Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Experiment #32: Ginger Coconut Chicken with Coconut Rice

I was kind of in a rut with making food for my family.  We are still learning what our little one likes to eat and so far, we found he loves salmon, the bok choy shiitake with tofu dish I make, tortillas with beans and cheese and tomatoes and eggs.

I have been making some times the same dishes over and over again and I was feeling pretty uninspired.  I decided that I needed some inspiration and that I really should use a cookbook that I had purchased recently which was Tyler Florence's infant, baby, toddler cookbook called Start Fresh. I really enjoyed Tyler Florence's recipes in general and I have his Real Kitchen book.

After looking through the recipes I landed on his Ginger Chicken with Coconut.  It looked easy and was one dish meal so I thought I would try it.  Tyler said that many children are partial to the mild sweet/sour accents of coconut, ginger and lime that you find in many Thai dishes.  I didn't know if my little one would like it but I thought I would try.

My modifications were that I forgot the cilantro and the lime, by accident really, but I am sure they would taste good in the recipe and I added more onion, because my onion was medium sized and not small like Tyler called for in the recipe.  Tyler calls this recipe Ginger Chicken with Coconut, but I didn't feel that it described the recipe enough.  It is so much more than this, because it has a lovely rice pilaf.

Ginger Coconut Chicken with Coconut Rice adapted from Start Fresh by Tyler Florence
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used organic, free range)
Salt and Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 can (13.5 oz.) coconut milk (I used a light organic coconut milk)
1 1/2 cups organic chicken broth (Tyler calls for organic chicken stock)
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice (I used organic basmati)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a heavy roasting pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown lightly on both sides, 5 to 7 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

I wiped the pan with a paper towel to take some of the oil and fat from the pan before proceeding.

Add the onion and ginger to the pan and cook until the onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.  Pour the coconut milk and broth and bring to a boil.

Add the rice and cook until some of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice 5 to 7 minutes. (I assumed he meant to write to lower the heat a bit during this step.  I didn't think it should be boiling here.)  Arrange the chicken on top of the rice and sprinkle with coconut.

Bake until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165F and the rice is tender.  Tyler said 20 to 25 minutes, but I ended up cooking it for 15 minutes and the chicken and rice were done.  Just remember that everyone's oven is different and check earlier so you don't overcook the chicken.

Tyler does say that there should be some liquid left in the pan.

Tyler said that this recipe makes 4 adult servings or 6 to 8 kid servings.  I really didn't feel that it made 4 adult servings.  1 boneless skinless chicken thigh is not very much chicken for an adult.  I would say 2 1/2 adult servings maybe.

The recipe was a smashing success.  This recipe was delicious and flavorful.  Tyler was right, kids do like this!  Thanks Tyler for a wonderful recipe.  I would definitely make this again.  Yum!

Modifications for next time:
I would add more boneless skinless chicken thighs.  There was more than enough rice to supplement more chicken.  I would say the ratio of chicken to rice was off.  There was too much rice per serving, and I love rice.  Other than that.  I would do nothing different, but I suppose I should try it with the cilantro and lime as in the original recipe sometime.

Link to purchase the book Start Fresh:

Experiment #31: Vegan Tangerine Carrot Cake Muffins

I was testing recipes for my little one's birthday party which is coming up this weekend.  I have always loved carrot cake but never made it before and so I wanted to test the recipes for the birthday so I didn't mess up.

The recipe comes from the book Party Vegan by Robin Robertson.  It is under her section for a Halloween party. The recipe was interesting because it was a carrot cake with dark chocolate frosting.  Perfect for Halloween.  Being that it is not Halloween, I was hoping to do a more traditional take on cream cheese frosting, but since I have already made a lot of cream cheese frosting, I didn't think I needed to test that out.

Per my usual, I reduced the sugar and replaced half of the all purpose flour with white whole wheat flour.  I eliminated the maple syrup since the recipe already had sugar in it.  I also used tangerine juice instead of orange, because I like tangerine juice.  While making the recipe I found the batter seemed stiff, which sometimes happens when you substitute whole wheat flour for all purpose flour so I added some water.  Oh, I forgot to say that I made the recipe into muffins instead of a 9 inch square cake.

