Back in the Kitchen

Oh, the pressure of returning from holiday!  Not only do I have to get back into the habit of cooking again (instead of just eating wonderful food prepared by others) but I also have to get back into the habit of finding interesting things to write about again, instead of just encountering a parade of them on a daily basis.

It was nice to be back in my own kitchen, though.  Admiring the efficiently compact kitchen at ‘ino in Greenwich Village, I returned home with visions of how I could add some stainless steel shelving, fit in a panini grill, and up my production capacity.  Tawn probably wouldn’t appreciate my “function over form” remodel, though!

Joanne Choi is a friend of a high school friend’s younger sister.  She keeps a wonderful food blog called “Week of Menus” over at Blogger.  The subtitle of her blog is “Good cooking for moms who have too much on their plate” and, as you can imagine, the emphasis is on healthy, whole foods combined with simple preparation.  There is also a bit of a Korean overtone to many recipes, since that’s her heritage.

A recent recipe that caught my attention was Turkey and Green Beans in Lettuce or Over Rice.  Now, as is often my wont, I begin to tinker with recipes before I’ve even cooked them.  Ground turkey is an impossibility here in Thailand, but ground pork is readily available and tastier.  And since she offered the option of serving the dish either in lettuce cups (ala P.F. Chang) or over rice, I decided to combine the dish with a whole grain rice and serve them together in the lettuce cups.


The results were fantastic.  The combination of ground pork, green beans, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and hoisin sauce (with some chopped cilantro on top) is just super-tasty in a massively “umami” sort of way.  Combine it with whole grain rice, which is nutty and satisfying, and it really was a whole meal in a leaf.

I’ll have to try these again soon.  Another option is to use water chestnuts instead of (or in addition to) the green beans.  I couldn’t find them at the market, but I’m sure if I ask Tawn what they are called in Thai, I’d be able to run them down.

One of my purchases in the US was the book “Kneadlessly Simple“, Nancy Baggett’s book of recipes for no-knead breads.  I like baking my own bread and find that these kneadless options produce much tastier, “artisanal” style breads.  So far I’ve made one loaf that was quite nice, although I botched the shaping and it came out lumpy.  I’ll do another loaf today and see how it turns out.


0 thoughts on “Back in the Kitchen

  1. Wow. This is very similar to what Chinese makes. I am unsure of the dish though. We dip it in the sauce with a bunch of garlic, fresh pepper, a hint of lemon, and something else. It’s common too.

  2. Your lettuce wrapped ‘cups’ reminded me of a popular Chinese banquet food, in which squab (pigeon) meat mixed in with vegetables and a few pine nuts. But your creation looks much healthier!

  3. what a great idea for a meal! i might borrow this one sometime, although i’ll probably go back to using ground turkey since that’s what we have in the freezer right now.

  4. Such a great artistic display. Could you have used canned sliced water chestnuts? I make green beans and ground beef or lamb with spices  but have never served it in lettuce cups. Really is eye catching.

  5. mmmmm Chris, that looks so good! G is presently at a condo board meeting and I’m starving and may have to cave and eat now.btw: happy marriage, etc. We’ve been so busy I’ve not had a chance to post but have been following the adventures.

  6. @Norcani – And lots of new ideas of what to cook!@YNOTswim – Isn’t that the truth?  It really does feel like settling back in when you cook in your own kitchen again.@Roadlesstaken – They are my guilty pleasure, too.  But don’t tell anyone I’ve ever gone there to eat!  Ha ha…@marshmellowTM – What I like about it is that it is really simple to make, but has such great flavor.@ElusiveWords – I imagine you could add or substitute in all manner of fresh summer vegetables.  Some chopped up zucchini, lightly sauteed, would be wonderful.  Add a few tomatoes or some corn… yum!@iso_whiteSnow – Yes, it definitely has similarity to dishes in several Asian cultures.  Can you tell me more about that sauce?  It sounds like it would be the perfect foil for this dish.@vsan79 – Her website really has a lot of good and easy dishes, more of which I need to try.@ZenPaper – Who’s spoiling you?  Hmmm?@curry69curry – I know that dish!  Had it when I lived in HKG.  Very yummy.  I think this dish reminds people of many different culture’s dishes.@agmhkg – I will, Angel… some of them don’t turn out well enough to be shared, though.@kunhuo42 – Turkey (the original ingredient) probably works really well.  It is just that we cannot get ground turkey here.  C’est n’existe pas!@TheCheshireGrins – Yes, please do try it.  Let us know how it works out.@yang1815 – I cooked the green beans only very lightly, so they had some crunch.  I also added some chopped peanuts to the mix just before serving, which I forgot to mention in the entry.@ZSA_MD – Ooh, ground lamb with chili, tumeric, ginger and garlic!  That would be yummy.  I’ll have to try that.  As for the water chestnuts, I was actually looking for the canned ones and couldn’t find them in the market.@AppsScraps – Thanks, Brent.  Much appreciated.

  7. @christao408 – i’ll ask my mom about it. i’ll get back to you. you do know what sauce i’m talking about, right? hahaha. if you go to any viet places like Pho and sandwiches places, they usually have it. it’s common with a white plain noodle dish, fried eggrolls, springrolls, and various food. anything that that is “touchable” comes with the sauce.

  8. Instead, I found this link that is exactly what I’m talking about. However, there are many many many version of this sauce, but they’re all similar. sauce pretty much goes with anything, but definitely not with the soup! The amount of individual ingredient doesn’t matter because the sauce should be base on your liking whether you want more sweet, bitterness, or something else. (It’s almost like making your own lemonade) As for red pepper, go for real red chili pepper.Good luck. I’m sure you have these ingredients somewhere in your kitchen.

  9. @iso_whiteSnow – Oh, thank you.  Yes, I know exactly what you mean.  Combination of fish sauce, chili, vinegar, sugar and lime.  Very familiar.  In fact, there are a lot of parallels between this and the “core flavors” found in Thai cooking.  I’ll make note of these and try my recipe again with this sauce.  Thanks again for doing the leg work.

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