Friday, January 15, 2016

Coriander, Ginger, and Chile Butter Chicken

I followed the recipe almost entirely to point. I try to do that the first time I make any dish. However, when it was getting time to make the sauce part for the chicken I was finding that it wasn't going to have enough sauce (always very important in our home). So I upped the amount of butter and eventually added about 1 cup of water and then some heavy cream to smooth out the sauce and make it just a little richer.  Because my husband LOVES heat and I am a complete wimp I switched plain yogurt for Honey Greek yogurt to try and tame some of the anticipate heat. It was fantastic!

I served with Basmati Rice, Naan and then Chana Masala.
Coriander, Ginger, and Chile Butter Chicken
(Serves 4)
For the Marinade
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chili, seeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1/4 lemon
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt (I used honey greek yogurt in anticipation of some heat) 
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground black pepper
1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
Olive oil or ghee
1 small onion, peeled and finely diced
Sea salt
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
Pinch of chili powder, or to taste (optional)
2 tbsp tomato puree (note I used a small can of tomato paste which is more than the 2 tbsp but I found that the 2 tbsp wasn't enough) 2 tbsp butter (I used 4 tbsp of butter for a richer sauce) 
1/4 cup heavy cream (I added for a creamier sauce)
Small bunch of fresh cilantro, leaves roughly chopped, to garnish

  1. Put the garlic, ginger, while, and lemon juice from the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Toss the chicken in the mixture, then cover and set aside.
  2. Continue preparing the marinade. Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan for about 1 minute until aromatic and the coriander seeds are popping. Grind to a powder, then mix with the turmeric, yogurt, and a good pinch of salt and pepper.  (Note: instead of mixing the spices into the yogurt then adding to the chicken - I poured the spices over the chicken and rubbed it down well first, then put the yogurt on - I did this primarily because I knew I wasn't going to have lots of time to marinate the chicken.)
  3. Pour the yogurt mixture over the chicken. Mix well, cover, and leave to marinade for at least 2 hours (or, ideally, overnight if there is time. 
  4. When ready to cook the chicken, heat a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat and add a little olive oil or ghee. When the pan is hot, sauce the onion with a pinch of salt for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until lightly golden before adding the ginger and cooking for an additional minute. 
  5. Add he ground coriander, garam masala, turmeric, and chill powder, and stir into the onions over medium heat until aromatic. Add the tomato puree and stir for 30 seconds. Add the butter and allow to melt before storing it through. 
  6. Remove the chicken from the marinade and while off any excess. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and cook for 10 minutes, turning now and again, until cooked through. Lower the heat, add the remaining marinade to the pan and cook gently for 5 minutes until piping hot (be careful not to let the sauce boil as this will cause it to split). Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Gum Paste and Fondant

My first gum paste flower
For a very long time I have watched people decorate these amazing cakes at home and frankly I have been very very jealous of their abilities. I don't find myself overly artsy  - frankly speaking my mom even once said that I'm not a crafty person. While I completely disagree with her view on that in life - I will agree that I am not good and what I would call "traditional"art, specifically painting and/or drawing.

My stick figures suck - just trust me on this - they really suck.  But I have a love of baking and photography. So this has lead again to a lot of jealousy over people being able to do these things.

Well last December (no - not the one that just past but the one before that - 2014) I was in Micheals and I saw the signs for the Wilton Cake decorating classes - this is something I always wanted to do but a certain stick in the mud really didn't support it. The classes were $10 each and the course kits were also on sale for something stupid like $10 each, which is frankly a bargain when you consider the items in the kit. So I figured what the heck - I will sign up for the first three courses, get the course kits and see how it goes - worst comes to worst I spend $60 and fail miserably (Yes - a lot of my thinking is along the lines of what's the worst that can happen - oh right failing miserably and looking stupid...)

(Note: The next time they came on sale for $10/kit I actually stocked up and got two or maybe three sets of the course kits - I highly recommend this).

Bits and pieces of flowers and bow
I took the first course in February and LOVED it - it also made me miss a full size, proper non-apartment kitchen (more on that story later).  I took the first course again in September and then finally took the second course in November (I have to finish the course still I missed the last class).

This month I will complete Course 3 - Gum Paste and Fondant. I have always heard just how hard Fondant is to work with and from seeing some cake decorating shows on TV I was very very apprehensive about the course (not to mention I've never really liked the taste of Fondant). I must say the first class went really really well and using fondant and gum paste is almost like playing with play dough as a kid.  The pieces in the picture to the right are pieces that I completed in class and now I have a ton of homework to finish before the next class. Am I the only person that gets terribly excited about the idea of homework? Does that make me a nerd? If it does I'm ok with it!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Gordon Ramsay's Home Cooking - Review

So - as you may have gathered by now I ordered just a few cook books during the boxing week sale from Indigo/Chapters (I have a small bookshelf of cooks books already but I couldn't resist).

This cookbook by Gordon Ramsay I found by searching the deals on the Indigo website. As soon as I saw the title and read a little bit about the book I knew that I really wanted the book.

I have always admired Gordon Ramsay as a chef - not because of his TV personality for yelling at people but for what I see as his desire to inspire, teach and help people cooking. If you have only seen Hells Kitchen I can imagine what you think of that statement; however, his appearances on MasterChef and the F-word show a different side to him - strict and stern for sure but also full of encouragement.

