Be Thankful

I’m not sure if my kids were looking forward to Thanksgiving because of the family day or because I’ve been saying for months “once it’s done you can play Christmas music.” ¬†ūüôā

Pretty sure it’s both! They had the day before off from school so they spent time making Thanksgiving decorations. ¬†I love that they still get into stuff like this. ¬†But what I really love is that they get the real meaning of the holidays.

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My daughter put this up in our dining room and it just warmed my heart.

Of course after Thanksgiving we are faced with what to do with the leftover turkey!   We did end up with less that I thought we would because of a mix-up with the order at the co-op.  I had ordered a 15lb turkey that would come from a local farm that employs and takes care of homeless vets and vets with head trauma.  So it was a win-win for us.

However, I got a message the day before picking it up from the co-op saying the turkeys came in “a bit small”. ¬†I called back asking how small? ¬†8lbs! ¬†I’m sorry, that’s not a bit small! ¬†That’s half the size! ¬†Fortunately they had other options.

But back to the leftover turkey!

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After the usual having the turkey meal a couple of times and turkey sandwiches we floated a few ideas for dinner and the family consensus was to have a curry. ¬†You would think we’d get sick of curry but there are so many variations and it seemed like a fun idea.

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I was in the mood for a Thai influence.  Because the turkey is already cooked, this is a very quick dish to throw together.  Which is what I needed because we were still working on redoing the room.

In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil.  Finely chop 3-4 cloves of garlic and a couple of scallions.

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Saute for a few minutes and add a couple of sliced mushrooms.  Then mix in a tablespoon of oyster sauce, a tablespoon of soy sauce, and about 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar.  Dice up a red pepper and grate about an inch square piece of fresh ginger.  Add to the skillet.

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Near the end of cooking add the turkey.  Finish with about 40z of coconut milk, a splash of lime juice, a tablespoon of red curry paste, and a few dashes of red pepper flakes.

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My husband made up his naan.  Sometimes I think I just make curry so I can get that naan!

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And because it was officially after Thanksgiving we enjoyed this watching a Christmas movie. ¬†Let’s just say the kids are very excited about this season. ¬†ūüôā

 

Mushroom Curry and I’m Getting Too Old for This!

As I sit here and write this post, I ache from the neck down. ¬†Why? ¬†Because my husband and I seem to really like saving money by doing house projects ourselves. ¬†By last night we were seriously questioning our sanity. ¬†Our current project is redoing our lounge. ¬†We are hiring someone to do the drywall and mudding. ¬†So maybe we’re finally learning. ¬†Maybe.

But for three days this weekend we brought back the room to the studs. God the mess! ¬†It gets everywhere despite our best efforts of blocking off the room. ¬†Let’s just say me climbing in and out of the window is not the most graceful thing to behold. ¬†But I can’t wait for the room to be finished so it’s worth the effort.

As you can imagine, not a lot of cooking happened. ¬†No energy! ¬†But this is a curry I made a few weeks ago when my in-laws were visiting. ¬†This is a great dish for those that don’t eat meat. ¬†It is also very easy to make on those busy nights.

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I made this on the mild side but you can easily turn up the heat with more chilis. ¬†Again I used my “Best-ever Curry Cookbook” but as you know I changed it up. ¬†Primarily because of the ingredients I had on hand. ¬†In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil. ¬†Add about half an onion chopped and cook for a few minutes to soften. ¬†Add 4 cardamon pods, 1/4 tsp of ground turmeric, 1 1/2 tsp of ground cumin, 1 tsp of coriander, 1/2 tsp of garam masala, and a few pinches of black pepper.

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Chop up 2 garlic cloves and one chili, cook for a few minutes.  If you want this on the mild side remove the white and seeds from the pepper.  Add about 10oz of chopped tomatoes.  Season with salt and grate a 1 in/2.5 cm sq piece of fresh ginger.  Bring it to a simmer.  Half or quarter (depending on the size) of about 12 oz of mushrooms.  I used white button mushrooms.

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We also had this with the peshwari naan my husband made.

