Curried Chicken With Dried Cherries

Curried Chicken and Dried Cherries - over head viewHave you ever heard of the Curry Tree? It is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the rue family, which also includes the citrus. The tree is native to India and Sri Lanka.

Curry Leaf Tree

curry leaves in a skillet with olive oil

Curry Leaves In A Skillet With Olive Oil

The leaves of the curry tree are used in many Indian dishes. The “sweet neem leaves” are often used in curries, as they (the leaves) are highly valued as a seasoning in southern and west-coast Indian cooking, as well as Sri Lankan cooking .

The leaves when used in curry dishes are add with the chopped onion in the first stage of the preparation of the curry dish.

potted curry leaf tree

Image Credit: Garden Amateur

The tree can be home-raised as a potted plant as it is easily grown in warmer areas of the world, or in containers where the climate is not supportive outdoors. In this image is a potted Curry tree in the yard of an Australian gardener.

Our featured dish is  – Curried Chicken With Dried Cherries – and here is what you will need, and no you will not need to hunt down some curry leaves. Unless you have a tree and want to add some leaves to the dish we are featuring.

3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks 

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon avocado oil

1 small red or purple onion, thinly sliced

2 ribs celery, sliced

1/2 cup fresh water or chicken broth

1/3 cup chopped dried cherries

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 to 1 teaspoon Himalayan Salt (optional)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons flour

cooking chicken meatIn a large ceramic coated skillet or cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of avocado oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stir occasionally until meat is oblique colored and just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate, and set aside.

cooking onions and celeryTo the same pan add the 1 teaspoon of avocado oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sliced celery and cook, stirring for 3 minutes.

adding curry and dried cherriesNext add the cherries and 1/2 cup water and bring to a light boil. Next stir in the curry powder, salt and pepper.

Next, pour in the cream and mix in. You can also use coconut milk, which is used in traditional Indian dishes. When making this dish, we didn’t have any coconut milk, but we did have some heavy cream.

adding in chicken meat to curry mixNext add the cooked chicken along with any juices and mix in.

Curried Chicken and Dried CherriesServe over rice, couscous or eat as is.

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Green Curry Chicken

Green Curry Chicken

Most curry dishes use a curry paste which is a pureed blend of beautiful smelling or aromatic spices, herbs, and vegetables. It is widely used as an ingredient in the cuisines of many cultures to make curries, stews, and other dishes. Most of the time though, Indian food comes to mind when you talk about curry. There are many different types of curry pastes, and each country’s blend has a distinct flavor.

The common spices used are cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, coriander, cardamon, cumin, fenugreek, fennel, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and onion. The base ingredient to start a curry paste is turmeric, which makes a yellow curry. Red pepper is added to make a red curry, and cilantro is added to make a green curry paste.

Using all of these ingredients makes for a healthy meal. To learn more about the healthy side of these culinary spices link here – Spice and Herbs Benefits -.

Our featured recipe uses green curry, and here is what you will need.

1 lb. rice noodles, cooked

1 pound (1-inch) cubed chicken breast tenders

½ lb. cut green beans, steamed

2 cups tricolor pre-chopped bell pepper mix

Oils to Use for Healthy Cooking - avocado oil or coconut oil2 to 3 teaspoons green curry paste

1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk, divided

Cooking oil, avocado oil or coconut oil ————->

Steam green beans first, about 5 minutes, then remove steaming basket and use boiling water to cook rice noodles according to package directions. Set both aside when done. Rinse rice noodles when cooked.

 

Chicken cooking in coconut oil and green curry sauce - Green Curry ChickenHeat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking oil. Add chicken to pan and sauté 4 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned. Stir in curry paste and cook 1 minute more, stirring frequently.

Meat and Vegetable Mix for Green curry Chicken

Stir in 1 cup coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes or until chicken is done, stirring occasionally.

Stir in bell pepper mix, and remaining coconut milk. Cook 3 minutes or until peppers are tender. Add steamed green beans and mix in. Add ½ teaspoon of Himalayan salt (optional).

showing the details of the Meat and Vegetable Mix for Green curry ChickenThere are 3 rules to a good meal. Besides flavor and smell, can you SEE what else makes a good meal appealing? Leave a comment below to let us know if you can guess the third rule of a good meal.

