Roasted Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan

Roasted Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan

Over the past couple of years I’ve really grown to love Brussels Sprouts, especially when roasted… and since they are uber-healthy little things, it all works out nicely!

Many people claim not to care for them, but I think most have only had them boiled or otherwise cooked to death and with that over-done cabbagey smell that can come out when not prepared properly (and a quick roast is the way to go).

I came across this recipe in The Leafy Greens Cookbook by Kathryn Anible (and in Full Disclosure, I was given a review copy of this book gratis) and it looked to be worth trying, so well, I did… and since the first try, I’ve already made it a couple more times, and as always, I’ve monkeyed around with it a bit, so here’s my version… now Let’s Cook!

Roasted Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan

Ingredients

1 Lb  Brussels Sprouts

1/4 Cup, plus 1 Tbl  Olive Oil

1 Tsp  Dijon Mustard (I used a grainy-type, an extra bit of mustard won’t hurt anything if you like)

1/4 Cup  Grated Parmesan Cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste

Procedure

Clothed Brussels Sprouts

Clothed Brussels Sprouts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees while you prep the sprouts. Trim the root ends of the Brussels sprouts and peel away the darker outer layers, if you come across any bad parts just trim away.

Naked Brussels Sprouts

Naked Brussels Sprouts

Cut the sprouts in half and slice very thinly (or use a mandoline if you have and prefer).

Slice, slice, baby...

Slice, slice, baby…

Toss the slices with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Take a baking sheet big enough to hold all the sprouts in a thin layer and spread the slices out on the sheet.

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Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring half-way through, until tender and beginning to brown around the edges.

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While the sprouts roast, mix the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil with the mustard and cheese in a small bowl.

Sprouts looking good...

Sprouts looking good…

When the sprouts are just about done, remove from the oven and spoon the pieces into a bit of a mound in the middle and pour the Parmesan cheese mixture over and stir in well. Spread back out into an even layer on the baking sheet.

Adding extra goodness...

Adding extra goodness…

Stick back in the oven for a couple of minutes to heat all through – take out give it a few grinds of black pepper and salt to taste (you may not need much, the parm can be a bit salty to begin with)…

After the final roasting...

After the final roasting…

give a big stir and put into a pretty serving bowl.

Let's eat!

Let’s eat!

You could even shave a bit extra Parmesan on top if you really want to pretty it up some more, but I think it looks darn good as it is! Should serve four or more depending on what all else is on the table, and if there is any left over it re-heats in the microwave just fine. This is actually pretty simple to make (especially if you can con someone else to slicing up the sprouts) and takes very little time, so it’s a good recipe even for a weeknight meal.

This makes a great side, heck I think I could just eat this alone and be happy…  if you, or someone you love (or even just like a little bit), thinks they don’t like Brussels Sprouts, please give this a try and let everyone know what you think! Get to like them ’cause I’ve got more sprout recipes to share…

Oh, and just to note, the original recipe doesn’t mix the cheese with the sprouts and puts back into the oven as I have, but dollops each serving with the mixture… try it that way too if you like, it’s good either way.

Back to the kitchen – see you soon!

Maybe I will change your life...

Maybe I will change your life…

Many Thursday nights I attend a party – one with cocktails, drinking games involving accents, special culinary guests and lots of fun food talk… of course I’m referring to the internet get-together known as #KitchenParty. On one show a few weeks ago, Gaby Dalkin of the What’s Gaby Cooking blog was the guest discussing (among other things) her avocado obsession, and her newly released book, Absolutely Avocados.

photo

After watching the show, and perusing her blog and recipes, I decided I just had to have this book in my hands! Not even wanting to wait the few days for Amazon to deliver said tome, the following day I made my way to local retailers to gladly pay full price (and sales tax) for the book. On my second stop at Books-a-Million I found the book (tucked away in the Vegetarian Cooking section, even though it’s not a meatless cookbook…), handed over my semi-hard-earned cash and scurried home to drool over the recipes…

Medium story short, I’ve tried several recipes from Absolutely Avocados, and all have been winners so far, but a real star is the Goat Cheese Guacamole… In the intro to the recipe, Gaby says “…it will probably change your life”… I don’t know if it’s truly life-altering, but it’s a recipe that has certainly and quickly made it’s way into my list of go-to/sure to please dishes!

So dear Dedicated Readers, without further ado, Let’s Cook!

Goat Cheese Guacamole

Ingredients

3 Hass Avacados

1/3 Cup Crumbled Goat Cheese

1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Chives

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Chive talkin’

1/4 Cup Chopped Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Oil

1 Tbl Fresh Lemon Juice

Coarse Salt and Fresh-ground Pepper to taste

Chips, etc. for serving

Procedure

Cut the avocados in half lengthwise and remove the pits. Take the flesh from the skin and put into a bowl.

