Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ga Nuong Xa (Grilled Chicken with Lemongrass) ~

The other day, I had the wonderful experience of eating lunch at a for-real Vietnamese restaurant, for the first time ever. Of course, I knew what I wanted before I even parked in the lot - I wanted Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup. I had made it myself but honestly, had no idea how close I even came to the "real deal." I am happy to say, I came really close. :) The pho from the restaurant was lovely, but honestly, I think mine was just a little teensy bit richer. Am I out of line saying this? I hope not, lol. It's just that I took extreme care when I made mine, reading 4 or 5 recipes to "coach" myself on what to do. It was an all day affair, and the results were wonderful.

Still - I enjoyed the soup at the restaurant very much. I didn't like that the basil and cilantro came in big stalks - I would have preferred chopped - and the jalapenos were sliced instead of chopped, as well. But the flavor was good and it was p l e n t y. My youngest had fried shrimp, and was still a little hungry after eating those - I pushed the huge bowl toward him and said "finish this, I can't eat another bite." And he did. lol

Tonight, I decided to try my hand at using some lemongrass in a recipe. I was feeling brave and all "Vietnamese-y" LOL. I looked at a chicken recipe that sounded wonderful but I am out of carrots; I even checked out a Thai recipe with chicken that sounded wonderfully flavorful, but I have no bamboo shoots. Finally, I simply picked Ga Nuong Xa and made a few tweaks to some recipes I read. It was exquisite. Honest. I wasn't sure I'd really like lemongrass, I've only used it once or twice and in amounts so small, they didn't even matter, I suspect. Tonight, the marinade had three heaping tablespoons of minced lemongrass. And I found that I do like it, very much.

If you try this, grill it hot and fast - you want the chicken done, of course - but you want it juicy as well. I grilled mine for 5 minutes each side, over the center of the grill (keeping it away from most flareups). It was perfectly done and still juicy. I could maybe have cut off that last minute and been a little better.

Ga Nuong Xa
(Grilled Chicken with Lemongrass)

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons fish sauce
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 heaping teaspoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons finely minced lemongrass
juice and pulp of 1/2 a large lemon
4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Add all ingredients except chicken to a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Add chicken and marinate for about 15-20 minutes. In the meantime, if desired, start some rice cooking, chop veggies for stir-fry (for me, choosing these sides was good - they all came together about the same time). Start your grill heating. When the marinating time is up, place chicken on grill, and turn down the heat to low or medium low. Close the cover and grill for 5 minutes on each side, less if the breasts are thin. Serve with rice and stir fried veggies, if desired. A squeeze of lemon over the stir fry brings this all together quite nicely.


My kids loved it too. It's always a keeper for me when that happens. :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

new toy! ~

I've cooked for years...and never had one of these.

I most likely paid too much for it - but it's supposed to last my lifetime...

A simple garlic press. Who'da thunk it? That I would be so excited about such a thing.

It feels like Christmas around here. :)

Isn't it beautiful?


Ga Ro Ti (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken) ~

I can't help but giggle because, even though I don't know how to pronounce this recipe in Vietnamese, it makes me think of the cook Justin Wilson saying "I gaa-ran-tee it" in his Cajun accent.

This is a recipe I got from Wandering Chopstick's blog, and made some minor adjustments to it -
here is her original recipe, which I always recommend trying if you want to know what it REALLY is supposed to taste like, lol. I either never have all the correct ingredients, or can't do it exactly like someone else did, or just something! But it always seems to work...

And it did tonight. I absolutely LOVED this and so did my boys. Jack tasted it and liked it too - my daughter didn't, but last summer she had eaten some Asian food I cooked while she was sick, and it didn't sit well with her - she's had trouble with some of the spices since then. Poor thing. She's missin' out!

OK - here is my version, with the changes being that there's a little more honey than originally called for, and I baked it differently. Also, I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts, although I really wanted to try the thigh/drumstick combo. And since we are a family of 5, I cooked 4 large breasts instead of the 2 called for in the original, so I doubled the recipe initially. I forgot to double the garlic, but I could taste it in there just fine.

