Coconut Prawn Curry

This sauce is incredibly good.  How, I wondered, did so much flavour show up in 25 minutes?

Garlic Herb Naan 3

I managed to get a few sprigs of cilantro on here for a photo, but it was ready so quickly, and smelled so heavenly there was no fancy plating for a photo!

I’ve made it with some jumbo prawns tonight but you could easily substitute any protein you like, or go straight vegetarian and you will be so glad you tried it.

SHRIMP & MARINADE

  • 1 lb extra large shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed please)

CURRY SAUCE

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp Madras curry powder
  • 1 can (14.5 ounce) diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 can (13.5 ounce) coconut milk

cilantro for garnish

rice for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

  • In a small bowl toss the shrimp with the marinade ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  • While the shrimp is marinating, heat the oil in a medium size skillet. To it add the onion, and cook for 2 or 3 minutes until the onion softens and becomes translucent. Stir in the garlic, ginger, pepper, salt, coriander, turmeric and curry powder. Cook for another minute.
  • Add the diced tomatoes with juices and all, the coconut milk, stir and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the shrimp with the accumulated juices from the marinade and cook for another 2 minutes or until the shrimp is pink and cooked through.
  • Serve over hot rice and garnish with cilantro or parsley.

I’d say the only way you could be disappointed by this dish is if your spices are old.  They really aren’t meant to last forever just because they are dry!

Coconut curry 2

Get your prawns gently tossed in the marinade and put in the fridge until you are ready to add them to the curry sauce. (I used chili flakes rather than cayenne pepper today)

Coconut curry 3

Follow the instructions on how to build your flavour base – it really is important in many dishes, but I find especially so in Indian food.

Coconut curry 6

Coconut Curry 5

The next night we still had enough for another meal – so I lightly sauted some fresh vegetables in a sauce pan until just tender crisp.  Then add the sauce and heat only enough to warm through.  This keeps the individual flavour of your vegetables and doesn’t overcook either the remaining prawns or the curry sauce.

Make sure to serve these with Garlic Herb Naan – just what you need to sop up this inviting sauce.

These were my best naan ever!  So tender, with dough that is very easy to work with.  As an added bonus they freeze well so for nights when it is just the two of us I only cook half and freeze the other half …. ready for fresh frying when I am.

 

I have a lot of “authentic” food bloggers I follow for cooking dishes from India, Thailand, and Mexico just to name a few.  This recipe came from a fellow Canadian!  If you haven’t been to Jo’s website …..   http://www.jocooks.com then I recommend you do.  She has specific hints to make everything better, and is well worth a read.

 

Easy, authentic Sourdough Bread

It’s the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, and like everybody else on Instagram, I’ve slipped down the rabbit hole of sourdough.  From initially thinking this is far too much work, don’t like being a slave to a starter, and ending up being a sourdough convert is very much a slippery slope folks, so don’t start unless you are prepared!  I’ve tried a variety of methods, and ended up with a variety of breads, all delicious, but this one … it’s going to be my house bread.   Chewy, dense, yet somehow light … it’s the perfect sourdough loaf.

Sourdough best

This loaf just made me happy, and when Sloan said she loved it, I was content.

  • 50 grams or bubbly sourdough starter, 1/4 cup
  • 350 gramswarm water (80° F)(1 ⅓ cups plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 500 grams bread flour (4 cups plus 2 tablespoons) You can use other flours, too: white unbleached flour, white whole wheat, or spelt. Whole wheat flour will be denser and won’t rise as much as white flour. For your first few loaves, you’ll have more success if you don’t use it. Don’t use gluten-free flours.
  • 9 grams finely ground sea salt ( 1½ teaspoons) or Himalayan salt

You need to make sure your sourdough starter is bubbly and ready to go. If it has not been fed recently then take a few spoonfuls of sourdough starter from your fridge and give it that much flour and water and let it ferment for 6 – 8 hours.

NIGHT PRIOR TO BAKING

Before bedtime (the night prior to baking), gather all your ingredients.

Close to your bedtime, add the bubbly sourdough starter and warm water to a ceramic bowl. Mix them together with a whisk until well combined.

Then add the flour and salt and combine together with a stiff spatula. You can also use your hands to get the flour fully incorporated. The dough will look a little scraggly, feel dense, and stick to your fingers. Try and scrape off as much dough from your hands as possible but don’t over mix it at this point. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, flour your hands and work the dough into a smooth ball. Do this by folding the dough over and pressing it into the center until the dough starts to turn into a smoother ball.

BAKING DAY

In the morning, use your spatula and gently pull the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. Dust your hands with flour and start at the top and fold the dough over to the center, repeating on all sides (add more flour if needed).
Then flip the dough over and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.

