Lemongrass Curry Chicken

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 {Sorry! iPhone shot!}

I was quite surprised when I started researching for lemongrass chicken recipes to try. I don’t recall my Mama ever adding curry to her lemongrass chicken. Nonetheless, this recipe I used turned out to be quite delicious, especially once I added all the fresh veggies and herbs to this dish. 🙂

CHICKEN INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 lbs. organic chicken breast/thigh ~ cut into 1-1.5 inch pieces*
  • 3 tbs organic cooking oil
  • 3 tbs filtered water
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 1 tb curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tbs plus 1.5 teaspoons evaporated cane sugar
  • 3 fresh lemongrass stalks (tender inner white bulbs only) ~ minced**
  • 6 garlic cloves ~ minced**
  • 3 chilies ~ minced**
  • 2 large shallots ~ thinly sliced

NOODLES & VEGGIES:

  • 1 small package thin vermicelli “sticks” ~ follow cooking instructions on package
  • 2 sprigs scallions (optional) ~ thinly sliced, diagonally
  • organic carrots ~ julienned
  • purple cabbage ~ thinly sliced
  • basil leaves ~ coarsely chopped
  • mint leaves ~ coarsely chopped
  • cilantro leaves ~ coarsely chopped

PREPARATION:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the fish sauce, garlic, curry powder, sea salt, and 1.5 teaspoons of the evaporated cane sugar. Add the chicken meat to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to marinate.
  2. When you are ready to cook, in a small skillet, mix the remaining 2 tb of sugar with 1 tb of the water and cook over high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Cook without stirring until a deep amber caramel forms. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of water. Transfer to a small bowl.
  3. In a large stainless steel skillet (preferably a wok if you own one), heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the lemongrass, shallot, and chilies and sauté until fragrant.
  4. Add the chicken and caramel. Sauté  until the chicken is fully cooked and the sauce is slightly thickened.
  5. Serve on a bed of vermicelli noodles, topped with fresh colorful veggies. Voila! 🙂

NOTES:
*You can certainly make this a vegetarian meal by replacing the chicken with tofu or some other vegetarian protein. I have also made a tofu version with this recipe and it turned out amazing. In fact, even some my carnivorous dinner guests were amazed!
**You can save yourself time by purchasing pre-minced lemongrass. I’ve been able to find this at the Asian markets. You can get just lemongrass, or you can get a lemongrass-garlic-chili blend. I prefer the latter. Even better is making your own and just freezing it until you need it.

Lychee-Infused Wine

luluesque.wordpress-lychee wine-2{Sorry! iPhone shot!}

I keep hearing all this rage about lychee martinis, but I understand they’re made with vodka. I decided to make my own “girly concoction” because 1) I LOVE lychee (along with rambutan and longans) and 2) I really like sweet, white wine – so why not marry the two?

Lychee (pronounced “lit-chee” or “lee-chee”) trees are tropical evergreens that originated from southern China, Malaysia, and Vietnam. They belong in the botanical family Sapindaceae, also known as ”soapberry.” Fruits from this family include maple, horse chestnut, guarana, ackee, longan, rambutan, and lychee. The fruit grows in clusters, much like grapes. It has an interesting snake skin texture, that when the skin is peeled away, reveals an opaque white flesh that is heavenly sweet and succulent, kind of like a peeled grape! Inside each fruit is a single dark brown seed.

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{Sorry! iPhone shot!}

Selecting the Wine or Champagne.

You will want a wine that is not too light nor too bold. You want the lychee infusion to be the focus, thus anything too fruity, leaning in any one direction, may overpower the delicate notes. You may also consider selecting a wine that is not too sweet as you will be using some of the canned juice. Wines such as Moscato, Riesling, or Gewürztraminer, all have very high sugar content. If you decide to choose these wines, just know that you and/or your guest will be consuming “hummingbird syrup!” But to each their own. Interesting enough, Gewürztraminer has strong notes of lychee, so you may just want to try that!

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. Strain the lychee fruit and keep the juice in a separate container/bottle. Put all the lychee fruit in your pitcher.
  2. Pour the lychee juice into your silicone ice trays. Place them in your freezer for about 1 hour, or until frozen.
  3. Pour the chardonnay into your pitcher.
  4. Refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours.
  5. Scoop a few lychees into your wine glass, add one lychee ice-cube into the glass and serve chilled.
  6. Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint or basil. Voila! Enjoy!

