Tag Archives: quick

Ajat (Thai Quick Pickle)

11 Feb

ajat (thai quick pickle)

Combine my love of Thai food and my love of pickles, and you have ajat. A traditional Thai condiment that’s really easy and quick to make and pairs perfectly with a variety of Thai dishes – although it’s most notably served alongside satay to balance the richness and greasiness of the grilled meat (or fried tofu) and peanut sauce. The part of this quick pickle that seems ingenious is the preparation of the syrupy pickling liquid separately ahead of time – it’s only poured over the fresh sliced vegetables (cucumber, mild peppers, and shallots) right before serving, so the prep at serving time is minimal, and the veggies stay nice, bright, and crisp. The cilantro garnish is optional, but I thought the herb’s flavor was a great addition, especially towards the end of the meal as the delicate leaves macerated slightly in the syrup. The recipe as given makes quite a lot of ajat, but if you need less, I recommend making the full recipe of pickling liquid to use on multiple occasions, cutting up as many vegetables as you want at a time and pouring over only as much liquid as needed to barely cover them.

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Coconut Breakfast Quinoa

4 Feb

coconut breakfast quinoa

My parents are here visiting me in Buenos Aires, so it’s been a whirlwind taking them around to all the best sights and restaurants (and it’s also the reason why I didn’t post on Friday – whoops!). They get breakfast at their hotel though, so I’m on my own for fixing breakfast. Something quick and easy but healthy and filling is important to have enough energy to get me through until lunch with all the sight-seeing, and this coconut breakfast quinoa has been a great option. Coconut milk adds richness to the quinoa, which is similar to oatmeal in this preparation (not that I’ve given up on my favorite steel-cut oats), but with the added boost of quinoa’s higher fiber and protein – even more so if you include the optional chia seeds. This can be served warm or cold and can be adapted endlessly with your favorite fruits and nuts, and you can also use a different spice in place of cinnamon, if you’d like, or omit it altogether. Although it’s geared towards being a breakfast (and will give you a great start to your day), this would even make a delicious, healthy (vegan and gluten-free) dessert.

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Thai Stir-Fried Cabbage

30 Jan

thai stir-fried cabbage

I’m back in Buenos Aires now, getting settled into a new place. The apartment is twice as big as the last two we’ve stayed in – still a studio apartment, but now there’s a couch! And the kitchen is much nicer, with a lovely gas stove and oven, a full-sized refrigerator, and ample counter space. It’s hard, though, to ramp back up with cooking, but I’ve learned to start off with simple dishes. Luckily, we’re near a great market with lots of fruit and vegetables vendors. And of course, I’m still carting spices around with me and (embarrassingly) some sauces, too… Asian sauces in particular (soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce) can be hard to find and expensive, so it made sense to take them to/from Montevideo (I think).

Anyway, on my first trip to the market, I just grabbed a couple of basic vegetables, including one of my favorites – cabbage. Not a lot of people are enthusiastic about cabbage, I know, but I love it. In salads, soups, or stir fries like this. When I came across this Thai recipe, I knew it couldn’t go wrong, but I wasn’t prepared for how flavorful such a simple dish could be. It could easily be a side dish to a Thai curry or a little midday snack, but served over rice (or quinoa, as I did) with chopped fresh vegetables (like the cucumber and tomatoes shown here) and, of course, nam pla prik on hand to add to taste, it makes for a surprisingly satisfying meal.

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Pickled Red Onions

2 Jan

pickled red onions

The hardest part of moving, for me, is adapting to a new kitchen. Here, I only have a two-burner electric stove and a tiny sink (far too small for the amount of dirty dishes I produce), alongside a small square of counter space. I’m doing my best to adjust my habits, planning ahead to make sure I’ll have a burner free and being extra strict about cleaning dishes as I go. But, unlike my last place, there’s a full-sized refrigerator, so I have room again to stock up on little goodies like these pickled red onions. The onions still have a crunch to them and retain some of their characteristically strong taste, but the bite is mellowed by vinegar and sugar, with hot peppers tossed in to add a lingering kick of spiciness. They’re surprisingly addictive, and I find myself reaching for them over and over, an amazing addition to salads and sandwiches and great complement to all sorts of beans and meats. I like how versatile their simple flavor is, fitting in with a variety of cuisines – anything from Mexican (perch them atop tacos) to Indian (use as a side to balance rich curries) to Greek (sprinkle on a salad with feta). Although my favorite might just be snacking on them plain, something I can’t resist doing any time I open the refrigerator and spy them.

