September 17, 2019

Sourcing Out Unusual Ingredients

Amanda Cushman

Amanda Cushman

We are delighted to welcome a new columnist to LymeLine today.  She is Amanda Cushman of Simple Real Food Inc., a culinary educator who has cooked professionally for over 30 years.  She teaches privately for groups of two to 20 students in their home as well as having been taught in venues such as Sur La Table, ICE, The New School, Williams Sonoma and Let’s Get Cooking.

Chef Amanda has also taught corporate team building classes for over 15 years for companies such as; Fitness Magazine, Exxon Mobile, Hugo Boss, Yahoo, Nike, Google, Direct TV, Toyota and Korn Ferry International.

She began her food career in the eighties in the catering business in Manhattan and worked with Martha Stewart and Glorious Foods before becoming a recipe developer for Food and Wine magazine as well as Ladies Home Journal.

Having lived all over the United States including Boston, NYC, Miami and Los Angeles, she has recently returned to her home state of Connecticut where she continues to teach in private homes as well as write for local publications.

Chef Amanda teaches cooking classes for all levels along the Shoreline both privately and at locations such as White Gate farm and the Weekend Kitchen.

For more information, click here to visit her website.

Sourcing Out Unusual Ingredients

As a newcomer to the Old Lyme area and a chef, I have been very busy discovering all the farms, places to buy ethnic ingredients and sources for organic produce.  It’s a never ending process sourcing out the small Mom and Pop businesses that support the local economy as well as the more main stream purveyors that keep us supplied with wonderful fish, meats and produce.

Some of my discoveries are listed on my blog where I often report back with how to find specialty items, such as fish sauce or pad Thai noodles.  It seems that every day I discover a new source for hard to find items such as last week when one of my students told me about Ocean State Job Lot where she gets French lentils and a variety of organic, dry ingredients such as millet, quinoa, steel cut oats and gluten free flour.

Who knew that a large discount store such as this would have an entire line of items that I often spend double for in a health food store?

The fun of teaching cooking in an area such as Old Lyme is the treasure hunt for each class, which takes me to New London, Norwich, Middletown and Orange. I have  become familiar with the shoreline and surrounding towns faster than some people who have lived here for years.

Here are a couple recipes from recent classes that are sure to please and a reference for where to shop for each one.

Beef or Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

This recipe makes 30


1 flank steak, cut into thin strips against the grain or 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 package bamboo skewers
1/3 cup lime juice
1 Tablespoon minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
2 Tb. vegetable oil
3 Tb. soy sauce or Tamari*
4 Tb. fish sauce
3 Tb. brown sugar

Peanut Sauce

3 Tablespoons lime juice
1 Tablespoon peeled ginger
2 cloves garlic, peeled, halved
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or chili sauce
1/3 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1 Tb. soy sauce or Tamari
1 Tb. fish sauce
1/3 cup coconut milk


1. Skewer the beef or if using chicken use two pieces per skewer. Place on two baking sheets. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and then pour over the beef. Marinate at least 2 hours.

2. Heat the oven to 400. Thirty minutes before cooking remove from the pans from the refrigerator.

3. Combine the ginger and garlic in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Transfer to a small serving bowl.

4. Cook the skewers about 5 minutes to 7 minutes.

5. Serve the skewers on a platter with the dipping sauce in the center.

Alternatives: You can use shrimp, scallops, pork tenderloin or firm tofu in place of the chicken or beef.

*Tamari is a wheat free soy sauce for gluten free diets

Source: To find Tamari go to Foodworks, Fiddleheads or Whole Foods. Fish sauce is an important Thai ingredient and can be found at Panda Market in Norwich, Whole Foods or Lee’s Oriental Market in New London


Eggplant and Cauliflower Pakoras

Serves 8


1 ½ cups chick pea flour
2 Tb. peanut oil
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garam masala
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. turmeric
¼ tsp. baking powder
3 green chilies, minced
1 ¼ cups warm water (110 degrees)
½ tsp. salt


3 Japanese eggplants, sliced thinly on the diagonal
½ head cauliflower or broccoli, separated into florets
Peanut oil for frying

Tamarind chutney

2 cups cilantro leaves
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 cup tamarind paste
1 Tablespoon roughly chopped ginger
4 Tablespoons lime juice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt


1. Combine all the batter ingredients in a processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Let the batter sit covered for about 30 minutes at room temperature. You can keep it for 2 days refrigerated.

2. Meanwhile blend the ingredients for the sauce in a food processor, taste and set aside.

3. Heat the oil in a wok or large saucepan until hot but not smoking. Dip the vegetables into the batter and then slip them into the hot oil. Fry until crispy and brown about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels and serve right away with the tamarind sauce.

Source: All Indian spices, tamarind and chick pea flour can be found at Raj Cash and Carry in Groton as well as Udupi Bhavan in Middletown


Speak Your Mind