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You'll find over 400 of my favorite recipes here, including ideas for Quick meals, Cooking for 2, Feasting on Leftovers, and cooking with 5 Ingredients or Less. I'm adding new posts regularly; you can subscribe by email or RSS feed if you'd like to receive the latest recipes. Bon appétit!

Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

June 23, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas was a hit at Chez Dedon last night! Bob declared that it was perfectly seasoned, and I had to agree.

I had saved Toni’s recipe from her Boulder Locavore blog to Pinterest. I ran across it again yesterday and decided to make it. Click on the link for her blog if you want to see the video she posted about the recipe. She used a gallon bag to marinate the ingredients, but I thought a bowl might be easier, so that’s what I used. You can refrigerate the ingredients to marinate for up to 24 hours or you can just let them marinate for the time that it takes your oven to preheat. We found the flavor was great even after a short marinating time.

Fajitas are traditionally served with hot flour tortillas. Toni uses corn tortillas to make it gluten free. She recommends wrapping tortillas in foil and putting them in the oven with the sheet pan for the last ten minutes .

I skipped the tortillas and served the Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas over a bed of just-harvested lettuce from our yard. It made a great low-carb, main-dish salad for a warm night.

However you choose to serve them, I highly recommend Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas! I topped ours with sliced avocado and a bit of sour cream for me. Other toppings that could be used might be guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo, or shredded cheese.

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sheet pan chicken fajitas - Copy

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Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

(Adapted from a recipe on boulderlocavore.com)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 4

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¼ cup oil

1 tablespoon chili powder

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon dried oregano

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 large red bell pepper, cut vertically into ½-inch slices

1 large orange bell pepper, cut vertically into ½-inch slices

1 large yellow bell pepper, cut vertically into ½-inch slices

1 medium red onion, peeled and sliced vertically into ½-inch wedges

1 – 1.33  pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used 1.33 lbs.), sliced across the breast in ½-inch slices

Lettuce for serving

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1 package tortillas (optional)

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Suggested toppings: avocado slices or guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa, pico de gallo

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  1. Whisk the oil, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic together in a large bowl.

Ingredients before whisking

marinade ingredients

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2. Put the peppers and onion in the marinade and stir well.

stir vegetables

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3. Put chicken in the bowl and stir the chicken and vegetables together well so the marinade is evenly distributed. At this point you can cover the bowl and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours. It will be good, though, with just 20 minutes time while the oven is heating.

stir chicken in

 

4. Preheat the oven to 400°.

5. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.

6. Spread the ingredients out on the baking sheet.

ready for oven

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7. Roast for 10 minutes.

8. Remove from the oven to stir.

9. Put the sheet pan back in the oven. (Also put foil wrapped tortillas in the oven, if you’re using them.) Roast for 10 more minutes.

10. Remove from the oven and serve over a bed of lettuce or with the tortillas. Top with your toppings of choice.

Done

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sheet pan chicken fajitas - 2

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Keto Ground Lamb Casserole

May 22, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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This spring has been full of a lot of feasting opportunities with the trips to Florida and New York and the celebration of several family birthdays. Between the feasts Bob and I have been eating simpler meals and watching the carbs. This Ground Lamb Casserole from Maria Emmerich’s Quick and Easy Ketogenic Cooking is a recipe I have made twice in the past few weeks.

You could substitute ground beef for the lamb, but I love the rich flavor of the lamb in this casserole. You’ll never mistake the cabbage for pasta, but it does cook down and blends in well with the rest of the ingredients.

Ground Lamb Casserole is quick, easy, and so flavorful. Leftovers reheat beautifully, making it a great option to pack in a lunch. I actually purposely made it the last time because I had some subbing days coming up and I wanted to take leftovers for my lunch!

If you like lamb, do give this Ground Lamb Casserole a try!

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Ground Lamb Casserole served with perfect Washington asparagus (Yay, spring!)

Keto Ground Lamb Casserole

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Ground Lamb Casserole

(Adapted, barely, from Maria Emmerich’s recipe in Quick and Easy Ketogenic Cooking)

 

(print the recipe)

 

Serves 4

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See that bacon? It was home-cured and home-smoked by Byron!

ingredients

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4 slices bacon, diced

1 pound ground lamb

¼ cup diced green bell pepper

¼ cup diced onion

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic (2 – 3 cloves)

4 cups thinly sliced cabbage (about ½ head)

2 cups tomato sauce (I used one 15-ounce can of tomato sauce)

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

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  1. Put the bacon in a cold large skillet and heat to medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the bacon is starting to get crispy, about 5 minutes.

Byron's bacon

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2. Add the ground lamb, pepper, onion, and garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is done, about 7 minutes.

Ground lamb, onion, pepper, and garlic added

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3. Add the cabbage and tomato sauce to the pan. Stir. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the cabbage is cooked and softened.

