Thursday, March 25, 2010

Indonesian Pork & Coconut Stew w/Wok-sauteed Bok Choy and Peppers

Something old and something new I thought. I needed a crockpot recipe this week so I thought I'd just throw together an old favorite of mine (not necessarily of anyone else in the family but um.. *%$k'em – lol).

There is an stew I love that utilizes coconut milk (a big favorite flavor of mine) and some of my favorite spices (cumin & coriander). It is originally meant for beef, and that makes sense with it being an Indonesian stew, but I find that pork is a far far superior substitute. (I'm reminded of that one episode of No Reservations in Indonesia where in Bali, Chef Bourdain samples some chili stuffed, coconut basted suckling pig roasted over an open-fire spit – looks like heaven on earth! And since then, the idea of the combo of pork and coconut has had a sweet spot in my memory banks)

This stew is best served with a side of white rice. I looked for jasmine in the market but alas, had to settle for basmati. I always seem to agonize over what vegetable to serve along side this dish. I've served peas and whole green beans but none of that ever seems right. Unfortunately, one of my weak areas is Asian cuisine :(

But then I remembered seeing bok choy and recalled my one instance of preparing some back when I was at the CCVA. Yeah it's a Chinese vegetable but Indonesia isn't far off, they're both Asian so foo! It's the best I could come up with on the fly!
So after perusing some recipes I decided to do a wok saute of sliced bok choy and bell peppers. Simple and exactly what I'm looking for to go with an A) Slow cooker meal and B) Asian meal in need of vegetable side.

So enough yappin'. Down to the nitty gritty.

Indonesian Beef Pork Stew

¼ c. Vegetable Oil
3 # Boneless Beef Chuck OR Pork Shoulder/Butt – cut into 2 in. cubes
1 Yellow Onion – chopped
2 c. Shredded Coconut (preferably unsweetened, but if sweetened is all you can find that's fine. I've never had a problem with it)
1 T. Brown Sugar
1 T. Ground Coriander
1 T. Ground Cumin
2 cans Coconut Milk (shake cans well before opening to re-emulsify the cream and watery milk)
Salt and White Pepper TT
Steamed White Rice for serving

~ In a large frying pan, heat the oil and fry meat chunks til seared on all sides (about 5 minutes). To avoid crowding the pan and to get a good sear, do this in batches if you must.
~ Add the onions, shredded coconut, brown sugar, spices and 1 t. of salt and pepper to the pan (along with the rest of the meat) and saute until everything is nicely browned and fragrant (about 7 minutes). Transfer this mixture to the slowcooker.
~ Add the coconut milk to the frying pan and raise the heat to deglaze the pan and scrape up all the yummy brown bits. Bring the milk to a boil and then pour over the mixture in the slow cooker.
~ Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8. Season the finished stew to taste with salt, pepper or a touch more brown sugar. Ladle over steamed rice.

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As always, when cutting into particularly tough cuts of meat you are going to want to slice against the grain. To not do so will produce a tough piece of meat and waste all that tender potential.
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After all seared and fragrant – smells so good.. Spicy and sweet like I like it!
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Deglazing the pan
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After it's time melding in the crockpot
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Basmati Rice – so easy to prepare! Really.. just boil it in a generous amount of water for 10 minutes, drain, let sit for about 3 minutes and fluff!
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Garlic Wok-fried Bok Choy and Peppers

Vegetable Oil
1 Yellow Bell pepper – julienne
1 Red Bell pepper – julienne
2 Heads Bok Choy – slice and separate the leafy part from the white stalk (the stalk needs more cooking time than the leafy part so prepare and keep separately)
2 Garlic Cloves – minced
1 t. Soy Sauce
Salt TT

~ Heat oil in a hot wok and saute peppers and the white part of the bok choy. Cook for about 5 minutes.
~ Add in leafy part of bok choy and garlic to the pan and saute for two minutes more until the greens are wilted. Splash soy sauce all over and serve immediately. Salt to taste.

