Wednesday, May 15, 2013
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a habitual snacker, but I’m terrified of being hungry—it makes me cranky and weak and shaky and indecisive. So I always feel better when I’ve got something to nibble on just in case, and nothing staves off my hunger pangs more than a handful of nuts. Having snacks on hand became especially important when I started my new job. Spending all day trying to learn the ropes is exhausting and overwhelming to begin with, but the company was extra busy and short-staffed when I came on board, so I was working incredibly hard right off the bat. I made sure that I was always supplied with a little container of nuts to feed my brain in the midmorning and late afternoon, but I burned through my small repertoire of roasted-nut recipes fairly quickly and decided to start in on my backlog of bookmarked new versions. This one, from Ina Garten via Eggs on Sunday, is a bit on the sweeter side than what I usually aim for, but boy howdy, is it delicious. A has declared it the all-time best, and I’m not inclined to argue.
Garten is also the creator of my special-occasion (specifically, Christmastime) nut recipe, Rosemary Roasted Cashews, and this shares some of the same ingredients and mix of sweet-spicy-salty-savory elements but takes everything up several notches. Here we have rosemary again, but also orange juice and zest, maple syrup, and a generous dose of smoky chipotle chili. The result is well-balanced and irresistible. And even though I had to laugh at the odd quantities of the different nuts called for in the recipe (basically, lots of cashews, a medium amount of walnuts and pecans, and just a few almonds, all adding up, inexplicably, to 31 ounces—for pete’s sake, why not two pounds, Ina?), I did follow it precisely for experimentation’s sake and loved the variety of the mixture. I used the bulk section at Whole Foods to get the exact amounts called for, but if it’s easier for you to buy prepackaged nuts, there’s no reason you couldn’t use, say, half cashews and half pecans and round up the quantities to an even number of pounds.
The first time I made this, I halved it because it seemed like a lot and nuts are expensive, y’all. I baked the nuts for exactly the time specified (I wasn’t thinking; I should have reduced it) and came within a hair’s breadth of burning them. They were still tasty, but decidedly on the dark—er, caramelized—side. The second time, I made the full recipe, but foolishly followed the instructions to the letter and plopped them all on a single baking sheet, even though there wasn’t room to spread them out in a single layer. Consequently, they took forever to cook. I baked them for about 15 minutes longer than the recipe said to, and they were still a little sticky when I took them out. I convinced myself they’d firm up when they cooled, but they remained a little chewy even then. Again, still tasty, but I feel as though I’ve yet to execute the recipe perfectly. I did correct the directions below to use two baking sheets if you’re making the full batch. Which you really should, because if they’re so delicious when I’ve messed them up, imagine how good they’ll be when I finally get them right!
3 cups whole roasted unsalted cashews (14 ounces)
2 cups whole walnut halves (7 ounces)
2 cups whole pecan halves (7 ounces)
½ cup whole almonds (3 ounces)
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest of half an orange
2 teaspoons ground chipotle powder
4 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves, divided
2-3 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the nuts, oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, orange juice and zest, and chipotle powder. Toss to coat the nuts evenly. Add 2 tablespoons of rosemary and 1 to 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, and toss again.
3. Divide the nuts between the two baking sheets and spread them out in a single layer. Roast for 25 minutes, stirring about halfway through, until glazed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with another teaspoon or so of salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons of minced rosemary.
4. Stir well and set the nuts aside on their baking sheets to cool at room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent them from sticking together too much as they cool. Store in an airtight container.
Time: 40 minutes
Leftover potential: Good; will keep in a sealed container at room temperature for at least a week, or can be frozen indefinitely.
