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My Recipes-of-the-Week are featured here on my Home page. You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. "We are all in this food world together." ~Melanie


~ Thai-Style Pizza w/Grilled Chicken & Peanut Sauce ~

IMG_0523Bread and cheese -- they're not part of a traditional Thai diet.  Even the Thai-style wraps and sandwiches us lovers of Thai food enjoy, are American or Thai-American creations. That said, in Thailand they do sell a very limited selection of bread and cheese in their bigger grocery stores (mostly manufactured Wonder-type breads and processed cheeses), to satisfy the cravings of Westerners living in Thailand.  I know this from on-the-ground-in-Thailand experience.

When travelers return home from Thailand, it's almost impossible to wean themselves of the bold, addictive taste-of-Thailand.  That said, as an all-American girl, I did miss bread and cheese by the end of our ten-day visit (as well as on our trips to China and Japan too).  Generally speaking, on all my travels, I come home craving bread and cheese -- specifically, in the form of pizza. Traditionally, a slice or four of 'za is the first thing I eat on my return home from anywhere.

When Thai-Asian flavor meets the Italian-American Pizza -- Written in four easy parts:  The slaw, sauce, chicken & crust.

IMG_0457"Fusion cuisine" or "fusion food".  Popularized in the 1970's, these words describe the preparation of a meal that combines two different culinary styles and/or traditions to create a new dish. Today's recipe teams traditional Thai-Asian flavors and ingredients with the Italian-American pizza.  You have to go through a few steps to put a meal like this together, but none are hard, and, the first three can be done a day or three in advance.  In the end, the effort is more than worth it.

Creating a Thai-style pizza was not a leap for me, and, surprisingly, I didn't find it the least bit hard to impart Thai-flavor into my American-style pizza crust.  Choosing the toppings came next, and they too, all typical Thai ingredients, were easy to decide on: bean sprouts, an easy-to-make lightly-dressed broccoli slaw, a spicy peanut sauce, and, lightly-toasted peanuts and cilantro for garnish.*  After a couple of experiments, I decided that melty, mild-flavored shredded Havarti cheese was the perfect rich, creamy "buttery" base to pull my Thai pizza together.  Oh-my-Thai.

*Note:  My marinated and grill-pan-grilled Thai-chicken strips are included as an optional topping.

IMG_0477Part One:  Making My Delish 5-Minutes-to-Fix Asian Slaw

IMG_0991No pretense here.  The day I came across store-bought "broccoli cole slaw mix" (cole slaw mix made with crunchy green broccoli stems instead of green cabbage), my mind immediately raced to the flavors of soy sauce and sesame oil.  Why? Broccoli is classic Asian.  There's more.  I didn't have to experiment with the perfect dressing for it -- I'd already come up with one for my Asian chicken salad recipe.  After a quick mix of the vegetables and my honey-sesame dressing, Asian-slaw-perfection was revealed.

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d220c634970c1/4  cup each: vegetable oil and white rice vinegar

1  tablespoon sesame oil and Thai seasoning soy sauce + 1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce

2  tablespoons honey

1, 12-ounce bag broccoli slaw + 1/2-1 cup thinly-sliced scallions

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d220c74e970cStep 1.  In a measuring container w/a tight fitting lid, combine all the liquid ingredients.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb093a6eeb970d 6a0120a8551282970b01b8d220c78f970c-120wiStep 2. Place the broccoli cole slaw in a medium bowl and add all of the dressing.  Give it a thorough stir.

Cover and place slaw in  refrigerator for 2-6 hours (or overnight will work too), stopping to stir it about every 30-45 minutes in the beginning so that all the slaw gets to absorb the dressing equally.  Note:  This recipe yields 3/4 cups of salad dressing and 4 cups of broccoli cole slaw.

Part Two:  Making My 5-Minute Spicy Peanut Sauce

IMG_6867If you love Thai food, having a recipe for Thai peanut sauce in your repertoire is a must. In Thailand, it's used in and on all sorts of classic-poultry, pork and noodle dishes, but, it's a great dip for raw vegetables and as a spread for Thai-style sandwiches and wraps too.  My recipe yields 2 1/2 cups, and, while that might sound like a lot, it freezes great and thaws relatively fast.  A little goes a long way, so I freeze it in 5, 1/2-cup-size containers, to have on-hand at a moment's notice.

