Thai Green Curry Shrimp and Vegetables


I had been wanting to try out some new coconut green curry recipes and found a version of this recipe posted on the “Epicurious” FB page last week. (Click here for Epicurious Recipe)  This particular recipe had all the flavors I loved, seemed fairly quick and easy. This made it a perfect base for a “Chicken Green Curry” or a “Vegetarian Green Curry” to come up with of my own.

So over this past weekend I tried out the recipe three ways.  With chicken, with shrimp, and then, a “Super Veggie” version. I found the vegetarian version, on this particular occasion, to be my favorite of the three, and was still eating the delicious leftovers from it, 2 days later.

This is one of those recipes that you can definitely play around with all the flavors and ingredients to suit your own liking. For a healthier version, I cut down on  the “unnecessary” calories  by using light coconut milk. less oil and omitting the noodles. (However, having tried this recipe, I can vouch it would taste pretty awesome with noodles)  I really amped up the flavor and the heat by using a bit more lemon grass, cilantro, ginger, and curry paste. If you prefer a more “tame” dish, perhaps stick to the measurements from the original Epicurious recipe tagged above.

As a little side note for anyone going through chemotherapy, or if your cooking for someone who is.  One of my absolute favorite things to eat during the 2 years I was having chemo was Asian curries.  This is a really great curry base with the kind of powerful flavors that really help neutralize that yucky chemo taste in the mouth one gets.   The tasty flavor profile and the aromatics like the ginger, lemongrass and cilantro have great healing properties and health and healing properties for the oncology patient.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped shallots (about 4 medium sized shallots)
  • 2 or 3 fresh lemongrass stalks, with the outer 1 or 2 leaves discarded and the lower 6 inches of the stalks thinly sliced * note: if you don’t have access to fresh lemongrass, use a tablespoon of lemongrass paste from the fresh produce section of your grocery store (or you can bypass this ingredient all together since there is a little bit of lemongrass in the green curry paste)
  • 4 large garlic clove, chopped (you can use less if your not a fan of garlic)
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro stems
  • 3 tablespoons bottled Asian green curry paste (click here for example)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1/4 cup of water (preferably filtered)
  • 2  to 3 tablespoons of grape-seed oil or coconut oil (or any neutral oil for high heat cooking)
  • 1 can of light coconut milk
  • 1 3/4 cups of non fat chicken broth or chicken stock (preferably low sodium)
  • 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp ( If making chicken curry 1 lb chicken breast;  if making vegetarian curry, use 3 to 4 cups of chopped veggies (i.e.  broccoli,  onion, mushrooms, carrots, snap peas, etc.)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced Shitake mushrooms (or white mushrooms is OK)
  • 2 carrots peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 onion chopped

Directions:

  • Puree shallots, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and cilantro stems in a blender or a food processor with the curry paste, salt, turmeric and water until as smooth as possible.  About 1 minute
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in pan over moderate heat and stir fry veggies until just cooked or al dente.  Start with onions, cook for 3 minutes until soft, add carrots and, and mushrooms.  If doing the vegetarian curry, cook all the veggies until just barely cooked.  Do not over cook or they will be too mushy after going in the curry. Removed veggies and set aside.

  • Heat the remaining oil in a large pot or dutch oven over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook the curry paste mix mixture, stirring frequently, until it just begins to stick to the bottoms of the pot, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Do not let it brown – than it’s starting to burn.
  • Add coconut milk  and chicken broth to the curry past mixture stir and let simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 3 1/2 cups, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Depending on which type of curry you made add in shrimp or chicken and stir until protein is cooked. 2 to 3 minutes  for shrimp and a few extra minutes for chicken.  Take a shrimp or chicken out and cut through checking to make sure its cooked all the way through.

  • Stir in veggies and stir in fish sauce, salt and pepper.

 

Serve and enjoy



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Vietnamese Spicy Beef

When I was going through chemotherapy I ate a lot of Vietnamese food because the heat and the distinct acidic, salty, sweet flavor profiles would neutralize the chemo taste in my mouth. Recipes like this one were just the trick to add some flavor to my palate. I wouldn’t say this is a super “disease fighting” dish, but I did make sure it was as healthy as possible by cutting out as much fat and calories as I could.  And, I made sure to use grass fed certified organic raised beef from Stemple Creek Ranch that I personally picked up from the ranch myself.

