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.




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.


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


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.

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


Putting waste to good use


Since moving to London in December there have been many firsts/new experiences. I went from living with my parents, where we were 4, to it being just me and T. Many of the family recipes I've taken with me feed 4 or more. The same seems to be true of many blogs (including this one) and food magazines. I'm still trying to adjust to cooking and buying for two.

Over-cooking is not too much of an issue as I like to eat leftovers as lunches or re-invent them into something new when they start piling up towards the end of the week.

T and I hate throwing away food and are greatly working on reducing our food waste. Bones are kept for stock, as are vegetables trimmings. We regularly scour the deepest darkest depths of our fridge and pantry to try and catch things before they go off and create meals around them.


One of my biggest problems is grocery shopping for two. We've finally figure out how much milk we need to buy, after a few weeks of trial and error (milk that soured a few times vs. having to run to the corner store at 10pm because there wouldn't be enough for tomorrow's cereal). Bananas, however, continue to elude me. We love having them around, but never seem to be able to eat them all before they go too brown. Part of the problem is that T and I both like them on the green side of the spectrum, just days after they've yellowed. At the first sign of brown spots the poor bananas will go ignored in the fruit bowl until I can't bare to look at them anymore and throw them in the freezer.

The only good thing to come out of this is a freezer bag full of over ripe bananas, ideal for banana bread. This recipe in particular is my standby and is slightly more virtuous than the average one, with the presence of whole wheat flour for some of the while flour and oil and yoghurt instead of butter. Luckily, the taste and texture absolutely don't suffer. Ideally, the sugar content should/could probably be decreased, especially depending on how ripe your bananas are, and I would be interested to see the results of any tests and trials.


I'm somewhat of a purist and turn my nose up at add-ins, but feel free to make it your own using nuts, dried fruit, or anything else you might like.

And in keeping with not wanting to waste, we froze half the loaf in fear that we would not finish the entire thing fast enough. It does freeze beautifully, but apparently also gets eaten up quite quickly, so spoiling was not much of a problem.



This time last year... I was making delicious baked eggs (which gives me an idea for supper!)

Over on CanUK... On my new London living blog, CanUK, am I listing off foods I dearly miss from Canada, and UK foods Canada should import.

Recipe - Banana Bread
Adapted from Dietitians of Canada Cook Great Food

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg white
1/4 cup low fat plain yoghurt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 bananas)

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F. Grease a loaf pan.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, mix the sugar, egg, egg white, yoghurt, oil and vanilla extract. Mix in the bananas.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and shake it to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

What's seasonal in April?

Oh London can be such a tease.

Two weeks ago it was gorgeously sunny every day of the week, hitting up to 15°C. Then last week, in true British fashion, the sky was grey almost every day and the cold winds crept back in, chilling me down to the bone. The thick blankets came back out on the bed and the casseroles were back on the menu.

Today is April Fool's Day, and London is treating me to gorgeous blue skies and 16°C weather. The weather forecast says it will be 16°C again tomorrow, and 18°C on Friday. But I know that this is just a tease again for the rain and cold weather sneaking up on the weekend.

Early April in London is not to be trusted! Nonetheless, I am enjoying this sunshine while I can and appreciating the appearance of some favourites this month such as new potatoes, peas and lamb, just in time for Easter.

What's in season (April)

Source: BBCGoodFood.com and delicious.

Vegetables

Asparagus
Cabbage
Cauliflower (No cauliflower recipes here, I'm just not sure I'm a huge fan... But I'm willing to give it a try and hopefully experiment a little with it this month.)
Celeriac
Chard
Endives
Lettuce
New potatoes
Peas
Peppers
Purple sprouting broccoli
Radishes
Sorrel
Spinach
Spring greens
Spring onions
Watercress
Wild garlic

Fruits

Apples

Apricot
Gooseberries
Rhubarb

Strawberries (early days!)


Meat and Fish

Cod
Crab
Halibut
Lamb
Oysters
Salmon
Sea trout
Tuna
Venison

Kale double header


You are in for a treat today! It is a kale double-header!

Kale is one of the vegetables I am learning to love since starting my new challenge. It's not that I disliked it previously, I just hadn't really given it much thought. But these days I cannot get enough of it.

It first made an appearance in my spicy bean casserole, and gave me the confidence to try it out in more of a staring role.


I'm hesitant to call the two dishes I want to share with you today recipes, because they're not really. They're very very simple methods and ideas to get you thinking about kale. If you subscribe to a CSA you may be faced with a glut of it right now (lucky you!) and it is still plentiful and cheap at Borough Market (lucky me!).

The first way I prepared the kale was to lightly sauté it with garlic and a shallot until it was wilted, but still had a bite to it. I then sat it atop a thick slice of toast and crowned it with a poached egg for a light supper. Apparently eggs and kale are quite a sympathetic match! The garlicky kale was a perfect way to mop up the runny yolk, and the toast gave the whole dish a pleasant crunch. I would eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


My second method of preparation was to make kale chips. I ran across this idea on a blog and couldn't wrap my head around it. Would kale, baked to a crisp, be something I would really want to snack on? The answer is, yes. I'm not going to pretend to rave about how these have replaced potato chips in my life and how I will only ever snack on kale chips ever gain because that would be a lie. These are not potato chips, they are a completely different thing. But if you want a virtuous snack, and have a big pile of kale, oh boy you will be rewarded. And as previously mentioned, because eggs and kale are so fantastic together, I love a big pile of these with a fried egg for lunch.

Nutritionally, kale (like many leafy greens) is a heavy hitter. A great source of antioxidants (look at that dark green colour!) and with plenty of vitamin K, vitamin C and beta carotene to boot. However I hope you will give it a try and eat kale because it's delicious, not just because someone told you it contained any of the previous.

