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Best Stir-fried Chicken

17 Jan

This is pungent! Great flavour, but not for the faint of heart.

BEST STIR-FRIED CHICKEN
Gwenyth Paltrow
serves four

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into small cubes
2 tbsp cornstarch
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup peeled and minced garlic
1/4 cup peeled and minced ginger
1/2 cup minced green scallions (white & green parts)
Pinch red chili flakes (optional)
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Toss the chicken with cornstarch, a large pinch of salt and quite a bit of pepper. 

Heat oil in large, non-stick wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions and chile flakes (if using) and cook, stirring, for one minute. 

Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.

Add the vinegar, sugar, and five or six grinds of black pepper.

Boil on high for three minutes, or until the sugar has caramelized and the whole mixture is dark brown and sticky and lovely.

Add the soy sauce, and cook for another 30 seconds. Serve immediately over fried rice (recipe below), sprinkled with cilantro. 
 
Fried Rice with Kale and Scallions
serves four

1/2 pound kale, stems discarded
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
3 large scallions, cut into 1/8-inch diagonal slices
2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp soy sauce

Cut the kale leaves in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into very thin ribbons (chiffonade). Steam the kale for 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.

Add the garlic and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly, being careful not to brown the garlic.

Raise the heat to medium and add the steamed kale and scallions.

Cook for two minutes and then add the rice and cook for another two minutes, stirring.

Add the soy sauce and cook for 30 seconds more.

 

Funky Chicken

27 May

Battle of the ’80s: Neiman Marcus bacon wrapped chicken breast ($100 a package) Large chicken tenders are stuffed with cream cheese and four asparagus spears and then wrapped with Applewood bacon.

Versus:

CHICKEN BREASTS STUFFED WITH ASPARAGUS
Recipes from Best of Bridge Aces
Ingredients:
4 Whole chicken breasts, halved, boned and pounded
24 medium asparagus spears, lightly blanched
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley

Prepare chicken and asparagus. Combine butter, mustard, garlic and wine. Dip chicken breasts in this mixture to coat. Place 3 asparagus spears on each breast and roll securing with a toothpick. Mix bread crumbs, Parmesan and parsley together and roll breasts in this mixture. Bake 30 minutes at 350 F. Serves 4 – 6. Pass the blender hollandaise sauce and hear the raves.

Peking Duck

2 Dec

“I would be perfectly happy with only Chinese food. Either French or Chinese. Could live with only Chinese.” Julia Child

If it’s good enough for Julia to eat every day, it’s good enough for us.

Cold, dark winter nights make us crave simple, steamy Chinese dishes.

Plus. Also. We are lazy and the massive Asian market near work makes it easy to pick up mandarin pancakes, barbecued pork loin or roast duck.

Instant Peking duck or pork:
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We'd like to pick up some barbecued duck or pork to assemble some little peking pancake rolls at home. The hardest the assembly gets is making the little scallions for brushing hoisin sauce:

Cut the roots and greens off the scallions, leaving 3-inch pieces of scallion white remaining.
Make a series of 1-inch lengthwise cuts in each end, gradually rotating the scallion, to form the individual "bristles" of the brush.

Soak the scallions in a bowl of ice water for a couple of hours to swell the ends of the brushes.

Mound the duck, chicken or pork in the centre of a platter.

Arrange the mandarin pancakes (or tortillas cut into quarters) and scallion brushes around the chicken.
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PEKING CHICKEN ROLLS
recipe from Lucy Waverman, Globe and Mail

Buy Mandarin pancakes frozen at Asian grocery stores for the best results. Small tortillas or Boston or iceberg lettuce leaves also work well. Let your guests make their own rolls.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 250-gram (8-ounce) chicken breasts boned with skin on

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons dry mustard powder

16 Mandarin pancakes

½ cup hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 English cucumber, peeled and cut in strips

6 green onions, cut in 3-inch lengths

Heat oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken

with salt and pepper and sear, skin side down, for 2 minutes each side or until golden. Remove from heat. Place chicken breasts on a baking tray.

Combine honey, soy sauce and mustard, and brush over seared chicken breasts. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until juices run clear. Remove from oven and let chicken rest on a carving board for 5 minutes. Slice chicken into thin slices.

Heat Mandarin pancakes by following package directions. Place green onions and cucumbers in small serving dishes.

To serve, spread hoisin on pancake and top with a couple of chicken slices, some cucumber and green onions, then roll up.

Brown Bagging it in Banff

8 Nov

Just back from Banff Mountain Festival and days watching amazing films documenting extreme sports and hidden cultures from far away places.

