April 24, 2012
Dal – one of the staple foods of millions worldwide… like other peas, beans, legumes and their ilk, these little split goodies provide a cheap and fulling source of protein and nutrition to untold numbers of people on a daily basis.
I approached cooking dal with a bit of trepidation – I knew they would be good for me, and certainly at least palatable, and I’d probably be proud of myself for eating it and having something else in my “healthy diet” arsenal… but I didn’t expect them to be down-right better-than-just-edible… and that’s what these are: Delicious Dals.
Dals are best know as a part of Indian cuisine, so of course I looked to Suvir Saran for recipes and pulled out my trusty copy of “American Masala”. I tried his “not-so-dull dal” and was, well, blown away. I was amazed that such simple ingredients produced such wonderful results! I doubted it was actually as good as I thought it was, so I shared the results with several people, and all agreed that it was an exceptional-tasting dish!
I played with the recipe a bit, using some of Suvir’s recommended alterations/additions to the basic recipe, made a little tweak or three of my own, and what you have is the recipe below. So let’s tarry no longer: Let’s Cook!
3 Tbl Canola Oil
2 Tsp Cumin Seeds
1 Tsp Mustard Seeds
4 or 5 Dried Red Chilies (if you’re a bit of a wussy about heat, you can cut don’t to 1 or 2, but don’t omit them totally – remove after initial frying if you want)
A pinch (1/16th of a Tsp?) Asafetida Powder (from the Indian market, don’t sweat it if you don’t have, just omit it)
12 Fresh (or Frozen) Curry Leaves, torn into small pieces (optional, also from the Indian market)
1 Red Onion, quartered and cut into thin slices
1 Jalapeno, finely chopped (remove seeds and ribs if you want to reduce heat – again don’t omit totally if you like a mild dish, just use half a pepper sans the insides)
1 Tbl Kosher or Sea Salt
3 Garlic Cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 Cups Dal, rinsed and drained well (I used Masoor Dal, but you can use Channa Dal/yellow split peas, or even the regular lentils that you’ll find in the grocery should work well)
1 Can (14.5 ounce, or thereabouts) Diced Tomatoes (if you like even extra heat, you won’t hurt my feelings of you use that can of Rotel you have in the cupboard)
1 Container (32 oz) Vegetable Stock (or Chicken Stock/Broth if you don’t care about the dish being 100% vegetarian, you can even use all or part water if you must – it will still turn out nice)
Juice of 1/2 a Lemon (plus more for serving if desired)
Chopped Cilantro, if desired for serving
Heat the oil is your large cooking vessel of choice over medium-high heat (I used my mother’s cast iron Dutch oven as usual).
Add the cumin and mustard seeds, the dried peppers and the curry leaves (if you have). Stir for 1 – 2 minutes until the spices darken slightly and become aromatic - be careful as the mustard seeds will want to fly out of the pan – use a splatter screen if you have one.
If you’re using asafetida, add and stir for a few (20 or so) seconds.
Put in the onion and jalapeno and stir until staring to get soft, a couple of minutes.
Add the salt and garlic, and stir and cook until all is getting happy, soft and aromatic…
Stir in the drained lentils and cook for a minute or so…
add a half-cup of the broth and deglaze the pan until the liquid is pretty much all cooked off.
Add a couple of cups of the broth and the tomatoes (no need to drain) and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer, partially cover, and cook about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Add more broth as needed to just keep the ingredients covered…
yep – we’re basically gonna cook these puppies like a risotto…
Uncover and add the lemon juice…
Continue to simmer uncovered, adding more broth if needed, until the lentils are tender but not turned to mush.
Taste and adjust seasoning as needed…
but I’m betting you’re going to be amazed… at most you may want a bit more salt…
You can fish out the dried chilies if you like (they will provide quite a jolt to someone who bites down on one unexpectedly).
I like to make this dal very thick (maybe the consistency of cooked oatmeal?) – many dal recipes are much more soupy, and meant to be eaten as such. If you want you can add more liquid during the cooking process and serve the stuff in a bowl (add some rice, dunk some bread into it… can’t be bad). You could also make this as described above, and later add extra broth or water to all or part of it if you decide you want it thinner.
