Saturday, April 25, 2009

Shrimp and Pancetta over Pasta

Practically perfect in every way. Moist, tastey and very satisfying. If you love Shrimp you will also love this recipe.

Adapted from a recipe by Emeril Lagasse

Serves: 6

Cook Time: 25 minutes


1 pound torn fresh pasta sheets, or other wide noodles
1/4 cup olive oil
6 ounces pancetta, chopped (Or if you can't find it use the thickest sliced bacon you can find)
1 medium red onion, peeled, cut in 1/2, and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 pounds large (21 to 25 count) shrimp, peeled, deveined, and butterflied UNCOOKED
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest, garnish
Freshly grated parmesan cheese


1. In a large pot of salted water, cook the pasta until just al dente. Drain and return to the pot. Cover to keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from pan.
3 To the oil in the pan, add the onions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. WATCH IT so that it does not burn. Add the wine, salt, lemon juice, pancetta/bacon and shrimp and cook, stirring, until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the parsley and stir to combine.
4. Add the cooked pasta to the shrimp mixture and toss well to combine. Cook until the pasta is heated through, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add the lemon zest, and adjust the seasoning, to taste. Sprinkle generously with parmesan. This dish looks great if you serve it on a large platter.

Cucumber Relish

I love this sauce to dip anything in. It keeps extremely well in the fridge and afterwards I spoon it over some lettuce, coriander and chicken to create a light scrumptious asian salad.
1 cup coconut vinegar or white vinegar
1 cup white sugar
1 good splash of fish sauce
1 large cucumber
4 small red chilis, deseeded and finely chopped
1/2 of roasted, unsalted peanuts crushed or finely chopped. (you will probably have to buy unsalted peanuts and roast and crush them yourself)
1/3 cup chopped coriander (cilantro), including stems
Combine the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally, cook for one minute at a gentle boil. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
While sauce is cooling. Peel and slice cucumber in half lengthways. get a small spoon and scoop out the seeds. Slice very thinly so that you get "moon shaped" cucumber slices.
Place the cucumber, chilis, peanuts and coriander in bowl. Pour over cooled dressing and toss gently.
Place in fridge and chill until use.

Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

There is nothing like a freshly home made dipping sauce!


2-4 Fresh red chilies, deseeded and chopped
4 cloves of garlic
3 coriander roots (Cilantro. If you can't find any with teh roots just use teh stems and chop it extra fine).
1 tsp Salt
1 cup white sugar
half cup of coconut vinegar (or white vinegar)
half cup water
1 tbsp fish sauce
Fresh coriander leaves to garnish (cilantro)


1. Pound chilis, garlic, coriander root and salt in mortar (or do it in a small food processor or blender if you don't have one)
2. Transfer to saucepan, stir in sugar, vinegar and water, simmer five minutes.
3. Stir in fish sauce, remove from heat, transfer to bowl, sprinkle with chopped coriander leaves.

Stuffed Coconut Prawns

This is a huge favorite in my family. While my recipe is made to be an asian dish it can be turned into a southwestern meal simply by changing the dipping sauces you serve it with.

20 Large green king prawns (get the largest uncooked shrimp you can find if you aren't near fresh seafood)deviened and butterflied
125 grams (.27 lb) chicken breast, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp coriander (cilantro) stems finely chopped
half teaspoon white pepper
2 slices finely chopped ginger
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tbsp coconut cream

2 tsp sambel olek
1 tbsp very finely chopped lemon grass, tender part only (If you can't get your hands on lemon grass substitute for half teaspoon lemon zest)
1 cup plain flour
1 cup corn flour
enough soda water to make a batter consistency of pouring cream
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut

1. If you have a mortar use it .. if not grind up and pound as best you can the garlic, peppercorns, coriander root and ginger into a paste.
2. Place finely chopped chicken into food processor with coconut cream and process to a paste. Add garlic coriander paste and fish sauce.
3. Place in fridge to chill for 2 hours
4. Fill butterfly prawns down their butterflied backs with chicken mixture.

To Cook

1. Combine flours, lemon grass, sambel olek in bowl, add enough soda water to make thin batter. 2. Carefully roll prawns in some plain flour, dip into batter, then roll in coconut.(put only half of your coconut in a bowl at a time otherwise it will all get goopy and gross quickly)
3. Heat 2 cups of vegetable oil in wok (or use deep fryer), deep fry prawns in batches of six until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. Cut open to one to make sure they are cooked all the way through. The chicken stuffing and shrimp should be a solid white colour.

