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In Spanish cuisine, sofrito is used as a base for many dishes and is made of garlic, onion, and tomatoes. I used tomato paste to give my dish the complex flavors of something cooked for a long time. Just a bit of wine, herbs and spanish spices complete a sauce that is flavorful, yet very light and healthy. It is thickened in the Catalan style with toasted bread. Diverging from Spanish cuisine, I served it with butternut squash roasted with maple syrup and brown sugar and sprinkled with sage leaves. Some fresh rice is a must.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 large Spanish onion, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 5 sweet banana peppers, minced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup of  white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1/3 cup “less sodium” beef stock (or chicken)
  • 6 sprigs thyme, de-stemmed and chopped
  • Southern Spain Pinchito Spice to taste
  • About 2 lbs. thin chicken cutlets.

Directions:

1. On low heat, sauté onions in olive oil with salt until translucent. Add sugar, paprika and tomato paste—some nonstick spray on the spoon will help the paste to glide off.

 

2.  Add banana peppers and garlic and simmer for about 20 minutes. Build the sauce with the white wine and beef stock and add the thyme.

 

3. Season with a few pinches of cinnamon. I used a spice mix called Southern Spain Pinchito Spice. This includes salt, cumin, paprika, oregano, coriander, garlic, turmeric, ginger, fenugreek, anise, cayenne and saffron.

 

4. Toast some bread (I toasted a bagel and removed the insides) and grind finely in a food processor. Add a few tablespoons to the sauce and expand it by adding some water until the consistency is just right.

 

5. Coat chicken cutlets in olive oil and rub with a light coating of salt, pepper, paprika and pinchito. Grill or sauté until cooked through (about 2 minutes on each side) and warm together with the sauce.

 

Butternut Squash: In a 400° oven on a foiled sheet pan, roast 1 inch. cubes of butternut squash on a sheet pan with olive oil, salt and pepper  for 15 minutes. Flip, drizzle with maple syrup, sprinkle with brown sugar and top with dabs of butter. Finish roasting for another 15 to 20 minutes or until tender through.

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With this dish, authenticity was on the back-burner, but taste and creativity was on full heat. My no-curry curry features the flavors of indian spices and techniques, while a few twists, like coconut milk and lemongrass, give a subtle element of thai cuisine. Served with basmati rise, the dish is indian food without the fat cholesterol and you can control the spice. Best of all, it’s as easy as 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9… Okay, it may not be as simple as shake-n-bake, but the results are well worth it.

Ingredients: (Spices should be used to taste)

  • Basmati rice
  • Can of Coconut milk
  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • 4-5 thick ginger slices
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large white/yellow onion
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander
  • 2 teaspoons Garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • About 10 mini peppers (red, yellow, orange)
  • 1.5 teaspoons of tomato paste
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 5-7 garlic cloves
  • A small bag of snow peas
  • 1/2 bag of pre-cooked lentils
  • 3 whole chicken breasts (about 3 pounds) cut into bite-size pieces.
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon or 1 stick early on
  • cumin seeds
  • frozen peas
  • fresh parsley

Follow the directions to start cooking basmati rice. It takes about 20 minutes. I’m keeping this simple since it will be under the sauce.

Start heating a can of coconut milk in a small sauce pan with the lemongrass and ginger. Keep it at a calm boil until the flavors merry.

In a large pot, sauté the onion with salt and pepper, coriander, garam masala, and turmeric. After the onions have a head-start, add the peppers. Stir in the tomato paste, and the bay leaves. Press or mince the garlic, and make a paste by smearing the garlic against the cutting board with your knife, salt, and olive oil. Add the snow peas.

Hold a strainer over the pot and pour the coconut milk through it (the coconut milk will join the party and lemongrass will have to leave. Ginger’s pon the list, so pick that out and add it back to the pot. Add half the lentils.

