Sunday, September 28, 2014

Thai-inspired fish with roasted acorn squash and spinach chickpea coconut curry

I typically have a very extremely anal organized method of cooking. Make x, y, and z according to the directions for each.

But sometimes I'm inspired by a recipe to play around with it a little bit. And sometimes the boy wants to cook up something we've had around the house for a while.

Usually these "sometimes" occur at different times, but this past week they collided into a perfect storm of randomness that turned into an incredible meal.

Somehow we turned this...
acorn squash the boy's brother grew and gifted to us
+ this recipe
+ my frozen leftover red curry paste
+ frozen fish

...into this seriously awesome dinner of baked fish, mashed acorn squash, and a Thai-inspired coconut curry with spinach and chickpea!

The boy added some roasted acorn squash seeds to make the dish pretty,
but I would not recommend them at all for this dish. Just save them for your salads. :)

No recipe for the fish or acorn squash—since the fish will depend on your cut (we roasted our barramundi at 350 degrees for ~10 minutes) and squash is pretty straightforward (cut in half, put cut side down, and roast @350 degrees for 45+ minutes until tender; then mash with a bit of butter or olive oil)—but this spinach chickpea curry was amazing.

And the curry is completely vegan, so it'll be great on a pile of rice, noodles, quinoa, or your filler of choice. But somehow the randomness of the curry + fish + squash totally worked.


Yours in embracing her improvisational cooking skills,
Jacqueline

Thai-inspired spinach and chickpea coconut curry, adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

2 teaspoons oil
1 small onion, diced
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon ginger, grated (~3" piece)
15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 pound baby spinach, roughly chopped
~2 TBSP red curry paste
14-ounce can coconut milk (full-fat preferable)
1 teaspoon salt
lemon juice, to finish (optional)
cilantro, to finish


Directions
  1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion begins to brown. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for ~2 minutes, stirring frequently. 

  2. Add the chickpeas and cook over high heat for a few minutes. Toss in the spinach, one handful at a time, until wilted. When all the spinach has been added, push ingredients to the side and cook the curry paste in the center of the pan for 1 minute.

  3. Add the coconut milk and salt. (Make sure to use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan with the coconut milk.) Bring to a simmer then turn down the heat and cook for 10 minutes, or until the chickpeas are warmed through. Taste and add more salt and lemon juice, if necessary.

  4. Serve hot (over roasted rice, quinoa, roasted squash, sweet potatoes, etc) and top with chopped cilantro.
Read more...

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Double-header blog post: lemon bars and popcorn cookies

Where does the time go??

I find that between trying to make the most out of this summer (weekend festivals in Chicago, enjoying the weather when I can) and the madness at work I cannot muster the inspiration to sit down at my computer and write.

Just a random gorgeous sunset view from our apartment
My cooking had lagged too, so that was part of the lack blogging, but even when that picked up a few weeks ago I haven't been sharing much in my space here. Which I hope to rectify a bit. There's been some exciting moments too (my trip out east to Boston, Maine, and New Hampshire for a dear friend's wedding; having my parent's meet the boy's parents for the first time) so I may find a way to sneak those into the blog over time.

I have probably close to 20 back-logged posts, so deciding which one to start with is no easy feat. How about 2 recipes I made a while back from my Smitten Kitchen cookbook: lemon bars and popcorn cookies!

Back in June, for our 2 year anniversary, the boy and I agreed we weren't going to do any gifts. But then, he surprised me with this little gem:


He knows me (and my obsession love of cookbooks) so well! Within days I had made both of these desserts from the book.

Lemon bars were a no brainer, considering my obsession with citrus desserts. And these were extra interesting, because instead of juicing and zesting a million and a half lemons, you simply use 1 lemon. You read that right. One. Single. Lemon.
Make sure you top with powdered sugar RIGHT before serving to make them purty.
I didn't since I was taking these into work...
They also only use 7 ingredients (all pantry staples!) so you're 98% likely to have everything on hand to whip up a batch. All in all, these lemon bars were a smashing success—and loved equally by the boy and my coworkers.

