Archive for the ‘Spicy food’ Category

KimchiFriedRice3I think everyone has certain rules or considerations before people can be considered as friends.  There are obvious considerations such as not being a complete tool or tosser in order to be looked upon as a friend… unless you like those qualities in people.  Some people prefer to limit their friendships with folks who have like-minded religious or political beliefs.  Ok, cool.  That’s fine.  I have certain rules and guidelines as well.  I can’t be friends with people who don’t like to suck the brains and guts out of shrimp heads when eating whole shrimp, or are grossed out when I do.  For those of you who don’t do that, you don’t know what you’re missing.  I also can’t be friends with people who refuse to try kimchi.  It’s cool if you don’t like it but as long as you’ve tried it.  But to flat out say that you won’t even taste it… that’s the culinary equivalent of being a narrow-minded bigot if you ask me.

I kid, I kid.

I’m not that serious, but you can see the point I’m getting at.  I often ask people who refuse to eat or try kimchi why they won’t taste it.  I get responses such as, “Isn’t it fermented?  Meaning that it’s rotten cabbage?”  Why yes.  Yes it is.  I often follow that up with counter questions of my own.  “Do you like cheese?  Oh you do?  Well you realize that’s rotten milk, right?”  “Do you like wine?  Oh you do!?  You realize that’s rotten grape juice, right?”  “Do you like beer?  Who am I kidding… of course you do!  You realize that’s rotten barley juice, right?”  And finally, “do you like sauerkraut?  Perhaps with your Rueben sandwich or with your hotdogs and brats?  Oh you do?  Well what do you know… kimchi is pretty much the exact same thing except spicier.”  Free your minds, people.KimchiFriedRice1

I’ve seen kimchi fried rice on menus in Korean restaurants before but I’ve never taken the plunge in ordering it.  I’ve of course had my fair share of kimchi and would be very happy eating it with plain rice.  Cold kimchi and hot rice is a typical lunch in Korea for the working class and it’s more than enough to make me happy.  But I started thinking about other uses for the kimchi I had bought at the local Asian store and decided to scour the internet for a kimchi friend rice recipe. One of my favorite accompaniments for kimchi is barbecue and I recently made a rack of ribs (that’s another post for another time) that went perfect with it.  The sweetness of the barbecue sauce with the richness of the fatty ribs with white rice and a side of cold spicy/sour/acidic kimchi hits a lot of flavor combinations that would make any palette dance.  But I wanted to try something different and dug up a kimchi friend rice recipe that I made some tweaks to form my own

Ingredients

-Previously cooked rice.  Preferably cooked 1-2 days before.  Enough for 3 servings or so.

-1 carrot

-Several shiitake mushrooms

-3-4 green onions (spring onions)

-Several garlic cloves (or less if you prefer)

-1 cup of kimchi

-Vegetable cooking oil

-1 egg per serving

-Salt and pepper

KimchiFriedRice2Start by heating cooking oil in a wok or large pan.  As the oil gets hot, julienne cut the carrot, chop up the shiitake mushrooms, chop up the green onions (save some for garnish), and mince the garlic.  Toss the julienned carrot, chopped up shiitake mushrooms/green onion, and minced garlic and let the flavors combine and soften.

As it’s softening, cut up the kimchi in a bowl using kitchen shears which would be a perfect tool.  The reason you’re cutting kimchi in a bowl is because if you do it on a cutting board, it will stain it and perhaps even leave a lingering smell.

Add the cut up kimchi to the wok and mix it in to incorporate it with the rest of the vegetables.  Add in the rice, and break up the clumps with the back of the spoon so that individual grains can pick up the sauce brought about from the kimchi and vegetable mixture.  It should have a light red tint.  Add salt and pepper as needed.

Before plating, fry a sunny side up egg on a separate pan.  Plate the fried rice, sprinkle some of the remaining chopped up green onion, and land the sunny side up fried egg on top.  Enjoy with Korean barbecue, or your own barbecue concoction such as ribs, beef brisket, or even pulled pork.  I’d put this up against any other version of friend rice around Asia as well (Chinese, Filipino, Nasi Goreng from Indonesia, etc.).

Plus for those out there who have yet to try kimchi, this is a great way to get an initial taste before eating it as an accompanying side dish as it is meant to be.