For other lychee-inspired recipes, check out NPR’s “Cracking the Lychee Nut” article.

Curried Carrots

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What bunny doesn’t like some delicious carrots and a wee bit of creative spices in her bunny food?

This simple side dish isn’t your average boil-the-vegetable-to-death-’til-its-void-of-all-signs-of-life dish. Though I have to warn you that it’s going to be a bit spicy if your palate is only used to tamed foods. BTW, I apologize that the photo is not my standard “semi-professional” photo, but this Instagram shot works!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. organic carrots ~ washed and cut into med-large chunks 
  • 1 tablespoon Garam Masala curry spice
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons organic butter
  • 1-2 teaspoons local honey
  • filtered water

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place carrots in a stainless steel pot and put just enough filtered water to cover the carrots.
  2. Bring it to a rolling boil for about 5 minutes, then turn off the stove. Let the carrots cook, covered, for about 10 minutes. (Note: This results in al dente carrots. If you prefer softer carrots, double the cooking time.)
  3. Lightly drain the carrots and place them in a nice bowl. Some of the remaining liquid adds moisture to the dish.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients while the carrots are still steaming hot.
  5. Sprinkle some paprika just before serving. VOILA!

Pillowy Vegetarian Potstickers

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Potstickers are a delicious appetizer/meal, no matter what you call them: “gyoza” in Japanese, “banh cheo” in Vietnamese, and “jiazo” in Chinese. They are surprisingly easy to make. However, the process is a labor of love, comparable to that of making tamales, spring rolls, or sushi — all well worth it, though!

I have made steamed potstickers once before, many moons ago, but never the pan-fried version. I researched various recipes and stumbled upon Herbivoracious’ recipe and was on the verge of using Chef Natkin’s wonderful recipe, but decided to be adventurous. I cobbled together my own version. This is a huge recipe because I plan to freeze many of these for future meals. I hope you enjoy! 🙂

POTSTICKER INGREDIENTS: makes 100 potstickers

  • 2 packages dumpling/wonton wrappers ~ round or square is up to you
  • 1 package organic firm tofu ~ pressed to remove liquid, crumbled
  • 1/4 head cabbage ~ minced
  • 2 med-large organic carrots ~ minced
  • 4-5 large cremini mushrooms ~ cleaned, minced
  • 1 bunch (about 6 sprigs) scallions ~ ends removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch cilantro ~ long stems removed, chopped
  • 1-2 inches fresh ginger root ~ cleaned with veggie brush, minced
  • 1 bulb garlic ~ peeled, minced
  • garlic-sea salt ~ to taste
  • Asian spices that you like (I used Ty Ling Five spices)
  • High-heat oil (sunflower and grape seed oils are my choices)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Combine all the minced vegetables and tofu in a large mixing bowl. Add your Asian spices of choice and sea salt to taste.
  2. Unless you are skilled, take out one (1) wrapper at a time and wet all edges with some filtered water.
  3. Scoop a heaping teaspoonful of the filling into the center of the wrapper.
  4. Fold over the wrapper and press the edges firmly together. To crimp the edges together, I use the “fork & pie crust” technique.
  5. In a large stainless steel pan, heat the oil. Lay all the stickers flat side down. Be sure the edges do not touch.
  6. Fry all stickers until they are golden brown. You can flip them if you’d like.
  7. Pour a little bit of water into the pan (this will spatter so be extra careful!) and immediately cover the pan with a lid. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the water is absorbed by the potstickers.
  8. Serve hot with the sauce below. ENJOY!! 🙂

DIPPING SAUCE:

Simmer all ingredients, except scallions and lemon, in a small stainless steel saucepan for about 3 minutes. Set aside and let it cool. Add the scallions and lemon juice right before serving.

  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 1/4 cup filtered water
  • 7 tbs rice vinegar
  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • 2 sprigs scallions
  • 1 tb organic evaporated cane sugar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • sriracha ~ optional

Carrot-Ginger Salad Dressing

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This is a delightful salad dressing that will add some zing to your salads (and your life!). The carrots provide beta carotene, fiber, and antioxidants, while fresh ginger root aids in your digestion. Amazing why we don’t just drink this every day after a hearty meal! 🙂

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 medium organic carrots ~ thoroughly washed with a veggie brush, leave the skin on
  • 1 piece (2-inches) fresh ginger root ~ thoroughly washed with a veggie brush, leave the skin on
  • 1 medium purple shallot ~ peeled, minced
  • 5 cloves garlic ~ peeled
  • 1/2 bunch organic parsley ~ washed, stems removed (I prefer curly, but flat-leaf will work!)
  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup filtered water
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs toasted sesame oil
  • sea salt ~ dash
  • 4 tsp red miso paste ~ optional

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Put all the ingredients in a large blender and whirl away. I like my dressing a bit on the coarse side.
  2. Serve with your salads or use it as a spring roll dipping sauce.

