There are a few flavor combinations that render me helpless and insatiable, and the combination of the rich sweetness of coconut milk, salty brine of fish sauce, and pucker of lime juice is arguably foremost among them. Mushrooms and a quick caramelization of the coconut milk lends depth to the broth, while spicy chiles add a slow, satisfying burn to each bite. (I happened to shop at a market where I could pick up small handfuls of a variety of mushrooms, keeping the price tag well within budget, but any one of your favorite mushrooms would work just fine here, too.) The resulting dish is very quick to make and even better than your favorite Thai takeout. —Caroline Wright
mixed mushrooms, such as maitake, white beech, shiitake and white button
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
(13.5-ounce) cans coconut milk
(1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and sliced
(1-inch) piece lemongrass, halved lengthwise, hard outer skin removed and smashed with a heavy skillet
hot chile, halved (seeds removed, if desired)
halved cherry or grape tomatoes
chicken stock or broth
fish sauce, to taste
fresh lime juice, to taste
ounces rice noodles, soaked in hot water according to package directions
Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes; remove to a plate. Raise heat to high. Add coconut milk, ginger, lemongrass, chiles and tomatoes to pan and cook, stirring, until coconut milk becomes very thick and begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, about 4 minutes. (Meanwhile, soak rice noodles according to package directions.) Stir in stock and cook 2 minutes or until warmed through. Stir in fish sauce and lime juice, then reserved mushrooms and their juices. Serve mushrooms in coconut broth over rice noodles.
Before her diagnosis, Caroline wrote a book on cakes called Cake Magic!. She started developing a birthday cake using her gluten-free mix found in that book. Check out other recipes she’s developing for her new life—and the stories behind them—on her blog, The Wright Recipes. Her next book, Catalan Food, written with chef Daniel Olivella, comes out in early September from Clarkson Potter.