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This was a lovely warming curry. ¬†My MIL, who isn’t the biggest fan of curry, really enjoyed it. ¬†ūüôā

Chicken Dopiaza

It is amazing how fast a month can fly by with family visiting. ¬†It was a great time but we’re now back to reality with getting the garden cleaned up before the snow comes. ¬†Which doesn’t look like it will be long now for snow. ¬†Higher towns around us got snow last night though for us it has just been bucketing rain. ¬†This week we had the wind show up on time to shake the trees free of their leaves.

Autumn wasn’t as spectacular as it can be but it was lovely to see the colours, fortunately my in-laws were here for the short peak. ¬†They got some really nice pictures to bring back home.

We’ve started a sort of a tradition of when we are all together we do a curry night. ¬† I do two, one spicy and one on the mild side for my MIL. ¬†This dish was definitely spicy but with loads of flavour. ¬†I used the recipe for Chicken Dopiaza from “The Best Ever Curry Cookbook”but I changed it a bit. ¬†One I was restricted with some ingredients and two I wanted this to use as few dishes as possible. ¬†Especially since I was doing two curries!

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This would probably be a great dish for a cold given how much onion it calls for.  And ginger!  A cure for sure.  In a skillet heat up vegetable oil and add 8 cardamon pods, 2 bay leaves, and 2-3 chilis, chopped.   If you want this dish to be milder (crazy I know!) use less chilis and/or remove the seeds.

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Chop two small onions and add to the skillet. ¬†Cook for a couple of minutes then add 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped. ¬†Cube about a pound of chicken breast and add to the skillet. While the chicken is cooking grate a piece of fresh ginger which is about 1″sq/2.5cmsq.

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Then comes the fun part, adding all the fabulous spices!  Add 1 tsp of ground coriander, chili powder, and ground cumin.  Add 1/2 tsp of turmeric, ground pepper, and sea salt.  Add a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer.  Adjust the seasoning as needed.  If you want it even spicier add more chili powder.

The recipe calls for 8 small onions.  I bought 5 cipollini onions and quartered them.  Add them to the skillet and cook through.

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My FIL requested peshwari naan for curry night.  My husband looked up the recipe and made some.  I was a bit worried, given the stuffing, how it would pair but it worked really well.

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This had quite the kick to it. ¬†One by one our eyes started watering. ¬†But the heat didn’t overwhelm the flavour of the dish. ¬†Like I said, possible cold cure!

Curry Inspired Couscous

We still have tomatoes and aubergines coming out of our garden at a great rate so it is time to get creative so they don’t go to waste. ¬†It was a crazy week last week with my husband traveling and with the kids schools stuff so I only got round to cooking a meal for the kids on Friday. ¬†Well, I did feed them the rest of the week, not that much of a slacker! ¬†But I stuck with the easy stuff I could do with my eyes shut. ¬†I was in the mood for something curry flavoured and we had chicken on hand. ¬†This could be done!

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I thought it would be a fun twist to use the Israeli Couscous I had on hand.  Cook that using the directions on the package.  First I prepped the chicken with a marinade paste.  I mixed a tablespoon of olive oil with a tablespoon of red curry paste, a teaspoon of chili powder, 1/2 a teaspoon of ground ginger, 1/2 a teaspoon of cumin, and a bit of sea salt and pepper.  Mix well and spread it on the chicken thighs.

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Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.  Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and brown both sides of the chicken.

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Finish off the chicken in the oven.  Chop up a small onion and a couple of cloves of garlic.  Add them to the skillet and cook on medium low temp.

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Slice up the aubergine and several tomatoes and bring the temp up to medium to saute.

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Add 1/2 a cup or so of chicken stock.  Add 2 tablespoons of red curry paste, 1/2 a teaspoon of ground ginger, a teaspoon of chili powder, a few dashes of garam masala, and a sprinkle of asafoetida.  As it simmers also add a few splashes of lime juice.  Stir in the couscous.

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The kids came into the dining room and said how wonderful it smelled. ¬†I was a little jealous as I don’t have a sense of smell and the spices that go into curry can be wonderful.

 

There is a Curry for Everyone

When we visited my in-laws I wanted to do a curry night because my father-in-law loves curry ¬†but knowing that my mother-in-law isn’t a huge fan of curries I planned on doing something for her as well. ¬†Especially since the curry I wanted to make was the tomato garlic beef curry which is really spicy. ¬† When my MIL said that it’s the heat that turns her off of the curry I thought I would make her the mild chicken curry I make for those that aren’t into the spicy side of things.

