Tag Archives: spicy

Thai Green Curry

Thai Green Curry

After spending the month of February with temperatures in the 70s, we are having a brief cold snap. Perfect weather for a bowl of hot Thai Green Curry. Although around here, any temperature is good weather for a delicious curry.

Curry pastes vary widely in their spiciness. My favorite green curry paste is this variety from Maesri. It is, however, extremely spicy. As you are adding your curry paste to the broth, add in small amounts,  tasting before adding additional paste, until you reach your desired spice tolerance.

Green Curry Paste

RECIPE:

Thai Green Curry

Thai Green Curry

about 3 Tbs coconut oil, divided
3-4 Thai eggplant, cubed (or 1 medium zucchini, cubed)
½ cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup diagonally sliced asparagus
3-4 Tbs green curry paste (divided)
1 lb chicken breast, thinly sliced
2 cans coconut milk
1 cup water (or Swanson Thai ginger broth)
1 Tbs fish sauce
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 red chilies, thinly sliced
1 package firm tofu, cubed
¼ cup Thai basil leaves, sliced
Lime wedges
Hot cooked rice

Heat 1 Tbs coconut oil in a large pot. Add eggplant to hot oil and cook for 3 minutes (eggplant will not be completely cooked). Remove eggplant from pan and set aside. If necessary, add an additional tablespoon of oil to the pot and cook mushrooms and asparagus for 3-4 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Set aside in a separate bowl from the eggplant. Add 1 Tbs coconut oil and 1 Tbs curry paste to the pot. Cook until fragrant. Add chicken to pot and cook until outside is no longer pink, but chicken is not completely cooked.

Add coconut milk and water to the pot with the chicken and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low and stir in partially cooked eggplant, fish sauce, brown sugar, salt, red chilies and tofu. Simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until chicken and eggplant are cooked through.  (If using zucchini, instead of eggplant, do not return to the curry until just before serving).

Add additional curry paste until desired level of spiciness is reached (add in small amounts and taste after each addition). Return asparagus and mushrooms to the curry. Add additional water if curry is too thick.

Stir in sliced basil leaves just before serving. Serve with lime wedges over hot rice, if desired.

Makes 8-10 servings

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Szechuan Beans

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Szechuan Beans are one of my favorite dishes at Chinese restaurants. Often at restaurants, they are made with Chinese long beans. When I make them at home, I use the skinny French filet beans.

These beans are slightly spicy, flavored with Szechuan peppercorns, a good dose of garlic, ginger and chili paste. Szechuan peppercorns are actually less spicy than regular black pepper or chili peppers. They have a slightly lemony taste and leave your tongue with an interesting tingly, slightly numb sensation.

Szechuan Peppercorns

Szechuan Peppercorns

I buy whole Szechuan peppercorns from Penzeys. If I am grinding a large quantity of the peppercorns, I use a mini electric coffee grinder. For times when I only need a small amount of ground peppercorn, I have a separate peppermill (the wooden kind you turn by hand) that I keep full of these peppercorns. Don’t use your regular black peppercorn mill to grind the Szechuan peppercorns and then refill with the black ones. As straight Szechuan peppercorns can leave your tongue feeling numb, your kids might not appreciate that sensation when they are expecting regular pepper.

I like to include a small amount of ground pork when I make these beans, but you could leave that out for a vegetarian dish.

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RECIPE:

Szechuan Beans 3

Szechuan Beans

1 Tbs oil
¼ lb ground pork
4 green onions, chopped
1 Tbs minced garlic
2 tsp chopped fresh ginger
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp ground chili paste (use more for spicier beans)
1 tsp honey
½ tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns
1 lb Chinese long beans or French filet beans, ends trimmed

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground pork, green onions, garlic and ginger. Cook until pork is cooked through.

Add soy sauce, chili paste, honey and ground peppercorns to skillet. Stir to mix, then add green beans to skillet. Cook for 2 minutes. Add 3 Tbs water to the skillet and cover with a lid. Cook beans for about 3 minutes, or until beans are not quite done.

Remove lid and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and beans are crisp-tender. Do not overcook beans. Serve immediately.

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Spicy Black Bean Soup with Shredded Chicken

102411 007-1 There are certain people, when they share a recipe with you, that you know you can trust. My friend Alyce is such a person. I have never been disappointed by any of her recipes. We have been making this soup for a number of years, and it is always a favorite with everyone here. Even the self-professed bean haters. Because the beans have been pureed to create a thick and delicious base, there are no longer any objections. With kids, I really think that most disliked foods are more of a texture dislike than a taste dislike.

Alyce’s original recipe was a delicious pureed black bean soup. I usually doctor it up a little by adding shredded chicken, corn, olives and pimentos to the pureed bean base, and serving it with fun and delicious toppings. If you are trying to please kids- it is all about the toppings. Crispy tortilla strips are their favorite. They are fast and easy to make (baked in the oven for 5 minutes) and can be made with either flour or corn tortillas. In the soup shown, I used a multi-grain flour tortilla.

