With BBQ season upon us, I decided to ring in spring with one of my favourite BBQ add-ons (and the one I tend to bring to potlucks most often), my macaroni salad. Now throughout this post, let’s pretend the words macaroni and potato are entirely interchangable. I make the same recipe, both with macaroni or potatoes. However, this time, due to what I had around the house, I went with macaroni.
This recipe is amazing for anyone, because it’s entirely modifiable to whatever you prefer. Don’t like red peppers? No prob, use green peppers. Maybe you hate all peppers in general, well then, leave them out. Have carrots instead of celery, that’s fine too. No fresh parsley, use dried or none at all. I can go on, but I’m sure you get the picture. You can use whatever you have in the fridge, it doesn’t matter.
This also applies to the dressing. Don’t like hot sauce, don’t use it. Hate mustard, leave that out too. Change up the herbs and spices to ones you really like and omit the ones you don’t. The only thing you pretty much need for the dressing is mayonnaise, but if you don’t like mayo, why not do an oil and vinegar dressing? It all comes back to use whatever you want.
You’ll notice there are no amounts in this recipe… I just throw stuff in, for both the salad and the dressing. I suppose I could tell you what’s in this batch, but the salads and dressings I make are never the same. I reiterate once again, it does not matter what you use. Use your judgement, obviously you won’t add 8 cups of mayo to 1 cup of macaroni… At least I hope you won’t. Taste as you go and adjust seasonings as necessary. Go with your gut, it’s where the macaroni salad is heading anyways. 😉
Mandy’s Macaroni Salad Ingredients:
Macaroni, cooked in salted water and cooled (or potatoes, cooked, cooled and diced)
Red Onion, small dice
Celery, small dice
Red Pepper, small dice
Hard-boiled eggs, chopped
Dill Pickles, small dice
Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
Herbes de Provence
Salt & Pepper
1 – Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. (My ratio of macaroni to other stuff is about 50/50, but this is how I like it.) Set aside.
2 – Combine all dressing ingredients in a smaller bowl. I use the pickle/olive juice to thin out the mayo. (Adding a tart flavour as well as saving me on added calories.) If you wanted to make your salad way more colourful, substitute the pickle and olive juices for pickled beet liquid for a bright pink dressing.
3 – Whisk this ingredients until smooth and adjust seasonings. I used a different dill pickle brand this time, which was far more vinegary than my usual one, so I added about a tablespoon of white sugar to balance the flavours. Too watery? Add more mayo. Not spicy enough? Add more Frank’s. I like mine to be a salad dressing consistency, tangy and sweet, with a tiny bit of heat on the finish.
4 – Combine the dressing with the salad and mix until thoroughly coated. Taste to ensure the seasoning are right and enjoy!
*The salad can also be refrigerated for a later date, which I tend to do. This allows the flavours to meld together much better, but you’ll notice the macaroni soaks up a lot of the dressing. You can either throw together another small batch of dressing or just use some mayo or a bit of pickle juice to moisten the salad.
Mandy De Geit
“If food was meditation, we’d chant Om-Nom-Nom.”
I’m a fan of one pot meals, from stews to soups to chilli, I’ve made them all. I tend to overdo them at times, size wise anyways. I always set out to make a normal sized chilli, but then I end up with enough to feed an army. While this isn’t always (if ever) a bad thing, as long as you have room in your fridge or friends to feed it. The nice thing about chilli is that they are pretty much fool proof. You can add or remove whatever you want.
Here’s the recipe for the most recent chilli I made. This recipe will turn out a vat of it, so if you’re looking for not-so-much chilli, definitely cut down the recipe.
Mandy’s Three Meat Chilli
3 hot Italian sausages (casings removed)
1 lb of ground pork
1 kg of cubed beef
2 yellow onions diced
5 celery stalks
2 green peppers
1 light green Hungarian pepper
4 jalapenos (Seeds removed but reserved in a small bowl)
12 large mushrooms
4 cans of tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste
2 cans of kidney beans (or the same amount in dried beans that have been soaked and cooked)
1½ tbsp ground coriander
1½ tbsp cumin + 1 tsp
1 tbsp dried cilantro flakes
2 tbsp oregano + 1 tsp
2 tsp pure chipotle powder
4 tbsp brown sugar
½ tbsp. salt + 1 tsp
1 tbsp chili powder
3 tbsp cocoa + 1 tbsp
1 – Start by browning the meat, I used three different pans and did them in small batches to make sure get some nice searing on the meats. (I broke the sausage meat into “balls” so you could differentiate between the meats. I wasn’t sure if it would hold up during the simmering, but it did quite well.)
