February – Turmeric Chicken and Rice

February – Turmeric Chicken and Rice

Turmeric has amazing medicinal qualities, mainly from its main ingredient, curcumin. This widely researched component of turmeric is highly therapeutic and is used in various drugs and pharmaceutics mainly because of its immunity boosting and anti-oxidant properties.

“5 to 8 times stronger than vitamin E and stronger than vitamin C, this antioxidant breakthrough may help boost your immunity, maintain normal cholesterol levels, and put the brakes on aging,” says Dr. Joseph Mercola about the curcumin in turmeric.

His claims are well substantiated by various studies. For example, Jagetia and Aggarwal at the Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, USA, reported – “Interestingly, curcumin at low doses can also enhance antibody responses. This suggests that curcumin’s reported beneficial effects in arthritis, allergy, asthma, atherosclerosis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer might be due in part to its ability to modulate the immune system.”

Curcumin down-regulates certain inflammatory transcription factors and hinders the development of those diseases. in addition to the effects listed above, it has been reported to protect against liver disease, Type 2 diabetes, promote weight loss, improve Rheumatoid arthritis and memory in Alzheimer’s patients. Whew! Those are a lot of reasons to increase the amount of turmeric in your diet. You can read more here.

This dish is a shot of “medicine” in a very delicious package. In addition you will only have one pot to wash. Add a salad or simple green vegetable and call it dinner. It’s also wonderful leftover.

Turmeric Chicken and Rice

Turmeric Chicken and Rice

Turmeric Chicken and Rice

  • 8 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped, peeled fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups jasmine rice (I used brown jasmine rice)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
  • 3 cups of chicken stock
  • Garnish for serving, one or more – plain yogurt, sliced cucumbers, mint leaves, lime wedges, chopped cilantro
  1. Trim the chicken to remove any extra fat or skin, wipe with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Melt the butter in a large stove top and oven proof casserole or Dutch oven IMG_4054and sprinkle with the turmeric. Add the chicken, skin side down and cook over medium high heat, turning once, until brown on both sides. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

    Turmeric Chicken

    Turmeric Chicken

  3. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic to the casserole and cook until starting to soften and brown, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, curry powder, cinnamon, cumin and rice to the pot. Stir constantly until fragrant, about a minute.
  4. Return the chicken to the pot, skin side up. Add the bay leaves, fish sauce and stock; bring to a boil on high heat.
  5. Cover, lower the heat to low or medium-low to maintain a simmer for about 10 minutes. Adjust the lid to cover partially and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
  6. Remove from the heat, uncover, and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with one or more of the optional garnishes.
    Turmeric Chicken and Brown Jasmine Rice

    Turmeric Chicken and Brown Jasmine Rice

    I didn’t find the pictures really did this dish justice. It was really yummy.

    Turmeric chicken with rice

    Turmeric chicken with rice

    I am taking this dish to share at Fiesta Friday.

October – Pasta with cauliflower, artichokes and parmesan oil

October – Pasta with cauliflower, artichokes and parmesan oil

Sometimes the best things happen by accident. I’m talking about the inspiration that hit when a bag of frozen artichoke hearts fell out of the freezer, that kind of “ah-ha” moment. You laugh, but cooking to me is an art. It’s one that is unselfish and fleeting (unless it is captured on the pages of a blog), it’s designed to bring pleasure to others but is gone in a few hours. And so, like a good painting, I don’t really have a recipe. This recipe was completely spontaneous; I made it up as I went along. If you always cook from a recipe, try it sometime. It is very freeing. Pasta is one of those dishes that will lend itself to this kind of spontaneity because it is a blank canvas. Of course there are many wonderful classical dishes, but then those last minute “clean out the fridge or freezer” dishes can also be delicious.

So, frozen artichokes in hand, I went searching for what else might be lurking about needing to be added to my work of art. The fridge had half a head of cauliflower, a red pepper, and some Parmigiano Reggiano, the counter a jar of Parmesan oil, and in the cupboard I found half used packages of penne and fusilli. I always have onions and garlic available. Ready to go.

Pasta with Cauliflower, Artichoke Hearts, and Parmesan Oil

  • 1 package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted and drained well on paper towels
  • 1/2 large head of cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil – divided
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • About 3/4 pound of pasta of your choice. I had 1/3 box of penne and 1/3 box of fusilli left in the cupboard.
  • Parmesan oil, or good olive oil for finishing

    Parmesan Olive Oil

    Parmesan Olive Oil

  • Freshly grated Parmesan for serving.
  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat for your pasta, start this first since the rest will cook fairly quickly.
  2. When boiling, add your pasta. If they have different cooking times, stagger adding them so they finish at the same time. Turn down the heat if it looks like it will boil over (the starch in the pasta sometimes does that). Cook to al dente. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water before draining, do not rinse.
  3. Meanwhile, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil on medium high heat in a very large skillet.
  4. Add the chopped onions and cook until softened and beginning to turn golden, about 10 minutes. Turn down the heat if it is browning too quickly.
  5. Turn the heat down to medium (if you haven’t done this already) and add the garlic, sauté for about a minute, then add the red pepper. When the pepper begins to soften, turn the contents of the skillet into a large heatproof bowl.