Monday, April 29, 2013
It is both tantalizing and frustrating to be hungry for something extremely specific. I’m not sure why this particular craving popped up now (it may have something to do with starting a new job and needing comfort food), but about four years ago I had mushrooms on toast for the first time, at the restaurant on the second floor of the co-op in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and I have thought of that meal intermittently ever since. I can’t even remember the precise details of the original dish, except that it was both new to me and delicious, yet somehow it evolved into a very particular desire to make my own mushrooms on toast, with cheese and a poached egg. Although it sounds simple enough to go out and do on one’s own, I first searched to see what recipes were available online, because I
I started with this mushrooms on toast recipe from The Kitchn, doubling the quantity because I wanted it to be a main dish and leaving out the crème fraiche because I was planning on adding cheese. I wanted my toast to be sturdy enough to hold the toppings, so I toasted it lightly in the toaster first, even though I would also be running it under the broiler at the end to melt the cheese. I couldn’t decide whether the cheese should go under or over the mushrooms, so A suggested I do both, which turned out to be a wise decision. The little layer of cheese under the mushrooms helped them adhere to the toast, and the layer on top, of course, became all browned and crisp under the broiler. I used Asiago because it has an assertive flavor that goes well with mushrooms, but mostly because I had some in the fridge that I wanted to use up. I could see Gruyere, Pecorino Romano, Parmesan, or even a sharp cheddar working too. At the end, I plopped poached eggs on top, tossed an arugula salad on the side, and hoped for the best.
Did it taste anything like that inspirational brunch dish from LaCrosse? I couldn’t tell. No Proustian memories came rushing back when I took my first bite. Was it delicious? Absolutely. And did it satisfy my naggingly specific hunger? Yes! I wouldn’t change a thing next time. It made a surprisingly hearty meal (my slices of bread were on the large side) that had to be tackled with a knife and fork, yet it had a certain casual, homey, I-just-threw-this-together elegance to it. We both enjoyed it, but deep down I’m especially pleased that I managed to give myself exactly what I wanted.
1 pound cremini mushrooms, washed and thickly sliced
1 shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 large clove of garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
A splash of white wine
Shredded Asiago or Gruyere cheese (sharp cheddar, Parmesan, or Pecorino Romano would also work)
4 slices of rustic bread, lightly toasted
- Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add all the mushrooms and give the pan a quick shake to distribute them in an even layer. Let them sit without stirring to take on some color, about 1 minute or so. Watch carefully and lower heat if they begin to burn, but keep it as high as possible.
- Stir the mushrooms and cook for another minute or so until evenly colored. Sprinkle on a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Add the shallot, stir briefly, and cook for 30 seconds. Add the wine, the garlic, and the thyme and remove from the heat. The pan should be hot enough to keep cooking everything (the wine will probably evaporate on contact).
- Heat water for poaching eggs.
- Preheat the broiler and place the pieces of toast on a baking sheet. Top each one with a light sprinkling of cheese, one-fourth of the mushrooms, and more cheese to taste. Broil just until cheese is melted and top is lightly browned.
- Meanwhile, poach eggs. Serve the eggs atop the mushroom-cheese toasts.
Time: 25 minutes
Leftover potential: No.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Well, we survived—and even enjoyed—the soup, so it was time to be brave and give cauliflower a shot in its natural form. Just after I made this momentous decision, I picked up a copy of Bon Appetit in the waiting room of my dentist’s office and voila! There was a gorgeous photo of some caramelized cauliflower, adorned with onions and thyme. When I read the barely-even-a-recipe paragraph-long description and realized there was cheese involved as well, it took all my good citizen instincts to restrain me from tearing out the page right then and there. (Instead, I very considerately and sensibly jotted down a note to myself to look up the recipe online when I got home.)
This is not only a cinch to make, but it’s also just as delicious as it looks. I used some beautiful orange cauliflower because I couldn’t resist it at the farmers’ market (doesn’t it look like it should be cheddar-flavored?) but otherwise followed directions exactly. As with most vegetables, roasting does magical things to cauliflower, and of course the sweet onion, pungent garlic, earthy thyme, and salty cheese make everything even better. My only complaint was that after a couple of bites, it seemed to cry out for a little acid to perk it up and balance out all the nutty, bitter notes. I didn’t actually give this a try, afraid of ruining things, and we happily made short work of all our cauliflower just as it was, but next time I’d like to try a roasted cauliflower recipe that includes lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, just to see how that goes. (The longer I’ve been cooking, the more I’ve noticed that I’m a bit of a tartness junkie. Tastes a bit bland? Add acid!) Regardless, this is a stellar recipe, especially if, like me, you’re a cauliflower skeptic.
