Allspice Chronicles

Entertain like a Queen, Think Lean and Live Green! A personal collection of recipes,anecdotes,and good old fashioned advice…

Hash-Browned Sweet Potatoes with Garam Masala and Turmeric

by Danica Waters / photo courtesy of www.cmroman.com

 

Here is a toast to replacing the everyday with the truly extraordinary – especially when the extraordinary is exceedingly simple to create.  Take these hash browns, for example.  Paired with Sunday morning omlettes (try them stuffed with spinach, scallions, fresh tomatoes, cilantro, and some spicy pepper jack), this preparation is a surprisingly simple, altogether incredible addition to the breakfast table.

Light some white candles and serve with a pot of hot tea.  (Even if you’re still in your jammies.)

Enjoy!

 

Hash-Browned Sweet Potatoes with Garam Masala and Turmeric

2 med. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut to ¼”dice

2 small russet potatoes, cut to ¼” dice

1 onion, cut to ½” dice

5 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped

¼ C olive oil

Kosher salt

3 tsp garam masala or to taste

1 tsp turmeric, or to taste

 

In large heavy pan with a good lid, heat pan over medium heat.  Add oil until hot but not smoking.  When oil is ready, add potatoes, onion, garlic, and spices.  Combine and cover – cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  When potatoes are golden brown and lightly caramelized on the base of the pan, remove lid and allow some of the moisture to dissipate.  Keep warm until ready to serve.

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Southwestern Turkey Chipotle Chowder

by Danica Waters / chipotle photo courtesy of www.motherearthnews.com

 

I love Thanksgiving.  However, I must confess, once it’s over, my personal palate wants to be as far away from Thanksgiving flavors as is humanly possible.

 

Out of desperation and sheer will several Thanksgivings ago, I pulled everything out of my kitchen cabinets, chose a few ingredients that looked like they’d be light years from anything closely resembling potatoes or stuffing, and ended up what my family feels is a little masterpiece.  They expect it to follow Thanksgiving at this point, it’s that good.

 

Now keep in mind that although chipotles play really well against the strong flavor of turkey meat (and the darker the meat, the better) they can be a bit on the naughty side; their heat will sneak up on you and set your tongue on fire if you’re not careful.  Adding a whole 6-oz can to your soup will most certainly put hair on your chest and enliven your step, so judge your own tastes accordingly.

 

I, for one, don’t like to perpetuate that Thanksgiving-food-coma-feeling any longer than I have to, so I make it per my original recipe and serve it with a hearty piece of Corn Bread.

 

And Milk.  Lots of cold milk.

 

Enjoy!

 

Southwestern Turkey Chipotle Chowder

 

1 – 18 lb turkey carcass

1 medium onion chopped coarsely

3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped

Several sprigs fresh parsley

1 bay leaf

 

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, diced

3 stalks celery, chopped

3 large carrots, chopped

2 tsp chicken or vegetable bullion, or to taste

1 – 6 oz can chipotle chile peppers, chopped fine (or use to taste!)

1 – 8 oz can green chiles, chopped fine

1 – 16 oz can black beans rinsed and drained

1 ear corn, kernels stripped

3 Tbsp minced cilantro

3 Tbsp minced parsley

2 C basmati rice

Sour Cream, Lime Sections, Minced Cilantro for garnish

 

Place turkey carcass (all of it) into a large stockpot.  Add 1 coarsely chopped onion, 2 stalks celery, bay leaf, and several sprigs of parsley.  Cover all with water, and boil until meat loosens from bone and stock becomes fragrant.  For richer stock, allow liquid to reduce a bit.  Allow to cool thoroughly; strain off stock and reserve in stock pot.

 

Discard vegetables.  Remove meat from bone, being ultra-careful to separate any bone and cartilage from the meat. (Sorry, but NOTHING will ruin a great homemade soup faster than finding a bit of bone or cartilage in it.  That’s just… ick.)  Chop or shred turkey meat and set aside.

 

In separate pan, saute onion and garlic until soft, add celery.  Saute about 1 minute, add carrots and allow to sauté for approximately 2 minutes more.

 

Season reserved stock in stockpot with chicken bullion or stock concentrate – preferably MSG-free!  Add vegetable mixture to reserved stock; add chopped de-boned turkey, green chiles, black beans, cilantro & parsley.

 

Add finely chopped chipotle peppers to taste – be careful – add a bit at a time, as the smoky heat can sneak up quickly!

 

Add raw rice to soup, simmer until rice is tender, approximately 30 minutes.  Add fresh corn just prior to serving – the crisp tender texture makes the soup wonderful!

 

Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with sour cream, cilantro, and a generous squeeze of lime juice.

