Archive for ‘Recipes’

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

chicken and rice soup

Here’s a favorite one pot meal I make all the time, Chicken Rice Soup and in Lao we call it “kao peaak” which translates to “wet rice.” So easy and it requires a few ingredients, nothing canned or crazy.

When you have left over cooked rice, in my case always some kind of white jasmine rice or brown rice, dump the rice in a large pot and add water to cover and then some, bring to a boil and turn the heat down to a low simmer. Then slice up 1-2 ribs of celery, stalks and leaves and slice 2 thumb-size pieces of ginger, add both items to the pot. Shred up some chicken from a roasted chicken you may have left over from the night before, if not chicken you can use boiled down pork ribs, the pork meat should be falling off the bone kind of tender. I usually buy an organic roasted chicken from Whole Foods, it’s a good deal as an uncooked organic whole bird costs the same as an already roasted organic bird, makes things real easy. Add the shredded chicken pieces to the pot and cook down, if you think the soup is too thick add some more water, season to taste with a few splashes of fish sauce and salt and pepper too. If you don’t have fish sauce around, just use more salt. Cook it down ’til the rice is very soft. Spoon the soup in a large bowl, top with sliced green onions and cilantro and a tablespoon of fried garlic or shallots in oil. I like to squeeze a wedge of fresh lime into the soup and sprinkle a bit of dry roasted thai chili flakes to taste. You can also season the soup with soy sauce too. For breakfast, lunch or dinner it works.



Saturday, March 16, 2013

kale chips, pickles, kimchi

I never thought too many organic vegetables could be a problem, it isn’t really and shouldn’t ever be but it’s kind of gotten out of hand lately. Our efforts to juice and munch through the CSA‘s weekly produce delivery as well as my neighbors sharing their extra veggies with us and we’ve barely put a dent in the fridge. Serious measures taken and I’ve had to put the CSA delivery on vacation hold, putting some serious time in the kitchen now to use up all the produce. Gonna preserve as much as I can cause there’s no way we’re eating everything before it goes bad. I about a non-problem, this is it.

Started with making kale chips as CSA’s love growing kale! I’m a big salt and vinegar fan so my favorite so far is olive oil, salt and vinegar. Toss everything and massage the kale before dehydrating.


I pickled organic Persian cucumbers, daikon and carrots. Normally I don’t do sweet pickles but I did this time for steamed buns and Vietnamese sandwiches. I used Momofoku‘s David Chang’s master pickle recipe, easy enough: 1cup hot water, 1/2c rice wine vinegar, 6Tbsp sugar, 2/14tsp kosher salt.


So many heads of organic cabbage too and I made kimchi. This time I mixed Momofuku’s recipe and David Liebovitz‘s recipe, it works. Korean pickles are kick ass, definitely flavor with a punch. Mostly eaten as a side dish with rice or put kimchi in soup broth to zing things up..uuumamiii.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lao sukiyaki

Chilly winter nights and a fridge full of winter greens and I knew I’d be making sukiyaki for dinner soon. It’s my cold season Asian comfort food. Japanese have sukiyaki and nabe, Chinese have their hotpots and Thai and Laotions have our very own version of sukiyaki too, whatever the origins they all involve veggies, some kind of protein and clear noodles too in a hot simmering broth.

I had a bunch of organic savoy napa cabbage, red mustard frill, rainbow chard and spinach in my CSA box this week, so many greens and I immediately thought of this dish I grew up eating. Watercress is also a good one. Wash them up and cut them into a little larger than bite size pieces. Also did the same with a bit of green onion. Set everything aside. Then devein your shrimp and clean and cut your squid pieces, I had tiny lobster tails around too so I used those as well, pretty much any kind of thinly sliced protein or seafood works. Lay on a plate and set aside. Prepare the clear noodles, if using dry mung bean noodles, let them soak in warm water for at least 15min, if using kelp noodles or yam noodles, just right out of the bag is fine.