Serve immediately with a dipping sauce. I love the Sweet and Sour or the cucumber relish

Coconut Rice

A Variation of stemaed jasmine rice, the rice is enriched with coconut milk, sugar and salt, resulting in a creamy texture, sweet and fragrant with coconut.
Recipe Courtesy "The Spirit House" Cooking School
For 4 Servings
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 cup of water
1 tsp sugar
pinch salt
1. Rinse the rice.
2. Put the coconut milk, water sugar and salt in saucepan, stir until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is well blended.
3. Add the rice and bring to a boil. Cover tightly and reduce the heat to its lowest setting. Simmer for 18 minutes. Lift the lid to check that it is cooked, cook for 1 -2 minutes longer if necessary.
4. The rice is done when the grains are soft enough to crush between your thumb and forefinger. 5. Turn off the heat and let stand covered for 8-10 minutes before serving.

Lime and Chili Dressing

Recipe Courtesy "the Spirit House" Cooking School


4 red chilis
8 cloves garlic, chopped
one half of small red onion, finely chopped
4 tbsp fish sauce, to taste
8 tbsp fresh lime juice
4 tsp palm sugar, to taste

Pound the chopped chillies and garlic together until forming a paste texture. Transfer to a bowl, add the chopped onion, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar to taste. Stir well to mix. Adjust the flavors so that the sauce is equally salty and sour with a light touch of sweetness.

Stir Fry of Pork with Chili Jam and Lime

Recipe Courtesy "The Spirit House" Cooking School


400 gms (.88 lbs) Pork loin or fillet, cut into stir fry strips (the thinner you slice the quicker and more tender it cooks)
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
*2 tbsp of chili jam
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
2 tbsp lime juice
200 gms (0.44 lbs) green beans, topped and tailed , then blanched
2 tbsp Vegetable oil

Heat oil in wok to medium heat. Stir fry garlic until just starting to colour. Add pork and stir fry until nearly cooked. Add chili jam, fish sauce, palm sugar and lime juice and stir fry over high heat until the sauce has reduced to a thick coating consistency. Add beans, toss through to warm.
Serve with Jasmine rice or see recipe coconut rice.

* Chili Jam/paste is used in Tom Yum soups and many salad dressings. Don't confuse this product with Sambel Olek or ground chilis. Look for "Chili Paste with Soya Bean Oil" in your asian supermarket, some local supermarkets do carry it in the asian section as well.

Stir fry of Chicken, Basil and Kaffir Lime Leaves

Recipe courtesy "Spirit House" cooking school.


2 tbsp Vegie Oil
2 tbsp chopped fresh garlic
4 golden or red shallots, finely sliced
500 gms (1.10lbs) Boneless chicken thigh, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 red chilies finely chopped (remove seeds and veins for less to no heat)
2 green chilis, finely finely chopped (remove seeds and veins for less to no heat)
2 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded (these are available at your local asian market )
2 tbsp kecap manis
1 cup sweet basil leaves
2 tbsp fish sauce
freshly ground white pepper to season

Heat oil in wok until smoking. Add shallots, stirfry briefly, add garlic, stir fry until golden. Add chicken, stirfry a minute or two until it is coloured. Toss in chilis, kaffir lime leaf, kecap manis, fish sauce and stirfry until chicken is cooked. Add basil and stir fry until wilted.
Sprinkle on white pepper and serve immediately with Jasmine rice

Stir Fry of Chicken, Ginger, Asparagus and Cashews

Recipe Courtesy of "Spirit House" cooking school


3 tbsp vegie oil
500 gms (1.10lbs) of Chicken thighly, thinly sliced ( not not cubed)
1 small red onion, finely sliced
6 cloves of garlic, VERY finley chopped
1/2 tsp ground white pepper (freshly ground is best)
2 tbsp finely sliced.. then chopped ginger
2 tbsp kecap manis
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1 bunch of asparagus, cut in half
1 red capsicum (red pepper) cut into strips
spring onion sliced
half a cup of roasted cashews

In a wok, heat vegie oil until hot. Add onion and chicken, stir fry one minute. Add garlic and ginger, stir fry one minute. Add oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar and pepper, stirfry until the chicken is just cooked. Add asparagus and red capsicum, stir fry one minute. Toss through cashews.