At the local farmer’s market this past Sunday, I found myself craving all these Vietnamese flavors like lime, lemongrass, basil, garlic, and mint found in many traditional dishes. One of the my favorite restaurants in San Francisco is a Vietnamese restaurant called “The Slanted Door”, with one of their signature dishes being “Shaking Beef”.  I looked online and found several recipes for “Shaking Beef” and other random Vietnamese beef dishes that sounded really tasty.

I came up with my own version of “Shaking Beef” by utilizing the online recipes I found as a guideline.  The marinade I made is different from the standard “Shaking Beef” marinade, but I stuck with the original cooking method, a similar vinaigrette, and dipping sauce.  My boyfriend absolutely loved the pickled red onions and days later, still is talking about them.

Marinade:

  • 1 lb Top Sirloin, fat trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
  • juice of one average sized lime
  • 3 Tablespoons fish sauce (see in photo above)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracaha sauce (see in photo above) or hot chili garlic sauce
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons grape-seed oil (or any neutral oil that can tolerate high heat)

 

Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Dipping Sauce:

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 small bunch watercress, long stems trimmed
  • 1 small tomato thinly sliced

Directions:

  1. Whisk together marinade ingredients and set aside
  2. place beef and marinade into a plastic bag and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or overnight
  3. Thinly slice the red onion and use a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette to pickle. Cover and set aside in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
  4. Prepare the bed of watercress and tomatoes on a serving plate and set aside
  5. Turn on vent fan and heat a large pan or wok over medium high  heat and add 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
  6. Add 1/2 of the beef on an even layer in the pan and allow to sear a minute or so, and then “shake” to sear the opposite side.  Transfer to serving plate on the bed of watercress and tomatoes  Do not overcook, you want the beef to be browned on the outside and then medium rare and tender on the inside.Repeat with second half of beef.
  7. Drizzle another tablespoon of the vinaigrette over the beef and and greens and then top with the pickled onions.
  8. Squeeze juice of one lime in a small ramekin and add the salt and pepper
  9. Serve and enjoy!

Adapted from San Francisco Gourmet, July 2005

*Notes: I don’t have the specific nutritional breakdown of this dish at this time, but a 4  oz. serving is around 300 calories, and depending on the cut of beef you use, can be very low in fat.  If you use grass fed beef you have significantly cut down on the “bad fat” and increased the CLA and Omega’s.



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Slow Cooker Thai Red Curry Chicken with Fresh Crunchy Veggies

The first time I made this, when checking out the finished product in the slow cooker towards the end, I noticed it definitely needed more color and “crunch”.  I added in some veggies that I cooked really quickly over the stove. I use organic chicken breasts, but chicken thighs work really well, and some people actually prefer them. I cut down the calories in this dish by using lower fat coconut milk. I used a slow cooker for this but you  can cook it for a long time  over gentle heat as well. But, keep in mind, the intense Thai flavors really infuse into the Shiitakes and the chicken when cooked in the slow cooker!

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons grape-seed oil
  • 1 to  1 1/2 lbs of chicken breasts or chicken thighs
  • 1 small jar of Thai Red Curry Paste
  • 1 cup of homemade chicken stock or store bought non fat chicken broth/stock
  • 8 ounces fresh Shiitake mushrooms (less expensive mushrooms are OK as well), stems trimmed and halved
  • 1 can sliced bamboo shoots, drained
  • 2 to 3 cups fresh cut up veggies (i.e. broccoli, snap peas, red and yellow peppers, red onion, etc.)
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup basil leaves
  • optional steamed brown to serve it over, but I just eat it on its own

Directions:

