Chicken cauliflower curry

Alas, this dish has no cute story to go with it.  Just a fantastic flavor profile, and lots of textures.  It’ll make your home smell wonderful and you’ll be wanting to sample straight from the pan all the while it cooks.  And that’s not a bad idea either.  This way you can track the progress of the flavor meld of the ingredients.  It’s great to witness that happening.

I call for the chicken to be added back in nearer to the end of the cooking time because if it sits in the pan throughout then it will get tough and chewy.  That would be a horrible thing to do to a perfectly good chicken breast 😉

Ingredients:

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

5 small red potatoes, cubed, with the skins on

½ head of cauliflower, trimmed into bite-sized pieces

3-4 Tbsp hot curry paste

1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes

1 cup water

1 cup cooked lentils

Directions:

  • Sauté the chicken breast, then remove it from the pan and set aside
  • Heat the olive oil and sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes
  • Add the potatoes and cauliflower and sauté for another 5 minutes
  • Stir in the curry paste and cook for a minute
  • Add tomatoes and water and simmer for half an hour
  • Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add that and the cooked lentils to the mixture and let simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered
  • Season with salt and pepper to your taste.  Serve in large bowls.  Naan makes a great accompaniment

J

Flax Focaccia

Last year I went on a bus trip with my Gram to Tanglewood to see a show and a bagged lunch was part of the package provided by the Senior Center.  I can honestly say that I ate my bagged lunch and disliked it greatly.  I informed my Gram then and there that if she ever invited me to go on this annual trip with her again that we would not be eating the bagged lunch.  So when this year’s trip was booked, she invited me to accompany her, and I accepted, with one stipulation- I get to pack the picnic.  She accepted and the planning began.

In an effort to eat more primal foods (fresh, organic, unprocessed- read more here) I recently pulled conventional breads from my diet.  This is not to say that I will never eat bread again, because that would just be silly.  I simply find that it is necessary to shake things up a bit every once in a while, and now is that time for me.  I didn’t just change my eating habits, my exercise routine goes hand-in-hand thus that has changed as well.

So when it was time to plan the picnic menu I wanted to keep things simple.  Whatever we ate, drank, and served with had to be carried into the venue, used, carried around the venue for the entirety of our stay, then carted out with us.  Sandwiches really fit the bill here as they can be hand-held, but since I am currently omitting bread I was stuck.  Then I found a recipe for a lovely foccaccia which uses flax meal rather than flour.  The recipe is rich in protein and omega 3s which both fit well into my diet, and it made for a bread which didn’t look strange enough to make Gram & Neil question why I was feeding it to them 😉

This foccaccia is moist and rich and dense.  You can eat it as-is once it’s baked, or you can make sandwiches out of it, or you could top it with herbs and bake it again to make a crunchier version like this blogger did, or you could slather it in fresh pesto (as I did) and snack on it.  The foccaccia holds well in the refrigerator for several days in an air-tight container, or can be frozen for longer storage.

Ingredients:

2 cups flax meal

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon agave nectar

5 eggs, whisked

½ cup water

⅓ cup olive oil

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°
  • In a medium bowl combine the flax meal, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the agave, eggs, water and olive oil
  • Stir dry ingredients into wet, mixing well, then allow to stand for 2-3 minutes so that batter thickens
  • Give the batter a quick stir and pour into an oiled 9×13 inch baking dish
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until a knife comes out clean
  • Remove from oven and cool.  Once cooled, I would recommend slicing directly in the pan, then removing individual pieces so as not to tear the center out if it’s stuck to the pan at all.

For our Tanglewood sandwiches, I cut 5″x5″ squares of foccaccia and sliced them in half- the skinny way, then slathered on some fresh pesto, added a thin chicken cutlet, fresh tomato slices, and a bit of baby greens.  Very tasty.

J

Paella

I will admit to being a bit apprehensive about attempting paella.  This dish is so rich in tradition and is thought of by many as the national dish of Spain for goodness sakes.  With the list of expensive ingredients (and I did an abridged version) I did not want to have the creation from hell (yes this has happened in my kitchen before) on my hands.  I can honestly say that my anxieties were for not.  The dish really comes together on its own- all the cook really does is add the ingredients at various stages and watch it happen.  The flavor profile is fantastic- sweet peas and creamy rice, acidic tomatoes, savory saffron.  This one is definitely worth your time.