    Sauteed onions and garlic

    Sauteed onions and garlic

  6. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet on medium high heat. When shimmering, add the cauliflower. Cook for about 5 minutes or until beginning to caramelize. Add the red pepper and continue to cook for a few minutes until they soften. Turn the cauliflower and red pepper into the bowl with the onions.

    Sauteed cauliflower and red pepper

    Sauteed cauliflower and red pepper

  7. Add the artichoke hearts to the skillet. Move the artichoke hearts down against the bottom of the skillet so they begin to brown. You may need to add a touch more oil at this point. Cook for anther minute or so.

    Sauteed artichoke hearts

    Sautéed artichoke hearts

  8. Add the onions, garlic, cauliflower, and red pepper back to the skillet. Stir.
  9. Add the pasta. Toss again and slowly add some of the reserved cooking water to moisten the mix. You don’t want it swimming but don’t want it to be dry. The starch in the cooking water will help bind things together.
  10. Turn into a warm serving bowl.

    Pasta with Cauliflower. Artichoke Hearts and Parmesan

    Pasta with Cauliflower. Artichoke Hearts and Parmesan

  11. When serving, drizzle with Parmesan oil or good quality olive oil and shred some fresh parmesan on top of each.

    Pasta with Parmesan Olive Oil

    Pasta with Parmesan Olive Oil

Serve with a tossed green salad.

Pasta with Parmesan Oil

Pasta with Parmesan Oil

I’m taking this to share on Fiesta Friday #91. Come join the fun at a virtual blogging party hosted by Angie of The Novice Gardener. The co-hosts this week are Juju @ cookingwithauntjuju and Indira @ I’ll Cook, You Wash.

October in the Kitchen – Pollo Spago

October in the Kitchen – Pollo Spago

This is a big weekend; it’s my birthday, and I am co-hosting Fiesta Friday #88! It’s my first time as a co-host and I’m looking forward to reading all the posts brought by fellow bloggers. I’m bringing Pollo Spago to the party and think it will be a big hit. Fiesta Friday is an ongoing blogging party hosted by Angie of The Novice Gardener. Everyone brings a virtual dish to share. My fellow co-host is Julie from the blog Hostess at Heart.

If you’re a blogger and you haven’t yet joined in the Fiesta Friday fun, please join in. It’s a good way to rub shoulders with a great group. We’d love to read about what’s going on in your kitchen. It’s easy, here are the guidelines – just make sure to link properly to your blog and mention Fiesta Friday somewhere in your post so we can find you. And, if you’re not a blogger, I know you’ll enjoy reading all the posts.

It is so easy to get into a cooking rut, don’t you agree? I find myself not only cooking the same recipes, but using the same techniques as well. Boring! Well, my birthday resolution for the year is to change that pattern. I intend to challenge myself to try new things and have more fun in the kitchen. Where am I going? The ultimate target is a “Turducken” for the holidays (coming up all too quickly!). What is that? Well, it’s a boned chicken inside a duck inside a turkey, with stuffing to fill in any gaps. It could be the holiday version of an all meat pizza. I’ve been reading about it for years but never met anyone who has had one. Have you? How was it? Wonderful, or disgusting?

All this is why I was attracted to the recipe for Pollo Spago in The River Café Cook Book–I am in favor of baby steps to start. And, I don’t to want end up in tears on Thanksgiving morning. Believe me, it has happened. This cookbook was the September/October selection for the online cookbook book club hosted by Leah at the The Cookbook Guru.IMG_3614

Do you know or have you been to the River Café? It is a restaurant on the banks of the Thames in London, opened in 1987. The authors, Rose Grey and Ruth Rogers, had spent many years in Italy and wanted to open a place with more genuine Italian food. They grew many of the ingredients in their own gardens, which was quite revolutionary at the time. Over the years they have published several cookbooks, this was the first. I found the cookbook simple, but not really. I know that sounds odd but they made a lot of assumptions, of both your available ingredients and knowledge of cooking techniques. This is not a cookbook I would recommend to a beginning cook, even though it appears simple at first.