Udon-Shiitake Sensation

luluesque-vegetarian udon-shiitake soup

I am beyond the moon at how this turned out, given it’s my first time to tackle a Japanese udon soup. I looked at several recipes for inspiration and pulled out the ingredients I liked from them to “Frankenstein” my concoction. 🙂 I wanted a veggie-based broth and had three bouillon cubes left. I know that most vegetarian broths always have carrots, celery, onions, and garlic as the base, so I decided to add some “oomph” by making my own broth, in addition to the remaining bouillon.

Put on your apron — here we go!

INGREDIENTS:

*makes about 4-6 servings

  • 12 cups filtered water
  • 2 lbs pre-cooked Japanese (or Korean) udon noodles
  • 1 small bag snow peas (optional) ~ washed, tips removed
  • 1 bunch Chinese broccoli (optional) ~ ends removed, washed, leaves separated from stems/stalks, stalks sliced diagonally
  • 3 large stalks organic celery ~ ends removed, washed, cut into large chunks
  • 3 medium organic carrots ~ tops removed, washed, cut into large chunks
  • 1 large bulb garlic ~ peeled, smashed
  • 1 medium purple onion ~ end removed, peeled, washed, cut into 1/4
  • 1 small root ginger ~ as fresh as possible; washed w/ a veggie brush; 1/2 thinly sliced, the other 1/2 minced
  • 8 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms ~ rinsed, caps and stems sliced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro ~ washed thoroughly, reserve only leaves
  • 3 sprigs scallions ~ ends removed, washed, sliced thinly diagonally
  • Walnut Oil
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 cubes Rapunzel vegan vegetable bouillon (purchased from Sprouts)
  • sea salt ~ to taste
  • organic evaporated cane sugar ~ to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large stainless steel stockpot, heat the oil and sauté the garlic until aromatic. Add the carrots, celery, mushrooms, sliced ginger, onion, and broccoli stems. Stir the veggies until browned. If anything sticks, add a bit more oil.
  2. Add water, minced ginger, salt, sugar, and bouillon. Simmer for 20 minutes, covered.
  3. In a separate small-medium stainless steel pot, bring some water to a boil and soften the udon noodles. Once soften and separated, drain the noodles and set aside.
  4. After 20 minutes of simmering, turn off the burner to the soup and set the soup on a cool burner. (Note: You can strain the broth and discard the veggies or keep the veggies. I keep mine as they add a nice “stewed veggies” touch to the soup.)
  5. Add the rice vinegar.
  6. In your bowl, arrange the broccoli leaves and snow peas, then add the udon.
  7. Finally, scoop 2-3 ladles of hot broth (& cooked veggies) into your bowl. This cooks the snow peas and broccoli leaves al dente style.
  8. Garnish with cilantro and scallions. VOILA! 🙂

Fancy Schmancy Ramen

luluesque-fancy schmancy ramenThis dish is super simple and has a sappy soft spot on my heart. On one hand, it brings back memories of my poor (OK, so I still am a poor, starving artista) college days when I consumed a lot of ramen noodles — but which one of us didn’t, right? On the other hand, it reminds me of my sweet Mother who always managed to make the precious $1 stretch by sprucing up ramen with vegetables from the garden. I still love ramen noodles to this day, especially the Japanese variety.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 bag of Japanese “Nong Shim Gourmet Spicy” ramen noodles ~ broken into 4 chunks (reserve seasoning packet for some other use)
  • 1/4 bunch of chive flowers ~ washed, ends removed, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 bag of beech mushrooms ~ ends removed, mushrooms separated into small pieces
  • 5 large cloves garlic ~ peeled, smashed
  • 1 small yellow onion ~ washed, peeled, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup fresh Thai basil ~ washed, only leaves reserved
  • organic extra virgin olive oil
  • filtered water
  • soy sauce
  • chili sauce ~ optional

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium-high and lightly brown the garlic. Add the onions, chives, and mushrooms; sauté until brown.
  2. Remove all the veggies and place in a large serving bowl.
  3. In the same skillet you were using, add just enough water for the noodles to simmer and soften. Let the noodles simmer on medium-high until the water evaporates and the noodles are cooked. Add more water if necessary.
  4. Once the noodles are cooked (they should be dry, not soggy), add them to the bowl of veggies.
  5. Sprinkle some soy sauce and chili sauce and toss until evenly coated.
  6. Lightly toss in the basil while the noodles & veggies are still hot so that the basil wilts ever so slightly. Voila!

