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Remember my dear friend Angela invited me to a taping of the Canadian lifestyle show called Steven & Chris about a month ago? Well, she kindly invited me to another one in October and you’ll never guess who the special guest was! Jamie Oliver! He is as friendly and charming as you would imagine. They had a little question session during the show and my friend Angela had an on-camera question about how he balances his family life with such a busy schedule and his answer was quite surprising; he gave all the credit to the three ladies who manage his life and he even went as far as to say that he just shows up where-ever he is supposed to be! He is very humble but cheeky at the same time. Someone asked how long it takes him to write a cookbook and he said he reserves a year to do it during which he does nothing else. We were thoroughly entertained and as a super bonus, we received his new cookbook Jamie’s Comfort Food as a gift!

Jamie Oliver clowning around.

Jamie Oliver clowning around. Who would have thought that I’d be working in that very kitchen a few weeks later?

Here are a few pics of our very cool time watching the show being taped at the CBC building downtown. By the way, my food styling segment will air Thursday, November 20th at 2pm on CBC.

JamieOliver_1

Jamie made a stuffed bun recipe from the book and he handed out samples to a few lucky people~

JamieOliver_3

Getting ready for the questions.

CameraSpy

A sneaky camera man was looking at a woman’s phone as she was texting during a break.

A Review of Jamie’s Comfort Food. Scrumptious, Happy, Classics: 

The book is a beautiful collection of 115 world-wide comfort foods with Jamie’s usual fresh spin on it. It’s a hard-cover, perfect bound book, wrapped in orange fabric with lay flat binding which doesn’t exactly lay flat. The fabric may not have been the best choice for a cookbook. The recipes are divided into slightly less obvious chapters, such as Nostalgia, Good Mood Foods and Ritual to name a few, but the index at the end is alphabetical and it is easy to find what you are looking for. The recipes are traditionally laid out with the instructions in sentence form. I left my cookbook on the dining table to avoid getting it messy in the kitchen and it was difficult to keep track of where I left off in the instructions, I prefer numbered instructions. I found an error in the Chicken Tikka Masala recipe where three ingredients were listed as part of the marinade but half should have been reserved for the sauce (which was listed separately). Usually ingredients listed that are used in two preparations in a recipe are listed as “xxx, divided”. It won’t stop me from making a few other recipes, but I’ll be sure to proofread first.  A real bonus of this book is that every recipe shows the calorie count per serving and at the end of the book, each one has nutritional facts for Calories, Fat, Saturated Fats, Carbs and Sugar so that you may make informed decisions when deciding to make a recipe. This book is definitely gift-worthy and for $37.99 Canadian is quite reasonable considering every recipe has at least one beautiful photo but more like a few. As well, there are a few lovely family photos and some of Jamie cooking dispersed throughout the book, so it’s fun to flip through while sipping on a glass of wine, even if you don’t intend to make anything from it.

During our cottage closing weekend in early October, I took the cookbook and all the ingredients and to make Jamie’s Chicken Tikka Masala! What a dish, full of flavour and all of those warm, comforting spices you would associate with Indian cuisine. JT heard Jamie in a CBC interview saying that Chicken Tikka Masala is now rivaling Fish and Chips as the most popular food in Britain right now. It’s no wonder, this Chicken Tikka Masala totally rocks and I urge you to make it. The nutritional facts for this recipe read a little worse than I prefer at 415 calories, 21 g of fat, 10.8 of which are saturated per serving, so I modified the recipe to make it a wee bit healthier, for the real deal, please click here or purchase Jamie’s book.

ChickenTikkaMasala3_Blog

I made the dish again at home, it was equally as good the second time around!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Serves 8.

