Chili-Lime Chicken Skewers with Spicy Green Pepper Sauce

~ Chil-Lime Chicken Skewers with Spicy Green Pepper Sauce ~

A pedicure was the inspiration for this recipe. I rarely sit and thumb through a stack of fashion and lifestyle magazines – except when I am captive in a chair for a pedicure. As I picked up a well-read issue of O, I did what I always to with a magazine: I began at the back in search of recipes. And there I spied  an article with a recipe by Cat Cora for chicken kebabs.  Since my next stop was at the market to buy ingredients for a dinner, I immediately knew what I would make. With the image of the kebabs in mind, I came up with this recipe. Thanks to Cat and Oprah for the inspiration!

Chili-Lime Chicken Skewers with Spicy Green Sauce

There is big flavor and little effort in this recipe for Chili-Lime Chicken Skewers, which makes it a perfect weeknight meal. If you can, marinate the chicken for several hours or overnight and let the chili, lime and sriracha marinade do the flavoring work for you. While the chicken sits in the refrigerator, all you need is a few extra minutes to blitz the ingredients for the green sauce. Weeknight dining doesn’t get better than this. Serves 4-6.

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Sriracha or hot sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1 inch chunks
Bamboo skewers, soaked in warm water 30 minutes

Whisk all of the marinade ingredients together. Place chicken in a bowl and toss with marinade. Refrigerate at least one hour or up to 24 hours. Prepare grill for high heat. Skewer chicken on pre-soaked bamboo sticks; discard marinade. Grill over direct high heat until nicely charred on all sides and thoroughly cooked through, about 8 minutes. Serve with Spicy Green Pepper Sauce.

Spicy Green Pepper Sauce

The beauty of this sauce is that you may use whatever fresh green herbs you have on hand and tinker with the flavor. It always tastes great. Try to make it a few hours before serving to let the flavors develop. Makes about 1 cup.

2 garlic cloves
1 small poblano pepper, coarsely chopped
1-2 jalapeno peppers, to taste, coarsely chopped
1 handful fresh mint leaves
1 handful fresh oregano leaves
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pulse all of the ingredients in a bowl of a food processor to achieve a chunky sauce. Taste for seasoning. (May be prepared up to 6 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate).

This post and recipe from TasteFood was featured in Women’s Health Blog: What We’re Reading.

 

On a Stick! and a recipe for Chinese Meatballs

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Here’s the thing: It’s fun to eat with your hands, and Matt Armendariz has figured this out. In his new book On a Stick! it seems that every food you may think of is fair game for skewering. It might be simple:  Crudité Skewers with Latin Green Goddess Dressing or Caprese Sticks with Mozzarella, Basil and Tomatoes. It might be more complex: Deep Fried Ravioli or Spaghetti and Meatballs anyone? Or perhaps you are craving something sweet. How about Frozen Bananas Dipped in Chocolate or Strawberry Shortcake? Yes, that’s right – all on a stick.

On a Stick! puts the fun in food, taking ordinary and exotic recipes and sticking it to them, so to speak, along with an assortment of dipping sauces – because, after all, dipping a stick in a sauce, dressing, salsa or chutney is half the fun of eating food on skewers.  If you would like to enjoy a little simple pleasure, if you need to entice your kids to eat their veggies, or if you wish to invite your 20 closest friends to a party, you will appreciate this book.  There’s something in it for everyone, and fun doesn’t get more tasty than this.

~
For my first recipe, I tried the Chinese Meatballs, which are a spicy, savory concoction of ground turkey, cilantro and spices. Fragrant with ginger and garlic, these addictive little morsels are served with a sweet and sour chili sauce. I pan fried them rather than deep fried them before dutifully skewering with bamboo sticks. And you know what? They really do taste better on a stick.

Chinese Meatballs with Sweet and Sour Chili Sauce
Makes about 12 meatballs

3/4 pound lean ground pork or turkey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons peeled and minced ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 bunch cilantro, minced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl with your hands to thoroughly combine. Form into 12 small even balls. Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add the meatballs in one layer without overcrowding. Cook, turning, until browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat with remaining meatballs. Skewer with toothpicks or bamboo sticks. Serve with Sweet and Sour Chili Sauce.

