June 20, 2009

Sausage and Veggie Kebabs

Broiled sausage and veggies wrapped in warm pita and drenched in spicy yogurt sauce. What could be better?

The Ingredients

For the kebabs: For the yogurt sauce:

The Steps

  1. Toss the vegetables in a bowl with the smoked paprika, olive oil, and thyme to taste.
  2. Preheat a broiler pan about 4 inches from a broiler on high.
  3. Cut each sausage into 4 chunks. Thread the sausage chunks and vegetables onto the skewers.
  4. Broil for 6 minutes.
  5. While the kebabs are broiling, stir together the ingredients for the yogurt sauce.
  6. Slide the sausage and vegetables off the skewers, wrap in pita, and drizzle with yogurt sauce

Makes 4 servings.

Posted by spaceling at 09:25 PM

June 19, 2009

Quick Turkey Curry

I adapted this recipe from the July 2009 issue of Prevention magazine. Their version called for ground lamb, which the grocery store I stopped in on the way home doesn't carry. Ground turkey worked wonderfully. I added a bit of ginger and hot pepper sauce for extra spice.

Very tasty and only takes about 15 minutes to put together.

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. In a large skillet or saute pan, heat a tiny bit of oil and saute the ginger for about 30 seconds to a minute.
  2. Add the turkey, curry powder, and hot pepper sauce. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the turkey is cooked through.
  3. Add the water, marinara sauce, and spinach. Stir the spinach carefully into the mixture until it starts to wilt down.
  4. Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with rice or naan or whole wheat pita.

Makes 4 servings.

Posted by spaceling at 07:56 PM

May 25, 2009

Bulgur with chicken, edamame, and cashews

This recipe evolved out of two recipes in a recent issues of Cooking Light, one of which involved bulgur and edamame, and the other of which involved chicken and apricots. The result doesn't bear much resemblance to either progenitor recipe, but it makes a tasty and healthy one-dish meal that's not quite like any of my usual dinner staples.

This recipe needs a little time in advance to soak the bulgur, but otherwise comes together very quickly.

This recipe could very easily be made vegetarian by either omitting the chicken or substituting some cooked cubed tofu.

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. Put the bulgur in a large bowl. Cover with 1 cup of boiling water, and let sit until the water is absorbed. (About 25 minutes to an hour, depending on how coarse your bulgur is.) I went ahead and soaked the dried cranberries at this point as well, but I'm not convinced that it's particularly necessary.
  2. When the bulgur is just about ready, put a little olive oil in a skillet big enough to hold the chicken in a single layer, and heat it over medium-high heat. Let it get nice and hot.
  3. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and cook them in the skillet, about 10 minutes or so to a side, until done.
  4. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with dried thyme, and cut them into bite-sized chunks.
  5. Add the chicken, cashews, cranberries, onion, edamame, and lemon juice to the bulgur in the bowl and toss everything to combine. Drizzle in a bit of olive oil. Taste, and add more salt, pepper, oil, or lemon juice as necessary.

Makes 5-6 servings.

Posted by spaceling at 08:58 PM

January 26, 2009

Curry Yogurt Chicken

This recipe was inspired by a chicken wrap I had at a local restaurant. I didn't really manage to duplicate the restaurant dish, but the results were quite good. Quantities for this dish are even more approximate than usual, because all my measuring utensils are still packed in a box somewhere.

Grilling or broiling the chicken would probably work, too - I might try that next time.

The Ingredients

For the marinade:

For the yogurt sauce:

To serve with the chicken:

The Steps

  1. Stir together all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl. Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat thoroughly. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. When ready to cook, heat a bit of olive oil in a large saute pan, and saute the chicken over medium-high heat until cooked through. (About 10-15 minutes, depending on how big you cut the chicken pieces.)
  3. While the chicken is cooking, make the yogurt sauce by whisking together those ingredients. (It now occurs to me that you might as well make the yogurt sauce at the same time you make the marinade, and let the flavors blend in the fridge overnight. But that wasn't the way I did it this time.)
  4. Serve pieces of chicken wrapped in warm pita with lettuce, onion, carrot, tomato, yogurt sauce. Add hot sauce to taste.

Serves 3-4.

Posted by spaceling at 09:11 PM

December 27, 2007

Vaguely Asian Chicken Soup

I'm not dead! And to prove it, I made chicken soup. It was tasty, although I think the next time I make it, I may increase the amount of 5 spice powder ever so slightly.


The Steps

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot, and saute the vegetables and aromatics until the onion starts to get soft and everything smells good. (Maybe 5 minutes or so.)
  2. Add the five spice powder, the bay leaf, and the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken thighs and poach them at a simmer until they are cooked through, perhaps 15 minutes or so.
  4. Remove the chicken from the pot and shred it. Put it back in the pot, taste, and add soy sauce and adjust the seasoning to taste.
  5. Finish off each serving with a squeeze of lime juice.

