Jerk Chicken and What Kind of World

Tragedy brings out the best and the worst of us.  And it was true to form this past weekend.  After the attacks in Paris I, like millions of others, added the French flag to our profile pic on Facebook.  But I also quickly, like many, realised the hypocrisy of not speaking out against the terror in Beirut and many other countries.

And that’s when it started getting ugly.  When you combine fear with bigotry some seriously hateful things start getting posted.  It saddens me no end we have a serious humanitarian situation and we have people running for president saying we should only accept Christians.  Never mind that this isn’t a Christian nation as laid out in the Treaty of Tripoli which said this was a secular nation.  And it was ratified by 100% of the senate of the time.  That concept is being lost to the mists of time.  The West has a lot of responsibility of the vacuum that keeps being created in the Middle East but yet a lot would wash their hands of the crisis.  A situation where you have children so scared they put their hands up in fear because they think the journalist cameras are guns.

I am well aware there aren’t any easy solutions laying about.  But I do wish the powers that be would start thinking of the ramifications before they keep repeating history.  I mean how many times do we put people in power to only have to forcibly remove them.  Or how many times do we change the governments or boundaries without fully understanding the region.

Because not only do I want peace and not have people living in fear, I would love to be able to not have to figure out how to explain to my kids how much humanity is still getting it wrong.

While all this was going on we were preparing for my husband’s birthday party.  The theme?  A pirate murder mystery night.  There was a lot of planning for this as I had to assign characters for our guests and get the packets ready for each person so they knew what their objectives were for the murder and investigation.

One of our friends had great fun with doing themed food of cannon balls, shark teeth, etc.  She also did a great Minecraft themed party for her son a few weeks ago.  This is definitely up her alley.

One of the dishes I made was jerk chicken.  A great time to try using our dried habaneros.  I also used some dried cayenne.  Sinuses would be cleared for miles around.

Jerk chicken 1 2015

The recipe I used as a guide was from food.com and I followed it for the most part.  I didn’t have bay leaves but I’m not a fan of that ingredient.  I didn’t have any dried thyme either.  But I have to say the ingredients weren’t missed.

In a spice grinder, finely grind 3 habaneros and 2 cayenne peppers that have been dried.  Add that to a medium sized bowl.  Then grind rosemary and allspice so you have about a tablespoon of each.  Again add that to the bowl.  Add a tablespoon of ground ginger and a tablespoon and a half of sea salt.  Next you will need 1 1/2 teaspoons each of onion powder, black pepper, and ground cinnamon.  Add 3/4 teaspoon of each of ground nutmeg and paprika.  Finish with 1/3 cup sugar, a juice of a lime, and 1/3 cup of olive oil.

Jerk chicken 2 2015

Mix well and add about a pound and a half of chicken that you have cubed.  Make sure the chicken is well coated.  Then remember not to touch your eyes.  Ahem.  Even after washing your hands.

Jerk chicken 3 2015

Let this marinate for a couple of hours.  I chose to grill this on the stove top.  But given the potency of the hot peppers I should have done this outside.  It was like I pepper sprayed the kitchen!  What a way to welcome guests.

Jerk chicken 4 2015

I did want to do a mango dipping sauce but the mango I bought refused to ripen so it was just the chicken.

Jerk chicken 5 2015

This was a hit.  Fortunately our friends could handle the heat.  Because, while the flavours were balanced, this is not for the weak of heart.

 

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Greek Lemon Dill Chicken

Is it rude to want to lick the plate?  Probably, so I showed great restraint with this meal.  I got up as much as I could with the fork though.  🙂

I have a cookery book called “The Foods of the Greek Islands” by Aglaia Kremezi.  All sorts of wonderful recipes to try.

This is my version of the dish.  I didn’t vary to far from the recipe but I also wasn’t in the mood to use any blender.  And I changed the amounts of the ingredients for the balance I wanted.

Greek lemon chicken 1 2015

In a skillet, heat up about a 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Season the chicken legs with sea salt and pepper.  Brown both sides of the chicken.

Greek lemon chicken 2 2015

Remove from the heat.  In the scallions add about 1/2 cup of chopped scallions.  Cook to they are wilted.

Greek lemon chicken 3 2015

Add the chicken back to the skillet.  Add a cup of dry white wine and a cup of chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook for another 10 minutes.

