Cornmeal cakes with oven dried tomatoes
Linda Johnson has been having me over to her house since last September for private cooking lessons. We have one or two classes a month and it’s been a lot of fun. What I love about Linda is her adventurous spirit. Although she readily admits she is from west Texas and doesn’t know much about international cuisine, she never hesitates to try dishes from Japan, India, Thailand, Mexico, and various regions of the United States, such as southwestern.
One of her favorite classes was on how to stir fry various meats and vegetables and create a variety of sauces. She has embraced the concept and made it her own and I’m very proud of her. For someone who rarely, if ever, used most of the ingredients we use, she has become very comfortable with fresh ginger, herbs, spices, seasonings, and cooking techniques such as searing. I loved hearing her story of how she made excellent seared steaks with a spice rub for her family. She doesn’t seem to be tiring of classes yet so we will carry on until she does.

For this class we made Thai Basil Chicken, Cornmeal Cakes with oven dried tomatoes (recipe is in a previous post), and dark chocolate and pecan blondies (have to have something sweet for husband, Baker)  Thai basil chicken is my husband’s favorite Thai dish and one we’ve had many times at restaurants. In fact, we first remember eating it at an excellent Thai restaurant in Azle, of all places. The Mithsampun Restaurant had the best Spicy Thai Basil chicken or beef and the owner told me how they made it. Unfortunately they closed years ago, but I make the Thai Bssil Chicken often. It’s great in the summer when basil and hot peppers are plentiful in the garden and it takes minutes to prepare. It’s very versatile and can be made with beef, shrimp, tofu, pork and chicken. I serve it with brown rice, Japanese short grain rice, or Jasmine rice. I always have bags of cooked, frozen rice in my freezer, a trick my mother taught me. I just put 1 cup portions in sandwich bags and put the smaller bags in a large bag. (or to skip all the bags, put the portions on a baking sheet and freeze, then put them in a large container.

Thai Basil Chicken
2 T vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 pound chicken thighs or breasts, chopped into small pieces
1/2-2 T fish sauce
1 cup Thai basil (or Italian basil if you can’t find Thai)
4 jalapeño peppers or 12 Thai chiles
3 tsp soy sauce or Golden Mountain Sauce
1 T oyster sauce
2 T lime juice

Optional ingredients:

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 T white wine
1 T brown sugar

Experiment with the sauce ingredients and vegetables to see what your preferences are.
Don’t be afraid to add other vegetables you have on hand such as zucchini or okra.
Heat large skillet or wok until very hot. Add oil, then garlic, then shallots. Add chicken and stir fry for 1-2 mintues. Add peppers and sauce ingredients. Once chicken is cooked add the basil and remove from heat once basil is slightly wilted. Serve right away with rice.

Dark Chocolate and Pecan Blondies