Indian Coconut Green Beans

My wife and I have been going to a local Indian restaurant in our area called Indian Garden.  I am no expert when it comes to authentic Indian food, but my taste buds are pretty good and I have eaten enough of that cuisine to know the good from the bad, and this place is the good. There are couple of things that differentiate an ethnic restaurant for me when I first arrive. My first sell is it busy and second are those sitting down to eat of the same ethnicity as the restaurant. Win, win on Indian Garden, and as a matter of fact we are often times the only ‘gringos’ in that joint. With all of that being said, we have only dined in for their lunch buffet and there are plenty of reasons why. It’s very affordable, and they offer a wide array of great Indian food, so much as my wife will say ‘we have to learn to make that’. One of our visits my wife tried their coconut soup and loved it so much that I had to learn to make it for her. It’s still one of her favorites to this day. On our most recent visit they had a green bean dish, one that was the first for us, that was just out of this world, and it was up to me to figure this one out.

Indian Coconut Green Beans Recipe
Indian Coconut Green Beans Recipe

This was perfect timing as we needed to harvest a bunch of green beans from our garden, and so it was time to use up some leftover coconut from making pies this summer and put it all to a good use.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of fresh green beans, trimmed, and cut into about 2 inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup of sweetened coconut flakes
  • 5 Indian curry leaves
  • generous pinch of salt, to taste

Super simple stuff here but flavors that will have you coming back for more, trust me I know from that last visit to the buffet. I had no guilt getting a second serving of these beans.

Start by getting a large skillet on the stove, over medium heat. Add in the oil and let that come to temperature, about a minute or so.

Next add in the green beans, and give them a nice stir in the oil. Continue to cook the beans on medium heat for about 5 minutes, then toss in the Indian curry leaves. Give your wrist a workout and toss those in the skillet, and then continue to stir for a couple of minutes.

Indian Coconut Green Bean Ingredients
Indian Coconut Green Bean Ingredients

Now add in the coconut flakes, and continue to toss and stir.

Cook the beans and the coconut until the coconut flakes start to turn a golden color and the beans are just starting to get tender.

Slide these into a serving bowl and get ready to dig in.

These coconut green beans are so good you can just eat them as a main dish if you desire. Crunchy beans with a sweetness from the coconut and a slight pungent taste from those curry leaves. It was a win, win, just like the buffet at Indian Garden. If you are looking for a great side dish, and looking to harvest some beans, give this one a try. As a side note, you can get curry leaves from your local Indian market (I shop at Best Food Store in Milwaukee, and the curry leaves can get sealed up and frozen as well. Hope you enjoy!

Dill Pickle Peanuts

In the past month we have been harvesting tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh herbs from the garden. Typically my wife snags a cucumber and handful of tomatoes for lunch, which is a great thing. Me on the other hand, well, think about ways I can make meals using whatever produce we can harvest. As I was walking along the garden, I realized I had a bunch of dill to use. As I typically love buying fresh dill, the reality is it doesn’t last but a day, if that, before it gets limp and unusable. That is if you don’t freeze it, which I recently found out!

So while looking at the dill, that’s when it popped into my head, why not try making some dill flavored peanuts. I’ve been tinkering with mixed nuts this summer, I love dill, my kids love snacking on nuts, and let’s just see what happens. What happened was pretty darn delicious as a snack.

This recipe is super simple.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of Spanish Peanuts
  • 1 tbsp your favorite seasoning blend (make sure it has some dill in it)
  • 1 tbsp dried onion
  • 2 tbsp canola or olive oil
  • 1 cup of fresh dill fronds, lightly chopped, packed
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Begin by preheating your oven to 325.

To a mixing bowl, add everything but the baking sheet and parchment paper, and give a good toss, incorporating all of the seasoning and oil onto the peanuts.

Dill Pickle Peanuts Recipe
Dill Pickle Peanuts Recipe

Spread the mixture onto the lined baking sheet and place into the preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the peanuts while they are baking and feel free to give them a gentle stir halfway through.

Ingredients for Dill Pickle Peanuts
Ingredients for Dill Pickle Peanuts

Once cooked, remove them from the oven and place them into a serving bowl. Let them cool down before digging in. These are a perfect game day snack, balanced with hints of dill and a seasoning blend. Give these a try if you are looking to use up some dill in the near future! Hope you enjoy!