Greek lemon chicken 4 2015

Remove the chicken again.  Add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and about 4 tablespoons of chopped dill.  Stir well and bring it back to a simmer.  Add the chicken once more, cover, and cook until the chicken is cooked.

Greek lemon chicken 5 2015

To serve, cut up the chicken and serve with the sauce spooned over it.  We also served this with roasted potatoes and corn.

This has to be one of my favourite sauces I’ve made to date.  Very flavourful and bright.

Grilled Tarragon Chicken Salad and Radio Show

Every once in awhile you have to go outside of your comfort zone.  I had the opportunity to do that yesterday.  I’ve mentioned Luca, a chef in town and a friend of mine, who does cooking shows.  You might remember my daughter had a chance to do a show with him.

He also does a weekly radio show on our local talk radio with Dan Mitchell talking about cooking and he brings bloggers, chefs, etc on as guests.  He invited me to join him.  I had an absolute blast doing this. I was nervous about doing it but I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to do something new.

Here is the podcast if you would like a listen.  But please, I know I sound American.  Every time it comes up that I’m English, without fail, I get “but you don’t sound English”.  That bothers me.  Like there is a doubt of who I am.  I came over very young and didn’t go back again until I was an adult.  The accent doesn’t start coming out much until I’m back in the UK.  It is what it is!  Other than that I do hope you enjoy the podcast.

And of course I had to show up with food.  But because the show was in the morning and there isn’t a kitchen so it had to be something I could serve cold.

I decided to do grilled chicken with tarragon.  For dinner I did it as a salad and for the show I did it as lettuce wraps.

Grilled tarragon chicken 1 2015

For the marinade I finely chopped a few cloves of garlic and a handful of tarragon.  Mix it with equal parts white wine and olive oil.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Make sure it is mixed well and then add the chicken to marinade for at least an hour.

Grilled tarragon chicken 2 2015Grill the chicken and let it cool.  Meanwhile toast half a cup of pinenuts in a dry skillet.  You want to pay attention as you are doing this. The nuts can easily burn.  Keep the pinenuts moving in the skillet as you toast them.

Grilled tarragon chicken 3 2015

Once they are golden remove and set aside.  I did try to do a wine vinaigrette but it just didn’t have any brightness to it.  So I did up a tarragon lemon dressing instead.  Do two parts olive oil to one part lemon juice.  Add a bit of tarragon and season with sea salt and pepper.  Shake it up.

To assemble, lay out the lettuce leaves and layer with the chicken, veg of your choice, and the pine nuts.  Drizzle the dressing over the salad and top with creme fraiche.

Grilled tarragon chicken 4 2015

It is very easy to convert it to wraps.  Just put less into each piece and wrap it up!  Perfect for a warm summer day.  As I said this was a fantastic experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  🙂

Pomegranate Chicken and Don’t Be Cruel

If people want plastic surgery that’s their business.  Though vanity can get many into trouble.  It gets a bit obvious.  But hey if they want to muck about with their bodies regardless of the outcome that’s their business.  But I really have a problem when people extend their vanity to their dogs.

I took my goofy dogs to the vet the other day and there was this little doberman puppy with its ears taped up.  Without thinking (something I do a lot!) I asked what happened to him.  They replied that it is normal to do this.  I said if it was normal they would be born that way.  I was so disgusted!  Our neighbour did that to his boxer as well.  The poor thing was taped up for over a year.

Of course they were a bit snarky about it and while I was weighing Murphy he overturned a cookie bowl and I had to wrestle them off the cookies.  So much for keeping my dignity!

I asked the vet if he really performs these unnecessary procedures.  Being that it was his first day he said he would ask his dad who owns the practice.  Though he did say they are between a rock and a hard place because if they don’t do it and do it safely these people would go elsewhere and possibly harm the dogs more.  I really would they would ban these procedures.

I stuck with the salad theme last week as the warm weather continued.  A while back Chica Andaluza blog about a chicken made with pomegranate molasses.  It looks amazing.  But it was too hot to bake so I mixed it up a bit so I could grill the chicken.

In a bowl mix the following:

8oz of plain greek yoghurt

2 Tablespoons of pomegranate molasses

3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1″sq/2.cm of fresh garlic grated

1-2 teaspoons of chili powder

1/2 teaspoon of garam marsala

Season with sea salt.

