I went downtown to the Asian market to buy herbs and other food. I found the best fresh food at the market including the most beautiful fresh galangal that I have ever seen. It was so fresh. Galangal is a rhizome of plants in the ginger family. It’s culinary uses originated in Indonesia. It is used in various Asian cuisines (Thai, Cambodian, Laotian, Vietnamese and throughout Indonesian cuisine). While it is related to ginger it does not taste similar, It is more like a combination of citrus, black pepper, cedar and ginger. I love this stuff and I have never seen such a gorgeous selection of galangal. It was very well priced too.
While I was shopping I ran into Melanie and she told me that there was a Songkran (Thai New Year) celebration happening in downtown San Jose, just 1 block from the market. It is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Year’s Day from April 13 – April 15. So after I finished my shopping I packed my car with my goodies and wandered over to the street party.
It was a beautiful sunny day with festivities and fun happening everyone. There were tents and booths over a two block stretch. There was also a beauty pageant taking place at a stage at the end of one of the streets. Another event that was taking place was a wrestling competition. Can’t say I expected that.
As I walked through the festival I noticed people walking around with what appeared to be powder on their faces. I asked someone about the significance of the powder on their faces. A lovely young woman responded that a big part of the celebration of Songkran is the throwing of water upon others. People roam the streets with containers of water or water guns. Also, many people have bowls of beige colored powder and they mix it with water. This paste is then smeared on the faces and bodies of random people as a blessing for the new year. That’s what I saw everywhere, faces smeared with powdery paste. After I asked, I thanked them and one of the guys squirted me with the water gun. I laughed and said spray me more as it is hot.
After I finished my exploration of the That New Year celebration I came home and decided to make a mussel dish to celebrate the new year at home. I had picked up the ingredients at the market earlier and thought how appropriate it would be to make Thai influenced green lipped mussels. What a coincidence, go to the market to buy food, find out it is Thai New Year and then I make Thai green lipped mussels. Serendipity for sure.
- 1 pound green lipped mussels (I used frozen green lippped mussels on the half shell as that is all I could find)
- 1/2 medium onion diced
- 3/4 cup white wine (I used Austrian Gewurztraminer, an old one that I lost in the cellar, I wanted the foral aromatics of the Gewurtz)
- 3 tsp fish sauce
- 14 oz can coconut cream
- 1 1/2″ knob of fresh galangal (mine was about 1 1/2″ diameter) cut into 1/4″ slices
- 1 stalk of lemongrass – smashed to open up the fibers and cut into 2 ” lengths
- 3 tsp green curry paste
- 15 leaves of Thai basil
- 1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro
- 1/2 tbl coconut oil
- Heat oil in a deep pot.
- Add onions and saute until softened
- Add curry paste and saute to extract the flavors
- Add white wine and continue to saute for a couple of minutes
- Add coconut cream, galangal, lemon grass, thai basil leaves, a handful of cilantro and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer for 30 minutes until thickened, reduced and until the flavors are incorporated.
- Add green lipped mussels and cook for 12-15 minutes or until done.
- Serve in a deep bowl with lots of liquid to soak up the juices, Garnish with fresh cilantro. I topped mine with a mint/cilantro/basil pesto as well.
It’s a gorgeous sunny April Sunday, threatening to hit 86 degrees, and I was picking through recipes and cookbooks as I often do on Sunday mornings. Somehow I tripped upon a celery soda water recipe on the Internet and from there I was on the search for flavored soda waters and how to make them. As I discovered many flavored soda waters start with a base of flavored simple syrup. I found many flavors of soda water from celery soda water to lavender soda water. I found something totally interesting and that was a recipe for Lavender Syrup (based on a recipe from The Girl and The Fig restaurant in Sonoma, CA). I thought that would be an interesting place to start.
And so I started playing with the recipe and went from there. On my monthly pilgrimage to Costco I found coconut sugar and bought a bag of it. I did want to change the lavender syrup recipe up as I didn’t want to use sugar but rather coconut sugar. I have been using coconut oil these days for frying my food and coconut milk and coconut cream when I make Thai food. So I thought coconut sugar must be healthy. I bought it sight unseen and did my research when I got home. Well coconut sugar is a powerhouse of nutrients too.
