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Apple Roast Chicken with Maple-Glazed Yams and Green Beans

Roast chickenTHE VERDICT:

This was the first meal we prepared that utilized some of the cool features of our new range, namely the two ovens and the built in meat thermometer. The apples and yams make this a great seasonal meal that will usher in the fall with all of its best flavours.

The combination of apples and cider in the roasting pan make for a moist, flavour-rich chicken that is hard to top. Once again the Best of Chef at Home has delivered a recipe that didn’t disappoint. While many people are intimidated by the idea of roasting a whole chicken, the instructions in this recipe are easy to follow and you will soon find that the task is much easier than you expected. The leftover carcass would be perfect for making your own Chicken Noodle Soup or you could make the simple chicken stock suggested by Michael Smith in the recipe below.

Chicken dinnerThe yams were a simple, but delightful side dish. The subtle sweetness of the yams combined perfectly with the maple syrup glaze. Along with the simple and savoury steamed green beans, this sweeter side dish was a fantastic accompaniment for the sweet-tart apple chicken.

This combination of recipes makes for a nice family meal on a Sunday evening. It is easy to throw together, but does take a while to cook. The good news is that once it’s in the oven, all you have to do is set the time and forget about it. The yams and apples are soft enough for even young children to enjoy and the chicken is moist and easy to chew if cut into small pieces. Everyone can enjoy it with ease.

If you want to try it yourself. . .

THE RECIPES:

Apple Roast Chicken (source: The Best of Chef at Home by Chef Michael Smith)

4 local apples, quartered and cored

2 onions, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 whole head of garlic cloves, peeled

1 or 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

a sprinkle or two of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup of apple cider

one 4lb. roasting chicken

2 green onions, thinly sliced

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • Toss the apples, onions, garlic and rosemary together in a roasting pan large enough to hold the chicken.
  • Season chicken well with salt and pepper and rest it on top of the apple mixture. Pour in the cider. Roast chicken until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of one of the thighs reads 180°F, about 20 minutes per pound.
  • As soon as the chicken is cool enough to handle, and without removing it from the pan, slice and pull the meat from the carcass and toss with the apple pan stew. Remove the carcass. Sprinkle with sliced green onion and serve directly out of pan.
  • Freestyle variation: Any choice of apple will work well. For an upscale presentation, you may also slice the chicken and arrange it on a serving platter with the apple pan sauce served on the side. For an easy chicken broth, the chicken carcass can be tossed in a small stock pot with an onion, celery, carrot and bay leaf, covered with water and simmered for 1-2 hours.

Makes 4-6 servings.


Maple-Glazed Yams (source: Epicurious; original recipe)

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Buffalo Chicken with Buttermilk-Feta Sauce and Spicy Escarole

Buffalo Chicken with Buttermilk-Feta SauceTHE VERDICT:

Most of the time, when you try to make a healthier version of a favourite junk food, you end up eating a bland and unfulfilling imitation of your favourite calorie-laden treat. Luckily, that is not the case with this recipe. Okay, it’s not exactly the same as eating hot wings with blue cheese dip, but the dish is flavourful and pleasing and will satisfy your cravings when you can’t make it to the pub. The spicy escarole (or in our case, romaine, because we couldn’t find escarole) was a unique side dish that complemented the main course very well. We will definitely be making this again.

If you want to try it yourself. . .

THE RECIPE:

Buffalo Chicken with Buttermilk Feta Sauce (source: Clean Eating magazine)

1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek-style yogurt

2 Tbsp. nonfat buttermilk (substitution: 1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice, let stand for 10 minutes)

2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

1/3 cup low-fat feta cheese, crumbled

3 green onions, chopped (about 1/4 cup)

1/4 tsp. sea salt

4 Tbsp. hot sauce

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. paprika

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lbs.), each cut into 2 3-inch pieces)

Olive oil cooking spray

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, buttermilk, vinegar, feta, onions and salt. Cover and refrigerate mixture until ready to serve for up to 2 days.
  • In a small bowl, combine hot sauce, oil and paprika.
  • Place chicken in a large shallow dish. Pour hot sauce mixture over chicken, tossing to coat. Cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes at room-temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 400F. Mist a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Remove chicken from hot sauce marinade, discarding marinade, and place chicken on baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (no need to flip). Top with buttermilk-feta sauce, dividing evenly, or pour sauce into a separate bowl for dipping. Serve with Spicy Escarole (see recipe below).

