Spicy Chicken Coconut Soup

Spicy Chicken Cocoanut Soup

I won’t presume to call this a Thai Tom Kha Gai soup because I didn’t have a lot of the ingredients for anything approaching a true Thai soup, but it does borrow inspiration from the delicious Tom Kha Gai of Thailand.

I bought a delicious free-range fryer and cooked with an onion and a bay leaf until the meat fell off the bones. This gave me about 3 quarts of chicken broth and 8 cups of chicken after I removed all the meat from the bones. From that I will make two soups and several salads.

For this soup, I diced 1/2 onion and 3 cloves of garlic and 2 inches of galangal. I sauteed them in 2 TBSP of olive oil for 5 minutes or so. I added a sliced bell pepper (actually 1/2 of a yellow and 1/2 of a red bell pepper) and a 2 cups of sliced mushrooms. Then I added about 1.5 TBSP of sriracha and let it all cook. After about 10 minutes, I added 1.5 quarts of my chicken broth and 1 12 oz can of light coconut milk, some salt and pepper and let it all cook about 20 minutes. Then I added 1 chopped tomato and 2 cups of chopped up chicken from what I had removed from the fryer. I let cook a few more minutes so they were warmed through and squeezed the juice of two fresh limes in to soup before serving.

This is a delicious soup with many layers of flavor from the dry peppery feeling of the galangal to the sweetness of the coconut milk, from the heat of the sriracha to the to mild bell peppers and hearty mushrooms and the tart freshness of the limes. The individual components keep their flavor and marry beautifully.

This makes about 8 servings.


Fresh Pear and Chevre Omelet

2 Egg Omelet with Pear & Chevre

I love thin, multi-layer omelets and am lucky enough to have a lefse griddle so my omelet can spread the full 16 inches, filling the griddle top. It also lets me turn the temp down to the nice low 250° F so that it cooks nice and slowly without drying out too much. That’s a big omelet to make with just two eggs and to hold together while folded over six times, but the secret is in the batter.

I sliced half a ripe pear on the mandoline, giving me thin, uniform slices. I crumbled an ounce of chevre into small bits in preparation.

I use 2 eggs, 1 cup of milk and 4 TBSP of flour with some salt and pepper and blend it so that increases in volume by about 1/4th. I spread a little butter on the hot griddle and then pour the batter in the center. Using the griddle handles, I swirl the batter around so that it spreads evenly to all the edges. Then I wait while it cooks. Be patient and watch how the steam rises from the omelet. When the steam starts to decrease you can see that the batter is cooked, but it will still be moist. If you like a drier omelet, you can let it cook until little pockets pop up all over the upper side of the omelet, but I like it a bit moister.

Now comes the tricky part. Slide your spatula (of lefse turner, if you have one) under one side of the omelet and fold it over toward the center. Then do the same on the opposite side. Then take a quarter-turn and fold in from each side again. You now have about an 8 inch by 8 inch square. Spread some chevre along one of the sides and fold it over by a third and then spread the sliced pears and fold it over again, giving you your final omelet. I normally don’t cut it in half, but I did so you can see the chevre and pear inside of it.

The pears and chevre should still be a bit cold so that they contrast with the heat of the omelet. These is a sweet, dessert-like breakfast and the fruit and cheese blend beautifully with the omelet adding a flavor foundation to highlight them.

I decided to add the nutrition info after scaring someone.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Turkey Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms & Cucumber Salad

Portobello mushrooms were on sale at New Seasons this week – priced the same as Criminis. Why they aren’t always the same price is a mystery since they are the same mushroom just a few days older. Nonetheless, I took advantage of the sale price and bought two Portobellos.

But let’s take care of the salad first since I made it in the morning so it could soak up the vinegar and dill flavor all day. Using the mandoline, I sliced 1/2 of a red onion, 1 Roma tomato and 1/2 of a large cucumber into thin slices and layered in a plastic storage container. I tossed in 1 tsp of dried dill weed, some salt and pepper and 1 TBSP of olive oil and 1.5 TBSP of vinegar. I put the lid on and shook it all up and set in the fridge to marinate all day. This makes 4 servings of the salad.

I heated the oven to 400° F.

To prep, I minced two cloves of garlic and sliced 1/2 of a sweet onion in thin slices on the mandoline.

With the mushrooms, first I washed them and scrubbed with a mushroom brush. I then cut off the stems. I diced the stems up and put them in a container to use for an omelet tomorrow morning. Using a spoon I scraped out the gills (they are edible but use the space I need for the stuffing). I rubbed a couple drops of olive oil on the top of the caps and put them top down in a baking pan.