Tomato sauce and cabbage added

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4. Season to taste with the salt and serve.

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Keto Ground Lamb Casserole - Copy

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Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower

May 14, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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I found this recipe for Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower on Sandy’s Reluctant Entertainer blog. Sandy found the recipe in Gina Homolka’s book, The Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor. (Gina also has a blog that’s a great source for lightened-up recipes.)

I’ve now made this a couple of times. The first time I made it I didn’t take pictures because I didn’t expect it to be special enough for the blog. Boy, I was wrong!

The spice combination for the cauliflower is just right. It’s a bit spicy, but not overly so. Just reduce the amount of crushed red pepper flakes if you’re nervous about it, but ¼ teaspoon for the whole recipe is not that hot.

I had a whole head of cauliflower that had been in the crisper drawer for about a week. It was time to do something with it and I made Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower again. It was a perfect side dish with roast chicken thighs. They both roast at 450°. I put the chicken thighs on a rack on the lower third of the preheated oven. After the chicken had roasted for about 15 minutes, I put the cauliflower on a rack in the upper third of the oven. I continued to roast them both for another 25 minutes. Easy-peasy dinner!

The thing I love about this Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower is that it is so easy and yet flavorful enough to taste like a more complicated recipe. If you like cauliflower, give this one a try. I know I’m happy to add it to my repertoire.

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Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower served with Roast Chicken Thighs

Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower

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Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower

(Adapted from a recipe posted by Sandy of reluctantentertainer.com who credited the recipe to Gina Homolka’s The Skinnytaste Cookbook)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 4

 

The recipe calls for a bit of cilantro to garnish the cooked cauliflower. It’s a nice touch but can be omitted if you don’t have any on hand. I didn’t use it the first time I made it.

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6 heaping cups of cauliflower florets (from a 1½ – pound cauliflower), cut into 1-inch pieces

3 garlic cloves

¼ cup olive oil

Salt, to taste

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°.
  2. Put the cauliflower in a large bowl.

Cauliflower and garlic

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3. Lay a large chef’s knife flat on the garlic with the blade facing away from you. Press (or smack) the blade with your fist to smash the garlic cloves. Put the garlic in the bowl with the cauliflower.

crushed garlic

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4. Pour the olive oil over the cauliflower and toss so it is well distributed.

5. Sprinkle the cauliflower with salt.

6. Stir the turmeric, cumin, and pepper flakes together.

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Turmeric, ground cumin, and crushed red pepper flakes

Turmeric, cumin, and crushed red pepper flakes

Stir spices together

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7. Sprinkle the spices over the cauliflower and stir well. Spread the cauliflower out on a large rimmed baking sheet, covered with parchment if desired.

8. Roast for about 25 minutes, stirring once when it’s about half done.

9. Garnish with cilantro, if desired, and serve.

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Cauliflower and chicken thighs sharing the oven

sharing the oven

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Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower - Copy

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A Quick Trip to New Jersey and New York City

May 12, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Sunday, May 7, was our 34th wedding anniversary and we spent most of the day flying from Seattle to Newark, New Jersey. Bob goes twice a year for business and this time I tagged along.

That night we stayed with Foy and Ken. They manage the self-storage facility that Bob developed, and over the years they have become good friends. We got to their house at about 5:30, just in time to enjoy martinis and the smoked salmon that we had brought from Pure Food Fish in the Pike Place Market (the BEST!) Foy and Ken treated us to a great Italian dinner at Gregorio’s in Chatham. Bob and I split a Caesar salad and I had their gluten-free pasta with sausage, sundried tomatoes, and a tomato-cream sauce. Delizioso!

The next morning, after a quick breakfast at Angie’s Family Restaurant in Chatham, we went to a meeting at the management company. This year it was particularly enjoyable because everything is going so well.

After the meeting we headed out to the storage facility in New Brunswick. We grabbed a quick hot pastrami sandwich (good!) nearby and then met with the people working at the store. They’re so enthusiastic and are doing a great job keeping the place rented up.

With the business done, we turned in the rental car at the Newark airport and took the NJ Transit train to Penn Station in New York City!

Foy and Ken generously let us stay in their beautiful one bedroom apartment that they own near the United Nations. It is so perfect! It’s in a relatively quiet area of New York and walking distance to many good restaurants. It’s centrally located so it’s a quick taxi ride to other areas of the city.

We were pretty exhausted after staying up way too late the night before talking with Foy. Bob took a nap. We then walked around the corner to get some wine and snacks to enjoy in the apartment before dinner.

