Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

20th August
2010
written by Steph

Pineapple Chicken Curry

For those of us who love curries, the extensive range of premade jarred sauces and pastes makes cooking up flavorful, international dishes a breeze. When I first began cooking for myself in earnest about five years ago (note that this time coincides entirely with me moving to a different country from my mother, who I fully admit spoiled me with her cooking up until the age of 23…), I certainly relied extensively on these convenient sauces to provide my home cooked meals with authentic rich flavors that I craved but wasn’t confident or knowledgeable enough to achieve on my own. Lately, however, I’ve really been trying to up the ante when it comes to curries and the like, and have been branching out to include meals in my repartee that are done entirely from scratch. It may seem intimidating at first to mix and blend all the spices that Asian cooking is known for, but one of the benefits is that you get to tailor everything to your own palate. The more I experiment with blending spices from scratch, the more I find that it really is possible to achieve the flavors you know and love from your favorite Thai or Indian restaurant from the comfort (and relative frugality!) of your own home. The past week I was craving pineapple curry, and after searching high and low, I managed to find a recipe that did not simply call for one to use a store-bought paste or sauce as the curry base. Below is the version I slightly modified from that on Vazhayila. Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 1 lb chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 tbsp oil or ghee
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tbsp of lemongrass paste (can be found alongside most refrigerated herbs in your produce section)
  • 2 green chilies, chopped (remove seeds if you like less spicy food)
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp dried coriander
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • salt
  • 5 tbsp fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1.5 cups of fresh cubed pineapple + 1/8 cup of juice
(more…)
16th August
2010
written by Steph

Linguine alle Vongole

I’ve said it before on this blog, but I’ll say it again: yes, you can eat pasta during the hot and humid days of summer! I realize the thought of a thick, heavy dish doesn’t necessarily appeal when the weather is breaking 100º, but there are ways to lighten up your pasta dishes to make them appropriate and appealing. The big thing is cutting back on the sauce – rather than something heavy or creamy, summer is the time when I turn to “barely there” sauces that are more like a drizzle and explosion of fresh ingredients. Your tastebuds and your A/C will thank you!

This simple dish of linguine and clams will whisk you away to Italy (where I’m sure they eat pasta all year round, regardless of soaring temperatures), all from the comfort of your own home. For inspiration, I combined two recipes, one from Rasa Malaysia, and one from Mario Batalli, courtesy of Epicurious. Some of you may be a bit leery of cooking shellfish at home, but I assure you nothing could be simpler than this dish. Best of all, this dish only has about 15 minutes of active cook time, so you won’t spend your time slaving in front of a hot stove. Elegant and simple, this is summer dining at its best! Ingredients (for two)
  • 1.5 lbs of fresh littleneck clams, cleaned and scrubbed (see below for info on cleaning clams)
  • 8 oz linguine… use the best you can afford
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp of crush red pepper flakes (add more if you like your dishes spicier)
  • ½ cup white wine (we used Riesling, which I’m sure is a sin, but it worked for us… use whatever you like to drink)
  • 6 tbsp of parsley, finely chopped (+ 2 extra tbsp for garnish)
  • juice from ½ a lemon
  • salt to taste
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9th August
2010
written by Steph

Dijon Chicken with Bacony Peas

After a rather rambunctious weekend (comprised of late-night games of Scattergories and Moods accompanied by several gin and tonics), I had no desire to carry out our weekly grocery shopping yesterday. Choosing the path of sloth and Excedrin, I instead came up with a Sunday night dinner composed of things that we already had on hand and decided to leave the shopping for another, less hung over day. You know how it goes. Rather than feasting on tater tots smothered in canned chili with a side of carrot sticks and peanut butter, I actually managed to put together a well-balanced meal simply… and so can you! The glory of this meal is that it calls on things that you probably already have in your fridge and pantry, so it’s perfect for those days when you don’t have the time or inclination to shop for something special. Also, it comes together in a jiff and is also delicious. It’s so good no one would realize it was a meal inspired by desperation! 😉 (more…)
28th July
2010
written by Steph