Spicy Escarole (source: Clean Eating magazine)

2 tsp. olive oil

1 head escarole, cored and coarsely chopped (Note: escarole is a type of endive characterized by wide pale-green leaves)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. hot sauce

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted

  • Heat oil  in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add escarole and saute for 5 minutes or until slightly wilted. Add garlic and hot sauce, stirring occasionally, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until escarole is completely wilted. Sprinkle pepper flakes and sesame seeds over top and serve immediately with Buffalo Chicken.

Makes 6 servings.

Hands on time: 20 minutes. Total time: 1 hour.

Nutrients per serving (4 oz. chicken [about 2 pieces], 2 Tbsp. sauce, 1 cup Spicy Escarole): 274 calories, 10 g fat, 11 g carbs, 34 g protein, 605 mg sodium, 68 mg cholesterol

Nutritional Bonus: 1 Tbsp. of paprika has 71% of your vitamin A requirement.

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Rhubarb-Braised Chicken Thighs with Asparagus and Garlic Bread

Rhubarb Chicken with AsparagusTHE VERDICT:

First of all, thanks to Raheel for passing on this recipe.

The chicken is a fun, tasty dish that blends atypical flavours in a subtle way. The rhubarb adds tons of tangy flavour to the chicken. If you’re looking for a way to enjoy rhubarb that doesn’t involve dessert, I think this recipe is worth adding to your repertoire.  It is easy to cook, although it needs to bake for almost an hour, so it is definitely more of a weekend recipe.  We used local rhubarb and asparagus from the Farmer’s Market, and made the garlic bread the same as we always do.  Local asparagus is much tastier and softer than the ones we tend to find at the supermarket, so all we did was steam them and they were good to go right out of the pot.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Rhubarb-Braised Chicken Thighs (source: www.chow.com; original recipe)

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Chicken Bratwurst, Pancakes and Rhubarb Compote

Farmers' Market BreakfastTHE VERDICT:

Okay, so we cheated a little on this one. Other than the compote, none of this breakfast was made from scratch. But it was made from some of the goodies we picked up at the farmers’ market on Saturday morning and the results made for a wonderful breakfast on Sunday morning. It was also a great opportunity to use our Griddler: we opened it up flat and made one half a griddle for cooking the pancakes and the other half a grill for cooking the brats.

We decided the chicken brats would be an excellent alternative to sausage or bacon, and we were certainly right on that score. They are made by BeerBrats, one of Justin’s favourite stops at the Trout Lake market and a company that specializes in making bratwurst with, you guessed it, beer. With regional microbrews, to be exact. Our Driftwood Farmhand Chicken Provencal bratwurst is just one of four flavours they sell for you to take home and cook yourself, but they also sell bratwurst dogs and breakfast wraps on site. In fact, our Saturday morning breakfast consisted of two incredibly mouthwatering wraps made with their Red Devil Chorizo sausage. All in all, it was a good weekend made all the better by tasty BeerBrats.

We got the mix for our pancakes from The Flour Peddler. This was their first weekend at the market, and we were excited to sample their wares because we had heard so much about them from other farmers’ market fiends. Their booth is hard to miss thanks to the guy grinding grain with the help of a stationary bicycle. We suggested they hook up a few kids’ bikes to some grain mills and offer a child minding service to their customers; we’ll see if they put our idea to good use next week. The Peddlers are extremely friendly, happy to joke around with customers as well as talk seriously about their product. We took our pancake mix home knowing exactly how to store it and what went into it. We chose the Red Fife Heritage Wheat Whole Grain Pancake and Waffle Mix and found it to be much heartier than traditional pancakes; we were still full hours later. 1 cup of the mix makes enough pancakes for 2 people, so we will probably get 3-4 breakfasts out of the bag we bought.

The pancakes went very well with the Rhubarb Compote that we decided to use instead of syrup. And the leftover compote also went very well with the Vanilla-Coconut Rice Pudding that we made for dessert that night.

THE RECIPE:

Rhubarb Compote (source: previously reviewed on Tonight’s Dinner; you can find a link to the recipe here)


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Fettuccine with Chicken, Goat Cheese & Spinach

Chicken Fettuccine

Food styling by S. Price

THE VERDICT:

We made this meal on a night when we were having some friends over for dinner. It was easy to prepare, which meant we could focus on our guests rather than on our kitchen. As easy as it was to prepare, it required a lot of pots. We needed one to cook the pasta, one to make the sauce and a third to cook the chicken and saute the spinach. That’s a lot of dishes to wash for a simple, one bowl supper. But the clean up factor was the only thing I didn’t like about this dish.