  1. Cut chicken into thirds
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Brown chicken in batches, for 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until golden.  Transfer to slow cooker.
  4. Reduce heat in frying pan to low.  Add 1 more Tablespoon oil to pan, add curry paste and cook, stirring for 1 to 2 minutes until aromatic.
  5. Add stock and stir until curry paste has dissolved.
  6. Add mushrooms and bamboo shoots.
  7. Pour mixture over chicken and stir to combine.
  8. Cover and cook on medium in slow cooker for 3 1/2 hours.
  9. At 3 1/2 hours: Combine fish sauce, brown sugar and coconut milk in a bowl and then stir into curry.  Reduce heat in slow cooker to low and set timer for 30 minutes.
  10. Heat remaining oil in large frying pan over medium high heat and add chopped fresh veggies and stir fry for a couple of minutes, to just cook through, yet still “al dente” and set aside
  11. At 4 hours: Add the fresh veggies to the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.
  12. Stir in the basil, and serve over rice or alone.  Enjoy!

    * Source:  Adapted from Super Food Ideas – August 2006, page 67



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    White Bean Kale Soup 2 Ways: Vegetarian or with Pancetta/Sausage

     

     

    I got the idea for this recipe from the website “A Cozy Kitchen”, that posted some gorgeous succulent photos of this dish on their Facebook page.  They featured it “French Onion Style”, with croutons and melted cheese over it.  Neither my boyfriend nor I are gluten sensitive (yes, we were both tested), but for some reason I’ve never been into bread in my soup.  “A Cozy Kitchen’s” version was a knock off of  a recipe in Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook “My Father’s Daughter”, which I hadn’t really even thought of buying after seeing numerous articles circulating, making fun of some of the really unintentionally funny comments she had made in her book.  The basic premise of the recipe itself was pretty straightforward and simple, but after having made it, and then tooling around with it, there were some definite changes on my part.

    Ingredients:

    • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 to 2 fennel bulbs (I love fennel so I use 2) stems and fronds removed, thinly sliced
    • 1 large white onion, chopped
    • 3 large garlic cloves
    • Generous  shake of red chile flakes (I like spice so I went with lots)
    • 1/4 teaspoon oregano (Gwyneth’s recipe calls for this amount, but I say use generous serving of mixed Italian dried seasonings)
    • (2) 15 ounce cans cannellini beans rinsed and drained (use canned to save time)
    • 2 pints of non fat chicken or vegetable stock (I used more because I love lots of broth)
    • Salt and Pepper, to taste
    • Shredded Parmesan Cheese

    Optional:

    • 1/3 cup pancetta or organic spicy sausage, chopped added in at same time as the garlic
    • 1 cup chopped carrots added in about halfway through the onion/ fennel cooking process

    Directions:

    1. Heat Olive Oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium heat.  Add the fennel and onion and saute for about 15 minutes until the moisture and sugar sweats out and is slightly caramelized.
    2. Optional: Add in chopped carrots at about 7 minutes in if you choose to use them… I like the color they add.
    3. Also Optional: When the fennel and onions are almost done cooking add in the chopped pancetta or sausage and stir until cooked
    4. Add the chile flakes, dried Italian herb mix, and pepper and cook for a minute or two
    5. Add the rinsed beans and stock, bring to a boil, and lower to a simmer, add salt to taste.
    6. My recipe adjustment, after adding the beans and broth and allowing to boil then simmer, I added in the chopped head of kale around 25 minutes and allowed the kale to cook for it seemed like at least 10 minutes, but the desired result is really up to the chef.  More cooking, less crunchy kale.  I suggest tasting the kale’s crunchiness,  while its cooking until its to your desired liking.  Its a tough little plant so don’t be fearful you’ll accidentally over cook it really quickly, that takes a long time.  It also holds up surprisingly well stored as left overs in the fridge overnight or even for a couple days without getting soggy.  Like I said, it’s a tough little plant!
    7. Dish up and serve warm, sprinklingwith shredded Parmesan cheese.  The cheese really rounds out the flavor profile.

     


    *Note: Originally, the recipe called for cooking it for an hour, but I was afraid the beans would be too mushy, as that they were already from a can.  Additionally it said to stir in the kale leaves at the end and let cook for 2 -3 minutes, but if you’re like me, I don’t like really crunchy kale in my soup, I prefer it more “al dente”.

