Indian Chicken and Cabbage

It’s not quite chicken tikka masala, but it’s very similar, and it is a great way to incorporate cabbage into dinner.

Pour olive oil into a skillet until it completely covers the bottom and has a bit of depth. Whisk in 1 tsp each of garlic powder, dried ginger powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground cardamom, cayenne pepper, ground turmeric, Himalasalt, and ground black pepper. Turn the heat to medium and let the skillet heat up a bit.

Cut one pound of chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and set all the pieces into the skillet. Simmer them gently (lower the heat if you need to — it shouldn’t be hot enough to bubble or splash) for several minutes, then flip each one with a fork and simmer them until they are cooked through.

Stir in 1/3 cup of yogurt (I prefer whole milk plain yogurt from Stonyfield), 1/3 cup of ketchup (freshly chopped tomatoes are more authentic, but Organicville ketchup is usually what I have in the refrigerator), and a “punch” (like Donnie Brasco) of white sugar. Shred one head of green cabbage and add it to the skillet. Stir it all together and let it simmer until the cabbage is crisp-tender. Serve on small plates with a dollop of yogurt.

Note: The cayenne pepper can be pretty spicy, especially for small fry. Eating a piece of bread or drinking a glass of milk will take the spice out, as will topping each bite with a bit of yogurt. (I think beer works as well, for the over-21 crowd, but I haven’t tried it — I’ve read that both gluten and casein take the bite out of spicy foods.) Enjoy!

The Broccoli of Our Discontent, Part II (and Part III)

Just a quick update to let you know that I have found one other good broccoli recipe and one less-than-stellar one (at least as far as our resident six-year-old’s palate is concerned).

First, the good stuff: I enjoy cooking from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, although Suzanne Goin does tend to say things like, “This recipe is best when it’s prepared with habdaboop, a product only available two weeks a year from the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. If you can’t find habdaboop, you can substitute plain olive tapenade.” Um, OK.

Anyway, good old Suzanne has a recipe called “James’s broccoli with burrata, pine nuts, and warm anchovy vinaigrette” that I modified just slightly (couldn’t get my hands on the burrata, so I substituted plain fresh mozzarella; also used GF breadcrumbs). My family ate it up, although my daughter did not go back for a second helping. Basically, cheese is a good reason to eat broccoli, but only bacon can make it worthwhile to eat more broccoli. I don’t want to plagiarize Suzanne, but I will tell you that this dish is menu 26, so you can stop by your local Barnes & Noble and flip to that menu to see if it’s worthwhile to buy the book. Suzanne’s tone can be off-putting, but most of the recipes are actually quite accessible to a home cook of even my own modest skills.

The third broccoli recipe I tried — I made a “bulk” order of broccoli from Pure Sprouts, our local organic delivery service, so I had quite a bit of broccoli to prepare last week — came from Taste of Home. No, it’s not the egg one I mentioned earlier, but it does have eggs in it. Lots of eggs, in fact. It’s a frittata. Again, I won’t plagiarize, but you can find the book at a local bookseller and check out the recipe. I recommend the cookbook to beginners or people who only make their own regional recipes and want to try some other (American) regions’ cooking for a change. Nothing in the book is earth-shattering, but it does give step-by-step instructions for things as basic (but new to beginners) as carving a turkey or making a pie crust. Anyway, the frittata was fine with the adults in our house, but I think it was too much egg for Junior. (She asks me, “Can you just add in that it was ‘chew-forever’?”) Maybe she would have liked it better if I had added bacon? ;-) Onward…

The broccoli of our discontent

I have been very lazy about keeping this blog up-to-date, partly because I’ve had more freelancing to do (great!) and partly because I’ve been writing for Examiner.com (it’s fun to earn ten dollars a month for writing articles about celebrity health issues). Anyway, today I offer two recipes, but neither is my own.

The first recipe is one I meant to make at Hanukkah, but didn’t get around to doing until two nights ago. It is the amazingly delicious potato pancake recipe from … Simon and Garfunkel. Yes. Click through to Gothamist to read it and prepare it. You will thank me later. I substituted quinoa flour for regular wheat flour and added a teaspoon of xanthan gum, but otherwise, I obeyed the recipe, and made enough potato pancakes for dinner plus two lunches for our three-person family.

