Carrot Ginger Soup With Curry Spices

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Carrot Ginger Soup With Curry Spices

As reported, I have been experimenting with soups this winter…here on the East End of Long Island, we’ve been getting socked with snow (our back deck still looks like this), so nice steaming bowls of delicious soup are in order.

This soup — carrot ginger soup — isn’t normally thought of as being particularly Southeast Asian, but when you start adding coconut milk, plus coriander, cumin and curry, who’s to say it’s not? A bonus for vegan readers….it’s also non-dairy.

If you don’t have mustard seeds (common ingredient in many Indian curries) — it’s not a deal killer. Just skip that step. The other ingredients are easy to find. I generally always use coconut oil for Asian dishes, but any vegetable oil will do. Enjoy!

Carrot Ginger Soup With Curry Spices

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seed
1 small white onion, chopped
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp curry powder (I prefer a hot Madras)
4 cups chopped carrots
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup orange juice
4-inch piece finely grated fresh peeled ginger
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 can (14-oz) of coconut milk

Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds; when they pop, add onions and sauté until translucent. Mix in the coriander, cumin, curry powder and stir, making sure onions are coated. Add the carrots, then the vegetable broth, orange juice, ginger and lemon juice. Boil, then simmer until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes or so. Remove from heat. Puree in a food processor until smooth. Return the mixture to the pot and pour in the coconut milk; heat and serve.

I like to save a drop or two of the coconut milk to dollop on top of the soup, as it looks nice when served….you can always garnish with thyme or parsley, too.

Delicious!

A Boxing Day Curry — An Easy Shrimp Veggie Dish

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So I have no idea what you are traditionally supposed to eat (if anything) on Boxing Day, the British holiday. Until recently, I erroneously thought “boxing day” had something to do with box lunches. Apparently, it has more to do with servants, and giving them gifts in a box. (Who knew!) Not having servants, I thought it best to appropriate the holiday instead for eating a curry. After days of traditional American eats (ham, salads and christmas cookies), it was time for a hot and spicy Thai meal.

The recipe below serves 4 people (most of my recipes are for 2) — but we were dining with my in-laws, who love curry, so hence this is for four. You really can use any combination of veggies…I chose these for variety, and because they were easy to find. I prefer using frozen coconut milk, which doesn’t have preservatives, but canned coconut milk is fine. To note: This is a very streamlined recipe, not as complex or labor-intensive as a proper Thai curry.  If you happen to have kaffir lime leaves on hand, chiffonade and throw them in, too.

This recipe contains my Fab Four — fish sauce, oyster sauce, palm sugar and sambal oelek — which are a must if you are a lover of Asian cuisine.

A Boxing Day Curry — An Easy Shrimp Veggie Dish

3 tbsp coconut oil or any veggie oil

for paste:
8 cloves garlic
4 inches ginger
1 lemongrass, lower third of stalk, sliced diagonally
(Purée all that into paste)

2 tbsp fish sauce
4 tbsp oyster sauce
3 tbsp chile paste (I prefer sambal oelek, a cousin of Sriracha)
1.5 tbsp palm sugar
1 can of coconut milk
2 birds eye chile, diced
1.5 lb shrimp
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 small zucchini, thin spears
1 small yellow squash, chopped
1 handful oyster mushroom, sliced
Handful green beans, chopped
3 baby bok choys, sliced
Thai basil (optional)
jasmine rice

To start, make a paste by pureeing garlic, ginger and lemongrass in a food processor. Heat oil in a wok (or large pan) and fry paste until fragrant, stirring constantly over medium high heat. Add fish sauce, oyster sauce, chile paste and palm sugar; mix until the palm sugar has melted and you’ve got a nice dark looking sauce. Pour in can of coconut milk. (Add a little water or white wine if you want it extra saucier.) Add chiles (optional) for more heat. When that boils, add shrimp….push shrimp down until covered with the sauce, and allow to cook for a minute or two. While the shrimp is still cooking, add most of the veggies (bell peppers, zucchini, squash, mushroom and beans) and stir so that everything is cooking. If you’ve got a lid, you can cover the pot a bit to help the process along. When all is nearly done, add the bok choy and thai basil (optional), and remove from heat. Serve over jasmine rice. Delicious!

