Krapow Moo: Thai Stir-Fried with Fresh Basil & Pork

28 Mar

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After I met Alayna in France, but before we lived together in New York, I lived in a village in the south of Thailand called Amphur Muang Phang Nga. That picture is of the market where I shopped for food and a friend of mine worked. That friend, Pi Nee, also owned a small food stand and would cook me dinners most nights. They were delicious.

Pi Nee once asked me if Americans ever ate Thai food. I told her it was very popular. She asked what was the most popular dish. I said Pad Thai. She literally freaked out. She thought that was hysterical. “Why Pad Thai?” She kept asking. Then she asked about how much money someone would spend for a plate of Pad Thai. I said about ten US dollars. From that point, for the next two years, she remained a little too serious about going back to America with me to open her food shop and rake in the big bucks. She said she would travel in my suitcase.

Pi Nee honestly would have raked in the big bucks because her food was dope. Unfortunately this was a time in my life where I didn’t think I had the ability to cook. I just didn’t think it was physically possible for some reason. If I did I would have spent a lot more time paying attention to what she was cooking, because when I moved back here I deeply missed her food.

Fast forward a bunch of years later. My friend from the Peace Corps, Julia (hi Julia!), who still lives in Bangkok visits New York. She brings me a small little cookbook a friend of hers made for extra money. It’s not a real book, it’s just her recipes bound in plastic, translated into English. There are typos, she obviously took the photos herself, it’s very DIY. I thanked Julia and put it aside and didn’t think much of it for a few weeks until one day I decided to try out the Pad Thai recipe. And holy shit, it was incredible.

I have been cooking through this cookbook ever since, and repeating the recipes over and over because they are delicious. I’ve actually gone on to compare these recipes to other cookbook versions of Thai favorites and they are very different- and superior. What is below is a recipe that I love from my little Thai cookbook (Note that I have made some modifications to the recipe, simply adding more veggies). I’ll keep posting a few more of these recipes because if you are in the mood for good REAL Thai food- this is it.

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Krapow Moo

Serves 2… Feel free to add more or less veggies

  • Cook 1 cup of brown rice in 2 cups of chicken broth
  • Meanwhile, using a large saute pan, add 1 tbsp of oil and put on medium heat. Add 3 crushed cloves of garlic and one chopped hot red pepper. Add a little salt and heat for a minute or two
  • Add 1 chopped red bell pepper, 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms, handful of edemame and saute for about 5 minutes until beginning to get soft
  • Add 1/2 pound ground pork or beef (whatever you prefer, both are delicious), add salt and cook for about 4 minutes until meat is no longer pink
  • Add seasoning: 1 tbsp of Oyster Sauce, 1 tspn of soy sauce, 1/2 tbsp of white sugar, 1 tspn of fish sauce, cook for about another 2 minutes
  • Add a handful of scallions, small handful of fresh, chopped basil, give a mix for a minute and put into a large bowl and set aside
  • In the same saute pan, add more oil if you need to, and fry 2 eggs– try not to overcook the yolk!
  • Put the brown rice in two bowls, top with meat/veggies, top with fried egg.

Enjoy!

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Pho Sho!

7 Jan

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It doesn’t make sense how I made and consumed this healthy beyond belief Vietnamese Pho just one day before I became the victim of a flu that kept me on my couch for the next four days straight. Not, I realize, the most appetizing way to start off a piece about a wonderful soup– but it is what it is and that’s what happened.

I haven’t been sick like that in years, the kind of sick where my body is just too weak to function normally. It’s actually quite odd– being actively aware that your body is busy battling something beyond your reach, and with all that energy your body is putting into making you better its leaving you completely exhausted and feverish and freezing and weak, and there is just nothing you can do about that battle going on but sit under the covers on your couch, watch Netflix and drink juice. It’s a creepy reminder that you don’t really control your body after all. It’s as if your body has a higher level of consciousness  and it has told you, OK once I’m done doing what I’ve got to do, you can go back to your silly escapades again.