2 – While the meat is browning, dice all the vegetables into smallish pieces. (I sauteed the mushrooms, but I assume you don’t have to do this.)
3 – Seed and mince the jalapenos. I use gloves for this, to prevent burning. Reserve the seeds in a small bowl.
4 – Sautee the vegetables in the bottom of your chilli pot in a few tablespoons of olive oil and cook until the vegetables are soft.
5 – Add the first round of seasonings and cook for a few minutes. (You’ll notice the ingredient list for the seasoning is split into two for a few of the ingredients, I like to add more seasoning after the chilli has been on for awhile. The “+ whatever measurement” is what I added after the chilli had been on for a few hours.)
6 – Add the meat to the mixture.
6 – Add all other ingredients except for extra spices (kidney beans, tomatoes and paste) and allow to simmer uncovered for a few hours. Stir frequently.
7 – Add the second round of seasonings, including some of the reserved jalapeno seeds. (I figure I used about a half teaspoon of them.)
8 – Simmer for another hour or so, until desired consistency is reached.
9 – Spoon into bowl and top with some cheese of some sort and enjoy.
This chilli turned out excellent, the beef cubes were fall apart tender, resulting in mostly just shredded beef floating amongst the myriad of other ingredients. Between the cocoa and the chipotle powder, there was an amazing depth of flavour. I did add a little heat to it, by adding some of the reserved seeds to the mix, but I think it turned out just right. This chilli froze extremely well and tasted just as good, if not better, reheated.
I’ll definitely be making this recipe (or some variation of it) again.
Chef-In-Training Mandy 😀
Ah chicken, the ultimate food. It goes with almost anything, aside from dessert (there are some lines I just won’t cross), and there’s nothing I love more than roasting a whole chicken. I used to shy away, thinking it was difficult to get it right, but it really isn’t. I’ve accumulated a few tricks up my sleeve over the course of learning how to rock the roast chicken and I’d be more than happy to share a few of them with you.
But Mandy, why the hell would I not just buy chicken breasts, they come pre-skinned, pre-boned and well it’s just chicken…
FLAVOUR! You’re missing out on all the goodness that comes from the skin and bones. You also lose out on the ability to make stock, which I love doing with my leftover carcasses. (If you aren’t making stock just yet, toss all the extras in a large freezer bag and save it for when you have time.) I personally find making a roast chicken way easier than cooking chicken breasts, you prep it, toss it in the oven and walk away for an hour. Good for those days when you have things to do around the house.
Here’s what I ended up doing with the chicken.
BRINING!!! Rarely do I make poultry without letting it soak in a bath of spices, salt and sugar. This process makes the meat unbelievably moist and tender. I normally let my chickens soak in a water bath overnight in the fridge… I’ve also parked the chicken in brine from frozen, which serves dual purposes. *(We’ve also had great luck brining turkeys…)
STUFFING!!! Not with carb filled stuffing, but with flavour. I usually fill the cavities of the poultry with citrus, onion and herbs. This time was lemon and basil. Also, taking the time to jam whatever you’re using under the skin, leaves for a beautifully finished product.
ROASTING!!! One pot wonders are always a good thing. The veg on the bottom will be flavoured by the chicken drippings, and well, there’s less pots and pans to wash. The veggies also keep the chicken elevated, to allow for better air circulation.
Et voila! This is what we ended up with. Beautifully roasted chicken, ready to be consumed. 😀
Thanks to Mom and Dad, being the avid blueberry pickers they are, my freezer is filled with bags of the yummy, little, purple tastebombs. I put them on cereal, in my yogurt, have made blueberry scones and blueberry banana bread, but still the berries are taking over my freezer. Having a full freezer is a good thing at times, how else am I supposed to decide what to eat for dinner? The game I play now is whatever the freezer spits out (usually smashing onto my toes) is the winner.
Yes, I allow the freezer to decide what I eat.
Upon further inspection of the freezer, (as I was attempting to make room for the large hunk of beef the boy brought home from Costco) I also found I had a surplus of peaches. I wouldn’t mind the overages of frozen fruit and berries, if it weren’t for the fact that I only have a tiny freezer at the moment. While a new freezer is on my list of things to buy before I start school in January, I wonder how will I choose what to eat if everything has a place and nothing is being rejected by the cooling box.
