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July 2009

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Jul. 2nd, 2009

Tandoori-esque chicken


Once I had conquered my cauliflower fear, I had to think of something to serve with it. (I wasn't ready for a big bowl of cauliflower on its own just yet).

Since I went with a more Indian twist on the cauliflower recipe I decided I wanted to stick with that part of the globe. I remembered a tandoori chicken recipe posted by David Lebovitz not too long ago. I scoured the ingredients list and happily realized I already had everything on hand, including a few chicken legs and a chicken breast in the freezer.


The chicken needs to marinade overnight but other than that the recipe is a cinch. The marinade is a mixture of yoghurt, spices and lime juice. I used low-fat yoghurt because that's what I had in the fridge and it seemed to work just fine.


I also baked the chicken instead of frying it because I'm a dietitian, and I like to do things like that (much to T's annoyance). Luckily, despite my fiddling, the recipe turned out great. I could see these chicken legs as part of a posh picnic, or BBQ. The flavours were bold, but not as spicy as the cauliflower, which I appreciated. The two made a great team.

I cannot vouch for the authenticity of this dish because I am definitely not an authority on Indian food. I'm not even convinced you can call this tandoori chicken because I'm pretty sure that needs to involve a tandoor, but I'm doing so anyways. The bottom line is that it was delicious, simple, and I would absolutely make this again.


Recipe - Tandoori Chicken
Adapted from David Lebovitz

1/4 tsp saffron threads (optional)
1 Tbsp boiling water (if using saffron)
8 skinless chicken legs (or a combination legs and thighs
3/4 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 to 1 1/2 tsp chili powder, depending on how hot you want it (I used roughly 1 tsp)
1/2 tsp peper
1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
juice of one fresh lime
1 Tbsp finely-minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced


If using, soak the saffron in the boiling water for five minutes. Meanwhile, with a sharp knife, score the chicken flesh deeply, each piece slashed three times. Put in a large zip-top freezer bag.

Add all the remaining ingredients to the bag, including the saffron (and the water) and squeeze out most of the air, then seal the top. Massage the bag to mix the ingredients and coat the chicken pieces. Refrigerate the chicken overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 190C/375F. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and place them on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is complete cooked.




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Jun. 10th, 2009

A Cauliflower Eureka


Growing up, we were never really a big cauliflower family. It made its perfunctory appearances on veggie platters but that's about it. I imagine it's because neither of my parents are huge fans - one too many instances of boiled-to-death cauliflower in their childhoods I suppose.

The English prefer it in the form of cauliflower cheese (cauliflower topped with a cheesy béchamel sauce), while North Americans seem to enjoy cauliflower cheeze (cauliflower topped with cheez whiz). Luckily, I never really had either growing up - but even now I'd rather not even go there.


But as T put it: We're adults now, we don't have to eat cauliflower any more. Well, that's not quite true. I really do want to love cauliflower. It is a nutrition powerhouse being a good source of fibre, vitamin C and folate. It's also high in the phytochemical that makes the cruciferous family such potent anti-cancer agents.

T and I have been on an Indian food bender. Our cupboards are well stocked with cumin, coriander, curry powder, turmeric and the like. I love playing with these spices. They seem to make everything tastier - so why not cauliflower? I had seen a cauliflower dish on the menu of our local takeaway spot so I knew it would probably work. Luckily, I then stumbled across a Smitten Kitchen post that sang the praises of cumin, and used it in a cauliflower and potato dish from Gourmet magazine. It was a done deal.


I tried it right away and loved it. The important factor for me was the texture. The cauliflower doesn't disintegrate into a mushy puddle. It has a nice bite to it. The seasoning is slightly heavy handed but cauliflower has such a robust flavour that it can take it. T and I both ate copious amounts, and he even went for seconds. Seconds of CAULIFLOWER. I knew I had found a winner. I would gladly eat a big bowl of this, perhaps on a bed of basmati rice. On this occasion we had it as a side for tandoori chicken.

To me this is more proof that you can't decide you dislike a vegetable until you've had it prepared more than one way. If anyone has any other cauliflower recipes (other than cauliflower cheese), please send them my way. I want to make the most of the gorgeous local cauliflower at the market while I can.




Recipe - Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes
From Gourmet Magazine, February 2004

Note: I did find this dish slightly too spicy for me. T on the other hand found it perfect. If you're a spice lover, leave as is. If you're a bit wimpy like me you make want to omit the jalapeño seeds.

1 (roughly 800g) head cauliflower, cut into 2 cm wide florets
570g Yukon Gold (or other good baking potato) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
5 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3/4 tsp salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp minced fresh jalapeño, including seeds
2 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 cup water

Put oven rack in upper third of oven and place a shallow baking pan on rack. Preheat oven to 475°F / 220°C.