Sweet and Sour Chili Sauce

1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons minced lemon grass
1/2 bunch mint, minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon seeded and minced red jalapeño
1 teaspoon peeled and minced ginger

Stir vinegar, sugar and lemongrass in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until sugar dissolves and liquid reduces by one-third. Strain into a bowl and cool completely. Stir in mint, cilantro, garlic, red jalapeño and ginger. Serve warm or at room temperature, alongside the meatballs.

Recipe reprinted with permission from On a Stick! Written and photographed by Matt Armendariz. Published by Quirk Books.

Full disclosure: I received a free copy of On a Stick! from Quirk Books.

Red Hot and Low-Sodium Chicken Wings


Red Hot and Low-Sodium Chicken Wings

This week, I jumped on board a food blog event hosted by Jessica, who has the wonderful blog SodiumGirl. The challenge? To create a favorite salty recipe with low-sodium content. While this obviously prohibited the use of salt, it also required the use of products with no more than 40 mg of sodium per serving. I was eager to give this a try, but a little apprehensive, since I love salt.

It was quite eye opening as I rummaged through my refrigerator and pantry in search of ingredients containing no more than 40 mg of sodium per serving. I am not only referring to staples such as mustard, cheese, sriracha, ketchup, mayonnaise, even Greek style yogurt.  As I scrolled a database for more nutritional references, I discovered that many proteins have a generous amount of natural sodium. My goal, then, was to select a protein with a relatively low amount of salt and devise a recipe around it using low or no-sodium ingredients.

Happily, dark chicken meat came in at a respectable sodium level, with drumsticks and thighs packing 46 mg per serving. This got me thinking about one of my favorite salty foods best associated with bars and football games: spicy wings. So, I decided to try and make a low sodium version of spicy wings.

An important factor in making this recipe is the use of lots of spices. I rubbed the chicken with a blend of paprika, coriander, cumin and cayenne and let the wings marinate for several hours. Then I roasted them in a hot oven for an hour, basting them with a spicy sauce which was a simplified cross between a buffalo wing and a BBQ sauce. Normally a generous squirt of sriracha would play a role in a recipe like this, but weighing in at 100 mg per serving, I improvised. Instead, I  whipped up a basting sauce with Tabasco, tomato paste and brown sugar. The results were excellent. The wings were crunchy, sticky and spicy – just the kind of finger-licking appetizer I imagined, minus any salt. And you know what?  I didn’t miss the salt at all.

Red Hot and Low-Sodium Chicken Wings

I use drummettes, which are the largest part of the chicken wing, because I prefer their relative meatiness. Serves 4 as an appetizer.

Wings:
3 pounds chicken wings or drumettes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2-4 tablespoons Tabasco (to taste)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Spiced Sour Cream Sauce:
1 cup sour cream
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Dash of Tabasco
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro sprigs

Prepare the wings:
Whisk oil, paprika, cumin, coriander, cayenne and black pepper together in a large bowl. Add drummettes and toss to evenly coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours. 30 minutes before roasting, remove chicken from refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 425 F. (210 C.) Arrange drummettes on a oven grill pan. Roast 20 minutes. Turn chicken. Roast 20 minutes more.
While the chicken is roasting, make the basting sauce. Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat and whisk in tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar and lemon juice. Keep warm.
Remove chicken from oven and brush with tomato sauce. Return to oven and roast 10 minutes. Remove chicken and turn. Brush again with tomato sauce. Return to oven and roast until golden brown and cooked through, about 10 more minutes. Serve warm with Spiced Sour Cream Sauce for dipping.

Prepare the sauce:
Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.

 

Roasted Chicken with Cardamom and Yogurt

Roasted Chicken with Cardamom and Yogurt


Roasted Chicken with Cardamom and Yogurt

Did you know that cardamom is referred to as the Queen of Spices? It makes sense, then, that this regal spice will behave like proper royalty, restrained yet in charge, when teamed with a slick of spices in a potent paste for roast chicken. As the chicken marinates for some hours, the heady aromas of garlic and ginger will waft about and you may think that cardamom’s perfume is all but lost. Don’t be fooled. These bold flavors are all swagger, and will be suitably tamed and smoothed with roasting. As their sharpness mellows, the elegant cardamom will gracefully step forward, shining through in the finished flavor of the meat and crispy skin.

