Category Archives: Entree

Leone’s Lentil Hot Pot

I met the sweetest soul, my friend Leone, when I lived in Singapore. She’s one of the kindest humans I have ever known (I’m not exaggerating). It doesn’t hurt that she has the. most. amazing. Aussie accent that comes with the. most. amazing. smile. that comes with the. most. amazing. hugs! My time in Singapore was often met with challenges and spending time with Leone was life to my soul. If ever I needed a pick-me-up, she was my girl. We usually met over a good meal or coffee, as you do in Singapore. Good food shared with good friends is a healing balm.

She shared this recipe with me and it was an instant favorite comfort food dish. In Singapore, finding fresh pumpkin was easy but it’s not so easy in the US outside of the fall/autumn season. I’ll share her recipe below as she has given me permission to do. I’ll add my thoughts and necessary adjustments in ().

I hope you’ll try this. It’s SO easy and INCREDIBLY delicious!

Ingredients:
McCormicks Middle Eastern spice blend, (Harissa) but you could use cumin, coriander and or ginger (ground or fresh) if you wish.
2 small diced onions
2 cloves chopped garlic (or more if you’re like me and can never get enough garlic)
Olive Oil (for sauteeing)
2-3 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock if you’re going for vegetarian)
2 cups Red lentils
2 cups fresh cubed pumpkin (can use butternut squash)
2 cups cubed potatoes (can eliminate these and use extra butternut squash)
1 can diced tomatoes (can use chopped fresh tomatoes)
Salt to taste

Basmati rice (or your favorite rice option)
Cilantro/Coriander leaves for garnish

Instructions:
Brown two small chopped onions with 2 cloves garlic (or two teaspoons) in olive oil or spray the pot well with a ‘cooking/oil spray’.

Add two small teaspoons of Middle Eastern spice (Harissa) and some Turmeric or you could add a teaspoon each of cumin, ginger, and coriander.  Brown this mix stirring constantly. Do not overcook.

Add two to three cups of stock, it can be vegetable or chicken. If no actual ‘stock’ available, then use water with stock cubes.

At this point, you can transfer this mix to a ‘slow cooker’ or leave it in the stove top pot.

Add 2 cups each of red lentils, diced pumpkin, and diced potato.

Add one can of diced tomatoes. Stir well.

*If using stove top pot, stir gently and often. The lentils may stick to the bottom of the pot if you don’t. You may need to add more water at this stage too.

It will take approx 35 mins of cooking time.

If you have transferred it to a slow cooker, allow about three hours of cooking time, but at least you can go away and leave it. No need to keep stirring!

Serve with chopped fresh coriander, steamed rice, and a garden salad. Delicious!

Hope you and your family enjoy the above recipe, that I have named: Leone’s Lentil Hot Pot

Leone's Lentil Hot Pot

Photo Credit: Leone

Easy “Mexican” Chicken

I hate to even use the term Mexican because this is such a cheater meal it has to offend the amazingness of true Mexican cuisine. I just made this for dinner, though, and it’s a super easy dish made with stuff we normally have on hand. You could add to it and make it MUCH better with chopped green onions, cilantro, frijoles or whatever you like, but this worked. It’s fairly healthy and fast. It’s a one pan dish and doesn’t heat up your kitchen, although you could cook it in the oven if you wanted your cheese to brown but then that would heat up your kitchen and dirty two dishes. 🙂

Here goes:

Thaw a couple of medium to large chicken breast and cut into chunks (tip: if you cut the chicken while it’s still a little bit frozen it cuts SO much easier!)

Cook in a deep pan on the stove with some olive oil and seasonings you like. I used chopped garlic, smoked paprika and some sea salt

Add a can of Rotel (I use “milder” Rotel) and a can, or box in my case (for gluten free), of cream of chicken soup and a can of diced green chilies.

Stir it up and let it cook for a few minutes. Make sure the chicken is done.

Tear up some corn tortillas and cover the chicken mixture then put some cheese on top and allow it time to melt.

Voila! Serve with an easy lettuce salad tossed in lemon or lime juice and you have yourself a meal.

Enjoy!

