Gingered Chickpea and Chicken Curry

IMG_6872Yum!  Homemade curry is a wonderful thing, fresh and fragrant.  Lately I’ve been able to convert my curry indifferent husband into a curry loving husband with dishes like this.  Such is the power of good home cooking.  Chocked full of ginger, this spicy dish will make your taste buds sing.  The recipe calls for 3 cups of cooked chickpeas which is approximately equal to 2 (15-ounce) cans, drained and rinsed or 1 cup of dried chickpeas.  You don’t need to pre-soak dried chickpeas either, they cook up fine without bothering.  Just put 1 cup of dried chickpeas into a saucepan, add lots of water and some salt.  Bring to a boil,  turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.  Easy, peasy.

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Julia Child’s Chicken Bonne Femme

It is hard to imagine how dull home cooking must have been before Julia Child came along in 1961 with her ground breaking cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  She was able to use her extensive knowledge of a foreign cuisine and make it accessible to people who believed that anything exotic was beyond their capabilities.  The profound affect she had on home cooking will continue to resonate for generations to come.

August 15, 2012 would have been Julia’s 100th birthday and in honor of her, I chose to cook this classic one-pot meal from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1.  Poulet en Cocotte Bonne Femme is the fancy name for this dish which is just a pot-roasted whole chicken with potatoes, onions and bacon.  I made this using a large (7-quart) Le Creuset dutch oven which allowed for an easy transition from stove top to oven.  If you don’t have an oven safe pot large enough to hold all the ingredients, you can do all the browning in a skillet and transfer the chicken to a large baking dish (either Corningware with a glass lid or a 9-x13-inch baking dish covered tightly with foil).  The recipe states that you should brown the chicken for a rather lengthy time, 12-15 minutes per side.  Please don’t skimp on this since the chicken will not brown at all in the oven.  Chicken Bonne Femme is French cooking at it’s simplest and quite possibly it’s tastiest.  Finally, I’ll leave you with a classic quote from Julia…..

“The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon appétit.”

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Chicken with Cuban-Style Picadillo

Ah, Miami…where everyone either drives like a bat out of hell or is way past retirement age and drives 45 mph in the fast lane on the interstate.  The best thing about south Florida (other than the Everglades) is the abundance of seafood and Cuban food.  The best flan I’ve ever had was at La Carreta on Southwest 8th Street and their vaca frita was mighty tasty too.  My husband and I really enjoyed our meal even though we only know a few words of Spanish and the waitress only knew few words in English.  When all else fails, smile and point.  Our trip to Miami really opened up a new culinary world for me and in the last couple of years I have occasionally tried out a few Cuban recipes on my willing guinea pig of a husband. Yay for being married to someone who is not a picky eater!

This Cuban-style picadillo recipe came out of a Fine Cooking magazine.  Therefore,  I cannot vouch for any sort of authenticity in the ingredients nor do I know if chicken would ever truly be served with picadillo.  What I do know is that this is one terrific recipe.  The combination of spices melding together with the tomatoes, the salty olives and capers makes flavorful sauce reminiscent not only of the Caribbean but also of Spain.  Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you off, everything should be a pantry staple, which makes this an ideal recipe for throwing together any night of the week.  Continue reading

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers with Tahini Sauce

Last weekend my husband really wanted hummus with dinner.  OK, so that was the easy part but what to serve with it?  I had a package of ground turkey but somehow the thought of meatloaf with hummus just did nothing for my appetite.  I got to thinking that something Mediterranean inspired would be perfect.  The first thing that came to mind was falafel, the tasty, fried chickpea (or fava bean) fritters.  I started thinking wouldn’t turkey burgers flavored like falafel be just as good.  So out came the cookbooks and with only a little modification to a falafel recipe these burgers were concocted.  Most of the recipes I found in my cookbooks called for lots of parsley or a parsley and cilantro combination.  Since I did not have any cilantro in the fridge, I decided to use some fresh mint instead and it was delicious.  Feel free to use any combination of these herbs in your burgers.  If you want to use cilantro instead of mint use the same amount as the parsley.  Tahini sauce is traditionally served with falafel and provides a nice garlicky kick to the sandwiches.

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Garlic Lemon Chicken Breasts

Chicken is a ubiquitous ingredient in our house, so this will be the first of many chicken entries on the blog.  The original recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa’s newest cookbook and calls for fresh thyme.  However, I did not have any on hand and really did not want to make a special trip to the store and spend $3 on a tiny package either.  I do have a potted rosemary plant on the front porch so that is what I used.   Besides, lemon and rosemary are one of those magical culinary combinations.  The pan sauce is tangy and garlicky and would be perfect spooned over mashed potatoes.  The sliced lemon that is cooked with the chicken will lend a slightly bitter flavor to the sauce.  It looks really pretty, but if bitter is not your thing then leave it out.  Next time I make this it will be without the sliced lemon.  When we warmed up the leftovers the next day, the bitterness was much more pronounced and not very pleasant.    Continue reading

Turkey Sloppy Joes

Long ago when Gourmet was still in business I was one of their biggest fans.  I found this recipe in 2004 and it has been a family favorite ever since.  These are tangy with just a little sweetness and spice to balance it out.  I don’t always have fresh bell peppers on hand so I have been known to raid the pantry and use a drained 4-ounce jar of sliced pimentos.  Make these tonight and your family will be begging for them again.  So move over canned stuff, there is a new player in town. Continue reading