News! My new blog CanUK about my London life is finally up and running. Stop on over and say hi!



Recipe - Sautéed kale with a poached egg

Note. I used Cavolo Nero for this, or Black Kale. But it works equally well with any type of kale you can find.

1 bunch kale, thoroughly washed, dried, ripped into bite-sized pieces
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
Olive oil
1 Tbsp Water or vegetable stock
1 egg, poached
1 thick slice of toast
Salt, coarse

In a medium sized frying pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot and fry until softened. Add kale and a tablespoon of water or vegetable stock. Push kale around the pan until it becomes vibrant in colour. It should be soft, but still have texture (not mushy).

Place slice of toast on plate, top with a generous pile of kale. Place poached egg on the kale. Finish dish with a small pinch of coarse salt.


Recipe - Kale chips

Adapted from Apartment Therapy - The Kitchn

Note. the original recipe called for 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar to be added with the oil. I didn't enjoy the vinegar as much, but feel free to try both ways and see what you prefer.

1 bunch kale, washed, torn into 1/2″ pieces
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 400F / 200C. Toss oil and kale in a large bowl until kale is thoroughly coated.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place kale on sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or so, until crispy. (Note. Mine were very crisp at the 10  minute mark, although my oven tends to run hot. But make sure to keep an eye on them).



Learning to embrace spice


I don't have much experience with dried beans. I'm ashamed to admit that I turn to the canned variety nine times out of ten. It's not that canned in inherently bad, but when you take the time to work from dried you are often rewarded for your efforts with superior taste and texture. As I'm mostly at home these days I thought it would be a good opportunity to get better acquainted with the little guys.

I wanted to find a dish worthy of the effort, something where taking the extra step of soaking and cooking the beans would pay off. I decided to go with a kind-of baked casserole dish with a bit of a kick. The dried beans would add a certain texture to the dish that would otherwise be missing with a canned bean.

I'll admit I'm very slowly trying to build up my tolerance for heat. Between the curries from our local 'takeaway' and the daunting looking peppers from Cool Chile's (sic) stall at the market, I'm slowly getting there.


I am nowhere near T though, that man is unreal. He will laugh when he reads this post because I just have to tell you this little story. We visited the market a few weeks back when T's parents were in town. As we walked up to the Cool Chile stall, a poor girl was in tears after sampling one of the sauces she deemed "unbearably spicy". This definitely put me off sampling, but I put T up to the test who bravely picked up a tortilla chip, looked at the array of bottles and jars and slathered on the sauce the furthest to the right. "WOAH! Hold on there! The sauces are lined up in order of spice, with the hottest on the right!", the stall owner warned. It was too late, T had already swallowed the sample and deemed it "nicely spicy, leaves a tingle on the tongue". Turns out the girl before us, who was reduced to tears, had sampled the mildest jar. Nonetheless, I picked up a jar of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (the second from the right, a 7/10 according to the label) because after some investigative sampling, T deemed it his favourite. 


This was the first recipe I used it for and I went very lightly. It was just enough spice for me, but T supplemented with added Tobasco sauce.

But the beans! They were the star of the show. Using dried beans meant they retained their texture even after being baked in the tomato sauce and they gave a nice bite to the dish. I was really thrilled with how it turned out. It was a great combination of flavours and textures, and is so interesting no one will be asking "Where's the meat?" Leftovers also reheated perfectly, making my next two lunches very pleasant.


Recipe - Spicy Bean Casserole
Adapted from 101 cookbooks
Serves 4

250g dried butter beans (or other large white bean), rinsed, picked over and soaked overnight.
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
2/3 cup kale or chard, washed, de-stemmed and chopped into ribbons.
1/2 cup reduced fat mozzarella, torn into pieces
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

After the beans have been soaked overnight, cook according to package directions (this usually involves covering the beans in cold water and simmering until the beans are tender). Once this is done, remove the beans from heat and add a good pinch or two of salt. Let the beans sit for 10 minutes, taste and add more salt if needed. Once you are happy, drain the beans and set them aside.

While the beans are simmering, make the tomato sauce. To do this, place olive oil, a pinch of salt and the garlic into a cold saucepan. Stir around while you turn the heat to medium-high just until everything is fragrant (roughly 45 seconds). Try not to let the garlic brown. Now stir in the tomatoes, oregano and bring to a simmer. Remove pan from heat and stir in the adobo sauce. Taste, add more salt and/or adobo sauce, as required.

Preheat the oven to 425F/220C degrees. In a small casserole dish or dutch oven, toss together the beans, tomato sauce and the kale. Sprinkle the top with the mozzarella, and then cover the casserole in breadcrumbs. Bake for roughly 30 minutes, or until the cheese is browning, the beans are getting a bit crusty and the breadcrumbs are nice and golden.

What's seasonal in March?

Have you been keeping seasonal? We've really enjoyed the challenge and hope you have too.

Time marches on, and a new month is upon us. Without further ado, here is a list of what's seasonal this month:

What's in season (March)


Source: BBCGoodFood.com and delicious.

Vegetables

Beets

Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Celeriac
Endive
Jerusalem Artichoke
Leek
New Potatoes
Onions
Parsnip
Peppers
Potatoes
Purple sprouting broccoli
Radishes
Sorel
Spinach
Spring greens (Kale)
Spring onions
Squash
Sweet potato
Turnip
Wild garlic

Fruits

Apple (stored)

Apricot
Blood oranges
Kiwi
Lemon
Passion fruit
Pears
Pineapple
Pomegranate
Rhubarb (forced)

Meat and Fish

Cod
Crab
Halibut
Mussels
Oyster
Rabbit
Salmon
Scallops
Sole
Venison