Tom Kha Gai

Tom Kha Gai (chicken and coconut soup)

submitted by: Andrea Stunz from Jenny M.

I got this Thai recipe from a friend from South Africa who I met in Singapore who lives in Vietnam. How’s that for breaking cultural barriers? 🙂 It’s “zero spicy” as they say in Singapore, if you don’t add the chilies, that is.

It’s really easy and has the Thai flavor that I love so much without the heat. You just HAVE to try it!

3-4″ peeled fresh ginger (cut into  pieces large enough to remove before serving or eat around). Can use ginger powder in a pinch. If you use ground ginger, start with 1/2 tsp and taste as you go. Ginger powder is not consistent in flavor and pungency.

4-5 fresh kaffir lime leaves. Because I love the flavor of these, I use a whole jar of the dried leaves (.09 ounce Thai Kitchen) that I buy from on Amazon.com. Fresh were so easy to find in Singapore but I can’t find them here. The dried leaves don’t have as much flavor as the fresh so it will take more.

2 cans of good coconut milk. I prefer Arroy D brand and Thai Kitchen because they have a little of the cream on top and it doesn’t have chemicals or preservatives in it. But there are several good brands out there. Just check the ingredients before you buy.

2 cups of chicken stock (I use organic, free range, hormone free, etc.)

3 large (or 4 if you want it more meaty) boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into chunks or thin slices. (I usually cook up extra chicken when I’m cooking chicken and slice it up and freeze it.)

1 cup sliced white button mushrooms (if desired)

1-2 tsp finely chopped red chilies (if desired). Another option for heat seekers is to have these or dried red chilies on the side.

2-4 Tbsp fish sauce Start with 2 and add more to taste. Too much of this will ruin your whole pot.

2 tsp brown sugar, coconut palm sugar or rock sugar

1-2 tsp sea salt (to taste)

2 stalks lemongrass Cut into 3-4″ pieces and pound with the butt of your knife to release the juices. The soup will work ok without this if you can’t find it. I now buy a lot of it when I go to the Asian market and cut it up and freeze it.

3-4 Tbsp lime juice (juice of about 3 of the limes)

chopped cilantro for garnish

chopped green onion for garnish

Time saving tip from my Thai friend: Chop up a lot of cilantro and green onion and mix together and freeze it.

1. Combine ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk and stock in a pan, bring slowly to the boil and simmer uncovered over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2.  Add chicken pieces, mushrooms and chilies and simmer until chicken is done, about 20 minutes.

3.  Stir in fish sauce, brown sugar, and lime juice.

4. Taste. If it needs a little something, add a little bit more fish sauce or maybe more lime. That’ll probably do the trick.

4.  Remove lemongrass, kaffir leaves and ginger if desired. You can tell your guests to eat around them – that’s what they do in Thailand. 🙂

5.  Sprinkle with cilantro and green onion.

Serve immediately, with steamed jasmine rice (wash 3 times before steaming the rice)

Lamb Shanks

Lamb Shanks
submitted by Andrea

My friend, who happened to be  the lady who did my nails in Singapore, Annette, gave me this recipe while she was doing my nails one day. It has become a family favorite and it’s always mouth-watering and delicious.

Part 1
4 lbs lamb shanks, boneless leg of lamb or lamb chops (although chops are a bit tedious due to their size and small bones to pick around)

6 finely chopped garlic cloves

1 finely chopped onion

2 TBSP total of mixed Italian herbs (oregano, parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary, basil, whatever you have on hand)

salt  & pepper (don’t add too much, you can always add more but you can’t take it out)

Part 2
2 cups Chicken Stock

1-2 cups Red Wine

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can tomato sauce

4-6 fresh tomatoes (in large chunks)

2 Bay Leaves

Part 3

2 cups diced celery

4 medium peeled, chunked sweet potatoes

1 can garbanzo beans (chic peas)

Part 1 – Sear the lamb in a large frying pan with the chopped garlic, onion and olive oil. Sprinkle salt to taste and Italian Seasoning on the shank. Sear on each side until browned to seal in the juices. About 15 minutes total time.

