Spicy Cold Noodles

spicy cold noodles

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes, which I have been making every summer for 35 years.  It first blessed me, when I taught it to my students in Billings, Montana, at one of my plentiful cooking classes.  I don’t exactly remember where I got it, but believe it came in a newspaper clipping sent by my mother, for she was good at supplying me with quaint receipts from the media, during my early catering/teaching career.  Many choice dishes were thus provided, which still grace my table today.  This specific one highly pleases the palate, though it deviates slightly from its authentic roots.

There are both Korean and Chinese spicy cold noodles; both nationalities use sesame and chili oils, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and sugar in their mixes.  The Korean variation includes gochujang, a spicy pepper paste.  The Chinese sauce divers in that it calls for sesame paste and peanut butter, giving it an emulsified effect; it is fiery, tart, and slightly sweet.

My particular 1980’s account is from China, though it is Americanized with red wine vinegar instead of rice vinegar, which wasn’t readily available here in the 80’s; this version doesn’t have the ever-present peanut butter and chili oil, but is still spicy hot with an abundance of garlic.  It is a memorable burst of flavors.

China is a vast land of varying cuisines.  Just before I left Billings, one of my students, a travel agent, was engaging me to teach these regional culinary truths on her tour of a number of China’s leading provinces.  My sudden move to Portland, Oregon, in February of 1986, interrupted those plans to go abroad; nevertheless that early research still rests with me.  One of the provinces which I was studying was Szechuan, or Sichuan, which is the home of this post’s recipe.

Noodles are common throughout this vast country; among the many variations are Chongquing hot noodles, Wuhan hot and dry noodles, Henan stewed noodles, and Beijing style Zhajiang noodles.  The latter dish reaches far beyond the Hebei Province; it is made with pork gravy, which varies greatly from southern to northern China.

The cuisine of Szechuan, alternately known as Chuan, not only produces these spicy cold noodles, but also the famous dandanmian, or dandan noodles; they too have a spicy sauce, but contain preserved vegetables.  Both these dishes are street foods in Sichuan, for they are served ubiquitously, even in small food stands on the street.

I used poetic license, in that I chose pasta that is a complete protein and a natural, low glycemic food; thus, these delicious noodles are diabetic friendly.  Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Pasta contains the six grains and legumes, which are mentioned in this Old Testament scripture.  As published on their box, these half-dozen organic foods are germinated in pure filtered water; therefore, beneficial enzymes are activated, causing sprouting and releasing powerful nutrients, which otherwise would lay dormant.  Diabetics that can’t tolerate carbohydrates are reporting good luck with this pasta in my rich repast.

Join me on a trip to China with this select, health-promoting receipt!

ingredients for spicy cold noodles

Spicy Cold Noodles  Yields: 4-5 servings.  Total prep time: 30 minutes, plus several hours for chilling.  Note: may omit the chicken for a vegan recipe.

1 pound chicken, or 5 tenderloins, thawed  (All natural is best; available reasonably at Trader Joe’s.)

10 ounces dry pasta  (Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Fettuccine is a complete protein pasta, which is low glycemic, diabetic friendly, and high in fiber; may also use a spaghetti pasta.)

1 1/3 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp garlic, chopped

1/4 cup sesame paste, or tahini  (Trader’s brand makes a good organic one.)

3 tbsp hot brewed tea

3 tbsp soy sauce  (Organic tamari is best for your body.)

3 tbsp rice vinegar  (May also use red wine vinegar.)

2 tsp sugar

Salt to taste  (Real Salt is premium for your health; available in the nutrition center at local supermarket.)

  1. Thaw chicken in a bowl of warm water.  Fill a stock pot with 4 quarts of water; bring to a boil over medium/high heat.
  2. Meanwhile peel enough garlic cloves to generously fill a coffee measure-which is 2 tablespoons-with pieces; see this measure in the above photo.  (This amount gives a lot of

    emulsifying tahini and tea

    bite, may use more or less to taste.)  Place garlic in a food processor and press the pulse button repeatedly, to form a medium/coarse grind; stop and scrape down sides once; set aside.  (May also chop with a sharp knife, if you don’t have a processor.)

  3. Place tenderloins in boiling water; turn down heat to medium; do not add salt.  Cook for about 4 minutes, or until just faintly pink in center; do not overcook.  Remove from water when done and place on a plate in refrigerator.  SAVE BROTH.
  4. Brew tea.  Place sesame butter in a large bowl; add hot tea; stir until emulsified, or smooth and creamy (see photo).  Blend in garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar; set aside.  (If chicken is finished while you are preparing sauce, proceed to step 6, and then come back to sauce.)
  5. Bring broth and 1 tsp of sesame oil to a boil in the stock pot; add pasta; turn down heat to medium; do not add salt, as this toughens the noodles.  Stirring occasionally, cook for approximately 6-7 minutes, or until slightly chewy.  Drain pasta and immediately submerge in cold water to stop cooking process, set aside.
  6. Cut chicken in bite-size pieces, add to sauce, and season with salt.  Toss together with pasta.
  7. Serve chilled.  Yum!

 

Roasted Beet and Balsamic Chicken Salad

roasted beet and balsamic chicken salad

The inspiration for this salad came when I needed one for a ladies tea at my church.  Since then I have used it to bless several large crowds; thus, it is written for ten servings which I in turn multiplied; in this way chefs write their recipes for restaurant use.  You, however, may choose to prepare half this receipt.  Don’t miss its simple pleasure.

The healer Jeanette, from my previous post, emphasizes the importance of color in her life-giving diet.  I kept her instructions in mind as I chose this produce; thus, I included purple beets as opposed to multi-colored ones, which are light in pigment when cooked; bright yellow peppers provided a health-promoting, visual contrast.

Both this salad’s chicken and the balsamic vinaigrette (2016/08/22) may be made with real balsamic, which originated in Modena, Italy about 900 years ago.  We, however, without knowing it often use a cheaper, imitation version of this.  I will teach you the difference here, so you may shop wisely, if you want to invest in the best.

Wikipedia defines the aceto balsamico (balsamic vinegar), guarded by European agencies, as a very dark, concentrated, intensely flavored vinegar made wholly or partially from grape must.  The word aceto balsamico is unregulated, but there are three of these protected balsamic vinegars; it is required that they come from the province of Modena and the wider Emilia region surrounding it.  The two best of these always have the word tradizionale, traditional, in their names: Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena and Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia; both are made from reduced grape must and aged for numerous years in a series of wooden barrels.  The third Aceto Balsamico di Modena is also made from grape must, but only partially, as it is blended with wine vinegar, making it less expensive.1

The HuffPost explains how to discern these authentic versions, by looking for their place of origin and the words: grape must, aged grape must, Mosto d’Uva, or DOC in the list of ingredients.  Without one of these words you will be getting imitation wine vinegar with coloring added to it.2

The first two mentioned above, known as balsamico tradizionale, are dark in color and very costly, because they are aged to syrupy perfection for 12-100 years, under rigid restrictions.  Expect to pay up to $400 a bottle.3   This traditional balsamic is not vinegar made from wine, but rather it is made from grape pressings that have never been permitted to ferment into wine.  It begins with boiling down sweet white Trebbiano grape pressings to dark syrup, which is aged in an oaken keg with a vinegar “mother”.  Over the years it graduates to smaller and smaller kegs of different kinds of wood, as moisture evaporates from it, further thickening the vinegar and concentrating the flavor; the varying woods, chestnut, cherry wood, ash, mulberry, and juniper, provide its great character.  The result is extravagant taste.  As with the world’s most expensive spice saffron, a little goes a long way.4

Aceto Balsamico di Modena, the other regulated balsamic, is partially made with grape must and blended with wine vinegar, making it less costly.  Its restrictions are that it has to be from the Modena or Emilia regions and carry a Protected Geographical Indication status, which comes from a different agency than that protecting the balsamico traditzionale.