    *Additional Notes: Another suggestion, if you really want to make this a hearty soup, is to add in some cooked sausage or organic chorizo towards the end.  I had this both ways, vegetarian style (which was delish and super low fat) and with some added animal protein.  I really did prefer it with the chopped pancetta cooked in with the fennel and onion and with some added spicy sausage at the end.  Whichever you like is up to you.  Both are super healthy, and as long as you choose lower fat organic sausage, the meat version is low in fat and healthy as well.

    “Manly eating” meat-eater guys even love this!  My boyfriend scarfed down a huge bowl of it day 2 in the fridge and said “This still tastes awesome”



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    Organic Grass Fed Filet with Bourbon Cherry Sauce

    Who  would have guessed that this “decadent” sounding “Steak House” or even “Spa Cuisine” dish could actually be “somewhat” low cal,  fairly low fat and easily fit into a dieter’s weight loss program?  Still don’t believe me?  Well, it’s true!  I made this dish for my friend who had a stroke and had to go on a weight loss diet , and who was insistent about not losing any flavor in her dishes. I wanted to show her that good taste and good health can go hand in hand.

    The great thing about this dish, is although it sounds complicated, its really easy, even for the novice chef.  This dish serves 2 to 4 depending on number of servings.  I always ONLY use Marin Organic Stemple Creek Farms for my grass fed steaks.  I do not feel this is a healthy dish unless made with 100 % grass fed steaks, which are grass “finished”.  Not “corn finished” like a lot of the “grass fed” cows are in the last week before slaughter.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup dried bing cherries or any other variety found usually in the bulk section (I got these from Draeger’s in San Mateo)
    • 1/2 cup of Jim Bean or any other kind of bourbon
    • (4) 6 ounce fillets
    • Olive oil or I prefer grape seed (higher smoking point) oil to grease the pan
    • 2 to 3 cups (depending on the number of steaks) of low sodium beef broth (like in the box at Whole Foods or your your local grocery)

    Directions:

    1. Bring filets out of fridge and let come close to room temperature
    2. Soak the Berries in the Jim Bean for about 10 to 20 minutes
    3. Season the steaks with salt and pepper
    4. Heat grill pan over medium high heat ( pre heatoven to 400 just in case extra cooking needs to be done)
    5. When grill is hot, put the oil on, and saute the fillet for 3 minutes on each side until nice grill marks use thermometer to check for internal temp, I prefer medium rare which is about 135 to 140 max.
    6. If necessary, transfer oven proof tray and cook in oven until final doneness
    7. De-glaze the grill pan with the soaked cherries, use wooden or heat proof rubber spoon, and move cherries around quickly over heat, until all the liquid is absorbed.
    8. De-glaze again with the Beef stock and reduce by at least 1/2 to 3/4’s.
    9. Divide cherries and sauce over the steaks

    Approximate nutrition information for each 6 ounce steak: 500 calories, 35 carbs, 18 grams of fat 150 cholesterol



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    North African Spiced Lamb Chops with Moroccan Pesto Sauce


     

    I love lamb chops, and they taste especially good with Middle Eastern or African flavors infused in them.  This spice rub is also great on chicken if you choose to use that protein.

    I always use grass fed organic lamb whenever I cook, and these particular chops I picked up from Stemple Creek.  Stemple Creek Farm is Marin Certified Organic, grass fed, and spectacular in taste!  This is a very  healthy entree, packed full of nutrition, flavor and can be served informally or easily for guests at a dinner party.

    I suggest  the play of the African spice rubbed chops with a Moroccan  bright, light, minty pesto as a real treat for the taste buds.  However , you can serve these lamb chops with whatever you want, and it goes well with many sides and salads.   This recipe may sound complicated, but its actually really easy and fast.   The lamb chops you can spice rub up to 24 hours in advance, and then it only takes minutes to grill.   If you choose to make with the pesto, that only takes about 5 minutes to make in a food processor or high speed blender, and can be made in advance.   If there is any extra pesto, it easily stores up to 7 days in the fridge or in the freezer for 2 months.

