Posts Tagged ‘chicken’

Writing Under the Influence: Monsoon East Review (Bellevue, WA)

September 30, 2009

Blogging platforms should come with a warning:  Do not write reviews of tasty Vietnamese restaurants while under the influence of hunger!  My belly is telling me to get back in my car and drive to Monsoon East.  No, belly, no. 

Here’s the scene:  It’s lunchtime on one of the last sunny days for Western Washington.  After driving around the block four times looking for any parking spot, I find one right in front of the restaurant.  My baby, Rodger, and I stumble in and take a look around the swanky, contemporary restaurant.  No hostess, but smiling cooks behind the open-view kitchen. 

Finally the hostess appears from the back and seats us promptly with the menus and a high chair.  Ah, the menus.  Everything sounded so enticing, it took me forever to order.  Luckily I had a cheerful waitress who recommended the organic chicken in the vermicelli bowl.  Sounded good to me, but first a salad.   

The salad was Green Papaya with Grilled Prawns and Caramelized Pineapple.  It was tangy and bright with really well-balanced flavors, despite the sad looking pineapple.  Although, it couldn’t be too sad, because afterall, it was caramelized pineapple.  I think the prawns were good.  I’d love to be more descriptive, but Rodger only let me have one bite!

Then the vermicelli bowl came, filled to the brim with lemongrass chicken, crispy imperial roll, cucumber, mint, and a sauce that carried a real kick.  Wow, when the menu said “crispy” roll, I was expecting something along the lines of a deep-fried spring roll, but the Vietnamese apparently don’t use the word “crispy” lightly.  It had a serious crunch factor.  Delicious.  The only thing about the meal that left me wanting was the dry chicken.  Very unfortunate because if it weren’t for a little too long of a kiss on the grill this would be a gripe-less review. 

All of this came at a very reasonable price for such flavorful fare.  The vermicelli bowl was only 9.50 and if you don’t have a monkey stealing all your prawns and chicken, this would probably be more than enough for lunch, but I spent an extra 8.00 to get the salad too.  There were so many cool things on the menu I didn’t order, like Idaho catfish claypot, bo la lot beef and the raw bar.  I’m going to have to go back and try each of them! 

Tilth on Urbanspoon
 

 

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Coconut Curry Chicken and Baked Coconut Brown Rice

September 28, 2009

This is my third successful installment of 3 Mondays of $5 Dinner Challenges.  This means, each Monday I’ve been cooking a meal for 2 adults and 2 children for around $5.  Here’s the real challenge, though:  I do it while maintaining my commitment to eat mostly local and organic vegetables and humanely raised meats.  For this final meal, I made Coconut Curry Chicken and Baked Brown Rice for $6.96.

This meal was really fun to do because we don’t often do curries in our house.  It is a super simple recipe for the new-to-curry crowd that will impress your family.  The sweet coconut milk is perfectly suited to these warm savory spices.  Baking the rice assures a perfect result every time that doesn’t stick to the pan and is done without a rice cooker.  I used leeks, but it would be even easier and just as tasty made with onions and you can throw them in with the rest of the vegetables instead of having to cook separately like I did with the leeks.  Here’s how made this fantastic meal for just under seven dollars:

Prices and Products

  • 1 tbsp. expeller pressed canola oil: $0.10
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) organic coconut milk: $0.50
  • 4 white mushrooms (0.15 lb.) : $0.47 (10% off)
  • 1/2 of an organic leek (0.275 lb.): $0.44
  • 1/2 of an organic carrot: $0.20 (10% off)
  • handful of organic snow peas: $0.45 (10% off)
  • small organic green bell pepper: $0.67 (10% off)
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder: $0.50
  • 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar: $0.01
  • 14.74 oz. organic, sustainably raised chicken: $2.81 (10% off)
  • 1 cup (uncooked) brown basmati:  $0.81
  • 1/2 tsp. salt: negligible

How I got these great deals:

  • The best deal of the day was the organic coconut milk which is normally more than two bucks a can.  Whole Foods was having a sale for $1.50 a can plus I had a dollar off coupon for any Thai Kitchen brand product (you can print this coupon from Yahoo Deals too – expires at the end of the year.)
  • I used my monthly 10% off coupon at PCC for all the groceries marked as “10% off” above.  It really does add up to some savings.  I would have done better on the veggies to go to the farmer’s market though.  Unfortunately there’s not time for that every week.

