Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Best Things in Life

First of all, I'd like to welcome new folks visiting from Bob's Red Mill! And dear readers, make sure you check out the wonderful collection of gluten-free, casein free recipes they've compiled in honor of Autism Awareness Month.

Secondly (and I realize without a proper segue), I'd like to just get to business and say that the soup I made the other night (also gluten free, by the way), is the third best thing to have ever happened to me--it closely follows marrying my husband and birthing my perfectly perfect children.

No joking here....It is that good.

I imagine sipping it, beach-side in some fabulous Thai resort. It's hot and sultry...but I've got a beer in hand and the water is steps away. This soup will take you there (no sunscreen required). It's incredibly aromatic with the perfect hint of spice. The bright and zingy broth is tamed with the addition of coconut milk (light is fine) and it's finished off with a handful of fresh cilantro, Thai basil, and sliced red chiles.

I could eat it for lunch, eat it for dinner, eat it every single day. Phuket, here I come.

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup
Adapted from Epicurious
Printable Recipe

Don't let the length of the ingredient list scare you. It's a simple soup to make, with incredibly complex flavor.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: serves 4


4 ounces Thai rice linguine noodles (for Pad Thai)
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1–2 red Thai (or jalapeƱo) peppers, seeded and finely chopped (plus slices for garnish)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
Juice from one lime
4 tablespoons Thai fish sauce, divided
1/2 pound brown button mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored seeded and sliced
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2 1/2-inch-long by 1/4-inch-wide strips
1 cup light coconut milk
2 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped Thai basil (or regular basil) leaves


1. Place noodles in a bowl; add enough boiling water to cover and let sit until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Drain.

2. Combine broth, chile, garlic, ginger, lemon zest, lime zest, lime juice and 3 tablespoon fish sauce in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer.

3. Add mushrooms and bell pepper to broth, simmer 3 minutes more. Add chicken and coconut milk and simmer, stirring, until chicken is just cooked, about 3 minutes. Stir in spinach until it begins to wilt, about 1 minute.

4. Add chopped cilantro and season with remaining 1 tablespoon fish sauce. Using tongs, divide noodles among 4 bowls. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with sprigs of cilantro, basil and slices of chile.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

What do you do when you have piles of strawberries and rhubarb leftover from jam making (because you forgot to bring the recipe to the market and therefore erred on the side of caution...)? You make strawberry rhubarb compote of course! It takes almost no time to whip up and has an outstanding flavor. You can serve it over pancakes, ice cream, crepes (pictured below) or even lemon cake (I did that for book club and the ladies went wild). Doesn't matter what you put it on--could even be a spoon--I hope you'll try it, and soon.

Look for me tomorrow over at Bob's Red Mill. I'm a guest blogger there and I developed a gluten free, casein free recipe (those crepes) in honor of Autism Awareness Month. Chances are Autism has impacted someone in your family or circle of friends. Take a moment to learn more about it.

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
Printable Recipe

Put this on everything. That's all I'm going to say about that.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 12 minutes, plus time to cool

Yield: about 2 cups


2 cups of rhubarb, sliced 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered

1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced


1. Place rhubarb and sugar in a medium size pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and continue to simmer for about 7 minutes, until the rhubarb is tender.

2. Gently stir in the strawberry quarters and pour into a bowl to cool the mixture slightly. Stir in the mint leaves, and drizzle over warm crepes (or refrigerate for later use).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Strawberry rhubarb jam is arguably the best jam that I make. It's a perfect mash up of sweet and tart and its glorious ruby red hue looks so lovely on top of a cream biscuit, or a vanilla scone...or even a plain ol' slice of toasted bread. We go through gobs of the stuff every year, my own homemade supply supplemented with jam from the Green Briar Jam Kitchen in Cape Cod.

Jamming is simple (really) and though it's best done with a few useful tools, you can usually make do with what you have in your kitchen already. I have a large jamming pot, but I don't use it for small batches of jam because it is so huge and takes so long to heat up. Instead, I process my jams in my pasta cooker (with an insert). It holds exactly 7 half-pint jars, which is perfect for many of my recipes. If I have any extra jam, I just pour it into a sterilized jar and place it in the fridge. It's ready to be eaten immediately and will last for about 3 weeks (but your family will devour it way before then).

Like knitting, this old-timey activity is once again gaining steam for good reason--there is nothing sweeter than something that's homemade, with love.

Fruit, sugar and a little patience is all that's required for good jam. It's also helpful to have a candy or digital probe thermometer, a ladle or flat sieve for skimming, a funnel for filling your 8-ounce canning jars and a jar lifter (or jar tongs) to help you lift the jars from a simmering water bath. Most, if not all of these items can usually be found at your hardware store, or in the canning section of your grocery store (yes, there is probably a canning section in your grocery store...and you've walked by it about a thousand times without noticing it!). I sterilize my clean jars, bands and new lids (never re-use your lids) by placing them on a cookie sheet in a 250 degree oven for at least 10 minutes. You can also boil them in water for 10 minutes to sterilize them. They should be hot when you fill them with jam.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Recipe adapted from Gourmet Preserves
Printable Recipe

This brightly colored, soft-set jam is sweet and tart and perfect for spooning over cake, toast or a scone. It fills about 7 half-pint jars, with a bit left over. Just place any extras in a sterilized jar in the fridge and consume it within 3 weeks.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: about 1 hour
Yield: 5 1/2 cups


2 pounds strawberries
1 pound rhubarb, sliced into 1/2 inch lengths
1 cup water
zest from one lemon
juice from one lemon
2 cups sugar


1. Rinse and drain the berries. Remove the stems and hull them. Cut berries into a uniform size and place in a heavy, non-reactive 8-quart saucepan. Add the rhubarb, lemon zest and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Add lemon juice, and then sugar in 1/2 cup increments, waiting until the liquids come to a simmer before adding more sugar. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes longer, stirring regularly to prevent sticking. Jam will reach a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit. When bubbles are thick and the jam spits when stirred, turn off the heat.

3. Skim off foam. Fill hot, sterilized jars to within 1/4 inch from the top. Wipe the rims clean (with a clean cloth), attach new lids and screw on caps tightly. Process in a pot of boiling water, submerged by one-inch for 10 minutes. Remove jars and cool on a towel. Jar lids should produce a "ping" sound when they vacuum seal is complete. Store any un-sealed jars in the fridge and consume within 3 weeks.