Dish # 6: Chu Chee Shrimp (Thailand)

I am happy to report that this one totally made up for the semi-disaster of the last recipe.

I first heard about this dish while I was perusing the book 1001 Foods to Die For (which, if anyone feels so inclined, I would welcome as a gift). It is essentially a Thai shrimp curry and it is basic and easy and delicious.

In Thailand, shrimp or prawns are most often used for this curry, but you can also find it made with fish or scallops or a combination of seafood. Fun Fact: it is named Chu Chee because that is the sound the sauce makes when it is boiling.

I saw many different recipes for this dish, some were more complicated than others, but they all probably lead to the same end result: a slightly sweet and slightly spicy bowl of goodness.

2T canola oil
2T red curry paste
1 cup coconut milk
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined; tales removed
juice from 1/2 lime
2T fish sauce
3T brown sugar

In a large skillet or wok over high heat, add the canola oil and curry paste and mix together. Add 1/2 the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook until pink.

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Once the shrimp is cooked through, add the rest of the coconut milk, fish sauce the brown sugar, and the lime juice. Note that all the recipes I read called for Palm Sugar. I didn’t have any palm sugar, so I just used brown sugar.

Also worth noting in this stage, the fish sauce does not smell good, but trust me, it is essential to Thai cooking and it adds great flavor. A little goes a long way.

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Once everything is done and you’re ready to serve, top with some Thai basil (Mediterranean basil is fine too), sliced chiles, if you want, and serve with rice.

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I probably could have added more sauce to my serving, but it was yummy, yummy! My one-year-old even loved the rice. She devoured it!

Dish #5: Shish Barak (Lebanon)

Shish Barak in Yogurt sauce is a Lebanese dish likely held over from when the region was occupied by the Ottoman Turks. When made correctly, I could see this being a sort of comfort food.

This may have been the first dish that didn’t really come out how it was probably supposed to. I post this here with apologize to Lebanese people everywhere.

This took me what felt like a long time to make. I’m sure with a lot of practice this dish wouldn’t take nearly as long as it took me tonight.

I will say the flavors of this dish were fantastic, so I will definitely be taking another go at it.

I’m not going to spell out the recipe I used because it’s long, but know that I used the dough from this recipe and the meat and yogurt from this recipe.

I started out making the dough. It was very easy, though I had to add a bit more water to make it come together.
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While the dough was resting, I made the meat mixture. Most often in Lebanon, when red meat is eaten it is lamb. I’m not huge fan of lamb, so I made mine with beef, which I think is acceptable. It was seasoned with Lebanese spice which has things in it like all-spice and nutmeg and the whole thing smelled like Thanksgiving. If this is a common spice used, it must smell like Thanksgiving there all the time! Though I guess Lebanon doesn’t have Thanksgiving so…. Bottom Line: meat was delicious!

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Next I rolled out the dough and cut little circles. Make the dough is on the thin side. I used a small biscuit cutter to make my circles.

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Then you stuff the dumplings. Traditionally, these are small, but honestly, I would have preferred to make them bigger so there was more meat in each bite.

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If you can, get help here. It’s tedious ūüė¶

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Set those aside and make the sauce. The recipe called for Labneh but Greek yogurt is just fine. That’s what I used. The sauce is yogurt and some water melted together in a pan. Once it’s hot, add salt, garlic, mint and lemon juice. Garlic and lemon are popular in Lebonese cuisine, though I think this sauce could have used more garlic.
Add the dumplings and let them cook in the sauce.

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The sauce is where I messed up. Granted the flavors were there and it was a great flavor palate, my yogurt fell apart because my heat was too high. It resembled ricotta cheese instead of the creamy yogurt it was supposed to be. Next time I’ll have to fix that.

I would definitely recommend making this dish, but maybe on the weekend when I won’t feel so rushed.

Enjoy!

Dish #4: Israeli Turkey Schnitzel with Israeli Salad

When I was looking into the cuisine of Israel, I wasn’t really expecting to find something like this, mainly because I make something similar all the time! This is probably among the easiest of the dishes I will make for this blog and is perfect for a weeknight dinner. My one-year-old loved it… well, as much as she could eat without all her molars.

Schnitzel was brought to Israel by the Jews of Central Europe when the State of Israel was in its beginning stages. At the time, veal (which is the main component of Weinerschnitzel) was unavailable in the region so Turkey was a widely available and inexpensive substitute. The main difference between weinerschnitzel and the Israeli adaptation is the lack of butter. To keep with kashrut laws, the dairy and the meat cannot mix, so oil is only used. Sometimes the seasonings are changed up a bit, for example Yemenite Jews add the seasoning hawaij, which incidentally is what I did as well.

