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Archive for the ‘Ethnic’ Category

We are so lucky to have a great year-round market here in Charlotte that features local farmers, specialty food and craft vendors. I try to make it to the Atherton Mill Market a couple of times a month during the winter to pick up fresh eggs, local cheeses and whatever winter produce looks good.

My produce purchases have featured a lot of greens, sweet potatoes and various winter squash. I love all of these foods but I’m guilty of sticking to the same preparation methods due to ease and lack of time. I actually had some downtime last night to spend in the kitchen so I started researching recipes that used the ingredients I had on hand and found an amazing sounding vegetarian curry on Smitten Kitchen.

Deb’s recipe was for Curried Lentils and Sweet Potatoes with Swiss Chard. I used her recipe as a guide but made quite a few changes based on what I had on hand in the kitchen. I used collards instead of swiss chard but I think any winter green would work well in this dish. I also omitted some ingredients that I didn’t have and substituted others. The resulting dish was still incredible and I couldn’t get over how well all of the flavors came together. I am a big fan of curry and I loved this vegetarian combo that was protein-packed thanks to the lentils.

I served the curry over brown rice and topped it with plain Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of almonds. The Greek yogurt was a nice touch to cool it down a bit (I was a little heavy handed with the cayenne pepper – I love spice!). I can only imagine that the leftovers will be even better after the flavors have a chance to develop even more with time.

Curried Lentils and Sweet Potatoes with Greens
(Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen, original source The New York Times)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated – I love fresh ginger but didn’t have any)
3/4 teaspoons garam masala
3/4 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 to 3 cups vegetable broth as needed
1 sweet potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 cup dried lentils (I used green)
1 bay leaf
1/2 pound greens such as swiss chard, collards, kale, etc., center ribs removed and leaves thinly sliced (I used about 7 big leaves)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
Zest of 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon lime juice
Plain Greek yogurt and sliced almonds for topping, if desired

Directions:

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, gramam masala, curry powder and cayenne and sauté, stirring constantly, for about one minute. Will be very fragrant.

Stir in 2 cups of broth, sweet potatoes, lentils and bay leaf. Increase to high heat and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and partially cover (leave the lid ajar). Simmer for 25 minutes. (If lentils soak up all the broth, add up to 1 more cup of stock, slowly, as needed.) Stir in greens and salt and continue cooking until lentils and greens are tender. Start checking after about 25 minutes. It can take up to 45 depending on your greens and lentils.

Just before serving, stir in lime zest and juice. Serve over desired base – rice, quinoa, etc. or on its own. Top with garnishes of your choice.

Yield: 2-3 main course servings

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We’re trying to take advantage of the last few weeks of daylight savings time and mild temperatures by using the grill whenever possible for dinner. While Brandon is a year-round griller, it’s just more enjoyable to be out there in daylight and not shivering!

We’re always looking for ways to mix it up on the grill so we’re not always preparing the same grilled chicken, fish, steak, veggies, etc. Luckily, we have some great resources for inspiration and while flipping through The Cook’s Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue, I came across this recipe for Tandoori-Style Chicken Breasts. I really enjoy ethnic foods and I was especially excited for the opportunity to use the turmeric and coriander that are usually pushed to the back of the spice cabinet.

This chicken features a thick coating of a very flavorful spice rub. The tandoori effect is achieved by getting the grill really hot and starting the chicken on high heat before moving it to a cooler side of the grill. The yogurt sauce is the perfect finish and a nice contrast to the chicken. I served the chicken with Indian-Style Potatoes from Epicurious and roasted broccoli.

Tandoori-Style Grilled Chicken Breasts with Yogurt Sauce
(Recipe adapted from The Cook’s Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue)

Ingredients:

FOR THE YOGURT SAUCE
1 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley (if you’re a cilantro hater like my husband!)
1 garlic clove, minced (I briefly sauteed ours before adding it because I cannot do raw garlic)
Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste

FOR THE CHICKEN
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Directions:

FOR THE YOGURT SAUCE
Whisk together all ingredients and season to taste with salt and cayenne. Place in fridge until ready to serve.

FOR THE CHICKEN
Prepare grill. If using gas, preheat by turning all burners to high and closing lid.

Mix together ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne together in a small bowl. Rub chicken breasts with olive oil and then generously coat with spice mixture.

If using gas grill, leave one burner on high and turn others to medium low. Place chicken on hot part of the grill until well-browned, 2-3 minutes with the lid down. Move to the cooler side of the grill and continue to cook for another 10 mninutes. Turn and cook for 5 more minutes or until done. Internal temperature should read 160 degrees.

Note that we cooked this on the Big Green Egg and used a similar technique to the above by moving chicken to a cooler part of the grill after the first few minutes and cooking with lid down.

Let chicken rest for 5 minutes and then slice. Serve with yogurt sauce.

Yield: 4 servings

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We really enjoy noodle bowl creations but usually lean towards broth-based, curry flavored noodle bowls. This recipe caught my attention because I have never cooked with soba at home and it seemed healthy and satisfying. I’m in the midst of a 10 day break from meat so I added this vegetarian dish to this week’s menu.