Transfer to serving plate, garnish with spring onion and serve with jasmine rice

Stirfry of King Prawns with Garlic, Chili and Thai Basil

Recipe courtesy of "Spirit House" cooking school.


500gms (1.10lbs) Green king prawns (or just your largest uncooked prawns you can find) Peeled, deveined, heads and tails left on.
8 cloves of garlic
1/8 cup chopped red and green chilis (if you want heat leave in seeds and veins.. for mild stirfry remove the insides .. wear gloves)
1/4 cupSprings onions sliced (green onions)
1/4 cup coriander stem and root if you can find some with the roots still (Cilantro)
1/4 cup fish sauce
3 tablespoons palm sugar (brown sugar isn't quite the same but it will do)
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
1/4 cup thai basil leaves (or regular basil leaves whatever is in season or fresh at your market)


1. Combine in food processor, the garlic, chilis, spring onions and coriander stem and root. Process to paste.
2. In a saucepan on medium heat, place 2 tbsp of vegetable oil, fry the paste gently until fragrant - about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except for prawns and basil. Bring to boil, simmer for 10 minutes.
3. In a wok heat 2 tbsp of vegie oil until smoking. Stir fry prawns until just starting to turn pink. Add sauce and continue to stir frying until cooked, only a couple of minutes.
4 Serve with jasmine rice

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Perfect Hamburger Patties


Approx. 1lb (453 grams) extra lean ground beef (Beef mince)
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs (not store bought. make your in a blender and let it sit out and dry for a bit)
2 tbsp Ketchup (Tomato Sauce)
1 tbsp Worcesteshire sauce
1/3 cup of shredded cheese. I like a mix of Chedder, Monterey Jack, Parmesan. But really any of your favorites will do.


1. In a mixing bowl throw in all the ingredients, using your hands squish it all together until thoroughly mixed through.

2. Take a handful of meat and roll into a ball in your hand. push in the middle and while turning on your hand squish down the sides until it's evenly flatted to approximately 2 cm in thickness. Repeat with left over meat.

3. Cook on medium heat until cooked all the way through. Be careful your stove is not too hot or the cheese in the patties will burn.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Potato Salad

Based on a recipe by Edith Parr,it is for the most part the same with a couple of changes in quantities and the addition of Bacon. The perfect addition to a summer BBQ!!!!

6 lg potatoes skinned and chopped into bite size cubes
2-1/2 C. mayonnaise
1/3 cup VERY VERY finely chopped white onion
1/2 tsp chopped celery seed
4 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. white vinegar
3 tsp. mustard
6 hard boiled eggs-chopped
2 hard boiled eggs-sliced for on topping
1/2 cup chopped bacon (Cooked)

1. Boil potatoes until soft/firm .. be careful not to over cook them. Drain and put in large bowl and set aside in fridge to cool.
2. Mix remaining ingredients (except sliced eggs and a some of the bacon for topping) in serving bowl and refrigerate until potatoes are cool.
3. Add potatoes to mayonnaise mixture and mix carefully so as to not crush the potatoes and eggs.
4. Lay sliced eggs on top of potato salad and sprinkle with bacon. Refridgerate overnight for best flavor or at least 3 hours before serving.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Teriyaki Beef Stirfry

Hot, steaming, and super fast this recipe is always a quick winner in my house. With only a few main ingredients you can whip this meal up in 20 minutes. Change it up with your own favorite vegies!.Hot


1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups thinly sliced beef (see Beef Prep instructions)
1 packet Teriyaki Yakisoba noodles (walmart or smith's refridgerated section - near the tofu and wonton wrappers)
1/4 cup "Yoshidas" savory sauce (you can find this at costco, it's a great investment for you kitchen)
1/2 tsp fresh garlic chopped finely
1/3 cup thinly sliced carrots (Cut as thin and slice as small as possible, this meal cooks so fast you need your vegies to cook fast as well)
Snow peas or Bean cut in half
1/2 cup Cashews

Note: This is an extremely fast cooking meal. Be prepared.. have all your ingredients already cut, measured and sitting next to your stove to quickly throw in the pan.

