Category Archives: pineapple

Cambodian Noodle Soup

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With the exception of my travels through the Balkans, I have yet to visit any metropolitan area where I didn’t stumble upon a pho shop.  With their steaming bowls of noodles, broth, and an endless variety of add-ins, these Thai noodle soup shops have a cult like following that make them both universal and hard not to like.  In grad school my favorite lunch was a steaming bowl of pho from the student union.  The options were endless so I could eat there every day without repeating the same bowl of soup twice.

I had never made pho before but decided to give it a try when my craving for the hot broth covered noodles got the best of me.  In browsing through recipe options I came across one in The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, The Splendid Table is my favorite radio program on NPR.  I can even stream their broadcasts online meaning I can get my Lynn Rossetto Kasper fix while living overseas).  I was set to give the pho recipe a try then I turned the page and saw the Cambodian twist on the soup which sounded even more intriguing.  Unable to decide which version to make, I combined the best elements of both recipes to form what I present here.  You can also add or substitute ingredients as your palate or pantry dictates.

The verdict?  This soup is delicious but a lot more work than popping into your local pho shop. But if you don’t have one in close proximity to you, make this soup.  You won’t be disappointed.

CAMBODIAN NOODLE SOUP

For the broth:

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 two inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced

6 whole cloves

1 star anise

Freshly ground black pepper

7 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce

For the soup:

8 ounces linguine-style rice noodles

6 ounces thinly sliced top round steak

1 1/2 cups winter squash, diced

1 cup unsweetened pineapple chunks

1 medium tomato, diced

For the table salad:

10 sprigs fresh cilantro

8 sprigs Thai or other fresh basil

8 mint sprigs

Generous handful bean sprouts

2 Serrano chiles, thinly sliced

1 large lime, cut into wedges

Add-in sauces:

Asian hot sauce

Hoisin sauce

  • Place a rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler and then pre-heat the oven.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and evenly distribute the onion, garlic, ginger, cloves, star anise, and five grinds of black pepper over the baking sheet.
  • Broil for 5-6 minutes until the spices are fragrant and the onions begin to brown.  Scrape the mixture into a large soup pot.
  • Add the broth, sugar, fish sauce, and squash to the pot.  Cover the pot tightly and bring the entire mixture to a simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  • Meanwhile, place the noodles in a large pan and cover with very hot tap water.  Allow to soak for 20 minutes or until the noodles are tender.  Drain, rinse with cold water, then divide evenly between two large soup bowls.
  • Thinly slice the steak into bite sized pieces.  (Hint:  For easier slicing, place the steak in the freezer before you begin making the soup.  Allow it to sit for 20 minutes then remove it from the freezer and slice).  Evenly divide the meat between the two soup bowls.  The hot broth will cook it to a medium-rare
  • Arrange the table salad ingredients on a medium-sized platter and place on the table.
  • When the squash is tender, add the pineapple and tomatoes to the broth and stir well to combine.  Cook for 1 minute to allow the broth to return to a simmer.
  • Ladle the broth over the noodles and meat and serve immediately topped with the table salad and sauces of your choice.

Serves 2

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Thai Red Curry w/ Duck

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Duck is so plentiful here in Belgium that it has been making a regular appearance on our dinner table since we arrived in the country. I’ve been marinading, grilling and roasting it (and making good use of the resulting delicious duck fat) but have recently been expanding my horizons and cooking the meat in different ways. We are also fans of curry at my house, in particular red curry, so this recipe, adapted from Saveur magazine seemed like a natural fit. And I was right.

Like most curries, the ingredients are simple and variable but the results are always packed with flavor in every bite. Here crisp pea pods, chunks of fresh pineapple and sweet grape tomatoes are simmered in a rich red curry ladened coconut milk. Basil–the Thai variety if you can find it–and kaffir lime leaves add complexity to the dish. (You can find kaffir lime leaves in most Asian markets or as I do, in the Asian section of my local grocery store). And of course there is the duck; other meats will work as well but the duck makes the dish taste that much more luxurious. And since the curry cooks up so quickly it makes for a perfect weeknight meal. Enjoy!

