You can use any mild fish for this, or even go with shrimp, but in that case make sure they are as large as you can find. I started from the Brazilian moqueca concept but used Red Curry paste as the main spice. Delicious, and super simple to prepare. I highly recommend you give it a try.

(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

3 large filets of cod
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 shallot, minced
2 celery ribs, finely diced
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon red curry paste (I used this one)
1 can coconut milk
plenty of fresh cilantro, minced
juice of half a lemon
1/3 cup coconut flakes, unsweetened

Start by toasting the coconut, placing the flakes on a non-stick skillet and toasting over medium-heat, watching the pan very very closely, it goes from toasted to burned in a second. Transfer to a bowl and reserve.

Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the shallots and celery until soft and fragrant. Add the ginger, the red curry paste, season with salt and pepper, and sautéed briefly, then add the coconut milk. Gently simmer for 5 minutes in very low heat. Add the pieces of fish, season again with salt, cover the pan and simmer super gently until the fish is cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes more. Add the cilantro and lemon juice right before serving, and sprinkle with toasted coconut, adding more on your plate if you like.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: From start to finish, this will take less than 30 minutes, but it tastes so complex, it is hard to believe it is ready so fast. The best way to enjoy it is over rice (I made brown rice this time), but I had some spaghetti squash in the fridge and that’s the way I had mine. Totally non-traditional, I admit. But it worked great.

As to the red curry paste, you could add more if you like it really spicy, but for us one tablespoon was plenty. I suppose it will also vary with the brand you use, the one I listed is very potent.

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Inspired by a recipe from Mary Berry, this soup is simple and flavorful. I don’t think parsnips receive the attention and praise they deserve. There’s something about their slight sharpness that can be quite pleasing. Maybe for some it might be an acquired taste… Come to think of it, when I was a teenager, I would march out of the house if my poor Mom would dare serving parsnips in any type of preparation. I was difficult. I got better… At least in some aspects…

Back to soup. Make it. If you are not lucky enough to have friends who give you a gorgeous lemongrass plant, search for those cute little plastic tubes at the grocery store.  They are actually not that bad if you cannot have the real thing. I confess to always having the ginger kind in my fridge. And once our lemongrass goes into hibernation, that version will be joining us too.

(inspired by Mary Berry Everyday)

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
3/4 pound parsnips (about 8 medium ones), peeled, cut in chunks
1 medium shallot, minced
2 teaspoons finely minced ginger
2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
2 tsp honey
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock  (or water)
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 lemongrass stalk, bashed to release flavor
salt and pepper to taste
yogurt and black sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the shallot and parsnips, and saute for a few minutes, until they start to get a golden color at the edges.  Add the ginger, red curry paste and honey and saute for 30 seconds, then add the coconut milk, stock, fish sauce and lemon grass.

Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through, very tender. Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste, then remove the lemon grass and discard.

Process the soup in a blender or food processor. Serve warm with a dollop of yogurt and black sesame seeds, if so desired.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Loved this soup. Lemongrass, fish sauce, coconut milk, ginger, red curry paste, they do make a fantastic fantasy of flavors in your mouth, but oddly enough, you can still detect a bright and clear taste of parsnip. I had it for lunch several times in that particular week. Phil tried some and enjoyed it, but he prefers to have his smoothie – Wasa cracker/nuts/jam combination so I was left alone to savor this comforting soup day in, day out.  It gets a bit thicker each day, but adding a bit of water brings it back to a perfect consistency. I also like to squirt a little lemon juice right on the bowl.  Have I ever told you that we never, absolutely never run out of lemons in the fridge?  I get nervous if I see only one in there. Use them all the time, not only for cooking but in my carbonated water and that evening tea.

Soup weather is approaching fast. Too fast.
Grab a pin to be ready for it!

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One of the features  I like the most in Fine Cooking magazine is their section called “Cooking without recipes.”   They pick a particular dish, say,  risotto or meatloaf or lasagna, and  dissect it into its basic techniques, helping you devise your own take on it.  A recent issue (number 110) offered an overview of Thai curries,  including poultry, seafood and vegetarian, from spicy to mild, with all sorts of aromatics to round out their flavors.  If you love curries – and who doesn’t? 😉 –  get this issue and start experimenting.   Here I share with you my first interpretation of a chicken version, that ranked high on the yummy-ness scale.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by Fine Cooking)

1 can of coconut milk  (13.5 oz)
1/8 to 1/4 cup red curry paste
1 cup chicken broth (or water)
1 Tbs lemon zest
2 Tbs. light brown sugar
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
1 lb. boneless chicken thighs  cut into 1/4-thick bite-size strips
3/4 cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed well
2 cups asparagus, cut in 1-inch pieces
salt to taste
1/2 cup minced cilantro leaves

Shake the can of coconut milk, open it and stir well if not completely smooth.  Transfer 1/2 cup of it to a saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes to thicken it up.  Don’t worry if it starts to separate.  Add the red curry paste, whisk for a minute, then add the broth, brown sugar, fish sauce, and the rest of the coconut milk left in the can. Bring to a simmer over high heat, and add the chicken pieces.  Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.

Add the lemon zest, ginger, asparagus, and garbanzo beans.  Simmer for 5 minutes, adjust seasoning with salt if necessary (fish sauce is salty, you may not need to add additional salt), sprinkle with the fresh cilantro and serve right away over white rice.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Cooking the chicken in the sauce (instead of sauteing it first) saves a messy step that’s particularly hard to deal with in a tiny kitchen, where I’m working with a two burner hot plate.  Plus, the meat turns out very tender and juicy this way.   Of course, if you prefer chicken breast instead of thighs  then substitute, but something about the velvety texture of chicken thighs makes them more appropriate for this type of recipe.   Once the meat is cooked   add the vegetables that you like (some of which might profit from a previous parboiling: potatoes, butternut squash, carrots);  as long as you pay attention to their cooking times, they’ll be fine.

Keep in mind that different brands of curry paste vary considerably in their spiciness.  If you’re new to this ingredient, then start with a small amount, taste, and add more according to your level of tolerance.

ONE YEAR AGO:  Zen and the Art of Risotto

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