Pomegranate chicken 1 2015

Mix well and add the chicken to marinate for at least an hour.

Pomegranate chicken 2 2015

Heat the grill to medium. I ran into a bit of trouble with the chicken sticking which was unfortunate as it left some of the flavour on the grill!

Pomegranate chicken 3 2015

For the dressing I mixed up a bit of olive oil, pomegranate molasses, and white balsamic vinegar.  I also made some croutons.  Slice some bread and butter both sides.  Season with dry rub and cube the bread and brown in a dry skillet.  Slice the chicken and top the salad and serve.

Pomegranate chicken 4 2015

Nice and light.  It was the first time using the pomegranate molasses and I really like it.  Now to figure out what else I can use it!

Peanut Satay and My Rain Dance isn’t Working

The dirt is dry.  Bone dry, just puffs of dust.  It does not bode well that we are struggling already and May isn’t over.  Usually we don’t have issues with rain.  But this season we desperately need some rain to fall from the sky.

This past weekend was Memorial Day Weekend in the states and that is also the start of serious planting in our zone.  It also means we have a ton of plants to get into the ground.  We are facing a semi-disaster with the peppers.  Half of the seedlings were small because I was behind the eight ball at the front end in getting them started in the first place.  I tried getting enough water into the raised bed but the small seedlings immediately went into shock and died.  We have some more to try so fingers crossed we succeed because I was really hoping for some home grown habaneros.

We’ve spent every day since trying to soak the beds.  It’s frustrating because we soak them leaving puddles and do that a few times but when we poke the soil it’s still dry!  This could be a long season.

This past Friday I wanted to make one of the dishes my family made for me on Mother’s Day.  Grilled chicken with a peanut satay sauce.  We had plenty of the satay sauce left over so it needed to be used up.

The recipe I got influence from was from the “Appetizers, Finger Foods, Buffets & Parties”.

For the satay mix the following:

2T each of smooth peanut butter, soy sauce, and lime juice

1T of sesame oil and brown sugar

2 finely chopped scallions and garlic cloves

Mix well and set aside.

Peanut satay chicken 4 2015Next the marinade for the chicken needs to be made.

Peanut satay chicken 1 2015Ignore the large onion.  I was originally going to use it because I didn’t have any scallions for the marinade.  But I felt the onion would be too much.  And I forgot to retake a photo!  Ah well.

In a bowl mix 4 tablespoons of peanut oil, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce or amino acids, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of lime juice.  Grate about an inch/2.5cm square of fresh ginger and finely chop 3-4 cloves of garlic.  Next add a small handful of chopped cilantro and a chili pepper, chopped.  Deseed it for this recipe because you don’t want the heat to overpower the other flavours.

Peanut satay chicken 2 2015

I chose to use chicken thigh meat instead of breast meat.  One it’s less expensive and two it has more flavour.  Cut it so it is in cubes keeping the pieces in a similar size.  Marinate for at least an hour.

Peanut satay chicken 3 2015

Skewer the chicken and heat up the grill.  Cook the chicken while turning to cook the chicken evenly allowing them to sear on each side.

Peanut satay chicken 5 2015

Serve with the sides of your choice. I like making baked potatoes on the grill, just keep them up off the flame.

Peanut satay chicken 6 2015

Spoon the satay over the chicken and enjoy!  And keep your fingers crossed for some rain!

The Lovely Yellow of Saffron…

It’s a busy week with the kids off from school.  For our daughter’s birthday we are redoing her room.  Which means lots of painting.  It’s strange because we’re getting rid of the little girl’s room and ushering in a young lady’s room.  I have to say I like her vision, it is going to look really elegant when it’s finished.

But it does put me in a position of figuring out dinner at the last minute.  I knew we had to use up some chicken but what to do?  A quick trip to the shop to pick up some saffron and paprika did the trick.

Saffron is not cheap but since you don’t need a lot in a dish it can last a very long time.

Saffron Chicken 1 2015Take about two tablespoons of hot water and steep a good pinch of saffron.  Set aside.

Saffron Chicken 2 2015Prep the other ingredients.  This whole dinner is cooked on the grill except the sauce.  For the veg I wanted to do skewers.  I brushed the veg with olive oil and white wine and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Saffron Chicken 4 2015Season the chicken with sea salt and paprika.

