Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sweet Thai Chile Sauce


There’s not much to say about this other than it’s freaking fantastic!  This stuff tastes like unicorn blood, I swear.

Lightly sweet, with a slight tang, and a punch in the face of heat (if you choose, and you should).

I ran into this recipe a long time ago, and I’ve been devouring it ever since.  I’ve probably had more people ask for this recipe than any other, and I go through this stuff like it’s going out of style.

My favorite way to eat this sauce is when it’s drenching sticky calrose rice.  Nothing more, just rice and this killer sauce.

Sweet Thai Chile Sauce

3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 Tbsp salt (yes, I know the spoon in the pic is tsp…)
2 Tbsp Sambal

1 Tbsp potato starch
1 Tbsp Water

**NOTE: You could certainly use 7-8 red bird thai chiles if you can find them instead of sambal, and you could also cut back on the sambal for less heat.  I don’t  recommend using the more common green bird thai chiles, or other green chiles like jalapeno or serrano.  There’s something about their herby green flavor that turned me off.

And if you don’t have potato starch, corn starch would work, but make sure you continue the cooking for a couple of minutes afterwards to cook off the commonly starchy flavor that corn adds.  Your sauce might be slightly more cloudy if you use corn instead of potato.  Also, you could use arrowroot, but I noticed in the past, that it tended to separate in the ‘fridge after a couple of weeks.


Put the first 6 ingredients in a blender and buzz for a while, until orangey and kinda frothy.  Everything should be well blended, but you should still see small chunks of chiles and garlic.


Put the blended mixture into a small pot and bring to a simmer.  Cook the mixture about 15-20 minutes on a low simmer, for the flavors to blend.  Meanwhile, mix the starch and water in a small container, and after the sauce has cooked for a couple of minutes, slowly add the starchy water to thicken.  Don’t just dump it all in! Depending on how much starch you used, your sauce will thicken differently.  Dribble a little in, stir, and then cook a couple of minutes (~5) while the starch thickens.  Look at the consistency and judge if you need more.  I’ve definitely messed this up, and ended up with sweet thai chile pudding before, so don’t over do the starch!

I hope you find this sauce as delectable as I do, and now I can just direct people to this page when they inevitably ask for this recipe!

Kale, Bitter Kale (Chips)


I’ve been meaning to put these up for quite some time now, because, simply, they are AMAZING.

Even though some of you might balk at the idea of bitter greens (which I, by the way, LOVE), you still have to try these.  They’ll change how to look at greens.

Once the kale has baked in the oven, they turn ultra crispy, way crispier than a potato chip (but still nice and salty, if you’re a salt monger, like I am), but they still have a little of that veggitive undertone.  It’s really wonderful.  And these chips are soooooo easy to make!  Plus kale is hyper nutrient dense (Score)!

Kale Chips

1 bunch of kale
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt (or other flakey salt)
Fresh Cracked Pepper

Heat your oven to 350 F.

For each leaf, in a bunch of kale, fold the leaf in half so the spine is exposed on one side.  Use a knife to cut the stalk/spine off (it’s too tough and bitter), and then roughly chop the remaining leafy parts.  Be sure to rise the kale well, as they usually have quite a bit of dirt on them.  Lay them out on a towel lined sheet to wick away some extra moisture.  Place all your leaf pieces into a big bowl.


Toss the kale with a just enough olive oil to coat, and season with big flakey kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Now here’s where you can be creative, if you choose.  You could certainly toss in some garlic, or maybe some balsamic, what have you, but I think you’ll be surprised at just how good simple ol’ salt and pepper are on these chips.

Line a baking sheet with parchment, and then dump your kale out onto the sheet.


Place in the oven for about 40 min, or until the kale is crispy.  Touch them every 15 or so minutes, because they may look limp, but they’ll be crackling crisp before you know it!



Saturday, March 20, 2010

Devoured Phoenix

A couple of fellow food lovers and I got together to attend the annual Devoured Culinary Festival in Phoenix a couple of weekends ago.  This time the promoters held the festival at the Phoenix Art Museum, which was a wonderful backdrop for all the tasty festivities.  The day was practically perfect, a grassy lawn, sunny skies that weren’t too hot (yet), and all the food and wine you could manage!

The idea around this festival is to connect the people eating the food with the people making and growing the food.  Along with all the restaurants that lined up in tents to showcase their wares, some of the local farms attended to make their presence known.  There were seminars and cooking demos every hour on the half hour and while they were interesting, let’s be honest, everyone is there to stuff their faces.