Heat oil in Pan put in garlic, stir quickly until fragrant and then quickly add beef before it burns. Allow it to quickly cook (it is thin it will be done in 1 minute so you need to watch and move fast) put in carrots. While the carrots are softening heat up noodles in microwave as instructed on the packet. Sprinkle the seasoning from the noodle packet on the beef and carrots, add water recommended on packet.

Add softened noodles and stir until completely combined. Add Yoshidas sauce (from costco) and allow the sauce to thicken and cook down slightly. You want it to be saucy,the noodles will quickly soak up the juices while it sits so do not over cook it and serve immediately for maximum juicyness and tasty flavor

Beef Prep: Sometimes when I buy a roast it's too large for my family so I cut it in half and freeze the other half. Now is a great time to use that other frozen left over roast.. semi defrost it and then with a really sharp non serated knife cut it paper thin. When it's semi-frozen it's easy to slice this way. the thinner the more tender and quicker it will cook. You can also buy a flank steak as was directed in this recipe (remember to cut against the grain) also slicing paper thin. It should be see through.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Classic Calzone

My favorite part of this whole recipe is the dough. Having a heavy thick heavy dough on a calzone is just too much and leaves you bloated and feeling full of bread, in this recipe it's light and fluffy and SO satisfying.


1 lb (454grams) Extra Lean Ground Beef (Mince)
2 small cloves fresh garlic very finely chopped
1 Jar of Prego Traditional Pasta sauce (or your favorite.. just make sure it's thick)
1 cup of large black olives barely chopped (just quarter or half them.. we want this baby chunky!)
1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan or parmesan reggiano cheese
1/2 cup fancy shredded monterey jack cheese.. or mozarella cheese would also do.


4 1/2 hours before you want to eat start cooking lightly coat a casserole dish with non stick spray (just the vegetable oil kind). Place your Rhodes rolls apart enough that when they rise they will not touch. Cover with plastic wrap and place them where they will not be disturbed while they rise.

1. Pre-Heat oven to 350 F (180C)

2. In a mixing bowl mush the ground beef and garlic and a generous dash of salt with your hands. Make sure the garlic is evenly distributed throughout the meat (This will give the meat a great flavor without flooding the sauce with it).

3. Cook meat in a frying pan on medium high heat. Don't break it up too much. Keep it in moderately large chunks. Pour pasta sauce over meat (you want it to be a meaty sauce.. not sauce with some meat so if just use your eye to judge how much pasta sauce to add it usually works to be roughly one jar) and reduce to low temp. Stir in Olives. Cook until sauce is heated all the way through then remove from heat.

4. Lightly dust counter and rolling pin with plain flour. Take a piece of dough and gently flatten it out. Be careful not to flatten it too much or it will break when you fold it over. You should have a circle size bread dough like a mini pizza.

5. Mix your cheeses together in a bowl.

6. Layer the calzone starting with a small bit of cheese blend, scoop of sauce and then another dash of cheese on top of the sauce (as shown in picture).

7. Quickly Fold over one size to the other.. be careful not to let any sauce get near the edges as it will not let you seal the edges together once it is wet.
8. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with non stick spray and place calzone carefully (so as not to puncture dough) sprinkle tops with cheese to your taste. Make sure calzones are 2-3 inches apart and not touching.
9. Cook approx. 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and dough is browned on top (as shown in picture above)
Serve and Enjoy.!~

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Steak Pinwheels stuffed with Bacon and Cheese

This one is a winner. In the picture I have posted you can see that the original recipe has spinach.. I took that out and replaced it with cheese. The steak you need for this dish just happens to be one of the cheapest cuts.. and after pounding it flat it is tender and thin.. which means it cooks really fast. Serves:6
Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time:10-15 minutes depending on cook method
8 slices bacon
1 to 1 1/2-pound beef flank steak or beef top round steak
1/2 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup Feta or Blue cheese crumbles or freshly grated Parmigiana Reggiano cheese(I've used all of them and they're all great so pick whatever floats your boat)
1/2 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
Dash salt
1. In a large skillet cook bacon just until done but not crisp. Drain on paper towels.
Score steak by making shallow cuts at 1-inch intervals diagonally across steak in a diamond pattern (Be careful not to cut too deep or it will split open later on) Repeat on second side. Place steak between 2 pieces of plastic wrap or in an unsealed zip lock bag. Working from the center to the edges, pound meat lightly with the flat side of a meat mallet to form a 12x8-inch rectangle (just do your best to get it as close to rectangle because it makes it easier when your roll.. but don't sweat it if your meat doesn't want to do that). Remove plastic wrap. Sprinkle the 1/2 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon salt over top (I like to rub it in the meat a bit). Arrange the bacon lengthwise on the steak.
2. In a mixing bowl stir together the cheese, bread crumbs, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning, and dash salt. Spread the mixture evenly over the bacon and steak. Don't be shy with the cheese.. if you want to add a little more go ahead. Roll up meat from a short side nice and tightly. Secure with wooden toothpicks at 1-inch intervals , starting 1/2 inch from one end. Cut between toothpicks into eight 1-inch slices. Cook pinwheels on medium/high heat... you might want to keep one as a tester.. but generally because the meat is so thin it should cook in 10 minutes tops. These are also great to make ahead of time and keep well when refridgerated.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Strawberry Cheesecake Bowl

