Friday, April 27, 2012

Circassian, Cardassian, Kardashian, or Cesarean Chicken?

It's actually Circassian Chicken, modified slightly from Hank Shaw's recipe on  Traditional Circassian Chicken is a Turkish dish, served cold, that calls for walnuts, not pecans. Which is maybe why the kids didn't quite get the name of the dish, and dinner conversation mainly revolved around whether or not the members of the Obsidian order or the reality TV Kardashian family ate this for dinner.  And finally, "So Mom, what did you say it was? Cesarean chicken? So did you have to cut this dish out of some chicken's belly?" JUST EAT YOUR DINNER!
The red pepper strips add a delightful sweet crunch.
Circassian Chicken
This meal is actually a sleeper hit, and quick to prepare. We substituted pecans for walnuts, and cilantro for parsley.  The cayenne spices things up a bit, so use a little less if you want it milder, or use a dollop or two of Greek yogurt to cut the (very mild) heat. You can serve this plain, but we loved it with toast triangles and a side of crispy Cesarean, er Cesar Salad.  Also good the next day as a chicken sandwich filling, or in a pita roll with some fresh, crisp lettuce and juicy tomato. 

2 skinless chicken breasts
4 T olive oil
4 tsp paprika
1 1/2 c chopped pecans
3 cloves garlic
2 T green onions, chopped
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 T chopped cilantro or parsley
1 1/2 c chopped spinach
2 slices of wheat bread, preferably stale
1 quart of chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 lemon, juiced

Bring the chicken stock to a low boil and add the chicken breasts, letting them simmer for about 10 minutes before removing from the heat.  Heat the olive oil in a small pot, and add paprika. When you can smell the paprika strongly, turn off the heat.

Cut the bread into chunks and place in bowl.  Pour 1-2 cups of chicken broth into the bowl and let it soak. In the meantime, reserve 1/2 cup pecans and set aside with green onions and 2 tablespoons of cilantro and the chopped spinach. Put the remainder of the pecans and cilantro into a food processor along with the garlic, cayenne, and the soaked bread and pulse repeatedly until it makes a thick, chunky paste.  Add more chicken stock 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed, to loosen it up.  Pour in the paprika in oil and pulse again until combines.  Add salt if needed.

Shred the cooked chicken by hand or with a fork, and add the pecan-paprika paste, as well as the reserved pecans, green onions, and cilantro.  Stir gently to combine.  Add pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Coconut Chicken Curry with Lemon-ginger Tea-infused Rice

Several things about this meal. First, there are a lot of veggies in it, making it a quick, one pot meal.  Well, two pots if you include the rice pot. Second, Claire was skeptical about the curry, having had some recent experiences with tumeric overload.  She admitted to being won over by the coconut milk, and the fresh coriander. Third.  I don't know what made me decide to add a tea bag to the rice as it was cooking, but o.m.g.  What a wonderful, subtle flavor. I'm definitely doing it again.

Coconut Curry Chicken
Feel free to substitute whatever vegetables you have in your drawer. This would be excellent with broccoli, red peppers, and eggplant. I finely crushed my coriander and cumin seeds in my mortar and pestle- you could also use a spice grinder if you have one. The fresh grind makes a huge difference.

Adapted from "Chicken in Spice-Laden Coconut Sauce,"
from The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook.
1 T vegetable or canola oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, minced
1 T coriander seeds, crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
1/2 tsp tumeric
3-4 dried red peppers, or red pepper flakes to taste
salt to taste
2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 can tomatoes (or 1 large fresh tomato, cut into chunks)
1 small zucchini, cut into chunks
2 small carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 14-oz can light coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1-2 chopped scallions (always include the green part!)

Heat oil in a large pan and cook onions until soft.  Add garlic and ginger, and stir.  Add crushed coriander and cumin seeds, then salt and tumeric and stir. Add chicken pieces and stir until they are coated with the onion-spice mixture. Add the carrots and let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and zucchini.  Let simmer for another 5 minutes, then add coconut milk. Add water if necessary, and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender. Stir in fresh cilantro and scallions before serving with Tea-infused Rice, below.

Tea-infused Rice
I had wanted to make jasmine rice, but had run out, which made me start contemplating jasmine tea infusion, but I was a little worried that it might be too floral. Turns out I was out of jasmine tea anyway, but had some lemon-ginger tea. Hmm.  Throw in half a handful of chopped scallions and cilantro, and we're off to the culinary races... Keep in mind that I did this, as always, in my rice cooker, so you may want to adjust the water to your method of cooking and taste.

2 cups of uncooked rice
3 cups of water
1 lemon-ginger tea bag
2 T chopped scallions
2 T chopped cilantro (optional)

Put water and rice together in a small saucepan with a lid.  Hang the teabag over the side of the pan so that it is submerged in the water. Be careful if you have a gas stove so that the tag doesn't burn. Bring the water to a boil, and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes, then leave it covered for about 5 more minutes.  Remove the teabag.  Fluff the rice so that the tea-stained grains of rice are mixed in well. Fold in the scallions and cilantro.

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Miso-glazed Tilapia with Ginger-Scallion Noodles

I get tilapia at Costco in bulk, because my kids eat fish so quickly that often the adults only end up getting a tiny piece.  The noodles are a perfect accompaniment. This meal is deceptively fast to make.  We looked at the clock and realized we only had about 40 minutes, which was plenty of time.  Granted there were two of us, but we also had a bunch of kids running around asking for more grapes and milk, etc.  Plenty of time to plate and enjoy!

Miso-glazed Tilapia
If you've ever gotten a container of miso, or fermented soybean paste, you might find that you use a few tablespoons and then it sits in your fridge for a long time.  Although it has a pretty long shelf life, in the fridge, eventually I get sick of seeing it in there.  I use it sometimes as a flavoring for stir-fried noodles- but you have to be careful, because it can be salty.  The original recipe has the fish cooking in the oven, but it's so much faster just to pan-fry it.  Heavily adapted from Ellie Krieger, The Food You Crave.

3-4 tilapia filets
1/2 c white miso paste
2 T honey
2 T water (maybe more if your miso is really old)
1 tsp sesame oil
2 T rice wine

Mix the miso, honey, water, sesame oil, and rice wine together with a fork. Coat the tilapia filets, and pan-fry in 1-2 T cooking oil for 3-4 minutes on each side or until they are done.  You can let this marinade overnight if you wish.

Ginger-Scallion Noodles
I easily tire of pasta with red sauce.  This is actually a faster go-to, since the Chinese noodles cook a lot faster.  Get everything chopped and ready while the water is boiling, and toss together at the end.  You can substitute all kinds of leftover veggies, like carrots sliced thinly on the diagonal.  Fancy.

1 T ginger root, peeled and minced
1 package of Chinese noodles, cooked (may susbstitute spaghetti, just please don't tell me)
3-4 scallions, chopped (yes, green part too!)
2 c spinach, chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
1 T soy sauce
2 T water
1/4 c chopped cilantro

In a large saute pan, heat 1-2 T cooking oil and add ginger root. Add noodles, and stir to coat.  Add sesame oil, soy sauce, water if needed.  Follow this with the spinach and scallions, and cilantro last. Take off heat once the spinach is wilted, about 2-3 minutes at most.

I had half a green pepper, so I stir-fried it with 1/4 onion, a tsp rice wine, and a pinch of minced ginger that I stole from my noodle prep. This is the garnish you see in the picture- entirely optional.

No one likes noodles and "Nemo" here...

More Nemo please!
(Yes, they call their fish Nemo.  The fish that they eat.
Anyone else find that a little disturbing?)