June – Middle Eastern Beer Can Chicken on the BBQ

June – Middle Eastern Beer Can Chicken on the BBQ

It was in March of 2015 that I first posted about beer can chicken. If you don’t have a rotisserie on your grill, cooking over a beer can (or other metal container filled with liquid), allows you to roast a whole tasty and tender chicken (or two) in your grill. As I wrote in the earlier post, the method is controversial. It has naysayers claiming cooking over a beer can makes absolutely no difference to the flavor, not to mention any other merits. I beg to differ. In my experience, it has two advantages. First, you fill the container with a liquid to flavor the chicken from the inside. There is no reason to confine yourself to beer. I have used wine, juice of all kinds (apple is very nice in the fall), chicken broth with spices or herbs, and plain water with sliced lemons and/or oranges plus some crushed garlic. Let your imagination go crazy. What would suit your taste buds on that particular day? And second, the liquid and metal container heat up and cook the chicken from the inside. This shortens the cooking time and ensures your chicken is done all the way through, resulting in a more reliably and evenly roast chicken. It has much the same result as those metal pins you can put in roasted potatoes to speed up the process.

There is a problem with using a real beer can though, it tends to tip over if you are not careful. I used the real beer can method for several years before I found this…a handy beer can BBQ tray with attached metal containers. It solves the problem of a potential scalding from a tippy beer can. Not to mention the mess it can make. This one came from Williams Sonoma where they call it Two-in-One Vertical Chicken Roaster. Please note that this endorsement comes only from my own experience and was not solicited.

Vertical Roaster

You can either roast two chickens (leftover roasted chicken is welcome on hot days), or one,  the center of the tray has a holder for a metal cup as well.

If you are using a real beer can, place it on a roasting pan or other flat surface. And handle it very carefully.

The weather in Northern California has finally reached summer temperatures, a few days before the the official date. Perfect for starting up the BBQ and staying out of a hot kitchen or further heating the house.

I decided to give these chickens a middle eastern flavor and use pomegranate juice as the liquid, and added a rub of cumin, Marash Turkish chile, and salt mixed with  with olive oil on the outside of the chicken before roasting. I first read about Marash chile in a book My Pantry written by Alice Waters, it has since become a favorite. If you don’t have it, substitute espelette or another you have on hand.

Although you could season the chicken immediately before cooking, letting it marinate for a few hours in the fridge will heighten the taste and aroma. You could even leave it overnight.

Middle Eastern Beer Can Chicken

Rub for two chickens:

  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin, toasted in a hot skillet
  • 1 teaspoon of Marash Turkish chile or another favorite chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt

Marash Turkish Chile

You will also need a liquid to put in the cups. See my comments above. Since this was a Middle Eastern themed dinner, I chose Pomegranate juice. Fill the cups 2/3 of the way to the top.

Chicken:

  • 1 – 2 organic chickens, free range if you can get them. Air chilled preferable.
  • Liquid or beer to fill cups

Slightly Off Kilter Chickens ready for the BBQ

Although these look tippy, they are held upright by the cups.

Method:

  1. Preheat your grill to between 350 and 400 degrees F (176 to 204 C). If using a charcoal grill, set it up for indirect heat.
  2. Fill the cups or can 2/3 with liquid, I used pomegranate juice. If using real beer cans, pour off some of the beer.
  3. If not done already, brush the chickens with marinade.
  4. Carefully place the chickens upright over the cans or cups, spreading out the legs.
  5. On a gas BBQ, turn off the center burner over which you will place the chickens.
  6. Place the tray with the chickens in the grill and cover the grill.
  7. Monitor the temperature throughout.
  8. Bake for 1 hour and check, the chickens will cook faster than you think. They may need another 10 minutes or more depending on the temperature of your grill and size of the chickens.

Finished Chicken

Crispy skinned chicken and tender meat is your result. Carve and serve.

