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  • Thai Chicken Stock

    As the great storm stella barrels down upon us, bringing heavy snow, high winds and low temperatures, I feel a need, a need for stock, chicken stock, rich, spicy, liquid gold for the production of good soups, gravies, noodles, just about anything. This is a twist on my standard stock that adds an Asian taste to the stock. This would be a natural for the Chicken and Coconut soup, or as the broth component of a chicken curry, or as a broth for Thai noodles, or as the liquid for Dhal …

    From Wikipedia:

    Stock is a flavored liquid preparation. It forms the basis of many dishes, particularly soups and sauces. Making stocks involves simmering animal bones or meat, seafood, or vegetables in water or wine, adding mirepoix or other aromatics for more flavor.

    Traditionally, stock is made by simmering various ingredients in water. A newer approach is to use a pressure cooker. The ingredients may include some or all of the following:

    Meat
    Leftover cooked meat, such as that remaining on poultry carcasses, is often used along with the bones of the bird or joint. Fresh meat makes a superior stock, and cuts rich in connective tissue such as shin or shoulder of beef or veal are commonly recommended, either alone or added in lower proportions to the remains of cooked poultry, to provide a richer and fresher-tasting stock. Quantities recommended are in the ratio of 1 part fresh meat to 2 parts water. Pork, although a popular base for stock in Chinese cuisine, is considered unsuitable for stock in European cooking due to its greasiness[citation needed](although 19th-century recipes for consomme and traditional aspic included slices of mild ham), and mutton was traditionally avoided due to the difficulty of avoiding the strong tallowy taint imparted from the fat.
    Bones
    Veal, beef, and chicken bones are most commonly used. The flavour of the stock comes from the cartilage and connective tissue in the bones. Connective tissue has collagen in it, which gets converted into gelatin that thickens the liquid. Stock made from bones needs to be simmered for longer than stock made from meat. Pressure cooking methods shorten the time necessary to extract the flavour from the bones.
    Mirepoix
    Mirepoix is a combination of onions, carrots, celery, and sometimes other vegetables. Often, the less desirable parts of the vegetables that may not otherwise be eaten (such as carrot skins and celery cores and leaves) are used. The use of these parts is highly dependent upon the chef, as many do not appreciate the flavours that these portions impart.
    Herbs and spices
    The herbs and spices used depend on availability and local traditions. In classical cuisine, the use of a bouquet garni (or bag of herbs) consisting of parsley, bay leaves, a sprig of thyme, and possibly other herbs, is common. This is often placed in a sachet to make it easier to remove once the stock is cooked.

    I am known to reserve chicken bones from spatchcocked chickens for the purpose of reenforcing my stock. (The addition of chicken feet will also add to the gelatin content)

  • Thai Noodles with Herb Pesto

    The Bad Wolf herb garden is in full swing, providing Sweet Basil, Cilantro, Rosemary and many more succulent, fragrant herbs for enjoyment. The rain and heat have done wonders for them, but not so much for my willingness to cook.

    We have a few peppers, chili and bell just beginning to bear. Young bell peppers have a mildly bitter taste that may go very well in my Asian balance for this dish.

    Some salt, some palm sugar, garlic, ginger, chili’s for a bit of heat and of course those lovely herbs for a Asian flair pesto.

    Time to do a bit of that. But I really don’t want to do too much involving heat, so perhaps Noodles or pasta as a “flavor carrier” to get that gorgeous fresh pesto into my mouth.

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  • Pho for Snow

    OK, so “Winter Storm A-Hole” is bearing down on us and the entire “Winter Storm” thing is getting over bearing. Wind, Rain, Snow, Sleet, in general an absolutely miserable event. This is going to call for some serious hearty food. Beef, in a rich broth, with veggies, and noodles, and more beef and more veggies, and spices, and peppers, and even more peppers. Ja, that’s the ticket, a STEAMING HOT super beef broth, full of gelatin, and lots of Asian Trinity, (Ginger, Garlic and Chili’s), all kinds of rich meatiness from the beef and from mushrooms, maybe some bok choy.

    Take some rice noodles cooked on the side, and put them in a bowl, add our hot broth and veggies, and add garnishes, say red pepper strips, bean sprouts, scallions, chili’s, and some basil. We have a beef and noodle soup similar to Pho.

    Phở is served in a bowl with white rice noodles in beef broth, with thin cuts of beef. In this case I’ll use chuck steak, and I’ll pressure cook the beef, with veggies to extract the gelatin, and generate my stock, which I will cook with additional veggies for my soup. I’ll save the cooked meat and add back into the soup at the table.

    These dishes are typically served with lots of greens, herbs, vegetables and various other accompaniments such as dipping sauces, hot and spicy pastes, Sriracha, and flavor enhancements such as a squeeze of lime or lemon. The dish is garnished with ingredients such as green onions, white onions, coriander, Thai basil. fresh Thai chili peppers, lemon or lime wedges, bean sprouts, and cilantro.