Posted by spaceling at 09:57 PM

December 22, 2006

Chicken with Garlic, Herbs, and Fennel

I adapted this recipe from Nigel Slater's Appetite. Slater is an extremely well-known food writer in Britain. He's become more well-known in the U.S. since the publication of his memoir, Toast. It was through listening to the audiobook of Toast that I first encountered Slater. It's an odd book, one that manages to be alternately heart-warming and horrifying, in both a culinary and emotional sense. It will charm you with fond childhood memories and make you nostalgic for exotic British candies that you've never even eaten. It will also make you profoundly grateful that you had sane and loving parents, and that you never had to eat British school tapioca pudding, or dine at hotel restaurants in the Midlands during the 1970s.

If you did dine at British hotel restaurants during the 1970s, then cooking from one of Nigel Slater's cookbooks might be an effective form of therapy. I've been turning frequently to his cookbooks for inspiration in the past couple of weeks. His recipes have a very relaxed and improvisational quality, which makes them perfect for puttering around in the kitchen on a cold rainy night when you don't want to go out.

This recipe made some of the best-tasting chicken I've ever produced in my own kitchen. And it makes the house smell fabulous. (Provided that you think the scent of garlicky chicken is fabulous.)

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. Heat a bit of olive oil and butter in a pan with a lid that's big enough to hold the chicken in a single layer. When the butter foams, plunk the chicken thighs in skin side down, and let them sit there until they are light gold in color.
  2. Toss in the garlic cloves. Turn the heat down so that the chicken is lightly sizzling, and cover it. Cook for about 40 minutes, turning halfway through so that the chicken cooks on the other side.
  3. About 10 minutes before the chicken is done, add the fennel.
  4. Remove the chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm. Fish out the garlic cloves, which should be very soft. If you like, slip the skins off and serve the garlic with the chicken.
  5. If you have a lot of fat in the pan, spoon or pour some of it off. Add the herbs and vermouth to the pan, and bring to a boil. Boil for a couple of minutes, until it reduces a bit and the strong alcoholic flavor of the vermouth has mellowed. Taste, and add the lemon juice, salt and pepper as needed.
  6. Serve chicken with the sauce spooned generously over it.

Serves 3-6, depending on whether you are big eaters of chicken, and what else you are serving.

Posted by spaceling at 10:02 PM | TrackBack

September 24, 2006

Arugula and Pear Salad with Roast Chicken

I threw this salad together as a quickie dinner. I used a store-bought rotisserie chicken to keep it quick and easy, though any type of cooked chicken would be fine as long as the spicing doesn't clash with the salad.


For the salad:

For the dressing:

The dressing is not exactly rocket science. (Oh, ha, ha - rocket science!)* You could substitute your favorite vinaigrette recipe or even bottled dressing. Just try to go for something that tastes vaguely French.

The Steps

  1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the walnuts start to smell toasty. (About 5 minutes or so. This does make a noticeable difference in the flavor of the walnuts, so it's worth doing.) Let the walnuts cool a bit.
  2. While the walnuts are cooling, make the dressing - whisk the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, and tarragon together in a small bowl until combine.
  3. Toss the arugula, pear slices, walnuts, tomatoes, and blue cheese in a large bowl with a few spoonfuls of the dressing. Taste a leaf, and add salt, pepper, or extra dressing as needed.
  4. Dish out the salad into plates or bowls, and arrange slices of roasted chicken on top.

I loved the combination of flavors in this salad, and particularly loved the combination of pears and blue cheese. Mr. Spaceling picked out all the pears and walnuts and ate them separately, as a kind of dessert course.

* In the UK, arugula is commonly referred to as "rocket" (from the French "roquette"). When I was in Scotland, I ate it as often as possible, just for the sheer pleasure of being able to order a "rocket salad". (Well, also because it was good.) "Arugula" derives from the Italian name for the plant.

Posted by spaceling at 12:22 PM | TrackBack

April 09, 2006

Chicken, Meatball, White Bean, and Fennel Soup

I was puttering around the house this morning, mentally composing a grocery shopping list, and I decided that I wanted to have chicken soup for dinner. And I remembered that I had a bulb of fennel sitting in the crisper that I needed to use. So, I went to the store and started grabbing things that I thought would go well with fennel and chicken. The resulting soup is kind of a riot of vegetables and chicken and stuff. But it's very tasty.

The Ingredients

The Steps

  1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the fennel, leeks, celery, carrots, garlic, and herbs and cook, stirring, for 5-10 minutes, until the vegetables are starting to get translucent and everything smells amazing.
  2. Add broth/water. Bring it to a slow simmer. While the broth is heating up, trim excess fat from the chicken thighs and season them with pepper.
  3. When the broth is simmering, add the chicken thighs. Poach them for 20 minutes, being sure to keep the broth at a simmer and not letting it get to a full rolling boil.
  4. Remove the chicken thighs to a plate. Add the tomatoes, beans, kale, and meatballs, and bring everything back to a simmer.
  5. Shred the chicken. Return it to the pot and continue to simmer until the kale is fully cooked. (Perhaps another 15 minutes.)
  6. Adjust seasoning, and serve

Makes a whole bunch of servings. It's a good thing I like this soup, because I have enough leftovers to last a while.

