Dear World at City Year New Orleans. April 12, 2012 About Dear World:http://www.facebook.com/writeourfuture Robert X. Fogarty founded Dear World, a photo project that unites people through pictures in his distinct message-on-skin style. It began as Dear New Orleans, a photographic love note to the city. Before launching Dear World, Fogarty noticed that the simple portraits could be a vehicle for shared communication regardless of race, religion or language. His work is seen now over two million times per month, and he has photographed Drew Brees, Chris Paul, Susan Sarandon, Rahm Emmanuel and thousands of others. He has also been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, and INC. He has spoken and photographed at the Harvard Social Enterprise Conference, TEDx Silicon Valley and at Stanford, Tulane and Georgetown. For more information or to book Robert at your campus, event or annual retreat, please visit:http://www.dearworld.me/bookus Robert X. Fogarty

Dear World at City Year New Orleans. April 12, 2012 About Dear World:http://www.facebook.com/writeourfuture Robert X. Fogarty founded Dear World, a photo project that unites people through pictures in his distinct message-on-skin style. It began as Dear New Orleans, a photographic love note to the city. Before launching Dear World, Fogarty noticed that the simple portraits could be a vehicle for shared communication regardless of race, religion or language. His work is seen now over two million times per month, and he has photographed Drew Brees, Chris Paul, Susan Sarandon, Rahm Emmanuel and thousands of others. He has also been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, and INC. He has spoken and photographed at the Harvard Social Enterprise Conference, TEDx Silicon Valley and at Stanford, Tulane and Georgetown. For more information or to book Robert at your campus, event or annual retreat, please visit:http://www.dearworld.me/bookus Robert X. Fogarty

It has been eight months now since I moved to New Orleans to work with City Year and explore my passion in food and hospitality. This blog will share with ya’ll about the work that my team and I have been doing it schools (Renew, charters, and RSD). If you care to improve the education in this country, City Year organization is a good starting point. 

Kim Ranjbar wrote about new food experiences in New Orleans. Luckily and surprisingly, Dinner Lab and myself are in it!

I’m cooking dinner at Capdeville Restaurant in NOLA tomorrow. This is my menu. Unfortunately its a private dinner. However, it shell open to public in the future!

Thai Family Dinner at Capdeville

520 Capdeville Street. New Orleans, LA 70130

by Lalita Kaewsawang

November 20th, 2011 

Growing up in Thailand, I had many opportunities to cook, and as the oldest daughter in my family, cooking was a personal and cultural responsibility. Yet, when I moved from Thailand to Berkeley, California in 2001 with just my younger sister, my relationship with cooking grew further into a true love/hate relationship. While attending Berkeley High, I worked full time in restaurants to sustain myself.  Food became an indelible part of my identity as a young woman – it helped me maintain my sisterhood and ties to home, while developing my relationships with new friends in America. After graduating from Wesleyan University in May of 2011, I moved to New Orleans –-a place I knew I could call my next home.

eggplant fries 

A starter that will arouse your senses for the evening. Anticipate the tenderness of crisped eggplant with a twist of sweet and tangy tamarind sauce

                                       roast beef salad with mexican fusion*

Slow roasted beef spiced with seven essential Thai herbs, including lemongrass, cilantro, and shallots. Corn tortillas add an unexpected crunch to this traditional Thai dish.

tom yum gumbo*

This dish combines the popular Thai Tom Yum, a hot and sour soup, with famous New Orleans ingredients. It features two crescent city staples, crunchy okra and gulf shrimp. The broth is rich in flavor, combining shrimp flavors with a dose of citrus herbs essential to Thai cuisine. A true marriage of cultures.

tilapia baked in basil and soy sauce

Tilapia marinated in basil soy. This delicate fish is infused with a jolt of flavoring and cooked to perfect consistency. A surefire delight.

the curry to remember*

Many who share my passion for cooking often have memories of dishes influenced by an elder who was present in their culinary youth. As a young girl I would often use my interest in cooking to imaginatively recreate the senses that my grandmother crafted in her kitchen. Time and time again, I worked to perfect this curry recipe to appeal to my family’s senses. Enjoy my personal favorite dish, a traditional green curry.

 five spice pork layer on long leaves broccoli*

 Pork soaked overnight until tender, roasted in a balance of yin and yang Chinese five spices. The true pleasure in this dish is the crispy blanched Chinese broccoli that sits beneath the pork.