Like with good wine, price often dictates quality.  Surprises, however, sometimes occur: this authentic blended vinegar, complete with the authorized seal, is available at Trader Joe’s at a very moderate cost, as their excellent buyers shop globally, negotiating low prices, for the large quantities they are obtaining.  This label is good, but even better may be experienced.

Explore the exciting world of vinegars; make this dressing with a high quality aceto balsamico, or get Trader Joe’s Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (aged 10 years at $3.99 for 8.5 ounces), which is also delicious.  As a result, this salad will tantalize your taste buds!

  1. ttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balsamic_vinegar
  2. www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/09/balsamic-vineger-fraud_n_5459425.html
  3.  Ibid.
  4. https://www.thespruce.com/about-balsamic-vinegar-1808088

cooking tenderloins in balsamic vinegar

Roasted Beet and Balsamic Chicken Salad  Yields: 10 servings (may make half this recipe).  Total prep time: 2 days (for sprouting quinoa) plus 1 3/4 hr/  active prep time: 3/4 hr/  baking time: 1 hr.

Note: using my recipes, you may prepare ahead: balsamic vinaigrette (2016/08/22), croutons (2016/08/15), and agave roasted nuts (2016/08/15), for keeping on hand at all times; may also substitute ready-made versions.

1/2 cup quinoa, sprouted 1-2 days in advance  (Directions are below.)

2 large purple beets, or the equivalent thereof

1 tbsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best; olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

1 pound chicken tenderloins, about 5 pieces

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

3 large cloves of garlic, minced  (Better yet, use 1 cube of frozen garlic from Trader Joe’s.)

1 yellow bell pepper  (Organic is important here, as bell peppers readily absorb pesticides.)

10-12 ounces greens of your choice

8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled  (Do not use pre-crumbled feta, as it is treated with preservatives and not as tasty.)

Agave roasted nuts, made ahead, see Healthy Green Salads (2016/08/15)

Home-made croutons, made ahead, see Healthy Green Salads (2016/08/15)

Balsamic vinaigrette, made ahead (2016/08/22)

  1. Using either a sprouting jar or a bowl, sprout quinoa 2 days in advance, by first soaking it in water for 6-8 hours (may make extra quinoa); then, draining off water well, let it sit for 1-2 days until sprouted, rinsing about every 12 hours.  If finished before using, do the following: when 1/4 inch long legs have grown, without rinsing again, spread prepared quinoa on a tray or large plate, covered with parchment, to let dry for about 12 more hours.  Store in a sealed storage bag or jar and refrigerate, keeps for up to two weeks.  For more detail on sprouting, see Sprouted Three Bean Dip (2017/06/26) and Sprouted Quinoa and Yam Salad (2016/09/05).
  2. If chicken is frozen, thaw in water.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Wash and lightly oil beets; wrap in aluminum foil, leaving closure upright to keep juices from spilling; bake on cookie sheet for 3/4–1 1/4 hours, depending on size of beets.  Open foil and cool in wrap for 10 minutes; peel skin off by rubbing with hands; cut in 1/4 inch julienne slices; set aside.  Meanwhile go to next step.
  4. Heat tablespoon of oil in large skillet; place thawed tenderloins on paper towel, salting and peppering them extra well before cooking; when tiny piece of chicken sizzles in oil, add the rest.  Pour balsamic over meat and add garlic; turn tenderloins over in vinegar.  Let cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Starting with the smallest tenderloin, cut each piece in thirds with a spatula; as they are cooked remove pieces to a bowl-the meat will just be turning white inside when done.  Do not overcook.  Pour juice from pan into bowl, which will further marinate meat.
  6. Wash and cut bell pepper in small strips, set aside.
  7. Place greens in a serving bowl; add quinoa, beets, chicken, peppers, feta cheese, and nuts; toss with balsamic vinaigrette; serve with croutons. Delicious!

