Monday, December 22, 2008

Lemon Grass and Curry

I got a great idea for this week's recipes from a reader who wanted to cook with lemon grass. I think maybe it was started by the wonderful article in this months Bajareque Times by Sonia Jones, ND of the Haven Spa and Wellness Clinic called Luscious Lemon Grass. I am well aware that for many, there is a mystery of how to use Lemon Grass in recipes. Also there is a general misunderstanding of what "Curry" really is and the differences between curries from around the world.

Lemon Grass in native to India. Yet in reality, in most parts of that country, Indians do not use much Lemongrass in their cooking. They use it as tea. Only in the southern states is it sometimes used in cooking.

Thai food simply can not be made correctly without it. It is easy to use, just get a very sharp knife and thinly slice the whitish bottom part to throw into stews and soups (it makes a fresh fresh addition to chicken stock). Many recipes also call for the technique of taking the blunt side of your knife and pounding the white part of the stalk to release the flavors and throwing the whole bruised stock into the dishes, making it easy to remove after stewing, much like a bay leaf.

"Curry" simply means a saucy dish that is heavily spiced. The concept of Curry began with

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Eat Your Greens!

Many of us over indulge during the holiday season. Every body could use a daily dose of fresh greens. Greens like Kale, Mustard, Arugula, Chard and even Radish tops are low in calories, high in fiber and highly nutritious. They are high in Calcium, vitamins A, C, K and they detoxify the body with high concentrations of phyto-nutrients and anti-oxidants.

Besides all of the health benefits, greens are simply delicious and just about the easiest things to prepare and add to many dishes. After a quick washing and taking off any big tougher stems, I give them a quick rough chop and toss them into soups, stews, stir fries, potatoes, rice, just about anything.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Keep It Simple - Using Fresh Herbs

Thyme, Sage and Dill

I read a lot about food. I used to watch a lot of TV about food. I really enjoy learning about different cooking techniques and ingredients. I can not tell you how many articles and shows are about using fresh herbs. They almost become boring because there are so many herbs that go with this or that. I often end up skimming over these articles out of pure information overload.

I am currently growing about 33 different herbs. So I feel that I should do a posting on them. I have been thinking about it all week, yet have been hindered in just how to approach the subject, once again information overload. Maybe that is why so many cooks decide not to use fresh herbs. Where to start? What goes with what? It is generally easier than one would think.

When I began to learn to cook from my Dad, he told me 2 main concepts of good cooking. Keep your heat down and keep it simple. When I began cooking with dried herbs I would put everything under the sun into one dish. Dad would give me a quick curse

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rain, Rain, Rain...and Tomatillos

Will the sun ever come out? I usually harvest first thing in the morning so the produce is as fresh as possible, but yesterday it started to pour right before I was heading out the door to the garden. So off I went in my big over sized rain coat to harvest. I wish that my camera was waterproof, I had rivers running in between my raised beds. My soil running away into the coffee..yikes.

This week I am launching this blog in order to share my experiences as an organic coffee, vegetable, herb and fruit farmer in the Highlands of Panama with recipes, photos and information on cooking, preparations, notes and ideas on the items that I am growing here on the farm. I am hoping that you all will participate by commenting and or sending in your own ideas and recipes to share.

In every garden, there are times when one thing is in excess more than others. Besides rain, this week it is Tomatillos. Tomatillos look like a green tomato but with a papery husk that needs to be removed. They are absolutely wonderful when fresh and add a wonderful zippy, lemony flavor in many recipes. I like to add them at the end of cooking to retain that fresh flavor, but many people do cook them well until they get a stewed consistency. Below is my favorite Tomatillo recipe, Tequila Chicken.

Tequila Chicken

Oil for sauteing
1 Onion, diced
1 smallish Red Bell Pepper
1 Carrot, peeled and diced large
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken, cut into large cubes
1 T. ground Cumin
1T. ground Coriander
Salt and Pepper
3 or 4 cloves of Garlic, minced
1/2 cup of cheapish Tequila, Jose Cuervo Gold works great!- Save the Don Julio Anejo for drinking!
1 cup of Salsa Verde or 1 lb. of blended Tomatillos
Cilantro for garnish

In a large heated pan, put in a tablespoon or 2 of cooking oil. Saute onion, red bell pepper and carrot for 5-7 minutes on medium-high or until onion starts to brown. Add chicken and cook for 5 more minutes. Toss in spices. Stir and cook until fragrant. Toss in garlic and cook for 1 or 2 minutes. Add tequila, lower heat and using a spatula, scrape up all of the browned bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan (deglaze). Once everything in the pan comes to a saucy consistency, add the salsa or tomatillos. Cook for 3-5 minutes more. Garnish with Cilantro. Serve with rice.