Easy Thai chicken coconut soup

ThaisThis spicy, sweet Thai favourite is snap to make at home. It is made with Tom Yam or Tom Yum( like the soup, it  is pronounced both ways) , organic chicken stock, coconut milk, lime juice, and shredded chicken from a store-bought bird or your own leftover dinner. The finished soup is topped with fresh basil. 

This quick version adapted for the western kitchen will give you authentic flavour. The substitutions are simple, but don’t change the character of the soup, as sweetener pitch-hits for palm sugar and more common vegetables are used in place of Thai eggplant for a quick dinner. Tom Yum soup paste and other cooking pastes are common in authentic Thai cooking. The brands I use are the same ones I saw on the shelves of shops in Bangkok. Try this once and you may get hooked. 

Sauté*

1½ heaping tbsp. of Tom Yam/Tom Yum paste and 1 peeled crushed clove of garlic in a little oil

Add 1 (14 ounces) can of coconut milk

1 cup of organic chicken stock

3-4 finely sliced kaffir lime leaves (I keep these in the freezer)

Bring to simmer

Add 2 tsp. of sweetener of your choice (sugar, stevia, etc.)

1 tsp. fish sauce of to taste

Juice from 1-2 fresh limes (Add the juice from one and taste, add more if needed or to taste)

Add:

1½ cup shredded chicken

½ cup frozen petits pois

½ cups sliced red pepper 

*Add ½ cup of lightly sauté straw or any other type of sliced mushrooms. Wash and dry the mushrooms before starting anything else then you can sauté them in a separate pan while you sauté the  soup paste. 

Correct the final seasoning; you many want to add more sweeteners, fish sauce, or lime. Top the soup with mounds of finely shredded basil to serve.

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Chicken salad with fresh peaches and mint

Chicken and mint make chicken salad specialFresh juicy peaches make chicken salad special. This recipe is easy enough for an everyday lunch, and special enough for company. The tangy peaches make the flavour pop, as does a hit of fresh mint. Make it as I did, with a rotisserie chicken from your favourite shop, or your own leftover roasted bird.
 
For 4 people:
Wash and dry 1½ cups of baby arugula – reserve to plate salad.
Dice 2½ cups of chicken, discarding the bones and skin
Peel four peaches – slice two and dice two. Reserve the peach slices for garnish
Wash and chop 1 tbsp. of fresh mint
Chop 2 tbsp. of shelled walnuts or pecans
Wash and slice ½ cup cherry or grape tomatoes
Dice ½ cup very sweet onions
Slice 1 sweet red pepper very thin, vertically
Mix all ingredients in a bowl, except for the peach slices  
 
Mix salad with:
2 tbsp. light or regular mayo (I prefer Hellman’s)
1 tsp. hot cayenne sesame oil or 1 tsp. sesame oil and ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
Juice of one lime
1 tsp. salt
 
2 tbsp. grated unsweetened coconut (packaged is fine)
Arrange the salad on top of the arugula and garnish with the peach slices
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Thai chicken curry in a hurry

Thai green chicken curry

Recently, I had dinner with an old friend and loyal DolceDolce reader. She asked me to rerun this recipe. She said that if she had not saved it, others had probably missed it too. It takes only minutes to make restaurant quality Thai Green Chicken Curry. Try it once, you will be hooked. If you use a barbecued chicken, it takes about 10 minutes, start to finish. You will die over the taste.

 
For four people
3 limes
3 cups of cooked diced chicken
1½ cup green vegetables, quartered or sliced: Thai eggplants, snow peas, frozen, green or asparagus.
Thai eggplants are small and green and available in Asian markets. Wash and quarter them unless they are tiny. Slice snow peas thinly, also green beans to bring out flavour and colour. Cut asparagus on the diagonal. Add good frozen sweet peas. All are delicious. In a pinch, a big red bell pepper, diced, is good too. Green pepper doesn’t work as it is not sweet.
 
Open coconut milk can.
Wash and cut three limes.
 
Dice three cloves of garlic and grate 1½-inch of fresh ginger, or use one heaping tbsp. of garlic ginger paste. Place it in small amount of hot oil (any type) and heat until it begins to colour. Add 1 heaping tbsp. of green curry paste. Cut the heat to a low simmer and cook the curry paste with the garlic and ginger. 
 
Add the coconut milk
Add the chicken and the green vegetables
Add 2 tbsp. of fish sauce and 2 red chilies (do not add if you do not like very spicy curry)
Adjust heat to a low simmer
Add the juice of two limes
Add 1 pkg. of Splenda or 1tbsp. sugar
Stir
Taste
Add more lime or sweetener or fish sauce for salt.
This all takes about 10 minutes max.
Grate a little lime peel into curry to intensify flavour if you like (that is why we wash all citrus)
 
Remove from the heat and add ¼ cup fresh chiffonaded (thinly sliced) Thai or regular basil leaves.
Optional: Top with ¼ cup fresh cilantro and fresh basil (Thai basil is fabulous and more intense if you can find it –regular will do) and chopped peanuts. Serve with the Jasmine rice you started before you made the curry. This can be served at a dinner party — it is that good.
 
Garnish with herbs, peanuts, and chilies.
 
A very basic Thai /Asian pantry:
Fish Sauce – Three Crab brand, if you can find it
Coconut milk
Green curry paste in cans. Get some small Tupperware or jars. They will keep the paste fresh in the refrigerator for months.
Limes
Red chilli, fresh (you can use dry flakes if you don’t cook a lot, or if you do not like very spicy food)
Lemongrass (you can use just fresh limes). Lemongrass may be cut and kept in the freezer
Garlic
Ginger
 
You can buy garlic ginger paste in jar as time saver– or buy a jar of each and use them for all your cooking needs. I prefer fresh, but if you are in a time-crunch, it works!
 
Jasmine rice
Thai basil or regular basil (can be used in other cooking and sandwiches later – so good
Fresh coriander or cilantro (optional if you do not usually use it in your cooking
 
Not for this recipe but for your Asian pantry
Soy sauce
Oyster sauce
Hoisin Sauce
Sesame oil
Sesame oil with cayenne
Garum Marsala
Basmati rice
  
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A new cookbook that makes budget-friendly chicken anything but boring

The Quick from Scratch Chicken Cookbook from Food & Wine Books, takes the boring out of chicken — painlessly. I didn’t expect to like this book, but I do. Books like this usually bore me to death. They are usually big on variety and short on spice and originality, but this book has it all.  The recipes are fresh and flavorful with a touch of elegance.

 
From pecan-crusted chicken with mustard to fabulous French bistro-style sandwiches and the classic dishes we all crave. The seasoning and ingredients hit the right notes, yet are quick and easy. You can feed your family or entertain with these easy, elegant, budget-friendly recipes.
 
The Quick from Scratch Chicken Cookbook is just the ticket if you are bored with your own cooking. It would make a great gift for a young friend who loves to eat out — and now needs to know how to cook the same delicious things at home!  You could package it with a super knife or a wonderful skillet from www.smartbargins.com, or your own favourite source for cooking supplies — if they are still setting up their “batterie de cuisine”.  Vive the recessionista gourmet!
 
 
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