Sunday Night Cooking

The rain ended and the sky cleared up Sunday night, so we decided to grill out. I made the standard hamburgers as well as some chicken bratwurst. I also made some chicken kabobs, using a new favorite recipe based on this one from Closet Cooking.

Grilled Tandoori Chicken

Ingredients:
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1T lemon juice
1/2 small onion
2-3 garlic cloves
1 inch piece of ginger
2 tsp garam masala
1 T paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
salt to taste
~2 pounds chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces Continue reading

This weeks reading

Following the trend of the past few weeks today’s links are health/diet related:

Soaking grains/legumes:
Traditional Preparation Methods Improve Grains’ Nutritive Value
by Stephan Guyenet (one of my favorite blogs, although it can get quite deep at time) is one of the most rounded and well-researched articles I have read about why and how we should soak grains and legumes (although the bit about oatmeal has me confused). Since soaking, sprouting and grinding flour for bread is a bit much for me, we mostly eat Ezekiel Bread.

You get what you pay for: Good Food is Not (Only) a Class Issue at Simple, Good and Tasty is a nice write up on how Americans in general feel about food. My favorite quote:

“When it comes to most things, we believe we get what we pay for. Shoes, clothes, cars … but when it comes to food, we don’t believe that. Most of us have a more intimate relationship with our hair cutter than we do with our farmer.” – Joel Salatin

We’ve come to think of cheap food as our right, and the idea of paying more when we could pay less seems silly, almost un-American. We’re saving our money for the things we think are really important, like cable TV and betting on football games.

Not saying we need to get out an become friendly with area farmers (although that probably wouldn’t hurt) but we need to put a higher value on the food we put in our bodies. There are so many good points in the article – go read it now.

Updated: Making Yogurt (and what to do with the whey)

Yogurt is good, and its good for you. Not too long ago I discovered Greek yogurt, which I truly love; Chobani is one of my favorite brands. But at about $1.79 per 5oz container it is not a cheap snack. Around the internet I had read about making yogurt, so I figured it would give it a try. I did the stovetop method, even though I did not have a candy thermometer – and the yogurt turned out rather well, but it was a hassle. Then last week when I came across a method to make yogurt in a crockpot and I had to try it. So far I have made it twice and it has turned out very good, very little effort required.

Slow Cooker Yogurt

Recipe notes: This recipe uses a 3 quart crock. If you have a larger crock – heat the milk an additional 15 minutes for a total of 2 hours and 45 minutes. I like to rinse my crock with boiling water from the tea kettle just before beginning. The first time I made this recipe I followed the timing very closely, the second time I was much more lax – the yogurt still turned out.

  • Turn your crock pot to low and pour in 1/2 gallon of milk.
  • Heat on low for 2 1/2 hours.
  • Once 2 1/2 hours have passed unplug crock pot, but don’t removed the lid – let the milk cool in the crock for 3 hours.
  • After 3 hours remove 1-2 cups of the warmed milk and place in a bowl. To that add 1/2 cup of yogurt with live active cultures and mix well.
  • Pour the yogurt-milk mixture back into the milk and whisk thoroughly. At this point you can also add dried milk if you like a thicker textured yogurt (start with about ½ a cup powdered milk)
  • Place the cover back on the crock and wrap the entire crock pot in a thick bath towel.
  • Let it culture overnight, 8-12 hours. I place the wrapped crock in the oven, which I have pre-heated to 180 degrees and then turned off.
  • In the morning strain yogurt and store in container of your choice. Save the whey – it is full of good stuff – see suggested uses below.
  • If you want a thicker, Greek textured yogurt, tie up the yogurt in cheese cloth and hang from cupboard door, or in refrigerator
  • For best texture, refrigerate for at least 8 hours before using, then enjoy!

Tasty breakfast: yougurt with strawberries, banana, chia seeds, walnuts, applesauce, shredded coconut and a sprinkle of cinnamon

What to do with the whey

  • Add to smoothies (as I did today)
  • Lemonade like beverage: squeeze a lemon sweeten with agave, mix with whey and soda water
  • Make mayo
  • Soak oats, raw nuts, grains and/or legumes
  • Add it to potato leek soup
  • Make ricotta cheese
  • Pour over the cat or dog food
  • Use in pancakes: 2 parts whey, 1 part cream
  • Freeze for future use (any of the above)

What is in my freezer

In case you have ever wondered (as I often do) what is in my freezer, here is a visual (photo taken 01/02/2010)

My freezer contents

Some old items were purged before this photo was taken I must admit. Most of these things are basics I usually have on hand in the freezer:

  • chicken breast
  • shrimp (3 types right now – wow!)
  • peas, spinach and other veggies
  • potatoes
  • various leftover liquids: tomato sauce, coconut milk, broth (the broth is actually new to me, I am trying to make my own broth because it is way, way healtier than anything you can buy. The broth in the photo is actually from my mom)
  • torillas (although those pictured are getting old, hmm…)

And then there is special stuff:

  • home-made chicken enchilada filling
  • a lobster tail
  • various frozen meals I have made recently (including baked oatmeal and turkey dinners)
  • gyro meat

So, what is in your freezer?