Justin found the sauce a little dry, but we would easily fix that by adding a little reserved cooking water to the dish when we’re tossing the ingredients together next time. We didn’t have any leftovers to test out, but the dryness of the sauce is an indicator that this dish would not reheat well. We definitely recommend planning it for a night where you don’t need leftovers for lunch the next day. If your family isn’t big enough to eat it all at one meal, make sure you invite someone over to share it with you. It’s too good to waste.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Fettucine with Chicken, Goat Cheese and Spinach (source: Fine Cooking: Fresh & Quick magazine; original recipe)

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Parmesan Chicken Cutlets & Strawberry Spinach Salad

Chicken and SaladTHE VERDICT:

This meal was an excellent combination of recipes. Not only were both dishes delicious, but they also complemented each other very well. In fact, I consider this meal one of the highlights of the month.

The chicken is very easy to prepare–all the easier for me since Justin has discovered a love of breading meat. Along with cooking quesadillas, breaded entrees are becoming one of his cooking specialties.

I threw the salad together using some items we had in our fridge and pantry and taking a little inspiration from salads I saw on restaurant menus a few summers back. While most trendy restaurants seem to be steering away from strawberries and towards beets this summer, I think there is still a place for this tasty flavour combination on your table. I am already salivating at the thought of using fresh local strawberries in this salad in the coming months.

As I was free-styling the salad, the recipes that follow are just my best guesses on proportions, but it is hard to screw up salad, so just eyeball everything until it seems right.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPES:

Parmesan Chicken Cutlets (source: Today’s Parent magazine; original recipe)

Strawberry Spinach Salad (source: Tonight’s Dinner)

2 cups sliced strawberries

5 cups fresh baby spinach

1/2 cup chevre cheese, crumbled

1/3 cup toasted & salted pumpkin seeds

Honey Balsamic Dressing (see recipe below)

  • Toss ingredients in a large bowl with the dressing.

Makes 4 servings.


Honey Balsamic Dressing (source: Tonight’s Dinner)

Honey, to taste (approximately one spoonful for every 2 people)

Equal amounts of olive oil and balsamic vinegar (approximately 1/2 Tbsp. of each per person)

  • Whisk together. Toss with your favourite salad.

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Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle SoupTHE VERDICT:

The flavours of this soup are good, but it could probably use some salt next time.  Even adding salt, the sodium content would still be much less than a packaged soup.  A recommended meal for the day before is this one, which leaves a nice carcass for the soup base.  You can substitute thyme or some other fresh herb for the dill, depending on your tastes and the season.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPES:

Chicken Noodle Soup (source: Canadian Family magazine; original recipe)

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Crispy Roast Chicken with Oregano and Lemon, Mashed Yams and Apples, Green Beans

Roast Chicken with Yams and Green BeansTHE VERDICT:

This roast is dead simple and results in moist, tender chicken in the same vein as Swiss Chalet. The gravy was very non-traditional and tasted more like a vinaigrette than a full-fat gravy. We think the gravy would appeal to Swiss Chalet fans, but we’d probably skip it in favour of a more traditional format next time. As with all roasts, cooking times may vary due to factors such as oven size and bird size.  The key is internal temperature, so the first time you cook this, leave some extra time just in case.  For the record, it took us closer to 1.5 hours to get to 170°F.

The yams and apples turned out delicious, and almost seem too good to be vegetables.  Definitely good if you want to “hide” vegetables in a tasty dish that the kids will love. Also a possibility for a sweet potato pie filling. We hardly had any leftovers because we both enjoyed thirds of this simple, but flavour-packed side dish.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPES:

Crispy Roast Chicken with Oregano and Lemon (source: Canadian Family magazine; original recipe)

Mashed Yams and Apples (source: www.epicurious.com; original recipe)

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Yogurt and Tamarind Grilled Chicken with Curry Vegetables and Basmati Rice

Yogourt Tamarind Chicken with Curry Vegetables

THE VERDICT:

There’s nothing like making curry from scratch.  Fresh spices lend a much more complex flavour to the dish than generic paste or powder, and the cook can more easily influence the dish to their liking.  The vegetable dish can be made with any variety of vegetables (local and in season, ideally) but care must be taken to add each vegetable to the pot so that they all reach the proper level of softness at the same time.  The chicken dish turned out much better than I expected, and both of us would make it again.  It is a very simple and low maintenance dish, so as long as you can be proactive and marinade it beforehand.  A good idea would be to prepare the marinade in the morning before leaving for work, so that it is ready to cook when you get home. Cooking the chicken was a cinch.  We used the Griddler to grill the chicken, but a cast iron grilling pan or BBQ would work just as well. While the recipe says the lemon wedges are optional, the citrus really does enhance the flavour of the marinade.