Great ratio of filling:crust!
It wasn't much later that I made recipe #2 from the book, mostly because I was intrigued by the use of popcorn in a cookie. Plus, I got to use one of my absolute favorite items in my kitchen: our Whirley-Pop.


I know, I know, I know—you're not supposed to buy large items that have only 1 purpose in the kitchen. But this thing is magical. It will pop nearly every freaking kernel and not burn a single piece of popcorn. You can go from wanting a late-night snack to eating a giant, perfectly popped bowl of popcorn in ~3 minutes. And it's insanely fun to use. It's literally one of my favorite kitchen gadgets! I mean just check out this perfection.

Yes, allllll this popcorn goes into the batter.
All that popcorn gets folded into the cookie batter. And mini ice cream scoops help you portion out the cookie dough in just a few minutes.


Cookie perfection!


Now I'll be 100% honest—the cookie portion of these cookies was incredible. But I was on the fence about the addition of popcorn. The slight crunch and buttery flavor was unique to a cookie, so while I liked it, I wasn't head-over-heels for it. The boy, on the other hand, wasn't a fan at all with the popcorn. (The first time I think he's every said he didn't like something!) But then coworker asked me for the recipe because she liked them so much. So who knows?!

Recap of today's post: If you're a fan of citrus, the lemon bars are a no brainer. If you're a fan of unique desserts with a bit of savoriness to them (or a fan of the buttered popcorn Jelly Belly), try a batch of these popcorn cookies.

Yours in attempting to catch up on this blog...yet again,
Jacqueline

Whole lemon bars, barely adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

The original recipe says this makes 16 squares (2"x2"), but I cut them into bit-sized 1" squares and got 32 pieces out of the batch. Some of their crust crumbled off a bit, but I found that to be the perfect size.

Ingredients

Crust
1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (65 g) sugar
1/4 tsp table salt
8 TBSP butter (1 stick), cut into chunks

Filling
1 small/medium lemon (~4.5 oz, 130 g, or ~3" long), thoroughly washed (organic preferred)
1 1/3 cups (265 g) sugar
8 TBSP butter, cut into chunks
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 TBSP (15 g) cornstarch
1/4 tsp table salt

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in middle position. Prepare an 8 inch baking pan with 2 pieces of parchment paper, laid perpendicular to each other (like this). Lightly butter the parchment, or use baking spray with flour (my favorite).

  2. To make the crust: blend the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until mixture is powdery (but will hold its shape when pinched, like damp sand). Add the dough to the prepared baking pan and press evenly across the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides. (Hot tip: a measuring cup or glass can help pressing the crust.) Prick with a fork all over and bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. If the crust bubbles up a bit, just prick them with a fork. Remove the crust from the oven and set aside, but leave your oven on. (Hot tip: Don't wash your food processor just yet, you'll use it again in step 4.)

  3. To make your filling: Cut your lemon in half to see how thick the pith of the peel is. (The pith is the white part of the skin, aka the bitter part.) If the pith is 1/4 inch thick or less, continue to step 4 with the entire lemon. If the pith is thick, remove most of it before continuing onto the next step. (To remove the pith, skin the entire lemon and cut away the white part from the yellow peel. Discard the pith but KEEP THE PEEL. You don't need to remove every last bit of the pith, but just enough to reduce the bitterness.) 

  4. Cut your lemon into rings and discard any seeds. Toss the lemon (flesh AND peel) into your food processor, add the sugar, and run until the lemon is pureed, ~2 minutes. Add the butter and again run the machine until the mixture is smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, cornstarch, and salt, and pulse until combined.

  5. Pour lemon mixture over the crust and bake for 35 - 40 minutes, or until the filling is set, aka. it jiggles slightly when bumped. (You may find the top of the bars begin to get just a hint of browning at this point.) 

