Sunday, January 15, 2006

Chicken Sum'n Sum'n

I was asking my husband what he wanted for dinner. He said that he didn't know. I said that I could make chicken... er, sum'n sum'n. He laughed and said that I should actually come up with a recipe and call it that.

So I did! And now you too can make chicken sum'n sum'n.

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1/2 bottle wine
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3-4 TBS thyme
  • 1 tsp celery seeds
  • 1-1/2 TBS sea salt
  • 4 TBS pomegranate arils
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 1 tsp ground rosemary

In a stain-free bowl, mix wine, hoisin, thyme, celery seeds, and 1 TBS sea salt. Marinade the whole chicken in this mix for at least an hour.

Place the marinaded chicken in your chicken pan of choice. I used the clay pot cooker, but you could use regular pan or a dutch oven. In a non-clay cooker, I would suggest adding about 1 inch of the marinade to the bottom of the pan to keep the chicken from going dry.

Sprinkle 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp ground rosemary over the chicken. Add pomegranate arils and a onion cut into 2 inch pieces into the pan around the chicken.

In the clay pot cooker, I cooked it for two hours at 450F. I'm not sure what it would be in a regular pan: 1-2 hours on 350F? I would cover with tin-foil for first hour if in a regular pan, and then crisp the skin for twenty minutes without tin foil.

When cooked in the clay cooker it is so tender that you can use a fork to get meat off the chicken.

I served this chicken with garlic & rosemary mashed potatoes and a salad made with red lettuce, chopped pecans and the rest of the pomegranate's arils with a fat free honey dijon dressing. Oh Joy!!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Mixed Veggie Pakoras

Mmmm... Indian food! Most Americans have made some Italian food, Mexican dishes, and possibly even tackled a French or Chinese dish or too - even if they were highly Americanized. But I don't know too many people that have tried Indian food, let alone tried to make it themselves.

So, when I got my new favorite cookbook, probably my favorite recipe book of all-time, I marked the pakoras on my list of recipes to try.

I made them last week, and as usual, I didn't have all the right ingredients, so I improvised. Maybe that is a talent.

Here's the recipe as is in the book:
  • 6 TBS gram(besan) flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp white cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp pomegranate seeds
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 1 TBS finely chopped cilantro
  • your choice of vegetables
  • vegetable oil for frying
Well, I thought I had besan (gram flour), which is a flour made from chickpeas/garbanzo beans; but alas, I did not. SO, I took some dried chickpeas and ground them into a powder with my blender. Only realizing afterwards that taking canned chickpeas and grinding them up would have been much easier! Oh well, NEXT TIME!

First you add everything but the cilantro and vegetables. Using a grinding mixer (I used a hand mixer), blend until smooth. Instead of white cumin seeds, I used cheap-brand cumin and PLENTY of it! 1-1/2 tsp my ass! I used cayenne pepper for the chili. You can use any kind of chili pepper you want. Some pepper may be too distinct for this dish, but off hand none come to mind - so just use what you want. I also threw in extra gram and some regular flour because the batter was so soupy. I figured that the batter should have the consistency of onion ring batter.

I also threw in extra pomegranate seeds. This is my first run in with a pomegranate. Interesting fruit. I will have to find more uses for it. But it is SO expensive! I figured since I had gone through so much trouble getting the sucker open and really didn't know what else I would use it for, I should throw extra seeds into this recipe. I think I used about 3-4 TBS.

Once the batter is the way that you would like it, mix in the chopped cilantro. Once again, I threw in extra because I LOVE cilantro!!

Start heating a few inches of oil in a heavy pan. The pakoras should be able to float. Or if you have a deep fryer you can use that too. I used peanut oil.

Once the oil is hot enough to fry, mix the vegetables of your choice into the batter. I would suggest using fresh vegetables. I used frozen mixed veggies with the beans, peas, corn, Lima beans, and carrots - but we all agreed that even though the pakoras were very good, they would have been great if I had used fresh veggies.

Cauliflower is a good one to use for this. I also chopped up potatoes and added this to the frozen mix veggies. That was really good. Just use what you like. I do have to say that this batter makes Lima beans delicious (well, probably as delicious as Lima beans can get anyway).

Using a slotted spoon, spoon the veggies out of the batter and into the hot oil. Be careful the oil isn't too hot or the batter will burn and the veggies won't cook. Turn the pakoras once they appear to have browned nicely on the underside. Fry the other side until it is also deep brown.

Using another slotted spoon, take the pakoras out of the oil and place onto a plate lined with a paper towel to drain the excess oils.

The finished pakora pictures didn't turn out that great, but the pakoras sure were tasty!

Serve these hot on their own or you could make a yogurt sauce for them. They are also very good reheated later.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sesame Hot Bastard Noodles

Ah! Making these noodles was a test in patience. Not because they are so hard to make, they are actually quite easy. It was due to a series of unfortunate events. First, I spilled hot oil all over the stove and floor. It took nearly an hour to get it all cleaned up. Then I realized that I didn't have enough sesame seeds. Then, while I was toasting what little seeds I could find, I had to help my son chop the cilantro and I ended up almost burning the seeds. Then, when I put the peanut butter in the pan, it nearly burned too, even though I had the heat turned down to "warm". All while I was making the noodles I kept yelling "bastard" so my husband SSB suggested that would be a good name for them. I wasn't sure how they would turn out considering all the problems, but they were NUMMY!!

  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1 TBS sesame seeds
  • 1 TBS sesame oil
  • 1 TBS peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
  • 2 TBS chopped chives
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2-3 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 TBS lime juice
  • 4 TBS chopped cilantro
  • 1/16 - 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped cashews
  • Salt and pepper

Toast sesame seeds. Turn down heat. Add a tablespoon of sesame oil (or just use what you have). Throw in minced garlic. When the garlic has turned translucent, add peanut butter. Sprinkle in cayenne pepper and add chopped chives. Stir in soy sauce and lime juice.

When everything is mixed into a nice sauce, remove from heat and add cilantro. Add the cooked, drained noodles and stir to coat them all with the sauce. Salt and pepper the whole thing. Top everything with cashew pieces and serve.

Sunday, January 8, 2006

Shrimp Scampi Pasta

I love seafood, especially shellfish, and one of my favorite bug-o-the-sea is shrimp. My favorite preparation of shrimp is garlic and butter which in most of the U.S. is known as "scampi". To some in other countries "scampi" is actually the shrimp itself or a particular kind of shrimp - usually with claws like a mini lobster. (see difference below: top picture is shrimp, bottom picture is scampi)

I got a great deal on shrimp a few weeks back with the plan of just eating them with a shrimp sauce...until I saw a Red Lobster commercial with Shrimp Scampi in it. YUMMMY!! So I set out to learn how to make the stuff myself.

Shrimp is sold in number per pound. The less shrimp you get per pound the more expensive the shrimp. Some argue that the smaller the shrimp (the more shrimp per pound) the more flavorful the shrimp is. My shrimp was 80/100, which is small, but was perfect for pasta.

Shrimp Scampi is just garlic, butter, a little olive oil if you like, salt and parsley. Very simple recipe. If you want to eat it just on its own, you will want to clarify the butter. I haven't figured out how to do that yet, hence the pasta.

  • 1 lb raw shrimp
  • 1 large bulb garlic
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/8 cup parsley
  • sea salt
  • 1 lb pasta

Heat a pan over low heat. Throw the butter in the pan and monitor the heat carefully, you want the butter to melt, not burn. Mince the garlic and throw that in with the butter.

You can also throw in the salt at this point. I use sea salt because I like the flavor of it. It is far less harsh and much more layered than regular table salt.

While this is melting, start a pot of water for the pasta. I just used spaghetti, because that is what I had. You could use what ever you have. You'll want to put a little olive oil and salt in the water. The salt brings out the flavor in the pasta and the oil keeps the pasta from sticking.

Only put the pasta in once the water is boiling and keep the water boiling until the pasta is done. A huge mistake that people make when making pasta (besides picking yucky brands: I prefer Barilla brand pasta. It cooks up perfectly and has a great, fresh flavor) is that the water isn't hot enough. That, and they over cook the pasta. Pasta should be cooked until it's almost done. It will continue to cook after you take it off the heat. When the pasta is getting near done, you should periodically pull a piece out and bite into it to see where it's at. You want to take it off the heat and drain it when there is just a tiny bit of bite left in the pasta, especially for this recipe since you will be adding the pasta to the shrimp pan for the last minute or so of cooking time.

Once the butter is melted, turn the heat to medium and throw in the shrimp. Frozen is fine, no need to thaw first.

A huge mistake that people make when cooking seafood is over-cooking it. When the seafood is raw, it is translucent. You want to cook it until it has just turned opaque. Over-cooking seafood makes it tough. Perfectly cooked seafood should be tender.

Once the shrimp has just turned opaque, throw in the parsley and drained pasta (assuming that the pasta is finished cooking by now - you might want to cook your pasta ahead of time to be sure that it is ready by this point in the cooking). Mix everything well and cook for another minute or so to mix the flavors.

Serve immediately, which shouldn't be a problem because you are probably starving by now!! And believe me, this tastes even better than it looks! ::drool::

The shrimp image was borrowed from
The scampi image was borrowed from