Curried Chicken/Cheese Ball

curry/chicken/cheese ball

curried chicken/cheese ball

My mother’s best friend, in our small Rocky Mountain village, became my treasured ally. She and her husband moved to East Glacier Park, when he retired as a screenplay writer.  Talbot Jennings was so famous that a prominent New York City television station featured his movies, such as The King and I, for a whole week, before he died.

This illustrious couple traveled the world during the production of these films; thus, Betsy schooled me in her prodigious cosmopolitan ways.  I thoroughly enjoyed sitting under her tutelage, as she prepared me for the lions at Trafalgar Square and exceeding more, prior to my moving to London.  I believe she was even more excited than I, about my valiant relocation to Tokyo half a decade later.

The voluminous New York Times brought the vast outside world to Betsy every weekend.  She was forever clipping articles to prepare me for my numerous sojourns.

With this same spirit, starting in 1982, she helped me to grow as a historical caterer.  My creative mentor was always sending me gifts, which she ordered from the New York Times.  Ingenious gadgets were among a wide array of superlative food items.  Many of these imaginative tools still grace my kitchen today.

While I was doing my early work in Billings, Montana, I journeyed to my hometown each year, where I catered multiple theme dinners per visit. The eight-hour drive across the wide expanse of the Big Sky Country thrilled my tender soul. How I delighted in approaching the backdrop of my beloved mountains, as I gazed across those colossal open prairies.

Once there, I spent many hours drinking in wisdom at Betsy’s feet.  During one of these relished trips, she offered this  delectable cheese ball to me.  I was enamored with it then and still am today.  Then it was a frequent hors d’oeuvre at my gala catered events;  today it is still my constant contribution to every holiday meal, at which I am a guest.

May you make this blessed appetizer a family tradition as well!

Curried Chicken/Cheese Ball  Yields: 2 ½ cups.  Total prep time: 1 hr/ active prep time: 30 minutes/ inactive prep time: 30 min.  Note: you may make this a day ahead.

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 cup raw whole almonds, chopped in a food processor  (May use slivered almonds and chop with a sharp knife.)

½ cup unsweetened coconut, finely grated  (Available in bulk, at Winco and other stores.)

2 tbsp mayonnaise  (Best Foods excels all other mayonnaise.)

2-3 tbsp Major Grey’s Mango Chutney  (Choose 3 tbsp if you want a full-bodied sweetness.)

1 tbsp curry powder, or to taste

½ tsp salt  (Real Salt is important; available in health section of local supermarket.)

1 chicken breast or 4 frozen tenderloins  (Natural chicken is best; Trader Joe’s works well for quality and cost.)

1-9 oz box Original Wheat Thins

  1. If you are using frozen tenderloins, thaw in cool water.  Cook chicken in salted boiling water. When center is just faintly pink, after inserting a knife, remove chicken from water and cool in refrigerator.
  2. Chop almonds in a food processor, by repeatedly pressing the pulse button. Pulse until nuts are in small chunks.  Some finely ground almond “dust” will be present; you will use this as well.  There will also be some big chunks; cut them, by hand, with a sharp knife.  Set aside.
  3. Mix all the above ingredients except the chicken.  Note: it works best to insert a regular teaspoon in the narrow jar of Major Grey’s Mango Chutney, when measuring it.  Be sure to use well-rounded teaspoons, as each approximates a tablespoon, for which the recipe calls.
  4. Leave this cream cheese mixture out at room temperature, while waiting for the chicken to cool.  When meat is cool, cut it into small pieces. Mix chicken into cream cheese gently, as not to shred it.
  5. Criss-cross two large pieces of plastic wrap.  Place chicken ball in the center of wrap.  Surround ball with this plastic covering.  Refrigerate on a small plate.
  6. Soften ball at room temperature for two hours before serving, to facilitate the spreading.
  7. Surround with crackers on a decorative serving plate.
  8. This is a winner!

Medieval White-Dish

White-dish

white-dish

Here is a bird’s eye view of a 14th century nobleman’s kitchen, as was common during the reign of King Richard II.  It consisted of a large, separate structure with many fireplaces built along the walls, each with its own cooking area.  At least one fireplace was large enough to roast a whole ox.  A raised open hearth was situated in the center of the kitchen.

