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Monday, April 13, 2020

Savory Dinner Muffins

I've been spending all my time of late working on identifying plant and flower photos I have taken while visiting (and now living in) Arizona. I have taken a lot of photos. And generally I take closeups, with no thought to really being able to identify them later. It has been an arduous task. A task I love and have been enjoying, and it keeps me very busy, to the exclusion of just about everything else. Including this blog. I apologize.

Shallot & Pesto Muffins
Shallot & Pesto Muffins
I have been occasionally making something new, such as these savory muffins. 

One day recently I was planning to make my Roasted Corn & Poblano Chowder for dinner and wanted something bread-like to accompany the soup. My first thought was corn muffins, but the soup is full of corn and to top it off, with corn masa flour added, both for thickening and for flavor. Maybe I needed something other than corn for the "bread." The more I pondered, the less I was able to come up with. I didn't want just plain muffins, or plain anything. Even without sugar, plain muffins might go okay with the soup, but to me somehow they just didn't sound appetizing.

So I went online. I found ideas. Some were appealing. Others gave ideas. So, with what I had on hand, I went to work. While the muffins stayed very light colored, their flavor was excellent. And, best of all, they went so great with the chowder! We enjoyed every last one of them, over the course of a few days. If I had had chives available, I would have added some of those, minced finely as well, but at this time I did not. They came out excellently.


Shallot & Pesto Muffins
Shallot & Pesto Muffins

Shallot & Pesto Muffins


Makes 12 regular sized muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 small shallot, minced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, minced finely
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¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup sour cream
3 tablespoons pesto
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the wells of a 12-well muffin tin: set aside.

Place the first 6 ingredients in a mixing bowl and toss well to combine; set aside.

In a large measuring cup or smaller mixing bowl, whisk together the next 5 ingredients until well combined, then pour into the dry ingredients and mix just to combine, until no dry ingredients are left. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin wells and bake the muffins for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean.


My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

A Really Good Curry

Just want to say . . . I am not a huge fan of Thai food. 

WHAT?!?!?!? You may exclaim.

It's true. While I have eaten some things that are tasty, it seems that no two restaurants even come close, for flavor and style, and the inconsistency makes it difficult (for me, anyway) to figure out what I like. I am not fond of peanuts. At all. And many Thai dishes call for peanuts or peanut sauces. I like a little spice, but not overwhelming spice. That is less of an issue for me, but if something is spicy, that leaves my husband out. I am allergic to shellfish, so anything with shrimp or dried shrimp or the like means I swell up like a toad. 

Get my drift?
Thai Red Curry
Thai Red Curry

Okay, so the thing is, I have been making my own version of a Thai Red Curry Paste for years and years and years. And the reason I make it is to use in ONE recipe - one that we dearly love - called Red Curried Chicken Kebabs. I have never ventured out farther than that with my curry paste. I think my curry paste tastes great - at least by the standards of the chicken kebabs, which have excellent flavors. Back in February, my son and his lady came to visit and brought Thai food, from a restaurant they like. I have to admit, most of it was certainly delicious. The one single problem? too much salt. Holy moly, the salt made my mouth and tongue hurt. And that is why I like making my own things from scratch, even the curry paste.


Thai Red Curry
Thai Red Curry
Granted, my curry paste recipe makes a fair amount. That said, it is not at all hot spicy, so it can really be used as much as wanted in a recipe. And I got thinking, not long after the kids left here and I was eating some leftovers from their largesse that I though about the fact that I really had never used my excellently flavored curry paste for anything else. And so I set about trying to see what I could come up with. I found recipes all over the internet for Thai Red Curry. Most of them called for similar ingredients, like coconut milk. Many called for chicken with little vegetables, some for vegetables and no meat, and some were somewhere in between. I opted for in between, using one huge chicken breast and a lot of vegetables. 

First though, I had to make a batch of my curry paste. When we moved to Arizona, I had my little frozen packets of my curry paste in my cooler with all the other cold foods, but with the extreme heat in the southwest in late June, the curry paste leaked out everywhere, staining my cooler forevermore. So a new batch was first priority. Then, since it was just made and not frozen, I went ahead and created my own recipe for Thai Red Curry, and ended up using fully half of the curry paste in one recipe. It was so delicious, and my husband said this recipe was a real "keeper" (his way of saying, "Please make this often!"), so I went ahead a few days later and used up the remaining curry paste in a second round of Thai Red Curry. I don't have any idea how authentic this may be, but it certainly bears repeating. Yum!


Thai Red Curry

Thai Red Curry
Thai Red Curry

Serves 4

¾ - 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken (dark or white as preferred)
oil for frying
4 - 6 dried shiitake mushrooms (or fresh if available)
1 - 2 shallots, sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 - 3 green Thai chilies, or Serrano, minced (seeds left in or out as preferred)
1 can (14-ounces, approximately)
2 - 4 tablespoons Thai Red Curry Paste (if store bought, use discretion with the amount, if heat is an issue)
1 tablespoon Fish Sauce, optional
2 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
1 cup snow peas (or snap peas, sliced across diagonally)
1 cup red bell pepper, in thin strips
1 cup butternut squash, small cubes
1 - 2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate
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½ cup cilantro, chopped
¼ cup scallions, sliced thinly

If using dried shiitake mushrooms, set them into boiled water and top with a bowl to keep them submerged for at least 20 minutes.

Cut the chicken into smaller cubes and brown them in the oil, then set them aside. 

In the same pan the chicken was browned in, adding more oil if needed, lightly saute the shallot, then add in the ginger and garlic with the green chilies. Saute for another 3 minutes. (If a lot of heat is preferred, simply slice the chilies across and toss them in. I prefer to keep the heat low, so I remove seeds and mince the chilies.) Pour in the can of coconut milk and stir in the Thai Red Curry Paste to combine. Add the brown sugar and fish sauce and all the veggies. Cook until the vegetables are tender, then add in the chicken and cook for just a few minutes longer. Sprinkle on the cilantro and scallions and serve over rice.


My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.

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