Ingredients for the marinade:

  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp each, sweet paprika, smoked paprika and garam masala (see recipe below)
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 6 cloves of garlic, grated finely
  • 1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 3 each red and green chilies thickly sliced
  • 800 g boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Directions for the marinade:

  1. Heat the dry spices in a frying pan until you can smell them. Put into a bowl and allow to cool.
  2. Combine all of the ingredient up to and including the yogurt. Mix well.
  3. Cut the chicken breasts into similarly sized chunks about 2-3 cm (1 inch) cubbed.
  4. Rub the marinade into the chicken cubes and then string them onto a meat skewer alternating themwith a thickly sliced chili. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours or overnight.
  5. Remove excess marinade and reserve in the refrigerator. Grill chicken until nice and “golden and gnarly on all sides”*

Ingredients for the Sauce:

  • 2 sweet onions, sliced thinly
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of cilantro stalks, chopped finely (reserve leaves for garnish)
  • 1 tsp each, sweet paprika, smoked paprika and garam masala (see recipe below)
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3 tbsp ground almonds
  • 500 mL chopped tomatoes (canned is fine, I used San Marino)
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk (or 2 tbsp coconut milk powder and 1/2 cup water)
  • Remainder of the marinade after you have cooked the chicken.

Directions for the Sauce:

  1. Dissolve the bouillon cube in about 1 cup of boiling water.
  2. In a small splash of olive oil or cooking spray, cook the onions until translucent. Add the garlic, the dry spices and stir until you can smell them then add the ground almonds and toast lightly. Add the cilantro stalks and cook for a few minutes. Add the dissolved bouillon cube and coconut milk and cook for a further 20 minutes. Using a stick blender, blend this smooth then add the chopped tomatoes and the left over marinade and simmer for 20 more minutes.
  3. Serve with home-made Naan or Basmati rice.

WARNING: You’d best portion this dish out for left-overs before serving because you won’t be able to stop eating. It’s that good!

Garam Masala (recipe from HeartSmart flavours of India by Krishna Jamal, 1998)

  • 4 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground mace
  • Directions for the Garam Masala:

    1. When ready to use in a recipe, heat a large heavy bottomed, unoiled skillet, heat combined spices until fragrant. Allow to cool before use. Store in a cool, dry place.
    2. Notes:

      • Left overs are delicious spread onto a fajita shell and dotted with bocconcini cheese, topped with another fajita shell and grilled like a quesadilla. Serve with a cucumber mint raita.
      • Although there seems to be a lot of garlic, it’s not overly garlicy, so definitely don’t skimp.

      chixtikmasalanutfacts

      ChickenTikkaMasala_Blog

      This is the cottage version of the dish. Very tasty indeed.

      ChickenTikkaMasala2_Blog Here we go, bad winter lighting.[/caption

      *from the cookbook

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Did you have pancakes on Tuesday? Pancakes are traditionally served on shrove Tuesday, not sure why but because we love the ‘cakes of pan’ we had these beauties for dinner Tuesday night. Thank you Sissi.

In early February, mid-February, late-February and now early March, we have been going through a bit of a deep chill which always makes us crave hearty, spicy foods. We invited my nephew, niece and her beau to dinner last month and I wanted to serve something new, for them and for me (I’ve never made this before!) so I turned to the hearty West Indian Rôti, always comforting with it’s warm flavours and great textures.

I chose Chef Marcus Samuelson’s Trinidadian Chicken Roti recipe, with some very minor alterations. I also used this recipe* for my Jamaican Curry powder; I actually liked the second one because I was able to make as much or as little as needed — I used 1 teaspoon as my single measure for the ratios which made more than enough for 4 tablespoons! You may also buy Jamaican Curry Spice ready made from the store.

There is absolutely nothing stopping you from omitting the chicken and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth to make this entirely vegetarian, you can even add tofu but the chickpeas are likely filling enough.

Below is the calorie count for one of the Rôti’s served at our favourite takeout place.  After the success of this recipe, I suspect that rôti will not be bought take out ever again! For the record, I always cut my rôti in half and shared it with someone else!