1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
1 medium onion, cut into eighths
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 medium unpeeled garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup grated Parmesan
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- On a large rimmed baking sheet (coated with parchment if desired), toss cauliflower, onion, thyme, garlic, and olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.
- Roast, tossing occasionally, until almost tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan, toss to combine, and roast until cauliflower is tender and golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes longer. (The original recipe neglects to say what to do with the garlic, but I just peeled it after roasting and put one clove in each serving.)
Time: 1 hour
Leftover potential: OK.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
More baked oatmeal! I love it so. It’s incredibly comforting to have a warm, delicious breakfast ready to go on a chilly morning. My standard version is just dandy, but it turns out that fruit (or vegetable, in the case of pumpkin) puree adds tons of moisture and nutrients, as well as flavor. This version, amped up with walnuts, a bit of brown sugar, and cinnamon—which of course I augmented with a little cardamom—in addition to the mashed banana, truly is reminiscent of banana bread. The recipe is from Budget Bytes, which has proven to be a veritable cornucopia of intriguing-sounding baked oatmeal options. The first time I set out to make it I ended up veering into this separate (but very similar) version, because I had some leftover blueberries in the fridge that were getting past their prime. It smelled wonderful while baking, but I didn’t particularly love the result. Granted, for most of my life I’ve been mildly grossed out by bananas and haven’t cared for blueberries in baked goods, but I thought those days were behind me. I still don’t eat whole bananas on their own, but I like them in other formats, including cake, cookies, pancakes, and pudding. And blueberry buttermilk cake is one of my very favorite summer desserts! Yet I didn’t enjoy the flavor or texture of the blueberry banana oatmeal; it was quite damp and overpoweringly banana-y, and the blueberries didn’t break down at all, and I’m sure it was my error or hangup and no fault of the recipe, but bleah.
Yet banana oatmeal still sounded potentially tasty to me, so I decided to give the non-blueberry recipe a try and just ease off on the banana slightly. The original recipe called for four medium bananas or 1½ cups mashed, so I bought three small ones, got about 1¼ cups of puree, and made up the liquid deficit by adding ¼ cup extra milk. I don’t know if using a tiny bit less banana really made such a difference, but something must have done the trick, because I enjoyed this oatmeal. It’s fluffy, not too sweet, properly banana-bread-esque without overwhelming the flavor of the oats, and keeps me full all morning. I love that I now have three different baked oatmeal variations I can rotate among, especially since I started my new job last month and definitely need to have convenient, nourishing breakfast treats on hand so I can fuel up for another intense day of learning what the heck I’m supposed to be doing! I bake up a big dish of oatmeal on the weekends and it keeps me happily fed all week long.
1 to 1½ cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 to 4 medium)
⅓ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 to 2½ cups milk (depending on how much banana you use; milk and banana together should total 3½ cups)
2½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon cardamom
½ cup chopped walnuts
Canola or coconut oil
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, whisk the mashed bananas together with the brown sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk in the milk, then stir in the oats. Roughly chop the walnuts and stir them in as well.
- Oil the inside of an 8-by-8 glass baking dish. Pour in the oat mixture. Cover with foil (optional) and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil (if using) and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the center is solid and the edges are slightly golden brown.
- Serve warm or cold, topped with milk, yogurt, fruit, or whatever else you like.