It’s a great tradition… watching films back-to-back at the wonderful Banff Centre.

But each year, I forget how crummy the brown bag sandwiches are, and kick myself for not planning ahead.

We would have killed for a healthy, hearty sammich with these famous cookies from Evelyn’s Coffee Bar, recipe at bottom. Evelyn’s super yummy Health Sandwich of avocado, hummus, mayo, tomato, cucumber and sprouts on healthy bread would likely never survive the trip from town!

We were madly craving a ham, brie, tomato and Dijon on baguette. But also thinking of a pretzel bun with Gruyere and Swiss salami — a little old school mountain mouthful.

Then we started thinking about chicken salad, and not just any chicken salad. What about a GORP/trail mix-infused recipe, with raisins, dried cranberries and nuts? With celery bits and mayo/apple cider vinegar, and honey to bind it together, it would be yummy.

But we’ve been hoarding this for years, and we’re thinking a curry chicken salad would have done the trick. And it looks like it would feed a few friends!

OPRAH’S FAVOURITE: MARGAUX’S CURRIED CHICKEN SANDWICH
(this looks like a lot of dressing, so we are going to add only enough to bind. Will report back!)
20 whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 whole cloves
1/2 lemon
3 pounds medium chicken tenders
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1/2 cup honey
1 1/4 teaspoons curry powder
3/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
Butter for spreading
1 loaf challah or other rich egg bread, cut into 12 thick slices
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 medium tomatoes , chopped
1 bag (about 5 ounces) mesclun salad greens
Red grapes and assorted berries for garnish

In a large saucepan over high heat, add peppercorns, bay leaves, cloves, lemon and 14 cups water; cover and bring to a boil. Add chicken and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, 7 to 10 minutes, or until cooked through; drain. Once cool, quarter each tender crosswise.

In a large bowl, combine mustard, honey, curry powder, lemon pepper and salt; stir in chicken. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 day.

Butter both sides of bread slices. In a heated nonstick skillet over medium-high flame, cook bread in batches 3 to 5 minutes or until browned, turning once.

Combine carrots and almonds with chicken mixture. Divide chicken curry among 6 bread slices. Top with tomatoes, mesclun and remaining bread slices. Serve with fruit.
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CRANBERRY OATMEAL COOKIES

These are Evelyn Zabloski’s cookies from her old Banff coffee shops. A classic mountain treat.

3/4 cup all purpose flour (or half whole wheat and half all purpose)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups oats
3/4 cup dried cranberries (or blueberries)

In a medium bowl, combine flour, spices, baking powder.
In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugars. Beat in egg and vanilla Stir in flour mixture just until blended.
Stir in rolled oats and cranberries.
Shape mixture into 16 balls and flatten slightly on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cookies are slightly browned and hold their shape. Cook on racks.

Monday is Taco Tuesday

14 Sep

sweet potato taco 3

OMG. Again. OMG. This is a recipe we will make forever. Hoarded from the New York Times since Nov. 7, 2004, we just got around to giving this a whirl tonight. Post yoga, pre-sensible-September-eating.

It is magnificently bright tasting and full of vitamins. The vinaigrette is so tangy and puckery from lovely lime, and the soft chicken smooshes beautifully with the toasty, cumin-scented sweet potatoes (full disclosure: we used orangy yams because the yellow sweet potatoes at the market looked about 100 years old. No matter. This is better.)

Also, we love how few ingredients there are. Simple.

Sweet and sour on an earthy organic corn tortilla and crunchy greens. If we were Taco Tuesday people, this baby would be in heavy rotation.

UPDATE: We steamed and mashed the sweet potato, leaving it lumpy, and tossed it with cilantro and the vinaigrette. While you don’t get that crunchy taste, it was still delicious. And of course it sped up the prep time to warp speed.

Also, with a grocery store rotisserie chicken and a lightning fast mandolin for slicing the sweet potatoes, this comes together faster than ever. Making the sauce the day before would be genius.

CHICKEN AND SWEET POTATO TACOSsweet potato taco 2
Recipe from NYT, PAULA DISBROWE

For the chipotle vinaigrette:
2 chipotle peppers in adobo
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil. (we chickened out and used a generous 1/4 cup)

For the taco filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 chicken breast halves (bone-in), poached
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cilantro (leaves and tender stems), chopped.

To serve: 
12 to 16 warm flour (we’ve been using organic corn) tortillas 
2 cups hearts of romaine lettuce, shredded 
2 cups mixed field greens 
Red salsa (optional).

