Thai Beef with Chilies and Basil over Coconut Rice

So here we are again at Thursday. I need some quick. I need something that doesn’t cluck. I need something that will satisfy 2 hungry boys and one hungry though trying to be healthy man.

I pulled my stack of Everyday Food Magazines from the shelf, searching for inspiration.  I have passed this particular recipe dozens of times. I have it saved on my iPhone. I have it printed in a pile of recipes I am dying to try.

Well, this is it… JUMP IN …

  • 1 1/4 cups jasmine rice
  • 1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 long hot peppers or red jalapeno chiles, seeded and sliced into 2-inch matchsticks
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground beef sirloin
  • 1 cup loosely packed torn fresh basil leaves
  • Lime wedges, for serving

NOTE: I had a terrible time finding the peppers. I used a plain old green jalapeno pepper and it was fine. It was requested, however, that I use a little bit more pepper next time so the kick was a little bit bigger.

In a medium saucepan, combine rice, coconut milk, 3/4 cup water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed, about 25 minutes.

NOTE: Doesn’t really get much easier than that! The rice isn’t overly coconutty in flavor. It has a subtle behind the scenes taste that you can’t quite put your finger on, but is perfect with the beef.

When rice is almost done, combine fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl; set aside. Heat a cast-iron skillet or wok over high. Add oil and heat; add garlic and half the chiles. Cook, stirring constantly, 15 seconds.

NOTE: I used a skillet. I didn’t want to fuss with my cast iron. I was tired. I t was after work. I didn’t want to clean it. Truthfully, the skillet goes straight in the dish washer so occasionally the skillet wins!

Add beef and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until completely browned, about 4 minutes. Add soy mixture and cook 30 seconds. Add basil and remaining chiles and stir to combine. Serve beef over coconut rice with lime wedges.

NOTE: I drained a lot of the liquid (fat) from the skillet before I added the soy mixture. There was a substantial amount of liquid in the pan already and I didn’t want the soy mixture to be diluted.

NOTE: I didn’t think this was going to be substantial enough just over the rice. I had 2 Romaine lettuce hearts. I separated them into leaves and piled them on a plate. The beef and rice went side by side on a platter. Turning this into wraps somehow stretched it a bit and made it seem more substantial. The lime wedges really add a layer of flavor. We also used a sprinkling or 2 od sweet chili sauce for some sweet heat.

I wasn’t sure that this dish was going to be a winner. It certainly was – so much so it has already been requested as a do-over. I am going to try this with ground turkey or chicken. I think the sauce is flavorful enough to fool the feather haters.

Tortilla Soup

We had a slight reprieve from the weather. Slight. Short lived. We’re back to freezing our tuchuses (sp) off. With Spring less than a month away, all we can do is hold on tightly and pray for the best. Mother Nature has a funny way of keeping us on our toes – enough already, we’re sorry for whatever we did!

I was very hesitant about this soup. It’s what my foodie friends and I would jokingly refer to as ‘Canna Soup’. A canna this, a canna that. Looking at the ingredients (below) there is very little ‘me’ in this recipe and a lot of dependence on ‘them’. I may change it up a bit next time and add some fresh veggies, some extra herbs, etc.

This soup comes together so quickly, you’re done almost as soon as you start. Everything in one pot, everything at one time. Can’t possibly be easier than that.

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 2 cans (14 1/2 ozs each) diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans (15 ozs each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ozs) reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 package (10 ozs) frozen corn kernels
  • s&p
  • 1 T fresh line juice
  • tortilla chips

NOTE: If you use vegetable stock, this becomes vegetarian.

Heat oil in a large saucepan.

Add garlic and chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

NOTE: Cooking dry spices for a moment or 2 before adding the rest of the ingredients really helps them release their flavor and aroma. I tend to do this all the time.

Add tomatoes (with juice), beans, broth, corn and 1 cup of water. Season with s&p.

Bring soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.

NOTE: The original recipe called for 1 cup of crushed tortilla chips to be added at this point. I though they would turn into a soggy mess and decided to just serve them on the side.

Serve soup with lime wedges and tortilla chips. A little sour cream or shredded cheddar would be nifty too!

tortillasoupchallengegirlichef

Italian Wedding Soup

It’s been cold here – and not just in an ‘oh, I need a scarf today’ kinda way. This has been cold to the bone, mind numbing cold. The kind of cold that makes you longingly look back at home just seconds after leaving home. And this is during the shank of the day.

Now imagine having to be out there in the middle of the night working. My poor lovey works way too hard, for too many hours, freezing. In order to keep him (semi) happy and warm, the soup of the week is adapted from Ina Garten’s Back to Basics.

Meatballs

  • ¾ lb ground chicken
  • ½ lb chicken sausages, casings removed
  • 2/3 C fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 t  garlic, minced
  • 3 T fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ C freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ¼ C freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 3 T milk
  • 1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

NOTE: For some reason my supermarket chose this week to be out of both chicken and Italian sausage. I was able to find already cooked Italian chicken sausage, so I just minced that up.  I used whole wheat bread for the bread crumbs.

Soup:

  • 2 T good olive oil
  • 1 C yellow onions, minced
  • 1 C ¼” diced carrots (2-3 depending on the size of the carrots)
  • ¾ C ¼” diced celery
  • 10 C chicken broth
  • ½ C dry white wine
  • 1 C small pasta like tubetini or stars
  • ¼ C fresh dill, minced
  • 12 oz/340g baby spinach, washed and trimmed

NOTE: I can’t say it enough, it was really very hard for me not to use my crappy olive oil. I am so glad Ina cleared it up by telling me I should use the good stuff. I cheated. I used stock in a box – low sodium stock in a box, but in a box just the same. I used a bag of baby spinach. It was a 10 oz. bag, but there was still a lot of spinach in the soup.

We start with the meatballs.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Add all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and combine gently with a fork. Using a teaspoon, drop small (1” or so) meatballs onto the baking sheet. There should be about 40 meatballs.

NOTE: Being the lazy sod that I am, I used a cookie scoop. These really don’t need to be perfectly round meatballs.

Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

NOTE: I couldn’t resist. I had to try one. These are really good. You would be heard pressed to know that these were chicken and not beef.

Now, for the soup.

Heat the olive oil over medium low heat in a large heavy bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until softened (about 6 minutes or so), stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken broth and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for a couple of minutes. Taste and add salt & pepper if necessary.

NOTE: I left out the dill. I forgot to buy it and really didn’t think it would make a big difference. I did add the pasta at this point. I knew this soup would be completely consumed within 5 days so the pasta would hold up. It you are going to make this and freeze it, skip the pasta. When you defrost the soup, cook a little bit of pasta and then stir it into the soup.

Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes until the spinach leaves begin to wilt. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan cheese.

NOTE: Definitely a keeper and something to do again. It seems like a lot of ingredients and that it would be fiddley because of them, but this comes together easily and quickly. I know it’s good when I get a peck on the cheek after tasting!