Monday, 29 September 2014

Jamaican Curry Chicken

Phew, time sure does fly, doesn't it? I feel like every time I turn around another month has passed. Summer's over and fall is just starting to set in here in London. We've been lucky and had sunny 20˚C weather for the past two weeks, but apparently that's over starting Friday!

In just three and a half months I'll be making the big move across the globe to Sydney, Australia to start medical school. I can tell ya: it's a bit stressful to plan out. I have expressed many times how I wish someone else could plan everything and I just have to okay it. But, life is rarely that simple or convenient, right?

So on days where the breeze is getting a bit cooler (and maybe you're stressing out about moving to the other side of the Earth), comfort food is a must. To me, comfort food encompasses everything from a big casserole filled with pasta and cheese, to a a simple dish of braised chicken. Today, I have a version of the latter. Behold, the Lowe's Jamaican chicken curry. My mom has been making this for my brother and I for forever, and it's never failed to make me feel warm right down to my toes. This is truly a mother-specialty and I'm super excited to share it. Ridiculously simple, enormously delicious, and perfect for those days when you just want to bury yourself in the couch and marathon TV.

Jamaican Curry Chicken
• 8-12 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
• 1 onion, diced
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1/3 package of Grace's Coconut Cream*
• 3 sprigs of thyme
• 3 tbsp Jamaican curry powder (or regular curry powder, if you can't find Jamaican)
• 1/3-1/2 cup of water, depending on how thick you like your gravy
• 1 scotch bonnet pepper
• 2 potatoes, cubed
• Salt and pepper, to taste

*if you can't find Grace's Coconut Cream Block, use 1/3 cup of coconut milk and reduce water to 1/4-1/3 cup

In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, onions, garlic, coconut, thyme, curry, water, and the scotch bonnet pepper.

Heat a large pot over medium heat with just enough oil to cover the bottom. Add chicken thighs in batches and brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. After all the chicken is browned, add the rest of the curry mix to the pot and simmer with a lid for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add potatoes. Simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once the potatoes and the chicken are fully cooked, season with salt and pepper. If you like your gravy thicker, mix together 1 tbsp of cornstarch and 1 tbsp water to make a slurry and add it to the pot. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Friday, 30 May 2014

Lemon Ginger Oatmeal Cake

It hits me how fast time flies whenever I sit down to type up a post and think: ‘It’s been that long since I’ve written anything?’. I never was very good at keeping a diary; sometimes years would pass before I remembered to write an entry. A blog is a bit easier- you can type for one thing.

It’s finally heated up here in Ontario- we were stuck in the low teens for all of April and most of May. This last week, though, has been perfect; sun, warmth, and only one or two thunderstorms. It’s glorious. My labrador retriever is certainly enjoying the summer weather- in the late afternoon he loves to lay down in a patch of sunlight on our balcony.

Today I have another adaptation of an LCBO Food and Drink recipe. I made this on a whim, mostly because I wanted to bake and we had the ingredients. I’ve wanted to try this for a while now, too. It’s a breakfast cake (though, really, cake can be eaten at any time of day), with oats and bran giving it a wholesome taste. The ginger gives it a nice kick, too. It’s great just out of the oven, but try it toasted the next day- absolutely delicious (especially if you add a dollop of ice cream). You can top it with a simple glaze or nothing at all; I had some cream cheese frosting lying around that I used to do a simple crosshatch. With only half a cup of butter, you can tell yourself this cake is healthy and have an extra big piece for breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day, after all.

Lemon Ginger Oatmeal Cake
Adapted from LCBO Food and Drink Winter 2011
Makes 1 9” round cake

• 1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped (or 1 tbsp grated frozen ginger)
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 2 tbsp lemon juice
• 3/4 cup dried cranberries
• 1/4 cup dried prunes (diced)
• 1 tbsp grated lemon rind
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup bran (I used PC Fiber Cereal and buzzed it up in a food processor)
• 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
• 1/4 tsp baking soda
• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 1 cup buttermilk (or substitute 1 cup milk with 1 tbsp vinegar)
• 1 tbsp chopped/grated ginger, for topping.

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Butter a 9” cake pan and line with parchment paper. Set aside.

Combine ginger, 1/4 cup of sugar and lemon juice in a small pot over medium heat. Simmer until the sugar is melted and the mix is hot, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add cranberries, prunes and lemon rind. Set aside.

Combine flour, bran, oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl; set aside.

