Honey Garlic Chicken Kebabs

honey garlic chicken kebabsKebab, meat on a stick, is a middle Eastern dish and the traditional meat was lamb but you can just about any meat, chicken, fish or vegetable. Chicken kebabs are easy to make and are appealing to most.  If you don’t have a barbeque, use the broiler in your oven.

Serves 4
1 lb. chicken breast or thighs, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
chopped parsley, for garnishing

In a large bowl, whisk to combine honey, soy sauce, garlic and olive oil. Add chunks of chicken and mix so that all the marinade has coated the chicken. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Remove from fridge and thread chicken on skewers. If using wooden skewers, soak in water 1 hour prior to use.

marinated chicken kebabsPreheat barbeque to medium heat (about 350f/180c). Place chicken skewers on a clean grill and cook 3 to 4 minutes before turning. You may have to increase the cooking time depending upon size of chicken pieces.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Similar-sized pieces of chicken means uniformed cooking and less chance some of the meat will be undercooked.  To keep the chicken from rolling around on the skewer, I used two and that kept them in place.  Serve the kebabs with couscous flavored with fresh herbs, tabbouleh, potato salad or a green salad. Enjoy!

Honey Garlic Chicken Kebabs
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. chicken breast or thighs, cut into small chunks
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • chopped parsley, for garnishing
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk to combine honey, soy sauce, garlic and olive oil. Add chunks of chicken and mix so that all the marinade has coated the chicken. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Remove from fridge and thread chicken on skewers. If using wooden skewers, soak in water 1 hour prior to use.
  2. Preheat barbeque to medium heat (about 350f/180c). Place chicken skewers on a clean grill and cook 3 to 4 minutes before turning. You may have to increase the cooking time depending upon size of chicken pieces.
  3. The Culinary Chase’s Note: Similar-sized pieces of chicken means uniformed cooking and less chance some of the meat will be undercooked. To keep the chicken from rolling around on the skewer, I used two and that kept them in place. Serve the kebabs with couscous flavored with fresh herbs, tabbouleh, potato salad or a green salad. Enjoy!

 

Comments { 0 }

Quinoa Risotto

quinoa risottoThe classic Italian risotto is prepared with arborio or carnaroli rice but this recipe throws the ‘traditional’ rice out the window and replaces it with quinoa.  I know my Italian friends will read this and shudder but…  I was a bit skeptical substituting a family-favorite for a seed.  Could this ever be as good as rice?   While its texture is different to that of rice, it does give you something to sink your teeth into.  Mushrooms and fresh thyme gently perfume the quinoa risotto making it a perfect substitute for those who are gluten intolerant.   The addition of mascarpone gives it a rich, decadent flavor.

Serves 4
inspired by Donna Hay

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
½ cup white wine
1½ cups white quinoa, well rinsed in cold water
4 cups hot chicken stock
1/3 cup grated parmesan
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
handful or so of mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup mascarpone

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add mushroom and thyme, salt and pepper and cook, until golden.  Set aside and keep warm.

fresh thymeCombine olive oil and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When butter has melted, add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add wine and cook until slightly reduced. Add quinoa and stir. Then add a ladle of hot chicken stock to the quinoa and stir until the liquid is fully absorbed. Add the next ladle as soon as the quinoa is almost dry. Repeat this process until the quinoa is tender but not mushy (about 25 minutes).   Remove from the heat, add a tablespoon of butter and stir in the parmesan. Add mushroom mixture and mascarpone to the risotto and stir to combine.   Season to taste and serve immediately.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:
Earthy, herbal flavors and aromas makes this dish a keeper.  If you run out of stock, use hot water.  Enjoy!

Quinoa Risotto
 
Author:
Recipe type: vegetarian, gluten-free
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1½ cups white quinoa, well rinsed in cold water
  • 4 cups hot chicken stock
  • ⅓ cup grated parmesan
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • handful or so of mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • ¼ cup mascarpone
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add mushroom and thyme, salt and pepper and cook, until golden. Set aside and keep warm.
  2. Combine olive oil and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When butter has melted, add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add wine and cook until slightly reduced. Add quinoa and stir. Then add a ladle of hot chicken stock to the quinoa and stir until the liquid is fully absorbed. Add the next ladle as soon as the quinoa is almost dry. Repeat this process until the quinoa is tender but not mushy (about 25 minutes).
  3. Remove from the heat, add a tablespoon of butter and stir in the parmesan. Add mushroom mixture and mascarpone to the risotto and stir to combine. Season to taste and serve immediately.

