Tom Ka Gai

Apparently I’m one of those people who gets sick on vacation.  I spent the last five days in Manuel San Antonio, Costa Rica, and with two days left on my wonderful vacation, I began to feel that gross phlemy throat feeling that is my body saying, oh good job, here’s a cold.  Then my nose started to get stuffy.  Then runny.  Then coughing and that lovely headache. Luckily this illness has mostly held off until I returned stateside, and that means it’s time for SOUP.

This is the soup that my roommate Jason and I make anytime we’re feeling under the weather.  We want liquids.   And hot and spicy liquids?  Even better.  I’ve made this more than any other soup, but beware if I’m making it for you, for it’s not for the faint of heart and you may feel like breathing fire.

Tom ka gai is a spicy coconut chicken soup that is made with a base of chicken stock and coconut milk, then gets a spice from hot peppers and an immune boost from lemon and ginger.  Here’s to feeling better.

Le ingredients.

Le ingredients.

Tom Ka Gai Soup

  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 quart of chicken stock
  • a few slices of galangal root (this is a Thai ginger root that can be found in most Asian sections of your grocery store)
  • 2-4 stalks of lemongrass, sliced lengthwise (my grocery store didn’t have stalks, so I used this weird tube stuff, but better than nothing.  you need that lemongrass flavor to really make this soup)
  • 1-2 serrano peppers, sliced thin (I use 2 peppers with seeds, but for a milder soup, use less pepper and remove the seeds on the pepper.  also do not make the mistake of rubbing your eyes)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 knob of ginger (I sliced some thinly, then grated the rest)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • juice of a lemon and some zest
  • 1 tablespoon of Sriracha (again, add less for less spice)
  • a bunch of mushrooms (any variety will do, I used buttons)
  • 1 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 head of bok choy
  • salt for seasoning

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Shrimp and Grits

Sometimes I don’t understand why there are foods that I never ate before coming to Texas.  Like breakfast tacos (why are these not a thing EVERYWHERE?! I do not understand), or in this case:  GRITS.  Grits are like a big cheesy pile of delicious mush.  And when you put shrimp and gravy over them, it’s like an explosion of awesomeness in your mouth.  And turns out they’re pretty easy to make.  It was harder to FIND them in the huge ass Whole Foods than it was to cook them.

Shrimp and Grits

(based on this recipe:  http://www.annies-eats.com/2013/01/16/shrimp-and-grits/)

  • 2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • juice of a lemon
  • hot sauce (I used Sriracha because obviously – this is optional if you’re a wuss)
  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups grits (not the instant kind)
  • 6 slices bacon (I got the thick sliced stuff at Whole Foods)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 of a green pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • a bunch of mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar

First, defrost your shrimp if necessary and peel them.  Squeeze the lemon juice over the shrimp and drizzle with hot sauce (in this case, Sriracha).

Sriracha just goes on everything in my house.

Sriracha just goes on everything in my house.

Toss all that together and set aside.

Grab your grits.  This was the only kind that Whole Foods has that weren’t instant, but I think there’s also yellow grits.

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Also known as polenta?! Who knew?!?!

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Lobstah Staahk (Lobster Stock)

Look at all these beautiful discarded lobster parts from our Memorial day boil!

Lobsterz for daaaayz

Lobsterz for daaaayz

Now that you’ve boiled, cracked and dissected your shellfish friends, it’s time to use those shells and bodies to make stock!  Use it as a base for lobster bisque, lobster risotto, or straight up drink it.  The possibilities are limitless!

Lobstah Staahk
(based loosely off this recipe:  http://fishcooking.about.com/od/soupsstewsstocks/r/lobster_stock.htm)

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 lobster carcasses and shells, cleaned (remove the gills and eye sack because it’s sandy and gross)
  • olive oil
  • 1-2 onions, roughly chopped
  • a few cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4-6 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • the tops of one fennel bulb, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • handful of mushrooms (any variety), sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • handful of parsley, chopped (I used dry because I forgot to buy fresh, but fresh is always better!)
  • a few bay leaves
  • salt
  • water

In a large pot, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil at medium heat and add the onions, celery and carrots, cooking them for about 3-4 minutes until they soften up a little.  Then add the lobster shells and cook for another few minutes before adding the garlic, fennel, and mushrooms.  Cook all this goodness together a few more minutes and add the herbs (parsley and bay leaves) and the sherry.  Let the sherry cook down until the alcohol burns off, you’ll be able to tell mostly by smell, but give it a taste.

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Memorial Day Lobster Boil Extravaganza!

The most horrible and excruciating thing about living outside of New England is how expensive (and unsustainable) it is to get my hands on fresh and delicious New England lobster.  If you a. have been living under a rock, or b. grew up somewhere NOT on the eastern seaboard (aka in the middle of Texas), you are seriously missing out.  Lobster is the food of the gods and men and the greatest thing to crawl on this wonderful planet.  If I could eat it for every meal every single day I would.  Where I grew up, you’d walk down to the dock and buy those living ocean dinosaurs right off the fishing boats.  I worked a summer at a lobster restaurant, so I like to think I know a little about the critters and figured it was my civic duty to educate my adorably ignorant Texas friends.

Underwater dinosaurs.

Underwater dinosaurs.

So what makes a good Memorial day cookout?  Enter:  fourteen live Maine lobsters, flown in fresh from New England.  Special thanks to Quality Seafood (http://qualityseafood.wordpress.com/) here in Austin for getting these fellas fresh every Saturday!  Add potatoes, corn on the cob, coleslaw and biscuits and we have ourselves a feast!

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What’s been going ON

It has once again been awhile, but this post is going to catch y’all up with what’s been going on.

Two weekends ago I hopped a plane back to the bay area for Bay2Breakers.  If you don’t know, the LA Times describes Bay2Breakers (or B2B) as the following:

Bay to Breakers is an annual footrace through San Francisco that typically involves a lot of costumes, drinking and partying and little actual racing.

It is always the my single most favorite day of the year (unless the Patriots happen to win the Super Bowl) because it’s just a big weird and sloppy parade where I somehow miraculously run into nearly all of my friends.

I started off the weekend with a burrito from my FAVORITE place in San Jose, La Victoria’s, or as it’s more affectionately known:  “La Vic’s”.  I am obsessive about burritos (and they all SUCK in Austin) and the secret to the amazingness is this:

The holy grail.

The holy grail.

Aside:  let’s us all pump our fists in happiness that I finally figured out how to make my pictures BIGGER!!  Woo!

Saturday morning brought wine tasting with my old roommates and friends via a limo chocked with a shit ton of champagne.

We were completely sober in this photo.

We were completely sober in this photo.

Needless to say, we had an excellent time snacking on cheese and charcuterie and drinking wine in between being chauffeured in a limo binge-fest around beautiful Napa and Sonoma.

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