This recipe uses thai curry paste. ¬†I agree with both camps of buying the paste or making it. ¬†Making it isn’t difficult if you have some time and all the ingredients. ¬†However, we had the kids this weekend and now that the weather is warm we have to work on a ton of projects, so time was limited.

My husband also made naan to go along with this.

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Because this was just for me and my husband I cubed a breast and a half of chicken and heated up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet.  Start cooking the chicken.  Finely chop 3-4 cloves of garlic and slice a couple of scallions.  Cook for a few minutes.

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Slice a few mushrooms and about a cup of pepper.  I chose orange to make the dish pop.  Add half a cup of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Add Thai Green Chili paste.  Start off with a little bit and build up to the heat level you would like.   Add 1/2 -3/4 cup of coconut milk.  Adjust the heat level with the curry paste.  Season with cilantro (coriander leaf) and a teaspoon of garam masala.

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Once the chicken is cooked through serve in a bowl with the naan.  My husband also made a wonderful mango chutney to go along with this.

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When I made this for my mother in-law she really enjoyed it.  Success!  It was nice to make something she liked since she had made us so many yummy meals while we visited.  We ate very well!

Beef Vindaloo to Welcome my Husband Home

You know, Christmas comes the same time every year.  Yet every year I find myself in full scramble to get it all done.  I swear I will start in September.  Unfortunately good intentions are not a guarantee!

I should finish the gifts I’m making today and get everything wrapped and under the tree. ¬†Then there is the dump run and grocery shopping. ¬†But I should have plenty of time tomorrow to decorate the Christmas cake.

My husband had to do a business trip last week.  Luckily it was only four days rather than the two weeks last December but I still wanted to make a nice home cooked dinner for him.

I was in the mood for curry and thought I’d try beef vindaloo. ¬†Beef you say? ¬†There are areas in West India that have Muslim and Christian communities that eat beef and add in the fabulous flavours you find in India, amazing dishes happen.

Vindaloo has it’s roots in Portugal and was originally based in wine and garlic but gradually evolved to have vinegar instead of wine. ¬†When a lot of people hear vindaloo they think off the charts for spicy food but that isn’t always the case. ¬†I didn’t make this crazy spicy but you can if you add more hot pepper.

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I adapted a recipe from the Best-Ever Curry cookbook. ¬†I used ground cumin instead of the seeds and I could have sworn we had fenugreek but nope so I had to leave that out. ¬†The recipe did call for a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds. ¬†To be honest I didn’t miss it.

In a spice grinder, grind up 3-4 chili peppers or hot peppers of your choice, 1 teaspoon of black peppercorn, 5 green cardamon pods, and 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds.

In a small bowl add the spice mix, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, and 4 tablespoons of white vinegar.

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Set that aside.  Chop up a large red onion and saute in olive oil until softened.

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In a food processor add the onions and spice mix.  Process until it is a paste.  In the skillet add a bit more oil and start browning stewing beef.  I used just under a pound.  The recipe called for two pounds.  As it is browning, finely chop a couple of garlic and grate a piece of ginger about 1-2 inches square/3-4 cm square.

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Cook for a couple of minutes then add the onion spice paste.  In addition to that add a scant tablespoon of ground cumin, 2 teaspoons of ground coriander, and 1/2 a teaspoon of ground tumeric.

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Stir well then add 300ml/1 1/4 cups of water.  Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer.  Cook for at least an hour.  You want the sauce reduced and the meat tender.  My husband made naan to dip into this curry.

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I was a bit worried because there was only enough for about 1/2 a cup a serving for the four of us.  But with the naan we were stuffed.  I love that our kids love the spicy flavours, they really liked this.

Curried Carrot Soup

Oooh, it was very scary in town last night. ¬†Lots of ghouls and monsters wandering about asking for candy. ¬† And I bet most of them slept well after their quest for the sweet stuff. ¬†It was a little bittersweet last night as our kids were off doing their own thing this year. ¬†It’s tradition for us to gather at a friend’s house as their neighbourhood is a fabulous place to trick o treat. ¬†We went without them to see all the kids having fun. ¬†The best costume was a young girl who took a parasol and stringed it with lights to be a jelly fish. ¬†You could see her journey through the neighbourhood. ¬†A fantastic job.