 

 

Comments { 2 }

Zucchini Noodles and Avocado Dressing

zucchini noodle salad with avocado dressingI love pasta and could eat tons of it and not gain an ounce when I was younger – attributed to a high metabolism and being very active.  However, this menopausal woman isn’t able to boast that statement any longer without increasing my waistline.  Sooo, I cook it when I am craving it leaving me to think of ways for a pasta substitute.  It seems that zucchini noodles are a ‘thing’ this year and with my trusty mandoline slicer, I grabbed a zucchini and proceeded to use as a pasta substitute. Zucchini noodles and avocado dressing makes a perfect dish for the summer heat as nothing needs to be cooked and it takes little time and effort.  My gluten-free friends will also enjoy this dish.  The zucchini noodles has a texture that would remind you of pasta.  The dish is one I will definitely make again, it was that good!

Serves 4 as a side

1 large zucchini
cherry tomatoes, quartered
couple handfuls of rocket (arugula)
1 ripe avocado, peeled and stone removed
1/2 cup plain yogurt
milk or water (to be used as a thinning agent)
1 garlic, minced
handful of fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon lime juice
6 to 8 kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

zucchini noodlesTo make the zucchini noodles, use a mandoline with a julienne attachment and slice into thick noodles, or if you don’t have a mandoline, cut zucchini into wide strips and julienne into thin strips. Toss into a mixing bowl and add tomatoes, rocket and olives.

zucchini noodle saladTo make the avocado dressing, place chunks of avocado in a dish with yogurt, garlic, parsley, cumin and lime juice. Use a hand blender and blend until smooth.

avocado dressing ingredientsThe dressing will be thick-ish at this point so add a bit of milk and olive oil to desired consistency.   Add a couple of spoonfuls to the salad and toss.  Add more dressing if desired.  Season with salt and pepper.

avocado dressingThe Culinary Chase’s Note:  The avocado sauce is so darn delicious!  If you have any leftover, use it as a dip, or tossed into pasta.  Enjoy!

Zucchini Noodles and Avocado Dressing
 
Author:
Recipe type: vegetarian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 large zucchini
  • cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • couple handfuls of rocket (arugula)
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and stone removed
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • milk or water (to be used as a thinning agent)
  • 1 garlic, minced
  • handful of fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 6 to 8 kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. To make the zucchini noodles, use a mandoline with a julienne attachment and slice into thick noodles, or if you don’t have a mandoline, cut zucchini into wide strips and julienne into thin strips. Toss into a mixing bowl and add tomatoes, rocket and olives.
  2. To make the avocado dressing, place chunks of avocado in a dish with yogurt, garlic, parsley, cumin and lime juice. Use a hand blender and blend until smooth.
  3. The dressing will be thick-ish at this point so add a bit of water and olive oil to desired consistency. Add a couple of spoonfuls to the salad and toss. Add more dressing if desired. Season with salt and pepper.

Comments { 0 }

How To Cook Fresh Peas

how to cook fresh peasI love recreating a food memory.  I grew up in the country where my parents had enough land to grow their own vegetables along with 2 pigs and 6 hens.  We didn’t have a farm per se, it was more of a hobby farm.  Looking back it was an interesting learning experience for me but at the time, a vegetable garden (a large one at that!) and a few farm animals meant outside chores increased and that ate into my summer time fun.  When my siblings and I got older, we would help mom prepare the vegetables and shelling peas was one I did not mind doing.  I was at the Alderney Farmers’ Market on Saturday and spotted a bag of peas.  Seeing them I instantly recalled a dish my mom would make when the first round of vegetables were ready to eat – hodge podge – that’s what she called it.   Basically it’s fresh veggies such as peas, string beans, new potatoes and carrots.  Some cooks will make it more like a stew but the way my mom made it was very simple…once the veggies were cooked either boiled or steamed, drain, combined in a pot and add butter and milk (place over low heat until butter has melted and milk is warmed).  To prepare the fresh peas you need to shell them.  To shell, all you need to do is pull the stringy bit at the top and pull down.  Pry open the pod at the seam using your thumbs and run your finger down to clear out the peas.  The next step, how to cook fresh peas, is simple.