 

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Thanksgiving-Style Sweet Potatoes With Marshmallows

by Danica Waters

Tomorrow brings the United States of America’s cherished annual Thanksgiving celebration.  A kickoff to our winter holiday season, Thanksgiving is a special day hopefully spent with family and close friends in shared celebration of each other and with a grateful spirit for all that we have.  In an ideal world, Thanksgiving inspires warm and beautiful visions of bounty and togetherness, laughter and shared memories, hopes and dreams for the future, and lots and lots of “Kodak Moments”.  And food.  Lots of food.

Indeed, across Facebook, American friends of the Allspice Chronicles are conversing about how their kettles are steaming, their pie crusts are filled with lovely, tempting deliciousness, their tables are set and ready for wonderful celebrations nationwide.  As most cooks will confess:  on this holiday, there is no place we’d rather be than creating art in the kitchen by stirring spices, magic and love into a feast for those we love the most, for new friends and old.

But Thanksgiving can quickly turn into a daunting and disheartening experience for those who have fallen on hard times, and in our great country and around the world, that number is rising.  I am reminded of a young mother of two whose husband had lost his job last year when his company closed its doors.  She was one of the best employees at this place of work- always on time, always one to give 110 percent.  Although she never complained about her situation, just before Thanksgiving she became rather withdrawn.  We all vaguely knew she must have been under some serious financial stress, given that there were medical problems within the family and she had no medical benefits, but no one knew the extent of it, and everyone felt uncomfortable about inquiring into the particulars.

In a moment of work stress and desperation, she finally confided in one of her peers about her financial situation, about how she didn’t know how she was even going to afford groceries, let alone a celebratory dinner for her husband and her precious little girls.

(Now here, folks, is where the human spirit shines.)

The news went around the workplace like wildfire, and within 24 hours a plan was developed to provide her family all the ingredients for a generous Thanksgiving dinner.  Employees who really didn’t have the extra cash to give found a way to pitch in, and what started as a Thanksgiving rescue plan morphed into an offering of food and enough cash and grocery gift cards to take care of the distressed employee and her family for a good while.

This Thanksgiving, the Allspice Chronicles would like to offer its first toast to the human spirit.  May we always remain aware of and sensitive to the plight of others, and may we diligently work together to alleviate suffering in our own backyard, if not worldwide.

It is, after all, a very small world.

To that point, after posting Camille Glenn’s recipe for Alabama Yams with Oranges, one of our readers from Africa submitted a request for the Allspice Chronicles to expand on the traditional American preparation for Sweet Potatoes/Yams with Toasted Marshmallows.  Given that the sweet potato is a staple of the African diet, and given the horrible state of drought and famine that certain portions of Africa are experiencing, it was humbling,  endearing and enlightening to receive such a request.

We at the Allspice Chronicles hope more than anything to see the eradication of world hunger, poverty, suffering.  It is the least we can do to provide a recipe, extracted from the sentimental foundation of our cherished common American experiences, and we look forward to the day when our little blog will feature personal stories and heirloom recipes from around the world.  Diversity makes us rich, stories show us how much we are the same.

After all, food, like music,  is an international language.   We all may express it differently, but in the end it contains the same basic ingredients which serve to nourish and inspire, comfort and console our weary spirits.  And for this, may we all be thankful.

Here’s the recipe for Thanksgiving-Style Sweet Potatoes With Marshmallows.

Enjoy!

 

Thanksgiving-Style Sweet Potatoes With Marshmallows

4-5 medium sweet potatoes

1/4 C butter

1/4 C milk

2-3 Tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

Marshmallows

 

Bake sweet potatoes until soft.  Scoop out the soft flesh from the skins into a large bowl; discard the skins.  Add butter, milk, salt, and brown sugar; mix with hand mixer or potato masher until light and fluffy.  Taste mixture and adjust seasonings to suit your preference; mix thoroughly.

Spoon sweet potato mixture into buttered 9 x 9″ baking dish.

Top with miniature marshmallows, or with whole marshmallows cut in half.

Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes;  switch heat to “Broil – High Heat” and allow to cook until marshmallows bubble and turn dark brown on top.  (This will give it the perfect flavor)

Allow to rest 5 minutes prior to serving.

Serves 4 – 6

 

 

 

 

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Lentil Soup, Chateau Vegas

by Danica Waters / photo credits at bottom of post

This is one of my all-time favorite winter soups, the recipe for which hailed from the old Chateau Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.  This is going to sound weird, but this soup tastes glamorous.  And powerful, too, in a Sinatra sort of way.   Try it – you’ll see what I mean.  It is hearty, with a delicious tang and terrific texture.  It’s also incredibly easy to make, which comes in very handy when you have a million holiday-related things to do on top of the million other normal everyday things you have to do.

