Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chicken Tikka Masala

This is a bright orange colored dish that can be served as Chicken Tikka (chicken chunks without the sauce ideal for bbq) or Chicken Tikka Masala (chicken chunks mixed into a tomato-cream sauce ideal compliment to steamed rice).
This dish is super popular in London and is served in almost every Indian restaurant in the UK. It has a delicious taste and is simple to make. Wikipedia says that there are 44 different versions/recipes to make this dish. Well, here is  an easy stovetop version from me. Enjoy!

1/4  cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 tablespoon tandoori masala powder (Best purchased from farmers market or indian store. If you don't have it, create a mix of 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp cayenne/paprika, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp coriander powder. This is a close substitute)
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (use chicken breast if you prefer), cut into halves or smaller pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 teaspoon Indian chili powder
1 cup tomato sauce (1 can of tomato paste mixed well in water to create a sauce)
1/2 cup half and half (or 1/2 cup cream or 2 table spoons cream cheese. I didn't have half and half so I used 1/4 cup 2% milk and 1 tablespoon cream cheese. This ingredients calms the spices and makes the tomato paste more opaque so use it per your judgement/taste)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt

1) Stir the yogurt and tandoori masala powder together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined; add the chicken and toss to coat evenly. Marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour. Drain and discard any excess marinade
2) Puree the onion, ginger, and garlic with the water in a blender until it forms a smooth paste; set aside
3) Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet (or dutch oven) over medium heat. Cook the chicken in the hot oil until lightly browned on all sides, about 5 - 6 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside. This is your basic chicken tikka without the masala. An alternate popular version is served grilled.
4) To make the sauce, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons in the skillet/dutch oven. Fry the onion paste in the hot oil until the moisture is mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes.  Sprinkle the garam masala and chili powder over the mixture; cook 1 minute more.  Add the tomato sauce, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook another 5 minutes. 
5) Return the chicken to the pan along with the half and half; bring to a boil. Add the butter and salt; reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until the chicken pieces are no longer pink in the middle, 15 to 20 minutes.
6) Garnish with cilantro, lemon wedge. Serve with Naan or Steamed rice

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting

I was very excited to make these because I was using my newly ordered Valrhona Cocoa Powder and Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla (both ordered from Amazon!).  
Valrhona is a French chocolate made from 100% dutch processed cocoa. It is real delicious in cakes and desserts and considered to be one of the best (if not the best) chocolate/cocoa in the world.The Recipe Makes 18 cupcakes (I halved the recipe to make 9).


For the cupcakes
1 1/4 cups flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, preferably Madagascar bourbon
1 cup whole milk (I used 2% milk)
1/2 cup Valrhona cocoa powder

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard cupcake pan with 12 baking cups, and a second pan with 6 baking cups.
2) Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt on a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper.
3) Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. Stop to add the sugar
4) Add the eggs one at a time.  Combine the vanilla extract and milk in a large liquid measuring cup.
5) Reduce the speed to low or just use spatula to mix. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then add one-third of the milk mixture. Repeat in thirds until all of it is used up. 
6) Add the cocoa powder, beating (on low speed) just until incorporated.  Be careful to use a mixer on low speed or else the powder flies all over. 
7) Use a standard-size ice cream scoop to fill each cupcake paper with batter, so that the wells are two-thirds full. 

8) Bake for 16 to 17 minutes (start checking at15 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool for 30 minutes.

For Strawberry Frosting (I cut this recipe in half)
1/2 cup whole frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
Pinch of coarse salt
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1) Puree strawberries in a small food processor
2) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. 
3) Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined. 
4) Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree (save any remaining strawberry puree for another use); mix until just blended. Do not overmix or frosting will incorporate too much air. Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.

Frosting the Cupcake:
Take a butter knife (or offset spatula) and gently slide the icing over the cupcake. 
You could also pipe the icing on with a bag (I used a ziplock bag).  Simply scrape the frosting into the bag with a spatula, twist the bag at the top and snip off the corner. Make a small snip to retain some control on the flow of the icing. 

Couscous and Chickpea salad

2 cans of chickpeas
1/2 red onion
1 tomato
1 cucumber
1 pack of couscous
Parsley chopped
Cilantro chopped
Olive oil - 2 tablespoons
Lemon juice of 1 -2 lemons

1) Make couscous according to package instructions (1 and 1/4 cup water to boil with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the spice packet provided with the pack or skip the packages spices and just add some dried parsley/italian seasoning, salt and pepper. After it comes to a boil, take off heat and cover for 5 minutes)
2) Chop onion, cucumber and tomato
3) Mix chickpeas, couscous, olive oil, fresh ground pepper and salt, red onions, tomato, lemon juice.
4) Keep tasting and season as needed. Add the parsley and cilantro.
5) Enjoy as an accompaniment/salad to any main dish