THAI RED CURRY w/ DUCK
2 1/2 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup Thai red curry paste
1 pound duck breast, cut into bite sized pieces
10 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves
1 cup fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1″ chunks
1 cup pea pods
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon palm sugar
6 Thai chiles, stemmed
20 grape tomatoes, halved
3 green onions, white part only
Leaves from 10 basil stems
  • Heat 1 cup of the coconut milk in a large pot over medium heat until it just begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, until liquid is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
  • Whisk in the curry paste and continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is very aromatic, about 5 minutes more.
  • Add the duck to the curry mixture and increase the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the duck is cooked through, about 7 minutes.
  • Add the remaining coconut milk, lime leaves, and 34 cup water.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring, until the flavors have melded, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the pineapple, pea pods, fish sauce, sugar, and chiles and continue to simmer on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the pineapple is fork tender, about 5 minutes more.
  • Stir in the tomatoes, green onion and the basil and simmer the curry for 1 minute more; the tomatoes and basil should retain their shape and bright color.
  • Serve the curry with steamed jasmine rice.

 

Crispy Chicken w/ Avocado-Berry Salsa

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Its strawberry season here in Belgium and I’m loving it. Thanks to globalization it is now possible to find fresh strawberries year around but nothing tastes better than a fresh local berry. Belgian strawberries are slightly smaller than their imported counterparts and when ripe, are a deeper red color. They are also sweeter. I buy them every chance I can get and they are so good it is hard to make it home with them. But when I do, I try to incorporate them into as many dishes as I can.

This fruit salsa is refreshing and flavorful and is the perfect topping for cripsy panko coated chicken breasts. Of course the strawberries play a leading role in the salsa but I’ve also added avocado, blueberries and pineapple to the mix. Be sure that your avocado is ripe and use whatever fresh fruits you have available. The jalapeno and the cilantro add a bit of heat and spice to the sweetness of the fruits. Regular breadcrumbs may be substituted for the panko but using the later will result in crispier chicken.

CRISPY CHICKEN w/ AVOCADO-BERRY SALSA

1 ripe avocado, diced

1 cup strawberries, diced

3/4 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup fresh pineapple, diced

Juice of 1 lime

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

1/4 cup cilantro, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oll, divided

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin

1/4 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper

2 eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

1 cup panko crumbs

  • To make the salsa, combined the avocado, fruits, lime juice, jalapeno and cilantro in a small bowl.
  • Sprinkle with the salt, toss well and allow to sit while you make the chicken.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • Place the seasoned flour in a shallow dish, the egg mixture in another dish and the panko crumbs in a third dish.
  • Dredge the chicken first in the flour mixture followed by the egg mixture and finally the panko crumbs, ensuring that all sides of the chicken are covered with all of the mixtures.
  • Place two of the chicken breasts in the hot skillet and saute until crispy and browned, about 4 minutes.
  • Flip the chicken over and cook for an addition 3 to 4 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. The length of cooking time will depend upon the thickness of the breasts.
  • Add the remaining oil to the skillet and once it is hot, cook the remaining chicken breasts.
  • Serve immediately topped with the avocado-berry salsa.

Serves 4

Glazed Grilled Chicken Salad w/ Strawberries & Feta

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Spring has arrived in Belgium and while some days still call for warm and comforting food, others inspire lighter meals. And when that is the case salads are the perfect dinner option. This salad is inspired by  Cooking Light and is filled with juicy seasonal fruit, crisp greens and sweet and tangy chicken breasts.

For me, the secret to building a satisfying salad that can serve as a satisfying entree is a variety of flavors and textures. The chicken is glazed with a simple mixture of preserves before being grilled; if your dinner hour is rushed, you can cook up the chicken ahead of time. Alternatively you can use any leftover chicken you have on hand or even buy a rotisserie chicken to slice up as a topping. I am a fan of sweet and savory combinations  so this salad uses a combination of strawberries and fresh pineapple tossed with onions and peppers. Use whatever fruits and vegetables sound good to you. And because you build the salads individually you can add or omit toppings depending upon your family’s individual preferences.