1. To make the vinaigrette, drop the chipotles, garlic, salt, lime juice and vinegar into a blender and puree until smooth. With the blender still running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream. Set aside.
2. To make the filling, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the sweet potatoes, sprinkle with the cumin and salt. Fry, stirring often, until the potatoes are golden and crispy, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
3. Meanwhile, pull the poached chicken breasts off the bone and use a fork to shred the meat. Place in a large mixing bowl with the red onion, cilantro and potatoes. Pour the vinaigrette over the mixture and use a rubber spatula to combine well.
4. In a medium bowl, toss together the lettuce and field greens. Serve the filling on a platter with the lettuces, warm tortillas and red salsa, if desired.

The Food of Mad Men

17 Aug


“You know they make you wear a bib…”

It’s about time we talked about Mad Men. More importantly, the food of Mad Men.

We’ll begin with sexy chicken Kiev, circa 1964.

After fixing Don Draper up with his wife’s friend, Bethany, on a restaurant dinner date at Jimmy’s La Grange, Roger Sterling says, “Have the chicken Kiev. Butter squirts everywhere.”

We’ve always been a bit meh about chicken Kiev. Too many frozen, stale poultry logs with plasticy fake butter goo oozing out.

But like anything, if prepared correctly, the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.

We like the idea of serving this without rice or potatoes, lest anything to get in the way of an herby butter pool. The chicken is enough to soak up the butter sauce. Let the breading do its job.

Below is a classic version. Underneath that is a wacky 1960s canned soup retro version, for nostalgia’s sake.

CHICKEN KIEV

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated March 1, 2006
These can be refrigerated overnight or frozen. If frozen, do not thaw and increase the baking time to 50-55 minutes.

Herb Butter
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/8 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Chicken
4 – 5 slices white sandwich bread , cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (7 to 8 ounces each), tenderloins removed
1 cup all-purpose flour

3 large eggs , beaten
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
For the Herb Butter: Mix all ingredients until combined. Form into 3-inch square on plastic wrap; wrap tightly and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

For the Chicken: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 300 degrees. Make bread crumbs in two batches: Add half of bread cubes to food processor and pulse until cubes are coarsely ground. Repeat with remaining bread cubes (aim for 3 1/2 cups crumbs). Add salt and pepper to crumbs.

Add oil and toss to coat crumbs. Spread on a baking sheet and bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Shake pan twice during baking. Let cool to room temperature (you should have about 2 1/2 cups bread crumbs).

Butterfly chicken breasts starting at thinnest side and by slicing lengthwise almost in half. Open breast up to create a single, flat cutlet.
With cutlet between sheets of plastic wrap, pound (starting at center) to 1/4-inch thickness. Pound outer perimeter to 1/8 inch.

Unwrap butter and cut into 4 rectangular pieces. Place chicken breast cut side up on work surface; season both sides with salt and pepper.

Place butter slices in centre of bottom half of chicken. Roll bottom edge of chicken over butter, then fold in sides and continue rolling to form neat, tight package, pressing on seam to seal. Repeat with remaining butter and chicken. Refrigerate chicken, uncovered, to allow edges to seal, about 1 hour.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Place flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in separate pie plates or shallow dishes. Season flour with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; season bread crumbs with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add mustard to eggs and whisk to combine.

Dredge rolls in flour, then coat with egg mixture. Coat rolls entirely with bread crumbs, pressing crumbs in if you have to.
Place on wire rack set over rimmed baking sheet.
Bake until 160 degrees inside, 40 to 45 minutes. Rest five minutes before serving.

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HOUSEWIFE CHICKEN KIEV

1/2 cup butter
1 Tbsp. minced parsley
1 clove (medium) garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp rosemary, crushed
2 lb chicken breasts, boned/split
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. fine dry bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. minced onion
1 Tbsp. minced parsley
2 Tbsp. butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/3 c. lowfat milk
2 Tbsp. Sherry

Blend together 1/2 c. butter, parsley, garlic, rosemary and pepper. On waxed paper, form patty 1 inch thick; place in freezer till hard.
Meanwhile flatten chicken breasts with meat hammer or possibly edge of heavy saucer to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut butter into 6 equal pcs, place one in centre of each breast. Tuck in ends and roll out tightly. Secure with toothpicks or possibly skewers. Dip in egg and then in bread crumbs. Chill.
In saucepan, cook onion with parsley in 2 Tbsp. of butter till tender. Blend in soup, lowfat milk and sherry. Heat; stir occasionally. Fry 2 breast rolls at a time in deep fat at 350 degrees for 10-12 min till well browned. Drain on absorbant paper, serve with sauce.

Szechuan habanero chicken

26 Jun

Shacky’s Szechuan Habanero Chicken Thighs
June 9th, 2010

chicken thighs (enough to fill a large fry pan)
basmati rice
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
1 very small dried habanero pepper (size of a nickel- use more if adventurous)
3 Tbsp mirin sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp Kikkoman soy
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
2-3 Tbsp red wine
1-2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
4-5 Szechuan peppercorns crushed
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/4 to 1/2 cup of honey (taste it first before reaching, or exceeding 1/2 cup)
1-2 Tbsp cornstarch slurry
chopped green onions for garnish

First, heat the oil in the pan over medium heat and add trimmed thighs when hot.
Give the thighs some light salt ad pepper while cooking (make sure as to not get the pan to hot, as we are leaning towards steaming the dish).
Next, flip the chicken to the other side (when lightly browned) and add the vinegar, soy sauce, mirin, oyster sauce, and red wine. Once this has mixed, you can add the crushed habanero, Sichuan peppercorns, and chili flakes to the surrounding liquid.
Now sprinkle the oregano directly over the thighs; follow by pouring the honey directly over the chicken too. Cover and gently simmer 10 minutes until cooked thoroughly. Before serving, increase the heat and slowly add the cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce- add more water directly to pan if needed to bring up the sauce volume.
Serve thighs and sauce over Basmati Rice. Garnish with chopped green onions.
Enjoy!

Vij-ions of nirvana

27 May


We know, we know. Another ghetto fabulous bberry photo. We’re getting a camera soon, honest!

From the Vancouver legend Vikram Vij and his cookbook, Vij’s: Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine (Douglas & McIntyre, 205 pp., $40).

About 1/4 cup of oil is the most we’ve dared to add. We’ve also been adding coconut milk at the end instead of sour cream. Best yet!

VIJ FAMILY’S CHICKEN CURRY
½ Cup Canola Oil
2 Cups Finely Chopped Onions (2 Large)
3-inch Stick of Cinnamon
3 Tbsp Finely Chopped Garlic
2 Tbsp Chopped Ginger
2 Cups Chopped Tomatoes (2 Large)
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Turmeric
1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
1 Tbsp Ground Coriander
1 Tbsp Garam Masala
½ tsp Ground Cayenne Pepper (I used 1 ½ tsp)
3 lbs Chicken Thighs, bone in
1 Cup Sour Cream, stirred
2 Cups Water
½ Cup Chopped Cilantro (including stems)
In a large pan, heat oil on medium heat for 1 minute. Add onions and cinnamon, and sauté for 5 to 8 minutes, until onions are golden. Add garlic and sauté for another 4 minutes. Add ginger, tomatoes, salt, black pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala and cayenne. Cook this masala for 5 minutes, or until the oil separates from the masala. Remove and discard skin from the chicken thighs. Wash thighs and add to the masala. Stir well. Cook chicken for 10 minutes, until the chicken looks cooked on the outside. Add sour cream and water and stir well. Increase the heat medium-high. When curry starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times, until chicken is completely cooked. Poke the thighs with a knife. If the meat is still pink, cook for 5 more minutes. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Cool curry for at least half an hour. Transfer cooled chicken to a mixing bowl. Wearing latex gloves, peel chicken meat off the bones. Discard bones and stir chicken back into the curry. Just before serving, heat the curry on medium heat until it starts to boil lightly. Stir in cilantro. Serves 8

The real secret to this recipe is to let the curry sit and cool for as long as you can- an hour is the minimum. This allows the flavours to blend together beautifully
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VIJ’S CHICKEN IN CARDAMOM YOGURT SAUCE
from Bon Appetit’s readers’ favourite restaurant recipes, Jan/09
1 1/2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
1 1/2 cups canned tomato puree
3 Tablespoons ground cumin
2 Tablespoons ground coriander
2 Tablespoons canola oil
4 teaspoons paprika
1 Tablespoon celery seed
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom pods, cracked
10 whole cloves
5 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 pounds chicken thighs
hanful of chopped cilantro
Preheat oven to 375.  Whisk first 13 ingredients in a 2 quart baking dish.  Add chicken, and stir to coat the chicken with the sauce.  Bake until chicken is cooked through (for bone-in thighs, I cooked them 50 minutes).
Garnish with cilantro and serve with basmati rice.
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MINT-CILANTRO CHICKEN CURRY
2 cups cilantro, chopped
½ cup mint, chopped
2 jalapenos, finely chopped
1.5 cups red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
1 cup water
½ cup canola oil
1.5 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seed
3 tablespoons garlic , crushed
1 tablespoon salt
2 cup plain yoghourt, stirred, or 3/4C whole buttermilk
3 lbs chicken thighs, bone in
3 cups basmati rice, cooked
Mix cilantro leaves and stems, mint leaves, jalapenos, and ginger in a food processor and the cup of water and puree until smooth, set the cutney aside.
Heat oil in a heavy shallow pot on med heat for 1 min. Add cumin and coriander seeds and allow them to sizzle for about 30 seconds.
Add garlic and saute for about 3 minutes or until golden brown, Stir in salt.
Turn off the heat and after 2-3 minutes stir in 1C yogourt. Add chicken thighs and stir well. Turn the heat to medium and cover and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring regularly. (If you have the time, let it cook a little longer, then the chicken should just fall off the bone.) Remove curry from the heat and cool for about 20 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a mixing bowl. Wearing latex gloves peel chicken meat off the bones. The size of the chicken pieces doesn’t matter but do not shred them. Discard bones and stir chicken back into curry.
Stir in mint-cilantro chutney and the other cup of yogourt, About 15 mins before serving bring curry to a boil on medium heat. Turn down the heat to a summer cook, uncovered for about 10 minutes or until chicken is ell mixed.
Serve over rice.
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BEEF SHORT RIBS IN RED WINE SAUCE
Important Cooking tips from Vikram: Smell the cinnamon bark. If it’s very strong, break the bark in ½ and only use half. If it’s not strong enough, add ½ bark. Smell for the cinnamon throughout the cooking process. You should smell a mild cinnamon flavour instead of a strong one. If cinnamon is the only spice you smell, take out the bark and continue cooking the curry.If at any time the onions or tomato spice mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the pan or looks like it’s about to burn, either lower the heat or add 1 tablespoon of oil or ghee. Do not add water. This is meant to be a rich curry.

• 6 large beef short ribs, bone in with excess fat trimmed off
• 1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil (60 ml)
• 2 tablespoons ghee (30 ml)
• 1 large onion, very finely chopped (approximately 1 cup)
• 1 heaping tbsp. finely chopped garlic (5 ml)
• 1 cup ground fresh tomatoes (250 ml)
• 1/2 cup red wine (250 ml)
• 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock with the fat skimmed off (1 litre)
• 1 tablespoon cumin seeds (15 ml)
• 1 whole piece cinnamon bark (approximately 3-inches long)
• ½ heaping tsp. ground fenugreek seeds (2 ml)
• 1 heaping tbsp. cumin powder (15 ml)
• 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (2 ml)
• 1/2 teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper (2 ml)
• 1 heaping tbsp. Mexican chilli powder (2 ml)

In a large, heavy saucepan with fitted lid, melt the ghee on medium to high heat. Add the cooking oil and the cumin seeds. Let the seeds sizzle for 30 seconds and add the cinnamon bark and onions. Sauté until the onions are medium brown in colour. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until garlic is golden brown and onions are a darker brown. The darker you sauté the onions without letting them burn, the richer the onion flavour will be in this dish.
Temporarily lower the heat and add the tomatoes and all of the remaining spices. Once you stir the powdered spices in the tomatoes, increase the heat back to medium. Stir regularly and continue cooking the spices until the oil/ghee separates from the tomatoes. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the stock and red wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the oil/ghee separates from the stock and rises to the top, stirring occasionally.
Add the short ribs and stir well. Bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer the short ribs until the meat completely separates from the bone. This will take approximately 4 hours and you will need to stir occasionally.
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VIJ’S SIGNATURE MARINATED LAMB POPSICLES WITH FENUGREEK CREAM CURRY
This recipe is for 30 medium size popsicles, with five per person.”
Marinated Lamb Popsicles with Fenugreek Cream Curry Recipe
Marinade:
• 4 lbs French cut racks of lamb, in chops
• 1/4 cup white wine
• 3/4 cup grainy yellow mustard
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp black pepper
Combine the popsicles with all the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
Cream curry:
4 cups whipping cream
• 1 Tbs salt
• 1 tsp paprika
• 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
• 1 tablespoon dried green fenugreek leaves (known as “kasuri methi”)
• 60 ml or 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 60 ml or 1/4 cup canola oil
• 3 tablespoons packed finely chopped garlic
• 1 tsp turmeric
In a large bowl, mix the whipping cream, salt, paprika, cayenne, fenugreek flakes and lemon juice. In a medium size pot, saute the garlic in canola oil on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the garlic is golden. Stir in the turmeric, and cook for 1 minute. Add the cream mixture, stir and heat on low to medium heat for about five minutes, or until it is gently boiling.
Finish Lamb Popsicles:
Preheat a stove-top cast iron grill or an outside barbeque to high heat. Each side of the popsicles should be grilled for two to three minutes. You can either pour the cream curry over the grilled popsicles or use the cream curry as a dipping curry for the popsicles

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HALIBUT IN COCONUT CURRY

4 portions of halibut
salt, pepper & pepper flakes to taste

Coconut Curry Sauce:

1/4 cup of canola oil
20 curry leaves
3 tbsp chopped garlic
1 cup pureed onion
1 lb tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tbsp each of ground cumin and coriander
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
6 whole cloves
3 cups of water
1 cup coconut milk, stirred

Sautee curry leaves, garlic, and onion in the oil for about 10 minutes until lightly browned. Add tomatoes, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne and cloves. Continue cooking for 8 minutes until the water from the tomatoes has evaporated and the oil glistens on top. Add water and coconut milk, Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Strain and portion the liquid to 4 heated serving bowls.

Season fish with pepper flakes, salt and pepper and pan fry in olive oil and butter until cooked. Place on the serving bowls with the curry sauce, spoon a little bit of the sauce on top and garnish with cilantro leaves. The cookbook suggests serving with Muscat Ottonel.

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EGGPLANT, TOMATO AND GREEN ONION CURRY
7 ounces green onions (about 8 stalks)
1 cup plain yogurt, stirred
1 tablespoon Mexican chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
21/2 teaspoons salt
1 eggplant, skin on, in 1-inch cubes
2 cups chopped tomatoes (2 large)
1/2 cup canola oil

Wash the green onions. Chop the white parts in rounds ¼-inch long. Remove and discard the hollow green parts. Chop the remaining solid green parts in rounds ¾-inch long. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine yogurt, chili powder, turmeric, cayenne and salt. Add the eggplant, tomatoes and onions and stir well to make sure the vegetables are well covered in the curry mixture.
In a shallow, heavy pan, heat oil on medium-high for 45 seconds. Pour the curry into the pan and stir well. Sauté for about three minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through the cooking. Turn off the heat and stir once more. Remove the lid if you are not going to serve the curry immediately, or the eggplant will become too mushy.
To serve, ladle the curry into six bowls or plates. If serving with another curry, serve this one in a bowl, so that it doesn’t “run” on the plate. Serves 6.
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COCONUT CURRIED VEGETABLES
1/2 cup canola oil
25 to 30 fresh curry leaves
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
1 tbsp + 1 tsp chopped garlic
2 cups chopped tomatoes (2 large)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 12 ounce can coconut milk, stirred
1 lb eggplant, cubed
1 lb cauliflower, cut into small florets
3/4 lb red, green or yellow bell peppers, cubed
3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat. Keeping your head at a distance from the pot, add the curry leaves and mustard seeds and allow them to sizzle for about one minute or until a few seeds pop.
Immediately add onions and saute until golden brown, about 8 minutes
Add tomatoes and remaining spices and saute for 8 minutes or until oil glistens on top.
Stir in coconut milk an d bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Add eggplant. Cover and simmer to five minutes. Add cauliflower and bell peppers, cover and simmer for another five minutes. Stir in cilantro
Serve over basmati rice.
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WHITE LAMB CURRY
1 kilogram lamb, cut into pieces
½ kilogram plain yogurt
2 teaspoons of salt (or to taste)
2 medium onions, ground in a food processor
2 bulbs garlic, peeled and ground
4 tablespoons oil
1 bay leaf
6 cloves
8 peppercorns
2 black cardamoms
4 medium onions, chopped
1 tablespoon grated coconut, soaked and ground
1 tablespoon poppy seeds, soaked and ground
6 tablespoons milk

Wash the meat and squeeze out all the water. Add the yogurt, salt, ground onions, garlic and mix thoroughly.
Heat oil on medium in a heavy-bottomed pot. When slightly smoking, add the bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns and cardamoms.
Add the chopped onions and fry until golden brown. When the onions are nicely brown, add the meat/yogurt mixture and keep stirring. Bring the heat to medium, cover the pot with a lid and let it simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
Cook until the lamb is almost tender. Add the coconut, poppy seeds and milk and bring to boil. Cook till the gravy thickens. If you like fruity flavours, you can add dried apricots or raisins as a little garnish. Serves 4 to 6.