*Hearty vegan options are available upon request.

 

Grilled Shrimp Salad: Essential Thai Herbs with New Orleans Shrimp

Finally, I have time to put this recipe together-Thank you Labor Day! Sorry guys, full time job is not giving me much time to keep up with my blog. However, I attempt to explore local New Orleans ingredients and share them with you guys as much as possible. This salad is my all-time favorite; the Thai name for it is Laab (aks larb and laap). Usually I make Laab salad with beef, chicken, or pork. This time shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico was an appealing option. Also, thank you to my roommate, Laura Slotkoff who helped me take the pictures of this dish!

 Ingredients:

1 lb fresh large shrimps; peeled and deveined

2 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped

2 tablespoon shallot, finely chopped

2 tablespoon green onions, finely chopped

1 tablespoon lemongrass, finely chopped

2 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 tablespoon fish sauce

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon toasted rice powder, see instruction below

1/4 teaspoon dried Thai chili flakes, toasted and finely grounded

Or 3 bird eyes chili, finely chopped

Instructions:

Toasted rice powder can be purchase at any Asian grocery store near you. It is typically used in Thai and Vietnamese cuisines. Homemade toasted rice powder is also convenient to make ahead of time. It can be stored in a dry, cool place up to a year. On a dry pan, toast about 1/2 cup (or more) of raw jasmine rice grain on low heat. Swirl the pan occasionally until the grains turn light brown. By then, the toasty smell should roam all over your kitchen, meaning that you are doing a good job. In Thai food, 30% is judged based on the aroma one creates through cooking. Allow the rice to cool down for about 10 minutes before grinding. Grind the rice in a coffee grinder, food processor or with a mortar and pestle. I highly suggest using mortar and pestle if you have them to get that powdery texture.

 Prepare the shrimp by grilling or immerse them in hot water until cooked, the shrimp are cooked when they turn to a solid white color.

In a salad bowl, add sugar, lime juice and fish sauce. Mix them until the sugar dissolved. Then add the shrimp and the remaining ingredients! You might want to hold off or add extra chili depending on your spice level. Now, do that salad-mixing move that you have been doing. Taste, fix (maybe more fish sauce, more lime, or more rice powder?), and serve!

Optional: Serve with fresh lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, tomato, radish, spinach or string beans. 


(Source: wanderingchopsticks.blogspot.com)

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"Make every meal the best meal of your life."

Steamed Eggplant Sauté in Black Bean Sauce with Spring Green Onions and Garlic

Steamed Eggplant Sauté in Black Bean Sauce with Spring Green Onions and Garlic
The eggplant in this dish cost me a dollar. I got a bag of out-products eggplant from Berkeley Bowl, a supermarket in Berkeley, CA.  You can get this similar deal by start visiting local farmer markets and farms near you! You will be surprised how much fresh produce you can get for a few bucks. This dish is light; best to serve with something more flavorful, like a Thai curry.

3 long purple eggplant, diagonally cut into 1 inch thick pieces
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 stalk spring green onion, cut diagonally into small pieces
4 tablespoon black bean sauce
½ tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sweet dark soy sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
a pinch of black peppers
a pinch of sugar (optional)

Bring a steamer to rolling boil, steam the eggplant for about 10-15 minutes. Use a heatproof plate if you don’t own a steamer. Once the eggplant is tender, it will not hold its form very well; remove gently and set aside. Check if the eggplant is cooked by poking it with a fork. Cooked eggplant will change their color to faded purple and has a slight brown tone.
Meanwhile, prepare the seasoning sauce by mixing the black bean sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and black peppers in a small bowl.
Once the eggplant is ready, heat olive oil in medium low heat then add garlic. Maintain this heat consistently so that the garlic won’t burn, but still get cooked.  
Add the eggplant. Gently “fold” the eggplant into the sauce until well combined. As you will notice, steamed eggplant does not hold its shape, it will turn into a puree if stirs too often and too hard!  Add the green onions and let it simmer for about 2 more minutes. 
Serve!

Content:
All literary works and photos are my original works otherwise stated. They cannot be reproduce in part or in whole unless prior consent from me, or appropriately mention of the source

"Geng Hang Lea," a Baby Pork Ribs Curry with Homemade Curry Paste. A dish commonly serve in Chaing Mai, Thailand.

