Google Groups
Subscribe to The Culinary Creative
Visit this group

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

White Peach Lassi

So when you start whipping up the seriously hot stuff, here's a nice cool beverage to help tone down the flames.

Now most Thai and Indian restaurants will have a mango lassi on the menu, but I wanted to try something different and since the Asian market near me had some nice white peaches for sale, I decided to give those a whirl (literally, because I put them in a blender). :)

White Peach Lassi

2 cups plain yogurt
2 cups milk
3 cups fresh peach, chopped (4 medium peaches)
1 tbsp honey

Put yogurt, milk, peaches, and honey in a blender or food processor.

Blend the ingredients until frothy, about 15-20 seconds.

Serve chilled or over ice.


I don't like ice in my lassi so I whipped up a batch and then let it sit in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour before serving.  

You can use regular yellow peaches in this or go traditional and try mangoes instead. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Molee (Curry Dish 1)

Molee is an Indian curried fish dish. The sauce is rich and creamy (and very yellow!) and can be heated up, but this is pretty mild. You can adjust the spices to suit your heat eating tastes.


1 tbsp oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 small green chilies, finely chopped
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
4 cloves
6 curry leaves (or zest from 2/3 of a lime)
1 (13.5 oz.) can coconut milk
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 lbs sole or cod skinless fillets
1 tbsp chopped cilantro

Heat oil in a deep heavy-bottomed frying pan, then add onion and cool for 5 minutes.

Add garlic and chilies, cook for 5 minutes or until onions become translucent.

Add turmeric, coriander, cumin and cloves to the pan and stir-fry with onion for 2 minutes.

Stir in curry leaves or lime zest, coconut milk and salt. Bring to just below boiling point then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Cut each fish fillet into 2-3 large pieces. Add them to the sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily.

Check the seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Garnish with cilantro.


While GP mom likes the flavor only, GP dad would have liked a bit more bite to his curry.  If you prefer a dish that is spicy and flavorful, then you can up the spices.

Curry leaves are hard to come by, so lime zest makes a good substitute (zest from 1 lime = 8 curry leaves), but you could also substitute them with bay leaf (1 = 1), lemon balm (leaves only, 2/3 the required amount), or basil with a trace of lemon juice (1 = 1). 

If you can't get sole or cod, any white flatfish would make a good substitute (e.g., flounder).

To crush garlic, simply mash with the flat side of your knife.

Don't forget to wear gloves when handling chilies, unless you like to forget that you've been handling chilies, stick your finger in your eye and enjoy that burning sensation for hours, then just never mind about the gloves.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I was out with my friend David enjoying one of our lunch time forays to Sitar, my favorite Indian restaurant in Durham. They have the best buffet with a great variety of tasty dishes. I love curried foods because they are always so rich and flavorful…and not always hot, it really depends on the chef’s mood that day.

In the course of conversation, it came up that a brief treatise on curry might make an interesting post. Before I started researching, I figured I’d do a quick write-up about yellow, red and green curry, what’s the what? Tah-dah! That’ll be simple…only not so much. There is WAY more to it than I ever imagined. So here are some basics to start with and then in future posts I want to explore the world of curry a little more extensively (accompanied by recipes, of course).

Let me start by clearing up a common misconception. “Curry” is not a single, burn-your-face-off spice used in Indian food. Instead curry refers to a blend of spices (and not just hot ones).

The word curry has come to be synonymous with “hot and spicy” but it was actually derived (read: anglicized) from the southern Indian Tamil word kaṟi meaning “sauce” but not in our traditional sense. To give you an idea of what I was up against trying to pinpoint a simple answer to “what is curry,” I thought I’d share this definition I came across. Curry is a dish with meat and/or vegetables that may or may not have a sauce. :/ Mmm'okay.

As it turns out, between the commercial links (trade routes) and cultural links (religious exchanges), over thousands of years Indian culinary traditions seeped out to be adapted, adopted, modified and assimilated by other countries throughout Southeast Asia. Curried dishes can be found in Indian, Thai, Japanese, Pakistani, and Sri Lanken cuisine, to name a few, each with its own flavor blends and practices.

