Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup) & Curry Brown Butter Grilled Cheese

Oh myyyyyy, flavor explosion in my mouth!  A hot bowl of spicy, rich coconut soup served alongside bomb-diggity grilled cheese using brown butter seasoned with curry powder.  One of my absolute favorite dinners ever.  Sometimes I just need to give myself a pat on the back.

Please make this tomorrow.  Granted, you must like thai food and cheese and butter.  I mean, cheese. CHEESE.

I almost always order a bowl of Tom Kha from this Thai restaurant in Houston and eat it up with rice.  It's great Thai style comfort food.  I grew up eating my mom's chicken soup with fried rice mixed in and people thought it was weird.  It's not weird.  Don't make people feel weird about what they eat.  Back to the soup, Tom Kha is full of flavor from the lemon grass, ginger, and red curry paste.  There's no need for salt or black pepper in this recipe. I used the curry paste as a cheat because I could not find the galangal and kaffir lime leaves that give this soup it's signature taste.  The red curry paste includes these two ingredients.  Granted, I could have made an extra stop to the Asian market on my way, but I didn't want to.  All the ingredients listed in this recipe can be found at your grocery store.

Feel free to omit the chicken from the soup if you would like to make the soup vegetarian.  Add some extra veggies like sliced red bell pepper, or snap peas, or even tofu to make up for the chicken.  It's a great flavorful soup with an added richness from the coconut milk.  Use fresh ingredients and a good chicken stock. Or vegetable stock.  I adapted the recipe for the soup from Bon Appetit, best foodie resource ever.

Instead of rice, I decided on grilled cheese because cravings.  I upped the ante on the grilled cheese by making a batch of browned butter seasoned with curry powder that was used to coat the inside and outside of the sandwich.  I'll probably use the leftover butter to make my eggs tomorrow morning.  Butter is a good fat.  I hope you all know this.  Moderation is key.

Tom Kha Gai (adapted from Bon Appetit)

2 stalks lemongrass, woody leaves discarded, cut into large chunks
1 in. piece of ginger, peeled, cut in half
1 thai pepper, sliced in half lengthwise
zest and juice of 3 limes
4 cups chicken broth
1 lb. sliced chicken breast
oyster mushrooms, sliced thin
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbs Thai red curry paste
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk (full-fat)
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
cilantro, chili oil, lime wedges (garnish)

Bring to a boil the chicken broth with the lemongrass, ginger, thai pepper, lime zest, and lime juice.  Once boiling, bring down the heat and allow the broth to simmer for 15 minutes.  This will allow all the good stuff to get infused in the broth.

Drain the broth through a sieve/colander into another heat proof bowl.  Discard the chunks.  Carefully transfer the broth into the pot and place back on the heat.

Add the sliced chicken and bring the broth back to a boil.  Add mushrooms, tomatoes, and curry paste and let all of this simmer for 30 minutes so the flavors come together.

Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, and brown sugar.  Allow this to simmer for a few minutes.  Serve hot with cilantro, lime wedges, and chili oil.  Enjoy!


Curry Brown Butter Grilled Cheese

4 tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp curry powder
4 slices sourdough
4 slices Muenster cheese

In a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add butter, let it melt and foam up. Begin whisking continuously until the butter takes on a dark yellow tinge and smells nutty. Once you see the brown bits appear, add curry powder and whisk for 15 seconds. Take the saucepan off the heat and continue to whisk.  

Using a brush, brush on the seasoned butter on one side of all the bread slices. Or use a spoon to drizzle on the slices. Add 1 slice of cheese to each slice of bread. Assemble the sandwiches. Brush one side of the bread with the browned butter and grill over medium heat until crispy. While the buttered side cooks, brush the top of the sandwich with butter. Flip and cook other side until crisp and cheese is melted.


Best Ever Chocolate Nutella Mug Cake

Tonight I am featuring two blog posts, dessert AND dinner for you hungry readers!  I had some fun experimenting in the kitchen tonight and both turned out delicious, so I wanted to share it with you all!  Plus I have messages from friends asking for the recipes, NOW.

