Posts tagged ‘red pepper’

March 13, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash and Ginger Carrots

Piping hot out of the oven, or room temperature on a sizzling summer day, roasted veggies serve as a perfect side dish to just about anything.  The variety of flavors you can unearth from diverse spices and oils allow you to adapt your dish to go perfectly with a roast chicken, seared salmon, or simply grilled steak.

The irresistible crunchy, caramelized edges, warm tender center, and rustic quality remind me of Italy.  There’s a time and place for perfectly cut vegetables, but it’s not in my kitchen.  The more time I can spend enjoying the food and less time prepping the better, especially on a busy weeknight. No need to stress yourself over perfect knife cuts – I know chefs everywhere are cringing over that statement – but honestly, as long as they’re all about the same size they will cook evenly and that’s all you need.

The fresh, clean tang of ginger contrasted with the sweetness of the carrots help brighten their natural flavor.  Garlic slowly warmed in the oven with a coating of healthy olive oil; mixed with the deep, creamy earthiness of butternut squash is a blissful combination.  The two together were simply flawless, and set side by side with a grilled steak and you’ll feel like you’re in paradise (or an Italian vacation in the middle of Tuscany).

Garlicky Butternut Squash

Ingredients

  • 2 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. extra light olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. black truffle infused olive oil
  • 1 tsp. coarse ground salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, coarse ground
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Wash and peel squash, and cut it into bite size squares.
  3. Place squash in a glass baking dish and drizzle with extra light olive oil.  Extra light olive oil has a higher burning temperature so I find it better for roasting.  Due to valuable antioxidants and ability to help lower total cholesterol, I always use extra light olive oil as a substitute for butter, shortening and other vegetable oils.
  4. Sprinkle with garlic, salt, ground black pepper and crushed red pepper and mix with a spoon until the squash is evenly coated with oil and seasoning.
  5. Cover with foil and bake for 30 mins
  6. After 30 mins, remove foil and continue baking for 10 minutes
  7. Just before removing he dish from the oven, turn the broiler on high for a few minutes
  8. Watch the oven, as the broiler will be hot and will burn the squash if left unattended.  It goes quickly, all you’ll need is 2-3 mins.  Once the butternut squash gets a slight golden color to the edges remove from oven and let cool for 5 mins before serving.

Ginger Carrots

Ingredients

  • 8 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp. extra light olive oil
  • 1 tsp. course ground salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, course ground
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 1/4 chicken bullion cube

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Place all the squash in a glass baking dish and drizzle with extra light olive oil.  Extra light olive oil has a higher burning temperature so I find it better for roasting.  Due to valuable antioxidants and ability to help lower total cholesterol, I always use extra light olive oil as a substitute for butter, shortening and other vegetable oils.
  3. Sprinkle with garlic, salt and ground pepper and mix with a spoon until the squash is evenly coated with oil and seasoning.
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 30 mins
  5. After 30 mins, remove foil and continue baking for 10 minutes
  6. Just before removing he dish from the oven, turn the broiler on high for a few minutes
  7. Watch the oven, as the broiler will be hot and will burn the squash if left unattended.  It goes quickly, all you’ll need is 2-3 mins.  Once the butternut squash gets a slight golden color to the edges remove from oven and let cool for 5 mins before serving.

October 18, 2011

Yellow Chicken Curry with Vegetables

You might be interested to know that curry is not a spice. In fact, there are several definitions out there designed to describe curry’s various combinations of piquant flavors, with many of these relying on origin just as much as how it’s used in the kitchen.  The important thing to remember is that it’s a blend of spices that can be selected and mixed by hand or purchased as curry powder to get the exact level of heat, spice or mellow warmth you’re looking for.  In my quest for the perfectly mild, yet also spicy curry, I began working on my own concoction.

My yellow curry can be altered to suit a spicy palette or toned down for those who prefer a mild heat, either way it’s depth of flavor and fragrant bouquet of spices will have you craving Indian more often.  I prefer a rich, velvety sauce with lots of meat and vegetables that offers up a variety of textures and flavors.  I use big chunks of carrots and cauliflower that soften as they simmer and absorb all the flavors of the cooked spices.  The rich flavor and velvety quality of the curry is perfectly paired with freshly steamed jasmine rice; you can’t help but go back for seconds.  Just adjust the amount of cumin and red pepper flakes to change the level of heat, either way you’ll get a traditional Indian curry worthy of being  part of your menu.

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 2 lbs. skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 4 tsp. turmeric
  • 2 tsp. cardamom
  • 2 tsp. coriander
  • 2 tsp. mustard seed
  • 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. dehydrated jalapeño peppers
  • 2 tsp. cumin

Sauce

  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. cardamom
  • 2 tsp. coriander
  • 2 tsp. mustard seed
  • 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. dehydrated jalapeño peppers
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 jalapeno, finely chopped (include seeds if you want more heat)
  • 4 Bay leaves
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 small head of cauliflower
  • 2 10 oz. cans light coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1-2 tbsp. semolina flour (for thickening)
  • Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Raita

  • 1 pint plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3 tbsp. fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. lime juice (1/2 medium lime)

Method

You’ll start this recipe by cooking the chicken in a mixture of spices, similar to the ones that you will use in the sauce.  This gives the chicken way more flavor than if you just dropped it in at the end

