Thai Pineapple Fried Rice

THAILAND
Pineapple is widely available in Thailand. In Canada, pineapples peak in the winter. But, they can be purchased year round. Tourists traveling to Thailand also enjoy their exotic unique foods. These light dishes have become a great addition to our western meal planning. We value the healthy benefits and spicy flavours. This dish will please everyone especially the kids!
With influences from Vietnam and China, Thai food has evolved over time to become its own traditional culinary style. Thai Pineapple Fried Rice (Khao Pad Sapparot) is a spectacular dish! Once you taste it, I think you will agree with me that it will become a regular dish on your dining room table.
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THAI PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE ~30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 cups cooked jasmine rice (leftover rice works great too)
  • 4 oz. skinless boneless chicken breast
  • 5 oz. shrimp or pork
  • one pineapple
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 tbsp. oil
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp. mushroom soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 stems green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup unsalted cashews
  • strips of red pepper
  • cilantro for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.  If you find it hard to cut, put in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes to harden slightly and then cut. Reserve along with the shrimp.
  2. Cut a pineapple in half lengthwise. Cut out the triangle of the hard core and freeze for your next smoothie.  Remove and dice the pineapple flesh into bite sized pieces. Set aside.
  3. Mix the mushroom soy sauce and fish sauce in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Turn your wok or sauté pan on high and add the oil and garlic, fry for 30 seconds.  Add the chicken and shrimp and stir fry until the chicken is about halfway cooked through (about 1 1/2 minutes), then move to one side and turn the heat to medium. Break the eggs directly into the pan. Fry the eggs without breaking them up for about 2 minutes, until they are partially set.
  5. Push the eggs and meat to one side and add the rice to the other side.  Add the soy sauce and fish sauce directly on the rice and then with a shoveling motion, combine the two sides of the pan, tossing, stirring for 2 minutes, mixing the rice with the eggs shrimp and chicken, working from the bottom so that the rice has a chance to fry in the oil and everything  is integrated.
  6. Sprinkle black pepper on the rice and add cashews, green onion and the reserved pineapple chunks. Transfer to the hollowed out pineapple halves, garnish with the red pepper slices, chopped cilantro and serve. ENJOY!!!

“Chunky” Good For Extra Crunch! YUM!

VARIATIONS
Add chicken, pork or  shrimp or ALL THREE! Allergic to nuts..don’t add them!

Vegan Version With EXTRA Pizzazz `Crimp Cut Edges’.

didyouknowDID YOU KNOW?
ALL THE GOODNESS OF PINEAPPLE
That prickly sensation in pineapple is the Bromelain in pineapple. It is purported to be an anti-aging element which prevents blood clotting since it acts as a blood thinner much like spinach. Today, there is less bromelain in pineapple than 50 years ago, due to the change in the soil’s composition.

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WHAT TO DO WITH THE PINEAPPLE SKINS?
Marinade chicken with your favorite recipe. Tie the pineapple skins to the chicken and grill on your stove top or outdoors for that added flavour.

Confucius Say…..!

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Forbidden Black Rice Salad

Black Rice was once “only” enjoyed by the Emperor and his royal court. It was forbidden for the commoners to eat this exquisite black rice. The tender, nutty flavoured rice is presumed to enrich one’s life and promote longevity.rice3 After I brought my chilled rice salad to the office,  I noticed that all the staff made it the following week!  It travels well and is a great picnic salad.  A refreshing change from your typical summer salads.
I researched and tried out several versions but this recipe from the Bon Appétit June 2012 needs no improvement. black rice salad photo provided by Jason Lowe, Bon Appétit

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BLACK RICE SALAD – WITH MANGO AND NUTS
INGREDIENTS
2 oranges
1/4 cup or more fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
2 cups black rice
Kosher salt
2 just-ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2″dice
1 cup finely fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup finely chopped red onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1/2 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts or unsalted cashews or other nuts
6 scallions, thinly sliced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded, minced
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INSTRUCTIONS
1 ) Remove peel and white pith from oranges.
2 ) Working over a medium bowl to catch juices and using a small sharp knife, cut between membranes to release orange segments into bowl. Squeeze membranes over bow to release any juices. Strain juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl; reserve orange segments.
3 ) Add 1/4 cup lime juice, oil, and fish sauce (if using) to bowl with orange juice; whisk to blend.
4 ) Set dressing aside.
5 ) Bring rice and 2 and 3/4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Season lightly with salt. Cover, Reduce heat to low and simmer until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stand, covered for 15 minutes.
6 ) Spread out rice on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with dressing and season lightly with salt; let cool.
7 ) Place mangoes and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add rice and toss gently to combine.
8 ) Season lightly with salt and more lime juice if desired.
Serves: 6–8

didyouknowDID YOU KNOW?
While whole grain brown rice and red rice also contain beneficial antioxidants; only black rice contains special variety of antioxidants known as anthocyanin antioxidants. (Thus the dark purple colour -like blueberries)  Additionally, black rice also contains an important antioxidant – Vitamin E, which is useful in maintaining eye, skin, and immune health in addition to other important functions. Forbidden Black Rice contains 18 amino acids (same as Aloe Vera), iron, zinc, copper, carotene, and fiber. Mangos are #1 ~ the most popular fruit in the world.