GLAZED GRILLED CHICKEN SALAD w/ STRAWBERRIES & FETA

1/3 cup black current, cherry or seedless raspberry preserves

2 teaspoons salt, divided

1 teaspoon black pepper, divided

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

4 6 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 cups strawberries, sliced

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

4 cups mixed salad greens

1 cup thinly sliced orange bell peppers

1 cup fresh pineapple, cut into bite sized pieces

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

4 tablespoons sunflower seeds

  • Combine the preserves, 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper and the garlic powder in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring until combined. Set aside.
  • Preheat a lightly oiled grill to medium-high.
  • Brush both sides of the chicken breasts with the preserve mixture. Place the chicken on the grill and cook, turning every 4 to 5 minutes and brushing with more preserves until cooked through, about 24 to 28 minutes depending upon the thickness of the breasts. When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the grill and set aside.
  • Combine the oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar and remaining salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Place the strawberries and onions in a medium sized bowl and then add the oil and vinegar mixture. Toss gently to coat.
  • Divide the salad greens amongst four plates or shallow bowls.
  • Evenly divide the strawberry mixture and dressing over the top of the greens.
  • Add the peppers and pineapple to the tops of the salad.
  • Slice each chicken breast on the diagonal and place one breast on top of each salad.
  • Sprinkle with the feta cheese and sunflower seeds over the top of the salads and serve immediately.

Serves 4

 

Sweet & Sour Chicken

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Sweet and sour chicken is one of those classic Chinese-American dishes. But all too often what you get in your takeout order from your local Chinese restaurant is an oddly colored, too sweet dish with soggy vegetables and more breading than chicken. But there is no reason to despair since making your own sweet and sour chicken at home is easy–and much healthier as well.

My version of this dish leaves the chicken unbreaded. Dusted with spices then quickly cooked in sesame oil, the chicken is juicy and flavorful without the added breading. The vegetables are cooked separately leaving them tender crisp to the bite. I omit the traditional food coloring which gives the dish a pinkish hue. If you prefer the more colorful option, simply add a couple of drops of red coloring into your sugar and water mixture before mixing in the cornstarch. The recipe does make a lot of sauce meaning I always have extra which I serve on the side so diners can add more if they like.

SWEET & SOUR CHICKEN

8 ounces canned pineapple chunks, drained and juices reserved

1 3/4 cups water, divided

3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 large white onion, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces

4 teaspoons sesame oil, divided

  • In a medium sized heavy saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups of the water, sugar, vinegar and reserved pineapple juice. Bring to a boil then turn off the heat.
  • Combine 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup water then slowly stir into saucepan. Continue stirring until mixture thickens.
  • Keep warm over low heat.
  • Heat 2 teaspoons of the sesame oil in a large wok set over medium-high heat.
  • Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the salt, pepper, garlic powder and ground ginger.
  • Add the chicken to the wok and cook, tossing regularly, until the chicken is cooked on all sides, about 3-4 minutes. Move the chicken to a plate.
  • Add the remaining oil to the wok. When it shimmers, add the onion and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add all of the peppers and cook for an additional minute then stir in the pineapple chunks.
  • Return the chicken to the wok and toss to combine.
  • Gradually stir in the reserved sweet and sour sauce and toss to combine. Depending upon your preferences you may not need to use all of the sauce.
  • Cook to heat through then serve immediately over noodles or rice.

Serves 4

Cambodian Noodle Soup

photo 2-37

With the exception of my travels through the Balkans, I have yet to visit any metropolitan area where I didn’t stumble upon a pho shop.  With their steaming bowls of noodles, broth, and an endless variety of add-ins, these Thai noodle soup shops have a cult like following that make them both universal and hard not to like.  In grad school my favorite lunch was a steaming bowl of pho from the student union.  The options were endless so I could eat there every day without repeating the same bowl of soup twice.

I had never made pho before but decided to give it a try when my craving for the hot broth covered noodles got the best of me.  In browsing through recipe options I came across one in The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, The Splendid Table is my favorite radio program on NPR.  I can even stream their broadcasts online meaning I can get my Lynn Rossetto Kasper fix while living overseas).  I was set to give the pho recipe a try then I turned the page and saw the Cambodian twist on the soup which sounded even more intriguing.  Unable to decide which version to make, I combined the best elements of both recipes to form what I present here.  You can also add or substitute ingredients as your palate or pantry dictates.

