Friday, June 21, 2013

Chicken Stew in Coconut Milk

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Another spicy dish I cooked just the other night is a chicken stew with Thai basil leaves. I had an abundance of basil leaves so I made sure that cooking them in a stew made with coconut milk is not a too far-off idea. Turns out it was actually a good pairing. The creaminess of the coconut milk was the perfect vehicle for the aromatic scent of the fresh basil leaves. The only complaint I got was due to my laziness when I cut the chicken pieces like I was feeding a giant. In the same vein, I also cut the chayotes into large pieces to match the generous cuts of chicken. Very simple but delicious and most importantly, very east to prepare, the inspiration was again taken from the Panlasang Pinoy blog. As you might notice, we had a theme dinner the other night and the common thread was the use of coconut milk in the main dishes. I was not sure how well we can handle the spiciness of the combination of chili and coconut milk so I made sure there was a mild enough dish that will be at least palatable to those who have the least tolerance for heat in their food. 

Chicken Stew in Coconut Milk - Adapted*

2 - 3 lbs chicken pieces
2 chayotes, peeled, cored and sliced
4 garlic cloves, minded
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
1 large onion, diced
3 cups fresh coconut milk
1/2 cup Thai basil leaves
4 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper
1 tbsp fish sauce

1. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic, ginger 
    and onions and saute until softened. Season with salt and pepper. 

2. Add the chicken pieces and season with salt. Cook until slightly browned 
    on all sides. 

3. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Once boiling, decrease the heat 
    to low and simmer covered for about 30 minutes. 

4. Add the fish sauce and chayotes and cook covered until the chayotes are 
    tender but still crispy. 

5. Check for flavor and adjust accordingly with salt and pepper. Add the basil 
    leaves and mix just until wilted. Serve hot. 

*Panlasang Pinoy: Ginataang Manok.

Bicol Express

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Bicol Express may sound like a train which is about to steamroll you into smithereens but is in reality a spicy pork dish from the Bicol region of the Philippines. The history of the dish is detailed in the blog Panlasang Pinoy and was the main inspiration as to why I dared to cook this spicy dish. Given my low tolerance for spicy food, I came up with a much milder version which might cause a few to complain but generated a round of thanks to those who came to dinner yesterday. As such, I adapted the recipe from this blog which uses deseeded chilis and no shrimp paste. This is my first foray into the dishes from this part of the country known for their spiciness but this is one trip that was worth repeating. 

I'm not sure of the actual variety of chili peppers I used for this dish but jalapeno peppers will do quite nicely if they are available. We did away with using Thai chili knowing full well how potent they are. As such, the heat from the dish was almost like an aftertaste and hit the back of your throat a few seconds later but in a good way. The original dish called for shrimp paste too which we did away with because some of my friends are allergic to shellfish. Overall, the absence of this condiment was barely missed. 

Bicol Express - Adapted*

2 lbs pork butt, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
2 stalks lemongrass, twisted into a knot
3 cups fresh coconut milk
1 tbsp fish sauce
12 finger chilis, deseeded and diced
salt and pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil

1. In a large pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic, onions 
    and ginger and saute until softened. Season with salt and pepper. Throw 
    in the lemongrass and mix for one minute.

2. Add the pork into the pan and cook until it loses its pink color. Season with
    salt and pepper. 

3. Pour the coconut milk and add the chilis and bring to a boil. Once boiling, 
    lower the heat to a simmer and cook covered for about 30 minutes. Check
    and make sure that the pork does not stick to the pan. 

4. Season with the fish sauce and continue to simmer until the pork is very 
    tender. Check for flavor and adjust accordingly with salt and pepper.

