thai curry shrimp

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Sometimes a curry is just too soupy and I prefer a dipping sauce. This dish is my response to a kaeng.  The shrimp is tender, the sauce salty and spicy, the salsa sweet, tart, and fresh.

Thai Curry Shrimp

1 – 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, with or without tails
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 2 small limes
1/2 cup palm sugar simple syrup
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nam pla or fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2-1  teaspoon Sriracha Sauce (add more or less to taste)
1 tablespoon olive oil

To make the simple syrup, break up 1 1/2 cakes palm sugar in a small saucepan and add 5-6 tablespoons water. Boil until dissolved. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, lime juice, cooled syrup, cilantro, garlic, curry, turmeric, cayenne pepper, white pepper, and Sriracha sauce. Mix well. Add the shrimp. Let stand 1 hour. Don’t let it stand longer than that or the lime juice will “cook” the shrimp.

Heat a tablespoon oil in a large skillet. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and put in the hot oil to cook for one minute without turning. Remove the shrimp and set aside. Add the marinade to the skillet and let it reduce until thickened. Return the shrimp to the skillet to finish cooking. Serve with mango-tomato salsa and white rice.

Mango-Tomato Salsa

1 large mango cut off the seed into 1” cubes
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup scallion, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
Juice of 1 small lime
1 Thai chile, chopped (optional)
sugar to taste

Mix together all the ingredients. Taste. If the salsa is too sour, add a bit of sugar to taste. Serve on a bed of lettuce.

mooncake festival, emquartier, bangkok

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This month is the Chinese mid-autumn festival. The mooncake festival as it’s also called is about eating cakes filled with sweet nutty paste, sometimes with an egg yolk in the center.

DSC05841.jpg There are so many varieties of mooncakes to try. There are new varieties that include durian, chocolate, and honey.

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low sugar no pectin cherry jam

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My sister-in-law gave me a box of organic cherries as a gift. Fresh cherries in Bangkok are a rare and expensive treat. I decided to share the experience–and the love.

Low Sugar No Pectin Cherry Jam

5 cups pitted organic cherries
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 small lemons
pinch of salt

Put the cherries and sugar in a large 2-3 quart pot. Add the juice of one-and-a-half medium lemon and put the lemon rind halves in the pot. Cook over medium heat until the cherries soften. Mash them with a potato masher until they are chunky in texture.

Put three metal tablespoons in the freezer to chill.

Let the cherry mixture come to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture reduces and thickens. Do a spoon test. Dribble a few drops on one of the spoons from the freezer then run your finger across the drops. If it separates, the jam has set.

Remove the lemon pieces and discard. Spoon the jam into three clean four-ounce jars. Refrigerate until the jam is cold and has jelled.

lettuce sandwiches

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Lettuce Sandwiches
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Makes: 4 servings

1 pound ground meat (chicken, pork, or beef) (I used ground chicken breast)
1 small onion, cut in half then sliced
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
Soy sauce
1 bouillon cube
Vegetable cooking oil
Green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, or iceberg lettuce
1 tablespoon mustard powder
1/2 tablespoon water

Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to the ground meat in a bowl. Combine.  Set aside.

Mix mustard powder and 1/2 tablespoon water. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon cooking oil in a large skillet. Fry the onions until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. If needed, add another tablespoon oil. Add the meat and cook, turning frequently, until no longer pink. Add the bouillon cube and 1/4 cup water. Add soy sauce to taste.

Serve warm with lettuce. Spoon a bit of meat into a lettuce leaf. Sprinkle on some soy sauce and mustard to taste. Fold and eat!

high-fiber pancake mix

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I am running out of breadfruit flour so I thought I would stretch it by mixing it with all purpose flour, and still get the high-fiber benefits. This is my go-to recipe for pancakes, and has been for years, from the Betty Crocker cookbook. I’ve made it with spelt flour and now breadfruit flour, and it has worked every time!

High-Fiber Pancake Mix
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 2-3 minutes per pancake
Makes 12-16 pancakes

1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup breadfruit flour or spelt flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup low-fat milk
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and mix well with a fork. Using a dinner tablespoon, spoon a spoonful of batter onto a hot griddle and cook until it is bubbly. Flip the pancake and cook until the bottom is golden.

gluten-free high-fiber breadfruit flour banana bundt cake

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In taste, this cake is similar to cakes made with whole wheat flour. It is dense. But instead of being dry, this cake is moist, tender,  and full of banana flavor. And it can be made entirely by hand. The cake plate and server in the picture are gifts from my mother.