 

Line an 8-inch bowl with a towel and dust generously with flour. Make sure your hands are still floured and pick up the dough and place it in the bowl with seam side up.

Cover the bowl and let it rest for 30 to 60 minutes. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your pot, leaving excess so you can grab the bread and take it out of the pot. Place your parchment paper over the bowl and invert the bowl to allow the bread to release onto the paper.

With a small razor blade or serrated knife, score the bread with four slashes.

Pick up the parchment and carefully place your bread in the pot.

Place the lid on the pot and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Then remove the lid and continue baking for 30 more minutes.

You can take it out of the pot and onto the rack to bake for 5 minutes longer to darken the bread if you’d like.

When bread is done, take bread out of pot and place on a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes to an hour, although we often can’t wait to eat it! Store loaf in a bag on the counter, or this bread freezes beautifully

Sourdough best 2

Apparently the overnight rest helps to give the bread some volume, and more flavour, but also helps with the digestive properties – whatever the reason, it works!

Sourdough best 3

This bread was moist, tender and oh so delicious – it will be on repeat around here.

If you would like a little more guidance, lots of clear photos, and many sourdough tips, head on over to the site I got this recipe from – Cultured Food Life.

 

 

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup

During the cold of winter these vegetables are always available, and make the most comforting winter dinner.  When summer vegetables arrive however, with fresh new potatoes, leeks and fennel from your own garden or farmers market, this soup is the perfect meal on a cool, rainy spring – early summer night.

Roasted potato Fennel Soup 10

I love rich, creamy soups, but what I really love …. is the toppings.  Every pureed soup needs something to create texture and bacon with fresh herbs does the job.

  • 4 pounds red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp  freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup sliced leek
  • 3 cups sliced fennel bulb
  • 3 quarts chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian option)
  • 1 cup cream (omit if you want it to be vegan)

GARNISH

  • fresh chopped chives, parsley, basil and fennel fronds
  • crispy bacon bits

Preheat oven to 400

In large bowl toss the potatoes with olive, garlic, salt and pepper.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 1

New potatoes, tossed with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Yum whatever you do wth them!

Spread on baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, until cooked through.  (use 2 sheets if necessary, you don’t want them crowded)

Saute onions, fennel and leek with 2 tbsp olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat until translucent. (I like to cook my bacon in the pot first in order to use the fat …. but for vegan or vegetarian options just omit the bacon and it’s fat).

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 3

Season every step of the way!

Add chicken or vegetable stock to onion mixture and bring it to a boil. Add roasted potatoes, turn to a gentle simmer and cook until all vegetables are soft.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 5

Puree until all vegetables are creamy … this is the point to add fresh minced herbs and the cream, if using.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 7

Taste, and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 6

Mince up a handful of fresh herbs …. 

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 9

Toss the herbs in and stir well with the blended soup.

Roasted Potato Fennel Soup 2

Prep your garnish … today I liked the idea of crunchy bacon (well honestly most soups love crunchy bacon) … as well as chives, basil and fennel fronds.

 

Creamiest Hummous

Hummus 1

Drizzle the finished hummus with your best olive oil and a sprinkling of paprika.  A few toasted sesame seeds would be a great addition also. (I just didn’t think of it until I looked at my photos!)

  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas or 1 1/2 cups (250 grams) cooked chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) well-stirred tahini
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) ice water
  • Dash ground paprika, for serving

UPDATE:  SINCE posting this originally, I’ve discovered a few more tricks.  

If you don’t have free hands for peeling the chickpeas, boil with 1/2 tsp baking soda per can for 20 minutes.  Drain well and rinse with cold water – ready to go.  

If you soak your garlic in the lemon juice for 10 minutes, and process that with the tahini at the first blending stage your garlic will have a much more mellow, smooth taste.  

DIRECTIONS

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tahini and lemon juice and process for 1 minute, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process for 30 seconds more. This extra time helps “whip” or “cream” the tahini, making the hummus smooth and creamy.

Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process another 30 seconds or until well blended.

Open, drain, and rinse the chickpeas. Add half of the chickpeas to the food processor and process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl, then add remaining chickpeas and process until thick and quite smooth; 1 to 2 minutes.

peeled chickpeas

I know, you are thinking “what goof peels chickpeas?”  Me.  Especially after Stella raved about the creamiest hummus she’d ever had.  At 5 years old, this girl knows food.  After that, how could I not peel my hummus.  After all, even if it takes you 20 min to peel that can of chickpeas, haven’t you ever wasted 20 min on something less interesting??

Most likely the hummus will be too thick or still have tiny bits of chickpea. To fix this, with the food processor turned on, slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water until you reach the perfect consistency.

Taste for salt and adjust as needed. Serve hummus with a drizzle of olive oil and dash of paprika. Store homemade hummus in an airtight container and refrigerate up to one week.