Calories: 1,013 YIKES!
Fat: 43 grams DOUBLE YIKES!
Sodium: 1,617 milligrams OMG!
Carbohydrates: 106 grams
Protein: 51 grams

Chicken Roti_2099

A perfectly seasoned and slightly spicy Chicken, chickpea and kale roti

Trinidadian Chicken Rôti

Makes 8 servings. Please see Chef Marcus Samuelson’s original recipe here. Make the curry a day in advance because it will taste better!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried sprouted chickpeas**, rehydrated over night (or low sodium can of cooked chickpeas)
  • 3+ cups chicken stock
  • Quick spray of non-stick spray
  • 1 large red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium Chinese egg plant, cubed
  • 2 generous cups kale, chopped
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 4 tbsp Jamaican curry powder*
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt, to taste
  • 800 g chicken breasts, no bone, no skin, cut into even chunks
  • 1/4 cup white wine

Directions:

  1. Add the sprouted chickpeas and stock to a slow cooker and set on high for 4 hours.
  2. Spray a large dutch oven with non-stick spray and sweat the onions until translucent on medium heat.
  3. Add the garlic, eggplant and kale and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the Jamaican curry powder, cumin and salt and pepper and stir until fragrant. Add the vinegar and give it a good stir. Using a silicon spatula, scrap this mixture into the slow cooker and give it a good stir. Cook on high for 4-6 hours.
  4. About 1 hour before serving, reheat the dutch oven and sear the chicken pieces in the spice laden dutch oven. Add the chicken to the curry in the Dutch oven. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and add to the curry.
  5. Give the curry a good stir and reset the timer and heat to Low for 1 additional hour.
  6. You may need to add a bit more more stock if the curry is too thick because you want a lot of gravy.
  7. Serve with Roti bread.
Chicken Roti_2097

Delicious!

** I tried sprouting my chickpeas for the first time on my friend Norma’s suggestion, not sure it made much of a difference the taste but it was fun to do.

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Nutrional Facts for the Curry

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Nutrional Facts for the Roti Bread

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We’ve been off on a little vaycay to the U.S. capital city, Washington, DC and I’ll post the photos and stories soon — but I also have a little surprise!
My friend Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella posted a wonderful alternative to fried rice and for obvious reasons I was ALL OVER IT. Of course, this blog wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t change it up a bit — not that Lorraine’s version her Cauliflower Fried Rice wasn’t perfect, I just didn’t have all of her ingredients handy and I wanted it now! So I made it Curried Cauliflower “Fried” rice and boy did it hit the spot; it was even delicious the next day when I took it to work with some grilled shrimp on top. Very tasty indeed.

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Resist over cooking because you really do want a tiny little crunch.

Curried Cauliflower “Fried” Rice

Serves 4 generous portions

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup sultana raisins
  • 2 green onions finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp low fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened grated coconut
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • a few sprays of non-stick EVOO

Directions:

  1. In three rounds, place the washed and dried cauliflower into a food processor and pulse roughly until you get a coarse grind, like rice.
  2. Heat a cast iron skillet add the EVOO and the ground cauliflower and “fry” until lightly browned. You are trying to achieve a nice golden crust on it, scraping is essential. Try not to add liquid as that will boil the cauliflower and you don’t want it too soft — you still want a touch of a bite to it. If your pan isn’t large enough, you may need to “fry” in batches so the excess doesn’t ‘steam’ the caulflower.
  3. Add the curry powder and heat until fragrant mixing it into the “fried” cauliflower rice.
  4. Remove from heat and add the coconut milk, lime juice and honey (it’s easier if you mix the three in a small container and add at once). Give it a good stir into the cauliflower.
  5. Add the raisins and green onions and mix well.
  6. Garnish with unsweetened grated coconut, serve warm.
Thai"Fried"CauliflowerRice_4730

The curry flavours really went well with the sweet cauliflower.