You can serve this along with some rice and a veggie dish (or two, add some bread if you’d like) and eat very well and healthy for very little money…. this can also be a hearty side to some protein item like a grilled chicken or fish.
Sprinkle on some cilantro if you’d like… squeeze a bit of lemon… some plain yoghurt wouldn’t be out of line either…
Please, make this. Maybe I’ve over-hyped it, but damn… it’s good…
Once again, I’m heading back to the kitchen… see you soon!
April 20, 2012
So kids, here’s another of my “go-to” recipes… when I’m not sure what to fix, and I want something that’s pretty easy to make, fairly healthy, and of course, tastes great, I often come back to this. It’s good hot, warm, or cold. It can be a main dish or a side… it’s great leftover for lunch at work… you figured out yet that I really like this stuff???
This recipe is based on Peanutty Noodles from the “Cooking Light Complete Cookbook”, but like many other recipes, I’ve probably never made it exactly the same way twice (which is one of the great things about it – you can vary it depending on what you have on hand, or feel like, as we’ll see).
So, let’s waste no more time… Let’s Cook!
Spicy Peanut Pasta
Ingredients (see notes below for many options)
1 Lb Whole Wheat/Whole Grain Pasta (I like a wider Linguine for this, but pretty much any style you like will do)
2 Tsp Grated (or very finely minced) Fresh Ginger
3 Finely Minced Garlic Cloves
1 Cup Chicken or Veggie Broth
1/2 Cup Smooth Peanut Butter (I use reduced fat for this, but use what you like)
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
3 Tbl Rice Wine Vinegar
2 Tsp Asian Chili-Garlic Sauce (such as Chili Paste with Garlic or Sambal Oelek, more or less to taste)
1/4 Tsp Salt
1 Cup Red Bell Pepper, cut into small strips
1 Cup Onion, cut into small strips
1 Cup Broccoli, florets cut into small pieces
1 Cup Mung Bean Sprouts
1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Cilantro
Canola Oil, as needed for cooking
Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.
While pasta is cooking, heat some oil in a wok or other large cooking vessel (I used my trusty dutch oven). Stir-fry the onions, bell pepper and broccoli until just tender but still very crisp.
Remove from the pan and set aside.
Return the pan to the stove and heat about a teaspoon of oil on medium and saute the ginger and garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the broth, peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, chili-garlic sauce and salt. Stir/whisk until blended and simmer on low for 5-10 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasonings as needed (more vinegar, hot sauce, sugar if too tart…). If it seems too thin, add more peanut butter – too thick, more broth.
Remove from heat and add the pasta. Toss to coat with sauce, then add the stir-fried veggies and mix well.
Mix in most of the sprouts and cilantro (save a bit of both for garnish).
Plate, garnish, serve… then thank me…
This recipe is pretty much infinitely variable as to the “mix-ins” (the sauce is the real key) – pretty much any veggies you like will work – I add matchstick carrots often – sliced or shredded green onions often make it in at the end. A drizzle of sesame oil (I use the hot. chili-infused type often) wouldn’t be out of line…
If the extra protein mood strikes you can add firm tofu, cooked chicken or shrimp…
This works well warm, room temp, or cold… please give it a try and post your comments!
Now back to the kitchen! See you soon!
March 14, 2012
Most everyone that cooks much has a few “go-to” recipes in their repertoire – maybe it’s the can’t miss special dish to impress guests, or that healthy version of a classic that still tastes good or the one you know you can make easily on a busy evening and still feel like you’ve made something special, or maybe it’s one that’s all of those… and that’s what this recipe is…
Like many (okay, probably most) of us, I really have to try and watch what I eat most of the time (try to ignore the specialty hot dogs you’ve seen the pics of from Disney for now), but I still have to have something full of flavor not to feel too deprived. I came across the basis for this recipe in Rocco Dispirito’s “Now Eat This!” cookbook where he takes “150 of America’s favorite comfort foods” and lightens them up to under 350 calories a serving… some of the techniques for mimicking fried foods look to be a bit tedious, but some have some genius substitutions that really bring down the calories (and fat) while still producing a darn tasty dish. When I first tried his recipe “No Cream-No Cry Penne alla Vodka” I was doubtful, but when I took my first bite I was amazed at the flavor! I was wondering if I’d sampled a bit too much wine and it had blurred my judgment, so I took some leftovers the next day to Mistress Sandra and Co-Worker Kelly for their assessments (not telling them it was a “sorta-diet” dish) and it was met with raves… when I made it for Miss Bonnie, well, we’ll just say she was grateful… around these parts it’s even now just known as “The Pasta” (as in, “I’m making The Pasta tonight”, to which the response is usually “Yummm!”).