I managed to snap a couple a shots of some of the food we tried, but of course, i couldn’t manage to get it all.  I’m sorry i don’t remember which restaurants they all came from, so I guess you’ll have to just try all the restaurants in phoenix metro…

I wasn’t able to snap some photos of the awesome drinks we tried, but to elucidate, there was a dragon fruit infused rum from Bacardi that they had mixed with lemonade.  It was far and away my favorite drink of the show.  They also had some tequila from Corzo, that they had infused with watermelon, cucumber, and jalapeno.  They shook it with some ice and served it straight up to sip on.  It was much more nuanced than i would have guessed.


Rachel, I, and Brent.

002 Different types of bruscetta.  On the right was mascarpone with figs, and pistachios, the middle (my fav) was homemade whole milk cheese with a tomato jam, and the far left was a homemade prosciutto and some other things i can’t remember.


Probably on my favorites, a smoked salmon mousse crostini with black caviar and drizzled with basil oil.


Brussels sprouts salad, shredded with cranberries, raisins, large flakes of parmesan, olive oil, and lemon.  I <3 brussels!


Shrimp cheviche with jicama


Tuna Tartar with avacado and a radish chip.  very rich and oily.  great mouth coating.


Bolognese (pretty basic in all honesty)


010Seared Shrimp with guac and a yellow tomato puree



Shrimp tacos and quesadillas (really, what would the southwest be without some mexican influence…?)


Deviled eggs and caviar.



Another one of my favorites.  Tuna Tartar (there was a lot of tuna at this shin-dig), on a garlic tortilla chip, with cucumber, avacado puree and caramel.  The rich taste of the tuna and avacado cleaned nicely with the fresh cooling taste of the cuke, and the crisp crunch of the chip finished off nicely what could have been a whole lot of mush in your mouth.


Roasted yam with a teriyaki glaze and sesame, with some seared beef tenderloin and “sashimi” seasoning (whatever that is…).


Some strange white fish that i don’t remember what it’s called, but it was delicious.


Again, a favorite (so much so, we went back for seconds).  The most tender gnocchiette ever in a garlic cream sauce drizzled with truffle oil.  wonderful.

020  I forgot what they actually called this, but it reminded me of a cross between panna cotta and mascarpone.  served atop arugula and drizzled with balsamic and little red things, it was cool and refreshing.


and of course, carnitas.  need there be explanation?

All in all, a wonderful time.  If you get a chance and are in the phoenix area next time, go!!!  I’ll go with you!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


These are some of the most awesome cookies by any standard I’ve ever made.  I used the recipe from the awesome Cook’s Illustrated cook book “Bakers Illustrated.”  I *finally* got my Vietnamese cinnamon in the mail, and i figured this would be a perfect way to try out the potent spice.  My house smelled like cinnamon for a couple days after!  These cookies are so light and airy, with a nice chew, and a slight tang from the cream of tartar in the recipe.  And the essence of cinnamon fills your nose as bite into one.  I took them to work, and they were gone a couple of minutes.



11.25 oz AP Flour (2-1/4 cup)
2 tsp Cream of Tartar
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
12 Tbsp Butter
1/4 Cup Shortening
10.5 oz Sugar (1-1/2 cup)
3 Tbsp Sugar (for rolling)
2 Eggs
1 Tbsp ground Cinnamon

Oven at 400 F.

Whisk flour, tartar, soda, and salt together

Mix the 3 Tbsp of sugar, with the cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter, shortening, and sugar.  Add the eggs, and beat until combined.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Scoop balls of dough, roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture and bake 9-11 minutes.

Guinness Brown Mustard

I think mustard is one of my favorite condiments.  I don’t know why people don’t make their own.  It’s actually a lot easier than you may think.  Basically, you just soak all the spices in a liquid for a day or two and then grind it up.  The results are well worth it too.  The spices come through a lot stronger than anything in the store, and you can control the elements in the mustard.  I chose to use Guinness stout and Canadian brown mustard seeds.  This mustard has a substantial kick.  Right after I ground the mustard in my food processor, I made the mistake of taking the lid off and inhaling the mustard vapors that I had just released. It basically burned my face off.  So needless to say, you can go light on this mustard when first putting it on things like crackers and sandwiches.  It does tend to mellow with age.  I found this recipe on Saveur.


Guinness Brown Mustard

12 oz. Guinness Stout
1 Cup Vinegar (i used red wine, but anything would work)
10 oz. (1-1/2 Cup) Mustard Seed
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper Seeds
1/4 tsp ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground Cloves
1/4 tsp ground Nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground Allspice

Place all ingredients in non-reactive bowl, with a lid.  I used a ziplock container.  Let the ingredients soak for a couple days, and then process in a food processor or blender.  Make sure you check the consistency of the mustard when you’re done, and add water if you want it to be a little more spreadable.  Mine is pretty thick.