I like to make cozy at-home dinners, but on the other hand, I do not like to spend hours in the kitchen on my weekends. I enjoy making soups and stews, one-pot meals that can be quickly put together using good ingredients that aren’t too fussy. I also feel I have gotten into a culinary rut…always making the same things over and over….I mixed it up a bit with this recipe.
With one jar of Goan Coconut Indian simmer sauce and a few other ingredients….boneless skinless chicken thighs, a can of unsweet coconut milk, baby Yukon Gold potatoes and carrots……cubed paneer cheese and chapati bread from the International Grocery Store inside the Downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market…all slow cooked together, I recently made what is now one of my favorite “Easy-As-This” meals.
There are many good jarred or canned simmer sauces available in most supermarkets and international markets these days. Maya Kaimal is one of the brands I’ve used. There are many flavors…Korma, Tikka Masala as well as Goan Coconut . All delicious.
Goan Coconut Chicken and Vegetables
- 2 to 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 jar Maya Kaimal Goan Coconut simmer sauce, or any other brand
- 1 can unsweet coconut milk
- 1 cup water
- 12 baby Yukon Gold Potatoes, quartered
- 4 carrots, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 cup cubed paneer cheese
- freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
- Chapati bread or naan
- Brown chicken thighs in a deep pan in the olive oil, working in batches if necessary. Remove to drain on a paper towel.
- To the same pan, pour in the jar of Goan Coconut Simmer Sauce and 1 can unsweet coconut milk. Stir together with 1 cup water until well blended.
- Return the chicken thighs to the pan along with the potatoes and carrots.
- Season with black pepper and sea salt.
- Cook over medium heat, partially covered until carrots and potatoes are “fork-tender” and chicken is falling apart, for about 25 minutes.
- Serve in bowls with warmed chapati bread or naan on the side for dipping into the sauce.
A craving for chocolate and for a good dark chocolate brownie in particular doesn’t come over me often. I can be happy with a little bite of a dark chocolate bar most of the time, but sometimes I get a brownie craving and nothing will sate this but to whip up a batch. The results you see above. This might be an easy recipe to make for someone you love this coming February 14th or just for yourself. I used King Arthur Gluten Free Flour, lots of dark cocoa, dark chocolate chips, espresso powder and only 1 cup of sugar….oh yes and browned butter!
The browned butter adds a layer of unexpected flavor and texture. The doubling of dark cocoa and chocolate chunks make one “lava flow looking” brownie.
I used gluten-free flour just to see how it would work with my recipe and I think the results were delicious, especially if you enjoy a less cake-like brownie. These brownies keep for days in the refrigerator as well.
Happy Valentine’s Day all Year Long.
Browned-Butter Dark-Chocolate Lava-Flow Brownies
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup raw or regular sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup King Arthur Gluten Free Flour
- 1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chunks
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees with rack in lower part of the oven. Grease an 8 x 8 baking pan and line with two crisscrossed sheets of parchment paper long enough to come up the sides of the pan. Grease paper.
- To brown the butter, melt the stick of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook butter, while whisking, until it is a pale golden color with darker brown particulates, for 8-10 minutes. Stir the sugar into the browned butter.
- Stir in the cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and espresso powder until well blended. Let mixture cool for a few minutes.
- Beat in eggs one at a time with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be thick and shiny.
- Stir in the vanilla extract and flour until you do not see any streaks of flour, continuing to beat vigorously for about 50-60 strokes.
- Fold in the chocolate chunks.
- Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean. Cool brownies in the pan on a cooling rack.
- Remove cooled, uncut brownies from the pan by lifting up the edges of the parchment paper and placing on a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares or smaller into 25 squares.
These brownies keep very well chilled for up to 10 days in the refrigerator. They also make a great gift for your no-gluten friends.
February is a month of darkness, cold, rain and early sunsets. Some days recently it has seemed like it is dawn or dusk all day long. I have a love-hate thing with February. It should be a time to stay inside, read and be cozy, but work and play call me outside when I really just want to stay at home. February is my time to abstain from some of my Holidays-into-January overindulgence.
Have you ever had a nice glass of “Switchel” over ice with a splash of soda? It has helped me keep my electrolytes in balance, stay hydrated and has definitely replaced a glass or two of wine in the evenings. After a couple of days of drinking Switchel I do think February is feeling better and looking a little bit brighter.
“Switchel” is a word I was unfamiliar with until recently when I ran across it in a novel and did a Google search. Lo and behold hundreds of articles and recipes for “switchels” were at my fingertips. The basic old-fashioned recipes, also called “swizzles, ginger-water or haymaker’s punch” and are traditionally cooling summer drinks, have many things I like….apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, fresh ginger, maple syrup or molasses. These are ingredients that are good for us in so many ways I cannot begin to list them. A bright, refreshing and very thirst quenching beverage to shake up February.
There is a great story about the history of Switchels here at the Smithsonian website. I often drink store-bought Kombucha drinks and after making a batch of Switchel, this is what I’ll be drinking instead! Homemade and less expensive.
Not for everyone….my apologizes to Wouter as he was my Switchel taste tester….watching the “faces” he made while taking a drink my experiments was worth it, but also let me know a few adjustments on my first recipes were needed. More sweetener…real maple syrup…created a more palatable concoction….too sour into just-right sweet. Maybe a bit less fresh ginger juice as it adds a very, very spicy touch. Adjusted and topped with soda water it is a fizzy good beverage.
There is a long history of holistic medicine that includes the benefits of drinking unpasteurized apple cider vinegar and my favorite one is “Braggs”. I have been known to just drink a swig right out of the bottle when I feel a bit sluggish and out-of-sorts. It seems to clear my throat, freshen up my breath and I feel it “clears out the Winter cobwebs” internally.
February Ginger-Maple Switchel
- 1 large hand of fresh ginger, unpeeled and chopped
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 1/2 cup Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- the juice of one lemon
- club soda
- fresh mint leaves if you like
- Process fresh ginger and 1/3 cup water in a food processor until finely chopped. Strain through a mesh strainer, pressing pulp gently with the back of a spoon to get out all the juice. You should have about 1/2 cup. Pour into a jar or pitcher.
- To the pitcher add the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and lemon juice. Stir to mix well. Cover and chill for 1 hour to let flavors meld before drinking.
- Add ice cubes to a glass, fill glass a third of the way with “Switchel” and top with soda or plain water. Stir to mix, and top with some fresh mint leaves if you like.
Notes: You can experiment with flavors. I added 1/2 cup blood orange juice to one batch which was delicious.
This recipe is based on the historical readings about “Switchels” and the hundreds of recipes on the internet with my own twists.
Teresa Blackburn http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com
Blood Oranges and I have a long-standing love affair. In years past I have posted recipes for Blood Orange-cello, Blood Orange Meringue Tartlets, and Blood Orange and Bourbon Chipotle BBQ Chicken among others. I am drawn to the mottled red-orange skin and the inner blood-red burst of color as much as to the flavor. They are natural art works, each and every one unique and deliciously stunning.
This is a simple upside down cake with slow-roasted blood oranges which brings out another layer of tastiness. Blood oranges are abundant in supermarkets this time of year so eat them while you can…raw, cooked or juiced.
Full of antioxidants and high in Vitamin C and potassium, Blood Oranges are uniquely colored due to “anthocyanins”. These are flavonoid pigments which exist in red and purple vegetables, most berries and are incredibly healthy.
Thinly sliced and ready for roasting…..
….sprinkled lightly with raw sugar…..
….roasted at 275 degrees for 45 minutes……
….in my favorite Lodge cast iron skillet. First smeared with butter….
….the bottom covered with roasted rings of oranges and another sprinkle of sugar.
Topped with cake batter and baked…..
…ready to eat. So good with a cup of coffee or tea on a cold winter day.
Slow Roasted Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake
- 4 blood oranges
- 1 1/4 cups raw or turbinado sugar, divided
- 8 tablespoons softened butter, divided
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal or polenta
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1/3 cup buttermilk or vanilla yogurt
- To roast blood orange slices: Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Cut ends off of each orange and then slice thinly, removing any seeds as you work.
- Arrange blood orange slices flat on a baking sheet and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of raw sugar. Roast for about 45 minutes or until they are caramelized and softened. Remove pan from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
- Turn oven to 350 degrees. Smear a 10 inch cast iron skillet with 2 tablespoons of the butter to coat bottom and sides. Arrange roasted orange slices, slightly overlapping, in the bottom of the skillet and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of raw sugar.
- Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
- Using an electric mixer beat together the remaining 6 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup raw sugar until fluffy. Add in vanilla and blend.
- Mix in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.
- Add flour mixture and buttermilk, alternately, ending with flour just until well mixed.
- Drop batter by spoonfuls over sugared orange slices in skillet and gently spread out evenly.
- Bake cake until a tester comes out clean, about 35-45 minutes. Cool cake for 10 minutes in skillet. Run a small knife around edge to loosen if necessary.
- Place a plate over the top of the skillet and flip to loosen cake onto plate using oven mitts or kitchen towels so you don’t burn your hands! Scrape out any sugar-juice mixture left in skillet and smear over cake. Serve cake warm or at room temp.
Teresa Blackburn teresablackburnfoodstyling.com
Some say there is no such thing as “good or bad luck”….maybe so, maybe not.
Do you believe the Southern lore based around eating black-eyed peas and greens on New Years Day? That doing so will bring you good luck all year? Is this a tradition to which you adhere?
Other than us all needing as much good luck as we can find, I truly love this humble pea…dried or frozen in the winter, fresh in the summer. See this colander of peas? My good friend, Stephanie gave me a bag of fresh, frozen black-eyed peas from her Mother’s garden in West Tennessee as a holiday gift and I cannot think of many things better.
I started my pot of soup early on New Years Day…letting it simmer with ham pieces, carrots and zucchini. This year I made more of a traditional soup with tomatoes and broth. I tossed in a few handfuls of fresh spinach right at the end. This is bright colorful recipe. 2017 has been harsh politically, and the world in general could use some “good luck vibes”. So eat your peas and stir up some good luck….it’s never too late!
Good Vibes Black-eyed Pea Vegetable Soup
- 8 ounces cooked ham cut into small chunks
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced (I used the pretty multicolored carrots)
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 small to medium zucchini squash, chopped
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups frozen black-eyed peas, thawed
- 2 cans stewed tomatoes with juice
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 handfuls of baby spinach
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In a large stock pot heat olive oil over medium high heat. Toss in ham, carrots, celery, onion and zucchini and cook just until vegetables are almost soft. Stir often.
- Add black-eyed peas, tomatoes and chicken broth. Add 2 cups water. Season with salt and black pepper. Bring pot to a boil, turn to simmer and cook for about 30 minutes or just until peas are firm-soft.
- Toss in baby spinach leaves and stir into soup. Spinach will wilt quickly.
- Serve hot with your favorite cornbread or crackers. Good Luck!
“I came all the way in a lifeboat, and ate marmalade. Bears like marmalade.” quote: Paddington Bear.
I, too, like marmalade. And it’s such a pretty word as well. It sounds like it tastes. I’ve posted other marmalade recipes...”Maple-Kumquat Marmalade”…“Meyer Lemon Marmalade” and my most popular “Buddha’s Hand Good Luck Marmalade”. They are all tasty and I do think Paddington might like them very much. But…..
…this week I chose the imposingly large Pomelo citrus for making marmalade. You may have seen them in the grocery. They look like a giant grapefruit, but are about the size of your head…really, truly…unless you have a very small head. They aren’t hard to find in January and February in most supermarkets or import groceries. Pomelos are tangy like a lemon mixed with the sweetness of an orange. A complex tasting citrus. Full of Vitamin C they can be juiced like most citrus of course. These Pomelos were so large I only needed two for 4 pints of marmalade! If you want to know a bit more about the Pomelo click here.
The pith is very thick and when cut away leaves a round fruit about the size of a large grapefruit…they are from the same family of citrus by the way.
Rind is cut away and into thin strips. Pith is removed. Fruit is then cut into sections. Scraps and seeds are gathered into a cheesecloth bundle to flavor the marmalade.
Cooked down for a few hours with sugar in the final stage, then poured into clean, sterilized glass jars with lids. The recipe is easy and you can substitute Grapefruits if you like.
A new-old trick I recently learned about is to seal jars in a low temp oven! Works like a charm and no hot water bath. This doesn’t work for all canning, but is particularly good for high pectin fruits.
Thick sliced whole grain bread toasted with a slather of softened butter, topped with “Pomelo Marmalade”. Perfect for me and perfect for Paddington!
Pomelo Marmalade for Paddington
- 2 Pomelos (or four grapefruit if you must)
- 6 cups white sugar
- 2 1/5 cups water
Equipment: cheesecloth and twine, enamel or stainless pot, 4 pint canning jars with new lids
- Slice off the tops and bottoms of the Pomelos and discard.
- Peel the rind/skin away from each using a sharp knife or peeler, trying to get as little white pith as you can. Cut into thin strips. Set aside.
- Cut away as much of the pith from each Pomelo as you can. Discard.
- Slice the flesh of each Pomelo away from the center core. The center is where the seeds are. Tie the seedy cores up in cheesecloth and twine making a sachet. Set aside.
- Section the flesh and put into a food processor, pulsing until finely ground up. Pour all the juice and flesh into a non-reactive pot…enamel or stainless steel. Add 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then turn to simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Add the sachet to the pot, submerging down into the hot liquid. Refrigerate this mixture overnight. (The seeds are soft and contain pectin which will help the marmalade set up naturally.)
- The next day, squeeze the sachet out very well into the Pomelo mixture. Discard sachet.
- Add 6 cups of sugar to the mix and while stirring, bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring often for about 1 hr. until reduced and thickened.
- Turn oven to 250 degrees.
- Spoon hot marmalade into sterilized glass jars leaving 1/2 inch at top of each unfilled. Wipe mouths of jars clean and top with lids.
- Place filled jars, not touching, in a baking pan and put in oven for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let jars cool on a wire rack. Listen for the “ping” or suction sound as the lids seal to the jars. Lids will go from being a bit concave right out of the oven to convex after cooling. Store in a dark cabinet for up to 12 months. (If jars do not seal then refrigerate for up to 2 months or give away as gifts!)
While noodling around on the internet this week looking for inspiration for a “nosh of note”, I ran across a recipe for “Parmesan Cream Crackers” by Mark Bittman that was published in the New York Times cooking section a few years ago. Homemade crackers would certainly qualify as a “nosh of note” wouldn’t they? Bittman’s basic recipe has just a few ingredients and from start to finish, 25 minutes/ I had a pan of freshly baked crackers. What could be easier than that?
Encouraged I took the basic recipe and ran with it…first batch I topped with toasted sesame seeds….which thankfully you can now purchase already toasted. Would you like to know how many sesame seeds I have burned up toasting them myself? Thousands I would guess.
The simple dough needs to be rolled out thinly and cut/scored before baking. The second batch I added fresh thyme leaves and red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.
On a roll I whipped up a few other batches using various toss-ins and toppings such as crunchy sea salt, black pepper, espresso cocoa sea salt….
….bittersweet chocolate, chopped pistachios, orange peel and crunchy raw sugar.
Two hours later sheet pans of savory aromatic crackers covered the kitchen counters, ready to accompany a cheese platter along with a few bottles of bubbly for a New Year’s Eve with good, long-time friends…it was as Easy as This.
Note: “Nosh of note” was a quote from my friend, Nancy Vienneau, within an invite to a New Years Eve gathering at her home. Check out her blog at “Good Food Matters”.
Note: You can find the original recipe for “Parmesan Cheese Crackers” by Mark Bittman here..
Happy New Year Cheese Crackers
For basic Parmesan Cheese Crackers:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup cream + more as needed to make dough
For “Toss-ins and Toppings” that I used:
- toasted sesame seeds
- thyme leaves and pepper flakes
- espresso-cocoa sea salt mixture
- chopped pistachios and orange zest with black pepper
- bittersweet chocolate, espresso powder, raw sugar and cinnamon
- any number of other ideas pop into my head…pecans, walnuts, green tea, cayenne, any herbs, cardamom, lavender and lemon zest…use what you might have, what you like, and experiment.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- To a food processor add flour, salt, Parmesan cheese and butter. Pulse to combine.
- If you choose to add any “toss ins” do so now, although the original recipe is fantastic as is.
- After adding “toss ins”…drizzle in cream while processor is running until a dough forms. If need be, add a wee bit more cream. Dough should be smooth and silky and not at all sticky.
- Roll dough out until thin, but workable, on lightly floured surface. Add flour as needed. Transfer dough to parchment lined baking sheet. (You can also simply roll the dough out on a sheet of lightly floured parchment and then transfer to sheet pans to save a step.
- Here is where the “toppings” part comes in. Sprinkle on top and gently press into surface of dough.
- Using a pastry wheel or knife cut/score dough so you can break into individual crackers after baking.
- Bake until golden, light browned…for about 10-13 minutes depending on your oven. Cool on wire rack. You can serve these crackers warm or at room temperature and they can be stored in air tight containers for a few days. They are great with a bowl of soup or as dippers.
recipe adapted from a recipe by Mark Bittman published in the New York Times.