My sister in law Camille made this desert for the family, the recipe was from Kraft Food magazine, we've made a couple of modifications though.

3 cups sliced fresh strawberries or other fresh seasonal berries
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 pkg. (250 g each) Philadelphia Light Brick Cream Cheese Spread, softened
1-1⁄2 cups cold milk
1 pkg. (4-serving size) Jell-O Cheesecake Instant Pudding
1 1/2 cups thawed Cool Whip Light Whipped Topping, divided
2 cups frozen pound cake cubes (1 inch)

1. Combine berries, sugar and 1/4 cup of water in a bowl and refridgerate until ready to use.
2. Beat cream cheese with mixer until creamy, gradually mix in milk.
3. Add pudding mix, mix well.
4. Blend in 1 1/2 cups of cool whip. In serving bowl place half the cream cheese mixture in the bottom. Place the pound cake in next, then berry mixture, and remaining cream cheese mix. Refridgerate.

OPTIONAL:if you like you can put extra cool whip and drizzle melted semi sweet chocolate on top like in the picture, but I really enjoyed the fresh flavors without it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Cowboy Caviar

Courtesy Libby Parr
A modern twist on regular salsa. Corn, beans, and avocado make a great colourful and tasty addition to tortilla chips or if you are like me .. pile this up on some grilled chicken and lettuce and you have your own highly addictive southwestern chicken salad.

1 can corn (drained)
1 can black beans (drain and rinse well)
1 can black eyed peas (drain and rinse well)
2 jalapenos (if you want a spicey caviar leave in seeds.. if not scrape out seeds,devein& chop finely)
1/2 white onion (finely chopped)
1/2 bunch cilantro (Medium/finely chopped)
1/2 bunch green onions (medium chopped)
6 Roma tomatoes-chopped
2 avocados-chopped
Italian seasoning pkg-made according to directions
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1. place cubed avocado in a bowl and pour lemon juice on it.. just mix enough to make sure some of the lemon juice has gotten on all the avocado without mushing it. This will help preserve the colour and help your salsa last longer.
Mix all ingredients in large bowl. Keep sealed in an air tight container in the fridge to help preserve the avocados

Green Curry of Chicken and Thai Basil

Super easy and quick to make (Time invested in creating your green curry paste now pays off). This is a big favorite. Only 5 ingredients and lots of flavor.

Serves: 4-6 People

Cook: 10 minutes

Prep: 8 minutes


2 cups coconut cream* (see note on coconut cream)
3-4 tbsp green curry paste
500 gms boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size STRIPS
1 tbsp palm sugar (OR brown sugar)
Half a cup of Thai basil leaves VERY thinly sliced (if unavailable just plain basil leaves will still do the job)
2 tbsp fish sauce(yes a necessary stinky evil.. it stinks but it's also what makes these dishes)

1. In wok (or the closest thing you have to one), heat half a cup of coconut cream, add curry paste and cook out until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
2. Add palm sugar, fish sauce, cook out on medium heat another minutes further, adding a little more coconut cream if necessary
3. Stir in chicken, and remaining coconut cream (taste it... if it is too strong or spicey add more milk.. it will lessen the heat.. I personally like my curries to be thick and not too runny)
4. Simmer until chicken is tender. Stir in basil. Serve with jasmine rice.