A wide variety of spices and ingredients go into making up the wide delicious world of curried dishes. As with many culinary specialties, curry spices were originally used for medicinal purposes or preservatives. Nowadays it’s all about color and taste. Tumeric is a spice that gives yellow curry its lovely sunshine shade while coriander leaves give green curries a lovely coloring and any number of red spices will provide that vivid hue.

Some of the ingredients you will find used in curries are cardamom, cloves, cinnamon sticks, turmeric, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, green peppercorns, mace, cumin seeds, black cumin seeds, fresh ginger, kaffir lime leaves, mint, lemongrass, fresh cilantro, bay leaves, curry leaves and last but not least, chilies (both red and green). Yogurt, ghee and coconut milk are used to base many a curry sauce while lemon juice, tamarind, and vinegar are used to add a touch of sour to the dish.

When eating curries, bread and rice are traditionally served as the base for the meal. Breads like naan are used to scoop up curry (which saves on having to use silverware) while rice helps to sop up sauces. They also provide a nice foil to the flavorful taste of the curry dish.

When eating hot curry, be aware that fermented drinks (beer or wine) and fizzy drinks (soda) only serve to enflame the burning sensation you get in your mouth. The recommended drink to have on hand is a lassi because yogurt- or milk-based beverages work best to counteract the heat from the spices.

Okay, I am SO looking forward to busting out my Asian cuisine cookbooks and seeing what treats I can bring you guys over the next couple of posts – veggie and meated, spicy and flavored – I’ll try to cover the gambit.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Soda Bread

Going to flip back for a moment and bring you another recipe using buttermilk.  My friend Julie asked if I had a good soda bread recipe and since I didn't I did a little checking around.  I looked at 6 or 7 recipes before compiling a "best of" list of ingredients and I think the resulting product is pretty good.

If you're not familiar with it, soda bread is a poor man's bread.  The introduction of baking soda as a leavening agent in the late 1800s made it possible for those without ovens to "bake" bread.  Baking soda replaced yeast in the dough mix and then the dough could be cooked in a covered pot over an open flame. 

It's not a fine bread, usally pretty crumbly, but goes well with stews and soups.  I found that mine was easier to slice and after I let it cool down a bit versus cutting into it as soon as it came out of the oven.  Of course that didn't stop me from slathering it with butter and eating a good chuck of the loaf before I got a photo of the inside.  Yeah, I'd say it turned out okay.

Soda Bread

4 cups flour (plus some for kneading)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup milk
4 tbsp butter, softened
1 egg, lightly beaten

In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.  Add in buttermilk, milk, butter and egg.  Mix until it starts to pull together as a dough.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead.  Add flour as needed to form a soft, non-sticky dough.

Separate dough into two rounds and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  With a paring knife, cut an X into the top of each.  Allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle tops with flours and then bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Serve with butter and your favorite soupy meal.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Tzatziki

I love knowing people with gardens.  If they have a good crop then they always have more produce than they know what to do with and that means treats for me!  I was given a bag of fresh cucumbers, but since they weren't really pickling cucs, I had to come up with something creative to do with them besides tossing them on a salad.  So my answer was tzatziki!  Which besides being fun to say (taht-zee-kee, say it with me!) it also super delicious.  If you're not familiar with it, it's a cucumber-yogurt dipping sauce that's very light and refreshing and goes great with grilled meats.

Since I always associate tzatziki with Mediterranean cuisine, I thought I'd whip up some lemon rosemary chicken to go with it.  I'm all about the bite-sized pieces and what's nice about this chicken is that you can cook it up stovetop or skewer it and cook it on the grill, either way works.

Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Tzatziki

marinated chicken
1 lb chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 cup lemon juice (juice from 3 fresh lemons)
1/8 cup olive oil
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

In a medium size bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.

Clean and cube chicken. Place in bowl and stir until evenly coated with marinade.

Cover and refrigerate at least 20 minutes.

stove top

Pre-heat a large skillet. Using tongs, drop the chicken cubes into the skillet to brown. After you get some nice coloring on them, drop the temperature and continue cooking until done through.

on the grill

Skewer the chicken cubes, by themselves or with some veggies – peppers, tomatoes, onions – and cook 3-4 minutes per side until done.


Once you have removed the chicken, pour the excess marinade into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and use as sauce with meal.