 

While the original recipe calls for the addition of bacon and frankfurters.  I’ve found that substituting a bit of diced turkey ham and a few drops of liquid smoke flavoring substitutes for the bacon just fine.  With respect to the frankfurters, I use Foster Farms turkey franks.  Rated #1 in taste tests for best flavor and best overall texture (no tough skins – could easily double as a regular hot dog), Foster Farms guarantees no added hormones or steroids. (source: http://www.seattlepi.com)

 

Serve it with a thick slice of Chipotle Cornbread (recipe to follow tomorrow!) and a crisp salad.  It’ll warm you up…

 

Enjoy!

Lentil Soup

(Chateau Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada; as seen in Bon Appetit’s Favorite Restaurant Recipes)

 

Serves 6

 

2 slices bacon, finely chopped

1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil (optional)

1 celery stalk, diced

1 carrot, diced

¼ medium onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

2 quarts water (8 cups)

1 pound lentils (brown lentils preferred for texture)

¼ C diced canned tomatoes

1 bay leaf

 

6 frankfurters, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp steak sauce

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp Kosher salt, or to taste

 

Fry bacon (or diced turkey ham) in Dutch oven until almost crisp, adding oil if necessary.  Add celery, carrot, onion, and garlic, and sauté until onion is translucent, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in water, lentils, tomatoes and bay leaf and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 1 hour.

 

Stir in remaining ingredients and continue cooking until frankfurter slices are heated, about 10 minutes.

 

Photo Credits:

Bowl of lentil soup courtesy of  www. chicgalleria.com

Raw lentils image courtesy of www.slowcarbfoodie.com

Foster Farms Turkey Franks image courtesy of www.fosterfarms.com


 

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Alabama Yams With Oranges

by Danica Waters / image courtesy of www.unwinnable.com

Traditionally, any yam served in my childhood home during the month of November was baked, mashed with butter, cream, a wee bit of salt and brown sugar, and covered with mounds of fluffy marshmallows that were subsequently broiled until nearly black and gooey on top.  Come to think of it, the only time we actually ate yams back then was during the month of November.

Upon having children of my own and deciding early on there was no way I was going to feed my babies processed baby nasty-food,  I did some research into the nutritional merits of these terrific tubers.  It seems they have a far lower glycemic index than regular potatoes.  They also happen to be packed with potassium, manganese, vitamin C and vitamin B3 while registering low on the sodium counter.  Best of all, kids actually like to eat them with little or no negotiation, marshmallows or no marshmallows.   I started serving them regularly to the whole family as a tasty side that could double as homemade baby food.  Two birds with one stone?  That’s how I roll!  Baked in their skins with a dash of butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, or cut up and oven-roasted, yams are delicious and appear on my household menus at least once a week.

However tasty the good old fashioned yam might happen to be all by itself, the holidays call for something a bit more elegant, more celebratory.  This is it.  From the Heritage of Southern Cooking, author (and southern cooking guru) Camille Glenn has this to say:

 

” This is the Deep South way with yams or sweet potatoes.  It seems to always show up with the Thanksgiving turkey, but it is just as compatible with a good ham or chicken.  Do not peel either the potatoes or the orange.  If you don’t have a luscious rich sauce, you have been too cautious with the butter.”

 

Amen.  Be sure to slice the oranges as thin as possible – if you have a mandoline slicer, use it, but if not, just be sure to cut the slices super-thin.  Use real butter, and for heaven’s sake, listen to Ms. Glenn!  Don’t be shy!  It’s the holidays, after all.  This dish is excellent served with Green Beans Sauteed With Olive Oil; the citrus overtones keep the palate fresh and thoroughly entertained.

Enjoy!

 

Alabama Yams With Oranges

(Heritage of Southern Cooking, by Camille Glenn)

6 yams or sweet potatoes, fully cooked and cooled (I bake mine for approximately 30 minutes at 400 degrees – the yam shouldn’t be too mushy, but it should be cooked to the point that it can be easily sliced)

3 navel oranges, thinly sliced

1/2 to 3/4 C (1 to –1/2 sticks) butter

3/4 C sugar

1 C fresh orange juice

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Peel and slice the cooked sweet potatoes very thin and place one layer in a shallow buttered baking dish.  Top with a layer of orange slices.  Dot generously with butter and sprinkle with sugar.  Continue layering.  You should have 3 layers, ending with a layer of potatoes, butter, and topping it off with sugar.

Mix the orange juice with the lemon juice and pour it over the potatoes.

