Friday, August 28, 2009

CEiMB: Chicken Sate with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

I seem to be preparing and eating a lot of dishes with peanut butter based sauces these days .... and I don't mind at all! Trends seem to go in waves in the blogging world. I was thrilled to see that our Craving Ellie in My Belly event this week, chosen by The Tortefeasor, was this fantastic sounding Chicken Sate with a Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce.

Chicken Saté with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
2006 Ellie Krieger, All Rights Reserved


I halved the recipe since there are only two of us to eat it.

I used home made chicken stock and home made peanut butter.

The coconut milk was not "lite"

The soy sauce was not "low sodium"

I actually had "Thai fish sauce"!! I saw it while shopping in Canada, and bought a bottle to bring back with me. Until now, when a recipe called for fish sauce, I had been using dried small fish that I had found in the market, figuring that would give the right bit of flavor.

I don't have a "grilling pan", so I dug out our barbecue.


1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup lite coconut milk
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce (or 2 additional teaspoons low sodium soy sauce)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast pounded slightly and cut into 1-inch strips

Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon red curry paste
1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

Sauce can be made 1 day ahead of time, and will keep 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.


8 (8-inch) bamboo skewers, soaked for 20 minutes

(I just threw them in the pila)

3/4 cup Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce, recipe above
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped toasted peanuts

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the chicken stock, coconut milk, soy sauce, shallot, garlic, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime zest, and ginger.

Add the chicken strips and marinate for 1 hour. (Be sure not to leave too long).

Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.

Spray a nonstick grill pan with cooking spray and preheat over a medium-high flame. (I used our barbecue).

While pan is heating, thread chicken onto skewers.

Grill 2 to 3 minutes per side, until meat is cooked through and has light grill marks.

Serve chicken skewers with Peanut Dipping Sauce, and garnish with basil or cilantro and chopped peanuts.

Yield: 4 servings (2 skewers and 2 tablespoons peanut sauce per serving)


Delicious. The sauce made the dish.


BB: BBD: White Pizzas with Arugula

This will be my first post for Barefoot Bloggers, a twice monthly event that features recipes by Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa). The recipe for this period was supposed to be posted yesterday, but a typical pounding jungle storm cut our satelite service for the day, so I'm a bit late. The recipe was chosen by Andrea of Nummy Kitchen. Not only have I never made pizza from scratch, but I am not really a big pizza fan, and I wouldn't in a million years have ever thought of making a pizza with a "greens" topping. It sounded great, though ... kinda like a salad with the croutons on the bottom ... and I have been looking forward to it all week.

AND I also want to submit this to
Bread Baking Day, a once monthly event that is hosted this month by Nick and Sara of I'm a Food Blog. The topic is "Something New", and although I have eaten lots of pizza over the years, the availability of great, inexpensive pizzas for ordering out, combined with a family full of cheese intolerances, and my own idea that making a pizza crust was too difficult, has kept me from making my own pizzas. So this is a "first" for me.

White Pizzas with Arugula


Arugula does not exist in Petén, and I have still not grown any, so once again I turned to my garden to see what would work instead of arugula. I happily decided on some cilantro and pretty well my entire crop of Swiss Chard,

and added some of the basil leaves that I had left in the refrigerator.

I buy my yeast in 1 lb packages, and have no idea how much is in one of those little envelopes, so I used 1 TB.

I used some of my doncella honey, figuring that its lemon-y sweetness would back up the flavors of the greens.

No fresh thyme anywhere ... so I used a couple of dried bunches to flavor the oil, then removed them.

Cheese here is limited in range, expensive and, for the most part, tasteless. I bought two bags of cheese blends, and for a bit of flavor, mixed a chopped roasted red pepper into a small container of cream cheese for the base. In the end, I used much less cheese than the recipe called for.

I was happy to see that this recipe uses lemon ... and we are in lemon season ....


For the dough:

1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110) water
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
Good olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, sliced
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the topping:

3 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (8 ounces)
1 1/2 cups grated fresh mozzarella cheese (7 ounces)
11 ounces creamy goat cheese, such as montrachet, crumbled

For the vinaigrette:

1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces baby arugula
1 lemon, sliced


Mix the dough.

Combine the water, yeast, honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.
When the yeast is dissolved, add 3 cups of flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed.

While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough.
Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

Knead by hand.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic.

Let it rise.

Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Make garlic oil.