In a bowl I put 6 oz of ground turkey, 1 tsp of ground sage, 1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg, 1 TBSP dried parsleyand1/4 tsp of dry mustard and mixed them together thoroughly. I then spread half on the bottom of each mushroom cap.

I put them in the oven to bake for about 20 minutes.

I then put 1 TBSP of olive oil in a saute pan and sauteed the onions and garlic until the onions turned golden brown. I added 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce and the juice of 1 lemon and let cook for an additional 2 minutes.

I removed the mushrooms from the oven and layered the onions on top. I then shredded about 1 oz of Parmesan on each mushroom and put back in the oven for about 10 minutes.  Right at the end, I switched the oven to broil just until the cheese browned nicely.

The stuffed mushrooms had that hearty umame flavor that is so satisfying and the bit of tang from the Worcestershire and lemon was a perfect balance to the earthiness of the mushrooms. The light salad was a good complement to a hearty entree. If served with rice or pasta, I would serve one per person, but with just salad, two makes a meal.




Salad with Pears, Red Onions, Mint and Toasted Almonds


In preparation, I sliced a red onion on the mandoline at the thinnest possible setting and put them in a container to use in multiple dishes. I took a small handful to use in this salad – perhaps 2 TBSP total. I also sliced a pear at the medium setting, saving about 2/3rds for later and using 1/3rd in the salad. I grabbed a small handful of almonds, cut them in half lengthwise and toasted them on medium-high heat. I cleaned three stems of mint, stripping off the leaves and chopping them finely.

I cleaned and chopped 4 leaves of romaine lettuce and layered it on a platter. I then layered the red onion and the pears. I sprinkled the mint leaves and the toasted almonds on top. I drizzled about 1 TBSP of olive oil and about 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar on top. Some fresh ground pepper and salt and it was done.

The onion was important to balance the sweetness of the pear and the almonds gave it some necessary heartiness. I had originally planned to include chevre but the pear was so very ripe and sweet that I decided against it. It’s a new variety of pear for me called Taylors Gold and it is deliciously sweet and an idea fresh eating pear or for sauces and jams, but perhaps a bit tender for salads. Nonetheless, it didn’t break apart in the salad or turn to mush. As for flavor, it could not possibly be tastier.

Pork Loin Chop with Sauteed Vegetables

Pork Loin with Sautteed Veggies

I picked up lots of peppers at the grocery store, the yellow and orange peppers were on sale at the same price as the red peppers, making the idea colorful pepper dishes irresistible. There was also a great price on baby bok choy, which is always delicious with pork, so I decided to make a pork chop and veggie dish.

I began by marinating 2 loin chops in a marinade of 1 TBSP peanut oil, 2 tsp tamari sauce and 1 TBSP grated fresh ginger for about 4 hours. When it was time to cook I began chopping everything up since they all cook relatively quickly.

mise en place

I chopped up 1/4 of a yellow and a red pepper, 3 baby bok choy, about 1/4 of a red onion, 1 large garlic clove, 1 inch of fresh ginger and 1/4 of a jalapeño pepper. I also had a lemon cut in half and ready for squeezing.

I fried the pork loin chops in my cast iron skillet, about 5 minutes on one side and 3 on the other. I then removed the skillet from the heat and heated my saute pan with 1 TBSP of peanut oil. I added the ginger, garlic and jalapeño with some salt and pepper and stirred them together and let them cook about a minute before adding the red onions. When they began to soften slightly I added the peppers. I let them cook about 2 minutes before adding the bok choy.  I added some salt and pepper and a dash of sriracha sauce and let cook until tender. Then I squeezed the lemon on top and stirred it in.

This made 2 servings. The flavor blend was delicious, the dash of sriracha a nice bit of heat in a rather mild blend of veggies that served as a delicious backdrop to a tasty chop.



Caramelized Grapefruit Salad with Bacon, Almonds and Chevre

Caramelized Grapefruit Salad

With half a grapefruit left from yesterday’s salad, I knew I wanted to try out something different. I thought about broiling the grapefruit for a nice char, but decided to save that for some another day. Instead I decided to caramelize them in a saute pan. But let’s start at the beginning.

I cut away all the pith and peel and sectioned the grapefruit with a knife. I also chopped a small handful of almonds – perhaps 10 or so and let them sit on the cutting board while I cooked bacon.

I fried two slice of bacon in a skillet until well done. When they were crispy and browned, I removed them to a paper towel, patted them dry and cut them into small pieces.