  6. Let the pan cool completely on a rack. Gently pull away the parchment paper, and use the parchment sling to life the bar out of the pan. Cut into squares.
Buttered popcorn cookies, barely adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Ingredients
vegetable oil
1/4 cup (45 g) popcorn kernels
1/4 tsp table salt
1 TBSP butter, melted
8 oz (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup (95 g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup (65 g) granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (155 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

Directions
  1. Cook popcorn in vegetable oil on the stovetop (or using a Whirley Pop!). Toss with table salt and melted butter, making sure you've removed any unpopped kernels. (~4 to 4.5 cups cooked popcorn.)

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture.

  3. Fold in the cooled popcorn until evenly distributed. It will seem like an insane amount of popcorn, but it'll all come together (I promise). 

  4. Scoop heaping-tablespoon sized rounds of dough onto lined baking sheet, ~2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minute, or until the edges are light brown. Remove from oven, let sit on baking sheet for a few minutes, and transfer to a rack to cool.
 
Read more...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Oatmeal muffins (and a green smoothie)

Am I the only person who cannot get rid of their extra winter weight from the historic 2013/2014 cold season?!? My weight gain wasn't anything drastic, but just enough to make clothes a little uncomfortable at times. Sure, I'm getting older too, so that may be part of the reason my pants are just a leeeeetle too tight these days. But I still blame last winter! 

So I've been on the hunt for recipes to help kickstart healthy eating habits. Don't worry--I'll never give up my full-fat yogurt (and research now shows it's better for you than the overly processed "fat free" stuff), but it can't hurt to curb the really-bad-for-you-food cravings. Especially when it comes to that dreaded mid-day snack (when all I want to do is raid the bowl of chocolate at work)!

Will a muffin and some greens help with my muffin top??
I won't lie--both the oatmeal muffins and green smoothie DO have sugar in them. But they're either (a) natural or (b) not a ton of added sugar.

I especially love that these muffins aren't overly sweet like most store-bought muffins. (At that point I may as well eat a donut with how dessert-like muffins tend to be!) Plus they've got oats in them, which gives them a heartiness you don't usually get with a muffin.

Nuts for this nut!
The muffins are perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast or to help quiet your stomach that starts rumbling around 3 or 4 in the late afternoon. And while the smoothie may have a bunch of healthy greens it in, a bit of fresh pineapple, apple, orange juice really sweetens up the deal.


And yes, I used a regular 'ole blender for the kale and spinach. Although it's not going to be perfectly smooth, I really don't mind the texture. (And I don't really want to drop $500 on a Vitamix!) If you're not a fan of the texture, try using spinach only as the kale is a bit tougher. Or use a juicer for the greens, although you do lose all that healthy fiber when juicing.


Yours in hoping I can get back into shape before the next winter hits us all...
Jacqueline


Cranberry oatmeal muffins, lightly adapted from Kitchen Confidente

The muffins are best enjoyed while warm, so eat them fresh from the oven or pop them in the microwave for a few seconds to soften them up a bit. They do well for a few days at room temperature, but if you'll be making them for the week it'll be safer to put them in the fridge to prevent any moldies.

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients
1 cup rolled oats (you can also use quick 1-minute oatmeal)
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, or less to taste
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup nuts (I used walnuts, but pecans, almonds, etc would be great), optional

Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin by lightly spraying with non-stick spray or baking spray. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine oatmeal and buttermilk and let it sit as you prepare the other ingredients. If using regular rolled oats, make sure to let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes before mixing in other ingredients.
  • Stir in the egg, brown sugar, and melted butter into the oat mixture.
  • In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Gently stir into the oat mixture until just combined. Stir in the dried cranberries (and nuts, if using). (Hot tip: I've read that dusting the cranberries and nuts with a bit of flour is supposed to keep the fruit/nuts from sinking to the bottom of the muffin. I've never done a placebo-controlled experiment on this, but it can't hurt to do!)
  • Distribute the batter evenly into the muffin tins. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool for about 3 minutes, then remove from the muffin pan.