So now that I’ve built this dish up so that it could never live up to the hype I’ve given it… Let’s Cook!
Not-quite Penne alla Vodka
1 Box Whole-Wheat Penne Pasta (usually about 13 – 14 ounces)
1 Jar of your favorite Marinara Sauce (usually about 24 ounces, pay attention to labels if you’re really watching the calories and fat – of course your homemade red sauce would be great too!)
1/2 cup or so Tequila (optional, see below)
Pinch (okay, 1/8 to 1/4 Tsp depending on your spice desires, you can always add more) of crushed Red Pepper
1 container (7 ounce) of 2% Plain Greek Yoghurt (this is the genius sub for the cream, trust me…)
1 Cup (or a bit more if you like) chopped Fresh Basil (don’t make it if you don’t use this or I’ll hunt you down and hurt you)
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
8 Tbl Shredded (or grated if you prefer) Parmesan (or Parmigiano-Reggiano) Cheese (fresh please, not the stuff from the can!)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to directions until still fairly firm (probably 8-9 minutes). Drain.
While the pasta is getting ready, put the marinara and red pepper into a large skillet and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
If desired, add the tequila to the jar and shake (put the, lid back on, of course!) to get out any remaining sauce…
and add to the skillet…
Now we must note that in his recipe Rocco (quite accurately) states that the traditional ingredient of vodka “is colorless, odorless, and without much flavor – not really attributes of a superstar ingredient”, so he simply omits it (and it flavorless calories) from the dish… well, Dedicated Readers know I can’t omit any alcohol, so I decided to add the all-time Eating (and Drinking) Around the World favorite: Tequila! We can move on now…
Simmer the sauce, stirring frequently, until a bit thickened and hot – 5 minutes or so. Remove from the heat.
Put the yoghurt in a bowl and stir a bit to loosen it up. Add about 1/2 cup of the sauce and stir it in well to temper the yoghurt (and prevent it from curdling when added to the hot sauce).
Now stir the yoghurt mixture into the marinara until smooth.
In a large bowl put the drained pasta, the sauce, basil and most of the Parmesan (reserve a bit for topping each serving)…
and now mix your little heart out… taste and stir in salt and pepper as desired…
Put into a bowl, sprinkle a bit of parm on top, serve and wait for the accolades!
A nice green salad and a glass of wine and you’ve got a great meal!
This dish is wonderful as is, but often I’ll doctor it up with additions…here some cooked chopped kale and sauteed mushrooms are joining the party…
Kale really ups the nutrition ante – you can also add it to the pasta for the last minute or two of cooking and it will be done… chopped/sliced fresh spinach can be added to the hot mixture at the end if you like… if you really feel the need some animal protein, cooked chicken breast can been folded in as well…
Give this a try – it’s one of my favorites, and almost semi-healthy! Would love to hear your thoughts after you try it! And yes, there even is a very tenuous and oblique Disney relation (for me at least) to this recipe (if you insist on knowing, ask and maybe I’ll add it to the comments…).
Now back to the kitchen – see you soon!
February 20, 2012
It’s hard to believe that for someone of my Advanced Age it’s taken so many years to come to appreciate the virtues of roasting veggies… steamed, stir-fried, ignored was my usual course of non-meat cooking… but in recent years I’ve had quite the revelation…
I’m sure most of us have had roasted tubers of some sort, or other vegetables perhaps, along with a roasted meat dish – but the wonderful things that happen to many veggies when put into the oven are hard to beat – flavors are concentrated, the natural sugars come to the front (can you say “caramelization”? I know you could…) – damn good things happen – and it’s easy…
The recipe below (and really, it’s as much a technique as a recipe, as you’ll see) is based on the Cardamom-Roasted Cauliflower recipe from Suvir Saran‘s “American Masala”, but I get real lazy on the seasonings… (forgive me Suvir). I’ll refer you to his book (which you should own, if you don’t already) for the original recipe. And I’m going to give you some options, alternatives, etc at the end, so now, Let’s Cook!
