Thai cold noodle salad with curry ”dressing”

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I recently visited a lovely Buddhist temple in the Tampa FL area and had the pleasure of eating an amazing salad using curry as a dressing.  The original uses a very well cooked chicken curry (the chicken was in shreds) and I don’t believe they used coconut milk.  I have developed my own version of this interesting salad using a lot of my own homegrown Thai ingredients such as Thai basil, Kaffir lime and lemongrass.  It tasted wonderful!

For curry:
1 can coconut milk
1/2 can chicken broth
1 Tbsp Golden mountain sauce
2 Tbsp red curry paste
1 tsp oil
2 young kaffir lime leaves or 3 old, torn
1 inch galangal, sliced thin
3 stalks lemon grass about 4 in long, pounded
3 Shiitake mushrooms, soaked and cut (retain soak water)
Handful dried straw mushrooms, soaked and cut (retain soak water)
2 dried japones chilis, seeded
5 scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 Tablespoon jaggery or brown sugar

 

For salad:
Thai basil
Mint leaves
Shredded cabbage
Shredded carrot
Mung bean sprouts
Cold rice noodle
Lime juice to taste

Heat oil in pan and add curry paste and cook about 2 mins over medium head. Add coconut milk, chicken broth, Golden mountain sauce, jaggery, chilis, galangal, and lime leaves. Simmer 20 minutes – remove lime leaves (they can make soup bitter), galangal and lemon grass. Add mushrooms with 1 cup of soak water and scallions. Simmer 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and add lime juice to taste.

Place a handful each of cold noodle, cabbage, carrot and beansprouts on a large plate. Sprinkle all well with lime juice. Spoon room temperature curry over top and garnish with fresh thai basil and mint leaves. Serve.

Note: Refrigerate leftover curry. You can also add meat or tofu to the curry to eat it as a hot curry with rice. If re-using as dressing, re-heat just enough to melt coconut fat.

Kala Chana – Black Chickpeas

I love the rich, almost meaty taste of these stewed black chickpeas.  They have a wonderful texture too, they aren’t as soft as the large yellow chickpeas that most Americans are familiar with.  Give these a try, they make a wonderful side dish or even a filling main meal with Indian bread.

Ingredients
1 cup kala chana, soaked overnight

3 tablespoons oil
1/8 teaspoon asafetida (hing)
1 teaspoon Cumin seeds (jeera)
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon ginger / garlic paste
1 green chili finely chopped
1 Onion thinly sliced and quartered
2 Tablespoons Tomato paste
2 tablespoons coriander powder (dhania)
1/2 tablespoon turmeric (haldi)
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder, adjust to taste
2 teaspoons salt, adjust to taste
4 cups water

Approximately 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro (hara dhania) to garnish

Make paste with 2 tablespoons water, ginger garlic paste, chopped chili, coriander powder, and turmeric powder.

Heat oil in pressure cooker, add cumin and hing – stir fry a few seconds, add onions and fry on medium heat until onion is soft, do not brown onion.  Tip cooker and let oil pool in corner and add flour to the oil, whisk it in to combine it with the oil and stir.  Stir in the spice paste and cook briefly – about 1 minute making sure spice paste is cooked through, be careful not to burn it.  Add add water, kala chana, salt, tomato paste and red chili powder to taste.  Heat on high until it starts to steam, whisking well to make sure the tomato paste is dissolved.  Cover pressure cooker, bring to a steam, then turn to medium heat and cook 15 mins.  Take off heat, let cool to remove pressure cooker lid and add lemon juice, stir well and mash some of the chickpeas to make a thickish gravy.  Garnish with chopped cilantro.  Serve with rice or Indian bread.

Sicilian Fish

I had this dish in a restaurant years ago and thought it had an amazing taste!   The tartness of the capers and olives adds zing to the sauce, and covering the fish with the sauce keeps it nice and moist.  I use tuna or shark steak to make this, but you can use any fish with a firm steak-like texture (red snapper, swordfish etc)

1 to 1 1/2 lb firm white fish fillet
1 small can whole tomatoes or 2 cups canned plum tomatoes, squished.  Include juice.
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, minced
2 tbsp virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon small capers, drained (rinsed if packed in salt)
5 or 6 green olives, sliced
5 or 6 black greek or calamata olives, sliced (can use california black olives if milder taste desired)
1/2 tsp rosemary, minced or 1/4 tsp crushed (if dry)
3 tbsp dry white wine

Fresh ground pepper
Fresh chopped basil

Angel hair pasta. cooked and drained.

