Chicken Tikka Masala

This is an adaptation of the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated October 2007 magazine. I had recently pulled out the season’s past issues and chose a few recipes to try. This is something I order if eating out so I thought I would give it a try. The ingredients are basic except for the Garam Masala but I have that spice mixture in my pantry. However, I found that I did not have ground cumin. And not being sure of what is an appropriate substitute I used a shake of Garam Masala. I also used chicken thighs instead of skinless chicken breasts, and left the thighs whole when serving. Serve over rice.

For the chicken:

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • about 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 7 chicken thighs
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Mix the first 4 ingredients and press into the chicken thighs. Refrigerate this for 30 minutes. Whisk the last four ingredients in a bowl large enough for dipping the chicken pieces.

Heat oven to broil. Put shelf about 6 inches from broiler. Prepare a foil-lined baking pan with wire rack. I sprayed the rack with cooking spray to help prevent sticking. With tongs dip each piece of chicken in the yogurt mixture and arrange on the rack. Yogurt should thickly cover both sides of chicken. Broil chicken for 10 minutes on each side until internal temperature registers 160 degrees F. There will be nicely charred spots on the chicken. I had thick thighs (ha ha!) so turned the chicken an additional time for about 5-10 minutes.

For the sauce:

  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger
  • 1 small dried red chile, seeds removed, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup half-and-half

The sauce can be prepared while the chicken broils. Heat oil and cook onion about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala, stirring for about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. I simmered this until my chicken was done. Then add half-and-half and return to simmer. Remove from heat. Cover to keep warm.

For serving: Add hot chicken to sauce. I had to spoon the sauce on top of the chicken to cover. Put heaping scoop of rice on plate. Place chicken with sauce on top.

My thoughts: This recipe has a lot of ingredients and is a bit fussier than usual for me. But this made three meals for Hubby and me so was worth the time and fussiness. I have in the past bought a jar of masala sauce and poured it over chicken to bake. This homemade sauce is much tastier than that was. Plan at least one-and-a-half to 2 hours to make this dish.

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Pork with mustard and capers

This is an adaptation from Jacques Pepin’s recipe (Essential Pepin, 2011). It sounded like a nice dish and I served it with mashed potatoes as suggested. He calls for brown sauce which is most likely a demi-glaze which I was not about to make. I substituted beef broth with some cornstarch. I used scallions instead of chives and siracha for the Chinese hot sauce.

  • 4 pork loin chops
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon siracha
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup beef broth with 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 2 tablespoons snipped green parts of scallions

For the pork: sprinkle each side with salt and pepper. Melt butter in skillet and cook over medium heat 5 minutes per side. I used a cast iron skillet that fit the four pork chops nicely without crowding. Remove to platter or pan and keep warm in the oven at 150 degrees F. Cover with foil.

For the sauce: Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the wine and boil until only 2-3 tablespoons of liquid remain. Add the siracha, mustard, and broth mixture, reduce heat, and simmer for a minute or two. Add the capers. Pour the sauce over the meat, sprinkle with the green parts of the scallions, and serve.

And for leftovers: Cook up some egg noodles, sauté more chopped onion, add one cup of mixed vegetables, dice up remaining pork chops with sauce. Put all together and serve with topping of some parmesan.

Thoughts: very tasty. The pork chops were tender and moist. The sauce was flavorful with the Dijon and the capers. I had reduced the amount of the hot sauce so it had a bit of bite but not too much. Although the original recipe calls for 6 pork chops, The sauce was just enough for the four. I would double the sauce if adding more pork chops.

Pumpkin Bread

It’s been awhile since I have written but now it is bread baking season and I have no long camping trips planned. I have perused my cookbooks and have listed various dishes I want to cook and bake. Sometimes I find recipes of interest on the internet as well as other blog sites. I also have tried and true recipes that I repeatedly use. Not always of interest to write about. But then there is this…

I made Food Network Kitchen’s Pumpkin-Shaped Pumpkin Bread. It is a simple recipe to follow and you most likely have everything in your pantry. I did not make the Spiced Pumpkin Butter. Here is the link to the recipe: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/pumpkin-shaped-pumpkin-bread-8849742

My thoughts:

It is important to use kitchen twine. I found that I did not have enough, 3 lengths of 24 inches, so used a length of cheesecloth for the third string. I had to carefully tweeze threads out of the indentations after baking but no real harm done.