One reason that I made the latkes on Tuesday evening is that I planned to make broccoli on Wednesday evening. Now, my daughter is pretty good about eating steamed broccoli with butter and sea salt, but that recipe is getting old, and I have been in search of something new. I made a broccoli casserole from the Taste of Home Cookbook a week ago, and that went over pretty well, but it wasn’t the smashing success I’d hoped it would be. (Basically, it involved mixing one raw egg with a pound of chopped broccoli and placing it in a Pyrex dish, then pouring melted butter on top, then sprinkling breadcrumbs on top of that, then baking it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Nice, but not jazzy enough for a kid to eat more often than every other week.)

Anyway, I joked to my family that the latkes were a gift in preparation for the “broccoli of our discontent,” coming up on the following evening’s menu. I assumed they’d each eat a few bites of whatever I prepared and call it a day.

Then I unearthed my copy of The Autism Cookbook by Susan K. Delaine. This book aims to provide allergen-free, nutrient-dense recipes that kids will actually eat, and it generally succeeds. If you like this recipe, you should consider buying the book, because it has all sorts of fun recipes in the same style as this one:

Whisk together 1/2 cup of sesame oil (substitute olive oil if sesame allergy is a problem in your house), 4 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar, 2 Tbsp of maple syrup, 1 tsp of ground ginger, and 1 tsp of sea salt. Add 1 lb chopped broccoli (I steamed mine first, but Ms. Delaine just washes hers and serves it raw) and mix together. Add 1 cup of dried cranberries and a shake of sesame seeds (omit the sesame seeds if sesame allergy is a problem in your house) and mix together. Finish by adding crumbled, cooked bacon. Yum! My daughter had two helpings, and my husband and I each had three helpings. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are rich in nutrients and are thought to reduce the risk of cancer. In a recipe like this, though, all you notice is the great taste :-)

I still think of this recipe as “the broccoli of our discontent,” but fondly, as my predictions proved completely erroneous. Thanks for another great meal, Ms. Delaine!

Sweet-and-sour chicken

This is very different from the sweet-and-sour chicken dish often served at Chinese restaurants. It’s light and nutritious!

Pour a few tablespoons of sesame oil (olive oil is a good substitute if you have a sesame allergy) into a large skillet and turn the stovetop heat to medium. Cut 1.5 pounds of chicken breast meat into small pieces, each about twice the size of a bite. Add the chicken to the skillet and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

As the chicken is cooking, slice one small cabbage head very finely. After you have verified that the chicken pieces are cooked through, add the cabbage to the skillet and stir it all together. Add more sesame oil if it is getting too dry, and turn the heat to medium-low.

As the cabbage-chicken mixture cooks, use a wire whisk to mix together (in a large bowl) a good shake of sesame oil, a good shake of balsamic vinegar, a dash of salt, a dash of pepper, and one tablespoon of honey. When this sauce is well combined, turn off the stove heat and scrape the cabbage-chicken mixture into the large bowl. Toss the cabbage and chicken with the sauce until the sauce completely coats the chicken and cabbage. Then pour the contents of the bowl into a large Pyrex dish.

Place the Pyrex dish in the oven remove it when the contents have been heated through. Serve while hot. This dish reheats nicely.

Vaguely Mexican Chicken

I don’t have any Spanish heritage or any Southwestern US heritage, but I think this spicy chicken casserole will satisfy a craving for Mexican food.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Dice two whole medium white onions and add them to the pan. As the onions are cooking, stir in a good shake of cayenne, garlic, black pepper, and salt. (Well, a smaller shake of salt.) Cut 1.5 pounds of chicken breasts into pieces about the size of two or three bites and add them to the pan. Cook the whole mixture, stirring periodically, until the chicken pieces are cooked through. (Do not overcook them. What I do is slice open one of the larger pieces when I think the chicken might be done — if the biggest piece is cooked through, then the other pieces should be fine. You can also remove one piece and use a meat thermometer to test it.)

When the chicken is completely cooked, scrape the whole mixture into a 9 x 9 Pyrex dish. Slice 8 ounces of smoked Gouda cheese into thin strips and lay the strips on top of the chicken casserole. Bake (uncovered) for 30 to 45 minutes, until cheese is soft and melted. Enjoy!

Curry Chicken

This is so quick that you won’t believe how tasty it is.

Melt five tablespoons of Simply Ghee in a skillet. (Keep the ghee out on the counter in case you need to add more later.) Keep the stovetop heat on low.