*when you purchase your coconut cream/milk do not shake it around. Bring it home and put it in the fridge and sit for at least 4 hours. This will allow your cream to seperate from the milk in the can. When you open the can you can just scrape off the thick cream off the top and use that. If you need more liquid use the runnier milk part... but I prefer the thick cream on the top to create these dishes.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Green Curry Paste


15 green chilies, seeded and chopped
20 white peppercorns, finely ground
2 tbsp coriander seeds, ground and roasted
1 tsp cumin seeds, ground and roasted
2 teaspoons salt (course sea salt is best)
4 tbsp chopped lemon grass ( use the bottom end of the grass, peel off the layers until the softer fleshy part is exposed)
2 tsp very finely chopped ginger
2 tsp finely chopped kaffir lime leaf
4 tsp finely chopped coriander/cilantro roots (if you cannot find ones with roots use the stems)
2 small red onions, finely sliced and chopped
12 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tsp shrimp paste, roasted

Grind the dry spices finely in a stone mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Set aside. Pound the herbs a little at a time, starting with the hardier ones, until each is reduced to a paste. Combine the pounded herbs and ground dry spices, pound together with the shrimp paste to form a fine, well blended paste. Store in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for 2-3 weeks or freeze in an ice cube tray (cover with plastic wrap) for up to 6 months.

Red Curry Paste

If any of these ingredients cannot be found at your grocery store you might have to make a trip to your local asian supermarket. The heat of any curry is determined by what heat chilies you add. If you want less to no heat just scrape out the chili seeds.


15 dried red chilies (Small - medium size)soaked in hot water for 10 minutes (Until slightly soften and plumped)
2 small red onions
12 cloves garlic
2 stalks lemongrass, finely sliced (if you absolutely can't get your hands on some use 1 tsp lemon zest)
1 tablespoon ginger very finely chopped
2 tablespoons coriander root (cilantro) chopped (if you cannot find cilantro with the root use the stems)
1 tablespoon kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
2 teaspoons white peppercorns
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, roasted
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, roasted
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons shrimp paste, roasted (warning.. open up your windows when you roast this)

In a food processor, puree all the chilies and other fresh ingredients until very fine. Grind all the spices together and combine with this puree. Store in a tightly sealed container in the fridge or freeze in ice block trays and cover.

Curry Pastes General Information

Curries that we know and love are mostly start in paste form, coconut cream/milk and other ingredients are then added to create the dish we know and love.

Most curry pastes all have similiar ingredients but, by varying the quantities, the end result can be completely different.

When making a paste, the shrimp paste, cumin and coriander seeds must be roasted first. Put them on a tray in a 180 degree (350F ) for about 5 - 10 minutes.

Anything fibrous, like the lemongrass, garlic, coriander root and stems must be chopped finely BEFORE processing.

Make 2 to 3 times the quantity and store in your freezer for about 6 months. One cup is enough for a curry for about 6-8 people. Most time I freeze in a large ice block trays covered with plastic wrap, and just pop out and thaw enough cubes for each curry. (generally one cube is equal to one person serving)

Curry Pastes keep for about 3-4 weeks in your refrigerator. Once you have a ready made store of curry paste, you can whip up a delicious curry in just a few minutes.

Fresh curry paste is far superior to supermarket paste. Once you create your own you cannot even compare the two.

Cheesy Garlic Herb Pull-Apart Rolls

Cheesy, soft, garlicky rolls. Need I say more?


Frozen Rhodes Rolls (dinner or texas size)
1/4 cup salted butter
1 1/2 tsp fresh FINELY chopped garlic (I'm sorry people but chopped jar garlic is just not the same.. you can use it but don't say I didn't warn you)
1 sprig fresh thyme/very finely chopped
1/2 tsp fresh oregano very finely chopped
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup "fancy" shredded monterey jack/chedder cheese blend (fancy being very fine shredded)

1. I use spring form pan usually but this will also work in a glass casserole dish as well.
Grease your pan with non stick vegetable oil cooking spray. Place your rolls in the pan close enough so that when they rise they will touch. (about 1 - 1 1/2 inches apart). cover with plastic wrap and place somewhere warm and safe. Let them rise for about 4-5 hours. You don't want them to over rise or they get kind of strange and too airy inside.
2. Pre-Heat oven to 375 F (185 C). Remove plastic wrap and lightly sprinkle the thyme and oregano on top of each roll, place rolls in oven.
3. Place butter in a small microwave safe dish with the chopped garlic and heat until melted. stir all together. Mix all the cheeses together.
4. watch the rolls and as soon as they start to brown a teeny bit and get a slightly firm top carefully remove them from the oven. (Don't bump them or they will go flat) as quickly as possible spoon some of the melted garlic butter over all the rolls. It will run down to the bottom, don't worry that is great!. As long as the top of each roll gets a bit of butter thats what matters. Generously sprinkle the cheese on top. Be careful not to overload it though or the weight will make the rolls go flat.
Replace back in oven and allow them to cook until the cheese gets golden and bubbly. Make sure you don't take it out too early or the bread might still be a little doughy.