shelled peas

Add peas to a small pot and barely cover with water.

peasBring to a slow boil and cook 3 to 4 minutes.  Do not add salt to the water as this will toughen the peas.  Drain and return peas to the pot but don’t turn on the heat.  Add a knob of butter, sea salt and pepper and stir until butter melts.  Garnish, if you like, with freshly chopped mint.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  When picking your own peas, choose pods that are medium in size as the large ones can produce tougher peas and generally not a pleasant taste.  When shelling peas, taste one, it should be tender and sweet.  Try puréeing the cooked peas with garlic, pine nuts, touch of lemon juice, S&P, and spread this on a toasted slice of bread.  Enjoy!

Pry open the pod at the seam using your thumbsRead more : http://www.ehow.com/how_2090032_shell-peas.html
Pry open the pod at the seam using your thumbsRead more : http://www.ehow.com/how_2090032_shell-peas.html
Comments { 0 }

Kale and Orange Salad

kale & orange saladKale may not be a favorite for everyone, but this recipe might just change the way you view kale. The orange segments soften any bitter taste you may experience and look how gorgeous the red onion looks once its bathed in lime juice!  Kale and orange salad with quinoa is a winning combo, full of nutrients and let’s not forget taste!

kale-collage

Kale and Orange Salad
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: vegetarian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • bunch of kale, washed and chopped (thick spine removed)
  • garlic, minced
  • 1 navel orange, peeled and segmented
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced and soaked in juice of 1 lime (15 minutes)
  • 1 cup cooked white quinoa
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts (or other favorite nut)
  • extra-virgin olive oil (or roasted walnut oil)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Place kale in a large bowl.
  2. Add garlic, orange segments, quinoa, pine nuts, and red onion slices.
  3. Add a splash of olive oil and any juice from the orange.
  4. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper.

 The Culinary Chase’s Note:  When segmenting the orange, do so over a bowl to catch the juices and use the juice as part of the dressing for the salad.  Allowing the onion to sit in the lime juice not only softens it and gives it a lovely pink color, it also reduces any strong onion flavor.  Enjoy!

Comments { 0 }

Duck Ragu

duck raguThe origin of ragù sauce can be traced back to Bologna, Italy.  Duck ragu is a Venetian dish where the focus is more on the meat and herbs rather than the tomatoes.  This slow-cooked sauce can also be made with beef, pork, veal, lamb or boar.  I enjoy this sort of dish as it’s perfect for entertaining; the meat sauce can be made ahead of time and gently reheated while the pasta is cooking thus leaving more time with my friends and family.

Serves 4 to 6
adapted from BBC Good Food

splash of olive oil
4 duck legs (alternatively use duck breast, skin removed)
1 onion, chopped
1 to 2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup red wine
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)
1 cup chicken stock
3 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons milk
500g tagliatelle (you can also use large rigatoni, penne or gnocchi)
Parmesan
handful of parsley, chopped

Heat oil in a large pan. Season duck legs with salt and pepper and brown on all sides for about 10 minutes.  Remove to a plate and set aside. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the rendered fat and discard or save for another use. Add the onions to the pan and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook until fragrant then stir in cinnamon. Return the duck to the pan, add wine, tomatoes, stock, herbs, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 2 hours, stirring once in a while.

duck ragu sauceRemove duck legs from the sauce and place on a plate. Shred meat and discard the bones and fat.  Add meat back to the sauce with the milk and simmer, uncovered, for a further 10-15 minutes.

Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain, and reserve a cup of the pasta water. Add pasta to the ragù. Stir to coat the pasta in the sauce, adding a splash of pasta water if it looks dry. Serve with parsley and grated Parmesan.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  If you can’t find fresh duck legs or breast, look in the frozen meat section of your grocery store.  I found mine, frozen, at Chater Meat Market.  Enjoy!