Beat together the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating well before each addition. Beat in half the flour mixture, the buttermilk, then the remaining flour, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried fruit mixture until combined.

Pour batter in the prepared cake pan. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick/knife comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Top with your favourite icing and some grated ginger. Enjoy.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

This winter has a firm hold on us, eh? It's almost April and we have yet to have more than a few days where it's above zero- here in London, we keep going from almost-spring weather back to -10 highs. I'm tired of it! Give me the warmth- I'd take anything above 0.

Sometimes it's hard to get out of bed when it's grey and cold outside. But, having some warm, delicious cinnamon rolls made by your awesome friend sure help matters. Sarah made these rolls last year (they were devoured) and had promised to make them again this winter. I was more than excited to not only help myself to her baking, but also to show off her work here! She ended up making two batches, the first of regular sized buns, then a second with little mini ones (which are adorable). Whatever the size, these buns are beyond amazing, especially when warmed up in the microwave.

Also! The addition of pumpkin makes these rolls about as healthy as you can get them without deviating too far from the comforting dessert that this season makes us crave. Because of the pumpkin, very little butter is used in the recipe. Which means you can eat 2 big buns and not feel guilty. Or so I believe.

Sarah made these rolls with the traditional cinnamon/sugar filling, but really you could put anything in there. It actually could be quite good with a mozzarella/sage filling if you want to go savoury. I'm imagining how that would taste now- maybe I should get Sarah to make just one more batch...

However you do it, next time you're looking for a decadent treat that tastes like a warm hug feels, try out this recipe! You won't regret it.

Sarah's Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 24 big rolls, 50 small rolls (depending on how small you go)

• 1/4 cup warm water
• 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
• 3/4 cup evaporated milk
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 2 cups pumpkin
• 3 tablespoons butter (melted)
• 1 egg, slightly beaten
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 6-8 cups all-purpose flour

• 1/3 cup butter (melted)
• 3/4 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

• 2/3 cup cream cheese (softened)
• 1/2 cup butter (softened)
• 2 cups powdered sugar

1. Combine water and yeast in a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt. Allow to stand until the yeast starts to bubble (5 to 10 minutes). Stir in the evaporated milk, sugar, pumpkin, melted butter, egg and cinnamon. Add in 4 cups of the flour and stir to combine. Continue adding the flour (1/4 cup at a time) until the dough comes together and pulls away from the side of the bowl. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic (5 to 8 minutes).

2. Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until about doubled (about 1 1/2 hours).

3. In a small bowl, melt the butter. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon. Grease two 9” x 13” baking dishes with butter (or non-stick cooking spray).

4. Punch the dough down, then divide into 2 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time, roll the dough out on a floured surface to about a 12” x 16” rectangle. Spread half of the butter on the dough, and sprinkle half of the filling mixture on top. Starting at the long side, roll the dough into a log. Cut the log into equal slices. Transfer the slices to the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

5. Lightly press the rolls down, then cover and allow to rise until almost doubled (about 45 minutes).

6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake the rolls until golden brown (about 30 minutes). Allow to cool.

7. To make the frosting, beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add in the powdered sugar and beat until light and creamy. Frost the rolls while still warm.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Cranberry Pistachio Salted Caramel Bars

I can't get over how fast 2014 is flying already. I know it's the year of the Horse, but how can it already be March???? Time flies when you actually have things to do I guess!

Apart from working, the fam and I just came back from Jamaica- which was awesome. So warm. It was a bit hard coming back, though. We got so used to just rolling out of bed in our pjs and walking outside. Back here in Canada, it takes at least 5 minutes to just get dressed to weather the cold!

But enough about me complaining of the weather. On to the food! Today I have an awesome recipe that I made back in December but haven't gotten around to posting until now. It's adapted from lcbo's food and drink and I gotta say, it's probably one of the best things I've baked in a while! Shortbread base with a hint of oats, pistachios and cranberries that basically sing Christmas, and just enough decadent salted caramel to bring it all together. I seriously cannot sing enough praise about this bar. I had to exercise all my restraint not to just sit down and eat the whole batch. This one is definitely going to go on the yearly Christmas Goody List. Props, LCBO!

The only change I made was I used ground oats instead of wheat germ, since I didn't have any at the time (read: I forgot to get it at Bulk Barn). Other than that, the recipe can be found on LCBO's site here: Cranberry Pistachio Salted Caramel Bars. For those of you who haven't heard of LCBO's Food and Drink, check out their site! They have a bunch of amazing recipes.