Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Beef Broccoli + Black Forest, Germany and Colmar, France

Here's what our weekly dinner menu looks like

Monday: Chicken Mushroom Soup with Shell Pasta
Wednesday: Breaded Chicken Fillet with Buttered Vegetables
Thursday: Chicken and Spinach in Curry Sauce
Friday: Sweet and Sour Chicken
Saturday and Sunday: (Yes, I do get a break from cooking and smelling like onions.)

And repeat all chicken menu for another week. and the week after that. and two weeks after that.

You get the picture.

We eat so much chicken in our house that I won't be surprised if we start growing feathers soon. I love chicken. I do but I am sort of getting sick of eating it. Pork is out of the question since the hubby doesn't like it. 

I find the beef expensive in the Netherlands so for me, it feels sort of a luxury or a treat when it's on the table. I decided to grab a pack of lean beef at the supermarket because we seriously need a break from Mr. Kip. Really. For 3.70 euros (xPhp60), you can get 322g of a nice cut of lean beef (Magere Runderlappen) here.

And what better way to do with that beautiful beef than to make

BEEF BROCCOLI

Tender slices of beef + crisp broccoli + yummy thick glaze packed with flavor

It is so CRAZY DELICIOUS you will be licking your plate clean.

And your hubby will tell you over and over how lucky he is to have you in his life. 

Sweet!


BEEF BROCCOLI STIR FRY
recipe adapted from Simply Recipes and Rainy Day Gal
serves 2-3 

320 g beef, sliced into thin strips   (I used magere rundlerlappen-lean beef.)
2 cups, broccoli, cut into smaller pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil

Marinade:
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp flour
pinch of black pepper
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp mirin (rice wine)
1/2 tbsp water
1 tbsp oil


Stir-fry sauce:
2 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp mirin
2 1/2 tsp sambal oelek
2 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp ketchup

Combine the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Pour the marinade over the beef and using your clean hands, toss the beef in the marinade until well coated. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. 

Whisk the ingredients for the stir-fry sauce in another bowl. Set aside.

Heat about 1/2 inch of water in a pan. Add the broccoli. Cover and steam for about 2 minutes until tender but still crisp. Drain and set aside.


Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan over medium heat. Spread the beef in a single layer on the pan. Cook for 1 minute. Turn the beef slices over and cook for another minute until no longer pink. Add the garlic to the pan. Saute for 1 minute. Add broccoli back to the pan. Stir fry together for about 30 seconds. Pour the sauce to the pan. Stir and cook for another minute until the sauce thickens.

Serve with rice.


We also got back a few days ago from weeklong bus trip to  

Schwarzwald (Black Forest), Germany 
(where the famous Black Forest Cake originated from)


 and 

Colmar, France 
dubbed "The Little Venice of France" (below).

  I will be posting more photos from this trip soon!



Friday, October 11, 2013

Thai Basil Chicken


It's only been a month since I've been away from home but I'm sorta missing my favorite foods already.

Okay.  That's a big fat lie.

I miss it terribly.

Foods that make me dreamy eyed when I think about them then my mouth starts to water like crazy, my stomach starts to make strange noises even when I'm not hungry.

Take this Binagoongang Baboy ni Kaka for instance.  

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-_I-j8mjVehI/UhiR5AqfPtI/AAAAAAAAGmw/bqJpPQ3NVVc/s1600/binagoongan3.jpg

Whoa, shockingly wonderful flavors in just one dish! Juicy pork belly chunks swimming in sweet, spicy, salty shrimp paste...God help me.

My dear fatty pork, you and I are going to have a BIG reunion when I get back. I know the hubby doesn't fancy you but I haven't forgotten all about you. We have unfinished business to do, you and I.

And what about this?  After all, Thai food has always had a special spot in my heart. 

Basil Chicken (or Gai Pad Krapow) -from Mae Krua Thai Restaurant-
For such a simple and rustic dish, it is incredibly satisfying. And your kitchen will smell so goood from all that cooked basil!
 
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-nHa5klgJvzI/UdZ4vf7F10I/AAAAAAAAF04/3eRvbvPAnVQ/s1037/chickenbasil1txt.jpg

Dilemma, Dilemma

Since I'm 1,000,000,000 miles away from MESA or  Krua Thai....  

