Monday, June 20, 2011

Lemongrass Quest

Sometimes a recipe that appears on the yahoo home page catches my eye and I print it out, set it aside, and vow to make it at some later date. I saw this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens one day and always wanted to cook with lemongrass, so into the recipe folder it went. I asked all around to see where I could find lemongrass, and a colleague suggested a Thai grocery in Manhattan. I knew it would be months before I could make the excursion because I've been so busy at work, so I thought this recipe would have to wait. To my surprise, this weekend, we found some lemongrass at Fairway. It looks like an old and stiff scallion, and I was skeptical. But I trusted D, he knows what he's doing. I knew we had leftover pineapple in the fridge, and the rest of the ingredients were light enough for a summer meal so I was ready to go. I feel a little bad about this recipe because pineapple is far from local, but it is so delicious. I added basil to the recipe because my plants were growing so strong on the porch and I needed to trim them back. I made some adjustments, and would make some more if I made it again. Adjustments and suggestions are included below.

Thai Pineapple Lemongrass Chicken Stir Fry

3 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tsp minced fresh lemongrass (or 2 tsp finely shredded lime or lemon peel)
olive oil
1 medium red onion, halved lengthwise and sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cucumber, cut into thin bite-sized strips (about one cup)
1/4 of a pineapple, cut into bite sized pieces
2 fresh jalapeno chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped
12 oz skinless, boneless chicken cut into thin bite-sized strips
1 cup sugar snap pea pods, trimmed
1/2 sliced red bell pepper
about 10 large basil leaves, chopped into thin strips
handful of chopped cilantro
3 cups rice (jasmine, brown, or basmati)

Make the sauce by combining the lemongrass with the lime juice, fish sauce, and rice vinegar; set aside. Saute sliced red onion and garlic in a wok with some olive oil. Add cucumber, pineapple, and chile peppers. Cook until the pineapple begins to brown/sear. Remove the wok from the heat and dump the vegetables in a bowl; set aside. Add the chicken to the hot wok and cook through. Add the onion/vegetable mixture and the sauce. Cook until heated through. Add the basil strips and stir until the flesh is wilted. Serve immediately over hot cooked rice. Sprinkle and garnish with cilantro.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bread & Butter

Would that making pickles were my bread & butter....particularly small batches like this. We're going camping for the July 4th weekend, so I'm getting some pickles ready for the burgers we'll grill over the fire. These are simple bread and butter pickles that take a few hours to assemble, and then about two weeks to sit.

Bread & Butter Pickles

6 cucumbers
1/4 sliced red bell pepper
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup salt
ice cubes
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp pickling spices
3/4 tsp turmeric

Slice the cucumbers in oblong shapes, thick enough to stay crisp, but thin enough to place in a burger. Slice thinly 1/4 red bell pepper and 1/2 a white onion, then toss with 1/2 cup of salt. Cover the mixture with ice cubes and place in the fridge for at least three hours. The salt will make the vegetables emit water, so you don't need to put any water in with them. When you're ready to drain the pickles, add the cider vinegar, water, sugar, pickling spices, and turmeric into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Drain and lightly rinse the vegetables while you're waiting for the cider mixture to boil. Pack two mason jars full of the vegetables. When the cider mixture has come to a boil, pour the liquid over the vegetables so that they are fully immersed. Tighten the lids on the jars and let sit. After a day or so, you can move them to the fridge and keep until you're ready to use them. Enjoy!