A Squash Soup With Kale — And a Hint of Curry

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Squash soup

This was a recipe I made plenty this fall, usually with fresh vegetables from our local produce stand, Balsam Farms. I can’t take full credit for the dish, as I tweaked a version that I saw on the site She Knows. But this is my rendition, with a slight emphasis on more spices typically used in curries.

2 tbsp coconut oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cubed and peeled squash (such as butternut or pumpkin)
1/4 tsp mace or nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, more if you want it spicy
pinch salt
4 cups chicken broth
1 can (14-1/2 oz) diced tomatoes
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 cups coarsely chopped kale
1 can chickpeas

Begin by heating oil in large pot (like a LeCreuset) and adding onions and carrot, stirring until they soften. Add garlic and stir for minute more. Mix in squash, then add all the spices. Stir until the ingredients in the pot are coated. Pour in broth, tomatoes and fresh thyme. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Add kale and chickpeas, and cook for several more minutes. (At this point, I like to remove the thyme sprigs and puree a good bit of the soup in a food processor, as I like the soup to have a smooth texture. Don’t puree or just puree a bit if you like it chunkier.) Enjoy!

Here are the veggies I used, plus canned tomatoes….look how beautiful!

Squash soup

I’m fortunate to live near Balsam Farms, a produce stand in Amagansett, N.Y., that sells locally and organically grown produce, pictured below.

Balsam farms

Ridiculously Easy Vegetarian Curry

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Ridiculously easy curry

OK, so usually I don’t agree AT ALL with oversimplifying curry recipes….but last night, as I wandered a nearly empty grocery store in the Hamptons (on a frigid February night), I realized I had little choice. On weeknights this winter, I’ve been staying at a rental apartment on the East End, far from Chinatown and my well-stocked cabinet in the city, where authentic ingredients are easy to come by. It was time to improvise.

So here is my bastardized version of Thakkali Payaru Curry. If you ever have the proper ingredients — namely, mustard seed, curry leaves, bird’s eye chiles and spices like turmeric, corinder and chili powder — then please make this much better version. If you’re in a pinch, the following will do. Actually, it will do just fine (see above photo.)

Bastardized verson of Thakkali Payaru Curry
3 tbsp oil (I used coconut oil)
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
one yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
2 hot peppers, sliced lengthwise (if you can’t find bird’s eye or serrano, then use one jalapeno)
2 tsp curry powder
3 ripe tomatoes, diced
5 oz spinach (about half of bag)
1 can black-eyed peas (often found in market’s Goya aisle)
2-3 tsbp yogurt
Heat oil in skillet. Add mustard. Stir in diced onions, allow to soften. Add garlic. Mix in curry power and chili peppers; stir well. Add the tomato. Let cook for a few minutes. Stir in spinach, and cook over low heat for several minutes until spinach starts to wilt. Stir in the black-eyed peas. When warmed through, take off heat. Add the yogurt. Delicious!

A Moroccan Coconut Curry with Chicken

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Moroccan curry

My in-laws just returned from a 50th anniversary trip to Morocco with bags of spices in tow, including a pouch of divine-smelling curry powder that they gave to me. Thank you, in-laws!

I’ve never attempted (or eaten?) a Moroccan curry, but found plenty of recipes online, including this easy one on Epicurious. One thing I love about Epicurious is that reviewers put in loads of helpful tips in the comment section. So I followed those extra pieces of advice, plus added my own alterations. The resulting dish was quite tasty, and one I’d love to make again. Enjoy!

Moroccan Coconut Curry with Chicken

2 tablespoons coconut oil (or any veggie oil)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 bird’s eye Thai chiles (or any hot pepper), chopped
5 cloves of garlic, diced
2 cups chicken broth
1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 (15-oz) can chopped tomatoes
3 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 can of coconut milk (you can freeze other half)
3/4 lb chicken breast, cut in strips
juice of one-half lime
fresh mint
white rice

Heat oil in large pan (I used a Le Creuset.) Add onion, bell pepper and chiles; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic, stirring constantly for a minute. Add the broth, chickpeas, tomatoes, curry powder, salt and black pepper; bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer on low for a long time (15 mins is great, or as long as you have); eventually, add coconut milk and chicken. Allow chicken to cook through. Add torn mint leaves and lime juice. Serve over rice, and add more mint for garnish. Delicious!