Hummus 2

We served the hummus today with fresh vegetables as well as                                                            lightly seasoned and toasted pita wedges.

 

I heard a rumour that hummus made at home could be creamy, dreamy & simple, but every time I tried it I was less than satisfied.  Sure, it was tasty …. but dreamy?  No.  So I hit the blogs looking for a trick, and “inspired taste” provided it.  Look up the blog – Adam and Joanne have some amazing photos and descriptions, plus tips for cooking your own chickpeas and many other great ideas.  I’ve made this recipe a few times now, exactly as written (except that I am that weirdo that doesn’t mind a 10 minute mindless activity like skinning chickpeas).

Hummus 3

A few days later, my grand daughters Sloan and Stella were here, asking for a snack …. when I produced the vegetables I got a look ….. “Well Nana ……..do you have any of that amazing peeled chickpea hummus left?  Could we please have some of that too?”                                                       That, my friends, is how foodies are born.

Laksa

Laksa 5

Ready to be garnished with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, bean sprouts, maybe some cilantro sprigs and a few fresh sliced hot peppers – then drizzle more sauce over top and enjoy!

Laksa …. or Thai curry noodle soup …. whatever you call this, you are going to L O V E the exquisitely well balanced flavours in this noodle bowl.  This dish is so versatile and can be a completely vegetarian or even vegan dinner with a few tweaks.

 

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 10 prawns/shrimp , peeled and deveined 
  • or
  • 1 chicken breast, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves , finely grated
  • 2 tsp ginger , finely grated
  • 1 stalk lemongrass , peeled, finely grated 
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp Penang curry paste
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp chilli garlic paste or other chilli paste , adjust to taste 
  • about 4-5 cups of fresh vegetables – sliced and ready to be added to the broth
  • 400 g/14oz coconut milk
  • 2 cups /500ml chicken broth (or vegetable)
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 slices fresh galangal
  • 2 tsp lime zest (1 lime)
  • 200 g / 7 oz fresh egg noodles, prepared per packet (although really you can use any noodle)
  • Big handful bean sprouts
Laksa 2

Have everything ready to go before you start cooking, and it will all come together quickly.

Toppings / for serving:
  • Lime wedges
  • Fresh coriander/cilantro leaves
  • Sliced red onion or scallions
Laksa 1

Did you even know lemongrass could be grated?  So easy and quick!

 

Instructions
Heat oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add prawns or chicken and sear both sides until light golden (doesn’t need to cook inside). Remove onto plate.
Turn heat down to medium. If pot is looking dry, add a touch of extra oil.
Add garlic, ginger and lemongrass. Saute for 20 seconds until garlic is golden.
Add sugar and fish sauce. Stir and cook for 30 seconds – it should look like caramel.
Laksa 3

 

Add chilli paste, coriander and curry powder. Stir and cook for 30 seconds.
Add chicken broth and coconut milk. Stir and bring to simmer, add lime leaves and galangal.
Simmer for 2 minutes, then add lime zest and return prawns and chicken into broth, heat just until cooked through.
Laksa 4

Tonight’s bowl of laksa included mushrooms, snap peas, sweet peppers, zucchini & cauliflower.

Serving:
  1. Place noodles in bowl. Ladle over soup.
  2. Top with bean sprouts and coriander, plus toppings of choice (chilli, red onion, Asian fried shallots).
  3. Squeeze over lime juice to taste.

This recipe came from a great food blog – RecipeTin Eats – pop on over to her blog for some more great recipes.

Scallion Pancakes

Scallion Pancake 9

Crispy, flaky and little crunches of salt – perfection.

We fell in love with Scallion Pancakes at Mad Mango Cafe in Kelowna, served with an amazing laksa.  That’s a little bite of heaven.  Ever since, I’ve looked up a few recipes, and never quite had the courage to try making them.  Tonight’s menu included a chicken laksa, and just on a whim, decided to give these scallion pancakes a go.  I found this recipe on the “Serious Eats” website, and I didn’t change a thing.  They were far quicker and easier to make than I thought, and FAR exceeded our expectations.  If you have fun playing with dough, make sure to give this a try.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting work surface
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Up to 1/4 cup toasted sesame seed oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced scallion greens
  • flaky sea salt

Oil for frying

Salt for garnish

Directions

Place flour & salt in bowl of food processor. With processor running, slowly drizzle in about 3/4  cup of boiling water. Process for 15 seconds. If dough does not come together and ride around the blade, drizzle in more water a tablespoon at a time until it just comes together. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead a few times to form a smooth ball. Transfer to a bowl, cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature, or up to overnight in the fridge.  (If you don’t have a food processor, just mix the dough together by hand and knead until smooth and soft)

Divide dough into four even pieces and roll each into a smooth ball. Working one ball at a time, roll out into a disk roughly 8-inches in diameter on a lightly floured surface.