Coconut sugar is made from the sugar blossoms of the coconut tree. The one I bought is organic. Information I found online indicated that it is a natural sweetener and studies show promising results for people who suffer from conditions such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes. It has a low glycemic index: 35 which is 1/2 of the GI of white table sugar of 68. It is filled with lots of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Coconut sugar contains the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, phosphorus and boron. It contains 12 of the B vitamins and 16 of the 20 amino acids. It’s a health powerhouse.
The bud of the coconut tree flower is sliced to release the sap or coconut nectar. The sap is boiled into a thick caramel. It is dried into crystals. It looks and tastes similar to brown sugar.
So I thought coconut sugar for the white sugar in the recipe that I found online. I also reduced the amount of sugar in the syrup as I thought it was sweet enough (I reduced the water to sugar ratio to 2:1 instead of 1:1). Once I made the syrup I let it cool and bottled it so I could use it to make Lavender, Rose Water Soda Water. I added 1 tablespoon of the syrup to 3/4 cup of soda water and garnished it with a sprig of mint for a refreshingly delicious drink on a hot Sunday afternoon.
Ingredients for Lavender/Rose Water Syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1/8 cup dried lavender flowers
- 1/8 cup rose water
- Bring water and sugar to a boil
- Add lavender flowers and rose water and simmer 10 minutes
- Let cool and strain into a clean jar or bottle
Yield: 200 ml or 13.5 tbl
Calories: 205 = 13 calories/tablespoon
Veggielution Community Farm believes that everyone deserves to eat healthy, affordable food. Every day, they put fresh fruits and vegetables straight from their farm onto the plates of low-income families. They do this because unhealthy food is making their community sick.
Avant Garden harnesses San Jose’s creative talent to support Veggielution’s growing Community Farm. They are pushing the boundaries of food justice by redefining the relationship with the land, the food, and each other. Come experience a new way to think about food in the community, through the taste of the Spring harvest and captivating visual artistry.
- Sample farm fresh small plates prepared by talented local chefs
- Take home food and farm related art by local artists
- Browse a variety of crafts from local vendors
- Enjoy a craft brew
- Support access to healthy food and nutrition in our community
- General (408) 634-FARM (3276)
- Dig Crew (408) 6DI-G999
After my last misadventure of trying to make Sous Vide Chicken I thought I’d try again. Lessons learned from the last time…. Don’t overfill the bags, leave enough time to process the chicken… Other than that it is quite simple, it just takes time.
I found a recipe online for Thai BBQ chicken (it was a new one for me). I used it as a starting point. It was a good place to start as the recipe provided a base seasoning for the chicken and then instead of bbq’ing the chicken I cooked it using the sous method.
1. Heat the water to 62-64C in a large pot, fitted with a thermometer, that is large enough to hold the chicken.
2. Make the thai seasoning paste (recipe in the image below). I hand ground the paste with my mortar and pestle as I enjoy the process of hand grinding everything with a beautiful, classic piece of equipment. I truly believe the hand ground paste is far superior to a paste made in a food processor or similar piece of equipment.
3. Cut up the chicken into leg, thigh and breast portions. Reserve the backbone and innards for another use.
4. Pack the leg and thigh meat into one bag and the breast meat into another bag.
5. Split the paste between the two bags.
6. Seal and vacuum pack the bags with the FoodSaver.
7. Put chicken into the pot and continually check the chicken until it is done. You can tell how well it is doing because as it cooks the juices will be clear rather than red. It took about 5 hours to process the chicken. Yes it’s a long time but so worth it.
