Bocce and Coconut Milk

I am, by heritage, Polish and Italian. By some people’s thinking, the stuff of joke books. Yeah, yeah, yeah. While engaged, my husband and I lived in a very Italian section of Brooklyn. When we moved in, years before the hipsters descended and the quiet store fronts became Bon Appetit destination restaurants, there were old men playing Bocce on a court within the playground.  There was an italian “social” club whose shades were always drawn. The to-die for scent of fresh baked bread wafted through our apartment window from the old bakery around the corner. They had the best, most crusty, perfect Italian bread you ever put your lips to.

And this, this is true story; the weekend that we moved in, my parents came to help us. On the corner of our street was an Italian restaurant (shock of shocks) that had been there for years and years and whose maitre d’ was never seen without his tuxedo. I’m not kidding. The man was an older fellow and whenever I saw him around the neighborhood, he ALWAYS had on that tuxedo. I often wondered if you looked in his closet, would you just see nothing but tuxedos all lined up? Well, to take a break from unpacking, we went for lunch at this dark, heavily carpeted, “ornately” lit eatery. My stepdad soon struck up a conversation with the maitre d, and that, in turn, led to the owner sauntering up to our table to welcome us to the neighborhood. Upon hearing that my last name was of Sicilian origin he said to me, and I kid you not, “If you have any problems, you come see me.”

Nervous giggles turned into slight indigestion which then settled in as a bizarre sense of “safety” within our new neighborhood. Safe in a really odd way.  Possible organized crime aside, we loved our neighborhood. To this day I miss sitting on our front stoop on warm summer evenings, watching the world go by, slowly licking gelato off of those adorable tiny spoons.

But Brooklyn spoiled us, my husband and me. Unless we are with friends or company, we will never go out to eat for Italian food. Been there, done that, unless is it *un-be-lievable* Italian.

In our daily eatings, we generally gravitate towards the asian and the middle eastern quite frequently. There’s also some good ol’ New England and Americana thrown in there mostlyfor the kids’ sake or when we all need some serious comfort food.  Last night, I hit on such a good recipe that I must share it today. It’s easy and flavorful and we all ate it happily.

This recipe had me at Coconut.

Curried Coconut Soup with Chicken-courtesy of Cooking Light

2 tsp. canola oil (or coconut oil, if you wish)
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
4 tsp. Thai red curry paste (you can find it in the Asian section of your grocery)
1 Tb. minced fresh garlic
4 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 cup light coconut milk
2 cups shredded, skinless, boneless cooked chicken meat
2/3 cups thinly sliced cucumber
1/2 cup torn fresh basil
2 tsp. sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste…delish and totally makes this dish!)
1 tsp. dark sesame oil
2 cups cooked rice noodles
4 lime wedges

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots and saute for 2 minutes. Add curry paste and garlic, sauté 1 minute. Add stock and cococonut milk. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes.

Combine chicken, cucumber, basil, sambal oelek, and sesame oil in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Divide chicken mixture between 4 bowls and pour in enough broth mixture as you like (more noodley? or brothier? your choice). Squeeze lime over top and serve with a wedge in each bowl.


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