Category Archives: Recipes

Thai Cuisine

Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia that has not been colonized by Europeans. Thus, its cuisine is authentic and has only been slightly influenced by bordering countries or traders.

Thai cuisine is very spicy and focuses on dishes which are well balanced in four areas – sweet (usually palm sugar or coconut milk), salty (fish sauce and salt), sour (lime in several forms and tamarind) and spicy (chilies). Meals served in restaurants are accompanied by a quartet of sauces brought to the table – fish sauce, sliced chili peppers in rice vinegar, dried chili flakes, and palm sugar. Rice is served at most meals, (usually jasmine rice, but also sticky or glutinous rice) and sometimes noodles. Cucumbers are often served to cool the palate. I was told recently that additional ways to counter the spiciness is to add more rice, add sugar, or drink more beer!

Thai food was traditionally eaten by the right hand while seated on cushions on the floor, but today most Thais eat with a fork and large spoon. The fork is held in the left hand and is used to scoop or push into the spoon which is held in the right hand. Chopsticks are reserved only for noodle dishes.

The Thai pantry can be stocked from items available in the international aisle at a grocery store or a local Asian market. Lo’s Seafood in Portsmouth, NH carries Thai canned goods (coconut milk, fish sauce, tamarind paste), kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, fresh chilies (bird’s eye chilies or very tiny chilies are hotter than larger chilies), Thai basil and cilantro. Green, yellow and red curry pastes (hottest to mildest, respectively) can be made from scratch or purchased already prepared.

The following recipe for Chicken Coconut Milk Soup is one which we prepared at the Thai Farm Cooking School while I was in Thailand recently.

Tom Kaa Gai (Chicken Coconut Milk Soup)

Ingredients:

½ c. water

¼ cup of peeled, thinly sliced galangal or ginger

1 stalk of lemongrass, sliced into one-inch pieces

½ cup halved grape tomatoes

½ cup sliced mushrooms

1-5 bird eye’s chili peppers

1 chicken breast, sliced thinly and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 can coconut milk

2-3 kaffir lime leaves

1 stem of cilantro, finely diced

3 sliced scallions

1 T. fish sauce or soy sauce

½ teaspoon light brown sugar

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons of lime juice

Directions:

Combine water, galangal, lemongrass, tomatoes and mushrooms in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to boil. Remove stems from chili peppers and crush open by banging down with your palm on the flat side of a heavy knife. Add chili peppers, coconut milk and chicken pieces to broth. Reduce heat to medium and cook until chicken is milky white all the way through. Fold kaffir lime leaves in half along spine and remove spine of each leaf to release flavor. Add to soup with cilantro, scallions, fish sauce, sugar and salt to taste. Continue to cook over medium heat for 5 more minutes to intensify flavor. Finally add lime juice (soup will be too bitter if lime juice is added too early.) Lemongrass pieces, kaffir lime leaves, chilies and  galangal or ginger root should be removed prior to serving as they are all too tough to chew. Serves 2.

 

 

 

 

 

Super Soups: Lobster Stew

 

lobster-corn-chowder2

Here in New England the landscape is dusted with snow and it’s a perfect time to warm up with  a pot of lobster stew. So, add a log to the fireplace, pour a glass of wine and tie on your apron!

Lobster Stew

Ingredients:

1 quart of seafood stock

2 T. tomato paste

2 c. heavy cream

2 T. butter

2 c. lobster meat, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 c. red potatoes, diced

1 c. frozen corn

½ c. celery, diced

1 t. parsley

¼ t. cayenne

½ c. cooking sherry

3 T. cornstarch mixed with cold water

Salt and pepper

Directions:

Boil diced red potatoes until they can just be pierced with a fork. Remove from heat and drain. In a Dutch oven or stock pot, combine all ingredients, including cooked potatoes, and bring to boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add cornstarch mixture and stir until stew is desired thickness. Serves 4.

Summer Cold Remedy Tea

Turmeric tea

Now that you know about all the health benefits of turmeric, prepare this citrus ginger turmeric mixture to have on hand the next time to feel a cold coming on. The lemon decreases the strength of the cold virus, the ginger soothes your throat after coughing, and the honey contains tryptophan which will help you sleep at night.

Ingredients:

2 lemons, thinly sliced with seeds removed

1 orange thinly sliced

2 inches of fresh ginger root, peeled and minced

1 T. of ground turmeric

1 c. honey

Directions:

Mash the ginger root with a mortar and pestle to make a paste. Combine all ingredients in a jar and store in refrigerator for up to one month. To make a cup of tea, simply put a heaping tablespoon of the mixture into a tall mug and fill with boiling water.

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

Spinach-and-Mushroom-Lasagna-040

This Spinach and Mushroom lasagna is a great vegetarian alternative to the classic meat lasagna.

Ingredients

12 lasagna noodles

2 T. butter

1 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

4 lbs. mushrooms, washed and sliced

2 lbs. spinach

2 T. butter

¼ c. flour

2 c. half and half

¼ t. nutmeg

1-16 oz. carton ricotta cheese

1 egg

½ c. grated parmesan cheese

¼ c. fresh basil, sliced thinly

8 c. grated mozzarella cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 350o F. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain. In a large skillet, melt butter and olive oil and sauté garlic, mushrooms and spinach until mushrooms are tender and spinach is wilted. In a sauce pan over medium heat, make the white sauce. Melt butter and stir in flour and nutmeg. Whisk in half and half until smooth, well-blended and cook over low heat until slightly thickened. In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, the egg, grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil and stir until well-blended. To assemble: Line a baking dish with one layer of lasagna noodles, slightly overlapping them. Spread one half of the spinach mixture over the noodles. Pour 1 c. of the white sauce over the spinach mixture. Sprinkle with half the grated mozzarella cheese. Dot with spoonsful of the ricotta cheese mixture. Place a second layer of overlapping lasagna noodles on top of the ricotta. Spread the second half of the ricotta over the noodles. Put the remaining spinach mixture over the ricotta and pour the rest of the white sauce on the spinach mixture. Sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Serves 8.

Seafood Crepes

crepes

These seafood crepes are great for brunch too. Pair with a green salad and a crisp white wine.

Ingredients:

Crepes

¾ c. milk

¾ c. water

3 egg yolks

1 ½ c. flour

5 T. melted butter

Filling

2 T. butter

2 T. scallions, minced

½ c. sliced mushrooms

3 c. diced lobster, shrimp, crab, or scallops

Sauce:

3 T. butter

¼ c. flour

¾ c. milk

¾ c. chicken stock

1/3 c. sherry

Topping (Optional)

1 c. Swiss cheese

Paprika

Directions:

For crepes – Combine all ingredients for crepes in bowl and beat until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for one hour to allow flour particles to expand an soften. Spray an 8 inch skillet with nonstick coating and heat over medium high heat. Measure about ¼ c. of the batter into the skillet and tilt the skillet to spread the batter evenly in a thin film. Cook one minute or until golden. Turn and cook about 30 seconds. Remove from skillet and stack between wax paper or parchment paper.

For filling – Sauté scallions and mushrooms in butter. Gently stir in seafood and set aside.

For sauce – Melt butter in sauce pan and blend in flour. Whisk in milk, chicken stock and sherry. Cook and stir until mixture bubbles and thickens.

To assemble, blend half the sauce into seafood. Place ¼ c. seafood mixture onto each crepe and roll up. Arrange in buttered baking dish. Spoon the remaining sauce over crepes. Sprinkle with cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Refrigerate until ready to bake. Preheat oven to 425oF. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbling hot. Serves 6-8.

Lemon Tart

lemon tart

This lemon tart is a perfect ending to a summer meal!

Ingredients:

Tart Crust

1 1/3 c. all purpose flour

5 T. sugar

1/2 t. salt

10 T. butter, melted

Filling

4 eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 c. sugar

Pinch of salt

4 T. buttermilk

2 T. cornmeal

½ c. (1 stick) butter, room temperature

4 lemons

Directions:

Tart Crust

Preheat oven to 350oF. Whisk flour, sugar, and salt together in a bowl. Add melted butter and stir with wooden spoon until dough forms. Using your hands, press dough into a 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Place pan on lowest rack in oven and bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown, rotating pan half way through baking. Remove from oven and let cool.

Filling

Using a fine grater or microplane, remove the lemon zest (skin) from the lemons, being careful not to include the bitter white pith. Squeeze lemons to make ½ c. lemon juice and set aside. In medium bowl, cream butter, sugar and lemon zest. Add the eggs, one at a time. Then add salt, and lemon juice and mix until well blended. Transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and fill the tart crust with the warm filling. Cool at room temperature and then refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with whipped cream if desired.

 

 

Brie Soup

soup

Ingredients:

¾ C. chopped onion

½ c. chopped celery

4 T. butter

2 T. flour

2 c. half & half

2 cups chicken stock

8 oz. brie cheese, cut in pieces

1-4 oz cans of chopped green chilies

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, sauté onion and celery in butter over medium heat until translucent. Stir in flour to form a roux or paste-like consistency. Slowly whisk in milk and chicken stock and continuing whisking until smooth and well-blended. Add brie and whisk until melted. Add chilies, salt and pepper. Cool slightly. If desired, puree in blender until smooth. Serve with crusty bread, a green salad and crisp, white wine. Serves 4.