Monday, 23 June 2014

Thai Peanut Curry with Chicken

My cousin works at this great restaurant in our area called New Scenic Cafe. They were pretty early to the farm-to-table, local food movement, opening in a cute little cabin-y building on the shores of Lake Superior in 1999. They make creative but accessible food in an atmosphere that strives to not be pretentious (and most of the time, they actually succeed).

As a wedding gift, my cousin gave me the New Scenic Cafe cookbook. It's a work of art! Of-the-moment restaurants often try to capitalize on their popularity by publishing some bare bones cookbook to bring in some extra revenue, but this is no such effort. You can tell it took years to put together and it was a labor of love. A lot of the recipes are pretty involved, with obscure ingredients and some pretty intense, high-level techniques. I love it, though. It has given me tons of ideas for unique flavor combinations and the handful of recipes I've tried have been great successes. It's definitely not a beginner's cookbook, but if you've been cooking for a couple years, you'll adore it. It's going to be well-loved kitchen tool for me for years to come.

This is a recipe based on one in the cookbook. I tinkered with it and personalized it, based on what I have in my kitchen and my bare-bones knowledge of Thai food. It turned out great!

NOTE: I've been using boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of breasts lately. They are cheaper and more flavorful. I'd recommend giving them a try, but you could easily do this recipe with breasts or any leftover, cooked chicken you have on hand.


Serves: 4
Preparation: 1 hour

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed and cubed
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 small to medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
1/2 c. coconut milk
1 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. peanut butter, unsweetened
1/2 Tbsp. red curry paste
1/2 tsp. cumin
1.5 tsp. sambal oelek
1/4 c. cilantro
1 large tomato, chopped
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
Cilantro, lime wedges and sambal oelek, for serving

1. Season chopped chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat half of the coconut oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Add the chicken and cook, stirring every few minutes, until no longer pink; about 10 minutes.
2. Heat the other half of the coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, celery and onions and cook, stirring frequently, until tender; about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and lower heat to medium.
3. Add the coconut milk, peanut butter and chicken stock and stir with a whisk until combined. Turn heat to low.
4. Stir in the curry paste, cumin, sambal and cilantro. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken, garbanzo beans and tomato and keep on heat for about 5 minutes, until warmed through. Season to taste with salt.
5. Serve over basmati rice and top with sambal oelek, cilantro and lime juice.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

One crock pot roast, two nights of dinner

Beef roast with mashed potatoes and salad
French dip
I'm busy, so I like food that's easy but delicious (like everyone else in the world.) This crock pot beef roast is perfect. You can make it overnight on Sunday and eat it for dinner on Monday AND Tuesday. Don't worry, not in the same meal -- you use the meat in two different, simple

recipes. How's that for easy?

Recipe inspired by this one.


Serves: 2 meals for 2 people
Preparation: 9 hours

1 2-lb. sirloin tip roast
red wine
salt and pepper
2 medium onions, sliced
1 large red pepper, cored, seeded and sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1.5 c. beef broth
1/4 c. tamari

1. Coat the roast completely with pepper and salt, massaging it into the meat. Drizzle with a bit of wine and wrap in plastic wrap. Allow to sit for at least half an hour and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
2. When ready to cook, place the roast in the crock pot. Place the onions, pepper and garlic on top. Pour broth and tamari over everything and cook for 8 hours on low (overnight works well).
3. After 8 hours, remove the roast and vegetables from the liquid. Pour remaining liquid into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add about 1/4 c. red wine, lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Pour half of the liquid into a container and set aside; this is your au jus for French dips.
4. Whisk 1 Tbsp. of flour with 1 Tbsp. of water and add to the remaining liquid. Simmer while whisking until thickened; this is your gravy for the beef roast.

Shred half of the roast beef with two forks and layer on two long buns. Top with half the red peppers and onions and slices of white cheese (we used gouda, but traditional recipes call for provolone). Broil for 5-7 minutes until cheese is melted and meat is warmed. Serve with a side of au jus.

Serve half of the roast beef on two plates as a traditional roast beef meal with gravy and your choice of sides (mashed potatoes are mandatory!)