Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thai Spicy Beef (Nuer Phad Phed)

I’m not too familiar with Thai food, but I’m always looking for recipes that are quick and do-able on a weeknight, and stir fries like this certainly fit the bill. This recipe comes from the book Simply Thai Cooking. It should be noted that “20 basil leaves” is a rule of thumb the book uses, so it doesn’t need to be exact at all. I didn’t have any Thai basil (I actually had some bi-colored basil growing in the summer that would’ve subbed well) so I used regular basil.

Thai Spicy Beef (Nuer Phad Phed) (Serves 2)
10 oz. Flank steak, trimmed of excess fat
¼ medium green pepper
¼ medium red bell pepper (plus some extra for garnish)
Snap peas (enough for 2 servings, so like a big handful)
Canola/vegetable oil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic (1 clove)
2 tablespoons red curry paste
5 tablespoons coconut milk
2 lime leaves, torn into thirds (I substituted lime zest and a bay leaf)
½ cup bamboo shoot strips
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
20 fresh Thai basil leaves

Cut the beef into pieces that are ¼” thick, 1” wide and 2” long. Dice the peppers. Set aside some strips of the peppers for garnish. Get the rest of the ingredients ready as the cooking goes quickly and you’ll be too busy stirring to prep ingredients, open cans, etc.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add vegetable or canola oil (the original recipe calls for 5 tablespoons, I used something in the neighborhood of 2.5-3 tablespoons) and heat until it’s just about to smoke. Add the curry paste and garlic, stirring and frying for 45 seconds, then add the coconut milk and lime leaves. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until thick and bubbly.

Add the beef, the bamboo shoot strips, the snap peas and the peppers all together. Stir fry for 1 minute. Add the fish sauce and sugar and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, until the peppers are softened. Add ¾ of the basil and cook for 45 additional seconds.

Serve over rice, and garnish with remaining basil and pepper strips.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Gastrique

More cranberry action this week. A gastrique is a sweet and sour sauce which pairs really nicely with pork and duck. In this case I’m going with a pork tenderloin, which I brined and pan roasted. I slightly modified the gastrique recipe from here:

Brined Pork Tenderloin
1 pork tenderloin, about 1 to 1.5 lbs.
1 carrot, sliced
2 shallots, sliced
5 cloves garlic, husks removed but left whole
1 celery stalk, chopped
15 ounces water
1.5 ounces salt
Black pepper
½ teaspoon mustard seed
6 allspice berries
1 sprig rosemary
4 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 lemon
15 ounces ice

Heat a 12” pan over medium and add in a bit of olive oil. Add the carrots, shallots, garlic and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the 15 ounces of water along with the salt, black pepper, mustard seed, allspice, rosemary, thyme and brown sugar. Squeeze juice of the lemon into the liquid, then add in the actual lemon. Bring to a simmer.

Weigh out 15 ounces of ice in a large bowl. Pour the brining liquid into the ice bowl, and stir to melt the ice. The liquid should be at room temp (or cooler, that’s fine. As long as it isn’t hot so it doesn’t cook the pork). Pour the liquid into a 1 gallon Ziploc bag. Add in the pork tenderloin, and place in the refrigerator. Let the meat brine for 4 to 6 hours.

When it’s time to cook the tenderloin, remove from the brine and pat dry. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Heat a 12” cast iron skillet over high heat. Add in a splash of canola oil, then add the tenderloin, browning about 30 seconds a side. Place the skillet in the oven, and cook the tenderloin until it hits an internal temperature of 140°F (about 10 minutes). Remove and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Cranberry gastrique:
¾ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup red wine
¾ cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)
¾ cup sugar

Add everything to a small pot and bring to a simmer. Let simmer until reduced by half, which should take 15 minutes.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Turkey Arepas with Cranberry Salsa

If you’re looking for something different to do with Thanksgiving leftovers, why not make arepas? Now I have to admit, I was visiting relatives for Thanksgiving so I didn’t actually have leftovers, so I had to cook up the turkey and gravy just for this. I’ve included the recipe for that as well.

Serves 2 (with some leftover salsa)

Turkey and Gravy:
2 turkey thighs
2 tbsp flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 small shallot
1 sprig rosemary
½ carrot
½ celery stalk

Season the turkey thighs with salt and roast at 425°F for 40 to 45 minutes. Pour the drippings from the pan into a small saucepan, and remove the bone from one of the thighs.

