Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Curried Coconut Lemongrass Soup.

Perhaps not the most "pretty' photograph I've taken, but it was so satisfying, that I had to share it with you! I have been venturing out more and more into the world of vegetarian cooking. It's a hit or miss out there, but Mark Bittman's, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian has proved to be very useful, so far. I adapted the recipe from his book. I added fried tofu (which I learned how to make from his book) and instead of porcini mushrooms, I used straw mushrooms, typical in many Thai soup recipes. In fact, straw mushrooms are the only "canned" mushroom I am unopposed to. One of the things I love about Thai cuisine is the play on your taste buds - sweet, sour, salty and spicy. Thai cuisine interlaces all of these unique flavors so well and I just can't seem to get enough of it. I'm an honorary Thai. The leftovers proved even tastier with the added flare of some garlic chili spice to kick up your sinuses.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

oy vey, ole!

I don’t want to admit this, but since Molly Wizenberg of Orangette can spill the beans, so can I. There are recipes that fail miserably, be it oversight on my part or a poorly written recipe. For a foodie, it’s disheartening and often the source of anger, resentment and what I’d like to diagnose as “pad thai depression” (PTD). It happened Monday night. I was giddy to try a new recipe for pad thai that I pulled out from one of my favorite food magazines. It smelled good, it looked good, and all was right with the world until I took a bite. Overpowered by sriricha sauce, my pad thai was ruined (in my book) and I sunk into some serious PTD. Like an artist disappointed with a ruined canvas, I too, take it personally when something doesn’t turn out perfectly. Classic type “A” personality, yes, but also neurotic and passionate about the kitchen? Most definitely, especially after a weekend of successful cooking!

I was too distraught to post about the PTD, but I saved the best for last. Last Friday, I made chile rellanos. Chile rellanos are one of my all-time favorite Mexican dishes and I’ve always “oohed” and “aahed” over how the mechanic’s of this delicious treat, until now. Time consuming? Yes, yes, and yes. Not only did it test my culinary skills, but also required some last minute creativity. The effort paid off as you can see.

Monday, April 6, 2009

creamy cheese tortellini with asparagus

This month's issue of Gourmet brings many tempting recipes to test. On Sunday night, I made this delectable pasta dish on what was a very rainy and dreary day. The kinda day that makes me sigh and may even cause one to frown, and carry on a "blah" disposition. It's supposed to be "spring" and here in Indiana, spring often equates wet. Rain. Thunderstorms (the coolest, I might add). We even got some snow! But this pasta dish sprung my spirits back into spring with its delicate cream sauce and tender, crisp asparagus bits. Here's an adapted version of the recipe:
Creamy Cheese Tortellini with Asparagus (Gourmet - April 2009 issue, adapted)
4 c. reduced sodium chicken broth
2 strips of lemon zest
3 sprigs of thyme (or more if you like)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 bunch of asparagus, chopped into small pieces on diagonal
2/3 c. heavy cream
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 bag of dried, refrigerated or frozen cheese tortellini
Bring together broth, zest, thyme, garlic, and pepper to a boil and reduce til 1 c. is left. This took alot longer than the "6 mins" the recipe stated.
Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.
Stir cornstarch into cream and whisk into broth until it boils and simmer for a few minutes til the sauce comes together. Add chopped asparagus and simmer until, crisp and tender, 2-3 mins. Add cooked pasta and grated cheese, stir unto well combined and heated through.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

delight of the wonton.

It's been a while since I've made wonton soup, several years in fact. I was perusing my copy of Splendid Soups by James Peterson when I stumbled on this simple recipe for wonton soup. The wonder of this recipe is not only it's simplicity, but the open door that leads to culinary creativity. I stuffed my wontons with a mixture of ground pork, spinach, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, salt and pepper. I also added some chopped scallions, grated carrots, and raw spinach to the broth. For extra flavor, before devouring, I added some garlic chili paste for some heat and wee splash of soy sauce! The recipe also provided for other wonton stuffings as well, salmon for example, which trips my trigger. The possibilities are endless and this recipe offers you the opportunity to be creative with what you have on hand, as opposed to buying extra ingredients you may not use.