On to Pollo Spago, the recipe was inspired and adapted from one served at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant Spago in Los Angeles. He was another chef on the forefront of the food revolution. Pollo Spago is a boned chicken stuffed under the skin with minced garlic and parsley.

Pollo Spago

Pollo Spago

Again, this recipe is very simple, but the techniques are not. I think stuffing a boned (skin on) chicken breast would have been just as delicious. One of my problems was that there were no pictures, I had to prop the cookbook on the table while I was de-boning the chicken, re-reading the directions (over and over) as I went along. It went surprisingly well. Pictures would have made it easier.

So, here it goes with my own pictures to help you through it if you decide to try it.

Pollo Spago

Instructions for boning the chicken from Pollo alla Griglia (Marinated Grilled Chicken), The River Café Cook Book

  • 1 small organic, free range cicken
  • 8 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • About 1 cup of flat-leaf parsley, chopped (4 oz)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil

Directions for deboning the chicken (you can skip this part if you are using boneless chicken breasts with the skin):

  1. Place the chicken, breast side up, on a cutting board. I found it easier to have the tail side closest. With a very sharp boing knife, cut along the breast bone, from front to back down the center of the breast. Lay your knife flat against the bone and cut through the skin and meat down to the leg joint. You will have to cut the wishbone in half. This will separate one side of the breast from the carcass. Crack the leg bone where it attaches to the body so it lies flat against your board. With your knife, carefully cut around the leg and separate one half of the chicken from the carcass. You will have to cut the wing joint as well.IMG_3609
  2. Snip the tips of the wing; I used a pair of sharp kitchen scissors. Leave the short bone in the wing.IMG_3610
  3. Now comes the tricky part, boning out the legs. Flatten your half of a chicken, skin side down and cut as close to either side of the leg bones as possible, prying up the bone from the meat as you go along. Try to keep the skin in one piece. This was a bit messy but once cooked, it was fine. Trim away any big pieces of fat or gristle.IMG_3611
  4. Repeat with the other side. I found a sharp boning knife and kitchen scissors essential.IMG_3612

That’s the hard part, yeah!

  1. Place the garlic cloves in a small saucepan of cold water and bring them to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes, then drain and place in a small food processor (or chop by hand). Add the parsley to the processor (or chop by hand and mix), and process to mix and chop everything together.
  2. Wipe the chicken with paper towels and loosen the skin from the meat making two pockets, one at the breast end and one at the lets.
  3. Use about half the parsley mixture to stuff into the pockets, season well with salt and pepper.IMG_3629
  4. Grill the chicken halves for about 20 minutes on medium high heat until they are crisp, golden and cooked through. I turned them about every 4 minutes.IMG_3631
  5. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet, add the remaining parsley and garlic mixture, cook gently. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with the chicken.

The recipe was good and I learned a lot. It will be much easier next time.

And next time, I would change it by mixing butter with the parsley and garlic that is to go under the skin. I think that it would have added more juiciness and kept the chicken moist.

September in the Kitchen – 3 Ingredient Drumettes and a Concert

September in the Kitchen – 3 Ingredient Drumettes and a Concert

Chicken wings, who can resist them? Sticky, brown, crispy on the edges and tender in the middle…yum! The only way to eat them is with your hands. They are perfect picnic food if you bring along plenty of napkins and wet wipes.

This is a delicious sauce for wings. It uses only three ingredients and all of them are already commercially prepared. Quick and easy are the two words that come to mind. I usually cook from scratch, but I needed to make these in the morning before work for the picnic that evening. We were attending a concert by Mark Knopfler with a group of friends at the Greek Theater on the UC Berkeley campus. It was grass seating for us so we could spread out blankets and enjoy a shared feast. The weather was perfect, warm but not too hot, cooling as the evening progressed.

Greek Theater on the UC Berkeley Campus

Greek Theater on the UC Berkeley Campus

Picnic Wings

Picnic Wings

3 Ingredients

3 Ingredients

3 Ingredient Chicken Drumettes

  • 4 oz or about 1/2 cup of Sweet Soy Glaze or Soy Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of hot chili paste
  • 2 dozen chicken drumettes
  1. Mix the soy glaze, vinegar and chili paste in a large bowl.
  2. Wipe the chicken dry with paper towels and add to the sauce in the bowl, mix to coat with the sauce.
  3. Refrigerate for 2 hours to overnight.
  4. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
  5. Spread the wings out on a parchment paper or aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Retain any sauce in the bowl.
  6. Bake 20 minutes.