In a crock pot bring some vegetable/light chicken broth or dashi to a boil, add a splash of coconut water, season to taste with sea salt or fish sauce. Turn down to simmer and toss in the veggies and seafood (protein) and clear noodles. You could also poach an egg into the broth too and when everything is cooked, scoop it up from the broth and place in a large bowl, top your bowl off with a few ladles of the steaming broth too. Add a squeeze of fresh lime juice, 2-3 heaping spoons of the sukiyaki sauce and chili flakes to taste. Be sure to have a bowl of the sauce on the side as you will want to dip your veggies and seafood in the sauce so that every bite is really flavorful.



The Lao version sukiyaki I grew up eating is hands down my favorite version. The sauce we mix into the steaming hot broth is sweet and fragrant with cooked down shallots and minced garlic. It’s made from Chinese fermented tofu in some kind of red sauce, we call it “tofu yee,” it’s the key ingredient to our sukiyaki sauce, that combined with some ground roasted peanuts creates a very different flavor from anything you’ve ever tasted

My friend, Nick shared his recipe for a Lao sukiyaki sauce that I love.

1. In a sauce pan heat some coconut oil on medium to low heat, add 4 sliced shallots, a head of garlic minced, 1/2 c of sugar, til light golden brown.


2. Add the tofu from 1 bottle of tofu yee (I prefer to quickly rinse the red sauce off of the pieces of tofu). Then add a few spoonfuls of tamarind pulp and ground roasted peanuts to the oil and a handful of white sesame seeds and mix everything together, stirring on low heat until the sauce incorporates smoothly and thickens a bit, about 20min. Add some soy sauce to taste. Let the sauce cool down and then spoon the sauce into glass jars with a tight lid, don’t fill completely to the top as you will be freezing the sauce. This recipe will make more sauce than you’ll need in one sitting, there’ll be enough to last you awhile so freeze what you don’t use right away, it keeps for many, many months.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chinese 5 spice roast chicken

On my recent trip to Costa Rica our friend’s mother, who authors a very clever blog for seniors made us an amazing roast chicken for dinner one night. We were staying at their vacation home on the beach so there was no option of a large pantry of ingredients, let alone spices, making do with what was around and oddly enough she had some Chinese 5 spice to work with, a bottle of honey and some fresh limes from their neighbor, Gary’s backyard. Three simple ingredients, two Costa Rican free range birds and dinner was a hit that night.


My beekeeper neighbor down the road gave me a bottle of honey a few weeks ago and this morning when I opened the cupboard the honey bear was staring right at me so here I am roasting  chicken for lunch today. Trader Joe’s now sells these organic brined birds, of course they do, it’s a good thing, dry birds are history now as the moisture and salt will always keep the meat juicy and the skin crispy.



Chinese 5 Spice Roast Chicken

juice of 1 lime

2 Tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons Chinese 5 spice powder

1 organic chicken

coarse salt and ground white pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 300°. Mix the lime juice, honey and Chinese 5 spice powder in a small bowl. Do not discard the limes after squeezing the juice out of them, instead stuff them in the cavity of the chicken before roasting.

2. Trim any excess fat off of the chicken, especially on the backside, rinse with cold water and pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper.

3. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan, breast side up with the wings tucked under its back, and tie the legs together to close the cavity. Pour the spice mixture over the chicken and thoroughly spread all over the bird. Roast at 300° for 1 hour covered with parchment paper tinfoil, until both the thigh and the breast read 150° on a meat thermometer.

4. Periodically keep basting the chicken with the juices that settle at the bottom of the roasting pan. Increase the oven temperature to 400°. Return the chicken to the oven uncovered and roast uncovered until crispy and golden brown for 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers at least 165ºF and the skin is browned. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

happy holidays from California!

We split and stacked wood for days,

aa 2

aa 3

at the beach


and despite a grey day the sky came through at sunset..showoff

aa 4

We passed on the traditional holiday fare this year and celebrated with good ol’ Chinese food; Peking duck (2 ways), imperial shrimp, salt and pepper squid, chow fun noodles with broccoli and an amazing Chinese coleslaw to offset our greasy spoons.




This salad dressing is perfect for a light coleslaw. It’s one of my favorite winter salads, so simple.

Maple Sesame Vinaigrette (from Gourmande in the Kitchen)

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or unsweetened rice wine vinegar)
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced

To make the salad chop up (chiffonade) a head of savoy cabbage, a bunch of lacinato green kale and shred 2 carrots (I used a mandolin to thinly slice the carrots instead). Mix everything together and when you’re ready to serve toss in the vinaigrette and a large pinch of toasted sesame seeds.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey Day USA!

Turkey day! always involves a very long day of prepping, snacking and drinking and when you have family all over the world the phone just doesn’t stop ringing too, hours of catching up and all good wishes. There’s always so much to be thankful for and I’m thankful for dear friends and family, good organic food and today what seems like a marathon show of “Punkin Chunkin” on the Science channel. Passionate people building high tech versions of medievil catapults solely to launch pumpkins through the air to ridiculous distances, up to a 1/2 mile and spending at times upwards of $150k on their own dime, geeze we were seriously entertained for hours. As one finalist put it, “it’s great to know you are the best in the world” even if that best is something so incredibly obscure. Happy gobble, gobble day everyone!

And yesterday while picking up my weekly CSA box at the local Whole Foods I came across a shelf of Glutino’s gluten-free corn bread stuffing that they featured for the holidays. Being a sucker for obvious marketing I had to test it out and surprisingly it was good. Also being a bit of a scatter brain this holiday I made a batch of fresh ricotta cheese for a new pumpkin pie recipe I was gonna try. Of course having skimmed through a number of pie recipes I confused two recipes and the witchy kitchen pie recipe I would be making didn’t even call for ricotta, so yeah, there was plenty of snacking on home-made ricotta today, as a dip for carrots, on toast, you name it. And as for the pie it turned out delicious. The filling fell a bit flat though, it wasn’t very thick but it tasted good and it met the main criteria for me, a pumpkin pie filling that did NOT taste egg-y, it had no eggs, problem solved. But of course I was too stuffed to dig in so hence no picture..tommorrow’s dessert.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

post Prop 37 blues

I guess you can’t win them all but every day we’ll still keep fighting the good fight, let our purchasing power do all the talking and choose produce and products from companies that are down with the cause and they’re bound to hear us sooner or later. Local Dr. Bonner’s is one of them organic leaders too, their lavender pure-castile soap, YES PLEASE!

And if you’re disturbed by the map below you can order non-GMO seeds from companies like SeedsNow. I think there’s some serious pressure looming for me to grow some green thumbs soon.

And check the stickers when purchasing produce at the supermarket.

Also signing up with a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and I get 2 bags full of what’s in season organic produce delivered weekly for $25. I chose to support Suzie’s Farm as their pick up dates in Encinitas work for me. Going with what they give ya and there’s no choosing this or that which forces me to cook with produce that I might not normally think of buying. I think I’ll be fine as I grew up in a household where we were encouraged to be open-minded to what was on our plate. I don’t ever recall my parents scolding us about being picky eaters or finishing our meal, it was a non-issue, we loved vegetables and herbs as well as everything else. How I see it now is life’s just too short for a bad meal period and this concept of “surprise produce” allows me to indulge in one of my favorite things, reading cookbooks and testing out recipes. This was last week’s CSA bounty.

And with 2 bunches of beets in the mix I immediately thought of making borscht. Inspired by my friend, Jane who lives all the way in Ireland recently sharing a photo of her soup making skills and I thought no further that’s what I had for lunch too. Having grown up in the north end of Winnipeg with a large community of Ukrainian/Polish immigrants there was no way I didn’t have a dear friend who had a mama or baba that was an amazing cook, mine was my friend, Marnie’s mom and she’d feed us amazing borscht and holopchi (cabbage rolls), pierogies and Kub rye bread, the best!

I started with a basic mirepoix (carrots, celery, onion), sautéing for flavor and aroma for the soup stock. Then I added roasted chopped red beets, shredded cabbage and lots of fresh dill, season to taste with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar and a tiny splash of apple cider vinegar to finish it off.

The tomatillos turned into a simple salsa verde I’d use as a condiment for eggs in the morning. I like to roast the tomatillos, onions and garlic first for more flavor before cooking them down in some boiling water with serrano chilis, fresh cilantro, sea salt and a tiny pinch of cumin.

The lettuce, tomatoes, tiny watermelon cucumbers and sunflower greens were used in salads, the escarole I sauteed in olive oil with some garlic, the eggplant I threw into a thai green curry, the carrots we ate raw, cilantro I used in guacamole, soups and omelettes and the red kuri squash was cut up and tossed with some olive oil, salt and pepper, sprinkled with a bit of sugar  and roasted for a simple side. So far so good, I haven’t been stumped yet.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

tabbouleh and crab cakes

Massive car bomb last week in the streets of Lebanon and it reminded me how glad I was my other half’s trip to Beirut this month was postponed. So yeah, nay on taking photos in war zones, just stay put for now and we’ll eat a bunch of tabbouleh to make up for the lack of travel. Good thing ’cause I have tons of parsley and mint around, and I do like a lot of both in my tabbouleh, more so than the rest of the house so I always mix in more on my plate. Tabbouleh is the freshest tasting side you can make, it’s so easy to put together, just eyeball and season to taste.

I always use 3 spoons of Bob’s Redmill quick cooking bulgar wheat that I rinse a couple of times, drain  and set aside in a bowl for an hour, fluff up with a fork. Rinse and dry a handful of flat leaf parsley and a handful of mint and finely chop. Finely slice 2 spring green onions as well, and dice some ripe tomatoes, place them in a sieve and let the tomato juices drain off. Mix everything together, squeezing in half to 3/4 of a lemon (I used a lime cause I had no lemons), drizzle some good olive oil in, some black pepper and flaky sea salt to taste and add a tiny pinch of cinnamon and cumin (or allspice or Lebanese 7-spice mixture and when I don’t have either I’ll just toss in a Goan fish curry spice mixture I have in my pantry, with similar spices in the mix it works too). Easy and tasty.

And a nod to the frankenstorm that wreaked havoc on the east coast last night I whipped up some crab cakes for tonight’s dinner. Again no recipe really, just eyeball it and season to taste. Slice up a few shallots and fry in a bit of olive oil til soft and cooked through, set aside and let cool. In a mixing bowl toss together an egg, a pinch of sea salt, black pepper, 1 lb of crab meat, some chopped fresh parsley, a pinch of fresh lemon zest, a pinch of ground mustard, a few heaping spoons of vegenaise (or mayo), the fried shallots and some bread crumbs (I only had a bit left and so I added in some semolina flour to help it bind together). Form them into cakes and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Fry them up in some olive oil on both sides, serve them with a creamy remoulade (a mixture of vegenaise (or mayo), some finely chopped white onions and cornichons, a squeeze of lemon juice and freshly grated horseradish and hot sauce to taste). Stay safe and warm east coast family and friends, damn Sandy!

Friday, April 27, 2012

green mangos and jaeow

It’s an addiction I can’t seem to kick since I’ve been back from my trip. When you have tons of mangos all around you and you just can’t wait for them to get ripe and sweet, what do ya do? you pick them green and eat them tart and whip up a dip (jaeow) that’s sweet, savory and spicy.

Not just mangos too, anything tart really. Growing up in Canada we adapted this snack to what was around, tart crab apples worked as did firm granny smith apples. This recent trip far east and there was no need to make do, the real deal and I’d snack on green mangos all day long, everyday. The Keo mango variety hands down my favorite

and tart gooseberries fresh off the tree works too.

Sweet Savory Spicy Jaeow (Dip)

1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce

2 Tbsp coconut sugar (coconut or palm sugar is ideal, any kind of sugar will work though)

1 tsp ba daek (an anchovy based sauce, if you don’t have this sauce just replace it with fish sauce)

1 tsp roasted Thai chili flakes (optional, more or less depending on how spicy you’d like it)

2 tsp roasted rice powder

1 large shallot (thinly sliced)

a few fresh thinly sliced Thai bird’s eye chilis (optional, more or less depending on how spicy you’d like it)

1. Mix everything together, the sugar should dissolve some.

Back home and I’m making do, I found a firm, not nearly ripe mango at the market, it’s still too on the yellow side but at least it’s firm, they really should be green and firm for this snack. Peel the skin off of the mango, slice it up any which way, dip each piece into the dip as you would do with carrot sticks and ranch dressing.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

happy new year!

Saucing it up this new year weekend Canadian style! Caesars! Cheers to a grand 2012 everyone!

It’s a fogdog new year’s in Encinitas right now, the marine layer just won’t let up and you know I’m starting this new year drinking lots of water, starting to rid my body of the holiday’s poison with 21 days to a new you, Dr. Alejandro Junger’s Clean detox, it makes sense and it works, amazing results,  just follow the book.

Or if you want some more of last night’s poison, the unconventional way to cure your hangover, here’s the story. Clamato has always been known to be a Canadian thing so I figure it must be a fairly recent addition on store shelves in the States now, so yeah of course I was happy to come across it this holiday and I’ve been enjoying again what the Clamato site refers to as “Canada’s cocktail.” I remember ordering a “caesar” at the AquaGrill in NYC a few years ago and the waiter gave me that huh? look, like what country bumpkin just rolled into town kinda deal, good thing my husband cleared it up and told him it was a bloody mary. Whatever you want to call it, a caesar/a bloody mary/a red snapper or the Mexican version “sangrita,” no vodka but with a Corona or light beer instead, this has got to be one of my all time favorite cocktails. I’ve always preferred savory over sweet and fruity and this drink is just that. I also tried using the only natural Bloody Mary Mix on the shelf, Mc.Ilhenny Co. Tobasco Brand Tomato Cocktail, 100% juice, no preservatives, no corn syrup and crap. Reluctantly I’ll have to admit it’s just not as tasty though, kinda tomato soup-ish, you’ll have to doctor it up yourself with salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lime, some cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce and some cholula or tapatio or chipotle hot sauce, it takes a little work to get it right, it can be done though. And if you’re local and too lazy to bother, the bartenders at Robbie’s Roadhouse on the coast highway whip up a very good spicy bloody mary, a good neighborhood spot to meet up for happy hour any day of the week.

The original Bloody Caesar was created in 1969 at Marco’s Italian restaurant at the Calgary Inn (now the Westin Calgary) in Calgary, Alberta by the food and beverage manager, Walter Chell. Inspired from the flavors of spaghetti vongole, he combined sweet (tomato juice), salty (clam nectar), sour (lime), spicy (Worcestershire sauce) and bitter (celery salt) into his new concoction. He named it after the Roman emperor and legend has it that he served one to an Englishman who happily exclaimed “That’s a good bloody Caesar!” Very tasty! Try it.

Bloody Caesar (makes 1 cocktail)

1 oz. Belvedere vodka

4 oz. Clamato Tomato Cocktail

Over ice, add the vodka and Clamato, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, mix and shake well. For added zest, rim the serving glass with salt and pepper or celery salt, garnish with a slice of lime or a celery stick or some large green olives. Voila! Easy!

Bloody Mary/The Red Snapper (makes 1 cocktail)

1 oz. Belvedere vodka

2 oz. tomato juice

1 dash of lime juice

2 dashes salt

2 dashes black or white pepper

2 dashes cayenne pepper

3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

a few dashes of chipotle hot sauce to taste

Mix everything together over ice and shake well. For added zest, rim the serving glass with salt and pepper, garnish with a slice of lime.