Easy Thai Curry and curry paste

I love Thai curry. Red or yellow or green or panang, thick or thin, potato and egg-based or full of vegetables. I find that I can whip up a thai curry in no time at all, using just about whatever vegetables I have around (hopefully seasonal), a can of lite coconut milk, and a small can of prepared thai curry.* My favorite ones are the Maesri brand, easy to find at any local asian mart. In West Philadelphia I buy them at PP grocery or H Mart, in South Philly at any of the big asian groceries on Washington Ave., downtown in Chinatown, and in Northern Liberties at the asian market on 3rd and Spring Garden Ave. The varieties seem almost endless, and each can comes with a suggested ingredient list on the back. But I say, use what you wish, and taper the curry paste to suite your taste. Serve over rice or rice noodles, and you have a fast week night dinner!

* If you are vegetarian, check the ingredient list. A few of these curries have fish sauce or fish products included.


Winter Shepard’s Pie

Winter Vegetarian Shepard's Pie

Hello Friends! The March GRID magazine has hit the stands, and I encourage you to pick up a copy. I contributed a vegetarian shepard’s pie using in-season vegetables. Beautiful to look at, delicious to eat, and easily made vegan. If you’d like to make a faster recipe, skip the lentil crust – it’s just as delicious. I’m going to include the recipe below, but do your best to track down the issue, or read in online, to enjoy all the other seasonal recipes!

Winter Shepard’s Pie

Potato Topping
2 Yukon gold potatoes
2 sweet potatoes
1/3 c. milk
1 Tbs. butter
12oz. crumbeled tempeh
2 cups water
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 bay leaf

1 cup green lentils
1.5 cups water
salt and pepper
4 Tbs. flour
1 egg


2 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, diced
3 stalks of celery, chopped
4 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
½ cup red wine
4 carrots, diced
2 parsnips, diced
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
mushroom stock or bullion
6 oz. shredded aged sharp cheddar cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel and dice potatoes and boil in salted water until soft, about 15 minutes. Place potatoes in the bowl of your mixer. Add salt and pepper, milk, and butter and beat until smooth.
2., In a small saucepan, boil the lentils with water, salt and pepper until soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
3. In a dutch oven or cast iron skillet, crumble the tempeh. Add the water, soy sauce and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and the simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven. Add the onions and garlic and fry until lightly brown. Add the celery and mushroom, and brown. Add the wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the tempeh, reserving the liquid and discarding the bay leaf. Add the tempeh to the vegetables. Add the herbs, salt and pepper. Add enough water or mushroom broth to the reserved liquid to make 3 cups. If you have no mushroom broth, add a cube of mushroom bullion. Whisk 2 Tbs. of flour into the broth. Add the liquid to the vegetable and tempeh, simmering until the mixture thickens slightly.
5. In a small bowl, combine the lentils and flour, stirring until the lentils are coated. Whisk the egg and oil together, then stir into the lentils. Press the lentil mixture in the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish. Cook the lentil crust in the oven for 10 minutes.
6. While the crust is baking, shred the cheese. Remove the casserole from the oven and top with the tempeh vegetable mix, followed by the chedder cheese. Evenly spread the potatoes over the top of the casserole. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges of the casserole bubble and the potatoes slightly brown.
7. Remove from the oven and let cook slightly before slicing and serving. If you wish, serve with hot sauce and additional cheese.

Make it Vegetarian: Chicken with Lemons and Olives Emshmel

I’ve been planning a trip to Marrakesh in March, and all the reading and thinking I’m doing about Morocco has got me craving harissa and lemons. I made this dish as part of a large Moroccan feast. I actually stuck closely to the recipe, using some homemade preserved lemons that I made last September. Initially I planned to make a “white-meat” seitan for this recipe, but between a full day of work and folks arriving for dinner at 7:30m, it just wasn’t going to happen. Instead I picked up a couple packages of Smart Strips. My guests couldn’t believe that they weren’t eating chicken, and in general found the dish delicious. I hoarded my leftovers, and they were just as good reheated over the next few days.