Mexican Chicken Stew

For a long time I have been tempted by the idea of making a stew with cocoa or chocolate in it.  You might think my experiments with cocoa pasta might have put me off but not at all.  When Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog announced that this month We Should Cocoa would have the theme, sugar free, I knew it was my chance to finally push myself to make a proper savoury cocoa dish.   After all, the pasta contained hidden sugar, but if I made a stew I would know exactly what was in it and there would be no chance of being surprised by an unwanted sweet chocolate taste.

This time, my savoury cocoa dish really was savoury and I enjoyed it so much.  The cocoa gave the tomato base for the stew a richer flavour with just a hint of bitterness.  There wasn’t an obvious chocolate flavour.  If you didn’t know it had cocoa in, you might not even guess, and I suspect that that is what most people want from a savoury cocoa dish.  An added layer of flavour but not an overpowering hit.

As well as We Should Cocoa, which is hosted on alternate months by Chele at Chocolate Teapot, I am also linking this to My Kitchen My World (the theme is anywhere) and Bloggers Around the World at Cooking Around the World.  The theme this month is Mexico.

Mexican Chicken Stew (500x397)

Ingredients – serves 2-3

250g chicken, diced

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 red pepper, sliced

1 red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 red chilli pepper, sliced

Handful of Coriander (cilantro), chopped

2 spring onions, sliced

3 cloves

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp cocoa powder

How to Make Mexican Chicken Stew

1. Heat a little oil in a sauce pan.   Add the onion and chilli pepper and cook until soft.  Add the red pepper and crushed garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.

2. Add the chicken.   Cook until it is sealed on all sides, then stir in the cocoa, cumin, cloves and tomatoes.  Add a dash of water and leave to simmer for 20 minutes.

3. A few minutes before the end of the cooking time, stir in the spring onion and just before serving, stir in the chopped coriander.

4. Serve with rice or flatbreads.

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Green Lentil and Coriander Soup

A new year, a new healthy diet.   That’s the plan for most of the time anyway.  Apart from that I have made no new year food plans and have written no review of the past year.   I would like to blog more frequently and I would like to be more active in commenting on the blogs I follow, but if I set that as a resolution, I feel I would just be setting myself up for failure.  After all, I am running the London Marathon on 21 April so will need to find time to fit all the training for that into my schedule!   So, I am just going to try to keep on blogging as often as I can, when I can.    I know it’s quite late to be saying this on 8th January already so that is all I am going to say on the subject.  Moving on to this green lentil and coriander soup….

I love making soups like this as they are warm, filling and are useful for using up any leftover vegetables.  Although the lentils are very dark,  I love the colours of all the vegetables showing up in the soup and I especially love the fresh coriander stirred in at the end.  It makes the soup taste very fresh.

I am linking this soup to Pantry Party, Food of the Month Club and Souper Sundays.

lentil coriander soup (500x351)

Ingredients – serves 2 (as a main meal)

3 tbsp dried green lentils

2 carrots, sliced

1 onion, diced

2 tbsp chopped red cabbage

2 tbsp sweetcorn

Small knob of ginger, finely diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 chilli pepper, sliced

Handful of coriander (cilantro), chopped

2 cardamom pods, crushed slightly

2 cloves

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp garam masala

How to Make Lentil and Coriander Soup

1. Put a little oil in a saucepan.   Add the cloves and cardamom pods.   Cook for 30 seconds then add the chopped onion, chilli pepper and ginger.  Fry gently until soft.

2. Add the turmeric,cumin, garam masala, carrot and lentils.   Stir in and add boiling water from the kettle.

3. Simmer for 30 minutes then add the cabbage.   Continue to simmer for another 20 minutes.

4. Add the frozen sweetcorn.   As soon as the water reaches the boil again, take out two ladles of the soup.   Blend in a food processor or with a stick blender and then return the pureed soup to the pan.   Stir in the coriander and serve immediately

Chicken Cafrael

Have you heard of chicken cafrael?   I hadn’t until coming across it for this month’s Random Recipes.   It’s a Goan dish of chicken, marinated in a vinegary green masala, which is then grilled, fried or baked.   I love the taste of vinegar in Indian recipes and already make a red Goan chicken dish which has a vinegary spice paste but this was my first time to make chicken cafrael.

