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Archive for the ‘Chicken’ Category

Grilled grass fed blade steak resting

In my opinion, grilling comes down to a) quality meats and b) proper technique. Although I still consider myself a real beginner at grilling, I am noticing that when I do the least I’m getting the best results. For example, the burgers I grilled today. Ground beef and a homemade rub. That’s it. Granted, the meat was super high quality, but preparation was quick and almost effortless. If you do it right, grilling should be easy.

Skewered chicken satay off the grill

Earlier this weekend I made steak and chicken satay on the grill. For the steak, it couldn’t have been easier. I took a dry aged blade steak from my local grass-based farmer and marinated it for 8-9 hours in plain old olive oil. Right before grilling, I salted and peppered. Then I threw it on my Egg at about a 450 degrees and closed the lid. A few minutes later, I opened and flipped it, and gave it another two minutes. I let it rest while I grilled my satay.

Steak, chicken satay with peanut sauce (even though it looks like ketchup in this pic...gross) and Italian green beans from the farmer's market

The chicken satay is a recipe I got from my Viking Cooking School Thai cooking class. Chicken breast strips are marinated in a coconut milk/garlic/cilantro mixture, then threaded onto skewers. I had them on a 450 degree egg for about 2-3 minutes per side and they came out soooo juicy, a real feat for chicken breast. The peanut sauce is a combination of coconut milk, red curry paste (use Mae Ploy brand), fish sauce, tamarind paste (make a visit to your local ethnic grocery store), garlic, a sweetner (I used sucanat), and of course, a few tablespoons of creamy peanut butter. So clearly, far more effort went into the sauce than the meat itself! It was worth it though…quite delicious.

The steak’s flavor was incredible for as little as I did to it. I’ve noticed that with quality meats. Portions of it were chewy and other portions were very tender. Lucky for me I like to pick up meat and gnaw on it so I got every part, chewy or tender 🙂 I think next time I may marinade it even longer and see how that works out.

Hope everyone had a blessed and safe 4th of July holiday!

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Happy Salad

Just in time for your holiday weekend (if you’re in the US) a quick and delicious salad to accompany your burgers, steaks, etc. This is a great way to use leftover roast chicken and/or another use for that package of bacon you’re opening for bacon cheeseburgers this weekend. If your spouse permits, adding shallots, onions, or green onions would probably be a tasty addition to this salad. Everyone have a fun, safe and delicious weekend!

KKF Memorial Day Chicken Bacon Salad

4 oz cooked chicken

5 slices bacon (home made recommended)

1 avocado, cut into chunks

1/2 cup chopped fresh broccoli

6-8 lettuce leaves (romaine or other leafy lettuce – not iceberg), cut into bite-size pieces

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/3 cup mayonnaise (home made if you got it!)

1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Cut your bacon up into little chunks and fry until crisp. Whisk together the mayo and the red wine vinegar to make the dressing. Combine chicken, bacon, avocado, broccoli, lettuce and garlic and pour dressing over mixture. Mix thoroughly and salt and pepper to taste.

Makes two large or four small servings.

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Indian Feast!

I had another wonderful experience at the Whole Foods Salud cooking school, this time on Indian food. Originally the class had five students, then two called and cancelled. The other two did not show up. So I got a solo lesson! Even better, we had help! So it was me, Chef, and four helpers! That’s what I call a cooking class. Definately got my $65’s worth.

The menu was: Kofta Meatballs with Spiced Tomato Sauce; Vegetable Samosas with Coriander Chutney; Chicken Tikka Masala with Sauteed Onions; Naan; and Pistachio & Cardamom Ice Cream (and rice of course).

My favorite recipe of the night ended up being the meatballs. They are very simple lamb meatballs that offered a lot of flavor and are good for someone on a low-carb diet as there is no breadcrumbs as binder – binding is yogurt only. I was rather amazed. I’m also curious as to how much I am loving the lamb recipes I’ve tasted lately. Can’t wait until I start seeing lamb for sale by my local farmers!

Kofta Meatballs with Spiced Tomato Sauce

1 pound ground lamb

1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

3 tbsp whole milk yogurt

Mix all the ingredients together and shape into about 30 meatballs.

For the sauce: 5 cloves peeled garlic, 1 inch piece peeled and chopped ginger, 1 1/4 c water, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/4 c canola oil (as per the recipe, but I would use coconut oil at home), 1 cinnamon stick, 6 cardamom pods (smash ’em), 6 whole cloves, 1/2 c finely chopped onion, 1/2 c canned crushed tomatoes, 4 tbsp whole milk yogurt, 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt.