Bake until a pleasant syrup has formed and the top is tinged with brown.

Serves 6 – 8

 

 

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Crisp Chicken Tenderloins With Curry and Lemon

by Danica Waters

“Necessity is the mother of invention”. Amen.

And where there is a whole lot of necessity, there you shall find a whole lot of inventing goin’ on.  Let’s just say I happen to be on a roll these days;  indeed, I am one inventin’ so-and-so.  Happily, much like the FML day I concocted the Queen’s Rings, it seems to be working in my favor.  Happy for all the wonderful folks who follow my blog, I like to share.

You know THOSE nights when you realize too late that the grill is out of gas, everyone is starrrrrrrrrvinnnng, and dinner just needs to be UBER-delicious because even the dog appears to be out-of-sorts?  Yep. It was one of those.  (We are all down with nasty colds this morning, so that explains it.)

For some odd reason, when the mood is afoul, I seem to reach for turmeric and curry every single time.  (Probably because it works every single time.)  This time was no exception.  These crispy chicken tenderloins are not only visually stunning, with a rich golden color from the turmeric, they are just plain addictive with their crispy texture, the round, deep flavor of curry graced with the tang of freshly squeezed lemon and a hint of cilantro.

I am happy to report that the evening finished out with rave reviews of dinner, fresh blackberries over ice cream, and a healthy session of  “laugh-’til-you-almost-pee-your-pants”.  All’s well that ends well.  Thank you, Necessity.  You rock.

 

 

Crisp Chicken Tenderloins With Curry and Lemon

(Danica Waters)

 

8 chicken tenderloins, thawed

½ C flour

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp curry powder

¼ tsp cayenne, or to taste

Salt & pepper to taste

Chopped fresh cilantro

Fresh lemon slices

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

Combine flour, turmeric, curry powder, salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl.  Rinse chicken tenderloins and immediately dredge in flour mixture; set on separate plate to rest.

Bring large (12”) frying pan to temperature over medium high heat.  When ready, add enough olive oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan and heat until oil is hot but not smoking.

 

Using cooking tongs, add coated chicken tenderloins to hot oil.  Fry until golden brown; turn and repeat on other side.  After turning, sprinkle remaining flour mixture over the tenderloins and turn once more to brown.

 

Remove tenderloins to serving platter; sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro and serve with lemon wedges.

 

Note:  These are fantastic served with Flash-Cooked Green Beans and Garlic Mashed Potatoes (recipes forthcoming), or chop them up and serve them in a pita with lettuce, tomato, and tzatziki.

 

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The Romanesco: Roasted with Garlic, Onion and Almonds

by Danica Waters

Is it a modified American version of broccoli? A Roman Cauliflower? A German Cabbage? No one knows for sure. Only one thing is certain about this almost alien-looking annual: The Romanesco is a fabulous fractal, pleasing to nearly any palate, and guaranteed to grace any table to which it happens to be invited.

First documented in sixteenth century Italy, the Romanesco is a mild-tasting hybrid between broccoli and cauliflower, packed with important vitamins and minerals that support vision and overall immunity. What makes it even better is that it’s FUN to look at, and FUN to eat. Tell your kids it’s Martian food at Halloween, or that they’re feasting on miniature Christmas trees plucked from a fairy forest.   Its mild, mellow, and somewhat nutty flavor makes it equally effective served as crudites’ as it is when cooked ’til crisp-tender and incorporated into other dishes or served as a side.

Here’s a tasty, more grown-up way to enjoy this exotic vegetable.

Enjoy!

 

The Romanesco: Roasted With Garlic, Onion, and Almonds

(Danica Waters)

1 head Romanesco Broccoli/Cauliflower/Cabbage/Whatever, trimmed and cut into sections approximately 1 inch in diameter, larger sections cut appropriately to ensure even cooking
1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced to 1/4 inch
5-6 large cloves fresh garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 C sliced almonds
Olive oil
White Balsamic Vinegar, to taste
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

In large, heatproof saute’ pan, heat oil until hot but not smoking. Add sliced garlic and cook until pale golden brown. Add onion slices and cook until soft and translucent; add Romanesco, White Balsamic Vinegar to taste, and 2 Tbsp water. Reduce heat, cover and cook until Romanesco is crisp-tender, approximately 7 minutes, or until it has reached desired texture. (Be careful not to overcook – it turns to mush and isn’t as palatable!) While Romanesco is cooking, preheat your broiler.

Remove from heat and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Sprinkle with almonds and grated Parmesan or Asiago; place pan, uncovered, under broiler until cheeses have melted and turned golden brown.

Serve immediately.

(Serves 4)

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