The spiciness of the soup is completely up to you. Alyce’s recipe uses Spicy V-8 juice, but I don’t usually have that around here, so I use a can of spicy Rotel tomatoes (tomatoes with onions, garlic and green chilies). If you want a milder soup, just use a can of regular tomatoes and go easy on the cayenne pepper (Ancho chili pepper has a nice flavor without the heat of cayenne).

RECIPE:

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Spicy Black Bean Soup with Shredded Chicken
——————–(adapted from my friend Alyce)

2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cans beef broth
1 can Rotel tomatoes (or 1 cup Spicy V-8)
1 Tbs dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp thyme
¼ tsp pepper
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
2 cans black beans, drained & rinsed
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken (or 2 cans undrained canned chicken)
1 can corn
1 small can sliced olives
1 small jar diced pimentos

Garnishes:
Sour cream
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro
Crispy Tortilla Strips (see below)

Heat olive oil in large stockpot. Cook onion, carrot, garlic, jalapeno, and celery until onions are soft and tender, about 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, seasonings, and black beans. Cover and simmer for one hour. Puree in blender or with an immersion blender. Stir in chicken, corn, olives and pimentos. Cook 15 minutes longer. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro and crispy tortilla strips.

To cook in crockpot:Sauté vegetables in oil and place in crock pot with broth, tomatoes, seasonings and black beans. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Puree in blender or with an immersion blender. Stir in chicken, corn, olives and pimentos. Turn crock pot to high and cook 15-30 minutes longer, or until heated through. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro and crispy tortilla strips.

Crispy Tortilla Strips

about 4 corn or flour tortillas
1-2 Tbs olive oil
Kosher (or other coarse) salt

Spread olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet. Cut tortillas into thin strips (a pizza cutter works nicely). Place on the baking sheet and use a spatula to toss the strips with the oil to lightly coat. Bake at 350°F for 5-7 minutes or until strips just begin to brown. Sprinkle lightly with coarse salt.

 

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Hearty Beef Chili

092810 018-1This is my standard go-to chili recipe. Thick and hearty. Full of roasted vegetables, ground beef and sausage (chorizo is my favorite), and two kinds of beans in a thick, spicy sauce. No runny broth-that is soup, not chili.

I know that a true Texas chili does not have any beans, but while I love the flavor of a good Texas chili, I also love beans. I love the taste, the contrasting texture they give to chili, and the fact that beans are so good for you! So while my chili may not be approved of by hard core Texans, I will continue to put beans in.

Chili is a great crock pot meal, and tastes even better the second day.

You can make this chili the “fast” way or the “it takes a little longer but is so worth it” way. The difference is: to roast or not roast the veges (onions, peppers, garlic). I have definitely made my share of chili the fast way, but I do prefer the additional flavor you get by roasting the vegetables before adding them to the chili. To roast the onions, garlic and peppers: peel onions and cut in half. Cut larger peppers in half and remove seeds. Smaller peppers, like jalapenos can be left whole. You can roast a whole head of garlic, or roast individual cloves (this will be faster). Place onions, garlic and peppers on a foil-lined roasting pan. Brush with olive oil. Roast at 475°F for about 15-20 minutes, or until veges begin to blacken. See How To Roast Peppers or How To Roast Garlic for quick tutorials.

Top your chili with shredded cheese, sour cream or chopped raw onions (red onions or scallions are great). And make lots: chili freezes wonderfully for another meal another day.

RECIPE:

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Hearty Beef Chili

1 1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb chorizo or hot Italian sausage
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 onions
1 red pepper
1 large banana pepper
2 jalapenos, (use seeds for a spicier chili)
2 cloves garlic
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped (or 1 tsp chipotle chili powder)
1 Tbs adobo sauce from chipotle pepper can
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
3 cans (14 oz) diced or crushed tomatoes
1 can (14 oz) tomato sauce
3 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp dried basil (or 2 Tbs fresh)
1 Tbs chili paste
1 Tbs cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Tomato paste, if needed
Toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped raw onions (red onions or green onions)

Cook ground beef and sausage until browned. Drain and place in a crock pot with the cooked bacon. If desired, roast the onions, red pepper, banana pepper, jalapenos and garlic (Brush with olive oil and roast on a foil-lined baking sheet at 475°F for 15-20 minutes). Chop vegetables and add to the crock pot with the remaining ingredients (except tomato paste and toppings). Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours. Taste after about 4-6 hours. Add additional salt or more heat (more chili paste or crushed red peppers), if desired. Thicken with tomato paste if chili is too thin. Serve with desired toppings.

 

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Southwestern Ham and White Bean Soup

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Thank goodness for crock pots on cold fall days full of errands and after-school activities for both kids and parents.

This soup is best made with a leftover meaty ham bone, but you can also start with a chopped ham steak. If my ham bone is not meaty enough to yield about 3 cups of chopped ham, I will usually add additional chopped ham to the soup.

If you are using a ham bone, this is a two-step crock pot soup. The ham bone simmers in a crock pot full of water and aromatic herbs, onion and garlic until the ham can easily be removed and chopped (about 4 hours on high). I like to strain out all of the little bits that fall off of the ham, along with the herb sprigs, and then return the strained broth to the crock pot with the chopped ham and additional ingredients. TIP: add remaining ingredients to the crock pot first, along with chopped ham. Then add strained broth until crock pot is full (then you don’t risk overflowing your crock pot adding in all of the good stuff).

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This soup has a southwestern flavor with the addition of salsa, diced hot green chilies, mild chilies, beans and corn. Plus some standard soup veges (onions, carrots, celery); you could add anything you are looking to get rid of in your produce drawer.

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Serve it plain or with any number of desired garnishes (cheese, green onions, crushed tortilla chips or baked tortilla strips, sour cream, olives, additional salsa or hot sauce). I have found that the likelihood of my children eating soup is directly proportional to the number of “toppings” they are allowed to pile on.

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Serve with these Cheddar and Herb Drop Biscuits

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RECIPE:
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Southwestern Ham and White Bean Soup

1 meaty ham bone
1 onion, quartered
4-6 cloves of garlic
Sprigs of fresh herbs: rosemary, sage, thyme,
————-oregano, and/or basil**
1 bay leaf
½ tsp cracked black pepper
1 yellow onion, diced
1-2 carrots, diced
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1-2 hot peppers, finely chopped
1 cup corn
3 cans white beans, drained
1 can diced green chilies
OPTIONAL: additional chopped ham, 2-3 cups total,
—————– (if ham bone is not very meaty)
2 cups salsa
salt
1/4 cup fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
OPTIONAL GARNISHES: shredded cheese, tortilla strips or
———– crushed tortilla chips, green onions, sour cream,
———– additional salsa or hot sauce

Place the ham bone, onion, garlic, herbs, bay leaf and cracked pepper in a large crock pot. Add enough water to cover the ham bone (about 6-8 cups). Cook on high for 4 hours, or until ham begins to fall off of the bone.

Remove ham bone from the crock pot; allow to cool slightly and then chop ham into bite-sized pieces. Strain broth from the crock pot, reserving the broth. Discard herbs and ham bone. Add all remaining ingredients, except salt, parsley or cilantro and garnishes to the crock pot with the chopped ham. Add reserved broth until crock pot is full; add additional water, if necessary. Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours. Taste and salt as needed (about ½ – 1 tsp kosher salt, depending on saltiness of ham). Stir in parsley or cilantro.

Serve in bowls with desired garnishes.

**Note: You can also use dried herbs in place of the herb sprigs. Choose 2-3 herb varieties and add about ½ tsp of each.

 

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Grilling with Chipotles

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As summer winds down, I find myself grilling even more. Trying to squeeze out every last drop of fresh summer goodness, before giving way to the rib-sticking comfort foods of fall and winter.

Grilled flank steak is one of our favorites. I love that I can prepare several at a time: preparing the marinade in the morning and putting one marinated flank steak in the fridge for dinner, and a couple more in the freezer for meals another night.

This flank steak has a wonderful smoky,  slightly spicy flavor. Which went perfectly with this Chipotle Lime Quinoa and White Bean Salad. Quinoa (KEEN-wa), is a gluten-free grain that has a similar texture to couscous, but with a slightly nutty flavor (which makes sense since it is actually the seed portion of a grain).

RECIPES:

Grilled Chipotle Flank Steak
—————-(adapted from The Perfect Pantry)

2 chipotle peppers in adobo
1 Tbs adobo sauce (from chipotle pepper can)
2 cloves garlic,  chopped
1/4 cup orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbs honey
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1  tsp oregano
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 flank steak (about 2 lb)

Combine everything except the steak in a blender, and process until peppers are chopped. Place flank steak in a Ziploc bag or glass baking dish, and add the marinade.  Refrigerate for 4-6 hours or overnight (or freeze in the Ziploc bag until another day).

Heat grill. Remove steak from marinade. Brush grill lightly with oil. Grill steak for 7-8  minutes per side for medium rare (adjust time based on thickness of meat and heat of grill). Let meat rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice across the grain.

Serve with Chipotle Lime Quinoa and White Bean Salad OR use it as a base for fajitas with grilled onions and peppers in tortillas.

Chipotle Lime Quinoa and White Bean Salad
—————–
(adapted from Picky Palate)

1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups fresh corn, cut from the cob (or 1 can corn)
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2-3 green onions, chopped (about ¼ cup)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 limes, juiced (about 6-8 Tbs)
Zest of one lime
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1-2 chipotle peppers, finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons adobo sauce (from can of chipotle peppers)

Cook quinoa according to package directions. Cool.

In a large bowl, combine cooled quinoa, beans, corn, red pepper, green onions and cilantro.

In a small bowl, stir together the lime juice and zest, olive oil, salt, garlic powder, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. Stir into quinoa mixture. Cover and chill until serving.

8-10 servings

Note: This can also be made with cooked brown rice or couscous instead of quinoa.

 

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