Shrimp & Eggplant Curry + View From the Countertop #2 (video)


Once again I filmed this past week’s meal prep and, since I had a request after the last one, added narration to the video instead of music (maybe next time I’ll do both, depending on time).

(Direct link for the feed readers: View From the Countertop #2)

Meals for the week of 3.21.16-3.27.16

Meals for the week of 3.21.16-3.27.16

With the Luau the weekend before and so many delicious leftovers in the fridge, it’s probably no surprise that half of this week was made up from those.

Monday: Pulled Pork Sliders + Potato Salad
See the Luau post to get the links for the potato salad. I chopped up some of the leftover pork and mixed it with the tart bbq sauce from Fallin’s for our sliders. Easy and perfect for a Monday night supper.

Tuesday: Hawaiian Chicken Legs + Sweet Leilani Luau Salad
As I mention in the video, I’d planned to make chicken salad with the leftover legs, adding pineapple and macadamia nuts into my usual chicken salad recipe. But bad news at work had me seriously considering ice cream for supper, so I feel somewhat proud of myself for eating real food. (And let’s not kid ourselves, I had a good helping of ice cream afterwards.)

Wednesday: Beef Stir Fry + Brown Rice
Freezer meals to the rescue. Yes, we could have still been eating leftovers but I figured we needed a change of pace so pulled out one of the recent freezer meal additions. It’s a pretty simple kit: vegetables, beef, and sauce (a few tablespoons of sauce is added to the packet of beef as a marinade). I added half a head of cabbage we had in the crisper and it was a good thing I did. I’ll be adding that to the notes on my freezer meal spreadsheet–the meal would have been a little light without it!

Thursday: Luau Leftovers
They pick up our trash on Friday mornings so it was a good idea to eat, freeze, or toss anything left from the party at this point. Plus, the work news from Tuesday was/is the type to hang out all week, so a night with no cooking duties was appreciated.

Friday: Shrimp & Eggplant Curry with Cellophane Noodles
A kitchen experiment that totally worked, we enjoyed it so much that I’ve transcribed it from memory/video so you can try it, too. This is a Thai-style curry so it’s a little sweet, a little spicy, and totally delicious. The basic cubes are the little freezer cubes of chopped basil I’ve found at Trader Joe’s. They’re nice to keep on hand for recipes like this when you can’t always count on having fresh basil in the crisper. The lemongrass paste is another quick tip, found in the produce section by the fresh herbs, we also buy cilantro and ginger in paste form from time to time.

Shrimp & Eggplant Curry

serves 4

2 T olive oil
1 T garlic olive oil
1 large eggplant, peeled and diced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 package cellophane noodles plus water to cover
2 T Thai red curry paste
2 T grated ginger
1 T lemongrass paste
2 basil cubes (or 2 t dried basil)
1 can coconut milk
12 oz medium shrimp

Pour hot water over rice noodles in a bowl large enough to hold the bricks of noodles and an inch of water above. Let the noodles soak while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Heat olive oils in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat.

Add bell pepper and eggplant to pan and saute until peppers start to soften slightly and eggplant edges start to brown.

Stir in curry paste, ginger, lemongrass, and basil, then stir in coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until vegetables are fully cooked.

Add shrimp, simmer and stir for about a minute, then turn off the burner and let the heat of the coconut milk mixture to finish cooking to shrimp (this helps prevent over cooking the seafood). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drain the cellophane noodles (I find a pasta scoop works best for this, as the noodles are so small as to slip through most colanders with ease) and mix them into the shrimp and vegetables, stirring to distribute the sauce throughout.


I think I’ve stumbled upon the perfect combination in eggplant and coconut milk. Usually you’d salt and press the eggplant to draw out any bitterness but, I admit, I was lazy this time and skipped that step. But the slight sweetness of the coconut milk seems to have counteracted any bitterness in the eggplant because it was the second best eggplant I’ve ever had and Todd really enjoyed it as well! (The best being this sweet eggplant dish that Bahn Thai sometimes has on their lunch buffet, it’s absolutely amazing; they leave the skin on and it’s still the best eggplant ever.)

Saturday: Corned Beef Hash + Eggs
Lazy Saturday, I slept in, it rained all day, Todd napped in the afternoon. Yeah, we did nothing much of importance and it was just fine, so a late supper of breakfast seemed like a good idea to both of us.

Sunday: Zuppa Toscana
It rained almost all of Easter Sunday as well, and since we’d all just gotten together for Todd’s birthday last weekend we’d decided to forgo a family Easter event. I grabbed the pouch of Zuppa Toscana from 12tomatoes was a good answer to an unplanned Sunday supper. Rainy weather is perfect soup weather and this one was pretty tasty. It’s been so long since I’ve been to Olive Garden I really can’t say whether it’s a convincing copycat recipe or not, but we definitely enjoyed it. Maybe next time I’ll actually plan ahead and make some fresh bread sticks to go with it.

