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Posts Tagged ‘spicy’

I was such a fool to believe that it was merely called a lettuce wrap and not Larb Gai.  For years now I have been this idiotic – for shame!  Though often times considered a Thai dish its origins more accurately bring it from Laos where it is the national dish; a meat salad, if you will.  Most importantly, it is delicious!

After looking over your recipe, your first step is to go directly to your favorite Asian grocer – mine is the Shuang Hur Oriental Market, on Nicollet.  The store is huge, wonderful and ridiculously affordable.  They even have live fish, lobster and oysters in the back of the store.  If you are choosing to make chicken larb gai, and not a red meat variant, you MAY have to go to a different store to pick up some chicken, because when I was there I only saw smoked chicken.  There was whole chicken available as well ( I think…) but I was not in the mood to dismember an entire bird.  Once you’ve gathered all of your ingredients, you are ready to rock n roll!

When you get home, make sure to dig out the rice cooker that is buried in your cupboard.  I know you only use it a handful of times…unless you don’t.  You should have purchased sticky rice at Shuang Hur (5# for $5).  If you didn’t, go back and buy some, seriously.  Long grain rice just won’t work with this since it gives off a completely different experience.  In your rice cooker, drop in 1 cup of rice for each 1 1/2 cup of water, and let the cooker cook the rice – it’s only job.  If you don’t have this space hogging device, a regular sauce pan will suffice.

Whether you bought an entire bird, or just chicken breasts, you really need to cut it up in to sizable pieces in order to properly grind the meat in your food processor, or meat grinder – whichever you prefer.  Another option is to buy already ground chicken; though this idea did not particularly excite me so I stuck with the breasts, because I’m like that (!!!).

For some reason, the prospect of raw meat touching my food processor icked me out.   Regardless, I did it.

Just a few pulses allows you to get the above results.  It is not over-processed and it is not as mealy as ground meat – a nice balance.  After disinfecting your work area, toss the meat in a pan to cook with a couple of tablespoon of water.  It will not take long to cook the chicken all of the way through since it is so exposed to the heat source.  In that two minute time period though, you should be breaking up the clumps in to smaller pieces, ensuring they aren’t cooking in a large clump.

When cooked all of the way through, pour the meat in to a bowl and add the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon hot chili powder,
  • 4 teaspoons fish sauce,
  • 5 teaspoons lime juice,
  • 1/4 cup slivered red onions,
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, and
  • 2 tablespoons sliced scallions and mix thoroughly.

You are practically ready to eat!  Just slice up some seedless cucumbers, take your fully cooked sticky rice out of the rice cooker, wash some lettuce and get your mint out!

You can make little chicken wraps with the lettuce, add the cukes and mint, or merely use your fingers to grab some sticky rice and then the chicken larb.  This dish has so many wonderful flavors that work splendidly together, that you will have an umami explosion in your mouth!

If you have any leftover cooked rice, heat it up in a sauce pan with some coconut milk – voila, dessert!

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Diablo Peanut Brittle

I got into making candy.  Really, I. Got. In. To. Making. CANDY.  I’m not one much for peanut brittle, or any nutty candy (Nut Rolls being an exception – weird) but figure that I am not like a lot of people and since this candy was for other people, I tried my best to please them.  Let’s face it, peanut brittle, while charming during the winter doesn’t fit in with the other six months of the year.  Until now.

Never having a candy making extraordinaire  in my family, I didn’t have reliable recipe and like most things, utilized the Internet to find a recipe which conformed to ingredients I already had on hand.  That’s when I came across this recipe.  It is really straight forward and full proof so long as you keep your watchful eye on the thermometer (which you already learned when we made caramel).

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The peanuts I bought were roasted dry peanuts from the big box grocery store from the bulk section.  You get a lot more bang for your buck when buying in bulk rather than buying jars and jars of Planters.
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Maybe at this point you’re wondering what’s so great about this peanut brittle that makes it different from your Christmas kind and thus appropriate at other times of the year.  The method has been the same, the ingredients have been the same.  So What gives?

Stop.  Go through your spice rack and scour it for some spicy goodness.  I don’t have a spice rack so I had to go through the spice cupboard and took out some cayenne and red pepper flakes.  I  merely eye balled the amount I put in (I also thought this was a good idea since I already drank four beers at the time) and hoped for the best.  If  had to guess though, I’d say I put in a teaspoon of red pepper flakes and maybe a tablespoon of cayenne.
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You can really see how the cayenne changes the color of the brittle.

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You can see the color more here as the candy is nearly done.  It just needs to cool and harden.  I poured all of the contents of the pot on to two Silpat sheets.  If you don’t have Silpats, pour onto greased cookie sheets.  Using my hands, I stretched the candy and distribute the peanuts, but not so far as to have any peanut-free pieces.  When it fully cooled I broke it into individual pieces.

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It was hard to decipher how much cayenne and red pepper flakes to add.  I like spicy things spicy and this did not fulfill that for me.  However, the spices were also not distributed evenly, so I may have had some weak pieces.  This merely means that I will have to try again!  More on that later…

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It was getting cold and cloudy up here in the great North.  The kind of weather where you want to hunker down in your house for the rest of the season until you can step out your door and see the trees budding, and the birds chirping again.   If only we lived our lives like bears.  Instead I stayed inside and made the house smell glorious as David worked upstairs hanging his new TV on the wall.  (Sometimes we like to do gendered housework…and then make fun of it.  What?)

Chili is one of the easiest things to make.  Add this, a bit of that.  Chop this, mince that.  Measure this, this, and this and throw it in the pot.  Open this can, wash it out.  Open this other can, wash it out.  Open this can, add it all onto the pot. Let it simmer.  Stir, let it simmer.  Stir, let it simmer.  When written out it seems like a chore but really tossing it all in a pot and letting heat work it’s magic on breaking things down really does the bulk of the work.

Here’s the recipe I used this time and times before.  The original poster on epicurious estimates that it has 6 servings in it.  Let me assure you that you can get A LOT more out of it than that.  For my nutrition class I had to keep track of my caloric intake.  Using this recipe calculator, I found an estimate of all of the nutrional values of the entire pot and served myself 1 Cup portions.   I somehow figured that there were 15.53 cups of chili here…I don’t remember how.  Anyway, I estimated that each cup serving, without cheese contained:

288.7 Calories
8.6g Fat
378 mg Sodium
16.3mg Cholesterol

I also used the Dorie corn muffin recipe, halved it and poured it into a loaf pan to have slices of corn bread to accompany my chili.  I ate this for over a week and could eat anoth 15.53 cups of it.

Now git to the kitchen and heat up your pot!

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