I googled blueberries and peaches, which is normally the way I find new recipes to try. Just punch in the ingredients you have and go from there. While the boy and I are trying to avoid carbs, it’s not really helping that I keep baking stuff that needs to be eaten. Such as this blueberry/peach bread, which turned out really moist and tasty.
Blueberry Peach Bread
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of coconut oil
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup blueberries
1 cup peeled and diced peaches (about 3 peaches)
1/2 cup Non-fat greek yogurt
Zest of one lime
1 – Pre-heat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.
2 – In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.
3 – Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg is added.
4 – Add in the vanilla and lime zest and mix well.
5 – Add in the greek yogurt and mix until well combined.
6 – Gently fold in the blueberries and peaches.
7 – Put batter in greased bread pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the top is lightly browned or toothpick inserted comes out clean.
8 – Cool before slicing.
*I cut the peaches a little too large for this bread, so there were holes in the bottom when I flipped it out of the pan, but it still tasted wonderful. The batter is a cross between a muffin and a cake batter, dense, soft and super yum. I’m sure it’s not that great for me, specially while trying to be all low-carby, but it makes for a great dessert. I will definitely be making this bread again.
Chef-In-Training Mandy 😀
This is my second attempt at making bread, and surprisingly, they’ve both turned out quite well. Now, I have an issue with bread… I am a breadophile. If there’s bread in the house, it’s not safe from my snacking. I have found a way around this, and that’s keeping it in the freezer. Only cause then I have to think of bread in advance and it can’t be a last minute snack idea. I’m not one for buying bread from the store, but I really enjoy making it. My first attempt at bread was a simple white bread, I halved the recipe and gave one of the small-ish loaves to my best friend. *(Along with a jar of the Guinness jelly.)
I did well on the white bread, and I had a ton of extra Thai chillies and cheese, so I opted to make this recipe.
Thai Chilli and Old Cheddar Bread
- 2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- 10 minced (and seeded) thai green chilies
- 2 tbsp and 1 tbsp white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup warm water (not too hot, or you’ll kill the yeasties)
- 2 tsps yeast
- 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 – In a very large bowl, combine flour, cheese, jalapenos, 2 tbsp sugar and the salt; mix well.
2 – In a separate bowl (I used a measuring cup), combine the water, yeast and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Let sit about 10 minutes; stir until all yeast is dissolved.
3 – Add the oil to the liquid mixture, stirring . Add half of the liquid mixture to the flour mixture. Mix with hands to moisten flour as much as possible. Add remaining liquid mixture to dough and mix until flour is thoroughly incorporated. (I had to add more water to bring it all together, but it didn’t affect the bread at all.)
4 – Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand until smooth and elastic to the touch, about 15 minutes, gradually adding only enough additional flour to keep dough from sticking.
5 – Place in a large greased bowl and invert dough so top is greased; cover with a dry towel.
6 – Let stand in a warm place (90 – 100F) until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch down dough. (I gave it a few more kneads here.)
7 – Form dough into a ball, then stretch out dough with both hands and tuck edges under to form a smooth surface. Pop any large air bubbles by pinching them. Form into a loaf. Place in a greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. Cover with towel again and allow to rise until almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. (I waited 45 minutes)
8 – I sliced the top of the bread (not sure if it’s needed or not) and I added an egg wash (1 egg beat with a little water) to the top of the bread and sprinkled more grated cheese on top. (The egg wash isn’t in the photo, I decided to add it afterwards. I brushed off all the cheese, egg washed it and reapplied the cheese.)
9 – Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) until dark brown and done, about 1 hour, rotating the pans after 25 minutes for more even browning. Remove from pan as soon as bread will easily lift out, after about 5 to 10 minutes.
10 – Let cool about 1 hour before slicing.
It turned out pretty good. It’s a tolerable heat, so if you’re looking for a severe burn or something of the sort, I’d up the chillies considerably. I’d also consider adding more cheese to the dough itself, as most of the cheddar seemed to disappear with the kneading. I will definitely be making this bread again. 😀
I stumbled across the recipe for Guinness jelly while I was flitting around on the internet. For the past week, I’ve called it Guinness Jelly, Guinness Jam, Guinness Bread Stuff but all in all, it should just be called Awesomeness on bread. To shed a little light on what this substance might be classified as, I’ve taken the liberty to search out the definitions of certain bread spreads.
Jam: A sweet spread or preserve made from fruit and sugar boiled to a thick consistency
Jelly: A sweet, clear, semisolid, somewhat elastic spread or preserve made from fruit juice and sugar boiled to a thick consistency.
