rice bowl

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I got tired of eating street food. I know people who would say, I could never get tired of it. The fact is: I missed my kitchen. But for most of the week, I live in Salaya in a tiny studio that has no kitchen. I decided to buy a small 3 cup rice cooker and experiment with rice bowls. A rice bowl is a dish that includes meat, veggies, and rice all in one. I made this vegetarian version out of just a few ingredients: rice, a handful of cashews, golden raisins, sweet bell pepper, and scallion. The only thing I cooked was the rice. The rest I added when the rice was steaming hot. It’s  so simple it doesn’t need a recipe!

vodka pie crust apple galette with spiced sugar

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This is a delicious crust, but it’s hard to manage. It sticks to the board, the rolling pin, and it’s very hard to roll up and move to the baking tray. For the galette, it is best to roll it out on the silicone mat. I wanted to make an apple galette–I made two, actually, because this recipe makes a double crust. The crust really did come out flaky and tender, just as America’s Test Kitchen had promised.

Apple Galette
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into sixteenths

Spiced Sugar
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind (1 small lime)

Vodka Pie Crust (America’s Test Kitchen)
Ingredients
2 1/2 cups (313g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (170g) cold unsalted butter cut into 1/4 inch cubes, chilled
1/2 cup (95g) cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces, chilled
1/4 cup chilled vodka
1/4 cup cold water
milk for brushing
demerara or turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Procedure

1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses.

2. Scatter butter and shortening on top and process until incorporated and dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds. Dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour.

3. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough as been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

4. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together.

5. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or up to 2 days. Let dough sit on the counter 10 minutes before rolling it out.

Cake Baker’s Note: I wrapped and froze the dough for a week then thawed it for several hours in the refrigerator.

6. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 425˚F or 220˚C. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll onto a silicone mat. Alternatively, roll it out onto a floured silicone mat. I had to scrape it off the pastry board with a bench scraper and pancake turner. I just don’t know if it’s supposed to be that sticky.

7. Mound half the apples in the center of the dough circle. Sprinkle generously with the spiced sugar. Use a bench scraper to fold up the sides. Fold the corners. Brush the dough with milk and sprinkle with demerara or turbinado sugar. Place the mat on the baking sheet and bake 45-55 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Repeat #6 and #7 for the second dough circle.

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rice ruam mit

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This dish has everything all mixed up together–ruam mit. Well almost everything.  The base for it is Thai jasmine rice, of course. Then I tossed in raisins, green peas, lime zest,  the juice of a lime, scallions, salt, pepper, and the chiffonade of a few leaves of basil. Should have been mint but all we had was basil.  The raisins added a touch of sweetness to a rice dish that was also salty and tangy. A-roy.

guisada: pork stew with leeks, potatoes, and grape tomatoes

DSC03486We wanted American food. We went t0 The Great American Rib Company in Soi 36. Andy had half a rack of ribs and I had the pulled pork. Andy’s ribs were tender and came off the bones. He got baked beans, cole slaw, and chili corn bread slices with his ribs. I tried a bit of the beans and the corn bread. The beans were a tad sweet–too much brown sugar is my guess. The cornbread was dry and the chili flavor was stale. Andy ordered a side of curly fries. They were fresh and hot and served with a side of barbecue sauce. My dinner arrived with barbecue sauce on the side, cole slaw, and french fries. The pork was dry and chewy. Dabbing sauce on top helped a bit. To save costs, the pickles had been shaved so thin on a mandoline you couldn’t taste them. The cole slaw was watery and warm. We didn’t finish it. I’ve eaten at American Rib Co. before, but I think the quality of the food has deteriorated. The whole experience cost Baht 1500 (approximately US$46.00). Disappointing. Not worth the expense.

On Sunday evening, I made the guisada again. This is a latin beef stew which I had adapted to pork. This time I freely experimented with the ingredients, adding what I like to the stew. I thought leeks would be a nice exchange for the scallions, and tomato paste would ramp up the flavor without having to add more salt.

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Guisada

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups chopped leeks, white part only
4 cloves garlic
1 cup organic grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped coarsely
1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin, sliced into chunks
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons beer (I used Chang beer)
2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 large dried bay leaf
4 cups small-medium organic potatoes, quartered or cut into eighths
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large Dutch pot. Add the leeks, garlic, tomatoes and cilantro. Cook 5 minutes or until the vegetables are wilted.
Add 1/3 cup beer, 1/3 cup water, 1 teaspoon seasoning salt, cumin, paprika, and bay leaf. Stir to combine. Add the potatoes and the tomato paste. Add more water about 1/3 cup more, if needed. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.

Put the pork in a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of the seasoning salt and the flour. Mix well. Over medium high heat, heat the teaspoon oil in a large skillet then brown the meat. Add the meat to the vegetables. Return the skillet to the heat. To the skillet, add the 2 tablespoons beer and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom. The beer will bubble, thicken, and reduce. Pour the reduction in the stew, scraping out all the browned bits into the guisada.

That’s it. Serve and eat.

mango-nutella dessert or another way to eat a mango

 

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These coconut wafer cookies by Pattaraporn are Andy’s favorites. Light and crispy, they make a great snack. Crumbled over ice cream and mango and drizzled with nutella, these cookies complement the other tastes and textures of this dessert. This dessert needs no recipe, just a little imagination.

