Tim's Recipe Blog

Check out our Chef Tim Dondero’s new recipe blog at timdonderosrecipes.blogspot.com. We will put a few recent posts here on our website. Check the full blog for all his posts, which include photographs of the food by Maria Dondero. His old blog, with hundreds of recipes, can still be accessed at t-jintan.blogspot.com.

Crowd-pleasing Thai Red Curry with Chicken (Gaeng Ped Gai) is surprisingly easy to make

This was the dish I taught at my first international cooking class in Atlanta many years ago, for “Evening at Emory.” The curry paste can be homemade (but it’s tedious and requires hard-to-find ingredients), or it can be purchased in cans at Asian food shops. Cooks in Thailand nowadays typically buy their curry pastes fresh from favorite market vendors rather than make them from scratch.

If you can get the ingredients (at Asian grocery stores, such as Fooks Foods in Athens, GA), making this curry is actually very easy, especially compared to Indian curries. Thai curries generally please American diners, as long as the pepper heat is considerably reduced from what is usual in Thailand.

The recipe will serve eight or more, but leftovers are treasured. Serve with unsalted rice, preferably jasmine rice.

2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast

1/2 (4-ounce) can (or more) Thai red curry paste (freeze the rest for later use, wrapped in plastic)

1 tablespoon oil or chicken fat

1 can (14-ounce) unsweetened coconut milk (Thai) -- shake well before opening

1 can of water or unseasoned chicken broth

1 (20-ounce, 10-11 ounces drained weight) can shredded bamboo shoots, drained

1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce, (available at Asian groceries), or 1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 hot red chili pepper for garnish

8-10 sprigs fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Trim chicken of tough or excess fatty portions. Place breasts flat on cutting board and slice cross-wise 1/8-inch thick, using a sharp knife.

Add a little oil (1-2 teaspoons) or chicken fat to a pot, and over low heat fry the curry paste, stirring very frequently, until fragrant and the oil separates out a little (1-1/2 to 2 minutes). Add half of the coconut milk and stir it in well. When combined and bubbling add remaining coconut milk and let the sauce return to a bubble. Increase heat and add the water or chicken broth. Add the drained bamboo shoots. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add about a tablespoon of fish sauce (or 1 teaspoon salt) plus a third of the chicken. Stir and as soon as color of the meat changes, add another third of the meat and stir. Similarly add the last third of the meat and stir until the color changes. Simmer about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste, and then add fish sauce or salt until just salty enough. Add sugar. Simmer 2 more minutes (do not overcook or the chicken will become dry). Remove from heat.

Taste the sauce and add a little fish sauce, salt or sugar as needed, making the sauce slightly salty (the chicken will continue to absorb some salt). The sauce should also have a slight sweetness. Let the curry sit at least 20 minutes (better overnight, in refrigerator).

Before serving, reheat gently (microwave or top of stove) with occasional stirring, just until it reaches a boil. Remove from heat. Serve the curry in an attractive shallow bowl garnished with thinly sliced red chili pepper plus picked-off cilantro leaves. Accompany with unsalted Jasmine rice (see my blog post on rice) and a stir-fried vegetable dish.

Tim’s New Recipe Blog

Donderos’ Kitchen’s co-owner and Executive Chef, Tim Dondero, has taught international cooking for many years, both in Atlanta and Athens. For over five years Tim blogged about food, and for four years he wrote a bi-weekly food column (“Le Gourmet Fauché”) for the Athens Banner-Herald.

Tim once again has started blogging to share more of his recipes for international and regional American dishes – and occasional creations -- along with some of the fascinating background and lore surrounding the dishes and key ingredients. His new blog (timdonderosrecipes.blogspot.com) will differ from the earlier one by including photography of the dishes by his daughter Maria Dondero, of Southern Star Studio and Marmalade Pottery, Athens.

Though an avid cook since childhood (his grandmother taught him to make pancakes at age six), Tim had a “day job” for over 45 years in international health and infectious disease control, much of that for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. During this time, he and his family spent over a decade overseas, in both Southeast Asia and West Africa. But during training, and numerous work trips to the tropics, he experienced many other parts of the world. Being enthusiastic about food, Tim always sought out local specialties and got to know, and sometimes cooked with, local cooks. At home he frequented ethnic restaurants. Through conversation, research, and trial and error, he learned to reproduce many of the dishes he encountered, within the constraints of the ingredients and cooking methods available at home.

Tim’s recipes are clear and work reliably in reproducing these dishes, after his extensive experience teaching cooking and then developing and standardizing recipes for most of the savory dishes served at and catered by Donderos’ Kitchen.

In the blog, the discussions of foods and recipes for successfully making them will focus on Tim’s favorites and seasonal dishes. The recipes will differ from those we use at Donderos’ Kitchen or that Tim teaches in his classes.

Overall, Tim’s new blog will continue to convey his enthusiasm about food and sharing the knowledge about it with others, whether family or friends. Recipes for many exciting and satisfying dishes will be presented, discussed, and illustrated.

The blog can be accessed at timdonderosrecipes.blogspot.com, through which all postings to date will be available. In addition, Tim’s former blog, “JintanManis,” with hundreds of recipes, can still be accessed at t-jintan.blogspot.com.

Bon appetit!