Add the flour to the drippings, whisking to create a roux. Cook for 2 minutes, whisking often. Slowly add the chicken stock, whisking to incorporate. Add the thigh bone, shallot, rosemary sprig, carrot and celery piece. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until it reaches the desired consistency.

While that’s going on, remove the skin from the turkey thighs and shred the meat.

Pour the finished gravy through a strainer into a bowl to remove the solids. Season with salt and pepper.

Cranberry Salsa:
1.5 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
½ apple, peeled and cored
Zest of 1 orange
4 tbsp sugar
1 serrano chili, deseeded and diced
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
Lime juice

Add the cranberries and apple to a food processor and pulse until finely shredded.  Add to a bowl with the orange zest, sugar and chili pepper. Let the salsa macerate for 15 minutes, then add the cilantro, along with salt and lime juice to taste.

1.5 cups masarepa flour
1.5 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, bring the dough together with your hands, then cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Heat a skillet over medium, and add a lug or two of vegetable oil. Use your hands to shape the dough into six slim discs (3/4” or so thick) Pan fry the arepas for 8 minutes total, flipping half way.

Remove to a paper towel to sop up any excess oil. Cut in half and fill with turkey, gravy and cranberry salsa.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Individual Chicken Pot Pies

This recipe takes a while to make (took me about 2 hours) since all the  ingredients are poached in chicken stock, which is then reduced and turned into the sauce. You could just cook the meat and veggies by other means, but I like all the flavor they impart into the stock/sauce. Makes 4 good sized servings.

4.5 cups chicken stock
2 chicken breasts (15 oz.)
2 cups diced potatoes
2 carrots (1.5 cups) diced
3 celery stalks diced (1 cup)
1 yellow onion, diced
8 oz. Mushroom, chopped
4 tbsp butter, divided
1.5 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp flour
½ teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg

Bring the stock up to a simmer in a medium pot. Butterfly the chicken breasts and add to the stock. Poach for 10 minutes, keeping the stock at a bare simmer, or until the breasts reach an internal temperature of 165°F. 

Removed one of the breasts before I remembered to take a pic.

Remove the chicken from the stock and allow to cool for 10 minutes before shredding with your hands.

Meanwhile, add the potatoes to the stock and cook for about 10 minutes, until they offer just a little resistance to a fork (but not completely mush). Remove with a slotted spoon and rinse under cold water to stop further cooking. Add the potatoes to a large bowl.

Add the carrots to the stock and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the celery and onion and simmer for about 7 more minutes, until the carrots are al dente. Remove the carrots/celery/onions from the pot by placing a strainer over a large bowl (not the one with the potatoes in it) or other pot and pouring the mixture out.

All the carrots sink to the bottom.
 Rinse the vegetables under cold water and add to the bowl with the potatoes. Pour the stock back in the original pot and set to a simmer. Reduce the stock until you have 1.5 cups remaining.

Meanwhile, add 2 tbsp of butter to a large pan set over medium heat and add the mushrooms. Salt to season and sauté for 8 minutes, until the mushrooms have released much of their liquid. Add the mushrooms to the bowl with the other veggies.

Add the shredded chicken to the vegetable bowl, and season with salt, pepper, and sage.

Back to the reduced stock: add 1.5 cups of heavy cream, bring back to a simmer, and reduce for an additional 5 minutes.
While the cream/stock are reducing, add 2 tbsp of butter to a large pan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add 2 tbsp of flour, and whisk, cooking for 2 minutes until the roux starts to get some color.

Add the reduced cream/stock half a cup at a time to the roux, whisking to incorporate. Once all the liquid is incorporated, season the sauce with salt, pepper, and ground thyme. Bring to a simmer, then pour over the filling ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Give everything in your big bowl of filling a good mix. Ladle into four 20 oz. ceramic (oven safe) mugs. 

Roll out a sheet of puff pastry with a rolling pin, flouring the work surface/dough if you think you need to. Mine was about 14”x14” when rolled out.
Using an object slightly larger than the opening of the mugs (mine have lids, so I used those) cut out circular lids, and place on top of the mugs, pressing the overhang of the dough into the mug to affix it. 

Wasn't sure how many servings I was going to end up with.

 At this point you can use the remaining puff pastry to cut out neat designs, like leaves or a dick or something, to place on top of the puff pastry. I started doing leaves, but they looked like crap so I stopped.

Use a fork to poke some holes in the dough to allow steam to escape. Crack an egg into a bowl and give it a good mix with a fork. Brush the egg on to the dough.

Bake the pot pies for 25 to 30 minutes.