Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thai Red Curry With Pork

I ask you fair readers, what does a cold winter night, a head cold, a few ounces of pork tenderloin in the fridge equal on a weeknight?  Well if you said Thai red curry then you are correct!  Seems like a great antidote to the cold weather (hot, hearty), the over indulgence of the holiday season (simple, straightforward) and a head cold (spicy) all on a budget. 

Now you could go on about making my own curry paste but frankly by the time I hunt down all the base ingredients, make the paste and then store it I'd be into the recipe quite a lot of $s.  I use the Mae Ploy brand of curry pastes and all are very delicious, easy to use and fit the frugal lifestyle quite well at a 14oz tub for $1.69.  I love all the products from Mae Ploy I've tried and I have a jar of their Pad Thai sauce in the cupboard waiting for a time for noodles.

So here it is, grab up some of the curry paste and give this a go for your own Thai evening at home!

Thai Red Curry w/ Pork
  • 1 Tbl Peanut oil
  • 4oz Onion sliced into spears
  • 2 Cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4oz Pork tenderloin, cut lengthwise in half and then sliced 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick
  • 6oz Carrots, julienned about 1 inch long
  • 1oz Red curry paste
  • 1 Cup Chicken stock
  • 1 Can Coconut milk, 5.6oz
  • 2oz Frozen peas
  • 2oz Red bell pepper, julienned about 1 inch long 

  1. Heat oil over medium heat and add garlic & crushed red pepper to perfume the oil while heating
  2. Add onion spears to the pan and cook until tender, stirring often
  3. Add pork and stir fry until browned
  4. Reduce heat and add the carrots, curry paste, chicken stock and coconut milk
  5. Simmer until the carrots are tender
  6. Add red bell pepper juienne and peas
  7. Remove from heat, allow the curry to sit for a few minutes to soften the bell pepper slightly and thaw the peas
  8. Serve over brown rice

This is delicious, quick and inexpensive.  It makes 2 each 2 cup servings.  When served with rice this makes a nice large portion with another great portion for tomorrow's lunch.  I think this entire dinner cost about $2 for both portions.

I love Thai food and can't afford to eat out as often as I would like to have it so this helps the budget greatly and indulges me in one of my culinary loves.


Thursday, December 17, 2009


So it seems the past few days have gotten away from me and I haven't had a chance to post for a bit.  Work, life, a head cold, etc.  Anyway, tonight was the first night I felt like cooking since the weekend and Henry was out with friends so I treated myself and did a pan roast pork tenderloin with a big pile of broccoli with shallots and red peppers.  Healthy, fast, simple, inexpensive (I'm in this about $3) and mighty tasty as well...

Pan Roast Pork Tenderloin
  • 1/2 Pork tenderloin, silverskin removed
  • Grill spice
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 C White wine
  • 1tsp Dijon mustard
  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Season the pork loin on all sides with your favorite grill spice and rub in just a bit of olive oil
  3. In a saute pan on medium high heat, sear all but one side of the tenderloin.  Once the tenderloin is turned onto the last side put the pan into the oven.
  4. Roast until the meat just gives when poked with a finger
  5. Remove from pan and let rest, the interior should just be pink or medium
  6. Deglaze the pan with white wine
  7. Stir in the mustard and reduce until only 2 tablespoons of the sauce remain
  8. Slice the tenderloin about 1/2" thick and fan on the plate
  9. Drizzle the meat with the sauce

Broccoli with Shallots and Red Bell Pepper
  • 6oz Broccoli crowns
  • 2oz Red bell pepper cut into strips about 1/4" wide and 1" long
  • 1/2oz Shallot, minced
  • 2tsp Butter
  • 2tsp Olive oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  1. Steam broccoli for about 2 minutes and set aside
  2. Melt the butter and olive oil in a pan over high heat
  3. Saute the shallot for about 1 minute stirring to flavor the fats
  4. Add the red bell pepper strips and toss for about 30 seconds
  5. Add the steamed broccoli and toss over the heat for about 2 minutes but leaving the broccoli very crisp
  6. Season to tase with salt and freshly ground pepper

And this is what it looks like... I hope you like it


Monday, December 7, 2009

Prosciutto, Walnut & Blue Cheese Crostata

Home late from the doc, need to get some work done, need dinner and a coupla cocktails after a usual Monday...
Need I say more?