Simple Roasted Cauliflower
1/3 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (give or take, plus a bit more to grease the baking dish)
1 Head Cauliflower, cored and broken/cut in medium-size flowerets
1 Medium Red Onion, quartered and cut into thick slices
1 – 1 1/2 Tsp Garam Masala
1 – 1 1/2 Tsp good quality Curry Powder
Coarse Salt (Kosher or Sea), for sprinkling
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
Add the Garam Masala and Curry Powder to the oil in a large mixing bowl.
Whisk well and throw in your veggies…
Stir until the cauliflower and onion are evenly coated with the seasoned oil (you may need to add a bit more oil…).
Lightly grease a large roasting pan and add the veggies to same. Stick in the oven… (duh…)
Stir every 15 minutes or so until tender and done to your liking…
about an hour total. Add a nice sprinkling of salt and you’re ready to eat…
And here it is served alongside some lovely Coconut Rice.
So like I said – this is more of a technique than anything – you can adjust the seasoning to whatever you like – add other veggies as desired… carrots, broccoli, potatoes, mushrooms… of course different things will cook at different times – you may need to add the other veggies later in the cooking time. If you’re experimenting and not sure, cook the other veggies in a separate pan (and remove from the oven earlier or cook longer as needed) and put together just at the end until you feel good about when to add other items. Even the onions can be varied – as the recipe is presented the onions will get soft and caramelized – but if you want them more firm, add about half-way thru – or do both – some at the start and more during the cooking… it can’t be wrong… You can also stir in some chopped cilantro, parsley, green onions, whatever at the end to finish things off…
Cook, experiment, it’s all good, and in this case, good for you!
Back to the kitchen – see you soon!
January 19, 2012
Hi all, and Happy New Year! Yeah, I know it’s a little late for that, but we here at Eating (and Drinking) Around the World have been a bit busy the past few weeks… two half-marathons, a birthday, and much research for future posts (that means there has been a lot of cooking, eating, and of course, drinking since we last visited…). Okay, enough of the excuses… let’s start the year with one of my favorite recipes: Coconut Rice.
Dedicated Readers won’t be shocked that this is yet another creation from Suvir Saran’s “American Masala” cookbook. If you’re not familiar with Suvir (and you should be), take a look at my intro to his cornbread recipe here.
This recipe is one of those that everyone seems to really enjoy and it consistently garners compliments. It goes well with many types of food: Indian of course, but also great with Thai dishes or really most anything that calls for a side of rice – I’ve even served it alongside White Barbeque Sauce Chicken to raves! And even better, it’s easy to prepare and pretty much fool-proof. My version below varies just slightly from the original (which I’ll give you some notes on at the end), so now, Let’s Cook!
1/4 Cup Canola Oil
1 Medium-size Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbl Mustard Seeds
2 Tsp Cumin Seeds
2 Cups Basmati Rice
1/4 Cup Shredded Coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1 Can (13.5 oz or so) Coconut Milk (regular or light – be sure to use the stuff from the Asian section, not the sweet stuff from the drink mixer aisle)
2 1/4 Cups Water (about, see below)
1 Tbl Sea or Kosher Salt
Shake the can of coconut milk well (before you open it please) then pour into a large measuring device and add enough water to total 4 cups of liquid and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
Add the onions, mustard seeds and cumin seeds and saute until the onions start to soften and the seeds are fragrant – 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the rice and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice changes color a little and starts to smell good.
Stir in the coconut and cook another minute or so.
Add the liquid and salt and stir well. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and cook for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 5-10 minutes (it will stay warm a bit longer than that if needed).
Fluff with a fork…
Suvir’s original recipe adds optional torn curry leaves (12 of them, heated with the onions) and uses a bit more salt (1 1/2 tablespoons). He also only uses 1 cup of coconut milk to 3 cups water, but I like to just use up the whole can. The recipe also calls specifically for unsweetened coconut, but it can be hard to find at times – I’ve made it many times with the sweetened version and it comes out great, so I’d say use whatever you can find.
