Archive for the ‘Slim Pickins’’ Category

Thai Fourth of July

July 7, 2008

One of the (many) awesome things about a long weekend is having the
extra time to try recipes you might normally avoid. Thai food is way
beyond my comfort zone, with its hard-to-find ingredients, exotic
flavours that require a delicate hand, and the simple fact that my Thai
cooking never tastes as good as the stuff I order from my favourite
take-out place. This weekend seemed like a nice time push my culinary
boundaries.

A recent meal of coconut poached chicken (divine!) at Toronto’s Red
Tea Box
inspired me to duplicate the dish at home. I wish I could say I
came through with flying colours. Alas, the chicken turned out tough
and stringy, and it lacked the succulent coconuttyness I had hoped for.
I plan to try again (maybe marinate in the coconut milk next time) and
report when there’s something worth reporting.

My kitchen adventures were not in vain, as I discovered a magical
salad to pair with the chicken. May I present to you…Thai-Style Coleslaw!

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Okay, so there’s nothing revolutionary about a dish like this; it’s
basically shredded cabbage in an Asian-inspired vinaigrette. And it’s probably not even actual Thai food. But I
love that I had all the ingredients easily at hand, and the resulting
deliciousness was way out of proportion to the effort required in
preparation. Plus it made great leftovers!

The original recipe comes from Rachel Ray via ‘katie in the UP’ on Recipezaar,
but I tweaked it a little to suit my taste. I cut back on
the amount of vegetable oil in the dressing to make it lighter—both
in taste and in calories!—but I
increased the sesame oil for depth of flavour. I also eliminated the
cucumber ’cause I hate how that vegetable gets soggy when you soak it
in dressing. If I didn’t have a wedding/white dress photo-ops in my
near future, I probably would have added the toasted sesame seeds or
slivered almonds to nice effect.

Serve this as a refreshing counterpoint
to a hot protein dish like chicken or tofu stirfry, or make it a main
course by throwing in some leftover BBQ chicken, steak, etc.

THAI-STYLE COLESLAW (with apologies to authentic Thai food)

Ingredients

  • 1 small shredded green cabbage, about 4 c. (I used prebagged coleslaw mix. Shameless!)
  • 1 small red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced 
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 20 leaves fresh basil, shredded

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • generous fresh-ground pepper, to taste

Whisk dressing together and toss with salad ingredients in a large
bowl. Let it sit at least an hour before serving to give the flavours a
chance to meld. And stay tuned for the refinements on that coconut
poached chicken…because I’m determined to prove that Thai can be done at home!

Vegetable Matter

May 29, 2008

This morning’s grueling thirty-minute run confirmed two suspicions:
first, that I have been skimping on cardio and now have the respiratory
fortitude of a sparrow, and second, that last weekend’s workouts on the
beaches of Santa Monica were a lot more fun than jogging the
traffic-jammed, garbage-strewn streets of Brooklyn. Still, a girl must
soldier on—especially when there is a big white dress and eternity’s
worth of wedding photos looming in her near future. Which is how I
ended up with this book on my shelf.

Kirsch

I knew of David Kirsch as the fitness guru who whipped Heidi Klum
back into Victoria’s Secret Shape after the births of her children.
Plus he gets lots of editorial attention in the Bible (aka Us Weekly).
This book screamed from the shelf at Barnes and Noble, promising a
quick makeover but—unlike most “instant results” plans—also promising
lots of pain and hard work. I’m a sucker for bald-faced honesty.

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The book lays out a two-week plan; I’ve been on a modified version
for four. And it has been hard, but not as hard as it could have been
due to my little tweaks. Daily 90-minute workouts? Not with my sixty
hour workweek! And the nutrition plan includes lots of fish, but
seafood gives me the heebie-jeebies so I substitute pork and lean beef.
But the fitness routine—with its combination of plyometrics and core
toning—and the food guidelines—which limit starches and sugars–has me
raving about David to anyone who will listen.

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Weight loss aside (though 6 pounds in four weeks is nothing to
sneeze at!), I am most enthused about the changes in my approach to
vegetables. I’ve come to view them more as the main event than as a
paltry side, and my repertoire has expanded considerably beyond romaine
hearts and baby carrots. Some new standards include:

Asparagus stir-fried with ginger, garlic and soy sauce, or broiled with a spritz of olive oil and sea salt.

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Kale chopped and sauteed with garlic, paired with roasted spaghetti squash as a bed for turkey meatballs marinara.

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Zucchini and Cremini mushrooms tossed in a hot skillet with a splash of marsala vinegar, piled high atop a grilled chicken breast.

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Brussels sprouts blanched in boiling water until tender, then browned in a pan with a little dijon mustard.

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Cabbage chopped and thrown together for a quick slaw on Asian night.

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Canned tomatoes in a versatile sauce that’s great over grilled eggplant, portobellos, or the aforementioned turkey meatballs.

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And when in doubt, just add turkey bacon to everything; it’s nature’s miracle seasoning!

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And never again will you have an excuse not to eat your veggies!