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Salami, chips, and wine before dinner

Wine and snacks in NYC apt

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There are so many wonderful restaurants in New York, but instead of trying something new, we had to go back to a favorite from a past trip. Matisse is a cute little French bistro that has a great atmosphere and wonderful food. As a bonus, the prices are very reasonable for New York. Bob had a martini and I enjoyed a Manhattan. We shared the Vegetarian Salad (chopped mixed vegetables with lemon vinaigrette). Then Bob had the Coq au Vin, which he said he’d never had before, and I had fabulous Calf’s Liver. The mashed potatoes served with both entrees were perfection. We enjoyed the dinner so much; I’m sure we will choose to go back again if we’re in New York. (And note to self: Find a good recipe for Coq au Vin!)

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Martini and Manhattan at Matisse

Calves liver and Coq au Vin at Matisse

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We started Tuesday with breakfast at Sarge’s Deli. It’s an institution that has been there for 53 years. They are never closed. And they have a huge menu that includes “The Monster”, “New York’s largest sandwich”. It is served on thick sliced rye bread, with corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, fresh turkey, salami, sliced tomato, lettuce, coleslaw and Russian dressing. It will set you back $41.95 but will probably feed you all week!

We ordered from their breakfast specials menu. I had The Leo (eggs scrambled with Nova Scotia smoked salmon and onions, served with home fries) and rye toast. Bob had a toasted sesame bagel with the smoked salmon and cream cheese. It was all very tasty, but a lot of food. We definitely left some behind.

Sarge's - the Leo breakfast

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Sarge's bagel, smoked salmon and cream cheese

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After breakfast we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Carrie had suggested we go to the Whitney Museum of American Art, but Bob vetoed that idea. We had been to the Met before, but it is ginormous and always has something new. And it has things that Bob likes, like the Arms and Armor Gallery. It is truly the “something for everyone” museum.

We started with the Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties, an exhibit that will be there through July 16. It’s an amazing collection of pieces gathered from 32 museums and archaeological institutions in China. Most of the pieces have never been seen before in the West. The Qin Dynasty was short, from 221 – 206 B.C. The Han Dynasty lasted from 206 B.C. to 220 A.D. I’ll share some of my favorite pieces.

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A half-life-size bronze chariot from the Qin Dynasty

 Half-size sculpture of covered carriage Qin Dynasty

 

There were several life-size terracotta warriors. They were from a life-size army of 7,000 terracotta warriors were discovered in 1974 in the mausoleum of the first Qin emperor, Qin Shi Huang. He died in 210 B.C.

 Terracotta warrior

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This earthenware Strongman is from the Qin Dynasty.

 Strongman, Qin Earthenware

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There were many objects made to be buried with the nobility. I especially liked the Elephant and Groom and the bronze Goose.

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Gilt and Silvered bronze Elephant and Groom, Western Han. Found in 2010 in the tomb of Liu Fei, prince of Jiangdu who died in 129 B.C.

Elephant and Groom

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Life-size bronze goose

Goose

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After the Chinese exhibit, we made a quick pass through the Rei Kawakubo exhibit. It was beautifully exhibited and I probably would have chosen to spend more time looking at everything, but Bob wanted to move on.

Kawakubo, from the Blood and Roses collection, 2015

Kawakubo - from Blood and Roses collection 2015

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We both enjoyed Seurat’s Circus Sideshow. It gathers works from Seurat and other nineteenth century artist that illustrate scenes from the popular fairs and circuses of the time.

We barely made a dent in all that there is to see at the Met, but we had had our fill so went off to find lunch.

I have heard high praise for Shake Shack for so long that I was dying to try it. The Upper East Side location was walking distance from the Met. They have indoor seating and also outdoor seating that is open to the public. You don’t need to purchase Shake Shack food to eat there, but it seemed most people had.

I had the ShackBurger, a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce. Bob tried the SmokeShack, a cheeseburger with bacon, chopped cherry pepper, and ShackSauce. We shared an order of fries. The burgers were very fresh, made with top quality ingredients. All burgers are cooked medium unless requested otherwise. My cheeseburger was very tasty, indeed, and I’m glad we tried it. I must say, though, that our neighborhood Zippy’s burgers are better. They are SO good!

Shake Shack

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After lunch we walked back along E. 86th Street to Central Park. We walked along a path in the park that paralleled 5th Avenue and we saw parts of the park that we hadn’t seen before.

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There’s an area where there are several baseball fields. All were busy with teams practicing after school.

Baseball practice in Central Park

 

We stumbled upon Cleopatra’s Needle. It was commissioned by Pharaoh Thutmose III in about 1425 B.C.

Cleopatra's Needle in Central Park

 History of Cleopatra's Needle

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We kept walking and came upon the Sailboat Pond. You can rent remote control sailboats to sail on the small pond. We had seen that before, but this time we stopped at Le Pain Quotidien Conservatory Water for iced tea. We enjoyed sitting on a bench and watching people go by.

Sailboat Pond Central Park

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After the break, we continued walking until we ended up at the end of the park at E 59th Street. That’s the location of The Plaza hotel where we had lunch with Laura and Carrie in 1998.