Scallion Pancake 1

Okay, so my dough ball isn’t exactly a perfect circle, but that’s okay, it will get there.

Using a pastry brush, paint a very thin layer of sesame oil over the top of the disk. Roll disk up like a jelly roll, then twist roll into a tight spiral, tucking the end underneath. Flatten gently with your hand, then re-roll into an 8-inch disk.

Scallion Pancake 2

See?  What did I tell you, looks like a circle now!  Gently flatten with your hand, then start to roll.

Paint with another layer or sesame oil, sprinkle with 1/2 cup scallions, a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, and roll up like a jelly roll again. Twist into a spiral, flatten gently, and re-roll into a 7-inch disk. Repeat steps two and three with remaining pancakes.

Scallion Pancake 3

Scallion Pancake 4

Scallion Pancake 5

Make sure to brush on just a very delicate layer of sesame oil – if you get too much on there the oil will start to pop out when you roll the dough.

Heat oil in an 8-inch nonstick or cast-iron over medium-high heat until shimmering and carefully slip pancake into the hot oil. Cook, shaking the pan gently until first side is an even golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Scallion Pancake 6

Scallion Pancake 7

Just look at that flaky crust!

Scallion Pancake 8

As soon as you remove the pancake from the oil, immediately sprinkle with a little sea salt.

Carefully flip with a spatula or tongs (be careful not to splash the oil), and continue to cook, shaking pan gently, until second side is even golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season with salt, cut into 6 wedges. Serve immediately with sauce for dipping.  Repeat with remaining 3 pancakes.

Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinkiang or rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely sliced scallion greens
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Combine all ingredients, and set aside at room temperature.

Roasted Marinated Sweet Red Peppers

It’s true, going through all the steps to grill and prepare these peppers does take a little bit of time.  Pick a sunny day and the sweet smell of them grilling will be enough payback.  Do enough for a dinner side dish also!  In the middle of winter when you open a jar you will immediately be transported back to that summer day.  I love using these in so many different appetizers, slivered in a salad or pasta or just served with a grilled steak.

Red pepper 4

These sweet peppers are an amazing way of capturing the tastes and smells of summer in a jar.

4 pounds firm, fresh and cleaned red bell peppers

Lightly oil peppers and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill until charred in spots and softened.  Put in bowl, cover tightly and allow to sit for 15 minutes until you can easily slip the skins off.   If you don’t have a barbecue you can also do this over an open flame or in your oven with the broiler unit.

Red pepper 1

MARINADE

  • 1 cup bottled lemon juice
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, quartered
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

Bring all marinade ingredients to boil in a saucepan.

Red pepper marinade 2

In most cases I would suggest squeezing fresh lemon juice, but in this instance the consistency and acidic content of bottled lemon juice is what you need.

If you want to use these within a few weeks, just fill the jars with peppers and pour the boiling marinade over.

Red pepper 3

Seal and keep in the fridge.

SEALING AND PRESERVING

Scald jars in boiling water and heat canning lids and sealers in boiling water.  Fill jars with peppers, immediately fill to within 1/2 inch of the top.  Quickly close the jars with lids and sealers and boil in canner for 15 minutes.

 

 

Lemon Tahini Bok Choy & Peppers

Lemon Tahini Bok Choy & Peppers

This is a vegan recipe!  I know, maybe not that big a deal to some people but I’m sort of a carnivore.  This is so delicious it can be served alongside pretty much any dish you enjoy.  Truthfully, my carnivorous tendencies are changing, albeit slowly.  My mind set is still that I think of what meat or protein I want to cook, then I work the rest of the meal around that.  However …. I’ve noticed that ever so slowly, my meat or protein is shrinking.  Tonight I served this veg dish along with pork cutlet and tonkatsu sauce.  A 3 ounce pork cutlet served both my husband and I, without either of us feeling like anything was missing …. changes are coming and we are right on board.

SAUCE – serves about 4

  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil (plus extra for cooking)
  • 2 tbsp tahini paste
  • 1 lemon, juiced (start with 2 tbsp)
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • bok choy, onion, red pepper
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish

To make sauce, whisk together all ingredients until smooth, taste and adjust seasonings.  It is hard to correct if you have used to much lemon, so start with 2 tbsp and if you like it “lemony”, add a bit more.

Lemon Tahini Bok Choy

Wash veg thoroughly, (those bok choy have a tendency to hide grit).

Heat fry or sauce pan, add onion, and saute lightly, add bok choy and peppers, drizzle with a bit of extra sesame oil.  Cook for 4-6 minutes, just until crisp tender.

Remove from heat and drizzle sauce over top, then sprinkle with sesame seeds.