THE SPICES OF LIFE . . . homemade curry powder

Those lovers of exotic flavours. The intrepid, adventurous cook. You who love the fabled stories of The silk Road and camel caravans loaded with precious spices. All of this is here. In your kitchen. You toss red chili peppers, coriander, cumin, and black mustard seeds and black peppercorns in a heated pan. It becomes pure alchemy. This fragrant aromas of spices you have created becomes your personal curry powder. Your Poudre de Curry Maison.

This recipe for curry powder is a blueprint. You add a little more fenugreek seeds. A whisper of ginger. A little more turmeric. Your whole concept of curry power seasoning changes when you make your own.

The inspiration for homemade curry powder comes from the pages of Patricia Wells cookbooks. She is one of my favourite sources for French recipes . I use my homemade curry powder in salad dressings, soups, curries and frequently add just a touch of curry powder at the end of many dishes.

The recipe takes less than 15 minutes to make. Find it in MRS.BUTTERFINGERS kitchen.

EXOTIC ASIAN PORK RIBS . . . ROXY’S BISTRO STYLE

There’s always a back story to opening a restaurant.  Some one thing or person who influenced you.  Andy Chan was such a person.

When my husband and I were courting our favorite restaurant was not a white tablecloth, fine dining restaurant.  It was  a takeout Chinese hole-in-the-wall.   The menu featured the usual dried ribs, chicken balls and stir-fries.  But there was a second private menu.  Exquisite food prepared for a different clientele.  Late night mah-jong players.    Andy Chan was the brilliant chef.  His dishes were sublimely exotic.

We hung out in Andy’s kitchen, sitting on what Andy called  Chinese Chesterfield’s (rice bags).  This amazing man shared his recipes and  his knowledge with us.  He related  how  he started out sweeping floors and scrubbing pots in restaurants in Hong Kong.    How secretive their chefs would  be.  Striking him if they thought he was watching how they cooked.    He  persevered and acquired great knowledge.     Andy emigrated to Canada and Regina.      He did well, and eventually moved his Chinese take-out restaurant to a new location on Hill Avenue, in Regina, Saskatchewan.  He called it PEARL RIVER.

More than forty years ago our restaurant,  ROXY’S BISTRO,  served French cuisine with a decided Asian flavour.  Today they call it fusion.  We called it “Andy’ style”.   WHERE TO EAT IN CANADA listed ROXY’S BISTRO as one of the top one hundred restaurants in Canada.    We will be forever grateful to Andy Chan for his dishes like “fish in the  sink”  and  “fish cooked three times”,  and for filling our courtship days with the flavours of ginger, star anise, sesame oil and exotic vegetables.

This is not a complicated recipe.  The secret to irresistible, tender and succulent  ribs is  braising the ribs first  and then the slow, low temperature cooking in the oven.  You can use any type of pork ribs  when you make  ASIAN PORK RIBS .

CURRIED KALE WITH COCONUT

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Every day I go out to the vegetable garden and pick armfuls of kale.  I feel a little like The Sorceress’s Apprentice.  The more I cut and cut and cut it continues to grow and grow and grow.  They have become an embarrassment of riches.   The payoff from this leafy green is loads of vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium and antioxidants. Kale is extremely versatile.   You can steam it, saute it, add it to a salad or casserole, make kale chips and even add it to smoothies.  This recipe for curried kale with coconut is the perfect side to serve with your favorite Asian food.  It’s simple to whip up, and can be served at room temperature.   Click on CURRIED KALE WITH COCONUT for this soo-good-for-you recipe.

THAI STYLE GROUND PORK WITH CHILES AND BASIL IN LETTUCE CUPS

 

When I crave something exotic with intense flavour my thoughts turn to Thai food.    This dish fulfills my craving.  It is at once sweet and sour, hot and spicy.  It is a simple recipe with just a few easily obtainable ingredients.   The wonderful thing about this Thai Style Ground Pork is that it can be an appetizer or a main course.   I share this recipe on my food blog MRS BUTTERFINGERS.

 

ASIAN PORK LETTUCE WRAPS – an explosion of flavour –

ASIAN PORK LETTUCE WRAPS

For something a little different  serve these delicious morsels of  Asian flavoured pork, as a main course or appetizer.  Easy to prepare and you can make them ahead of time.   For an extra hot kick of flavour make the spicy sauce to spoon over the pork mixture into your lettuce cup.

ASIAN PORK LETTUCE WRAPS

In a deep saute pan, over medium heat,  add about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil and saute a generous half cup of finely chopped onions and 2 finely chopped garlic cloves.  Sprinkle this mixture with a little kosher salt during this process.  Salt draws the moisture out of the onions.

Add 1 pound of lean ground pork and saute until the meat changes colour from pink to gray.

Still on medium heat add 2 generous tbsp of grated ginger, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbs oyster sauce and 1 tbsp of brown sugar.  Stir to combine and cook for a few minutes so the pork absorbs these wonderful Asian flavours.

Add about 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (2 limes), a generous 1/2 cup hoisin sauce, 2 tbsp soy sauce.  Stir well and simer for a few minutes.  Taste your pork mixture and adjust the seasonings.  If you like it highly seasoned add more fish sauce and oyster sauce.

Off the heat add two large scallions (green part as well) finely chopped, and 2 generous tbsp cilantro finely chopped, and freshly ground black pepper to taste.   Taste again and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Serve this mixture at room temperature (or heated if you wish) in butter lettuce cups.  You can make this dish ahead of time and refrigerate until need.

HOT SPICY SAUCE

This is pork  recipe is full of flavour but not spicy.  Serve this sauce on the side for those who like it hot.

To add a little fire to this dish make up this sauce.

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tsp fish sauce

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp hot Asian chili sauce or Thai chili sauce.

For extra fire you can add 1/2 tsp chili flakes.  Mix well.