Comments { 0 }

Le Dîner en Blanc – Halifax

photo from HITC Lifestyle

photo from HITC Lifestyle

Friendship, elegance and gallantry are a few of the words to describe the worldwide epicurean phenomenon that is about to take over Halifax’s public space for the first time this summer on August 23.  Le Dîner en Blanc – Halifax is a 4-hour très chic picnic for 1,000 people.  Le Dîner en Blanc, launched in Paris by Françoise Pasquier in 1988, now attracts more than 15,000 people each year.  Diners meet at a predetermined departure point where some are bussed and some will walk to a secret location.  This outdoor space is kept secret until half an hour before the dinner takes place.  The Halifax event is being hosted by Michelle Brisson (owner of Piknik Events) and Dylan Moggery (creative director at Extreme Group).

photo from The Town Dish

photo from The Town Dish

Throughout the evening guests will be treated to entertainment from performers, musicians, a dj, and light show all to help accentuate the dining experience.  An elegant setting calls for all to arrive dressed in white…everything must be in white (tablecloths, plates, flowers, balloons).  This magical event spans 4 continents and over 40 countries.  Halifax is the latest Canadian city to join in on this posh picnic.  Other Canadian cities include:  Calgary, Edmundston, Montreal, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Okanagan Valley, Quebec City, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler.

photo from 513eats.com

photo from 513eats.com

Over the course of the evening, diners eat and celebrate amid live music and dancing.  To help set the mood, local favorite Swingology will play as dinner starts.  If you’re not keen on bringing your own gourmet dinner basket or you just want to treat yourself, Le Dîner en Blanc – Halifax has partnered with Chef David Smart, Chef Frédéric Tandy and chocolatier Julien Rousseau-Dumarcet to provide gourmet picnic baskets that are specially crafted for the event.   Each basket has enough food for 2 and there are 4 from which to choose.  And where would this très chic picnic be without wine?  Bishop’s Cellar will be offering a selection of wines and champagne that is purchased before the event.

Basket #1L’Ami De La Mer
gazpacho, fish terrine, potato salad, chocolate torte, white chocolate truffle

photo by James Ingram

photo by James Ingram

Basket #2Le Classique
vichyssoise, charcuterie plate, chicken ballontine, lentil salad, crème caramel, white chocolate truffle

photo by James Ingram

photo by James Ingram

Basket #3Le Big Deal
fois gras & chutney, pickled chanterelle, lamb, ratatouille, cheese plate, panna cotta with berry coulis, white chocolate truffle

photo by James Ingram

photo by James Ingram

Basket #4Le Jardinier
gazpacho, mushroom & Brie pâté en croûte, salad, chocolate torte, white chocolate truffle

photo by James Ingram

photo by James Ingram

The Culinary Chase’s Note:   I, along with 10 others, had the pleasure of sampling from each basket.  It will be a difficult task for me to choose only one!  This is going to be the white party of the year!

Comments { 0 }

Grilled Peppers

grilled peppersWe grill all year round but when the weather is warmer we use the barbecue weekly. We grill anything – bread, cheese, veggies, meat, fish, fruit, you name it we’ve most probably grilled it.

A couple of years ago John and I were on a cruise around the Adriatic Sea and one of the ports of call was Bari. Exploring on foot can build up quite an appetite. Usually I will have already researched a place to eat but Bari was one that I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t ‘touristy’ (we crave authentic). Exhausted from the blazing heat, humidity, and starting to feel a bit cranky, we stumbled upon a place to eat that wasn’t rustic and felt, perhaps, a bit too upscale for what we wanted. Still, my stomach was telling me we had to stop now otherwise I was about to keel over. In we went, and with John’s Italian language skills of that of a 3-year old, we managed to order what we thought were going to be just a ‘few’ antipasti. Yikes! We must have had enough for 10 people! Our server brought us marinated white anchovies, assorted olives, octopus, peppers, zucchini, fresh mozzarella, focaccia, but one dish that stood out was grilled peppers.  The grilled peppers were silky smooth, delicately bathed in olive oil, scented with chopped basil and garlic.  I mopped up the juices with bread (not the focaccia) but fresh bread that came out of the oven.   We always chat to people and our server (owner I think) kept bringing us food to try.  I think it was due to our enthusiasm for food and a willingness to want to try new things.  But in the end we had to tell him we were stuffed.   I have added a couple of ingredients which, I think, highlights the sweetness from the peppers.  I hope you will enjoy this dish as much as we did.  It’s a lovely way to re-visit the food of Italy in your own home.

