Spicy Thai Eggplant with Lamb


My husband will finally be coming home next week and I will be over glad.  I imagine my Asian food obsession will be somewhat curtailed to occasionally in order to make room for the stews, meatloaves, mashed potatoes with gravy and the roasts that he loves.  Winter food.


In the meantime, I made a dish of my own winter food, Asian style; Thai eggplants with lamb and udon noodles.  These golf ball size eggplants are so cute and good!  If they still have some left when I go back to the supermarket, I think I’ll try roasting them whole.


I wonder where the line is drawn between American lamb and American mutton, at what age?  As soon as this ground meat hit the skillet, I smelled mutton and believe me I’m practically an expert on mutton, having attended hundreds of mechouis (whole mutton roasts) in West Africa.  In addition, the fat that accumulated in the pan was also an indication of oldish sheep.  If you find yourself with mislabeled lamb, pour off this fat before continuing with the recipe.  Or if you don’t want to risk it, use ground pork, veal, chicken or turkey instead.


I used dried udon noodles for this recipe because I didn’t have any more fresh udon.  One of the differences between fresh and dried is that the dried udon cooks up as a flat noodle, while the fresh is more rounded, creating a more slurpable surface.  Since eating freshly made noodles at an outdoor worker’s stand in The People’s Republic of China, I’ve been difficult to please 🙂

Spicy Thai Eggplant with Lamb

2 -3  tbsp sambal oelek

2 tbsp Tamari soy sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp sake

1 1/2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp peanut oil

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 inch fresh ginger, minced

6 multicolored mini bell peppers, cut into squares

1 lb ground lamb

2 tbsp peanut oil

8 Thai eggplants, quartered

Mix together the sambal oelek, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar.  Blend well and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp of peanut oil in a wok, add the garlic, ginger and peppers, then stir fry for 2-3 minutes until the peppers are crisp tender.  Add the lamb and saute until the meat is no longer pink.  Drain off all the fat, remove the meat and vegetables from the wok and set aside.  Wipe out the wok with a paper towel.

Add 2 tbsp of peanut oil to the wok, add the eggplant and saute until the eggplant is lightly browned.  Stir in the meat mixture and the sauce, bring to a boil, cover, then simmer for 6-8 minutes.  Serve with rice or noodles.









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Veal Shoulder and Bok Choy Stir Fry


East and South Asian cuisine seem to be an obsession with me lately.  I’m craving color, flavor and vegetables.  Maybe to balance the dreary weather or maybe because I like East and South Asian food, not to the exclusion of other cuisines but available ingredients also dictate what I’m willing to make 😦   Isn’t that a pretty plate?  I found it in a Main Street antique store.


If I can find them, I prefer baby bok choy but this bok choy was fine and the stems gave me that crisp tender texture that I like in a stir fry.  And by the way:

I found this veal shoulder at Wegman’s and it had a nice pink, young veal look.  It was also the last one, so I took it because.




Veal Shoulder and Bok Choy Stir Fry

1 tbsp peanut oil

1lb veal shoulder, seasoned with salt and pepper

2 tbsp Tamari soy sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp lime juice

3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tbsp peanut oil

2 large garlic cloves, slivered

4 slices of ginger

3 mini bell peppers, cut into strips

3 bok choy, bottoms sliced off and separated

Brown the veal in the tablespoon of peanut oil until brown but still pink inside.  Slice thin and set aside.

Mix the soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, chilli sauce and sesame oil together and set aside.

Heat the 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a wok or large skillet, then add the garlic, ginger and bell peppers, sauteing until the peppers are crisp tender and the ginger and garlic are fragrant.  Add the sliced veal and saute for about 1-2 minutes.  Add the bok choy and saute until mixed well with the other ingredients.

Pour in the reserved sauce, stir, cover, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve with rice or noodles.






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An Irish Thanksgiving


I saw a gorgeous bacon roast on Bord Bia, the Irish food board, months ago and vowed to make it for Thanksgiving.  The side dishes were traditionally Irish; potatoes and cabbage.


Because this wasn’t to be the typical Thanksgiving feast, I set the table lackadaisically with Haitian ceramic figures, assorted soup bowls from my photography collection and conversation provoking salt and pepper shakers.