Prosciutto, Walnut & Blue Cheese Crostata
  1. Slice & toast the baguette, pugliese, ciabatta or whatever good bread you might have around
  2. Top with blue cheese crumbles, I used Point Reyes cuz that's what I have right now
  3. Top with folded thin sliced prosciutto
  4. Top with chopped walnuts
  5. Put in a 300F oven for 5 minutes
  6. Broil for 1 minute
Serve with the cocktail of your choice; tonight it was vodka tonic for me


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Yummy Pozole On A Cold Night

It's just below freezing at the moment outside Casa Hunger and the low is supposed to get down to 20ish tonight.  Today was a day for chores as yesterday was kind of a wash after a really fun night out with friends and enjoying a John Doe show at a local club.  The show started out a bit lame with the opening act being pretty poor.  Then John coming out and letting us all know he was so sick he shoulda canceled but decided to be a trooper and tough it out.  The voice was more than off the first couple tunes but he warmed up and got a coupla Jamesons in him and it turned into a great show.

The aftermath for me was a day of nothingness on a Saturday as I seemed to be suffering from a bit of alcohol poisoning.  OK, I'll admit - ALOT of alcohol poisoning.  Slept until noon, ate a big greasy meal of basted eggs and home fries with Tabasco and a few beers and still went to bed at 9pm feeling like garbage.  It was a great night out, had a great time but really paid for it.  Getting old sux...

So back to today, I spent some time in the yard doing what could be done on a frosty day; filling the pond, trimming some deadfall off of various summery shrubs, picking up after the dog, etc.  Then indoor chores to get prepared for the work week ahead; laundry, vacuuming, talking to Mum about an order for Bariani olive oil (some of the finest olive oil I've ever enjoyed) and then doing some cooking.  I had to run out for a couple items I forgot for my plans but this is gonna be good. 

Pozole - a favorite of mine and for some reason I love it best at the holidays.  You see it is a hot and hearty, rib-sticking Mexican hominy stew. The flavors are layered into the pot and simmered for hours but it is such a simple dish and can be made to fit anyone's taste spice wise. I love this as a foil for the weather and probably because it makes me very happy to eat it. It is also a great counterpoint to all the things I really don't like about the holidays (all the Xmas consumerism is IMHO tangible proof of the existence of evil but I could go on and on about that so I won't) as it is simple, rich, ancient in origin, highly customizable and very frugal to make.  Give it a try, you won't be sorry...

Jim's Pozole
  • 2Tbl Peanut oil - canola or some neutral oil is OK but it won't be as good, just no olive oil as it is not a Mexican or Southwest flavor and it will come through
  • 12oz Pork shoulder, random 1/2 to 3/4" cubes - sirloin steaks, loin chops, etc - use the cheap cuts cuz the tough bits will tenderize with the long cooking times and they taste better too
  • 12oz Onion, 1/2 inch dice
  • 2 Tbl Fresh garlic, minced
  • 14oz Canned fireroasted whole or diced green chiles
  • 3 each 29oz cans Hominy, drained
  • 12oz Beer, full flavored amber - Doz Equis Oscura would be a good choice here but tonight I used a Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
Now here's where this can get fun because you can use whatever you have on hand but this is what I used to season this -
  • 2Tbl Ground cumin
  • 1Tbl Dark chili powder
  • 1tsp Kosher salt
  • 1tsp Dried oregano, Mexican if you have it but any will do
  • 1/4 Cup La Victoria Green taco sauce
  • 2Tbl Pico Pica hot sauce
  • 1tsp El Yucateco salsa picante de chile habanero
  • 1 Fresh jalapeno, fresh minced (I removed 1/2 the seeds and interior veins, I like spice but it's fine this way and you can always add more)
Another optional part of this is the cooking method, today I used my dutch oven but if you brown the meat and sweat the onions and garlic in a saute pan you can deglaze the pan with the beer and cook this in a slow cooker so you come home to all the lovely latin food aromas and a hot delicious meal

Dutch oven method
  1. Heat the peanut oil in the bottom of the pan
  2. Brown the pork in the oil
  3. Add and sweat the onions and garlic until translucent
  4. Add the diced fireroasted chiles and hominy, stirring to combine
  5. Add the beer and stir up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan
  6. Stir in the seasonings of your choice and reduce to a simmer
  7. Cook covered for at least 2 hours or until the meat is tender but the hominy is still toothsome
Serve with a lime wedge or two and some shredded cabbage & radish for a traditional feast.  For a not so traditional turn you can always top with any number of other accompaniments; sliced avocado, sour cream or creme fraiche, various hot sauces or pico de gallo, jack cheese or queso fresco, etc, etc.  I think that gives you a good idea of just how great this is and how flexible it can be.

