Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

It’s finally getting cold(ish) here in Shenzhen, so it’s time for warm stews!  This one is super yummy–you can make it totally vegetarian if you want too, just take out the sausage.  🙂

Herbed White Bean and Sausage Stew (more…)


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Matt and I may be back in China, but European food still haunts me…forgive me for a moment’s reverie this morning.

Last night, I was craving this delicious lemon sauce we had eaten in Italy, so I made pork scallopinni (that’s where you bash pork filets with a heavy water-glass to flatten them out–very tender!) with a lemon white wine sauce (I used this sauce recipe:  they say it’s for fish, but whatever, it’s good!), and we ate it with roasted zucchini and salad.  I also served sliced baguette with a plate of fabulous olive oil we picked up in Imola, Italy.  (Here’s a buying tip:  Matt and I were at a little restaurant, and we both thought their olive oil was super-delicious.  I asked the waiter if we could just buy a bottle off the kitchen.  He said sure, and he thought it was 12 euros, but after rifling through a pile of purchase receipts, he couldn’t find the record, so he gave it to us for 10–a wine-bottle sized jar!  And we might have paid less than restaurant volume-pricing for it!)

This morning, we still had half a baguette…and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it…smother it with butter and honey!  You see, Matt and I celebrated Christmas in a tiny town in the south of France, with good friends of mine (Marcella and Andy and Flavia, for those who know them).  The town sold all sorts of regional specialty foods, one of which was honey.  This is honey on crack, let me tell you.  It’s thick, and viscous, and delicious, and they specify the flowers the bees eat, because the honey flavors differ as a result.  We tasted lots of honey at a little miel shop, and Matt bought me a big jar of lavender honey as part of my Christmas present.  (Along with a lovely olive wood mortar and pestal, and handmade honey and lavender soaps!  Full marks, all around.  If you want to know his shopping secrets, you’ll have to ask him.  ;))

Here is the lavender honey, side-by-side with some normal grocery store honey.  See the difference in color and thickness? (Well…thickness is hard to see, but basically the French honey needs to be spooned out, it isn’t runny at room temperature.)

Thus, my European raptures continued this morning over a warmed baguette, spoonfuls of honey, and New Zealand butter…(and a mango banana smoothie; I had to give our local foods a shout-out somehow.)

Tonight, we’re celebrating New Year’s Eve with one of our new favorite couples–Alisha and Rob.  I think we’re going to order take-out Chinese barbecue, but I’ll probably sneak some Italian pecorino, salami, and chocolate into the mix somehow.  🙂

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone!!

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Last night, each of us brought an important item to the marital supper table:  Matt: a jar of Thai green curry paste.  Me: a bottle of authentic Thai fish sauce–a major find from among the soy sauces and vinegar at our local Western grocery.  You see where this is going:  Thai food!

After rooting around on the internet for a good recipe (and deciding against one that required 26 hours of prep time!), I found 2 that seemed pretty good (on Epicurious and AllRecipes if you’re interested).  Neither recipe sounded very spicy, though, and as Matt and I usually like our food temple-sweating-ly hot, I read a few reviews for alternative suggestions.  Everyone on Epicurious screamed “too bland!  Double the fish sauce!  Double the curry paste!  Add chilis!”  They sounded like my kind of people.

I donned my apron, cracked open my light coconut milk, and started chopping shallots and hot things.  Yum.  I got a nice bubbly mixture of doubled-ingredients going, then added chicken, broccoli (because it is authentic?  No…but it was turning yellow-green in our fridge), yellow bell peppers and some roasted pumpkin (fresh roasted pumpkin is super-delicious, if you’ve only had it in pies, shame on you!).

It looked and smelled wonderful.  Matt and I excitedly scooped some rice onto our plates and ladled the steamy curry into a bowl.  I took a bite, then another.

“It’s kind of…um…salty?”  I suggested.  We pressed on faithfully, but the more we ate, the more salty the curry became.  It was like eating crunchy sodium curry…which is NOT on Thai menus for a reason!   We promptly ran out of rice (we were both eating more to soak up the super-saturated sodium solution).

After our rather shorter-than-usual dinner was over, the sodium hunt commenced.  Where had it come from?  I picked up the coconut milk jar, but it cleared with less than 100 mg per serving.

“Not that I think.”  I grabbed the Thai curry paste, which I had doubled.  Fingering the ingredients list, I said “Aha, salt!”  It did have 390 mg of sodium, but some things have over 1000, and we were sharing the dish between 2 people.  What was it?  “I wonder if there is salt in fish sauce?”  I supposed, innocently.  Neither of us really knew what fish sauce was, I just knew it was in, like, all Thai food.  Picking up the fish sauce bottle, I flipped it over.  Uh-oh.  Te he.  Oops.  Here was our problem.

“Er, love, fish sauce has 1890 mg of sodium per tbsp…and I added 3!”   We’d been munching on over 6000 mg of sodium!!  (3000 each, to be fair)

This is Matt after a few bites:

Ok…so this is actually an over-dramatized re-enactment from this morning.  (In case you were wondering where the rice got to and why there is so much light from the east…).

And this is Matt telling me he’ll still love me even if I accidentally harden all of his arteries with my experimental cookery.  Isn’t he sweet?

(I think that famous quote: “Kissing don’t last; Cookery do!” wasn’t considering all factors… )

So, what is fish sauce, you ask?  Let me share my enlightenment:   the kind I bought (nuoc mam) is made from fermenting anchovies and salt in wooden boxes for a while and then pressing the whole mixture into an, er, tasty concoction, bottling it, and selling it to under-informed and over-enthusiastic Americans.  (Fish Sauce)

For lunch, I have big plans to reconstitute the salt-fest by mixing it with a salt-free version of the dish and stirring.

Happy Wednesday from China!

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