This month for Random Recipes we had to count along our books until we came to number 17 and I was more than happy to pick Floyd’s India.    Despite my love of Indian food, I’m ashamed to say that I had never actually used this book before.   It was one of the poor forgotten ones that I got before a lot of my other books.   I know that when I first got it, I read it and drooled at a lot of the recipes but for some reason did not actually make anything.   I think it was before I began cooking a lot of Indian food at home and maybe I was little intimidated by all the spices, and also by the fact that I didn’t have a food processor back then.  Now, when I look through the ingredients for the recipes I have almost everything and can’t understand why this book has been so neglected.  It will certainly be used again after this first recipe anyway.    The chicken was delicious and I served it with rice and spinach raita, which is my current favourite raita.

This post is for Random Recipes but I am also linking it to Cookbook Sundays.

Ingredients – serves 2

300g chicken  – I used mini fillets

Small piece of ginger

Handful of coriander(cilantro)

2 cloves garlic

4 green chillies

1 tsp ground coriander or coriander seeds

3 cloves

3 cardamom pods

1 tsp black peppercorns

1/2 tsp cinnamon or small piece of cinnamon stick

White wine vinegar

How to make Chicken Cafrael

1. Grind any whole spices in a pestle and mortar.  Then put all the ingredients except the chicken in a food processor.    Just add a little vinegar.   If the mixture is too dry add a little more.

2. Rub the mixture into the chicken and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour.   If you use larger pieces of chicken, make a few slashes in them with a knife before rubbing the marinade in.

3. Fry the chicken pieces in a little oil until cooked inside and browned on the outside.   You could also roast it in the oven or barbecue it.

CookbookSundays

Inspired by Masterchef: Thai Fish Cakes

For my honeymoon 3 and a half years ago we went to Thailand, to Bangkok and Koh Samui.  I loved it – the atmosphere, the scenery, the weather, and the food of course.  So, last week on Masterchef I was delighted when the contestants were flown to Thailand to cook in a market and then for a royal banquet.   Some of the best food we ate was also in a market, so I was especially interested in the street food.   Like with lot of Thai food, the paste is the base of the dish and so the contestants spent a long time pounding away with pestle and mortars.   I was a little lazier.   I used my pestle and mortar to crush the galangal, as it’s quite tough but then put it in the blender with all the other ingredients to make the paste.    I then just added the fish to the blender once the paste was made.   So, really easy fish cakes, much easier than making them in a Thai market.   Nevertheless, I’m fairly confident that I’ve managed to make quite good ones.    I didn’t use any flour, which leads to a denser, heavier fishcake so they stayed really light and juicy, but held together well and were bursting with flavour.  Definitely one to make again.

I just served these with a little squeeze of lime juice but they would normally be served with sweet chilli sauce.  However, I’m not keen on sweet and savoury together so didn’t bother to make any.   But, after this week’s show focusing on pastry, I will now be making something sweet and next week is the last week so there’ll only be two more Inspired by Masterchef posts to go.   For now anyway.

Ingredients – Makes 6 fish cakes

4 largish red chillies, most of the seeds removed

2 tsp lemongrass paste or a fresh lemongrass stalk

4 shallots

2 cloves of garlic

Small knob of galangal

Handful of coriander leaves

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

3 kaffir lime leaves

1 tsp fish sauce

200g white fish

1 lime (to serve)

How to make Thai Fish Cakes

1. In a pestle and mortar, crush the galangal then put in a food processor.   If using fresh lemongrass, also pound first in the pestle and mortar.  Add all the other ingredients to the food processor except the fish.   Blend to a paste.  Taste and made any adjustments if necessary.