You can certainly “fancy” this up if you want to… maybe add some sauteed mushrooms, little English peas wouldn’t hurt… stir in a little chopped cilantro, or even a bit of mint…
This recipe does make a gracious plenty, but it will keep well for a couple of days, and if you bring a bit extra to friends at work the next day they won’t hate you for it…
Add this one to your repertoire… you’ll find yourself making it often!
Back to the kitchen – see you soon!
December 19, 2011
Here’s a healthy, warming soup – perfect for those cold winter nights (or at least as cold as it’s been here in Florida this year…).
The recipe comes from the December 2011 issue of Runner’s World magazine. The article by Jessica Girdwain features several healthy soups, all of which sound really good… I tried the one in question, not intending for it to be a blog recipe, but when I posted the picture of the finished product on Facebook there were several requests for the recipe, so here you go!
It was one of the rare times I didn’t take photos while cooking, so this time you’ll have to settle for a less-than-fantastic pic of the dish at the end, but I’m sure you’re all bright enough to figure out the steps without the usual visual aids… so now, Let’s Cook!
Spicy Sausage Mushroom Soup
4 oz (should be 1 link) of a Spicy, Cooked Chicken Sausage, sliced thin
1 Lb Sliced Mushrooms (your choice)
1/4 Cup Water (hope you have this on hand…)
1/4 Tsp Dried Thyme
1/8 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
4 Cups Chopped Kale Leaves
1/4 Cup White Wine (plus more for the cook as needed)
2 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth (plus more as may be needed)
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 1/2 Cups Cooked Wild Rice
Over medium to medium-high heat, saute the sausage in 1 tablespoon of oil until brown.
Remove the sausage and add the mushrooms and cook until softened.
Add the water and deglaze the pan.
Add the thyme, red pepper, kale and wine. Cook until the greens are wilted – about 4-5 minites.
Add the broth and salt, bring to a boil and reduce the heat and simmer about 15 minutes.
Stir in the sausage and wild rice and simmer at least 5 more minutes. If not “soupy” enough, add more broth as desired.
Serve with a nice whole grain bread for dunking…
Yummm (forgive me for quoting Rachael…)!!!!
Tasty, and good for you, give it a try!
We’re back to the kitchen, see you soon!
December 17, 2011
It’s time to share another recipe we tried from the FEED Our Small World cookbook, this time it’s a not overly-sweet, but nicely spiced cake from Jamaica. So let’s not chat, Let’s Cook!
Island Breeze Ginger Cake
2 Cups Flour
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Ground Ginger
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Tsp Ground Allspice
1 Tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 Tsp Ground Cloves
1/2 Cup Butter, softened
1/2 Cup packed Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Molasses
2 Tbl Fresh Ginger, peeled and finely grated (pull out your trusty microplane!)
1 Large Egg
1/3 Cup Hot Water
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Spray an 8-inch square baking pan lightly with cooking spray and set aside.
In a bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients (the flour down through the cloves).
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Add the molasses and grated ginger and incorporate, then beat in the egg until well mixed.
Add half of the dry mixture and beat it into the butter mixture. Add the water and beat again.
Beat in the rest of the flour mixture until just incorporated.
Pour the batter into the greased pan and stick into your preheated oven. Bake 30 – 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the pan set on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan to finish cooling.
You can serve the cake slightly warm, at room temp, or even chilled. A bit of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream makes a nice accompaniment. A sprinkle of chopped candied ginger would be fun if you have some of that around.
With many of the “warm” spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves) that we associate with the fall/winter months, this would actually be perfect as an ending to a holiday meal. Give this a try, make it with your kids, and let us know how it turns out!
Now, as always, back to the kitchen!
December 8, 2011
Recently I gave you a quick overview of the “FEED our Small World” cookbook and promised to share a few of the recipes contained therein, and here (I’m sure much sooner than most Dedicated Readers expected) is a recipe for an unusual, healthy and flavor-filled soup.
This combo of good things that grow underground is from Senegal, and is essentially a version of what is known as Groundnut Soup (or stew). So without any further ado, Let’s Cook!