Crockpot Chicken Clam Chowder

Thick, creamy and chunky this is my absolute favorite winter comfort soup. Just a little bit of prep and then throw it in the crock pot.. my kind of meal.

Cook: Low 6-8 hours, High 3-4
Prep: 20 minutes


1 lb. (450g) bacon, diced
1/4 llb. (113.25 g) ham, small cubed
2 cups chopped onions
2 cups diced celery
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 cups diced potatoes
2 cups diced chicken
4 cups chicken broth
2 bottles clam juice, or 2 cans clams with juice
1 lb. can whole kernel corn with liquid
3/4 cup plain flour
3 1/2 cups milk
4 cups shredded cheeder or jack, cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream (not whipped)
2 Tsp. Fresh parsley

1. Spray crock pot with non-stick cooking spray. Saute bacon, ham, onions, and celery in pan until bacon is crisp and onions and celery are limp. Add salt and pepper. Remove and put in slow cooker. Cook chicken and potatoes in remaining fat and juices until browned and slightly crispy all over the outside.
2. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker except flour, milk, cheese, cream, and parsley.
3. Cover. Cook on low 6-8 hours, or on High 3-4 hours.
4. Whisk flour into milk. Stir into soup, along with cheese, whipping cream, and parsley. Cook one more hour on high... do not cook longer or let it warm or cool down longer.. or else it will curdle.
Allow the soup to cool slightly and serve with garlic toast.. or nothing at all.. it's that good.
Note: Left over freeze really well. Just be careful reheating, because of all the dairy in it if you don't do it gradually constantly stirring it will curdle.

Tangerine Beef

This is a new favorite of mine. It's based on a "Guy Fieri" recipe on I have changed a couple things.. adjusted the measurements so it is a little more saucey, which is better if you are serving it with rice (I recommend jasmine rice). All these ingredients are available at regular grocery store. I put snow peas and carrots for vege's but really you could add in sliced peppers (capsicum) etc. The great thing about this recipe is that it is extremely fast. You just need to invest in these basic asian sauces and you will be set for all stir fries pretty much.

Prep: 15 minutes (plus 1 hour marinating time)
Cook: 5 minutes
Serves: 4-6

4 tablespoons soy sauce
11/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 pound flank steak or tri-tip, cut in thin strips on the bias --OR for a Becky twist slice up a frozen roast--see "Beef Prep"
2 tablespoons dry sherry (This is really important ... just a little cheap bottle of red will do the job)
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon "Sambol Olek" if you want a "Spicy" version or for no heat just don't add this ingredient.
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice
3 1/2 tablespoons canola oil or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 cup of snow peas

1 carrot sliced up thinly
1/4 tangerine, zested
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (just buy regular sesame seeds and toast them yourself!)

Beef Prep: Sometimes when I buy a roast it's too large for my family so I cut it in half and freeze the other half. Now is a great time to use that other frozen left over roast.. semi defrost it and then with a really sharp non serated knife cut it paper thin. When it's semi-frozen it's easy to slice this way. the thinner the more tender and quicker it will cook. You can also buy a flank steak as was directed in this recipe (remember to cut against the grain) also slicing paper thin. It should be see through.


Combine the soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk. Pour half in a resealable plastic bag, place in beef and pour remaining sauce on top. Mix well.. squishing sauce in between all the strips of beef. Let marinate in the fridge for 20 minutes to 1 hour.
Whisk together the sherry, hoisin, honey, chili sauce, soy sauce, and tangerine juice until completely combined.
In large pan or wok, heat oil on high. Add the ginger and beef and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add vegetables , cook 1 minute.Then add sauce mixture and cook for another 2 minutes on medium heat until sauce thickens. Serve on warm platter, garnish with scallions, tangerine zest and a generous sprinkle of sesame seeds.