Preserves: Food made with fruit preserved in sugar, such as jam or marmalade.
Compotes: Fruit preserved or cooked in syrup or a dish consisting of fruit salad or stewed fruit.
(I figure it didn’t really fall into any of those, so then I googled “gel” and “gelée”.)
Gelée: Any gelled suspension made for culinary purposes.
TA-DA!!! It’s a Guinness Gelée.
(Gelée is also the french word for Jelly, so there you have it, after all those definitions, we’re back to Guinness Jelly.) 😉
I wasn’t sure how it would taste, so I waited until I had the chance to try it before posting the recipe. Last night, the boy and I tried it out with the homemade white bread I baked during the day and some Philadelphia cream cheese. Holy crap, it’s amazing. The tang of the cream cheese coupled with the sweet, maltiness of the Guinness Jam was an awesome taste experience.
It’s actually really easy to make, since there’s only three ingredients and using the agar agar as the gelling agent also makes it a very forgiving jam. The first time I made it, it hadn’t set the next morning, so I dumped it all back into the pot, added more agar agar and boiled it out again. I did lose most of the “head” but at least I didn’t have to use another beer. *(Score one for me!)
Agar agar is a seaweed and comes in different forms, flakes, powder and strands. I used the powder form for this recipe. I found it at an Asian grocery store, and paid $1 for the package.
Here’s the recipe…
Guinness Gelée aka Guinness Jelly
1 can of Guinness (440ml)
1 cup of White Sugar
1/2 tsp of Agar Agar powder
1 – Add the beer and sugar to a saucepan. (Make sure it’s a larger saucepan, as the carbonation will cause the liquid to expand when it boils.) Turn on med-high heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Once sugar is dissolved, turn off the heat.
2 – Sprinkle the agar agar on to the liquid and let it absorb into the hot liquid. Give it 5 minutes or so.
3 – Turn on med-high heat and bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, this will activate the agar agar.
4 – Pour Guinness Jelly into jars and let cool, then place in fridge until set. (I let mine sit overnight.)
5 – Put it on bread and eat it. 😀
*As mentioned above, it goes awesome with cream cheese. I can also see it pairing very well with cheeses, such as Brie or Cheddar. I will be using it in place of a compote for the next cheese plate I set out.
My best friend Natasha dropped off the weekly assortment of vegetables. I had asked her for more tomatoes, knowing I’d be making salsa and spaghetti sauce soon, and she included a ton of extras. She also mentioned added something to the box for my “mystery challenges”… I was intrigued and asked her what it was. She said she’d included tomatillos. They are the ones on the right, still in their husks.
The tomatoes were easy, I ended up making a boatload of spaghetti sauce and a red tomato salsa, but I had no idea what to make with the tomatillos.
Enter my friend, Google.
One of the first ones I found included green olives, which was another staple that I seem to have an abundance of… Rather than searching through a ton of recipes, I went with the first one. After a few Mandy modifications, here’s what I ended up with.
The first time I saw the menu for Front & Central, the boy and I were walking around downtown Wolfville, Nova Scotia. The menu was posted on the outside of a cute little blue house. As we scoured the menu, the boy and I picked out numerous dishes we wanted to try, so we made a mental note to definitely make reservations on our next trip to the maritimes.
The month after, we were back in Wolfville and I wanted to make lunch reservations, as they had a 2/$20 deal on plates. *(The restaurant does small plates rather than full sized entrees.) Unfortunately they were no longer serving lunches, only dinner. I assume the lunch menu is a seasonal offering for tourists, since we called to book when school had started again. I was more than happy to do dinner instead of lunch and made reservations for that evening at 5pm.
When we showed up, we were the only people in the restaurant aside from another couple off in the opposite corner. Our waiter (I don’t remember his name) was quick to bring us some water and menus. The boy looked over the wine menu and I checked out the food options. (He always takes care of the wine for us, he’s just better at it than I am.)
He picked a white wine, again I don’t remember what kind it was, but I think it had Acadie in the name. It was good, like all his wine choices are, and it went well with the dishes we ordered.
We decided on four dishes, which we shared. I like restaurants that do the small plates cause it gives you the chance to try a bunch of things, rather than just ordering one meal.
As a starter, instead of the usual bread, the waiter brought us some truffle popcorn, pickled vegetables and deep fried chickpeas. The truffle popcorn and chickpeas were awesome and it was a nice surprise over the usual bread and butter that is normally offered in restaurants.
