Monday, September 26, 2011

Pad Thai my way...

I LOVE, LOVE, LOOOOVE thai food and had a major craving for some last night. So I skipped bikram yoga, and decided to stay in and cook a nice experimental dinner for me and my hubby.

Normally I am not a fan of pad thai at Thai restaurants (pad kee mao for me...drunken noodles), however, I figured I would try making my own version in the hopes of enjoying this popular Thai dish. Plus my dad gave me a few pounds of the biggest prawns I have ever seen and I needed to clean and use them soon.

One of the things I enjoy about cooking is that you can make a recipe your own by adding and deleting ingredients to please your tastes. Or, you can be that annoying restaurant customer who adds and deletes on a dish that a chef has made a certain way. Let's not be THAT girl/guy.

Please note that this is not an authentic version, but a tweaked one because of the ingredients I had on hand, and I was going for something particular that suited my craving.This recipe is simple, flavorful, and just plain yum!

Serves 4.

12-16 large prawns/shrimp
2 eggs
3 tbs. soy sauce
1-1/2 tbs. creamy peanut butter
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbs. water
2 tbs. chili paste or sriracha (I used sambal oelek, check your fridge/pantry, I'm sure you have it)
*use more or less depending on your spice level*
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. minced ginger
1 tbs. brown sugar
1 tbs. rice vinegar
3 green onion, sliced, white parts set aside
Bean sprouts, handful
3-5 leaves basil
1 pkg medium rice noodles
2 tbs. canola/vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
lime wedges

For peanut sauce, whisk together peanut butter, 2 tbs. soy sauce, chili paste, water, and lime juice in a bowl 'til creamy and set aside.

Place noodles in hot water for 8-10 min. They will soften up and be ready to cook up in the sauce.

Whisk eggs with 1 tbs. soy sauce and scramble on medium heat. Set aside.

Heat oil in a wok and toss in garlic, ginger, and the white parts of the green onion. Sauté til fragrant. Be careful, there may be spattering.

Add shrimp and bean sprouts; sauté until shrimp turn opaque.

Drain noodles, add to wok and toss with shrimp. Add peanut butter sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar. *At this point you can add salt and pepper to taste*. Stir fry and toss noodles. Add scrambled eggs and basil and stir fry for an additional minute or so until basil wilts.

Serve with a sprinkle of green onion and a lime wedge.


Birthday Baking- Carrot Cake

I've finally come around to starting my blog! Like everyone else who starts one, I hope I keep up with mine and not let it fall to the wayside. Keep your fingers crossed for me! My goal with this blog is to share recipes with family, friends, and readers, so with your readership, hopefully this blog will be successful.

On to my first recipe!

This past weekend I celebrated one of my really good friend's birthday, and as I do for all my favorites' birthdays, I made her a special birthday cake! Birthdays are a big deal for me, so to make my family and friends feel special and loved, I bake! I never make a normal chocolate or vanilla cake because that's just boring. It's always something that I've imagined and want the excuse to experiment :). Since my friend does not eat chocolate by choice (odd I know...but I love her!), I did ask her what she wanted and she requested a carrot cake. First thing that popped into my head was gajaar ka halwa (carrot halwa)! I made a quick call to my mom and got the proper technique on making this halwa and went on from there!

Halwa is a traditional pakistani/Indian dessert made with vegetables, fruits, or grains. This particular one I am referring to is made with carrots and ricotta cheese. It adds a south Asian twist to a traditional carrot cake and I felt that this cake would suit my friend perfectly.

Unfortunately in my hurry to leave the house in time for her birthday brunch I was not able to take a nice picture, but trust me, this cake looks and tastes delicious and is perfect with an evening cup of chai :)

*I found a not-so-great picture on my phone in a last minute attempt*

"Gajar ka halwa" (Carrot halwa) Carrot Cake w/ cream cheese frosting:

Carrot Halwa:

3 c. shredded carrots
2 1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. whole milk ricotta
1 tsp. ground cardamom seeds
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 c. slivered almonds

In a medium saucepan, on medium-low heat, cook carrots with cardamom seeds, cinnamon, ginger,and nutmeg in milk until milk reduces down to about 1/2 cup and carrots are tender. This will take some time, so be patient, I promise it will come together.

Add ricotta and almonds, and continue cooking the carrot mixture until the milk has cooked off.

Set aside.


2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar
3 eggs, room temp.
1/2 c. milk, room temp.
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350*

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix together milk, cream, and vanilla in a separate bowl.

In your mixer, beat sugars and butter 'til light in color and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down bowl after each addition.

On low speed, add flour mixture in 3 increments, alternating with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down bowl after each addition.

Add carrot halwa mixture into cake batter until incorporated.

Spray your cake pan(s) (I used 3-9" circle cake pans), with oil or butter spray and sprinkle with flour. Distribute cake batter into pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
3-3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 tbs. heavy cream

In your mixer, mix together butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar in increments on low speed until fully incorporated. Increase speed to medium and add heavy cream 1 tbs. at a time until desired consistency is reached. Fluff frosting on highest speed.

For my friend's cake, I made a 2 layer cake, and saved the 3rd layer to take to my parents, but you could easily make a 3 layer cake for added height. I topped her cake with finely crushed almonds and pistachios.