Carved Beer Can Chicken

June – Roasted Carrots and Beets with Curried Lentils

June – Roasted Carrots and Beets with Curried Lentils

The title for this could be even longer, Roasted Carrots & Beets with Curried Lentils, Feta and Yogurt Salad. There is a little something in there for everyone. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly from one I found in a book I mentioned a few posts ago. The same book gave the inspiration for cauliflower hummus. Take a look at Dishing Up the Dirt by Andrea Bemis, it is a keeper.

Dishing Up the Dirt

Serve this dish as a salad at room temperature, or warm. It makes a wonderful stand alone vegetarian entree, or a side dish for roast chicken or fish. It would be perfect as part of a large buffet. I found that leftovers are even more flavorful the next day.

The original recipe did not call for curry, but I love the warming influence it has on lentils. I also left out the dill and substituted fresh parsley. Adapt this recipe to your own taste.

Roasted Beet & Carrot Lentil Salad with Feta and Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients for Roasted Carrot & Beet Curried Lentil Salad (serves 4)

Lentils

  • 1 1/2 cups of French green lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 small yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
  • Sea or kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Roasted Beets and Carrots

  • 1 bunch of small beets, any color or a combination, scrubbed, trimmed and cut into eighths
  • 1 large bunch of carrots, scrubbed, trimmed and halved lengthwise if small, or cut into 1/2 inch lengths
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, more if needed
  • Sea or kosher salt

Sauce and garnish

  • 1 cup of full fat yogurt
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds, briefly toasted
  • Feta cheese, crumbled for serving
  • 1/4 cup of parsley, coarsely chopped

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (218 C)
  2. Place the lentils in a medium saucepan, cover with 3 inches of cool water, add the onion and by leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, turn the heat to low and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but still holding their shape. Add 1 teaspoon of salt towards the end of cooking. Add more water if needed.
  3. Drain the lentils, discard the onion and bay leaf. While still warm, toss with a drizzle of olive oil and the curry powder. Taste for salt and add freshly ground pepper, squeeze on the lemon.
  4. Meanwhile toss the beets and carrots with the olive oil and spread out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Roast until browned and tender, 25 to 30 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, salt and olive oil.
  6. When ready to serve, spread the lentils on a platter, top with the beets and carrots, drizzle with the yogurt sauce. Top with the chopped parsley, feta and almonds. Serve remaining yogurt sauce on the side.

    Roasted Carrots and Beets with Curried Lentils

    Curried Lentils with Roasted Carrots and Beets

    Note: the original title included May, which is when I served this dish to my book club. I am a bit late in the posting.

    Note 2: I am taking this to Fiesta Friday #176 to share with the rest of the party goers, it will be a great addition to the buffet. Click here to see the dishes brought by other members and to add your own link. Fiesta Friday #176 hosted by Angie and co-hosted by by Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

June – Two Amazing Nut Based Spreads

June – Two Amazing Nut Based Spreads

I hesitate to call these two spreads or dips hummus as there is not a single chickpea in sight. However, use them both like hummus. They are a wonderful spread for pita or crackers, equally good as a dip with raw or blanched vegetables on a crudite platter.

Crudites

The first doesn’t have any beans. If you are avoiding carbs, this is the one for you. Add some water to Almond-Sesame Dip to thin it and use it as a sauce for a rice bowl or salad. It is a versatile sauce.

Almond Sesame Sauce

Cashew-White Bean Dip uses white beans instead of chickpeas (feel free to substitute if your pantry is out of white beans). Creamy and rich, it was my special treat to enjoy the few tablespoons left in the blender after it was spooned into a serving bowl. Definitely consider using this in a wrap or sandwich.

Cashew Hummus

Both of these are filled with healthy fat and protein from nuts. And they are quick to make, simply throw the ingredients in y0ur food processor or blender, process or blend away to a smooth sauce. Both are vegan, dairy and gluten free as well.

Almond-Sesame Dip

  • 5 tablespoons raw unsalted almond butter
  • 5 tablespoons sesame tahini paste
  • 5 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons of water, as needed
  1. Combine the almond butter, tahini, soy sauce, vinegar, olive oil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Add the water to thin to your desired consistency.
  2. Serve with raw vegetables, use as a spread or sauce.