    North African Spice Rub:

    • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoons of turmeric
    • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • salt and pepper to your taste

    Rub spice into 4 lamb chops (I used smaller center cut here) and let spices infuse into the meat in the fridge for at least 2 hours, I waited 24 hours.

    Pull the lamb chops out of the fridge and let come a little closer to room temperature to the outside doesn’t cook faster than the interior, resulting in a super rare chop.  If you have a barbecue, go ahead a grill them there.  I usually just use an oven proof grill pan heated to medium high, once hot, I oil with grape seed oil, coconut oil,  or any other high “flash point” oil for cooking on high heat.

    Heat the oven to 400 degrees for any final cooking if necessary. Put the chops on the hot oiled grill pan and grill for 3 minutes on both sides.  I prefer my meat medium rare and use a heat proof electric thermometer to check the temp at this point.  If any extra cooking is required, I transfer the grill pan to the oven for a couple of minutes until the thermometer registers at the desired done temp.  I prefer medium rare 130-140 degrees internally.

    Remove from oven or heat and let rest for 10 minutes or so.

    Aprox Cals per 1 small center cut lamb chop grilled, lean part only:  120 Cals, 6 grams of fat, 14 grams of protein

    Photo Above served with Moroccan Pesto Sauce.  See Recipe here





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    Quinoa Pasta with Spinach, Rainbow Swiss Chard, and Tomatoes


    Quinoa pasta is made with a combination of quinoa, a grain from the “Incan time” which is rich in protein, and corn flour instead of wheat. The pay off is that its gluten free, and in my opinion tastes just as good as regular pasta.

    In this particular dish, I cranked up the nutrition and flavor with lots of veggies and fresh herbs I picked up at the Farmer’s Market this past weekend and then tossed the pasta together while it’s warm, saturating the pasta with all the yummy flavors. The result is a fun pasta dish with major flavor; a gorgeous, colorful appearance with nice texture, high flavor, and high nutrition. I make this sometimes in large batches ahead of time and keep in the fridge since it reheats well, and is a nice make-ahead, healthy snack to have on hand.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 8 ounce package gluten free quinoa spaghetti
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 12 ounce containers of yellow, red or multicolor cherry tomatoes
    • 3 garlic cloves pressed
    • 1/4 cup diced red onions
    • 1 8 to 12 ounce package of baby spinach
    • 3 – 4 cups (approx) of Rainbow Swiss Chard, ribs removed, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped or dried basil
    • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped or dried thyme
    • 3 teaspoons chopped fresh or dried marjoram
    • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    • Addtional: 6 tablespoons of finely grated or shredded Parmesan
    • Optional: 2 pieces of low fat organic uncured turkey bacon, chopped

    Directions:

    1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to the bite , stirring occasionally to make sure pasta does not stick together during the cooking process.
    2. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta liquid.
    3. Heat oven to 425 degrees
    4. Mix the cherry tomatoes in a bowl with a dash of olive oil, and a pinch of the herbs
    5. Oil cookie sheet with olive oil and spread tomatoes out evenly over the pan
    6. Place in oven and set timer for 12 to 15 minutes; cook until the tomatoes have just softened, and remove
    7. In a large heavy skillet heat oil over medium heat, add the red onions, garlic and some fresh salt and pepper. If you’re using the turkey bacon you can add this now too.
    8. After a minute or two add pinch each of the each of the herbs. Continue to stir and infuse all the flavors together for about 30 seconds.
    9. Add the 1/4 cup pasta liquid and stir, scraping up browned bits
    10. Add about 1/2 cup of the roasted tomatoes (leave the rest for later), and the Spinach and Swiss Chard in small batches until just barely wilted and warmed
    11. Add in 2 tbsps of the cheese and the remainder of the herbs, and crushed red pepper
    12. Turn the heat off or down to warm
    13. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss with tongs quickly until the spinach, the Swiss Chard and all the prior ingredients are evenly mixed through
    14. Transfer to larger family style serving bowl or dish and add tomatoes to the top of the final dish
    15. Sprinkle with the remaining part of the cheese and serve family style; along with additional cheese

    Serving Info: Serves 4, 375 Calories per serving, 13 grams of “good fat, and 7 grams of fiber

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