Category Archives: Main Dish

Marshallese Style Grilled Chicken and henna tattoos

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Marshallese Style Grilled Chicken and henna tattoos

We had a little party last night.  It was only about 19 people if you counted all the kids.  For our house that’s not a lot of people. We almost always have more people than we actually invited. One year for Thanksgiving I invited 15 people and 55 people showed up.  How does that happen, you wonder?  Well, people bring people.  They know they’ll be welcome at our house so they bring their friends.  The only problem it sometimes poses is that I don’t know about it in advance.  It’s hard to feed 55 when you’re cooking for 15-20.  I have learned to always make extra for those unexpected (but welcome) guests.  Now my friends from the Marshall Islands, they know how to “partay”.  They routinely have get-togethers for large crowds.  There is no such thing as a small Marshallese gathering.  They celebrate EVERYTHING.  Oh, it’s Tuesday…let’s have a party.  They never miss a chance to live in community.  I love that about them as a people group as much as I love their grilled chicken.  Of course when I asked around for a recipe nobody could really quantify anything.  So, I decided to come up with my own concoction.  You’ll be happy to know that many Marshallese have eaten my chicken and given it the “NOD” of approval!

Come on over for some good food, good times and mehndi (henna tattoos).  There’s always room for a few extra people…

Flat leafed parsley, garlic, ginger, onion and brown sugar

Add toasted sesame seeds, a dash of chilli flakes, soy sauce, honey and mix

Marinate the chicken thighs in the refrigerator overnight

Grill at a medium temperature

They are sooo good!

Mehndi is an ancient art form using crushed up leaves from the henna tree. It is non-toxic and leaves a stain behind for 2-3 weeks.

My little effort on my friend Abbie’s shoulder

I always have a hard time doing designs on myself, never turns out good

Marshallese Style Grilled Chicken

10-12 bone-in chicken thighs with the skin off and visible fat trimmed

1 1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/2 bunch flat leafed parsley, chopped

1 whole garlic

2 inch piece of fresh ginger

1 small onion

dash of chilli flakes

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Take the skin off the chicken thighs and trim all visible fat.  Wash and set aside.  Blend in a blender or processor garlic, ginger and onion  together.  In a bowl, mix together all ingredients before pouring in soy sauce, stir to incorporate well.  Pour over chicken and either place in a large ziplock bag and seal or put in an airtight container.  Marinate overnight in refrigerator.  Grill over medium heat and serve!

Gorgonzola and Camembert Stuffed Artichokes

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Gorgonzola and Camembert Stuffed Artichokes

Back in March when I started this blog, I had no idea what I was doing.  I still don’t.  But one of the fun things about blogging has been reading other blogs whether food related or not.  I’ve learned new things, added new foods to my repertoire and improved my culinary skills.  Who knew it would turn out to be so much fun?  One of the blogs I fell in love with has been Tasha’s Foodashion’s blog.   I saw  her post on artichokes and the gorgeous pictures and I was hooked.  I finally made a variation of her original recipe and I gotta tell you it was delicious.  Mine was not nearly as visually stunning as Tasha’s but we ate them up in record time!

Trim off the sharp edges with kitchen shears

Trimmed artichoke

Cook or steam them for about 25-30 minutes until tender

Take out the sharp middle leaves

Clean out the choke

Stuff liberally with filling and bake

Gorgonzola and Camembert Stuffed Artichokes

4 Fresh Artichokes

1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese

1/4 cup Camembert cheese

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup chopped flat leafed parsley

2 fresh garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 onion, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 lemon, zested and juiced

4-5 kalamata olives, finely chopped

Wash and trim the artichokes with kitchen shears.  Smash them down a little on your counter or cutting board (leafy side down) so they open up a bit like a flower and place them in a pan with water and lemon juice, (save the zest of the lemon in a separate bowl)and cook covered for about 25-30 minutes until tender.  Meanwhile assemble the stuffing.  Heat olive oil and saute the onion and the garlic together, add in kalamata olives and take off the heat.  Mix the cheeses with lemon zest, parsley and add to the onion mixture in a  small bowl.  When artichokes are cool enough to handle take out the middle part and clean out the “choke” with a spoon.  Divide the stuffing between all four artichokes making sure to stuff between leaves as well.  Bake at 425° for about 20-25 minutes. Cool slightly and dive into the gooey goodness!

Daal Makhani and exploding pressure cookers

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Daal Makhani and exploding pressure cookers

This is a hearty and creamy main dish kind of daal. Almost like a chili.   It is made with black lentils or Urad daal.  I used the split Urad daal which cooks a tad bit faster than the whole urad daal.  Most people who make this dish use a pressure cooker.  I don’t happen to own a pressure cooker because they scare me.  When I was about 12 years old we lived in Yemen.  My mom, unused to the altitude of San’aa (capital of Yemen) would  often use a pressure cooker to make most of our meals to save time. She did not understand the mechanics of the release valve and one day when the pressure cooker release valve broke, being a thrifty housewife, she decided to make a make-shift one out of flour and water paste. This created a miniature steam fueled bomb in the kitchen.  I was just coming home from school when the giant explosion sent me running into the kitchen area.  I found my mom among the carnage of raw goat meat, broken windows and dishes.   She looked at me with dazed eyes and said, “did we get bombed?”  She only suffered minor injuries but I have been scared of pressure cookers and certain types of goats ever since.  Even the sound is ominous like a large snake getting ready to strike….

Save yourself and make this daal in a plain old pan, just keep an eye on it and check the water level to make sure it doesn’t dry out.

The nutrient contents of the black lentils and kidney beans are tremendous.  Both are high in protein and the flavors can’t be beat. It is fantastic served with fresh, hot chappatis.  There is nothing quite like the combination.  You won’t miss the meat or the pressure cooker, I promise.

Split Urad daal (black lentils)

Cook the urad daal and kidney beans with water, salt, turmeric, onion and ginger for about 40-50 minutes and mash lightly with a potato masher

Add dry mango powder, garam masala powder and half and half to the daal and cook a few more minutes

In a little hot ghee add cumin seeds, red chilies and red chili powder. Stir to incorporate

Add hot, aromatic ghee to the daal. Mix and take off heat.

Serve hot with fresh chappatis

Daal Makhani

1 cup split black lentils (urad daal)

1/4 cup kidney beans, dry

1/2 onion, chopped

1 1/2 tsp grated ginger

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp Amchur – dry mango powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

3-4 whole dried red chilies

1/2 tsp red chili powder

1/4 cup half and half

2 tbsp ghee – clarified butter

1/2 tsp garam masala

5-6 cups water

Wash the kidney beans and daal.  Soak in about 5-6 cups of water overnight.  Soaked daal will almost triple in volume.  In a large heavy bottomed pan add Urad daal, kidney beans, onions, salt, turmeric and ginger.  Add about 5 cups of water bring to boil.  After mixture has come to a boil, turn heat to low and cover.  Simmer for 30-40 minutes on a back burner, checking occasionally for water level and to stir so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.  When the daal and the beans are soft and tender, lightly mash it with a potato masher, you don’t want to use an immersion blender since the texture doesn’t need to be a puree, just slightly mashed.  Add a little more water if needed and cook an additional 5-6 minutes.  Add garam masala, dry mango powder and half and half and cook another 10 minutes on low heat.   Take daal off the heat and in a separate, small pan heat the ghee.  When ghee is nicely heated, add the dry red chilies, cumin seeds and red chili powder.  Stir quickly and pour the hot, aromatic ghee over the daal.  Stir to incorporate and serve with hot chappatis.

Thai style beef with basil and death to snails…

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Thai style beef with basil and death to snails…

I really, really enjoy the flavor of Thai Basil.  It’s such a fresh tasting herb with a slight almost licorice kind of flavor to it.  I try to grow it every summer along with a wide variety of other basil plants.  Last year, I had a huge snail problem in my garden and they began to feast on my Thai Basil before I could. It made me so mad.  I tried all kinds of tricks without having to use harsh chemicals.  Like beer.  Yes, beer.  I heard that snails were attracted to beer.   According to a friend of mine, if you put some beer in a shallow pan near plants you want snails to avoid, they climb into the beer and drown.  So, I went to the store, bought some really cheap beer in several 6-packs because I wanted to really drown the suckers.  I had pie pans all over my yard with beer in them.  I found a few drunken snails but not the horde that I was expecting.  My friend suggested that my beer was too cheap.  Seriously?  They were expecting micro brewed ale? I was not about to throw a Keg party for the snails.  I tried “organic” snail bait and ground glass, didn’t work.  This year, I’m planting basil in flower pots all over my patio.  Maybe that will work.  Snails are gross, but this recipe rocks.  Hey, if you have any snail genocide ideas, please let me know. …

Add soy sauce and corn starch to beef and mix well

Had to share the directions on the back of the noodle package. LOVE IT!

Thai Basil

Stir fry beef with garlic and ginger

When meat is no longer pink, add in onion, red pepper, sweet soy sauce, fish sauce, sambal olek and coconut milk

Add Thai Basil after heat is turned off

Thai style beef with basil!

Thai Style Beef with Basil

1/2 pound beef, thinly sliced ( I used chuck  roast)

2 tsp corn starch

2 tsp soy sauce

1 big bunch of Thai basil

2 tbsp sweet soy sauce

1 inch piece of ginger, minced

5 whole garlic cloves, minced

Red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

1/3 cup coconut milk

3 tbsp oil

1 1/2  tsp sambal olek

2 tsp fish sauce

Vegetarian thin noodles or you can use glass noodles

Thinly slice some beef.  Half frozen beef is great because then you can really slice it thin.  Mix beef with soy sauce and corn starch and set aside.  In a wok or large skillet heat the oil.  Add garlic and ginger and then add the beef.  Stir fry for 2 minutes or so until meat is no longer pink.  Add bell pepper and onion and continue to stir fry for 2-3 minutes.  Add in sambal olek, sweet soy sauce, fish sauce and 1/3 cup  coconut milk.  The sauce should be thickening up within a minute or two.  Take off heat and add in Thai Basil.  Stir to mix in and wilt all the basil.  Serve over noodles or with some brown rice!

Radish Cucumber and Mango Salad with honey lime dressing

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Radish Cucumber and Mango Salad with honey lime dressing

I remember when I first came to live in the United States.  I was living with a wonderful American family on a farm in Idaho.  A big, huge change.  There were lots of fresh produce available of course, especially in the summer.  That’s when I was introduced to salads.  Don’t get me wrong, salads are eaten all over the world but usually not as a meal.  It’s almost always eaten as part of a meal, like a side dish or even a palate cleanser or like a condiment.  In North America the salad reigns as a meal.  That was a strange thing for me.  To eat an entire meal that was mostly raw.  I remember telling my mom about having a salad for dinner and she exclaimed in dismay, “can’t those people cook?”.  After I got over the initial shock, I grew to love salads.  I love the textures, the freshness and the variety.  They are never going to go over big in any part of South Asia as a meal but I’m winning people over, one at a time.

I had this just the other day.  It was great and refreshing after a hard workout!  Yes, Ma…I ate it as a meal.

Thinly sliced radishes, english cucumbers and some mangoes

Added the vinaigrette

Toss, chill and serve

Radish Cucumber and Mango Salad

4 fresh radishes, thinly sliced

1 English Cucumber, thinly sliced

1 Mango, cut into small bite sized pieces

3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Dressing

1 lime

1 tbsp honey

2 tsp spicy brown mustard

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt

fresh cracked pepper

Thinly slice cucumber, radishes and mangoes and place in a medium sized bowl.  Add chopped cilantro.  In a separate bowl zest the lime and then juice the whole lime.  Add the rest of the dressing ingredients and whisk until a thick emulsion is created.  Pour over salad and toss.  Chill and serve.

Muttar Paneer and Tony Horton

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Muttar Paneer and Tony Horton

I’m well into the second week of P90X.  I am beginning to walk like the hunchback (or is it hump back?  I have a hunched hump) of Notre Dame when nobody is watching, dang that Tony Horton.  I try to straighten up and look buff whenever I think I’ll encounter other people.  I’m still laughing, joking and talking but it covers over some serious muscle pain.  I don’t remember being THIS sore the last cycle of P90X.  My daughter reminded me that was a few months ago and now I am OLDER.  Thanks, Onjoli.  My sister Rita is also doing P90X.  We live hundreds of miles apart but found time to laugh on the phone together over how hard it was to even blow dry our hair after doing a bunch of pull-ups.  I need something to look forward to at mealtimes while I get over the first few weeks of muscle pain (and misery).  I want comfort food (or my mom to cook for me)! Comfort food that won’t destroy all the hard work of working out.   Muttar Paneer  has all the flavors of a richer meat dish, like a Rogan Josh curry (that’s an awesome beef or lamb curry) but is pretty low in  fat while being high in protein.  Since I make my own paneer using 2% milk, it’s a lower fat version than the ones available through my cheese monger or  at the Indian grocer.  The spices used are very similar to what is used in making a lamb curry, making the flavor profile much richer.

I know when you look at the long list of spices, it can seem daunting but there is another piece of good news.  you can make the tomato and cashew based sauce ahead of time or in a bigger batch and freeze them in portioned freezer bags. When you’re ready to cook, you can take out a bag of sauce and add the garam masala and either lamb, beef or in this case the green peas and paneer to complete the rest of the currying process.  I have done that in the past, I just didn’t have any sauce in my freezer this time!

I have used whole spices in my Garam Masala again.  I beg you to use whole spices whenever you can, the taste is so much better, I promise.  I hope you try this out.  You’ll really enjoy the mini explosion of flavors in every bite and keep eating it and eating it….Oh, BTW, it goes great with Chappatis.

Saute cashews first in a little oil

Add onions, turmeric, garlic, ginger and salt and saute for 2-3 minutes

Add tomatoes and cook another 2-3 minutes

Blend the cooked tomato mixture in a food processor until smooth – you can make a big batch of this and freeze it if you like for future use.

Saute whole garam masala and cumin seeds in 2 tbsp oil until the cumin seeds are popping and everything is fragrant

Add tomato puree to the garam masala and simmer for about 10 minutes

Add green chilis, methi and green peas and cook another 5 minutes over low heat

Add cilantro, paneer and milk (or cream) and cook another 3 minutes before serving

Muttar Paneer with coconut rice

Muttar Paneer

4 tbsp oil

1 onion, chopped

1 cup frozen green peas

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp coriander powder

5-6 raw cashews

5 garlic cloves, chopped

1 inch piece of ginger, grated

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1-2 fresh green chilies

2 tsp Kasuri Methi (dried Fenugreek leaves)

handful of cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup milk with 1/2 tsp flour mixed in or you can use 1/4 cup heavy cream

Whole Garam Masala: 

5 green cardamom pods

1 stick cinnamon

2 bay leaves

5 whole cloves

salt to taste

Heat 2 tbsp oil and saute cashews, add in onion, salt, turmeric ginger and garlic and stir fry for about 2-3 minutes.  Add chopped tomatoes and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Blend this mixture in a blender or processor until smooth.   (Note: if you wanted to make extra sauce for future use, you could easily make a double or quadruple batch and freeze them in portioned freezer bags).  In the same pan used earlier, add the remaining oil and the whole garam masala spices and cumin seeds and stir fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato mixture and simmer covered on low heat for about 8-10 minutes until all the flavors are well blended.  You can adjust with a little water.  Into the sauce add the peas, green chilies and the dried fenugreek leaves (fresh would be great if you can get it, not as pungent) cook for about 2 minutes until peas are tender then add the paneer, milk and flour mixture or cream and cilantro.  Heat all the way through, should take another 2 minutes or so and serve hot with plain brown basmati rice or chappatis.

Grilled “Sausage” Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

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Grilled “Sausage” Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Grilled Portobello mushrooms are a wonderful delight.  They are smokey, meaty and juicy.  Almost like a burger.  They are stupendous when stuffed with other delicious things.  I wanted to have a tasty and filling meal without a lot of fat and plenty of proteins.  I had some extra lean ground beef on hand but you can easily use ground turkey or chicken.   I added caraway and sage to make it taste like sausage then added some low-fat goat cheese and fat-free feta cheese to the mix.  I also added fresh baby spinach leaves which was great as a “filler”.  These turned out wonderful. They were cheesy, melty and bursting with flavor. We felt like we were treated to a restaurant quality meal and we even had left overs for lunch the next day.

Mix together the ingredients for the “sausage”

Saute the meat mixture until everything is cooked

Add all the other ingredients to the home made sausage before filling the mushroom caps

Grill covered for 12-15 minutes

Wonderful served with fresh fruit and a salad

Grilled “Sausage” Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms 

4 Portobello mushroom caps

1/2 pound extra lean ground beef or turkey

3 scallions, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1/2 tsp caraway seeds

1 tbsp chopped fresh sage

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup fat-free feta cheese

1/4 cup goat cheese

1 cup chopped fresh baby spinach

1 tsp dried basil

Wipe the mushroom caps with a damp paper towel and salt and pepper them on both sides, set them aside on a cookie sheet.  In a small bowl mix together the ground beef/turkey, caraway seeds, sage, garlic, salt, scallions.  Mix well together and cook over medium high heat until meat is nicely browned and all the flavors are “married”, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix to the cooked “sausage” mixture the feta and goat cheese, basil and baby spinach.  Top each of the four mushroom caps equally and place on a heated grill, covered, for about 12-15 minutes.  Serve as a main dish along with some fruit or a nice crunchy salad.