comfort foods

IMG_6441

Crock pot Thai chicken with spicy peanut sauce

There’s no dearth of ethnic recipes in my menu repertoire when winter rolls around.  What is it about the cold weather that draws us to these comfort foods?  The advantage of this dish is the crock pot method.  It’s a boon for busy families that don’t have time to fuss about dinner during the work week, or perhaps even on a weekend when all the activities get in the way.  I’ve been recently cooking Indian curries in the crock pot for a few months now, and honestly I’ll have to say I’m just chuffed with the results.  I seldom cook a curry in the summer time as I don’t wish to heat up the kitchen, but the crock pot method should definitely change that.  I did not even have to brown the chicken before putting it in the pot.

(more…)

IMG_6461

Goan Curried Fish Stew

From Goa, a tropical paradise on the south west coast of India, where palm trees dot the landscape and seafood is in abundance, comes this flavorful and succulent fish stew.  Goa was ruled by the Portuguese for many years,  it remained a Portuguese territory till 1961 when it was annexed back to India.  The Portuguese influences are still evident all over Goa from the architecture, to the religion, from the language and dress to the cuisine.  Goans even have Portuguese last names as a result.  Typically the Goan curries are made with fresh coconut, and an array of spices blended with vinegar, which gives some of the curries that distinctive tangy taste.  Mostly every Goan (that’s what the the locals are referred to), has a fondness for fresh fish.  This particular dish does not have the vinegar, but rather tamarind to render the tangy taste.  I’ve used mussels, salmon, and prawns in this recipe, but you can use any fish you have on hand.  I do think the addition of mussels give this curry a nice contrast against that bright yellow, don’t you?

(more…)

IMG_6308

Comfort food at its best!

During the winter months I can cook any amount of curries in my kitchen and feel completely satiated.  Not so in the summer time; the thought of cooking an Indian meal is far from my mind when the weather turns hot and humid.  I’d have to say though that Indian/Goan cuisine has probably got to be one of my favorite (biased of course) although I do cook a variety of other cuisines too.  There is nothing more satisfying and comforting than a plate of curry and rice or rotis during the winter.  Today I’m presenting Keema (a dry ground beef curry) and a Lemon Saffron Rice.  I served it with a raita (cucumber yogurt salad), not pictured.  Keema is also popular as a breakfast dish with rotis, it is also used to fill samosas and for biryani.  It is usually cooked until dry.

(more…)

IMG_5849

A sumptuous Indian Vegetarian feast!

I’ve been blogging for just over a year and a half now and in that time, I’ve come to appreciate fellow bloggers from near and far.  You could be following someone’s blog in Turkey, Spain or Argentina, but also blogs from folks who live on the same continent as yourself.  There are just so many facets that make up the blogging world, but one that I’m most passionate about is continuing to learn about the various cuisines around the world and forging friendships via a common medium.  I’ve come across so many amazing blogs (mine pales in comparison), it definitely is a learning curve when all is said and done.  There are a few favorite Indian bloggers that I follow, and I’ve got to say, whenever a dish strikes my fancy, I bookmark it and try it out.  Today, I’m featuring Indian vegetarian cuisine.

(more…)

IMG_2907

Old Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie

This is the ultimate comfort food in my opinion.  Just oozing with delicious juices, melt in your mouth pastry, and a whole lot of goodness in the ingredients.  I usually make chicken pot pie after roasting an entire bird.  With all that leftover meat and broth, it’s a whole other meal in itself.  But this time, I had some chicken breasts in the freezer waiting to be used, so I cooked the chicken when making the gravy.  Winter is still wintering away, but there has to be a light at the end of that long, dreary tunnel.  In the meantime, let’s just enjoy more comforting foods like the above, and remember that spring is around the corner.  This recipe was given to me by a dear friend and ex-neighbor, Susan Dixon.  When I first tried it at her house, I just had to replicate it.  I’ve since adapted it and put my own mark on it :).  This is hubby’s favorite dish, so when he knows there’s chicken pot pie on the table, I gain extra brownie points :)

Ingredients (6 to 8 servings)

