Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thai Peanut Dip

First of all, I was totally expecting to have a fantastic amount of good stuff to show off here. And then Things Didn't Go Well. It's not like a cut myself, but I had some big Uh-Oh's in the cooking process of my great Thai-themed dinner.  I had planned chicken satay, Lahp Moo (pork wraps), with peanut dip and jasmine rice. The only things that turned out right were the dip and the rice.

Let me recount what went wrong. I was all over town because 1. Daughter went to preschool. 2. Son and I got breakfast then shopped for birthday party paraphernalia. 3. Took son to Dentist appointment. For a filling!  4. Lunch with hubby and goofy son (thank you nitrous gas) at evil Golden Arches Restaurant. (Please don't say the actual name! I'm so tired of the kids begging for pancakes and cheeseburgers!) 5.Shopped for food, including going to two different grocery stores because I forgot things the first time.

Then we got home and I tried to cook. I overdid it with red curry in the first batch of peanut dip, so I dumped it and started over. That was my first real Uh-Oh. I started the satay marination. No problems there. But I had a grilling mishap, just a small issue.  The grease drippings tray caught fire, so Uh-Oh number 2. The chicken satay was officially chicken leather. The pre-soaked bamboo skewers were basically charcoal. I know, the satay looked OK but they weren't very tasty.

My next issue was with the pork wraps.  I know, like how hard is it to cook some ground pork, season it and stuff it into a cabbage leaf? Yeah not that hard, but it just didn't taste fantastic. So I'm not sharing that recipe until perfection has been achieved. I mean, it was OK, but just OK. I guess that's not a real Uh-Oh, but I'm still calling it Uh-Oh number 3.

Well, after all that excitement I realized I had to post something, anything was better than empty cyberspace.  That means you get dip. Yep. Peanut dip with No chicken satay recipe. I figured I wouldn't bother posting how to cook rice because I think most people can get rice to turn out.

1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon red curry paste
1 teaspoon brown sugar (or palm sugar if you can get it)
1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
juice of half a lime

1. Combine all ingredients and mix well.  I used chunky peanut butter for this batch, but smooth is certainly fine if you don't want the peanut bits. Also, if you're not into that hint of fishy flavor, forget the fish sauce. Some days I like it, some days I don't.

2. For best results, make and serve right away.  I stored mine in the fridge. If you make it in advance, let it warm up before serving. Otherwise, it's pretty thick and cold and doesn't stick well to food that way.

Roast Asparagus with Parmesan

The other day I felt like making asparagus for dinner. I didn't want just regular steamed (or nuked) asparagus with butter. So I grabbed a roasting pan, turned the oven on, and tossed a few things together. I really like when things are easy and they are tasty.

Just a note, for the kiddos, I can cut the spears into bite-size pieces.  If you want to start with smaller pieces for the whole batch, go ahead and chop them to size before roasting.

Just for fun, I served this on my corn-cob plates.  You know, those long, narrow, sculpted porcelain plates that look like corn, designed to hold one cooked ear of corn-on-the-cob? Mine have been gathering dust all winter. (Since there was no corn on the cob to use them with, I got creative.) I think you can find them at Williams Sonoma in the summer. They are one of those cute, seasonal things that you may have to wait until corn season to find.

1 bunch thin asparagus, about 1 lb.
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Wash and dry the asparagus. Break off and discard the woody ends. Place stalks in a 9x13 pan.

2. Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus stalks. Season with salt and pepper, then toss to coat evenly.

3. Roast about 10 minutes, or until tender.

4. While still hot, sprinkle the parmesan over all stalks and gently stir. I usually have a block of real Parmeggiano in the fridge so I grate it directly over food with a microplane grater. Or you could buy some already shredded parmesan in a tub and use that. Serve immediately.