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20131023-151549.jpgSo I’m scanning yahoo the other day and came across this really easy Mexican dessert recipe.  I took a quick look at the list of ingredients and saw that there was cheese involved with the dessert which sounded interesting… plus one of the comments on the bottom mentioned that the consistency/texture is similar to flan, but with nowhere near the amount of calories which really started to get my attention.
Talk about one of the more simple recipes out there!  I’ve included the info below:
Ingredients:
2 eggs
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons sugar
5 ounces of Mexican/Latin cheese (I went with a mixture of cojita cheese and queso fresco which you can find in any latin grocery store)
 Butter to spread on the baking dish20131023-151534.jpg
I mixed the eggs, milk, sugar, and cojita cheese/queso fresco in a blender but I also added some cayenne pepper just to give it a little heat with the sweet of the sugar and the saltiness of the cheese.  I then preheated the oven to 350F andrubbed the butter along the bottom and sides/corners of a square glass pyrex dish.
Threw in the blended mixture and placed it in the oven for 40 minutes or until the top was golden brown.  Let it stand to cool then I threw it in the fridge with a cover.
20131023-151525.jpgAfter a few hours, I had some for dessert that night and it really was like flan but a little bit more “chunky” because of thecojita cheese.  I thought it tasted great but I might be a little bias!  If you think you’d like a cheesy kind of flan, then give it a try.  The cayenne gave it a nice kick but I would enjoy it without the pepper as well.  I even put some in a bowl and threw on some chocolate syrup which gave it a nice chocolate flavor as well.
Enjoy!

Muffin Tin Meat Pies.jpgWe reached a milestone this week… we have over 2500 followers now! To celebrate this great milestone I thought I would revisit a recipe from the early days of the blog.

Also, I have been craving a taste from home and what better way to taste Australia than through meat pies.

These were tasty little treats I made for J. and I during NFL season last year. A nice little snack for watching footy. We did an entire series of Football Food posts last year and with the NFL season only 3 weeks away, I am going to have to prepare some more great snack ideas.

These pies were very easy to make, especially since I cheated and bought the pastry instead of making it myself. You could also try all different kinds of fillings but we stayed with the traditional beef and added some spice and chili! You could also make them into a full size pie but these were the perfect size for a tv snack. Beer and a pie – a completely Australian way to watch the football.

So take a trip down memory lane, across the Pacific to Australia with me…. here.

The Feast.jpgThis is our 100th blog. This is such a milestone, J. and I wanted it to be one about something that was special to us. That is why it has taken so long to post. To make it even more special I thought J. should write it… So from J. and I thank you for your support of the first 100 entries, we are looking forward to the next 100.

C & J

Take any style of cooking or cooking technique.  From any country.  I’ll give you a second to think about that for a bit.  No, really, think of any country or cooking style… Italian, French, Greek… you name it.  Guess where they got their origins?  China.  That’s right… any type of modern-day cooking technique has come from the Chinese.  Grilling meat over coals… they came up with that.  You think the French came up with sautéing?  Guess again.  The Chinese came up with that in a little vessel called a wok.  You thought boiling noodles until they were al dente came from the Italians?  Chinese came up with that centuries before Marco Polo made his trip back.

For all of their amazing techniques, you’d think there would be a lot more authentic Chinese food here in the US.  Unless you happen to live in San Francisco or New York and within walking distance to their respective Chinatowns, chances are what you know as Chinese food here in the US is fake.  I hate to burst your bubble, but P.F. Changs or that chain with the smiling panda found in most airports are Pork with Capsicum/Peppers.jpgabout as close to real Chinese food as those Gucci purses that just happen to be on sale for $20.

So when C and I had the opportunity to enjoy a banquet to end all banquets prepared by a Chinese grandmother, we couldn’t help but document the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  Let’s be honest, grandmothers kick ass in the kitchen.  That Italian grandma you have who came from the old country who makes that great polenta you like?  Nobody can duplicate it.  That Polish grandmother who makes the best pierogis?  She’ll kick your ass with her kitchen skills.  With this banquet, we were bowing down to the one true kung-fu master in the kitchen.  Grand Master Qi Fen (for an apprentice like me, I must refer to her as master or shi fu)!  Grand Master Qi Kung Pao Chicken.jpgFen just happens to be a brand new grandmother after her daughter (SW – C’s sister in law) gave birth to a bouncing baby boy over the holidays, and she was gracious enough to prepare an amazing meal of 10 dishes for the whole family.  I’m going to let that settle for a bit… that’s right… 10 dishes!

She spent the entire day shopping, prepping, and cooking the amazing meal and I had no choice but to take my place as the apprentice, knowing that I didn’t even come close to her kitchen prowess.  That place just happened to be the kitchen stool next to her.  Watching her knife skills, her seasoning technique, her marinating technique, ingredients she used, and most importantly, her ability to balance up to 5 dishes being cooked at the same time yet making sure each was closely Mapo Tofu.jpgwatched.

