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Archive for January, 2016

ChickenALaKingSoupDuring my childhood, we ate mostly Canadian-ized Hungarian food. And by Canadian-ized, I mean that Mom used yogurt instead of tejföl (sour cream), oil instead of lard etc. Every weekend we would have a roast of beef or pork (but mainly beef) and in the summer, Dad would BBQ steak and thick juicy bacon (szalonna). On weekdays Mom had her repertoire of chicken and fish dishes and I do recall the odd (when Dad wasn’t home for dinner) meatloaf, with the obligatory hard-boiled egg inside and various Hungarian stews like Lecsó and tok fózelék (a similar dish to creamed spinach but it’s on the sour side).

Around the timeI turned 14, I became interested in cooking recipes that I chose myself and my dear Mom encouraged me. One of my favourite resources very early on was the Milk Calendar, put out in full colour print for free by the Dairy Farmers of Canada. Every December, I eagerly awaited the Milk Calendar tucked away in the weekend edition of the Toronto Star. One of the first dishes I ever made on my own was Chicken á la King with leftover chicken (back in the day when a roast chicken fed a family of four AND had enough leftovers for another meal!)

I have to admit, I am unsure if the following inspiration came from the Milk Calendar (I’m leaning toward this) or my beloved Five Roses Cookbook (recipe page 233). What I can tell you with most certainty is that as I was making this soup, I instantly recognized the aroma and flavour of our beloved childhood Chicken á la King. The ingredients are quite unexpected and it’s pretty healthy to boot. If you love the flavours of a creamy Chicken á la King, you will LOVE this recipe.

When did you first begin cooking on your own and did you have a favourite recipe book that you used until it fell apart?

ChixALaKingSoup_7961

Chicken á la King Soup

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes  3 or 4 servings 700-800 mL (3 1/2-4 cups),

Ingredients:

  • 180 g red lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • water to cover
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/4 cooking onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 celery stalk, cubed
  • 1 carrot, cubed
  • 2 radishes, cubed
  • 2 tbsp frozen peas (optional garnish)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 100 g chicken breast, skinless and boneless, cut into smallish strips
  • chicken stock
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a medium, heavy bottomed pot, add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and sauté the celery, carrot, and radish until soft. Add the chicken and cook through. Set aside in another bowl.
  2. In the same saucepan, add the remainding 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Add the lentils, stir and cover with water. Cook until lentils are very soft. Remove from heat and blitz with an immersion blender until very smooth, adding chicken stock until desired thickness is achieved (I left mine relative thick so it’s more stew-like). Add the apple cider vinegar and blitz until well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Return the puréed lentils to the heat and slowly reheat, add the cooked vegetables and chicken and stir well. Serve pipping hot.

ChickenalaKingNF

Healthy Chicken á la King Soup

WWPointChixalaKing 

Traditional Chicken á la King

 

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TilapiawArugulaPaste

Last week we posted the Arugula Paste (or Arugula Pesto for those of us less traditional) and you might have guessed that I would do something tasty with it. The paste ended up on a tilapia fillet with some sautéed vegetables on a bed of spinach. The dish got rave reviews even if the lighting sucks.

Tilapia Crusted with Arugula Paste

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 60 g button mushrooms, cut in half
  • 60 g radishes, cut into triangles
  • 50 g yellow pepper, cut into cubes
  • 50 g red pepper, cut into cubes
  • 70 g eggplant, cut into cubes
  • 70 g onion, chopped
  • 60 g celery, cut into cubes
  • 200 g tilapia fillet
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup arugula paste

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F (176° C). Place fish in the centre of a heart-shaped sheet of parchment paper. Spread about half of the arugula paste on top and close and fold the parchment en papillote style (please see note below).
  2. In the meantime, add 1 tsp vegetable oil to a sautée pan and sautée all of the vegetables until just crunchy. Toss with the remaining arugula paste.
  3. When fish has reached an internal temperature of 158° F (70° C)
  4. Serve hot on a bed of baby spinach topped with the fish and the sautéed vegetables.

ArugulaPesto_onTilapia_7947

A delicious topping on a firm white fish.

I created this easy to follow video on how to fold en papillote. Please let me know what you think.

