Posts tagged spicy

Chef Q&A: Thai Bistro’s Lada Sripinyo

Photo credit: Barron

Years ago when our family moved from New York to Michigan a friend told us we had to try the Thai Bistro in Canton. Italian food. Chinese food. Mexican food. Japanese food. I’d already learned that I liked to sample a variety of flavors. But I’d never had Thai fare, with its spicy-sweet sauces, rich curries and tender noodles. The first time we went to Thai Bistro, I ordered the drunken noodles. I was hooked.

The owner and chef of Thai Bistro, Lada Sripinyo moved from Thailand to the U.S. in 1968 and at the urging of a friend opened the restaurant in 1994. “I said, ‘Sure, why not?’” explains Sripinyo. The eatery quickly drew notice and a devoted following in the area. “We opened in February 1994 and by April we were very popular,” she recalls.

For a MKES first, the digital-shy Sripinyo passed along a handwritten recipe for her Thai BBQ ribs.

What three ingredients do you always keep stocked in your pantry?

Chile. Red chile, onion, garlic.

Your favorite meal to make or serve?

My favorite is ga poa guy because it’s a little spicy and it tastes really good. It’s very popular here at the restaurant.

We all have a favorite indulgence, for a foodie like you it must be something spectacular?

Dark chocolate. Not in ice cream. Either in a bar or a box, I just like dark chocolate.

What’s one of your worst cooking mistakes?

I don’t know. Maybe once when I made a stir-fry and I put too much salt in it and it was way too salty. I didn’t even let people try it. I tried it and then just threw it out.

There are so many great Michigan-made food products, what is your pick?

Potato chips.

What do you suggest for first-timers to Thai Bistro? What menu item should they make sure to try?

If they like noodles then the pad thai—it’s a little sweet and it’s very popular here. You can choose whether you want it mild or spicy. If you like something with rice than the ga poa guy is very good and spicy. It comes with chicken, Thai basil, red pepper. The eggplant stir-fry with shrimp is very good too.

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Thai Bistro’s: BBQ Ribs

Photo credit: Barron

Ingredients:
2 1/2 lb. baby back ribs
2 tsp. thin soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. oyster sauce
2 Tbsp. red wine
Pinch of black pepper
Chinese broccoli or spinach (side)

Directions:

  1. Clean ribs and cut into five or six pieces.
  2. Mix all ingredients well and marinate for 1-2 hours.
  3. Add 1/2 cup of water and mix well.
  4. Put ribs in a baking dish and bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes.
  5. Serve with stir-fried Chinese broccoli or spinach.
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No Need for Beef Bean Burgers

Bean burgers sounded like a bit of a stretch for me—I mean, how do you get them to stay together? And truth be told, I’m not a burger fan. (Shhhh! Don’t tell Mr. Squid, he makes great burgers, but for me it’s still always about getting great toppings that make a burger worth eating no matter if it’s ground sirloin or chuck.)

When I started looking through various black bean burger recipes I realized a couple of things—first that they were constructed a lot like meatballs with bread crumbs and an egg to hold them together and second that bean patties are common. Who knows, maybe falafels, those balls of ground, fried chickpeas often wrapped in a warm pita, were the inspiration for black bean burgers.

Here’s what I didn’t like about the recipes I came across—why no ‘bean fushion’? I like black beans but what about adding in a few red beans or pinto? The flavoring in black bean burgers seemed fairly expected too, garlic and onions, onions and garlic, sometimes sautéed and sometimes added raw. I figure if you’re already using beans for your burger you should make it a southwest burger with enough spice and heat to distinguish it from it’s beefy cousin.

No problem getting the kids to eat bean burgers!

So instead of bread crumbs as I binder, I used ground up tortilla chips and I didn’t even bother with onions and garlic, I spiced it as I might a burger with onion powder, garlic powder and then chili powder. I also tossed in a little mayo to hold it together; to brighten the flavor even more I added plenty of fresh chopped cilantro. As for the beans, I decided on a black-pinto combo.