    Half way done, turn and baste

    Half way done, turn and baste

  7. Remove from the oven, turn and baste with any remaining sauce. Discard any sauce left in the bowl.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and increase your temperature to 450 degrees F.
  10. Put back in the oven on an upper shelf and bake for another 10 minutes until brown and crisp. Watch carefully so they don’t burn.

    3 Ingredient Picnic Wings

    3 Ingredient Picnic Wings

  11. Cool before packaging for a picnic and refrigerating.

As the night darkened, the moon came out. You can see the moon and Campanile in the background, then the lights of San Francisco in the distance.

Greek Theater on warm summer night

Greek Theater on warm summer night

Mark Knopfler concert

Mark Knopfler concert

It was a wonderful evening with good friends and good food!

I will be making these again to share at Fiesta Friday #87. Please join the fun at Angie’s The Novice Gardener.

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

September in the Kitchen – Mexican Vegetable Salad

September in the Kitchen – Mexican Vegetable Salad

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create a salad for 50 people as part of a Mexican buffet supper. It should have crunch, be good with tacos and enchiladas, not wilt if it sits for several hours, be flavorful, colorful, and healthy, plus vegetarian with no avocados. The mission was not impossible. I accepted the challenge since after all I did offer; and it was for my good friend’s daughter’s engagement party.

First step, do some research on the internet. Unfortunately it yielded too many salads with avocado (the groom-to-be is allergic), black beans (too heavy with the rest of the menu), lettuce (sure to wilt), or mayonnaise (I don’t want food poisoning to ruin the celebration). No recipe was exactly how I envisioned the salad. What to do?

Cabbage and jicama

Cabbage and jicama

Shredded cabbage and jicama for crispness and sweetness.

Carrots

Carrots

Carrots for color and crunch.

Radishes

Radishes

Radishes and red onion for heat.

Sweet peppers

Sweet peppers

Sweet peppers for color and flavor.

Farmer's Market Corn

Farmer’s Market Corn

And fresh farmer’s market corn for creaminess and starch, to pull things together.

Shredded Vegetable Mexican Salad

Shredded Vegetable Mexican Salad

I don’t have an exact recipe. Cut the proportions by 1/4 for a smaller group. You won’t mind having leftovers!

Mexican Vegetable Salad (50 cups)

  • 2 heads of green cabbage, shredded
  • 10 carrots, shredded
  • 4 red onions, sliced
  • 3 bunches of radishes, sliced
  • 10 sweet peppers, sliced thinly
  • 1 very large jicama, sliced thinly
  • 8 ears of corn, cooked slightly (4 minutes each in the microwave)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish and flavor at the end, 1-2 bunches

Now on to the dressing, I wanted something tart but with a touch of sweetness and some heat as well. I think the combination of lime juice, olive oil, honey, cumin, cilantro, garlic, and jalapeño will do the job.

Mexican Honey-Lime Dressing (makes 4 1/2 cups)

  • 10 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 jalapeños, minced
  • 6 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 rounded tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 1-2 tablespoons of kosher salt (taste)
  • 2 cups of lime juice (about 12 limes)
  • 2 cups of olive oil
  1. Chop the garlic and jalapenos finely (I used my food processor)
  2. Mix with the honey, add the cumin and salt.
  3. Whisk in the lime juice.
  4. Whisk in the olive oil.
  5. Prepare this several hours ahead and refrigerate to give flavors time to

I did all of the above in the large food processor. Be careful that your own doesn’t overflow (mine did). If you make a large quantity I recommend two batches.

Mexican Vegetable Salad

Mexican Vegetable Salad

And I’m saving the best part till last…this is fantastic as a left over. It keeps well, is wonderfully crunchy for lunches, and makes a wonderful Mexican fried rice.

  • Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat.
  • When hot add a slurry of olive oil, about 3 tablespoons.
  • Cover the bottom of the skillet with leftover rice (brown or white), I made about a 1 inch layer. Add some leftover meat if available on top (I had some sausages from Sunday super).IMG_3514
  • Let the rice brown for several minutes until it turns crusty on the bottom, then stir it up.IMG_3515
  • Add the Mexican vegetable salad, a few good sized handfuls. Saute for a couple of minutes, you want the vegetables to still be crisp.
  • Add some dressing for flavor.IMG_3516
  • You could add a poached or fried egg on top, or grated cheese, or cubes of feta, or avocado, or cilantro. Use what you have in your kitchen and your taste favors that day.

I am going to take this dish to Fiesta Friday sponsored by Angie of the Novice Gardener. This week’s co-hosts are

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

Please come visit all the yummy food that has been prepared by the talented cooks who are part of the party. Angie from the blog The Novice Gardener is our host. The fiesta is co-hosted by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and from Quinn @ Dad Whats 4 Dinner.