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Add the cheese, chives, tomatoes, lemon juice, salt and pepper and mash with a fork until desired consistency (half smooth/half creamy is what the recipe specifies).

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Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

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Serve up with tortilla chips or your choice of flavor delivery device.

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If your chives happen to be blooming (as mine have been recently), tear some apart and sprinkle them atop the guac for a nice garnish (and if you haven’t tasted chive flowers, you don’t know what you’re missing – seriously!).

Miss Bonnie & I recently made it to take to a friends 50th birthday bash, and I was met with rave reviews! Okay, I can’t promise this will actually change your life, but unless you’re totally avocado-averse, you’ll like this one! If you’re looking for something to take along to an up-coming 4th of July party, consider this…

I recommend you check out Gaby’s book – the recipes all look great (okay, I’m still not sure about the Avocado Chocolate Chip Cookies…), the photos are gorgeous, and her writing and sense of humor is a bit goofy and totally fun. Click on the link to check out her visit to #KitchenParty.

 Back to the kitchen (after a brief visit to the World) – see you soon!

Recently some initial details about the 2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival have been creeping out, and this, of course, has gotten me thinking about the up-coming event (okay, I’m pretty much always thinking about the Food & Wine Festival, this just got me thinking even more about it…).

Beef Rendang as served at the Epcot  Food & Wine Festival

Beef Rendang as served at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival

One of the more interesting booths the past couple of years at the festival has been Singapore – the dishes from Southeast Asia served here are different from anything else being offered elsewhere around the park, and to many guests may serve as the first introduction to some unusual and delicious flavors – lemongrass, garlic, ginger, coconut and warm spices abound…

Beef Rendang, a spicy deeply-flavored stew with coconut milk has been served at the Singapore kiosk and has been popular with some of the more adventurous diners. The recipe for this version has been published in at least one (the 2011 I believe) version of the festival cookbook, but I haven’t been quite convinced to try making this dish myself until I came across a recipe in a recent issue of Saveur magazine.

Sav0513-May-Cover-135x172In the May 2013 issue, Saveur editor-in-chief James Oseland recounts his first visit to Indonesia as a teenager, his exposure to it’s cuisine, and mostly how rendang “rocked his world”. The short piece, entitled “Worth the Wait” is worth the read, and if it doesn’t encourage you to try this recipe, nothing will… well, I can also hope this post might as well…

So, let’s head off to the Asian market and gather some supplies, and then, Let’s Cook!

Beef Rendang

Ingredients

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5  Whole Cloves

1  Whole Nutmeg (crush slightly in a mortar and pestle, or stick in a plastic bag and smash with something hard!)

3-4  Thai Chilies, stemmed and roughly chopped (or even more if you’re like me, or other hot pepper of your choice)

6  small Shallots, peel removed and roughly chopped

5  Candlenuts (or Macadamia Nuts, which you’re more likely to find)

3  cloves Garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

1  2″ long piece of fresh (or frozen) Turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped (I’ve found this at an Indian market), or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground Turmeric

1  2″ long piece of fresh Ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

1  2″ long piece of fresh Galangal, peeled and thinly sliced (a root that looks similar to ginger, if you can’t find at the Asian market use more ginger)

2  lbs Boneless Beef Chuck, cut into about 2″ cubes

7  fresh or frozen Kaffir Lime leaves, plus 4 very thinly sliced ones for garnish (you’re probably going to have to find these at the Asian market, if you can’t come across them some thin pieces of lime rind could substitute during the cooking, and grated rind for the garnish)

3  stalk fresh Lemongrass, trimmed and smashed with a mallet (or other heavy implement of destruction to tenderize a bit), then tied into knots (easier said than done…)

Lemongrass in bondage

Lemongrass in bondage

2  sticks Cinnamon

2 1/2  cups canned, unsweetened Coconut Milk

Salt to taste

Procedure

Put the cloves and crushed nutmeg into your food processor and grind to a powder.

Add the chilies, shallots, nuts, garlic, turmeric, ginger and galangal and puree until it’s a paste.

Put the beef pieces into a Dutch oven or deep, heavy skillet.

Here's the beef!

Here’s the beef!

Add the paste from the processor and mix thoroughly – go ahead, use your hands…

After rubbing your meat...

After rubbing your meat…

Add the 7 lime leaves, lemongrass, cinnamon sticks, coconut milk and salt (start with a healthy teaspoon or so) and stir to mix with the beef. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil – reduce heat to medium-low and cook uncovered, stirring frequently.

Everybody in!

Everybody in!

After an hour or two the sauce will have begun to reduce and color slightly. Adjust heat as needed while cooking so as not to scorch the stew and continue to stir often.