Roasted Chicken with Cardamom and Yogurt

Butterflying the chicken ensures quick and even roasting. The yoghurt will tenderize the meat and contribute to the browning of the skin.  Serves 4-6.

6 cardamom pods, seeds removed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup whole milk greek style yogurt
1 tablespoon ground fresh ginger
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 3-4 pound chicken, butterflied

Grind cardamom seeds and peppercorns in a mortar with pestle to a powder. Add cumin, coriander, salt and garlic and smash together. Add olive oil to form a paste. Stir in yogurt, ginger and lemon juice.  Smear spices between skin and breast and all over the chicken, front and back. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours. 3o minutes before roasting, remove chicken from refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 425 F. (210 C.) Place chicken breast-side up in a baking pan or cast iron pan. Bake in oven until thoroughly cooked, 45  minutes – 1 hour. Remove from oven and let rest 15 minutes. Carve and serve.

Homemade Duck Prosciutto and a Tartine

Homemade Duck Prosciutto and a Tartine

For those of you not in the know, there is a fabulous food blog event taking place as we speak. I refer to Charcutepalooza: A Year in Meat, hosted by Cathy Barrow and Kim Foster. These two bloggers have come up with the inspirational idea to cure, smoke and salt their way through Michael Ruhlman’s bestselling cookbook Charcuterie along with the participating food blogging community. I am a huge fan of charcuterie as well as the precepts of using sustainable and humanely raised meat, so it was without hesitation that I joined in the Charcutepalooza party.

The first challenge of the year was to make homemade duck prosciutto. I have long wished to make my own prosciutto, and what better way to get my feet wet (or hands salty) than with duck breasts. The only difficult aspect of the preparation was waiting 7 days for them to cure. During this time I learned two valuable things: Duck prosciutto is extremely easy to make, and that patience is a virtue – at least when it comes to curing meat.

There are many ways to enjoy duck prosciutto, the simplest quite often the best. In this case I prepared a tartine, or a French open-face sandwich. The prosciutto is paired with melting reblochon cheese and layered over mixed greens. At once rustic and fresh, this recipe is a great way to kick off Charcutepalooza’s Year of Meat.

Duck Prosciutto and Reblochon Tartine

Reblochon is a soft cow milk cheese from the Savoie region of the French alps. It may be substituted with Saint Nectaire or Camembert. Try using a variety of greens and herbs. I used what I had on hand: flat leaf parsley, mizuna and radicchio.

Makes 4

2 slices of french country bread, sliced 1/2 inch thick, halved
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups mixed greens, such as lambs lettuce, frisée, green herbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 wedges Reblochon or Saint Nectaire cheese
4 sprigs rosemary
4 slices duck prosciutto

Preheat oven broiler. Lightly brush bread with olive oil. Arrange on baking tray and broil, turning once, until lightly golden. Remove from oven, but don’t turn off the heat.
Place greens in a bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper; toss.
Place wedges of cheese in a small baking pan. Top each wedge with a rosemary sprig. Broil until cheese begins to soften and bubble, 1-2 minutes. Remove from oven.
Arrange bread slices on a plate or platter. Top with greens. Place a cheese wedge on the greens. Lay a slice of prosciutto over the greens and cheese. Sprinkle with pepper and drizzle with a few drops of olive oil. Serve immediately.

Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin is cozy winter food. It’s meant to slow cook and, like many stews, tastes even better the day after it’s prepared. I’ve come across recipes for quick Coq au Vin. This option sounds ideal for a busy weekday night, but, if you ask me, I would rather save my Coq au Vin for the weekend when it can simmer away, filling the kitchen with warmth and the aromas of wine and herbs, while building anticipation for dinner to come.

Traditional Coq au Vin required slow cooking, since it called for using a tough rooster as its main ingredient, which benefited from a long cooking process to tenderize the bird. Nowadays, chicken is commonly used, and the length of cooking time is shortened. Nonetheless, the dish is best when left to simmer over low heat, and the sauce is allowed to reduce and thicken into a luxuriously rich stew.