Part 2 – Place the lamb in a large crock pot or stock pot. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce. Pour in chicken stock and about 1 cup of red wine to cover. Cook on high in a crock pot or on medium flame in stock pot for about 2 hours.

Part 3 – Add in the sweet potatoes, celery and garbanzo beans. Cook until the meat is tender and sweet potatoes are cooked. Another 2 hours or so.

It sounds like a process but it’s really easy, just takes a while to cook. Lamb has to cook long and slow for it to be tender. Don’t rush it or it won’t be as good.

It’s a stand alone dish with all the components of a balanced meal but you could serve with rice, quinoa, cous cous and/or warm rolls. Enjoy!

Thai Cashew Chicken

This recipe is a combo of several different recipes I found so I guess I don’t really have to give credit to any one person. But I did take the original recipe from my friend Jennifer and then changed and added ingredients in it to make it like one that I like to eat out in Singapore. Often, when you order cashew chicken, the chicken is breaded. This one is not and I like it better that way. Makes it easier and healthier too!

The picture above was my first attempt. I used raw cashews and even with the wok roasting, they turned out too soft. I also would have added bell peppers and sauce so I included them in the recipe below. Just imagine they’re in there.

Here is a picture of a later version with the bell peppers in it. They weren’t completely cooked yet so they will lose a little bit of the vibrant colors once it’s finished cooking. This pictures shows about a triple-sized recipe. I was making some for us and some to take to friends.

IMG_4118

Thai Cashew Chicken – submitted by Andrea Stunz (and friends)

All of the ingredients are easy to find at most Singapore grocery stores but I bought most of mine at The Golden Mile Complex. In the US, you can find the ingredients in most stores as well.

Note: If you want more of any ingredient then customize it to your taste. I like more cashews and chicken and I usually add a little more sesame oil for flavor. If you add more meat, nuts and veggies, you’ll probably need to add a bit more of the sauces as well.

1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use coconut oil with a little bit of sesame oil)

1/2 cup roasted unsalted cashews (raw cashews tend to turn out too soft)

1 tbsp chopped garlic

2 diced large chicken breasts (5-6 chicken tenders)

2 TBSP soy sauce (I use gluten free coconut aminos or Tamari)

2 TBSP fish sauce

2 TBSP oyster sauce (I use Thai Kitchen brand gluten free)

4 diced dried red chili peppers (or less if you don’t want it spicy)

2 tsp sugar

1/2 bunch green onions, diced

3 bell peppers, red, green, yellow, sliced (not too small)

Whole purple onion chopped in quarters

Add fresh diced red chili peppers on top for more heat. I add just a little bit for flavor but not heat. Those who want it spicy can add more to their own plate.

In a wok,  heat oil and add diced garlic and onions.  Saute’ for a few minutes and then add chicken. When chicken is cooked, add soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and chili peppers.  Add roasted cashews, bell peppers and green onions.  Taste.  You might want to add a bit more sugar and/or soy sauce if the fish sauce taste is too much for you.  This recipe doesn’t make it very saucy so if you want more sauce, add a little chicken broth, water and corn starch if you want to thicken it up. Taste it again to make sure you don’t need more soy, fish or oyster sauce.

Feeds about 4-5 people.

Serve it with steamed Thai Fragrant Rice  or Sticky Rice (not sweet) and Thai Sweet Chili Sauce.

As I was typing up this recipe, my friend, Jennifer, that I mentioned above emailed me this link. She just made it and said she didn’t change a thing. It is really alot like what I have above but in a much neater package with better pictures. 🙂

Make a little extra sticky rice and cook up some coconut cream/sugar syrup for dessert with maybe a little roasted coconut on top. Yum!! Or just some sliced mango

Chicken Tinola

Janny’s Chicken Tinola
submitted by Andrea Stunz

From a lot of the online Tinola recipes I’ve looked at, this one doesn’t appear to be a classic Filipino Tinola soup recipe. Most of them do not call for soy sauce and vinegar or lemon grass but this is how my Filipino friend in Singapore taught me to make it so this is the one you get.  Maybe not authentic but certainly delicious and how one Filipino and one Texan family eats it for sure.

I get my chicken from The Chicken Man, the basic ingredients at the grocery store and the produce at a local wet market. This time was the Tekka Market in Little India.