The Plaza NYC

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We did a bit of window shopping along 5th Avenue before getting a cab back to the apartment.

Dinner Tuesday night was at Spice Symphony and we both loved it! They serve Indian and “Indian Chinese” food. The service was warm and friendly. We started with Tandoori Achari Mushrooms –  mushrooms marinated in yogurt and pickle spice mix, and roasted in the tandoor. Delicious! I asked about the Lamb Vindaloo and our server said it was very spicy. So I chose the Lamb Rogan Josh and Bob had the Lamb Vindaloo. Both were served with rice and we also had the Kachumber Salad – diced cucumber, onions and tomato topped with a lime cilantro dressing. It was excellent with the spicy entrees.

Lamb Rogan Josh

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Wednesday Bob got some baklava from the Tudor Gourmet Deli downstairs. It is fantastic and made a satisfying breakfast in the apartment.

Baklava from Tudor Gourmet Deli

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We then walked down the stairs from about E. 43rd Street to the UN building and walked along the East River for a while. We cut over and walked south along 1st Avenue. It was interesting to see another part of the city.

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East River with Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge in the background

East River, NYC, Brooklyn in the background

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By the time we got to about E. 24th Street we were hungry for lunch. I used yelp to find Grill 21 in the Gramercy area of Manhattan. It had great reviews and was just a short walk away.

Grill 21 serves Filipino food, a cuisine with which we are not too familiar. I ordered the Chicken Curry. Bob tried, at my suggestion, the Pork Binagoogan. (Pork Binagoogan is pork chunks sautéed in shrimp paste with eggplant.) It took a little while for them to make the food, but I just figured it was being made with fresh ingredients. I enjoyed my curry, but Bob was not so fond of the pork. He thought it tasted “off”. I tasted it and it seemed good to me. Maybe he just doesn’t like Pork Binagoogan.

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Chicken Curry with garlic rice and Pork Binagoogan with steamed rice

Chicken Curry and Pork Binagoogan

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After lunch we kept walking a bit further through the East River neighborhood. There were so many little shops and restaurants! It seemed like an interesting and diverse neighborhood. When we got to St. Mark’s Place we headed west to 3rd Ave where we got a cab back to the apartment. We had walked about 2 miles.

It was time to head to the airport. We packed up and caught a cab at about 1:15 to take us to Penn Station. Traffic was horrible. It took a while, but we had allowed plenty of time. Then the train was slightly delayed. It left about 20 minutes late. All in all, it took us about two hours to get from the apartment to the gate for Alaska Airlines, but we were there in plenty of time for our 5:15 flight.

We had a fabulous mini-vacation in the Big Apple and would love to visit again. Now that we have two favorite dinner restaurants, we might have to stay for more than two nights so we can try other places!

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The view of the United Nations Headquarters from outside the apartment building we stayed in.

View of the UN from Tudor City - Copy

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Classic Margaritas

May 6, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? We don’t really. But yesterday I was inspired to make margaritas by Facebook posts and blog posts that I stumbled upon. Plus, I had way too many limes left over from making Chiang Mai Chicken. Margaritas seemed the perfect way to use them.

One of the online pieces I read was Michael Dietsch’s 2014 post on Serious Eats about which tequila is best for margaritas. In his opinion, Blanco (or Silver, the clear tequilas) worked best in margaritas. They first blind tested “mixto” tequilas (tequilas that are no more than 51% agave) and the two winners in that test were Jose Cuervo and Sauza.

They next blind tested the Cuervo and Sauza against 100% agave brands. The 100% agave brands turned out to be clearly better than the mixtos.

Their two favorites were Casa Noble Crystal (Michael said it cost about $33) and Herradura (quoted as about $29).

Armed with this new information about tequila, I headed to the liquor store. Now I don’t know if tequila prices have gotten insanely high since 2014 or if it’s just that Washington State has insanely high taxes on liquor, but his two favorites were out of my price range! They were on the top shelf and were in the $65-$70 price range. Not what I was willing to pay for margaritas! So I looked down a few shelves and chose Cazadores Tequila Blanco. With taxes, it was $40. Still expensive, but I was willing to give it a try.

I made the Classic Margarita from the “Serious Eats Team”. They used “high quality” blanco tequila, limes, Cointreau, and coarse salt. They noted that if you use a budget tequila, it would be better if you swapped the proportions of the Cointreau and lime juice and added ¼ ounce simple sugar for each drink. I figured my tequila was fine enough and made the classic recipe.

This recipe did make mighty fine margaritas! And it was very easy. I don’t have a cocktail shaker, so I used my Blender Bottle without the Blender Ball in it and it worked just fine. (The reason it’s a good idea to shake it with ice is that the margaritas will get really cold. Then when you put the strained drinks in the glasses with fresh ice, the ice won’t melt as quickly.)