RECOMMENDED: Serve with some jasmine rice.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mediterranean Chicken Bake

I found this recipe in an Australian food magazine called "Good Taste" (thanks dad for the mag) April 2006 issue. I'll be honest.. there is nothing that I would really change about it except that I like to chop up my herbs and not leave them whole. The beauty of this recipe is that it's a one dish meal... vegetables and meat all cook together. Another great thing is it uses chicken thighs and drum sticks, one of the cheapest meats you can find, so it's very economical as well.

You can either get them skinless or with skin on, I recommend the boneless thighs.

Serves: 4-6 (depending on the size of your kids appetites)

Prep: 15 minutes

Cooking: 1 hour


1 tbs olive oil
6 chicken drumsticks
6 chicken thighs
6 small potatoes peeled and halved or even quartered
2 ripe tomatoes diced (optional if your family doesn't like tomatoes)
1/2 cup kalamata olives chopped/sliced (optional--but don't replace them with canned black olives, it's kalamata or nothing)
2 garlic cloves very finely chopped
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, pull off leaves and chop finely
1/2 cup dry white wine (NOT optional.. just a cheap white wine works fine)
generous pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 390 F. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the chicken drumsticks and cook, turning occasionally, for 5 minutes or until browned all over (if you have skin on your chicken let it get crispy all over mmmmm). Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the chicken thigh cutlets. Remove and add to plate.

2. Add the potato to the remaining oils in the pan and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown and starting to get a little crispy on the outside (it does not need to cook fully just give it a crusty edge.. the rest will happen in the oven with the chicken).

3. Spray non stick spray on casserole dish, place chicken and potato. Evenly spread it all together. Top with tomato, olives and garlic. It gets a little tricky spreading the garlic but do your best to distribute it evenly over all chicken and potatoes. Pour over the wine. Season with salt and pepper.

4.Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and potato is tender. Don't stir it while it cooks.. just trust the white wine and chicken juices to do their thing.

Serve immediately.

Shrimp and Scallop Lasagna

This is a variation of a Paula Deen recipe on the Food Network ( I tried the measurements she recommends and have changed it slightly. I prefer more meat than just sauce between the pasta layers, so I have adjusted the white seafood sauce with more of the meat so you can really stuff the lasagna full of the good stuff---the seafood. For all those that aren't such a fan of seafood I have to say this is very mild tasting.. and the fresher the scallops and shrimp you get the less seafood taste it will have.


2 boxes whole grain lasagna noodles (Regular pasta noodles can be used.. I like the nutty flavor the whole grain pasta gave the dish)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups half-and-half
1 1/4 cup grated Romano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound sea scallops, cut in half or quartered if very large
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2/3 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 13 by 10-inch casselrole dish with vegetable oil cooking spray. (I also made a mini dish in a small casserole dish for Dave to take to work the next day with the leftovers---if you have any)
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the lasagna noodles until they are just done, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside. ---remember they will cook when you bake as well so don't over cook the noodles.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet and cook the onion over low heat until very soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute more (watch your temp so your garlic doesn't burn). Over medium-low heat, stir in the flour with a whisk, then gradually add the half-and-half, allowing the sauce to thicken slightly before adding more. When the sauce has thickened to about the consistency of whipping cream, add the cheese and stir well. Add the salt and pepper and stir again. Add the scallops and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, then add the shrimp and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or just until the shrimp turn pink. Turn off the heat.
Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the sauce from the skillet into the prepared pan. Cover the bottom of the pan withnoodles edge to edge or slightly overlapping until layer is complete(you might need to cut some to make them all fit depending on what size noodles you purchased. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce over the noodles, distributing half of the seafood evenly. Layer more noodles over the top of the seafood, 1/3 of the sauce, and remaining seafood. Cover with one more layer of noodles and the remaining sauce. (For the top layer, do not spoon any seafood on top of the noodles; just use the sauce and try to save enough sauve to really cover it good.) Tuck in any edges of the noodles so they're all coated with sauce. Top with the a generous serving of Parmesan.

NOTE: you might want to add in another layer if you have enough sauce and seafood.. you can never have too much seafood and scallops right?

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, uncovered, until bubbly and the cheese on top starts to get golden brown and yum yum. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing.