Archive for the 'Poultry' Category

Chicken and Pumpkin Curry

This is a version of my favorite go to curry recipe. The base is so versatile and can be used with fish. shrimp, tofu, beans and yes, chicken. It comes together easily and if you are a quick chopper, will be ready in no time. What makes this taste so good are a few essential ingredients – fresh garlic, ginger, lemongrass, Indian curry powder, coconut milk and coriander (cilantro). For the rest you can add what is already in your fridge or freezer. I try to use many different colored vegetables and herbs, which make this meal just as appealing to the eye as to your stomach.

Bear in mind the different cooking times for the vegetables, particularly if using pumpkin. I added it to the pan roughly 10 minutes before the remaining vegetables. Zucchini usually goes in at the end, as it quickly looses its texture and color. 

As to the chicken, here’s a tip that you might or might not know yet. If you cut the chicken breasts into bite size pieces and marinate them in buttermilk for a couple of hours in the fridge, the meat won’t turn tough and dry during the cooking process. It makes such a difference in texture. I can’t stand dry chicken breast and this is what I do to avoid it. Another option is to use a marinade of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, especially if you want to cook a whole breast in one piece. If you want to keep this recipe dairy-free, omit the buttermilk, or make your own using 1 cup soy milk and 1 tablespoon lemon juice or try the lemon juice and olive oil marinade.

You can make this as spicy as you like. I add a chili if I have one, otherwise  a bit more curry powder or cayenne pepper can spice things up. Here’s one last tip for cooking lemongrass. Only the lower 5-6″ (12-15cm) are soft enough to be eaten once you have removed the tough, outer husks. Slice the light green sticks into very thin rounds and then mince. You want them to be as fine as possible, otherwise they might not soften in the pan and you’ll end up with some chewy lemongrass bits in your curry. Use the left-over husks to make delicious lemon grass tea. Add the ginger peel as well, if you like.   Continue reading ‘Chicken and Pumpkin Curry’

Mamma Mia Minestrone

I love soups! And it is killing me that the weather is still not even turning the tiniest bit towards fall. I am trying to ignore it as best as I can and at least in my kitchen pretend that it’s time for soups, pumpkin bread pudding and other heftier fair. The pudding will need a bit more practice, although my husband commented (after having his second portion) that it’s made with too much sugar, cream and white bread, all of which we don’t really need. I wanted to strangle him, but he’s right, I have been complaining about my more and more unforgiving waistline since turning the big 40 last year. I guess I’ll be going back to whole grains, maple syrup and almond milk then, which are almost equally calorific as their white counterparts, but a lot better for the conscience.

The recipe of today, for the best Minestrone ever tasted, is nothing to worry about for all my figure conscious friends.  This soup is fantastic, very adaptable to the season you’re in (unless it’s over 30C/86F), full of good stuff and makes a great family dinner. It is a complete meal, so don’t think of this as an appetizer. No one is hungry after eating this soup, besides most will have at least two helpings anyway.

I got the recipe out of Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italy book. I changed it slightly over the years, mainly by adding more pasta and stock. I love it with zucchini and chard or kale, but it’s easily adaptable to any vegetables in season. Instead of the cannellini beans, you could use fresh broad (fava) beans, peas or borlotti beans. Great additions to the soffrito would be leek or fennel. A good quality stock is key, but that’s true for all soups. I used my homemade chicken stock, but if you want to keep it vegetarian, a vegetable stock is equally well suited.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

I am sorry for my absence from blogging, but all of a sudden life has gotten really busy. We only have 2 weeks of the school year left, and every little box in our calendar is full with things to do. Assemblies, performances, concerts, Christmas parties and holiday preparations have taken over my life. And it’s less than 3 weeks until we leave for our annual winter holiday in Massachusetts, which can’t come soon enough, especially after last weeks 39C (103F). It was just a few degrees cooler for the company’s Thanksgiving dinner, which didn’t stop anyone from piling into a fantastic pot-luck buffet, loaded with turkeys, hams, dozens (almost!) of sweet potato casseroles and stuffings of all kinds. Not that this will prevent me from doing it all over again this Thursday, especially now that I foolishly invited some friends over. You can tell, it’s only been just over a decade since my first Thanksgiving dinner and I don’t yet have the tired look on my face like most Americans when they think of another gigantic turkey dinner and all it’s left overs. Anyway, I am getting carried away. Today’s blog is not actually about anything related to fall or winter or any holidays, but about the fabulous Chicken Tortilla Soup I made today. Something else entirely.