2. Roughly chop the fish and add it to the food processor.

3. Take the mixture out of the food processor, using a tablespoon.   Place spoonfuls on a plate and flatten slightly.    Put in the fridge for half an hour.

4. Heat some oil in a frying pan and then fry the fish cakes for about 3-4 minutes on each side.    Serve with lime wedges or sweet chilli sauce.

Potato and Pea Samosas

There are certain food like samosas that I am always happy to eat.  They’re one of my favourite starters when I go to an Indian restaurant and I always choose the vegetarian ones.  I love the combination of pastry, potato and spiciness, so no, you are not likely to ever catch me going on a low carb diet.  These samosas are a little different in that they use filo pastry rather than traditional samosa pastry.   They also turned out rather large.  When I began making them, I was expecting them to be like little nibbles but I would almost call these pasties.    My husband and I ate two each for dinner, along with some salad and we were full!   Luckily, the leftovers keep well in the fridge and if you heat them up in the oven the next day the pastry goes all lovely and crispy again and they are almost as good as when freshly made.   Just don’t heat them in the microwave.  I’ve warned you.  The recipe below will give far too much filling but don’t worry, it’s delicious as a side dish and can also be kept in the fridge and reheated.

Although this is a recipe I had always thought looked nice, I was actually prompted to make these for Dom at Belleau Kitchen’s Random Recipe Challenge.   As Random Recipes was celebrating one year we had to  go back and use the first book we’d used for this challenge.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find the first book I’d used and so rather than turning the place upside down looking for it, I decided to go with the second one.  After all, I’m seven months pregnant and I’m sure unnecessary exertion would not be good for me!  The book is Indian Food Made Easy by Anjum Anand and as I’ve made at least half of the recipes already from this book, I did have to pick a few times until I got lucky and picked one I hadn’t made before.

As samosas are perfect snack food I am also sending this to Lindsay at Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops for her Sweet Heat Challenge.   The theme this month is game food. Also to Siri’s Flavours for Potato Mania and Couscous and Consciousness for Cookbook Sundays.

Ingredients – makes 6

1 pack of filo pastry (6 sheets)

200g potatoes

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/4 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp garam masala

4tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 small knob ginger, finely diced

1 chilli pepper, sliced

60g frozen peas

4-5 tbsp butter

Nigella seeds, poppy seeds or sesame seeds to decorate

How to Make Potato and Pea Samosas

1. Cube the potatoes and boil until soft.  Drain.

2. Put a little oil in a saucepan with the mustard seeds.   When they begin to pop add the chopped onion, ginger and chilli pepper.   Cook for 2 minutes on high then add the peas, the spices and a dash of water.   After about 2 more minutes add the potatoes and coriander leaves.    Stir well and cook for another 2 minutes.   Adjust any seasonings if necessary.

3. Melt the butter in microwave or in a small saucepan.   Lay a sheet of filo pastry out.   Spread butter on half of it then fold it over.   Spread butter on half of it again and fold it again.   Put a dessert spoon of filling at one end of the pastry.  Brush a little butter next to the filling, where the pastry is going to be joined.  Fold the corner over diagonally to cover the filling.   Fold again upwards and then once more to use up the whole pastry sheet. Brush a little butter on top and sprinkle with seeds to decorate.

4. Bake in the oven at 200C for 30 minutes.   Turn halfway through.

CookbookSundays

Fresh Herb Dressing

I love steak at the moment, but I think any meat without a sauce or dressing is rather boring.   I have to admit that I do like creamy sauces, as long as they are not too rich, with crispy roast potatoes and green vegetables, but I’m trying to be healthy at the moment so today I made a dressing packed full of fresh herbs, green chillies and lemon juice.  Although this may look like a meaty dish, the dressing would be equally good served on grilled halloumi or buffalo mozzarella.   It could also easily be adapted to use any of your favourite herbs or to use lime juice instead of lemon.

I am submitting this to Herbs on a Saturday hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage.

Ingredients – serves 2

1 tbsp chopped mint

1 tbsp chopped coriander

1 crushed garlic clove

1 green chilli pepper

Juice of 1-2 lemons, depending on how juicy they are and how lemony you want the dressing.