We began the meal with a modified soupe joumou or pumpkin soup from Haiti.  Instead of pumpkin I used butternut squash and a mild chilli instead of a Scotch bonnet.


Of course, nothing says soupe joumou like Maggi cubes 🙂


A nod to traditional Thanksgiving, I used 2 turkey wings to help create the flavorful broth.


All the makings went inside of my new large, oval Le Creuset that a bought to supplement the one I left languishing in France.  I also knew that I would be taking this gratuitous picture  😀


As the afternoon wore on, our natural lightening started to fade, but our son was able to get this picture of his superb slicing with his i-phone.


This meal was pretty good with Irish champ (mashed potatoes with scallions, butter and milk) and creamed cabbage flavored with a bit of the pork glaze.


We ended our meal with espresso, chocolate topped macaroons and white chocolate panna cotta, topped with a blueberry compote.  Photo resentfully taken with artificial light.


I hope your celebrations were the best!













Posted in Cooking, Dessert, Food and Wine, Haitian, Irish, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Bhindi Curry


There is no Indian restaurant in Honesdale probably because there are no Indians in Honesdale 🙂  There is the Himalayan Institute and Retreat about 5 miles away that practices Eastern based yoga, meditation, spirituality and holistic health.  But they probably don’t care much about food 😀


I found one of the last packages of okra at Wegmans in Scranton.  No, they weren’t that attractive nor young, but some okra is better than no okra, and I had some unattractive, aged tomatoes in the refrigerator that were eager to meet up with a member of their peer group  🙂


I know that many of you avoid okra because of the slime factor.  Nobody, except maybe Nigerians, like slimy okra.  My grandmother and mother always cooked okra and it was never slimy.  Don’t boil it, saute it and you will like it.  Also, try to get young okra.


So.  There you go vegetarians and others who like a good curry.  Add more chillies if you like it spicier and use as a rice topping.  Flesh eaters will love this as a side for seared Canadian salmon rubbed with smoked paprika and olive oil.


Bhindi Curry

1lb okra, ends removed and sliced

2 tbsp ghee

2 medium onions, coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 green chillies, seeded and chopped

1/3 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp salt

1 cup of seeded and diced tomato

2 tbsp lemon juice

Saute the onions, garlic, chillies, turmeric, cumin, garam masala and salt in the heated ghee until the onions are soft and golden.

Add the okra and stir fry for 5-8 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, lemon juice and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.








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Murgh Makhani


In Scranton’s Wegmans supermarket I found some packaged garlic naan, rare fresh okra and some “organic” chicken thighs.  Sounded Indian to me.  But boy howdy!  I also saw one single, “organic” veal chop for $19.95!  The American consumer purchases are apparently conditioned like Pavlov’s dogs; whether it’s for hormoned, over-sugared, GMO foods or what is considered “healthy” food that only the rich can afford.


I thought of making butter chicken masala but I was feeling a little lazy and pivoted to butter chicken makhani; easier and as delicious.  You can marinate the chicken overnight or for 2-4 hours and, while the chicken is marinating, make the gravy.


If you don’t have ghee, you can substitute butter but I think the ghee gives it the Indian flavor.


Butter Chicken Makhani


4 chicken thighs, skinned, boned and cut into chunks

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

2 tsp ginger paste

2 tsp garlic paste

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp Indian chilli powder

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sesame or mustard oil

2 tbsp ghee for browning the chicken after marinating


2 tbsp ghee

1 large onion, chopped

2 green cardamom pods

2 cloves

4 red peppercorns

1 cinnamon stick

1 tbsp ginger paste

1 tbsp garlic paste

1 can dice tomatoes

1 tsp Indian chilli powder

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp ground fenugreek leaves

Heavy cream

Mix all the marinade ingredients together (not the ghee), add the chicken pieces, cover and marinate for 2-4 hours or overnight.  Melt the 2 tbsp of ghee in a frying pan and brown the chicken.  Remove the chicken and set aside.

Melt 2 tbsp ghee in a stove top casserole, add the onion and cook until it begins to brown. Add the cardamom, cloves, peppercorns and cinnamon stick, sauteing for a few minutes. Stir in the ginger and garlic pastes, the tomatoes, the chilli powder, salt, sugar and fenugreek leaves, bring to a boil, then simmer slow for about 30 minutes.  Add the chicken and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.  Before serving, swirl the top with the cream.