steak tacos with a beet & apple slaw and blue cheese

Growing up, I was not a picky eater (still am not), and certainly wasn’t one of those kids who hated vegetables. My brother went through a phase where he hated carrots and hated peppers, but veggies never bothered me. That said, one vegetable I didn’t get much exposure to when young was the ruby red beet. I suspect my father doesn’t care for them and that’s why they never graced the dinner table, but I decided recently I was at a point in my life where I wanted to explore the less conventional vegetables in order to spruce up meals. After whipping up a beet & pear salad last week (with some kohlrabi tossed in just for kicks), I realized that raw beets are: a) really delicious, and b) actually quite sweet! I’d had pickled/jarred/canned varieties of beets before, and they are nowhere in the same league as fresh, raw beets.

With that in mind, I decided to use up our last beet in another slaw fashion, and suddenly this dish popped into mind. What could be better than steak tacos with beets & apple and some blue cheese? It sounded like a divine combination to me… and it was! Plus, it was a breeze to whip up! These will definitely be on the roster again soon… (more…)
15th May
2010
written by Steph

Spicy Mediterranean Pasta

This week has been ridiculously long, so I sent an email out yesterday afternoon to some friends suggesting a casual get together of cocktails and a light dinner. I thought it would be nice to catch up in a low-stress setting.  Now, the weather here in Nashville has been kind of wonky – chilly and brisk one day, only to be muggy and gross the next – and yesterday was definitely a case of the latter.  So I had to come up with a dinner that would be satisfying but not heavy and overly rich.  So, I came up with this spicy pasta dish, and it wound up being a huge hit.  As you can see from the pictures, it looks quite elegant and fancy schmancy if you plate it on a platter and serve it family style, but I promise it’s super simple.

Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 1 lb of skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • ground coriander seeds
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced (not minced)
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 small red peppers, seeded and sliced into matchsticks
  • 3 large tomatoes, peeled and roughly seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 16 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 16 oz can of artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • ½ tbsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 cup of vodka
  • zest and juice from ½ lemon
  • feta cheese
  • fresh basil
  • salt and pepper
  • spaghetti noodles (or other noodle of your choice)
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25th March
2010
written by Steph

Lamb kofta & vegetable stew

When Tony and I were in New York back in November we ate a lot of amazing food. Obviously.  But hands down, our favorite thing we ate was a lamb kofta from a halal street meat vendor.  It was a taste sensation, and I rue that we only ate there once AND that Tony would shove as much of it as possible into his gaping maw while pushing me into oncoming traffic to prevent me from doing the same.  I know the man loves me, but I am no match for that kofta.

Since then, I have been having intermittent cravings for that delicious dish, but who knows when we’ll have a chance to head back to New York.  So I set out to try and recreate it at home.  And as with so many attempts to replicate dishes, I came nowhere close to that now-almost-mythical kofta… but thanks to this recipe over at TasteFood I did make a pretty damn good dish anyway.  It doesn’t really taste anything like the thing we had in New York, but it’s tasty, filling, and healthy, so try it out! (more…)
9th March
2010
written by Steph

Chicken Tikka Masala (aka "Heaven on a plate")

If you’re anything like Tony and I, then you list Indian food as one of your favorite ethnic cuisines.  Coming from Toronto, I was used to a surfeit of wonderful and authentic Indian restaurants (I’ve heard tell from people from India that some of the best Indian food they’ve ever eaten they’ve had in T.O.!), so you can imagine my dismay when I moved to Nashville and found the Indian restaurants here less than inspiring.  The few places that existed tended to season every dish the exact same way (chicken korma should NOT taste the same as aloo gobi!), and often left me feeling bogged down yet oddly bereft once I was finished.  Sure there’s a great veggie Indian place just down the street, but we’re omnivores, and sometimes we crave meat.  Thankfully a WONDERFUL Indian place opened up across the street from our apartment about a year ago and Tony and I have never looked back.  Generally speaking Bombay Palace now takes care of all of our Indian needs, but there is something oddly rewarding about creating great Indian food in your own kitchen.  This recipe that I’ve adapted from over at the Pioneer Woman’s site will allow you to do just that!  Think Indian food is too hard to make at home?  Think again! (more…)
9th January
2010
written by Steph