Time: 1 hour
Leftover potential: Great; will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for a week; reheat individual portions in the microwave. Note that the oatmeal may turn slightly gray as the banana oxidizes, but it will still be safe to eat.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen is a blogger after my own heart, especially where fritters are concerned. A peek at my archives reveals no less than 10 fritter recipes, and three of them are from Smitten Kitchen: Indian-spiced vegetable fritters, zucchini-ham-ricotta fritters, and some tasty broccoli Parmesan fritters I haven’t posted about yet because the first time I made them, I scarfed them down before they could be photographed. So as soon as The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook came out and I snagged a copy at the library, I hoped a new fritter twist would be waiting inside, and I wasn’t disappointed. Leek fritters, no less! With lemony sauce!
A doesn’t especially love leeks, so I waited to make these until he was out of town. Blanching the leeks and squeezing them dry was a slight hassle, but no worse than shredding and squeezing zucchini, and everything else came together easily. I got slightly fewer fritters than promised—more like 6 than 10—but perhaps I just made mine larger than I was meant to; at any rate, it was a perfect meal for one person with a small salad on the side, and maybe a few left over for lunch the next day. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a leek fritter, but these were surprisingly unobtrusive. The blanched leeks melt into the rest of the batter, giving them a tender interior with the usual crisp frittery exterior, and the oniony flavor is quite delicate, which makes the tang of the creamy, garlicky, lemony sauce (I used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream) a welcome contrast. And the springy green color is so lovely. I’m kicking myself for not trying these with a poached egg on top as the original recipe notes suggest, but that just gives me an excuse to make them again soon. It’s possible that A wouldn’t even hate them—but if he does, more for me!
On her blog, Perelman jokes that she may need a “frittervention,” but I hope she keeps the pan-fried-vegetable iterations coming. In the meantime, now that I’m cautiously tolerating cauliflower, I may need to try her cauliflower and feta fritter recipe.
2 pounds leeks (about 3 very large ones)
½ teaspoon table salt, plus more to taste
2 scallions, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
A few gratings of lemon zest
1 small garlic clove, minced
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While it heats, trim the leeks, leaving only the white and pale green parts. Halve them lengthwise and wash well under cold water. On a cutting board, slice crosswise into ¼-inch strips. When the water boils, add the leeks and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until slightly softened but not limp. Drain and wring out in a dishtowel.
- Transfer the leeks to a large bowl and stir in the scallions. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, ½ teaspoon salt, baking powder, and black pepper to taste. Stir the dry ingredients into the leek mixture, then stir in the egg until the mixture is evenly coated.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Drop heaping spoonfuls of the leek mixture into the skillet and flatten with the back of a spatula. Cook until golden underneath, about 3 minutes. Flip fritters and cook for about 3 more minutes, or until the other side is browned. Drain fritters on paper towels and then transfer them to a cooling rack (or a 250-degree oven if you want to keep them warmer) while you repeat the process with the remaining leek mixture.
- While fritters cook, stir together yogurt, lemon juice and zest, garlic, and salt to taste in a small bowl. Serve atop the fritters.
Time: 30 minutes
Leftover potential: OK; cooked fritters can be stored in the fridge for up to a week and reheated in a dry skillet over medium heat (or, according to the original recipe, in a 325-degree oven). Perelman also says that they can also be frozen for months in a well-sealed package and reheated in the oven.