2 cucumbers
3 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp fresh dill, minced
2 tsp minced garlic

Peel and cut your cucumbers in half length-wise. Use a small spoon or melon baller to scoop out the seeds to be discarded.

Put the cucumber slices in a colander or strainer. Generously sprinkle with salt and let sit for 5-10 minutes. The salt will pull out the excess water from the cucumber. Rinse before using.

In a blender or food processor, mix together yogurt, dill, garlic and cucumbers.

Takes about 1-2 minutes, final product should have some texture to it but be well blended.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Key Lime Sorbet

Yep, still got an ice cream machine on loan AND key lime juice.  This calls for a sorbet.

Key Lime Sorbet

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1-1/2 cups key lime juice
1 tbsp lime zest

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water then bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce heat to low and simmer (without stirring) until all sugar is dissolved.  Should take 3-5 minutes.

Cool completely, then refrigerate until ready to use.

Once cooled, mix in key lime juice and zest and combine well.

best key lime juice on the market
no key limes to be had, zested a regular lime instead
yes, it does looks like a pan of grassy water,
but just ignore that and proceed as planned

Turn ice cream machine on and pour in mixture and let "churn" for 25-30 minutes.

will go from liquidy this... solidly that

After you've churned it, you may still need to "finish" it in the freezer.  Scoop into a freezer-friendly container and let it firm up some more.

When it's the consistency you want, serve it up.  If you like face-squinching tartness, you're going to love this.  It tangy and refreshing, just perfect for enjoying on these last hot days of summer.


You can substitute any of your favorite citruses in this recipe -- lemon, lime, grapefruit, pink grapefruit, or orange.

What? Mix it with white rum to make a daquiri? Okay, if you insist...toss it in a blender with some extra ice and a shot or two (or three) of rum.  Blend, slurp, enjoy.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Keylicious Lime Pie

I love pie and key lime is my all time fave.  When my aunt and uncle were passing through on their way back to Florida we were talking baked goods and Charlene offered to send me favorite her recipe.  Even better, it showed up with two bottles of key lime juice.  Yippee!

So here is her super yummy, super easy key lime pie.

Charlene's Super Fab Key Lime Pie

3 eggs
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice
1 (9") graham cracker pie crust

Beat eggs.

Add in condensed milk and key lime juice until well blended.

Pour mixture into the pie shell.

Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes.  Turn off the oven but leave the pie in for 10 more minutes.

Remove from oven and chill pie in the refrigerator.

Serve with whipped cream and/or lime slices and/or blueberries.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chai Tea Ice Cream

Seeing as how I still have an ice maker on loan, I thought I'd explore another ice cream notion that's been floating around in my head.

After making the green tea granita a while back, I was playing around with other tea-related goodies which led me to chai.  I absolutely love the spice blend of chai tea and a chai tea latte is one of my favorite beverages, so decided to try it in frozen form.

The result is a light and airy, creamy confection of ice cream goodness.  It was all I could do not to eat the entire batch in one sitting. 

Chai Tea Ice Cream

4 chai tea bags
2 cups heavy cream + a tidge
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk

Measure out a tidge over 2 cups of heavy cream.  Drop your chai tea bags in the cream and refrigerate for a day or two (depends on how strong you want your chai flavoring to be).  The extra tidge of cream makes up for the bit of that's going to get soaked up and not be squeezed free from the tea bags.

Once the chai base is ready, strain the tea bags and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and milk until the sugar is dissolved.  Takes about 1-2 minutes depending on how well you whisk.

Once the sugar is dissolved, mix in the chai cream until well blended.

Turn your ice cream maker on and pour the mixture in.  Let the machine run for 25-30 minutes.


Ready to serve.  A sprinkle of cinnamon makes the perfect garnish.


If you don't want to wait a day or two for the cream base to be done, you can scald your cream with the tea bags in it.  You'll want to cool your mixture to cold either over an ice bath or by putting it in the refrigerator until it is thoroughly cooled.  The key is make sure that all your ingredients are cold when you put it in the ice cream maker.

With regard to the milk I would use whole or 2% to maintain a creamy texture.

If you do not have an ice cream maker, you can put the ice cream mix in the freezer in a shallow container, stirring it every 30-40 minutes to blend in the parts from the edges that freeze first.  Repeat until ice cream has reached the desired consistency.