Place 1/2 cup of olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't burn.

Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (Be sure your oven is clean!)

Portion the dough.

Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 6 equal pieces.

Place the doughs on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Stretch the dough.

Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)

Top the dough.

Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese.

Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.

Make the vinaigrette.

Meanwhile, whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Add the greens.

When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten. Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and a slice of lemon and serve immediately.



Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kitchen Toys

Can anyone guess what this is?

Hint: its really old and yes, it belongs in the kitchen.

Did you guess before you looked?

Its a hand meat grinder.

And this one is special to me because it has been handed down from my grandmother Carroll ... to my mother ... and now to me. My Mom gifted me with it when I was home visiting with her in June.

This type of meat grinder was manufactured by James Osborne Spong, who started a small family business in 1856 in London, England to make economic household utensils. Apparently his line of grinders for coffee and meat were of excellent quality, since a quick google search shows that lots of people are still using the original ones. This one is very small .... only a few inches high ... but works perfectly.

I have wanted a good hand meat grinder for ages. The only ground meat I can buy here is ground beef ... and I would often prefer to cook with other ground meats. I hope to use it in these next days for a dish I am ready to prepare.


CEiMB: Grilled Thai Beef Salad

We don't eat salads nearly often enough. Salads are not at all popular in the jungle. Soups are, surprisingly for this hot climate, almost universally served instead of salads. When salads are served here, they are usually salads that aren't based on any type of lettuce or greens ... salads like carrot salads, beet salads, cucumber salads, tomato salads ... you get the idea. Lettuces aren't generally available here to buy, and those that are, are often small, soft and wilting heads of iceberg lettuce, that even on their best day, don't inspire a salad.

I love green salads. A big bowl of fresh green leaves makes such a perfect palette for a changing variety of toppings and tasty dressings. To this end, I am learning to grow green things in my garden. And fortunately, a few of those things, notably the cilantro and the "jungle spinach"* were ready to harvest. What better way to use them than in this special salad, chosen this week for the Craving Ellie in My Belly event by Jenn of Jenn B's Cooking Carveout.

I left it up to the universe as to what kind of lettuce I would find in the market, and luck was with me ... I found a head of not-too-rusty, curly, loose leaf lettuce AND a big handful of fresh basil!!

Grilled Thai Beef Salad
2007 Ellie Krieger, All rights reserved

4 servings (1 serving is about 2 1/2 cups salad)


For a variety of reasons, beef here is not that great ... and the chances of anyone knowing what the Spanish equivalent of a "top-round London broil" is, is pretty slim, so I decided to substitute another meat for the beef. I had decided on chicken, but remembered that I had a pork loin in the freezer that needed to be cycled, and I thought that it would work just fine.

The recipe calls for limes ... but I had a lemon just ready to fall off of the lemon tree (and I don't even have a lime tree), so I figured that it would substitute without changing the overall effect too much.

I once again used panela instead of brown sugar.

Red curry paste is not available here either. I checked for a recipe online and have decided to make some and keep it stored in the freezer for recipes like this ... but for today, I decided to use a few drops of Marie Sharp's Habanero Sauce to give a hint of hot.

Ingredients: Meat Step:

1 pound top-round London broil or flank steak, about 1 to 1 1/2-inches thick
3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons red curry paste or chili-garlic sauce

Ingredients: Salad Step:

1/2 head red-leaf lettuce, torn (about 6 cups)
3 shallots, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup), divided, for garnish
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, rinsed and dried
1 cup basil leaves, sliced into ribbons


Rinse and pat the meat dry. Place in a sealable plastic bag or small glass dish. In a medium bowl combine 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, soy sauce, canola oil, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and red curry paste. Pour half the mixture into the bag with the meat.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice to the bag.

Seal tightly, and marinate meat in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally. Reserve the rest of the mixture refrigerated, to dress the salad.

Spray grill or grill pan with cooking spray and preheat. Grill steak until medium-rare, about 5 minutes per side, depending on desired doneness. (I pan-fried the pork tenderloin)

Let rest until room temperature

Combine lettuce, sliced shallot, cilantro and basil (and the spinach leaves) in a salad bowl, reserving a few shallots for garnish.

Add the reserved dressing and toss to coat.
Cut meat across the grain

And place over salad in large bowl ...

Or, arrange salad on 4 plates and garnish with reserved sliced shallots.