Read more...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Guinness milk-chocolate ice cream

It's getting hot in Chicago!!! Which means I'm finally craving ice cream.


Typically, ice cream is all I want to eat 97.46% of the time during the summer. But this year the weather has been so mild, downright cool some days. Which is great if you don't want to feel like a puddle of mush in the extreme hot and humidity. But it sucks as far as ice-cream craving days are concerned.


And then...GASP...we start having some warm days again. At the end of August. And my craving rushes back! Luckily for me I have an ice cream maker and The Perfect Scoop--an incredible ice cream "cook"book. And I can flip through it and be completely inspired by the unique and delicious flavor combinations. Like the ice cream here.

You see, this ice cream may look all innocent, and you may think it's simply a bowl of chocolate ice cream. But do not be fooled. Although milk chocolate is a main ingredient in this ice cream, Guinness is in there too. Yes, Guinness as in the stout beer.


Now before you think I'm crazy, let me tell you that this ice cream is DELICIOUS! The beer just works, and I don't really know what else to say about it. Yes, you can taste the beer, but surprisingly it's not overpowering. It has just a hint of that unique stout flavor that compliments the creamy chocolate perfectly. (Hey, if Guinness works in chocolate cake, why not chocolate ice cream?) Plus, the alcohol helps keep this ice cream really soft and creamy!

And for those of you who know me well (team dark chocolate all the way!) you may be wondering what I thought about the milk chocolate in this ice cream. I'll be honest, I was tempted to swap it out for semi-sweet chocolate. But I'm so happy I didn't. Milk chocolate was the perfect flavor in this ice cream, and it's creaminess really helped keep the ice cream smooth. Plus, it wasn't too sweet!

So next time you've got a hankering for ice cream, why not open a cold bottle of stout, take a sip, and use the rest to satisfy your craving?

Yours in being inspired by unique flavors,
Jacqueline

Guinness-Milk Chocolate Ice Cream, from Perfect Scoop
makes about one quart

Ingredients
7 ounces (205 g) milk chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup Guinness Stout (or a porter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
  1. Place the chopped chocolate into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top. Set aside.
  2. Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Temper the egg yolks by slowly pouring the warmed milk mixture into the egg yolks and whisking constantly. Then pour the tempered yolks back into the saucepan.
  3. Cook the mixture over medium heat with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, making sure to stir the mixture constantly to avoid cooking the eggs. Cook the custard until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of your spatula/wooden spoon.
  4. Pour the custard through the strainer over the milk chocolate, then stir until the chocolate is melted. When smooth, whisk in the cream first, then Guinness and vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
  5. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator for at least a few hours (overnight is preferred). Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the instructions. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for a few hours to harden.
Read more...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Baked fish with red Thai curry paste

Remember the green Thai curry paste I made from scratch to make homemade coconut curry? Well, I also made a batch of red curry paste and froze it in small batches.

It turns out that curry paste can be used to make an AMAZING marinade for fish.


All I did was add a splash each of fish sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice to ~1 to 1.5 TBSP of the curry paste until it had the consistency of a thick, spreadable marinade. I spooned that mixture over fish (barramundi is pictured here but we also used swordfish on another night), baked until fork tender, and served it alongside a simple vinegar slaw.

We were lucky enough to also have on hand some potted herbs (gifted to us from the boy's dad), so thinly sliced mint and basil completed this fresh and light summertime meal.


The best part of this meal (other than the amazing flavor) is that in less than 30 minutes we had a fresh, homemade, and healthy dinner for 2!
Yours in experimenting with unique ways to use her homemade curry paste,
Jacqueline

Baked fish with red Thai curry paste

I didn't measure the exact amounts, so I'd estimate 1 to 2 TBSP of soy sauce, maybe 1 TBSP of fish sauce, and juice of 1/2 a lime. Just a guess though, so add enough of each to make the marinade "spoonable" and adjust to your particular taste buds.