Ho Lee Chow

18 May

Our love of PF Chang’s China Bistro is not exactly the height of sophistication, we know. But certain dishes enjoyed on holiday leave lasting memories.

Recently, our happy group delighted in chicken lettuce wraps and dynamite shrimp, followed by coconut curry vegetables with crispy silken tofu and peanuts in a coconut curry sauce, shrimp with candied walnuts tossed in a creamy sauce (which we fear is mayo-based) and honeydew melon balls.

We’d returned from southern California for one day before a craving struck. And that craving was for orange peel chicken. The menu describes it as tossed with chili peppers and fresh orange peel for a spicy, citrus combination. We tried this recipe, and it is bang on.

PF CHANG’S CHINA BISTRO ORANGE PEEL CHICKEN
Top Secret Restaurant Recipes Volume Two

1 T oil
2 T minced or sliced garlic
4 green onions, sliced
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar (we’ve been using brown)
2 T chili garlic/Rooster sauce
1 T soy sauce
juice of half an orange
1/2 cup oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup cornstarch

peel from 1/4 orange, julienned into 1/8 in. strips

Prepare sauce by heating 1 T of oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute garlic and green onions. Add tomato sauce and water quickly before the garlic burns. Add sugar, chili sauce, orange juice and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Simmer 5-6 minutes or until sauce thickens, then turn off the heat.
Prepare the chicken by heating 1/2 cup oil in a wok over medium heat. Slice chicken breast into bite size pieces. Coat each piece with cornstarch. Arrange chicken on a plate until all chicken is coated. When oil in the wok is hot, add half the chicken to the oil and cook for a couple of minutes or until brown on one side, then flip. When chicken is golden brown, remove the pieces to a rack to drain. Repeat with remaining chicken. When all chicken is cooked rinse the oil out of the wok with water and place it back on the stove to heat up.
(Note: I used a frying pan and only two tablespoons of oil to nicely brown and crisp the chicken chunks. Then I added the orange peel, followed by a few ladlefulls of sauce, which boiled furiously and was left clinging to the chicken.)
When wok is hot again add orange peel and chicken. Heat for 20-30 seconds, stirring gently. Add sauce to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Stir to coat. Cook until the sauce thickens then serve with rice on the side.

Note: Martin Yan’s version calls for 1/3 cup fresh orange juice, 2 tbsp rice wine or sherry, 1 tbsp hoisin, 2 tsp sugar, and 1 tsp chili garlic sauce

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PF CHANG’S LETTUCE WRAPS
8 dried Shiitake mushrooms
2 teaspoons cooking sherry
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces or ground chicken
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
2 cloves minced garlic
2 chopped green onions
8 oz can bamboo shoots, chopped up
8 oz can water chestnuts, chopped
2 small dried chilies (optional)
1 package of Chinese cellophane rice noodles, cooked according to instructions on the package
Iceberg lettuce leaves

Lettuce Wrap Sauce:
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cooking sherry
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Pour enough boiling water over dried mushrooms to cover. Let soak for 30 minutes, then drain. After the mushrooms have soaked, remove any woody stems and chop up the mushrooms.
While waitng for the mushrooms to finish soaking, combine all of the ingredients for the sauce.
In a separate bowl, mix together the sherry, water, soy sauce, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and chicken. Stir together until chicken is well coated.
Heat large skillet over medium high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of oil. After the oil gets hots, add the chicken mixture. Fry quickly for about 3 minutes, or til chicken is no longer pink. Stir constantly to prevent burning. Remove chicken.
To the same skillet, add 2 more tablespoons of oil. Add the fresh ginger, garlic, green onions, and optional chilies, if desired. Fry quickly for 45-60 seconds, or til garlic is a golden color. Do not overcook garlic, or it will taste bitter. Add the dried mushrooms, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. Fry quickly for about 2 minutes.
Return chicken to the skillet. Add the sauce ingredients to the same skillet. Cook until the sauce thickens.
Break the cooked cellophane noodles into small pieces. Spread the noodles onto the bottom of a platter. Pour the chicken mixture on top of the noodles. Spoon into lettuce leafs. Roll up chicken lettuce wraps and secure with toothpicks. See if this doesn’t taste just like the PF Chang lettuce wrap recipe to you.

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PF CHANG’S COCONUT CURRY VEGETABLES
For the Tofu
2 tablespoons sesame oil
12 ounces package extra firm water-packed tofu (although menu describes crispy fried silken tofu)
1 small onion, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 small red bell pepper, cubed
1 cup halved mushrooms
4 ounces (3 cups) cauliflower or broccoli florets
1 cup thinly sliced carrots or whole sugar snap peas

Coconut-Curry Sauce:
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
2 Tbl. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 – 2 Tbl. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. unseasoned rice vinegar or cider vinegar
1/2 cup peanuts

2 Tbl. canola oil for stir-frying

2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 1/2 Tbl. cold water mixed together in small bowl.