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*First ArugulaPaste

So far, winter hasn’t been horrible (dare I say it out loud?). In the last week, we’ve only had a couple of super cold days (-23° C or -9.4° F) but we’ve only had one snow storm and although it was super wet, it wasn’t that bad (shovelling was awful!). The one thing I will complain about is the lack of sunshine November and December was…gloomy, gloomy, gloomy! Although January’s start has been chilly, it has been sunny! So if I have to give up warmth for sun, so be it.

Have you made a New Year’s Resolution? JT and I decided that we need to get back on track and eat more vegetables and limit eating out (oh dear, we do eat out a lot). So, I have determined that the next month or so I will dedicate the blog to super healthy, clean eating, roughly based on a ketogenic diet. I say roughly because I’m going to allow myself one day per week to ‘cheat’ (TBD)! I will comb through your lovely blog pages and get my inspiration there.

We’ve also decided to eat our main meal at noon instead our norm of 6 or 7 in the evening. We’re hoping that these changes will result in some shedding!

This condiment came about as I stared blankly in the refrigerator…so many vegetables but no inspiration! The bag of baby arugula called out to me…pesto, it whispered. Now I know many of you are pesto traditionalists and only basil, garlic, EVOO, pinenuts and parmesan will do…but what if you wish to limit calories? Yes, there is the argument that you should only use a little, but I wanted to start the week off right so I created this unique paste that resembles pesto (notice I didn’t call it pesto?). I received a solid thumbs up from JT, it has texture, a slight kick and it’s bright and beautiful green. A little sunshine on these gloomy winter days.

ArugualPaste_7953

The raw cauliflower gives makes a good substitute for the nuts, providing the slight crunch needed.

Arugula Paste

Makes a 125 mL (1/2 cup) sauce

A Kitchen Inspirations Original Recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 60 g raw cauliflower (either stems or florets or both)
  • 60 g baby arugula
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp vegetable stock (home made)
  • sea salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Add the raw cauliflower to a small processor bowl, process until it becomes a fine meal.
  2. Add the arugula (may need to be added in smaller portions), garlic, vinegar and stock and process until a desired consistency is achieved (I wanted it relatively fine).
  3. Season with sea salt and process until totally combined.
  4. See serving suggestions in notes.

Notes:

  • Serving suggestions: pasta, sautéed vegetables, zucchini noodles, drizzled on tomatoes, meat or fish.
  • Add a spoonful or two into a simple oil and vinegar salad dressing or greek yogurt for a dip.

ArugulaPasteNFScreen Shot 2016-01-05 at 4.31.47 PM

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ChaiTiramisu_First

We had good friends over for dinner recently and I made an Indian extravaganza (all posted recipes but I’ll repeat them below). I wanted something a little different because I’d already made Chai Crème Brûlée and Gulab Jamun. I’ve always wanted to bake Lady Fingers and that’s how I landed on Chai Tiramisu. We feasted on the Indian food and then retired to the living room to enjoy the wood fire and dessert; our guests must have enjoyed the dessert because after they’d decided they had had enough and rested the half-eaten plates on the coffee table, they kept picking them up for ‘just one more bite’, eventually finishing off the entire plate. Now THAT makes me happy.

It’s not overly sweet and the chai comes through from the chai liquor soaked lady fingers. The ricotta and Greek yogurt combo makes it slightly less rich than the mascarpone version which was good considering the heaviness of the meal; I would definitely make it again even with the home-made ladyfingers, but if you’re tight for time, the store bought Italian ladyfingers would certainly do the trick.

Chai Tiramisu and Homemade Ladyfingers

Makes approx 1 loaf pan 23 cm x 13 cm  (9″ x 5″) tiramisu.

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Placing the tiramisu in the freezer for one hour before serving guarantees perfect slices.

Lady Fingers

Makes about 36 small lady fingers

Roughly based my recipe on this recipe, but I reduced volumes and I changed the method for egg whites

Ingredients Ladyfingers:

  • 2 eggs, room temperature, separated
  • 4 tbsp sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp bourbon vanilla extract
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 42 g cake and pastry flour, sifted

Directions Ladyfingers:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F (176° C). Generously butter and flour a lady finger molded tray or a cookie sheet.
  2. Beat egg whites with 2 tbsp sugar and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form, set aside.
  3. Beat egg yolks with remaining 2 tbsp sugar and vanilla extract until pale in colour but not ribbons.
  4. Gently fold in the egg whites being careful not to deflate. Carefully sift the flour into the egg mixture and fold even more carefully so as not to deflate but making sure all the flour is well incorporated.
  5. Using a lady finger molded baking tray, or piping the batter into long fingers
  6. Bake for 12 minutes, allow to cool completely in pan and gently coax out to remove.
LadyfingerPan_7618

Butter generously and then dust with flour. Don’t take the non-stick spray shortcut, it doesn’t work!

