Saturday, March 1, 2014

International Dinners: August and Thailand

Thailand...a bit late
Holy smokes! Last summer was really stressful and busy -- working and trying to find a teaching job. Well, I found a job (woo-hoo!) and things have calmed down a bit. I started looking through my International Dinners folder in preparation for the coming summer (yes, it's coming!) and I quickly realized I did not post 4 of our dinners. FOUR! I'm a terrible blogger folks.
That being said, here is the first of our 4(!) missing dinners from August.

When I was in college at Salve Regina my roommate and I would always eat at the place called The Salvation Cafe on Thursdays. They had a great deal called "Seven-before-seven." Between 5-7pm you could choose from seven different entrees for seven dollars each. We would always splurge for the $4 Banana Creme Brule after, because who wouldn't? My choice was always the Pad Thai. I'm not sure if it was very authentic, but it was very delicious. Thinking of that I chose Thailand this week. I couldn't use peanuts, so we opted for almond butter instead. Also, I couldn't find a good dessert recipe so I made something up using Pineapple, which is used in Thai cuisine.
Enjoy! :)

Menu - for 4-6
Chicken Satay with Almond Butter Sauce
Thai Sesame Noodles 
Steamed Broccoli
Sponge Cake with Pineapple Caramel

Chicken Satay
8-12 skinless chicken thighs, cut into thin strips
1 package wooden skewers
1/4 cup minced lemongrass 
2 shallots OR 1 small onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, to taste
1 thumb-size piece ginger, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. dried turmeric
2 Tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. cumin
3 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
4 Tbsp. fish sauce
5-6 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

If using wooden skewers, soak them in water while you prepare the meat (to prevent burning). The kitchen sink works well for this.
Cut chicken into thin strips and place in a bowl.
Place all marinade ingredients in a food processor or chopper. Process well.
Pour the marinade over the meat and stir well to combine. Allow at least 1 hour for marinating, or longer (up to 24 hours).
When ready to cook, thread meat onto the skewers. Tip: Fill up to 3/4 of the skewer, leaving the lower half empty so that the person grilling has a "handle" to easily turn the satay during cooking.
Grill the satay on your BBQ, OR on an indoor grill, basting the first time you time it with a little of the leftover marinade from the bottom of the bowl. OR you can broil in the oven on a broiling pan or baking sheet with the oven set to "broil" Place satay close beneath the heating element and turn the meat every 5 minutes until cooked (be sure to soak your wooden satay sticks in water before skewering). Depending on how thin your meat is, the satay should cook in 10 to 20 minutes. Serve with the Almond Sauce

Almond Sauce
½ cup unsalted Almond butter (or 3/4 c unsalted peanuts)
1/3 cup water
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dark soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend or process until sauce is smooth. If you prefer a runnier peanut sauce, add a little more water.

Thai Sesame Noodles

12 oz. dried noodles
1 red bell pepper
5-8 mushrooms
1 thumb-size piece ginger, grated or finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1/2 tsp. shrimp paste
2-3 tsp. sugar, to taste
1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili

Boil noodles until 'ad dente'. Rinse thoroughly with cold water to keep from sticking. Set aside.
Stir together all 'Sauce' ingredients with a fork or whisk in a small mixing bowl until shrimp paste and sugar dissolve. Set aside.
Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle 1-2 Tbsp. oil into pan, then add the ginger and garlic. Stir-fry 5 minutes. Add the red pepper and mushrooms. Stir-fry 2 more minutes, or until mushrooms are cooked.
Add noodles and pour over the sauce you made. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes using a turning/tossing motion (almost like tossing a salad) to combine everything together.
Remove from heat. Now taste-test for salt and spice. If too salty for your taste, add another Tbsp. of lime juice. If not salty or flavorful enough, add a sprinkling of fish sauce. Add more chili for more heat.

Sponge Cake with Pineapple Caramel Sauce
The finished dish
prepared Angel Food cake
1 20 oz can pineapple rings, drained, juice reserved and rings halved
¼ cup butter
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
white sugar

Melt butter in medium saucepan. Add 3/4 cup of pineapple juice and brown sugar; blend well. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil until reduced, darkened and slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange the pineapple slices on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle the tops with white sugar and broil until browned. Serve sauce over the sponge cake with caramelized pineapple slices.
The sauce, warmed, but not reduced

The sauce after it has boiled down

Angel Food Cake made from box mix (I cheated!)

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