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Thursday, 02 November 2017 10:39

A family meal that packs a light, flavorful punch

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Many people aspire to eat light meals that satisfy hunger pangs without creating feelings of fullness. Some may assume light meals must be lacking flavor, but the following recipe for “Silken Chicken” from Madhur Jaffrey’s “Quick & Easy Indian Cooking” (Chronicle Books) is light and packs that familiar flavorful punch that endears Indian cuisine to millions of people across the globe.

Silken Chicken

Serves 2 to 4

For marinating the chicken:
4 boned, skinned chicken breast halves (about 11⁄4 pounds)
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1⁄4 cup heavy whipping cream
1⁄2 teaspoon homemade garam masala (see below)
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon ground roasted cumin seeds (see below)
1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed to a pulp
1⁄2 teaspoon peeled, finely grated fresh ginger

For sprinkling over the chicken:

Salt as needed
Freshly ground black pepper
A little homemade garam masala
A little ground roasted cumin seed
A little cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried mint flakes
Generous squeezes of fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to its highest temperature and arrange a shelf in the top third of the oven.

Cut 3 diagonal slits across the top of each piece of chicken breast, being careful not to cut all the way through and also not to go to the edge. Prick the chicken pieces with the sharp point of a small knife. Put them in a single layer in a large baking dish and rub both sides with the salt and lemon juice. Leave for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the cream with the garam masala, cayenne, cumin seeds, paprika, garlic, and ginger in a bowl. Stir this mixture well and pour it over the chicken. Rub it into the meat and leave for 10 minutes.

Lift the chicken pieces up (most of the marinade will cling to them) and place them down in a single layer in a shallow baking pan lined with aluminum foil. On top of each, sprinkle a little salt, black pepper, garam masala, ground roasted cumin seed, cayenne, dried mint, and lemon juice. Put into the top third of the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is just white all the way through. Serve immediately, minted side up.

Garam Masala

1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
1 2-inch cinnamon stick
1⁄3 of one nutmeg
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon black cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole cloves

Place ingredients into a clean coffee or spice grinder and ground to a powder.

To make ground roasted cumin seeds:
Put 4 to 5 tablespoons of the whole seeds into a small cast-iron frying pan and set over medium heat. Stir the seeds and roast them over dry heat until they turn a few shades darker and emit a wonderful roasted aroma. Wait for them to cool slightly and then grind them in a clean coffee or spice grinder. Store in a tightly closed jar.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017 11:14

October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month

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Americans love popcorn. Plain, salty or sweet, we consume 13 billion quarts each year of this wholesome, whole grain treat, and we devote an entire month to honoring it. October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, a time to celebrate one of America’s oldest and most unique snack foods.

Friday, 20 October 2017 09:59

Try baked wings for the big game

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Sporting events provide great opportunities to gather with friends and family and enjoy some time together while watching a favorite sport or big game. Such gatherings are not complete without food, and some foods are widely considered staples of gameday get-togethers.

Gatherings of family and friends are better with food, and few foods are more universally beloved than salsa. Whether they’re hosting a gathering for the big game or a celebration of Hispanic culture and cuisine, hosts who want to go the extra mile can forgo store-bought salsa for the following homemade recipe for “Warm Black Bean Salsa” courtesy of Judith Finlayson’s “The Health Slow Cooker: 135 Gluten-Free Recipes for Health and Wellness” (Robert Rose).

Thursday, 07 September 2017 11:32

Squash time: Prep gourds for freezing now

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Winter squash yields some of my favorite vegetables, and there are so many varieties I can’t believe they all belong in the same family, from acorn to turban and butternut to pumpkin.

   That’s right, pumpkin is a type of squash, and I include it here as an example of what you can do with winter squash — everyone knows you can bake with pumpkin, but you can use any type of orange winter squash and come up with the same results.   

Squash, in botanical terms, is the fruit of a member of the gourd family. In culinary terms, we identify squash as a vegetable because that’s generally how we use it. In cooking, we tend to group the various types of squash into summer or winter.



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