Monday, May 4, 2015

Jamaican jerk sauce

Hi everyone!

A couple of months ago, in the midst of the longest winter ever, I purchased a Jamaican cookbook to escape the cold. At least in my mind.

Virtually all the recipes in this amazing cookbook had me craving caribbean food and I decided to try my hand at jerk chicken (recipe to follow soon). But first, I needed jerk sauce, which I decided to make from scratch using bits and pieces from different recipes I found online.

Here's how I made mine.

- 4 large scallions
- 2 jalapeno peppers, or more if you prefer it hotter
Note: authentic recipes call for scotch bonnet peppers, but I cannot take that kind of heat, so I stick with one jalapeno. plenty hot for me.
- 1 inch fresh ginger
- 6-7 sprigs of thyme
- 3 chubby garlic cloves
- 1 medium onion
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 1/2 tsp ground allspice, not pictured but VERY important! :)
- 1/4 cup chili-flavored dried mango
- 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 2 tbsp orange vinegar
Note: most recipes call for molasses, freshly squeezed orange and lime juice, but since I had neither on hand, I used a mixture of dried mango, dried tomatoes and orange vinegar to mimic the sweet and tang of molasses and citrus.
- a splash of white distilled vinegar to adjust acidity, to taste
- salt, to taste

- start with rehydrating the mango and tomatoes in the boiling water and reserve the liquid

- then mix the sesame oil, orange vinegar, soy sauce and ground allspice

- chop the scallions, ginger, onion and garlic coarsely and put everything in a blender

- blitz away!

Note: You can adjust the seasoning at this stage. I had to add one more jalapeno, a splash of white distilled vinegar and a healthy pinch of salt to make it to my taste
- this sauce will keep for at least two weeks in the fridge
- enjoy!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Slow cooker olive pork stew

This is winter weekend cooking improv' at it's best. Try it and let me know what you think!

INGREDIENTS (4 people):
- 2 lbs country style pork ribs
- 3 carrots
- 2 russet potatoes
- 1 shallot
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup dried tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 thyme sprig
- 1 cup olives (I used a mixture of kalamata and green olives with lemon)
- 1/2 cup white wine (I used the rest of flat champagne I had from a dinner a couple weeks ago)
- 1 cup vegetable broth

- peel and chop the shallot, garlic, potatoes and carrots

- put everything in the slow cooker

- cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 10 hours

Note 1: if it gets a bit too dry during cooking, you can add more wine, broth or water
Note 2: you can also cook this on the stovetop over very low heat until the pork is fork tender (about 4-5 hours)
- yes, it's that easy

- enjoy!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fennel, pineapple and chia seeds smoothie

Now I don't know about you guys, but where I live the winter has been loooooong. Too long... After months of hearty, comforting stews I find myself craving something on the lighter side for a healthy lunch (or dinner, or snack even!).

Sometimes, the best recipes come from improvising with whatever is lying around in the fridge/freezer/pantry.

Here's the recipe I came up with for a refreshing smoothie, chock full of nutrients, fibers and vitamin C.

INGREDIENTS (for 2 smoothies):
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped and reserve a few leaves for decoration
- 1 cup frozen pineapple
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1/2 cup goat milk yogurt
- 1 tbsp honey, plus a drizzle for decoration

- put everything in the blender and blitz until smooth and creamy!

- drizzle some honey and decorate with fennel leaves

- enjoy!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Chicken and dumplings

Another day, another blizzard. Here's what I do when I'm stuck home on a snow day.

INGREDIENTS (4 people):
- 1 whole chicken, cut in pieces
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 3 parsnips
- 3 carrots
- 1 bunch parsley (I used celery because I had no celery at home and was not about to brave the elements for just a couple of ribs!)
- 1 medium onion
- salt, pepper
- 1/4 cup flour, to dredge the chicken pieces
- 1/2 cup light cream
- 1 tbsp apple butter (or 1 stick cinnamon and a pinch of cloves)
- 2 tbsp butter, not pictured

for the dumplings:
- 1 cup light cream
- 3/4 cups AP flour
- 1/2 cup corn meal
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt

start with the chicken stew
- season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, place in a bag with the flour and shake until completely dredged in flour and shake of the excess

- melt the butter in a dutch oven and saute the chicken pieces over medium-high heat until golden and crispy (about 2 minutes per side) and reserve on the side

Note: the chicken is still raw inside! that is normal, it will simmer for about 30 minutes later.
- dice the carrots, parsnips and onions in 1/4" cubes and saute them in the pot with the chicken drippings over medium heat until soft (abut 3-4 minutes)

- tie the parsley stems with a bit of twine (it'll be easier to remove it later) and add to the softened veggies, then add the apple butter, broth, chicken pieces, cover and simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through

- when the chicken is cooked through, remove from the pot and shred with forks

- return the shredded chicken meat to the pot, add the cream and keep warm on very low heat

Note: you do not want to bring it back to a boil or simmer once the cream is in, otherwise it will separate

prepare the dumplings
- mix the dry ingredients of the dumplings, add the cream and stir until just combined

Note: the dumpling dough will be chunky and on the dry side (you don't want it runny)
- with a couple of forks, form the dumplings and drop in the simmering stew

- cover and cook until the dumplings are fluffy and float to the surface (about 5 minutes)

- sprinkle chopped parsley leaves and serve hot
- enjoy!