Bake metes (baked foods) were concocted in an oven, prepared first with a blazing fire, getting its brick walls red hot.  Cooks placed the pies, custards, and pastries in the hot oven, after they swept out the ashes.  These items baked, behind a closed door, until the oven was cool.

Bakers, however, made breads in separate buildings in larger kitchens, such as that of King Richard II.  The stoves in these bake houses were often 14 feet wide.

Our king was extravagant; he daily entertained over a thousand guests.  There is record of a very large shopping list for a banquet he gave on September 23, 1387. His overseer included 14 salted oxen, 2 fresh oxen, 120 sheep, 140 pigs, 120 gallons of milk, and 11,000 eggs, among taxing quantities of other items.

These feasts were held in the castle’s great hall.  Here the king and special guests sat on a raised platform, or high borde.  The lesser guests assembled at tables that paralleled the side walls.  The backless benches, on which they sat, were called banquettes; thus we got the name banquet for such affairs.

Cooks in many of these kitchens prepared white-dish, or blank-mang.  It was a popular dish in England, as well as on the Continent, during the Middle Ages. Chaucer’s chef made this receipt.  Our poet wrote in his “Prologue” to the Canterbury Tales (c.1386):  “For blancmange, that made he with the best.”

I am indebted to Lorna Sass for her documentation of this information in To the King’s Taste (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975).  Below is my version for her delicious, historical recipe.  Its preparation is easy with my introduction of 21st century appliances  Can’t encourage you enough to try this.  It’s a palate pleaser!

Next week I will be making the connection between these medieval foods and our “renaissance” happening right here in Tualatin, Oregon.

White-Dish is adapted from a recipe in Lorna Sass’ To the King’s Taste (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975).  Yields: 4-6 servings.

2 large chicken breasts

2 1/2 cups water

1 1/4 tsp salt  (Real Salt is best, available in health section of local supermarket.)

1/2 cup raw whole almonds

1 cup brown rice  (I like basmati rice, available at Trader Joe’s.)

3 tbsp butter

4 tsp brown sugar, packed down  (Sucanat  evaporated cane juice, may be substituted; this is close to what they used in the Middle Ages.)

3 tbsp anise seed

1/4 cup sliced almonds

  1. In a tightly covered medium-size saucepan, over medium heat, boil chicken in water, to which 1/4 tsp salt is added.   Boil for about 10-15 minutes.  Be careful to not overcook.  Check meat by cutting with a sharp knife; center should be slightly pink.  (Meat will be cooked more later on.) Remove chicken from broth; set aside both broth and meat.
  2. To make the almond milk, grind 1/2 cup whole raw almonds in a 11-cup, or larger, food processor. Pulse repeatedly until almonds are a fine powder.  (A blender or Vitamix will also work; add 2 tbsp of ice water to nuts, before grinding, if using either of these.)
  3. With food processor running, slowly add two cups of broth through the feeder tube on top of the processor.  (You may have to add water to make 2 cups of liquid; if perhaps you have extra broth, be sure to save this.)  Let sit for 10 minutes.  This makes almond milk.
  4. Put almond milk in the saucepan.  Add remaining 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp butter, and sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Add rice, cover,  and reduce heat to medium low.  Simmer gently for about 40 minutes, or until rice is soft.  Watch carefully so rice doesn’t cook dry; gently check bottom of pan with a fork, being careful to not stir rice.  Add more broth, or water, as needed.
  5. Meanwhile dice chicken into 1-inch cubes.  Set aside.
  6. In a small sauté pan, cook almond slices in remaining 2 tbsp of hot butter.  Watch carefully, sautéing only until light brown.  Salt them lightly and set aside.
  7. Crush anise seed using a mortar and pestle.  May also grind in a DRY food processor by pulsing lightly.  Set aside.
  8. Add chicken when rice is soft; stir, and cook about 5 more minutes, or until meat is hot.  Watch moisture in bottom of pan, so rice doesn’t burn, add water or broth as needed.
  9. Serve garnished with buttered almond slices and crushed anise seed.  SO GOOD!