Soba noodles are Japanese thin noodles made from buckwheat flour. They are high in fiber contain all eight amino acids, making them a great source of vegetarian protein. I experienced some difficulty finding them in my normal store – they carried them but they were out of stock at two different stores. Brandon stopped by Earth Fare and discovered they had several different brands. If your local grocery doesn’t carry them check an Asian market or a health foods store or substitute whole wheat spaghetti.

I was drawn to two different recipes – I liked the dressing from Annie’s Eats and the vegetable mixture for the noodles from a Gourmet recipe. I decided to combine the recipes and was pleased with the results. I also think this would be delicious with tofu or chicken added to the mix.

Add this to your weekly menu plan as a meatless main! It’s easy, healthy and flavorful!

One Year Ago: Kefta and Zucchini Kabobs
Two Years Ago: Indian Spiced Chicken Burgers

Spicy Soba Noodles with Edamame, Mushrooms and Cabbage
(Inspired by Annie’s Eats and Gourmet)

Ingredients:

FOR THE DRESSING
1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
4 green onions, chopped
2-3 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar

FOR THE NOODLES
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons peeled ginger, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
10 ounces fresh mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced (shiitake or button)
1 pound Napa cabbage, thinly sliced (5-6 cups)
2 green onions, sliced
8 ounces soba
1 cup frozen shelled edamame

Directions:

FOR THE DRESSING
In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients and set aside.

FOR THE NOODLES
Toast sesame seeds in a large, heavy skillet (not nonstick and with no oil) over medium heat. Stir often and cook until pale golden. Transfer to a small bowl.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms, stirring frequently, until they start to brown, about 4 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add cabbage and scallions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp but tender, about 6 minutes. Add sauce and simmer for another 2 minutes.

While the cabbage is cooking, cook the soba and edamame together in a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook until noodles are just tender, about 5-6 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water.

Transfer noodles to a large bowl and toss with sesame seeds and vegetable mixture.

Yield: 4 servings

 

 

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We enjoy ethnic food and love cooking it at home. I first made this Chicken Tikka Masala from Cook’s Illustrated a couple of years ago and was so impressed that I was able to make such a delicious Indian dish at home.

Although the recipe does have quite a few ingredients and multiple steps, it is fairly easy. Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never tried anything like this at home! The sauce and chicken are cooked separately and stirred together in the end. The chicken is dipped in yogurt and broiled which yields tender meat with nice charred spots. While the chicken cooks, the masala sauce simmers. The sauce has a nice, slow burning heat thanks to a serrano chili. If spice isn’t your thing, substitute a milder pepper or omit it all together.

The only substitution that I made to the original recipe was to sub the heavy cream in the sauce for plain yogurt. I thought that the plain yogurt would work well in this dish to add creaminess based on my success with this Curry and Yogurt Braised Chicken that we love. It turned out just as tasty as I hoped and the plain nonfat yogurt provided guilt-free creaminess.

I served the tikka masala over brown rice with naan on the side. Naan is a must for dipping into the delicious sauce. I usually make homemade naan but was pressed for time so I used Trader Joe’s naan. It was passable but Brandon and I both agreed that the homemade is much better.

One final note, this dish reheats well. It’s one of those things that has even more flavor the second time around. Whether you love Indian food or have never made it at home, this is an awesome recipe to try!

One Year Ago: Nutella Croissants
Two Years Ago: Maple Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Chicken Tikka Masala
(Recipe source Cook’s Illustrated)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CHICKEN
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon table salt
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts , trimmed of fat (I only used two large breasts and it was fine)
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used fat free)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves , minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

FOR THE MASALA SAUCE
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 fresh serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup heavy cream or plain non-fat yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (I omitted)

Directions:

FOR THE CHICKEN (STEP ONE)
In a small bowl, stir together cumin, coriander, cayenne and salt. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture and press gently to adhere. Cover chicken and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour. While chicken is in fridge, in large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic and ginger.

FOR THE MASALA SAUCE
In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste and garam masala and continue to cook, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar and salt and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream or yogurt and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

FOR THE CHICKEN (STEP TWO)
While sauce is simmering, Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack over it. Spray rack with cooking spray. Adjust the oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heat) and pre-heat broiler. Dip chicken into the yogurt mixture (you’re looking for a thick coating of yogurt) then arrange chicken on the wire rack. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

TO ASSEMBLE
Let chicken rest for 5 minutes and then cut into 1-inch chunks. Stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, season with salt to taste and serve over rice with naan.

Yield: 4-6 servings

 

 

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Meal planning can sometimes be tricky in our house due to my desire to reduce the amount of meat (including seafood) that I eat and my husband’s wish to have meat with most of our meals. Luckily, we’ve come to a compromise where I tend to avoid meat at breakfast and lunch and only have it with dinner two to three times per week. While Brandon still loves bacon breakfasts, turkey sandwiches at lunch and a steak for dinner, he is very willing to also have a couple of meatless dinners every week.