Blend garlic, ginger and 4 tbsp of the water in a blender until it forms a paste. Add the cumin, coriander, paprika and cayenne and blend to combine.

Put oil into a frying pan over high heat and stir in cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Add onions and saute until they are reddish brown. Reduce heat to medium and add paste from blender and the tomatoes. Stir and cook until the mixture browns, then add 1 tbsp of yogurt. Stir to incorporate, then add another tablespoon. Repeat for rest of yogurt. Stir in remaining water and salt and bring to a simmer. Add all meatballs to the pan in a single layer. Lid the pan, slightly ajar, turn heat to low and cook for 25 minutes. Stir gently every 5 minutes. Remove lid, increase heat to medium-low, cook until meatballs are browned. (So…I don’t know how you would exactly “brown” a meatball sitting in liquid…cooked through should suffice!)

Chef Antonio and the KKF

Now, all of the dishes were tasty and I definately enjoyed making the naan (not hard at all!) and the samosas were fun (what part of FRIED is not fun?). But the meatballs were tops in my book. Followed by the ice cream, which I freaking forgot to take a picture of! Argh! Well, I guess I’ll just have to make it and take a pic of my own and share the recipe. It is just different enough to be the perfect end to an Indian dinner.

Also, if you’ve ever gone bonkers over that green sauce they give you with your Indian takeout, it’s pretty much just cilantro, fresh jalapeno, lemon juice, salt, roasted cumin seeds and black pepper. Let ‘er rip in the blender (maybe add some water) and adjust seasonings to your taste. Love that stuff!

Posing with the spread!

Practicing a pose for my new cooking show, "How to Not Screw It Up Too Bad."

IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD ALREADY!! For real, this is what happens when you're the only student and all the assistants had a glass of wine.

Chef Antonio

Close up of chicken curry

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Viking Cooking School

Now that I’m done with school, the first thing I do is…sign up for more classes. Except this time I’m leaving finance far behind and indulging in some cooking classes offered by Whole Foods and Viking Cooking School. This past Sunday I got schooled in Moroccan cuisine!

Here’s the menu we prepared:
Orange Salad with Dates
Couscous with Beef & Vegetables
Layered Phyllo Chicken Pie
Moroccan Lamb Tagine

Presumably since it was Super Bowl Sunday there were only three students in the class. Excellent! We all got to ask as many questions as we wanted and get our hands into everything. Our instructor was Chef Lana, owner of Call Me Your Chef and you can find her blog here. I also met a fellow food blogger, Jacqueline, who was one of the students.

It was really a great time and I feel like I learned a lot. One thing we learned about was supreming oranges. I found a good YouTube video on this here. The guy in that video sounds similar to the guy from the Engineer’s Guide to Cats. Anyway, I digress…

Moroccan Orange Salad with Dates

The aromas from all the spices were UHmazing. I had to smell everything repeatedly. And despite all the great meat dishes we made, I have to say…my favorite thing we made was the salad with oranges and dates. The orange was quite dark and it reminded me of a valencia orange I recently had but Chef Lana said it was just a navel orange. Wonder where it came from…anyway,  I think it’s ok for me to post the recipe here. If not, I guess they can sue me:

Orange Salad with Dates

2 oranges, peeled and segmented
1 cup dates, chopped
2 T frehly squeezed lemon juice
2 T freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
fresh mint sprigs

Stir everything together and enjoy! I would actually cut back on the honey a bit. I ate this as dessert, it was awesome.

Chicken phyllo pie (left) and Lamb Tagine (right)

I was really looking forward to cooking in the tagine. We used the Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 2-Quart Moroccan Tagine, Cherry
that I dreamed about all night one night last week that I’ve happened to see online from time to time and it might happen to be on my wish list. In a tagine you cook…well…a tagine which is just a really thick stew-like dish. We made ours with lamb and it was delicious.

We used a number of ingredients a lot, such as saffron (which I adore) but we also used a lot of smen which is similar to clarified butter. I learned that saffron should be crushed before using. I’m kind of ashamed that I didn’t know this sooner. Anyway, now I have another use for my mortar and pestle.

Phyllo pie, side view

So…we cooked with phyllo/fillo dough. As you will recall from my tissue paper burritos, my last attempt was a failure. The good news about the chicken phyllo pie we made is that it was great. First, you should use phyllo in a recipe that actually calls for phyllo. Second, we smeared the smen in between each layer which kept it from caking together and becoming concrete. The pie was a lot of work even split between all of us, of course we did learn that it’s generally a special occasion dish. I can see why.