Green Curry ChickenPlate the rice noodles and top with Green Curry Chicken. If you wish top that with cilantro or with fresh basil as we did here. If you find the rice noodles to sticky, just take a plate one serving at a time and run warm water over it. Shake it dry and plate it. Enjoy!!

 

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How to Use Herbs in Cooking

How to Use Herbs in Cooking

An important part of cooking is also to know the flavors of herbs and spices and how to use them. Seasonings are the key to making a great meal.

If you are not familiar with different herbs, experiment. Get to know the flavors and how herbs work to flavor your food.  Also be aware herbs are not just for flavoring foods, but also have nutritional value as well as medicinal traits.

The following are the most popular used herbs.

Basil: This herb has a very aromatic odor and some can even be sweet. It can be fresh or dried. The herb goes well with lamb, fish, roast, stews, ground beef, vegetables, dressing and omelets. Basil should always be added after cooking your recipe dish, as heat chances the color and texture of basil.

Basil is also best used as whole leaves or torn. Do not use kitchen shears to cut basil as this will brown it. Smaller leaves at the top of the bunch are the sweetest.

Chives: This herb is part of the onion family. Though it can be sweet, and does have a mild flavor. They can be used dried or fresh. They go well with salads, fish, soups and potatoes.

Cilantro: It has a lively aromatic flavor. It looks similar to flat-leaf parsley, though it is not parsley. This herb originated from the Middle East and goes well with Asian, Mexican, and Indian dishes. It is also used in salsas and chutneys.

Cilantro is best used fresh. If you do grow this herb in your garden, note that the leaves become bitter after the plant flowers. The dried seeds of cilantro are the spice called coriander, which is popular in use with making Chai Tea.

Dill: This herb is very aromatic. The herb has grassy and feathery like leaves. It is used in pickle brine, as well as fresh in tuna salad, omelets, vegetables, seafood dishes, yogurt dressings that use cucumbers, and herbed vinegars.

Marjoram: Though not a popular herb, it is used either dried or fresh. It is used to add flavor to fish, poultry, omelets, lamb, stew, and stuffing.

Oregano: A very strong herb with a strong aromatic odor. Be careful when using this herb, as it is strong, adding to much will over power other flavors you will use in your recipe preparations. Oregano is unforgiving. If you have added more than the recipe calls for, there really is now way to fix it.

It can be use fresh or dried. It is added to recipes using fish, eggs, pizza, omelets, chili, stew, gravies, poultry and vegetables.

Rosemary: This herb has a pungent aroma like smell or pine flavor. It goes great with Mediterranean dishes, lamb, poultry, fish, and breads. Fresh sprigs or finely chopped leaves can be added to long-cooking stews.

It is noteworthy, that when grilling, sturdier stems of the plant make good skewers for broiling or BBQ dishes. Adding flavor to the meats and vegetables placed on the skewers.

Paprika: This spice works well when marinating steaks, in use with vegetables, soups or as a garnish for potatoes, salads and deviled eggs. The Paprika we are familiar with using is Hungarian and is sweet. There is also Smoked Paprika that is used in Mexican dishes. Most of the paprika we buy today is grown and processed in California.

Thyme: This delightful herb can be used fresh, though it is popular used dried. The leaves are dried than crushed, and can be sprinkled on fish or poultry before broiling or baking.

Here’s a tip using thyme as a meat smoking agent if you’re grilling fish or poultry: Place a few sprigs directly onto coals shortly before meat is finished grilling.

Rules to Using Herbs

The basic rule to using herbs is ¼ teaspoon for every 4 servings. Also, if you are using whole dried herbs, crush them before using to release their flavor. The rule of thumb is to use 3 times more fresh herbs if substituting for dried.

When preparing your dish, dried herbs should be added at the beginning and fresh herbs should be added just before serving the dish.

