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Posts Tagged ‘Ethnic’

 

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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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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One of my favorite mostly vegetarian blogs is Branny Boils Over. When I saw her blog and rave about chana masala, I knew it was something that I must try. For some reason the stars just didn’t align on this one and it took me months to finally get around to cooking it. I ended up making the chana masala on a really random night – Brandon was out of town and I had a terrible cold. But for some reason Indian food sounded like something that would warm my soul and make me feel better.

This is the perfect vegetarian dish – tons of flavor and protein and very satisfying. I served the chana masala over brown rice with naan on the side for scooping. I fed Brandon leftovers when he got back in town and even he was impressed. This dish has been added to the ever expanding list of vegetarian favorites in our house. I’ve really been cutting back on my meat consumption over the last couple years (I probably only eat meat/seafood 2-3 times per week and never for breakfast or lunch) and meals like this make it so easy to forget the meat.

One Year Ago: Fruit Skewers with Vanilla Cream Cheese Dip

Chana Masala
(Recipe adapted from Branny Boils Over and Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes (juices included)
2/3 cup water
4 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon (juiced)

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and ginger and saute for another 2-3 minutes.  Turn heat down to medium-low and add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, paprika and garam masala. Cook onion mixture with spices for a 1-2 minutes and then add the tomatoes. Add the water and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in salt and lemon juice.

Serve over rice or with naan (or both!).

Yield: 4-6 servings

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We first tried these tacos a couple years ago after Brandon got his Big Green Egg and was looking for fun recipes for his grill. We couldn’t get over how flavorful and different the tacos were. The recipe came from The Barebcue Bible by Steven Raichlen. We have a couple of Steve’s books and they are fabulous for getting inspiration for different recipes for the grill. Also, his recipes provide very specific grilling instructions so they’re perfect for both the experienced griller who’s looking for different recipes and for the novice griller who’s learning that grilling is more than flip, flip, poke.

According to Steven, this dish is commonly found in Mexico and traditionally served with guacamole, spicy salsa and corn tortillas. The adobo sacue has a nice gentle heat but is not overwhelming. It’s such a nice twist on your traditional taco.

Switch it up and try something new on the grill this summer!

One Year Ago: Cajun Tilapia with Polenta and Peppers

Adobo Grilled Pork Tacos
(Recipe source The Barbecue Bible)

Ingredients:

6 guajillo chiles or 1/4 cup pure chile powder (the guajilo chiles are dried and were available in my local store)
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (1 1/2 pound) pork loin or tenderloin

For serving: corn tortillas, guacamole and salsa

Directions:

If using the chiles, tear open and remove the veins and seeds. Soak in the vinegar for 30 minutes, or until soft.

Combine the chiles (or chile powder), vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, cinnamon and cloves in a blender and process into a smooth, wet paste.

Cut the pork loin into four broad, thin (1/4 inch thick) sheets (butterflying them). Spread each piece of pork with adobo mixture and stack in a glass baking dish. Cover and let marinate in fridge, 4 to 6 hours.

Preheat grill to high. Oil grill grate, arrange slices of pork on hot grate and grill, turning with tongs, until browned and cooked through. This should take around 2-3 minutes per side. Internal temperature should be 145-15o when you pull it. Let pork rest for a few minutes before slicing.

Serve with tortillas, guacamole and salsa.

Yield: 4 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 47

This is going to be short and sweet. I am sick for the first time in almost two years and need to get to bed! My throat is so sore but luckily no fever. I made this Thai Beef Noodle Soup on Monday night when the sore throat was first making its appearance. It has great flavor. The ginger and lime juice gave the broth so much flavor. And I’m usually not really into beef-based soups but thought it was perfect in this dish. I had some leftover noodles and whipped up another batch of broth using chicken stock and left the beef out – also delicious.

Needless to say, there isn’t much to report on the fitness front. I taught BodyPump Monday morning but after that the sickness started creeping in. I was really feeling ick by Tuesday. It has taken every ounce of my willpower not to go to a yoga class the past couple days but I know that my body needs the rest and my instructors and classmates would not appreciate my attendance while sick! I’m itching to practice though since I’ve missed my regular Sunday and Tuesday classes. But since I’ve been sick my appetite has been a little off and I’ve struggled to get enough fruits and veggies in. Hopefully a good night of sleep will be just what I need!

Thai Beef Noodle Soup
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, February 2008)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mild honey
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound flank steak (I used a flat iron steak, much cheaper!)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 large shallots, thinly sliced (1 cup)
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled ginger
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Thai green-curry paste (or more if you want to kick it up a little)
2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus extra slices for serving
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces
3/4 pound dried Asian egg noodles

Directions:

Mix together soy, honey, 1 tablespoon fish sauce and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a shallow baking dish. Add steak and turn to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.

While steak marinates, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat until it shimmering. Cook shallots, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. then cook shallots, stirring occasionally, until browned well, about 8 minutes. Add ginger, garlic and curry paste and cook for another minute. Add add broth and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Stir in lime juice, remaining tablespoon fish sauce and salt to taste and keep warm, covered.

Heat grill pan or large skillet over medium-high heat, then lightly oil. Cook steak, turning once, about 12 minutes total or until internal temperature reaches 120 degrees for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss bell pepper and scallions with remaining tablespoon oil, then grill, turning frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

While steak stands, cook noodles following package directions. Drain well, then add to vegetables and mix well. Divide noodles among 4 bowls and top with 1/2 cup broth. Cut steak in half lengthwise, thinly slice across the grain and serve on top of noodles. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Yield: 4 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 37

It’s Wednesday night…which means I’m on my own! Brandon is in a bowling league (seriously) on Wednesday nights so I get to enjoy a night of eating whatever I want and watching what  I want on TV. Glorious! :) Tonight I had leftover Coconut Red Lentil Curry, a salad and a chocolate chip cookie.  It’s always some sort of meat-free feast!

