Tasty Tuesday, December 30

Well, looks like we might have another ice storm headed this way, or not. Still, it’s time for another warming soup. It contains a couple of hard to find ingredients, but is worth going down to the Asian market to find them. Who knows what else you might find?

Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup

2 Tbl veg oil – olive oil has too much distinctive flavor, peanut oil is perfect
2 small onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chopped fresh chili- if you can find Thai peppers or cayenne peppers, slice them into thin rings and they look pretty floating in the soup, if not get a red Fresno pepper
1 Tbl chopped fresh lemongrass – this will be the hardest to find ingredient. Use the part closest to the roots and chop very finely, it does not get tender with cooking, you need to get it as fine as you can to keep from feeling you’re chewing on grass. A substitute would be lime zest but won’t have quite the same taste.
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups coconut milk (what I do here is use one can with water added to make 2 cups)
2 Tbl Thai fish sauce
1 lb chicken breasts, thinly sliced – if you freeze them and slice when still mostly frozen, you can get very thin slices
2 Tbl chopped fresh cilantro
Lime leaves, for garnish (optional) – this means leaves from a Kaffir lime which is grown for the leaves instead of the fruit. They can also be found at that Asian market. I happen to have a tree for a constant supply of leaves. The leaves should have the heavy center vein cut out then sliced into thin strips.

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic and cook over low to medium heat, stirring, until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Add the turmeric, chili and lemongrass and cook, stirring, about another 10 minutes.
Add the lime juice, stock, coconut milk and fish sauce and bring to a boil. Stir in the chicken and simmer for about 3 minutes until the chicken is tender. Stir in the cilantro and lime leaves and serve immediately.

This is supposed to serve 4 but the two of us usually eat most of it with just enough left for lunch the next day.

Tasty Tuesday December 23

Last week, when I was talking about slow cooking ribs, the picture I used included some jalapenos. This entry talks about those peppers. And there’s bacon involved.

Start out with 3-4 big jalapenos, 4 inches long or so. Using vinyl or latex gloves, cut the peppers in half and cut the seeds and ribs out of them. Set them aside. Take half a block of cream cheese, left out to soften and a half cup or so of grated cheese, a Mexican or taco blend is good or just good ole Cheddar. Mix the cheeses together and if you want to make things a little more interesting, add 1/4 teaspoon of the rib rub to the cheeses or add some chopped fresh oregano. You could even get really ambitious and cook up some sausage and crumble it into the cheese mix. Fill the jalapeño halves with the cheese mixture. Now, take some good regular slice bacon, thick slice won’t work here (and yes, there is not so good bacon) and cut the slices in half lengthwise. Wrap the bacon around the stuffed pepper and secure with a toothpick stuck all the way through it.
When the grill is hot and ribs resting comfortably in the heat, place the peppers on the grill. I sometimes give them a sample of heat on the cheese side to start the bacon crisping and then move them off the heat after a few minutes, or you can just put them on the far side of the grill, pepper side down, and ignore them for an hour or so. Cooking them so long with the cheeses in them seems to take most of the heat out of the peppers so even if you aren’t a fan of hot, spicy food, these are smoky, bacony, cheesy goodness. They do need to be cooked a long time to get the bacon crisp so this is not a side dish to plan with steaks or other quickly grilled meats.

This makes enough for 2-3 people, multiply as needed.

http://patronsofthepit.wordpress.com is where I got the original recipe for Jalapeño Poppers