Recipes

Coconut Curry Chicken and Vegetables

You will need:

  • 1/2 can coconut milk (about 7 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 lb skinless, boneless chicken thigh meat (about 15 ounces before skinning and deboning), cut into large bite-size pieces 
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 of a leek (lengthwise half), sliced crosswise every 1/2 inch
  • 2 1/2 cups bite-sized pieces of vegetables (ex. mushrooms, carrot, bell pepper, snow peas)
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh Thair basil (optional), rough chopped

Put it together:

  • Heat 1/2 tbsp. oil in wok (or large skillet) on medium heat.  When hot, add leeks and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Transfer leeks to bowl and set aside.
  • Add 1/2 tbsp. oil to wok, still on medium heat.  When hot, add chicken and cook until no longer pink in the middle, stirring occasionally.  Transfer chicken to a bowl and set aside.
  • Bring coconut milk and water to simmer in wok on medium heat
  • Add brown sugar and curry powder and stir until well blended.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.
  • Add in chicken and all vegetables except for the leeks.  Cook about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender-crisp.  Toss in leeks and serve.  Optional:  garnish with Thai basil

Baked Coconut Rice (Serves 4). 

You will need:

  • 2 T oil (e.g. Canola)
  • 1/2 can coconut milk (about 7 ounces)
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup long grain brown rice (ex. basmati)

Put it together:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, water, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil.
  • Wash rice. Lightly brown the rice in oil in a fry pan.  Transfer to a 1 1/2 quart ovenproof dish. 
  • Pour coconut milk mixture over the rice, take caution because this can create a lot of hot steam.
  • Bake covered for 50 to 60 minutes, until rice is tender and fluffy and moisture has been absorbed.

$5 Dinner Challenge: Olive Oil & Rosemary Chicken with Pearled Barley & Green Beans

August 31, 2009

challenge

“We are a one income family living in a two income world!” Erin, $5 Dinners

That quote really resonated with me and so I decided to challenge myself to three Mondays of $5 Dinner Challenges.  This means, each Monday I will cook a meal for 2 adults and 2 children for around $5.  Here’s the real challenge, though:  I will do it while maintaining my commitment to eat mostly local and organic vegetables and humanely raised meats.  For my inaugural meal, I made Olive Oil & Rosemary Chicken with Pearled Barley & Green Beans for $5.61.

The great thing about this meal is that it is one of the tastiest I’ve made lately.  The chicken was crispy and not over seasoned with a hint of rosemary.  The green beans were flavorful and crisp and since the barley was simmered in chicken stock, it complemented the meal perfectly.  Here’s how made this fantastic meal for just over five bucks:

Prices and Products

  • 1 tsp. finely chopped rosemary from my garden:  free
  • 1/2 tbsp. organic, cold pressed, Extra Virgin Olive Oil: $0.10
  • 1.09 lbs. chicken thighs (no animal byproducts or antibiotics in the animal’s feed or added hormones): $2.99
  • 1 cup dry organic pearled barley (each serving has 30% of your daily dietary fiber requirement): $0.69
  • 1 cup home-made organic, free range chicken stock with local veggies, good wine and home-grown herbs $0.76
  • 0.75 lb. local, pesticide-free green beans from farmer’s market: $1.07
  • Couple dashes of salt and pepper:  negligible

How I got these great deals:

  • I’d heard from my friend Elisa that the end of the day at the farmer’s market is a good time to bargain with the farmers, so I went ten minutes to closing and talked the farmer down from $2/lb to $1/lb on the green beans.
  • I told the butcher at Whole Foods about this really cool dinner challenge I was doing and he helped me pick out the pieces of chicken that were the best value and (don’t tell anyone!) did a little rounding down on the price.
  • I made the chicken stock from the left over carcass and offal from last week’s roast chicken, tasty wine that hubby found a great deal on, left over veggies from last week and herbs from my garden.

Recipes

Rosemary and Olive Oil Chicken Thighs

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Combine 1/2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary and a dash each of sea salt and fresh ground pepper in a small bowl.
  • Wash and pat dry 1 lb bone-in, skin on chicken thighs.
  • Rub thighs with olive oil mix
  • Bake at 400 for about 45 minutes (until skin is golden brown and temp. is 165)

Barley Cooked in Chicken Stock

  • Cook 1 cup pearled barley according to instructions on package, replacing 1 cup of water with 1 cup of chicken stock (usually 1 cup dried barley for 3 cups liquid, simmer, covered for 1 hr 15 min.)

Steamed Green Beans

  • Cook 3/4 lb. green beans in steamer basket over one inch of water in covered pot on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until desired tenderness is reached, but color is still bright green.