Friday, February 25, 2011

African Chicken Stew

While peanuts originally came from South America, probably Brazil, they may have made their way to the United States by way of Africa.  The Spanish found them in Mexico and brought them to Europe.  Since they grow better in warmer climates apparently the Europeans took them to Africa and Asia as a cheap food for peasants and slaves.

Here is an interesting stew using peanut butter and pepper for a unique taste.  I found it at  Byi the way:
A.          the pepper components could easily be cut in half unless you want a very spicy meal,
B.           Chicken broth can be substituted for or combined with the water, and
C.           The liquid (broth, water, or combination of the two) can be increased as you are cooking to reduce the thick paste outcome
D.          The recipe calls for2 pound of deboned roasting chicken.  I just used a chicken breast.  I had planned to use the remainder of a roasted chicken but forgot to take it out of the freezer.  I think the assortment of white and dark meat could add a good flavor though and wish I had remembered the old bird.
E.      You can also add turnips, carrots and celery or any combination if you like.

ü      1 Tbl          Olive Oil (you may need more)
ü      3 lbs           Chicken
ü      2 cloves     Garlic, crushed
ü      1                Onion chopped
ü      1 large       Potato, diced (feel free to use more)
ü      1 tsp          Ground Cumin
ü      1 tsp          Ground coriander seed (gives a great taste but don’t get carried away
ü      1 tsp          Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
ü      1 tsp          Salt
ü      1 cup         Water (I used about 2 cups of chicken broth)
ü      ¾ cup        Unsalted Peanut Butter
ü      1 can          Garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (15 oz.)

A.          Cut the onion and potato and put them in a small bowl with the garlic.  I added about a half stalk of celery

1.            Heat the oil at a medium setting in a large skillet with a top
2.            Add the chicken and brown.
3.            Remove the chicken to a plate or bowl
4.            Reduce the heat to medium low
5.            Add the potato, onion and garlic to the pan and sauté for about 2 to 3 minutes
6.            Season the pan with the cumin, coriander, black pepper, red pepper, and salt
7.            Add the liquid, chicken, and any juices from the bowl the chicken was in
8.            Put the lid on the skillet and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes
9.            Stir in the peanut butter and garbanzo beans.  Make sure the peanut butter is blended in well and add more liquid if needed.  Remember though, you are making a stew and not a soup.
10.        Heat for about 10 minutes more or until the chicken and potatoes are cooked.

Spiced Sweet Potato Ice Cream

Sweet potatoes are said to be an original American food.  Hernando de Soto found them in Indian gardens back in 1543 while exploring what is now Louisiana.   They quickly became a food staple and major export of our Southern states, especially North Carolina.  The ease of growing and great nutritional value made them very important to our troops during the Revolution and Civil War as well as to Slaves who grew them under the floor in their quarters.  They were even dried and ground up for coffee.  Sweet potatoes continue to be a very good food for children because of their value in combating childhood nutritional diseases.

Here is a recipe my friend Mike Cook sent out on facebook.  I believe it was originated by Brynne Valouch and you can find it at on the internet.

Spiced Sweet Potato Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup brown sugar
Table salt
5 large egg yolks
1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Pinch of ginger
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cinnamon

1.       In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup of the cream with the milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt.
2.      Warm the cream mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.
3.      Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with several inches of ice water. Set a smaller metal bowl (one that holds at least 1-1/2 quarts) in the ice water.
4.      Pour the remaining cup of cream into the inner bowl (this helps the custard cool quicker when you pour it in later).  Set a fine strainer on top.
5.      Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl.
6.      In a steady stream, pour half of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.
7.      Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heatproof rubber spatula until the custard thickens slightly (it should be thick enough to coat the spatula and hold a line drawn through it with a finger), 4 to 8 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 175° to 180°F at this point. Don’t let the sauce overheat or boil, or it will curdle.
8.       Immediately strain the custard into the cold cream in the ice bath.
9.      Press firmly on the strainer with the spatula to extract as much flavor as possible.
10.   Cool the custard to below 70°F by stirring it over the ice bath. Stir mashed sweet potato, vanilla extract, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon into the cooled custard.
11.    Refrigerate the custard until completely chilled, at least 4 hours. Then freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
12.    Transfer the ice cream to an air-tight container, and freeze for at least 4 hours or up to 2 weeks.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Maple Mustard Pork Roast

This is a real good recipe I found at some time ago.  Not only is it taste but also easy and uses that maple syrup you bought last fall but never used or only used a tablespoon of.  Overall it should take about 2 hours but almost all of that is oven time.  You can whip it together in just a few minutes and have the rest of the time for whatever you wish.

