Kick-Ass Chicken Curry

chicken curry with mango chutney

Are you ready to learn how to make a really good curry? I don’t mean curry like your mother used to make from her ‘Good Housekeeping’ magazine….I mean a really good, authentic-tasting Indian curry. First of all, your spices are really important – at the very least, make sure they are FRESH.  Don’t be pulling that curry powder out of your cupboard that’s been there since 1993. Go out and get some fresh spices, it’s so worth it. The two spices you need (which are actually spice mixtures) are curry powder and garam masala.

Follow the steps in the recipe, taking your time especially when cooking your onions.  Remember a good curry is layered with flavour, and to achieve that, it takes time, and also care and love while you are cooking it.  After you make this a few times, you’ll become quite pro at it, and you’ll never make beef stew again.  So get your ingredients organized, and give it a whirl. You will love it.  And buy a jar of mango chutney and some fresh coriander at the grocery store while you’re at it.

A word about Garam Masala:  This is a common Indian spice mixture and is available at you grocery store in the spice department – I believe McCormack’s now distributes it. However, if you have access to a Southeast Asian market, go in and find some whole garam masala. (see picture). Dry roasting some garam masala in a pan and then grinding it in your coffee grinder will kick up your curry to another level of awesomeness. While you are there, buy a decent curry powder like Lalah’s or Bolst’s. Ask the grocer for a mild or hot curry depending what you like.  Be warned that the hot curry powder is much hotter than you think it will be.

Whole Garam Masala. (dry roast in pan until fragrant)

grind garam masala in coffee grinder and store in an airtight container.

Chicken Curry

serves 6 as a main course

1/4 cup butter (or ghee – clarified butter)

2 large onions, diced

2 tsp salt

4 cloves garlic minced

1  2 inch knob of fresh ginger, minced

1 tbsp garam masala

2.5 tbsp curry powder

1.5 cups water

1 (14oz) can coconut milk (or 35% cream)

6 chicken breasts, cut up into large chunks, or 10 boneless, skinless thighs

Directions:

In a large skillet, melt butter (or ghee) over medium heat. Add onions and salt  and cook, stirring occasionally until  onions are cooked down and quite brown and carmelized.  (about 20 minutes). Take your time.

Add ginger and garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Sprinkle your curry powder and garam masala over your onion mixture. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in your water, stir, and let the entire thing simmer on low, and reduce to a paste-like consistency. (about 15 minutes)

Remove curry paste from pan to a bowl. Add a knob of butter to the pan (or ghee).  Salt and pepper your chicken pieces and add to the pan over medium-high heat to brown.  Once chicken is browned, add the curry paste back into the pan as well as the coconut milk. Reduce heat to a low simmer, and let chicken cook. (longer if using thighs, so they will tenderize). (approx 20-40 mins) At this point, you can also add in some vegetables to cook. I like to use 1/2 a head of cauliflower cut up and some red pepper. The cauliflower works really well with this dish.

Serve over rice or quinoa.  Serve alongside mango chutney and fresh coriander.  Enjoy.

cook onions until reduced and browned (about 20 minutes)

add garlic and ginger, continue to cook for 2-3 minutes

add curry powder and garam masala, cook another 2 minutes

add water to mixture, stir and simmer until paste-like consistency is achieved

remove curry paste and place in bowl while browning chicken

brown chicken in same pan (don't clean it), then add curry paste back into pan

add coconut milk. Simmer for additional 20-40 minutes

Serve with rice and mango chutney. Oh my. Yum.

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Asian Lemon Chicken

Asian Lemon Chicken

Here is an easy and fairly quick recipe for lemon chicken — the addition of soya sauce, toasted sesame oil and ground coriander give it some Asian flair.  Follow the steps and you will have a decent meal on the table in about 40 minutes. We enjoyed this with some basmati rice and a green salad.  Stir fried veggies would be perfect alongside instead of salad.

A critical step is in the preparation of the chicken. Preparing it “cutlet” style (as described below) makes all the difference.  Your surface area is doubled, meaning that you’ve got that much more area for flavour in every bite. So try to master that technique – it works well with chicken parmesan and my other lemon chicken recipe – a traditional picatta recipe which will be published here soon.

Asian Lemon Chicken

adapted from Chatelaine magazine

serves 4

Ingredients

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

mixture #1

zest of one lemon

2  tsp ground coriander

1  tsp chili flakes (optional)

1  tsp salt

mixture #2

3/4 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup white wine

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

mixture #3

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp water

2 tsp soya sauce

Directions

Mix together each ‘mixture’ as outlined above.

Prepare Chicken Breasts:

Place one chicken breast on cutting board. Using a sharp knife (a fileting knife is ideal) and pressing your hand on top of breast to keep it in place, slice chicken breast in half horizontally, being careful to ensure you don’t cut your hand.  Continue with remaining chicken breasts until all are sliced.