black-rice

Emperor’s Dining Room

In ancient times, Emperors reserved this wonderful black rice for their own consumption because it was thought that it would extend their lives. Black rice does provide many health benefits that the western world is now embracing with gusto.  It helps fight against heart disease, cancer, and diabetes with high amount of flavanoid phytonutrients and protects heart health (plaque formation). Herbalists use black rice as a prevention and treatment for ailments and as a blood tonifier. 

Black Rice was also considered to be somewhat of an aphrodisiac at one time.  I suspect the Emperors down throughout the ages shared their black rice stock with their consorts or concubines.

Heirloom Forbidden Black rice is a strain from Indonesian Rice.

Heirloom Forbidden Black rice is a strain from Indonesian Black Rice. photo provided by Spikenard and Myrrh

Black Rice is surely ‘one of the’… if not ‘the most’ special variety of rice that is cultivated today. Its special, near medicinal values is truly stunning, even today with all of our medical knowledge and tools. Every time you sit down to enjoy a few servings of this awesome super food, you can remind yourself that you are eating something that was once reserved for royalty. If a commoner was caught eating this rice it was “off with their heads”.

VARIATIONS
If you are trying to find something else to do with your avocados, my friend Monique from Ambitious Kitchen added avocado to her black rice salad. It is a nice touch and goes well. Instead of unsalted peanuts (Bon Appétit version), I used cashews while Monique added almonds to her salad. If you have the time and patience, roasted pecans would be wonderful too.
avocado-mango-blackrice-salad

Another gluten-free recipe that is filled with flavour , colour and the YUM-Factor!

kids32BACK TO SCHOOL LUNCH!
A light touch: For milder flavour, use leeks instead of red onion and yellow or red bell peppers instead of jalapeno peppers. Forget the nuts (allergies)  if you like.  Substitute other herbs for the cilantro. e.g. parsley, basil, fresh mint, fresh-soft rosemary (my favorite) or even peppery rocket lettuce. Know what your kids like to eat. I would even test out fresh oregano in this ‘forbidden’ black rice salad.  COLLEGE KIDS: Add a smidgen of fresh pressed garlic ~ to boost the immune system.  If it is not fresh I would not use the herbs. The dried herbs taste different. They have flavour, but are better suited in baking and cooking.

Y-U-M-M      Y-U-M-M-M!

Tasty Cucumber Salad

This Dill~Cucumber Salad recipe is so easy and simple to make with just a few ingredients.  It is very refreshing and delicious in summer and equally as good during the winter months.

chilly-dilly

Chilly Dilly Cucumber

An excellent salad  to accompany those tasty Finnish meatballs, meatloaf, smoked salmon and as a side dish for any meal.  I brought the cucumber salad to my neighbour’s place.  We had this salad with smoked salmon, capers, lemon, cream cheese and rye crackers.  The cool cucumber salad cuts the richness of the smoked salmon in a most pleasant way.  Since we are all of different nationalities, we discussed and critiqued other country’s versions of  cucumber salad. The election was over after we counted the votes. My Dill~Cucumber Salad won!
Chilly Dilly cucumber will not be making any speeches. However, his winning secret is in the dill ~ a subtle, delicious flavour that really enhances the cucumber.

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INGREDIENTS
1 medium cucumber thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar substitute
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons  avocado or salad oil
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INSTRUCTIONS
1.  Mix the vinegar, water, sugar substitute, salt and oil together and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar substitute
2.  Add the dill and cucumber slices.
3.  Refrigerate for several hours to let the flavours meld.
IMG_1526didyouknow TOP SEVEN ALKALINE FOODS: The cucumber is one of the most alkaline foods  (#3) that you can eat.  Combined with the  effect of the apple cider vinegar, it will help to make you body alkaline or at least closer to a neutral pH when you are eating acidic proteins.  Both meat and even fish and chicken are acidic.  Your body wants to stay alkaline or at least closer to a neutral pH to stay healthy along with fighting off and prevent disease.  Eat your veggies!

BONUS: This is a very tasty cucumber salad recipe!  Until you make this cucumber recipe perhaps for the first time, you will know what you have been missing!  My taste testers (friends) tell me all the time.  You will make this salad again and again!
HEALTHY OIL
This salad contains 2 tablespoons of healthy oil, which is my variation to the traditional Finnish cucumber salad. Not only does it prevents the cucumber slices from sticking together it is so good and healthy for you. If you recall the  true story about Lorenzo’s oil. (actually containing two specific long chain fatty acids, isolated from rapeseed oil and olive oil)  will know the miracle of oils.  We don’t know everything about food/medicine. Some people have a shot of oil in the morning to start their day!

alkaline-foods7
CUCUMBER TIPS and benefits!

