Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The cooking fest continues

I have done so much work this morning that it is rather frightening. I answered a ton of letters, responded to multiple motions, and moved a bunch of files off my desk. I am the Queen of Procrastinators, but sometimes I really manage to get a lot done. Usually it requires the right circumstances (a quiet office, time at my desk plus motivation) and then my entire desk gets cleared off in a flurry of activity. I am so much happier when I am organized and even a little bit of organization goes a long way in my world. The same thing applies to working out and exercise (Obviously). I am much happier when I am following an organizational plan, both in terms of diet and exercise. Right now is obviously a good example, I have been so much more mellow now that I am on plan. Well, I was bitchy for the first week but I am over that little problem. I am gradually getting everything organized and it is overflowing to the rest of my life. This is a very good and necessary thing. Plus, I am starting to cook again and really enjoy it which always makes me happy. Apropos of the whole cooking endeavor, here is my personally modified curry recipe based on several different variations in cookbooks. As always, amounts are not exact and everything is to taste.
One onion-roughly chopped
About 4-5 cloves of garlic-again roughly chopped
Sliced fresh ginger to taste (about 3-5 slices should do)
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
½ teaspoon Thai red curry paste
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sugar (you could probably substitute Splenda)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
½ teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups of water
13.5 oz can of coconut milk
Approx 1 lb of roasted chicken meat, alternatively one could just cut up some chicken and cook it with the curry
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1-2 cups chopped root vegetables (i.e. potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, or anything else which suits your fancy). Alternatively this is pretty good with corn or broccoli in it.
1 package of cooked orzo pasta (optional)
Cook the entire dish in a big pot. Saute the onion, ginger, and garlic in the vegetable oil until the onion is translucent. Then add the chicken and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add all the spices and the sugar, salt, and fish sauce. Cook for a couple more minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to about medium high (i.e. a healthy simmer) and cook for around 10 minutes to let the flavors meld. Add the coconut milk, cornstarch, and the root vegetables. Cook for another 10 minutes or until the veggies are soft. Add the orzo pasta at this point and let it warm up for about another 5 minutes. It should serve around four unless you have really big serving sizes. Now, you could add all sorts of things to this-lemon grass for example (personally I hate the taste). Alternatively, you could substitute a different kind of meat and it would also work. There are a couple of caveats:
• There are about 720 calories in a can of coconut milk. (Yes, I actually calculated this at one point). That works out to 160 calories per serving. However everything else is relatively low calorie in this dish and you can also get reduced fat coconut milk some places.
• You might be able to reduce the oil even further if you tried (and were using a nonstick pan). Next time I cook this, I am going to try reducing the oil to approx ½ tablespoon and see what happens. Vegetable oil has 120 calories per tablespoon so dropping the amount drops the calories in the dish and you just need enough to coat the onion and garlic and help it saute.
• It is pretty darn spicy, Thai red curry paste is very hot so if you do not like it hot, only put a small amount in and then test it.
• I like thick curries but you could make this without the cornstarch for a slightly thinner curry.
Curries are comfort foods to me, so I love all variations of them. However, I only eat a small cereal sized bowl at any given time because otherwise they add up in terms of calories. Still, this is what I have been living on for the past two weeks and it makes me really happy. So, there you go, my chicken recipe of the week for the second week in a row.

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