Butter Chicken For The First Day Of Fall!

When we went to Atlanta a few weeks ago we went to the Dekalb Farmers Market on the recommendation of a friend at work.   She told me I could find anything I wanted and more, and when we pulled into the parking lot and saw the size of the market I knew were in for a treat!  I wish I had some pictures to share, especially of the fish mongers, but the market does not allow pictures.  It was a food lover’s mecca, for real.  I felt like a kid in the candyshop with wavering self-control.  Fortunately I knew I had to limit my haul to shelf stable items as we were traveling so I went straight for the spices!  I grimace when I have to purchase a $4-5 small bottle of a spice I am missing, when I saw these 1 cup containers filled with all kinds of flavors for under a buck and a half I could not resist.

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I took a way quite a few Indian spices to add to our cabinet.  With the first day of autumn upon us, I knew plenty of soups and stews would be on the horizon.  Fall into Indian Cuisine!  Sir Wes hadn’t ever had Butter Chicken also called Chicken Makhani, nor had I ever made it, so I thought it was a perfect dish to kick off the new season.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 white onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ½ tablespoon chopped ginger
  • ½ tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, julienned into 1 inch strips
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • Chopped cilantro

Directions:

Pour 1 tablespoon oil in a 2 quart saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Add in butter, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, 1 teaspoon garam masala, chili powder, cumin, coriander and bay leaf.  Stir the spices as they cook, drawing out their peak flavor for a minute.   Mix in the tomato sauce, and continue cooking for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Pour in milk and the yogurt and reduce the heat to low. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently before seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove the sauce from heat and set aside.

Place a heavy bottom large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon oil.  Add in the chicken strips and cook chicken until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat to medium low, and add in teaspoon garam masala and cayenne. Feel free to eliminate the cayenne or add more based on you heat preferences.  Add the sauce into the skillet and simmer over medium low heat.   The sauce will reduce and thicken as the chicken finishes cooking.   When ready to serve stir in chopped cilantro as garnish.

This recipe will serve 4 guests. Serve with basmati rice or fresh naan bread.

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If you ever get the chance to get to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market you must go for it.  Take advantage of the lower prices and branch out of your everyday cooking style.  Try something new, you might just find a new favorite!

Happy first day of autumn and may all your leaves fall in the right place!!

Chicken Chickpea Curry- Influenced by a Morning with Indian Cuisine Chefs

I took a quick trip to Chicago last year to learn about Indian food, it was an incredible learning experience and left me with a new favorite cuisine.  Not sure why I didn’t realize it before, it makes perfect sense- a lot of vegetarian dishes, no pork, cilantro and a ton of flavor, all things I love!

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Being in the kitchen with 2 Indian Chefs for the morning, tasting and learning was a perfect way to understand the philosophy behind the cuisine.  Talk about using a lot of seasoning- there is no dusting or sprinkling in Indian cuisine, it is more like straight up dumping.  The more seasoning the better.   The chefs tasted and layered the flavorful stews and sauces for thru the morning, before lunch was served, adding more and more from the bags of spices.

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I was really amazed at the exuberant amount of seasoning they added to all the food, it reminded me of a Chef I worked with when I first started cooking who didn’t believe in the “standard olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic” marinate, but more pushed us to use heavily seasoned marinates and highly flavorful sauces.  But these Indian chefs took that to a whole new level and I loved it- look at the amount of peppers prepped for one lunch- lol- crazy.

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Needless to say, I have become a bit of a dabbler in Indian cuisine; recently I modified a Cooking Light recipe that caught my eye.  I suppose curries are equivalently comforting to me as a beef stew to someone else.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown basmati rice, aka, Popcorn Rice (you can also use standard basmati rice)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • ¼ cup diced green pepper
  • 1 cup ground chicken
  • 2 teaspoons medium curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (28-ounce) can unsalted crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup plain 2% Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

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Preparation

1. Cook rice according to package directions; drain.

2. While rice cooks, heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, peppers and ground chicken; sauté 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in curry and cumin; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, and spinach; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in yogurt and salt. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve over rice.

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We did manage to have some fun, tried a lot of great restaurants, local food, native micro brews and met a lot of friendly people!  I even had one of my lifetime goals fulfilled… (see evidence below).

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Oh, and one other thing I learned was Chicken Tikka Masala is commonly thought of as being from the Indian culture, but it was derived in England, where Indian food is very popular.  I suppose it is similar to Southwest United States did to Mexican food- Tex Mex…

Being able to learn from expert chefs priceless, if you get the chance be sure to soak it in!