8. Remove the chicken from the bags and place on an ovenproof baking sheet.
9. Preheat the broiler in the oven.
10. Glaze the chicken pieces with a light coating of coconut milk
11. Broil for 4-5 minutes until chicken is nice and golden brown and skin is crisped up.
12. Remove and serve while nice and hot!
I adore winter squash and especially Blue Hubbard squash and Kuri squash. These two varieties of winter squash are really sweet. They keep for a long time (I keep mine in the basement) so when I want to rustle up a comforting soup I have one on hand. I wanted to have a super comforting soup on this particular day and opted to go for a Thai influenced squash soup made with Blue Hubbard Squash. Oh yes it had coconut cream in it, rich and decadent and brimming with flavor.
- 1 1/2 pounds of Blue Hubbard Squash – cut into pieces
- 1 large leek – 2 cups diced
- 1 medium onion – 1 cup diced
- red curry paste – 2 tbl
- fish sauce – 1 tbl
- Thai basil leaves – 10 leaves
- galangal – 1 1/2″ knob
- 5 kafir lime leaves
- chicken stock – 4 cups
- 1 can (14 ounce) coconut cream
- 2 tbl olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Roast Blue Hubbard squash for 1/2 hour or until softened and slightly caramelized
- Heat 1 tbl olive oil in soup pot. Add leeks and onions to pot and saute until softened.
- Add roasted squash and red curry paste and briefly saute until curry paste mixed through the vegetables.
- Add fish sauce, chicken stock, and spices to the pot and incorporate all ingredients.
- Simmer the soup for 1/2 hour until cooked through.
- Puree soup.
- Add coconut cream and mix through.
- Serve piping hot.
I chopped up batwan fruit as a garnish.
What is Batwan (Binucao) fruit? Batwan is a fruit of a forest tree native to the Philippines and is common and widely distributed throughout Luzon and the Visayan Islands. I bought it preserved in a jar (mine was reddish in color) but if fresh it is a large green fruit with large seeds. It is commonly used as a souring ingredient in Filipino cuisine. I thought, why not try it with Thai food as a garnish.
I also made a mint/cilantro/Thai basil pesto, as a garnish. Along with mint, cilantro and Thai basil I also used peanut cookies, sesame oil, garlic, fish sauce and olive oil. Quirky but unusual. Recipe to come later.
Garnish with large shrimp, mint/cilantro/basil pesto, Batwan fruit and peanut cookies. I know unusual combination instead but tasty.
I paired this decadent goodness with an old German Riesling from a favorite producer 1996 Grunhauser Abtsberg Riesling. Perfect amount of petrol and acid. Decadent goodness with decadent goodness.
My idea of heaven on earth is a day spent nourishing the entire body: body, mind and soul and I look back on my day yesterday and feel so nourished. Good food to pamper the spirit (for me food is very spiritual) and body, a day at the baths to pamper the spirit and body and a good book to pamper the mind.
And so it was, spring lunch at SPQR on Fillmore St. in San Francisco followed by an afternoon at Kabuki Springs in Japantown, the quintessential experience of body, mind and spirit.
SPQR is a San Francisco restaurant that takes its inspiration from Italian cuisine and wine. SPQR translates to “The People and Senate of Rome” and was the emblem of the Roman Empire. It received a Michelin star for 2013 and offers amazing service in a comfortable atmosphere. I had a truly wonderful lunch, the service was perfect, the wine list is very well chosen, offering a variety of 3 ounce pours so that one can have a small pour with each dish. Perfect.
Today I started with an asparagus panna cotta with hot smoked salmon, roe and seaweed served with a Terlan, ‘Vorberg’, Pinot Bianco Riserva, Alto Adige 2009. Stellar pairing. The beautiful freshness of spring.
I love that the courses are a reasonable size so one can enjoy more than one course. It took a long time to figure out what I wanted as everything looked amazing. I finally decided on the carrot salad: a sweet carrot and lentil salad, medjool date and vadouvan curry crema. What a salad, wow, flavor explosion. I had “orange wine” with it: a couple of small pours of “orange wine”: Monastero Suore Cistercensi, ‘Coenobium Rusticum’, Lazio 2010 and Elvio Cogno, ‘Anas-Cëtta’, Langhe Bianco, Piemonte 2011 Nascetta. Both were beautiful with the carrot salad. I love orange wine.