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 3 large shallots minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken  broth ( I usually make my own)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups baby carrots halved lengthwise
  • 3 cups chicken breast meat
  • 1 (10oz) package mushrooms quartered
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup pearl onions
  • 1 bay leaf

Method

  1. Melt butter in large deep skillet over medium low heat.  Add shallots, celery and carrots – cook for four minutes.
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Stir in flour, sage, thyme, bay leaf, mushrooms, Herbes de Provence.
  4. Increase heat, add chicken, broth and milk.
  5. Bring to a boil, stirring to break up any lumps of flour.
  6. Add peas, pearl onions and frozen corn.
  7. Pour into a baking dish or casserole.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 deg.  Cover with pastry.  Brush with egg.
  9. For the pastry, I used 2 cups flour, a teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup oil and 1/4 cup 2% milk.   Form ball, and roll between 2 pieces of wax paper, turning it in a circular direction each time to form a circle.
  10. Bake uncovered for 50 minutes or until top is golden brown and filling is hot and bubbly.

IMG_2368

IMG_2371

IMG_2375

IMG_2381

IMG_2902

IMG_2907

IMG_2911

There you have it.  A rustic, flavorful, hearty chicken pot pie.  I’ll guarantee you’ll go back for more :).

I’m off to party at Fiesta Friday #57.  Thanks Angie for hosting these great soirees; just so much fun visiting and taking in all the talent out there.

IMG_1671

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale & Potato Soup)

Caldo Verde, a Portuguese national favorite.  It is a simple yet hearty soup made with potatoes, kale and chorizo.  Caldo Verde can be found all over Portugal, from Lisbon’s most luxurious hotels to the humblest of country homes.   A powerhouse for minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, kale is the healthiest food on the planet. When the cooler weather rolls around, I am always on the hunt for new and unusual soup/stew recipes, and this one quickly became quite popular in our house.  Caldo Verde is sure to banish away your winter woes.  It is an ideal cool weather, downright satisfying comfort food, that will have you coming back for seconds.  The chorizo adds some spiciness and slight heat to the soup, the pureed potatoes in the soup is wonderfully filling, whilst the greens make it healthy and worthwhile.   A small cup for starters or as a main meal, Caldo Verde is just tickety-boo!  When preparing this soup, pour yourself some port, it helps to get you in the mood :) Serve it with some rustic bread and wallow in praise :).

IMG_1653

Ingredients

  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • olive oil
  • 1 chorizo sausage
  • 6 potatoes
  • 32 fl. oz. low salt chicken broth
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • fresh kale or cabbage (I used both)
  • smoked paprika and olive oil, for dressing

Method

  1. Sweat the onions and garlic in olive oil till translucent
  2. Chop the sausage into small chunks and add to the onion
  3. Sweat the onions and sausage for a few more minutes and then add the diced potatoes.  They will absorb all the flavor from the sausage.
  4. Add the stock, seasoning and bay leaves and cook until the potatoes are soft.
  5. Meanwhile, very finely chop the cabbage.
  6. When the potatoes are ready, mash them into the broth to make a thick base.  Blanch the greens in boiling water for one minute to take off any bitterness, drain, then add to the simmering broth.
  7. Add as much cabbage as the broth will support.  If you want a heavy soup, add loads of greens, if lighter, add less.
  8. Simmer for a few minutes.  The soup will turn the color of jade.
  9. Mix the smoked paprika with some olive oil to make a dressing, and swirl this red magic into the green vibrant soup.

A wee tip on how to get rid of the tough stems on the leafy kale.  Hold the bottom of the stalk and strip, it should come apart easily.  You can use the tough stalks to make extra broth for another time.

I’m taking this Caldo Verde soup to Angie’s FF #42.  Thanks to Angie for this ongoing virtual gathering of foodies from around the world.  It is wonderful to see everyone’s contribution and creations.  Thanks also to our co-hosts Tracy@ScratchIt  and Stephanie@TheCozyCook.  Do take some time to acknowledge and give credit to Angie and her co-hosts who, each week work so diligently make it all happen.  It also qualifies you to be featured the following week.  If you wish to add your contribution, do click on the link for the Fiesta Friday blog party guidelines.  Happy Fiesta Friday all!