Geng Hang Lea,  a Baby Pork Ribs Curry. A dish commonly serve in Chiang Mai, Thailand 

I’m a nomad. I don’t own a cookbook. A good friend gave me an “Asian” cookbook for my twentieth birthday, and I read through it in one night, sucked out as much knowledge as I could and then gave the book away (to a friend who would take good care of it).  For the past few years, I have relied on friends and libraries for cookbooks. It makes sense for my life right now, and keeps me on my toes - always learning new recipes and tweaking old ones.

That said, I found a(nother) great Thai cookbook by David Thompson called Thai Foodduring my last library visit. I skipped most of his introduction and turned right to the recipes I have been eager to learn. One of them is this Geng Hang Lea. I also want to try out his recipes for pickled dishes, Chinese chive cakes, and bitter melon soup. The recipe here is revised and adapted from Thompson’s. Geng Hang Lea is a very popular dish in the north of Thailand, especially Chaing Mai. I lived in Chiang Mai for about five years but never learned how to make this dish so I was very excited to finally try this recipe out!

Thompson calls for pork belly and pork ribs, but my local butcher shop only had pork ribs. I also reduced the portion of many ingredients he calls for, as I often only cook for a few of my friends. My recipe makes 6 servings.

This dish takes a lot of time because we’re making two curry pastes from scratch and there’s about two hours of cooking time on top of that. But don’t be discouraged! Its summer and if you love to cook, picking out a few new dishes to make when you have more time is rewarding! Everyone in my house love this dish and we couldn’t even bring ourselves to throw out the leftover sauce!

         PREPARATION: 30 MINUTES         COOKING TIME: 1/5-2 HOURS

Curry Ingredients:

~1 lb pork ribs ~2 tablespoon vegetable oil ~2 shallots, chopped ~1/2 cup ginger, shredded ~1/2 cup roasted peanuts (optional) ~3 tablespoon palm sugar, dissolved in hot water ~4 tablespoon fish sauce ~4 tablespoon tamarind concentrate ~1 cup stock or water

Curry Paste:

~10 dried chile de arbol or Thai chili, soaked and seeded ~1 tablespoon galangai, chopped ~6 tablespoon red shallot, chopped ~6 tablespoon garlic, chopped ~6 tablespoon lemongrass, chopped ~2 tablespoon ginger, chopped ~2 tablespoon cumin seeds, roasted and ground ~1 tablespoon coriander seeds, roasted and ground ~3 star anise, roasted and ground ~1 teaspoon cinnamon powder, roasted ~5 cloves, roasted and ground ~2 cardamom pods, roasted and seeds ground ~1 tablespoon red or yellow turmeric powder

Garlic and Ginger Paste:

~4 garlic cloves, peeled ~1/2 teaspoon salt ~4 tablespoon ginger, peeled

Make the curry paste first, and then make the garlic and ginger paste. Preferably using a pestle and mortar, grind all the ingredients together until they produce a nice aroma and pasty texture (as in the picture). To reduce labor and time, a food processor would give you a good paste but it does not bring out the same fragrance because the blades basically only “cut” the herbs. Sometimes, I like to do the “initial” grinding with a food processor and then use my mortar and pestle to “mush” out the flavor.

Cut the pork into smaller pieces between each bone. I had the butcher cut the ribs into three vertical pieces (see the picture below) and then I cut them into small bite size pieces at home. Cold-blanch the pork ribs twice. According to Thompson, the longer the pork takes to reach boiling temperature, the more oiliness and pungency will be cleaned off (and I found this really worked!)

In a large skillet, heat the oil and fry the garlic and ginger paste until golden. Add the curry paste and pork and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the fish sauce, tamarind concentrate, ginger, shallots, peanuts, palm sugar, and a cup of water or stock. Do not add a lot of water! This curry is saucy but not soupy like green or red curry. Stir until all ingredients are mixed well. Let it simmer for about one to two hours and stir occasionally.


Serve with white rice, brown rice, sticky rice, or basmali rice. Have some fresh or steamed vegetables as a side dish. I suggest fresh slices of cucumber, lettuces, snap peas, bell peppers,cabbages, steamed string beans, and steamed eggplant. The paste is strong and flavorful, you can use the vegetables to balance the flavor. The flavor of this dish improve overnight! 