Friday, March 15, 2013
Hand pies, hand pies! I feel like every hand pie recipe I’ve tried (this is my third) has been slightly troublesome in some way, yet I still love them. Because how could one not like filling enveloped in a flaky, buttery crust? In this case, the real “trouble” was only that I had way too much filling to fit inside the amount of puff pastry called for, necessitating the purchase of another box of pastry dough and the assembly of another four pies a few days after the initial eight. Maybe I was supposed to have filled them fuller, although I really don’'t see how I could be expected to cram more in there or stretch the dough any thinner. Since the unbaked pies keep very well in the freezer, ready to be whipped out and baked up for easy future weeknight dinners, this was actually a boon—except for the legitimate obstacle of finding good puff pastry dough. Most ordinary grocery stores only carry the Pepperidge Farm stuff, which I’ve used in a pinch but it has a scarily long list of ingredients, including partially hydrogenated oil and high-fructose corn syrup. Trader Joe’s has a great, reasonably priced all-butter puff pastry dough, but it turns out it’s considered a “seasonal” item and isn’t available year-round. After trying my luck at no less than three separate Trader Joe’s locations and coming up empty, I desperately turned to a gourmet grocery store in my neighborhood and bought a box of good-quality all-butter puff pastry for an embarrassingly high price ($10!). Then when I discovered I’d need even more pastry, I tried Whole Foods, where I found…that same brand of good-quality all-butter puff pastry, for the same exorbitant price. Reader, I paid it. Even having spent an atrocious $15 on puff pastry, the rest of the ingredients came so cheaply and I made so many pies that I figure they still averaged out to only a few dollars per serving. I’m sure DIY is the way to go here, but I just don’t foresee myself learning how to make pastry in the near future, so next time I see puff pastry in stock at Trader Joe’s, I’m filling up my freezer. But really, with all that butter, puff pastry is only a “sometimes food” anyway (as Cookie Monster would say), so its scarcity won’t ruin my life.
Beyond all these travails, the filling itself was really easy to make (except I really loathe defrosting and squeezing out frozen spinach; it gets everywhere) and delicious, reminiscent of spanakopita. Spinach + feta + lemon is a match made in heaven. I was first inspired to make these by a post on Budget Bytes that showed a similar filling baked into a single pie, also a nice idea (and it uses just one sheet of puff pastry, which is both cheaper and healthier) but I do love a hand pie, so some Internet searching turned up this even better version (because it uses feta too) at Small Time Cooks. (The original recipe is from Everyday Food, but for some reason it doesn’t show up on a search of the Martha Stewart site.) I love that the recipe included freezing directions, since puff pastry is best freshly baked; I’ll employ that technique with all other hand pies from now on.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
40 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups crumbled feta
Juice from 1 large lemon (2–4 tablespoons)
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Coarse salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 large egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water, for egg wash
All-purpose flour, for work surface
1 to 1½ boxes frozen puff pastry, thawed but still cold (where each box is about 16 to 17 ounces and contains two sheets of pastry; start with two sheets, or one box, and use the third if you still have leftover filling)
- In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat; add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl; mix in spinach, feta, lemon juice, and cayenne. Season filling with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with racks in the upper and lower thirds.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each of two sheets of dough into a 12-inch square; cut each square into quarters to make 8 smaller squares. Dividing evenly, spoon filling onto the center of each of the 8 squares. Lightly brush two adjoining edges of each square with some egg wash. Fold these edges over filling to form a triangle; press firmly to seal (dough should be tightly pressed around filling). With a floured fork, crimp edges.
- If you still have filling left over, repeat step 3 with the remaining sheet of dough to make 12 pies.
- Transfer pies to two baking sheets (lined with parchment if desired); brush tops with remaining egg wash. Bake until golden and puffed, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.
Time: 1½ hours
Leftover potential: Good; already-baked puff pastry isn’t as good the next day (it tends to get kind of greasy, although it still tastes just fine). But it’s easy to freeze the raw pies and bake them later. Just place the unbaked pies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and put them in the freezer for an hour or so; once they’re frozen, package them up (I just placed them in a Tupperware box with waxed paper between the layers, but you can also wrap them individually in plastic wrap and put them in a resealable plastic bag) and you can store them in the freezer for up to 2 months. To bake from frozen, just unwrap them and follow the directions in step 5, adding 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time if needed.