I have had my last cooking session for this year today. Yeah! The ladies did a marvelous job and really got to work on the tortillas. We had about 10 left over, and since they don’t really stay fresh for more than a couple of hours, I turned them into crisp tortilla strips for a Chicken-Tortilla Soup. I got to work, checking websites and blogs for inspiration, picking a few ideas here and there and combining them all in a fantastic, super-delicious soup. I used home made chicken stock from the freezer and added left over shredded chicken, slow roasted tomatoes, corn, zucchini for a little extra nutrition and a bit of left over chard. Not necessary and definitely not traditional, but handy. A sprinkle of grated cheese, some fresh coriander (cilantro) and a drizzle of lime juice rounded it all up. The spice came in form of 2 fresh red long chillies and one crumbled up dried chili. Jalapenos would work just as well, so would cayenne pepper. I am no expert on chilies and there is a total lack of variety here in Australia, so if you know your chilies, you’ll probably know which ones and how many to use. If not, start slowly. If the soup isn’t spicy enough, you can always add some more during the cooking process.

Anyway, give it a go. It’s fast, easy and totally delicious. A definite winner which I am already looking forward to cooking again.

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Turkey and Vegetable Ragu

One of our longtime favorite dinners and that of many other families we know is ‘Spaghetti Bolognese’. This is the dish we parents feel we can really load up with vegetables and get away with it. The bowl full of pasta it comes with somehow creates so much excitement, especially among younger children, that everything else looses it’s threat. Of course there’s also the concentration it takes not to lose the pasta on it’s way from bowl to mouth and the shear pleasure of having tomato sauce all over little hands and faces.

Most likely, we all concoct our own versions of the traditional ‘ragu alla bolognese’. When done according to the books, it is made with half beef/half pork, white wine, milk, onion, celery, carrot and canned tomatoes and it is simmered for at least an hour or two to bring out all it’s delicious flavours. I have made it for years, mostly with beef, as there were no real alternatives in some of the places we lived. Whenever possible however, I try to get ground turkey thigh meat instead, which I love as a replacement of beef or pork in burgers, chilies and this ragu. I also add lot’s of vegetables and cut down on the meat part (better for the animals, us and the planet) and still tastes delicious. When in season, I stick in a couple of zucchinis, mushrooms, and a red or yellow pepper, on top of the carrots, onions, celery and garlic in the soffrito. I also use celery root instead of celery sticks, when it’s available, since it adds a lovely earthy taste. I cook it on very low heat for 2-3 hours which brings out all the wonderful complex flavors and creates a rich consistency, unlike the tomatoey, runny sauce you encounter so frequently on the children’s menu.

I make a huge pot full and freeze half of it. It’s a fantastic meal to come back to when you come home from a long day out, a weekend away or especially a holiday, when everybody is tired from the journey, laundry piles appear everywhere and the kids are in no mood for Indian take out. Grateful for my rare organisational skills, I pull the lovely frozen ragu out of the freezer, tip it into a large pot and slowly bring it back to life over low heat with the lid on. It takes about the same time to warm up as it takes to cook the pasta and the smell makes everyone happy to be back home.

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‘Spring Cleaning’ Recipes

Now that you know all about my recent detox adventure, I am excited to share some of the truly amazing meals I have eaten during that time. They were a fantatsic success in my recent ‘Spring Cleaning’ cooking class and are totally suitable for all those of you who don’t have the slightest interest in doing a detox. The recipes below are inspired by the ones in the book ‘Clean‘. I used different ideas and combined them in the Quinoa Salad recipe, but the Stir-Fry recipe is almost identical to the one in the book.

Quinoa Salad with Ginger-Miso Dressing

 

serves 4

Ingredients

for the salad

  • 1/2 cup white quinoa, rinsed and drained or a mixture of white and black or red quinoa
  • 4 spring onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small zucchini or cucumber, chopped
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, soaked in water for 2 hours, drained
  • 2 cups of mixed greens, washed and picked

for the dressing

  • 1-inch (2.5 cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup white sweet miso, also called young ‘shiro’ rice miso
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon light agave nectar (optional)

Method

Place rinsed quinoa in a small saucepan with 3/4 cup of water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer with lid on for 12-15 minutes or until germ ring is visible and quinoa has softened. Remove from stove, fluff quinoa with a fork and let cool.

To make dressing; in a food processor, blend ginger, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and miso. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If it’s too sour, add one teaspoon of light agave nectar and give it another whiz. Add 1 tablespoon of water if you prefer a runnier dressing.

Mix quinoa with chopped herbs, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Stir in dressing. Serve on top of greens on large platter.

Stir-Fried Vegetables with Chicken and Buckwheat Soba Noodles

 

serves 4

Ingredients

  • 250 g 100% Buckwheat Soba
  • 2 carrots, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 1 baby bok choi, sliced length wise
  • 3 spring onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander, chopped
  • olive or natural (not toasted) sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon wheat free tamari or nama shoyu
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

for the cooked chicken breasts

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper

Directions

To make marinade, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add chicken breasts to marinade and coat evenly. Cover and put in fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).

Place marinated chicken breasts with marinade in oven proof dish, cover with aluminium foil and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Let cool slightly before cutting into thin slices.

In the meantime, bring 2 quarts (2 liters) water to boil in a large pot. Add noodles, stir and cook according to package instructions.

When the noodles are done, place in colander and rinse with cold water. This will prevent them from turning into a sticky mess. Place drained noodles in a large bowl. Toss with toasted sesame oil and set aside..

