October 23, 2014

Curry Sauce

This month's Recipe Redux challenge was created just for me. Well, not just for me but maybe with me in mind?

This is the challenge for October: Spooky Spices: You know they are lurking there: Way in the back of your spice drawer. There lie the herbs, spices, or rubs that are getting dusty because you’re afraid to use them… you simply don’t know what to do with them! Well, pull them out and show us a recipe you created to deliciously conquer that fearful spice. (Or maybe the recipe was a flop – and the spice still give you nightmares?!)

Now, please, don't judge me too harshly but they wrote that knowing my secret. I hate curry. Just the smell will chase me away.
I know we are in a small minority here, because curry dishes are loved worldwide and I often wonder what it is about that spice, that makes my face scrunch like a little kids, who has just smelt liver and onions for the first time. Yes, quite the nightmare.

Or is it?
I do know that curry is from India and is actually a blend of many spices, each cook creates their own. Maybe I could experiment and come up with a version that isn't an aversion to my senses.

When it comes to curry, I think a British one is a good place to start so I need to find a proper right Englishman who can cook. So who did I choose? Jamie Oliver.

I have been watching him when he was a single bloke that called himself the Naked Chef and have recreated many of his dishes over the years. Except, that is, his curry. With the recent release and excitement for his new cookbook, I thought it was the perfect place to start. It seems his favourite curry sauce is everyone else's also. He gives the basic mixture of spices, then the appropriate additions, depending on what protein you will be cooking.

Simple enough, even for me. I knew that jar of fenugreek seeds I bought would be good for something. The only thing I had to buy was Serrano peppers and I had to omit the curry leaves (no time to order and nowhere locally). I decided my use would be with chicken.

Wish me luck!!! Aren't I such a sorry arse? You would think I was about to pluck that chicken, geez.

Update: While I was measuring each ingredient into it's receptacle I realized it was the fenugreek that gave curry that unique smell, so what was any good little curry hating girl to do? I reduced the fenugreek from Jamie's teaspoon to 1/4 teaspoon. Yes, I am a wuss, but one that likes my customized version and The Nudge totally agreed with me.

While mine was made with chicken and coriander seeds, I added a few cubes of butternut squash to round out the meal. I served mine with brown basmati rice and we both ate our dinners. I am not sure he even realized that this was the curry, and psssst....I am not going to tell him.

If there are any other curry haters out there, make this sauce (with a smidgen of fenugreek). You will really like it and technically it is a curry sauce and a wonderful Asian sauce, that I might just use with everything, from now on.

Once again, I have to thank The Recipe Redux for showing me that where there is a will,, there was a way.

Jamie Oliver's Favourite Curry Sauce
Adapted from  Jamie Oliver’s Happy Days with the Naked Chef

* 5 tbsp vegetable oil
* 2 tsp mustard seeds
* 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
* 3 green chillies, seeds removed, thinly sliced
* A handful of curry leaves, ripped into small pieces
* 2 thumb sized pieces of ginger
* 3 onions, chopped
* 6 tomatoes, chopped
* 1 tsp turmeric
* 1 tsp chili powder
* 1 or 2 wineglass water (about 10 oz)
* 14 fluid oz can coconut milk
* Salt

Fish version
* 4 (225 g) haddock fillets, skinned and pin-boned
* 1 knob (1 tbsp) tamarind paste or 1 tsp tamarind syrup
* A very large handful baby spinach (optional)

Chicken version:
* 4 chicken breasts, sliced into 1/2 inch (1 cm) strips
* 2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed

Vegetarian version:
* 800 g mixed veg, chopped (potatoes, zucchini, onions, sweet potatoes, spinach, chard, cauliflower, lentil beans)

1. Heat the oil.  When hot add mustard seeds & wait for it to pop.  Then add fenugreek, green chillies, curry leaves and ginger. Stir fry for a few mins.
2. Using food processor, chop the onion and add to the pan.
3. When brown & soft, add the chili powder and turmeric.
4. Using same food processor, pulse the tomatoes & add to the pan.  Cook a couple of mins.
5. Add 1 or 2 wineglasses of water & the coconut milk.  Simmer about 5 mins until it has the consistency of thick heavy cream.
6. Season carefully with salt & take this sauce as the base.