Saffron Chicken 3 2015Fire up that grill.  While the chicken, skewers, and the potatoes were grilling I did up the sauce.  In a small skillet I heated up a few tablespoons of olive oil, 1/4 cup of dry white wine, and two large cloves of garlic finely chopped.  Slowly simmer the garlic.  Then add the saffron and a cup of chicken stock.  Continue simmering to reduce down.  Then season with a bit of sea salt and paprika.  About a teaspoon each.

Saffron Chicken 5 2015I am so happy it’s warm enough to grill.  Really cuts back on having a bunch of pots to wash!

Saffron Chicken 6 2015Once the chicken is done, slice and serve with the sauce.

Saffron Chicken 7 2015This is a case where once the components come together the balance is really good.  The sauce by itself was a little sharp but add it to the chicken it was a delicious dish.

Now off to continue with the painting!

Quick Chicken Curry

When you have to do a quick dinner be careful asking your kids what they want.  You may be tossed into the deep end!  Thursday was one of the those nights as our daughter had another concert for school.  It was also my day off so it was grocery day and I usually bring the kids with me to get their input.  Which is a safe thing because they don’t pick junk stuff.

So I asked what they would like this time.  My son piped up with Curry!  Because, you know, it’s a quick and easy dish to make.  His words.  But I do like a good curry.

And the co-op had fresh turmeric.

Chicken Curry 2 2015A sign, obviously.  What I didn’t count on was how yellow my fingers would be stained for a few days.  Very bright!

In a skillet heat up a tablespoon or so of olive oil and saute chopped onion and chicken until the onions have softened.  Then add a few cloves of garlic chopped.

Chicken Curry 1 2015Add a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, chopped bell pepper, and mushrooms.  Bring to a simmer. Add a few spoonfuls of red curry paste.  Grate about an inch square of fresh turmeric and the same amount of fresh ginger into the curry.

Chicken Curry 3 2015After letting the curry simmer for awhile adjust the curry seasoning to your taste.  Then add about a 1/3 of a cup of coconut milk, a splash of lime juice, and some fresh cilantro.

Chicken Curry 4 2015Serve with rice of your choice.  I’m glad our son suggested curry for dinner.  It hit the spot.  🙂

Chicken Curry 5 2015And thank you to those that gave me some tips on how to handle the photo size in the posts.  I think I’ve figured it out now. Of course, it’s a hassle!  Ah well, what can you do?

Spicy Aubergine with Roasted Chicken

I could use this hot spicy dish today given how bitter cold it is.  We’re in a deep cold snap and hopefully it won’t last long.  Guinness is not impressed at all.

Rosemary from Cooking in Sens did a post with spicy aubergine and veal a few weeks ago and I loved the flavours that were in the dish.  I had most of the ingredients and two chicken thighs to use up.  Plus our kids were coming back from Florida and I wanted to make them a nice meal to welcome them home.

Spicy aubergine 1 2015

Use a glass bowl big enough to hold the meat you choose to use.  Finely chop a shallot to give you about 1/4 cup.  Add 4-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped.  Then add 7 tablespoons of peanut oil, 1/8 cup of Sriracha sauce, 1/8 chilli garlic sauce, 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, 1/4 cup of soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Mix well.  Add the chicken and make sure it is well coated.  Cover and set aside for at least and hour in the fridge.

Spicy aubergine 2 2015

When it is time to make dinner heat the oven to 350F/175C.  Bake the chicken thighs turning every 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked.

Spicy aubergine 3 2015

While the chicken is cooking add the rest of the marinade to a skillet.  Add a cup of chicken stock and bring the sauce to a simmer.  Allow it to reduce by about a third or so.  If the sauce is too spicy add more chicken stock.  I had to do this otherwise I think I would have blown the kids out of their seats.

Spicy aubergine 4 2015

While the sauce is simmering, cube a cup and a half of aubergine and slice up the cooked chicken.  Add to the sauce and cook until the aubergine is cooked.  Just at the end add a handful of sliced scallion.

Spicy aubergine 6 2015

Serve with rice noodles or rice.

Spicy aubergine 7 2015

This was very spicy!  This would have a great chance of curing the common cold.  🙂  Which given the season, isn’t a bad thing!