Place 2 pieces of chicken on cutting board;  cover with plastic wrap and pound gently until evenly flattened. Continue until all pieces are flattened then place them in a medium sized bowl and coat with spice mixture #1.  Your flattened chicken pieces can now be referred to as “cutlets”.

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with about 2 tsp of vegetable oil.  When pan is hot, place 4 of the chicken cutlets in pan and cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and place in a  bowl while you cook the remaining 4 pieces.  Add  browned chicken and any accumulated juices back into the pan and pour in mixture #2. Turn heat to medium and let chicken simmer for 10 minutes.

Move chicken to the sides of the pan, making an opening in the center of the pan juices and pour in mixture #3. Stir until thickened, lowering heat if necessary and sauce is evenly mixed. Serve and enjoy.

slice chicken breast horizontally, using a SHARP knife. (a dull knife is a waste of time)

pound your meat (gently, for gawd's sakes)

Mixture #1 - spices - coat chicken pieces

brown chicken, 4 pieces at a time. Brown. So it has flavour.

after chicken is browned, add in Mixture #2, continue cooking.

pour in Mixture #3, stirring until thickened.

 

 

 

 

Buttercup Squash Gnocchi

Buttercup Squash Gnocchi

If you looking for something different to do with all that squash you’ve been buying at the farmer’s market….and you like to play with your food, definitely give this recipe a try.   It’s very comforting and yummy on a gloomy, chilly fall day.  We enjoyed this as a side dish for a dinner party, but it could easily be served as a main dish with a salad for a ‘meatless’ meal.   It does take a bit of time, but it makes quite a bit of gnocchi – enough to freeze. I would say this recipe makes enough gnocchi to serve as a side dish for 2 meals for 4 people.   I made this recipe with butter/onion/sage leaves which goes really well with the squash. All those fall flavours and a little fresh nutmeg mixed into the dough…mmmm.  I was lucky enough to be able to pilfer some fresh sage from Cathy’s (of Dragonfly Herbs) garden – and at this time of year, fresh sage is available in the grocery stores.  *Also, the reason I chose buttercup squash over butternut is due to water content. I found  butternut squash too moist – you want the potato and squash as dry as possible so you aren’t adding tons of flour.*

Buttercup Squash Gnocchi

makes about 140 gnochhi, maybe more

1 2lb buttercup squash (not butternut)

1 medium potato

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (approx)

1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

1 egg yolk

to finish:
1/4 cup of butter

1 small onion or shallot, finely diced

5-6 fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped

1/3 cup grated asiago or parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425F. Split squash in half and place cut side down on baking sheet. Wash and place potato on baking sheet. Bake  for 45 minutes until squash is aromatic and tender (fork will easily pierce). If the potato isn’t cooked through, continue cooking in oven, or finish cooking in microwave for a few minutes.

Turn squash right side up and let cool until you can handle it with your hands. Scrape out flesh into bowl, and mash. Peel potato and grate into squash, combine. Add salt and mix.

Combine flour, nutmeg and pepper. Place flour on clean countertop and form a well. Place squash/potato mixture in well and place egg yolk on top. Mix egg yolk into squash with clean hands, and then slowly start incorporating flour into squash….gradually mixing it in with your hands until you have a soft dough that is not too wet. Do this gently — all the flour doesn’t need to be incorporated. You want a dough that can be easily rolled into ‘ropes’ without falling apart, but also you want it to be tender, not tough and hard.

Cut dough into 6-8 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and cut into bite-size pieces. Use your own judgement. (see picture) Keep pieces separated on a lightly floured pan and cover with a clean tea towel.

*At this point you can freeze them, then once they are frozen solid, put them in portions in ziploc bags.

Bring large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.  Place gnocchi into pot. Stir gently. When gnocchi rises to the top, continue to cook for about 30 seconds or so more. Meanwhile, heat large non-stick pan to medium. Melt butter, add onion or shallot and saute, about 5 minutes. Add sage leaves and saute briefly. Using slotted spoon, drain gnocchi and add to butter/onion mixture. Toss to coat. Put into serving dish and top with cheese.

*you can also put some ridges on your gnocchi with a fork and boil, then serve with tomato sauce and cheese. Go crazy, the world is your oyster.

split and clean your squash (approx 2lb total) (1 kg)

mash cooked squash, grate potato (potato ricer is best)

make well in flour mixture, put squash mixture in middle, mix in yolk, then flour

divide your soft dough into portions

roll dough portions into ropes

cut ropes into bite size pieces "gnocchi"

add gnocchi to boiling salted water....wait until they float

saute onions...then add sage leaves, then saute gnocchi

Freakish delish

can also be done with a nice tomato sauce

 

Turkey Apple Meatloaf

turkey apple meatloaf

I love turkey burgers…so thought I’d try this recipe when I saw it in the Kingston-Whig Standard while I was waiting for my oil change.  I’m not the type who would ever make a ground beef meatloaf, it just doesn’t turn me on at all….but I’m all about the turkey so… Give this a try, it’s easy and it’s seasonal with finely diced apples in it.  The recipe calls for 2 pounds of ground turkey, so I divided it into two 8 x 4 aluminum loaf pans, instead of one large loaf (but go ahead if that’s the size loaf pan you have on hand)-one for dinner, one for sandwiches the next day. I enjoyed both, but let’s face it, a meatloaf sandwich is special and this one does not disappoint.

