Sunday, September 12, 2010

Coconut Chicken Curry (based on recipe from Joy of Cooking)

Another recipe from Joy of Cooking, but this one was a success, primarily because I decided how I wanted to improve it before I made it. Again, like the last recipe, I just didn't feel like it had enough vegetables, and I wanted to make it similar to the cocnut curry dish we get from Big Bowl. It didn't turn out exactly the same, but close, and yummy! Matthew tried it the night I made it (after he came home, so it was basically like eating leftovers), and he liked it, although we both decided it would have been nice to have more of a sauce. So, another successful dish has been born!

Coconut Chicken Curry

2 lbs. chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste

Pund the chicken a bit, so they are all the same thickness. Do not make them thinner than the thinnes part of the chicken, but you don't want the thickness of the chicken to vary too mcuh. Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.

Heat and add some oil to a large skillet over medium high heat. Hover your hand over the oil to make sure it is hot enough (you should be able to feel the heat). Add the chicken. Brown on both sides. A nice brown crust should begin to form on either side. Remove the chicken pieces from the pan; lower the heat to medium or medium-low. Add to the pan:

1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced

Sweat out the onions until soft. Just keep watch, it is up to you how soft you like them. To the pan, add:

2 medium carrots, sliced
1 c. green beans
1 red pepper, cut in half and sliced
1 jalepeno pepper, chopped
1 T. fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Cook until the vegetables soften, approximately 5 minutes. While cooking the vegetables, slice the chicken into strips. Add and bring to a boil:

1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 T. curry powder
1 tsp. salt
2 scallions, chopped

Add the chicken, reduce the heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Serve over rice.

As I mentioned above, I would like a bit more of a sauce, and maybe a bit less curry flavor. I think next time, I will just add another 1/2 can of coconut milk.

Chicken Gumbo (Joy of Cooking)

This is the first recipe I used from the Joy of Cooking. After months of having it sitting in our living room, rather than looking on-line, I decided to actually try a recipe out of it. However, I have to say I was surprised, and not pleasantly. This does not mean that I will not try to make something out of it again, but I have plenty of recommendations. This recipe is a good starting point, but there are many ingredients I would add to it...primarily VEGETABLES!!! There are not enough, and those that are in it are definitely not large enough...they basically disintegrate into the stew. I will begin by giving the original recipe, but read to the bottom for how I would improve the dish. This time, it really wasn't for Matthew, as he is not the biggest fan of Gumbo; but with the right fixes, I will make it again.

Chicken Gumbo
In a large plastic bag, combine:

1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground red pepper
1 tssp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

Add and shake until completely coated:

3 lbs. chicken parts ( I bought random cut up chicken parts. For this recipe, having bone-in chicken is best. The meat amount will be different for different parts of the chicken, so a selection of different peices works best.)

Add and shake again:

1/2 c. all purpose flour

Heat oil in a Dutch pot over medium heat. Hover your hand over the oil to make sure it is hot. You will feel the heat rising.

Brown the chicken on all sides. When you see a nice brown crust appearing, turn the chicken. You want this on all sides; if you can turn them on all 4 sides, this is best. It is easiest when the chicken is close together, so they can lean on each other when on sides that are difficult to stand on. It will take about 4 minutes for each side.

While you are doing this, combine the following:

1 c. sliced okra
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped green bell peppers

Remove the chicken to a platter, discard the remaining oil from the pan. Set the pan aside.

In a medium saucepan, pour in:

1/2 c. oil

Whisk in:

1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Cook; stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. It is very important you do not leave the roux. The roux should turn a dark mahogany brown, and can take up to 30 minutes. Mine took about 20; but it will be different, depending your stove (gas vs. electric; new vs. old; etc.).

Remove the roux from the heat and stir until it stops bubbling, approximately 1-2 minutes. Very carefully, add the roux and vegetable mixture into the Dutch oven. Whisk in:

6-8 c. stock or broth

Bring to a boil, whisking every few minutes. Reduce the heat and add the chicken. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 30-45 minutes.Remove the chicken from the pot. Stir in the pot:

12 oz. andouille sausage, cut into 1/2 inch chunks, larger if you prefer (I used hot italiam sausage, as I could not find andouille sausage at my grocery store)

Simmer until the sausage is cooked through, about 10 minutes. During this time, remove the chicken from the bone. The chicken pieces should not be more than 1/2" to 1" thick. Add the chicken to the pot.

NOTE: The recipe calls for file powder, which I have come to understand will thicken the gumbo. I couldn't find it, so I didn't use it, and it was still nice and thick.

Lastly, add:

1/2 c. chopped scallions
Hot Sauce to taste
Salt and Pepper to taste

Serve over rice.

1) The vegetables you add should be doubled and very roughly chopped (this includes the okra, celery and pepper). Each piece should be approximately 1" thick. The onoins would be better cut in half and sliced thickly, rather tha chopped at all.

2) There is no reason you can't add more vegetables. In addition (or a replacement of), I would use a red pepper. Corn might be another idea...or even something leafy, like spinach. Zucchini? is really about what you like! Just make sure they are in 1/2" to 1" chunks. Otherwise, they will melt into the gumbo as it all cooks together.

3) I would add shrimp. Not a ton, but I definitely missed it.

That's really it. The flavor was definitely there, but it was just missing more chunkiness.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cedar Plank Smoked Salmon and Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

This weekend, Matthew and I grilled together...and probably made one of the best dinners to date! His Aunt Nancy gave us some Cedar Planks, and he was very excited to use them. Unfortunately, I don't know exactly what he did out there, but I do have the recipe he used.

Salmon Topping:
2 oz. Bliss Maple Syrup
1 T. Roasted Garlic
1 oz. Raspberry Blush Vingear
Salt and Pepper to taste

The planks needed to be submerged in water for about an hour, but we left it in there until he was ready with the grill. He prepared the salmon, the skin left on the bottom. After putting the cedar plank on the grill, he added the salmon. He then added the topping and cooked the salmon. All I remember is there was a lot of fire, and the end result was fantastic.

Now, my thoughts on brussel sprouts were very gray. Vary rarely have I had brussel sprouts I really liked, and usually at restaurants. However, I have to admit, even I loved these brussel sprouts, and had seconds...there was nothing left after dinner :-)

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon (From
1 lb. bussel sprouts, cut in half
3-5 slices bacon, chopped (we used 5 slices, because we LOVE bacon!!!)
2 medium shallots, minced
1 T. soy sauce
1/2 c. broth (I used chicken, but any should be fine. Whatever you have on hand)

Heat the pan to medium and cook the bacon. Stir frequently. This will take about 5-10 minutes, until a good amount of fat has been rendered. Add shallots. Cook in the bacon fat until soft, but not crispy and burnt. You need to watch it.

Add the brussel sprouts and turn the heat up just a bit. Brown the brussel sprouts to bring out the flavor.

Turn the heat back down to medium. Add the soy sauce and combine. Add the broth.

Lower the heat to low, cover the pan, and slowely braise the brussel sprouts for about 15-20 minutes. Take off the heat and serve immediately (they get cold quickly, and the flavor totally changes).