The husband of the duo where we go likes to dress up as death. ¬†He has an old sickle that was the wife’s great grandmother’s. ¬†Once there are enough of us to hand out candy he starts slowly walking the driveway dragging the sickle. ¬†A bit scary. ¬†So it’s fascinating to watch the kids. ¬†A good number, even the tiny ones, will loudly declare “You don’t scare me!” ¬†Some keep an eye on him as they make their way to the candy. ¬†A couple get scared but with the rest of us yelling it’s ok, there’s candy at the end, they make it as well. ¬†I don’t think there was one child that gave up candy out of fear. ¬†ūüôā

Now I’m not one, when this time rolls by, to go pumpkin crazy. ¬†Occasionally I make a pumpkin pie but that’s it. ¬†Crikey, they put it in everything! ¬†People go mad over it. ¬†But I do enjoy good harvest soups. ¬†The comfort rustic ones that take the chill off the bones. ¬†And if they are quick even better!

A couple of weeks ago I made a curried carrot soup for the family as I had to teach class that night.  Nothing is easier to make ahead of time and just reheat.

Curried Carrot Soup

Peel and slice 3-4 carrots depending on their size and thinly slice them.  Chop up half a large red onion and coarsely chop 4-5 cloves of garlic.  Add about 4 cups of chicken stock.

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Bring to a boil and cook until the carrots are tender.  Use a blender or an immersion blender to blend all soup.

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Don’t worry about getting it perfectly smooth, this is a rustic soup. ¬†Put it back on the heat and bring it to a low simmer. ¬†Now the seasoning bit is a guideline. ¬†I used hot curry powder, curry paste, cumin, sea salt, pepper, and a bit of garam masala. ¬†The last bit you don’t want to use a ton. A little goes along way. We really like the curry flavour and the heat so I add a good amount. ¬†I also add a spoonful of the mango habanero sauce I made recently. ¬†This is seriously hot so don’t go overboard with that bit! ¬†Simmer to allow all the flavours to develop together.

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Top with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraise.  Garnish with fresh chive.  This is a very warming soup.  Wonderful on a cold day or if you have a cold!

Tomato Garlic Beef Curry

There is a new Indian restaurant here in town.  We did make the mistake going on opening night.  We were getting cranky waiting for the food!  But once the food did arrive it was really good.  So I hope that they get things sorted because we would love to have a proper Indian restaurant in town.

I had ordered a spicy lamb curry with tomato, garlic and onion. ¬†A slow cooked flavourful curry with a great balance of heat. ¬†I had to recreate it. ¬†I planned on doing that for my dad’s birthday but since plans got changed (for a good reason!) I decided to make it for the kids when they got back from FL as they both requested curry for dinner. ¬†And they gave a thumbs up for adding spice.

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This is a dish you want to slow cook, no short cuts on this on!  But other than the time it takes it is really simple.  Heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet.  Season about a pound of stewing beef or lamb with sea salt and pepper.  Brown the meat on all sides.

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Coarsely chop an onion and 3-4 cloves of garlic. ¬†Add to the skillet. ¬†We have been growing Ring O Fire peppers in our garden so I harvested a couple for this. ¬†Start off with one pepper. ¬†It’s a lot easier to add more heat than remove it. ¬†Again, seeds increase the heat so use your judgement.

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Saute for a few minutes to soften the onion then add a 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer.  Freshly grate about 1 Р2 inch/2.5-5cm piece of ginger, add to the skillet.  Chop a small handful of fresh cilantro.  Then season with sea salt and pepper, 1-2 teaspoons of garam masala, and a couple of tablespoons of red curry paste.

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Cover and keep it on a low simmer for a few hours. ¬†Stir occasionally so it doesn’t catch on the bottom. ¬†Half way through cooking test the heat and if you want more add more hot pepper. ¬†Adjust for the curry seasoning with the paste if needed as well. ¬†Meanwhile, my husband made up some incredible naan for us to enjoy. ¬†We thought the naan would be enough so I didn’t do up any rice.

