Tag Archives: asian flavors

Amazing Simmered or Baked Bok Choy Side-Dish (serves 4)

Have you every gotten carried away at the supermarket and bought something that is a little out of your cooking comfort zone? This happens to me when the whole place seems to exude freshness at every turn, when every display and every shelf looks colorful and inviting. I once arrived home with an African cucumber because my son begged me to buy it, and, there it sat on the counter-top that evening, while I sat looking at it flummoxed!

baby bok choy

Baby bok choy

Well, while baby bok choy is not in the same league as the African cucumber, it certainly has a way of making people feel a little confused about how to cook it. Most people think it is more for Asian cooking, buying it to add a little something different to a stir-fry. I say it can be used like any other green veggie, and can even be served whole with fried sausages and mashed potatoes. At least that is how I served it the other night!

great side-dish

Great side-dish

I love bok choy. It has a great refreshing crunchy stem and the leaves, when cooked, are rich and silky smooth in your mouth. I am pretty typical in that I use it in stir-fry dishes but I also love to cook it and chop it into mashed potatoes for the Irish dish Colcannon (instead of cooked green cabbage) and finally, I love to cook it whole in a little broth in the oven or on the stove top. It works especially well if it is baby bok choy (just a smaller version) and everyone gets to enjoy their very own. Presenting it like this makes it feel very special and no one loves to see this coming to the table more than my kids.

Time to give this not-so-common vegetable a try!

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*This is a great Blood Type A Diet recipe!*

You will need:

4 to 6 baby bok choy, left whole

1 shallot, chopped (if you don’t have a shallot, the recipe will still work!)

2 cups veggie or chicken stock (or water and good quality bouillon cube)

2 or 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tbs soy sauce (see note at end of recipe for a note about this)

2 tbs mirin (see note at end of recipe for a note about this)

Method:

*If you are going to cook on the stove top you have to use a saute pan. you can use either a saute pan or a casserole dish if you cook in the oven*

Preheat oven 400* (no need if cooking on stove top)

1 – Saute the chopped shallot in a little olive oil until it has softened (about 5 minutes). Use a saute pan big enough to hold all the bok choy snugly or you can saute the shallot in a small pan and transfer to a casserole for the rest of the dish.

Saute shallots

Saute shallots

2 – Add the stock, soy and mirin to the pan (or transfer shallots to a casserole and continue with the recipe) and add the bok choy in a single layer placing each one in the opposite direction to the one beside it (cooks more evenly that way!). Drizzle with 2 tbs of oil and cover with a lid or tin foil.  Place in preheated oven for 20 minutes or cover with lid and simmer on stove top for 20 minutes.

Prep bok choy

Prep bok choy

Serve with anything you like. We had it with sausages and mashed potatoes, but it can be served with whatever main course you cook.

et voila!

et voila!

Note: You can omit the soy and mirin if you want a cleaner taste. Just make sure to season with salt and pepper.

A Great Summer Tea – Thai-Style! (makes 1 big pitcher)

All of a sudden it is Summer and time to decide on some cooling drinks to sip in the late afternoon. I did not grow up drinking Iced teas and in all the years I have lived in the United States it is still a drink that never comes to mind when I want to quench my thirst with something refreshing (besides a great summer cocktail!)

rhododendron

My lovely rhododendron which I planted at the bottom steps of the back door tree years ago is in full bloom!

However this Iced Thai Tea from my latest cooking mag. (bon appetit to be precise) has won me over completely. And, it was even something that I would have skipped over when making my first peruse through the new issue seeing as the title was “Tea It Up”

My son was the one who found it and said I just had to make it. We have this new ritual (me and him) which is when any new cooking issue comes to the house I bring it with me when I pick my kids up from school and leave it on his seat as a little treat for him. As much as I want to, I don’t even take the plastic off and have a sneak-peek.

Lovely Ice Tea - perfect for this weather

Lovely Ice Tea – perfect for this weather

He really appreciates having the privilege of ripping it open and getting to see what foods are being highlighted that month or season. But what he really loves is telling me what I have to cook, and if I hum and haw about it, he reads the ingredients to show me how quick and easy it will be. I’m afraid he is mostly a sucker for the colorful juicy pictures of finished dishes, and the picture of a giant glass filled with ice and a creamy pale orange iced-tea with the word “Thai” in the title was no exception. First of all, if the dish smacks of Asian flavors whatsoever it will always be demanded, not to mention he is going through a black tea phase, (my fault, as Barry’s Tea, the tea I drank growing up in Ireland is always being pulled out and brewed to have with a piece of cake or a biscuit (cookie)). How could I refuse!

The back steps to my little yard.

The back steps to my little yard.

I have to say that I am glad to have kids that push me to try things I would normally not bother with, like this glorious Thai-Style Iced Tea. It is a bit of work, a tad expensive (requires a vanilla bean which cost me $6) and it needs time to chill, but it was so good it is what I am taking to my friend’s house for Brunch this weekend!

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You will need:

8 cups cold water

10 star anise pods

3 tbs sugar

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (instructions below)

15 black tea bags

1/2 cup heavy cup

1/2 sweetened condensed milk

ice cubes (for serving)

Method:

cut, then scrape seeds from vanilla bean pod

Cut, then scrape seeds from vanilla bean pod

1 – Scrape the seeds from vanilla bean like so: using a sharp knife cut vanilla bean down the enter length of pod.  Hold one end with finger and scrape the inside of the pod with a knife, running it down the entire pod. The seeds will collect on the knife as you go. (Don’t throw away the scraped pods as you can make vanilla sugar with it – see picture below!).

Place the scraped vanilla bean pod in a bowl of fine sugar adn it will infuse with lovely vanilla-y flavor. Perfect for sprinkling on toasted buttered bread or fresh berries like strawberrs for a quick summer dessert.

Place the scraped vanilla bean pod in a bowl of fine sugar and it will infuse with lovely vanilla-y flavor. Perfect for sprinkling on toasted buttered bread or fresh berries like strawberries for a quick summer dessert.

2 – Combine 1 cup of water with sugar, star anise and the vanilla bean seeds in a small pot and bring to a boil. When it begins to boil, turn the heat down and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

combine ingrediets and boil to infuse flavor

Combine ingredients and boil to infuse flavor

3 – Combine the tea bags with the 7 remaining cups of water in a large pitcher or bowl and add the cooked water mixture to it when it is done simmering. Place in the fridge and chill for 4 hours.

Add tea bags and more water

Add tea bags and more water

5 – Strain the mixture using a sieve into another pitcher and add the cream and condensed milk. Stir everything together.

Strain chilled tea (and add creams)

Strain chilled tea (and add creams)

Serve over ice, or as is if you want it to be more intense. Can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Serve over ice - yum!

Serve over ice – yum!