Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What I'm Reading Today

The first Thai curry dish I ever had was a Massaman Curry at Thai Kitchen in Bellevue, Washington.  I know, this eastern suburb of Seattle probably doesn't sound like a Thai food destination but the restaurant was open years before Phad Thai and curries infiltrated the American palate.  A friend took me to lunch and introduced me to their mild chicken and potato version of Massaman and I fell in love (with the curry that is).  In today's LA Times they've published a Massaman Curry recipe from Cholada Thai in Thousand Oaks.  It includes a homemade curry paste, which I highly recommend if you live near a good Asian market.  You can find all the ingredients and make a big batch-it'll keep well and you can get your curry fix anytime you like.  In a pinch that same Asian market probably carries Mae Ploy brand curry pastes and I think they're pretty darn tasty too.

Prepping artichokes is probably one step up from prepping fava beans when it comes to tasks my cooking students least like to do.  Funny, because they are always two of the most loved veggies to eat but man do people hate to trim, peel, trim, de-choke, steam, and cut before they finally get a bite.  Of course steaming an artichoke whole means all you have to do is trim those pointy tips from the leaves so you can make it easy on your self and do that.  But, with artichokes in season and, here in Northern California, at the cheapest they'll be, it's worth buying a bunch at the farmers' market and trying this recipe from Melissa Clark in The New York Times:  Artichokes with Fregola, Feta, Toasted Almonds, and Herbs.  She includes a video that is a great primer if you're tackling artichokes for the first time.  Fregola is pasta used often in Sardinia.  The tiny round pieces are much like Israeli couscous, either will work here.  I love the addition of sharp, salty feta and crunchy almonds.  This is a perfect spring dish paired with some fresh greens in a simple vinaigrette. 

Spring peas are another abundant veggie at the market these days.  Snap peas, snow peas, and English peas are as good as they get right now.  In today's Chicago Tribune you'll learn everything you need to know aout picking and cooking peas to perfection.  With cooking methods from all over the world, peas are one of the most versatile veggies in the kitchen.  The recipe for Gnochi with Crab and Peas is spring on a plate.  It calls for store bought gnocchi but you could of course make your own.  Fresh crab is delicate and delicious here but small grilled or sauteed shrimp would also work.  Love the tangy addition of creme fraiche too.  If this doesn't say "spring" I don't know what does!

Happy Reading and Happy Cooking.

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