African Yam Stew ~ Amazing, Spicy, Sweet Peanut Buttery YUM!

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This is divine!  I made it two nights ago and was crazy over the depth of flavor it has.  The small amount of peanut butter truly added this whole level of yum, beyond the awesome spices it has.

I have to say the next time, I would half the recipe because it simply made too much for just the Mr. and myself.  The girls tried it and well… not so much mom!  Perhaps the flavors are just too grown up for them, yet.  Enjoy!

Two popular vegetarian soups of Central Africa were the inspiration for this stew. In this region, sweet potatoes, beans, chili peppers, onions, ginger, garlic and peanuts are common ingredients. The peanut butter makes this a creamy stew, but there is only a small amount per serving. To decrease the richness serve over a whole grain or use only ¼ cup of peanut butter. Feel free to kick up the heat by using jalapeno pepper or more red pepper flakes.

Forks Over Knives

http://www.forksoverknives.com/african-yam-stew/

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

• ½ cup water
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1-2 tablespoon(s) Anaheim or jalapeno pepper, minced
• 1 tablespoon ginger, ground
• 1 tablespoon garlic granules
• 2 teaspoons cumin, ground
• 2 teaspoons coriander, ground
• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
• 6 yams, peeled and chopped
• 2 cups vegetable broth
• 24 ounces tomatoes, chopped
• 14 ounces garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
• 14 ounces black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
• 1/2 cup almond or peanut butter, unsweetened natural
• 1½ cup corn
• 6 cups collards, chopped

Instructions:

In a large pot, sauté onion and pepper with water for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally

Add ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander and red pepper.

Cook and stir for 1 minute.

Mix in yams, vegetable broth, tomatoes, beans and nut butter.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Stir in corn and collards and cook for about 10 more minutes, until yams and greens are tender.

Serve over brown rice or other whole grain.

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Vietnamese Pork Pho Soup ~ Delicious, Healthy Love for Your Tummy!

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When the Mr. and I used to frequent Montreal for our weekend “adult” getaways, our favorite go~to hangover remedy, as with most other cultures was some sort of big, fresh vegetable, noodle and protein soup.

Thanks to many great reviews online from Montreal natives, we were lucky to find a lot of great restaurants that are “off the beaten path” of tourists, that have phenomenal cuisine at low prices!

So where is the best place to get pho?  A tiny hole-in-the-wall place in Chinatown, Cristal No. 1.

It was absolutely AMAZING!

http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/67/1548051/restaurant/Chinatown/Cristal-No-1-Montreal

The whole late night, post partying, healthy soup practice, seems to not have taken hold here in the U.S. as it has pretty much everywhere else.   That is, it’s probably unlikely that it will become popular, unless the Golden Arches start carrying it, anyway!

I’ve been making this soup at home for years in the chicken form.  Chicken stock and meat.   This past week I made pho with a lovely, tender pork loin and it was absolutely amazing.

Here is the recipe I used.  Feel free to add any variety of veggies on top that you have, the key is to add them AFTER the noodles, meat and broth.  The idea is to keep them fresh, vibrant and crispy.  The nice thing about this soup is it’s easily made ahead of time.  If you chop the veggies first and refrigerate till you’re ready, it’s only a matter of heating up the broth.  This means, healthy, quick dinner!

Here are some fresh / raw veggies I’ve seen on Pho:

Julienne carrots

Julienne cucumbers

Mushrooms

Cilantro

Sliced thin red peppers

Jalapeno thin sliced

Bean sprouts

Sliced thin read onion

Chopped mint

Chopped basil

Lime wedges

http://guiltykitchen.com/2009/10/14/daring-cooks-vietnamese-pork-pho/

And if you’re ever in Montreal, definitely check out Cristal No. 1.  It’s the best pho in Montreal!

Chinese Steamed Chicken Buns ~Bread Machine

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When I was in Jr. High School my mom worked with a gal Keng, from Singapore.  Occasionally Keng would bring in food that she had prepared.  Sometimes it was noodles and once in a while it was these deliciously savory, fragrant and chewy steamed buns.  They were like nothing I had ever tried at any Chinese restaurant.

I was recollecting Keng and her amazing steamed buns and decided to make them.  I had just bought an industrial size pack of boneless, skinless chicken breast and was tired of oven fried chicken, I needed something more complex and savory. Sadly, I cannot honestly recall what the meat was in Keng’s buns.  I believe it was ground pork.  That would be amazing too.