Serves 4 to 6 as an antipasto

3 bell peppers (red, yellow, orange or all one color)
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, minced
splash of extra-virgin olive oil
splash of white balsamic vinegar or sherry vinegar
6 to 8 basil leaves, sliced
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
handful Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced

Fire up the barbeque and place whole bell peppers on grill. Grill until charred on all sides. Remove from heat and place peppers in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow peppers to cool enough to handle. Remove charred skin, seeds and membrane. Slice peppers and place in a clean bowl. Add rest of the ingredients and toss to combine. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

grilled peppersThe Culinary Chase’s Note:
This dish is gorgeous on its own or used in pasta, as bruschetta topping, in sandwiches etc. These will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days…if they last that long! Enjoy!

Comments { 0 }

Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

roasted carrot and parsnipPop-up shops (temporary retail spaces that sell merchandise of any kind) have been around for a while and not limited to art or fashion.  Farmers’ markets are getting on the band wagon and showing up in places you wouldn’t have thought.  And why not?  Last week I dropped my daughter off at Mic Mac Mall and she quickly called to let me know there was a market in the main entrance. When I returned to pick her up, I popped in to see what was being offered. The Vegetorium Country Farm Market had a small, but jam-packed table.  Every Thursday from now until October locals will have an opportunity to buy produce fresh from the farm.  I eyed the carrots and new potatoes.  Roasted carrots and parsnips make a lovely side dish and easy to eat when serving to children – perfect finger food!

carrots, sliced lengthwise
parsnips, peeled and sliced lengthwise
extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
half a lemon

garden fresh carrotsPreheat oven to 400f. Arrange carrots and parsnips on a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle cumin over the vegetables. Squeeze lemon over and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Place pan in oven and roast 20 to 30 minutes or until veggies are tender. Serve hot or allow to cool to room temperature.

carrots and parsnips
To take this dish up a notch (photo shown at the top), sauté chorizo slices until warmed through and the natural oil is released. In a bowl, add chorizo plus any oil from the pan and the roasted vegetables along with a choice of cooked barley, lentils, or quinoa. These grains can be cool or warm. Add a splash of olive oil, minced garlic and chopped parsley.  Toss to combine.

roasted parsnips & carrotsThe Culinary Chase’s Note:
If you bought small carrots fresh from the farmer like I did, don’t peel.  Simply scrub clean.  If the carrots or parsnips are large, cut them into quarters (lengthwise).  Roasting brings out the natural sugars in the vegetables and remember to keep an eye on the cooking time. Cut vegetables in roughly the same size for uniform cooking. Enjoy!

Comments { 0 }

Grilled Guacamole

grilled guacamoleThere are oodles of recipes incorporating an avocado but the most familiar is guacamole and everyone has their own version.  Grilled guacamole is a slight spin on an old favorite. The avocado has been around for thousands of years and is rich in potassium (helps regulate blood pressure) and vitamin A (helps your eyes).  Avocado paste can be applied to the skin to help with rashes and to smooth rough skin.  Guacamole is so easy to make and is a crowd pleaser at a barbeque, pot luck or family gathering.  I’ve been making guacamole for years and was recently inspired by the one I saw from The Kitchn.

2 avocados, halved, stones removed
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
5-6 drops of Tabasco sauce
1 large tomato, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup fresh coriander, chopped
juice of one lime

gucamole ingredientsTurn barbecue on to medium heat. Make sure grate is clean and lightly oiled. Place avocado halves flesh side down and grill 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Scoop out flesh and in a bowl lightly mash avocado. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Serve with your favorite corn chips.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Try to select avocados that aren’t too ripe otherwise the consistency will be mush-like.  Enjoy!

Comments { 0 }