After about 1 1/2 hours

After about 1 1/2 hours

The sauce will continue to reduce…

After about 2 - 2 1/2 hours

After about 2 – 2 1/2 hours

Keep cooking and stirring until the sauce turns dark and coats the beef. Remove the lemongrass, lime leaves and cinnamon sticks. You can keep this a bit more “stewy” if you like, but this time I cooked it until almost all of the “wet” part of the sauce had evaporated and the remaining goodness clung close to the meat.

After about 3 hours

After about 3 hours, extraneous matter removed

Serve with rice, and garnish with the thinly sliced lime leaves. If you want a bit more heat, you can also top with some finely chopped peppers.

The finished Beef Rendang

The finished Beef Rendang

Rich, herbal and earthy… this is certainly not a week-night-cook-after-work dish, but it’s worth the time and effort when you have a leisurely afternoon to spend in the kitchen. Like most other stew-type dishes, this does seem to be even better the next day…

If you’d like to check out the original recipe, you can view it here at the Saveur site.

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you make this dish!

Now it’s back to thoughts of the Food & Wine Festival, and as always, back to the kitchen! See you soon!

Manchurian Cauliflower

Manchurian Cauliflower

I realized that even though I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen, it’s been quite a while since we’ve cooked together, so I thought I’d share one of my absolutely favorite recipes: Roasted Manchurian Cauliflower.

Dedicated Readers will be aware of my affinity for Chef Suvir Saran (and of course his food!).

Suvir Saran

Suvir Saran

I’ve shared several of his recipes here on the blog (see the end of this post for links), and this is yet another one and it comes from his most recent book, the James Beard Award nominated Masala Farm.

This is one of those great recipes that makes a hearty, flavorful veggie entree, or can be a great side as well… so without further ado, Let’s Cook!

Manchurian Cauliflower

Ingredients

3 Tbl Canola Oil

3 Whole Green Cardamom Pods

3 Dried Red Chiles (more or less to taste…)

1 Tbl Coriander Seeds

1 Tsp Cumin Seeds

1/2 Tsp Whole Black Peppercorns

1 Head Cauliflower, cored and broken/cut into florets

1 Tsp Kosher Salt

For the sauce:

2 Tbl Canola Oil

1/2 Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

8 Garlic Cloves, Minced

1 1/2 Cups Catsup

1/2 Tsp Cayenne Pepper (more or less to taste)

1/4 Tsp Kosher Salt

Procedure

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease a 9″ x 11″ baking dish with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil (or spray with cooking spray).

Grind the cardamom, chiles, coriander seeds. cumin seeds and peppercorns in a spice/coffee grinder until fine (okay, I often cheat on this and just use some packaged Garam Masala and/or Chat Masala, don’t tell Suvir…).

Mix the spices with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and put that mixture, the cauliflower and salt in a large bowl and stir to coat the florets in the spiced oil.

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Put the cauliflower into the greased dish and stick that puppy in the oven. Cook for about 20 minutes (you may want to stir about half way through).

Now make the sauce…

Pepper + Garlic = Good

Pepper + Garlic = Good

Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil with the black pepper in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat until the pepper is fragrant, about a minute. Add the garlic and stir constantly for another minute until it smells good.

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Add the catsup and cook another couple of minutes, stirring often.

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Reduce the heat to medium and add the salt and cayenne. Cook until the sauce becomes darker red and thickens, stirring often, about 6 to 8 minutes. I will often add a splash of fish sauce for a bit extra oomph… no it won’t taste like fish… okay, it’s for that now-almost-over-used-word umami…

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After the cauliflower has roasted 20 minutes, remove from the oven and stir in the sauce.

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Return to the oven and cook another 20 to 30 minutes, stirring two or three times, until the cauliflower is tender.

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You can add other veggies to the cauliflower while roasting as desired – I usually add chunks of red onion and often sweet peppers (as you can see in the picture above) – carrots or parsnips would be nice as well. Top with some chopped cilantro if you like.

Serve the dish with rice, and if you want to have a vegetarian meal you can add a simple green veggie on the side (like roasted broccoli, which you can do in the oven at the same time as the cauliflower). This would also make a great side to a simple roasted chicken or other protein.

Manchurian Cauliflower with Coconut Rice

Manchurian Cauliflower with Coconut Rice

This is truly one of my favorite dishes, and one that I crave often – give it a try and let us know how you like it!

Here’s some other recipes from Suvir that are on the blog: Fried Chicken Masala (amazing!); Simple Roasted CauliflowerCoconut Rice; Grandma Hayes’s Corn Bread (THE cornbread! Trust me!); Delicious Dal.

As always, I’m headed back to the kitchen… see you soon!