Turkey Apple Meatloaf

adapted from Foodland Ontario

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 medium apple, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 small or 1 large firm apple, finely diced

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (if you have it, I didn’t use it)

2 lb ground turkey

1 egg yolk

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tsp worcestershire sauce

1.5 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

2 tbsp bbq sauce (I used PC Louisiana style mustard based bbq sauce)

Directions

In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, stirring occasionally.

Stir in garlic and apples; cook for about 3 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove from heat. Stir in bread crumbs and parsley, if using.

In large bowl, combine ground turkey, egg, mustard, Worcestershire, salt and pepper; stir in apple mixture until well combined.

Press turkey mixture lightly into two 8 x 4 aluminum loaf pans sprayed with cooking spray.  Spread bbq sauce over top of loaf (loaves).  Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for about 40 minutes to  1 hour or until digital rapid-read thermometer registers 165°F (74°C).

saute onion, add garlic and apples and continue to cook until tender.

mix turkey with mustard, spices, egg, bread crumbs...

press into pans, top with bbq sauce

yum

Shish Taouk

shish tawook

[Hi everybody, it’s been awhile…I’m back from cottaging and I have been cooking like a maniac– I  just have had no time to document it. Here’s a great recipe to start off.]

What the hell is Shish Tawook you say? It’s delicious, that’s what. This recipe comes to me from Michelle Blandford-Duggan–she told me she loves this recipe …and so I tried it, and I’m so glad I did (and so was my family).  I love a kebab. This one is made with chicken, onion and peppers.  The marinade, I believe is of Persian origin, although I have done no research whatsoever. All I know is that it’s good.  The marinade, which really works best if you Continue reading

Slow Cooker Risotto-Stuffed Peppers

I love stuffed peppers…so when I saw a recipe using aborio rice, I thought I’d try it.  That’s the same rice you would use to make risotto, so it’s a rounder grain, it produces a creamier finished product, and I found the entire stuffed pepper held together really well when you sliced the pepper in halves or quarters.  Recipes for stuffed peppers are a dime a dozen, and  I’ve adapted this version from the current (Aug/Sept 2011) edition of Cook’s Country magazine. There is no meat in my version, but you could easily reduce the rice and add in some sauteed ground beef, chicken or sausage.  Also, you could bake these in the oven, but it’s nice and easy to throw in the slow-cooker and walk away for a few hours. Continue reading

Indian Spiced Kebabs with Raita

Indian Spiced Kebabs

If you enjoy the exotic flavours of East Indian foods, you will love these kebabs. They are as easy as mixing up a batch of burgers, but the flavour is so awesome — you might forget about standard burgers altogether.

You can adjust the heat in these depending on how spicy you enjoy your food– add more cayenne as necessary. The cucumber raita cools things down and compliments the flavour of these kebabs perfectly. I make them in a log shape–kebabs without the sticks– about 5 inches long by 2 inches wide, but feel free to make them longer or wider – whatever size you prefer, but I think if you make them too big, they may be difficult to deal with. If you think you can handle a larger size kebab, go ahead. The 5 inch one won’t fully satisfy you — you will definitely be wanting more than one.  They are also great in a burger shape, served on a bun with raita, lettuce and tomato. Once you try them, you will be asked to make them again. Use a good quality ground beef. I buy pasture-raised, grass-fed, organic beef and it does taste alot better. { Investigate your local farmer’s market to find organic beef and many other wholesome products.}

*once you have mixed up your mixture and shaped them into logs- they freeze perfectly too.

Indian Spiced Kebabs

makes 8 (4 oz) kebabs, or 4 (8 oz) burgers

2 lb ground beef

1 medium onion, grated

2 tbsp grated fresh ginger

4 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 tsp  ground cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp garam masala (spice mixture available at asian / indian markets)

2 egg yolks

1 tsp salt

a handful of fresh coriander, chopped finely (if you have it)

Mix up ingredients. Shape into logs or patties. Cover and refrigerate, let the flavours meld for at least 1/2 an hour.  Heat bbq up to medium (about 325-350F). Cook directly on the grill, turning frequently, until cooked through and kebabs have reached an inner temp of 170F. Serve with raita. (see recipe below)

meat mixture with all ingredients

kebabs shaped into 5 inch logs

grill kebabs

Cucumber Raita

1 cup plain yogurt

1/3 cup grated (and squeezed out on a paper towel) cucumber

1/2 tsp cumin

Mix ingredients. Serve with kebabs.

raita mixture

kebab with raita and salad – a healthy lunch or dinner