Gluten-Free Breadfruit Flour Banana Bundt Cake
Prep time: 25 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup superfine sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
juice of one lime
3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups breadfruit flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, optional
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, optional

Preheat oven to 350˚F/175˚C. Grease a bundt cake pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine melted butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and combine. Add vanilla with the last egg. Set aside

In a medium bowl, combine milk, lime juice, and bananas. Add to butter-sugar mixture.

In another medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon, if using. Add all at once to butter-sugar-banana mixture. Mix until dry ingredients are just moistened.

Scrape into the prepared pan. Bake 40-45 minutes. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Unmold and cool completely on a wire cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. If desired, dust the top with powdered sugar.

spare ribs in black bean-garlic sauce

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Spare Ribs in Black Bean-Garlic Sauce
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

2 pounds spare ribs, chopped into 2 inch lengths
1/3 cup salted black beans
8 large cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
1 tablespoon vegetable cooking oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1-2 teaspoons black soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper

Put the black beans in a small bowl and cover with water. Let it sit five to ten minutes until softened, then drain water. Mash the softened black beans to a paste. Set aside.

Add the garlic and mix well. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the black bean-garlic paste and fry until fragrant. Add the spare ribs, turning to coat thoroughly. Season with soy sauce and black soy sauce. Add 3/4 cup water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 45 minutes. Stir ribs occasionally.

Remove the cover and let the ribs cook on medium high heat until the sauce is reduced and thickened. Taste. If it’s bitter, add sugar. Taste again, then season with salt and pepper.

gluten-free breadfruit flour pancakes

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This is the first time I’ve tried breadfruit flour. In taste and texture breadfruit flour is mildly flavored and gritty like cornmeal. In short, it is very bland. But with the addition of vanilla, spices, and flavored milk powder, this turned out to be wonderfully delicious. I created this pancake recipe,  and I recommend it.

Breadfruit flour is a project of Trees That Feed Foundation, an organization that distributes food-bearing trees to poor communities and supports sustainable farming practices. This breadfruit flour is grown and milled in Jamaica by Tacius Golding High School in  the parish of St. Catherine. To order call 876-836-7277.

Breadfruit Flour Pancakes
Makes 12-14 pancakes each about 2” in diameter

2/3 cup breadfruit flour
3 tablespoons vanilla flavored milk powder
2/3 cup water
1 beaten extra-large egg
1 tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg

In a large bowl, beat egg. Add flour and milk powder, water, sugar, vegetable oil, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix with a fork until well blended. Let rest about 10 minutes.

Spray cooking spray on a griddle. Heat the griddle over medium high heat. Using a dinner-table tablespoon, drop one tablespoon batter on the hot griddle, spreading it out a little. Cook about 30-60 seconds on one side then flip.Cook the second side until golden brown.

Serve pancakes with maple syrup or strawberry jam.

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johnny cakes

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A johnny cake is fried bread eaten in Jamaica as an accompaniment to spicy dishes. Ackee and saltfish or bully beef (corned beef with tomatoes, onions, and scotch bonnet pepper) are even more satisfying eaten with a fluffy chewy and hot johnny cake.

Johnny Cakes (adapted from Food 52)
Prep time: 45 minutes (includes resting time)
Cook time: 4 minutes per batch
Servings: Makes about 30-36 cakes

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 cup water
vegetable oil for frying

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Cut in the butter until it is the size of small peas. Mix in the water and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let rest 30 minutes. Roll out half the dough onto a lightly floured surface, about 1/4 inch thick, and cut into rounds. Repeat with the other half.

Meanwhile, heat about an inch of oil in a large skillet. Stick a wooden chopstick in the oil; when tiny bubbles gather round the stick, the oil is hot enough. Fry dough circles in batches of five. When one side is lightly browned, flip over on to the other side. Drain fried cakes on a plate lined with paper towels. Eat right away.

To reheat leftover johnny cakes put them in a 200˚F/100˚C oven for about 5 minutes. Never reheat them in a microwave as they become tough.