Zesty Peanut Soup
1 Tbl Vegetable Oil
1 Onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 Carrot, grated (about 1/2 cup)
1 Large Sweet Potato, peeled and grated (about 3 cups, see note at end of recipe)
3 Cups Water
1 (10.75 oz) Can Condensed Tomato Soup (like the one in the Warhol painting)
1/2 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1 Tsp Curry Powder (or a bit more if you like…)
1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper (or once again, more if you like…)
Sour Cream or Plain Yoghurt, for serving
Garnishes as desired (chopped peanuts, minced green onions, cilantro, etc.)
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the onion and carrot and saute until tender, 4 or 5 minutes. I added part of the curry powder during the saute (and yes, I used double the recommended amount of curry powder).
Add the sweet potato and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes until the potato is tender.
Stir in the tomato soup…
the peanut butter, curry powder and cayenne…
bring to a boil then remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes or so.
Blend the soup until smooth, using an immersion blender or in batches as needed in a standard blender.
Reheat if needed and ladle into a serving bowl. Add a spoonful of sour cream or plain yoghurt and sprinkle with any of the desired accompaniments. You can always add a few drops of your hot sauce of choice if you need an extra kick.
The only laborious part of the recipe is the grating of the sweet potato – you could just chop instead (by hand or in your food processor), you’d just have to simmer a bit longer to get it tender.
This is also good at room temperature and even cold. I think any leftover soup would be great added to pasta for a warm or room temp dish – add some veggies (thin sliced broccoli, raw or sauteed; green peppers; whatever floats your boat) and sliced protein of choice if you so desire (cooked chicken breast; shrimp; firm tofu; etc.)… I haven’t tried this with pasta yet, but it should be a no-brainer…
This one is worth giving a try – if you do, please post your comments!
As usual, we’ve got to get back to the kitchen – see you soon!
December 4, 2011
Over the years Disney has published many cookbooks aimed at their younger fans – and most have followed the logical pattern of simple techniques, mild (read bland) seasonings, and less than adventurous recipes… however this year Disney Press came out with an interesting option to the typical cookbook for the younger set: Feed Our Small World, A Cookbook for Kids.
Broken down into the typical Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Dessert sections, this book contains a few traditional kid-favorites like Spaghetti and Meatballs, but the majority of recipes are for some more adventurous International fare (like Chinese Noodles, Senegalese Peanut Soup, Indonesian Beef Satay, Spanish Paella) than is usually expected on the plates of most of the “I’ll-only-eat-chicken-nuggets-or-die” youth. Some take a familiar style of food and add a different flair (Waffles with a ginger spicing, a Wrap with Greek flavoring, and Chocolate Chip Cookies turned into a pie).
Each recipe features the ingredients and directions on one page…
and on the facing page a big picture of the completed dish, along with a Fun Fact about some food item from the featured country.
For a slim volume, the variety of dishes is great, and every adult I’ve shown the book to has been quite taken with it and wanted to try at least one of the recipes contained therein – several of the recipes have already been tested in the Eating (and Drinking) Around the World Kitchens, and all have been met with positive results (and yes, we will try and share them with you sooner rather than later…). The seasonings are a bit muted for my personal tastes, but seem to be a bit more generously spiced than most other “for kids” cookbooks (of course you can “kick it up” to whatever notch you prefer).
The instructions often note to “ask an adult to help” at many points, but there are some steps in the book that most definitively would require an adults hand, but that caveat is missing there – a small quibble assuming that the idea of the book is that the kids and adults would be cooking together anyway. Another note is that there is a big typo in the ingredient list of the “Chicken, Pineapple, and Mango Tango” recipe (one column of the items are repeated from another recipe). Hopefully there will be future printings that will correct this.
The design and graphics of the book are very Small World/Mary Blair inspired, and portions of the sales go to provide vitamin supplements to children around the world that are in need of them. Other items, such as shirts and bags, also go to support the FEED project (take a look at the post over at the Disney Food Blog for some more info).
Get your little ones involved in the kitchen – with this book you can also introduce them to some different flavors from around the world (maybe they’ll be more likely to try them if they help to make them?), and you both may learn a bit about the other peoples of the world at the same time..
Available in the parks and online from Amazon, this inexpensive cookbook ($10.99 list) is worthy of being in your library, whether you’re trying to get your kids into cooking or if you’re a neophyte adult chef looking to expand their repertoire of dishes. Even the experienced home cook will find something here of interest, and your dollars also go to a good cause at the same time!