Moving on! 

What do you do when your favorite restaurants are too far out of reach? 

Google

For a recipe that could perhaps be the closest thing you can get to the real thing, especially when you find yourself in another continent.

Then you get your lazy butt over to the kitchen to start cooking.

THAI BASIL CHICKEN
serves 2-3

2 large chicken breasts, cut into smaller pieces
1 onion, sliced thinly
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
3-4 dried chilies, minced/crushed(more if you like it really SPICY)
2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed

Sauce:
2 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp ketcap manis  (thick Indonesian slightly sweet soy sauce)
2-3 tsp sugar
2-3 tsp cornstarch ( I used flour. )
pinch of black pepper


Prepare your ingredients. 
Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl. Set aside.

Saute the garlic with the crushed chili in olive oil for a minute or two on medium heat until it smells fragant.

Then add the onion and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the chicken to the hot pan and stir fry until it is almost done, about 3-4 minutes.


Add the bell peppers. Stir fry for 1 minute. 
Pour in the sauce. Stir and mix well. Cook for another minute or until the sauce thickens up a bit.


Add in the basil leaves. Mix well. Cook for 30 seconds until they start to wilt and become fragant.


Remove from the heat and serve with hot rice.


And just like that, you have a delicious, speedy and restaurant-worthy Thai dinner at home.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Baked Potato Gnocchi {With a French Twist}

 
Heavenly.

Pillowy soft.

Perfect little nuggets.

Tomato sauce.

Melty mozzarella.

Fresh Basil.


My love for Gnocchi. 

That's the one thing I can be patient about. Spending too much time searching for the best recipes. Slaving in the kitchen almost the entire afternoon to prepare gnocchi for dinner tonight. Well, that and taking photos for each step. 

For you. 

Because you HAVE to try this. 


This. Is. So. Gooood.

Gnocchi coated with delicious tomato sauce with pockets of melted mozzarella laced with fresh basil is simply... the best

One word.

LOVE.


The hubby practically licked the bowl clean. No, those aren't tomato sauce stains on his face. Really.

Now that's something.

Here's what you need to do. 
Boil 500g of potatoes. Drain and mash them gently.

{The reason why this gnocchi has a french twist is because of how it is prepared, you start with a choux pastry then you mix it with the mashed potatoes.}

Heat 2 tbsp melted salted butter with 1/4 cup milk. Stir until incorporated. (Do it over low heat so as not to scald the milk like I did oops and try to avoid doing distracting things like taking photos while cooking.)


Remove from the heat and add 1/2 cup flour at once. Stir vigorously until well mixed.



Return the pan to the heat and cook until the flour mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and let cool for 2 minutes before adding 1 egg.
 
Beat the dough with the egg until incorporated. It will separate in the beginning but will come together after a while. 


(At this point, I think I did something wrong with the recipe because the original recipe says that the dough is supposed to be stiff and sticky. Mine looked too wet. Definitely gone wrong.) Anyway, I went ahead with it.

Stir in the mashed potatoes to the flour-egg mixture. Add more flour, 1/8 cup at a time if the mashed potato-flour mixture is too wet. 

Dust your wooden board with flour. Take a handful of the dough. Roll it gently with floured hands (makes shaping the gnocchi easier) into a rope. 

Cut the rope into little nuggets like so. Roll each nugget a little bit around in the floured board gently just to smooth the edges. Repeat until all the dough is finished.


To cook the gnocchi, simmer water with a pinch of salt over low heat. Drop the gnocchi into the  water. Once they are cooked, they will float to the surface.

Remove with a slotted spoon. Set aside.   


1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 to 2 cups tomato sauce, bottled mixed with herbs ( I always like extra sauce!)
1 tsp dried parsley
pinch of salt, sugar and pepper to taste

cooked potato gnocchi (I used about 2/3 of the recipe above)
mozzarella, sliced
basil, torn

 Any tomato sauce that you fancy and fresh mozzarella cheese (I used light with less fat.)
 
Preheat the oven to 200 degree C.