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Mediterranean Fish Stew

28 Dec

mediterranean fish stew

I’m getting settled in here in Montevideo, and although a lot of things are very similar to Buenos Aires, there are also a lot of noticeable differences. For one, food on the whole is surprisingly expensive – about two to three times as much as I’d encountered in my neighborhood in Buenos Aires. So I’m cooking even more in order to save money. The river here is a lot cleaner, and we’re just at where it meets the ocean, so there’s a lot more seafood available here, and that’s one thing that’s actually cheaper. So I put together this basic fisherman’s stew, using tilapia that was on special (though any firm white fish should do). I’d never cooked something quite like this before, but it was very easy to throw together and packed with flavor. I especially liked the technique of using anchovies and garlic to create the base (instead of the usual fish stock or clam juice). Topped with fresh herbs, this stew makes a lovely simple meal.

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Roasted Corn Salsa

17 Dec

roasted corn salsa

Did you know the best way to keep sweet corn sweet is to store it in the refrigerator? This helps slow down the conversion of the sugars to starches. I only have a small refrigerator here (think slightly larger than one in a dorm room), so I don’t have a lot of space to dedicate to storing corn. But I can’t resisting buying some when it shows up fresh at the market (currently in season here, of course), so I had to think up a quick easy use for the cobs sitting on my refrigerator shelf. I opted for this take on a basic corn salsa, roasting the corn for extra depth of flavor. The rest of the flavors here are pretty traditional (green onion, cilantro, hot pepper, lime), though I did toast the garlic, which I find mellows it perfectly for things like this. This salsa is great as a dip, on tacos, to add a pop of color and flavor to a plate of beans, or as a side for grilled fish or meat.

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Black Bean and Corn Salad

3 Dec

black bean and corn salad

On some days, it feels like a burden to cook something, especially something healthy. I want to be creative, to dedicate time to an elaborate recipe, but can’t stand the idea of actually doing so – there are lots of other more important (or just more exciting!) things to do. But we all need to eat, and a tasty dish can be easy as this salad. A fresh mix of black beans, corn, and diced vegetables, pulled together by lime juice and Mexican spices. Even with the chopping, it only takes fifteen minutes or so to throw together. And this recipe is incredibly versatile – serve it as a salad over lettuce (as pictured here), mix it with rice or quinoa for a twist on a burrito bowl, or use it as a side to accompany fish, meat, or grilled vegetables. Make this, and then you can quickly get back to everything else you have to do, with a delicious and healthy meal fueling you!

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Blue Cheese, Walnut, and Raisin Dip

17 Oct

blue cheese walnut and raisin dip

I don’t like to show up empty-handed when I go to visit someone. But I don’t always have the time to bake something (my usual go-to since most people have trouble turning down baked goods). I’ve found, however, that not only are homemade dips quite easy to make, but they’re also usually a hit, since they’re so easy to snack on while chatting and relaxing with friends. This blue cheese, walnut, and raisin dip is easier than most to make and tastes amazingly complex, with a great variety of textures and flavors (and, of course, the combination of savory and sweet that I can never resist). I loved eating it with apples, but it also works with pears, crackers, or bread. And I think it could be used as a great spread on steaks, hamburgers, or other sandwiches, too.

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Brown Butter and Dulce de Leche No-Bake Cookies

12 Oct

brown butter and dulce de leche no bake cookies

The eyes of every Argentinian I’ve met have lit up upon the mere mention of dulce de leche – this extra-sweet milk caramel is widely loved here. In the supermarket, there’s practically an entire aisle dedicated to the stuff, row upon row of different brands and variations. After a couple weeks of sneaking spoonfuls out of the jar on a regular basis, I decided that I needed a better excuse for eating it. I was hoping to make some sort of cookies (like the alfajores that commonly sandwich the caramel here), but I’m a little intimidated by the oven in my apartment, as it’s not labeled with temperatures or even the so-called gas mark system. Instead, the knob is identical to those for the stovetop, spanning from the image of a tiny flame to that of a big flame. So these no-bake cookies seemed absolutely perfect (and it certainly didn’t hurt that they include another of my favorite ingredients – brown butter). And not only are they quick and simple to make, but they’re downright addictive, with the nutty notes of the brown butter proving to be an excellent complement to the dulce de leche, and the extra pinch of fleur de sel on top taking them to my favorite sweet and salty place.

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Roasted Tomatoes and Green Beans with Basil

1 Oct

roasted tomatoes and green beans with basil

Every once in a while, I cook something delicious but don’t get around to posting about it. As I was going through some photos from late summer, I stumbled across the photos of this simple but tasty side and knew it was worth putting up on here. My kitchen was overflowing with cherry tomatoes and basil from my garden, and green beans were dirt cheap at the farmers’ market, so I put this together when I was feeling a bit lazy. But the end result was amazing – roasting the veggies concentrates their natural sweetness, and combined with herbaceous basil leaves, this makes for a great side dish (and I know I don’t post enough recipes for sides on here). I seem to remember that I actually mixed the end result with crumbled goat cheese which added a great creamy and tangy element, but even in its healthier vegan version, as written here, this is a dish worth making (or at least bookmarking for next summer).

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