I’ll definitely make this recipe for margaritas again. When I’m out of the Cazadores tequila I may try a less expensive blanco, all in the name of research, of course. How bad could it be?

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Classic margarita

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Classic Margarita

(Adapted, barely, from a recipe on Serious Eats)

Note: Serious Eats claims that this works best with a high quality tequila. If you use a budget tequila, they suggest it would be better if you swapped the proportions of the Cointreau and lime juice and added ¼ ounce simple sugar for each drink.

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 2

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Lime wedge, plus 2 lime wheels (optional, for serving)

1 tablespoon coarse salt, for glass rims

4 ounces high quality blanco tequila (See note above)

2 ounces Cointreau

1½ ounces fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)

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  1. Run the lime wedge around the rim of two glasses and dip in the salt.
  2. Put the tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker (or Blender Bottle). Add several ice cubes and shake until the cocktail shaker frosts over on the bottom or the Blender Bottle feels cold, about 15 seconds.
  3. Strain the margarita into both glasses. Add ice cubes. Garnish with lime wheel, if desired, and serve.

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Classic margarita - Copy

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A Trip to Florida

May 4, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Have you tried Airbnb yet? On Wednesday, April 19, we flew to Tampa to see Bob’s cousins who live in St. Petersburg. I found the best Airbnb accommodation in Gulfport that was a short drive to our cousins’ homes.

This was our first experience with Airbnb and we loved it. Stephanie’s Lovely Guesthouse was perfect. It is a lovely one-bedroom guesthouse attached to Stephanie’s home. Stephanie has thought of all the little details, like plenty of hangers so we could hang up all of our clothes. It has a large private patio for relaxing outside. It’s a short walk to Gulfport Beach and all of the restaurants and shops in the town. There are even a couple of bicycles available. Gulfport is a great town for a leisurely bike ride; the neighborhood is flat with very little traffic. We didn’t use the bicycles. Maybe next time!

The guesthouse has a well-equipped kitchenette, but I have to admit we only used the Keurig coffee maker and the wine opener!

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Bob, in front of the entrance to the Lovely Guesthouse

Bob in front of the Lovely Guest House

Living room and kitchenette at the Lovely Guest House

Lovely Guest House

The Lovely Guest House 1

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The first night, after checking in to the Lovely Guesthouse, we drove to meet Maria and Carol. They took us to their favorite Greek restaurant in St. Petersburg, Athenian Gardens. It was excellent! I ordered their Greek salad with gyro meat. It turned out to be delicious and a huge portion. I took some back to the guesthouse to save in the refrigerator.

After dinner Maria drove us out to St. Pete’s Beach and we got there just in time for the sunset! It was a beautiful evening.

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Sunset at St. Pete Beach

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Thursday morning we walked to Gulfport to look around and have breakfast. Stella’s was obviously very popular, so we went there. It was so nice to eat breakfast outside in warm weather after the long, rainy winter in Seattle. (It has, in fact, been a record-breaking winter for rain in Seattle!)

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Sitting outside at Stella’s

Breakfast outside at Stella's

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Thursday night we met Maria and her son James and his family (Safina, Gabriel, and Dominic) at O’Maddy’s Bar and Grille in Gulfport.  O’Maddy’s is very popular pretty much all day long. James and Safina had made a reservation so we were able to get right in. The restaurant is right across the street from the water and it has a fun beach-town atmosphere. And the food was great! I enjoyed fried grouper, a Florida treat that we don’t get in the Pacific Northwest.

Friday morning we went to Mangia Gourmet for breakfast. They have a very pleasant outdoor patio that is bigger than the indoor seating area. We were the only people there so we had the patio to ourselves. The menu has a lot of gluten free and vegan options, but they also have eggs, cheese, and meat. But, as Bob pointed out to the very nice server, they don’t have bacon! I had a slice of quiche and a fruit cup; Bob had the bagel (gluten free because they only had gluten free bagels), lox, and cream cheese.  The gluten free bagel was actually quite tasty. The breakfast was good and we were ready for the day.

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Breakfast at Mangia Gourmet (Bob’s wearing his worn-out St. Petersburg Yacht Club cap.)

Breakfast at Mangia Gourmet)

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The last time we had been in St. Petersburg was 2009, eight years ago. Bob had gotten a St. Petersburg Yacht Club cap on that trip. It was a favorite cap and it was worn out. We stopped by the yacht club to get a new one for him. (As Seattle Yacht Club members, we’re able to enjoy reciprocal privileges at many other yacht clubs.)

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The porch at St. Petersburg Yacht Club

The porch at SPYC

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After driving around St. Petersburg a bit, we headed to Fort De Soto County Park. It’s a large park featuring camping areas, nature walks, and beaches (including a dog beach). There is a $5 parking fee collected as you enter the park. We went to East Beach. We had the beach chairs provided by our host, Stephanie, at the guesthouse and enjoyed an afternoon at the beach.

