Monday, September 12, 2011

Chicken Garam Masala

Wow two posts in one day, but this is tonight's dinner and tasty it was.

I've seen a few of the TV Chefs cook with a spice called "Garam Masala" when making Indian cuisine and decided I had to give it a try myself since I am a fan of Indian food of late.  I tested the waters with Garam Masala by making simple rice dishes from the side of the bottle to get an understanding of the flavor profile it would bring to dishes.  Warm and slightly spicy with the key flavors being cinnamon and coriander with some others I can't quite identify.  (I read somewhere that there are probably as many versions of Garam Masala as there are grandmothers in northern India...go find a blend you like and stick with it).

Cost Plus Imports is a great source for finding hard to find or unusual spices.  Such is the place I found the Garam Masala I used for this recipe.

Garam Masala Chicken

  • 4 large chicken breasts, skin removed
  • 1 T + 1t Garam Masala
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 onion coarse chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper coarsely chopped
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

Sprinkle 1 T Garam Masala over the chicken breasts.  Set aside in glass dish and cover with plastic wrap to marinate for 30 minutes.

Heat large oven proof skillet over med-high heat.  Add some vegetable oil to lightly coat bottom of pan.  add chicken breasts.  Sear for about 5 minutes then turn over to other side.  Add veggies and canned tomatoes. Sprinkle remaining 1t Garam Masala over the veggies.  Cover and put in a 375F oven for 30 minutes.  Serve the veggies over steamed rice on the side of your plated chicken breast.

Smokey Chili Mac...its all from the smoked spices

I'm a huge fan of smoked spices and salts.  Why? Its easy to add smokiness to the final product without having to resort to using "liquid smoke" which does leave a funky aftertaste at times.  The obsession started with simple smoked paprika for salmon a few years ago and has since grown to include other smoked spices in the pantry.  This recipe uses a few to bring about a complete change in a family standby.

In my pantry I have recently added ground dried chipotle.  That is a potent smoked and dried jalapeno that instead of being packed in a liquid adobo sauce it is simply ground to a powder.  Use it sparingly and you can always add a bit more if the final dish doesn't pack enough heat...its a lot easier than trying and failing to remove some if you add to much.

Another trick I use to punch up the flavor and give it an all day simmering taste is to use beef bouillon to the Chili Mac.  I do use the "Better than Bouillon" brand as it is much lower in salt than the cubes are.  If you use the cubes wait to season with salt until after you have dissolved in the cube to prevent over salting your dish.

Smokey Chili Mac

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 14.5 oz can beans (I used basic kidney beans)
  • 1/4 t chipotle  chili powder
  • 1 t  smoked paprika
  • 2 t chili powder
  • 2 t Better than Bouillon beef flavor
  • 2 C water
  • 1 1/2 C macaroni
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Monterrey Jack/Cheddar shredded cheese blend.

Brown beef in large stock pot.  Add onion and cook until translucent.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add spices and cook an additional minute stirring the whole time until they are toasty.  Add tomatoes, water and bouillon.  Cover and simmer 30 minutes.  Add macaroni, increase heat and cook 12-15 minutes until tender.  Serve in large bowl with a sprinkle of the shredded cheese.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lemon Ginger Mousse made stupid easy

Yup...I can't take credit for the flavor profile or the invention of the original. It belongs to a chef Joann Chang who appeared on food network TV's new show "Sugar High" with Duff Goldman. The original recipe HERE.

It sounded so good and when we were invited over to some friends for wine and cheese tonight and challenged to come up with something for dessert I thought of this.

There were a couple of problems to this that prevented me from doing the actual recipe. First is that the REAL cream in the recipe needs to be heated and then cooled overnight with the ginger and I just don't have the time. The second issue is that one of our hosts for tonight is dieting so the use of REAL cream is kinda outta the question.

My solution was to use fresh ground ginger, fat free cool whip and ready made lemon curd. Yup...I cheated and came up with a stupid easy dessert that is cool, refreshing and quite tasty too with a drastic reduction in calories.

Lemon Ginger Mousse
1 8 0z container Fat Free Cool Whip
1 14.5 oz jar Dundee Lemon Curd
1/4 t ground ginger
2 ginger snap cookies crushed.

Thaw the Cool Whip. Fold in ground ginger and lemon curd. Spoon into serving dishes (I used a ramekin but any dessert dish would work). Garnish with crushed ginger snap cookies. Chill 1 hour before serving.