At the end of the evening, I’d tried four great new dishes, learned some new skills and made three new friends. What more can you ask for from a simple cooking class?

Beef stew and couscous

The Feast!

The best part: we don't have to clean up!

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Chicken Soup: In Hot Pursuit

One of my favorite dishes from my childhood was Mom’s chicken soup. The chicken was plump and flavorful. The noodles were thick. The veggies were always just right. Years ago, before I got religion about food, I emailed Mom for her recipe so I could reproduce the chickeny goodness in my own kitchen. I’ll paraphrase the gist of her response, since the email is long gone:

First you go outside and catch a chicken. If you can’t catch it, get one of the kids to catch it for you. Pluck it, clean it up and get some stock going with the bird and some vegetables. Then make some pasta dough and pull out your pasta roller. Make some noodles and hang them on backs of chairs all over the house to dry. When your stock is done, cut up the chicken and put it back in the strained stock. Chop up some veggies from the garden and put them in too. When everything’s about done, toss in some of your noodles. And there you go. Now you know why it was so good!

That was enough to put chicken soup out of my mind for a long time. But now that I’m in a place to actually consider doing all of that, I think about it often. The things Mom went through to feed all of us good, nutritious food!

Dreary Monday in background. Happy flowers and a little wooden reindeer Test Subject Bill made me brighten the day!

While on this dreary January Monday there were no chickens outside my door and no time to make pasta, I did have leftover roast chicken from Nature’s Harmony Farm and some fresh chicken stock that had spent a full day simmering away in the crock pot. I cut up some onions, organic carrots and celery and let them sweat away in a good helping of Kerrygold Garlic & Herb butter. (Generally I like to make anything that has more than two ingredients, but this is such an excellent soup flavoring base…) I had some organic potatoes leftover from the graduation party so I chopped them up and tossed them in as well, added some sweet corn I froze last summer from the farmer’s market, then stirred in my lovely stock.

I love inhaling chicken stock. It smells so honest. Homemade stock says love. It says you cannot get this in a drive through. When I think of slow food, stock is one of the first things that comes to mind. I used to make a speedy broth out of How to Cook Everything until I discovered this roast chicken and roast chicken stock recipe from Nourished Kitchen. The broth was good enough….the roast stock is INCREDIBLE. I can (and do) just drink it out of a mug when it gets done.

Sunshine in a bowl.

My soup’s final touch – chopped leftover roast chicken – went in the pot and got heated through. Even my suburban version takes some time. Although someday I hope to make it the way Mom did, by stepping outside and chasing down my own bird.

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Usually the 4th of July holiday finds Bill and I at home, chilling out, having some wine and watching random fireworks from our back deck. This year, however, we ventured out to a friend’s house to celebrate our nation’s birthday together.

4th wine1When you’re wine snobs like us but don’t have the budget for Caymus as a daily drinker, you have to carefully choose your wine to balance cost and quality. Here’s the two we brought to share, Ergot tempranillo (Spain) and Gascon Malbec (Argentina). These two run about $10.99 a bottle at our local wine store, making them a budget-friendly vino, and are very impressive for the price.

We had an appetizer of a chevre goat cheese from Cole’s Lake Dairy (local Georgia dairy) I got in my CSA box. I don’t have a picture of it because it was gone in a matter of moments. Um, it was super yum…trust me.

4th salad1Our salad was a tasty mixture of lettuce leaves, cucumber and red bell pepper (provided by our gracious host) and green peppers and cherry tomatoes from my CSA box. I made a dressing of equal parts honey (local), balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Our host used his croutons to soak up the rest of the dressing in his salad bowl so I think he liked it 🙂 Nothing better than easy and tasty.

The main event centered around a 3.2 lb. pastured chicken from Nature’s Harmony Farm. Using a combination of a few recipes from this website I brined the bird for about four hours, then dried it off and headed to our host’s house. Using the rub recipe they recommend for chicken, we drizzled the bird with olive oil and saturated it with the rub. I felt kind of like I was molesting the bird by rubbing my fingers all over its naked skin, but Bill didn’t seem upset so I guess it’s ok. The rubbed bird went onto the smoker/grill for about two hours with applewood smoker chips smoldering over the coals.