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It’s still blistery cold in these parts and we’re craving hearty foods. This was a recipe created because I wanted to make Naan again and I needed something Indian to go with it (I know, it’s usually the other way around, but I really wanted to eat test my new recipe again). It’s a lovely subtle curry with just enough spice to enhance the flavour and a wonderful creamy texture. I used coconut milk powder and water for the coconut milk in the recipe, but feel free to use the high fat canned stuff, I’m sure it will taste a lot richer. By the way, serve it with this Naan.

A delicicous combination of curry and coconut milk

Coconut Chicken Curry

Serves 4, 100 g servings of chicken each

Ingredients:

  • 400 g boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2.5 cm or 1 inch chunks
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 tbsp coconut milk powder
  • 400 mL or 14 oz warm water
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 red pepper sliced thinly
  • 1/2 green pepper sliced thinly

Directions:

  1. Heat oil and curry powder in a large skillet over medium-high heat for two minutes. Stir in onions and garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add chicken, tossing lightly to coat with curry oil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in center and juices run clear. Reserve chicken.
  2. Combine coconut powder and warm water and mix well.
  3. Pour coconut milk, tomato paste, lemon juice and sugar into the pan and stir to combine. Cover and simmer stirring occasionally for approximately 30 to 40 minutes or until the coconut milk reduces to a nice thick sauce. During the final 15 minutes, add the red and green peppers so they don’t overcook and the chicken to reheat.
  4. Serve with Naan.
The most delicious naan yet

Yes, these are as good as they look. I kid you not.

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It must be officially fall because the temperatures have plummeted and the rains have set in, the skies are grey and the wind is noisy. Kind’a depressing weather, and it certainly doesn’t inspire so I wasn’t up to menu planning; but paging through a local grocery chain’s fall 2010 issue, JT found a recipe he thought he would like to have to spice up our weekly meal plan. We’re making chickpea and potato curry. Now I don’t usually gravitate toward potato recipes, but I was totally uninspired in making the menu this week and decided to just go for it, potatoes and all. Next time, I would add a handful of sultana raisins to add the sweetness this curry was missing. Or alternatively I think I’ll try this with sweet potatoes or even butternut squash as I think the sweetness of the sweet potato or butternut squash would be heavenly with the curry.
Do you meal plan? I generally plan out the entire week on Sunday and do the groceries Sunday afternoon. I always make enough for lunches for the following day. The planning makes my head want to explode for an hour or so but then I don’t have to think about it! I store the plan on the iCloud in my Reminders app on my iPhone and that way I have it no matter where I am (because if I’m having fish on Thursday I’ll need to pick it up from my fishmonger that day and my Reminders will remind me!)
The dish comes together reasonably quickly and cooks in about 30 minutes. I think it took me 10 minutes to prep everything (mise en place) so 40 minutes tops. And I am sure you can do this in the slow cooker, I would choose low and cook for 4-5 hours (just remember to heat the curry powder in a lightly oiled frying pan before you add it to revive the flavours). The starch in the potato makes a very nice and creamy sauce. In the recipe below I cut the potatoes down to half, as I just didn’t want as many carbs. The method for preparing the onions is a little unconventional, but it worked out very flavourful.

Warm with a touch of heat is nice when it’s blistery cold outside

Chickpea and Potato Curry

Original recipe can be found in Longos Fall 2010 magazine or here.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 vidalia onion, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated finely with a microplane
  • 1 small hot chili pepper, halved and seeded
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp mild curry powder or paste
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed small (about 2 potatoes)
  • 1 can (19 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1-2 cups greens (arugula or spinach) per person

Directions:

  1. In your immersion blender, purée onion, garlic, ginger and chili pepper into a fine paste (you can do this in a mini processor too, but I find the immersion blender does a finer job).
  2. In a large deep skillet, heat oil and cook onion paste for about 5 minutes or until softened.
  3. Stir in curry powder and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add 2 cups of the water and stir to make a gravy consistency (it was actually quite liquid/soupy for me).
  5. Add the potatoes; cover and cook, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender but firm.
  6. Add chickpeas, garam masala and remaining water and cook for 10 minutes or until thickened and potatoes are very tender.
  7. Serve on a bed of greens, sprinkled with chopped cilantro.

