Malai Prawn Curry

Malai Prawn Curry

 

rsz_malai

India was one of the most transformative experiences of my life. I remember stepping off the plane and hitting a wall of a thousand different odours and an intense damp warmth that only made them more intense. Alone and overwhelmed at 2 AM with a lost backpack and absolutely no clue what was going to happen. I called everyone that night, my best friend, my parents, anyone who could tell me I was there for a reason. The streets were full of sleeping bodies, families  lying on pavement under just a tarp. Even the highway meridians were clouded with little shelters. I could just barely hold in my tears at seeing this reality. There are no amounts of photos or news stories that can prepare a person for the harsh realities of such extreme poverty and division of wealth. At 19 I was still under the impression that it was my God given right to have everything handed to me on a silver platter. It was clear however that something within me wanted to be woken up. The mitote (haze) lifted a little each day. Every meal felt like such a blessing and I developed this incapacity to waste anything.

The best food was in Kerala in the south of India. They use so much coconut and seafood and the history is very interesting. I remember eating this curry there. The brilliant golden hue and the divine creaminess is hard to forget. It’s a simple yet decadent curry and sometimes it’s made with crab or other types of seafood. It’s the time of year where I start making lots of curries and soups to warm me up and remind me of tropical paradises. Malai Prawn Curry traditionally is a Bengali dish, but everyone has their own version. Malai means cream, but in most cases the creaminess comes from coconut and ghee. The lemongrass isn’t traditional but I thought it added a nice freshness to the dish. Enjoy with basmati rice and fresh coriander.

 

Malai Prawn Curry

 

Malai Prawn Curry

Malai Prawn Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2 green chilis + 1 red chili for extra spice (optional)
  • 2 inch piece fresh turmeric OR 1 tsp dried turmeric
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 6 fresh or dried curry leaves
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
  • 2 cans full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 20 medium sized raw prawns, peeled and deveined

Instructions

  1. Make a paste with the ginger, garlic, chilis and turmeric in a food processor or mortar and pestle.
  2. In a wok or large skillet heat up the coconut oil. Add mustard seeds and when they start to pop add the paste and the curry leaves.
  3. Add the coconut milk, sugar, lemongrass, salt, red pepper and prawns and bring to a simmer. Serve as soon as the prawns are fully cooked after about 5 minutes.
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Malai Prawn Curry

 

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Red Hot Roast Chicken + The Best Leftover Chicken Soup

Red Hot Roast Chicken + The Best Leftover Chicken Soup

Does roasting a whole chicken ever feel daunting? 

Do you worry about potentially undercooking it and having to put the whole lot back in the oven?

Or maybe overcooking it and ruining all that effort?

But a whole roast chicken is also alluring, the whole house smells intoxicating and it’s easier to find free range whole chickens for a good price.

red hot roast chicken

Around here I usually make a whole roast chicken once a week, and then boil the carcass for homemade stock to add to soups and sauces. Often I save the fat to cook with, you could also make gravy if you wanted to go all out.

Chicken fat or schmaltz is really really yummy, it makes everything you cook it in taste amazing. Especially when infused with the red hot spices the chicken was cooked in. The schmaltz from this particular recipe was bright orange from the paprika. To separate the schmaltz from the juices, pour off the liquid and allow to cool in the fridge. When cool the chicken fat will form a layer on top of the now gelatinous chicken juices and you can just scrape that off. The jelly is nutrient dense and you can make gravy with it or add it to stocks.

red hot roast chicken

Making gravy from the pan juices is really simple too and an added bonus to top your chicken with. For paleo gravy I like to thicken with tapioca starch or arrowroot flour, for the drippings from one chicken I typically mix 2 Tbs flour with 2 Tbs cold water. Simmer the chicken drippings/juices on low and stir in the flour until desired thickness is achieved.

Homemade chicken broth is super nourishing and makes everything more delicious. If I cook rice I usually do it in chicken stock and even just drinking it by itself is so satisfying. But our families favourite standby is leftover roast chicken soup, loaded with flavour, packed with veggies and a bit of satisfying rice to top it all off.

So today, in a bid to convince you to make roast chickens part of your kitchen repertoire, I’m going to share with you the recipe for this delicious chicken AND the recipe for the best ever leftover roast chicken soup.

red hot roast chicken

 

Cooking whole roast chickens doesn’t have to be scary and intimidating. It’s really simple once you have the technique down. There are a million and one variations and ways to flavour your chicken but today I wanted to share with you one of my favourites, red hot roast chicken. This fiery rendition has a bit of smoky sweet and spicy, its also a brilliant golden-red hue, which makes a roast chicken look all the more delectable.