Mix 1/8 cup of curry powder with two tablespoons of salt in a small bowl. With a very sharp knife (and the requisite amount of caution and skill), slice one pound of chicken breast into small pieces, each about twice what you would consider bite-sized. Roll each chicken piece in the curry-and-salt mixture until it is completely coated, then place it in the skillet. Cook the chicken until all the pieces are completely cooked; be careful not to overcook them or burn them. Feel free to add ghee to the skillet, as needed. Serve with maple syrup for dipping and a side dish or fruit.

Quick Chicken Skillet Meal

The forecast calls for a high of around 93 degrees Fahrenheit today in our area, so I definitely didn’t want to be standing over a hot stove for a long time to make lunch. Here’s what I did instead:

Melt six or seven tablespoons of Simply Ghee in a skillet over medium heat. Slice up three large pearl onions — I get mine from a Lancaster County organic farmer via Pure Sprouts — and separate them into rings. Place the rings in the skillet, give them a quick stir, lower the heat to medium-low, and cover the skillet.

While the onions are cooking, cut one pound of chicken breast into bite-sized pieces. Add them to the skillet and re-cover it, raising the heat just a bit. Simmer the chicken until it’s cooked all the way through, which you can check with a meat thermometer or by slicing the biggest piece in half.

While the chicken is simmering, wash and slice one package of shiitake mushrooms (3.5 ounces, about eight mushrooms). When the chicken is completely cooked, add the mushrooms to the skillet, leave the cover off, and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook the whole mixture together while stirring it. When the mushrooms have cooked nicely, remove everything (except the melted ghee) with a slotted spoon to a serving dish, mix in 1/2 cup of cashews, and cover the dish to keep it warm.

Add two tablespoons of cornstarch to the melted ghee and whisk it in over low heat. Add 3/4 cup of water and continue to whisk as you raise the heat to medium. Whisk until the sauce thickens, then add salt and pepper to taste, pour it over the chicken mixture, and serve the dish immediately.

Quick Hot Cabbage

Do you have a head of red cabbage sitting around in your refrigerator? Try this quick side dish with eggs or any pork product.

Melt three tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Shake in a hearty shake of garlic powder and cook for about a minute over medium heat. Slice the cabbage into coleslaw-thin slices and add them to the skillet, along with a cup of apple cider vinegar and half a package of Made in Nature Organic Antioxidant Fusion Blend. Stir it all together, cover the skillet, and let it cook for about ten minutes. Feel free to season the mixture with salt and pepper — my family likes it without them — and serve it with sausage, pork chops, or poached eggs. Nutritious and delicious!

What to Do with Watercress

Watercress is a tasty little plant with almost spicy leaves reminiscent of arugula and thin, crunchy stems. We buy our watercress from Butter Valley, which sells hydroponically grown living greens. According to these guys, it is just packed full of nutrients, including vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B17, C, D, E, and K. I just love the fresh taste and the crunch on these late spring days!

You can make watercress sandwiches (like in The Wind in the Willows) by spreading a bit of cream cheese on bread (or toast) and then using the watercress as the filling. You can make a watercress soup as our friends here advise. As for me, I like it in a salad:

Chop watercress coarsely and put in large bowl. Chop fresh cilantro finely and toss in with the watercress. Remove the peels from a couple of oranges, split them into sections, and toss the sections in with the other ingredients. If you are able to eat nuts, add a handful of almonds (whole or slivered). Toss it all together and serve it with some balsamic vinegar on the side, so each person can season it to his own liking. My family loves this particular vinegar, sold in the pretty downtown area of our town as well as online. I highly recommend it as a way to encourage young children to eat greens. A splash of dark chocolate balsamic vinegar is enough to make butterhead lettuce, watercress, or any other fresh, leafy green quite appealing to the under-ten set. Happy crunching!

Vaguely Asian Salad

I can’t claim to have any authentic Asian cuisine at my house, but I do like cabbage and scallions. Here is a quick salad featuring both.

Peel and dice six large carrots and put them in a bowl. Add a rinsed and shredded red cabbage, six diced scallions, one large head of watercress greens (cut into one-inch lengths), and a bunch of cilantro (cut even smaller).

Mix the dressing: one jar of Delouis mayo (imported from France, available on Amazon; expensive, but totally worth it, and SOY-FREE!!), one tablespoon of lime juice, one tablespoon of superfine sugar(you might have it around for making drinks), a shake of dried garlic, a shake of salt, a big shake of cayenne pepper, and a bit of olive oil to make it more runny. Use a whisk until it’s at the proper consistency, and serve it on the side of your awesome salad.