A meal would not be complete at an Italian restaurant without pasta and so I finished with a pasta course: buckwheat tagliatelle, cider and bacon braised suckling pork and rapini paired withI Favati, ‘Cretarossa’, Aglianico, Irpinia, Campania 2009.
An amazing 2 hour, 3 course lunch with lovely well chosen wines by the server. Perfect spring lunch.
Now fed I wandered over to Kabuki Springs & Spa for my afternoon of bliss.
Kabuki Springs & Spa is an urban oasis in San Francisco, a place of serenity and deep relaxation. I love it, it’s a magic place, I feel so nourished after an afternoon at Kabuki.
You are offered a robe and a key for your personal locker when you check in at the front desk. Fluffy towels are rolled and stacked inside the spa for use. No need to bring anything, all you need is offered. They offer communal baths in the tradition of Japanese public baths, Kabuki’s communal bath is designed to encourage harmony and deep relaxation. They have a hot bath, a cold bath, a wet steam room, dry steam room, showers, salt if you want to do a salt scrub, lounge chairs, beverages (cucumber water, lemon water and regular water). I love to go into the hot bath, then cool off in the cold bath and then go back into the hot bath. I’ll go into both steam rooms as well. Relaxing music is piped into the entire spa. Serenity abounds.
Along with the amazing baths, Kabuki offers a variety of spa services including massages, facials, body treatments and acupuncture. I love to spend a couple of hours in the baths and then have a massage as was the case yesterday, an amazing shiatsu massage. The best I’ve ever had, deep relaxing massage. Four hours later I emerged, a relaxed, revitalized person.
I’m on a quest to eat healthy and that often (at least for me) means that I may lose flavor or richness in my meals and dishes. So I’m looking for ways to maximize flavor while minimizing calories. I was watching Dr. Oz and he had a wonderful guest, Dr. Fuhrman on the show. While I don’t have Dr. Fuhrman’s recipe for Almond Balsamic recipe I decided to try to make one of my own based on his creation. Not sure how it compares, but I do know it is super yummy and only 18 calories a tablespoon. Rich and creamy and fabulous on fresh salad greens. I used my Vitamix as I wanted it super creamy. Thanks Dr. Furhman for the inspiration.
- 84 g almonds
- 3/4 cup orange balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 green garlic
- Pulverize almonds in dry container of Vitamix blender.
- Pour the almonds into wet container of Vitamix.
- Add vinegars, water and green garlic, salt to taste.
- Process on high speed until creamy texture achieved.
Yield: 2 3/4 cups 44 tablespoons
790 calories for the recipe
per tablespoon 18
The wonder plant, stinging nettles, the plant that is good for – almost everything that ails you; it provides a cure for arthritis, it’s an herbal treatment for allergies, relieves hair loss, treats Celiac disease, bleeding, bladder infections, skin complaints, neurological disorders and a long list of other condi tions.
It grows wild across the U.S and is highly nutritious. But beware, one must handle the leaves with care as they sting. The leaves and stem of a stinging nettle plant are lined with fine hairs (stingers), which give the plant its sting (and its name). Handle them with gloves! However, that is easily rectified, blanch the tender leaves for 30 seconds to 1 minute and the little stingers are rendered harmless.
- 2 pounds nettles
- 2 small onions (roughly 3-4 ounces) diced
- 2 leeks (white part only) diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 1/3 cup red rice
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbl olive oil
- 1/2 tbl salt
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 4 cups water
- Bring pot of water to a boil
- Add nettles to water
- Blanch briefly and then remove nettles from the water and chop
- Add olive oil to soup pot and heat up
- Add diced onions to pot – saute until softened
- Add leeks to pot and saute until softened
- Add celery to pot and saute briefly
- Add garlic to pot and stir through
- Add chopped nettles
- Add chicken stock and water
- Add rice, bay leaf and salt
- Cover and simmer until rice is cooked
- Turn off heat and allow the soup to cool down (about 1/2 hour)
- Puree the soup until it is seductively creamy
- Season to taste (add salt and pepper if needed)