The first dishes the waiter brought out was the Mushroom and Barley Risotto – with mushroom ragout, brown butter cream sauce, parmesan and truffle oil.
As well as the Buttermilk Marinated Calamari – with truffle and roasted garlic aoili, arugula and lemon.
Once we were done with those, it was time for the Pan Seared Halibut – with a ragout of summer vegetable, lobster bouillabaisse broth, micro basil and olive oil.
And a serving of the Scallops – served with a pea puree, chanterelle mushroom, pickled pearl onions, chamomile, nasturtium and crispy prosciutto.
We debated on doing another plate or two, but instead we opted to try one of the desserts, and I’m so glad we did. The Sour Cream Ice Cream – with Meyer lemon infused extra virgin olive oil, raspberry balsamic vinegar and Malden salt – was reason enough to go to Front & Central. It was the BEST ice cream I’ve ever tried. Sweet and salty, it was definitely an amazing finish to a spectacular dinner.
While I didn’t go into detail about all the dishes, they were all amazing. I really enjoyed Front & Central and will be going again as soon as possible. I do believe the menu changes every so often, which makes me happy, cause I can see this becoming a usual go-to for the boy and I.
I don’t think I’m going to rate restaurants, as menus normally do change, but if I were to rate them, Front & Central would score very high. If you’re ever in the small town of Wolfville, NS, I highly recommend checking out this restaurant.
Whew that’s a mouthful, but a good mouthful. 😀 This welcome back to Canada dinner I cooked for my best friend Dickie was pretty awesome. After having cooked chicken the last two nights, I wanted something totally different. I decided on roast beef with a herb rub. I picked up some Juniper berries on my last trip to the Bulk Bin. (I’m pretty sure I’m calling it the wrong thing, but it’s what I call it. I think it’s the Bulk Barn… Whatever, things are in bins, so I call it the Bulk Bin.) I knew that they were a pretty potent spice and needed to be paired with a hearty meat, so I figured a roast was my best option.
I went through a few recipes, but ended up doing what I always do and that’s run with my own idea (or what I have ingredient-wise). I do use some parts of the recipes, but I always end up with a mish mash of recipes, with a twist of my own ideas.
Here’s the spice rub recipe.
Herb & Garlic Roast Beef Rub #1 (It needs a better name… but this will do for now.)
1/2 tbsp Yellow Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Celery Seeds
2 tsp Juniper Berries
1/2 tbsp Peppercorns
1 tsp Dried Rosemary
2 tsp Paprika
1 tbsp Dried Oregano
3 tbsp Minced Garlic (fresh)
1 – Mix everything except the garlic in a mortar and pestle and break down to a powder.
*(Pretty easy, plus you get a work out with all the smashing. So once this was done I set it aside until it was time to cook the roast.)
2 – When ready to cook, mix spice rub powder with garlic and spread over roast.
I suppose you can rub this on the night before to allow for flavour penetration, but the roast was taking a marinade bath in the fridge in a mixture of soy sauce, lemon juice, red wine, garlic, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. And yes, I can write that word without needing spell check. 😉
So I pack everything up to head to Dickie’s and make my way to the car. NOTE TO EVERYONE: Never travel on foot with a bottle of wine upright in a box no higher than a quarter of the bottle’s overall height. Point being, SMASHO!!! No more wine. There’s nothing worse than watching it fall and you know there’s nothing you can do about it. Through the miracle of cellphones however, I managed to organize another bottle to meet me at the house for dinner. (I texted the boy and said I smashed the wine…) 😀
So I get to Dickie’s and start cooking. After I covered the roast in the garlic & herb mixture, I set it on the rack of the roasting pan over some beef stock.
I decided to pair the roast beef with Yorkshire puddings (my first attempt), a cauliflower puree (also my first attempt), and some steamed broccoli with a spicy cheddar cheese sauce. Now this is a lot to take care of, but what made all this worse, is that everything had to be done at the SAME time. Pretty much the same time. As soon as the roast came out, the oven was cranked and the muffin tins went in to heat up the fat. The pudding batter had been sitting for a half hour, coming to room temp and was ready to be poured. The roast pan took over the right-hand side of the stove for the gravy. On the left-hand side, I was making the cheese sauce and getting the cauliflower soft for the puree. I only burned myself once, which isn’t too bad, based on the mess I was rocking. Once the puddings were in the oven, I struggled seeing where they were at because the oven glass was a shite design. (I could only go based on the timer, not colour, so I may have had more success at my house with my oven.)
