Thursday, July 16, 2009

Peanut Chicken Skewers atop spicy rice noodles

Peanuts- I've never quite understood all the hype about them. Don't get me wrong, I eat them. I've eaten them boiled and mixed with onions and chillies, eaten them roasted in their pods, roasted without their pods, ground up in a tangy, spicy chutney, peanut butter and in brittle-- pretty versatile, I'll give them that but still dont get the fuss! My husband on the other hand, can polish off a jar, as in a whole, entire jar of peanut butter in 2 days. He has a thing for peanuts and bananas, I guess its no mystery what he was in his previous life! Just kidding...
I really wouldnt go out of my way to find a way to use peanut butter in my cooking if it werent the item of this month's Jihva. I havent been following it for a while, I think I've probably done one and think its high time for the next one. Jihva for peanuts it is!
Serendipity is a beautiful thing, the goal was to focus on the chicken but the noodles, ooohhh the noodles were so darn delicious! Sweet, spicy, tangy, all in all really good. One of my new favorite things to make. The only thing missing is some green-- garnishing with some green onions or cilantro would have been perfect but I was all out...oh well there's always next time!
[UPDATE: According to Cook's Hideout who is "hosting" this event and taking things a bit too seriously in my opinion, the event this month is VEGETARIAN. So, this "disqualifies" my dish. Its funny that she would remember to include this particular rule after she got my entry. And although I can completely respect ones religious/moral inclinations, how sacrilegious can it be to put a picture and link of food that was made by somebody else?? Radical, more than a little asinine and discriminating in my opinion. If you have such strong feelings about diet then why volunteer "hosting" something that is supposed to compile peoples interpretation/application of natural ingredients. But dont worry, I will not be pulled down, while I recover from this slap on the wrist inflicted by the vegetarian food police, always remember my fellow carnivore bretheren, in the words of the brilliant ad campaignists at Hillshire farm, GO MEAT!! Dramatic? Yeah, don't you love it?]

For the Peanut Chicken Skewers

1.71 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts (3 in my case), cut into cubes
3 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp corriander powder
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp of chilli powder
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375F. Soak wooden skewers in water (avoids burning of the wood).
Mix all ingredients except chicken in a bowl. If the mixture is too thick, add more oil to thin it out but it shouldnt be runny. Add chicken and make sure all pieces are evenly coated. Skewer the chicken cubes. Line skewers on a well greased cookie tray (I lined mine with foil). And place in oven for about 35-40 mins till done.

For Noodles:

1/2 pack of Rice noodles cooked according to directions (soak in hot water for 5 minutes, and place in cold water till ready to use)
1 onion chopped
1/2 green pepper chopped
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp chilli sauce (Sri Racha)

Noodle sauce (Just combine everything):

3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
juice of 1 lime

Fry onions and green peppers in a wok. Add ginger-garlic paste. Then add cooked noodles and fry for about 3 minutes. Add the noodle sauce and chilli sauce. Give it a nice thorough stir, check on the salt, add more now if necessary. Serve with chicken skewers. Yummmm.....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Zucchini blossoms-who knew?!

Ahhh summer!! Lovely weather, zero humidity, vacation frame of mind, bright veggies and perfect fruit meaning my canning/jamming duties have to begin, like, right now!

I felt the sudden urgency of stocking up on berries. Yes, I know I'm a tad obsessive, but think of it though, what if blueberry season goes by and I've not made any mildly sweet, utterly delicious, purplish-blue jam?? So I rushed out to the nearest U-PICK by our home, a mammoth of a place called Larriland farms, which was a good 25 mile drive away. 2 hours and 6 lbs of blueberries later I stopped by their "Red barn" to get something to drink, an anise-y, old fashioned soda called sarsaparilla (sp?). Refreshingly delicious. But of course, something else catches my eye in a metallic cooler in their pre-picked veggie section...a lone plastic carton filled with 8 beautiful yellow zucchini flowers. I grabbed the carton before even being logical about it, you know those practical thoughts that I should have been thinking about like I've never really eaten or even seen these dainty beauties, what could I possibly do with them, but $3 ($2.99 to be exact) was not a bad investment for an experiment especially if it turned out well. And besides, I've been away from this blog for so long I wanted my next post (= this one) to be absolutely fabulous. I'd just gotten my fresh pasta rolling and shredding attachments a couple of days before, and hadnt tested it out yet. And just like that, the whole menu fell into place.

Appetizer: Stuffed and fried zucchini blossoms
Main course: Fresh egg pasta with Sicilian-styled eggplant
Dessert: Capuccino brownies

I don't really want to club too many recipes into one post so for starters I thought I'd go with the zucchini blossoms. A lot of googling didnt really help me find anything that I liked which really means that the fridge wasnt stocked up with those particular ingredients. I ended up just winging it, mish-mashing a bunch of different recipes. The result was delicious, light, crispy, faintly sweet coating with smooth, warm, herby, onion cheesy filling oozing out. I found that the spring onions really made the filling shine but feel free to use any combination of fresh herbs you like. So here goes:


8 zucchini blossoms
For stuffing:

6 tbsps of cream cheese
A few sprigs of basil (chopped fine)
2 spring onions (chopped fine)
A pinch of salt and pepper

Mix all these ingredients together in a bowl. Reserve for later.

For batter:
2 tbsp of Coca-cola (yes the drink! It was great!)
3 tbsp of all-purpose flour
A pinch of salt

Add coke into the flour+salt and mix but dont let the effervescence (little bubbles) die out.


Heat about 3 generous glugs of vegetable oil in a shallow pan, temperature should be about medium-high. Remove the pistil from the flowers (its conical and orangish, move the petals over and you can see it in the middle). Add a little of the cheese stuffing, twist the edges of the petals to seal, dip it into the batter and fry. Make sure one side is pale-golden brown before flipping over.