Lemon/Spinach Chicken or Ahi Tuna

Lemon spinach chicken

lemon/spinach chicken

Back to cooking with greens with another delightful dish!  This simple spinach recipe utilizes the bounty of my friend’s fall garden.  She replants her leafy vegetables mid-August for a late harvest, with which I am blessed. However one 10-12 oz bag of fresh spinach will do, if you are buying it.

This recipe is high in protein and iron. It has vitamin C as well, which increases the absorption of dietary iron according to the Mayo Clinic.  They recommend using any of the following for this purpose: broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, leafy greens, melons, oranges, peppers, strawberries, tangerines, or tomatoes.  Lemon juice and tomatoes were my inspiration here.

It is important to use coconut or avocado oil, as olive oil produces carcinogens, when heated to high temperatures.

I always use Real Salt or Himalayan salt, which have all the necessary minerals. Other salts (including white sea salt) don’t have these essential nutrients.  High quality salt, which is pink in color, and electrolytes are both necessary for good health.  You will notice a stabilization of your emotions, when these are balanced in your system.  Arbonne sells excellent electrolyte powder at a reasonable price, especially when you consider the cost of coconut or vitamin waters and Gatorade.  The caliber of Arbonne’s electrolytes far exceeds that of these drinks!

The first time I served my lemon/spinach creation was for a couple from my church.  His mother had just passed and we were celebrating her life with utter joy!  There were jocund accounts of her life’s victories, as well pictures of her holy marriage in the 1940’s.  The Spirit of God moved during our festive fellowship.

I used ahi tuna steaks that night in this recipe, instead of the chicken tenderloins. Either version is powerfully good.  Note: be extra careful not to overcook the meat or fish.

Enjoy perfect simplicity here!

Lemon Spinach Chicken   Yields: 4 servings.  (Note: may substitute ahi tuna steaks.)

3 tbsp of oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best.)

1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 medium lemons, squeezed

12-16 chicken tenderloins, thawed  (Natural ones are available at Trader’s inexpensively, or you may substitute 4-6 ounce ahi tuna steaks.)

Salt and pepper to taste  (Real Salt is best, available in the health section at local supermarkets)

2 medium/large tomatoes, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, chopped  (For a change, I used elephant garlic which is milder; if using this, double the amount.)

10-12 ounces of fresh spinach

Steamed brown rice  (Basmati rice from Trader’s is my favorite.)

  1. Heat 1 ½ tbsp oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add small piece of onion; when it sizzles, add the remaining onion.  Carmelize onion (cook until dark brown).  Set aside in a large bowl.
  2. Meanwhile roll lemons on counter, pushing down hard with your hand, to loosen the juices inside.  Squeeze lemons. Set aside.
  3. Melt remaining oil in frying pan over medium heat.  Pat thawed tenderloins or tuna, somewhat dry, by using paper towels.  (A little moisture will help the adhesion of seasonings.)  Be sure to salt and pepper raw meat/fish generously.  Cook chicken tenderloins or tuna, in hot oil, in batches if necessary.  Cut tenderloins into bite-size pieces with spatula.  Cook only until very pink inside.  DO NOT OVERCOOK!  (The inner meat of the tuna or chicken should be almost red, as it will cook more later.)  Place pieces in the bowl with onions as each is done.  Watch very carefully, as not to overcook.  Leave fond (pan drippings) in pan.
  4. Add tomatoes and garlic to hot frying pan and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until soft and chunky.  Deglaze the pan (scrape fond off bottom with a heat-resistant spatula or wooden spoon), while tomatoes are cooking.  Note: there is an abundance of flavor in fond.
  5. Add half the spinach to hot sauce; stir well, by distributing the tomatoes over greens.  Repeat step with rest of spinach; cook briefly, or just until leaves are slightly limp.
  6. Place meat or tuna, onions, and lemon juice in frying pan with spinach/tomatoes.  Stir well.  Cook mixture just until hot.  Do not overcook the meat/fish.
  7. Adjust seasonings.
  8. Serve with steamed brown rice.  So delicious!

Tomato/Feta Chicken

Tomato/feta chicken

Tomato/feta chicken

An explosion of creativity occurred in my sister’s upscale kitchen this month: my siblings and I collaborated over one of my recipes during a trip home for my mother’s 93rd birthday.  Our three strong cooking minds worked together to perfect a dish I created years ago.

Nearly a decade has passed since I helped a friend every Monday, for she was bogged down in her professional responsibilities; aromatic ailments filled pots and pans, as I prepared her family’s nourishment for each upcoming week.

This particular friend had been to cooking school in Italy.; her excellent input and feed-back sharpened my skills, while I was helping her family.  At her home, I created this recipe for tomato/feta chicken, which Maureen and Paul helped perfect recently.

One thing I learned from my friend was to add the garlic at the close of the sautéing process; she said this keeps it from burning.  I was adding it as I was cooking the meat before this.  My friend’s ingenious tongue could taste the burnt garlic; thus, she suggested that I add it at the very end, which is how I had cooked with this herb since.

However, my siblings suggested that adding it early on allows for more flavor.  My brother explained the proper process: when you add garlic, while sautéing, cook only until you can smell it; then, immediately add the liquid for the sauce to keep it from burning.

My sister employs another method: she roasts lots of whole peeled cloves on a cookie sheet, in a preheated 300 degree oven, for at least an hour (or until golden brown). She stores this in the refrigerator, adding about three tablespoons per four-serving dish while it is cooking; only cook briefly, however, if dish is dry.

After tasting our finished work, I am sold on cooking this herb longer, employing these safe ways.  The following recipe reflects this new directive; here the fresh garlic is cooked for a lengthy time in the wet tomatoes.

There was another point I learned from my siblings’ expertise.  Both urged me not to bother with washing pieces of cut meat; it is only necessary to clean the inside of the carcasses of fowl, where blood has collected.  This has made cooking easier for me.

This tomato/feta chicken is an exceptionally good recipe.  Enjoy it!

Tomato/Feta Chicken  Yields: 6-8 servings.  Total prep time: 1 hr.

1 medium/large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 1/3 tbsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best.)

2 lbs chicken tenderloins, thawed  (The frozen ones at Trader Joe’s are all natural.)

Salt and pepper to taste  (Real Salt is best; available in the health section in your local supermarket.)

6 medium/large tomatoes, chopped  (Organic is best.)

¾ tsp dried oregano  (Organic is available at Trader’s; it is of excellent quality and very inexpensive.)

1 tsp dried basil

5 large cloves of garlic, chopped fine  (3 cubes of frozen garlic from Trader’s is so easy to use.)

1-16 oz package frozen broccoli florettes  (An inexpensive, organic variety is available at Trader’s.)

4 oz feta cheese  (This is best when purchased in a block-rather than pre-crumbled.)

Shaved Parmesan cheese

Steamed brown rice (I prefer basmati brown rice)