I find that it’s fun to experiment with ethnic dishes for our meatless mains. It seems like there are endless options ranging from curries to stir fries to pastas and much, much more. I recently got the idea in my head to make sesame ginger maple tofu and was pleased to discover a similar recipe on Eating Well. I loved that the sauce also included tahini.

This dish was so easy! Everything is roasted together in the oven with the sauce being drizzled over the tofu and vegetables towards the end of cooking. I served it over soba noodles.

I made a few alterations to the recipe by adding fresh ginger, doubling the sauce and including carrots and green pepper with the veggies. The sauce was so flavorful and really soaked into the tofu and veggie mixture. I think that you could substitute a variety of vegetables in this depending on your preferences and what you have on hand. Also, I think that this sauce would be great with shrimp.

The leftovers were just as good the next day. I served them over a bed of spinach with brown rice and a generous squirt of Siracha.

This is a healthy and delicious vegetarian dish that should be added to your meatless main rotation!

One Year Ago: Chocolate Cream Pie
Two Years Ago: Alton Brown’s “The Chewy” Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sesame Ginger Maple Tofu
(Recipe adapted from Eating Well)

Ingredients:

1 (14-ounce) block extra-firm water-packed tofu, rinsed, patted dry and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium onion, sliced
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely minced
3 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed
2-3 carrots, cut into one inch slices
1 green pepper, cut into thin slices
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Soba noodles, rice noodles or brown rice, for serving

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with foil (for easy cleanup) and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Place tofu and veggies on a baking sheet and toss with oils, salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time. Drizzle all over with the sesame ginger maple sauce and continue roasting for another five minutes. Serve over soba noodles, rice noodles or brown rice.

Yield: 4 servings

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Winter has arrived in the Carolinas in full force. It is freezing but I won’t complain about the temperatures because I know I have many readers who live in cold, snowy climates…I don’t know how you do it! One thing I will say is that cold days and even colder nights make me crave warm, hearty dishes like soup. I’ve had this Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas bookmarked for months and the perfect opportunity finally arose to make it on a chilly night when Brandon was out to dinner with friends.

I didn’t know how receptive Brandon would be to the soup. While he loves curry dishes, I didn’t know if he’d go for a vegan soup for dinner so I made it on a night he wasn’t home. I loved cooking this dish. It was so fragrant and very easy. I was extremely pleased with the results – the soup was flavorful and filling. I am happy to report that Brandon loved the leftovers for lunch the next day. I will definitely be adding this soup to the “winter warmers” recipe collection.

A few notes about the recipe…I almost doubled the curry powder and could have gone for a bit more. If you are a curry lover don’t be afraid to be a bit heavy handed. Next time I make this I am going to experiment with adding other spices like cayenne pepper to up the spice factor and cumin or coriander. This recipe was great as written but I would love to play with developing the flavors a bit more.

One Year Ago: Pork Chops with Cider Cream Sauce and Sauteed Apples
Two Years Ago: Greek Pasta

Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas
(Recipe source Epicurious, March 2009)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño chili, seeded, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped tomatoes, seeded and peeled, fresh or canned
1-2 teaspoons mild curry powder, to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
3/4 cup cooked white or brown rice, cooked
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped

Directions:

Heat the oil over medium heat. in a medium stockpot. Add onion, bell pepper and chili and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the curry powder and stir until onion mixture is coated. Add broth, chickpeas, tomatoes, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Yield: 4 servings

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I blogged about making Shaksuka on my healthy living blog a few nights ago. I was surprised that it received a lot of positive feedback and quite a few people have indicated that they would like to make this dish.

A very quick overview of Shaksuka for those who didn’t read my post earlier this week. Shaksuka is a vegetarian dish of Moroccan/Israeli/Egyptian origins. It’s traditionally served as a breakfast item. It’s a spicy tomato broth with poached eggs. The dish is very quick and easy to make and also healthy. I served the Shaksuka with homemade pita bread for dipping. I had the leftovers the next night for dinner and the flavors were even better after they had a chance to develop.

I followed a recipe from Smitten Kitchen with a few modifications. First, I used three jalapeno peppers because I was looking for heat in this dish. I find jalapenos to be pretty hit or miss with the spice level but luckily the ones I picked up at the store were nice and hot. Second, I reduced the garlic to two large cloves. I knew that the five the original recipe called for would be way too much for us. And last, I added turmeric in with the spices. While reading about Shaksuka online I noticed that turmeric was a common ingredient but SK’s recipe didn’t call for it. I have a whole jar in my pantry and love finding ways to use it due to its known anti-inflammatory powers.

This is a fun dish for vegetarians and those who love to try new ethnic recipes.

One Year Ago: Incredulada Enchiladas (one of my”biggest hit” recipes!)

Shaksuka
(Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
3 jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Kosher salt, to taste
6 eggs (I only used 4 because there was just no reason to use 6 for the two of us)
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet (that has a lid – don’t use it now) over medium-high heat. Add jalapenos and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, turmeric, cumin and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands or place in food processor and pulse a few times. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.

Crack eggs over sauce, cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5-7 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.

Yield: 4 servings

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