Thursday, July 14, 2011

Just because you don't have all the ingredients..

Just because you don't have all the ingredients you need for a recipe, doesn't mean you need to go out to the market and purchase them, OR WORSE, scratch the recipe you were going to follow.

My husband and I receive a gift on Christmas from my Mother in law, and it's to a cooking class for two, and it's really one of my favorite things i've ever received. So far we've gone to two cooking classes, and it's such a great time together! I highly suggest it if you've never attended one - go for Hipcooks!
So the most recent class we took was Thai! I have to admit, i'm terrible about trying new foods, but Andrew's love for all things different & unpronounceable compel me to just go along with his ideas. So.. we signed up, and a month ago I found myself in the class, at a table with ingredients I've never seen or ever heard of in my life.
I didn't think i'd try anything - but 2 hours later, I was a Thai food loving girl. Thai food.. Simply put, is amazing. It's fresh, and Thai chefs are masters of layering elements to create truly spectacular foods & dishes out of only a few ingredients. How we went from Spring Rolls to curry with a lot of the same ingredients, my mind is still perplexed by it!

However, I get home, and after scouring the Internet, there are no Asian specialty markets and I know there won't be Thai Chilies, Fish Sauce and Tamarind at the the market down the street.
At first, this semi frustrated me, then I realized I am not going to let my love of the Thai food demolish because of my geographical issues (this is the first time i've missed Los Angeles because I can think of 3 Asian Speciality Markets off the top of my head from back home..) and make some serious alterations.

So this finally leads me to the point of this blog; that just because you don't have the ingredients.. This does not mean you have to call it quits.
Let me give you an example. In the class we roasted dark chicken meat in the oven... Yum... And made Peanut sauce. I'm trying to hold back from abandoning this blog to go make it again right now!
Here was the jiff of the recipe Veggie Oil, Fresh Ginger Knob, Garlic, Peanut Butter, Lime, Brown Sugar, Thai Chilies, Fish Sauce.. AND two of those pertinent ingredients, like I explained are unavailable.
I didn't panic, I just hit the pantry for the Ahhhh I have those ingredients, and scrambled my brain for things that could be substituted.

Here's what I found:
That Cayenne Pepper to the right should be turned the other way - good thing my profession is not a food photographer..

So here you see crushed jarred ginger, brown sugar, garlic, peanut butter, olive oil and cayenne!
Now, it's not the real thing - I can admit that, but my cravings and curiosity to cook new foods says that's OK! 
Remember, we talked about this already! (See above link)

You need everything in the picture above.

So here's what I do:
Dice 3 - 5 cloves of garlic. Put aside. 
Ginger? I had it jarred. Whatever you have - if it's fresh, peel the knobs with a spoon (magic..) and dice. We're looking for 1 - 2 tablespoons worth.
Add 3 tbsp of Olive oil into a heated pan. And garlic & ginger.
Now, scoop 1/2 a cup of peanut butter into the pan once the garlic & ginger start browning (Side note - our Thai teacher taught us that in the style of food, Thai people bring their garlic to a near burning point. Interesting, for those of you accustomed to Italian. Once you burn the garlic, the world is over for Italian food - so for this Thai inspired dish, get it very brown.. Don't panic, just trust!) 
Stir, stir, stir...
Add 3 - 4 tablespoons of brown sugar. Then 1/4 of a teaspoon of Cayenne.
Pull from the fire.
Now, you're ready to puree it. Some like it chunky, some like it smooth. Find your happy place.
For this job, I use the Magic Bullet from Mom for Christmas.

Once it's done, cook some chicken the way you like. As kebabs, strips.. However you like it.
Need some ideas? Jot me an email or message me on twitter.

Guys, with the stunning prices of Natural Chicken you can get at markets when you watch your ads, and the cheapness of almost all these ingredients you have in your pantry - try something new, and don't forget you don't need all the ingredients to make super dishes!

For those of your curious about the $5.50 a day - I am constantly working on a draft blog post because it's dense, and contains a lot of information, tips and hints. This dish is a perfect example of a perfectly budgeted meal; I had all of these ingredients, and not only that, but when I purchased them for my pantry months ago I shopped around and did my math. On top of that, the chicken I used was leftover from a dish I made the night before, and I gave it new life with creating a semi stir fry that you drizzle the Peanut Sauce over. Mmm..

In closing...
The Budget Conscientious thing to do of the day: Think about how fast you drive. As gas prices are creeping up on us, consider this fact...
"In a typical family sedan, every 10 miles per hour you drive over 60 is like the price of gasoline going up about 54 cents a gallon."

See you guys soon! - BCB