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt

Black pepper

How to Make the Dressing

1. Chop up all the herbs, the chilli and crush the garlic clove.   Put in a bowl.   Add the lemon juice, salt and black pepper.  Add a good glug of olive oil. Taste and add extra seasoning, chilli or lemon juice.

2. Serve the sauce on top of steak.


Leek Fritters

Throughout 2011 I kept hearing about Ottolenghi, perhaps first on Masterchef and then he just kept cropping up everywhere.   People were raving about his books and his dishes.   Whenever I read one of his recipes online I wanted to try it.  Now, I’m not a vegetarian, and neither is he, but I’m quite happy not to eat meat, and without consciously trying to, I have a few meat-free days most weeks.   What I like about Ottolenghi is that he loves making vegetables interesting and you don’t feel that anything is missing.   So, I told my husband that I wanted Plenty for Christmas.   I don’t think he was quite as enthusiastic as I was, especially as he called me from Waterstones saying, was I really sure I wanted  Plenty?   What about a rather nice book on Spanish food by I can’t remember who now or what about Ottolenghi’s other book that had some meat dishes in as well?   Hmmm   I didn’t think this was how Christmas presents were supposed to work.   Anyway, I think he realised this too, as I did get it as part of my Christmas present.   So, when Dom’s Random Recipe Challenge for January was to cook from a new book, this was the book I picked up.   And of course, my lovely husband was even less delighted when the recipe I picked had leeks as the main ingredient.    Well, I only needed two leeks, but if you’ve read my previous post about leek soup, you’ll know that I bought two bags by mistake.  Anyway, as I write this, there is only one leek left in the fridge, so I think I’ve done pretty well.   But, back to the fritters, they were very very good.   I think whipping up the egg white before mixing it in helps to keep them light in texture.   The sauce was also great, but is quite garlicy so it’s probably best to use  a very small clove and not to make it before spending too much time with other people who haven’t had any.    Despite the leeks, my lovely husband liked these too but he did compare them to onion bhajis and asked if I could make them just with onion next time.

I am of course sending this to Dom at Belleau Kitchen for Random Recipes.   I am also sending it to Couscous and Consciousness for Cookbook Sundays.

Ingredients for Fritters – Makes about 6-8

2 leeks, sliced

1 onion, finely diced

1 chilli pepper, sliced

Handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

70g self-raising flour

1/2 tbsp baking powder

80ml milk

30g unsalted butter, melted

Sauce Ingredients

50ml Greek yoghurt

50ml sour cream

1 small garlic clove, crushed

1 tbsp lemon juice

1.5 tbsp olive oil

Pinch salt

Handful of coriander leaves (cilantro)

How to Make Leek Fritters

1. Make the sauce first.   Mix all the ingredients in a food processor.    Put in the fridge until needed.

2. Cook the leeks and onions in a little olive oil for about 15 minutes until soft.   Take off the heat and put in a bowl.  Add the chilli, herbs and spices.

3. With your hands separate most of the egg white from the egg.   Whisk the egg white till it starts to form peaks and then gently mix it into the leeks.

4. In another bowl make a batter with the egg yolk, flour, baking powder, milk and melted butter.  Then gently mix this into the leek mixture.

5. Heat some oil in a frying pan and when hot, add spoonfuls of the leek mixture.   Cook for about 2 minutes on each side.    In a large frying pan you’ll need to make this number of fritters in two batches.   Serve with the sauce on the side.

CookbookSundays

Avocado, Yogurt and Coriander Dip

At the beginning of this month I hoped I would manage to find time to take part in the Secret Recipe Club.   As the end of the month neared,  I began to wish I’d opted out for a month.  Anyway,  it was too late, and I didn’t want to be the one to cause another poor blogger to be orphaned, so I set to to make this lovely dip which I found over at Darn Near Domestic, the blog I was assigned to.  Darn Near Domestic is written by Kirsty who really has some lovely recipes but I’m not doing a lot of cooking at the moment, so although I could have made something much more complicated, I really wanted to make something quick and easy.   But quick and easy does not of course mean not tasty.   I love avocado and normally just mash it up with lime juice so it was good to try this and make something a little different.   I loved the fresh coriander in it and the cumin also gave it a nice flavour but I didn’t follow the recipe exactly as I missed out the raw onion and the chopped tomato.