Curry Chicken Salad

I have recently become rather obsessed with cooking Indian food, so for our circuit assembly this past weekend I decided to make curry chicken salad. We have been dieting and eating healthy, so I wanted something that was good for us, but a bit different. Did some google-ing and found a well-liked recipe on epicurious.com, then I divised my own version of the recipe and plugged it into nutritiondata.com to be sure it would meet our needs.

The recipe made 4 generous servings, which we stuffed in pita bread with spring herb salad mix. Quick, easy and tasty! Even better the 2nd day once flavors mingle.

  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 lb skinless boneless chicken breast
  • 1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 tablespoon roasted cashews, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 dried currants
  • salt and pepper to taste

Bring 4 cups water to a simmer with chicken broth in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan. Add chicken and simmer, uncovered, 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat and cover, then let stand until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and cool 10 minutes. Chop into 1/2-inch pieces.

While chicken is cooling, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, curry, lime juice, honey, ginger, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add chicken, onion, celery, currants, and cashews and stir gently to combine. Serve on crackers, in pitas, or over lettuce as a salad.

Yellow Curry Chicken

Yellow curry

Ingredients
  • 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 (14-oz.) can light unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 Tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons red curry paste
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1½ cups green beans, cut into 1-inch segments
  • Fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Preparation
  1. Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Place the chicken and 1 teaspoon salt in the pan and saute until golden brown.
  2. Remove the browned chicken and set it aside.
  3. Coat the pan with the remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and reduce the heat to low. Add the cumin seeds, onion, garlic and ginger. Saute for 3 minutes.
  4. Return the pan to medium heat, add the coconut milk to the saucepan then whisk in the curry powder, paste, pepper and remaining salt.
  5. Let the curry simmer and thicken for about 3 minutes.
  6. Stir in the peas and green beans then bring the saucepan to a boil.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium, return the browned chicken to the pan and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Add fresh limes juice and chopped cilantro. Serve over basmati rice

Lime Biryani Salad

finalI have recently become mildly obsessed with quoina. I came across this recipe for Lime Biryani Salad in Women’s Health magazine. It is a light, healthy salad. I made a batch last night, it definitely tastes better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to mellow and mingle.

The dressing is a bit tart, but the currants add the perfect sweetness, and the almonds add a nice crunch. Even if you think you don’t like curry – give it a try, you might be surprised.

This recipe is great for summer because it involves no stove top or oven cooking – you can make the quinoa in a cooker (follow directions for rice – you might want to stop it cooking a bit early) and the rest of the ingredients are raw or canned.

ingredients

Lime Biryani Salad
Spicy curry salad highlights the goodness of quinoa and chickpeas. Add in any extra veggies you might have.
Make 5-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 limes
  • 3-4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 3/4 c dry quinoa
  • 1/2 package (10 oz) shredded carrots
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 bunch thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/4 c dried currants
  • 1/4 c sliced almonds, toasted
  • Optional: diced zucchini, red pepper, other veggies
Preparation
  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions, or in a rice cooker
  2. Chop any additional veggies you might add, add to large bowl with carrots, chickpeas, green onions and currants.chopped
  3. Mix cooked quinoa with vegetables
  4. In your blender bottle, combine juice from limes (about 3 tablespoons), olive oil, curry powder, cayenne, salt and pepper; shake until well blended. Pour over quinoa mixture and toss.
  5. Top with almonds just before serving

Gai Pad Krapow

Kris had this dish at a little Thai place in New York, I had the Pad Kee Mao – both were delicious. Both require Thai basil, or holy basil, neither is easy to find in my area, but the dishes are still successful with “regular” basil.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Chilis, finely chopped (use 2-3 serrano peppers for a very mild heat; 2-3 bird’s eye chilis for a medium heat)
1 large shallot, finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 pound green beans, trimmed, chopped in 1¼-inch lengths
1/2 pound ground chicken
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 bunch basil, leaves only

Procedure

1. Heat the oil over high heat in a wok or large frying pan. When you can see waves forming in the hot oil, add the chilis, shallots, and garlic and stir-fry until golden, about 30 seconds.

2. Add the green beans and stir-fry until cooked but still crunchy, 3 to 4 minutes.

3. Add the ground chicken, using a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the meat into small pieces. Stir-fry until chicken is cooked through.

4. Add the fish sauce and sugar to the pan, and stir to distribute. Taste, and add more fish sauce or sugar if desired.

5. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the basil leaves and stir-fry until completely wilted. Remove from heat.

6. Serve with boiled rice, fried egg (optional), and nam pla prik or lime wedges.