We wanted something sweet post dinner and since we are both trying super hard not to leave the cookie jar full of Girl Scout cookies empty, I opted for something small.  Not sure if it was the healthiest thing, but it was a small amount of cake that was just right to satisfy our sweet tooth without feeling guilty.  Plus I threw on some strawberries and blackberries.  Boom. Fruit.

I've made a mug cake before, but it turned out dense and chewy, and frankly, not good.  But I really wanted cake tonight and something quick, so I did some research and found a couple of helpful tips!  Use self rising flour for best results and instead of splitting an egg, use the whole egg and make 2 cakes.  Both of these together will yield fluffy, light, and chocolate-y cakes.  And the best tip of all, ALWAYS USE NUTELLA. Because, it's Nutella.

This recipe makes enough for 2, perfect for sharing.  Or don't share.  I don't judge.

Chocolate Nutella Mug Cake

2 tbs vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup self rising flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbs cocoa powder
1/4 cup chocolate chips of choice
2 tsp Nutella
Sliced berries, garnish, optional

Whisk vegetable oil, milk, egg, and vanilla.  Add flour, sugar, and cocoa powder and mix well.  In 2 mugs, evenly distribute chocolate chips and pour in the cake batter evenly into both mugs.  Add 1 tsp each of Nutella into each mug.

Heat both mug cakes in the microwave for 90 seconds on "high".  Check cakes after 90 seconds and if cake springs back when touching it, they are ready!  If not, heat on 15 second intervals until cooked through.

Garnish with sliced berries and ENJOY!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Spicy Shrimp & Beef Sausage Gumbo

As I write up this post, I keep getting distracted by watching House of Cards, but I really need to post something!  House of Cards, watch it.

Going to New Orleans in a few weeks and as I looked up restaurants and things to do, I kept running across gumbo on restaurant menus.  Well, hello there craving!  Might as well get the NOLA party started in our stomachs!

This recipe is quick, hearty, and spicy. A very big taste of Cajun!

Truth be told, I kind of just threw whatever I had into the pot. Like all my recipes, you can delete or add any sort of meat, or add additional vegetables.

Spicy Shrimp & Beef Sausage Gumbo

1 tbs. vegetable oil
1 cup sliced beef sausage, preferably organic to keep it clean
1 sliced jalapeno, with/without seeds/membrane (controls spice level)
1 tbs. butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 small onion, diced
1 large bell pepper, diced
2 ribs celery, sliced
2 tbs. minced garlic
3 cups seafood broth
1/2 lb okra, sliced
1 large tomato, diced
2 bay leaves
red chili flakes
1 tbs. dried parsley
sea salt
black pepper
hot sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
cajun seasoning
dark chili powder

Toss shrimp with cajun seasoning and dark chili powder. Set aside.

Heat a large cast iron, or regular, pot over medium heat.  Add vegetable oil.  Once hot, add sausage slices and jalapenos. Cook until the sausage has browned.  Scoop out the sausage and jalapenos and set aside in a bowl.

To the same pot with sausage drippings, add the butter. Sprinkle in flour and whisk continuously until it smells nutty and turns a dark brown color.  This is your roux!  Keep a close eye on it.  It can go from a dark, pretty color to burned within seconds.

Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, and celery.  Make them nice and coated in the roux and cook until vegetables have softened a bit.

Add broth and whisk to dissolve the roux.  Add in the okra, tomatoes, bay leaves, chili flakes, parsley, sea salt, black pepper, a few dashes of hot sauce, and Worcestershire.  Feel free to taste and add seasonings as you wish.  If you are new to my blog, I do not add measurements for seasoning.  I realize this is a huge blogger faux paux.

Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.  Add sausage and stir.  Cover pot and let cook for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.  Use this time to cook up your rice of choice.  We cooked brown basmati rice.

After 30 minutes of simmering, add the seasoned shrimp to the gumbo, stir, and cover pot.  Cook until the shrimp has turned opaque.  Once cooked, check for seasoning.

Serve over rice and let your taste buds be transported to the great city of New Orleans!  Enjoy!