Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Green Papaya Salad

My part time job has become a full time job in the last few months, complete with my very own office. It's all very exciting. Another perk of the 9-5 is that once a week Mike shows up for a lunch date. We arrives right on time and with a bag of some delight or another. We close the door, break open the takeout dishes and catch up on the finer details of life like who has Dr's appointments and which kids will be late home from school. It's a fast paced life. I'm never quite sure what Mike will bring for lunch but one of my very favourite choices comes from the Thai restaurant around the corner from his office. My very favourite Green Papaya Salad!

Asian cooking can be a bit of a pricey affair if it is not routine to your kitchen. Specialty oils, sauces, and sometimes hard to find ingredients can deter even the most determined cook. Personally I think that fish sauce, hoisin, sesame oil, sriracha and so many other ingredients should be as common in a pantry as ketchup and peanut butter.

Here is a fabulous take on Green Papaya Salad that demands just a few ordinary ingredient you can pick up at any grocery store. The only item that might me a bit of a trick to locate is the Green Papaya. most Asian markets will carry it. Many thanks to the fine folks at Martin's Apples for putting me on to New City Market in downtown Kitchener. I found more than I went looking for! A note about green papayas; these are not the beautiful orange variety with the shiny black seeds. Green papaya are green on the outside and white/cream coloured inside. The seeds are perfect tiny white spheres.

Green Papaya Salad

1 large Green Papaya - peeled and seeds removed
the juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1 glove garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2cup roasted cashews
1/4 cup cilantro rough chopped

Shred the papaya into spaghetti thin strips. (a mandolin is the perfect  tool for the job)
in a small bowl whisk together lime, chili sauce, garlic and salt
pour over shredded papaya.
add cashews and cilantro. toss well to coat

This salad is crunchy with a bit of heat balanced with the freshness of the cilantro.

You will find many recipes for Green Papaya Salad - if you have the bottles of fish sauce, dried shrimp and Thai chilies on hand try a few different authentic recipes - find one you love. This recipe is not traditional but is delicious, and super for a busy weeknight dinner. Be careful you might just get the kids hooked on trying something new at the same time. Add some grilled chicken strips and you have a meal.

It's so worth making a double batch just to make sure you have left overs for lunch the next day.

Live well, eat well, laugh often

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Super Easy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Super Easy  - not fat or sugar free, but oatmeal is a nutritional bonus

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 bag milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Beat together butter and sugar until fluffy
Beat in egg and vanilla
in a separate bowl mix together dry ingredients
add dry ingredients into butter sugar mixture - mix well
stir in chocolate chips
drop by rounded spoonfuls on to parchment paper lined baking sheet
bake for 12 minutes or until golden
remove from oven - allow to cool 2 minutes on the pan then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hey, Where You Been? Nowhere & Everywhere

I logged into Smothered in Butter this morning. I clicked on the New Post tab. My shoulders fell about 3 inches and an audible sigh escaped my body. I'm back.

I can't even explain where I have been. If you are a mother however you know exactly where I have been. On holidays! (Sure I have) Actually the kids have been on holidays. I, have been cooking, shopping, wrapping, baking, taxiing, refereeing, decorating, visiting, party planning, party attending, hockey watching, drinking my fair share of java and more than my fair share of red but the thing I've been doing the most is cleaning. (Did I mention I've been enjoying cocktails and that I buy coffee cream at the LCBO?) My spirit  is bruised, I was washing dishes in salted water Thursday as tears of desperation dripped from my cheeks into the sink. I swear to you that the only thing that kept me going through it all was the knowledge that vacuuming burns 230 calories an hour and the knowledge that eventually I would be back.

That morning has arrived!

Beyond the domestic challenges faced over the past two weeks there has also been some fine food cooked, enjoyed, gifted and shared. There have been a great number of kitchen therapy sessions. Some of my favourites...

Watching and coaching my good friend through her very first ever turkey cooking effort. The brining, the roasting, the resting, the carving. She did a fabulous job! I could tell when I trotted across the street to check in on the cooking process that she was roasting perfection - the house smelled gloriously like my grandmother's home would smell on Christmas day. You don't get to smell that in your own kitchen.

Favourite moment #2 piles of cinnamon buns! Every Christmas Eve Mike & I drive around delivering plates of these morning sweetbreads to people we want to thank for some great memories through the year. I have my kids deliver plates to neighbourhood houses for the same reasons. I never can bake enough, always try to leave them secretly and I sing while I knead and shape the dough. Yes, I believe pastry can change the world!

I was very excited for Becky who hosted not one but two dinners this year. Her first ever dinner parties. She did a really great job, she planned, cooked and entertained with confidence. I was very proud of her. These events paradoxically provided my most infuriating kitchen meltdowns too. While the pre-party and party went well she left one hell of a mess that, well, she is not so great at taking care of. I wanted to scream that it would be a frozen day in Tahiti before she got the chance again to destroy our home but I didn't. I took up the slack, grumbled and cursed and hoped secretly that she keeps at it.

Fabulous snacky food was enjoyed everywhere we went and around our own cocktail table. Cheeses melted under fig compote and almonds, barley salsa, coconut shrimp, meatballs, cleaver pizzas, smoked salmon, bbq, oh the list goes on and on. All the vacuuming in all of the world could not erase the indulgence that has attached itself to my thighs.

This brings me to the future. I successfully eradicated chocolate from the house, (more vacuuming) I've convinced Mike not to bring anything in to the house we shouldn't be eating and I've set the little changes in motion... park at the back of the lot, take the stairs, milk not cream, lemon not butter, green tea not Ruby Relaxers. Time to get back to reality. Heck, Time for kids to get back to school, time for me to get back to writing...

Time for the rest of the house to pitch in on the cleaning front!

Looking forward to sharing my kitchen therapy notes Smothered in Butter in 2012 - I have a feeling it will be a very fine year!

My kids gifted me excuses to spend time in my kitchen.
apparently they appreciate the value of Kitchen Therapy!

Eat well, Live well, Laugh often