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Chicken Udon Noodle Curry


When I was first introduced to Japanese cuisine, I didn’t know that they made curries.  I thought curries were for Indians Or Thai who delight in the hot and spicy.  When I started to assemble Japanese bento lunch boxes, I began to appreciate just how delicious and varied (way more than sukiyaki, tempura and sushi) Japanese cuisine was.


I discovered S & B Golden Curry Sauce mix in one of my first forays into Japanese cuisine. Later on I discovered that these curry tablets are also used in Indian cuisine.  The tablets come in mild, medium hot and hot.  The mild and medium hot are for babies and the hot is for the discerning adult but not overwhelming.


I wonder how long I’ve had this box 😀

Chicken Udon Noodle Curry

2 enormous, probably hormone enhanced chicken thighs or 4 normal local farm chicken thighs

3 carrots, diced

1 onion, halved and sliced


4 Golden Curry Sauce Mix tablets, quartered

1/4 cup Hon-tsuyu soup base

3 frozen blocks of fresh udon noodles

2-3 handfuls of baby spinach

Scallions, sliced

Hard boiled eggs halved

Place the thighs, carrots and onion in a stock pot with water to cover above ingredients 1 1/2 inches.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove thighs from pot, discard bones and skin, cut into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Add the curry tablets to the broth and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens. Add the reserved chicken and soup base, bring to a boil, then add the noodles and bring to a boil again.  Remove the pot from the flame and stir in the spinach.

Ladle into bowls, topping with scallions and egg.







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Asian Braised Oxtails with Spinach


I really miss seasonal fruits and vegetables that even if not local, at least come from the same country I’m living in.  This is not to say that I’m opposed to buying imported produce, I’d just like a choice that’s not limited by considerations of maximum profit for the purveyors.  We have some wonderful agricultural states; California, Florida, Washington State, etc., but apparently South American imports, which don’t even produce the best quality, are adored by our suppliers.  And Peru must be giving the stuff away because I see their stickers all over the produce section 😦


Back in the day, when we were running in and out of Ireland, I bought matching wine and water glasses from Waterford.  Unfortunately, many were broken in storage but I still have a few, maybe enough to set a table for eight.  So that’s okay.  The pomegranate from south of the border was ruby red but not very sweet.  California has nice pomegranates.


On the other hand, I bought a couple of Bosc pears from Washington State that were very good and would have been perfect with a Brie de Meaux and a glass of the Veuve.  Sigh.

Anyway, there were some oxtails in the freezer and since they were on top of everything else, I thought why not?


I was determined to do something easy and Asian, so I gathered my ideas and ingredients about me.  My pantry is almost as bad as my freezer.  Overkill.  But that means I can pretty much satisfy most of my foreign food cravings 🙂


This is really easy.  If you want, you can brown the oxtails before hand but it’s not necessary and I couldn’t be bothered.  All you have to do is cut up and mix the ingredients, put everything into a decent pressure cooker and it’s over in 30-35 minutes.


I used to be afraid of pressure cookers but my cook Abdoulaye taught me to use them safely and insisted that I buy a deluxe model because he liked pressure cookers and knew he would get it when I moved on to another country  😀


In the meantime, saute some shallots and mixed mini pepper slices in butter, adding and wilting handfuls of spinach inside and you’re good to go.


Asian Braised Oxtails

2 1/2-3 lbs oxtails

1/4 cup Tamari soy sauce

1/4 cup sake

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

8 thin slices of fresh ginger, skin on

2 star anise

2 sticks cinnamon

Peel from one mandarin, cut into strips

Mix the soy sauce, sake, brown sugar and water together and set aside.  Place the oxtails in the bottom of a pressure cooker.  Sprinkle the scallions, ginger, star anise, cinnamon sticks and mandarin peel over the oxtails.  Pour the soy sauce mixture over all.

Put the top on the pressure cooker and seal well.  Put the little bobble thing over the vent in the middle of the pressure cooker top.  Turn the gas up to high and when the bobble starts to swing back and forth, decrease the heat until the bobble continues a gentle swing. Cook for 30-35 minutes, remove from flame and set aside until the pressure button, located at the top of the handle, sinks completely to the bottom.

Open the pressure cooker and place the oxtails in a platter.  Boil the liquid down (no top) until it is reduced by half, then pour over the oxtails.









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