A close view of Spicy Cashew Cheese

In a recent post about this years Epcot Food & Wine Festival (Epcot Food & Wine Festival 2012: more food… more thoughts…), I showed you the offerings at the Vegan booth terra, one of which was a meatless chili topped with a faux cheese…

Chili Colorado with House-made Chips and topped with Cashew Cheese

about the same time as I had tried this dish, I happened to stumble across a recipe for cashew cheese in the November 2012 issue of Vegetarian Times magazine, and since I’m quite fond of cashews anyway, I decided to give it a try…

So be prepared to make a trip to the health food store or Whole Foods, etc for a couple of the ingredients, and then Let’s Cook!

Spicy Cashew Cheese

Ingredients

2 Cups Raw Cashews, soaked in water to cover for 12 to 24 hours

1/2 Cup Water

2 Tbl Nutritional Yeast (not the regular stuff – you’ll likely have to hunt for this, like the raw cashews… or find online)

1 Tbl Fresh Lemon Juice

2 Tsp White Balsamic Vinegar (or white wine vinegar – rice vinegar would work too)

1/4 Tsp Granulated Onion Powder

1/8 Tsp Granulated Garlic Powder (or a little more, to taste)

1/8 Tsp Ground White Pepper

2 Chopped Chipotle Peppers in Adobo, along with a Tsp of the sauce (of course you can up this as desired… as I usually do)

Procedure

Soaked and drained raw cashews

Drain the soaked cashews and put into the bowl of a food processor.

Cashews after first processing

Process for about 1 minute until a coarse paste develops.

Adding stuff to the cashew paste

Add the rest of the ingredients, other than the chipotle peppers and sauce, and process for 4 or 5 minutes until the mixture is very smooth.

Smooth “cheese”

Add the chopped peppers and adobo…

Adding the peppers

and process for a couple more minutes until well incorporated.

The finished product

Transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate overnight to firm up a bit.
And now what do you do with it?

Use as a dip, spread on a chip,

Spicy Cashew Cheese atop Triscuits

use it as a bread spread, and yes, you can dollop it on chili (veggie or not) or with some pasta…

So is it “cheese”? Of course not – the nutritional yeast gives it a little bit of that cheesy taste – but what it really is is a cashew-based hummus – and it’s really good (and probably, shhhh… sorta good for you).

Now if you want to season this differently, at the point after the second (long) processing (and before you add the peppers in this recipe), you have a fairly “blank slate”, as the “cheese” is a bit nutty, but still fairly bland. If you don’t want to make it spicy, omit the chipotles and try adding herbs of your choice (basil?), and/or roasted garlic, or whatever strikes your fancy… or even more or different peppers (habaneros anyone?) for the chile-head!

This is worth a try, and after you’ve found the ingredients it’s is easy as pie… or “cheese”…

Back to the kitchen – see you soon!

As Dedicated Readers know, I have quite a fondness for Korean cuisine, and have shared a few Korean (or Korean-inspired) recipes here over the years…

Seafood and Scallion Pancakes (Pajeon)

and with the South Korea booth making a return appearance at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival this year (yeah!), I thought I’d share another… and it gives me an excuse to cook and eat some Korean food!

South Korea Kiosk at Epcot

The Korean food has been a big hit since this location was introduced to the Festival in 2010. This was actually a bit of a surprise to me, as I was afraid so many guests would be reluctant to try a cuisine that I think is mostly unknown to the majority of Americans. But I think the food items were so good that word of mouth soon had long lines at the kiosk almost constantly. I’m glad that Disney guest have taken to this introduction to a type of food I really enjoy… but I hate that I now have to wait in those large lines to get my taste!

Korean Lettuce Wraps with Roast Pork and Kimchi Slaw

The two savory items featured the first couple of years were Lettuce Wraps with Roast Pork and Kimchi Slaw (which has been the most popular recipe I’ve shared on the blog) and Barbecue Short Rib (aka Kalbi) with Rice and Kimchi.

Barbeque Short Rib with Rice and Kimchi (Kalbi)

The 2012 version of the booth still has the pork dish, but the beef ribs are being replaced with a Mung Bean Pancake with Shrimp and Kimchi Sauce. Koreans seem to be quite fond of savory pancakes (called Pajeon or Pa Jon), and it’s something I’ve been wanting to try out a recipe for for quite a while, so inspired by the upcoming addition to the Food & Wine kiosk, I pulled out my Korean cookbooks and settled on a dish from the Kimchi Chronicles book.

The Kimchi Chronicles Cookbook

The Kimchi Chronicles is a PBS series starring Marja and Jean-Georges Vongerichten (with Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman, and his wife Deborra-Lee Furness also along for the ride while actress Heather Graham also makes a few apperances). The series chronicles Marja discovering her culinary roots in Korea (she is the daughter of a US serviceman and a Korean woman who was adopted and raised by a family in the United States). Her husband Jean-Georges is one of the most famous chefs and restauranteurs around, and adds his knowledge and his own spin the the traditional recipes. I can recommend both the show and the cookbook to those interested in the foods of Korea. You can check out the Kimchi Chronicles at their website.