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d1e68115970cA bit about peanut sauce:  This sauce is widely used in the cuisines of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, China and Africa.  The main ingredients are roasted peanuts or peanut butter (crunchy or smooth), coconut milk, soy sauce and palm sugar.  Pulverized spices (red chile peppers, coriander, cumin, garlic, galangal and /or lemongrass, are almost always added.  You can easily purchase your favorite brand, but, when you see how easy this is to make, I don't know why you would.  My recipe, which came from my Thai girlfriend Kanya, contains one small can of Thai-style red curry paste, which provides all of the above named pulverized spices.

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d1e681ce970cFor the peanut sauce:

2  tablespoons sesame oil

1  4-ounce can Thai-style red curry paste

1  13 1/2-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (briefly stir after opening the can)

6  tablespoons smooth or chunky-style peanut butter

2  tablespoons firmly-packed palm sugar (light or dark brown sugar may be substituted

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c85cb35d970b 6a0120a8551282970b01b7c85cb35d970b 6a0120a8551282970b01b7c85cb35d970b 6a0120a8551282970b01b7c85cb35d970b 6a0120a8551282970b01bb090045fb970d~Step 1. Place the sesame oil and the red curry paste in a small 1-quart saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to cook, stirring almost constantly, until the curry paste is bubbling rapidly and is very fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the coconut milk, peanut butter and sugar.  Continue to simmer steadily but gently, stirring almost constantly, until smooth and thick, 2 1/2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover, and set aside.

Keep leftovers stored in the refrigerator.  Reheat gently in the microwave, prior to serving warm. 

Part Three:  Want Thai grill-pan-grilled chicken on your pizza?

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d285257a970cI use chicken breast tenderloins because they stay juicier & moister than ordinary boneless, skinless chicken breasts do when subjected to the high, dry heat of a grill or a grill pan.  Feel free to use what you like best, but in either case, lightly-pound them with a flat-sided meat mallet for added tenderness.  That said, feel free to substitute thinly-sliced and lightly-pounded pork tenderloin for the chicken tender -- it'll be just as good.

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d285267d970cFor the chicken & the marinade:

2  pounds boneless chicken tenderloins, about 10 large tenderloins (pictured above)

1/4  cup each:  honey, lime juice, &, Thai seasoning soy sauce

2  tablespoons each: Thai fish sauce & sesame oil

1  tablespoon each:  garlic paste & ginger paste

1/4  cup minced cilantro leaves

1/4  cup thinly-sliced green onion, white & light green part only

1-2  small, hot, cayenne chile peppers, minced, or, 1 teaspoon Sriracha seasoning blend

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2852a1e970c 6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8fae755970b-120wi~ Step 1. Sandwich tenderloins between two pieces of plastic wrap on a flat work surface.  Using a flat-sided meat mallet, lightly pound them to a thickness of about 1/2" -- do not smash them to smithereens.

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8fae80c970b 6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2852af1970c~ Step 2.  In a 1-cup measuring container or a small bowl, stir together all of the marinade ingredients as listed.  Pour the marinade into a 1-gallon food storage bag, add the pounded tenderloins, seal the bag and toss to coat.  Set aside to marinate for about 2 hours at room temperature, or 4-6 hours in the refrigerator.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb099e0720970d 6a0120a8551282970b01bb099e0720970d 6a0120a8551282970b01bb099e0720970d 6a0120a8551282970b01bb099e0720970d~Step 3.  On the stovetop, heat a grill pan that's been lightly- with no-stick cooking spray over medium-high heat.  Add half of the tenders (5) and grill until golden and cooked through on both sides, turning only once, 6-7 total minutes, about 4-4 1/2 minutes on the first side and 2-2 1/2 minutes on the second side, regulating the heat carefully as the honey in the marinade (like sugar) can scorch.  Transfer the cooked tenders to a plate and repeat process with remaining tenders (5). Slice each tender into long thin strips, then, slice strips into thinner halves or thirds.

