Monday, July 27, 2009

Caramel Corn

I had a terrible sweet tooth last night. Caramel corn seemed like the only answer which was quite surprising as I haven't made caramel corn in almost a decade. This recipe doesn't'll have bowl of concrete if you let it sit overnight. I suggest that you pop in a good movie, gather the family around the popcorn bowl, and eat every last bite.

Caramel Corn

3/4 cup corn kernels, popped (I like to filter out kernels that don't pop)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup honey
1 stick butter
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla (I like Madagascar Bourbon vanilla)

1. Put the popped corn into a large, paper grocery bag. Set aside.
2. In a 2 quart microwave safe bowl, plop in the brown sugar, honey, and butter. Microwave on high for two minutes. Stir. Repeat twice. Sugar should be dissolved.
3. Remove from microwave and stir in the baking soda and vanilla.
4. Pour the topping over the popcorn. Wrap the top tight and shake well for a minute or two.
5. Microwave the entire bag on high for two more minutes. Remove and pour into a bowl.

I like to eat the corn after it has sat around for about 30 minutes and has had a chance to cool down.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ginger Chicken Soup

During and after college, I often made chicken packets. Chicken was cheap and it just took a few inexpensive ingredients to create a tasty meal. By the time my mid/late twenties hit, I chickened out. No more chicken! Interestingly enough, I found comfort in my arch nemesis, the turkey.

Recently, I've been craving chicken (no mom, I am not pregnant). I remembered how much I used to enjoy chicken packets and decided to create a more grown-up version.

My husband was so excited that chicken was allowed back into the house. He went on and on about he used to watch his mom chop the head off of chickens and pluck the feathers from their goose-fleshy body. Amazingly enough, I still wanted to eat chicken!

I apologize about the formating of the recipe. Blogger is having issues, apparently.

Ginger Chicken Soup

2 chicken breast halves, bone in and skin on

2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

6 green onions, thinly sliced.

2 bird's eye chili, thinly sliced

1 cup snow peas, sliced

Juice of half a lemon

1 tbs soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

Cilantro, for garnish

Rice noodles, cooked according to instructions

1. Fill a large pot with 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and boil for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the water and let cool. Remove the skin from the meat and the breast from the bone. Add the skin and bones to the pot of water and simmer until reduced by half. Remove from heat. After 10 minutes, skim off the fat.

2. Set the chicken breast on a large piece of heavy-duty foil. Slice the breasts into four or five pieces.

3. In a bowl, mix the lemon juice, soy sauce, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Spread the ginger and half the green onion and chili slices between the chicken pieces. Pour the sauce on top.

4. Gather the sides together and fold over to form a tightly wrapped packet. BBQ over indirect heat (325 F) for 20 minutes, gently flipping every five minutes.

5. While the chicken cooks, prepare the rice noodles. When still a bit al dente, remove from water, drain, and run cold water over them to prevent sticking.

6. Heat the stock and add the nam pla, snow peas, and the remaining green onion and chili slices. Simmer for three minutes.

7. Divide the noodles into two bowls and add the broth. Unwrap the chicken and divide the meat and juices between the bowls and serve. Garnish with cilantro.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pho Gah! - Another Installment of "What Not to Cook"

When my husband and I first met six years ago, he was eating pho up to five times a week. Our third date was to his favorite pho restaurant. While I avoided the the tendon and tripe version, I didn't shy away from much else. I loved it!

Once we had been dating for awhile, he let me in on a secret. It hadn't been a date...It was a test. If I didn't appreciate his favorite food, I was wrong for him. A willingness to eat pho, he said, showed a sense of adventure and a general acceptance of things that are "different".

A willingness to make pho, on the other had, shows that you've got a case of the crazies.

Not adventurous enough to boil ox tail and beef marrow, I took a short cut and used a pho base. It's basically large tea bag thingies that contain all of the broth flavoring: animal parts, cardamom, clove, sugar, etc.

I figured that taking this shortcut still required a lot of other work, so I set forth charring onion and ginger to add to the simmering base. With no directions on the back other than a picture of the tea bag going into a pot of water, I decided to let it simmer for 40 minutes. When it was done, we tossed in some leftover shredded chicken. The smell was to die for. I felt like I was at my favorite pho joint, minus the Buddha shrine and the little old man serving the statue coffee, tea, and cigarettes.

I soaked some rice noodles in cold water before putting them in the bottom of two bowls. Broth was spooned over it. Soon, we were drooling as we loaded our bowls up with the usual: mung bean sprouts, Thai basil, that long thing related to cilantro, jalapenos, Siracha, Hoisen sauce, red chili sauce, and a smoky chili paste.