After that long preamble I’m getting hungry, so Let’s Cook!

Korean Seafood and Scallion Pancakes

Ingredients

Pancake Parts

For the Pancakes:

2 Cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1/4 Cup Rice Flour (available in Asian markets, or check the “health food” area of you local market)

2 Tsp Coarse Sea Salt

2 1/4 Cups Cold Water

8 oz Containers of Oysters, drained

1/3 Lb (give or take) Medium or Large Raw Shrimp

1/2 Cup Scallion (aka Green Onion) Pieces (cut into about 1.5″ long pieces)

Vegetable Oil for frying

For the Scallion Dipping Sauce:

Saucy Goodies

1/2 Cup Soy Sauce

1/4 Cup Sesame Oil

2 Tbl Rice Vinegar

2 Tbl Gochugaru (Korean Red Pepper Powder, available at Asian markets. This is good stuff – I use it a lot in all types of cooking, it’s worth finding.)

6 Scallions, thinly sliced

Procedure

Start by making the dipping sauce – simply whisk all the ingredients together and set aside. You can make this a day or two ahead and stick in the ‘fridge if you’d like (it probably even gets better…).

For the pancakes start by shelling and deveining the shrimp and cutting them up: if medium size just halve, if large split lengthwise and then cut in half.

Whisk the AP and rice flours along with the salt together in a medium to large bowl (the rice flour adds a bit of extra crispiness to the pancake when cooked).

Whisk in the water until the batter is smooth.

Batter up!

Add the seafood and scallion pieces…

See food?

and stir to mix well.

Ready to cook!

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium-high. Add about a cup of the batter (try to get an even amount of the goodies in each pancake) to the hot skillet.

Cook until browned and crispy on one side, about 2 to 4 minutes depending on the heat, the thickness of the pancake, etc. Carefully flip over to cook the second side.

Gettin’ crispy!

After the second side is done (another 2 – 3 minutes), remove to a paper towel lined plate and start on the next pancake, adding more oil to the pan as needed.

Seafood and Scallion Pajeon, Scallion Dipping Sauce and Soju… Oh My!

Serve hot with the dipping sauce.

Show me the oyster!

Some notes:

I found the large (1 cup of batter) size pancake a bit hard to turn (of course if you have to break it into pieces to turn it’s not a big deal). Try it for the first one, and if you have the same issue, just make smaller ones. Like “regular” pancakes it may take one or two to get it right… the first ones are for the chef… ;-)

You can certainly vary the seafood used, if you’re not fond of oysters you can sub more shrimp, or add scallop pieces (but I really like the oceany, almost meaty, flavor the oysters add to this – mussels would be nice too). All scallions can be used for a strictly veggie-version (and the all-scallion pancake seems to be a popular and very traditional dish in Korea).

The scallion dipping sauce is a nice thing to add to your repertoire – it can be used with pot-stickers and even just simple cooked/roasted chicken.

The original version of the recipe is, of course, available in the cookbook, but is also on the Kimchi Chronicles website.

This is sure worth giving a try! I liked it a lot and will be making it again! If you whip it up be sure to let everyone know what you think in the comments!

The Food & Wine Festival at Epcot is now less than a week away! We’ll soon see how the pancake at the South Korea kiosk is!

Now, as always, back to the kitchen!

Happy Birthday Julia!

August 14, 2012

This Wednesday, August 15, 2012, would have been the 100th birthday of Julia Child.

Julia was more than just a “TV Chef”, more than a personality… long before there was Giada, Alton, Rachael and even Emeril there was Julia – “The French Chef”.

Julia was a force of nature, a big person in more than stature… she very much taught America how to cook, and by extension exposed us to much of the rest of the world.

If you cook, if you eat, Julia has has an influence on your life.

I’m not eloquent enough to pay proper homage to this great woman, this great American… I’ll just say thank you Julia. Like so many I wish I could have shared a table with you, and even more so wish I could have shared a kitchen with you…

Happy Birthday Julia! We love you… Bon Appetit!

With thoughts of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival already running through my mind (yes, I’m already counting down, see Is it too early? if you don’t believe me…), I decided to finally try a recipe we saw demoed at last year’s festival: Spicy Durban Style Chicken.

Spicy Durban Style Chicken

Sanaa, the restaurant at the Kidani Village section of the Animal Kingdom Lodge, is one of my (and Miss Bonnie’s) favorites on property.

So when we saw that Chef Bob Getchell, who has headed the kitchen at Sanaa from day one, was doing a demonstration one day at the Food & Wine Festival we signed up right away.