Wash your bok choy at the last minute, under cold running water. Remove the root stem as it is inedible.
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Wok-in' out with my bok out!Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Pretend I'm saying “Let's Eat!” in Chinese right here.. Maybe Cantonese?
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Bok Choy
Bok Choy, also known as Pak Choi (literal meaning of “white vegetable”), is a leafy dark green variety of Chinese cabbage. Indeed, there are about 3 dozen Chinese cabbage varieties but bok choy is quite distinguishable and is becoming very popular in Western cuisine and markets. Bok Choy was first introduced to Europe in the 18th century, and later in North America during the gold rush of the late 19th century.

Bok Choy is sometimes described as bitter but mostly as a mild and slightly sweet vegetable. It is part of the brassica family of vegetables (cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, brussle sprouts) and resembles a cross between celery and swiss chard. It is utilized by a myriad of cooking preparations (eaten raw (sometimes marinated), stewed, sauteed, braised, steamed..). This vegetable is also a wonderful source of vitamins A, C, B6, potassium, folic acid, calcium and iron

pg. 25 Food Made Easy (Slow Cooker) – Williams Sonoma
pg. 104, 105 The Visual Food Encyclopedia – Wiley Publishing, Inc.
pg. 84, 122, 185 The Flavor Bible – Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Birthday Party BBQ Buffet! *Recipes*

As promised, here are the recipes:

BBQ/Baked Beans (the recipe I *should have used – only by these suggestions did I get mine to taste somewhat similar to the traditional)

* 1 large onion, diced
* 2 (16-ounce) cans pork and beans
* 3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
* 1/4 cup maple syrup
* 1/4 cup light brown sugar
* 4 tablespoons ketchup
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* 1/2 pound bacon strips, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

~ In a Dutch oven, mix onion, pork and beans, mustard, maple syrup, light brown sugar, ketchup, and lemon juice. Top with the bacon pieces. Bake, covered, for 45 to 60 minutes.

Serves 4 (definitely double this recipe!)

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese,
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste
1 (14 ounce) bag artichoke hearts,
thawed & drained
1 bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed
& drained
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a small baking dish.

~ In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, garlic, basil, garlic salt, salt and pepper. Gently stir in artichoke hearts and spinach.

~ Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in the preheated oven 25 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned.

Serves 12

Baked Potato Salad (by Pampered Chef)

6 medium baking potatoes (about 2 pounds)
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup mayonnaise
8 slices bacon, crisply cooked, drained and chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Thinly sliced green onions with tops (optional)
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

~ Preheat oven to 425°F. Scrub potatoes thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. Brush potatoes with vegetable oil. Prick potatoes all over with a fork. Bake 50-60 minutes or until tender.

~ Meanwhile combine sour cream and mayonnaise in small bowl. Add bacon, red onion and celery to sour cream mixture. Stir in salt and black pepper and cover tightly with cling wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

~ Remove potatoes from oven; cool completely. Coarsely chop potatoes into 1/2-inch pieces. Place in a large bowl; fold in sour cream mixture. Cover & refrigerate 4-6 hours or overnight. Garnish with sliced green onions and cheddar cheese, if desired.

Yield: 12 servings

7 Layer Dip

1 can Refried Beans
2 Avocadoes – mashed
1 Lime – juiced & zested
Salt TT
1 jar medium Salsa
1 Large Yellow Bell Pepper – diced
1 lg bunch Cilantro – chopped
1 16oz. tub Sourcream
1 bag shredded cheese (Mexican style, Colby jack or Monterrey Jack)

Just add the lime juice and salt to the mashed avocados and then layer ingredients, in order, into a small-medium pyrex dish. You can make this the day before, it will be fine.

Also, it would be prudent to add any desired spices to the refried beans before layering them. Next time, I’m going to add some southwestern seasoning to mine!

Serves 8-10

Fruit Skewers with Yogurt Honey Dip

Simply assemble your favorite fruits onto wooden skewers. I used globe grapes, strawberry, pineapple and banana (although you’ll want to assemble this as close to serving time as possible if you don’t want your banana to brown).

The dip simply consists of an 8oz tub of yogurt (preferably greek) with as much honey drizzled in to fit your tatstes.

I made enough for 40 skewers in my picture.

“Chopped”/Mixed Green Salad

Romaine Lettuce
Red Onions – thinly sliced
Cherry Tomatoes
Bell Peppers – julienned or diced
Cucumbers – sliced or diced

Serve with any desired cheese, crumbled bacon and/or croutons

Buttermilk Dressing

I short-cutted here by using Hidden Valley’s Buttermilk mix with real buttermilk and mayo. /shamed face. Lol

Avocado Dressing

See this entry.