7. To make fish curry:
- 1.  Add the fish & tamarind to the sauce and simmer 6 mins.
- 2.  Add baby spinach at the end of cooking time.

8. To make chicken version:
- 1.  Stir fry chicken strips & coriander seeds until light colored.
- 2.  Add to sauce & simmer for 10 mins.

9. Vegetable version:
- 1.  Simply add all vegetables to the sauce at the beginning when you add the onions.
- 2.  Continue to cook as normal and simmer until tender.

May 14, 2014

Grape Chutney ♥ A 5-Ingredient Surprise

Update: Grapes were $.99 lb this week so I bought enough to can, 4 half-pints of this chutney. I will be using this with grilled meats all the summer long.

Yes, another recipe with grapes. Who woulda thunk that a few months ago I never would have thought of cooking with grapes and after I entered a grape contest and submitted a few recipes, I was happy to try the ones on this meal plan.

While one was a salad, this was a chutney, a simple chutney. A very tasty, simple chutney that I paired with pork tenderloin. This was another requested 'keeper'.

Only 110 calories in a 1/4 cup, this is the perfect sweet tart condiment when you are not excited about the meat. Come on, we have all had those nights where we open and close the door of the fridge like 10x, contemplate maybe calling for take-out, those nights when you should know better but there just isn't anything to get excited about. Those nights when you just don't want to chop and drop all those vegetables and aromatics. Throw a chicken in the oven and by the time it is on it's way to the table, this sauce can make the trip with that chicken.

When grapes go down to under $1.00 per pound, buy a ton of the red seedless ones. Make this chutney and freeze it, make it and can it, make it and eat it!!!

I did not change a thing, swear!
To view all the recipes on this meal plan, click here.

Grape Chutney
Makes: 1 1/4 cups

EatingWell: With just a few minutes of prep, you can make a chutney to serve with roast pork or chicken or to use as a sandwich spread. Purple grapes give it the richest color, but red grapes taste great too.

* 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/2 cup minced shallots
* 2 cups halved seedless purple or red seedless grapes
* 1/2 cup dry sherry
* 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar
* 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
* 1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add grapes, sherry, vinegar, mustard seeds and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the grapes have broken down, 10-20 minutes.

Per 1/4 cup serving: 110 calories; 3g fat (0g sat, 2g mono); 0mg cholesterol; 16g carbohydrate; 0g added sugars; 1g protein; 1g fiber; 124mg sodium; 204mg potassium.

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March 27, 2014

Garlic-Walnut Sauce

While I am a lover of all fish, The Nudge likes the white fish species the best and when my supermarket had fresh caught local flounder on special and looked fresh and clean, it called my name, so I bought two nice sized fillets (3/4 lb).

 I was tired of the lemon-wine-caper sauce and a brown butter sauce certainly was not healthy, so I opened my new Bobby Flay cookbook, Bobby Flay's Barbecue Addiction. I was sorry the show lasted one season but it was full of flavorful finishing sauces and I just had to buy the book. I knew I would find something unique in that book. He did not disappoint.

I have already made a few sauces but his Garlic-Walnut Sauce really hit my eye, not only would it be perfect with the flounder but with also with the roasted asparagus side.

I love sauces that require no cooking, no chopping and no special ingredients. If you agree, you should look into this cookbook. You can buy used ones in excellent condition through Amazon. I have perfect books that cost under $5.

OK, why did I choose a walnut sauce. Well, my new snack find are glazed walnuts and I have been throwing them into salads and pestos and even The Nudge likes them. They are oober healthy and perfect for Diabetics and now they will be the star of a 5 ingredient food processor gem. While healthy, someone NOT on a diet (I would love to meet that person), would adore this. Perfect for Diabetics, carb counters and fat fighters.

I know this sauce will make a few appearances at my summer table. It screams fresh fish and while Bobby grilled fresh sardines, I am going to try it on grilled trout and sub out the walnuts for almonds. Yummy!!