A beer or a margarita is a nice way to go with this and here was mine...

Along with adding an element of freshness and crunch, don't those radishes make it pretty too?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Weeknight Pan Roast

It's cold here in the Puget Sound area and with the lad home tonight it invokes a hearty dinner.  Tonight we're keeping it simple but still a favorite around Casa Hunger - pan roast chicken breasts dijonaise with buttered carrots and oven roast Dakota russets from our garden this past summer.

Pan roasting a piece of meat is a favorite technique of mine and much used in restaurants where I learned it 30+ years ago.  It's simple, fast and can be completed with a pan gravy of which there are a multitude of flavors and styles.  So here's my take on this for tonight...

Pan Roast Chicken Dijonaise
  • 2 Boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Grill seasoning of your choice (I make my own and will share that formula soon in another post)
  • 1 Tbl Olive oil
  • 1/4 Cup Dry white wine
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F
  2. Heat an oven proof saute pan over medium high heat
  3. Pat the breast dry and season liberally with the grill spice
  4. Add the olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat the bottom
  5. Lay in the seasoned breasts smooth side down and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes or until golden brown and delicious or GBD (apologies to Alton Brown)
  6. Turn the breasts and place uncovered in the oven until the breasts are firm but still give slightly to the touch
  7. Remove pan to the range and remove the breasts to a plate and tent with foil to rest
  8. Deglaze the pan with the white wine scraping up the yummy brown bits (the fond)
  9. Reduce by about 1/2 then add the mustard and continue to reduce until only a Tbl or 2 remain
  10. Add the cream and reduce until thickened enough to coatr the back of a spoon, only a few minutes over high heat
  11. Pour the juices from the chicken resting plate into the sauce and season to taste with salt & pepper
  • Spoon a bit of the sauce on a plate and place the chicken breasts, sliced on a diagonal on the sauce and serve with the vegetable of choice.

Simple, delicious and on the table in about 30 minutes and we're into this less that $4.  What more can you ask for on a weeknight? 


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December 2nd...

So as predicted I didn't post last night but that was because I had to fight the need to write.  Oh no need to worry about me, I was fine once I got through that brief period where I was curled up in a fetal position chanting "must write, must write..." but seriously I did miss it after a full month of writing every day.  I think this will make me a stronger writer overall and it certainly helped me understand that even if no one is reading (which I know some of you are from the comments I get here and on Facebook) I'm still gonna set keyboard to fingertip or something like that as often as I can. 

Tonight I'm starting the prep work for a spaghetti feed for 60ish people in the office on Friday for one of my friends that's getting married.  I don't have to prepare it all but I do need to precook 6 or 8 lbs of pasta.  Now the challenge is that we have no place to cook the pasta or the sauce ahead of time and although we're going with the sauce in the jar and Kraft parmesan we still have to have cooked pasta and the only way we figured we could get this done is to parboil the noodles, pack 'em by the pound in ziplocks and then fill those with hot water from the coffee brewers.  We'll set the jars in hot water for a bit then get them in the crockpots before the feed.   This kind of thing is very fitting for us at work, it's what we do; solve problems.

Our team works really hard and we are a very productive lot but we like to celebrate ourselves and our successes a lot as well.  We many times head out to dim sum for a birthday lunch, or have a breakfast of chicken fried steaks with sausage gravy, biscuits and hash brown casserole (dubbed ex-boyfriend potatoes by the contributor cuz that's who introduced them to her) for which I'll have to share the recipe some day because it is soooo tasty!  Sometimes it's unfortunate how much food passes through our area as it certainly doesn't help the waistline but it sure keeps up the morale at work.  This feed is one of those times.

Did I say I work for a little coffee company where we have coffee brewers and espresso machines about every 100 feet in a building that has more square footage than the Empire State building?  Well I do so the reheat part is probably not going to be too difficult and it's the least we can do for our fellow worker and friend.  In fact two friends as Henry and I are friends both with Chris and his fiance Kelli and we'll even be sitting next to them all next season for the Seattle Sounders FC.  They are a great couple and I'm glad I can help with this festive event.

Now I just have to figure out what to feed myself tonight?  Last night was some refried beans with Pico Pica hot sauce and tortilla chips with a Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale.  Who sez we can't eat well (at least tastily) for not too many $s and quickly when you just don't feel like spending a lot of time over the stove?

I'll be back to cooking again tomorrow night as the lad will be back home from his Mum's but for tonight surrounded by all this pasta it may just be a handful of it with some butter garlic and parmesan unless I can muster the ambition to throw in some broccoli and mushrooms.