Dinner


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I was craving adobo again recently and decided to try my hand at a new recipe. Only recently, thanks to Joey, have I discovered this popular Filipino dish, which is also their national dish.

Adobo can be prepared in numerous ways and with a large selection of ingredients and flavors. One of my favorite aspects of adobo is the addition of a little vinegar to some of the recipes early on in the preparation. This adds a great tart flavor, different from that gained from adding lime juice to some Thai dishes. A lot of the recipes also calls for cracked or fresh peppercorns, another favorite of mine.

The dish I made was a chicken and pork adobo. I strayed a little from the recipe, I marinated my meat a little first and used coconut milk instead of stock- I did not have any available when I started cooking.

So to make my version of this dish you need to find:
– 200g pork belly, cut into cubes
– 200g chicken, cut into cubes
– 2 tablespoons vinegar
– cracked pepper
– ¼ teaspoon turmeric
– 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
– ½ teaspoon salt
– 1 tablespoons fish sauce
– 2 tablespoons oil
– 1/2 cup coconut milk (or 1 cup stock)
– fresh green peppercorns

To make:

Marinated the meat in 1tablespoon oil, the turmeric and about a ¼ teaspoon cracked pepper for an hour.
When the meat is ready, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan and sauté garlic until fragrant. Add the meat and brown until golden. Add the vinegar, but do not stir until the vinegar boils and release it’s acidic odor. Add a little more cracked pepper if you like and the fish sauce. Add some green peppercorns and the coconut milk (or stock) and stew for a couple of minutes, while stirring regularly. Dish up and serve.

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I topped the adobo with some fried plantains. It made a fine accompaniment to the stew. Note that you can completely leave out the whole marinating in turmeric part, I just felt like experimenting.

We had a friend from work over for lunch last Sunday, and I decided to try these sandwiches I saw in a copy of Real Living I picked up recently. It’s real simple to prepare and a makes for a very satisfying and refreshing lunch.

All you need is some pesto and olive oil, grilled vegetables, some fresh greens or herbs like basil and parsley and cheese. Grill your veggies. Slice the top off the bread and hollow it out, the breadcrumbs can be saved for other cooking (like in burgers). Spread pesto and olive oil along the insides of the bread and then layer veggies, cheese, and greens inside the bread. Put back the top of the bread, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate overnight. Slice and enjoy.

Alexander made a dragon fruit and watermelon salad to accompany the bread. Refreshing!

I made the pesto using fresh basil, garlic, cashew nuts and olive oil. Of course I made too much, so the leftovers found themselves being used up in other dinners throughout the week.

Monday I made mushroom burgers and sweet potato chips. I spread some pesto on the toasted buns. And there was a surprise in the burgers! What you do is make two thin patties and put some sauteed mushrooms on one, cover with another and seal before cooking. I am convinced that you can absolutely have your imagination run wild here.

Thursday night I made oven baked chicken and had pesto and pasta on the side. Marinade some sliced chicken breasts in a mixture of fresh lemon juice, chopped garlic, black pepper, and olive oil. Wrap this and some sliced shallots and fresh green peas in aluminum foil and cook in a preheated oven (250C) until juices run clear. Mmm succulent and flavorful chicken.

And that was pretty much my week in the kitchen.

Once in a while an exceptionally good bad movie shows on our only movie channel. When one of these come around we order pizza and sit on the bed eating it while tearing the movie apart. We’ve watched ‘She’s the Man’ and ‘Material Girls’ amongst others like this. There’s nothing like ordering generic pizza and watching generic nonsense on a Sunday night.

Lately there have been absolutely now good bad movies. They’re all just really bad, so we have not been having any pizza. But we were craving pizza. I’ve been craving pizza, not fast food pizza, but fresh, homemade pizza, ever since I read this entry weeks ago on Food To Nourish the Spirit and Soothe the Soul.

Staring at the dark green pepper corns in Alexander’s lunch at Greyhound Saturday afternoon, I started thinking about dinner, (yes, I am the kind of person who can eat a perfectly satisfying and scrumptious meal and already be thinking about the next one plus what will be eaten for snacks in between the two).

In the fridge we had asparagus, a very agreeable piece of Morbier that Tim picked up while visiting (thanks Tim), one chicken breast, some kaffir lime leaves, leaves and lemon grass. In my mind’s eye these ingredients plus a couple of others began to come together in a two sublime pizzas. All I needed to pick up were some fresh pepper corns, mushrooms and Mozzarella cheese.

And here are the results of my lunchtime fantasy.

Two gorgeous thin-crusted pizzas (I don’t like thick crusts). One with Morbier, fresh asparagus, and mushrooms, the other with a stir-fried combination of a little lemon grass, one kaffir lime leave, one tiny red chil, one clove garlic, fresh peppercorn and chicken. The latter subtly blended some of my favorite Thai flavors- it was perfect!

I thought I messed up the dough because I could not quite follow the original instructions (I have no kitchen scale), but it came out perfectly. It’s really easy to make, so I will share my way, which is pretty much the same as the recipe I used, of making thin-crusted pizza dough.

Arrange:

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon dry yeast

1/2 tablespoon white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

150 ml cold water

1 tablespoon softened butter

Make:

Mix the dry ingredients well in a mixing bowl. Add the cold water and mix on medium speed with an electric mixer for about two minutes (use the dough hooks on your mixer). Increase the speed and add the butter, mix for about 15 minutes. I have a hand-held mixture, so this process was quite excruciating.

Pour this thick gooey mixture into an airtight container and leave for an hour.

After an hour, preheat the oven to 250C. Fflour a working surface and your hands and start working the dough, add more flour and work it until it is not sticky anymore and quite elastic. Make two balls and roll them out thinly. Put the pizza on an oven pan that’s been lined with a cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil, add Mozzarella and rest of the topic and bake for under ten minutes until the crust has been lightly browned. Remove from the oven and take pleasure in gobling up your home-made pizza.

Suggestions for thin crusted pizzas:

– After mixing the dough and leaving it in the container I thought it was going to rise, but it didn’t, so I thought it flopped, but this was not the case, I think. It just became rather bubbly and working in the flour created a very nice dough.

– If you want a thicker crust you should not roll it out too thinly.

Here’s what we had for dinner.

Peanut butter curry with sweet potatoes, broccoli, and brown rice noodles. I’m not going to tell you how I made it though because (pick the correct answer):

a) It’s a family secret.

b) I actually have no idea.

c) I’m being selfish.

For dessert we had All-American Brownies (according to the recipe I used) and ice-cream. Usually I leave the task of making brownies to Alexander who is an ace brownie maker (he uses this same recipe that he got from his mom). Today, however, was the first time I made brownies, and because I cannot think of any good reason not to, I will share this recipe.

To make All-American Brownies, Bordeaux style, you will need:

1 quarter stick butter

6 (not 2) pieces of unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped into pieces

1 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

salt (which I forgot to add, so actually don’t bother with it)

2 small Toblerone bars

Make:

Preheat the over to 180C and prepare an oven pan or bread pan, I used a silicone bread pan. Melt the butter and chocolate over medium heat. Let it cool for a couple of minutes and stir in the sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time and mix. Add the flour. When everything is mixed, add some chopped bits of the Toblerone. Pour into the pan. Stick some Toblerone onto the mixture and bake for about 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out… clean! Cool, cut, gobble up.

The original recipe, as you may have guessed did not call for any Toblerone. So now you may ask why oh why do you always have to go and throw Toblerone into just about any sweet thing you ever make? The reason is simple, one can never get enough Toblerone. Never. I have a friend who does not care much for it. But I think she has problems. As for me, I love it.

As a child I used to hate beet. My parents always pickled it and I just could not stand having to eat beetroot salad on Sundays. Years later I’ve developed a taste for the pickled variety and even later for raw beetroot. The earthy taste and bright red flesh and juice intrigues me endlessly. A while ago, I bought beets to try out a new soup recipe, which I never got to. I’m not exactly sure why, it just did not happen.

Yesterday I remembered that I still had some beetroot in the refrigerator and decided to try something with it. And it was delicious. Really.

To make a beetroot pasta sauce you need to get together:

1 beetroot, top and end cut off and washed

3 cloves garlic

4 tablespoons thick cream

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1/4 teaspoon oregano

salt and pepper to taste

Make:

Wrap the beetroot and garlic in aluminum foil and roast in the oven at 150C for an hour. Remove and let it cool, be careful that the beetroot juices don’t spill. When it has cooled for a bit peel, chop and throw the beetroot and garlic into a food processor or blender. Add the cream, tomato paste, and oregano and puree. Add some salt and pepper to taste and serve over any cooked pasta you prefer.

I was genuinely surprised about how well this came out. I was concerned that it might be too weird and earthy for a pasta sauce, but the cream and the other ingredients toned down the earthiness to a delicate hint in a really yummy pasta dish. Oh, I served some chicken and broccoli friend with a bunch of freshly chopped parsley with the pasta. And there was enough pasta for about 4 helpings. Now go try it, no suggestions. If you have any though, let me know.

I tried a variation on a fall stew recipe I read the other day for dinner last night. It’s supposed to be cooked in an oven bag, but seen as I do not have such an item, (as a matter of fact I’ve never heard of it before!) I just used our aluminum baking tins. Yes, I still do not have a proper baking pan or casserole dish, but in the meantime this is working well and we do recycle them.

The original recipe, and many other great ones, can be found at here at Almost Turkish Recipes.

Collect:

1 Asian eggplant

1 carrot

1 zucchini

1/2 red onion

1 tomato

1/2 cup red cabbage

1 banana chili

2 cloves garlic

100 grams pork loin

handful of chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 cup water

Make:

Preheat the oven to 200C. Chop, dice, cube and round all the ingredients, anyway that you like. Combine them all in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Put this mixture into an oven pan (like I did) or a casserole dish. Mix the water and tomato paste and pour over. Cover with aluminum foil and make three holes in the top. Cook in the oven for one hour.

I served it with some toor dal and a roasted beetroot salad. Fresh and satisfying.

Suggestions for the stew:

– this was way to much for two people for one meal. The rest is going into the blender tonight to become soup.

– you can use any other meat or none at all and you can add some more veggies or different kinds.

– the ingredients added their own flavors to the dish, for some additional flavor you can add other dried or fresh herbs to your liking.

An old favorite of mine is stuffed or filled chicken breasts cooked in liquid of one kind or another. The options are almost limitless; I’ve used pesto, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, feta and even peanut butter for stuffing and cooked in balsamic vinegar, red wine and stock.

Seen as we are living in Thailand and get to savor new combinations of ingredients and tastes on a regular basis I decided to experiment with a new filling and cooking sauce inspired by some Thai flavors.

Collect:

3 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
1 red chili, sliced
3 sprigs of spring onion, the white and light green parts separated from the darker parts- mince two of the spring onions and slice the third on in half
3 kafir lime leaves, roughly copped
2 big shallots, sliced
juice of half a lime
2 chicken breasts, trimmed of the skin and fat
1 cup of flour
salt
toothpicks
½ chicken stock cube
½ cup of warm water
½ cup of coconut milk
1 tablespoon curry powder

Make:

Heat a little oil in a saucepan over medium heat, when the oil is warm, add garlic and chili and fry quickly until fragrant. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the halved spring onion) and stir-fry it for about two minutes. Remove from heat and add the lime juice. Set aside.

Dissolve the stock cube in the warm water, add the curry powder and coconut milk and set aside.

Flatten your chicken breasts with one hand and make careful incisions in them with a sharp knife for the filling. Divide the stuffing between the two chicken breasts and insert half a sprig of spring onion in each. Close the breasts with one or two toothpicks. Season with a little salt.

Spread the flour out onto a flat surface and roll the breasts around in it till covered, shake of any excess flour and set aside. In the same saucepan you used for preparing the filling, add a little oil. Put the chicken breast in the saucepan and cook until a light golden brown. To this, add the liquid mixture and lower your temperature to a gentle simmer. Cover the saucepan slightly and cook the chicken until it is cooked through. I left it on for about 20 minutes.

The end result was superb. The flavors of the filling were pleasantly subtle, complimented by the curry flavored cooking sauce, the leftover sauce I poured over the steamed rice I served it with. The chicken breasts were also incredibly tender. Definitely one to try again.

Suggestions for Chicken Breasts with Thai flavors filling.
– depending on your personal tastes you can add more or less of any of the ingredients to change the flavor and of course you can add any other ingredients that may add to the end result.
– the dark green parts of the spring onions can be used as garnish and a little bit of curry powder sprinkled around a side of the plate adds to the presentation
– keep a small dish handy for discarding the toothpicks

One more food related entry before I do one about the bag I’ve finished this week.

After spending a day at Chatuchak Market we decided to eat in tonight, rather than go searching for the mythical Ethiopian Restaurant on Sukhumvit Road. I felt like some comfort food inspired by Bangkok street food and so I picked satay and fried rice.

Fried rice is something I crave every now and then and recently I’ve been craving it quite a lot of it. We had it the other night at Suan Lum Night Bazaar and yesterday from a street stand near our school. For dinner I decided to make some myself again. It’s so easy to prepare, you can add almost any ingredients and it rarely disappoints.

To accompany the leftover satay sauce from earlier this week I grilled some chicken kebabs with pineapple, small tomato, and green chili like you find on the streets of Bangkok. Comforting and tasty!

Alexander is trying to create an autumnal feel in our apartment even though it is the rainy season in Thailand the chances of experiencing anything resembling fall besides gaudy commercialized Halloween parties is about zero.

But I enjoy the idea of creating an autumn experience and so after he made a very seasonal apple and pork dish spiced with cinnamon last night I tried my hand at this thick pumpkin soup recipe from lindamade.

I halved her recipe for the two of us and served it with a loaf of fresh bread and some cheddar.

I loved the soup. The ingredients blended well into a rich and creamy texture with subtle flavors. It’s a good thing I halved the recipe as the one mug of warm pumpkin soup was filling enough even for me.

Suggestions for Pumpkin Soup:

– I pureed my own pumpkin by cooking 250g of cubed pumpkin in a little stock, pouring off the stock and setting it aside for later use, then pouring the cooked cubes into my blender and puree.

– I only seasoned the soup with some coarse black pepper which worked very well, but I am certain you can add some cayenne pepper if you like your soups hot.

My friend Nicole’s visit was sadly cut short by one day when she realized yesterday afternoon that she was off to Greece a whole 24 hours earlier than she originally thought. It was a pleasure entertaining her at our new home and exploring a new island while she was here.

We visited tiny Koh Si Chang last weekend. It was the ideal weekend getaway, only 3-4 hours travel by boat and bus, not at all frequented by loads of tourists, fresh seafood and and a perfectly relaxed island atmosphere. My highlight food wise was the fried squid and cashew nut. A satisfying mixture of sweet and salty flavors and chewy and crunchy textures!

Monday night we finally got around to Suan Lum night bazaar near Lumphini Park. After finding out how to dodge the tacky tourist stalls we all left with new wardrobe items- a new T and funky work shirt for Alexander, a fall jacket for Nic and a T-shirt for myself.

We traveled by public boats on the klong (Bangkok’s canals) to Banglamphu on Tuesday, where we had yet another pleasing and inexpensive meal at Roti Mataba and browsed around the stores and shops on Phra Athit.

For great pictures and some more about the past week, Alexander photographed and documented our trip to Koh Si Chang and Roti Mataba.