Lightly saute onion and garlic in virgin olive oil, add tomatoes, wine and remaining ingredients except fish, pepper and basil and cook for about 10 mins on med low.  Place fish in baking pan that has been lightly oiled with olive oil.  Spoon sauce over fish to cover completely and bake at 350F for about 20 mins or so, making sure fish is done.   Remove and garnish with fresh pepper and chopped basil.  Serve on top of angel hair pasta if desired.

Homemade granola

Sometimes I forget just how good this old standby is!  I bought some that was homemade on a recent trip back to Maine (my beloved home state) and it was delicious!  It had the ingredients listed on the label so I searched on the internet to find the closest thing.

I have added some suggestions for dried fruit and nut combinations.  If you have access to an Indian grocery store, you can find bags of sliced dried coconut which makes a marvelous addition.  Make sure to keep the finished granola well sealed so that air doesn’t get to it, it should last a long time.
 
2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Additions if desired
1/3 cup each chopped almond, walnut, hazelnut or other nuts
1/3 cup each raisins, cranberries or other dried fruit
1/3 cup each sunflower seed, sesame seed or other seeds

** for tropical use dried coconut, pineapple, mango, papaya etc.

Directions:

1  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2  In a large bowl, toss the oats with the cinnamon and salt.
3  In a medium bowl, stir together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until completely combined.
4  Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and use your hands to combine them: Gather up some of the mixture in each hand and make a fist. Repeat until all of the oats are coated with the honey mixture.
5  Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it out evenly, but leave a few clumps here and there for texture.
6  Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the almonds (or other nuts) over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.
7  Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and use a metal spatula to lift and flip the granola. Sprinkle the seeds over the granola and return the baking sheet to the oven.
8  Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Let cool completely. Sprinkle the dried fruit over the granola and use your hands to transfer it to an airtight container.

3 Fruit Marmalade

This recipe is from an old Irish cookbook dated around the 1940’s.  It is unique in that it uses no ”regular” measuring cup..you can use any cup you have on hand as long as you use the same cup to measure for the entire recipe.  You can use a regular yellow grapefruit, but the red ones give it a lovely pink color!   Also, note that it does not gel as firmly as commercial marmalade.  It is meant to be rather spoonable.

Ingredients

1 Grapefruit

1 Orange

1 Large Lemon

Granulated Sugar

Method

  1. Wash, dry and cut each fruit into quarters and peel skin away from pulp.
  2. Cut the pulp into chunks and place in a bowl and keep aside. Scrape or cut away the white pith on the fruit skin and slice the skins finely into shreds about 1/4 to 1/2 inch long. Place skins in separate bowl.
  3. Measure the pulp using your choice of measuring cup into a large bowl and for every cup of pulp, add 3 cups of water.
  4. Using the same cup, measure out the shredded fruit skin into a large saucepan, add 3 cups water for 1 cup skin, cover and keep aside overnight.
  5. Next day, place both the pans on the stove and bring to boil and simmer for about an hour.
  6. Strain the cooked fruit pulp in a large strainer, pushing and scraping to get most of the fruit, but making sure there are no seeds.
  7. Add the cooked shredded skins and their liquid to the strained mixture, and measure it all out once again with the same cup.
  8. Add 1 cup of sugar (again using the SAME cup) to each cup of fruit mixture, mix well and bring to boil.
  9. Continue boiling rapidly until some of the mixture jells when poured onto a cool plate.
  10. Skim the mixture and jar up into sterilized jars – boiling for 5 minutes in canning pan to insure seal.
  11. Store in refrigerator to keep cold.

Irish Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie

I found this years ago in an online Irish newspaper.  It is simple and delicious and you can use other flavors of gelatine if you prefer.

1 pkg ladyfingers (around 20)
3/4 cup milk
2 Tsp Vanilla extract
2 1/4 pkgs cream cheese – softened (these are 3 oz pkgs)
1 pkg sugar-free strawberry jello (you can use the sugar kind if you want, but I find no difference in taste and you save calories with the sugar-free!)
1 cup boiling water
1 cup heavy / whipping cream
1 cup superfine sugar – you can grind regular sugar in a blender if you can’t find this.

1/2 pkg frozen strawberries
Fresh strawberries for garnish

Line bottom of 8X10 in glass pie dish with lady fingers.  Mix milk and vanilla together and pour over lady fingers.  Press down gently on the lady fingers with a fork to flatten them slightly. Set aside.
Place jello in a large dish and pour boiling water over it.  Stir until dissolved. 
Beat together cream cheese and superfine sugar until well blended.  Add cooled jello and mix well.
Beat heavy / whipping cream until soft peaks form and fold into cream cheese mixture.
Pour into the prepared glass dish (the one you lined with ladyfingers) and refrigerate 2 hours until firm.

Make a sauce from the frozen strawberries adding sugar to taste.  Run through sieve and cool and spoon sauce over pie, garnishing with fresh strawberry halves.