The results? I really wasn’t expecting to like the bean burgers much (I mean, it is still a burger). But the crisped patties melded together with the vivid flavors of beans, cilantro, southwest spices and corn won me over. My kids too. My husband even had seconds, and said—I kid you not—“I like these better than regular burgers.”

Have you tried bean burgers?

Recipe
Servings: 8, 3-inch burgers
Prep + Cooking time: About an hour


Ingredients
1 15.5 oz can black beans (drained)
2 15.5 oz cans pinto beans (drained; you’ll only use half of the second can)
1 cup corn chips, ground (measured after grinding)
1 egg
2 tablespoons mayo
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste
Slices of cheese, optional
Oil


Directions

  1. In a food processor, grind the corn chips and then set aside in a large bowl.
  2. Drain all of the beans. Process 1 can of pinto beans until smooth. Add to the corn chips in the separate bowl.
  3. Again, in the food processor, pulse the remaining pinto beans (remember half of the can; the rest you can save for another recipe) and half of the black beans until chunky but NOT pureed. Two or three pulses should do it.
  4. Add the chunky pinto and black bean mixture to the corn and pureed bean mixture. Add the remaining ingredients (except the rest of the black beans) and stir.
  5. Add in the whole black beans to the rest of the bean mixture and stir gently. The mixture will be loose.
  6. On a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, form three inch in diameter, one-inch thick patties. Place on the baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  7. In a large skillet bring three tablespoons of oil to medium-high heat. Gently add the firmed patties to the oil and sauté on one side for about 4 minutes and then flip over gently and sauté the next side for 4 minutes or until crisped. You should be able to fit four patties into the pan at a time.
  8. Replace the parchment on the baking sheet and put the sautéed patties onto the sheet. Add a slice of cheese to the top (I used Monterrey Jack, but you can use whatever your family prefers). Melt the cheese in an oven preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 7 to 10 minutes while you prep the rest of the burger ingredients.
  9. Serve the burgers on bun with lettuce, tomato, and onion. I also added a chipotle mayo to the bun top for some extra heat.
  10. Enjoy!
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Blueberry Salsa–It’s tastier than you think!

Yes, you read that right, blueberry salsa. I know, I thought it would be a bad combo too. I mean blueberries are naturals in muffins, pancakes, cheesecakes, but a spicy, savory mix of cilantro, lime, tomatoes, chiles, and…blueberries? Before you dismiss this salsa as gimmicky (like I almost did) hear me out.

First, it’s nearly the end of blueberry season—meaning your family is probably getting a little bored of blueberries in muffins, even if you do top it with streusel. Second, why not do a little Midwest-Mexican fusion? And last, but most important, they really do taste good in salsa.

With its sour, spicy flavors, salsa literally begs for a pop of sweetness—enter the blueberry. Mixing a few blueberries into your standard salsa recipe not only gives it that ‘wow’ factor, it also gives salsa a burst of tart flavor. Now, blueberries won’t work in any salsa recipe. I recommend it for a pico de gallo, which is a simple, but satisfying mix that you can throw together a few minutes before serving your meal. Although, you could easily serve this salsa as an appetizer (blue corn chips are fun with this), pairing it with grilled pork, chicken or even a light fish like tilapia makes for a meal (just don’t go topping your t-bone, blueberries and beef are still a no-no).

If you’re ready for something different for dinner tonight, pick up some blueberries and fresh chiles

.

Recipe

Serves: 4 to 6

Prep time: 15 minutes

5 medium-sized tomatoes (I prefer Romas)

1 red or yellow pepper

1 small-sized red onion

1 sprig cilantro

1 lime

1-2 Serrano chiles

½ cup blueberries (or more)

Salt and pepper to taste

Chop the tomatoes, pepper and onion into small pieces and place in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Cut the Serrano chile in half lengthwise; remove the stem and the seeds. Note: I used Serrano chiles instead of the usual jalapeno peppers. Jalapenos are okay, but I prefer the slightly sweeter kick of Serrano chiles. Both are readily available at most grocers. Serrano chiles tend to be smaller than jalapenos. Cut the chiles fine and add them to the tomato mix.