Ever see a Chinese cook use a meat cleaver as precisely as a paring knife?  It’s something else.  You think you have good control with chopsticks?  I’m half Korean and have been eating with chopsticks since I was 5.  Grand Master was using long giant ones as if they were built into her wrist.

More importantly, watching Grand Master allowed me the opportunity to find out how the Chinese get those amazing flavors in to their food.  I don’t mean to give up a secret here, but you only need a handful of ingredients to get great authentic Chinese flavor in your dishes:  dark soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, green onion, garlic, and salt.  Stuffed Pork Meatballs.jpgThat’s it folks… you figure that out, you’re about 2% there in becoming the next Grand Master.  The other 98% I think is attributed to years of experience and repetition, but what do I know?

I’m not about to give out recipes in this post… that would take an eternity and I think C would rather give out that information after we take a shot at a few of these dishes ourselves.  I’m not about to name all of these dishes either but I’ll do my best in trying to describe them.  On to the food!

Kung Pao Chicken – Cut chicken thighs marinated in dark soy, Chinese cooking wine, a little salt and green onions quickly cooked with Chinese chili flake oil and green peppers with peanuts.  Who knew a dish in almost ever neighborhood Chinese restaurantPork Belly with 100-Year Old Eggs.jpg menu would taste this good.

Pork with Capsicum/Peppers – Thinly sliced pork (sliced with a meat cleaver no less) cooked with thinly sliced green capsicum/pepper.  I dare anyone to try and cut pork as uniformly as she did with a cleaver, and not lose at least part of a finger.

Mapu Tofu – Ground pork with spicy tofu.  The dish to judge all Chinese cooks by.  This one was flavorful and delicious. We have made this before – but we do it the cheats way.

Kick-Ass Fish.jpgStuffed Pork Meatballs – I have no idea how those balls went from hollow fried spheres, to soft, flavorful stuffed globes full of pork.  The dark soy/Chinese cooking wine marinade was excellent once again.

Pork Belly with 100-Year Old Eggs – Ever seen what the Chinese call 100-Year Old Eggs?  These weren’t those but they sort of looked like them with the dark soy infusing to the egg whites.  Soft pork belly slow cooked with that rich marinade.Salted Cucumber.jpg

Kick-Ass Fish – I challenge anyone to cook a flavorless white fish like tilapia and have it packed with as much flavor as Grand Master did in this dish.  One of the better fish dishes I’ve had in my life.

Salted Cucumber – A simple dish to cleanse the palate.  Crunchy cucumber cut uniformly with a giant cleaver.

Shrimp with Egg.jpgShrimp with Egg – Ever try de-veining 30 or more shrimp with a cleaver?  Try doing it and let’s see how many fingers you’ll have left.  Grand Master did that for every single shrimp (prawn for you Aussies) we had.

Snowpeas with Garlic – Crunchy snowpeas that went so well with rice.

Vegetable Medley – Gotta love that corn starch slurry to give it that classic Chinese shine!Snowpeas with Garlic.jpg

Definitely a meal I won’t soon forget.  I feel as if we’re indebted to Grand Master for this meal.  Maybe one day I’ll get to make my famous (to a circle of about 8 people) BBQ ribs for her, although that won’t even come close to the spectacle she put on for us.

If Grand Master Qi Vegetable Medley.jpgFen ever has a chance to read this, she’s invited to our house any day for dinner.  If the meal we cook for her is even halfway as good as the meal she prepared for us, then I would consider that a success.

Valentine's Dinner.jpgWe aren’t really ones to celebrate Valentine’s Day, even in the early days of our relationship we didn’t exchange gifts. The most we would do is wish each other happy Valentine’s Day.

So last night we didn’t do anything special… we headed to the gym because we knew it would be nice and quiet with everyone else celebrating the holiday. J. also got a new BBQ (read grill if American) delivered this week so he decided to cook me dinner and try that out.

He fired up his new Barbie and I sat down and watched… and drank a beer. We had some meaty lamb shoulder chops ready to thrown on. We eat a lot of these and our freezer tends to be well stocked with these chops. It is also one of the cheaper options here when it comes to lamb.

Lamb on the Grill.jpg

Anyway, he cooked the lamb beautifully… the BBQ worked as it is meant to work and most importantly J. thoroughly enjoyed cooking on it.  He had prepared some quinoa earlier in the rice cooker so that was going to be our side dish. He had just sautéed some chillies and garlic and thrown that into the rice cooker with the quinoa. We have been eating a lot of quinoa instead of the mountains of rice we usually consume.

 

It was all very yummy and great that I didn’t have to cook! He even cleaned up. So even though we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day I still got that as a gift…. And really what more could I want besides love & lamb!