And that work news I keep mentioning, it does deserve an explanation, but this isn’t the right post for it. I’ll try to organize my thoughts about it for the next one.

Almost Meatless Experiment


It was my turn to cook this week and, as the cookbook testing is mostly done, it was time to find some new inspiration. In a stack of books under my bedside table was Almost Meatless by Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond. I’d picked it up as part of a book club last year, given it a cursory glance and set it aside to be completely forgotten until a week or so ago when it surfaced as I was looking for a different reference.

The premise of the book is cooking with a more mindful attitude towards ingredients and less of a dependence on animal products without going strictly vegetarian–a nice compromise for us omnivores. The inside flap touts the benefits of the book as “health-, budget- and eco-conscious” eating without sacrificing flavor. Sounds good to me!

Thai Coconut-Curry Soup

Thai Coconut-Curry Soup

We took one recipe from each chapter and worked our way through the book, beginning with Thai Coconut-Curry Soup. It’s a very light soup and I was a little concerned about the lack of body as it relied on chicken stock with just a little bit of coconut milk as a finish. In fact, this was a downside to the recipe as it did not use a full can of coconut milk and it’s a bit of a pain to store leftovers–I’d much prefer a recipe to use items in their whole units.

It was the same with the chicken–she called for a single bone-in breast which then got shredded. For economy, we purchase our boneless, skinless chicken breasts in large packs, break each over-large breast in half and repackage them 4 to a pouch before freezing them. Since we’d just purchased chicken the week before it was simpler (and less wasteful) to use a package of our own in total (since defrosting and refreezing is ill-advised), about a pound, which we used cut into chunks instead of cooked and then shredded.

Smoked Turkey Nachos

Smoked Turkey Nachos

Minor quibbles aside, the soup was perfect for a summer supper–nice and light with plenty of flavor from the basil, mint and lemongrass. Rice noodles do a good job of bulking out the soup into a satisfactory meal (though I suggest you break them up quite a bit before adding them to the broth so that you only need a spoon and not also a fork to try to manage the over-long noodles). The soup was even better the next day, for lunch, as the flavors had developed even more overnight.

The second recipe we tested was the Smoked Turkey Nachos. In a bit of culinary synchronicity we’d just had a smoked turkey breast the previous weekend and there was MORE than enough leftover to shred for this application (even if the recipe called for smoked turkey legs). I’d originally thought this better for a weekend supper but it was certainly substantial enough for dinner during the week. Layers of tortilla chips, sauced turkey, black beans and cheddar cheese baked in a casserole were easily eaten with the fingers, fresh out of the oven, but better with a fork the next day when the chips softened a bit and it became more of a taco salad idea.

Pineapple Fried Rice

Shrimp and Pineapple Fried Rice

Next was the Shrimp and Pineapple Fried Rice. A fair amount of prep goes into this dish–making the rice ahead, chopping the vegetables and cleaning the whole pineapple into two bowls. Now, even though it’s supposed to serve 4 (and it does, quite generously) the directions call for splitting the pineapple in half, lengthwise, and carving out two bowls. Only 2 bowls? Unless they are supposed to be large enough to act as serving dishes (mine were not) it seems a bit unfortunate that only 2 of the diners get the benefit of this presentation. As we were only two, it wasn’t much of an issue. And we had a delightful time demolishing the remaining pineapple in the hull of the bowl for dessert.

The rest was held for the next day’s lunch. Here’s where we run into a bit of a bump: the leftover rice became quite mushy–to the point I couldn’t stomach it–because of the enzymes in the fresh pineapple. This was very disappointing. In the future we’ll do either 1 of 2 things: hold out the pineapple destined for the lunch portions and mix it in just before re-heating or use canned pineapple which, I suspect, would not do as much damage. Just as canned pineapple can be used in gelatin whereas fresh cannot (the heating in the canning process destroys the enzyme, allowing the gelatin to gell), it might hold up better in this preparation as well.

Sweet Potato Chorizo Mole

Sweet Potato Chorizo Mole

Finally, Sunday night’s supper was Sweet Potato Chorizo Mole. Another casserole with just a touch of meat (in this case, chorizo) but fist-fulls of flavor! Again, we’d had chorizo in something else during Todd’s menu so already had enough in the fridge for this recipe. We also still had some Mexican chocolate with chilies leftover from our cruise the previous year. Sweet potatoes are always a favorite at our house, along with corn and black beans. It takes over an hour in the oven to cook the slices of sweet potato through, but the wait is worth it. Served with lime wedges and creamy slices of avocado, it really doesn’t need anything else.

Another way to do it, if you’re in more of a hurry, would be to prepare the mole sauce as directed but cube the potatoes, boil them as the mole simmers and combine them into a stew. Top with cheddar cheese once in the bowls and the time for this recipe could go from 1.5 hours to, maybe, 30 minutes.

We’ve still got 3 more recipes to try this week: Shabu Shabu Soup, Springtime Spaghetti Carbonara and Albondigas.