As far as the fish goes, we've used barramundi and swordfish for this recipe and both stand up perfectly to the spicy curry. I can imagine this would work well with a variety of fish--whatever your favorite may be!

Ingredients

Fish fillets, 2 to 4 (see note above)
1 to 1.5 TBSP red Thai curry paste (see recipe below)
soy sauce
fish sauce
lime juice 
fresh herbs (mint, basil, cilantro, etc)

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix curry paste, soy sauce, fish sauce, and lime juice in small bowl until watered down but still a little thick. 
  3. Spoon the marinade over the fish, making sure to cover the entire top. (Keep in mind, the thicker the layer of curry marinade, the more potent and spicy the dish. I like it with a hefty layer of marinade, but use a lesser amount if you want a milder flavor.)
  4. Bake fish for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the filet is cooked through.
  5. Top with fresh herbs. Serve immediately with a wedge of lime. 
Thai red curry paste, adapted from Adventures in Cooking

This is enough to make about 2 to 3 TBSP of curry paste. Double or triple the recipe and freeze the leftover in small portions so you have it on hand for a quick and easy dinner.
 
Ingredients

2-3 dried red chile peppers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes with seeds removed (I didn't have this so I substituted 2-3 fresh Thai chile peppers instead. It's less red than a typical red curry paste, but it still tastes great.)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger root, finely chopped
2 teaspoons galangal root, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemongrass, finely chopped
2 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped

Directions

Crush ingredients together with a rough stone mortar and pestle until a smooth paste forms. Alternatively, blend all the ingredients together in a food processor (using a bit of coconut oil if you like if the mixture is too dry). Read more...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

(Flourless) Fudge Brownies

What words could I use to describe these brownies??

Dense
Chocolatey
Intense
Fudge-y
Rich
Semi-sweet
Decadent
Incredibly delicious

I mean just look at them! LOOK. AT. THEM...


You'll notice, however, that I didn't use the words "flourless" or "gluten-free." While those 2 words technically describe these sans-gluten brownies, you'd never guess it. Because a lot of times gluten-free desserts just can't come close to the original.

But these brownies might be some of the most delicious brownies I've ever had. They're more of a cross between a flourless chocolate cake and a brownie, with a super fudgey center and perfectly crispy top.



And the best part about this recipe: they take minutes to whip together, they're literally a 1-pot meal, and you most likely have all ingredients on hand.

So go make these right now!

Yours in delightfully deceiving people with delicious gluten-free treats,
Jacqueline

Flourless Fudge Brownies, from David Lebovitz (from Ready for Dessert)

Makes 9 to 25 brownies (mine were cut into 36 small pieces, which were a bit brittle because of their size, but mini bites are possible!)

Ingredients
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutch process
3 tablespoons (30g) corn starch
6 tablespoons (85g) butter, unsalted or salted
1/8 tsp fine sea salt (eliminate if using salted butter)
8 ounces (225g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
optional: 1 cup (135g) nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
optional: 2 - 3 TBSP of cocoa nibs

Directions
  1. To make a parchment sling for your pan: lightly spray the inside of an 8-inch (23 cm) square pan with baking spray and line with 1 strip of parchment paper up the sides to the rim. Repeat with a second piece of parchment on the other sides of the pan (like this). Lightly grease the foil with butter or non-stick cooking spray.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350º (180ºC). Sift together the cocoa powder and corn starch in a small bowl and set aside.

  3. Add the butter in a medium saucepan and place over very low heat. Add chocolate (and salt, if using), stirring constantly until smooth.