Green Goo.jpgWhen I was still living and working in Australia I worked next door to a cute, little cafe that made the most delicious broccoli soup. I know, it doesn’t sound appetizing at all. It was incredibly delicious though and I had managed to recreate this soup in my Melbourne kitchen sometime last year… my recreation was delicious… but I never wrote the recipe down!

I recently convince J. that it was delicious and he should let me make it since we were trying to get back to eating healthy after our time in Australia. Also just after we arrived home in Phoenix, Arizona went through it’s coldest week of whether in nearly 30 years… so soup was called for! Now J. hates broccoli so the fact that he said ok, was only because I told him I would make it super spicy for him. If only I had remembered the recipe.

In my large soup pot (that J. stole from his mum) I heated up about 2 tablespoons of olive and I added 2 large onions that I had diced, 6 cloves of garlic finely chopped and about 15 thai chillies… Yes, 15! We had had a batch of these chillies that were really mild and we needed that many just to get a little heat and since I promised super spicy I went with 15… What a mistake!

Once they had softened I added in 5 potatoes and 3 large heads of broccoli. I just covered it with chicken stock and let is simmer away for an hour. I used my stick blend to smooth it all out and I served…. Now I am not sure why I just told you the recipe because this was terrible!!! It was ridiculously spicy yet bland all at the same time.

J. ate it happily (though he poured 1/2 a bottle of sriracha into each bowl). I couldn’t eat it after the 3rd time… it got far too hot and it just tasted it horrible! I love spicy but this was unbearable…I don’t know what I did differently to the last time but it was spectacularly bad.This soup was just a green goo… we added fresh spring onions and tomato to it just before we ate it and I still couldn’t stomach it. There was so much that J. had to eat it for over a week!! I ate sandwiches…

J. kept telling me it was ok and he liked it… gotta love him! It was however a failure… probably the worst I have had in a while so I just had to share… NO MORE BROCCOLI SOUP FOR ME!

Since I am busy having fun and celebrating the New Year in Australia I thought I would just post about posts. These are our Top Ten Recipe Posts and Top Ten Restaurant Posts as voted by you!

Just some light reading as you nurse your New Year’s hangovers.

Thanks for the support in 2012 and I look forward to much more deliciousness in 2013!

Top Ten Recipes

1. I’m No Liar! The Best Chocolate Cake Ever…

2. My First Halloween

3. Wingin’ It!

4. The Best Kind of Recipe – Secret Family Recipe

5. How to Impress Your 1/2 Italian Girlfriend

6. A Soup to Chase Away Your Worries

7. Melt in Your Mouth Christmas Shortbread

8. Thanksgiving Eve Dinner

9. Potato Gratin with a Twist

10. Lasagne – the Best of the Best

Top 10 Restaurants

1. Magic & Fairytales

2. Christmas Drinks with New Friends

3. Hot ‘n’ Juicy in Vegas

4. Delicious American Oddity

5. Food Truck Friday

6. Lobster Drunk

7. Searching for “The One” True Taco – J’s First Blog

8. Triple S…Sushi, Sashimi, Sapporo

9. Tortas Ahogadas Guadalajara – Best Sandwich Ever

10. The Dog of All Dogs!

Seafood Laksa.jpgI know you have all probably realised by now that J. and I are huge fans of Asian food. Whether it is Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Filipino or Thai, we love it. We will often have this kind of food during the week as our lunches or dinners. Possibly the number 1 choice for Thai food is seafood laksa. We don’t make it from scratch, though I would love to one day, we do the lazy laksa from a bottle… though we do mix it up a little and not just follow the instructions on the bottle.

Laksa Paste.jpg

First thing is of course to get the laksa mix from your local Asian supermarket, we have used a few different ones over the years but the one shown here is probably the most commonone we have used. In our wok I heated a small amount of canola oil until it was nearly smoking. Into the oil I put 4 heaped tablespoons of the laksa paste, stirring it around until it became really fragrant.Seafood in Broth.jpg

To the oil and paste I added 1 red jalapeno chilli and 4 thai chillies mixing these through the paste. I had finely chopped these in preparation for this. I cook this for about 30 seconds before pouring in 1 1/2 cups of cold water. I slowly bring this all to a simmer before adding in my seafood.

You could pretty much use any seafood you like for this we usually use shrimp and scallops. So I added our shelled shrimps to the broth and cooked for about 2 minutes before adding in the scallops. I stirred this around for a minute or so and then let it simmer very gently.