For the Chocolate, I used a Paula Deen recipe for “Chocolate Dirt Cups” but omitted the frosting and topping. I also used DECAF coffee knowing it would be served to kids, haha. It worked perfectly, SO moist!

Chocolate Cupcakes

* 8 ounces sour cream
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 1/4 cups sugar
* 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup strong brewed coffee
* 1 cup vegetable oil
* 3 large eggs

~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 3 cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

~ In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.

My daughter asked me to make “pink” cupcakes so I wanted to try out a strawberry kind to have a good reason for the “pink” (which I did have to add a few drops of FC to, to make the color vibrant). I got this recipe from the Sprinkles bakery. I found them to be a bit dry, or drier than I expected. I’d say you can up the strawberry puree in these to a full cup and be able to get away with it. I will try them again and work on that.

Strawberry Cupcakes

* 2/3 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
* 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 large egg, room temperature
* 2 large egg whites, room temperature

~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.

~ Place strawberries in a small food processor; process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree, add a few more strawberries if necessary or save any extra puree for frosting; set aside.

~ In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree; set aside.

~ In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.

~ With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

~ Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.

Makes 1 dozen. I haven’t tried their frosting recipe but plan to on my next try.

For the Pineapple Cupcakes, I couldn’t find a decent recipe completely from scratch and I didn’t want to do them upside down so, I just modified a cake-mix recipe commonly known as “7-up” Cake.

Pineapple Mix Cupcakes

* 1 pk Yellow cake mix
* 1 pk Instant pudding mix;
* 3/4 c Cooking oil
* 4 Eggs
* 1 Bottle Seven-Up (10-oz.)
* 1 medium can of crushed Pineapple, drained

~ Preheat oven to 350F.
~ Mix everything together with a mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes.
~ Prep a cupcake tin and fill 2/3 full.
~ Bake 20-25 minutes til golden and done.

Voila! I will be working on a from-scratch version in the near future. I just didn’t feel like fiddling with one last week.

And the creamcheese recipe I used, I also modified as I always do because I feel most creamcheese recipes don’t call for enough 10x sugar (I always use double whats called for). So mine is simply..

Creamcheese Frosting

1 8oz tub Creamcheese – room temp
1 stick unsalted Butter – room temp
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract (or any other extract you may have or like – get creative!)
4 c. Powdered Sugar – sifted

~ Cream together creamcheese and butter for 2 minutes until fluffy and well combined. Add in extract.
~ Add in sugar in 2 batches or keep going until you reach a consistency you like.

Bing Bang Boom! And that’s all I got for now folks! Enjoy!

Birthday Party BBQ Buffet! *Pix*

I’ve neglected my blog all week, but it was for really good reason. I was busy prepping for my newly minted 7 and 5 year old's joint Birthday Party (a perk, I must say, of having children with birthdays that fall w/in a week of each other ☺). When I plan a party, no matter how small, I tend to get a little meticulous and I really threw myself into it being that it was for my children.

I so wished I had time to document all of my prep, but alas, I was spread thin on time per usual. I did manage to get pictures of the finished product and that’s as good as anything! I figured I’d also include the recipes I used so look out for those after this entry should you be interested.