The verdict?  This soup is delicious but a lot more work than popping into your local pho shop. But if you don’t have one in close proximity to you, make this soup.  You won’t be disappointed.

CAMBODIAN NOODLE SOUP

For the broth:

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 two inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced

6 whole cloves

1 star anise

Freshly ground black pepper

7 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce

For the soup:

8 ounces linguine-style rice noodles

6 ounces thinly sliced top round steak

1 1/2 cups winter squash, diced

1 cup unsweetened pineapple chunks

1 medium tomato, diced

For the table salad:

10 sprigs fresh cilantro

8 sprigs Thai or other fresh basil

8 mint sprigs

Generous handful bean sprouts

2 Serrano chiles, thinly sliced

1 large lime, cut into wedges

Add-in sauces:

Asian hot sauce

Hoisin sauce

  • Place a rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler and then pre-heat the oven.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and evenly distribute the onion, garlic, ginger, cloves, star anise, and five grinds of black pepper over the baking sheet.
  • Broil for 5-6 minutes until the spices are fragrant and the onions begin to brown.  Scrape the mixture into a large soup pot.
  • Add the broth, sugar, fish sauce, and squash to the pot.  Cover the pot tightly and bring the entire mixture to a simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  • Meanwhile, place the noodles in a large pan and cover with very hot tap water.  Allow to soak for 20 minutes or until the noodles are tender.  Drain, rinse with cold water, then divide evenly between two large soup bowls.
  • Thinly slice the steak into bite sized pieces.  (Hint:  For easier slicing, place the steak in the freezer before you begin making the soup.  Allow it to sit for 20 minutes then remove it from the freezer and slice).  Evenly divide the meat between the two soup bowls.  The hot broth will cook it to a medium-rare
  • Arrange the table salad ingredients on a medium-sized platter and place on the table.
  • When the squash is tender, add the pineapple and tomatoes to the broth and stir well to combine.  Cook for 1 minute to allow the broth to return to a simmer.
  • Ladle the broth over the noodles and meat and serve immediately topped with the table salad and sauces of your choice.

Serves 2

Spicy Shrimp Chop Salad

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Sometimes a salad is all you need for dinner.  A bed of greens provides the perfect palate for building an interesting meal.  The sky is the limit as I like to use whatever vegetables or fruits I have on hand.  And I do like to use both fruits and vegetables since the combination of sweet and savory adds a satisfying contrast.  Add a bit of protein and some bread and you have a complete and satisfying meal.

SPICY SHRIMP CHOP SALAD

For the dressing:

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

Juice of 2 limes

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Combine the vinegar, olive oil, and lime juice in a small bowl.
  • Add the garlic, salt and pepper and stir with a whisk.  Set aside.

For the salad:

2 cups green leafy lettuce, chopped

2 cups arugula, chopped

1 tomato

1 small red bell pepper

1 small green pepper

1 small cucumber, peeled and seeded

1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted

1/2 cup fresh pineapple

1/2 cup fresh corn

  • Divide the lettuce and arugula between to shallow bowls.
  • Dice the tomato, peppers, cucumber, avocado, and pineapple into uniform bite sized pieces.  Place in a large bowl. Add the corn and toss to combine.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the mixture and stir gently.
  • Evenly divide the vegetable mixture over the top of the lettuce and arugula.

For the shrimp:

1 cup raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/4 cup corn starch

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • Place the cornstarch in a large plastic bag and add the shrimp.  Toss to coat.
  • In a shallow pie pan, combine the garlic powder, paprika, salt, thyme, and cayenne pepper.  Add the shrimp and toss to coat.
  • Add the shrimp to the hot oil and stirring occasionally cook until browned and crispy, 2-3 minutes.
  • Divide the shrimp over the top of the prepared salads.

For the toasts:

4 slices crusty bread

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon butter

Melt the butter in a large frying pan.  Add the garlic powder and stir to combine.

Add the bread and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until brown and toasted.

Serves 2

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