  4. When chocolate is melted, immediately remove from heat and stir in the sugar, then the eggs, one at a time.

  5. Stir the cocoa/corn starch mixture into the chocolate mixture. Beat the batter vigorously for at least one minute until the batter is no longer grainy and nearly smooth. It will pull away from the sides of the pan a bit once it's done. (Note: This step is ESSENTIAL if you want brownies and not chocolate crumbles. Unlike flour [which you don't want to overbeat due to gluten development], you need to properly hydrate the corn starch and properly mix all these ingredients to "glue" them together. Check out some photos from David Lebovitz's blog to see how the mixture pulls from the side of the pan.)

  6. Add the nuts and cocoa nibs, if using, then scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the brownies feel just set in the center. Do not overbake. (If anything, mine were a bit underbaked...yum!)

  8. Remove from oven and let cool completely in the pan. Run a knife around the sides of the pan to release the brownies, and use the parchment sling to slowly before removing from the pan and slicing. (The edges of my brownies were a bit crumby, but they were still delicious. Eat as is, or use as a delicious topping on ice cream!) 

Storage: The brownies can be stored at room temperature for up to 4 days, or frozen for at least 1 month. Read more...

Monday, July 7, 2014

Green thai curry (from scratch)

Who else is completely shocked that half of 2014 is gone already?? These weeks are melting away and I feel like I just can't keep up. With friends I haven't spoken to/seen in months, with cooking from all my amazing cookbooks and blogs I follow, with crafty projects around my place, with staying fit, with maintaining this blog, with life.

So I'm making my mid-year resolution to try to get back on track with as much as I can by *doing* instead of *procrastinating*. Let's see how long that lasts! But in the meantime, I'm back with delicious recipes.

First up is one of the most amazing dishes I've ever made: homemade Thai coconut curry.


I'm a first generation Assyrian with parents from the Middle East, but (as any of you who regularly follow this blog already know) Thai food is one of my favorites...and dishes have appeared on this blog regularly.

So when a new Thai place opened up around the corner from us with the best coconut curry I've ever had (the owners mother-in-law makes them all from scratch!), it inspired me to tackle homemade curry.

Luckily I had some amazing guidance from the Adventures in Cooking blog, who had taken a cooking class on her travels to Thailand (you MUST check out her blog, the photos and recipes are beyond incredible!)

So off I went to Argyle for those hard-to-find ingredients critical for a proper Thai curry--galangal and kaffir lime leaf--and began my own adventure in cooking.

How can you NOT love food with such incredible flavors?! (clockwise from top) Galangal, kaffir lime leaves,
cilantro, red Thai chillies, ginger, shallots, garlic, lemon grass, and Thai basil.

Now, you can use a food processor for actually making the curry. But (a) I'm convinced the flavors of herbs change when put through a food processor (see this post on how hand-chopped basil pesto tastes totally different than the kind blitzed in the food processor) and (b) what's the fun in that?!?


My mortal/pestle is a tiny little thing (and probably not the best), so it took around 4 batches to get everything mashed together. Good time to get out all those aggressions!!


You'll notice that my curry paste isn't quite as smooth and creamy as you'll see from others. Does it make a difference? Perhaps. But really, I don't mind seeing little flecks of chilli in my curries and other bits of herbs. Although if it bothers you feel free to keep mashing/pureeing until it's a solid paste.

Sure, my curry paste may have been on the rustic side, but once it was cooked up it was something out of this world. Making the curry yourself is absolutely unmatched, and every bite punches you in the face with the most amazing flavors.


Now you'll probably have a bunch of leftover ingredients after making this dish. Here are some ideas:
  1. Finely chop the extra ingredients to make a marinade for a meaty fish like swordfish (I used 2 TBSP shallots, 2 garlic cloves, 1-2 red chillies, 4 kaffir lime leaves, handful basil, lemongrass, 1 tsp grated ginger, 1 tsp grated galangal, lime juice, 1 TBSP soy sauce, 1 TBSP fish sauce, and 2 TBSP oil)
  2. Freeze you kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and Thai chillies for future use.
  3. Make a ton of extra curry paste, freeze in 1 TBSP portions, wrap in plastic wrap, pop in a freezer safe bag, and you can whip up dinner in no time on a later date.
  4. Make a delicious basil gimlet!