The party was at noon and was going to be aimed at a family crowd so I decided on a BBQ buffet and tried to stick with kid friendly foods.
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It was a Spongebob/Tinkerbell themed party so I tried to parlay the theme in when and where I could – hence the little place cards describing what food item was before it. Here are “Squidward Dogs” and obviously “Krabby Patties”. I really wanted to make my own mince mix and press my own burgers but my dear husband talked me down from it. And true, I had a lot to do so I conceded to using Bubba Burgers (which are mighty tasty in their own right, and it’s awesome that they go from freezer to grill. My 3 already-packed refrigerators were thankful for that, seeing as I really had no room to properly defrost them even if I wanted to ☺).
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I tried to do a vegetarian BBQ Bean dish from scratch scratch (most recipes will use canned beans). It turned out in the end but I swear I cooked those beans for a good 12 hours. That and I added and added and added things to it to try and get it to taste like traditional baked beans. I fancy calling this my “evolution beans”, haha. But I am convinced now that canned may just be best and next time will opt to use Ms. Paula Deen’s recipe. Oh, and next time I will also use bacon. BBQ beans aren’t meant to be vegetarian :p.
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Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip
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A Chopped Salad served with buttermilk ranch dressing, avocado dressing, croutons and feta.
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A “The Works” Baked Potato Salad
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7 Layer Dip (vegetarian)
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Fruit Skewers with Yogurt Honey Dip
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The only picture I was able to get of prep was of this awesome strawberry!
(I usually use gloves when handling ready to consume foods – I use a non-latex variety that I order off
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Instead of doing up party favor bags, I created a candy buffet to color-coordinate with the party themes. Kids (and adults) were able to custom fill their own baggies at the end of the party. Only problem is, there was plenty left over and I find myself to be gorging on it /shamed face. Today I found that sixlets left in a hot car are much like a candy-version of caviar in that the filling is liquid once the shell bursts on your tongue /more shamed face. Haha..

I got all these candies from OhNuts! , a NY based candy store online
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And in lieu of serving cake, I opted for a cupcake station where kids could choose their cupcake flavor, color of frosting and pick from 20 different kinds of cupcake sprinkles (which I procured from - they sell most sprinkles by either 2 cup or 1 oz tubs. I got different colors of dragees, non-pareils, jimmies and sugar sprinkles for between $0.79 and 0.99 each)
I did 3 flavors for the cupcakes, chocolate, pineapple and strawberry. And for functionality, I made a large batch of Creamcheese Frosting and tinted it three different colors.
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So that was that! I think I am well within my lane to say that a good-time was had by all. And if anyone was like me, they crashed right when they got home from the sugar high :D.

Recipes to follow in the above post.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Eating Out: Wasabi's

I figured, since I certainly don't cook every night and I do eat out a good deal that I should also take the time to blog about the restaurant scene in Kuwait while I'm here.

It's a very strange habit for me, being a cook myself, but when I eat out I usually order the same thing over and over from a place I've been before - A habit I'm trying to wriggle out of.

So when I ordered takeout from Wasabi's this week, I decided to try and get away from my standard spicy Cali roll. Sushi is hard for me because while I love it, sadly my stomach does NOT agree with raw fish of any kind. So I'm relegated to choosing from veggie rolls or maki with cooked meats in them. I recently found that while the menu in the Wasabi restaurants don't give very good descriptives of their sushi rolls, their menu on 6alabat does.

Skeeeeeert! What the heck did she say?

6alabat – – is an online take out service exclusive to Kuwait that works with restaurants in your neighborhood to make their food available for delivery straight to your door with a few clicks of your mouse. It makes my “no-cooking-on-Wednesday” nights SO much easier.

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Well anyway, pickings were still on the slim side but I managed to choose a Bifu Roll, Tempura Shrimp Roll and a Kani Furai. I also threw in a cali roll there, just in case :D

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The Bifu roll is my new favorite. It came with a sweet creamy sauce and I enjoy beef and scallion pairings. The spotted wrapper was cool too, although a bit weird on the texture as it was chewy. But seaweed is chewy too so it wasn't that big of an issue.

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The tempura shrimp was pretty basic and bland. Shrimp and tobico on the inside, seaweed on the out and tempura deep fried.

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The Kani Furai roll (Kani = Crab, Furai = Coated in breadcrumb) left something to be desired. I credit that in part to the fact that it has two hunks of sealeg in each “bite” - And yeah, a lot of sushi places employ sealegs in their rolls (sealegs a.k.a. “crabstick” = that weird imitation crab meat made of starches, pureed white fish (surimi) and food coloring). I can tolerate it here and there in small amounts (it comes in the cali roll afterall) but that much made me not even want to finish the other 5 pieces.

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The California roll I got was also lack-luster. Usually it's generally satisfying but the rice tasted.. old? Not what I'm usually used to from Wasabi but.. it is what it is. Next time I do order, it will def be the bifu roll.

This reminds me, I need to try my hand at a sushi blog sometime.. Oh! And I'm open to new roll suggestions! Asian is one of my weakspots so I am not a sushi afficianado by any means and am always looking for an experienced point in an interesting direction :)