Drain the tofu, cube and fry in 1 tablespoon oil until brown. Set aside.
Separately blanch the broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and sugar snap peas until tender-crisp in plain boiling water. Drain and flush with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again.
Combine the coconut-curry sauce ingredients. Taste and adjust the sugar to your liking.
Heat a wok or wide skillet over high heat until hot. Add the canola oil, swirl to glaze the pan, then add the onions and bell pepper. Stir-fry until tender-crisp, 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir until hot, a few minutes more. Add the blanched vegetables and toss to mix.
Stir the sauce and add it to the pan. Bring to a simmer, tossing to combine.
Stir the cornstarch mixture to recombine and add it to the pan. Stir until the sauce turns glossy, about 10 seconds (a bit longer if you`re doubling the sauce).
Add the peanuts.
Serve with rice, noodles, or a warm loaf of bread.
Use a milder or hotter curry powder to vary the spice.
For a really saucy dish to serve over rice or noodles, double the sauce ingredients and the cornstarch mixture.
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PF CHANG’S CRISPY HONEY SHRIMP
We’re not big on battered anything, so we’ll try this with a dusting on cornstarch or flour.

1 lb shrimp, butterflied
Vegetable oil for frying

Batter:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 egg
3/4 cup ice water or soda water
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda

Shrimp marinade:
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp cornstarch

Sauce:

1/2 cup sake or rice wine (mirin)
1/ 3 cup honey
1/3 cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp minced garlic
scallions

Cornstarch slurry–1/4 cup corn starch mixed with 1/4 cup water

To make batter: mix ingredients till just combined. Let rest in refrigerator for a couple of hours. Coat shrimp with seasonings and marinate in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Pour vegetable oil into fryer or heavy bottomed sauce pot. Heat slowly to 340-350 degrees. Batter shrimp a little at a time. Shake off excess batter. Carefully place shrimp into the hot oil. Shrimp is done when golden to light brown and crisp. Remove to platter with paper towels to drain. Repeat for all the shrimp. Remember to check the oil temperature, it must remain hot.

Mix sauce ingredients in small sauce pan, bring to a boil. Add cornstarch slurry, a little at a time (you will not need all of it). The sauce will thicken, let it come to a thickness of “loose honey.” Let cook for a minute or two.

Serve sauce on side for dipping or drizzle over top.

Bacon slinky

4 May

We were recently treated to a fantastic night out and have a huge food debt to repay. After stuffing ourselves silly at a Brazilian rodizio, we got the idea to whip up a dinner of bacon-wrapped stuffed chicken to show appreciation for our hosts.
After assembling these little bacon slinky logs, chilling them helps keep the filling together for barbecuing.
Once the logs have cooled, they look lovely sliced into rounds. Perfect finger food for summer patio cocktail parties, tasty comfort in the winter months.
The filling itself is open to all sorts of tweaks. Roasted vegetables, chopped nuts, herbs — all are good here.
An ’80s trifecta of pesto/sun-dried tomatoes/feta or lemon zest would be a dreamy filling.
As would a Greek spinoff of feta, oregano, lemon, chopped spinach and green onion.

BARBECUED BACON-WRAPPED CHICKEN THINGS
Recipe: Julie Zwillich, Summer’s Best

8 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
8 ounces cream cheese or goat cheese softened (250 grams)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
24 slices bacon

Combine cream cheese and onion.
Butterfly chicken breasts from the thinnest edge towards the thickest (thick edge will be the middle when it is opened). Working one piece at a time, open breast on a piece of plastic wrap. Cover with a second piece of plastic wrap and pound to 1/4″ (6 millimetres) thickness with a mallet or rolling pin.
Spread an equal amount of cream cheese mixture evenly over the 8 breasts. Roll up the chicken enclosing the cheese completely. Wrap 1 strip of bacon, end to end around chicken, stretching it slightly. Add a second piece of bacon, wrapped to cover any exposed chicken. If necessary, continue wrapping with bacon until most of the chicken is covered. Secure with toothpicks. Chill several hours or overnight.
Cover grill with sheet of aluminum foil to help prevent flare-ups. Preheat to high. Place chicken on the foil. Reduce heat to medium and close lid. Turn chicken every 5 minutes until golden brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes.