As we move towards colder weather here I am frantically trying to use up my bumper crop of Thai Basil. It will not long before the first hard frost kills it off and I have to do without for months. This may seem odd to you non-cooks out there but this is a special herb.
Thai basil is a type of basil native to Southeast Asia that has been cultivated to provide distinctive traits. Widely used throughout Southeast Asia, its flavor, described as anise - and licorice -like and slightly spicy, is more stable under high or extended cooking temperatures than that of sweet basil. Thai basil has small, narrow leaves, purple stems, and pink-purple flowers. It is also BLOODY hard to find here in Ontario - which is why it is always one of the herbs we grow in the garden.
I found this recipe on the BBC Good Food site. It is by a chef named Ken Hom - I'd never heard of Ken but the recipe looked good so I printed it off and pulled it together.
What a great choice. Once I had everything prepped and ready to go this dish came together in little time and tasted amazing!
Stir Fried Chicken with Chillies and Basil
2 tbsp vegetable oil 450g boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks 3 tbsp coarsely chopped garlic 3 tbsp finely sliced shallots 3 fresh green or red chillies, seeded and finely shredded 2 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla) 2 tsp dark soy sauce 2 tsp sugar a large handful of Thai or ordinary basil leaves
Heat a wok or large frying pan until it is very hot, then add 1 tbsp of the oil. When it is very hot, add the chicken and stir-fry over a high heat for 8-10 minutes, until browned all over. Using a slotted spoon, take the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Reheat the wok and add the remaining oil. Toss in the garlic and shallots and stir fry for 3 minutes, until golden brown.
Return the chicken to the wok and add the chillies, fish sauce, dark soy sauce and sugar. Stir fry over a high heat for a further 8-10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the basil leaves and serve at once.
Yesterday we made an early morning visit to the apple farm. Well, I guess it wasn't early for a farmer but it was for us. OK. It was for MOM!
When we arrived it was clear that fall was here.. .
Technically the farm wasn't open when we arrived so I amused myself with visiting the animals while mom and Paul sat in the car.
When it was time to pick we bought our bushel bags and headed out into the orchard. Mom did her usual routine of debating the merit of each apple prior to picking while we just got to work. The trees were loaded near the ends of the rows. . . it was clear that many pickers only went so far - HA!
We ended up with a half bushel of Macs and our favourites - Courtlands.
Just as we finished our picking a young field cat came by for a visit.
It took some time to drag mom away from the kitty . . .
Finally we headed home with our yummy apples. Now to figure out what to make with them . . . apple crumble pie tonight!
I haven't posted much about our culinary creations lately. The fact of the matter is we haven't been cooking a lot. Paul started a new job and work has been crazy busy for me. Our schedules have been thrown into disarray. Often when we are home for dinner at the same time we just pull something out of the freezer and 'nuke' it. I guess this is a benefit of being a couple with two freezers and cooking a lot of recipes which serve 4! :-)
We made this a few weeks back when the CAS was still bringing us deliveries of zucchini every week (we've since move onto to more fall-like veggies). It was a quick thing to pull together and while skeptical about the combination of vinegar and the mint I was proven wrong: this is an easy crowd-pleaser, perfect for this end-of summer season. The sherry vinegar combines with the fresh mint to add a wonderful sweet tang to the dish.
We didn't have penne so I used another pasta and of course it was fine -it isn't the pasta which makes the difference so much as the veggies!
Penne with Crispy Prosciutto, Zucchini, and Corn
Kosher salt 5 Tbs. olive oil 8 thin slices prosciutto (about 4 oz.), cut into strips 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced (1 cup 2 small zucchini (about 3/4 lb.), trimmed, quartered lengthwise, and cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces 2 ears corn, shucked and kernels sliced off (about 1 cup), or 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano 3 Tbs. chopped fresh mint 1 lb. penne 2 tsp. sherry vinegar or cider vinegar Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, put 2 Tbs. oil and the prosciutto in a large (12-inch) skillet, place over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the prosciutto browns in places and becomes crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the prosciutto to a large plate lined with paper towels.
