Saturday, July 19, 2014

GV's Thai Coconut-Curry Stew

Life is too short to eat the same things over...and over... again.. I love to play with spice, herbs, and foreign influenced dishes to keep meals interesting... Busy days, Rainy days, any day is a good day to get out your Crockpot or Slow-cooker, switch things out and make my aromatic, pleasantly spicy Thai Stew.  Plug it in... and go about your day.....

                                                            GV's Thai Coconut-Curry Stew

1.5 to 2 lbs. Sirloin Steak, fat trimmed, cubed
2 tblsp. Olive Oil
1 small Onion, finely diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground Ginger
1 tsp. dried Cilantro
1-  13.5 ounce can lite Coconut Milk ( I used the 60% less fat & calories version ;) 
1 tblsp. Coconut Vinegar (can substitute with White Vinegar)
1-  6 ounce can Tomato Paste
2 tblsp. dried Curry Seasoning
1 tblsp. Fish Sauce
2 tsp. fresh Lime Juice
2 cups julienned Carrots
2 cups Broccoli Florets
1 cup Bamboo Shoots
Alfalfa Sprouts

Pour 2 tblsp. Olive Oil into the Crockpot. Place the cubed Sirloin Steak into the Crockpot, toss to coat the meat with the Olive Oil. Set the Crockpot on high heat and begin by browning the meat.     

Once the Sirloin Steak is browned, add in the finely diced Onion and minced Garlic.  Add
1 tsp. ground Ginger, 1 tsp. dried Cilantro, 1-  13.5 ounce can Coconut Milk, 1 tblsp. Coconut Vinegar, 1- 6 ounce can Tomato Paste, 2 tblsp. dried Curry Seasoning, 1 tblsp. Fish Sauce, 2 tsp. fresh Lime Juice, 2 cups julienned Carrots.

Cover. Let slow cook on high setting for about 4 hours.

Cover and refrigerate the Broccoli florets and Bamboo shoots. ( They will be added during the last 30 minutes of Slow cooking. I do this to allow for the wonderful crunchy texture of 'al dente' cooked Broccoli and Bamboo Shoots. )

 During this final half hour, Steam rice. ( I used Basmati Rice ). Serve the Stew over the rice. Top with Fresh Alfalfa Sprouts. and enjoy.... :)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Jane Dough's Coconut French Toast / Making an Ordinary Morning, a Little Less Ordinary

When a free Morning presents itself...I take full advantage of stepping away from the 'usual'. I  look for things to enjoy that make the day just a little bit more special. This Morning for Breakfast I reached for a Coconut that I had sitting in my fruit bowl...... and made really lovely Coconut French Toast... for a Breakfast in bed treat....  Here is what I did... ( Super easy btw.... I was out the door to my day in no time)

What you will need:

A Coconut ( Yes, one of those hairy, crazy looking things... haaa..haa.. . )
2 Eggs ( or 4 Eggs if you are cooking for more than two people)
1 teaspoon Stevia (to enhance the sweetness of the Coconut) ( 2 tsp. if you are cooking for more than two people)
4 Slices of Bread ( I used Bakery Sourdough Bread) ( Use more Bread if you are cooking for more than two people) 

Find the "bowling ball'  markings on your fresh Coconut ... one of the markings should feel 'softer' than the other two markings. I 'drilled' a hole in the softer marking with my Wine corkscrew. Then, I made the hole more pronounced with a skewer. Drain the Coconut juice thru this hole into a medium sized Pyrex cup. Once drained, Strain the juice into a shallow bowl by pouring the Coconut juice thru a cloth. Discard any sediment you may have strained away.

 To split my Coconut in half ( and don't laugh- it worked like a charm  :P ) I took the Coconut outside and slammed it right off the sidewalk, as if bouncing a ball.  ( I kid you not)
With a small knife, I  removed the white Coconut pulp and placed some of it in my little food processor , processing to a fine texture.
I then added the processed pulp to the Coconut Juice in my shallow bowl.  ( I was able to remove  some of the juice and pulp to freeze for another Morning, since I am cooking for two.  When I removed the excess juice and pulp, I had approximately 1 cup of juice and pulp left in the shallow bowl) ( If you are cooking for more than two people, then go ahead and use all of the juice and pulp.
I then added the Stevia, and beat the Eggs, into the Coconut 
Juice / Pulp Mixture.