Red Curry With Pineapple and Shrimp

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Red curry pineapple shrimp

Yum! I recently was craving a curry with pineapple…so after picking up a few logical ingredients (namely, deliciously fresh pineapple — not that horrid stuff in cans), I searched for a decent-looking recipe to make. I stumbled upon this video by a Thai chef named Pai, who posts her cooking videos on YouTube. She didn’t specify the exact measurements, so I made a few guesses….but it came out terrific. Below is my version of the recipe, using my homemade red curry paste. The tamarind is a key ingredient, as it is a souring agent and tones down the sweetness of the dish. Enjoy! And thank you, Pai!

Red Curry With Pineapple and Shrimp

1/2 can coconut cream
3 tbsp red curry paste
1/2 can (or so) of coconut milk
2 cups diced pineapple
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp tamarind concentrate, mixed with 2 tbsp water
1/2 tbsp palm sugar
2-3 chile peppers, chopped
4-6 kaffir lime leaves (spine removed and torn)
3/4 lb shrimp
jasmine rice

Begin by “cracking” about one-half can of coconut cream, stirring in a hot wok until the liquid reduces and begins to look oily. At that point, fry your red curry paste in the cracked coconut cream until deliciously fragrant. Add coconut milk, stirring well. Mix in the diced pineapple and allow to cook on low heat for about five minutes. Add fish sauce, tamarind and palm sugar, and mix well. Stir in chile peppers and kaffir lime leaves. (According to Thai chef Pai, one should “relax and calm down” when making Thai food, so don’t rush all this too much.) Lastly, add your shrimp, and cook through. Serve over jasmine rice. Delicious! 

 

Pumpkin Curry With Shrimp

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Pumpkin curry

Pumpkin curry is a fantastic meal this time of year, as nights turn chilly and one dreams of spending evenings by the fire, sipping red wine. (I don’t have a fireplace, so that is indeed a dream.) Regardless, this is a curry that’s perfect for the mellow fruitfulness of autumn — you can buy a big pumpkin and chop it up, saving the seeds to roast separately. You can also use butternut squash instead of pumpkin, which might be easier to find in stores, especially after Halloween.

I can’t take full credit for this recipe, as it borrows heavily from a Nigella Lawson version (and hers is easier, if you want to follow that one). But I add ingredients to make it more authentic Thai (namely, coconut cream, palm sugar, kaffir lime leaves and bird’s eye chile peppers), plus my homemade red curry paste. I particularly like Nigella’s addition of turmeric, as it gives this dish a lovely color. If pictures are your thing, here is a pictorial essay that I created a couple falls ago.  Recipe is below. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp

1/2 can coconut cream (you can freeze other half)
3 tbsp red curry paste
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp palm sugar
1/2 can coconut milk  (you can freeze other half)
1 cup fish stock
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 bird’s eye chiles, finely chopped
4-6 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
3 lemongrass stalks (tender lower-third of stalk, bruised with pestle or flat of knife)
2 lbs or so of pumpkin or butternulk squash, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb shrimp
1 head baby bok choy, shredded width-wise
1/2 lime, juiced (save the other half for a garnish)
jasmine rice

Add coconut cream to wok; turn heat up to high and stir cream until it “cracks” (that is, the liquid reduces by about a third and starts to look oily.) Mix in curry paste, and allow to cook for a few minutes. Add fish sauce and palm sugar, allowing palm sugar to melt. Pour in coconut milk and fish stock. Add turmeric, chile peppers and kaffir lime leaves, then lemongrass stalks. Bring to boil, then add pumpkin/squash. Simmer until pumpkin is tender but still has “bite” to it. Add the shrimp. Cook for a few minutes, then stir in bok choy, letting it wilt. Add juice of half-lime. Serve over jasmine rice, garnish with lime. Delicious!

 

Maiden Voyage of New Alessi Wok!

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As regular readers of this blog know, I recently tied the knot … and as a result have rather an embarrassing amount of beautiful wedding gifts (most of which are in storage, as we don’t have enough room in our tiny apartment).

Some wonderful friends named Ivan and Bella gave us this incredibly elegant Alessi wok, pictured above. For about a week after unwrapping it, we kept it displayed on our stove like a museum exhibit, afraid to touch it. Finally, it was time to break it in.