Tangerine Carrot Cake Muffins adapted from Party Vegan's Orange Carrot Cake by Robin Robertson
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup tangerine juice
1/2 cup sunflower oil (I used organic spectrum brand)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup water (too much)
2 1/4 cups finely shredded carrot (about 3/4 of a pound)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Add cupcake liners to cupcake pan. (You'll need 18.)

In a large bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, juice, oil, vanilla, and water.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.  Stir in carrots until just mixed.

Place by the scoop into cupcake liners (I used an ice cream scoop to make them even.)  Bake about 18 minutes.

The Results:
The flavor of the muffins was good, but I was worried when I took them out and tasted the first one.  It was kind of gummy.  I might have over-mixed the batter because I added the water after everything was mixed in.  Another problem might have been that I added too much water.

I found though after they sat and cooled the muffins tasted a lot better.  They might have dried out a bit.

I think I might try this recipe again, but I need to modify the recipe.  I would use less water and maybe replace some of the oil with applesauce as I think they seemed a bit oily to me.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Experiment #29 & 30: Grilled Lamb with Tzatziki in Flatbread Sandwiches

I was feeling like having lamb today and so I went to the store to see what looked good.  I cannot believe how expensive lamb can be.  $11.49 per pound later, I arrived home with New Zealand Lamb Loin chops from Atkins Ranch.

I enjoy lamb gyros and this recipe is inspired by it.  The idea is delicious grilled lamb slathered creamy delicious tzatziki sauce, with lettuce and tomato.  Ok.  I'm ready.  When do we get to eat..

I seasoned the lamb with kosher salt, pepper, and garlic powder, which is what I season most every meat that comes into my house.

This recipe comes from the book Grill! from Pippa Cuthebert & Lindsay Cameron Wilson. I did not buy lamb steaks like the recipe calls for and purchased lamb loin chops instead.  Also, the original recipe calls for homemade flatbread, which I did not have the time to make so I purchased it.  If you can't find flatbread, I might use pita bread cut in half to make a sandwich or if you have access to some  Naan bread.

Gyros: Lamb and Tzatziki in Flatbread
4 New Zealand lamb loin chops
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Garlic powder

I generously seasoned the lamb with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and garlic powder and let it sit overnight.

Take the lamb out to come to room temperature for at least 20 minutes before grilling over medium 3-5 minutes on each side or to your taste.

Let the lamb rest before you slice it to make your sandwiches.

Tzatziki sauce: (from my memory)
1 cup greek yogurt or plain yogurt
2 garlic, minced (I used a garlic press)
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup cucumber, finely diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
salt and pepper, to taste

I made tzatziki sauce a while back and this is what I remembered.
For tzatziki sauce, it is pretty simple, but I wanted to try something my Mom had told me once a while ago. She makes her own yogurt and she makes greek yogurt from her homemade yogurt by straining it, and so this morning I decided to give it a try. I had some Whole Milk Organic Plain Yogurt from Trader Joe's and I left it in a coffee filter in the fridge covered with plastic wrap for a few hours, and it worked!  Who knew greek style yogurt could me made so easy?  I love the thick creaminess of Greek yogurt, but my favorite greek yogurt brand, Fage is not organic.  Now I can make it myself!

Plain Organic Yogurt before straining:

After allowing to sit and strain:

My chopped ingredients:
Mix all the ingredients together and you are done!
Chopped tomatoes, lettuce

Middle eastern flatbreads (I purchased whole wheat flatbreads from Trader Joe's)

I warmed the flatbread in a cast iron pan and topped them with slices of lamb, a slathering of tzatziki sauce and tomatoes and lettuce.

I thought the lamb loin chops were delicious but a bit difficult to slice up nicely.  I should have purchased the lamb leg steaks.

The tzatziki sauce was very very garlicky.  I think it was too much, and I love garlic!  I would definitely reduce the garlic next time, maybe just to one clove.

The sandwiches were great and we really enjoyed them.  I would definitely make this recipe again.