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  • Beef Satay

    Comes the 4’th of July, with grills and thrills. Hot dogs, burgers, chicken, ribs, steaks and all the trimmings, but I want some thing different. Beef perhaps, a kabob, but not the usual chunks of meat whose last vision of life was a jockies whip, married with insipidly cut chunks of bell pepper, pineapple and topped with a cherry tomato..

    Tender cuts of steak, long marinated with an Asian or better yet Thai flavor mix, skewered and quick grilled / or pan seared then served on a flatbread with a salad and a dipping sauce.

    Satay, or sate, is a dish of marinated, skewered and grilled meat, served with a sauce. Satay may consist of diced or sliced chicken, goat, mutton, beef, pork, fish, other meats, or tofu; the more authentic version uses skewers from the midrib of the coconut palm frond, although bamboo skewers are often used. These are grilled or barbecued over a wood or charcoal fire, then served with various spicy seasonings.

    Satay originated in Java, Indonesia. Satay is available almost anywhere in Indonesia, where it has become a national dish. It is also popular in many other Southeast Asian countries, such as: Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Thailand as well as in the Netherlands, as Indonesia is a former Dutch colony.

    Satay is a very popular delicacy in Indonesia; Indonesia’s diverse ethnic groups’ culinary arts have produced a wide variety of satays. In Indonesia, satay can be obtained from a travelling satay vendor, from a street-side tent-restaurant, in an upper-class restaurant, or during traditional celebration feasts. In Malaysia, satay is a popular dish—especially during celebrations—and can be found throughout the country.

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  • Ginger Noodles with Prawns

    The British SAS motto is “Who Dares Wins”. Considering my last brush with Chinese food, it was a definite dare that took me to an out of the way, hole in the wall noodle shop in Chinatown.

    It was a definite win in the culinary department. The food was superb, the sauce was a delight, and we all know what happened next. With broken English, mangled Mandarin, much gesturing, and many repetitions, I manged to capture the recipe.

    The heart of this dish is the sauce, if fact the chef there claims that if you have this sauce you will never go hungry.

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  • Thai Chicken Curry

    I am north bound to my mountain top lair, to enjoy a week end of snow shoveling, driveway sliding, bird feeding, squirrel chasing and the like.

    The lady of Bad Wolf Manor has requested chicken curry as a special weekend meal. I’ll want to go Thai with this and add a bit of heat, I’ve also not done this for a while so perhaps a bit of a refresher is required

    So off to the lab / kitchen and start the task of researching and testing various curry recipes, looking for a rich and proper mouth feel, a balanced flavor, and a the expected bite without being overly harsh….

    I can go on and on and on about how to make curry paste, but this is all about the technique to take a curry paste and create a sauce to coat the veggies /meat with a rich and thick glaze of multi layered flavor.

    Wikipedia says:

    Thai curry refers to dishes in Thai cuisine that are made with various types of curry paste; the term can also refer to the pastes themselves. Thai curry is made from curry paste, coconut milk or water, meat, vegetables or fruit and herbs.

    Red curry is a popular Thai dish consisting of curry paste to which coconut milk is added. The base is properly made with a mortar and pestle, and remains moist throughout the preparation process. The main ingredients are garlic, shallots, (dried) red chillies, young ginger, shrimp paste, salt, kaffir lime peel, coriander root, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns and lemongrass. Common additives are fish sauce, sugar, Thai eggplant, bamboo shoots, thai basil, and meat such as chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, frog, snake or duck. Tofu, or vegetables such as pumpkin, can be substituted as a vegetarian option. This dish normally has a soup-like consistency and is served in a bowl and eaten with steamed rice. The standard red curry paste contains shrimp paste, which renders it inappropriate for vegetarians. There are, however, vegetarian red curry pastes available.

    So I’ll start with a prepared curry paste from my local Thai market, or if all fails one can find some “American” curry paste, a can of coconut milk, some onion, some garlic, a few fresh mushrooms, some kaffir lime leaves from the same Asian market, and of course more chili’s. For this specific dish I’ll use broccoli and potatoes, but eggplant, zucchini, cauliflower, butternut squash, and pumpkin all work just as well.

    Curry sauce trick #1, Precook / steam the veggies and meats. And Drain, Drain, Drain…. Make sure all your add-ins are cut to about the same size..

    Curry sauce trick #2, Use a screaming hot wok, and add just a tsp of oil, let it spider, then add a cup of coconut cream from the top of a can of coconut milk into the wok and reduce to thicken.

    Curry sauce trick # 3, Stir in the chilli paste and fry until aromatic and until the oil has clearly separated from the cream. This is going to get thick…. Add your fish sauce, (or just soy for the vegans) and palm / brown sugar now and do a basic flavor balance.

    Curry sauce trick #4, add your veggies and meat, and the rest of the can of coconut milk, toss to coat and heat to cook through, and reduce the sauce.
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