For years, I have used a flat-bottomed Joyce Chen wok, which I originally purchased when I lived in an apartment on Christopher Street that had (horrors!) an electric stove. It has served me well. Truth be told, the new hubby actually picked out the Alessi wok when choosing items for our wedding registry. I was skeptical that anything so beautiful and sleek could actually be functional. Also, Alessi is famously an Italian kitchenware company. What do Italians know about woks? (After realizing that I am an Italian chef who makes curry, I decided this was *slightly* hypocritical of me.)

A month ago, we kicked off the maiden voyage of our new Alessi wok with a new recipe, Red Curry Coconut Sauce With Shrimp, Bok Choy and Bamboo Shoots. A pictorial essay is below. The verdict on the wok: Spettacolare! It works divinely, and makes cooking feel like an art form. Since making this dish, we have used the wok countless times, including to make pasta dishes (the instructions recommend that). The piece is designed to be picked off the stove and brought to the table, for guests to enjoy the beauty, too. Er, someday when we have a table we might actually do that. Thank you, Ivan and Bella!

So without further ado, let’s begin the recipe. First, pour a 1/2 can of coconut cream into your wok (you can freeze the other half, for future recipes). Numerous people have asked, what is coconut cream? It is the first squeeze of coconut meat, so it is richer and thicker than regular coconut milk (which we’ll also use, later in this recipe). It is hard to find — but lo and behold, I did find it at Trader’s Joe’s, a grocey store I normally dislike but which has now gone up in my estimation, just because it carries coconut cream.

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Once you add the coconut cream, turn the heat up to high and begin stirring the cream with your spatula, splashing it up the sides of the wok and scraping it down. Do this for quite some time, until the liquid reduces by about one-third and you start to see some separation happening. The cream literally separates into a clear shiny liquid and bubbly milk. That is what you want to see — it is a process called “cracking.” Once you’ve got this beautiful oiliness in your wok, you are going to want to fry 3 tbsps of red curry paste in it for several minutes.

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This is probably more photos than needed, but look how beautiful the curry paste looks, once dissolved into the cracked coconut cream. I use a homemade curry paste — I would never use anything out of a jar, though if you’re an amateur I wouldn’t blame you — and the aromas of roasted coriander, cumin, kaffir lime zest, shrimp paste, garlic and galangal start to fill the kitchen.

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After the paste has cooked for a few minutes, it’s time to add about 4 tbsp of fish sauce and 3 tbsp of palm sugar. I know, I know, palm sugar is hard to find. You could probably use brown sugar or agave nectar as a substitute, but palm sugar (made from the sap of blossoms on coconut palm trees) is truly rich and wonderful. Once you’ve mixed those ingredients, add your coconut milk. You can use a can of coconut milk. I tend to buy frozen coconut milk (Indian and Thai stores carry it) which is nice because it doesn’t have preservatives. All 3 ingredients are pictured below.

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Once you’ve got all that percolating on a lower heat, you can chop up your kaffir lime leaves (see below – I grow mine on my fire escape) and also about 3 “bird’s eye” Thai chiles (I use a mix of red and green.)

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Below are the kaffir lime leaves “chiffonaded” and the bird’s eye chiles, chopped. You can add both at this point. (Or I sometimes wait till closer to the end to add the kaffir lime leaves, often saving a few for garnish.)

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Now it’s time to turn the heat back up to a boil, and add the shrimp. Push them down into the sauce, allowing them to “enjoy the jacuzzi” as my Thai cooking instructor once said.

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When the shrimp are almost done, add the bok choy, stirring thoroughly, and allow to steam. You can turn down the wok and partially throw on the lid if you like…my new Alessi wok has a lid! Once the bok choy pieces are almost done, throw in the bamboo shoots.
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At this point, you’ve got all the ingredients combined and your dish is looking fabulous.

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Serve over jasmine rice…and enjoy!