Crispy Pig Ears

Crispy pig ears, I know. Who the heck makes crispy pig ears? This dude does, that’s who. I forgot when and where I had these but were they ever awesome. They actually reminded me of a really good slimmed down chicharron. Crunchy, funky, and delicious. I tend to always look at this type of stuff when I shop at my local Mexican grocery store. They have everything, and granted there are some items that are not pleasing to the eye and I shun away from them rather quickly, there are others that really grab my attention. In particular these pig ears, and hopefully in the future, a cow or pig’s head. Who knows what I might make of those. Maybe some Filipino sisig, or maybe just braised and roasted to start digging into the cheek meat, etc. But these pig ears…. Those little suckers caught my attention and I knew I wanted to try to recreate those crispy, crackling things of beauty for my kids. Yes, my kids.

Crispy Pig Ears Recipe
Crispy Pig Ears Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of pig ears (mine came 4 ears to a package)
  • 2 cups of soy sauce
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • cooking oil

Start by rinsing off the ears with cold water. Once thoroughly rinsed, add them to a stock pot.

Add enough water to cover, and bring them to a boil, reducing the heat once boiling. Remove any and all of the scum that floats to the top and discard. This is much like cooking down bones for Vietnamese pho or any good stock.

After about 20-30 minutes, pour out the water, and give the ears another rinse, leaving them in the pot. Once rinsed, add the soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorn, and vinegar. Add enough water to cover the ears, then continue to cook over medium heat for about 2 hours.

How to make crispy pig ears
How to make crispy pig ears

After a couple of hours, pour out the liquid, and remove the pig ears, placing them in a bowl or plate to let cool.

Once cooled, slice them into strips, or chunks if you want. Whatever your desired bite is going to be.  Rub the teaspoon of salt all over them. Once sliced, and cooled, cover them and place them into refrigerator overnight.

The following day, heat enough canola oil on medium heat in a pan. NOTE: These will splatter a bit due to the fat content, so be prepared.

Once the oil is hot, about 350 degrees, pat the pig ears a bit before dropping them in, add the sliced pig ears in batches, and cook each batch until they are crispy.

A bit messy from the splattering, just a heads up.

Once they are crisp, remove them with a slotted spoon and onto a paper lined plate to remove any excess oil. Add the sliced ears to a small bowl and season lightly with salt. Repeat.

These pig ears are sticky from the gelatin the ears contain, crispy, and an overall unique experience that my kids (with the exception of one) actually enjoyed. Would I make them again? Probably. But in the future, I will have to hunt down where we had them and go from there. Have you ever cooked crispy pig ears, and if so what were your thoughts?

 

Thai Peanut Butter Toast

I have no idea why I don’t eat peanut butter more often because every time I do I totally love it. My kids probably eat peanut butter once a day. I don’t know if that is due to convenience or the fact that they love it as well. So one early afternoon I decided I wanted to have lunch. I wanted something Thai, but nothing that would take too long, plus my appetite was not all that fierce due to the cancer treatment I have been going through. Looking through the pantry, I noticed some really good and hearty bread that I had bought for my wife, that delicious creamy peanut butter, some Thai infused honey, and then some Thai bird chilies. I knew that I would get the best of everything by creating what I call Thai Peanut Butter Toast. Whoa is this every good.

Thai Peanut Butter Toast Recipe
Thai Peanut Butter Toast Recipe

I could have stopped at just peanut butter toast with a drizzle of that honey but I wanted to go further, and boy was I glad I did.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 slice of your favorite bread, toasted
  • 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp Thai infused honey
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 whole Thai bird chilies, chopped (seeds removed is optional)
  • 1 tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 lime, squeezed

It doesn’t get any easier to make. Take your peanut butter and lather it onto your slice of toast. Sprinkle on the peanuts, Thai chilies, cilantro, and honey, and squeeze the lime juice over the top.

Thai Peanut Butter Toast Ingredients
Thai Peanut Butter Toast Ingredients

Plate and serve.

The result is everything I love about warm toast and creamy peanut butter. You know… when it drips down your hand? Then you get these pops of awesome spice from the chilies, freshness from the lime and cilantro, and that texture from the roasted peanuts.

Thai Peanut Butter Toast Recipe
Thai Peanut Butter Toast Recipe

This is a real winner, especially if you like a bit of spice. Feel free to reduce the chilies to one if you desire, or remove the seeds from them, but the balance of flavor is a tough one to compete with on this awesome snack.