I realize that it seems like a lot of work for a single dish. But the end result is worth every moment. And now I have a bunch of frozen curry in the freezer waiting for me to make this amazing meal again and again!

Yours in traveling the world through her kitchen,
Jacqueline

Please visit the Adventures in Cooking blog to see her photos/recipes for authentic red, yellow, and green curry. Today, I'm sharing a modified version of her green curry for you. Enjoy!

Homemade Green Coconut Curry, recipe adapted from Adventures in Cooking with additional cooking tips from The High Heel Gourmet

Remember: double or triple the curry paste and freeze it so you can make this dish on the go in the future. If you don't want to use homemade curry paste, just use a good quality store bought kind and use the basic Thai curry recipe below.

The best part about the curry is that you can use whatever veggies/protein you like. I used sugar snap peas, baby carrots, sliced yellow bell pepper, fresh enoki mushrooms (although I would have preferred a mushroom with a bit more flavor), and boneless/skinless chicken thighs. But feel free to use potatoes, squash, eggplant, beef, tofu, etc etc.  

Ingredients

Green curry paste (will make 2-3 TBSP)
2 small fresh green chile peppers, chopped (I used red chile peppers)
1 TBSP finely grated lime zest
1 TBSP finely chopped lemongrass
1 TBSP finely chopped shallots
1 tsp finely chopped galangal root
1 tsp finely chopped ginger root
2 tsp finely chopped cilantro stems
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cumin, toasted in frying pan for 1 minute (no oil!)
1 1/2 tsp teaspoons coriander, toasted in frying pan for 1 minute (no oil!)
2 cloves garlic, minced

Basic Thai curry
2 cups coconut milk (High Heel Gourmet recommends using just the cream part of the coconut milk; the part that rises to the top! Read her post for more details, although I've never tried it this way.)
2-3 TBSP curry paste
1 TBSP fish sauce
1-2 TBSP palm sugar or brown sugar
1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water, depending on how watery you like your curry
1 cup vegetables, whole or cut into 1-inch pieces or cubes (see note above)
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
meat cut into 1/2 inch thick slices (optional) and/or tofu for extra protein
1-inch piece of lemongrass
fresh thai basil (can substitute fresh italian basil)
1 kaffir lime leaf

4 cups cooked rice, for serving

Directions
  1. For the curry paste: blend all ingredients together with a stone mortar and pestle until smooth, or blend in a food processor. (A smooth mortar/pestle will give you results more similar to my curry.) If you find your paste a bit too dry, feel free to add just a touch of oil (I used just a bit of coconut oil). Set aside.
  2. For the curry: Cook your meat until nearly cooked through (the original recipe recommended boiling the meat, but I prefer to cut my chicken thighs into little chunks and quickly sear them in a frying pan in a little bit of oil.) Set aside the meat.
  3. In a medium-sized pot, cook half of your coconut milk/cream on medium to medium high heat until bubbling. Add the curry paste and "stir fry" the paste to release the aromas. Keep stirring to prevent the paste from burning. As you cook for a few minutes, the coconut curry mixture should "break," where the cream splits from the oil (see here). Add the remaining coconut milk, and continue to cook for at least a few more minutes (the longer you cook, the more the milk will break). If your milk is not breaking (some brands with emulsifiers may not break as easily), fear not--just add a bit of coconut oil to the mixture and continue with the curry making process.
  4. Add the fish sauce, sugar, water, and onion, and vegetables and simmer until the vegetables are nearly done. Make sure to add the veggies in order of how long it will take them to cook (ie, add potatoes a lot sooner than you would sugar snap peas).
  5. Add the meat, lemongrass, basil and kaffir lime leaf and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the meat is completely cooked through.
  6. Remove from heat and serve immediately alongside the cooked  rice.
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