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
We used to have a favorite neighborhood Thai restaurant. When I first moved here, I was addicted to its fast, fresh, cheap, and delicious food, and since it was only a block away, we’d stroll over to pick up takeout on a regular basis. It was our go-to place to feed visitors, especially since it’s attached to the hotel where my parents always stay when they’re in town. Now that my own cooking has become much more frequent and adventurous, ordering takeout isn’t a regular part of our lives, but I still crave Thai food from time to time. And maybe I just overdosed on our place, but it just doesn’t seem quite as good to me as it once did. It’s undergone a change in name and management (although the décor and menu have remained similar enough that I’m pretty sure the new management is related to the old), and every time I walk past, it looks abandoned. I keep expecting to find it closed, and even though we no longer frequent it, that would make me sad, because then I’d have to go through all the hassle of finding a new Thai place (yes, I am a creature of habit).
Yet this still wouldn’t have been enough to inspire me to try replicating my favorite Thai restaurant dishes at home. I’ve gotten a bit bolder than I used to be about tackling Asian-inspired recipes (fish sauce now has a permanent place in my pantry), but I doubt my ability—or at least initiative—to concoct anything authentic enough to compete with a good restaurant. So when my friend S recommended this recipe from Cooking Light, I didn’t immediately jump to make it, despite the fact that tom kha gai had been our favorite soup order from the local Thai place. Honestly, it looked way too simple to be very good, and the reviews were somewhat mixed. But eventually I got curious and gave it a shot.
Is this especially authentic? No (it’s my understanding that galangal is a key ingredient of traditional tom kha gai, and that’s missing here). Is it as good as restaurant tom kha gai? No. But does it have more flavor than I expected a recipe this streamlined to have? Yes. And is it a delicious, ridiculously easy to make coconut chicken soup with mushrooms? Absolutely. A and I both thoroughly enjoyed it (he willingly late the leftovers, which is my barometer for determining whether he actually likes something, especially soup).
I was able to buy a single stalk of lemongrass at the farmers’ market, which was nice. I often use light coconut milk (mostly because that’s what Trader Joe’s has) but opted for the regular stuff here to avoid making the soup too thin, which I think was the right call (if even Cooking Light doesn’t specify light coconut milk, it may be a sign not to use it). I had to go with Vietnamese chili paste, sambal oelek, because my grocery store didn’t have a Thai version and had no time to go hunting, but the chili taste is subtle here, so I doubt it makes a very discernible difference; I actually ended up adding a teaspoon or so extra for more heat. (A lot of the Cooking Light commenters mentioned using “curry paste,” which is a different thing entirely; I’m not sure if they mistyped or misread.) I was confused by the direction to use “quarter-size pieces” of ginger (do I then remove them along with the lemongrass, or do I just have giant ginger chunks in my soup?), so I diced them as I do in most other recipes, but then I ended up having to chew a lot of ginger, so scratch that; I guess it’s better to leave the pieces big and then people can eat them or avoid them as they prefer.
Other than that I basically made the recipe as written, but with a bit more lime juice and mushrooms—I had an 8-ounce package and didn’t have a use for the leftovers, so I ended up putting in the whole thing, and I’ll admit the end result was very mushroomy (sort of like a Thai version of cream of mushroom soup). I didn’t mind it but will maybe cut back slightly next time. I also found myself hankering for a leafy green and might try adding a little baby bok choy in the future, even though it’s not strictly traditional. I served spring rolls on the side, although that upped the difficulty of the meal considerably, so next time I’ll probably just do a simple green salad instead for a truly effortless weeknight dinner.
14 ounces coconut milk
14 ounces reduced-sodium chicken broth
6 quarter-size slices fresh ginger
1 stalk fresh lemongrass, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup sliced mushrooms (I used cremini)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Thai chili paste
Salt to taste
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
¼ cup fresh cilantro
1. In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, broth, ginger, and lemongrass and bring to a boil over high heat.
2. Add chicken, mushrooms, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and chili paste. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is firm and opaque, 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Discard lemongrass. Season soup with salt to taste. Portion into four bowls and garnish every serving with 1 tablespoon each basil and cilantro.
Time: 30 minutes
Leftover potential: Good (will separate as it cools, but just stir it back together when reheating).