Part Four:  Oh-my-Thai-Inspired Bread-Machine Pizza Dough

Every great pizza has a great crust, and, when it came to creating a Thai pizza dough, my decision to infuse Thai flavors directly into the crust, for an extra layer of flavor, makes mine a great pizza.  A glance through the following ingredients list will reveal the no-brainer, common-sense substitutions and additions I made to my traditional Italian pizza dough recipe:  sesame oil (in place of olive oil) and, the use of garlic powder, ground ginger, dried Thai basil leaves and Sriracha seasoning, in place of oregano and red pepper flakes on or in an traditional Italian pizza.

IMG_0372For the Thai-style pizza dough:

1 1/2  cups warm water

2  tablespoons sesame oil

4 1/2  cups all-purpose flour

2  teaspoons salt

2  teaspoons sugar

1 generous teaspoon each:  garlic powder, ground ginger, dried Thai basil leaves, Sriracha seasoning

1  packet granulated yeast

IMG_0377 IMG_0377 IMG_0377 IMG_0396~Step 1.  To prepare the dough, place all ingredients in pan of bread machine in the order listed, except for the yeast.  Using your index finger, make a small indentation ("a well") on top of the dry ingredients, but not so deep that it reaches the wet layer.  Place the yeast in the indentation. Insert the pan into the bread machine, plug the machine in, press the "Select" button, choose the "Pizza Dough" cycle, then press "Start".  In about 55 minutes, you will have dough.  While dough is mixing, oil 2, 12" round pizza pans with about 1 1/2-2 tablespoons vegetable oil on each pan.

IMG_0401 IMG_0401~Step 2.  Using lightly-oiled fingertips, remove dough from pan.  Dough will be slightly sticky, yet very manageable.  Divide the dough in half (you will have about 2 pounds, 2 ounces) -- the best way to do this is with a kitchen scale.  In between the palms of hands, form each half of dough into a ball, and then a disc, then place one disc on each pan and allow to rest, about 10-15 minutes, to give the gluten time to relax.  Thirty minutes is ok too.  Pat and press dough evenly across bottoms and evenly up sides of oiled pans.  

Top & bake pizzas, one-at-a-time, as directed below:

IMG_0390For the toppings and the baking instructions:

3-4  cups, warm Thai-Asian Grill-Pan-Grilled Chicken Strips

8-10  ounces shredded Havarti

1  cup, chilled bean sprouts

4 cups, chilled Asian-Style Broccoli Slaw

1 1/2 cups, warm Thai-Style Spicy Peanut Sauce for Poultry or Pork

1  cup minced cilantro leaves

IMG_0366 IMG_03661  cup chopped, unsalted peanuts, lightly-toasted as follows: Place 8-12-ounces chopped peanuts in a shallow baking pan.  Roast in 350º oven, until fragrant and  golden, tossing with a spoon every 4-5 minutes, 12-15 total minutes.

Note:  Cool completely and store leftover peanuts tightly-covered in freezer to have on-hand.

IMG_0410 IMG_0410 IMG_0410~ Step 1.  Working one-at-a-time, top each pizza with about 1 1/2 cups grilled chicken (6 ounces), followed by 1 1/2 cups, "go easy on the cheese", shredded Havarti (4 ounces) -- it's important to put the chicken down first and top it with the cheese, just enough to keep the chicken from drying out and hold onto the toppings after baking.  If you are omitting the chicken, that's fine, simply start with the Havarti.

IMG_0422 IMG_0422 IMG_0422 IMG_0422~Step 2.  Place pizza on a pizza stone that has been heated on center rack of 375º oven.  Bake for 8-9 minutes.  With the aid of a spatula, slide pizza from pizza pan to pizza stone and continue to bake 6-7 more minutes, for a total of 14-16 minutes.  Using a pizza peel transfer pizza from oven to wire cooling rack to cool a few minutes while continuing to top, in order, as follows:

IMG_0438 IMG_0438 IMG_0438 IMG_0438 IMG_0438 IMG_0438~Step 3.  Distribute 1/2 cup bean sprouts over the pizza, followed by about 1 1/2 cups well-drained broccoli slaw --  the bean sprouts were not mixed into the slaw in order to keep them crunchy. Transfer pizza to a plate.  Drizzle with warm peanut sauce, then garnish with a sprinkling of cilantro and peanuts.  Slice and serve ASAP.

