There are two product staples in my kitchen typically associated with Thai cooking — or in my case, Lao cooking — but I keep them handy for many other types of recipes, too. Fish sauce and coconut milk sit alongside the more "typical" condiments and I use them almost as frequently.
Some of my family is from Laos and we have relatives all over the world, so I grew up eating foods from all seven continents, and now I cook the same way for my kids. Because Thailand and Laos share a border they also share many similar flavours and ingredients. Coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, lemongrass, and bay leaves form the basis for great meals that earn nods of approval from my family, and I'm betting even the owner of the Thai restaurant down the street.
Using such basic ingredients means it is easy to incorporate them into many dishes. Stews, casseroles, and many one-pot dishes can be salted with fish sauce, and fish sauce provides a depth of taste that goes beyond salt. When it comes to coconut milk, I'll admit to getting a bit carried away by because it’s the foundation for so many great desserts, and I am powerless when it comes to desserts. Ask my jeans.
Coconut milk is a healthy and slightly sweet replacement for cream in many recipes, and it mixes well with all kinds of salty and rich spices. Coconut milk also provides an option for people who need a dairy alternative. You can also try it with baked fish dishes, rice, or add it to fruit smoothies.
When Thai Kitchen Canada asked me to select and make one of the five finalists’ recipes in the #TKeverday Recipe Challenge; I chose blogger Brandi Yee's Coconut Jerk Shrimp recipe, because the coconut in this recipe sounded too good to resist.
Coconut Jerk Shrimp Skewers with Lime Butter Dip
36 raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon each Club House Ground Cinnamon, Club House Ground Thyme, salt, Club House Ground Pepper, Club House Ground Nutmeg, and Club House Ground Allspice
1 1/2 teaspoon each minced ginger and Club House Minced Garlic
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 jalapeno seeded and minced fine
1/2 cup of Thai Kitchen Premium Lite Coconut Milk
1/2 cup of canola oil
2 cups shredded coconut
12 medium length wood skewers
Rinse and pat dry shrimp. Mix all ingredients, except shredded coconut, and place in re-sealable bag with shrimp. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight to marinate.
Soak 12 medium length wood skewers for 1/2 hour. Add 3 marinated shrimp to a skewer. Pour flaked coconut on a large plate evenly.
Dip each side of shrimp skewers in flaked coconut to coat evenly.
Grill for approximately 2-3 minutes each side. Serve with Lime Butter dip.
Lime Butter Dip
8 tablespoons of butter, melted with the zest & juice of 1 lime. Serve alongside shrimp.
We could all use an extra dose of sunshine, especially this time of year. But what's a person to do when daylight begins just as the kids get on the school bus and lasts only long enough to get home from work and take the dog for a pee around the block?
I'm a firm believer in healthy delusion, and if drinking something that looks like sunshine works...go for it. Researchers are taking a fresh look at beets and there's some evidence that beets can improve athletic performance and lower blood pressure — key for parents, or maybe just moms who are tackling Grade five math AGAIN.
Plus, how many of us have kids who actually eat beets? As much as my kids like food, they draw the line at some of the foods I love, so I juice 'em and serve it with an afternoon snack or with breakfast. They get the nutrients and I get the satisfaction of making sure they have variety in their diet.
2.5 cm/1" piece of ginger
Wash and cut produce into pieces to fit the juicer. Don't peel anything except the lemon, keeping as much of the pith as possible; a lot of nutrients are in the peels. And save the beet greens for another juice or smoothie recipe.
Juice. (It's not rocket science and I'm not going to pretend you need ten steps to make a juice.)
Makes enough for 4 large glasses of juice.
Simplicity is the key for most good things in life and that includes what happens in the kitchen. What's easier than a hunk of warm baguette, fresh berries, and a half wheel of Brie? Nothing! And those three make a perfect picnic, especially for an afternoon lazing under a parasol on a quiet Ontario beach.
Okay, maybe the daydreams have taken hold, BUT THE COLD'S GOTTEN TO ME, PEOPLE, and I'm <this> close to waving the white flag.
When I start picturing warm afternoons — it's a Canadian winter survival tool — I almost always think of holidays with my family, and many of those were spent in the south of France. The south of France smells of oregano and thyme warmed by the sun, it's a breeze that cools the air under olive groves, and it's meals the family can quickly prepare together so that more time can be spent playing outdoors. Nothing complicated, no matter what the cookbooks and movies might show us.
When you're stuck for a side dish to a beautiful meal you've spent time preparing, the last thing you have time for is a 100-step process that results in a lukewarm reception by hungry hordes. I have yet to meet a person who doesn't like Provençal roasted potatoes.
Peel and cut potatoes into chunks.
Pour olive oil over potatoes and add garlic.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Provençal herbs. Toss lightly and set aside until oven reaches 400F/205C.
Place potatoes onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper and roast for 30-35 minutes, or until golden.
Makes 4 servings.
Another French classic that turns potatoes into a love potion — It's conceivable! — is Leek, Potato, and Carrot soup, especially when topped with bacon.