Archive for the ‘Stir Fry’ Category

My favorite kitchen tool: a sharp knife. If asked if I have a tomato corer or a garlic peeler or an onion chopper, I just pull out my ten inch chef’s knife. No gadgets for me. Kitchen gadgets just take up space, and I am not willing to share my limited space with silly little unitaskers. If the item only serves one function, it does not deserve a spot in my kitchen.


I honestly don’t remember much from culinary school, (sad) but I use my knife skills daily, so that alone almost makes the money spent worthwhile. Almost. I remember as the instructor of Cooking 101 passed out the black knife bags complete with straps and zippered pockets. I opened my brand new knife kit, ripping the Velcro straps apart to reveal shiny steel blades in evenly spaced pockets. I reached in to pull out one of the shimmering blades, and sliced my finger open. Stupid boning knife. The giant bandage on my hand certainly reminded me to act with caution around these tools during the first few weeks.


But, sharp knives soon changed from alien beings that I feared to absolute necessities that I could not cook without. Learning how to cut quickly, cleanly and correctly takes time, and lots of practice, but makes such a huge difference in all cooking. Food cooks unevenly when cut unevenly, herbs bruise when minced with a dull knife, and bread just squashes into a lumpy mess instead of falling into clean slices. Expensive knives are not necessary; my favorites are Forschner brand, only about thirty dollars for the larger knives. Very reasonably priced for tools that last for years.


Why am I talking about knives when the title of this post is carrot, cauliflower and coconut curry? Because the vegetables need to be sliced thinly and evenly so they cook evenly. Such an easy dish to make, don’t ruin it with giant, uncooked clumps of cauliflower! Take the time to really prepare all your ingredients, as the dish is so fast and easy to cook. I chopped up everything first, then started heating the pan.

Carrot, Cauliflower and Coconut Curry

Serves 2 to 3 people

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp sesame oil

4 large cremini (or button) mushrooms, quartered

1/2 cup thinly sliced onion

1 cup carrots, peeled, thinly sliced on a bias

1 cup thinly sliced cauliflower florets

1 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk

1 Tbsp green curry paste (Green is my favorite, it is vegetarian and the ingredients include ginger, garlic, and lemongrass, yum! Red and yellow curry pastes will also work. If you are sensitive to spicy foods, start with just a bit of the curry paste, and taste as you go. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out!)

2 green onions, sliced on a bias

Heat a wok or large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the vegetable oil and then the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. Add the onions and sauté until softened. Add the sesame oil, garlic, carrots and cauliflower. Reduce heat to medium and add coconut milk and curry paste. Cook until sauce bubbles vigorously and thickens, and vegetables are crisp/tender. Stir in green onions. Serve with brown rice, rice, coconut rice, rice noodles, soba noodles, whatever you have!


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Driving to my parents’ house on a wonderfully sunny day (rare enough in Oregon, right?), I realized the temptations awaiting me in fifteen miles. Two of my brothers still live at home, and my mom always keeps the pantry (or garage in her case) stocked with enough junk to satisfy two teenage boys. Not a good idea to show up hungry. I would head straight for the frozen pizza or mac and cheese. Very sad, I know, but something about Kraft and Totinos evoke great childhood memories. My mom cooked us three meals a day, healthy and portion appropriate. Only occasionally did she pop a frozen pizza in the oven or stir powdered cheese into butter, milk and noodles. We looked forward to those days (pathetic, I know) because of their rarity. My poor mom. Slaving away daily to offer us healthy, home-cooked meals, and her ungrateful children only thanked her when packaged crap ended up as part of the meal. I know better now the standards by which to judge a meal, but I still have a hard time avoiding those chemically enhanced treats when in my parents’ house. So, I stopped by Spicer’s, a year-round produce stand on the way to see the folks. April in Oregon means limited local produce items, but at least I could buy from a local business. Piles of apples, pears and citrus greeted me as I entered the canopy-covered part of the store. I grabbed a few Opal apples, a new variety for me, and then noticed the local asparagus. So versatile, so delicious. I immediately grabbed a bunch and decided on stir fry. I supplemented my finds with a small head of broccoli, a few large button mushrooms, green onions, an all natural stir fry sauce (I felt lazy), and a bag of Bob’s Red Mill brown rice. I love Bob’s Red Mill! The best store ever. I purchased my finds and continued on my way. Fresh apple slices and a filling vegetable stir fry prevented me from even craving any of the junk within easy reach.

Vegetable Stir Fry with Brown Rice

Yields 3 to 4 servings

1 cup brown rice

2 1/2 cups water

1 tsp kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 to 55 minutes, or until rice is tender.

1 bunch asparagus

4 large button mushrooms

1 small head broccoli

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2/3 cup stir fry sauce (I used Soy Vey brand Veri Veri Teriyaki)

1/2 cup water

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp cold water

Cut the tough ends off of the asparagus bunch (about the bottom two inches), then cut the remaining tender section into 1 inch pieces. Cut the broccoli into small florets. Peel the tough outer skin from the broccoli stalk, and cut the rest into 1/4 inch pieces. Thinly slice the mushrooms. Heat a wok or large sauté pan over high heat. Add the oil and then the mushrooms. The key to golden brown mushrooms is in not moving them around much. Add them in an even layer and don’t touch for a couple of minutes. Stir when you can see the edges of the mushrooms start to brown. Add garlic, cook for 30 seconds. Add the broccoli, asparagus, stir fry sauce and water. Bring to a boil and cook briefly, until vegetables are crisp-tender. Combine the cornstarch and water until smooth and then stir into boiling stir fry mixture. Bring back to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in green onions. Serve over brown rice.

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