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Ingredients for Making Amazing Asian Food

Ingredients for Making Amazing Asian Food

Throughout the Asian world, they have their own unique cuisine.  The first countries that come to mind in most conversations when we talk about the Asian world is Japan, China, Korea, and Vietnam. The following map shows the actual world of Asia. Yes, it includes the Middle East and Russia.

southeast Asian countries

Asian food can even be healthy for you when cooked right. Some of the unique foods from the Asian world:

Chinese food

Chinese Food

Russian Food

Russian Food

Japanese Food

Japanese Food

The following is a basic list of food stuffs used in preparing Asian Cuisine along with preparations and techniques.

Bamboo Shoots

Bamboo shoots are called for in many Asian recipes. In order to prepare a bamboo shoot for cooking you need to peel them and boil the white inner stalks for 30 minutes in water. If you are using canned bamboo shoots you will only need to boil them for 10 minutes, or if they are going into curries or soups, boiling might not be required.

Basil (fresh)

There are three types of basils used in Thai cooking; sweet, holy and lemon. Sweet basil is much easier to find because it is commonly used in western cooking. Holy basil has a spicier taste and can be recognized by its slightly purple leaves. Lemon basil has a lemony flavor and can be detected by its distinct lemony scent. If you can only find sweet basil you can compensate for holy or lemon basil by adding finely chopped chili peppers or a bit of lemon rind.

Bergamot

Also known as kaffir lime leaves has a slightly limey flavor which goes well with all Thai dishes. Since this may be hard to find, granted lime rind can be used in its place although it is a poor substitute.

Chili paste

This can be bought in bottles or tubes in almost any supermarket. Used for adding spice and flavor to most dishes, a particularly popular version by Thai cooks is burnt mild chili paste.

Chinese mushrooms

Mushrooms are added to a lot of Asian cooking and many people chose to use the dried variety because they are cheaper and have just as much flavor and nutritional value. You will need to soak the mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes before using them and the stems are usually discarded because of their tough nature.

Coconut milk

Coconut milk can be bought in cans almost anywhere. If the recipe you are using calls for coconut cream scoop the harder white substance that has formed at the top of the can. If you need coconut milk, stir the can thoroughly before using.

Curry Paste

While some people prefer to prepare their own curry pastes, many bottled curries are available at the supermarket. Most recipes use red, green or yellow curry.

Fish sauce

Made from collecting the liquid off of fermenting salted fish, this pale, watery brown sauce is sometimes used to replace all the salt in recipes. It is very flavorful and compliments all Asian food. It is called for in many recipes but you can also use your imagination with it, as it is very versatile.

Galangal

A close relative to ginger is used in many curries and soups. Since it is quite rare to find fresh you will probably have to purchase it dry and soak it in water for 1 hour before using.

Garlic

Asian garlic might be available in some Asian markets, however if you cannot find it, the Western variety will work just as well. Use the smaller, tighter cloves on your garlic head for Thai cooking because they are more flavorful and will not be over powered by the other herbs and spices used in your dish.

Ginger

Easy to find and used quite often in modern cooking, ginger is extremely healthy and flavorful. It must be peeled before it is grated or chopped. Fresh ginger is much better than dried, although dried may be substituted if needed.

Lemon grass

Lemon grass is one of the most commonly used items in Asian cooking. It is a long stalk that looks like a small leek. The hard outer portion should be removed and the lower, bulbous part is used. You can either add sliced pieces to your food while it is cooking and remove them before serving your dish, or you can blend them in a food processor so they can be consumed with the dish, which will give it more flavors.

Palm Sugar

Some Asian recipes call for palm sugar which is available in some Asian markets as cellophane wrapped blocks. If palm sugar is unavailable you can substitute with dark brown sugar or real maple syrup.

Rice

The Asian people prefer long-grain white Jasmine rice, which is flavorful and aromatic rice that cools and compliments spicy Thai dishes.

Rice papers

Used for making fresh Asian spring rolls, you can buy rice papers at any Asian food store. To use soak papers (one at a time) in warmish water until they are soft and pliable, then dry off with paper towel and use immediately.