Cut the lime in half and squeeze half of the juice into the bowl. Stir. Mince 3 to 4 tablespoons of cilantro leaves on a cutting board and then add them to the mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the flavor using the lime juice, salt and cilantro (you may even want to up the heat by adding another Serrano chile). Finally, stir in the blueberries being careful not to break the skin. Serve.

Remember to check in Tuesday for MKES’s next giveaway!

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Kids Eating Curry–Tortilla, anyone?

Photo credit: Thai Jasmine

So just how do you get kids to eat spicy, coconuty Thai curry–especially if it’s green? I wondered the same thing. I’ve discovered a few helps since I’ve been trying to get my kids as hooked on Thai food as I am.

I made a red, spicy curry the first time I served Thai food to my kids at home a few years ago. They’d loved trying out curries at restaurants (especially if we polished off the meal with coconut ice cream), but when I prepared it at home…it was a total flop. I served the dish–gobs of curry and a mound of rice floating on top–just as we’d had it at restaurants. Even my oldest, who’s willing to try just about anything wouldn’t go past a couple bites. Yikes!

I didn’t try making curry very often after that. I just didn’t want my kids getting into their heads that they didn’t like ‘curry.’ Recently, we went to a Malaysian restaurant that served both Japanese sushi (a favorite of theirs) and Malaysian curries. The server brought out a traditional Malaysian bread, roti canai, to serve with the meal.

The roki that inspired our tortilla improvisation!

A friend of ours, who’s from Malaysia, showed us that the meal would be eaten by dipping the bread into the curry. Voila! All of a sudden I was surrounded by three curry eaters. But we were still at a restaurant and I knew at home my kids might not give it a try (plus, I had no idea how to make that tasty bread–it was a cross between naan and pita bread–but crispier than both on the outside).

If you’ve been following my blog, you know my family loves Mexican food. Since the Malaysian bread seemed in the same category as flour tortillas I had a thought–pair something I know my kids already like–tortillas–with something they’re learning to like–curry. Here’s how I served it this time: I put the green curry (thank you Savory Spice) into small serving bowls (4-ounce ramekins) on a large plate with a pile of rice and a stack of flour tortillas in the center of the table. It helps if you have really good tortillas–I buy the uncooked variety in bulk from Costco. They taste entirely different from the somewhat stale, bland variety available at most grocery stores; they’re chewy and soft with a hint of crispness if you cook them just so.

My kids tore off pieces of tortilla to dip into the curry just as they’d done in the Malaysian restaurant. While no one asked for seconds (except my husband), everyone ate their entire serving of curry–no complaints. Anyone else raising a curry eater?

Also, don’t forget tomorrow is the last day to enter the $50 Bison Sampler Giveaway. I’ll be announcing the winner Friday morning.

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Authentic Red Chile Enchiladas

Enchiladas. One of my favorite foods in the world has to be these spicy, rich chile-infused little wonders. Not an enchilada fan? I can’t say I’m surprised. Unless you’ve sampled an enchilada dish from an authentic Mexican restaurant, then you likely either ended up with a canned sauce covering the warmed tortillas or worse someone passed along their grandmother’s recipe for baked enchiladas that have been coated in cream of chicken soup. Yikes! Now, there’s nothing wrong with cream of chicken soup but it has no business in an enchilada. You can go ahead and call that a glorified tortilla casserole, but don’t confuse it with true Mexican enchiladas.

Real enchiladas take time and some unfamiliar ingredients to make at home, but they’re not hard—we’re not talking soufflés or anything here!

Here’s the lowdown on making a good enchilada sauce—it’s all about the chiles. I should take a step back here and point out there’s several different kinds of enchilada sauces, from the dark, complex mole to the green tomatillo based varieties. But today, I’m giving you the lowdown on the red chile sauce. The base for the sauce is dried chiles. You can find these in bags at a Mexican grocer or sometimes in the Mexican section of your local store. I know it may be a pain tracking down the chiles—but it’s worth it! The chiles then require some prep work. You need to roast, boil then blend the chile skins to make the spicy enchilada sauce. I often do large batches of sauce and freeze the extras in Ziploc baggies so they’re easy to pop out and use when I get a hankering for something spicy.