Cashew-White Bean Hummus

  • 1 can of cannellini beans or white beans
  • 1 cup of raw cashews (I used dry roasted and salted, it turned out beautifully)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, depending on how much you love garlic (I used 3)
  • 1/3 cup of cashew milk
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (amount from about 1/2 a lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 large teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, a few really good grinds
  1. In a blender container, combine all the ingredients listed above. Blend until very smooth and creamy.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and serve with pita or crudites. Or store in the fridge, covered, for up to a week.

I am taking this to share at Fiesta Friday #173. It is hosted by Angie and cohosted by Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Suzanne @ A Pug in the Kitchen. 

Click on the Fiesta Friday link to see all the wonderful dishes that are coming to share at the virtual party. And, please if you are a blogger, consider adding your link.

School is out or almost out, welcome to summer vacation!

June – In My Kitchen

June – In My Kitchen

At long last I have some things to write about for the In My Kitchen blogging group; truthfully there hasn’t been a lot going on in my kitchen these last couple of months, at least not in the way of interesting food news. We’ve been away on holiday; and when home, involved with the upgrades to our cabin in Fort Bragg. It is finally becoming a real house and not just a holiday cabin. Our contractor has assured us that the new addition will be completed sometime in July, we shall see. Meanwhile the construction team has made real progress now that the rain has stopped. I will be posting pictures of the new bedroom and bath soon, but it doesn’t have much to do with the kitchen so please humor me. After the construction completion, comes the creation of a real garden, both vegetable and ornamental. That will be my own project and I am looking forward to getting my hands in the dirt.

Last weekend I hosted a wedding shower, a real English tea for a good friend’s daughter.

Roses from Wedding Shower

The garden roses put on their best show for table decorations, and I got to appreciate them for a few days after it was over.

Also left over were a few (not many) sandwiches and tea cakes. The mother of the groom made the desserts and they were well worth any extra calories. Aren’t they beautiful?

Tea Cakes

She is a genius and is also planning to bake the wedding cake.

Shower Desserts

We made a big selection of tea sandwiches. All of the usual kinds were represented…egg salad, cucumber and cream cheese, smoked salmon, goat cheese and fig spread, and goat cheese with olive spread.

Tea Sandwiches

Tea Sandwiches

More Tea Sandwiches

I made a few spreads and dips. Cashew hummus and almond sesame were hits. I will be posting the recipes.

Cashew Hummus

Almond Sesame and Curry Dip

Crudites

Also leftover were a few slices of delicious Danish rye sourdough baked by the mother of the groom. She has promised me some starter and the recipe.

Danish Rye

This is a very dense and flavorful bread, meant to be sliced thinly and amazing with the egg salad or cucumber/cream cheese sandwiches.

Mother of the Groom, Bride, and Mother of the Bride

We are all very excited for the happy bride and groom, plus the uniting of two wonderful families.

In my kitchen I have two new cookbooks to feed my passion (maybe it should be termed obsession) for them.

The Spice Companion

The Spice Companion by Lior Lev Sercarz is a comprehensive and knowledgeable guide to spices from around the world and how to use them. To those of us who love trying new flavors, it is a prize. It also has recommendations for new spice mixes, I look forward to trying some of them and will post the best.

And I couldn’t visit the Oaktown Spice Shop without making a couple of purchases. Cyprus citron lemon flake sea salt is fantastic sprinkled over simple roasted asparagus.

Cyprus Citron Lemon Flake Salt

I first read about Marsh Turkish Chili in My Pantry by Alice Waters. It has a great depth of smoky flavor and only moderate heat. It is known as “Maras biberi” in Turkey. The chili flakes are traditionally mixed with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and used to season chicken, lamb, and goat dishes as well as vegetables.

Marash Turkish Chili

Dishing Up the Dirt

Dishing Up the Dirt by Andrea Bemis is the story of tumbleweed farm in Oregon. The recipes are simple but with a twist. I served the roasted beet and carrot lentil salad to my book club earlier in the month, only adapting the recipe a little by adding some curry powder to the lentils.