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At East Beach at Fort De Soto County Park

East Beach, Fort De Soto Park

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Bob with his new SPYC cap

Bob at East Beach, Fort De Soto Park, Tierra Verde, FL)

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Yes, I was there, too, in the shade and with plenty of sunblock! (The beach chairs were great! We found them in the closet for our use at our Lovely Guesthouse.)

Kath at East Beach at Ford De Soto Park.jpg

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Dinner that night was a feast at Maria’s! She made her cabbage rolls, which she called Arabian-style cabbage rolls. They were fabulous and different from other cabbage rolls I had seen. They were rolled into narrow cylinders. An Internet search produced several recipes for “Malfouf” that looked very similar to Maria’s. Maria said she had found a much easier way to make them. Instead of boiling the cabbage, she puts a whole cabbage in the freezer for two weeks. Then she defrosts it and the leaves are ready to be stuffed. I’ll have to see if Maria will share her recipe with me. 🙂 She served the cabbage rolls with a wonderful quinoa tabbouleh.

James, Gabriel, and Dominic are crazy about baseball! They watch it (they’re Rays fans) and Gabriel and Dominic both play on elite teams that do very well. It’s a huge time commitment with all of the practices and games. Each boy can have as many as 5 or 6 games on a weekend. (Safina likes it, too, but I don’t think she likes it as much as her 3 “boys” do!) We were excited to get to see Dominic play on Saturday. His first game was at 9:00 in Sarasota, an hour away. We decided to go to his second game at 11:00.

We drove to the Sarasota Farmers’ Market to look around and grab breakfast. There didn’t seem to be too many farmers at the market. It was mostly food vendors and crafts. We got breakfast from Annalida’s Gourmet Foods. Bob had a great crab cake and a sausage, and I had a gluten free wrap with a sausage and grilled onions, peppers, and zucchini. We didn’t spend much time at the market because we had to get to the game.

It was really fun baseball to watch, even though Dominic’s team didn’t win. They were ahead until the bottom of the last inning when the opposing team scored enough runs to win the game. It was disappointing for Dominic, but we got to see some great plays by both teams. So it was fun!

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Dominic at bat

Dominic at bat

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After the game we headed up Longboat Key, which was not as interesting as we thought it might be. It’s a residential area and you can’t see the water most of the way because of all of the large McMansions on both sides of the road. By the time we got to the north end of the key the traffic was stop and go because there was a beach and park area that was crowded with people. There’s only the one road in and out, so it was very busy on a Saturday afternoon. While we were stuck in traffic, I had plenty of time to look for a lunch stop on yelp. I zeroed in on Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina in Cortez. We finally made it to the place to turn to take a bridge to Cortez on the mainland.

Cortez is a small commercial fishing village on the Gulf Coast. Tide Tables Restaurant was very busy with a late lunch crowd. We felt lucky to get a spot to sit outside. They say the grouper is delivered right to their dock by the fishermen. So I chose fried grouper and Bob had conch fritters. Both were good, but I think mine was better. After lunch we continued on to Gulfport and relaxed at the guesthouse before dinner.

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Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina, Cortez FL.jpg

Tide Tables Restaurant.jpg

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Great Egret on the dock at Tide Tables

Great Egret at Tide Tables

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That evening the boys went to the Rays baseball game with friends. James wasn’t feeling well so he stayed home. We took Safina to dinner at Alesia, a Vietnamese-French restaurant a short walk from their home. Safina said she always likes to start with the Raw Honeycomb appetizer and it was amazing. The honeycomb was handcut from the hive and paired with a creamy bleu cheese, spicy candied pecans, grapes and toast points. It was a wonderful combination of flavors! I tried their Bún, perhaps my favorite Vietnamese dish. It’s a bowl of cooled rice vermicelli noodles served with lettuce, herbs, topped with crushed peanuts and grilled pork. It did not disappoint!

When we had stopped at the yacht club on Friday we learned that we could go sailing at St. Petersburg Sailing Center, which is across the street from and operated by St. Petersburg Yacht Club. If you’re not a member of St. Petersburg Sailing Center ($350/year for local people), you can take a boat out if you pay $45/hour for a sailing lesson. It’s not unusual for accomplished sailors to make an appointment for a “lesson” so they can take out a boat.

On Sunday we had an appointment at 10:00 for a lesson with Daniel. Dominic, Safina, and James had a day of Dominic’s games. Gabriel and his friend, Kevin, wanted to go sailing with us.

We got going early and needed a really quick breakfast so we (gasp!) stopped at McDonald’s for Egg McMuffins on our way to pick up the boys. It had probably been at least 15 years or more since I had eaten at McDonald’s. It wasn’t horrible, and it quickly solved breakfast.