He showed how to make one of the more popular (and spicy) dishes from the “Slow Cooked in Gravy, Simple and Well Seasoned” section of the Sanaa menu – the dish is right up my flavor-alley – a bit Indian, lot’s of spice, a bit hot – so without much further ado, let’s cook!

Okay, here’s a little bit of ado…

I’ll give you the recipe pretty much as presented, but as Dedicated Readers should know by now, I didn’t exactly follow the recipe to a tee… so I’ll give you some notes and comments where I varied from the recipe…

Okay, so now we can cook!

Spicy Durban Style Chicken

Ingredients

For the Dry Masala (Spice) Mixture:

2 Whole Star Anise

1/2 Tbl Whole Cumin Seeds

3 Whole Bay Leaves

4 Green Cardamom Pods (you may have to find an Indian market for these puppies…)

1/2 Tbl Ground Cinnamon (I also added a couple of whole cinnamon sticks during the cooking as you’ll see below)

3 Tbl Ancho Chili Powder

2 Tbl Chili Powder (the recipe doesn’t specify anything more than this, so I used the typical blended chili powder from the grocery, but if you have other specific, pure powders in addition to the Ancho, I’m sure that would be great)

2 Tbl Madras-style (hot) Curry Powder

1 Tbl Turmeric Powder

Some of the goodies…

For the Curry Sauce:

1 1/4 Lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs, cut into bite-sized (about 1″) pieces

1/4 Cup Canola Oil

1 Cup Diced Onions (the recipe specifies yellow, but whatever you have around should be good)

2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and minced (or keep the seeds in if you like it hotter, of course I used 3 peppers…)

Hi there, Hot Stuff!

2 Tbl Ginger-Garlic Paste (I’ll show you how to make that later)

3 Cups Canned Crushed Tomatoes with their Juice (I used a 28 oz can of San Marzano Tomatoes and crushed them by hand and saved the extra liquid to use in place of the water called for in the recipe)

Water as needed, about 1/2 Cup

Salt and Freshly-ground Black Pepper to taste

1/4 Cup Chopped Cilantro

and most of the fresh stuff…

Procedure

For the Dry Masala (Spice) Mixture:

Put the star anise, cumin seeds, bay leaves and cardamom pods into a heavy, dry skillet and turn the heat onto medium high.

Stir and toast until fragrant and slightly browned…

be careful not to let the spices burn – stir often and reduce your heat if needed – if you do burn them, discard and start over. When done, remove the spices from the skillet and allow to cool.

The toasted whole spices

Put the toasted spices into a spice grinder (an inexpensive coffee grinder, kept to use just for spices, works great)…

and grind into a powder.

The now-ground, toasted spices

Measure out the rest of the Masala spices…

The dry Masala Spices

add the ground toasted spices, and put all back into the dry skillet.

Final toasting of all the spices

Heat and toast the spices as before until fragrant. Stir constantly and be careful not to burn. When it’s smelling good remove from the skillet and allow to cool.

For the Chicken Curry:

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet or Dutch oven until close to smoking.

Meanwhile, salt and pepper the chicken pieces and when the oil is hot, add some of the chicken to the pan.

Cooking the chicken pieces

You’ll want to get a nice browning on the chicken pieces, so don’t crowd the pan and turn/stir-fry the chicken as needed. Depending on the size of your pan, you’ll probably need to brown the bird in two or three batches.

When browned, remove the chicken pieces and set aside for now.

If you want, now add a couple of cinnamon sticks to the oil and stir a few seconds until the sticks start to unfurl.

An extra bit of cinnamon goodness…

Next add the chopped onion and jalapeno…

and cook over medium high until the onions start to get translucent.

Then add the ginger-garlic paste and stir well for about a minute…

Adding the ginger-garlic paste

then add the dry spices.

Getting your spice on…

Mix all well and cook another minute while stirring constantly.

It may not look so pretty at this point, but all the toasting, stirring and cooking will make a big difference in the finished sauce.

Add the tomatoes, stir and bring to a simmer.

Cook over high heat for three or four minutes, stirring frequently. If it seems a bit dry add some tomato juice or water (or even some of the beer you may be sipping on while you’re cooking).

Add the chicken to the sauce

Add the water (or tomato juice, or even beer or dry white wine) and stir well.

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the chicken is tender (the recipe says 10-15 minutes, but you really can’t simmer this too long…), stirring occasionally. The sauce should be fairly thick, but adjust to your liking (simmer longer to thicken, or add more liquid for a more wet sauce… duh…). Taste for seasoning and salt and pepper as needed. If you want more heat you can add something like Sriracha or other hot sauce now, or allow each diner to add at the table as desired.

A little herbage at the end…

When ready to serve, stir in the cilantro.