Ingredients

1 avocado

1 1/2 tbsp yoghurt

1 tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro)

1/4 tsp cumin

Salt

How to make Avocado, Yoghurt and Coriander Dip

1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend till smooth.

2. Taste and add extra coriander, cumin or salt if necessary.



Curried Sweet Potato and Chilli Salad

I loved the sweet potato in this so much I almost went out and bought some more to make it again immediately.     And I would have done, if it was only down to me.  Unfortunately I’m not the only one in charge of what gets made it this flat, and I have to serve two people.  This did serve two people, myself for dinner, and myself for lunch the next day.     If only everyone liked sweet potato.   In fact, I almost cannot understand how sweet potato cubes, coated in curry powder and then roasted until soft inside but slightly crisp on the outside cannot be liked.   Along with roasted peppers, onions, tomatoes and lots of fresh coriander(cilantro), then a squeeze of lemon juice, this salad has just become my current favourite.   When I ate it the next day for lunch I also added some homemade humous which went really well with the sweet potato.

I am submitting this to Lisa’s Kitchen for July’s No Croutons Required.    The theme is soup or salad containing hot peppers.

Ingredients – Serves 2

1 sweet potato, cubed

1 red chilli pepper, finely sliced and deseeded

2 tomatoes, sliced into wedges

1 inch cucumber, chopped

1/2 bell pepper, quartered

Small handful of sugar snap peas (optional)

Handful fresh coriander, chopped

1 onion, quartered

1/2 tsp curry powder

1 lemon

How to make Sweet Potato and Chilli Salad

1. Put the potato in a bowl, sprinkle with the curry powder and  toss with a little oil.

2. Heat a tray with a little oil in it in the oven.    When the oven has reached about 200c, take the tray out, add the sweet potato. After about 10 minutes, add the onion and pepper, and return to the oven.

3. After 10 minutes turn the potatoes then continue to roast for another 15 minutes.   Check the potatoes are ready and then serve.

4. Mix all the salad ingredients together, divide between 2 plates and then squeeze the lemon juice over the top.

Fragrant Chicken

I’m still going through my coriander phase and in this recipe, the coriander really makes the dish.   Lots and lots of coriander.   I know it’s a herb but I find I’m using it almost like spinach these days!

With the word, ‘fragrant’ in the title, it sounds like this dish must be full of complex subtleties.   But no, sometimes the simplest of dishes are the best.   If I’m organised I marinate the chicken first but often, especially if I’ve just got back from work, I just throw things in the wok, pour hot chicken stock over some couscous, and it’s ready to eat in much less than half an hour.   Honestly.   This is not Jamie Oliver talking, this is me at normal pace.   I would describe it as a stir fry with North African flavours and it’s incredibly quick, tasty and easy to make.

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts, sliced into strips

1 small red onion, sliced

Handful of pine nuts

Handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), including leaf and stalks, roughly chopped

1 red pepper, sliced

1 garlic clove, crushed or finely diced

1 chilli, finely sliced

Small knob of root ginger, finely diced

1tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cumin

How to make Fragrant Chicken

1. If you have time in advance, combine the dry spices, ginger, chilli and garlic with a little olive oil and marinate the chicken for an hour.   If you don’t have time for this then just go straight to step 2.

2. Heat a little oil in a wok and then add the chicken and spices from step 1.

3. While the chicken is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until they are slightly browned.

4. When the chicken is cooked on all sides, add the red pepper and onion to the wok. Continue to cook for about 4 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

5. Add the pine nuts and coriander leaf and stir through.

6. Serve with couscous.