I was enchanted with the flavors of the various greens (particularly the basil ... I never thought to add basil leaves to my salads before) melded with the asian taste of the dressing. I served the salad with avocado, which we have right now in great glorious abundance, and it accompanied perfectly. I am not a big fan of meat unless it is very soft and practically melts in your mouth ... and although the pork tenderloin that I used was incredibly well flavored, it was just a bit too chewy for my tastes. E. is not a salad eater at all ... yet he finished his entire salad! Now that really says something! I will definitely be making this again, except with chicken breast instead of the pork (or beef).

Thanks to Jenn of Jen B's Cooking Carveout for an excellent pick this week! This recipe will definitely provide an excellent improvement to our diet by enabling me to serve more leafy green vegetables.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

CEiMB: Carrot Cake Cupcakes

About 30 years ago I developed a recipe for bran muffins and for carrot cake that were so great that I have not only made them unchanged ever since, but I've made them and sold them here in my little jungle community. However, I've never tried the carrot cake as muffins, and this recipe for Carrot Cake Cupcakes sounds like an interesting cross between my muffins and my carrot cake. Thanks to Leanne at Enjoying My Favorite Things, who was the hostess this week and chose them, I get to try them for this weeks Craving Ellie in My Belly event.

Like Leanne, I too have had a bit of a problem with electricity that I hoped would have resolved itself before I had to start cooking. However, it was not to be. This all started 13 days ago when the electric company sent around a couple of workers to cut the branches around the electric wires. I realized later, after the neighborhood sprang into electronic life, that I had no power. I phoned the electric company, but all they could do was put in a report. Two reports and 5 days later, I had a call from a man from the electric company who said he would be over by 4 p.m. He never showed. He finally arrived 2 days later. I was willing to overlook his tardiness in the excitement of finally getting electricity again, when I discovered that he wasn't going to repair it ... he was just going to inspect it ... and write a report! Well, that was 6 days and another phoned-in report ago ... and still no one from the electric company has shown up to reconnect my line!

Anyway, it is possible to cook without electricity ... its just not easy. It's not about doing everything by hand, its about engineering a complicated network of extension cords (hooked into the neighbor's electricity) that can be unplugged here and plugged in there, giving me off-and-on connectivity for the refrigerator, the laptop, one table lamp, the microwave, the toaster, the food processor, the mini-blender, the immersion blender ... fortunately, I have a propane stove!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes (optional Cream Cheese Frosting)
2005, Ellie Krieger, All rights reserved


I decided to treat these as muffins ... no frosting ... not only was I unable to buy cream cheese, but I figured I could do without the added dairy products and sugar.

The recipe asks for finely grated carrots ... I chopped them into cubes and tossed them into my mini-blender/chopper ... fast and perfect.

Apples aren't a jungle fruit, and are usually imported and very expensive here, but by luck, I found Guatemalan Highlands cooking apples in the market this week and they made a delicious natural apple sauce.

Whole wheat flour is non-existent in Peten, so I buy bran and mix it with the regular white flour.

I used an extra half cup of grated carrots (they were already grated ... and I always add extra to my carrot cake with sensational results).

I used grated panela (which is sugar cane molasses boiled down to hard bricks) instead of light brown sugar. I use panela for most of my baking because it is more natural than white sugar, and its purchase helps the campesino people.

I didn't sift the dry ingredients because of the bran, which would have been sifted right out of the mixture.

Walnuts are another rare/expensive item so I substituted crushed pepitoria (squash seeds).

Serves: 10 cupcakes


3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup natural applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
4 ounces 1/3 fat cream cheese (recommended: Neufchatel)
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

Sift together the first 6 ingredients.

In a large bowl, whisk the oil, brown sugar and eggs until well combined.

Whisk in the applesauce, vanilla and carrots.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Stir in 1/4 cup of the chopped walnuts.

Divide the batter between the muffin cups.

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

(For topping)
With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and lemon zest until smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts. The cupcakes should be stored in the refrigerator.


Delicious! Light, fluffy, moist and flavorful.
It was too dark to take a photo when we ate them ... I'll take one tomorrow when I don't need indoor lights.

Friday: So far we've eaten these muffins with butter, with yogurt, with ice cream, and just straight up ... and they are superior in every situation. The underlying hint of freshness from the apple sauce is like a surprise in your mouth ... I think that the Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting would be the final perfect touch. I highly recommend these.


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