 

Now here’s are the keys to the perfectly moist, delicious roast chicken every time…

This is the easy chefs way of cooking a whole chicken, there are further steps one could take to get to the next level like brining and trussing but for simplicities sake here’s my take.

– Let your chicken come to room temp. before popping it in the oven.

– Thoroughly dry the skin before adding seasonings, this helps the chicken to get a crispy skin.

– Lay the chicken on a bed of large chunks of sliced onion, this raises it just slightly so the air can circulate underneath and the skin doesn’t stick to the bottom.

– I find cooking the breast side down produces a more moist breast, normally the legs take longer to cook than the breasts and they end up being dry but this way they stay tender.

– Don’t be shy with the spices, we’re only able to season the exterior so make up for that by liberal amounts of good salt, pepper and whatever others herbs and spices you want to add. For a classic roast chicken, stuff the cavity with fresh thyme, a punctured lemon and plenty of garlic and onion.

-The internal temperature of a cooked chicken is 180F at the breast and 190F at the thigh. However, if you are like me and you don’t own a meat thermometer- the chicken is cooked when the juices run clear. Normally I puncture the crevasse at the thigh to check. An average roasting chicken (5-6lbs) will typically take 1 hr 2o minutes at 400F.

– Let it rest. It’s tempting to serve it up as soon as the chicken is out of the oven, but waiting allows the juices to seal and makes for more tender fall off the bone meat. Allow the chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes before digging in.

Red Hot Roast Chicken Spice Blend

1/2 Tbs sea salt

1 Tbs smoked paprika

1 tsp fresh ground pepper

1 tsp coriander seeds, ground

1 tsp cumin seeds, ground

1 tsp red chile flakes

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp ancho chile powder (or you can use regular)

 

Combine all the spices and sprinkle liberally over the whole chicken on all sides. Add fresh garlic, onion to the roasting pan and stuff a punctured lemon into the crevasse of the bird.

red hot roast chicken

And for the best leftover red hot chicken soup

The Best Leftover Chicken Soup
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs schmaltz (chicken fat)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp ancho chile powder or chipotle
  • 1 tsp chile flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • 2 large carrots, cubed
  • ¾ C white basmati rice
  • 8 C homemade chicken stock
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
  • 1 Tbs lime juice
  • 2½ C leftover roast chicken, pulled into bite size chunks
  • green onions for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat schmaltz in a large pot, add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent.
  2. Add spices, salt, sweet potato,carrots and rice, cook for about 2 minutes stirring continuously.
  3. Add chicken stock, lime leaves,lime juice and chicken and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Serve with fresh green onion and raw cheddar cheese.

 

red hot roast chicken

Clean Out the Fridge Fried Rice

Clean Out the Fridge Fried Rice

Cleaning out the fridge to make space for fresh stuff is a dreaded task in my books. I avoid it at all costs, but then again, if there’s fried rice at the end of the rainbow its not so bad.

Clean out the fridge fried rice

This post is a loose recipe as what you have in your fridge is likely different from what I have in mine.

But I wanted to outline some essential basics when it comes to making the perfect friend rice every time.

Clean out the fridge fried rice

1. Heat

The common assumption with fried rice is that you want to use really high heat. This isn’t the case. If we do this, everything turns into a sticky sad mess. Cleaning burnt rice from our pans is something to avoid at all costs. Instead, starting with a generous amount of oil or fat and going slow and steady will win the race.

2. Flavour

Rice is a sponge so we want to make sure there’s plenty of tasty yummies for it to soak up before adding it to the mix. The basic flavour base that I like to use is a hearty amount of flavourful fat, some chopped bacon and sausage or coconut oil, an onion finely chopped, 3-4 garlic cloves finely chopped, an inch piece of ginger, finely chopped,carrots,celery and some sort of hot pepper. For this version I had a chipotle, very non traditional but still utterly delicious. You could try adding other things too, green onions, cumin seeds, masala, lemongrass…To deglaze the pan I like to use rice wine vinegar, infused vinegar or tamari but water works in a pinch. Just a few Tbs and then we can add the rice.

3. Rice to Vegetable ratio

Make a big pot of jasmine rice. For the best rice, cook it in chicken or vegetable stock with plenty of sea salt, this small step makes for big flavour. The amount of rice will be at your discretion, don’t put too much or it’ll be bland. Next is the addition of leafy fast cooking vegetables like swiss chard and kale, added last minute they cook a bit but still maintain their vibrance.

