Asia, Thailand

Thai beef salad

I was introduced to Eatzi’s in Denver by my good friend who visited me from South Dakota. I had past it several times and had dismissed it as an Italian restaurant. I was totally wrong! Eatzi’s is like this glorious grown up, gourmet, college food court. If you love food, but hate to cook. You will LOVE Eatzi’s. Another friend recommended that I try their Thai Beef Salad. It looks unassuming but it is absolutely delicious. The ingredient list is long, but it’s completely necessary. All the fresh herbs and umami seasonings make this one of the best salads I’ve had. I could not find a recipe for it online, so I made my own. This makes the perfect lunch or main-dish dinner salad.

Thai Beef Salad

Serves 6

  • 6-8 oz. flank (or sirloin) steak- seared and cooked to rare/medium rare
  • 1 head green cabbage- cored and sliced
  • 4 oz. thin rice sticks (Asian sections)- cooked according to package instructions
  • 2 limes- juiced
  • ½ cup avocado oil
  • ¼ cup tamari, soy sauce, or bragg liquid aminos, or coconut aminos
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup rice wine
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (Asian section)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste (Asian section)
  • 6 green onions- thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper- thinly sliced
  • 1 large red onion- thinly sliced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger- peeled and minced
  • 2 small stalks lemongrass- minced *
  • ½ bunch cilantro- chopped
  • ½ cup fresh mint- chopped
  • 1 plastic container or ½ cup fresh basil- chopped- Use Thai basil if you can find it.

*If you can’t find fresh lemongrass (it would be in the fresh herbs sections). Don’t worry. There is lemongrass in the red curry paste, so you’ll still get that flavor. Also, all of these ingredients are easily found in any grocery store. Lemongrass is probably the only one that may be hard to find.

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the lime juice through red curry paste. Mix very well.
  2. In a large bowl, add the sliced cabbage
  3. Pour the sauce over the cabbage and mix very well.
  4. Add the veggies and herbs, mix.
  5. Very, very thinly sliced the steak. Add that and the rice noodles to the salad.
  6. Mix together. Let sit for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. If it’s not salty enough, add a little more soy sauce or salt. If it’s too salty, add a little more rice wine.
  7. Serve room-temperature.
  8. Store in the fridge. It’s good for about 2-3 more days.
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Mediterranean

Hummus


We have made a temporary move to Dallas, Texas! My husband is working on a show here called Misfit Garage. We will be here until July. Dallas is full of really tasty food, I have a new pant size to prove it:-) I’m still cooking at him when I’m not tempted to eat out. I’m sharing one of my favorite snacks today.

Everybody needs a good hummus recipe they can make. I love making homemade hummus. It’s easy, cheap, and it really is much better than what you can get at the store.  I think that is because store-bought brands skimp on the tahini and olive oil. Perhaps both for cost and so that nutrition facts fat content isn’t so scary.  My favorite hummus to make is the kind without any extra flavors. I want these things to be the stars: garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice.  To make a tasty plain hummus, you really need to be heavy handed with the tahini and lemon juice. And also the olive oil. This is what you’ll need:

  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • ¼ cup tahini (at least)
  • ½ cup e.v. olive oil (or more)
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Small bunch fresh parsley (optional)
  • ¼ cup plain greek yogurt- I like sheep’s milk yogurt like this brand
  • A little water if it needs to be thinner or use lemon juice if you have some.

The yogurt is totally optional. I add it if I have it.  Keep all these ingredients on hand at all times.  They’re all very versatile.  I think one of the best and easiest ways to make your cooking stand out is to buy a microplane zester and use it to add lemon zest and grated fresh garlic to your dishes. Makes a big difference!

  1. Add all the ingredients to a food processor. Except the olive oil!
  2. Whirl around the ingredients. 
  3. Slowly pulse in the olive oil and then pulse steadily until very very smooth.
  4. Add a little more lemon juice or water and adjust the seasonings
I was very happy about the taste, but I think I added a little too much parsley. It had a green hue. I think I’ll add it towards the end next time.