Content: All literary works and photos (even if they don’t have my signature) are my original works otherwise stated. They cannot be reproduce in part or in whole unless prior consent from me, or mention of the sourceThank you!

Stir-Fry Asparagus and Ground Beef in Spicy Basil Sauce

Ingredients:

-1/2 lb ground beef

-1 bunch asparagus or about 3 cups, chopped into 1” pieces or julienned

-1 cup basil leaves 

-2 tablespoon bird eyes chili, jalapeños, or serraño, chopped finely

-2 tablespoon or about 5 large garlic cloves, chopped finely

-1/2 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

-2 tablespoon mushroom sauce or oyster sauce

-1 tablespoon light or dark soy sauce

-1 tablespoon fish sauce

-1/2 teaspoon brown sugar (optional) 

Instruction:

1) In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and sugar together to be ready for the stir-fry. 

2) Heat the oil in medium heat in a wok or a skillet. Test the temperature of the oil by adding a tiny bit of garlic; the oil is ready when the garlic sizzles. Add the rest of the garlic and hot peppers and stir until fragrant.

3) Immediately add the beef before the garlic and the chili burn. Turn the heat to high. Add the sauces you previously mixed into the beef, it should take about 3 minutes until the beef is cooked.

4) Add the asparagus, stir-fry until it cooks, but keep it crispy.  Add the basil at the end and cook it lightly until wilted. Serve it on top of some warm jasmine rice or brown rice. 

Content: All literary works and photos (even if they don’t have my signature) are my original works otherwise stated. They cannot be reproduce in part or in whole unless prior consent from me, or mention of the sourceThank you!

Salmon Bath in Peanut-y Red Curry Sauce and Bell Peppers

Hello! As promised, I’m back with a recipe for the salmon dish that I made about three weeks ago. Because salmon tastes good by itself, I was worried that adding too much flavor to it would ruin the experience of eating it. It turned out that the flavor of the red curry paste and the peanut butter did not overwhelmed the flavor of the salmon. In fact, you will taste all of the three flavors as they melted away in your mount. 

Ingredients:

-1 piece salmon fillet

-1/2 tablespoon canola, vegetable, olive oil

-1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk, shake the can before use

-1/2 cup bell peppers, thinly sliced

-1 tablespoon red curry paste

-1 tablespoon peanut butter

-1/3 tablespoon fish sauce

-1 tablespoon minced cilantro

- a wedge of lime

Cooking Instruction:

1) In a pan, warm canola or vegetable oil over medium heat, then add the curry paste. Stir until it fragrants. 

2) Once they are fragrant, add the coconut milk and peanut butter. Stir until they mix well and wait until the fat (which looks like oil from peanut butter, coconut milk, and canola oil) to settles on the surface. The fat should look like orange oily dots on the surface.

3) Add all the flavors and the salmon! Simmer the salmon in the sauce until cooked. 

Writing for Wesleyan Argus

Sorry for slacking off! School recently started and I have a senior project to finish by the end of February. I am still cooking everyday and have been taking a lot of photos. I just need to start writing out the recipe. 

This semester, I joined my university’s newspaper, The Wesleyan Argus. My goal is to share recipes I cook in my apartment with the rest of campus. The first article was published last week. It is another version of the soba salad that I made last month. Check it out: Lalita’s Kitchen: Soba Salad. (Search “Lalita’s Kitchen” if the link doesn’t take you there) The pictures didn’t make it to the print. I would love to share them here.

Wesleyan Food For All Raises $2,000 to Support End Hunger Program

On the first week of December 2010, two Wesleyan University student groups, WesFresh and Housing and Hunger worked together to host a Food For All event to fund raise for End Hunger Connecticut organization. They invited local restaurants from Middletown, CT and student groups from campus to donate food. ( I donated some Thai garden salads). The students were charged six dollars, about 300 students came, and was able to fund raised over $2,000.

Food For All was inspired by Taste of the Nation which started in 1988 working to end children hunger in America. They pushed forward programs such as breakfast, after-school snack, community gardens in low income neighborhood, and bring affordable fresh produce to local corner stores.

Here are links for organization with similar goals. I hope you find a way to support. 

1) Food For All Raises $2,000 for Hunger, Runs Out of Food 

2) Food Bank NYC

3) School Lunch Initiative

4) School Lunch Policy

5) End Hunger Connecticut 

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