Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Low Fat Spicy Sausage Corn Chowder

Welcome the cold evenings with a bowl of this spicy corn chowder. To make it lighter in calories, instead of cream, I used low fat evaporated milk. In addition, I substituted chicken sausages for higher calorie pork varieties. Recently, I found these spicy chicken sausages at Trader Joe's which are good in eggs, in paella, and great in this recipe. Of course, you can use any type here and also adjust  the spice level to suit your own taste.

Low Fat Spicy Sausage Corn Chowder
Serves 4 to 5

3 tbsp vegetable oil
4  spicy chicken sausages, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium bell pepper, diced
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh oregano
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 can low fat evaporated milk
1 can corn kernels
1 can cream style corn
1/2 tsp ground all spice
2 tbsp chopped parsley

1. In a large pot over medium high heat, add the oil and brown the sausage slices on both sides. Remove from the pot and add the diced onion and peppers, along with the bay leaf, thyme, and oregano. Cook until softened and until the onion have browned slightly on the edges. 
2. Add the chicken stock, evaporated milk, can of corn kernels, can of creamed corn, and all spice. Stir well, and bring to a boil. 
3. Add the browned sausages and return to a boil. Serve warm, topped with chopped parsley.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mini Pumpkins with Coconut Lime Custard

Have you ever had stuffed pumpkin for dessert? This first time I did, it was at a roadside food stand on a busy Bangkok street. That was on our first international trip together and we were staying at the Asia hotel, which was located somewhat on the edge of the city but in close proximity to taxi hubs, and train stops. In other words, at the intersection of hungry tourists and hungry commuters. Needless to say, there was not a lack of food vendors at this part of the city, where commuters can make a delicious stop on their way to or from work or in the midst of whatever reason that brought them to this part of town.

Food vendors of all sorts dotted the streets here, selling an endless array of Thai specialties. But the two dishes that stood out to me were pad thai - unsurpassed by any restaurant-style version I've here in the States - and the Thai version of stuffed pumpkin - Sankaya.

Traditional Sankaya is not made with pumpkin per se but a different kind of squash - kabocha squash to be exact. Hollowed out, filled with a sweet, coconut custard, steamed until cooked, and cut into wedges to be sold - Sankaya certainly was the inspiration for this recipe.

Baked Mini Pumpkins with Coconut Lime Custard
Serves 2

2 mini pumpkins
1 tbps honey
3/4 cup light coconut milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp corn starch
zest of one lime

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Carefully cut the top off each pumpkin. Using a small tablespoon, remove the seeds and the string from inside and on the caps of the pumpkins. Brush the interior of each pumpkin with honey and bake (along with the caps) for 20 to 25 minutes until for tender. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before adding the filling.
3. For the filling: Thoroughly whisk all of the remaining ingredients together. Divide the mixture between the two pumpkins.  Return to the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes, until the custard has set. Remove from the oven, place the caps on, and cool before serving.