This cookbook is based on his TV show "Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Home Cooking" which I was only able to see one or two episodes of but it was enough to inspire me right away to try I think four different things that I saw in one show. I'll be reviewing a few more of the cook books that I have had hanging around in my house - and that I just got over the next year but I really felt the need to start with this book. (Note: I think you can watch the show online through Food Network Here).

I will start by saying this - I am a home cook who still has a LOT to learn but I am also very talented and skilled at cooking (I don't do well with being positive about myself). The book is a very nice mix between instructions and recipes. The funny thing is I can hear Ramsay's voice in my head when I am reading portions of the cook book. The book is divided into sections not based on courses but more thoughts or techniques or goals - such as preparing a head, quick meals etc. Between each section there is a ton of information - like how to de-bone a chicken, the different types of fish, how to break down a fish, different cuts and types of meat - like I said a lot of information in a very practical and useful form that is not specifically tied to a recipe but is used in following recipes. The information would be very useful to those just starting out in the kitchen and definitely still very useful for those that have more experience in the kitchen and want to learn more.
All the things to try!

So on the useful information - not just a cookbook - I cannot rave enough about the book. But then we come down to recipes. Given the challenge (and even my love for cooking) when I get a cookbook I tend to sit down and read through it checking out what inspires me or what I might like to try. The problem I have found is then being able to remember what's in each book that I want to try and then forgetting about potentially really good ideas or recipes. I found a simple and novel salutation to this problem! I have taken to flagging recipes with post it notes along the top of the book.  I also would like to point out that I am not scared of writing in my cookbook - go ahead give it a try I highly encourage it - write your thoughts, modifications or ideas for next time treat your cookbook like a note book not something to be preserved (protected from food definitely but not preserved).

I think my copy of this cookbook is now more post-it than books I have so much love for it. I made a plan for this week of the things I wanted to try and I can say that almost ALL of the recipes came from this book.

So with that being said I give the cookbook 5 out of 5 stars!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Coriander, ginger and Chile butter chicken and Chana Masala

Note the large bottle of wine :)

So I love Indian food as does the Husband (he tells me that he is English and apparently Indian food as we know it was created/invented in England - I have some doubts on that but I'll let him pretend for now).

We have two favourite restaurants here for Indian food - that being said I love making the food items at home I have found that most of the things that I want or will order in the restaurant I can order at home for less and sometimes as good or better than in the restaurant.  

When I took my first look through Canadian Living - The Ultimate Cook Book one of the recipes that stood out to me was Chana Masala as Justin has ordered that the last couple of times we have had Indian food. When I read through the recipe it seemed easy enough, and honestly it was kind of the spark and inspiration from this one recipe that lead me to want to do this challenge.  I would say that the recipe was rather successful (according to the husband at least ;) ). I followed this recipe exactly from the book and it worked really well and tasted amazing. 

When planning on making the Chana Masala I was concerned about how spicy it was going to be because he husband likes things fairly spicy (me - I am a huge wimp on a scale from 1-10 I usually order a 3 on the spicy scale and still find that hot). So I had planned on making butter chicken. Honestly, I have used the jars with the pre-made sauces for a long time and then recently switched over to the jars with the paste (Patak's)  but given the challenge I wanted to try it from scratch - I decided to give the Coriander, ginger and Chile butter chicken

 a try from the Gordon Ramsay Home Cooking cookbook a whirl. It was really good I did make some modifications to the recipe as I went because it didn't seem to have enough sauce and the husband and I both like a lot of sauce for the rice.   I still plan on trying the Canadian Living version of butter chicken.

I will come back and post the recipes and modifications later.

Another meal planning failure

Well despite my best intentions to make butter chicken and such on Friday evening I completely failed (well I didn't fail - I having a nap *Always look on the bright side of life*). However, this lead to the inevitable conversation with the husband of what to have for sustenance. We debated for a while but then I figured I could make something fairly easy with stuff in the kitchen.

Sure enough, we have tons of pasta and I had frozen shrimp on hand so I decided to make Spaghetti with Lemon Garlic Shrimp.  The only difference is that I didn't use spaghetti as the husband had requested that I use Rotini  -but I didn't have enough so I made some shell pasta as well.

The recipe is rather easy to make:

Spaghetti with Lemon Garlic Shrimp

  • One bag frozen shrimp (detained and peeled) typically 36-40 Shrimps
  • 1 lemon - juiced (I didn't have any fresh on hand so I used bottled lemon juice 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  •  1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup white wine (make sure you like the wine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest 
  • Pasta
Note I always start by preparing my ingredients (mincing garlic etc.) but before I make the sauce I start with cooking the pasta. Depending on how long the pasta takes to cook will affect when I start the sauce - I find the sauce/shrimp takes about 5 minutes at most and I don't like it sitting on the stove because the shrimp continues to cook. So I aim to have the pasta done about a minute or so before the sauce is finished so that I can drain the pasta and then add to the sauce right away. 
  1. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the past and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked through (see the package directions).  
  2. Melt the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the garlic and cook until softened (be careful you don't want the garlic or butter to brown because then the sauce will take on a nutty taste which isn't great with this dish). 
  3. Add the shrimp, white wine, lemon juice and red pepper flakes. Cook and stir until the shrimp is no longer translucent in the centre. Stir in the black pepper, parsley and lemon zest. Toss with the pasta. 
I tend to serve this with toasted bread or buns to soak up the sauce.  I also might tend to add more white wine then the recipe calls for - I would also note that it is extremely important to have a glass of the white wine before cooking with it to ensure that it is good :)