Ingredients for Chai liquor (see note):

  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • 2 short cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 8-10 cloves
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 5 cm fresh vanilla bean
  • 1 black tea bag
  • 1 tsp Pastis (or any anise flavoured liquor such as Ouzo or Anisette)

Directions for Chai liquor:

  1. Add milk and all of the spices except the vanilla bean to a small saucepan and stir well.
  2. Scrape seeds out of the vanilla bean and add both bean and seeds to the saucepan. Heat slowly to infuse the milk with the chai flavours, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool, strain through a coarse sieve to allow vanilla seeds to remain in infused milk. Stir in Pastis. Set aside for assembly.

Ingredients for the Ricotta Cream and Chai Sugar:

  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese (See note)
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp cardamon
  • 1 tsp cocoa
  • 1/4 cup, roughly chopped pistachios, toasted

Directions for the Cream and Chai Sugar:

  1. Combine ricotta, yogurt, orange rind and 2 tbsp icing sugar and whip until fluffy.
  2. Combine 1 tbsp icing sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon and cocoa and mix well.

Directions for Assembly:

  1. Line a small loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. Dip each end of the ladyfingers into the chai liquor and line the loaf pan with them. Spread one third of the cream mixture over top, sprinkle with the chai sugar. Repeat 2 more times.
  3. Refrigerate overnight. About 90 minutes before serving, place in the freezer for so it’s easy to slice. Remove after 1 hour and slice into portions. Sprinkle some of the chai sugar on each plate, carefully place each slice in the centre of the plate, allow to sit for 30 minutes so it’s not overly cold. Serve with sprinkled pistachios.

Notes:

  • On using ricotta over mascarpone: I chose ricotta for two reasons, first is calories, this dessert made with ricotta is less than half the calories than using the richer mascarpone and two is budget, for some bizarre reason, mascarpone was $15 for about the same size of a $4 ricotta tub.
  • Feel free to use a chai tea bag to infuse the milk and omit all of the other spices, although I would still add the vanilla bean and seeds and the Anise liquor. Do not squeeze the tea bag otherwise you will have bitter chai liquor.
  • This dessert is best if it sits overnight in the fridge.
  • Although it is tempting to spray the ladyfinger pan with a non-stick spray, it will NOT WORK. Butter it generously and dust with flour. Each pan must be washed and rebuttered.

ChaiTiramisu_7635

The lady fingers soak up the Chai Liquor so they are pillowy soft.

Previous Posts about Indian Food:
Palek Paneer

Also known as Saag Paneer

Also known as Saag Paneer

Carrot Pickle and Mango Chutney

Lightly crunchy and packed full of flavour

Lightly crunchy and packed full of flavour

Sweet and tangy, just like a chutney should be

Sweet and tangy, just like a chutney should be

Best Naan Ever

Chewy and crispy at the same time

Chewy and crispy at the same time

Aloo Papri Chat

A quick shot of the actual serving dish at the dinner party

A quick shot of the actual serving dish at the dinner party

Beef Buhna

Tender beef cubes drenched in a mildly spicy, fragrant, flavourful gravy

Tender beef cubes drenched in a mildly spicy, fragrant, flavourful gravy

Paneer Makhani

A delicious, rich tasting tomato gravy with gently firm paneer

A delicious, rich tasting tomato gravy with gently firm paneer

Baked Onion Bahjis

Don't be fooled by their size, they pack a big punch of flavour

Don’t be fooled by their size, they pack a big punch of flavour

Jamie Olivers Chicken Tikka Masala (by far our favourite Indian Recipe)

ChickenTikkaMasala2_Blog

Chai Crème Brûlée

ChaiCremeBrulee_1925

Lemon Lentil Soup

Lemon Lentil Soup_1337

Tamarind Chutney

Tangy, sour and sweet all at once.

Tangy, sour and sweet all at once.

Enhanced Mulligatawny Soup

Enhanced Mulligatawny Soup

Enhanced Mulligatawny Soup

Gulab Jamun

Gulab Jamun

Gulab Jamun

Matar Paneer

matarpaneer

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