If anything, being very sick for only a few days is actually a blessing in disguise as it is a nice reminder of how sweet health is. For a few days you aren’t physically able to do anything, you just sit there under your covers watching as people go about their lives and their routines without you–going out and strolling the streets, picking up a paper and coffee, casually meeting friends for a beer, enjoying a day of work and then dinner… All simple take-for-granted pleasures. Not being able to participate in such things for a few days actually allows for a new sense of gratitude when you are back to your health.

So, as it turned out my New Years Flu  actually became a nice way to be more grateful for the simple things I do most days.

And back to the soup!

Pho! This was my first dabble in Pho and though I really enjoyed it I’d like to take some time working on a homemade Pho broth, which I’ll report back on. In the meantime, I just used a store-bought Pho flavored broth (Pacifico Organic Pho broth is available at Whole Foods- so are Pho brown rice noodles for a healthier noodle.)

Vegan Pho

  • Heat a soup pot filled with Vegetarian Pho broth
  • Add sliced carrots, edemame, shitake mushrooms to the broth (however many veggies you want- based on if you want a brothy soup or something with more bite.) Let this sit at a low heat for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender
  • Bring a second pot of water to boil, add pho noodles and boil for 1 minutes and drain
  • Toss noodles with a few tsp of sesame oil (optional) and split noodles into bowls (Note: Your soup bowls should be on the larger size)
  • While veggies continue to simmer, slice firm tofu and drizzle with soy sauce, and then add to bowls on top of noodles
  • Create a “toppings” buffet to add to your soup when it’s ready, include: lime wedges, chopped scallions, chopped cilantro, mung sprouts and Hoisin sauce, and mint sprigs
  • Ladle broth into bowls and add toppings. Eat with a large soup spoon and chopsticks.

Oven Poached Salmon

17 Dec

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Poaching fish sounds hard right? And it seems fancy. And dinner-party-esq. It doesn’t sound like a 30 minute after-work no-big-deal meal does it?

But you know what, it totally is. This was an easy breezy super delicious dinner. It’s also really healthy because I realized I didn’t use any oil or fats- and it didn’t matter nor was missed because the fish came out so moist and delicious. The thing I love best about cooking meat in the oven is you don’t really risk over-cooking it unless your timer is broken.

I’d recommend this as a main coarse if you want to impress dinner party guests but you don’t want to actually do a lot of work. But I’d also recommend it as a random Tuesday night at home. I served it with some brown rice and steam broccoli and it was just the best. (Gavin, attest.)

Oven Poached Salmon

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F
  • Place 2 salmon fillets (or however many you want- also can be any kind of fish that is meaty) on a lightly greased oven pot or dutch oven.
  • Add a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes and radishes around the fish
  • Pour in 1/3 cup of dry white wine
  • Pour in a 1/3 cup of chicken broth
  • Add 1 tbsp of capers
  • Sprinkle on salt and pepper and a generous amount of dried or fresh thyme over fish and veggies
  • Cover and bake for 12-15 minutes
  • If enjoying over brown rice, spoon the sauce in the pan over the rice.

So easy!

Merry Christmas to YOU

11 Dec

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(That’s right… I make tablescapes for cookie parties. With deer.)

So friends. It may have come to your attention that Mary and I are going for round two on this blogging thing. I have to say, I have a feeling it is going to be less soup centric since 1) good lord, we have eaten a lot of soup and 2) variety is the spice of America (also known as, we feel like it).

With that in mind and in the spirit of the season, I bring you my very favorite Christmas Cookies (White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut with Dried Cranberries). They are delicious, you can make the argument that they are healthy because they contain both fruit and nuts (note, you are also wrong), and they are festive looking – essentially making them the perfect Christmas Cookies. I’ve had special requests for them at the annual Christmas Cookie party every year since I started making them, and still think I should have won the Snauffer Christmas Cookie Exchange with them in 2006 (I was robbed).