The finished product

The finished product

I'm assuming that those of you who are smart enough to read this blog are also smart enough to assemble a pizza on your own (plus we've held your hand before), so this will be a bit of a departure from our normal recipe series in that I'm not going to walk you through the steps here one by one.  Instead, I'm going to tell you what toppings we put on this so-called "Supreme Pizza" and focus on one of the more important parts of this dish: the sauce.  You see, when it comes to pizza, I'm insanely picky - sure it's hard to screw up, but it's also hard to get REALLY good pizza - and more often than not I'm let down the sauce component.  Most pizzas are too saucy, or rely on sauces that are too thick and akin to tomato paste, both of which are sins that will have me turning up my nose.  My favorite kind of sauce is one that tastes like true tomatoes and that are light and liquid-y rather than goopy.  Turns out I'm in luck, because this type of sauce is actually really easy to make yourself (and will have you shunning all of that tinned/jarred sauce nonsense). (more…)
18th November
2009
written by Steph
ThaiPork

Thai Pork with Chiles & Basil and Coconut Rice

Here at Steph & Tony Investigate!  we’re pretty adventurous eaters and we just love trying global cuisines.  Of course, one of the tricky things about having a penchant for international food is that making it yourself is not always a winning proposition.  We love us some Vietnamese food, but that stuff takes ages to make on your own (though perhaps not now that we finally have a handy kitchen mandolin), and it never tastes quite like what we get at our favorite place (likely because we don’t have all the right spices).  Thai food is a little bit more successful for us, and while I don’t know exactly how authentic this recipe is, it definitely tasted really good!  For this dish, I followed yet another Martha Stewart recipe (can you tell that I’m obsessed?) to good results.  And even more shocking I pretty much followed the recipe as was to a T, with minimal changes on my part: (more…)
30th October
2009
written by Steph

This dish may not look all that pretty, but I promise it tastes good!

This dish may not look all that pretty, but I promise it tastes good!

When the weather starts getting cold, I start craving comfort food – generally one pot dishes that you can fling together and let the magic happen without doing all that much to them.  The funny thing is that most of the traditional comfort foods (like mac & cheese, meatloaf, or yes, tuna noodle casserole), I never got to eat growing up!  My mom made meatloaf maybe once or twice, but the only mac and cheese I ever got was Kraft Dinner.  It was good – don’t get me wrong – but it was straight out of a box.  Don’t go thinking my mom didn’t like to cook or anything like that.  Far from it.  My mom’s a wonderful cook, but those kinds of foods just aren’t on her radar.  Growing up in Trinidad, her idea of comfort foods are things like cookup, curries, and maybe even blood sausage (but we won’t talk about that last one, that’s for sure.).  So for me, casseroles and the like are still kind of a novelty dish, as they didn’t make up the bulk of my childhood eating. Now, I don’t consider myself to be a picky eater, but one thing I really don’t like is tuna from a can.  It just really grosses me out; just thinking about its flaky texture makes me want to lie down.  I don’t think Tony’s aversion is quite as strong as mine, but he’s no fan either (isn’t it nice when your food likes and dislikes so neatly coincide with your significant other’s?), so while I can get behind the general notion of the tuna noodle casserole, I had to swap out that first ingredient with chicken breast (in theory I could have probably used that canned chicken you can buy, but when possible, I choose to not use canned meats… 😉 ).  But other than that, I stuck pretty closely to this recipe, which allowed me to circumvent using a can of condensed soup.  Don’t worry if you choose to make things easier on yourself and use this one as your basis instead – I promise not to judge! (more…)
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