Saute the onions and garlic in a pan over medium heat with 2 tbsp olive oil.  Add tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a pinch of dried parsley. Add the cooked gnocchi and stir until well coated and  heated through.


Spoon the gnocchi into a baking dish. Top with torn mozzarella and basil leaves. Do another layer with the gnocchi, mozzarella and basil.



 Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes until the mozzarella is melted.



One final shot before we dived into deliciousness.
 

Served with a Date-Feta-Cashew Salad (Recipe soon)




CLICK HERE for a more detailed recipe on how to make that fantastic Potato Gnocchi with a French Twist.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Spicy Thai Coconut Soup



Temperature Check: 13 degrees C

My Naar Nederland book says that it often rains here in the autumn. That a lot of people also get sick, perhaps from the rain and the cold weather. No wonder people much prefer to stay inside where it is lekker warm  at this time of the year.

And nothing screams comfort like a nice bowl of warm soup. 
See those kids over there with the banner? That was our spot. We stood behind them during the Prinsjesdag parade.
Standing shivering in the cold for hours to watch the Dutch Royal Couple's procession had me badly in need of and in the mood for some hot ramen afterwards. We found a nice looking japanese restaurant not too far from our viewing spot. I could almost cry happy tears when I saw ramen on their menu. Thank heavens! One ramen for me and a teriyaki bento for the hubby.
 
Then came the ramen. Surprise! Surprise! But wait.. something is missing. Where was the hot broth? Can you call it ramen if it doesn't have soup? I felt a bit cheated with this dish. The serving size was so small, I wondered if I had mistakenly ordered an appetizer. To be fair, it was still a very tasty dish though it wasn't exactly what I was looking for.

Unfortunately, there was some misunderstanding with the server, who failed to note down the hubby's bento order which put him in a bad mood. He didn't want to bother waiting for the bento so we left after we finished the ramen. We were both still hungry so then we ended up in another low-key spot around the corner that serves good wok meals. That saved the day. We should have just gone straight to this place if only we had found it first. Cheaper meals with way bigger servings! I was beyond grateful for a warm cup of Thai Kokos Soep.

This soup was still on my mind days later after leaving that Wok restaurant. Too bad it wasn't within the area where we live. I fell in love with that soup but not crazy enough to go all the way to Den Haag for it. I knew I had to make a similar kokos soep at home.

So google led me to this very reliable link for wonderful recipes that is definitely going to my bookmarks.

For this delicious soup, you will need mushrooms, red bell pepper, ginger, half a stalk of lemon grass, chicken broth, soy sauce, fresh coriander, garlic and sambal oelek (Chili paste) that I forgot to include in the photo. 

We don't have fish sauce in the house so I used soy sauce instead. I also omitted the chicken in the soup (used them instead for the Chicken Cashew in Sweet Chili Sauce as you can see below.)

There is a chain of chinese stores in the Netherlands called "TOKO" that sells all sorts of imported Asian products. I badly miss our Filipino soy sauce but I can't find it here!

Clean and slice your mushrooms *with a blunt knife*. Measure about 1.5 cups.

1/2 cup of chopped red bell pepper (seeded)


Cut the lemon grass lengthwise. Mince the garlic and ginger.

Cook the mushrooms, red bell pepper, garlic, ginger and lemon grass in olive oil over medium heat for 3 minutes. 
Add the sambal oelek. Stir and cook for another minute.


Stir in the chicken broth, coconut milk, sugar and soy sauce. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.


Add the koriander just before serving.


THAI SPICY COCONUT SOUP
serves 3-4
recipe adapted from Cooking Light 

2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
half a stalk lemon grass, cut lengthwise
2 tsp sambal oelek(or thai red curry paste)
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp sugar
3 tsp soy sauce
fresh koriander


Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger, lemon grass, mushrooms and red bell pepper. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the sambal. Cook for another minute. Add the coconut milk, chicken broth, sugar and soy sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Discard lemon grass. Top with koriander.

Oh, and I also made this awesome Chicken Cashew in Sweet Chili Sauce to go with the Thai Spicy Coconut Soup. Why buy take out when you can make it at home? 


Perfect Thai dinner for two!