Saturday, May 21, 2011

Red Lentil Dal and Madeira Wine Chicken

This week we had to split things up between two days, due to a sick child. But I think as a result we ended up with even more good food- so this week's recipes will be split into two posts. We also ended up with multiple main courses, including Madeira Wine Chicken, BBQ Shredded Pork, and Steelhead with Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glaze.  It was difficult to pick which one to feature, until we made this super simple Red Lentil Dal for lunch.  It really hit the spot, is inexpensive, and can be consumed by people whose diets are restricted from dairy (use olive oil instead of butter!), gluten, meat, peanuts, shellfish, citrus, and strawberries.

Mild but aromatic and filling.
Red Lentil Dal
This is a recipe that Claire got from a co-worker. (This co-worker has a twin sister, and absolutely everything they make is mouth-wateringly good.) It's very mild, but flavorful and delicious.  Buttery in texture, it will have you reaching for a second bowl.  I was nervous about the whole can of chiles, but the coconut milk really tones down the spice.  We used half a can, and it was not the least bit spicy. Perfect for kiddies.  You can sell it to them by calling it something cool like "Monkey Brain Mash" if you have boys or "Magic Coconut Pixie Pudding" if you have girls. Or reverse it if you don't want to reinforce popular gender stereotypes, but know that you're fighting a losing battle.

1 cup red lentils, washed and sorted
1 medium onion finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can mild green chilies
3 T butter
1/2 tsp turmeric
1  15 oz can of unsweetened light coconut milk
1 tsp Better Than Bouillon chicken base  (or 2 c chicken broth)
3 c water (or 1 c water if you used broth)

1 T chopped cilantro (optional)

Melt 1 T butter/oil in a medium sauce pan.  Saute onion, garlic, and chilies for one minute.  Add turmeric, lentils, chicken base, and water.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Add coconut milk and simmer about 5 more minutes just to let the flavors incorporate.  Stir in a tablespoon of chopped cilantro before serving over jasmine rice, or Cinnamon-scented Rice with Peas, below.

Cinnamon-scented Rice with Peas
This is for when you don't have jasmine rice on hand. Like today.  This rice works well with Indian food.  As I have mentioned previously, I only cook rice in my rice cooker. I don't measure the water- I put enough water in so that when I lay my hand flat on top of the surface of the rice, the water level ends at my middle knuckle. Say what you want, but my rice and other grains are generally just right. You can make the rice using your favorite method.

2 cups long grain rice
1 stick cinnamon
2 whole cardamom pods
1/3 c frozen peas
2 T chopped fresh cilantro

Cook the rice with the cinnamon and cardomom pods. When the rice is about 5-10 minutes from being done, toss in the frozen peas, but don't fluff the rice yet. When the rice is done, stir the now cooked peas and chopped cilantro. 

Quick Cucumber Raita
I usually make this at the last minute.  It is great for getting kids used to the flavors and spice of Indian food. 

1 cup of grated cucumber (peeled and seeded if necessary)
2/3 cup of plain yogurt (eyeball it)
2 T minced onion
1/2 tsp ground coriander
(1/4 diced red pepper optional)
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together.

Steamed Artichoke Hearts
We had this as an appetizer for lunch. I saw the artichokes at Trader Joe's and couldn't resist.  It's been years since I've had steamed artichoke hearts. They definitely remain one of those foods that take a lot of effort to eat, but let's face it, it's fun to dip things repeatedly in sauce.  Melted butter and mayonnaise are traditional dips. See below for some better variations. If you want a video of how to eat an artichoke, or if you just like watching people masticate in a creepy way, this is simple and to the point.

Morrison Family Dipping Sauce
equal parts soy sauce and white vinegar, about 3 T each
few drops of sesame oil
1/2 clove of raw garlic (or a whole clove if you are comfortable in your relationship)
few sprigs of chopped cilantro

The other sauces pictures are Sweet Chili Sauce, Cucumber Goddess Dressing, and Balsamic vinegar and olive oil with salt and pepper. 

Madeira Wine Chicken
This is one of Claire's original recipes.  It's really wonderful and goes well with a side of buttered noodles.  If you accidentally let some of the sauce drift over onto the noodles, that's okay...  I served it with roasted root vegetables, sauteed chard, and salad.  Unfortunately, the twins were screaming "More! More! More!" so I didn't get a chance to photograph the final plate. 

4 chicken breasts butterflied and browned in olive oil
10-16 mushrooms chopped
1 c madeira wine (subsitute sherry if you don't have Madeira)
1  c chicken broth (or 1 tsp of Better Than Bouillon and equivalent water)
1 can artichokes
1 T lemon juice (optional)
2 T capers (optional but recommended) 1/2 c cooking cream cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Cook chicken, set aside.  Saute mushrooms, add wine and chicken broth. Simmer until reduced by half.  Add artichokes and chicken, and simmer 5 minutes more.  Stir in cream cheese.  Add lemon juice and capers if desired.  Serve over pasta.

Neeps and Tatties
Basic roasted root vegetable, or as my Scottish father-in-law would call them, Neep and Tatties. Not sure if I really need to include a recipe at this point, but I used...
some carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
some turnips (neeps), cut into chunks
a couple potatoes (tatties), cut into chunks
about 1/2 an onion, cut in chunks
1-2 zucchini, cut into chunks
2-3 T olive oil
sea salt & pepper
2 tsp smoked paprika
 Toss everything together, except the zucchini. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.  Take out the pan, give the veggies a little stir.  Add the zucchini, and bake for about 10 more minutes, or until carrots are tender.  If you want your veggies to be a little browner, stick the baking pan under the broiler for a minute or two. 

Sauteed Rainbow Swiss Chard
I used the green garlic and the red onion because I had some leftover-leave it out if you don't have it.  It turned out wonderfully. And let's face it, my kids never tire of chard. (Ha.) I was looking for 1 piece of leftover bacon to toss in for saltiness, but leftover bacon in our house is about as easy to locate as Sasquatch. 

1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 stalk of green garlic (kind of like a leek), sliced finely on the diagonal
1/8 red onion, sliced thinly
1 large bunch of rainbow swiss chard
sea salt & pepper to taste

Heat 1 T oil in pan.  Add garlic once hot, followed closely by the green garlic and red onion.  Toss in the chard.  Add 1/4 cup water or chicken broth. Cook until done the leaves are soft. Don't overcook it.  Take off heat immediately, or it will get wilted and icky green.  Sprinkle with a squeeze of fresh lemon if you want.

Claire's Famous Pulled Pork for the Crockpot
We're just getting started with the options for this recipe.  This freezes well, and it's what you will want for a nice summer evening picnic on the patio or deck.  I'm thinking grilled corn, summer slaw, thick slice of watermelon, and salt and vinegar potato chips. We're not superwomen, so, no, we didn't make all that.  But stay tuned- summer is coming. I hope. You can also use it as taco meat, burrito filling, or quesadilla filling.

2 pork tenderloins, 1 lb. each
2 T taco seasoning
1/4 c apricot jam
1 c apple juice
1T molasses (optional)
1/8 tsp liquid smoke (optional)

1/2 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce (about 1 1/2 c)
1/2 c honey
1 can diced green chilies (optional)

Rub pork in taco seasoning, place in crock pot, cover with jam.  Pour juice on the side.  Cook on low for 8 hours.   Take out pork.  Throw away cooking juices.  Combine pork with BBQ sauce and honey.  Serve warm on buns with a side of coleslaw. 

Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce - 25 oz.  
Sweet Chili Sauce

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