In this version, I omit the bacon and use a generous amount of brandy to deglaze the pan. Tomato paste is added to round out the sauce with a touch of sweetness. I like to slow-cook the stew in the oven at a lower temperature, freeing up the stove top for other needs. In the meantime, I am free to get on with other tasks, or relax with a book and a cup of tea or gløgg.  This is the epitome of winter weekend food, preferably when the weather is cold and dismal outside.

Coq au Vin – Chicken Braised in Red Wine

As an option to butchering a whole chicken, purchase 2 whole legs and 2 to 3 breasts with skin and bone intact. Serves 4 to 6.

1 tablespoon olive oil
One chicken, cut in 8 pieces
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup brandy
4 garlic cloves, smashed
3 large carrots, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 large onion, chopped
8 ounces white mushrooms, halved (quartered if large)
1 (750 ml) bottle full-bodied red wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. (170°C.) Heat the oil in an oven-proof pot with lid or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces, skin-side down, in batches. Brown on all sides, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a platter.
2. Carefully add the brandy to the pot (it will steam) and stir to deglaze the pot while you let the brandy reduce by about half.
3. Add the garlic, carrots, onion, and mushrooms, and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the wine, tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaves. Return the chicken to the pot and nestle the pieces in the wine. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven to cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
4. Transfer the pot to the stove top. Remove the chicken and vegetables with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl. Boil the sauce over medium heat until reduced by about half and thickened to a sauce consistency, skimming the fat, about 20 minutes. Add the sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Return the chicken and vegetables to the pot, and gently simmer to thoroughly heat through.
5. Serve warm in low bowls with mashed or roasted potatoes.

Curry Chicken Stew

Curry Chicken Stew

When I lived in Geneva for 10 years in the nineties, there was no shortage of cheese and French haute cuisine. There is nothing wrong with that.  However, from time to time I found myself craving exotic, spiced flavors from further corners of the world. Short of the falafel truck outside of La Placette, there were few alternatives. The few available ethnic restaurants were often overpriced and underwhelming – Swiss interpretations of the real gritty deal. So, I quickly learned to make my own versions of curries, satays, and spring rolls at home. They were hardly authentic, but I was able to satisfy my wistful taste buds.

One day, I came across a recipe for Country Captain in a cooking magazine. It was a sweet tomato-based chicken stew, studded with apple and infused with curry. It seemed easy to prepare with ingredients I could readily find in the Swiss suburbs, so I made it. The stew was light and fresh, pleasantly balanced with the acidity of tomato, sweetness of fruit and a nice kick of curry. For no real reason, I didn’t make it again. The recipe was filed, and over time I forgot about it – until recently, when I stumbled across a recipe for Country Captain in Saveur Magazine. As soon as I read the name, I was transported back to Geneva when I first made the stew and reminded of how much I enjoyed it.

Country Captain is a dish that originated in the American south. Influenced by the flavors of India and introduced to the U.S. by British officers, it’s a mild stew, usually garnished with currants and almonds and served with rice. It’s not overpowering and it’s heat may be adjusted according to taste, which makes it a great family dish. This recipe for Curry Chicken Stew is inspired by Country Captain, however, in my version I add more vegetables and omit many of the extra garnishes.

Curry Chicken Stew

This recipe calls for chicken off the bone, which shortens the cooking time and makes it easy to prepare as a weeknight dinner. Serves 4-6.

Olive oil
4 boneless chicken thighs, with skin
2 large boneless chicken breasts, with skin
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced
1/2 large head of cauliflower, broken into 1 inch florets
1 poblano pepper, cut in 3/4 inch pieces
1 annaheim or serrano chile pepper, stemmed seeded, sliced
3 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons grated ginger
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 – 28 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with juices
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Basmati rice
Parsley cilantro

Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.) Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep skillet or Dutch-oven over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces. Add chicken in batches to the skillet without overcrowding. Cook until brown, about 3 minutes each side. Transfer to a plate. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet. Add onion and sauté 2 minutes. Add carrots, cauliflower and peppers. Saute until vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add curry powder, ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and the vegetables are thickly coated with the curry powder, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, bay leaf, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Simmer 10 minutes.
Return chicken to the skillet and partially nestle the pieces in the stew with the browned skin exposed. Cover with lid or foil and transfer to oven and bake, 15 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes more. Serve stew in bowls or deep dishes, spooned over basmati rice. Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro leaves.