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.
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.