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Red Curry Coconut Sauce With Shrimp, Bok Choy and Bamboo Shoots

1/2 can coconut cream (about half a can – you can freeze other half
3 tbsp red curry paste
4 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp palm sugar
1 can coconut milk
2-3 bird’s eye chili peppers
4-6 kaffir lime leaves (chiffonaded)
1 lb shrimp (enough for two people)
2 heads baby bok choy, sliced horizontally starting from base
bamboo shoots
jasmine rice

Heat the coconut cream on high heat in the wok until it “cracks,” or becomes something that looks like oil and bubbly milk. Fry the curry paste in the cracked cream until fragrant. Add fish sauce and palm sugar; stir well. Slowly add coconut milk. Add chilis and sliced kaffir lime leaves. Bring to a boil. Drop in pieces of shrimp and push down until covered. Allow to cook for several minutes. When shrimp is almost done, add the bok choy, stirring well and allowing tougher pieces (like the stalk) to become tender. Add bamboo shoots. Serve over jasmine rice. Delicious!

Indian Chicken Curry With Chick Peas, Cauliflower & Green Peas

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indiancurry

Last night, with the first chilly nip of fall in the air, was the perfect evening to make a piping-hot Indian curry. This is a delicious recipe that I blogged about a few months back (props to reader Jimmy Thompson and blogger Trina O’Boyle for the inspiration). It requires quite a few ingredients — though, if you make curry as much as I do, you probably already have most of them in your cupboard. This is a great recipe to try if you are looking to challenge yourself, without attempting anything too complicated.

The photo above is the final product — which we enjoyed with a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Thousand Islands Winery (a gift from readers Erin and Kyle). Enjoy!

Easy Indian Chicken Curry

1 lb chicken breast on bone
2 tbsp coconut oil (or any veggie oil)
1 sweet onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
3 large black cardamon pods
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1-inch fresh ginger, grated
1 fresh tomato, diced
1 can (28-oz) diced tomatoes
1 can coconut milk
1 cup chicken broth
1 can (15-oz) chick peas
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
1 cup peas
basmati rice

Saute onion in the oil until translucent. Stir in garlic, and saute until golden. Add all the spices: black cardamon pods, bay leaf, cloves, chili powder, curry powder, coriander, cumin and ginger. Stir for a few minutes, making sure the onions are properly coated, then add the fresh tomato and can of tomato. Allow to warm, then pour in chicken broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then add chicken on bone, and reduce to simmer for half-hour (or until chicken cooked). Remove chicken, allow to cool, and take off bone, shredding into bite-sized bits. While you are waiting for the chicken to cool, you can add the cauliflower and chick peas into the curry, and simmer for 20 mins or so. Add the chicken pieces back in and peas. Allow for the flavors to meld, then serve over rice. Delicious!

Easy Indian Chicken Curry

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chicken curry

A reader named Jimmy sent an alert about a new recipe he had found on Pinterest, Crock Pot Chicken Curry, published on a blog called O’Boy! Organic. The woman who writes the blog, a mom who was inspired to make organic foods for her kids, said she first fell in love with curry while living in London….same here! She also mentions having a husband who is not fond of Indian cuisine — oh my, that would be a deal breaker in my book. In any event, I tried the recipe with a few alterations — among other things, I don’t have a crock pot (I used a big Le Creuset pot) — and post my version here. I added a few more spices than she used, and substituted cauliflower for potatoes (I don’t like potatoes – truly the only food I dislike). Thank you Jimmy and thank you Trina O’Boyle for the recipe!

Easy Indian Chicken Curry

1 lb chicken breast on bone
2 tbsp coconut oil (or any veggie oil)
1 sweet onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
3 large black cardamon pods
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1-inch fresh ginger, grated
1 fresh tomato, diced
1 can (28-oz) diced tomatoes
1 can coconut milk
1 cup chicken broth
1 can (15-oz) chick peas
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
1 cup peas
basmati rice

Saute onion in coconut oil until translucent. Stir in garlic, and saute until golden. Add all the spices: black cardamon pods, bay leaf, cloves, chili powder, curry powder, coriander, cumin and ginger. Stir for a few minutes, making sure the onions are properly coated, then add the fresh tomato and can of tomato. Allow to warm, then pour in chicken broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then add chicken on bone, and reduce to simmer for half-hour (or until chicken cooked). Remove chicken, allow to cool, and take off bone, shredding into bite-sized bits. Meanwhile, add the cauliflower and chick peas into the curry, and simmer for 20 mins or so. Add the chicken pieces back in and peas. Allow for the flavors to meld, then serve over rice. Delicious!