Saturday, October 31, 2015

Chicken Teriyaki

Every month, I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC) has a potluck. That means we get to choose any recipe we want from the collections of chefs that have been featured in the past six years.  That is not a small set of choices.  I went with chicken teriyaki from Nigella Kitchen.  I have owned the book for years, but haven't cooked from it very often. And in our household, anything teriyaki is a winner. It's a rare taste on which we can all agree.

What I like about Nigella Lawson's recipe is that it uses mirin (sweet rice wine) and soy sauce as a base with a little sake  and other ingredients thrown in. Some recipes I've tried have you start with bottled teriyaki sauce and mix in other ingredients.  I thought this recipe was cleaner and brighter. 

When I went to my favorite Asian market to purchase the sake and mirin,  I was surprised to fine a variety of sakes, at different price points and sizes. And frankly I had no idea how to choose.  It's different when I'm at a sushi restaurant and all I have to do is order small or large.

There was sake in elegant glass bottles, in jars with pop tops and even small aluminum cans (serve chilled!). I decided on a small bottle of mid-priced sake; the one with the  eye-catching red dragon on the label was the winner. 

The dish comes together quite easily, but leave enough time. There's a little chopping and marinating involved.  You can find the recipe on pages 38-40 of Nigella Kitchen (lots of pictures, not a lot of steps) or you can find it here.

To find out what other cooks came up with, look here.  It's worth it because there is quite a variety of yummy-looking dishes.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Savory Carrot-Cashew Soup

This week, I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC) is featuring recipes by Ellie Krieger that feature one or more orange hued ingredients. This shouldn't be difficult. Think butternut squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, papaya, oranges and other citrus fruit, persimmons, pumpkins, get the idea.

Perusing Ellie Krieger's website I came across this tasty recipe for carrot soup. Carrot soup is one of those dishes I've been meaning to make for years, but never did. Why? Who knows. Fortunately, I tried this recipe. It's tasty, filling and healthy.  Most importantly, my husband and I really liked it.  This recipe is a keeper. You can find it here: Carrot-Cashew Soup. 

To see what other members of IHCC came up with go here. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

South Indian Vegetable Curry

One reason I enjoy on-line cooking clubs is that it is an incentive to try new things, especially the ones I've been meaning to try for a while. And "by a while" I mean for a long time -- months, maybe years.

I recently discovered I Heart Cooking Clubs or IHCC. Mostly, they feature one chef for about six months. We just started cooking our way through Ellie Krieger's repertoire of healthy recipes.  Every so often IHCC tries a new theme. Maybe it's for the variety; maybe it's a chance to revisit a previously featured (and beloved) chef. This week, we are cooking recipes from Nigella Lawson. 

I bought Nigella Kitchen a few years ago. I have enjoyed reading her essays about home cooking and the kitchen. I can relate to her relaxed attitude towards cooking and I love the variety of cuisines and styles of cooking. I've thought a lot about the many mouth watering recipes in the book, but have only managed to use two of the recipes in the book. That is why I am happy that IHCC gave me the kick in the a... I mean, the opportunity to pick a new recipe from the book and actually cook it.

I chose South Indian Vegetable Curry.   You can find the recipe on page 154 of Nigella Kitchen or here.   I don't often make curries and I don't use much coconut milk or tamarind paste in my cooking, so this was my chance to try something new.  My husband and I are also trying to eat healthier, which means more vegetables. 

Basically, the recipe is really easy to make. There is a lot of chopping, but nothing complicated. I made a few modifications to the recipe. I like a little heat, but my husband likes very little to no heat, so I held back on the red pepper flakes and used only half of a jalapeno pepper. The recipe lists 5 kinds of vegetables, but you can change the combination any way you want.  I would have like to use green beans as called for in the recipe, but the green beans at the grocery looked kind of sorry, so I used mushrooms instead. My husband doesn't like cauliflower that much, so I halved the amount and threw in potatoes as well.  I served the curry over couscous.

I had "wet tamarind seedless" from the local Asian market. It had the consistency of paste, so I guess it was the right stuff. It didn't seem very seedless though, so I pulled my punch and only added a half tablespoon.  In retrospect, maybe I should have done a little more research or added more in.  At any rate, the taste of the tamarind was subtle at best.

Overall, I would say this was a success. My husband liked it and so did I. Next time, in addition to adding in the full tablespoon of tamarind paste, I'd probably add less liquid. You can't tell from the photo, but the dish was very soupy.  My photo  makes the dish look quite dull. I guess in this case,  picture is not worth a thousand words, but this dish is tasty and filling.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Balsamic Chicken with Baby Spinach and Couscous from Ellie Krieger

This blog has been dormant for a little over two years. I had been part of two on-line cooking groups, but stopped during an especially challenging year at work. Fortunately that is behind me and I'm ready to restart.  I found iheartcookingclubs  This blog features one cook for about six months. This week we welcome Ellie Krieger.

I am really happy she is the featured chef. I recently found The Food You Crave at our library's used book store and it is full of great looking recipes. Also, both my husband and I are thinking about eating healthier. Ms. Krieger is a nutritionist as well as a cook, so she keeps the recipes healthy.

Balsamic Chicken with Baby Spinach and Couscous is described as a great dish for "a busy mom who is really cranky when she's hungry."  Even though I am an empty-nester, I can identify with the cranky when hungry part.  The dish requires a little prep and then comes together quickly.  I really enjoyed that although the dish was easy to make, it wasn't dull.  There was a great combination of flavors; the spinach by itself would make a tasty side dish.

You can find the recipe in The Food You Crave or on-line at this link here.  Head over to I Heart Cooking Clubs to see what other cooks enjoyed.