Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Very Best Exotic Chicken Curry Kabobs (with Pattypan Squash)

Joseph invented this recipe after we got home from watching the film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Fast and easy! And it made great use of the awkwardly shaped pattypan squashes he'd bought super-fresh at the farmer's market.
It's mildly spicy as written, but you can control the heat when you add the chili flakes.

[Note from Lianne: If you've got a vegetarian in the house, marinate veggies and meat separately and treat them to marinated squash, mushroom, and onion kabobs. This squash has never tasted so good to me!]

The Very Best Exotic Chicken Curry Kabobs
(With Pattypan Squash)
(Serves 3-4)

1 lb. organic chicken tenders
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon dried chili flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 lb. white mushrooms
1 red onion, quartered and separated
4 pattypan summer squashes, cut into large chunks

Mix olive oil and spices in large glass bowl. Stir in chicken and set aside.
Prepare vegetables, adding to chicken mixture. Stir well. Marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.

To cook: Skewer chicken and veggies on strong metal skewers, folding the tenders to skewer twice. Cook on grill, turning regularly until chicken is done and you can pierce the squash with a knife. (Can also be cooked under broiler.)

Serve on a bed of seasoned white rice (ours had toasted pine nuts and dried apricot slivers) with tiny bowls of whole, plain yogurt on the side for dipping. (Or a cucumber-yogurt dipping sauce if you have the time and inclination.)
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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Quick Lebanese Macaroni with Asparagus

Joseph doctored up a recipe from my Lebanese cookbook by adding this springtime twist. I want to eat this one again!! If you like tahini (think hummous), you'll love it.

Makes a colorful and mildly exotic side dish, but it contains carbs, vegetables, protein, and fat.

Quick Lebanese Macaroni with Asparagus
(Serves 2)

1/2 cup rice macaroni
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
7 medium-sized organic asparagus spears

Cook macaroni. Drain. Wash and snap the tough ends off the asparagus, place in a pan of cold filtered water and bring to a boil. It's done when the tip of a knife just pierces it, about 3 minutes only!

While the asparagus and macaroni cook, mash the garlic with the salt. Add tahini and keep mashing. Add the water and mash. Add the lemon juice last. (Very important to add the water before the lemon juice; not sure why but I learned this in a kitchen in Beirut from a woman who spoke no English. -- Lianne)

Slice the cooked asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Combine the tahini with the cooked macaroni, then stir in the asparagus pieces.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Asparagus Soup with Orange Crème Fraîche

Asparagus season!
This yummy recipe serves a lot of people, even as a main course. So be sure to cut it in half if necessary.

We made the whole recipe, liked it so much we ate it for several meals in a row ... and then, okay, we'd had enough asparagus. But we couldn't resist the draw of the Homemade Chicken Stock base. The body computer seems to know when there's powerful nutrition involved, and it alerts the tastebuds! Mmmm ...

Asparagus Soup
(Serves 8)

3 lbs. fresh organic asparagus
5 cups Homemade Chicken Stock
1 tablespoon ghee
1 med. yellow onion, sliced
Sea salt
White pepper
1 cup peeled, sliced potatoes
1/4 cup fresh orange juice


    1/2 cup crème fraîche
    2 tablespoons orange juice
    1/4 teaspoon minced orange zest
    1/2 cup asparagus tips (2-inch pieces)

Break woody ends off asparagus. Wash in water soapy with special veggie wash; rinse well. Cut 2-inch asparagus tips, about 1/2 cup’s worth, and set aside for garnish. Cut remaining asparagus into 2-inch lengths. Heat ghee in large, deep soup pot. Add onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of white pepper. Saute 5 minutes over medium heat or until onions are soft. Add potatoes and 1 cup of stock, cover, and cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft. While they cook, steam or boil the asparagus tips set aside for the garnish, about a minute and a half, and set aside again. Add remaining asparagus, 1/2 teaspooon salt, and remaining stock to the soup pot. Cook uncovered over medium heat for 15 minutes.

While it cooks, make the Orange Crème Fraîche:

Combine crème fraîche, 2 tablespoons orange juice, and orange zest. Stir and set aside.

When the asparagus is cooked, turn off heat. Add 1/4 cup orange juice, then puree with a hand-held blender. Serve with a swirl or dollop of Orange Crème Fraîche and decorate with reserved asparagus spears. Goes well with sauteed, seasoned chicken tenders and a small fresh salad.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Substitutions: The Secret to Great Recipes

Cooking Note from Joseph:

Many of my dishes are created by substitutions. I hope you get to the point where my recipes serve simply as inspiration for your own creations.

That said, I also realize that not everyone has emu eggs or suet handy, but I think it makes the blog and recipes more interesting and hope it challenges you to seek out delicious food sources of your own.

Also, if you happen to spot fresh emu eggs for sale at your local farmers’ market, you’ll find a recipe here to experiment with. Go ahead and tell your kids, or your spouse, or your squeamish co-workers that it’s a dragon egg. They sure look like it.

Emu Egg Figgy Pudding

This is one of the special recipes from a category we call Breakfast Puddings. We might try to eat the whole thing between the two of us as a meal because it contains a balanced amount of protein, carbohydrate, and fat. But you could also serve it as a holiday dessert with a little stevia-sweetened whipped cream.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Homemade Vanilla

Nothing could be easier to make, and it will save you from additives that often include sugar!

Homemade Vanilla

1 fresh vanilla bean
1 cup of the best vodka brand you can afford
1 glass jar with a tight-fitting lid

Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise, carefully preserving the tiny seeds. It will smell heavenly. (You can also cut it in half horizontally if it doesn't fit into your jar.) Measure out the vodka and put them together in the jar. Close tightly and swirl gently. Set aside for 4 weeks in a coolish, darker spot (but NOT the refrigerator). We use an old ghee jar and mark the lid with the finish date. Peek at it occasionally and swish it a little. You can use it earlier than 4 weeks but the flavor won't have fully blossomed.

We decant ours into a prettier container, and if we're using a lot, start another batch. We've never had a batch go bad, but it does get darker over time because we leave the vanilla beans in. We did try a batch with cheap vodka once and you can really taste the difference. (A vodka-savvy friend tipped us off to the problem.) Different types of vanilla bean also affect taste. Experiment!

Where to find whole vanilla beans? Spice section of the supermarket, health food store, World Market, Whole Foods, Amazon. We've paid up to $9 for two, and more often a lot less. So shop around for the best price and freshest beans in your neighborhood.

Update: We've since switched to whole, crushed vanilla beans—no sugar AND no alcohol.