Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ginger Cilantro Chicken Salad-my version of Thai Larb

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I like Thai food. Funny, but until about 5 years ago, I hadn't really tried it.  I grew up in a smaller town and I don't think there was anything outside of the usual Mexican, Italian an Chinese places.  Now I eat Thai quite often..although whenever they ask how spicy, I say "not spicy at all"--which is usually PLENTY spicy for me (and I like spicy Mexican food, but wow, Thai spicy is another scale).  Anyway, aside from Pad Thai, Green Curry and Massaman Curry, one of my favorites is Larb, a type of salad--which I think is pronounced without the "r".  I had some last night at Thai Siam, one of my favorite places, where they serve it lettuce wrap style.  I decided to try it out at home and used this recipe as my guide.

I ended up just making a big salad, rather than as wraps, and I didn't cook the sticky rice that would accompany it, but I sure did enjoy it!

Marinade and salad dressing base:
You'll mix this up and then reserve part of it to use for the marinade and the other part for the dressing.

1/4 c. low sodium soy sauce
1/4 c. canola oil
2 Tbs finely diced fresh ginger (this is the secret ingredient, its about 2 inches of ginger root)
2 Tbs Hoisin sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sriracha sauce-want more spice? add 1 Tbs instead

--Mix all the above together.  Take 4 Tbs out and save it for the marinade--

Now add the last three ingredients and you've got the salad dressing made.
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
3 green onions, chopped including most of the green parts
1 Tbs sugar (optional, or use a packet of artificial sweetener)

Marinate 1 large chicken breast with the 4 Tbs of reserved sauce in a zipper bag.  I pounded the chicken flat so it would cook nice and fast.

Get the salad ready:
1/2 of a large head of Nappa cabbage, thinly sliced (about 4-5 cups)
1-2 carrots, shredded
2-3 radishes, sliced
1/2-2/3 cups of cilantro (remove stems, roughly chop)
toasted sliced almonds
toasted sesame seeds
fresh mint leaves (optional...larb has it, but I just used extra cilantro instead)

Once you've marinaded the chicken for about 30 minutes, place it in a heated skillet with a bit of oil.  Cook each side for about 4 minutes on med-low or until the thermometer reads 180.  Remove from pan and let rest while you mix up the salad.

In a bowl put the cabbage, carrot, radishes, cilantro.  Toss with the dressing.  Slice up the chicken and place on top and sprinkle with the almonds and sesame seeds.

If you are serving this as a main dish salad, it serves two.  If you are doing it as larb or a side dish you can probably get 4-6 servings.  If you are going to do it like larb, then chop up everything much smaller and serve with some pieces of romaine lettuce and sticky rice to make wraps. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Nostalgic Cookies Part 2: Rosettes

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My last post was about cookies that my dad's mom made.  This post is about my other grandma-a great cook--who was always certain that she hadn't made enough cookies (maybe its because we  filched cookies while she wasn't looking).  I thought I'd give Rosette cookies a try--its been many, many years since I've had them, and for a first try, these seem pretty good (not Grandma perfect, but a worthy effort).

1 egg
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat the egg, salt and sugar then add the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth (I used my hand mixer for about 1 minute).  Refrigerate batter for about 30 minutes.

Heat the oil to about 350 degrees.  Place your rosette iron in the hot oil for about 30 seconds.  Since I had 2 irons I kept one in the oil while I used the other one. 

To make the rosettes:
Take the iron out of the hot oil and tap off excess oil on nearby paper towel.
Dip the iron into the batter, leaving at least the top 1/4 of the iron out of the batter. Hold the iron in the batter for about 3 seconds.
Dip the battered iron into the hot oil for about 12-18 seconds.
Tap off the excess oil and use tongs to gently pull the rosette off the mold.
Flip the cookie so that the oil drips out of the indentations.
When ready to serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar (or a mix of granulated sugar/cinnamon)

I struggled to keep the oil the right temperature, but for the most part, the rosettes worked out fine.  They taste good, and that is the important part!  Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Nostalgic Cookies Part 1-Raisin Filled Cookies

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This Christmas season I have been trying to stay very focused on the true meaning of Christmas--which has meant less shopping, less decorating and more reflections on the birth of the Savior. I also have been reflecting on what a great family I have. As a kid, I have fond memories of celebrations with my grandparents. Today's post is in honor of my Grandma--an Idaho farm wife who was great at making jams, jellies...and raisin filled cookies. I am sad to say that I couldn't find my grandmother's recipe (although I'm still working on it), so I did some searching online and found this one from Brown Eyed Baker, which I tweaked a bit.

The recipe turned out great.  I can imagine sitting in Grandma's kitchen eating cookies, so I think that is a success.  Stay tuned for Nostalgic Cookies Part 2-Rosettes

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine (don't substitute, look for Gold n Soft)
1 tsp salt
1 egg
3 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbs sour cream
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

In a stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter.  Add the salt, egg, milk, sour cream, baking powder, baking soda and vanilla-mix until combined. Turn off the mixer and add all 3 cups of flour.  Turn mixer on low to avoid a cloud of flour, and mix until a soft, sticky dough ball is formed.  The dough reminds me of a very soft sugar cookie dough.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes while you make the raisin filling.
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbs cornstarch
3/4 cup water
1/2 Tbs lemon juice
8 oz of raisins (that is about 1 1/2 cups, but I use a kitchen scale)

In a small saucepan, mix the sugar, cornstarch and water and whisk until smooth.  Add the lemon juice and raisins and bring to a boil on medium heat.  Simmer while stirring for about 5 minutes (the raisins need to get super soft and plump).
Dust your counter top with flour and roll out about 1/3 of the dough to 1/8 inch thick.  Use a round cookie cutter (mine was about 2" circle) to cut the cookies.  I used a well floured spatula to get them off the counter and placed them on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Use a couple of spoons to get the filling out of the pan and smoothed onto the cookie (as the filling cools, its a bit sticky and hard to get off the spoon and I didn't want to use my finger).  Top the cookie and filling with another cookie.  I lightly pressed the edges of the cookies together, but I wasn't careful about it--the dough is soft and it just bakes together.

I baked mine at 375 for about 12 minutes (I rotated the sheet about half way through the process)--its important to only let the bottoms get a bit golden because you want the cookie to be soft, not crunchy.
This recipe made about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.  I've already eaten 3.  I had to put them in the freezer so there will be some left for the family Christmas celebration.