Oh my sweet, sour, spicy, salty & crunchy topped Thai pizza:

IMG_0467Slice & serve pizza #1 ASAP, while baking pizza #2:

IMG_0525Mel's Thai-Style Pizza w/Grilled Chicken & Peanut Sauce:  Recipe yields 4 cups broccoli slaw, 2 1/2 cups peanut sauce, 4 cups chicken strips, &, 2, 12"-round pizzas/4 servings per pizza.  

Special Equipment List:  1-2-cup shaker container w/tight-fitting lid & pourer top; plastic wrap; 1-quart saucepan; spoon; food storage container(s) w/tight-fitting lid(s); flat-sided meat mallet; cutting board; chef's knife; 1-gallon food storage bag; grill pan; 2-cup measuring container; bread machine; kitchen scale; paper towels; 2, 12"-round pizza pans; pizza stone

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d285374b970cCook's Note:  Over the years, I concluded that tacos should be defined as a style of eating rather than specifically associated with Tex-Mex fare.  Let's face it, the tortilla, just like the pizza crust, is a great foil for any cuisine to land its food on.  In my recipe ~ Thai-Style Grill-Pan Chicken Tacos w/Spice Peanut Sauce ~, Thai-Asian flavor hooks up with the Tex-Mex tortilla, and it is superb. Yes, you have to go through a few of the same steps to put this special sandwich together, but, oh-my-Thai, that's a wrap.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)


~ Superbly-Seasoned Steakhouse-Style Steak-Fries ~

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3814e88200dWould you like fries with that?  If your answer is yes, but you secretly, or not-so-secretly, want to taste more potato with a bit less crunch than you expect in an order of McD's-style shoestrings, or classic 1/2"-thick 3"-4"-long, square-tipped, box-cut, twice-fried French fries: the plump and planky, skin-on-or-off steakhouse-style steak-fry is for you.  Not to be confused with steak-frites, a French dish consisting of a pan-fried rib-eye steak served with classic French fries, steak fries are an all-American term referring to thick-cut fries -- more similar to Britain's wedge-cut chips.

When I was growing up, we adored my dad's round steak fries.

IMG_0253My dad thought outside the box.  If there was an easier way to do a task and still get the ideal end result, he'd find it.  Dad came up with his own time-saving version of steak fries for our family of four and we adored them.  He'd pop a few T-bone steaks in the oven under the broiler, and, while they sizzled away, he would peel and slice four Russet potatoes into 1/2"-thick discs -- FYI: potatoes can be peeled and disced in lots less time than it takes to peel and plank-cut potatoes.    

IMG_0213 IMG_0213 IMG_0213 IMG_0213 IMG_0213 IMG_0213Into a 14" skillet of 1/2"-deep corn oil the potatoes went.  They fried until light-golden on both sides, 12-14 total minutes.  Once transferred to a paper-towel-lined plate, he seasoned them ASAP with a 1:1 mixture of garlic salt and onion salt.

If the end justifies the means, think outside the box.

IMG_0264The apple-of-my-dad's eye didn't fall far from his steak-fry tree.

IMG_0325Use your own or any seasoning blend -- steak fries play well with almost anything one can conjure up.  If you'd like to add some herby flavor to the oil too, simply place a few whole sprigs of fresh herbs in the oil as it is heating up on the stovetop, then remove the sprigs just before adding the potatoes.  That said, I wasn't lying when I said my steak fries were superbly-seasoned.  Garlic salt and onion salt are sublime -- they go with everything.  As for potatoes, over-time, I've decided Yukon gold potatoes, left unpeeled and cut into 1/2"-thick planks, deliver more flavor and a tenderer texture than the Russet.  My cooking method remains the same as my dad's:  the skillet.