After you’ve perfected your sauce (and I promise, I’ll do other versions in the future), you’re ready to assemble your enchiladas. Most recipes call for baking the enchiladas in the oven. There’s no need. In Mexico, the corn tortillas are flash fried and then dipped into the sauce then reheated on the plate. You can do the same at home. If you’re not keen on frying, you can toast the corn tortillas, but they’ll be soggier (the oil keeps the tortillas from becoming saturated in sauce).

If you review the recipe and it sounds a little overwhelming, here are a couple suggestions: Go ahead and buy canned enchilada sauce at the grocery store. El Pato is the best alternative to homemade. Or, head to a decent Mexican restaurant and order a dish of red chile enchiladas. Maybe after downing a plate of savory, spicy enchiladas, you’ll want to make your own at home.

Ready for some spice?

Enchiladas

As with most sauce recipes, this one is pretty forgiving. If you want to toss in a little bit more of one ingredient—go ahead. And if you run out of something, no worries (well, except the chiles). I’ve noted the optional ingredients throughout.

Red Chili Sauce Ingredients:

10 dried ancho chiles (or you can use a combination of chiles)

2 garlic cloves, minced (or ¼ to ½ tablespoon garlic powder)

1 1/2 cup chicken broth (or water)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cumin

3 tomatoes (or one 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained)

¼ cup chopped onion

Optional: one fresh Serrano chili (seeded and diced—add 1 or 2 if you want the sauce HOT); ¼ cup minced cilantro

Other ingredients:

18 corn tortillas

1 rotisserie chicken, shredded

2 cups mozzarella or Monterrey Jack cheese

sour cream

Oil for frying

Directions:

(1)Prep the dried chiles. On a medium-high heat skillet, toast the chiles until the skins start to look softer and slightly cooked (around 4 minutes, rotating the chile as it heats). Immediately place the chiles into a large bowl of hot water. Prepare the other sauce ingredients while the chiles soften.

(2)In a blender, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt, chicken broth, cumin, and optional ingredients.

(3)Remove the chiles from the water. Carefully cut around the tops of the chiles and remove as much of the seeds as possible. Add the chile skins to the other blended ingredients. Blend again. (The sauce should be slightly thick and smooth, not chunky. You may need to add more water or chicken broth.)

(4)At this point, you can either cook the enchilada sauce in a crockpot or you can cook it on the stovetop. I often triple this recipe and then put it in the crockpot to cook the sauce then once it’s cooled I store small Ziploc baggies of the sauce in the freezer for months of use.

(5)To prepare the sauce for immediate use, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the bottom of a heavy saucepan. Bring the oil to medium-high heat and then add the sauce. WARNING: The sauce may splatter and it stains—so wear your apron!

(6)Simmer the sauce for about 30 minutes before preparing the rest of the meal.

(7)Enchilada assembly! In a small saucepan, bring about 1 cup vegetable oil to medium high heat (a piece of bread should immediately begin to sizzle and rise to the top when you place it in the oil). As an alternative to frying, you can toast the tortillas on a hot cooking surface and then keep them warm by covering them with a kitchen towel.

(8)Assemble your enchilada making station: Have 2 bowls ready—1 with shredded chicken and the other with shredded cheese. Have 1 “messy plate” where you’ll assemble the enchiladas and then drag them onto the serving plates.

(9)Get your long-handled tongs ready! Place 1 tortilla into the hot oil. Let the tortilla cook just until it starts to barely harden. Immediately submerge the hot tortilla into the red sauce then back onto your messy plate. Put about 1 ½ tablespoons chicken and 1 tablespoon cheese into each tortilla. I prepare one person’s serving of enchiladas at a time. In other words, I’ll prepare 1, 2, then 3 tortillas together on my messy plate, then gently push them onto a serving plate. Three enchiladas make for 1 adult serving; kids usually eat 2.

(10)Once all the serving plates are assembled. Reheat each individual dish for about 45 seconds in the microwave. Top with an extra scoop of sauce, cheese and then sour cream. The make the enchiladas look extra special, I scoop the sour cream into a Ziploc bag, then cut a small hole in one corner. Then I top the enchiladas with swirls of sour cream. Yummy!

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