Spanish Turkey Meatball Stew

The last few months of the year always seem to fly by for us and most people I know.  That school thing, all the holidays to celebrate, after school activities, birthdays, family visits, busy work seasons, ect, ect, ect…. This year is no different, so we try to come up with some dishes that can work with our busy schedules.   Soup is always a great option for quick and tasty meals, stews and chilies as well.  

I am not a big beef eater, but you could substitute your favorite meatball recipe if you like.  Change the tomatoes and chicken broth to low sodium and make it even healthier.  I never notice the change in flavor when using low sodium items, as long as you pack the dish with full flavor fresh veggies and herbs.

Inspired by Food Network Magazine, October Issue

  • 1 ¼ pound ground turkey meat
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed and chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoon diced onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1 green onion, sliced fine
  • 3 tablespoon breadcrumbs
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup diced yellow onion
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 2 14 ounce can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 15-ounce can chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can hominy, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro

Start by forming the meatballs, by combining the turkey meat, jalapeño, 2 tablespoons of diced onions, egg, green onion, breadcrumbs and a dash of salt and pepper.  Mix very well and form into 2 ounce, quarter size meatballs.  Set aside and prepare stew.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onions, garlic and a sprinkle of salt and sauté for a few minutes.   Add the paprika and carrots and sauté another minute.  Pour in tomatoes, chicken broth, chick peas, hominy and cilantro and bring to a gentle simmer.  Gently add the formed meatballs into the simmering stew and allow to cook thru- about 6-8 minutes, rotating half way thru. 

Serves 4 and reheats with even more flavor!

This stew is a great answer to late days on the job, afternoon soccer practices, Friday night football games and lazy Sundays!

Enjoy!

Preserved Lemons and Curried Grains

The lemons are ready!  I have been preserving lemons for the last few months and they are perfect!  I used them for the first time last week in a warm grain salad.  The best way to keep your preserved lemons is in the same container they started in.  When you are ready to use some, take out what you need, rinse the lemons off with water and remove the flesh, the skin is what you want to keep. 

Preserved Lemons are ready!

Preserved lemons are very versatile- from vinaigrette to a cocktail! 

Remove the flesh and pulp. The skin is all you need.

The first dish for the lemons was inspired by not having much in the refrigerator- another busy week at work.  Perfect timing to as it was Monday!  Have you heard about Meatless Mondays- I’m pretty impressed about how this initiative has gained steam.  Meatless Mondays, is a nonprofit initiative of The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Families across the country are joining in- whether their reasons are health based or financial based, 1/3 of the country has reduced their meat consumption in 2011.  Grains, tofu, soy are offering replacement proteins and a healthy alternatives.  This brings us to the popularity of grains- which can be seen all over the food magazines and in most restaurants.  Chefs are now wondering …what else can we do with grains?? 

Preserved Lemons Debut!

Here is the recipe that my preserved lemons made their first appearance-

All of this was in the kitchen- waiting to get used up!

Preserved Lemon and Curried Grains

  • 1 ½ cup uncooked spelt
  • 1 ½ cup uncooked kasha
  • 1 ½ cup uncooked lentils
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup diced onions
  • 2 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 24 oz. coconut curry broth
  • 6 tablespoon chopped preserved lemons
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 6 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 3 oz. roasted red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 ½ cup green beans, cut into bite size pieces
  • ½ pint grape tomatoes

    Preserved Lemon and Curried Grains Mise en Place

     

It’s pretty easy to cook grains- start by washing them off with water.  Put a pot on the stove and add the washed grains, add water or stock to about two inches above the grains.  Bring to a slow boil and cook until tender.  When the grains are a la dente, drain them from the pot with a colander.  You can cool them down and reheat them when you are ready to serve.  This is a great way to prepare meals for a busy week.

I had a few pots working 🙂

  1. Cook the grains to a la dente.
  2. Place a large stock pot on the stove over medium high heat; add olive oil, followed by the onions and garlic.  Sauté until translucent.
  3. Add the cooked grains to the pot and stir in broth.
  4. Mix in the lemons, curry, cilantro, roasted peppers and ground red pepper.  Allow to gently simmer, giving the flavors a chance to meld.
  5. Put the green beans and tomatoes into the pot about 15 minutes before serving- this will keep their beautiful, bright color. 

Add the bright veggies at the end so they keep there color and don't turn to mush!

Like with many other soups and stews, this dish gets better with time. Give it an hour or a day the flavor will deepen.  Another similarity to soups and stews is ingredients can be of the “clean the fridge” mentality- no beans? Use cauliflower- any vegetable or none will work!  The grains can also be switched up.

Flavorful and healthy- take that meatheads!

My favorite meals are alway the ones when I have “nothing’ to cook for dinner!

Preserved Lemon and Curried Grains

Cheers to Meatless Monday!