I’m a horrible food photographer but this is what my husband put on his plate. I like more of the chicken and juice on mine.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
4-5 chopped garlic cloves
1 thumb sized piece of chopped ginger
1-2 stalks lemon grass cut into about 3” pieces
3 diced medium tomatoes
1 medium onion
3-4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts or small chicken pieces with bones and skin if you prefer
About ½ cup vinegar (start with a little, you can always add more but it’s hard to take away if you get too much.)
About ½ cup soy sauce
1 medium-sized green papaya (unripe)
1 chicken bouillon cube (Maggi chicken broth)
water
Salt and pepper to taste
Large bunch (like a lot!) of Malunggay leaves if you can find them. I found them at Tekka Market but you have to get them first thing in the morning or they’re all gone. Take the leaves off of the stems and only use the leaves.

Heat up olive oil with salt and pepper. Add chopped garlic, ginger and onion until light brown. Add tomatoes and lemon grass and cook down a little bit. Add chicken pieces or cubes and cook until chicken is cooked through. Then add in vinegar and soy sauce to taste. Throw in the bouillon cube and dissolve. Add a little water if you want it to be more soupy but not too much to drown out the flavour. Add the papaya and cook until tender. Add Malunggay leaves at the very end and salt and pepper if needed. Serve with rice.

Here’s a recipe using the fish sauce that includes a video of a guy making it. I can only understand about 10 of the words he says but it’s good to see how he puts it together. Except on his #4 step, when he writes “rice washing” I think he means “rice water”.

http://panlasangpinoy.com/2009/06/05/chicken-tinola/

And another one.

http://www.myfilipinorecipes.com/poultry/chicken-tinola-tinolang-manok-recipe.html

Malunggay Leaves – quite impressive in the nutrient department!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moringa_oleifera

Tom Yum Soup

After My Thai Cooking Lesson, I pretty much failed at the Green Curry Chicken but I tried the Tom Yum Soup and it worked out pretty well. With the pre-made Tom Yum paste my friend Paunnee uses, it’s really pretty easy to put together. I’ll put the photos of the ingredients at the end of the post.

You can use this same basic recipe adding chicken instead of prawn for Tom Yum or you can use chicken and coconut milk and eliminate the Tom Yum paste to make Tom Khaa. I did use chicken this time that I made it because I didn’t have the time to go find fresh prawn. I liked the chicken but I think prawn or a good white meat fish would be better. Tom Yum is more of a seafood flavored soup.

Tom Yum Soup
submitted by Andrea and Paunnee

Ingredients:
10-15 Jumbo Shrimp (Prawn) peeled and de-veined
About 5-6 Kaffir Lime Leaves
1-2 stalks of lemon grass (wash and cut in 3-4″ pieces)
3 cloves of minced garlic
About 1 ” of peeled and sliced Galangal root
2-3 washed Coriander roots (root from Cilantro) Save the coriander leaves for garnish.
Generous handful of Shitake or Oyster mushrooms (washed and cut up)
2-3 TBSP of Tom Yum Paste (start with a little and add until taste and spice is like you like it)
2 tbsp Fish Sauce
1-2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp sugar
2 seedless limes (garnish)

Note: You won’t eat the lime leaves, lemongrass or galangal root.

To Cook:
In a large stock pot, add 4-5 cups of water, lime leaves, lemongrass stalks, garlic, root slices and sit (no heat) for an hour or two for flavors to combine.

About an hour before you’re ready to serve, prepare the prawn. If you’re cooking with chicken, you’ll need to start the chicken early to make sure it has time to cook. Cut the chicken in decent sized chunks. If using prawn, they will go in right at the end since they don’t take much time at all to cook.

So you’ll heat up your water with all the good smelling/tasting stuff inside and then begin adding the paste a little at a time. Get the heat and the flavor like you prefer and just before serving, add the prawn. Don’t stir it too much at this point, just sort of turn the prawn a little so they don’t fall apart.

Serve with steamed Thai Fragrant Rice and you have a wonderful meal. I also made a vegetable stir fry to go with it. I’ll get that recipe up soon.