Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chicken Tagine with Squash, Peppers and Olives

We've finally used our tagine! We finally found a recipe that we felt comfortable for our first endeavor into the world of tagine cooking. It's not the prettiest plate we've ever put together, but this meal was very tasty. If you don't have a lovely tagine, you can actually make this in a skillet.

Here's what you'll need:
1 (1 1/2 lbs.) package boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you can use chicken breasts if you'd like.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil (enough to coat the chicken and cover the bottom of the pan for cooking)
freshly ground black pepper

Spice rub:
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tps cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground corriander

Everything else:
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chicken stock (or water if you want, but the chicken stock adds a ton of flavor)
1/2 squash, chopped
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 cup green olives (chopped)
Lemon zest
Salt to taste

Here's what you do:
Trim the chicken thighs to remove any large pieces of fat, but don't take everything off. Rub the chicken with olive oil, garlic and some black pepper. Pop in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to marinade. 

When you're ready to begin cooking, pull the chicken out of the fridge to bring it back to room temperature. Coat the bottom of the tagine (or skillet) with oil and bring to medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken. We cooked ours in two shifts to make sure everything cooked evenly. You don't need to cook it through, because it will simmer for a while in the broth/veggie mixture. 

 Remove the chicken and set aside. Add the onion, squash, red pepper, and spice blend to the tagine (skillet) and crank up the heat to high. Stir fry the veggies for a few minutes.

Once your veggies are softened, add the chicken broth and the chicken back to the tagine (skillet). Bring to a boil, then drop the heat so that your mixture is simmering. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Special note if you're using a tagine: If your tagine doesn't have a hole in the top, leave a crack for some of the steam to escape. We used a skewer to prop one edge up slightly.

We ate this over jasmine rice, which takes about 30 minutes to prepare. We started our rice about 10 minutes into the simmering of the tagine.

After 30 minutes, remove chicken and set aside. (We keep ours in the microwave to try to keep it warm). Add the lemon zest and green olives to the mixture. We didn't add salt because the olives added enough for us, but if you think it needs a little salt, add that now.

We wanted ours a little soupy to go over the rice, so we just simmered this for just a couple minutes to bring the flavors together. If you want a thicker stew, let this reduce for a while. 

Add your rice to the bottom of a bowl, top with a couple pieces of the chicken, then top with the veggies and broth.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Homemade Salsa

Even with the sweltering heat this summer, Zack's dad's garden did pretty well. We had enough fresh veggies to mix up a batch of salsa. We decided to cook our salsa this time. In the past, we had just made a pico de gallo style salsa. This was our best salsa yet.

Here's what you'll need: 
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 red onion
1 sweet bell pepper (we used an orange pepper)
2 cloves garlic
3-4 tomatoes
1 jalapeno
1 poblano pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp cilantro
1/2 dried ancho chili pepper
chili powder
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt (Kosher salt will work as well)

Here's what you do:

Dice the onion and pepper.

Mince the garlic.

Seed the tomatoes and set the seeds aside. Then dice the tomatoes.

Remove the seeds and inside membrane from the jalapeno and poblano. If you want to kick up the heat in your salsa, add some of the seeds from the jalapeno in as well. Now, dice that up too.

Chop your cilantro.

Using kitchen shears, cut up Ancho chili into small pieces. In case you're wondering what this chili looks like, here it is:

Heat the oil over medium heat in a high walled sauce pan or small pot. Add in the onions and cook until they are slightly opaque.

Next, add the rest of your veggies (reserving the tomato seeds for a bit).

Now, add your spices.

Let that cook down a bit. Meanwhile, mash up your tomato seeds.

Add the now mashed tomato seeds in small increments until you get the consistency of salsa you like. (We like ours thick). Keep in mind, it will thicken as it cooks. Drop the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Let cool and consume.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Asian Chicken Skewers

This recipe is very simple and packed full of flavor. We'd recommend for any weeknight meal, when there just aren't enough hours in the day.

Here's what you'll need:
1 lb chicken tenderlions
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
 2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger root
1 Tbsp chopped shallot
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Important note: If you're using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in water to prevent burning!

Whisk together all of your ingredients together in a bowl until the honey is dissolved. Add the chicken then toss in the fridge for a couple hours.

Fire up your grill (or heat up your grill pan) and get started on skewering your chicken tenderloins. We may have forgotten the camera inside while we were grilling... and these cook rather quickly since you're just using the tenders. Sorry. 

Remove from the skewers and eat. Told you it was simple.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Cold Asian Noodle Salad

We're back! And boy, do we have some recipes for you! We've been cooking away in our new house and should be on a regular posting schedule again. Thanks for bearing with us!

We made this Cold Asian Noodle Salad the other night and it was ridiculously tasty. We through this together from ingredients that we had on hand from other Asian cooking experiments. If you want to add some veggies, peas, carrot sticks, or julienned red pepper would make a great addition to this salad.

Here's what you'll need:

Seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp Soy sauce
3 drops Sriracha (Zack calls this red death sauce for a reason)
2 Tbsp lime juice
About 1/2 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp Vegetable oil
3/4 Tbsp peanut butter
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
8-10 oz. of your favorite noodle (we used whole grain spaghetti)

Here's what to do:
Start off by toasting your sesame seeds over medium-low heat. Your nose will know when it's done, but it only takes a couple minutes.

Next combine the vinegar, soy sauce, siracha, lime juice, black pepper and sesame seeds in a bowl. Whisk together to combine, while streaming in the vegetable oil.

At this point, we thought that the dressing needed a little something, so we decided to use about 3/4 tablespoon of peanut butter. Here's what the finished product looked like:

By now, your water should be boiling for your pasta, so add some salt to the water, and throw in the pasta.
Let the pasta cook all the way instead of pulling it at al dente. Keep an eye on it though - you don't want mushy pasta! Strain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and cool your noodles down.
Next, lay your noodles out on a kitchen towel and pat dry. We rolled them up to be thorough.

Finally, toss the noodles around in the dressing and pop in the fridge for a while to cool it down some more.

Keep an eye out for our Asian Chicken Skewers. They make a great pairing with this noodle salad!