Posted by spaceling at 12:04 AM

February 05, 2006

Roasted Chicken

I achieved a culinary milestone of a sort today: I roasted a chicken for the first time.

It seems hard to believe that I've been cooking for years and never roasted a chicken. But for a long time, I didn't really cook very much meat. Meat was fiddly, and expensive, and more often than not I'd overcook it and it wouldn't taste good. Better to stick with veggies.

Also, for the first couple of years I was cooking, I hardly ever used the oven. I did my cooking on the stovetop, where I could see what was going on.

Slowly, I acquired some skill in cooking meat. It's not too hard, really - it requires 2 things - practice and an instant-read thermometer. But I'd still never roasted a chicken. Today I decided that it was high time to remedy that.

I used Nigella Lawson's Basic Roast Chicken recipe from How to Eat. It is simple enough to reproduce here:

My basic roast chicken recipe is the same as my mother's: I stick half a lemon up its bottom, smear some oil or butter on its breast, sprinkle it with a little salt, and put it in a 400 degrees F oven for about 15 minutes per pound plus 10 minutes.

Which is how I came to be standing in my kitchen at around 7 p.m., doing something faintly indelicate to a chicken with a bit of citrus.

Actually, I elaborated on Nigella's recipe a bit - I sprinkled the chicken with salt and pepper. I'm a culinary daredevil, I tell you. Then I plunked the chicken down breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan, put a bit of butter on the breast, and popped it in the oven.

I also ignored Nigella's advice to use an organic, free-range chicken. I'd like to try that sometime, to see how much difference it really does make, but due to one thing and another, I didn't actually go shopping for my chicken until 6 o'clock this evening, which dictated running to the nearest grocery store and grabbing the most convenient chicken to hand: a Foster Farms bird, which at least means that it's locally raised and not pumped full of additives.

This recipe makes the house smell heavenly. Really. I think I'll be tempted to roast chickens just for the smell.

It came out rather well. The meat was juicy and tender, and the skin was crispy and tasty. I've frozen the carcass to make stock with, and I'll probably use the leftover meat to make a nice chicken salad later.

So, I've finally roasted a chicken. Now I'll have to think of some new culinary milestone to shoot for.

Posted by spaceling at 09:45 PM

January 14, 2006

Chicken Cacciatore

Here's another made up recipe with no particular claims for authenticity. I can make claims for tastiness, though - this was quite good, though I think I'm going to tweak it a bit the next time I make it. I can tell it's going to reheat beautifully - I'm in for a really tasty lunch or two in the near future.

I also keep spooneristically turning this dish's name into Kitchen Chacciatore. So, here's how I made Kitchen Chacciatore.

The Ingredients

[1] Italian sausage does not appear in most of the chicken cacciatore recipes I've seen, but given that I was using boneless, skinless chicken breasts, I thought it would add a little extra flavor. Mmmm. Good choice.

[2] Ideally, one would use bone-in, skin on chicken pieces. But I had boneless, skinless breasts sitting in the fridge waiting to be cooked.

[3] Next time I'd make this, I'd use more mushrooms. I always forget how much volume mushrooms lose when you cook them.

[4] The onions that I used were labelled "shallot onions", and were rather like shallots on steroids - much bigger than the shallots that I'm used to. I kind of liked the rusticness of big hunks of onion, but I don't think I'd particularly seek out shallot onions again. Probably just use a yellow onion or two and cut it into chunks.

[5] The cacciatore ended up more liquidy than I think is ideal. So, next time, I'll reduce or eliminate the broth.

[6] Not the hugely expensive super-aged syrupy stuff. Just a decent quality balsamic vinegar.

[7] I love herbes de provence, and use them at the slightest provocation. However, I realize that not every American kitchen is automatically stocked with this mixture of oregano, thyme, rosemary, lavender, and fennel. If you don't have herbes de provence, toss in some thyme and any of those other herbs that you have on hand and which happen to sound good to you.

The Steps

  1. Cut sausage up into bite-sized pieces, and cook them in a soup pot over medium-high heat until some of the sausage fat starts to render out. Add the chicken, and cook until the sausage and the chicken are lightly browned. Remove to a plate.
  2. Add the onions and mushrooms to the pot, and cook until the mushrooms have released most of their liquid and shrunk up.
  3. Add the wine and a couple of good slugs of balsamic vinegar, and cook a couple of minutes more, until the liquid has reduced a bit.
  4. Add broth, tomatoes and their juice (break up the whole tomatoes with your fingers), chicken and sausage, and garlic. Stir everything together, taste, and add oregano and herbes de provence in an amount that seems good to you. Add salt and pepper if you like.
  5. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasoning. Serve.

I served it with some roasted fennel on the side, but what would really make this dish fantastic is some nice crusty bread to mop up the lovely tomatoey herby broth with. (If one reduced the amount of liquid, making the dish less soupy, this would also work great served over pasta, or couscous, or even rice.)

Posted by spaceling at 08:46 PM | TrackBack