NOTE: You don’t have to use this type of ramen noodles. It’s just my favorite.

Hijiki Seaweed Salad

luluesque-hijiki saladHijiki (Hizikia Fusiforme) is a dark brown sea vegetable that comes packaged in dry form. Once reconstituted, they expand to nearly five times their size. It is packed with calcium, iron, magnesium and roughly 40% fiber. Though originating from the sea, this vegetable has a very well-rounded, earthy flavor.

NOTE: In 2001 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued a fact sheet stating this sea vegetable to contain inorganic arsenic levels that exceed tolerable daily intake values. Obviously, consume everything in moderation!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-3 tbs grapeseed oil
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs toasted sesame oil (the difference is this is brown as the “regular” oil is clear and is mostly used for cooking with higher heat)
  • 1 tsp evaporated cane sugar
  • 1 tbs quinoa ~ soaked in filtered water for about 4 hours then drain and discard the water
  • 1/4 cup dried organic hijiki seaweed ~ soaked in filtered water for at least 2 hours then rinsed well, drained, and water discarded
  • 3-4 dried shiitake mushrooms ~ soaked in filtered water for about 30 minutes then rinsed well, drained, and water discarded
  • 1 small yellow onion ~ peeled, washed, and diced
  • 1 medium organic carrot ~ washed and grated or julienned
  • 1 small organic beet ~ washed and cut into medium strips
  • 1 small organic cucumber ~ washed and cut into small strips
  • Sriracha hot sauce ~ optional
  • chopped organic green onions ~ optional garnish
  • toasted white sesame seeds ~ optional garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a skillet, heat the grapeseed oil on medium-high and sauté the onions until they are the aromatic brown you like. *Add the shiitakes and hijiki and sauté for about 2 minutes.
  2. Make a mixture of the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and sriracha. Add it to the skillet.
  3. Let this simmer on low-medium for about 5 minutes with the lid on. 4
  4. Add carrots and beets and cook only long enough to achieve an al dente texture. 5
  5. Remove the skillet from the burner.
  6. Just before you serve this dish, mix in the cucumber and quinoa (this is done last so the cucumbers remain fresh and crunchy and the quinoa “alive.” 7
  7. Garnish your serving with chopped scallions and sesame seeds.

Szechuan Eggplant

This was super fun to make as it was my 1st time to tackle a “saucy” Chinese dish. I looked at 8 different recipes and finally settled on Food Network’s Szechuan Eggplant, but as always, tailored to my taste buds. I served this with coconut brown rice and steamed choy sum.

INGREDIENTS:

*use organic when possible

  • 5 Asian eggplants, about 2 lbs ~ washed, stem removed, cut into large chunks
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil (I skipped this)
  • 1 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 green onions, white and green parts ~ washed and thinly sliced diagonally
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (I forgot it!)
  • 3 garlic cloves ~ minced (I used a handful!)
  • 1 fresh red chile, sliced (I skipped this because my guests were not “hot-blooded”)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (I used veggie broth)
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch (I used kuzu root instead)
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
  • Thai holy basil and fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

INGREDIENTS I ADDED:

  • 1-2 large organic carrots ~ washed, thinly sliced
  • 1 large organic yellow onion ~ peeled, washed, cut into thick strips
  • 1 pack  bunashimeji mushrooms ~ rinsed, ends removed, & separated into pieces

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high flame and add the oils; tilt the pan to coat all sides. When you see a slight smoke, add a layer of eggplant, stir-fry until seared and sticky, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the eggplant to a side platter and cook the mushrooms and remaining eggplant in same manner, adding more oil, if needed.
  2. After all the eggplant is out of the pan, add the yellow onion, carrots, green onions, ginger, garlic, and chile; stir-fry for a minute until fragrant. Add the broth. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and cornstarch until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Pour the soy sauce mixture into the wok and cook another minute, until the sauce has thickened. Put the eggplant back in the pan, tossing quickly, until the sauce is absorbed. Garnish with sesame seeds, Thai basil, and cilantro and serve.