Toss cauliflower and potatoes together in a bowl with 3 Tbsp oil, cumin seeds, and 1/4 tsp salt. Spread in hot baking pan and roast, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender and browned in spots and potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes.

While vegetables are roasting, cook onion, garlic, jalapeño, and ginger in remaining 2 Tbsp oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until very soft and beginning to turn golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and remaining 1/2 tsp salt and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Stir in water, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet, then stir in roasted vegetables. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

Serve with lemon wedges.


Jun. 1st, 2009

What's seasonal in June?

May was good to us and I think June will be even more so. We are already sampling the first British strawberries, weeks ahead of local strawberries in Montreal. Last weekend also saw our first picnic of the year which included two lovely artichokes. And if the weather continues to comply, we are in for a treat!

My personal objectives for June are to become better acquainted with broad beans and cauliflower. What vegetable do you want to get to know better?

What's in season (June)

Source: BBCGoodFood.com, delicious. and Eat the Seasons

Vegetables

Artichoke
Asparagus
Aubergine (Eggplant)
Basil
Beetroot
Broad beans
Broccoli
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Cavolo Nero
Chard
Courgette (Zucchini)
Endives
Fennel
Garlic
Lettuce
New potatoes
Peas
Peppers
Potatoes
Radishes
Rocket (aka Arugula)
Sorrel
Spinach
Spring greens
Tomato
Turnip
Watercress


Fruits

Apples

Apricot
Blackcurrant
Blueberries
Cherry
Elderflower
Gooseberries
Peach
Raspberries
Redcurrants
Rhubarb
Strawberries
Watermelon


Meat and Fish

Cod
Crab
Halibut
Herring
Lamb
Lobster
Salmon
Sea trout
Tuna
Venison


May. 11th, 2009

Feeding a cold


First T. was sick. Then it was my turn. I was out of action for a solid week. Now T is sick again. We seem to be playing tag with the flu, and it is not fun.

This has led to a search for recipes that are big on taste (so that we could taste them despite stuffy noses), but require minimal preparation.


Spaghetti alla puttanesca is exactly that kind of recipe. It is packed with big flavours such as anchovies, olives and capers. Nothing understated here! They are added to a simple tomato sauce to really capitalize on taste. The dish is really an amalgamation of flavours and becomes slightly salty, thanks to the anchovies and olives and slightly spicy due to the chillies. All this combined with pungent garlic means I'm not sure it's a first date kind of dish but T. and I love it.

It's a perfect week night recipe and I'd actually be embarrassed to tell you how many times we've had it in the last 2 or 3 weeks, lest you think we only ever eat pasta!


I don't have an Italian bone in my body, so I couldn't tell you if the recipe is original or not. I will also refrain from speculation as to the less than savoury history of the name of the dish. I do know that it packs a punch, and is very quick and easy to make. So for the original recipe I will leave you in the very capable hands of Mark Bittman and the New York Times.


Recipe - Spaghetti alla puttanesca
Adapted from the New York Times
Serves 2

2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed and peeled
1 tsp or more anchovy paste
2 x 400g can whole (plum) tomatoes
1/2 cup black olives*
a pinch red pepper flakes
200g spaghetti


Cook the pasta according to package instructions. While it is cooking, make the sauce.

Warm 2 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic and cook over medium-low heat until it is lightly golden. Drain the canned tomatoes and crush them with a fork. Add them to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Add the olives, capers, achovy pasta and red peppers flakes to the skillet. Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer for roughly 10 minutes.

Drain the pasta, toss it in the skillet with the sauce and serve.

Note. If using anchovy fillets the substitution is roughly 1 fillet per 1/2 tsp of paste. Add them with the garlic at the begining of the cooking.

*I detest olives so omit them entirely. I simply plop a few on T's plate as I'm serving.

May. 2nd, 2009

What's seasonal in May?

We've already feasted on Asparagus twice now and are loving this new spring produce. New potatoes are welcomed with open arms and rhubarb is making waiting for English strawberries bearable. April has treated us quite well, but I am very excited about what May has to offer. Without further ado....

What's in season (May)

Source: BBCGoodFood.com, delicious. and Eat the Seasons

Vegetables

Artichoke
Asparagus
Aubergine (Eggplant)
Beetroot
Broad beans
Broccoli
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Chard
Courgette (Zucchini)
Endives
Fennel
Lettuce
New potatoes
Peas
Peppers
Radishes
Rocket (aka Arugula)
Sorrel
Spinach
Spring greens
Spring onions
Tomato
Turnip
Watercress
Wild garlic

Fruits

Apples

Apricot
Blackberries
Elderflower
Gooseberries
Raspberries
Rhubarb
Strawberries
Watermelon


Meat and Fish

Cod
Crab
Halibut
Lamb
Oysters
Salmon
Sea trout
Tuna
Venison


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