Everybody into the skillet.  Deep-frying requires frying twice, &, oven-roasting takes too long for such a lack-luster result.

IMG_0213 IMG_0213 IMG_0213 IMG_0213 IMG_0213 IMG_0213Into a 10" skillet of 1/2"-deep corn oil drop two, large, skin-on Gold potatoes, cut to a thickness of approximately 1/2".  Fry until light-golden on all sides, 10-12 minutes, turning/tossing frequently with a spatula and/or fork.  Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and lightly-season ASAP with a 1:1 mixture of garlic salt and onion salt.

Would you like steak sauce with your steak fries?

IMG_0337Superbly-Seasones Steakhouse-Style Steak Fries:  Recipe yields instructions to make two types steak-fries (round Russets or planked Yukons), in an appropriately-sized skillet/ 2-4 servings. 

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; appropriately-sized skillet (10" skillet = 2 potatoes, 2 servings.  14" skillet, 4 potatoes, 4 servings); fork and/or spatula; paper towels

IMG_9975 IMG_9977Cook's Note: Great skillet-fried steak fries deserve a great steak -- preferably cooked in a grill-pan.  In my kitchen, that's ~ The Perfect 12-13-Minute, 2"-Thick Grill-Pan Filet ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)


~A Little Thing Called Gem Lettuce: A Leafy Treasure~


Lettuce is not a subject people get excited about.  That said, everyone has a preference, nonchalantly placing their favorite variety in their shopping cart as they saunter through the produce department.  In our present day food world, it's understandable to take this humble, fragile and perishable vegetable for granted, but, prior to the 1920's, that was not the case. Americans relied primarily on seasonal leaf lettuces that were grown in their gardens or sold in their local markets for their salads -- salad eating in the colder regions was a seasonal pleasure. Out of season, the cook relied on rugged root vegetables like carrots, potatoes and cabbage.

Thankfully, along came the transcontinental railroad.

It became possible for iceberg to be shipped year round, in traincars, from California to every corner of the USA.  Each crate of this round-headed super-crispy lettuce, which has a longer shelf life than all other leafy greens, was topped with ice to keep it cold during the long trip.  As the traincars pulled into depots for delivery and unpacking, the rail workers would shout, "here comes the icebergs", or, "the icebergs are coming".  Then, along came refrigerated rail cars, trucks and airplanes.  The stage was set for the lettuce industry to boom, and boom it did.  Worldwide distribution of many varieties of lettuce, bagged lettuce mixes and micro greens was possible.  

Gem lettuce is a miniature, slightly-sweeter variety of romaine.

IMG_9724Described as the perfect cross between butterhead & romaine.

IMG_9750Originally native to France and Spain, this miniature variety of romaine has been around for a long time on the West coast of the USA.  Thankfully, its gain in popularity has finally resulted in my having easy access to it here on the East coast, more specifically, Central Pennsylvania.  Its scaled-down appearance is remarkably similar to its larger relative, having a green (sometimes reddish), oblong head with loose, crinkly leaves gathered around its crisp, more compact heart. Described as the perfect cross between butterhead (also known as butter, bibb or Boston bibb) and romaine, its crisp texture and compact size make it perfect for appetizer-size lettuce wraps and a great substitute for iceberg lettuce on any type of sandwich or wrap sandwich.

It's super-crispy, fork-friendly green leaves are often served in high-end restaurants, in a fancy-schmancy single-serving salad course.  Sliced in half or quarters and lightly painted with vinaigrette or olive oil, it holds up really well on the grids of a hot grill or grill pan too.  Like other leafy greens and lettuces, it won't hang around forever, but, if stored loosely wrapped in plastic in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator, I've found it easily lasts up to a full ten days.

These sexy little lettuce heads dress up any type of salad.

IMG_0021Try 'em halved, brushed w/EVOO & grilled to a nutty-golden brown...

IMG_0030... in my Grilled Gem Wedges w/Blue Cheese, Bacon & Filet salad:

IMG_0173Or "as is" in my Little Gems Caesar Salad w/Roasted Chicken

IMG_9842"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)