5. Serve hot with steamed rice.

*Feast Asia: Bicol Express.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Oyster Mushrooms and Italian Sausage Ravioli

Copyright 2013 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
I used to make ravioli when I still lived in the US. For one, Italian sausage is easy to find in the grocery stores be it in casings or just in bulk. Here where I live, they are only found in major supermarkets or gourmet shops so that they become too expensive to use in regular cooking. Thus, I decided to make my own version with the help of Emeril Lagasse's recipe. Now, I'm not a big fan of the BAM! guy but he does have some really good recipes every now and then and this is one of them. I made a ton of this mild Italian sausage only to drop my bowl so I basically used only about a pound of what should have been 6 pounds of homemade Italian sausage. My dog had a feast that very same day though!

I used a new recipe I found online for the dough since I did not want to use my pasta machine. Overall, it was a simple recipe which tasted great. The dough when cooked was soft and light and most importantly, held its shape. For the filling, I combined the Italian sausage I made with fresh mushrooms and for a final touch, bathed them in my homemade tomato ragu. In a word, delish!

Oyster Mushrooms and Italian - Adapted*

1 lb of mild Italian sausage
2 cups fresh oyster mushroom, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

1. In a small pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the onions 
    and garlic until softened. Season with salt and pepper. 

2. Add the sausage and cook until it loses its pink color. Turn off the heat and
    let it cool. 

3. Add the fresh mushrooms and mix well. Set aside. 

To prepare the ravioli:

1. Prepare the tomato ragu (spaghetti sauce) as directed. Keep at a simmer 
    when you are ready to cook the ravioli.

2. Prepare the ravioli dough as per instructions on the link provided. Use a 
    teaspoon of the filling above for each ravioli. Store the extra filling in the 
    freezer for later use. You cam make about 25-30 ravioli pieces for one 
    batch of dough.

3. Boil a pot of water and season with a tablespoon of salt. Once boiling, drop
    4-5 ravioli pieces and allow them to cook in the boiling water. They will 
    float when they are cooked. Fish them out and transfer them into the 
    simmering tomato ragu. Cook the rest of the ravioli.

4. To serve, plate out about 6 ravioli pieces per person and garnish with 
    chopped parsley leaves and a good sprinkling of parmesan cheese.   

Zucchini and Potato Soup

Copyright 2013 LtDansKitchen blogs
Based on Lidia's recipe, I wanted something Italian to go with my light Italian lunch that I was preparing for my cousin and some friends. It started out with a spinach quiche until I found out fresh spinach were not available in the grocery stores that same week I was having friends over. It was only last week that I found out that they were actually found (albeit frozen) in the freezer section of the grocery stores I frequent but it was already too late. Porcini mushrooms are also a scarcity but fresh oyster mushrooms are definitely available everywhere and so are dried shitake mushrooms. I wanted a lighter flavor to the soup however so I just used the fresh oyster mushrooms instead. Zucchini was also not available so I used a chayote which was the closest thing I could think of in terms of texture.

The soup is a light fare even with potatoes and rice in it. That is I think the one thing I noticed about the Italian soups that I have made over the last couple of years. My memory of an Italian soup is usually associated with the Minestrone, a thick pasta soup that I once tried while still living in the US. That particular soup was delicious but very gloopy and heavy. I think I like the more authentic version of a lighter Italian soup which allows you to enjoy a more varied meal since it gives you enough room in your stomach to go for a second and even a third course. 

Zucchini and Potato Soup - Adapted*

3-4 medium zucchini, diced 
2 onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves, dried
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, diced
2 carrots, diced
3-4 small potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup short-grained rice
10 cups beef stock
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
Parmesan cheese to pass along

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the oil and saute 
    the garlic and onions. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook 
    until softened. Add the bay leaves and mix. 

2. Add the broth into the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, drop the rice 
    and mix well to prevent from clumping. Cook covered for about 10 
    minutes while stirring occasionally.

3. Add the potatoes, zucchini (or chayotes) and the carrots and cook until the
    rice is al dente. 

4. Stir in the mushrooms and check for flavor. Adjust accordingly. 

5. To serve, drizzle with a good amount of extra virgin olive oil and top with 
    the chopped parsley. Pass the cheese around the table if desired.

*Lidia's Italy: Zucchini and Potato Minestra.