Quickly sauté the chicken in olive oil, salt, and pepper (it may take multiple batches) until it is opaque and pour into the pot. You may also cook it completely in the sauce which will take longer, but could turn out very well. Add the cinnamon. If you want, add a little yogurt at the end for some healthy richness.

Fluff the rice with cumin seeds—toasting in a pan until fragrant is a nice touch. Microwave some frozen peas and fold in for great color. To serve, build a mound of rice, ladle the sauce over, and garnish with chopped parsley leaves. Serve with some naan.

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Ingredients:

  • chicken thighs with bone and skin
  • mango nectar
  • cream coconut
  • cilantro
  • duck sauce
  • Coconut rum

1. I basted the chicken breasts with a Wegmans basting oil. It had grape-seed oil, canola oil, parsley, and garlic. I recommend the product—it’s great with bread too. Brush both sides with oil, salt, and pepper and sear in a slightly oiled pan, skin down. You should hear sizzling and crackling. Do not move the breasts for about five minutes until the skin is brown and crispy. Flip the chicken and cook the opposing side.  I added some cayenne pepper, onion, and black pepper.  Place in a 375º oven for about 30 minutes.

2. Reduce mango nectar with some chopped cilantro for 5-10 minutes. Mix in two big tablespoons of cream of coconut—this will melt—and a splash of coconut rum. Pour in about 1/2 cup of duck sauce—this is a great thickener and sweetener.

3. Use half of the glaze to coat the chicken and finish it in the oven. Allow the glaze to cool, so it thickens, and pour over the chicken when it is cooked. Finish with some sea salt and garnish with chopped cilantro.

I did not measure my ingredients, because it is important to adjust them to one’s taste. Everyone asked what was in the sauce and my cousin finished the leftovers with a spoon. I hope you enjoy this simple recipe.

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Stir frying is great because you can get a variety of vegetables in one meal and get to use a wok. Mine is composed of chicken thigh strips, carrots, broccoli, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, zucchini, and chinese noodles in a sweet and salty asian-style sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bags of stir fry vegetables including:
    • broccoli
    • carrots
    • snap peas
  • I used an extra bag of snap peas
  • 2 handfuls bean sprouts
  • 1 package (4 bundles) of asian noodles. Honestly, I don’t know the variety.
  • 1/2 white onion chopped in slivers
  • 1 can of water chestnuts
  • 1 can bamboo shoots
  • 5 eggs (vegans: just omit)
  • 1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (vegetarians: simply disregard)

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (I used press)
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger (I used food processor)
  • 2 teaspoon sesame seeds (toasting never hurts)
  • 1 teaspoon Tamari
  • 1 teaspoon Hoisin (Asian barbecue sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses (thickener)
  • 6 teaspoons of sugar (you can use some honey too)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 a lime juiced
  • chopped scallions

1. Cut the chicken into slivers and the vegetables into bite-size pieces. Cook the chicken half way in a wok with some canola oil and some sauce. Remove the chicken and cook 1/2 the vegetables with more sauce. Save the bean sprouts for the end. Repeat for the other vegetables. Cook all the veggies and chicken, pouring in the remaining sauce.

2. Boil the noodles until tender, drain thoroughly, and dump in the wok. Scramble the eggs in a pan over high heat, but do not let the eggs brown or they will have a harsh, rank, eggy taste. Mix them in as well. I added more hoisin, soy sauce, and 1/2 cup of duck sauce to thicken and sweeten. Without corn starch, it is necessary. Add the bean sprouts, simmer, and serve with chopped peanuts for garnish.

Don’t be alarmed by the number of ingredients. You will need no side dish with this meal. This meal is a cornucopia of textures and tastes simple, notwithstanding the never-ending list of ingredients. Since asian food involves few spices, they rely on certain condiments for flavor. Many of these should be household staples because of their long shelf-life. This dish fed eight perfectly. Feel free to halve the whole recipe. Finally, it’s cheap and easy on your wallet, yet generous when it comes to your palate.

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