For the stir-fry, heat wok or heavy pan on high heat and add 1 tablespoon of natural sesame or olive oil. Add ginger and garlic and fry for one minute, stirring constantly. Add vegetables, except for spring onions and coriander, stirring and tossing for about 5 minutes. Vegetables should retain their colour and a nice crunch.

Add tamari or nama shoyu, lime juice, spring onions, salt and pepper to wok. Stir once more and turn heat off. Sprinkle with coriander.

Toss in a bowl with soba noodles. Serve with sliced chicken breast on the side.

Schnitzel

Some of you might know the famous German dish called Schnitzel. It’s a breaded piece of meat, usually veal or pork, fried and served with French fries. Whenever I make it, I like to use chicken breast which I think is just as good and instead of French fries, I serve mine with baked sweet potato fries and steamed vegetables. It’s definitely a children’s favorite, not too dissimilar from chicken nuggets and it’s easy to make. If I don’t have fresh bread crumbs at hand, I use brown rice crumbs. They are available at good grocery or health food stores and really work well. I tend to fry the Schnitzel in a non-stick pan with a little olive oil, but you can also brush them with oil and bake them in the oven. A great trick to make the meat tender is to cut half a chicken breast in 2 or 3 pieces horizontally, place cling wrap over it and beat it with a meat tenderizer or rolling pin. When the pieces are the right size and about 1/4″ or 0.5 cm thick, I marinate them in buttermilk for at least 3 hours. This method works great, and I frequently use it with white meat.

Serves 4 adults or 2 adults and 3 hungry children

Ingredients

  • 2 organic or free-range chicken breast halves, sliced into 2 or 3 pieces horizontally, tenderized (see note above)
  • 1-2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup of plain flour, gluten-free flour is fine
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup of fine breadcrumbs or rice crumbs
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Method

Cut chicken breast halves into desired size pieces, tenderize and cover with buttermilk. Let rest in fridge for 3+ hours

Put flour, beaten eggs and crumbs into 3 individual bowls. Season flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper

Drain excess buttermilk of meat. Drench meat in flour, shake of excess, then coat in egg, before dipping in breadcrumbs. Repeat with remaining meat.

In a large non-stick frying pan, heat up 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place Schnitzels in pan and fry for 3-5 minutes on each side, until golden. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

Serve with baked sweet potato fries and steamed vegetables.

Making Soups and Salads

After a 2-week-break, my 6 faithful students returned for the “Soups + Salads” class. The first thing on our itinerary was to make a beautiful chicken stock. More than half the group had never done this before and were curious observers.  They were amazed by how easy and versatile it is and hopefully encouraged to try it out at home. After the stock was bubbling on the stove, they split into 3 groups of 2 again and every pair choose a recipe to prepare. On the menu were 3 different salads (Warm Lentil with Rocket and Goats Cheese, Pumpkin and Chickpeawith Sun Dried Tomato Dressing and Quinoa with Apples, Almonds, Fennel and Celery) and 2 soups (Curried Winter Squash and Chickpea, Zucchini, Tomato and Spelt). It was a busy morning, to say the least. However, by lunchtime we were finally able to reap in the rewards and oh my, it was a feast! Give it a try yourselves and let me know how it went…

Chicken Stock

I love to make stock. Anytime I have chicken bones left over, I chuck them in a pot, alongside any vegetables and fresh herbs in can dig out of my fridge. I use it mainly as a base for soups and risottos of all grains and colours. Even, if you have only a few small bones left, add a bay leaf, some parsley sprigs, an onion or spring onions, a clove of garlic, a stick of celery, a tomato, a carrot and you’re good to go. You don’t have all of the above? Substitute with some other herb or vegetable, it will still be better than what you get in a tetra pack at the store. Fill the pot with a litre (4-6 cups) of water, depending on the amount of veggies, and follow the instructions below.

Ingredients

  • Bones of 1 large chicken, cooked or raw
  • 1 leek
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 stalks celery with leaves
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 large onion, not peeled
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 6 sprigs of parsley, washed
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 4 litres of water

Directions

1. wash leeks, carrots and celery and cut them into large chunks

2. wash onion and cut into wedges with skin on

3. cut tomato into wedges

4. smash garlic cloves

5. rinse chicken bones (if raw) and place into large soup pot

6. add vegetables, parsley, thyme, bay leafs, peppercorns and water

7. put lid on pot, bring stock to a boil, reduce heat to low and let simmer for at least 2 hours. I like to simmer mine for 4-5 hours.

8. Let stock cool I pot. Place fine meshed colander ever large bowl in sink. Pour stock into colander and squeeze ingredients as hard as you can. That way you will get all of the lovely juices in your stock.

9. Place bowl with stock in the fridge for at least 4 hours. This way the fat in the stock with solidify and float on the top. It’s easy to scoop it out with a slotted spoon or small mesh strainer.

10. Stir stock before filling into containers for freezing.