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Posts Tagged ‘spicy’

Curry Kale Chips

I fell in love with kale chips last summer. I had grown kale in my garden and had an abundance, so I decided to try my hand at the healthy snack that I kept hearing about. However, I never really got to eat very many of the ones I made. Unfortunately the day I decided to make them was the day after we had to rush our dog Derby to the emergency animal hospital, she had to stay the night so they could run tests and give her fluids. At the time I started making the chips, I was waiting to hear some good news about our little girl, so I was trying to pass the time and keep my mind busy since I couldn’t help but think the worst and just sit at home crying. Cooking and baking always provides that escape for me, a great way to “get away” and just create in the kitchen. Little did I know that by making those silly little kale chips on that very day, I would never ever be able to look at them the same way again.

I have found, at least for me, that food is always a great reminder of past times. Good or bad. The simple smell or taste of a dish can take you back to being a kid, remind you of a loved one, an amazing dinner party and so many other things. While that first batch of kale chips were baking last summer, my phone rang and it was the vet, they told me Derby had taken a turn for the worse and that we should come right there. After a series of many, many tests and an emergency surgery, Derby passed away later that same night. It was all so quick and it was all so completely unexpected. The kale chips sat on top of my stove, on the very pan they were baked on, for days. I couldn’t eat them, I had no appetite, but for some reason I couldn’t throw them out either. They reminded me of a time when I had hope that Derby was going to make it, I was baking them to pass the time until the vet called to say I could pick her up. I eventually threw the chips out, but I had been unable to make them since, which I know sounds totally crazy, but it was true. The mere thought of making them could just bring on the tears.

I know this is a completely, ridiculously sad back story for a food blog post about silly old kale chips, but I didn’t feel honest telling some wonderful and happy story about how I came to make these kale chips, it just didn’t feel right. I honestly kept thinking about what I would write when I was making them. I finally made the chips now, because after the one year anniversary of Derby’s death passed us in July, I promised myself that I would find the time to make these again. It most likely sounds silly to you, but I just wanted to wait and do it when I felt like I could handle it. I didn’t want to get over it or forget, I just wanted to be able to handle it and grow from it. I know, they are just kale chips, but it was about the healing for me.

The other ironic part about the kale that I planted and grew last summer, is that it somehow lived under the 3+ feet of snow the covered my garden this winter. At the first major melt, this past spring, the plant peaked through what snow was left and it was still green somehow with leaves still on it and immediately began growing again. Once the snow had melted and our new puppy Seri could get into the garden, she made a B-line for the kale and would steal the leaves off the plant and run around the yard, eating as much as she could. That dog absolutely loves kale. So much so, that many times she prefers that to any fancy meat treats we buy her. The entire time I was cutting up the raw kale to make these chips, Seri was under my feet, looking at me, waiting for any bit to fall. It was exactly what I needed. Maybe it wasn’t irony at all.

These chips are a perfectly crispy and healthy snack that is perfect for all you chip lovers. I personally have always loved a good crunchy or crispy savory snack. I honestly could eat an entire bag of kettle chips in one sitting, if I didn’t know better. Thank god I do. The kale chips are light and airy and you don’t even get a hint of the bitterness that kale can be known for. They are a tad bit spicy, the flavor from the curry is so perfect and the coconut flavor is very subtle but I felt like it would round it all out nicely. If you don’t like spicy, leave out the cayenne pepper or you can even leave out the curry powder and coconut flour and just go with a little freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt. Honestly, the flavor possibilities with kale chips are endless. You could use garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin, etc. If you aren’t vegan, parmesan cheese would also be delicious on these. Play around. You will definitely be addicted once you make these, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try different flavors.

Curry Kale Chips

1 large bunch of kale, torn by hand into bite-sized pieces, stems removed
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut flour (if you can’t find coconut flour, just blend coconut flakes into a fine meal in your blender)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (you may need more or less depending on how large your bunch of kale is)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 375º F. Clean the kale very good, after removing the stems and tearing into bite sized pieces, allow the kale to air dry or spin it dry in your salad spinner. Lay the dry kale pieces in a single layer on two baking sheets (you may need more or less baking sheets depending on how much kale you have). Since I had two baking sheets covered in kale, I drizzled one tablespoon of olive oil over each. Toss the kale around with your hands to evenly coat it all in the olive oil. In a small bowl mix together the curry powder, coconut flour, cayenne pepper and sea salt. Sprinkle half of the spice mixture over one pan and half over the other. Toss the kale gently with your hands to evenly distribute the spices.

Place the pans in the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes until the edges of the kale pieces are brown and they are crispy. Keep an eye on them. Be careful not to burn them. Once done, place the baking sheet on a rack to allow it to cool. I find storing the kale chips in a tightly closed paper bag, the best way to make sure they remain crispy.

FYI – kale chips are also wonderful crumbled up and sprinkled over popcorn.

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Thai Chicken Soup

I absolutely love Thai food! The layers of flavors and the spices are so amazing and there are so many naturally gluten-free options. One of my favorite things are the different soups. The flavors are always so distinct in Thai soups from the curry pastes, lemongrass, ginger, cilantro, etc. I have wanted to try making a Thai coconut milk soup at home with all the fresh herbs and spices. With the lingering chilly weather, last week was the perfect time. The original recipe I found was a bit basic, so I added in mushrooms, fresh ginger, fresh lemongrass and jarred kaffir lime leaves (which I was very excited to finally find), I also went with a light coconut milk instead of the full fat version and I used more of it, I find it is still quite creamy and it has a bit less fat and calories. I also added a bit more broth, curry paste, fish sauce and noodles so I would have more leftovers for lunches and dinners on some of the busy nights we have this week. Don’t worry if you can’t find lemongrass or the kaffir lime leaves, the soup will still be really great even without them. The curry paste really has a lot of flavor. I just find that adding those extra fresh ingredients makes this soup more authentic. I know from eating a lot of Thai food that lemongrass can be a bit annoying to eat, since they are a bit tough to chew, so I decided to cut the stalk in large pieces so that I could easily pull them out just before serving.

Since we normally buy whole chickens from the farm we get all of our meat from, I just grabbed two organic chicken breasts from Wegmans, I honestly can’t tell you the last time I bought meat from the grocery store. Thankfully Wegmans has a great selection of organic and grass-fed meats, though it just isn’t the same as getting it from a local farm. You could also roast a whole chicken or buy a rotisserie chicken and shred some of the cooked chicken and add it in to the soup at the end. This soup could also easily be made vegetarian/vegan with vegetable broth and by skipping the chicken or you could make a seafood version and add shrimp or scallops.

Serve the soup with lime wedges and maybe even a little Sriracha if you want a bit more heat. Enjoy, this soup really is incredible.

Thai Chicken Soup
serves 6
loosely adapted from Food Network Magazine

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lb of sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped finely
1 stalk fresh lemongrass, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 tablespoons green curry paste (If you don’t like spicy, start with 2 and go from there. It seems some curry pastes are spicier than others)
8 cups low-sodium organic chicken broth
2 15-ounce cans organic lite coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce, plus more to taste
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
6 ounces thin rice noodles, broken into pieces
2 small skinless, boneless chicken breasts preferably local and hormone and antibiotic free (about 1 pound), very thinly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon kaffir lime leaves (I used were jarred, you can also find them fresh or frozen, use about 3 or 4 leaves)
1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often until they begin to soften and get a bit brown, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and set aside. Add a bit more oil if you need it and add the onion to the pot over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and curry paste, cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk and fish sauce; cover and bring to a boil.

Add the mushrooms, bell peppers and noodles and simmer, uncovered, until the noodles are al dente, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer until just cooked through, about 3-5 more minutes. Stir in the lime juice, kaffir lime leaves and cilantro. Remove the chunks of lemongrass just before serving. Add more fish sauce and lime juice, if desired.

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Camarones en Crema De Chipotle (Shrimp in Chipotle Cream Sauce)

As mentioned in my previous post, I fell in love with this dish while at Fonda San Miguel in Austin. It is a simple, but very delicious dish, full of smokey, spicy flavor. Though it is made with heavy cream, it is actually, surprisingly, very light. This is a very impressive dish that will ‘wow ‘your spouse or dinner guests and it can easily be made in about 15 minutes with little ingredients needed.

After savoring each and every bite while at Fonda San Miguel, I feel like I had a fairly good idea on how to recreate the dish, I am sure there are some variations that could be taken but I feel like I got the general concept. If I remember correctly, there wasn’t bell pepper in the original, but I thought the color and slight crunch would be a nice addition. Additionally, I suppose if you are worried about fat or calories, you could go with half and half or just use half milk and half heavy cream or something like sour cream, etc. I personally feel that as long as you aren’t consuming heavy cream multiple times throughout the week, one meal with a bit of it, isn’t bad for you and certainly won’t tip the scale. Everything in moderation. The original was also made with chives instead of scallions, but I had scallions on-hand from a stir-fry I made last week and I sometimes prefer that bigger burst of flavor.

I love the smokey heat from chipotles and a little really goes a long way. In this dish I don’t even add a whole chipotle pepper. I open the can and use approximately 1 tablespoon of just the adobo sauce, you’d be surprised how much kick just the sauce has, plus it always has bits of the pepper and little chunks of onion. If you like a bit less heat, start with 1/2 a tablespoon (or even less) and add from there. The creaminess is a really nice compliment to the heat from the chipotles.

This dish is a really great week-night dinner that feels so luxurious and special. If you have surprise or short-notice dinner guests, this dish will knock-their socks off both in flavor and in heat and they’ll think you slaved and planned over it for much longer than 15 minutes.

Camarones en Crema De Chipotle (Shrimp in Chipotle Cream Sauce)
serves 2
Inspired by Fonda San Miguel

1/2 lb (approximately 16-20) large peeled and deveined raw gulf shrimp (if you are unable to get gulf shrimp, go with whatever your preference, we had tiger shrimp)
1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 organic bell pepper (red, orange or yellow), diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup organic heavy cream
1 tablespoon adobe sauce from canned chipotles (you can use more of less depending on how spicy you want it, I don’t even bother using any of the peppers, as the sauce gives a really nice smokey heat on its own)
1 small handful fresh cilantro, chopped roughly
2 scallions, thinly sliced
fresh lime juice

If your shrimp are/were frozen, be sure they are thoroughly thawed, pat shrimp dry with a paper towel. Place the shrimp on a single layer on a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat, add the garlic and bell pepper, stirring often until the peppers are soft and begin to brown a bit. Add the shrimp and watch it carefully, it will cook quickly. Cook 1 minute on the first side, flip over and cook another minute or so on the other side, until nearly fully cooked. Add the heavy cream and adobo sauce, whisk quickly to fully combine. Lower the heat to a low-medium , stirring the sauce often, it will begin to thicken. Cook only about 2-3 minutes until thick and warmed through. Be mindful not to cook much longer, you don’t want to overcook the shrimp or they will be rubbery. Turn off the heat and add in half of the cilantro and sliced scallions, stir to combine.

Serve over white rice and top with the remaining cilantro and scallions, give a squeeze of fresh lime juice over top, if you wish.

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Chipotle Potato Soup with Bell Pepper Salsa

There is something about a creamy and spicy soup that just warms your tummy and your soul. It is still bitter cold here in Buffalo and I am trying to look on the bright side of this brutal winter, by enjoying that I can still cook hearty and hot, wintry dinners. I know soon when the warm weather is upon us, I will miss the hot soups and stews, one of my favorite things about the winter months.

This soup brings a nice kick of smokey spice from the chipotles, it’s comforting, thick and creamy, three things that just really make winter dinner satisfying, to me. The great thing about this soup and the fact that most of the creaminess comes from blending the potatoes, is that it can easily be made vegan. Go with vegetable stock over chicken and you can either skip the milk altogether or use a non-dairy milk like plain unsweetened almond, rice or soy milk. Then just skip the cheese or top with your favorite vegan cheese. I used local, pasture-raised whole milk that we bought at Farmers and Artisans, one of the few milks I have ever tasted that is actually good enough to enjoy a glass of (in my opinion). There is only a cup of milk and a cup of cheese in the entire pot of soup, so don’t even feel the littlest bit guilty about it. On the other hand, if you have no guilt and really want to indulge, you could go with a cup of heavy cream instead of milk and maybe even some crispy bacon on top, why not right? Either way, before the warm weather shows itself again, you need to make a pot of this soup and not only remember, but enjoy the lovely things about the winter that we will all surely miss in the heat of July or August. Trust me, we all miss it, even just a little.

Chipotle Potato Soup with Bell Pepper Salsa
serves 8

Bell Pepper Salsa

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped red onion
Juice from 1 lime
Kosher salt , to taste

In small bowl, mix together bell peppers, cilantro and onion. Squeeze lime over. Gently stir to combine. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.

Chipotle Potato Soup

2  1/2 – 3 lbs red potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (this soup is spicy, go with less chipotles if you don’t want all the heat, you can always add in more)
6 cups low-sodium vegetable stock or chicken stock
1 cup organic whole milk (you can either skip the milk and add an extra cup of stock or use a non-dairy milk and skip the cheese, to make this soup vegan)
1 teaspoon ground chili powder
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese, plus additional for garnish
kosher salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a large pan of salted water over high-heat, bring the potatoes to a boil and then drop the heat to simmer and cook for approximately 20 minutes, until potatoes are soft. Drain.

In a large stock pot, over high heat, sauté onion, bell peppers and garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes, add the chipotle chiles and the chili powder. Lower heat to medium; continue cooking until the onions are soft and translucent, approximately 5 minutes.

Add the potatoes, stock and milk (if you are using it) to the stock pot. Bring to gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 10-15 minutes. Turn off heat and let the soup cool about 5 minutes.

Purée with immersion blender or in batches using a regular blender*, until smooth, gradually adding cheese. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper. Ladle the soup in large serving bowls and top with shredded cheese and the bell pepper salsa.

* When blending hot soup in a blender, do so in small batches, filling the blender pitcher only about halfway. Put the lid on, but remove that small cap in the lid (if you have it) and hold the lid down tight with a towel, otherwise the steam will cause the lid to explode off, spewing hot liquid everywhere. This has never happened to me, but it can, so be careful.

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Creamy Italian Sausage and Potato Soup

As you can probably tell from reading my recipes, we eat very little meat in our household. We aren’t vegetarians, but I would say we are mostly vegetarian. I consider myself to be a conscientious omnivore, I do eat meat occasionally, but only meat that I know where it comes from, how it was raised, what it ate, etc. At this point the only meat in our house comes from a local farm where it was all pasture-raised without the use of hormones, antibiotics or other chemicals. We have visited the farm, we have seen the animals and we have shaken the hand of the man who does it all. This is the only way I will ever buy meat for our home. It feels right. This fall we shared a pig with my parents. We have more pork that you can even imagine in our freezer. At home I would say we probably enjoy pork once or twice a month and chicken once a month. I have a good supply of this wonderful ground italian sausage that is unlike anything you can ever imagine. So tasty, sweet, subtly spicy and not too greasy, it is perfect. Without the ability to make patties and throw them on the grill (it is WAY too cold for that), I was trying to think of some winter friendly ways to enjoy the sausage. I thought a nice hearty soup would be perfect. I was torn between a tomato-based vegetable pasta sausage soup but then I thought something creamy and hearty sounded even better (though I plan to make that first soup soon).

This soup was really incredible, spicy and creamy with a nice green crunch from the spinach. The fresh herbs were wonderful, though dried will do if you can’t find fresh. I wanted it to be nice and brothy and wanted more servings so I used about 7 or 8 cups of chicken broth, you can certainly go with less, 5 or 6, if you want it to be a chunkier and less brothy soup. I also decided to go with half and half versus heavy cream to keep it a bit lighter per serving, but heavy cream would certainly be delicious and with less broth you would have a nice thick soup, just a bit fewer servings. Oh and the freshly grated parmesan cheese on top really sets this soup over the edge. It is the perfect finishing move.

*I am not at all crazy about the photo of this soup, it was hard to photograph with all the lovely bits, and I forgot to put the cheese on top for the photo, but you get the idea.

Creamy Italian Sausage and Potato Soup
serves 6-8

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound of ground Italian pork sausage, local, pasture-raised and free from hormones and antibiotics
6-8 cups of organic chicken broth, low sodium
5 small russet potatoes, washed and cut into 1 inch cubes with the skins still on
1/2 cup of fresh basil, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (more if you like spicy)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup of organic half and half
2 cups of coarsely cut spinach
1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place the olive oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion gets soft. At this point add the Italian Sausage and cook until its browned. Our sausage isn’t very greasy so I didn’t need to pour any out, if your sausage produces a lot of grease pour some off before adding the soup.

In a large stock pot over medium-high heat add in the chicken broth, potatoes, basil, parsley, red pepper flakes, pepper and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and bring to a simmer, allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

After the soup has been simmering add the sausage, onion and garlic mixture and cook another 5-10 minutes. After it is done simmering, add in the half and half and stir. Reduce the heat and be sure it doesn’t boil. Cook another 2 minutes. Taste the soup, add more salt and pepper to taste. More red pepper flakes if you want it spicier.

Remove the soup from the heat, add in the spinach and cover. Let it sit for an additional 3-5 minutes until the spinach is cooked.

Ladle the soup in your bowls and sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese.

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Warm Millet and Apple Salad with Curry Dressing

Yes, another millet salad. This is great warm, cold or room temperature. I ate it warm, just after the millet was done cooking. I have to say, tossing millet with fruits, veggies, nuts, etc, to create a salad, has to be one of my new favorite things. It works perfectly as a starter, side dish or in this case, a main course. I came home and wanted to throw something together quick for a dinner for just myself and I didn’t have a huge appetite. This has the perfect combination of so many great things, spicy, sweet and crunchy. The colors on this dish are perfectly beautiful. The curry flavor isn’t overpowering and is perfect with the fresh mint, which I was happy to be cooking with, we still have so much of it growing in the yard. This is another great vegan dish to take to a party to share or maybe even a Thanksgiving side.

Warm Millet and Apple Salad with Curry Dressing
Serves 4
adapted from Martha Stewart Living, October 2004

1/4 cup raw sliced almonds
1 cup organic whole millet
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dried currants
1 small apple, cut into 1/8-inch-thick wedges
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped, plus more for garnish

Preheat oven to 375º. Spread almonds on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 7 minutes.

In heavy skillet heat 1 tsp of oil, add the millet and toast gently until the grain is tan. Bring the water to a boil in saucepan, add remaining oil and grain. Stir; cover and simmer gently for 25 to 30 minutes to desired texture or until all of the water is absorbed.

Whisk together honey, shallot, curry powder, salt, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Season with pepper. Whisking constantly, pour in oil in a slow, steady stream; whisk until dressing is emulsified. Add millet, currants, apple, mint, and almonds; toss well. Garnish with mint.

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Pickled Hot Peppers

It’s nearing the end of the gardening season and one of my favorite things to do this time of year, is grab the last of the peppers from their plants and make a few quick jars of pickled hot peppers. They are great on salads, in eggs, Mexican dishes, etc. This recipe is for simple refrigerator pickled peppers as opposed to a preserved, canned version that can be stored on the shelf for many months. Honestly, I prefer making them this way, since I never make a large amount of them and I hate all the work involved in canning. Besides, these don’t last long in our house anyway. Pickled peppers like this are good for quite a few weeks, under refrigeration. If you would like them to last longer, follow these canning instructions and guidelines.  Use can use this same brine mixture to pickle other vegetables like carrots, cauliflower, beets, fennel, green beans and so much more.

Pickled Hot Peppers
Adapted from David Lebovitz which was adapted from Michael Symon’s Live to Cook

1 pound fresh hot peppers, washed (I used a combination of banana, hungarian wax and jalapeño peppers)
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups white distilled vinegar
3 tablespoons raw cane sugar
3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons black peppercorns

1. You can leave the peppers whole if you’d like, just stab each pepper a few times, or you can slice them in rings, which I prefer. I just remove the tops and slice them into thin rings. I leave the seeds in, as both Mark and I love spicy. Place them in a large glass preserving jar or two smaller jars.

2. In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the other ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes.

3. Remove from heat and pour the brine over the peppers. Place the lid on the jar and let cool. Once cool, refrigerate for at least a week before using, if possible. (You can use them sooner, but it is well worth the wait to let them sit)

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