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I was really pleased with this, it tasted close to what I had at the restaurant.  It was hearty without being heavy.

Today is the first day of school for the kids. ¬†Our daughter started high school and our son is starting middle school. ¬†Wondering where time is going. ¬†But to make it a fun day I’m making pavlova and and chicken cordon bleu. ¬†Can’t wait to hear all the stories!

Grilled Thai Steak and Ever So Grateful

It was a very long week last week but everything went well with my dad’s surgery. ¬†Yesterday they discharged him from hospital and now he is recuperating at home. ¬†We were all breathing a sigh of relief. ¬†Still are if you want to know the truth.

So he’ll be causing trouble for a good long while now and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

As you can imagine I’m a bit backed up with blog posts and getting everything else back on track. ¬†Kids are back at school this week so we’re winding down the summer the next couple of days. ¬†Making sure they get back into the routine of things.

Last weekend I was in the mood for Thai flavours and decided to do a grilled steak with rice noodles.  We have had some success with growing fresh garlic this year and we also had ginger and cilantro on hand.

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In a bowl mix 2 tablespoons peanut oil, 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, 2 tablespoons amino acid, 1 tablespoon lime juice, one to two teaspoons of fresh chopped cilantro, a large clove of garlic, finely chopped, and salt and pepper.  Add the steak to marinate for at least an hour.

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When it is time to cook, heat up a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil.  Add a few cloves of garlic, finely chopped, and a couple of scallions, chopped.  Saute until the garlic starts to soften.  Add a cayenne pepper.  When slicing use gloves, saves on burning skin.  We keep the seeds but some may find that too hot.  Saute for a few minutes.

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Add a cup of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  I made the mistake of adding the rest of the veg too soon.  I like my veg on the crispy side.  If you like them soft then add the peppers and mushrooms when you add the stock.  Also add carrots.  I added a couple of tablespoons of green curry paste, a tablespoon of oyster sauce, a tablespoon of amino acids, and a splash of lime juice.  Continue to simmer.  As it cooks adjust the flavour to your liking.

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Grill the steak to medium rare.

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Take the leftover marinade and add it to the skillet and continue to simmer.  While the steak is resting add half a cup light coconut milk.  Add a few more teaspoons of freshly chopped cilantro at this stage as well.

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While this is being created cook rice noodles according to the package.  Toss the noodles in the sauce and serve.  Top with the steak and peanuts.

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I enjoyed this dish.  The heat was mild but you could always add more hot pepper as you cook.  Tonight we are doing Pad Thai for dinner.  Another one of our favourites!

Quick Chicken Curry

When you have to do a quick dinner be careful asking your kids what they want.¬† You may be tossed into the deep end!¬† Thursday was one of the those nights as our daughter had another concert for school.¬† It was also my day off so it was grocery day and I usually bring the kids with me to get their input.¬† Which is a safe thing because they don’t pick junk stuff.

So I asked what they would like this time.¬† My son piped up with Curry!¬† Because, you know, it’s a quick and easy dish to make.¬† His words.¬† But I do like a good curry.

And the co-op had fresh turmeric.

Chicken Curry 2 2015A sign, obviously.¬† What I didn’t count on was how yellow my fingers would be stained for a few days.¬† Very bright!

In a skillet heat up a tablespoon or so of olive oil and saute chopped onion and chicken until the onions have softened.  Then add a few cloves of garlic chopped.

Chicken Curry 1 2015Add a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, chopped bell pepper, and mushrooms.  Bring to a simmer. Add a few spoonfuls of red curry paste.  Grate about an inch square of fresh turmeric and the same amount of fresh ginger into the curry.

Chicken Curry 3 2015After letting the curry simmer for awhile adjust the curry seasoning to your taste.  Then add about a 1/3 of a cup of coconut milk, a splash of lime juice, and some fresh cilantro.

Chicken Curry 4 2015Serve with rice of your choice.¬† I’m glad our son suggested curry for dinner.¬† It hit the spot.¬† ūüôā

Chicken Curry 5 2015And thank you to those that gave me some tips on how to handle the photo size in the posts.¬† I think I’ve figured it out now. Of course, it’s a hassle!¬† Ah well, what can you do?