Below you can see my Instagram story that I posted. You can follow me @travellovecook on Instagram.

 

 


Mexico, North America

simple summer salsa

This recipe is not some new discovery. I’ve been making this since high school when I ordered my “Kitchen Quick” off of t.v. Saying “off of t.v.” feels really weird. But it wasn’t online. I had my mom call to order this kitchen quick for me and it came with a recipe for salsa. This Kitchen Quick really catapulted my cooking love.  It was basically a hand-powered food processor. My friends would tease me that I would never come and hang out on the weekends anymore because I wanted to stay home and make “sals” (right, Min). The salsa recipe called for fresh cilantro, but this was ’98 in Iowa and we only had dried. By about 2000, you could easily find fresh cilantro in the stores.  The first time I used the fresh I about croaked. Disgusting! Now I love it. I can’t get enough.

I realize that this is the most basic salsa, but I think that’s what makes it so good! This is so easy, and there are so many GOOD tomatoes out there right now. So take advantage! You only really need a chef’s knife and a cutting board, but if you like a more blended salsa, use a food processor (I’ve had this one for 11 years) or blender.

  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 jalapenõ
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 lime
  • sea salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  1. chop the onion
  2. rinse the onion (rick bayless trick)
  3. chop all the veggies OR cut the veggies into large pieces and then put into the food processor or blender- including cilantro so skip step 5
  4. juice the lime and add it to the veggies
  5. chop and add the cilantro
  6. season with salt.

*besides fresh cilantro, I think that having a fresh salsa with enough lime and salt is key. It’s so important that it can make up for the fact that you have bad tomatoes.  Speaking of which, make this salsa even if you DON’T have tomatoes. Still good!

*I searched and searched for the Kitchen Quick infomercial youtube but I couldn’t find it.   I did find this creepy one though.

Hawaii

macadamia crusted cod

My husband left for 3 weeks of work in Hawaii. He will be working on a home show about luxury swimming pools. (enter Hawaii-ish and jealousy emjois) I wanted to make a nice dinner for him last night with a Hawaiian flair.  Turns out, this week is also Hawaiian Food Week. How perfect! I made macadamia crusted cod with sushi rice and a salad of pineapple, avocado, and cucumber.  The macadamia nuts are finely chopped and then mixed with some panko bread crumbs for the perfect crunch. The sushi rice is mixed at the very end with some lime zest, coconut aminos, and rice vinegar. The avocado, pineapple, cucumber salad adds the perfect fresh contrast and really makes this dish. I have to be honest though, I used nectarines instead of pineapple because that is what I had. It was fantastic! But this is Hawaiian foods week, so pineapple it is.

ingredients:

macadamia crusted cod

8-12 ounce cod fillet

1/4 cup macadamia nuts- finally chopped into crumbs

2 tablespoon panko bread crumbs (I use gluten free)

1 egg + 2 teaspoons water, throughly beaten

salt and pepper

sushi rice

1 cup sushi rice

zest of 1 lime

1 tablespoon coconut aminos (or soy sauce)

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

*a note about sushi rice: This is easy to find now in most grocery stores. I like it for this because it keeps with the Hawaiian theme and I love the sticky texture. You could definitely substitute regular rice in this dish. Quinoa could be a good choice too if you’re trying to behave yourself.

salad

1 small avocado, small chunks

1 cup pineapple (or nectarine or mango), small chunks

1/2 cup English cucumber, sliced 1/4 inch thick and then into fourths

1 tablespoon olive oil

sea salt and pepper

method:

Start the sushi rice. Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Then combine with 1 1/2 cups water plus 2 tablespoons in a small saucepan.  Sprinkle a little salt in there and turn on high.  Once it’s boiling turn it to low for about 10-15 minutes and then turn it off, DON’T PEEK, and let it set for another 15 minutes. My big rice cooking advice is to just not lift the lid. Every time I peek, ruined.

Meanwhile, mix the finely chopped macadamia nuts with the panko breadcrumbs. It should be chopped this fine, or even finer:

season with some salt and pepper and set aside. Mix the egg and water and set aside. Get out the cod and pat it very dry with a towel.

Prep your salad fruits, then mix with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Don’t start making the fish until after the rice has cooked. Transfer the rice to a large mixing bowl like this:

Stick it in the fridge while you get the cod going. For this meal, the cod is best nice and hot but the rest of the meal is best at room temp. Cut the cod in to the portion sizes you desire. I cut our 2 servings into four pieces. Season each side of the cod with salt and pepper. Add the 3 tablespoons of coconut oil to the non-stick pan and turn on medium high.  Then, take the cod pieces and dunk into the egg and then dredge into the macadamia nut/breadcrumb mixture.  Press each side firmly into the crumbs and then place into the hot pan. Repeat with all cod pieces.  You want to keep the temp on medium high so that the coating gets nice and crunch and brown but the fish doesn’t get too done. overdone cod is pretty gross. Perfectly done cod is, well, perfection. 2-4 minutes each side should do the job. ​

​Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and season with a little more salt and pepper while it’s hot. Stick it in a 180 degree oven while you mix the rice.

Take the rice out of the fridge and mix it with the coconut aminos, rice vinegar, and olive oil. Use a microplane to zest a lime over the bowl and then mix it into the rice. Save that lime to serve with the meal.

Time to plate! Use a 2/3 measuring cup to scoop out rice and press it firmly into the cup. Turn it upside down and transfer to a plate to make it look fancy.  Put the cod on the plate and then spoon the salad over everything. Garnish with green onions or chives, lime wedge and some chili pepper powder. I used gochugaru (Korean pepper flakes), but ground ancho pepper would be good, or a little smoked paprika, or even spicy cayenne pepper.

Makes 2 servings with a little extra rice to put in the fridge and to make fried rice with the next day.

 

Anywhere and Everywhere

easter feast part two: spring pea salad

This recipe is from Food Network Magazine.  I’ve adapted it slightly. I’m not sure how I stumbled upon it, probably at my friend Jamie’s house because she always has Food Network Magazine.  I’m surprised I even tried it because I’m not always wild about peas of any variety and my husband certainly is not.  It’s strange, Dirk is a pretty open guy when it comes to food.  He actually prides himself on it.  But he has this strange prejudice when it comes to springtime veggies.  That being said, we both love this recipe.  Can you believe it?  I will definitely admit that these ingredients sound a little suspect but the combination is really beautiful. Cook the peas to just tender. Don’t overcook!  The shallots are salty and sweet, the walnuts roasted and crunchy and the dates add even more sweetness to round the salad out perfectly.  What better addition to your Easter dinner than a recipe that is all about the renewing of the growing season? And dates? That’s totally a biblical food. Right?

One note: Unless you are a die-hard pea fan, only use the English peas if you can find fresh.  If you’re like me and you’re quite suspicious of peas you won’t want to use frozen. And I can’t even talk about canned.  Fresh peas that you shell yourself are an entirely different story.  If you find those at the store, definitely add them. I typically can’t find fresh peas, so I leave the English peas out.  I usually increase the amount of snow peas but 1/2-1 cup.

Kosher or coarse sea salt

2 cups shelled fresh English peas or thawed frozen peas (about 10 ounces)

2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut into 2-3 pieces 

1 cup snow peas, trimmed and thinly sliced 

2 tablespoon walnut oil

1 medium shallot, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup chopped pitted dates

⅛- ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper

 

snap peas
Thinly sliced snow peas. I used more than a cup because I didn’t use any English Peas.

 

About the walnut oil…you can definitely sub extra virgin olive oil and it will taste great.  But really, it’s worth looking for the walnut oil. It adds amazing flavor and it an oil that can stand up to some heat so you can use the rest of the bottle for cooking or in salads, no problem.  I used this brand:

I found it at Marczyk’s Fine Foods in Denver and I’m sure they would have it at Whole Foods too. Or order it here.

method:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice water. If using fresh English peas, add to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 1 minute. Add the snap peas and cook until bright green, about 2 minutes, then add the snow peas and cook 30 seconds. Drain the peas and plunge into the ice water to cool.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the walnut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the walnuts, dates, and cayenne and cook until the nuts are slightly toasted, about 1 more minute.

Drain the peas, shaking off the excess water, then add to the skillet (if using frozen peas, add them here). Add some salt and cook, stirring, until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the walnut oil and toss. Add more salt and some freshly cracked pepper to taste.

Asia, Korea

kimchi fried rice

Kimchi. Fried Rice. Yes please. This recipe is so easy, delicious and comforting. You have to use cold rice from the day or two before or at least make it in the morning and then stick it in the fridge. After that, this recipe really only takes about 20 minutes. If you haven’t started buying kimchi on the regular its time to start. Buy it for the delicious fermented taste and then keep eating it for the probiotic health benefits. You’ll find it at any grocery story in the refrigerated pickles and saurkraut section.

I learned how to make fried rice in 10th grade home economics class. Oh how I loved these classes with the fake little kitchens.  I liked to pretend that my group was my own little family. It was playing “house” for a 16 year old.  I loved how we all helped to cook, sat down at our little table, ate together, and then all did the dishes together.  Don’t worry I wasn’t deprived of this in real life, I just really enjoyed playing house. I remember we had this recipe for fried rice and our teacher explained that the rice needed to be cold and made a day ahead of time.  This helped it to fry better.  The recipe she had did not have kimchi but it did have ham, onion, garlic, carrots and peas! Also soy sauce so you know I liked it. This recipe I’m posting may be even easier than my 10th grade cooking class recipe.  Most of the flavor comes from the fermented kimchi.  I’m adding a little cut up pork chop and of course a fried egg on top.  I used chives as a garnish because they are growing outside in my garden.  You of course could use green onions.  I had an extra pork chop that’s why I chose it, plus I love pork with Korean-inspired dishes.  You could use any protein, or not.  That’s what eggs are for! I’m topping it all with a super umami sauce made from soy sauce (this is my favorite brand), gochujang, and sesame oil.

kimchi fried rice

serves 2 really hungry people or 4 sorta hungry people

ingredients

2 cups cold cooked rice- made that morning or the day before- I used short grain rice  (mepssal).

¼ cup high heat oil- I used red palm but avocado would be good too

1 cup kimchi- strained over a bowl, reserving the liquid

1 ¼-⅓ lb pork chop

3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru)

Sesame seeds for garnish

2 tablespoons chopped chives or green onions

Salt and pepper

Sauce:

3 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons gochujang 

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Method:

Chop up the kimchi and set aside, make sure to reserve the liquid that drained from it. Thinly slice the pork chop and cut into small pieces. Heat a tablespoon of the high heat oil in a wok or deep skillet. Once hot, add the pork pieces and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on high until cooked through and set aside. Without cleaning out the pan, add the chopped kimchi on high. Add a little oil if needed. Fry the kimchi for about 3-5 minutes. You want it to get cooked down and develop a sweetness. Add the red pepper flakes and toss and then add the rest of the oil, make sure it returns to high, and then add the rice.  Fry, tossing frequently, for about another 4-5 minutes. Add some or all of the reserved kimchi liquid to help create a desired consistency and get any cooked bits off the bottom of the pan. Return the pork to the pan and add the 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and the 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Cook for another couple of minutes. Taste and adjust soy sauce and or salt and pepper.  Cover with a lid for a moment while you fry your eggs and make your sauce. For the sauce, just whisk together the soy sauce, gochujang, and the sesame oil. For the eggs:  use as many eggs as there are people eating.  Each person gets a fried egg on top. You want the yolk to be runny. You’ll feel so sad if you overcook it. If you do overcook it, just save it for egg salad and make a new one. Having a runny yolk over your fried rice is quite satisfying. Now plate your fried rice. Put your perfectly cooked fried egg on top of the rice. Now drizzle the sauce all around all cute-like and sprinkle with sesame seeds, more pepper flakes, and chopped chives. Yummy!

 

Those are some seriously seductive chives right there.

 

Catalonia, Spain

Calçots

I’ve been having the good fortune of people giving bunches of large vegetables.  Not only are the bunches large, but the vegetables themselves…they’re large! Most of those carrots from Pachamama Farm were big daddies! Then, the very next day my husband and I were coming home from a walk and I see my elderly neighbor, Kim, with a large knife cutting away at these giant green onions.  Kim sees me and holds out half of her bunch and says they’re for me! Quite exciting!  I ran to her and accepted my gift.  Kim is always giving me vegetables and I do return the favor when my garden is producing in the summer.  In fact, we had a silly thing going on last summer where I gave her a zucchini plant and she insisted on giving me half of all it’s produce.  I also had two zucchini plants so I decided I would give her zucchini too. We just kept trading zucchini like that all summer.  

img_4215 So I had all these giant green onions and I knew I had to do right by them.  I decided to throw it out on instagram (follow me @travellovecook)…give me some ideas for these onions! My sister suggested the ever popular retro midwest card club appeteaser: wrap them in cream cheese and dried beef! Ok, first of all YUM. But oh yeah, that was a joke… My mom suggested slice them in salads. Ok, but I wanted something exciting Mom! As you can see I have quite the instagram following.  Finally, someone suggested grilling. Yes! I do a little internet search and I find that there’s this thing in Barcelona called Calçotada . A type of festival every spring where they grill a type of green onion that grows in Spain called “calçot”.  Click on that link, and you’ll learn more. So, they char grill these giant green onions and peel away the tough charred outer skin and eat the tender innard.  They dip them in romesco sauce a type of sauce with a pepper and almond base.  Finally, I had found something worthy of these giant green onion gifts.

Calcots

Large Spring or Green onions- If you’re in the states, try going to a

Course Salt

Olive Oil

Romesco Sauce:

1 Tablespoon higher heat oil such as avocado

5 garlic cloves in the skin

¼ onion cut into chunks

¼ cup raw almonds

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ cup panko bread crumbs

1 14 oz can tomatoes

3 dried chiles, I used guajillo, rehydrated in a bowl of hot water for about 20 minutes

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and Pepper

Make the Romesco sauce first. Heat the avocado oil in a pan over medium heat and then add the whole garlic cloves, still in their skin. I did this because I wanted them to have a roasted taste and not browned at all.

img_4222

Saute for a couple of minutes and then add the onion and some salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat stirring frequently.  You don’t want the almonds to burn at all! Next, add the breadcrumbs and the smoked paprika.  Cook for about another 1-2 minutes.  

img_4224

Take out the garlic cloves and remove the garlic from the skin. Transfer the garlic and the rest of the ingredients in the pan to a food processor.  Also add to the food processor the tomatoes, the chile peppers, red wine vinegar and about a teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper.  Blend all the ingredients.  It will take a while with those whole almonds. Then start slowly pulsing in your olive oil. The sauce should be blended but small chunks of almonds are fine and even quite pleasant. Taste the sauce and adjust the salt and pepper and even add a little more vinegar if you want.  I heard once that sometimes when you think that certain something is missing and you don’t know what it is, a splash of vinegar is what you need! You will have lots of leftover Romesco sauce.  That’s ok because you can use it for whatever! I tossed it with penne and that was good but I think some linguini would have been even better!

img_4236

Back to the calçots. Heat Your grill. You want the final temperature to be around 450-500 degrees.  Wash and dry your green onions.  Lay the on the hot grill. Leave the grill open. Just stand there now and don’t go do anything else because you may get distracted. Once one side is quite brown, use tongs to flip them over.  Don’t try to use those giant, awkward grill tongs.  Use tongs that you use inside and you’ll be much more dexterous with them. You’re going to get pretty mad if you drop one through the grates.  That’s why you want to use very large green onions.  Once, the other side is very brown too, almost black, they are done.  Put them on a platter and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with course salt. Serve the calçots with the romesco sauce.  Drizzle the romesco sauce with more olive oil and a sprinkling of course salt. Now peel away that outer layer, dip in the romesco, and enjoy all that delicious mess. 


Europe, France

pachamama farm carrots with cilantro pesto

My husband was given some carrots from Pachamama Farm, in Longmont, Colorado. These carrots had grown all winter and were delicious and sweet.  I love roasted carrots, but since these carrots were so fresh and flavorful on their own, I wanted to create a dish using them raw.  Growing up, we always had grated carrot in our salads.  I enjoyed this much more than chunks.  It was a way to give their flavor in a more delicate package. In French cuisine, shredded carrot salad is a classic and I always love to refer to it to make good use out of my carrots. For this recipe, I’m using long ribbons of carrots that are created using your vegetable peeler.  It’s like you’re peeling the skin and then you just keep on peeling! If you’re using organic carrots, just scrub them clean and use the whole carrot.  If not, then peel away the outer skin and then start saving the rest.  I mixed the carrot ribbons with cilantro pesto. Cilantro pesto is very easy to make and makes good use of the rest of your cilantro after you bought a bunch for a recipe that calls for 2 tablespoons.

carrot ribbons with cilantro pesto


serves 8 small servings

ingredients:

6-8 carrots peeled or scrubbed clean if organic

pesto:

1/2 of a bunch of cilantro- very roughly chopped

1/2 cup cashews (other nuts like almonds or walnuts would be good)

1 garlic clove

1 lemon, juiced

1 garlic clove

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Using a vegetable peeler, peel long ribbons off of the carrot into a bowl. Put the cashews in a pan over medium heat. Shake them up quite a bit in the pan and heat until they are fragrant. Put the cilantro into a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the garlic, lemon juice, red pepper flakes if using, and some salt and pepper to the food processor.  Pulse until well combined. Now, start pulsing in the olive oil very slowly until everything is mixed together. Taste it.  Probably needs more salt! Add more and pulse, pulse, pulse. Add as much of the pesto as you like to the bowl of carrot ribbons and mix together. Bon appétite!

 

Africa, Tanzania

Tazanian peanut soup

I’ve said before that African food is my heart food. My travels to Tanzania began my love of East African cuisine. It was exciting and flavorful and familiar all at the same time. Most recipes use things that someone in a small town could find at the grocery store. Many dishes are naturally gluten free, dairy free, and vegan. This soup is dairy free and gluten free. It uses plenty of veggies and gets its smooth and creamy flavor from peanut butter and coconut milk. Tanzanian peanut soup can be ready in as little as a half hour. You could serve it with fruit and bread if you like, but I promise you, it’s filling all on its own!

Tanzanian peanut soup

serves 4-6

ingredients:

1 tablespoon organic red palm oil

1 onion chopped

3 tomatoes cut into quarters

2 cloves garlic chopped

1 average eggplant, peeled, sliced about an inch thick, each slice cut again into 4 quarters

1/4 cup smooth, unsweetened, unsalted peanut butter (I use Justin’s)

1 can coconut milk

1 quart chicken broth

1 teaspoon chicken bouillon base (I like Better than Bouillon)

a couple dashes of Maggi (optional)

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon curry powder (I used Penzy’s Spices “sweet curry“)

salt and pepper

*red pepper flakes I went a little off course and used Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru) because I have so much and I used a full teaspoon. It was excellent in this dish. You can Aleppo use pepper or cayenne pepper. The authentic pepper flake would be crushed African birdseye pepper. A good starting point would be 1/4 teaspoon and increase as you wish.

optional add-ins and ons:

2 cups greens such as spinach, chard, or collard

avocado slices

chopped cilantro

sliced hot pepper

1.Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and some salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add the tomato and cook for about another 3 minutes.  Add the garlic, Maggi (if using), bouillon, curry powder, hot pepper flakes or powder, turmeric, and a little more salt and pepper. Stir and cook for about 1 minute.

