Stir with wooden spoon and add water to thin to a honey-like consistency.
3. Add cauliflower and green onions to tahini and stir well. Serve.

Lamb-Stuffed Quince with Pomegranate & Cilantro

I appear to be two weeks behind on posting recipes, so I'll do my best to catch you up on the highlights today. This dish is a fantastic mix of middle eastern spices with a bit of tart sweetness. The original calls for quince hollowed out with lamb meatballs stuffed inside. If quince is hard to find, you can substitute hard pears. And if you don't feel like hollowing out the fruit, you can chop it up and put it in the sauce. I'm including the within sauce method below, the book has them stuffed.

One year ago: Rabbit with Sichuan Pepper
Two years ago: Sweet Tart Dough
Three years ago: Cranberry Pecan Bread

Lamb-Stuffed Quince with Pomegranate & Cilantro (variation from Jerusalem)

400g ground lamb
1 clove garlic, minced
1 red chile, chopped
20g cilantro, chopped plus 2 tbsp for garnish
50g bread crumbs
1 tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 medium onions, finely chopped (220g)
1 large egg
4 quince (2 3/4 lb, or hard pears)
juice of 1/2 lemon, plus 1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
8 cardamom pods
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
2 tsp sugar
2 cups chicken stock
seeds of 1/2 pomegranate

1. Place lamb in mixing bowl along with garlic, chile, cilantro, breadcrumbs, allspice, half of ginger, half of onion, egg, 3/4 tsp salt, and some pepper. Mix with hands, shape into balls, and set aside.
2. Peel quince and dice. Put in bowl of cold water with juice of 1/2 lemon.
3. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Transfer quince, remaining onion, ginger, and cardamom pods to pan. Saute for 10 - 12 minutes until onion has softened.
4. Add molasses, 1 tbsp lemon juice, sugar, stock, 1/2 tsp salt, and some pepper to pan.
5. Add lamb meatballs to pan, lower heat to gentle simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
6. Lift lid and simmer for a minute or two to reduce sauce.
7. Serve warm or at room temperature sprinkled with cilantro and pomegranate seeds.