The instructions were to tie the twine not too tightly. I think they must have made several loaves to get the right tension. I think I should have not used the cinnamon stick to hold up the twine. I probably thought that the bread would rise enough on the second rise to make it taut. But it did not. Still, it does look like a winter squash of some kind!

My cinnamon sticks are apparently too old. It did not fill the kitchen with a wonderful aroma while baking.

I ate a wedge for breakfast and found it had good flavor and a dense texture, but not too dense.

This was baked with a new batch of yeast packets. I had baked a pumpkin yeast bread earlier in the month but found that the yeast had gone past…disappointing because it was less than a year old and I had it stored in the fridge. So if you have a big batch of yeast in a container somewhere check it for life before investing it in baking bread.

Summer Salad: Nancy’s Niçoise

What to have for dinner? It was not quite so swelteringly hot as a few days ago and our pantry and freezer are full. We have a neighbor who has given us beautiful tomatoes and a dinner salad came to mind. I perused a variety of cookbooks, mostly French, to see what comprises a Salad Niçoise. Here is my version. With salads the amounts are not critical as it depends on how many folks are to be served.

For two servings I used the following:

  • one heart of romaine
  • one large tomato
  • 12 or so kalamata olives
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 3 snack peppers, one red, two orange
  • 2 small potatoes, steamed
  • about 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • one can albacore tuna

Divide ingredients and place pleasingly on the plates. I mixed up a simple Dijon vinaigrette for the dressing finishing with a bit of freshly ground pepper and salt.

Summer Salad: Warm Bean and Bacon

More cooking with Jacques! So salads are not just greens in dressing. This recipe sounded interesting and as I had most of the ingredients on hand I made it.

  • 1 can (15 ounces) small white beans, drained
  • about 2 ounces of bacon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon of dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons malt vinegar (I ran out of balsamic)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Fry up the bacon in cast iron skillet and then add the onion and garlic. Add the beans and stir to warm. Blend the rest of the ingredients together and toss together. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Fresh parsley is better than dried. I was able to add fresh parsley to the leftovers. This would be fabulous with fresh spinach mixed into it. It was yummy. And a few days later I mixed up the dressing by itself to use with a green salad.

Summer Salads: Garlicky Romaine

I could call this “cooking with Jacques” except this did not call for any cooking, except for the brief sautéing of the croutons. My Jacques Pepin Essential Pepin cookbook has lovely ideas for salads. What are salads but tossing oil and vinegar with greens? And a few other raw vegetables…and much more! Our go to salad greens are romaine lettuce and baby spinach.

I had all the needed ingredients for this “garlicky romaine with croutons”. Apparently in the spring I made homemade bread all of which we did not consume. I am of the school of thought to not waste food so I cut the remaining bread into crouton-sized cubes and froze them. Now I have the perfect recipe for them.

  • 3 Tablespoons oil
  • 2 1/2 cups 1-inch pieces “stale country bread”

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet; cast iron works well here. When oil is hot add the bread and sauté for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally to turn the cubes. Although at first I thought this was too much oil, it worked out very well for the 4 minute sauté.

  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic; I used minced garlic from a jar.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon mustard; Jacques calls for grainy mustard. I used spicy so as not to have three opened jars of mustard in my fridge.
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

I mixed the dressing ingredients in a small jar. I used half to dress the heart of romaine that I put into the bowl. We added a generous helping of Romano cheese as well. Romaine seems to call out for parmesan or Romano cheese in our household.

This is a tasty garlicky dressing. I was able to use this salad for two meals without making more dressing or croutons. This makes sense in that the recipe says it serves four.

chocolate roll

Baking with Jacques! I was looking for a “light” dessert and thought a cake roll with jam filling might fit the bill. I was at first thinking of citrus flavors but the Essential cookbook had this chocolate roll which sounded simple enough to make. Well, melting chocolate, separating eggs, whipping egg whites in separate bowl might be a tad fussy but so would being able to roll the cake without breaking. I read the instructions several times to become confident this would not be problematic. Here is my adaptation.

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 4-6 ounces dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 tablespoons very strong coffee

I melted what chocolate I had on hand. I separated the eggs into two mixer bowls. I poured a quarter cup of prepared coffee and added a teaspoon of espresso powder. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a cookie sheet pan with buttered parchment paper.

Put water and sugar in small saucepan, bring to boil and cook for 2 minutes making a light syrup. Slowly pour this over the egg yolks while mixing vigorously for 5 minutes. This should be fluffy, smooth and pale yellow in color. Add the melted chocolate and mix well.

Whip egg whites into firm peaks. Add one-third of this into the chocolate mixture mixing vigorously. I used a hand whisk to do this in order to mix in the chocolate that had gathered at the bottom of the bowl under the egg yolks. Carefully fold in the remaining egg whites just until blended.

Smooth the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 12 minutes until set. Let cool to room temperature and then cover with plastic wrap. When completely cool this will be filled and rolled.

Traditionally this is filled with whipped cream. I used a jar of Sour Cherry Preserves. It took the entire 8 ounce jar. After removing the plastic wrap, spread the filling on the cake. Then beginning with the longer side roll gently removing the parchment paper as you go along. Use large spatulas to move the cake to a serving platter. I cut it in half to do that.

I am happy to pronounce that this came out nicely. I sprinkle powdered sugar on the top.

Serves 8 and I cut it into serving size pieces and we enjoyed this for 4 nights. It is very rich. Adding a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream would work well here.

Summer Salads: “Carrot and Sunflower Seed Salad on Red Leaf Lettuce”

I was reminded by a recent routine doctor visit that one should increase plants in one’s dietary choices. Okay, what do I have available to work with to create veggies and fruits for meals? Carrots and frozen blueberries. Needless to say I did not use the blueberries in a salad, but set them to thaw to make a crumble later. In the past I had enjoyed carrot salads and I decided that a French carrot salad would be worthwhile. So I looked in my Jacques Pepin Essential cookbook and found several carrot salads and had to choose. So I chose this one even though I did not have sunflower seeds, nut oil, or red leaf lettuce! Nor sherry vinegar! I planned to serve this on a bed of spinach.

  • 3-4 cups shredded carrots; this was about 6 small to medium; peel first
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds as substitute for the sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed garlic; 2 teaspoons sounded like too much
  • 1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onion
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 5 Tablespoons canola oil; I should have used olive oil but didn’t

I peeled the carrots and used a food processor to shred them. I chopped the onion, this was 1/2 of a smallish Vidalia. I put these in a bowl with the sesame seeds. I mixed the dressing ingredients and poured over to mix and set this in the fridge to meld the flavors. Aren’t I fancy!

I served this over chopped fresh spinach. It was tasty but a bit dry. So I fixed another portion of the dressing (olive oil this time) and mixed it in. This will then dress the greens instead of leaving them a tad dry.

And it was good. However, another lesson: Hubby does not particularly care for carrot salads. He might like the sweeter version using orange juice and raisins.

Summer Salads: not my mother’s potato salad!

I decided to make potato salad. Mom made hers with Miracle Whip, boiled eggs, and pickle relish. I perused several cookbooks and found too many ideas, as usual. I thought a vinaigrette would be nice for a change. Most of these are for warm potato salads but, “what the hey”, I’d try it for a cold dish. The following is a conglomeration from various recipe books, none more than another.

  • 6 medium potatoes, approximately 2 1/2 – 3 inches in diameter
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 radishes, sliced
  • 1 green onion, chopped using both white and green parts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper, to taste

I scrubbed the potatoes and put the whole potatoes with the skins in a pot to boil expecting this would prevent me from overcooking them. It did. When done (I did not time this–just stuck a fork through the center) chop into inch or so pieces. Place in bowl with the chopped celery and green onion. Mix the dressing, pour over, and stir. Done!

This was not a hit. Hubby said “it’s okay” but did not like it that much.

So I repaired the remainder by adding:

  • 2 more sliced radishes
  • 2 more sliced green onions, white and green parts
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

This repaired version was much more enjoyable. Lesson learned: Hubby likes creamy potato salad.