 Lightly grease your skillet and fry at moderate heat, as you normally would fry French Toast.
I warmed up Orange Marmalade and drizzled it on the French Toast in lieu of syrup... So good!!
 I hope you will give it a try ...for a bit of a different spin on French Toast... making an ordinary Morning a little less ordinary.. :)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

At the Dawn

At the Dawn
At the Dawn
A blueprint of dreams awakens
Flowing like an india ink endeavor
Nous stems from me, filling the blank slate of day.
 At the Dawn
Misty draft warms at the rise of sun.
Enlightenment bursts as a flower on horizon
Here tired blush of complacency is sent on its way.
 At the Dawn
Sits weathered possibility, a view I have of you
Mirroring me like an outside chance
Where pondered thoughts act, sedation goes away.
 At the Dawn
I reach past rippled uncertainties
Embracing reflections of all that can be
Where what I live, what I do, is written by a manifest of all that I can say.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Jane Dough's Pizza / Little Slice of Heaven :P

I love making homemade Pizza. The idea of making my own crust and sauce and getting creative with toppings is alot of fun for me. I have perfected making Pizza Sauce; but for a number of years I have been searching for a way to perfect my Pizza Dough. Rather challenging. I'm a real fuss ant about Pizza dough... if the dough isn't right, the Pizza just isn't good. Not too thick..but not too thin... and with a bit of 'chew' to it..oh,  and a crispy bottom.... :P Told you...

Anyway, recently, I was watching someone demo making Pizza Dough.. and I thought.. well, I'll give that a try.. and just tweak in some of my own ideas... The result was nothing short of delicious! I can say that from my own perspective and that of my Italian Mother-in-law, who is every bit a Pizza fuss as I am. :)  The woman knows her Pizza! So, with that said.. this is what I did to make Pizza..

My Homemade Pizza Sauce:    
1 small Onion, finely diced
3 Tblsp. Olive Oil
1 Can Tomato Sauce
1 Can Tomato Paste
2-3 Tblsp. Sugar

In a medium saucepan I simmer the diced onions in the olive oil until they become translucent and lightly carmelized, that is to say.. some of the onion should take on a golden brown color. This allows the natural sugars, the sweetness, of the onion to be released. (Careful to not burn them). Then to the onions, add in the Tomato Sauce, Tomato Paste and the Sugar and simmer until the paste is smoothly melted into the sauce. Set aside.

My Homemade Pizza Dough:

3 Tblsp. Olive Oil
3/4 Cup of lukewarm Water
1 3/4 Cups Bread Flour
2 1/4 Tsp Rapid-Rise Yeast
1 tsp. Sugar
1/2 Tsp. Salt

Pour 2 Tblsp. Olive oil on a cookie sheet and coat the pan thickly with the olive oil... I know it seems like a lot of oil on the pan.. but believe me.. it will aid in crisping up the bottom of the crust as well as making the crust easy to release from the pan.
To the Lukewarm Water, add the remaining 1 Tblsp of Olive Oil. Set aside.
In a large bowl, Combine the Bread Flour, Yeast, Sugar and Salt. Blend well. Then slowly add in the Oil/ Water mixture into the Flour mixture until a wet, soft dough forms. The dough is of proper consistency when it begins to take on the shape of a ball on your dough hook or spoon. You can add in a small amount of additional flour to proper consistency, but keep in mind that the dough should remain 'wet' in appearance.
Grease the palms of your hands. Take the Pizza dough and begin to spread it out on the Cookie sheet, as shown above. Brush the top of the dough lightly with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to allow the dough to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hrs. I have pictured two crusts in the photo. The recipe yields one crust. I added in a tblsp. of milled Flax Seed to the second crust in the picture, just to play around at boosting nutritional value.

When the dough has risen for 1 to 1 1/2 hrs, remove the plastic wrap and press the dough to the edges of the pan as shown below. Replace the plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise once again, this time for 45 minutes.
Once risen, Par bake the crust for 5 minutes in the oven, pre-heated to 500 degrees , placing the crust on the middle shelf in the oven. Your crust will just puff and take on a more 'baked', firm appearance without getting golden, see below. 
 Remove the crust from the oven and place toppings. Be creative...
I sometimes like to make Pizza in a manner that I refer to as  'Old School Pennsylvania' style, like they make where I grew up. That is, I place sauce on the par baked dough and then sprinkle with White American Cheese that has been shredded in my Food processor, as below. I know,  processed cheese... but it is BEYOND good... and worth the occasional fall off the nutritional wagon. :P
I bake this pie on the lowest shelf in my oven at 500 degrees just until the American cheese is melted and the crust begins to brown on the edges.
Another favorite way to make Pizza is to place sauce on my par baked Pizza dough, then top with Shredded Mozzarella Cheese and lovely fresh veggies. 
Again, I bake this pie on the lowest shelf in my oven at 500 degrees until the Mozzarella cheese is melted and the crust begins to brown on the edges. I also shake on grated Parmigiano- Reggiano  cheese blend for added depth of flavor.

          Properly baked, the bottom of your crust should look crispy golden brown like this:
And your crust should take on a wonderfully light, chewy, 'honey-combed' texture like this:

I hope you will give Pizza making a try... with the right Crust.. the sky is the limit for fun you can have with your toppings... Buon divertimento! :)


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