With only the further ado of a very fancy paper and styrofoam wreath (I swear, life after grad school feels like SO MUCH TIME), Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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White Chocolate Chip, Cranberry, and Macadamia Nut Cookies

  • Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit
  • In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, cream 1 stick of softened butter, 1 cup packed brown sugar, and 1 cup white granulated sugar together until light and fluffy
  • Add 2 large eggs and 1 tsp vanilla and beat until just combined
  • In a separate bowl, sift together 3 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and mix thoroughly
  • Slowly add in the flour mixture until completely integrated
  • Using a large spoon, fold in 1 cup of chopped macadamia nuts (extra points if you have the patience to roast them), 1/2 cup dried cranberries, and 1.5 cups of white chocolate chunks
  • Drop heaping spoonfuls on a cookie sheet and cook about 12 minutes
  • Let cool on wire rack and enjoy!

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

3 Dec

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Peppers, aka God’s little bowls, waiting to be stuffed.

I like stuffing stuff. One time I had a dinner party and called it, “Stuffed Stuff.” Stuffed peppers, stuffed mushrooms, stuffed eggplant. You can stuff squash, you can stuff potatoes, you can stuff tomatoes. You can literally stuff anything with a peel or skin. And then you just eat the whole entire thing and it’s delicious.

Now that we discussed the art of stuffing, lets discuss quinoa. I don’t love quinoa as much as I should. I know, shocking right? I should be obsessed with it. It’s a complete protein. It’s probably the healthiest grain there is- it just doesn’t excite me that much. (Let me first set the barometer on the sorts of things that do excite me: Farro, wheat berry, my shower drain not clogging, when this grandmother who lives in the apartment across the street has her lights turned on when I’m walking home so I can pause and look in her windows- a ritual that strangely relaxes me…) What I am saying is I’m easily excitable so quinoa should, in theory, excite me, but it doesn’t that much. It tastes too… pilly or something.

But the quinoa in this recipe is the best quinoa I’ve ever made. I think it’s the fact that I roasted it that helped with the texture and made it exciting. I made extra “stuffing” that didn’t fit into the two peppers, which I just threw onto the cookie sheet and roasted everything together. Then put the extras on a pile of spinach next to the plated pepper. And poof, a complete meal and a complete protein.

And what’s even more exciting? Don’t put cheese on top of this and you got yourself a vegan recipe. And lastly, let it be noted that a man ate this with me, and he was really into it. I just like to say that to prove that these recipes don’t just please the rabbit-girls of the world.

So stuff some stuff and enjoy!

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees, lightly oil a baking pan
  • Boil 1/2 cup of quinoa & 1 cup of water (or chicken broth- better!) together, and then simmer for 15 minutes until soft
  • Cut the pepper’s “hats” off and clean out the insides- brush or spray the peppers with olive oil inside and out (I have spray olive oil, best invention ever)- put the peppers top-side-down in the oven for 15 minutes (when peppers are roasted, reduce the oven to 350)
  • In skillet, warm some olive oil, add half an onion chopped, some garlic chopped, for about 5 minutes- Then stir in 1 teaspoons of cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes & salt
  • Add a handful of each: chopped carrots, celery, zucchini & corn… really add as much as you want, you like a lot of veggies, add more, whatevs
  • When veggies are tender add the quinoa and salt to taste
  • Stuff the peppers with the quinoa stuffing, if there is extra just toss it on the oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over the peppers and put back into the oven for 10-15 minutes
  • Place over a nice bed of spinach and you’re done!

East West Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

27 Nov

I forgot to take a picture of the stuffed mushroom, so here is a picture of some nuts and my grandmothers & aunts & great aunts & my cousins & me that I keep in my kitchen.

You know what happened yesterday? I spent over an hour reading this blog thinking, Why don’t we update this blog anymore? And then I decided to make Alayna’s rosemary bread which is really, really easy to make and as I was mixing the dough I was thinking, I really still like all of these recipes that are on this blog. And then I started talking to Alayna and we were both like, Why don’t we update this blog anymore when we’re both such better cooks now than we were when we were writing this blog?

And so, hellllllo ladles wez be back!

Just because Alayna and I haven’t been posting for… err… about a year now, doesn’t mean we haven’t been cooking. Au contraire! Have we ever. So what we’re going to do is start updating Monday’s Soup again with whatever we have made that’s really awesome. Don’t gotta be soup, just gotta be good.