While the was frying, I put the almonds in a small saute pan with no grease that I had heated on med-high. I shook the pan so the almonds didn’t blacken, but toasted evenly. As soon as they were toasted, I slid them out of the pan back onto the cutting board. I put 2 teaspoons of sugar  in the same pan and tossed the grapefruit segments in, swirling them around as the sugar melted and caramelized on the segments. I used lemon sugar I made last winter because I had it on hand, but regular sugar is fine. As soon as the grapefruit began to get brown on the edges (caramelizing) I turned them out into a bowl to rest.

I chopped 3 leaves of romaine lettuce and made a bed of it on the platter. I then laid down the crumbled bacon followed by the grapefruit. I sprinkled about 1 oz of chevre cheese over that and then added the toasted almonds. I drizzled 2 TSP of olive oil and about 1.5 tsp of balsamic vinegar over everything and grated some fresh pepper on top and it was done.

The bacon and caramelized grapefruit were made for each other, add the rich chevre and the nutty bacon and fruity smokiness of the balsamic – this was a delicious salad that I know I will make again.

Steak and Watercress Salad

Steak & Watercress Salad

Tip Steak was on sale for $4.49/pound yesterday. Combining that with the sale on watercress, I was able to make this delicious salad for just over $4.00 which is a great price for steak and salad – particularly when it’s this tasty.

First I heated the skillet to medium and added 1/2 TBSP of olive oil. I tossed on the tip steak and added some fresh ground black pepper and salt. I let it cook for about 3 minutes on one side, turned it and let it cook about 2 minutes on the other. This was a thin steak and I had to take care not to overcook it. I removed it to the cutting board and let it rest. After it rested, I cut it into strips. Resting is important to keep the juices in the steak – keeping it moist, but also preventing the juice from dripping all over and making your salad messy.

While the steak cook, I sliced of one slice of red onion and chopped it up, making about 2 TBSP of chopped red onion. When I removed the steak from the skillet, I put the onions in to cook. There was still plenty of oil left so I didn’t need to add more.

In a bowl, I added 1.5 TBSP of olive oil, 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce, 1 TBSP of vinegar, the juice from 1 fresh lemon and fresh ground pepper and salt. I stirred it up and when the onions were done, I added them to this for a hearty and tart onion vinaigrette.

I rinsed the watercress, dried it and cut off the stems. I layered it on the platter, spread the slices of steak on top and then added the onion vinaigrette. I shaved a few pieces of parmesan on top to add a bit of mellow flavor.

It was delicious. The Worcestershire sauce in the vinaigrette toned down its tangy bite. That with the parm were a great balance to the dressing and the watercress while the beef was rich in flavor and very tender.

I decided to cost it out. The two main ingredients were only $2.65, but with the fixings for the dressing, etc. it came to $4.20 – more than I first thought, but still a great price for a delicious and fulfilling lunch.

$1.40 Steak
$1.25 Watercress
$0.06 Red Onion
$0.25 Olive Oil
$0.85 Lemon
$0.13 Worcestershire Sauce
$0.20 Parmesano Reggiano
$0.06 Vinegar
$4.20 Total

Grapefruit & Watercress Salad

Grapefruit Salad

Watercress was on sale yesterday for only $2.49 for a large bunch, so I picked some up. It was the same price as lettuce, so I could not pass it up.

I used half the bunch for this salad. I rinsed the cress and cut off the long stems and chopped it up a bit. I cut a grapefruit in half, cutting away the peel and pith and sectioning it with a knife. Then I added about 5 castelvetrano olives, slicing them up and removing the pit. I took a very small dried red pepper and chopped it up, sprinkling it over the salad. Drizzing about 1/2 TBSP of olive oil over the top, I then squeezed the juice of half a lime on top added some salt and pepper and voila!

It is tart and spicy and the slight bitterness of the watercress balances it perfectly.

Simple Turkey Wrap

Turkey Wrap

Fast and easy comfort food you can eat with your hands!

In a small pan, add 1/2 tsp of olive oil and sautee 1 tbsp of chopped onion, add 3 ounces of ground turkey, salt and pepper and a dash of garlic powder and let it brown, breaking it into small pieces as it browns. Add 2 TBSP of green salsa and 1 TBSP of ranch-style dressing and stir. This makes two wraps.

Heat flat, ungreased griddle on medium.

Place half of the mix in the middle of a large flour tortilla, add a handful of chopped romaine lettuce and about an ounce of shredded pepper jack to each tortilla. Squeeze fresh lime juice all over the lettuce and cheese. !/2 of a fresh lime will do both wraps. Roll into packet and repeat for the other tortilla. Place on the griddle and heat until browned on each side.

This has such a tasty blend of creamy and spicy flavors from the ranch-salsa sauce. The lettuce stays firm and adds a pleasant crisp freshness to it.