Pull out of the fridge and off the shelves:
·         2 lb         boneless port roast
·         2/3 cup   maple syrup
·         3 Tbl       Dijon style mustard
·         2 Tbl       cider vinegar
·         2 Tbl       soy sauce
·         Salt and pepper to taste

A.    stir the maple syrup, mustard, vinegar, soy sauce, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl.
B.     Trim the meat (cut off the excess fat)

1.      Pre-heat the oven to 350° F
2.      Put the meat in an oven safe container like a shallow pan.
3.      Spread about half to three quarters of the sauce from above all over the pork.
4.      Roast the pork until the internal temperature reaches 160° which should take from 45 minutes to an hour and a quarter.
5.      Baste the roast once or twice using the drippings and reserved sauce.
6.      Let it rest for around 10 minutes so the juices can redistribute throughout the roast.  Makes it tastier and less sloppy when you carve.

I cut a few potatoes into thirds and fourths, depending on the size, and placed them alongside the roast before baking.  The sauce gave it a good flavor.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Jambalaya in Pumpkin Shells

First; Jambalaya is nothing more than using up leftovers in a tasty way and avoiding the waste.  Not just last nights meat loaf but the remainder of the pepper you needed half off on Thursday and the quarter of an onion from the Sunday spaghetti sauce.  On the food shows they always say to save these for stock but seriously how often do you make your own stock?  Jambalaya and stew are much more practical. 

Second; as far as I’m concerned stew and jambalaya have a lot in common and the biggest difference between them is the starch you use.  Jambalaya uses rice, while stew uses potatoes.  Some new cooks may try Niagara, ARGO, Sta-Flow or other laundry products.  You will find these people with their guests and the local Emergency Room.

Third; pumpkins were not in season when I discovered this one so I just made the Jambalaya.  I’m going to try the pumpkin some other time because it sounds real good.

Fourth; you can use any number of base foods in this like shrimp, Andouille sausage, kielbasa, ham, pork, chicken, etc.  You can also use them in different form such as ground or sliced pork.  Let your imagination take you on a trip that your stomach will allow.  I heard a lady from New Orleans once say that there should be three meets/fish or it will be bad luck.

Fifth; I got the original idea from Terri Wuerthner at and I’m sure you can find many others there.

Pull out of the fridge and off the shelves:
6 1lb pumpkins
1/4 cup         oil (I used vegetable, the recipe called for corn)
1 cup            chopped onion
1 cup            chopped celery (don’t like that much celery, try a teaspoon of celery seed or celery salt
1 cup            chopped green bell pepper (I used a half green and a half red pepper)
2 cloves        garlic, minced
2 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes.  (I used something closer to a tomato sauce and didn’t particularly like the results.  The original recipe called for draining the diced tomatoes but I’m not sure about that either.  The liquid could help flavor the rice.)
3 cups           chicken stock (I combined the chicken stock with some beef stock to give it a slight veal flavor)
1 tsp              dried thyme
½ tsp             salt
¼ tsp             black pepper
2 cups           uncooked rice
1 1/2 lb’s      base meet (maybe a pound of shrimp and a ½ lb of sausage and maybe some ground meet.  I used some ground pork from an oriental recipe I made the day before)
½ cup           chopped fresh parsley

A.    Cook the base meets/fish/shell fish.
B.    Put the onions, celery, and bell pepper together for use in step 7
C.    Put the tomatoes, stock and seasoning (thyme, salt, pepper) together for step 9
1.       Preheat oven to 350° F.
2.       Cut the top quarter off each pumpkin and put on the side until it is time to serve
3.       Remove the seeds (save them if you wish) and fibers.
4.       Place the pumpkins (not the tops) on a baking sheet with about ½ inch of water in the bottom and bake for 30 minutes.
5.       Remove the pumpkins from the oven and turn them upside down on a rack to drain and cool for 30 minutes.
6.       While the pumpkins are baking heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven.  You can probably also get some of these other things out of the way before the pumpkins are done.
7.       Add the onions, celery, and bell pepper to the oil and cook for 10 minutes.
8.       Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.
9.       Add the tomatoes, stock and seasonings and bring to a rolling boil.
10.     Add the rice.  Stir and reduce the heat to a medium-low then cover.  Cook this for 10 minutes.
{Note: you are now about 25 minutes from the time you put the pumpkins in the oven.  Check your timer and get them out on time before they burn}
11.     Stir the rice and mixture, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 25 minutes or until the rice is tender.
12.     Add the cooked meats/fish, stir, cover, and allow to set for 5 minutes to heat up.
13.     Divide the jambalaya evenly into the pumpkin shells and sprinkle each serving with parsley.
14.     Put everything (not the pumpkin lids) into the oven at 350° F for 20 minutes, loosely covered with aluminum foil.
15.     Serve with the tops partially on or on the side, or not in sight.  It is up to you.