All in all, aside from the over-cooked puddings, everything else was fantastic.
Tonight’s dinner is going to be easy. Poached eggs on spinach and toast.
(Except for the fact I’ve never poached an egg in water… UNTIL TONIGHT!!!) 😉
I’ll let you all know how that goes. 😀
I’m not sure why I decided to make butter chicken, but one day it popped into my head and I was set on the idea. Butter chicken is pretty much one of the only Indian foods I’ve tried, mostly because back in the day I wasn’t really into spice. I’m getting better at trying spicier things nowadays and I do like that my taste for hot foods seems to be evolving. One of my big issues with butter chicken was the fat content. While I loved the flavour of the thick orange sauce, I hated trying to avoid the little oil slicks of butter that floated on top.
With the following recipe, I’ve pieced together a few recipes and have come up with one I really enjoyed.
The boy (Dan), after finishing his second helping, told me that while he doesn’t really like butter chicken, this one was awesome. I asked him why he wouldn’t have mentioned not liking it, as I planned an entire day around making this and had been talking about making butter chicken for the last four days.
His response was “I don’t like the greasiness of butter chicken, but this one was so good.”
Excellent, I feel the same. My work here is done.
Now, here’s the recipe.
Low Fat Butter Chicken and Saffron Rice
- 8 skinless and boneless chicken thighs cut into 3-4″ pieces
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 2″ fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped (or grated)
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/3 cup greek yogurt (fat free)
- 1/2 tsp tandoori masala
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 1 tsp ground cumin
1 – Place the chicken in a bowl with the garlic, ginger, salt, chilli powder and lemon juice. Mix, cover with cling film and chill for 30 mins.
2 – While the chicken sits for 30 minutes, mix together the yogurt, tandoori masala, turmeric and cumin and then add to the chicken, making sure that each piece is well coated with the mixture. Cover again and chill for 3-4 hours.
3 – Preheat the oven to 350F. Put the marinated chicken pieces on a grill rack and bake for 10 mins. Turn them over and for another 10-12 mins until just cooked through. Set aside.
- 1 1/2 pinches of saffron
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 small onion minced
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 3/4 cup of chicken stock
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 1/4 tsp salt
1 – Grind half saffron in a spice mortar, add the remaining threads of saffron, do not grind these.
2 – Add 1/4 cup of boiling water to the mortar and let threads steep for five minutes. (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can simply steep the saffron threads in boiling water, but I’d let it sit for a little longer, maybe 15-20 minutes.)
3 – In a heavy saucepan, heat oil over a medium heat and add onions. Sauté for about ten minutes or until onions begin to caramelize.
4 – Add the rice to the pot and cook for a minute longer, mixing the rice with the onions.
5 – Pour the yellow saffron liquid evenly across the top of the rice, making sure to scrape any saffron that sticks to the mortar into the pot.
6 – Add broth (or water and extra pinch of salt) to the pot. Bring to a boil.
7 – Cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Let the rice cook for about 20 minutes, or until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender.
8 – Fluff rice before serving.
Butter Chicken Sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 1/2 tablespoons grated ginger root
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3 green cardamom pod slightly crushed
- 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 can (28 oz/798 mL) diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup light sour cream
- 1 tablespoon dried cilantro
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
1 – In a large skillet or sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook slowly, stirring often, until onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
2 – Combine gingerroot, chili powder, turmeric, ground coriander, cinnamon and cumin. (Smash herbs with a mortar and pestle if not already ground.) Add to skillet and cook 1 more minute.
3 – Add drained tomatoes, broth, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
4 – Transfer half the sauce to a blender and purée until smooth. (Be careful not to burn yourself. I, on the other hand, did not follow that advice. I also used a stick blender, which worked just fine, except when I burned myself. 😛 ) Put puréed sauce back in pot with remaining sauce. Mix well and return to heat.
5 – Stir in sour cream, cilantro and almond butter.
6 – Add cut-up chicken and mix. Cook just until chicken is hot.
7 – Serve over saffron rice or regular rice.
While the process is a tad long and may seem a little daunting, it’s really not that bad. The chicken can be cooked ahead of time or marinated in advance and cooked the day of. I found this sauce to be deep in flavour, but lacking in the heat I was expecting. For those who prefer spicy food, I’d recommend bumping up the chili powder in the sauce or adding some fresh chilli peppers to increase the burn.
I want to rate this nine out of ten forks because of the depth of flavour and low-fat-ness, but it was lacking in the heat I expected so I’ll give it eight out of ten.