Ga Ro Ti (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken)

4 large chicken breasts
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
4 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cloves garlic, finely minced (or pressed)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Pour and rub half the marinade over the 4 chicken breasts as they lay in a shallow baking pan. Flip the breasts and pour/rub the other 1/2 of the marinade over them. Make sure both sides are well covered in marinade. Bake in a 425 degree oven for approx. 25 minutes, flipping over and basting a couple of times. Adjust time depending on thickness of breasts. When the chicken is done (no pink flesh, juices run clear), baste one last time in the marinade left in the pan, and serve.

I sliced my chicken breast, and enjoyed a few slices while I put together a sandwich with the rest. I split a 6 inch whole wheat sub bun and toasted it - then added Miracle Whip (yum!), sliced fresh homegrown cucumbers, fresh spinach leaves, the sliced chicken, sliced black olives, and grated mozzarella cheese. Totally forgot the purple onion in the fridge, but wow, that would have been awesome too. After adding the cheese, I sprinkled some ground black pepper and ground sea salt on it and broiled it til the cheese was melty.

It was amazing. Juicy and succulent, whether on or off the sandwich.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Kim's Kake ~

A new family favorite, for sure - the other hugest chocolate lover in our household, 'sides me, is my son Dalton. If I turn my back too long, he makes the hugest dent in this cake...

Credit for the wonderful recipe goes to my friend Kim, who is an amazing cook and loves to experiment. I am treasuring the handwritten recipe on a torn piece of paper, too, lol. It may just have to be framed...

A warning for people I don't understand very well, those who like chocolate but not that much (ahem, Lee...teehee!), you should probably stay away from this one. SUPER chocolatey. Perfect. :)

Kim's Kake

1 box devil's food cake mix
1 box instant chocolate pudding mix
(Note from Sis - I add 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder here)
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil (I use 2/3 cup)
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups (1 bag) semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use milk chocolate chips, those are my favorites)
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (or use cocoa powder) a Bundt pan. Stir together cake mix, pudding mix, cocoa powder (if used); add sour cream, vinegar, vegetable oil, eggs, and water; mix until smooth and well blended. Stir in chips and walnuts (if used). Bake for about 50 minutes, or until done. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, then flip out onto rack and cool for an hour. Dust heavily with powdered sugar. Cut a big slice, pour a huge glass of cold milk, and enter mouthparadise.






Sunday, June 7, 2009

another skillet one - Skillet Tamale Pie ~

Woot! It's been like, FOREVER since I've posted here!

I must apologize for losing the comments when I transferred this blog to this account. :( Please feel very free to comment on anything at all to catch me up!

The recipe I'm blogging today is one I 'stole' from Rachael Ray's cookbook (that I proudly own) "just in time!" I'm going to post it the way I made it, but here's a link to the version on her website (which, btw, is a tad different than the one in the book - I don't know which came first).

And, of course, I took pics. :)

Skillet Tamale Pie

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 quart chicken broth
2 cups 2% milk
1 pound ground beef
1 pound spicy pork sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 large red or green bell pepper, chopped
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 heaping tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon (or a little less) ground cumin
pinch of ground cinnamon
fresh ground salt and pepper to taste
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cups masa (the corn meal stuff for making tamales)
handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup or so of shredded cheddar cheese

In a large pan or wok, mix together the chicken broth and milk, and heat on medium high to a simmer. While this is heating, heat the olive oil in a large (14") cast iron skillet, on medium high. Add chopped veggies and cook until softened, stirring frequently. In a separate pan, cook ground beef and ground sausage until done; drain. Add meat to veggies in large skillet; add spices; stir well to combine; let it cook for a few minutes. Add the can of tomatoes and mix thoroughly; heat through.

In the meantime, when the liquid has begun to simmer, pour the masa in a smooth steady stream into the liquid, whisking as it pours in. Cook, stirring frequently, for approximately 10-15 minutes; add salt, pepper, and chopped cilantro and mix well.

Pour or spoon the masa mixture over the meat mixture in the skillet. Place in 500 degree broiler for about 5 minutes until masa is set. Sprinkle the cup of shredded cheese over the masa and heat for a couple minutes under broiler to brown the cheese.

Serve hot from the skillet; top with salsa, sour cream, olives, chopped green onions, guacamole, whatever you like. :)

And now for the photo documentary, LOL.











And...there wasn't any left!