pinterest digressions and spicy curry noodle soup

I have a confession to make: I think I have a Pinterest problem.

For those of you unfamiliar with Pinterest it is essentially a virtual cork board.  Remember cork boards?  You probably had one on your wall in middle school with pictures of Salt N’ Pepa, INXS, and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air on it.  (Or maybe that was just me…)

Anyhow, I have become almost obsessed with finding cool images of food/signs/flowers/home interiors, etc. on Pinterest and last night found myself up until almost midnight (aka waaaaay past my weeknight bedtime) pinning pretty images to my boards.  (If you’re already on Pinterest or are persuaded to join after reading this and care to follow me, my username is baxterandmain.  Little plug.)

All of this is leading me to a blog-related point or two.  1) I need to step my food photography game up, big time.  2) I need to get a real logo/header because I am tired of the up-close brownie shot.  Real tired of it.  Point 1 can be aided with natural sunlight (which should be more plentiful in Wisconsin in the next month or so, fingers crossed) and more thought put into the mise en scene of my pictures (and maybe a proper camera at a later date.)  As for point 2 I am real lucky to have a talented friend who has volunteered to help in this endeavor which brings me full circle as I have been looking for inspirational images on Pinterest to give to her to create some artwork for this here site.  So there we go.

And now the food!  I made some wonderful sweet potato chicken curry noodle soup to go along with the Thai iced tea for you!

Vegetarians please note that this dish could easily be made with tofu instead of chicken and sub vegetable broth for chicken broth and I bet it’d still be as amazing.

It’s spicy, a little sweet, and incredibly flavorful.  You will love it!  Unless spicy and curry is not your thing.  In that case stay tuned for butternut squash lasagne in my next post!

Spicy Curry Noodle Soup with Chicken and Sweet Potato (by Mai Pham from Bon Appetit magazine)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh lemongrass* (from bottom 4 inches of about 3 stalks, tough outer leaves discarded; NOTE: if you can only find dried lemongrass in your grocery store you will only need about 1 tablespoon as it is more potent in dried form)
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Thai yellow curry paste*
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)*
  • 2 13.5- to 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk,* divided
  • 5 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)*
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 cups snow peas, trimmed
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled red-skinned sweet potato (yam; from about 1 large)
  • 1 pound dried rice vermicelli noodles or rice stick noodles*
  • 3/4 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 red Thai bird chiles or 2 red jalapeño chiles, thinly sliced with seeds
  • 1 lime, cut into 6 wedges

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add next 4 ingredients; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in curry paste, curry powder, and chili paste. Add 1/2 cup coconut milk (scooped from thick liquid at top of can). Stir until thick and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add remaining coconut milk, broth, fish sauce, and sugar; bring broth to boil. Keep warm. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Refrigerate until cold, then cover and keep chilled.

Cook snow peas in large pot of boiling salted water until bright green, about 20 seconds. Using strainer, remove peas from pot; rinse under cold water to cool. Place peas in medium bowl. Bring water in same pot back to boil. Add sweet potato and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Using strainer, remove sweet potato from pot and rinse under cold water to cool. Place in small bowl. Bring water in same pot back to boil and cook noodles until just tender but still firm to bite, about 6 minutes. Drain; rinse under cold water to cool. Transfer to microwave-safe bowl. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 hour ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Bring broth to simmer. Add chicken; simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add sweet potato; stir to heat through, about 1 minute. Heat noodles in microwave in 30-second intervals to rewarm. Cut noodles with scissors if too long. Divide noodles among bowls. Divide snow peas and hot soup among bowls. Scatter red onion, green onions, cilantro, and chiles over soup. Garnish with lime wedges and serve.

sunday night curry

I like to cook a proper meal on Sundays.  It’s the one day a week I’m not running around like a crazy person trying to get things done so I take advantage by preparing a full-on feast.

My favorite kind of feast is one that involves just one pot.  You can do a lot in one pot.  A roast with veggies, a soup or stew, or in this case a curry.

I’ve made Indian and Thai curries in the past so when I found a recipe for a South African curry I was intrigued.

The recipe called for a combination of foods I had never seen before: green peppers and… dried apricots.  I was totally skeptical but it worked.  And the two colors looked nice together on my cutting board.  Bonus.

The prep time for this dish takes about a half hour and then you just let it stew for an hour and change and it’s good to go.  Serve it over rice, noodles, or mashed potatoes and enjoy.  And enjoy having fewer dishes to clean afterward!

Cape Malay Curry (from Cooking Light magazine)

  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 ½ tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound beef stew meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup less-sodium beef broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper (about 1 medium)
  • 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup apricot spread
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup low-fat buttermilk

Combine turmeric, cumin, coriander, chili powder, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl, stirring well.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add spice mixture; cook 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Add ginger, bay leaves, and garlic; sauté 15 seconds. Add beef; sauté 3 minutes. Add broth and next 5 ingredients (through vinegar); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Uncover; discard bay leaves. Simmer 30 minutes or until beef is very tender. Remove from heat; stir in buttermilk.

Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or egg noodles.

chicken curry

I’m a big fan of one-pot meals.  In the colder months I use my Crock-Pot like it’s going out of style: I make stews, roasts, you name it.  I also love Indian food for probably this very reason: much of it involves simmering a bunch of ingredients in one pot to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

This curry starts out with onions.

Then you add ginger, garlic, cinnamon, curry powder, cumin, yogurt, flour, tomato paste…

…chicken stock, applesauce (yep, applesauce!)…

…chicken, peas, and finally sour cream, and coconut milk along with salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe intimidated me at first because of the amount of ingredients (or as a character on my favorite version of Bravo’s Real Housewives series might say “ingredientses”) but actually  it’s a piece of cake.  It takes a little more prep work than your average recipe but once you get the curry started all you have to do is keep adding stuff to the same pot.  So simple.

This curry is great over rice and lately I’ve been into black rice as I have read that the health benefits are numerous.  It also makes for a beautiful and colorful plate so that’s not too bad either. 

Curried Chicken (adapted slightly from “Bon Appetit Keep it Simple: Easy Techniques for Great Home Cooking”)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped onion
  • ¼ cup minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 10-oz package frozen peas
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup canned unsweetened coconut milk

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat.  Add onions and sauté until golden, about 15 minutes.  Add ginger and garlic; sauté 1 minute.  Add curry, cumin and cinnamon sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add flour, then yogurt and tomato paste, whisking until sauce is smooth, about 1 minute.  Add stock and applesauce.  Bring to boil.  Reduce heat; simmer until sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Add chicken and peas to sauce.  Simmer until chicken is almost cooked through, about 10 minutes.  Add sour cream and coconut milk.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Stir until chicken is cooked through and sauce thickens enough to coat spoon, about 5 minutes (do not boil).  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to bowl.

Serve with rice.