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil

1 Spanish chorizo

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 Spanish onion, diced

1 (16-ounce) can whole tomatoes, hand-crushed

1 cup Spanish rice, short to medium grain

1 teaspoon saffron threads

3 cups water, warm

12-16 large shrimp, peeled

1/2 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed

Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish

Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions:

  • Rinse the chicken breasts and pat them dry, then cut into cubes
  • Mix the oregano and paprika with salt and pepper in a small bowl
  • Rub the spice mixture all over the pieces of chicken; marinate for 30 minutes or more
  • Heat the olive oil in a paella pan or wide skillet over a medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the pan, and brown
  • Add the chorizo and continue to for 5 minutes (you will see the sausage begin to brown)
  • Remove the chicken and sausage to a plate lined with paper towel to absorb any excess oil

  • Return the pan to the stove and lower the heat to medium
  • Make a sofrito by sauteing the garlic, onion, and tomatoes until the mixture caramelizes a bit; season with salt & pepper

  • Add the rice, stirring to coat the grains

  • Stir the saffron into the rice. Pour in the water and simmer for 10 minutes (do not cover)
  • Add the reserved chicken and chorizo. Give the paella a couple of good stirs to coat all of the pieces and let it simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, about 15 minutes
  • Scatter the peas & shrimp on top and continue to cook for 5 minutes

  • Allow to rest, off of heat for 5 minutes

  • Garnish with parsley and serve with lemon wedges

This recipe was adapted from one by Tyler Florence.  I made my version a bit lighter and less heavy on the seafood.

J

Chicken with White Beans

Buttery cannellini beans with earthy herbs, tart lemon juice and luscious chicken chunks.  This recipe is fab! but it takes a little while to make as there’s a do-ahead step for the marinade so that the chicken can soak up some flavors before being cooked.    It’s well worth the time, however, so go ahead and give it a try.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 sprigs fresh oregano leaves
4 sprigs fresh tarragon leaves
4 sprigs fresh basil leaves
4 sprigs fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups cooked white cannellini beans

Directions:

  • In the bowl of a food processor or blender, place olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, leaves of oregano, tarragon, basil, parsley, rosemary, and some ground black pepper
  • Blend all ingredients well until a smooth bright green paste is formed (you might need to add a few spoonfuls of water if the mixture looks too thick)
  • Marinate the cubed chicken in the refrigerator for 2 hours, or overnight
  • Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large pan over moderate heat until hot
  • Add cubed chicken, and allow to brown lightly without stirring
  • Begin turning chicken after 3 minutes, then add onion and Sauté for 2 minutes, until onion begins to soften
  • Add beans and continue to cook for 2 minutes longer, until chicken is cooked through and a light sauce forms around chicken pieces
  • Season with the salt and pepper

I opted to serve this over some orecchiette, sided by wilted collard greens.  The recipe was inspired by this post on Whole Foods Market.

J

Chicken & Bok Choy

High in protein and vitamin C this dish surprised us when it hit our tongues.  Not that we thought it’d be gross or anything, we just didn’t have terribly high expectations.  Succulent chunks of chicken, slightly crunchy bok choy, velvety shiitake mushrooms, a well-rounded flavor that’s slightly salty and powerful with ginger- this dish is lovely.

Ingredients:

2 TBS chicken broth

1 cup chopped scallions

2 TBS fresh minced ginger

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks

1½ cups sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms

4 cups chopped bok choy

2 TBS soy sauce

1 TBS rice vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Heat broth in a skillet
  • When the broth begins to steam, add scallions and sauté for 2 minutes
  • Add the ginger and sauté for another minute
  • Add chicken and continue to sauté
  • After 2-3 minutes add the shiitake mushrooms and bok choy and cook for another 3-4 minutes
  • Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, salt, and pepper

We opted to have this over brown rice but it would also be great over noodles, or wrapped up in a tortilla.

Inspired by this recipe from WHF.

J