4th chicken done1We were suprised that it finished that quickly, but the thermometer in the breast read 167 degrees so we pulled it. However, even though it looked fantastic we discovered that parts of the thigh were not done and had to go back on the grill for a few minutes. We think the temperature probe maybe wasn’t properly placed. None of us had smoked a whole chicken before so it was a learning experience! Outside of the thigh under-doneness the bird was fantastic. Super moist and delicious (I’ve never had a chicken breast that moist EVER), but I have to say the rub was the big winner of the day. All three of us raved about it and can’t wait to use it on something else. Rub recipe is here. 

4th veg kabobs1We also made veggie kabobs for the grill with baby bella mushrooms, sweet onion, some funky greenish-yellow pepper (CSA box), cherry tomatoes (CSA box), and patty pan squash (CSA store). Everything was good, but that squash was the bomb diggity. Raw or grilled it was fantastic.

We also steamed my CSA green beans in a foil packet on the grill. Just a little butter, salt and pepper and they were heavenly. Real food doesn’t need to be messed with too much. Simple is good!

4th plate done1We enjoyed our meal with a glass of wine, some of my bread that I made yesterday and some good laughs. I’m so thankful for the abundance of food we have at our disposal, the ability to make food choices (local and imported) and the right to fight to keep our choices. God bless America!

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Chicken 3 1/2 ways

I recently obtained several real chickens from my heros at Nature’s Harmony Farm. I was totally excited because I haven’t had chicken in 2+ years (if you missed why, read here.)  What I didn’t know is how many different ways this chicken would display herself…

The first night after the 4.9 lb bird was thawed I dressed it simply with salt, pepper, lemon and rosemary (from my back porch), and roasted it in the oven. I didn’t take any pictures because I didn’t think a roasted chicken was blog worthy. I was wrong. Anywho, the chicken turned out well, moist and flavorful, and Bill and I feasted on it along with rice grits and pea gravy. Yum!

Chicken soup

Chicken soup

There was a TON leftover. And since not only was it a pricey real chicken (because of how it is raised) and quite tasty I knew it would be reincarniated a time or two. I hate to disrespect an animal that lost its life so I could eat by letting it go to waste. And so, the second incarnation appeared the next night as chicken soup.

It was a very simple fly by the seat of my pants recipe. I used a mirepoix (onion, carrot and celery), butter, salt and pepper, vegetable broth, bow tie pasta and shredded chicken followed by fresh thyme. It was super yummy! Even test subject Bill, not a huge soup lover, approved. Local ingredients: onion, celery, thyme (grown on my back porch again) and of course, chicken.
Pot Pie out of the oven

Pot Pie out of the oven

The soup didn’t use nearly enough bird. I had a good four cups of shredded chicken left. In a flash of brilliance, Bill suggested chicken pot pie. At first I was like uh…what? I’ve never made a chicken pot pie. I haven’t eaten a chicken pot pie in about 20 years. And I’ve never made a pie of any sort on my own. Lucky for him, that intrigued me.

I came up with this pot pie recipe from my favorite allrecipes.com site. It got good reviews so I decided to go for it, including the from-scratch crust. I’d always been intimidated for some reason by homemade crust. It seemed mysterious. Difficult. But after making this one (I subbed butter for the lard, btw) I will never be caught buying premade crust again. It was so easy and suuuper tasty. In fact, I may intervene if I see someone buying crust in the store. (“What do you think you’re doing with that cardboard??”) I mean, you mash together the ingredients, rest in the fridge, then roll it out. What is the problem??
Plated pot pie

Plated pot pie

Anyway my crust phobia resolved, I followed the recipe pretty closely for the filling. It made a freaking ton of filling, way too much for one crust recipe. (Not to worry. I kept the leftover filling to serve over leftover rice grits.) I was so proud of that pie when I pulled it out of the oven. It was golden brown and delicious on top and warm and savory on the inside. Next time I will likely add garlic and herbs, but even plain jane as is it was worth the effort.

Gratuitous pot pie photo.

Gratuitous pot pie photo.

Test subject Bill was pleased with his chicken pot pie. However, he thought the crust was very tasty but a bit tough…I think he was refering to the bottom part of the crust (which I pre-baked before filling to prevent soggy crust). I didn’t have a problem with it but not sure what to adjust to meet his approval for texture…any suggestions are welcome!

Chicken not pie over rice grits.

Chicken not pie over rice grits.

A single chicken turned into an adventure. 1. Roasted rosemary and lemon chicken. 2. Chicken soup. 3. Chicken pot pie. 3 1/2. Pot pie filling over rice grits. I think I did right by the bird.

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