Everywhere I looked for this recipe, all the commentary proved that this is a very common dish in Israel. Paired with an Israeli salad, it makes for a great dinner.  All you need is a quick Google search and you will find all sorts of recipes for both the schnitzel and the salad. They are all very basic with a few changes here and there depending on who is making it.  Here is what I did based on my readings of other recipes:

Heat canola oil over medium heat in a big skillet. You don’t need much, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan with about 1/2″ oil.
In a bowl mix together: 1 cup panko bread crumbs, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp garam masala*
In a separate bowl, beat 2 eggs.
Working one at a time, dip chicken or turkey cutlets** in the egg and then in the breadcrumb mixture.
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Add the cutlets to the hot oil and pan fry about 4-5¬† minutes on each side, depending on thickness. Mine were about 1/4″ thick so it didn’t take long at all.
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*I didn’t have all the ingredients needed for hawaij, but the garam masala has pretty much the same ingredients so I used it. It may not make this traditional, but it was yummy!
**You can also buy chicken or turkey breasts and butterfly them. Trader Joes sells turkey cutlets that are perfect for this.

While the meat is cooking you can put the salad together. This is hard for me to give you an exact recipe because I only made enough for one. The thing with this salad is you need to eat it right away because the oil and lemon juice will wreak havoc on the cucumber and it will not taste good. You can always chop the veggies and add the dressing later.

1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped cucumbers
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (everywhere I look says green, but I used yellow because it looks so nice)
pinch of salt and pepper to taste
juice of half a lemon
stream in olive oil so it’s dressed to your liking. Some people like more, some like less

I’ve seen people add green onions, mint, garlic, but this seems to be the most traditional.

This is definitely something I can see myself making again. It was really quick and easy, which is important for a working mom like myself, and most importantly, it was delicious!

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Dish #3: Lomo Saltado (Peru)

I actually hesitated about doing this dish because theoretically this blog is about me trying new things and I’ve had this many times before. But it’s also just about exploring and introducing all 5 of you reading this to new cuisines.

I was first introduced to Lomo Saltado from a food truck that used to come to my husband’s old office. I liked it so much I had to learn how to make it myself.

Lomo Saltado comes from Peru and is part of the chifa influence of the country’s cuisine. A large influx of Chinese people immigrated from the southern region of China to Peru (mainly Lima) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Naturally, the cuisines merged and today Chinese-Peruvian food is some of the most popular dishes in the country.

Here is my take on Lomo Saltado, which I must say, my husband requested seconds of, which always makes me happy.

1 lb beef steak (whatever cut you like) cut into thin strips, about 1/8″ to 1/4″
Half an onion, thinly sliced
1 Roma tomato, sliced
1/4 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2-3 cloves minced garlic
3/4 tablespoon cumin
White rice
Frozen French fries (or you can be fancy-schmancy and make them from scratch)

In a bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients.

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Heat vegetable oil in a large wok or skillet over medium high heat. Add meat mixture. The meat will cook pretty quickly, so make sure the rest of the dish (rice and potatoes/fries) is ready to go.

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Once the meat and onions are almost done, add the tomatoes. Do this last so they don’t get mushy.

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Serve the meat and with the fries over rice. Spoon some of the sauce the meat simmered in over the dish. Enjoy!

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There is an optional green sauce you can serve it with too. I’m not sure how traditional it is, but the food truck made it and it was delish!

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In a food processor, combine cilantro (to taste, I don’t like cilantro, so I didn’t use much), 1 seeded jalape√Īo, 1/2 an avocado, and 4oz of sour cream.

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I hope you like it!!

Roasted Garlic & Jalapeno Hummus (Freebie!!)

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OK, so I know hummus has been around for hundreds of years, but it is new to me. I’m not counting this as one of my 80 dishes, so this is just a freebie cuz I like you guys so much ūüôā

According to my trusted sources (ahem, Wikipedia), Hummus has been around pretty much forever, give or take a century or two. It is a popular Levantian food, meaning it originates in the Levant region which today consists of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and part of southern Turkey.

Hummus means “chickpea” in Arabic and that is the main ingredient in hummus. The basic recipe for hummus is chickpeas, sesame, lemon, and garlic. Over time, the recipe has evolved and now you can see many types of hummus in kitchens and in the market. The best part is that hummus is actually really healthy. It is high in iron and vitamin C; it is a good source of folate and vitamin B6; it is a good source of dietary fibers and amino acids.¬† It seems it would have been a great thing for me to eat when I was preggo, but too little too late on that one.