4. Egg

There are two types of people- those who mix the egg into the rice and those who like a fried egg on top of their rice. I happen to be of the latter category, but J is a mixer. For mixing the egg with the rice I crack however many (usually one per person) into a bowl and whip it with a bit of oil. On medium-low heat pour the egg over the rice, tilt the pan around and cover for a few minutes. This just give the egg a chance to get nice and golden crispy on the bottom of the pan without sticking. After a few minutes, mix it all around, sometimes I like to add some raw cheddar (I know, I’m such a traditionalist) cover again and let it get even more crispy.

5. Extras 

The fun part of fried rice are the extra goodies, we love to eat it with some fermented homemade sauerkraut or kimchi. Toasting some seeds or nuts for a topping is a great textural addition. Sesame seeds, a drizzle of hoisin, sunshine sauce , miso, toasted seaweed, fresh mango…endless possibilities.

 

Clean out the fridge fried rice

There you have it, the perfect clean out the fridge fried rice, different every single time but always delicious. Take your time, I know it’s supposed to be a fast meal but slowing down just a bit makes it extra good and filled with crispy crackly bits of egg, rice, flavour and good  veggies!

 

Clean out the fridge fried rice

Masala Daal

Masala Daal

masala daal

Daaaaaaaaaaal. Flashes of India flood my brain, I miss that place. It was so easy to just roam the streets in wonder, soaking up culinary delights around every corner. Daal is a staple, with a million variations, and of course I have my own, it’s a simple rendition that takes little time, great for a meal in a pinch.

Honestly, this months been really tight and our budget is stretched to say the least. As nice as it is to eat paleo and have bacon and free range beef and a fridge brimming with vegetables all the time, it’s not always realistic. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think its right to sacrifice our need to feed ourselves good food. That’s why I have such a hard time buying commercially raised meats, once you witness just how unethically these animals are treated its hard to turn back. Ignorance is bliss, and my bliss is running out. Once in awhile compromises have to be made, and lentils are one thing that I always keep on hand for rainy days.

Other cheap eats that still nourish and sustain are free-range eggs, which really offer a lot for the price. Kale is another nutrient dense veg that doesn’t hurt the wallet. And of course having plenty of spices always makes life more exciting. Sometimes I surprise myself by what I can create from what seems like sparsity. Often some genius creations come out of being strapped for cash.

masala daal

As far as legumes go, lentils are pretty easy to digest and if you soak them first it greatly increases the bioavailability of their nutrients. Lentils are actually quite high in a lot of minerals, and they have a surprising amount of iron, 1 cup is 40% of the RDI.

But enough of that nerd speak. They’re delicious, cheap, and you can store them for a long time. This masala daal warms my heart every time I eat it and should be enjoyed with a nice dollop of plain yogurt, India style.

Masala Daal
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 C red lentils
  • 1 tsp coconut oil or ghee
  • 6 C chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeño or other hot chile, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ C plain yogurt for serving
  • cilantro and green onion, chopped for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a sauce pan or pot add lentils and chicken stock. Cook lentils until soft, about 15 minutes.
  2. In a large skillet add oil until melted, add cumin seeds and mustard seeds and cook until the start to literally pop.
  3. Add onion, garlic and ginger and cook until aromatic and slightly browned.
  4. Add garam masala, tomato paste and a bit of stock from the lentils just to get everything moving. Cook for a few minutes and add lentils and the rest of the chicken stock, let this simmer for another 10 minutes, add salt to taste and serve with a dollop of plain yogurt and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and green onions

masala daal

Paleo Salmon and Scallop Chowder

Paleo Salmon and Scallop Chowder

Paleo Salmon and Scallop Chowder

 

 

Ahoy there mates!

I live in a place that resembles a town by the sea, the vastness of Kootenay lake allows the imagination to easily play pretend. Walking along the shore line there’s even a faint fishy smell and the rocks could easily be shells. The fish aren’t as abundant as they were once upon a time, but alas, things change.

I keep a little stockpile of wild sockeye salmon for days where the extra omega-3’s are a Godsend. Have I mentioned how important omega-3 fatty acids really are, seriously when I am lacking in these healthy fats my whole demeanour changes and my skin gets all mangled. So having steadfast super yummy and omega-3 rich recipe like this bomb dot com chowdah is essential!