Sweet Potato Salad – Simple Version

This is a wonderful and healthy side dish to accompany those grilled ribs, chicken, pork and even salmon. This is an alternative to those usual potato and pasta salads. It’s a great take along for those summer barbecues! It’s a crowd pleaser!
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IMG_0870INGREDIENTS
2 large or up to 4 small (2 1/2 pounds) sweet potatoes
4 teaspoons white wine or champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon style mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/4 cup capers or chopped pickles(optional)

DIRECTIONS
1) Preheat oven to 400F.
2) Cut the sweet potatoes into bite-sized pieces and toss in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Place on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast about 30 minutes turning occasionally.
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Alternatively the potatoes can be steamed for 10 minutes and let them air dry to remove access liquid. It is easy for them to soften too much so do not overcook.
3) While the potatoes are roasting, make the dressing. Place in a blender or whisk in a bowl, the mustard, vinegar and salt. Slowly add the remaining tablespoons of olive oil in a slow stream.
4) If you have been oven roasting the potatoes remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and let rest and cool slightly about 10 minutes.
5) Toss the still warm potatoes with the dressing.
They absorb the dressing better when slightly warm.
6) Add scallions and toss gently.

Your finished salad

Your finished salad

VARIATIONS: You can also add to this 1/2 bottle of capers, 2 sliced celery sticks or fennel, a couple of boiled eggs chopped, etc…. Look in your fridge. It’s fresh. Use it up!
Serves 4-6 persons
This is actually better the next day.

Massimo Bottura

OH WHAT A NIGHT …IT WAS SUCH A NIGHT!
The stars were out tonight, as we waited in anticipation to meet Massimo Bottura at George Brown College. All the chefs-in-training, clad in their best whites were waiting with joy on this cold, crisp February night.stars-animated-gif

Massimo Bottura told interesting stories. Many of which are described in his book “Never Trust a skinny Italian Chef”. He dropped out of law school to follow his passion as a chef and his father would not speak to him for some time.  Massimo was awarded his third michelin star just weeks before his father passed. His restaurant has been named as the third best restaurant in the world 2 years in a row. The San Pellegrino site states: ( Massimo Bottura is now #2, 2015 )

“In third place for the second consecutive year, Osteria Francescana continues to fly the flag for a nation that is arguably under-represented on the list. Italians are famously spiky when it comes to people interfering with long-established culinary traditions, yet Massimo Bottura is able to balance the demands of heritage and modernity and has created a restaurant where traditionalists and those seeking something entirely new are both amply catered for.”…..published by www.theworlds50best.com

Massimo Bottura spent a summerIMG_3574r at Ferran Adria’s El Bulli (awarded best restaurant in the world for several years before closure) in Spain and a year at Alaine Ducasse’s restaurant in Monte Carlo. He was invited to be their head chef. An honour in itself. Massimo’s book is an interesting read. I was up until 4:00 am reading his life’s journey. In his talk and in his book, Massimo speaks about the difficulty in making a “simple” dish spectacular.  The stages of parmigiano reggiano was particularly interesting.
Parmigiano Reggiano SALAD
As an homage to Massimo, I am making a favourite salad of mine, which incorporates reggiano. I took this pictures right before leaving to meet Massimo Bottura for a second time. He is speaking again tonight at George Brown along with Canadian celebrity chef’s including Claudio Aprile, our own molecular gastronomy chef.
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RECIPE
Mushroom, Reggiano Salad

* 2 portobello mushrooms
* arugula lettuce
* balsamic syrup(home made)
* parmigiano reggiano, shaved slices
* thin slices of prosciutto or seranno ham

Sauté slices of portobello mushrooms in some olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt. Not much since the prosciutto will be salty enough. No pepper.  The arugula is peppery enough. Set mushrooms aside. Fry  until crispy like bacon (who doesn’t love bacon?), slices of Serrano or prosciutto, adding more olive oil if required. Place arugula on a platter. Layer on top the sautéed mushrooms, fried prosciutto, shavings of regianno, and drizzle with the syrup.

HAT2FOOD TIPS: There are no quantities in this recipe as you will use as much as you need for the amount of servings. It would be best served on a flat platter with a serving spoon and people can help themselves. As there are only a few ingredients, the quality of the ingredients are paramount.  I buy the serrano fresh from the local St. Lawrence market (in Toronto, CAN). I have the butcher slice it for me.  I buy the reggiano from the same location.  I have them cut it from the wheel instead of buying the pre cut sections.  I tell them that I need a larger slice, even if I don’t.  It gives me an excuse to have them cut it.  If you can, it would be best to buy the day the wheel is cut.  Reggiano is a living ingredient which deteriorates in quality the same way that a wine does after it’s open.  You can only appreciate this when you have tasted it.  I notice there are stores today that will announce that they are cutting wheels of cheese.  When they do, run…… It will be worth it!