I found a recipe or two online and one in my bread machine cookbook and combined them all to create my own recipe.  My girls and husband were crazy about them and The Mr. promptly said “You can make these anytime you want!”  I laughed and assured him, it was going to be a while before I did these again.  Not because I did not enjoy them, but they are a lengthy project to undertake.  But, yes… they are mighty tasty!

Dough Ingredients:

5/8 cup lukewarm milk

2 cups unbleached white flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon room temp butter

1 teaspoon rapid rise yeast

Pour the milk into the bread machine and add the butter.  Sprinkle the flour to cover the milk.  Add the salt and sugar into separate corners and put the yeast directly in the center.  Use your dough cycle on your machine.  Allow the dough to rest after the cycle ends.  I allowed mine to hang out for about three hours after the cycle ended.

Filling Ingredients:

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

2 inch piece of ginger root finely minced

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1/8 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder (*this seems like a small amount but the flavor is needed)

8 ounces chicken breast, thinly sliced and cut into 1″ pieces

3 scallions chopped

1 tablespoon cilantro chopped

Salt and pepper

Mix all of the ingredients and marinate for at least 1/2 hour.  Heat a non stick skillet and add 1 tablespoon of oil.  When the skillet is hot add 1/2 of the chicken and stir fry for approximately 3 minutes. Remove from skillet and add the second batch of chicken.  Cook for 3 minutes and add the the first batch.  Let rest for 1/2 hour to cool the ingredients.

Vegetables For Filling:

1 small can sliced water chestnuts ~ Drained

2 carrots peeled and roughly chopped

1 small onion roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic roughly chopped

Add all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the vegetables are well chopped.  Add the chopped vegetables to the chicken, once the chicken is cooled and easy to handle.

Dough Preparation:

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and roll the dough into a log shape.  Cut the dough into eight uniform segments and cover with a tea towel.

Take the first piece of dough and roll it into a 5″ round.  Recover and roll out the remaining dough balls into 5″ rounds, covering the dough as you work to keep it from drying out.

Heat approximately 6″ of water in a large stockpot and place your bamboo steamer on the pan.  Heat the water to a boil.

Take one round of dough and add about 2 tablespoons of filling and pull the dough out a bit.  Run a small amount of water around the edge of the dough.  Bring the sides of the dough to cover the filling and pinch the edges together to seal.  Place the bun on a small square of wax paper or parchment.  This is used to keep it from sticking in the steamer.

Cover the completed bun with a tea towel as you create the remaining seven.

Load the buns into the steamer, being careful not to allow them to touch the sides of the steamer or each other.  Keep in mind that the buns will expand as they cook.  It’s quite surprising how much larger they get while steaming.

steamed bun

Steam the buns for ten minutes and serve immediately.

Making NYC Street Meat: Middle Eastern Chicken and Rice Recipe

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A couple of days ago an old friend of mine who now lives in Manhattan posted on Facebook that he was making a late night trip for halal chicken and rice from 43rd & 6th street.  Not being familiar with it, I Googled it to see just what halal chicken was in New York city.  I came across an article where the author decided to figure out how to replicate the halal chicken and rice dish, sold on 53rd and 6th.

Last night I decided to give this  NYC street chicken and rice a whirl and I have to say, it’s probably the best chicken dish I’ve ever made, hands down.  Honestly.

This recipe has so much depth of flavor with the fragrant spices and Greek yogurt based marinade that I never could have imagined it would be possible for an Irish gal to make something this amazingly complex in flavor!

I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter, but found their recipe did not discuss the cooking of the chicken all that much.  Here is what I did.

I purchased boneless, skinless chicken and did not trim the extra bits of fat off.  I decided not to, only because we generally eat healthy here, so I was not too worried about a tiny bit.   I figured having the extra bits of fat would keep the meat tender and juicy.  I am glad that I did.

I used a non-stick skillet and did not add oil at first.  That is not advisable.  The marinade is too thick and is dairy based, so it immediately got stuck, making a mess of the pan.  I’d either use a non-stick with oil or a well seasoned cast iron pan and a bit of vegetable oil.  Personally, I think I’d go for cast iron.  I believe the overall end result would be better and a bit more like the seasoned flat top that would be used in it’s preparation on the street.

Cook on relatively high heat and in small batches as if you were stir frying.  This way you can cook it quickly, get a nice sear on your chicken and you won’t crowd the meat, which would cause it to steam.

I cooked the meat about 7 minutes per batch, removed it from the heat, let it rest, and added the next batch to cook.