Garlic-Walnut Sauce
Makes 1 cup

* 1/4 cup EVOO
* 1/4 cup water
* 1 cup walnuts
* 3 cloves garlic
* Juice and zest of 1 lemon
* 1 cup parsley (optional, I did not want a green sauce)
* Salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil on the stove with the garlic cloves for 2-3 minutes until the garlic starts to brown. Remove to cool.
2. In the bowl of a processor, add the walnuts the lemon juice and zest and the parsley.
3. Pulse to mince the walnuts and add the olive oil. Pulse to puree. If the sauce is too thick, add the water.
I added 2 tablespoons to get a sauce that would drizzle easily.
4. Taste for seasonings and spoon over fish or vegetables.

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February 27, 2014

Pork Noisettes with Charcutiére Sauce

I found this recipe on What caught my eye was the cornichons and demi-glace in the sauce.
We are huge fans of pork tenderloins and while we grill most of them in the summer, I am always looking for winter-ized recipes.

While the overall dish was quite good, the use of boutique ingredients makes this not-so-approachable to the average cook. I think I would like to play around with the concept using basic pantry ingredients and if I did I would give you these recommendations...........if you can not find demi-glace (I do believe D'Artagnan sells it) or want to make it yourself (if you have a whole day, that is), reducing 2 cups of good quality low sodium beef stock (Rachael's won the ATK test) down to 6 tablespoons is a good enough sub as long as you refrain from adding salt to the finished sauce before you taste. If you can't find cornichons, add 1/4 cup of sweet pickle relish.

As usual the sauce tasted better the next day, so making this ahead a few days and searing off the pork last minute should work quite well.

A side of red cabbage, Brussels Sprouts or cauliflower is perfect with the pork.

Pork Noisettes with Charcutiére Sauce
Adapted from Saveur
serves 4
yield 3/4 cup sauce

* 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* (12) 1/2" slices pork tenderloin
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
* 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
* 1 cup white wine
* 6 tablespoon demi-glace
* 2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, diced
* 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
* 6 cornichons, julienned

1. Sear the pork: Heat 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt & pepper. Add half the pork to the skillet; cook, flipping once, until lightly browned and just cooked through, about 5 minutes total. Divide pork between 2 plates, overlapping  pieces on each plate. Repeat with remaining olive oil and pork. Cover plates loosely with foil; set aside in a warm place to let rest while you finish the sauce.

2. Make the sauce: Return skillet, with brown bits from pork still in it, to medium-high heat. Add onions; cook, stirring and scraping occasionally with a wooden spoon, until onions begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Add wine; simmer until reduced to about one-forth its original volume, about 5 minutes. Add demi-glace; whisk in butter until smooth. Remove skillet from heat; stir in mustard and cornichons. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons sauce over pork.

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February 1, 2014

Cognac Berre Blanc Sauce

Last night I made a baked flounder over crabmeat stuffing with a cognac cream butter sauce.
The pic was too bad to post so I used the one from my sister site of this sauce but with flounder topped with shrimp.

I will tell you might not look professional but is sure did taste like it was straight out of  a professional kitchen.

This is the kind of sauce that would be a main staple for baked seafood.

Cognac Berre Blanc Sauce
makes about 1 cup

* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 small shallot, minced
* 4 cloves garlic, crushed
* 2 tablespoons white wine
* 1/4 cup cognac
* 1/4 cup chicken broth
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and saute the shallots and the garlic until tender. Add the wine & cognac and cook for 2 minutes.
2. Add the broth and taste for seasoning. Adjust the salt & pepper.
3. Add the cream and simmer until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

January 14, 2014

Blue Cheese & Pear Sauce

Blue cheese and pears, everyone loves that combination. Why not make a sauce of those favorite foods and serve it over pasta? I could only think yum and I was right. The secret is not overloading the blue cheese and to use a juicy soft pear. The rest is sauce 101.

I think The Nudge was expecting a heavy blue cheese sauce, you know, the kind you dip wings into. Not the case here. It was perfectly balanced and I would make this again for when I am serving simply grilled, roasted or sauteed meat.

I used Anne Burrells recipe for spaetzle, minus the fresh herbs. Instead I added a pinch of dried rosemary to the sauce. Was the right choice.

If you do not have a spaetzle maker, you could do what I do and use your pasta drainer, one with large round holes. It must be able to handle heat since it will sit on a pot of boiling water and you will also need a spatula to force the dough mix down. A simple set-up but it works well for me, every time. If you have access to a large insert on your food mill, you can use that and the large disk for a potato ricer, although will produce small spaetzle, will also work. If you want to bypass the whole from scratch pasta thing, buy small gnocchi or even fresh cavatelli, but dried will not work as well.