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Egg McMuffin before sailing

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We picked up Gabriel and Kevin who had just rolled out of bed so they needed breakfast, too. We stopped at Burger King so they could eat. Then off to our 10:00 appointment with Daniel.

There was not much wind, but we still had a good time. Daniel helped Bob rig the boat, and then he just went along for the ride. Bob took the boat out, and Gabriel and Kevin each got some time at the helm. Bob and Daniel were both good teachers, giving them tips. We ended up being out for about two hours and it felt good to be out on the water.

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Bob, Daniel and Gabriel

rigging the sailboat.jpg

Gabriel and Bob sailing

Gabriel driving the boat

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After our sail we took the boys for lunch at St. Petersburg Yacht Club. They had a big Sunday buffet going on, but we were also able to order from the menu, so I had (of course)  grouper with sweet potato fries and remoulade sauce. Delicious!

Grilled mahi mahi with remoulade sauce and sweet potato fries at SPYC

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We took Gabriel and Kevin home and then headed back to Gulfport for an afternoon at the beach. The water seemed a bit warmer than it had been at Fort De Soto, but it was still not warm enough for me to consider swimming. We enjoyed sitting on the beach and watching the Laughing Gulls who were busy with all kinds of mating dances.

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Bob and Laughing Gulls at Gulfport Beach

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When we had had enough of the beach, we went to the upstairs balcony at Manatee’s across the street from the beach. Most of the buildings in Gulfport are one story, so the view from the upstairs balcony is the best in town. The food looked alright, but we just had Bloody Marys and enjoyed the view.

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The view from Manatee’s

Manatees on the Bay.jpg

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Relaxing on the patio at the Lovely Guesthouse

Relaxing at The Lovely Guest House

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After relaxing with some wine out on the patio at the Lovely Guesthouse, we headed back to Gulfport for a dinner for two at Pia’s Trattoria. Maria had told us about it and it was, indeed, very good. I had Shrimp Scampi with really delicious gluten free pasta, and Bob had Linguine with Clam Sauce. It was an excellent dinner for our last night in Gulfport.

Monday morning we took Maria and Carol for breakfast at Stella’s. It was busy, but we luckily got a table for 4 outside. It was fun to have the chance to see them again before we left.

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Stella’s is in the heart of “downtown” Gulfport. We loved that the town was so walkable.Stella's in the heart of Gulfport.jpg

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After breakfast we just relaxed at the Lovely Guesthouse and then drove to the airport to fly home. Both flights were nonstop on Alaska Airlines. It’s amazing that you can go from Seattle all the way to Tampa in 6 hours!

We had a wonderful, relaxing vacation in the Gulfport/St. Petersburg area. The best part was spending time with our cousins. We’re Facebook friends, which makes it easier to keep up, but it’s not the same as spending some time together. We all agreed that we can’t let 8 years go by without getting together again.

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The resident cat at the Lovely Guesthouse had a favorite chair on the patio

Resident cat at The Lovely Guest House

 Sign in private patio

Chiang Mai Chicken (Kai Yang)

May 2, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Chiang Mai Chicken (Kai Yang) may be the best chicken I have ever made or eaten!

I adapted the recipe from Christopher Kimball’s recipe in the current issue (May-June 2017) of Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Magazine. I just started subscribing to the magazine this year and I really like it. It’s published 6 times a year and is full of recipes from around the world. I just noticed today that my Thriftway store has the current issue for sale, so you may be able to buy a single copy if you don’t want to commit to a subscription.

Kimball traveled to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand where he ate this amazing chicken prepared by two young chefs who grill spatchcocked chickens over a charcoal grill. He loved the chicken and the tamarind-based dipping sauce that was served with it.

Back home, he set out to recreate Chiang Mai Chicken for home chefs. He makes it simple, giving directions for roasting in the oven.

The marinade is fabulous and gives the chicken so much flavor! The chicken should be marinated for 2 hours. Kimball says 1 hour is not enough and 3 hours makes it too salty.

After reading over the recipe I knew I wanted to make it for Laura’s and Rhett’s birthday dinner. (With their birthdays just 11 days apart, we celebrated both of them on the same day.) I doubled the recipe to have enough for everyone. Since two family members are currently eating a super low-carb diet, I used Truvia instead of sugar in the marinade. It worked really well!

I made both the Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce and the Tamarind Dipping Sauce. I doubled the sauces by making two batches of each one – one with Truvia and one with sugar. There was no difference in taste so I wouldn’t hesitate to use Truvia again. I found it was not necessary to double the sauces. We had quite a bit left over.

Everyone loved the chicken! It’s delicious even without the dipping sauces because the marinade delivers so much flavor.

The Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce was really good, but the Tamarind Dipping Sauce was outstanding and was everyone’s favorite.