I served it with Mujadarra (rice and lentils) and a gorgeous carrot salad from my new Middle Eastern cookbook that The Mr. ♥ gave to me.  I found one of our WordPress friends actually blogged about this amazing carrot dish here!

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I had originally planned on making homemade pita bread to go with it, but come six~ thirty, I was so done with cooking.  However, I highly recommend making homemade pita if you can.  It’s not overly taxing to make if you have a bread machine.  I finished cooking my pitas on a pizza stone in the oven and they were amazing little pillows.  So, so much better than store bought pita breads!

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So, What is Halal?  You can read all about it here. http://mideastfood.about.com/od/middleeasternfood101/a/halalfoods.htm

Pad Fry ~ Thai Sweet Potato Fries

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I have a weakness for sweet potato fries.  I’ve managed to have gotten one of our daughters totally hooked on my sweet potato fries with curry mayonnaise, an old fav of mine from the British pub days back in New England, that I’ve recreated.

Looking around today on Food Network I found this recipe for Thai sweet potato fries!  A warm and spicy combination of sweet potatoes, cilantro, lime, fried onions Sriracha and yes, BACON!

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Ingredients

1 16-to-20-ounce bag frozen sweet potato fries
3 strips bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons Asian chile sauce (such as Sriracha)
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Prepared fried onions or fried shallots, for topping

Directions

Bake the sweet potato fries as the label directs.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the brown sugar, fish sauce, chile sauce, lime juice and lime zest to the drippings. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

Transfer the fries to a serving dish. Drizzle with the chile sauce mixture, then sprinkle with the bacon, cilantro and fried onions.

Photograph by Charles Masters

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/name-this-dish-french-fries-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

 

Mushroom Pies with Pear Salad

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I adore a good hand pie!  These pastry wrapped little beauties look absolutely delicious and are surprisingly easy to make!  They would be cute & easily portable for a picnic or impromptu lunch at your honey’s office, or served with eggs for a delicious breakfast.  Add a lovely side salad for a divine brunch or dinner.

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of a 17.3-ounce package), thawed
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar and/or muenster cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 ounces mache or other salad greens (about 6 cups)
  • 1 pear, thinly sliced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and mist with cooking spray.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 14-inch square and cut into four 7-inch squares. Brush the center of each with mustard and season with salt and pepper. Place the mushrooms gill-side up on the pastry and season with salt and pepper.

Toss the breadcrumbs and cheese in a bowl and sprinkle over the mushrooms. Fold in the pastry edges, pleating to fully cover the mushrooms; press to seal. Brush both sides of the pastry with the beaten egg. Place seam-side down on the baking sheet, make slits in the top and bake until golden and crisp, 25 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, combine the shallot, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl, then whisk in the olive oil. Toss the dressing with the salad greens and pear. Serve the salad with the mushroom pies.

Serves: 4

Per serving: Calories 736; Fat 47 g (Saturated 18 g); Cholesterol 106 mg; Sodium 1,045 mg; Carbohydrate 54 g; Fiber 6 g; Protein 27 g

Photograph by Antonis Achilleos

Apricot~Bourbon Glazed Ham

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To celebrate the Winter Solstice and the holidays our family often times bakes a lovely, spiced ham.  Ham is one of those great dishes that gives you a lot of wonderfully delicious leftover dishes, such as macaroni and cheese (check back tomorrow for that tasty recipe!), omelets, egg bakes or just really tasty ham sandwiches!

Ingredients

  • 1 bone-in fully cooked half ham (about 10 pounds), rind removed
  • 1 1/2 cups apricot jam
  • 1 1/2 cups bourbon
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with rack in lower third. Wrap ham in a large piece of parchment-lined foil and place, cut side down, on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet; bake 1 hour. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring jam and bourbon to a rapid simmer over medium-high. Cook until reduced by half, about 40 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and pepper and cook 2 minutes. Reserve 1 cup glaze for serving.
  2. Remove ham from oven and increase temperature to 425 degrees. Unwrap ham, carefully flattening parchment-lined foil against baking sheet. With a sharp knife, score fat with long cuts, 1/2 inch apart. Bake 15 minutes.
  3. Remove ham from oven and brush all over with some glaze. Bake until ham is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part registers 145 degrees, 45 to 60 minutes, brushing ham with glaze every 15 minutes (wrap tip of bone in foil if it begins to over brown). Transfer ham to a carving board, tent with foil, and let rest 30 minutes before carving. Serve warm or at room temperature with reserved glaze.