  • Heat 3 tbsp. oil in a large, heavy bottom skillet at medium heat
  • Add paprika, turmeric, cardamom, coriander, mustard seed, red pepper flakes, dehydrated jalapeño peppers and cumin to the hot oil and slowly cook the spices.  This will bring out all the deep flavors and give you a great base for the chicken.  Use the spice amounts listed in the top part of the ingredients under “chicken”
  • Let the spices cook for about 1-2 mins until aromatic
  • Drop chicken in the pan and let cook for about 6 mins. You don’t need to worry about cooking the chicken through, you just want to coat all sides with the spices and oil and slightly brown the pieces.  Carefully toss until everything is coated and the outside is golden
  • Remove from pan and leave in bowl for later
  • No need to wipe out or rinse the pan, just add in the oil and continue cooking on medium heat
  • Add oil and spices: paprika, turmeric, cardamom, coriander, mustard seed, red pepper flakes, dehydrated jalapeño peppers, cumin and salt and cook for 2 minutes until aromatic
  • Add onions, garlic, ginger and jalapeño and bay leaves stir to evenly coat the onions.  Cook on medium for 10 minutes, you don’t want the onions to turn brown, you want them translucent (it’s called “sweating”)
  • Once the vegetables cook down, add tomato paste, coconut milk, and carrots.  Stir in new ingredients, cover and bring to a simmer on low heat.  Leave for 20 minutes to let all the flavors meld.
  • While the curry flavors develop, it’s time to make the raita.
  • In a medium bowl, add yogurt, mint, cumin, salt, pepper, lime juice and bell pepper.  Mix well, cover with saran wrap and leave in the fridge until dinner
  • Add chicken and cauliflower continue to simmer for another 20-30 mins.
  •  Serve over rice with a side of Puppodums and raita.

Puppodums are wafer thin Indian “crackers” made with lentil flour and sometimes spices usually served at the beginning of a meal, or alongside the main dish with chutney and raita for dipping.  I LOVE THEM!  I usually eat a whole box when I make curry, I break them up and use them like a spoons.  I just can’t have curry without them, and the ones from the store are easier than making them from scratch.  I buy the Tiger brand Spicy Puppodums, spray a little oil on them, and them pop them in the microwave for 40 seconds.  Puppodum perfection!

September 19, 2011

Zesty Citrus Chicken

I was sitting in my kitchen trying to decide what to do with a bunch of skinless boneless chicken breasts.  That’s when I spotted the bowl of limes and lemons I keep behind the sink (mainly for decoration) but in this case it was my new recipe!  I took 2 limes and 2 lemons and wallah – I have zesty citrus chicken!

Not only is this easy, but it’s also very healthy.  You get great flavor from the citrus marinade, and not a lot of fat since you pan sear it in just a little olive oil.  It reminded me of the beginning of summer as the smell of fresh lemons sifted through my kitchen.  I also love all the specks of color you got from the citrus zest.   It’s easy, healthy and flavorful, and best of all I made it with my kitchen adornment!

Ingredients

  • 6-8 skinless boneless chicken tenders (if you get whole breasts, just slice them in half, this way they take less time to cook and they stay moist and tender)
  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • 2 lemons, juice and zest
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion flakes
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Method

  • Combine all the ingredients above (except the chicken) in bowl and whisk
  • Once mixed, add chicken and make sure each piece gets coated.  Cover with saran wrap and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours (I usually leave it overnight)
  • Remove chicken from fridge 15 minutes before cooking, so it can warm up just a bit
  • Heat non stick pan to medium high and add a tsp of olive oil
  • Once pan is hot, add chicken strips (it should sizzle)
  • Cook for 4-5 minutes and then flip; they’ll be slightly golden on the bottom, white half way up and the top will still be pink.  If you’re cooking full breasts, you’ll need to cook them for longer, about 8 minutes per side.
  • Flip and cook an additional 4-5 minutes
  • The chicken is done when it’s no longer pink in the middle (you can take one piece out and cut into it to check)  You can also use a meat thermometer; chicken is done at 165 degrees.
  • Serve with a side of rice or potatoes and some greens
  • Enjoy!
September 11, 2011

British Style Scrambled Eggs

It’s all about the method.

Dry, tasteless and crumbly. That’s what I usually get when I order scrambled eggs in most American diners.  British eggs are quite different.  They’re creamy, soft and velvety and I usually eat them with a spoon.  They aren’t like the American ones most of you are used to; what makes them different is the cooking method.

I’ve added some spice and tomatoes, but you can keep them plain or add anything you like.  I usually rummage through the fridge for leftovers, chicken, bacon, sausage, veggies… you really can’t go wrong.  If you want to add a little onion flavor, don’t bother sautéing onions at 8 o’clock in the morning.  Just throw in some dried onion flakes, they add nice subtle flavor without the harshness of fresh onion.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 eggs*
  • Pinch of salt*
  • Pinch of pepper*
  • Splash of milk*
  • Tsp. oil*
  • Tsp. butter*
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Dried onion flakes
  • Parmesan cheese

*Ingredients for basic British eggs

Method

  • Whisk together eggs, salt, pepper, onion flakes and milk in a bowl
  • Heat oil and butter in a small saucepan on medium heat.  Add tomatoes and red pepper flakes and cook for 3-4 minutes
  • Add eggs and begin stirring with a wooden spoon before they begin to set
  • Stir continuously for about 5 minutes, it’s a similar method to making risotto.  You don’t want to let the eggs set like they do when you make American style eggs.
  • Whip the pan off the heat, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately

Always take your eggs off the heat about 30 second before you think they’re done.  They will continue to cook when you take them off the heat, and if you wait they’ll over cook on your plate.   The results are eggs that are wonderfully rich and creamy… who wouldn’t want to start their morning like this?

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