Mango-Nutella Dessert

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Servings: 2

What you’ll need:
1 large ripe mango cut into cubes
2 scoops ice cream, any flavor (I used Été banana almond and cookies and cream)
4 coconut wafer cookies, crumbled  (or any flavor)
2 tablespoons nutella, liquefied

How to assemble the dessert:
Divide the mango cubes between two small bowls. Add the ice cream to the top of the mangoes. Using your fingers, crumble 2 cookies over each scoop of ice cream. Heat the Nutella in the microwave for about 15 seconds to liquefy it. Drizzle over the ice cream. Eat!

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quick and easy plain home-made yogurt

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I have decided to stop eating junk food during the week when I’m at school. I’ve only been eating healthy on weekends and it’s beginning to show on the scale. I’ve begun to feel uncomfortably bloated.  So this week, I made a pot of guisada at home to take with me for meals during the week. I also made a bowl of yogurt to go, and I’m bringing about a half dozen ripe mangoes with me to enjoy.

Mangoes are in season, and we are enjoying the bounties from neighbors, family, and friends. Even if they don’t have a tree, we share the riches. There’s nothing like a bowl of ice cold mango topped with fresh yogurt. And the best kind of yogurt is the one you make yourself. It’s so pretty, the top is like glass! It reflects the view from my kitchen window. Here is my recipe for yogurt that sets in an hour.

Plain Yogurt

1 8 oz carton of plain yogurt, it must have active yogurt cultures
1 liter whole milk

In a medium saucepan, pour the milk. Put the pot over a medium flame and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges. On a candy thermometer, this would read about 150˚F. This is called scalding milk. It takes about 10 minutes. Turn off the flame and let the milk cool to between 115˚F to 110˚F. If a skin forms on top of the milk, skim it off with a spatula and discard.

When the milk has reach the cooler temperature, add the entire carton of yogurt and stir. Transfer to a ceramic dish and cover it. Put it in a warm draft free place for about 1 hour to set. You will know it has set when the surface is solid to touch and when the bowl is tilted, there is no liquid sloshing about.

Refrigerate overnight. Or if you can’t wait that long, at least 4-6 hours. Eat the yogurt you made with fresh fruit. And like I said, a ripe ice cold mango is so delicious with home made yogurt. There is nothing more satisfying (and virtuous) than eating your own yogurt. To quote Ina Garten, “How easy is that?”

 

banana-coconut bread

DSC03474Today we ate lunch at Miyazaki, a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant in Seacon Square, where the meal is cooked hot and fresh in front of you on a griddle. There are two cooks for each customer: one to cook the vegetables the other to cook the meat. Each new order is announced by the cook, and that announcement is greeted with a loud chorus of “Hai!” Amen. Yes. The precision of lunch was quirky and earnestly militaristic,  but the meal still managed to be delicious. And reasonably so. Less than Baht 600 (about US$19.00) for two.

The nice thing about Bangkok is we have no shortage of food to please every foodie’s palate. Soi Thong Lo is our equivalent of Restaurant Row in New York (46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues). Thong Lo offers Korean, Japanese, Australian (burgers and steaks), Mexican, Chinese, American, and Thai food from Sukhumvit to Petchburi.

The rainy season is previewing in Bangkok. We have started to get the odd shower, which cools the heat to a dull steam that threatens to overwhelm the senses and makes everyone retreat to the coolness of air conditioned malls and restaurants. Before the heat had reached its apogee I bought some young coconut jelly in coconut juice at the market outside Suan Luang. I decided to tinker with a sturdy favorite, Banana Tea Bread, and came up with this Banana-Coconut Bread. It has a crunchy coating because of the turbinado sugar baked on top, and the coconut is chewy; it held its texture and flavor. I doubled the recipe to give me 4 mini-loaves. I gave away two to my sisters-in-law, and I will leave one in Bangkok for Andy and take the other with me to Salaya.

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Banana-Coconut Bread
Here I have given the measurements for 1 loaf of banana-coconut bread. I doubled the recipe to make four mini-loaves.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup chopped fresh young coconut jelly
1 teaspoon rum, vanilla, or coconut extract
1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup superfine sugar or 1/3 cup superfine sugar and 1/3 cup sifted brown sugar
2 large eggs

Topping
1/4 cup demerara or turbinado sugar (I used turbinado)
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

Heat the oven to 350˚F. Spray the inside of 2×7 inch mini loaf pans or 1×8″1/2 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, put the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Stir with a whisk to combine.

In a medium bowl, mash the banana. Add the chopped coconut jelly, and the extract. Blend well.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine. Add half the banana mixture. Add half of the remaining flour and mix until just combined. Add the remaining banana mixture and combine. Add the remaining flour. Scrape down the bowl after each addition.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans. Tap the pan(s) gently on the counter-top to eliminate any air bubbles. Sprinkle the top of the loaf/loaves with the demerara or turbinado sugar. Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top.

Bake 40 minutes or until golden brown or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven to wire cooling racks. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan before unmolding. Run a knife blade around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread. Gently remove from the pan. Cool thoroughly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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