Back to the kitchen… look for recipes soon!
November 16, 2011
One of the more popular (and perhaps my favorite) new items featured the past couple of years at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival is the Shrimp Cakes from the Singapore booth.
Tender, flavorful fried seafood with an Asian flair… it’s right up my alley…
The recipe was in the 2010 Food & Wine festival cookbook, and I’ve been intending to give it a try for quite a while, but since Miss Bonnie sampled the dish this year and fell in distinct like with it, I figured I’d better give it a go…. and it turned out really well… so now it’s time to share…
I’m going to give you the recipe pretty much as presented in the cookbook, with notes on my adjustments at the end. So now, Let’s Cook!
Singapore Shrimp Cakes
1 Lb Raw Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 Lb Raw Scallops (the smaller, less expensive, Bay Scallops are fine)
1 Tbl Fish Sauce
1 1/2 Tsp Minced Chives
1 1/2 Tsp Finely Grated Lemongrass (see note below)
1 1/2 Tsp Finely Grated Peeled Fresh Ginger (see note below)
1 1/2 Tsp Finely Grated Fresh Garlic (see note below)
1 1/2 Tsp Chili-Garlic Sauce (such as Sambal Olek, available at Asian markets)
2 Egg Whites
2 Tsp Cornstarch
1. Put the shrimp and scallops in your handy food processor. Carefully pulse until fairly finely chopped, but not totally pureed.
The scallops seem to break down a bit quicker and actually become part of the “binder” for the cakes, but I like to keep some chunky bits of the shrimp intact.
2. Put the seafood into a large bowl and add the fish sauce, chives, lemongrass, ginger, garlic and the chili-garlic sauce.
Stir all to combine well.
Add the egg whites and cornstarch and stir well again.
3. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
4. Take a sheet pan (or a piece of foil, etc.) and very lightly spray with cooking spray. Wet your hands with water and form the seafood mixture into patties about 1″ thick and 2″ – 3″ inches in diameter and place on the prepared pan. You should have about 8 or 10 patties.
5. Heat 1/4″ of Canola or Peanut oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. You can test the heat with a piece of bread or small amount of the seafood mixture – it should brown lightly but not be too dark. Add a few of the patties (do not crowd) to the oil. You can use a lightly oiled spatula to move the patties from the pan to the skillet.
Cook for 3 – 4 minutes per side until golden brown (and delicious, as AB would say…) and the patties feel firm in the middle when you gently (and non-threateningly) give them a bit of a poke with your finger.
When done, remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain any excess oil.
At the festival, the cakes are served on a sugarcane skewer, so it looks like a seafood lollypop. If you wish, get yourself some sugarcane and cut small sticks out of it and form the cakes around them – it’s a cute presentation, but i don’t really think it’s necessary. It was served there with a side of curry-flavored noodles, we’re still working a bit on that recipe, so we’ll save that one for a later post.
You can serve these many ways – with a side of noodles as noted, or atop some greens (arugula would be nice, maybe some other baby greens). If you want a bit of sauce you could squirt a little Sriracha on if you want some heat, or maybe a seasoned mayo concoction of some sort (maybe some roasted garlic and Sriracha added? Or cilantro? Or…?) served alongside. A little bit of fresh lime squeezed atop is nice… One or two patties would suffice as an appetizer – two or three for a main course.
And now for the long-awaited and anticipated note… instead of trying to individually grate the ginger, garlic and lemongrass, I peeled all (the tougher outer layers of the lemongrass removed, and used the lower, lighter-colored pieces) and cut into small chunks. Using about the same volume of each item (if you’re a bit anal, you can weigh the pieces on a kitchen scale to get about the same amount of each), put into a mini-processor (you can get a reasonably good one for something like ten bucks…) and chop until very fine – much easier than the other way…
Oh yeah, from this mixture I used two tablespoons total added to the seafood… more than the recipe calls for, but Dedicated Readers know I like things well seasoned, and it turned out well…
I really, really liked this recipe – it turned out much better than I had hoped it would… so I’m urging you to try it as well!
As usual, we’re back to the kitchen… much to do there!