Add tofu.jpg

While that was cooking I prepared the rest of the laksa ingredients. I drained 1 tin of bamboo shoots and set them aside. I also cut into cubes 2 packets of fried tofu and also cut and washed 6 small bunches of baby bok choy. I then roughly chopped a bunch of cilantro and set it aside. The tofu then got added to the seafood and broth and mixed in.

I let the tofu cook for a couple of minutes before adding in the bamboo shoots and bok choy. I like both of these to still be a little crunchy so after mixing them through I only cook for another minute or so. This is when I add the coconut milk (2 tins) and mix it through. When this has heated completely I take the laksa off the heat.Add Veggies.jpg

The last things I put into this are the chopped cilantro and the juice of 1 lime. I find the acid of the lime just adds a little extra zing to the laksa. I then just gently mix all of this together and it is ready to serve. I usually sever this over steamed rice.

It is such a great meal for winter, it really warms me to my toes. J absolutely loves this and more often than not I have to cut him off after 3 helpings because he will eat himself into a laksa coma. I love the broth and will often eat this without rice, which J. just can’t fathom. It Ready to Eat.jpgis the perfect mix of stir fry meets soup for my liking… so spicy and delicious.

Obviously the easiest way to make this is just follow the directions on the bottle but I like our little version of lazy laksa, it makes me feel like I am cheating a little less by making it my own. Plus J. and I always need that little bit of extra heat!

Chutney Gift.jpgThis is just a quick post about the other edible Christmas gifts I gave to friends. A while back I made giant pot of spicy tomato chutney. Being who I am I shared it with a bunch of people including my two soon to be bosses. Both of them took a strong liking to it. Using it with cheese, fish and chicken.

I decided as a Christmas gift for them I would bottle up some of the chutney. I bought some nice decorative looking pickling jars… they only cost $1.50 each so what a bargain is that! I filled both jars up with the yummy delicious chutney, sealed them and decorated them with blue bows.

I played Santa on Tuesday and delivered these yummy gifts. They were so excited and happy to receive them, not to mention surprised. Both of them had plans for the chutney and I am pretty sure it won’t last long. I might have to make a new batch in the New Year when I start my new job.

What an easy, affordable and cute gift… one that was so well received!

You can check out my original blog post here or get the recipe here.

Chicken & Mushroom noodle soup.jpgLast night I was craving chicken soup. Every time we go to Vegas it feels like both J. and I come down with the flu or a cold. With our trip home to Australia only 2 weeks away we are worried about getting sick and we need to chase away any chance of illness. I think this is why I was craving some chicken soup.

This soup is a twist on your regular chicken noodle soup and the way we make it it also has some kick to it.

In a large soup pot I heated about 2 tablespoons of canola oil. To the hot oil I added 4 large cloves of garlic that I had chopped finely. I also added 1 finely sliced brown onion. I let this cook for a minute to soften.

Chicken browning.jpg

While that is cooking I skin 4 large chicken thighs that are still on the bones. After removing the skin I cut the thighs into nigh chunks, leaving the bones in and then added this to the onion and garlic. I took a few minutes to brown the chicken well in the pot.

When the chicken was brown I added 1/2 a cup of chicken stock to deglaze the pot. When the yummy goodness had been removed from the bottom of the pot I added 3 1/2 more cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of water. I brought all of this to a boil and then reduced the heat to let it simmer for Broth.jpg30 minutes.

When it had simmered for the 30 minutes I added in 300 grams of mushrooms. You can use any mushrooms you like but I used a mix of button, oysters and enoki mushrooms in ours. I like to have variety and not just the one kind. I then let this simmer for about 5 minutes to cook the mushrooms. While these are cooking you may need to remove the chicken and break up any large pieces. I did this and then added it all back to the pot, bones included.

After the mushrooms had cooked a little I brought the soup back to a boil and added 1 large packet of egg noodles. These don’t take long to cook so I turned the heat off and stirred them through for a couple of minutes. The last thing to do was add a bunch of green onion, already chopped and mix it through the soup… Now it is ready to serve.

Soup.jpg

We serve this with a stack of noodles on the bottom and then spoon the broth, mushrooms and chicken over the top. To add the required kick we like we actually add to each bowl of soup a spoonful of Chinese Chili & Garlic in Oil. J. probably adds 2 spoonfuls if not more… 1 is plenty for me. This just adds some spice but isn’t necessary at all. The soup by itself is full of flavor.

J ate two giant bowls of this last night, I ate two much smaller bowls. After the first spoonful I felt my craving disappear. It is such a simple soup but incredibly hearty and warms you right down to your toes! We have a giant pot of this sitting in our fridge for the rest of the week’s dinners… I am sure that by the time we get to the bottom of the pot not only will my worries have been chased away but any chance of either of us getting sick will be gone. Yay!