The most important thing is to buy a wedge of real blue cheese, not crumbles we throw into salads and Buffalo dips, they are coated with something that stops them from sticking together. Any blue cheese will melt perfectly, so origin is not important.
Add splash of sweet Moscato and a touch of honey and you have the ultimate sauce, the kind I would serve with a fillet of beef as easily as with a bowl of gnocchi.

Blue Cheese & Pear Spaetzle
serves 4

* 1/2 small white onion, diced
* 1 medium clove of garlic, minced
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
* 1/4 cup sweet white wine
* 1 teaspoon honey or Agave Nectar
* salt & pepper
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 2 ounces wedge bleu cheese (I love the new buttermilk style)
* 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, minced
* 1 pear, peeled, seeded and diced

* 1 batch spaetzle (recipe here but can also buy the box mix)

1. Chop the onion, garlic and saute in the butter along with the rosemary. When soft, add the pear, wine, honey and simmer until the wine is almost evaporated. Add the cream, salt & pepper and when the cream comes up to a boil, add the cheese, cover, turn off the heat and let the cheese melt.
2. Right before serving, heat the sauce with the spaetzle until is starts to simmer. Serve immediately.

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January 7, 2014

Green Chiles and Onion Sauce

There are three foodie newsletters I subscribe too and Fine Cooking is one of them. Each day they send me a recipe. Sometimes I bookmark them, sometimes I don't.
This one showed up on December 4th.

How did they know I was looking for a tasty but different recipe for boneless loin chops I bought. Ideally I would find one that The Nudge could grill. I am teaching him how to cook and grilling is a great place to start. He's mastered steak, pork tenderloin and chops were next. Unfortunately the weather turned prohibitive for grilling, so pan sauteing it would have to be. He's not ready for that yet.

I had all the ingredients on hand and it just so happened, since I have had popovers on my mind and a new pan beckoning me to break it in, I stumbled on Smitten Kitchen's Corn, Buttermilk and Chive Popover recipe which will be perfect with these chops and I can get two posts from one meal. I hope. My first try at her popovers were not at all successful but I refuse to give up.
So, you will either see a post on popovers in a few days or a Merry Christmas greeting.

Cook's note: This was absolutely delicious, a true one pot wonder. The heat is perfectly balanced so even kids would like this and I used my cast iron pan from start to finish. I did not change a thing.

Pork Chops with Green Chiles and Onions
Adapted from

Serves 4
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 teaspoon pure ancho chile powder or chili powder
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 4 center-cut boneless pork chops, preferably about 1 inch thick (about 1-1/2 lb. total)
* 3/4 cup lower-salt chicken broth; more as needed
* 1 4-oz. can chopped green chiles
* 3 Tbs. chopped jarred jalapeños (from about 12 slices)
* 1 Tbs. cider vinegar
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 3 Tbs. olive oil
* 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

In a small bowl, combine the cumin, chile powder, 1-1/4 tsp. salt and 3/4 tsp. pepper. Sprinkle on both sides of the pork and set aside. In a blender or food processor, purée the chicken broth, green chiles (with their liquid), jalapeños, and vinegar until smooth.

Put the flour in a pie plate and dredge the pork chops, shaking to remove any excess. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Pour in 2 Tbs. of the oil and heat until shimmering hot, about 1 minute. Add the pork chops and cook, without moving, until they’re brown around the edges and release easily from the pan, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, flip, and cook the other side until browned, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a large plate.

Over medium-high heat, add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and the onion to the skillet. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted and golden, about 4 minutes. Add the green chile mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens slightly and the onions are completely tender, 2 to 3 minutes more; add a splash of chicken broth if the mixture seems dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Return the chops to the pan, nestling them into the onions. Cover and simmer gently until the pork is fairly firm to the touch with just a little give, 3 to 5 minutes. With a paring knife, make a nick in a thicker chop to make sure it’s only just a little pink.

Serve the pork chops topped with the sauce.

Nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 360; Fat (g): 18; Fat Calories (kcal): 160; Saturated Fat (g): 4; Protein (g): 39; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11; Carbohydrates (g): 10; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 810; Cholesterol (mg): 115; Fiber (g): 2

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