Fire Up The Wok!

I thought it would be fun to give us a little break from the dreary fall weather and travel our taste buds to sunny Thailand with this flavorful stir fry. All you need are a few easy to find ingredients and a wok. You can make this dish as mild or as spicy as you like – use bird eye chilies for serious spice, or milder jalapenos for less fire. If you can’t find snow peas, use broccoli cut into small pieces. There’s no need to blanch the broccoli first, it cooks in a flash in the wok. The key is to have all ingredients at the ready next to the stove, as this dish takes no more than a few minutes from start to finish. Make sure not to over cook the vegetables. You want them to still have some crunch.

Chicken Stir Fry With Peanuts And Snow Peas (serves 4)
4 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons oil
2 red chilies, thinly sliced
200g snow peas
3 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 tablespoons brown sugar

1. Heat oil in a wok.
2. Add chili and stir for a few seconds.
3. Add chicken and stir until slightly browned.
4. Add snow peas and stir for about 1 minute.
5. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well mixed and sauce has thickened slightly.
6. Serve with Thai jasmine rice and a wedge of lime.

Enjoy!

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An Apple A Day

Fall is apple time and a great opportunity to enjoy a cozy afternoon with a slice (or two) of freshly baked apple cake and a cup of tea after a stroll through the woods. The leaves have all started to change now and the woods are ablaze with reds, oranges, and yellows. Better soak it all in while it lasts, because soon there will be nothing but barren sticks, lots of fog and rain, and memories of sweet summer… But without fall and winter, there would be no spring and summer!

This cake is best eaten the day you make it (especially when it is still warm), as the moisture from the apples will turn it a bit soggy if you let it sit overnight.

Apple Cake With Toasted Hazelnuts
500g apples such as Golden Delicious, peeled, cored, and quartered
120g sugar
150g flour
160g hazelnuts
150g butter, softened
1 egg
pinch of salt

1. Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes at 180C.
2. Pour hazelnuts on kitchen towel and rub together to remove skins. Let cool slightly.
3. Finely grind 150g hazelnuts with half the sugar in a food processor.
4. In a bowl, mix butter with the remaining sugar until creamy.
5. Add egg and mix well.
6. Add hazelnut-sugar mixture, flour, and pinch of salt, and mix until well incorporated.
7. Cut apples into thin slices.
8. Spread half the dough evenly on bottom of 20cm spring form pan.
9. Cover with apple slices, arranged in overlapping circles. You will have several layers of apple slices.
10. Spread remaining dough on top of apples.
11. Very roughly chop remaining hazelnuts and sprinkle on top of cake.
12. Bake at 180C for about 50 minutes.
13. Let cool slightly before removing from pan.
14. Lightly dust with powdered sugar.

Enjoy!

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Creamy Carrot Soup With Herbed Croutons

We’ve had beautiful fall weather lately, but it’s been getting quite chilly at night, so…a bowl of soup was in order! I love both making and eating soup, and I’m especially partial to creamy soups. This carrot soup is very minimal in terms of ingredients and preparation, but it delivers intense flavor and a very nice creamy texture without using any heavy cream. It’s all about the carrots, with the other ingredients helping to bring out their sweetness. The crunchy croutons nicely balance the sweet carrots and add another layer of texture to the dish. The soup is also perfect for the dead of winter when you desperately want some color on your plate.

Creamy Carrot Soup With Herbed Croutons (serves 4-6)
2lbs carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
5 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup cubed dried white bread, crust removed
2 tablespoons parsley, roughly chopped
salt and pepper

1. Melt butter in a wide pot. Add onion and cook for a few minutes or until soft.
2. Add carrots and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add vegetable stock, cover and simmer until carrots are soft (about 25 minutes).
4. Stir honey, salt, and pepper into soup.
5. Remove from heat and mix in blender until smooth.
6. Pour back into pot and set aside.

Make croutons:
1. Heat oil in pan.
2. Add bread and fry until golden.
3. Remove from heat and pour into bowl.
4. Season with salt and pepper, let cool slightly, and stir parsley through.
Serve soup topped with croutons.

Enjoy!

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A Favorite Dessert Dressed For Fall

With cooler days and changing leaves comes a new season of cooking! I am always excited when a new season comes around. The first ripe pears, the first roasted chestnuts, the first creamy pumpkin soup…fall is here. Time to try out new ingredients and new recipes.

When temperatures drop, I often find myself craving creamy soups, risottos, or sweet rice puddings. I usually top my rice pudding with a few pieces of extra dark chocolate, with the heat from the pudding nicely melting the chocolate. The contrast between the sweet, milky rice and the deep flavor of dark molten chocolate is heavenly! This particular rice pudding is a bit different,  because it’s topped with deliciously fragrant and slightly sticky plums and an irresistible caramel sauce. Give it a try! It’s perfect for a lazy Sunday breakfast or brunch, or a late night snack.

Vanilla Rice Pudding with Caramelized Rosemary Plums (serves 4)
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
700ml whole milk
200g short grain rice (arborio works well)
sugar, to taste
2 tablespoons honey
8 plums
1 rosemary twig
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter
cream

1. Put milk, vanilla pod and scraped seeds into a pot and bring to the boil. Add rice, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. When the rice is cooked, add sugar to taste. Add extra milk or cream if the rice pudding is too dry. Remove vanilla pod before serving.
2. Cut plums in half and remove pit. Tear rosemary twig into small pieces.
3. Heat honey, 1 tablespoon sugar, and butter in a frying pan until caramelized. Add plums (cut side down) and rosemary and cook for about 2 minutes.
4. Add a few tablespoons cream, stir, and remove from heat.
5. Serve warm vanilla rice pudding topped with caramel sauce and plums.

Enjoy!

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