This Chiang Mai Chicken is a great recipe to make when you have a leisurely afternoon. It’s easy, but you need to give it that precise 2-hour marinating time. The Tamarind Dipping Sauce takes a bit of time to make, but it is worth it. If you can’t find tamarind pulp or just want something that’s simpler, you won’t be disappointed with the Chili-Lime Sauce. Honestly, you’ll love this chicken as is with just a squeeze of lime juice!

Chiang Mai Chicken served with Cauliflower “Rice”

Chiang Mai Chicken with Cauliflower rice

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Chiang Mai Chicken (Kai Yang)

(Adapted from Christopher Kimball’s recipe in the May-June 2017 issue of Milk Street Magazine)

(print the recipe)

Serves 8 (cut the ingredients in half for 4 servings)

 

Special equipment that makes it easier:

2-gallon zip-close bag

A large sheet pan

An oven-safe cooling rack that fits in the sheet pan

Heavy duty foil

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Some of the ingredients for the marinade and the sauces

some ingredients

Lemon grass, ends trimmed and the hard outer layers peeled off

lemongrass

Marinade ingredients

2 cups lightly packed cilantro leaves and tender stems

1 cup fish sauce

1 cup soy sauce

½ cup packed light brown sugar (or 6 packets of Truvia)

2 lemon grass stalks, ends trimmed, bottom 8 inches chopped

8 garlic cloves, smashed

2 tablespoon coriander seeds

2 tablespoon black peppercorns

2 teaspoons white peppercorns

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Other ingredients

6 pounds chicken parts (I used 12 chicken thighs)

1 cup kosher salt

Lime wedges, to serve (optional)

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  1. Put all of the marinade ingredients (the cilantro through the white peppercorns) in a blender and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.
  2. Reserve ½ cup of the marinade for a glaze.
  3. Pour the rest of the marinade in a 2-gallon zip-close bag. Put the chicken in the bag skin-side down and spread it out as best as you can. Seal the bag; put it in a large baking dish in the refrigerator. Marinate the chicken for 2 hours, turning it over a time or two. (While the chicken is marinating, you can make the Tamarind Dipping Sauce and/or the Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce – recipes follow this one.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 400° and put the oven rack in the center of the oven.
  5. Line a large sheet pan with foil. Spread 1 cup of kosher salt over the foil. Place a wire rack over the salt. (The salt prevents the marinade from burning when it drips off of the chicken.)

Kosher salt in the baking sheet

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wire rack over the salt

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6. Put the chicken on the rack. Roast for 30 minutes.

Chicken ready to roast

Chiang Mai Chicken ready to roast

7. Brush the chicken with the reserved marinade and roast for another 10 – 15 minutes, or until the thighs measure 175°F (160°F for breasts).

8. Let the chicken rest for 20 minutes and then serve with lime wedges, Tamarind Dipping Sauce, or Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce.

Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce

(Adapted from Christopher Kimball’s recipe in the May-June 2017 issue of Milk Street Magazine)

Makes about ¾ cup

 

½ cup lime juice (4 – 6 limes)

3 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons light brown sugar (or 3 small packets of Truvia)

2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce

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Stir all ingredients together until the sugar dissolves.  Keeps refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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Chili-Lime Chili Sauce

Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce

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Tamarind Dipping Sauce

(Adapted from Christopher Kimball’s recipe in the May-June 2017 issue of Milk Street Magazine)

Makes about 3 cups

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Tamarind pulp found at an Asian grocery near me

Tamarind paste

2 ounces tamarind pulp

2 oz tamarind paste

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2 lemon grass stalks, ends trimmed, bottom 8 inches chopped

1 large shallot, chopped

3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

1 serrano chili, stemmed and chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger

2½ cups water

2 ounces tamarind pulp (about ¼ cup)

5 tablespoons packed light brown sugar (or 7½ small packets of Truvia)

¼ cup fish sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

3 tablespoons lime juice (1 – 2 limes)

Ground black pepper

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  1. Put the lemon grass, shallot, oil, and chili in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until it is just starting to brown, about 5 minutes.

shallot, lemon grass, and chili

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2. Add the tomato paste and the ginger and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds.

tomato paste and ginger added

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3. Add water, tamarind pulp, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat so it is just simmering and simmer for 15 minutes.

water, tamarind pulp and sugar added

4. Take off the heat and stir in the fish sauce and soy sauce.

5. Let the sauce cool a bit and then pour it into a blender and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.

6. Pour the sauce through a wire mesh, pressing on the solids. Throw out the solids.

7. Stir the lime juice into the sauce.

8. Season to taste with pepper.

9. Keeps refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

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Tamarind Dipping Sauce

Tamarind dipping sauce

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Chiang Mai Chicken with Cauliflower rice - Copy

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Milk Street Magazine

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