Paleo Salmon and Scallop Chowder

I implore you to try it out even if your a chowder skeptic like J, this chowder passes the test. Brimming with nourishing creamy broth, tender scallops and nutrient dense wild salmon. I like to keep the spices minimal, a bit of fresh dill and green onion is all that’s needed and this dish comes together in a pinch. Searing the scallops before adding them to the soup gives a really nice texture but its totally optional, check out my post on how to perfectly sear scallops.

 

 

Paleo Salmon and Scallop Chowder

 

Paleo Salmon and Scallop Chowder
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb sockeye salmon, bones and skin removed
  • ½ lb fresh scallops, seared (optional)
  • 1 Tbs ghee
  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 large white or yellow potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbs fresh dill, chopped
  • 6 C chicken stock
  • 4 Tbs coconut cream
  • 1 Tbs tapioca flour+1 Tbs cold water (optional thickener)
  • 2 green onion, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. In a large pot add ghee, onion and garlic, fry until translucent.
  2. Add fennel, fish sauce, potatoes and salt and stir well.
  3. Cut salmon into chunks and add with fresh dill and chicken stock.
  4. Cover and let this simmer for about 15 minutes.
  5. Add scallops and cook for another 5 minutes.
  6. Add the coconut cream, tapioca and water and mix well until nice and thick.
  7. Serve with fresh green onion and fennel fronds.

 

Paleo Salmon and Scallop Chowder

 

Creamy Kale and Chicken Curry

Creamy Kale and Chicken Curry

Creamy Kale and Chicken Curry

Reinventing the wheel is fun, I really enjoy creating new versions of an old classic in my kitchen laboratory. Has it been done before? Maybe. But for me, it’s new, it came out of my imagination and this is how all great things were born!

Oh my, I’m getting a little carried away. Most new creations occur for me because of this- I hate when food goes to waste, it gets under my skin and I feel horribly guilty and terrible every single time I have to throw food in the compost (hey, at least its going back to the earth). This repugnance to wastefulness all started when I travelled to India and saw just how little people live off, and oh how those living in poverty cherish even the smallest morsel. Arriving back to Canada, broke ass and needing a job asap I worked in a high end restaurant as a server (though my heart is in the kitchen). The amount of food left on plates destined for a fate in the trash can (of course, no compost) it was really gut wrenching. Though probably illegal, I would have my own little doggy back which I would take home,ahem, for my dog. I didn’t last very long and after this embraced cooking over serving, with my trusty compost bucket always at my side.

Creamy Kale and Chicken Curry

The moral of the story.

The kale in the fridge was getting past its prime and my brain wanted to make curry for dinner. Don’t get me wrong I love kale…sometimes…but I didn’t want any leafyness in the curry, I wanted smooth and creamy luxuriousness sans leaf. Palak Paneer is one of my favourite indian dishes, if you aren’t familiar, paneer is a type of indian cottage cheese and its cooked with curried creamed spinach, the texture and satisfaction this dish brings makes it a beloved classic. This creamy kale and chicken curry basically emulates the texture of palak paneer but instead of paneer chunks I’ve used chicken. If you’re fully paleo you can omit the heavy cream and cream cheese and opt for coconut cream, the result isn’t quite as rich but deliciousness nonetheless.

Creamy Kale and Chicken Curry

 

Creamy Kale and Chicken Curry
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 Tbs bacon fat or coconut oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbs garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 bunch of kale, roughly chopped (remove the stems for a smoother sauce)
  • ¼ C cream cheese
  • ¼ C heavy cream OR omit dairy for ½ C coconut cream
  • ½ tsp sea salt
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet melt fat and add onion, ginger and garlic to simmer, when onions are translucent add cumin seeds and garam masala, let this cook together for a few minutes on med.
  2. Add the chicken to the skillet and cover for a few minutes.
  3. Put a pot of water on with a steamer preferably for the kale. Steam until just tender but still bright green, about 3 minutes.
  4. Puree the steamed kale in a blender or food processor with the cream or coconut cream.
  5. Add to the skillet and stir in cream cheese until melted if your using it.
  6. Salt and enjoy alone or with basmati rice, coriander and plain yogurt.

 

Creamy Kale and Chicken Curry

And remember kids, don’t let your eyes be bigger than your belly, tee hee.

I don’t know, am I alone in this? Does wasting food grate your nerves like it does mine? I know those of us with kiddos are probably frustrated about this. What do yo think?