  1. Take frozen broccoli out of freezer.  It cooks better when partially thawed.
  2. If chicken tenderloins are frozen, you may thaw them in cold water in about 15 minutes.  Pat dry with paper towel.
  3. In a large heavy bottom frying pan, heat 1 tsp oil over medium/low heat. Add onion and carmelize, cook slowly until dark brown.  Do not crowd onions in pan, or they will sweat and it takes longer to carmelize them.  Stir every few minutes for about the first 30 minutes; then, stir every minute afterwards, as onions begin to stick to pan and browning process accelerates. For more details on carmelizing, see Carmelized Onions and Carrots (2017/06/19).  Set aside when done.   Meanwhile go to next step.
  4. Chop tomatoes and garlic.  Set each aside separately.
  5. Heat remaining oil in another large skillet.  Salt and pepper tenderloins generously; place chicken in hot oil, sautéing over medium heat quickly.  Cut tenderloins with spatula as cooking to check for doneness (should be slightly pink in center as they will cook more later).   As pieces are done, place in a large bowl.
  6. Add tomatoes to hot pan in which you cooked the chicken; simmer over medium/low heat for 10 minutes. Add dried herbs and garlic; cook down to a chunky sauce, about 20 minutes more.
  7. If desired, when onions and tomatoes are cooked, may set aside and finish recipe just before serving.
  8. Just before serving, add thawed broccoli to tomato sauce and simmer over medium heat; cook until vegetables are hot.
  9. Add chicken and onions to pan with tomatoes; heat; stir in feta, crumbling it with your fingers.  Adjust seasonings.  Heat thoroughly, but do not overcook.
  10. Serve over rice; top with shaved Parmesan cheese.

Carrots au Beurre

Carrots-au-beurre

Carrots-au-beurre

This three-part 19th century dinner, which started last week, reflects the new Classic French cuisine.  This era in culinary history became popular, as the Napoleonic age followed the French Revolution.  Then self-made men, following the example of Napoleon, rose in status and wealth.  They had to learn the ways of entertaining, or how to be amphitryons (hosts).

Cook books of the time reflected these needs of this new non-aristocratic class. A forty year lapse in the publication of cooking instructions existed prior to the beginning of this new period.  One important recipe book, with the dawning of this new day, was Le Cuisinier by A. Viard.  It was published during the entire nineteenth century.  However, its name changed with each new political upheaval.

First printed in 1806, Le Cuisinier Imperial was named after the Emperor who loved classicism.  This passion of Napoleon gave the new cuisine its name-Classic French cuisine.

The book’s title changed to Le Cuisinier Royal, when Louis XVIII became king in 1814.  Other name conversions reflected the politics of the century.  It became Le Cuisinier National, when Louis Napoleon was elected President of the Republic.  Then it went back to employing “Imperial” when this man declared himself Emperor Napoleon III in 1852.

The cook book was known by Le Cuisinier National once again, when France became a republic in 1871.  It has remained such.

There is a recipe for buttered carrots in these pages which date back two centuries ago.

In 1964, Esther Aresty documented the history of European and American cuisine in her account The Delectable Past, from which I got the above information. Here she improved on this delicious recipe from Le Cuisinier by pureeing this vegetable in a food mill.  I have augmented her outstanding method with easy, modernized steps utilizing a food processor.

You’ll be immensely pleased with this memorable dish. A comfort food of all comfort foods!

Carrots au Beurre Adapted from a recipe in Esther B. Aresty’s  The Delectable Past  (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964).  Yields: 4 servings.

½ cup pecan pieces

1 lb. carrots (organic is best and also very inexpensive)

2 cups green beans (fresh or frozen-I prefer French-cut frozen beans from Trader Joes)

¼ cup whipping cream

2 tbsp butter

1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg, or to taste

½ tsp salt, or to taste (Real Salt is best, available in health section of local supermarket)

1/8 tsp pepper, or to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 265 degrees. Roast pecans on a small cookie sheet for about 40 minutes, or until light brown when piece is broken. Set aside.
  2. Spray carrots with 97% distilled white vinegar mixed with 3% hydrogen peroxide. Let sit three minutes. Rinse thoroughly and scrape with a sharp knife. (Scraping, as opposed to peeling, saves the vitamins which are just under the skin.)  Cut into ½ inch pieces.  If the carrot piece is thick, cut it in half.
  3. Cover with water in a medium saucepan. Boil over medium heat until soft.
  4. In meantime, steam green beans in a medium saucepan.
  5. Place the hot, drained carrots in a food processor. Add cream, butter, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Blend until carrots are a smooth mixture. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  6. Place pureed carrots in the center of a vegetable platter. Surround with green beans and top with roasted pecans.

Note: You may double this recipe. Leftovers are great!