With success on my mind, I dug in. The first bite? Disgusting. The second? Worse. It had barely passed my lips before being spit into the garbage can. This pho seriously tested my "two taste minimum" policy.

I'm pretty sure that this would have come out better had I done it the long way, but still don't think I'd have a hit. Frankly, for $4.99 a bowl at the corner pho shop, trying to make it at home is not worth my time or money.

Support your local pho restaurant!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Berry Good Smoothie

The CMH has hereby declared ice cream out and smoothies in. This has everything nothing to do with my fear of turning Thailand into "Thighland". For the next month, I am forgoing my beloved Haagen Dazs. Goodbye Banana Split, Fleur de Sel Caramel, Hawaiian Lehua Honey & Sweet Cream. With the heaviest heart, I say goodbye to you, dear Wildberry fro yo.

And hellooooooooo berry smoothies!

Ice cream, I may just be able to quit you after all.

Blueberry Smoothie
makes two servings

2 cups fresh blueberries
3 baby bananas (or one large banana)
3 tbs raspberry juice concentrate
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water

1. Fill a blender 3/4 of the way with ice. Add the water. Pulse a few times to get the ice moving.
2. Add the fruits and blend.
3. Through the feed tube, slowly add the milk. Blend until smooth and serve.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Flaky Sun-Dried Tomato and Three Cheese Bites

These Mediterranean-inspired hor d'ourves were a hit at my friend's wedding after-party, amongst frou-frou and non-frou-frou alike.

Select Party Quotes:

"Sun-deride tomatoes? Noooh. I 'ate sun-deride tomatoes, but those are dee-lish-hos."
- Beautiful, hilarious Ukrainian woman

Between a guest and myself as guest's husband stands near-by:
"What are these red things made of?"
"Oh, well, sun-dried tomatoes, ricotta, feta, goat cheese..."
(husband interjects)
"HA! You say you HATE goat cheese but you ate, like, thirty of those things!"

A man and his little sister approach the food. He asks me to tell the little girl what each thing is.
"Artichoke dip, cheese and tomato cups, crab and leek tartlets," I respond.
"Do you want any of those?" he asks the girl.
"NO!" she declared, backing away from the table like it was going to bite.

pictured with Artichoke Cups

Flaky Sun-Dried Tomato and Three Cheese Bites
makes about 50

Cup Ingredients and Instructions:
1 package phyllo, thawed
1 stick butter, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease mini-muffin cups.
2. Wet a clean kitchen towel. Ring it out so it is just damp. Fold in half and place near your workspace. Remove phyllo from package. Place sheets between the towel halves.
3. Remove a sheet and place it on a cutting board.
4. With a brush, drip some of the butter across the phyllo sheet. Working gently, spread the butter out until most of the sheet, especially the edges, has been lightly coated.
5. Place a new phyllo sheet on top. Repeat steps until there are 7 sheets stacked. Do not butter the final sheet.
6. Smooth your hand over the sheets, lightly pressing them together.
7. With a pizza roller, cut the phyllo into squares (about four fingers wide).
8. Press the squares into the muffin cups and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the tins.

Filling Ingredients and Instructions:
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
4 tbs feta cheese
2 tbs goat cheese
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 green onions, white and light green parts only, minced
1/2 tbs fresh rosemary
1/2 tbs Italian parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients but the egg. Process until smooth.
2. Add the egg. Pulse until Incorporated.
3. Spoon or pipe filling into prepared phyllo cups.
4. Bake in a 350 F oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the filling has set up.
5. Remove and serve.

Sun Dried Tomatoes on Foodista

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Curried Cashews

To me, there is no nut more splendid than the cashew nut. Growing up, I don't recall a single Christmas where my father didn't get a few pounds of roasted, salted cashew nuts. My little hands would grab as many as I could, shove them in my mouth and munch away. Like father, like daughter. As I got older, and my hands got bigger, my father had to fight for his cashews.

I recently joined him on a fishing trip. He came prepared with plenty of cashews and we often munched away in silence, enjoying a simple snack while sharing a fishing bond. Back at work I find myself day dreaming about the river, the woods, watching my fly drift and my father's reminders to "mend". While I may not be able to fish, I can certainly snack.

Curried Cashew Nuts

1 lb raw cashews
3 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil
3 tbs curry powder
1 tsp salt

1. Heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat.
2. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes, or until browned.
3. Remove nuts and drain on a paper towel.
4. Put salt and curry powder into a large bowl and mix together.
5. Add cashews. Place plastic wrap or a towel over the top of the bowl and shake well to coat. Enjoy!