Spicy Durban Style Chicken served with Basmati Rice and Roasted Cauliflower

Serve with rice (plain Basmati is fine, but would also be killer with Coconut Rice) and veggies of your choice (Simple Roasted Cauliflower would be a nice compliment to the spicy curry). A little sprinkle of cilantro to garnish won’t hurt a thing…

This same sauce is also used at Sanaa for the Spicy Durban Shrimp, so you can easily change the protein as you desire. It would even be great as a vegetarian dish – maybe use some roasted veggies in the sauce (cauliflower, carrots, etc.) or with some other protein source (such as seitan or tempeh).

With all the grinding and stirring and such, this certainly isn’t quick weeknight fare, but the results are well worth the effort. You can certainly make the spice mix a day or two ahead, and like most other “stewy” dishes, this seems to get better a day or two after it’s made, so make plenty and have leftovers.

I haven’t tried it, but I can’t see why this shouldn’t freeze pretty well.

At the demo, the dish was paired with a real nice Riesling from Loosen Brothers Winery in Germany.

A not-overly sweet Riesling (or other white wine) paired very well with the spicy curry – beer will also go well.

This is another one I hope you try – and as always, please let us know what you think in the comments section!

Back to the kitchen, see you soon!

Oh yeah, here’s how to make the Ginger-Garlic Paste (it’s real hard, hope you can follow along…). Take five or six big peeled garlic cloves and cut into chunks. Take some pieces of fresh peeled ginger that looks to be about the same volume as the garlic and cut into pieces about the same size as the garlic. Stick these into a mini-chopper/processor and add a tablespoon or so of olive oil.

Making Ginger-Garlic Paste

Process until the pieces make a fairly wet paste, added more oil as needed.

Any leftover paste will keep covered in the fridge for a few days, add enough extra oil if needed to keep all the paste covered.

Okay – now back to the kitchen again!

Dal – one of the staple foods of millions worldwide… like other peas, beans, legumes and their ilk, these little split goodies provide a cheap and fulling source of protein and nutrition to untold numbers of people on a daily basis.

I approached cooking dal with a bit of trepidation – I knew they would be good for me, and certainly at least palatable, and I’d probably be proud of myself for eating it and having something else in my “healthy diet” arsenal… but I didn’t expect them to be down-right better-than-just-edible… and that’s what these are: Delicious Dals.
Dals are best know as a part of Indian cuisine, so of course I looked to Suvir Saran for recipes and pulled out my trusty copy of “American Masala”. I tried his “not-so-dull dal” and was, well, blown away. I was amazed that such simple ingredients produced such wonderful results! I doubted it was actually as good as I thought it was, so I shared the results with several people, and all agreed that it was an exceptional-tasting dish!

I played with the recipe a bit, using some of Suvir’s recommended alterations/additions to the basic recipe, made a little tweak or three of my own, and what you have is the recipe below. So let’s tarry no longer: Let’s Cook!

Delicious Dal

Ingredients

Most of the suspects...

3 Tbl Canola Oil

2 Tsp Cumin Seeds

1 Tsp Mustard Seeds

4 or 5 Dried Red Chilies (if you’re a bit of a wussy about heat, you can cut don’t to 1 or 2, but don’t omit them totally – remove after initial frying if you want)

A pinch (1/16th of a Tsp?) Asafetida Powder (from the Indian market, don’t sweat it if you don’t have, just omit it)

12 Fresh (or Frozen) Curry Leaves, torn into small pieces (optional, also from the Indian market)

The seeds and such...

1 Red Onion, quartered and cut into thin slices

1 Jalapeno, finely chopped (remove seeds and ribs if you want to reduce heat – again don’t omit totally if you like a mild dish, just use half a pepper sans the insides)

Sliced Red Onion and Chopped Jalapeno

1 Tbl Kosher or Sea Salt

3 Garlic Cloves, peeled and finely chopped

1 1/2 Cups Dal, rinsed and drained well (I used Masoor Dal, but you can use Channa Dal/yellow split peas, or even the regular lentils that you’ll find in the grocery should work well)

1 Can (14.5 ounce, or thereabouts) Diced Tomatoes (if you like even extra heat, you won’t hurt my feelings of you use that can of Rotel you have in the cupboard)

1 Container (32 oz) Vegetable Stock (or Chicken Stock/Broth if you don’t care about the dish being 100% vegetarian, you can even use all or part water if you must – it will still turn out nice)

Juice of 1/2 a Lemon (plus more for serving if desired)

Chopped Cilantro, if desired for serving

Procedure

Heat the oil is your large cooking vessel of choice over medium-high heat (I used my mother’s cast iron Dutch oven as usual).

Add the cumin and mustard seeds, the dried peppers and the curry leaves (if you have). Stir for 1 – 2 minutes until the spices darken slightly and become aromatic -  be careful as the mustard seeds will want to fly out of the pan – use a splatter screen if you have one.

