The best part of my family's weekly get-togethers, next to seeing each other, is the call that comes when Sunday rolls around and my mother issues an invite for one of mine or my brothers' favourite dinners. The best meals are the ones someone else prepares, am I right?
Curry is not typically Laotian, but since the country borders Thailand and Vietnam, among others, flavours and recipes are carried across borders and adapted with easily found ingredients. My grandparents travelled extensively before retiring back to Paris, and my grandmother incorporated tastes, spices, and cooking traditions she learned from different countries into her Laotian repertoire. She was the best cook and everything she made ranks as my favourite food. My mom now passes on her recipes to us and my children and nieces get a taste of Laos, down through three generations.
Heat half the coconut cream (scooped from the top of the can) over medium heat. Place the chicken on the cream and coat chicken with 2 tablespoons curry powder, turning the meat over and sprinkling more curry to coat all sides.
Begin cooking onion by placing it along the edges so onion becomes glazed. Add 1/2 the salt and pepper.
Sear the chicken in the coconut using a large wok or pan until the chicken is slightly cooked - approximately 20 minutes - turning chicken over so both sides are lightly seared and combining it with the onions.
Place potatoes over the chicken, cover with the remainder of the salt and curry, the rest of the coconut milk, and 4 cans (size of coconut milk can) of water to cover the potatoes and chicken. Cover and simmer for another 30 minutes at medium-low heat.
Add the fish sauce and stir lightly. Place brocoli on top, add a few pinches of salt over vegetable, and cook for another 15 minutes.
To thicken the sauce, add cornstarch diluted in 1 1/4 tablespoons water in the last 5 minutes before serving. Adjust water and fish sauce to taste.
Makes enough for a family of 8 with leftovers for lunch the next day.
Hands up if you hope your kids never realize how delicious guacamole is?
There are plenty of kids who love avocados and guacamole, they just don't live at my house - except when we're making Korean beef tacos and then they're all about the guac. But most days my kids look askance when we offer them guacamole, and secretly my husband and I are okay with this. If they don't like it, we don't have to share. And that's my parenting lesson for today: do not under any circumstances force your children to like foods they turn their nose up at, especially if it's your favourite. Eventually they'll like everything.
The best meals are the ones shared with family (you love) and friends (you enjoy being with). The second best meals are those that combine flavours so well your taste buds explode and are simple to make.
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Gently combine all ingredients in a bowl, cover, and set aside in the fridge.
* The guacamole recipe is adapted from Curtis Stone's Guacamole for Lindsay (his wife); it's her absolute favourite and she loves him for it, so Curtis obviously knows what he's talking about. It's now called Guac for Kat around here because my husband gets the same reaction when he makes it for me.
Heat the oil in a skillet over low to medium heat. Add tomatoes, green onion, and salsa and allow to simmer until tomatoes begin to soften, approximately 5 minutes.
Once the salsa mixture has been simmering for 3 minutes, begin the eggs in another pan. Season eggs with salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon 1/4 - 1/3 the salsa mixture onto a plate, place sunnyside-up or over-easy eggs over salsa, and top with one tablespoon each of tomatillo salsa and cilantro.
Serve with a generous scoop of guacamole and a slice of buttered dense, whole grain bread and dig in.
Makes enough guacamole for 4-6 people and huevos rancheros for 2-4.