2.Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, and peanut butter. Stir and heat to a simmer. Add the eggplant and bring it back to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until the eggplant is really tender.

3.Now get out that immersion blender and blend it all up! You want it to be silky smooth.  If you’re using greens, you can add them now and simmer for maybe around 5 minutes.  Don’t make my mistake and add long ribbons of chard.  While tasty, it conflicted with the texture of the soup. Chop those greens up real good before you add them. Top with the avocado, hot pepper, cilantro too if you please.  Usually I’m all about the soup toppings but honestly, this soup is absolutely delicious without.

 

Asia, Korea

japchae

Japchae with egg omelet and green onion garnish

When I was in college and visiting my parents on a break, I found a recipe in one of my Mom’s Cooking Light magazines. The feature was on a Korean American woman who I think was also a cook (the details are blurry). She recalled all of her favorite Korean dishes she had growing up.  One of the dishes was “chapchae” or “japchae”.  It sounded so good! I took the magazine to the library to make copies of it and all the other Korean recipes.  Mind you, I was 21 years old in 2003, and this was my first experience with Korean food. I had to rely on these recipes alone having zero background knowledge on the cuisine. Lucky for me, the recipe author was really good at explaining the process.   I went back to my college apartment after the break and made all these Korean dishes.  My favorite was the japchae! This recipe is super fun to eat because of the unique texture of the noodles.  The ingredients are very easy to find.  I know because I could find them all at the Hy-Vee in Iowa in 2001 so I know you can find them wherever you are too. You can find the more authentic Korean sweet potato starch noodles in Asian grocery stores or you can use bean thread noodles which are found in the Asian section of most all grocery stores.

I’m not able to give the recipe author proper credit because her (it was a she) name isn’t on the copies I made.  I’ve made just a few tweaks such as less beef because I like a heavy noodle to beef ratio.

Japchae

serves 4

ingredients:

beef:

1teaspoon cornstarch

6 ounces round steak or sirloin, trimmed and thinly sliced into matchsticks

1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger (get the fresh stuff, don’t cheat!)

2 teaspoons sambal oelek plus a teaspoon of gochujang. The original recipe recommends the red Thai chile paste.  I used this back in college and it was really, really good.

1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil

noodles:

1- 3.75 ounce package sweet poato starch noodles (aka jap chae, chap chae, Korean glass noodles) or (mung) bean threads (aka cellophane noodles)

vegetables:

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

5 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 6 ounces), you can use white button mushrooms instead

1 cup (2 inch) julienne-cut carrot

1 cup (2 inch) diagonally sliced green onions

1 (10 ounce) bag fresh spinach

remaining ingredients:

1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted ( I really enjoyed Eden Shake instead of just sesame seeds)

  1. To prepare beef, sprinkle cornstarch over beef; sprinkle cornstarch over beef; toss to combine. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce and next 4 ingredients (1 tablespoon soy sauce through 3 garlic cloves); toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet or wok with a little oil over medium-high heat. Add beef mixture; stir-fry 3 minutes or until done. Remove mixture from pan. Cover and keep warm.
  3. To prepare noodles, pour boiling water over noodles; let stand 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain. Snip noodles several times with kitchen shears.
  4. To prepare vegetables, wipe skillet or wok clean with paper towels. Heat 1 teaspoons sesame oil and vegetable oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add half of spinach; stir-fry 2 minutes or until spinach wilts.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add beef mixture and noodles to pan, stirring well to combine. Combine 1/3 cup soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon sesame oil, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over noodle mixture; stir well to combine. Cook over medium-low heat 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. I also garnished mine with an egg than I beat with a little water and fried into a little omelet that I cut into slices. For the green onions you see in the picture, take a very sharp chef’s knife and cut into thin strips.  I was trying to be like Ivan Orkin.

Please, Cooking Light Magazine, since I know you’re reading this, tell us who was the recipe author! Thank you:-)