Bring on the Garlic, Thai Style

I love garlic!  Any dish that calls for a lot of garlic is ok by me.  Just make sure your date eats it too otherwise you are out of luck.  🙂

My lovely husband bought me “The Complete Asian Cookbook – Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Burma” by Charmaine Solomon.  There are some amazing recipes in this book but the tricky bit is finding ingredients for some of them.  I have absolutely no idea where to find galangal, couldn’t find tamarind in any store, but I won’t be deterred!  No sir.  That’s what the internet is for.  In the meantime I’ll either adjust where I can or use the recipes in the book that have easy to find ingredients.

And we can get garlic so that was our first choice to try.  I’ve bookmarked several I can’t wait to try but this is our starting point.  It is called Kai Yang or Garlic Chicken.

Garlic chicken 1 2014

I adjusted the recipe to make two portions rather than the 4-5 it mentioned.  I didn’t back off the amount of garlic though.  🙂

In a bowl large enough to hold the chicken add 6 cloves of garlic, finely minced, 2 teaspoons of sea salt, 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of coarsely ground black pepper, 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, 1 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice, and a teaspoon of chilli powder.  Mix well.

Garlic chicken 2 2014

I chose to use chicken thighs, bone in, for this dish.  Add the chicken to the bowl and make sure the chicken is coated with the garlic mixture.

Garlic chicken 3 2014

Cover and place in the fridge for at least an hour.

When it is time to cook the meal preheat the oven to 400F/200C.  The book said to serve with rice and fresh tomato sprinkled with chilli powder.  I wasn’t in the mood for rice so I prepped sweet potato seasoned with the chilli powder and roasted it.  I also thought bok choi would be a great base to the chicken.

When the oven is ready roast the chicken, turning it every 5-10 minutes until it is cooked.  Take the rest of the garlic mixture that was left in the bowl and heat it up in a skillet with some olive oil.  Saute the bok choi as you take out the chicken.  You don’t want to cook the bok choi too much.

Garlic chicken 5 2014

Slice a fresh tomato and season with chilli powder and a bit of sea salt.  This was a new idea for me and I love it.  I’ll be having fresh tomatoes out of the garden this summer with this.  Fabulous!

Garlic chicken 6 2014

I loved this dish.  I was worried that it would be too strong with the pepper and garlic but it really worked.  I already have a few recipes from the book lined up to try.  🙂

Chicken Avocado Salad and a Frost Advisory

Correct me if I’m wrong but it’s still summer, right?  So it was completely insane to me to find us under a frost advisory.  Sunday afternoon we grabbed as many tomatoes as we could as the plants were too tall for us to cover.  The only other veg we really had to worry about were the peppers.  So we got those covered.  Turns out the temperature stayed just high enough but we have two more evenings this week that may get close to frost.  I had to dig out my winter hat to walk the dogs!

For Saturday I wanted to do a light healthy meal with chicken and avocado.  I was put in the mood for this last week when we had some gorgeous weather.  Saturday rolls round and it’s raw and cold.  I would not be dissuaded!  I put on more layers and got on with it.  🙂

This is super simple with layered flavours and it’s quick to put together.  The longest bit was the side of roasted potatoes.

Cook up 5-6 rashers of streaky bacon.

Chicken avocado 1 2014

Set aside the cooked bacon on paper towels and pour out most of the bacon fat and save for other dishes.  You only need a tablespoon or two.  Thinly slice a chicken breast and start browning it in the bacon fat.  Add a couple of chopped garlic cloves and a couple of mushrooms.

Chicken avocado 4 2014

As the chicken cooked I made the dressing.  This was a bit of an experiment as I had an idea of what flavour I wanted as well as consistency.  But wasn’t sure how to get there.  I started with a base of mayo.

Chicken avocado 2 2014

In hindsight I should have started with half the mayo I actually used.  I added sriracha sauce, lime juice and cilantro.  The important thing is not to have the aftertaste of mayo.

Chicken avocado 3 2014

To serve I layered lettuce leaves with the chicken, mushrooms, and chopped bacon.

Chicken avocado 5 2014

Add sliced avocado and fresh tomatoes. Drizzle the dressing over and serve.

Chicken avocado 6 2014

Now the idea was to make these as wraps but I served it this way because there was a lot of food.  Kudos for my family for being game and making them into wraps.  The thing I loved about this dish was it was filling but not heavy.  I hate feeling stuffed but also dislike being hungry a short time after so this was perfect. And we had just enough room for popcorn and watching “Young Frankenstein” with the kids.