Add 1 Tbs. oil and the onion to the skillet, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens completely and turns light brown, about 6 minutes; add 1 or 2 Tbs. water to the skillet if the onion starts to stick or burn. Add the zucchini and corn, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt, and cook, tossing occasionally, until the zucchini becomes tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in half the Pecorino-Romano and all the mint.
Add the penne to the pot of boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta. Add the pasta, the remaining 2 Tbs. oil, the vinegar, and 1 tsp. black pepper to the skillet with the zucchini and corn mixture. Set the skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring, for 1 minute so the pasta mixes with the vegetables. Add the reserved pasta water and stir. Serve sprinkled with the crisp prosciutto and the remaining Pecorino-Romano.
The Federal election got a bit offensive last week during the debate on the economy of all things. Prime Minister Harper used the phrase “old stock Canadians” in response to a question on refugee policy.
The Conservative leader said he would “bring in more” refugees than in past years, but there is a limit, adding that “we do not offer them a better health-care plan than the ordinary Canadian can receive.”
That gave a chill to Conacher, the founder of the non-partisan citizen advocacy group Democracy Watch and visiting professor in law and political science at University of Ottawa.
“I was shocked and I think he definitely has to explain what he meant by that,” Conacher said.
On Friday, Harper appeared to elaborate on the phrase, repeating that there is widespread support for the government’s position on refugee health care.
“It’s supported by Canadians who are themselves immigrants, it’s supported by the rest of us — by Canadians who have been the descendants of immigrants for one or more generations,” Harper said on a campaign stop in Calgary.
The Liberal and NDP leaders slammed Harper’s use of the term as divisive on Friday.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said the old-stock comment shows Harper uses “the politics of division.”
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said “we’re all Canadians” and he doesn’t like dividing people into categories.
Conacher said all of the 36 Fathers of Confederation who drafted the framework for Canada in 1867 were white and privileged.
Those Fathers of Confederation were voted into power by white, privileged males, who then allowed male African-Canadians to vote, he said.
“Only about 10 per cent of people were allowed to vote (in 1867),” Conacher said. “White males. They had to own property or pay a lot of tax. Is that what he meant?”
Conacher said Canada has come a long way toward inclusion for residents since 1867, but Harper’s comments seem like a giant step back.
“They (Fathers of Confederation) were elected by only 10 per cent of the population,” Conacher said. “Is he kind of appealing to that 10 per cent? Saying you’re the only legitimate Canadians?”
Conacher called this “ethnic nationalism,” which he described as “just racism by another name.”
Conacher and Robert David, a part-time professor in the School of International Development and Global Studies at the University of Ottawa, said they hadn’t heard the phrase “old stock” referring to a Canadian ethnic group outside of Quebec. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau used the phrase “old stock” pioneers in reference to the Quebec “nation” in 2007.
“It’s a bit surprising that he used that,” David said, referring to the phrase “old stock Canadians.”
“I don’t think it’s been used before, at least for quite a few decades.”
Conacher and David said Harper’s comment reminded them of former Quebec premier and sovereigntist leader Jacques Parizeau, and his bitter complaint after he lost the 1995 referendum vote for Quebec independence.
Parizeau was the champion of “pure laine” (dyed in the wool) or “de souche” (old-stock Quebecers) and he believed there was a simple reason for why the Quebec independence side lost by just 54,288 votes.
“We are beaten, it is true,” Parizeau said. “But by what, basically? By money and the ethnic vote.”
David said he wonders if “old-stock Canadian” is “a code word,” such as how the phrase “most vulnerable” Syrian refugees might also be translated to “non-Muslim.”
We left the snow behind and headed to California for a long weekend of fun. We shoppedm toured wineries, tasted olive oil, met up with good friends, and ate some wonderful food. I can't wait for slow bowl 2009.