Sesame Oil

An oil that comes from pressed sesame seeds and originated in East India. A very flavorful oil and works very well with Asian cooking.

Preparation and Cooking Techniques

Vegetables

Vegetables used in Asian cooking should be cut as finely as possible. The idea is that the smaller they are chopped, the less time they will need to be cook, therefore retaining as much nutrients as possible.

Stir frying

Oil should be poured into a wok (or similar pan) and vegetables should be added over high heat while being constantly stirred. Vegetables should only be stir fried for a couple of seconds so they remain crisp and brightly colored.

Mortar and Pestles

Perfect for making sauces, curry pastes and salads, every Thai cook should own a mortar and pestle preferably made out of clay or wood.

Mincing

Since Asian cooking uses so many intensely flavorful ingredients they should all be chopped very finely so one flavor never overpowers the other. You should always use a very sharp knife for this.

Roasting and grinding spices

When adding spices and herbs to your Asian dish you should always roast them by slowly heating each spice individually in pan until they begin to crackle and turn brown. When each spice is done roasting they should be ground very finely in a food processor or mortar.

A 2 minute video demonstration of an Asian Cuisine Recipes : Tips for Pot Sticker Soup Ingredients

For more video demonstrations of Asian food click here.

Image Credits:

Header Image anhvabe / 123RF Stock Photo

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Different Ways to Organize Your Spice Cabinet

Organizing the Spice Cabinet

Spices are the main attraction of a food preparer’s kitchen as spices are used for all types of foods, from baking, cooking, broiling and barbequing. Spices are even used to make teas, like Spiced Chai tea.

Organizing your spice cabinet according to the way you cook would ensure the spices are always at hand or easily available. Your cooking will also improve with your spices easily at hand and wasting no time sorting through the cabinet looking for the right spice.

When acquiring new spices already in their own packaging or buying in bulk and you adding them to spice jars, it is best to write the purchase date on them so you know when it’s time to go and buy some fresh spices. The rule of thumb to stock fresh spices is every 6 months.

You should clean and organize your cabinet biannually, which is every six months. Dried spices hold their flavor as long as they are stored in the dark, no humidity and not next to or above the stove. Heat from the stove will only cause the spices to expire faster, as well as humidity.

To maximize your cabinet space, why not store your spices in similar shaped containers that match and coordinate. If you decide to do this, you can buy from 2 to 6 ounce spice jars at your local market that sells bulk spice or at the local organic markets. I did that and paid $1.99 each. They have plastic lids and shaker top and they are a glass jar. They have no labels though. But not to worry just link here Martha Stewart Spice Labels and download her free spice jar label template. There are 25 assorted labels with the spice name already printed on them, like cinnamon, allspice, ginger, cloves, etc., with additional blank labels. Print out the template onto 8 1/2 x 11 card stock or self-adhesive paper.

Different Ways to Organize

Type of Meal

What sorts of meals do you make often? The spices you use for these meals can be organized in one section. Arrange barbeque spices and rubs in one section, and sweet spices for baking in another section.

This method of organization will help you to easily grab all of the spices needed to prepare the recipes that are popular and made most often in your kitchen.

Alphabetically

If you are the type of cook who doesn’t make the same recipe twice, then organize your spices alphabetically to find what you’re looking for quickly and easily. Your spices should be stored in such a way that you can easily see all of the jars with their labels facing forward as well.

Country

Are you the type of recipe creator that likes to prepare meals of different countries? Like Indian food, or Mexican food and even yet Italian food?

Then organize the spices according to the area they originate from as your guide. If you decide to use the Martha Stewart spice template, just mark the country of origin.

As an example: If you like cooking Mexican food, then when you label the paprika, cumin, oregano or any other spice related to that type of food, below the spice name pencil or pen in “Mexico”. This way when you return the spices to the cabinet, they stay grouped together.

Do you have a way you organize your spice cabinet? Leave us your idea in the comment section so other readers can know about your organizational spice cabinet ideas. Thanks!!

Image credit: ronyzmbow / 123RF Stock Photo

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