If you’re using asafetida, add and stir for a few (20 or so) seconds.

Put in the onion and jalapeno and stir until staring to get soft, a couple of minutes.

Add the salt and garlic, and stir and cook until all is getting happy, soft and aromatic…

It's smelling good in here...

Stir in the drained lentils and cook for a minute or so…

add a half-cup of the broth and deglaze the pan until the liquid is pretty much all cooked off.

Add a couple of cups of the broth and the tomatoes (no need to drain) and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer, partially cover, and cook about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Covered partially...

Add more broth as needed to just keep the ingredients covered…

yep – we’re basically gonna cook these puppies like a risotto…

Uncover and add the lemon juice…

Continue to simmer uncovered, adding more broth if needed, until the lentils are tender but not turned to mush.

Taste and adjust seasoning as needed…

but I’m betting you’re going to be amazed… at most you may want a bit more salt…

You can fish out the dried chilies if you like (they will provide quite a jolt to someone who bites down on one unexpectedly).

I like to make this dal very thick (maybe the consistency of cooked oatmeal?) – many dal recipes are much more soupy, and meant to be eaten as such. If you want you can add more liquid during the cooking process and serve the stuff in a bowl (add some rice, dunk some bread into it… can’t be bad). You could also make this as described above, and later add extra broth or water to all or part of it if you decide you want it thinner.

You can serve this along with some rice and a veggie dish (or two, add some bread if you’d like) and eat very well and healthy for very little money…. this can also be a hearty side to some protein item like a grilled chicken or fish.

Delicious Dal, along with some brown rice and a stir-fried cabbage dish

Sprinkle on some cilantro if you’d like… squeeze a bit of lemon… some plain yoghurt wouldn’t be out of line either…

Please, make this. Maybe I’ve over-hyped it, but damn… it’s good…

Once again, I’m heading back to the kitchen… see you soon!

So kids, here’s another of my “go-to” recipes… when I’m not sure what to fix, and I want something that’s pretty easy to make, fairly healthy, and of course, tastes great, I often come back to this. It’s good hot, warm, or cold. It can be a main dish or a side… it’s great leftover for lunch at work… you figured out yet that I really like this stuff???

This recipe is based on Peanutty Noodles from the “Cooking Light Complete Cookbook”, but like many other recipes, I’ve probably never made it exactly the same way twice (which is one of the great things about it – you can vary it depending on what you have on hand, or feel like, as we’ll see).

So, let’s waste no more time… Let’s Cook!

Spicy Peanut Pasta

Ingredients (see notes below for many options)

1 Lb Whole Wheat/Whole Grain Pasta (I like a wider Linguine for this, but pretty much any style you like will do)

2 Tsp Grated (or very finely minced) Fresh Ginger

3 Finely Minced Garlic Cloves

1 Cup Chicken or Veggie Broth

1/2 Cup Smooth Peanut Butter (I use reduced fat for this, but use what you like)

1/4 Cup Soy Sauce

3 Tbl Rice Wine Vinegar

2 Tsp Asian Chili-Garlic Sauce (such as Chili Paste with Garlic or Sambal Oelek,  more or less to taste)

1/4 Tsp Salt

1 Cup Red Bell Pepper, cut into small strips

1 Cup Onion, cut into small strips

1 Cup Broccoli, florets cut into small pieces

1 Cup Mung Bean Sprouts

1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Cilantro

Canola Oil, as needed for cooking

Some of the goodies...

Procedure

Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.

While pasta is cooking, heat some oil in a wok or other large cooking vessel (I used my trusty dutch oven). Stir-fry the onions, bell pepper and broccoli until just tender but still very crisp.

Remove from the pan and set aside.

Return the pan to the stove and heat about a teaspoon of oil on medium and saute the ginger and garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the broth, peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, chili-garlic sauce and salt. Stir/whisk until blended and simmer on low for 5-10 minutes.

Taste and adjust seasonings as needed (more vinegar, hot sauce, sugar if too tart…). If it seems too thin, add more peanut butter – too thick, more broth.

Remove from heat and add the pasta. Toss to coat with sauce, then add the stir-fried veggies and mix well.

Mix in most of the sprouts and cilantro (save a bit of both for garnish).

Plate, garnish, serve… then thank me…

This recipe is pretty much infinitely variable as to the “mix-ins” (the sauce is the real key) – pretty much any veggies you like will work – I add matchstick carrots often – sliced or shredded green onions often make it in at the end. A drizzle of sesame oil (I use the hot. chili-infused type often) wouldn’t be out of line…

If the extra protein mood strikes you can add firm tofu, cooked chicken or shrimp…

This works well warm, room temp, or cold… please give it a try and post your comments!

Now back to the kitchen! See you soon!

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