I also really want to do this so I can start stealing Alayna’s recipes again.

For those of you who are new here, let me tell you a bit about how Alayna and I cook so you know what you’re getting into:

  • We don’t use measuring cups or spoons because that would result in more dishes to clean. That means these recipes are really loose, add more of what you like, don’t add what you don’t like… this isn’t baking, it’s cooking so relax. (Well sometimes it’s baking but even then we don’t really use measuring cups.)
  • Alayna and I do not like to waste food, ever. This is less of an environmental/responsible conscious kind of thing (though there’s that, too) rather it’s more like, we’re really, really anal.
  • Alayna and I like to cook things that are both practical and wholesome. This is where our love for soup is really rooted- to make soup most of the time you really just use one pot. And then you get a whole delicious meal out of it. So practical! So healthy! So perfect!
  • Alayna and I really like to eat.

Alayna, please comment if I’m missing anything.

So anyways. Here we go again. Kicking this off are these amazing stuffed mushrooms I made last night adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook (I recommend!). Because this meal involved a lot of eastern flavors (e.g. miso, soy sauce, sesame oil & peanut butter) I wasn’t totally sure how this would come out. But it came out awesome. Gavin said, “This meal should go in the rotation.” As in, the rotation of dinners I make- that’s as big of a compliment as I’m going to get. It’s also, I just realized… vegan! But you really, really don’t realize that because it’s so flavorful and hearty and good.

Now without further ado…

East West Portobello Stuffed Mushrooms 
Serves 2 people who eat a lot, or 3 normal people
  • Preheat the oven to 350, oil a baking sheet that will hold 3 portobello mushrooms
  • Make brown rice (use about 3/4 of a cup of dry brown rice)
  • In a large bowl crumble 8 oz of tofu, 1 red diced red pepper, 1/2 a can of water chestnuts, 3 diced scallions, 2 tbsp of peanut butter, 2 tbsp of miso, some diced ginger, 1 tsp of sesame oil & mix well
  • Twist off the mushroom stems and place them gill-side up on the oiled pan, in a small cup stir 3 tsp of sesame oil & 1 tbsp of soy sauce brush this onto the mushrooms. Then mound the fillings on top of each mushrooms (I had extra and just put it on the baking sheet to heat up with everything else.
  • Bake for 35 minutes
  • Meanwhile! in a small sauce pan mix 1 cup of unsweetened apple juice, 1 tbsn soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice OR cider vinegar, some grated ginger, 1 tspn sugar and put on low heat
  • Slowly pour in 1 tbsp of cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp of cold water- mix for about 1 minute over heat

To plate:

Put down a handful or two of fresh spinach, then pile on a serving of the brown rice, then top on the stuff mushroom, then sprinkle everything with the sweet & sour sauce. Add soy sauce if you’d like, to taste

Simply Asparagus

17 Feb

Hello Friends! Look at that! It’s an actual soup with soup in it! And a delicious and easy one, if I do say so myself. Last week I got a huge package of asparagus at Costco (which is a place where happy things come true, like a bottle of honey the size of your head, but also can be scary, because WHO NEEDS THAT MUCH TOILET PAPER???) and then got really busy and five days later realized if I didn’t cook it it would go to waste. So soup it was. This soup was really simple, very tasty, and made me feel like spring was almost here… one can only hope!

Simply Asparagus

  • Saute 4-6 cloves of garlic in olive oil on low until transluscent
  • Add one chopped medium-sized yellow onion and cook until almost opaque, adding in the grated rind of two lemons (yellow part only)
  • Add in 2-3 regular sized bunches (or one Costco bag) of asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces with the tough ends kept out, and cover, stirring occasionally
  • Once the asparagus is most of the way cooked through, add chicken or vegetable broth and let cook until warm
  • Blend with an immersion or regular blender
  • Add the juice of two lemons, and 1/2-1 cup heavy cream, salt, and pepper to taste
  • Enjoy!
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