I tried hummus a long time ago and I didn’t like it at all. Just last weekend, I tried some homemade hummus at a farmer’s market in Half Moon Bay, CA and was floored. It was so good! It was creamy and light and the flavor was really good. The girl who made the hummus told me that the homemade makes all the difference, that the lack of preservatives really makes for a superior product

That’s it, I was set. As soon as I got home, I went to the store and gathered up some ingredients, determined to make my own hummus. I like to think it was a success! Next time, I will probably add more jalapenos or maybe even just experiment with different add-ins.

Hummus

1 15oz can chickpeas, drained
1 head of garlic, roasted
1-2 jalapenos (depending on your tolerance), diced. It doesn’t have to be small, the blender will just mix it up anyway.
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 Tablespoons Tahini
1 teaspoon salt4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup warm water

Slice off the top of the head of garlic so the cloves are exposed, about 1/4 inch or so. Wrap in foil with some olive oil and put in a 375 degree oven for an hour. Let cool. (Seriously, you will burn your fingers. Don’t ask me how I know this.)

Put all the ingredients in a blender (take the cloves of garlic out of the bulb first) and blend until everything is combined and the consistency is to your liking. My Vitamix was perfect for this. If it is too thick, you can add more olive oil.

Serve with pita, pita chips, or veggies.¬† I used pita chips, which I like, but I think next time i’ll either try a different brand or make my own because I used Stacey’s and they were not great. Plus the whole bag was pretty much broken when I first bought it and I’ve heard from others that has been their experience as well.

Anyway, I hope you like this recipe and if you happen to spill some on your dress before a big night out, make sure to have a big Christmas bow available to cover it up!

“Hummus. I got the hummus….”¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† “Alright fine, I’ll be politcal.”
“What are you supporting?”
“Duh, Christmas!”

Dish #2: K√∂ttbullar (Swedish Meatballs)

Swedish food was definitely something I wanted to make sure to include on this foodie journey. My Great-Great-Grandfather, Charles Strom, was born in Sweden in 1880, so it is quite literally in my blood. My husband’s Great-Great-Grandfather, Sven Lundberg, was also born in Sweden in 1857, so you see why we would be interested in exploring the culture. (thanks, Ancestry.com!)

Most cultures have some sort of take on the meatball. Swedish meatballs became very popular in the US when Scandinavians settled here and brought their delicious recipes with them.  The Swedish meatball itself is thought to have been brought to Sweden by King Charles XII after his exile in Istanbul.

In my research, I’ve discovered that there are many ways to make these meatballs. Breadcrumbs, soaked bread. All beef, a mix of beef, pork and sometimes veal. Just salt and pepper, a variety of spices. Mostly it is served with potatoes and cream sauce with Lingonberries, but sometimes it is served with egg noodles. The point is, it seems to be more of a method as opposed to a fast and hard recipe. After reading up many different takes, I went ahead and just made up my own recipe and I have to say that it was delicious!

First, my Lingonberry Tale: It is hard to find Lingonberries in SoCal. It is easier to find Lingonberry preserves, but still not easy and I didn’t feel like driving 16 miles down the 405 to the closest IKEA. I found them at Ralph’s near my work. I thought to myself, “Great! I’ll pick them up after I get back from my trip!” I went today and they were gone. Moral of the story: If you see them, pick them up! I ended up using cranberries because all the websites I looked at say that is the next closest match.

Swedish Meatballs with Gravy and Mashed Potatoes

Meatballs
1 pound each ground beef and ground pork
2 pieces white bread
milk
half a yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 egg
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon All-Spice
Flour (for dredging)

Gravy
6T butter
6T flour
1 10.5oz can beef broth
milk

In a bowl, break up the bread in a bowl and put just enough milk for the bread to soak up. It shouldn’t take much. In the same bowl, add the meats. Mix well. Add in onions and garlic. You can chop and dice if you want, but I just ran them across a grater because I don’t like big chunks of onion. It made for a nice texture in the meatball. Add in the egg, salt and pepper to taste (just a heavy pinch or two), and All-Spice. Use your hands and mix it all together.

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Form the balls. You can make them big or small, just make sure they are all roughly the same size. Dredge in flour.

Melt butter over medium-high heat and put the meatballs in the skillet. Let them cook for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.¬† Don’t crowd the pan. I had to do mine in two batches.

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The dusting of flour gives it a nice crunch on the outside. I love the texture!

The dusting of flour gives it a nice crunch on the outside. I love the texture!

After the balls are done, set them aside. Use the same skillet to make the gravy. I had to wipe mine out a bit and add fresh butter because the butter started to burn. Mix together the butter and flour until it gets clumpy like wet sand. Add the beef broth slowly, stirring with each addition. Add enough milk to get the consistency of a sauce. Keep stirring until it is all incorporated.

Serve with mashed potatoes and a side of lingonberry perserves. A bite of the meatball with a little of the berry is really quite tasty.

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I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!