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This weeknight meal started out to be a navy bean curry, but I went a little overboard on the spices and it ended up with the flavouring of our holiday in Morocco. If you please you could add some raisins, currents or even dates. Perhaps a nut or two for some crunch. All in all a very flavourful recipe that I hope you will enjoy.

Moroccan Inspired Navy Beans with Mushrooms

Serves 1 (just multiply by the number you need). I eyeballed this recipe, so if you decide to make it, make sure you alter it to your own taste! The only important bits are to soak the beans and cook them all the way through, the rest is really up to you!

The beans were cooked in the ‘curry’ until creamy

Ingredients:

  • 75 g dried Navy Beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1-3 cloves of garlic finely minced (I like my microplane for this)
  • 1/4 cup dried mushrooms, reconstituted in warm water, liquid reserved
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cremini and white mushrooms, sliced thickly
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 2 tsp Meat Masala
  • 3 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ginger (I used the powdered Moroccan ginger)
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • Water, as much as the beans will absorb
  • 1/2 cup celery chopped
  • 1/4 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp green onions
  • Hot pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Non-stick spray

I like to add pepper flakes for a bit of heat

Directions:

  1. Lightly spray a pressure cooker with non-stick spray and heat. Add onions. Cook the onions until they are brown, you’ll have to watch this as the spray doesn’t really give you enough fat so you’ll need to add very little bits of the stock. We don’t want to steam the onions, we want to BROWN them.
  2. Add 1-2 minced cloves of garlic and ALL of the dry spices and cook until you can smell the wonderful aroma (you are cooking the bitterness out of them). Add the drained beans and cook for a minute or so.
  3. Add the white vinegar and mix well. Add the remaining stock and about 2 cups of water. Close the lid and put the timer on for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, check to see if the beans have absorbed all of the water (how fast they absorb will depend on how dry they were…and how long you soaked them. Cooking the beans can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour). Keep adding water, or the reserved mushroom liquid until the beans are soft.
  4. In the meantime, heat a skillet and spray lightly with the non stick spray. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they are cooked (even the rehydrated ones). About half way through the cooking, add the remaining minced garlic. Set aside.
  5. When the beans are fully cooked, add the mushrooms, chopped celery and tomatoes and heat through.
  6. Serve garnished with the cilantro, green onions and hot pepper flakes.
  7. Enjoy.

This photo shows just a small portion, 75 g of dry beans is actually quite a lot of food

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Every so often we like a meal without meat. Indian flavours are always so welcome particularly on these bitterly cold winter nights. I saw one of our celebrity chefs, Chef Michael Smith, made this recipe on his show Chef at Home, and I’ll be darned if I can find it. It’s a really easy recipe and comes together quite quickly. It also serves up lunch very well the next day. And if you tire of it, just add bit of vegetable stock and purée into a lovely creamed soup.

There

Curried Cauliflower and Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • 450 g cauliflower cut into small florets
  • 300 g rehyrdated chick peas (if using canned, drain and rinse)
  • 160 g onion roughly chopped
  • 75 g raisins
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp corriander
  • 2 tsp curry
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk powder*
  • splash of EVOO

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven and sauté the onions until translucent.
  2. Add the cauliflower and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the chick peas.
  3. Sprinkle the spices over the hot cauliflower and stir until you can smell their wonderful aroma. Add the raisins.
  4. Add water and mix in the coconut milk powder. Cover and allow to simmer until the cauliflower is tender.
  5. Serve over a bed of mixed greens.

* In Toronto, they sell coconut milk in cans in our grocery stores, but I usually find I need only about 1/2 of a can. It doesn’t freeze well so I end up keeping in the fridge until it grows something weird and then it gets tossed. I found the coconut milk powder in the ethnic section in our large grocery retailer and thought it’s the perfect solution for me. You can do a search on line, I’m sure you will be able to find it in your local ethnic store.

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