On to cooking. We planned to go out hunting for a mythical Ethiopian restaurant last night and then I would have cooked for Nic tonight, but we had to change our plans a bit and so I decided to cook last night before she left. I had been planning a bit of a menu throughout the day, so i just had to pick up a couple of items from the store and I was ready to start dinner.

Unfortunately for me we got hit by an enormous storm last night and preparing dinner did not go as smoothly as I had hoped. Having the kitchen on the open balcony meant that the wind kept on dumping buckets of rain over everything and I had to wait until it was less windy before I could do anything. But finally I did manage to get the cooking done, even though I still got a bit wet.

Our dinner consisted of a grilled tofu salad with cashew and cilantro pesto (my own creations!) and chicken kebabs on lemon grass skewers with a satay sauce. For dessert we had ice cream with crushed sesame and peanut brittle.

It all came out lovely, even if I have to say so myself.

Grilled Marinated Tofu Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Cilantro and Cashew Nut Pesto

There are kind of two recipes falling under the heading of this salad, first the tofu then pesto. In the end they all contribute to one salad. I’ll try not to make it too confusing.

Gather around:

a block of firm tofu

6 red cherry tomatoes

For the marinade:

juice of one lime

fish sauce

soft brown sugar

green lettuce leaves for garnish

For the pesto:

a handful of cashewnuts

3 small garlic cloves, minced

a bunch of fresh cilantro

olive oil

Make:

Slice the tofu into about .1 inch thick slices.

For the marinade- mix the lime juice, a teaspoon of sugar and a splash of fish sauce in a bowl or container (I believe it should be non-metallic) put the slices of tofu and toss to coat. Cover and refrigarate for about an hour.

While you are marinating the tofu, start on the pesto.

Put the cashew nuts, garlic and cilantro into a blender or food processor and chop lightly. Add a tablespoonful or so of olive oil and blend just a little more so you have a chunky pesto. Note that I made this on a whim and therefore did not take correct measurements into calculation. I just went with what I hoped would work and it came out pretty good.

Line a platter (or in our case a plate) with the lettuce leaves and slice the cherry tomatoes into rounds and set aside.

Remove the tofu from the fridge after an hour and grill quickly over low heat in a griddle pan, a couple of seconds on each side. Place the grilled tofu on a bed of lettuce, put one or two slices of the tomato on the tofu and top it off with a little pesto on each slice.

Not only did it look pretty, it was also very tasty and light.

Chicken Kebabs on Lemon Grass Skewers

This turned out to be a very easy dish, much easier than my first attempt using minced pork.

Collect:

500g chicken mince

1 long red chili

3 stalks lemon grass, trimmed to fit into a pan and halved lenghtwise

sesame oil

Make:

Seed the chili and thoroughly mince it. Mix the chili in with the chicken mince until it is well combined. Shape the chicken into 6 balls and place it on a cutting board, flatten the balls slightly and place the lemon grass stalks onto the balls, the chicken should be about at the middle of the stalks. Fold the chicken over the stalks and flatten the top slightly. Brush the chicken with some sesame oil.

Heat some sesame oil in a pan over a moderately high heat.

Put the kebabs into the pan and cook until ready to be eaten and serve on the lemon grass skewers.

What I love about this dish is that it is super simple and tasty, the meat really gets infused with the fragrant lemon grass.

Ice Cream with Chopped Peanut and Sesame Brittle

This dessert is really easy to make but tasted quite yummy. Sadly the ice cream was very soft, I tried to find a ‘harder’ ice cream at the grocer, but for some reason they were all really soft and not even my freezer helped.

You’ll need:

vanilla ice cream

peanut and sesame brittle

Make:

Break bits of the brittle off and throw it into a food processor or blender. Chop until fine but still a little chunky. Mix about 3/4 this with the ice cream and serve, sprinkled with the rest of the chopped brittle.

Yum.

Suggestions:

– adjust to your liking, add or subtract a bit here and there, have fun.

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