It’s been a very relaxing night. I took the day off from exercising because I haven’t had a rest day in over two weeks and I’m just tired and my body needs a break. I’ve started teaching a BodyPump class on Monday mornings at 6 a.m. and it’s been a big adjustment. The 5 a.m. wake up call is very early for me. I know I’ll get used to it but so far I feel like I start the week in a sleep deficit.  The good thing is that I have a class full of people up early with me and they are ready to work!

Yesterday I went to a hot vinyasa class at Y2 Yoga. I’m so sad that my one month unlimited “new student” pass is ending! My brother-in-law and his wife gave me a pass to try this studio for Christmas. Obviously, I’ve definitely been using the free month to its fullest extent! So now I have to make the decision whether to buy a 10 class pass or a month unlimited. There’s about a $25 difference in price. I’m just not sure which is the right fit. I know I’ve been all about the yoga lately but I’m starting a new half marathon training plan on February 1. I dont’ know if I can fit in teaching BodyPump, running 4-5 days a week and utilizing a month unlimited pass to it’s fullest extent? Thoughts?

Okay…back to food. I’m sure you’re confused about the meaty pasta dish in the picture above since I’ve been going on and on about vegetarian dinners and working out. I made this dish on Monday night. It’s a Greek dish – Lamb and Eggplant Pastitsio. I was craving eggplant and love Greek food so this recipe hit the spot.

It was so good…the cinnamon added an awesome warm flavor to the lamb sauce and the nutmeg I added to the cheese sauce complimented it perfectly. Although it took a couple hours start to finish, the end result was totally worth it. And it’s not all hands on time – lots of simmering and baking time in there too. I thought the double layer was really fun – you mix the bottom pasta layer with the meat sauce and the top pasta layer with the cheese sauce. Yum! I’m so embarrassed to admit that we both went back for not only seconds but thirds! And we had the leftovers again last night. If you’re a Greek food lover this is a must try. And just a side note, I think you could sub beef for the lamb if you’re not a fan of lamb.

Lamb and Eggplant Pastitsio
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, October 2001)

Ingredients:

FOR THE LAMB SAUCE
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lean ground lamb
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 (28- to 32-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

FOR THE CHEESE SAUCE
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 garlic clove
1 whole clove or a pinch of nutmeg
1/2 pound feta, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 large eggs

FOR THE PASTA
10 ounces penne (3 cups)

Directions:

FOR THE LAMB SAUCE
Heat oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook 3-5 minutes, until softened. Add lamb and continue cooking over medium-high heat, stirring to break up lumps. Cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, salt, oregano, cinnamon, sugar and pepper and cook another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in eggplant and tomatoes. Gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is just tender, about 40 minutes. Remove lid and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes more. Season generously with salt and pepper.

FOR THE CHEESE SAUCE
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

While meat sauce is simmering, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and add garlic clove and whole clove or nutmeg. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Add feta, salt and pepper and cook, whisking vigorously, until cheese is well incorporated.

Beat eggs in a large bowl and slowly add sauce to eggs, whisking constantly.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. Slightly undercook the pasta since it will finish in the oven. Drain in a colander. Toss half of pasta with lamb sauce and half with cheese sauce.

TO ASSEMBLE PASTITSIO
Pour pasta with lamb sauce into a 9 x 13 baking dish, spreading evenly. Spoon pasta with cheese sauce on top, spreading evenly.

Bake uncovered, in middle of oven until bubbling and top is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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thaibasilchicken

We visited my family in Atlanta last weekend. While we were there we stopped by the Dekalb Farmer’s Market. It’s not really a farmer’s market but it is a mecca for foodies. They have a huge and varied selection of vegetables, fruits, seafood, cheeses, meats…the list goes on and on. This was Brandon’s first trip and he was taken in by the chili selection. We ended up coming home with four or five different types of chili peppers so you’ll notice a recurring theme in my next few blog posts as I try to find inventive ways to use them.

Today I decided to use the Thai Chilies (also known as prik kee noo). I did some research this morning and landed on Spicy Thai Basil Chicken. This is a pretty basic Thai dish but I thought it’d be fun to make at home with our chilies. I ended up using a combination of two recipes and was pleased with the outcome. I was pretty scared that this dish would be over the top spicy (since I used about 8 chilies and they’re supposed to be a 9 in hotness on a 1-10 scale) but the spice was very manageable. It was a nice slow and constant burn.

If you’re a fan of Thai stir fries and like a little spice I highly recommend this recipe for an easy weeknight meal. I served it over jasmine rice.

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken
(Recipe inspired by Andrea Meyers and Thai Food and Travel)

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, diced (red, yellow, green – whatever you have)
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
8 Thai chilies, sliced into then rounds (can substitute serrano or jalepeno if necessary)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
15 basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Jasmine rice, for serving

Directions:

Heat a large skilled over medium-high heat. Add oil and heat until shimmering. Add garlic, shallots and peppers and saute for about 1 minute. Add chicken and chilies and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink. Add fish sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, water and basil leaves and cook for another minute or two. Stir in cornstarch/water mixture and cook for another minute, until thickened.

Serve over rice.

Yield: 4 servings.

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