Roasted Beet & Carrot Lentil Salad with Feta and Yogurt Sauce

Finally from my kitchen I can see Casey and Quinn enjoying the sun and baking themselves on the deck.

Casey and Quinn on the deck, on the lookout for deer and squirrels

This is my June contribution to the “In My Kitchen” series. At the beginning of each month food bloggers worldwide give you a peek into their kitchens. Sherry of Sherry’s Pickings fame is our host, so click on the link and check out what’s happening elsewhere, or better still join in. You have until the 10th of the month to link up.

May – Roasted Cauliflower Hummus

May – Roasted Cauliflower Hummus

When is hummus not really hummus? For the sake of total accuracy, when should you no longer call it hummus?

Here is the official definition in the dictionary:

noun:
Middle Eastern Cookery. a paste or dip made of chickpeas mashed with oil, garlic, lemon juice, and tahini and usually eaten with pita.
Origin of hummus:
From the dialectal Arabic word ḥummuṣ, ḥəmmoṣ chickpeas
 
So, technically speaking, if it doesn’t contain chickpeas, it should not be called hummus. But recipes without chickpeas and still calling themselves hummus are everywhere. And they are delicious even though they are incorrectly named. I especially adore the ones made with roasted vegetables such as the one on the Chef Mimi Blog for Roasted Carrot Hummus or the delightful variety on the blog Foodbod by Elaine. Sometimes vegetables are also added to a regular hummus (made with chickpeas) to increase the nutritional value and flavor (I guess those can be officially called hummus). Including cooked mashed sweet potatoes or winter squash is a wonderful and colorful idea during the holidays. Keep a bowl of these vegetable spreads in your fridge for snacking or adding to sandwiches. A hummus and avocado sandwich with thinly sliced onion and cucumber on whole grain bread is a quick powerhouse lunch.
So, I am going to defy technical and other accuracies and call this rendition with roasted cauliflower hummus. After all, it is a wonderful dip for pita bread or raw veggies, and it looks like hummus. It contains all the other ingredients of hummus, but no chickpeas. Instead you use one of my favorite vegetables, roasted cauliflower. I recently served this at my bookclub when it was my turn to host, no one was able to identify the secret ingredient. The guessing game was great fun.

The recipe comes from the cookbook Dishing Up the Dirt by Andrea Bemis, the subtitle says it all, simple recipes for cooking through the seasons. This is a cookbook that will see regular use, becoming stained with grease spots and filled with notations. The book is filled with healthy and delicious recipes, simple but often with a clever twist. It is mostly vegetarian but not entirely. Ms. Bemis and her husband own and run tumblewood farm in Oregon and the book features seasonal produce from their fields. I found this book inspirational even for a “farm” that consists of a few raised beds. I wish I lived close enough to Portland to join their CSA group.

Roasted Cauliflower Hummus

Here is the recipe for the mystery ingredient.
Ingredients:
  • 1 medium-sized cauliflower head, broken into small florets
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, peels left on
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cumin, toasted if you have time (the recipe calls for 1/8 teaspoon but I love cumin)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C)
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment or baking paper. Toss the cauliflower and garlic cloves with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread out in one layer on the sheet.
  3. Roast until the cauliflower is tender and brown on the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  4. Let the vegetables cool slightly, then gently squeeze the garlic from their skins into the bowl of a food processor.
  5. Into the same bowl, combine the cauliflower, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne and the garlic cloves squeezed from the skin.
  6. Process until the mixture is smooth, stopping to scrape the sides and push the mixture back down as needed. Add warm tap water 1 tablespoon at a time to thin for a creamier texture.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper. Repulse to mix.

This will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days. It is nice to give it a few hours of chilling time for the flavors to mellow.

When I make it next time I will probably add a little more garlic and olive oil to the processor.

When chilled spread on crisp crackers or pita bread,

or my favorite, sliced cucumber.