Leftovers were tasty and the vegetables held up overnight.  We didn’t overcook them so they weren’t completely mushy the next day.  The curry was even more aromatic as the flavours had time to intensify.

On Vij’s cookbook:  I’d highly recommend this cookbook.  The introductory sections give a great background on Indian cooking and the spices traditionally used (note that he doesn’t once mention nuts even though many Indian restaurants seem to use nuts to thicken sauces) and background on their restaurant.  The recipes are mostly doable without having to devote your life to prep, and are written in a great anecdotal style which lends insight into his thought process.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPES:

Yogurt and Tamarind Marinated Chicken (source: Vij’s: Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine by Vikram Vij)

¾ cup plain yogurt, stirred

1 Tbsp. tamarind paste

3 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic

¼ cup canola oil

1 ½ Tbsp. salt

1 ¼ Tbsp. ground cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp. garam masala

2 ¼ lbs. boneless chicken thighs

1 lemon cut into 6 wedges (optional)

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine yogurt, tamarind paste, garlic, oil, salt, cayenne, and garam masala. Add chicken and mix well. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours. The longer the chicken marinates, the stronger the flavours will be.
  • Preheat a grill, barbecue or stovetop grill pan to high heat. Remember to turn on your exhaust fan if cooking indoors as the cooking process will create some smoke.
  • Grill chicken on one side for 2 minutes, then turn over and grill the other side for 2 minutes. Repeat this process for a total of 4 minutes per side.
  • While chicken is still piping hot, squeeze a little fresh lemon to taste.

Note: Be sure to use boneless chicken thighs as breast meat doesn’t absorb the flavours of the marinade as well. If your tamarind paste has the texture of a fruit smoothie rather than a thick jam, use 2 Tbsp. instead of 1 Tbsp.

Makes 6 servings.

Coconut Curried Vegetables (source: Vij’s: Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine by Vikram Vij)

½ cup canola oil

25-30 fresh curry leaves

1 Tbsp. black mustard seeds

1 ½ cups finely chopped onions (2 medium)

1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. chopped garlic

2 cups chopped tomatoes (2 large)

1 Tbsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. turmeric

½ tsp ground cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp. salt

½ tsp. ground black pepper

1 (12 oz.) can coconut milk, stirred

1 lb. eggplant in 1.5 inch cubes

1 lb. cauliflower in 1.5 inch florets

¾ lb. red, green and/or yellow peppers in 1.5 inch cubes

¾ cup chopped cilantro

3-4 cups cooked basmati rice

  • In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat for 1 minute. Keeping your head at a distance from the pot, add curry leaves and mustard seeds and allow them to sizzle for about 1 minute or until just a few mustard seeds start to pop. The curry leaves will cook and shrivel.
  • Immediately add onions and sauté until golden brown, about 8 minutes.
  • Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, salt and pepper.
  • Sauté the masala for 5-8 minutes or until the oil glistens on top.
  • Stir in coconut milk. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low.
  • Add eggplant, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add cauliflower and bell peppers, cover and cook for 5 minutes more.
  • Stir in cilantro.
  • Serve on top of rice.

Note: You can use whatever vegetables you like for this dish, but remember to add them according to cooking time, so that they don’t end up over or under cooked.

Makes 6-8 servings.


Garam Masala (source: Vij’s: Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine by Vikram Vij)

This spice mixture is used in many Indian recipes.  Garam means “warm” and Masala means “spices”.  There are many variations to a basic masala but they are all relatively pungent and spicy, and tend to have some sweetness to them.  This is Vij’s famous mixture that is used in many of their dishes.

1 heaping tsp whole cloves

1 1/2 tsp black cardamom seeds (about 10 whole pods)

6 heaping Tbsp cumin seeds

1 Tbsp pounded cinnamon sticks

1/4 tsp ground mace

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Make sure you have your stovetop exhaust on as this is pungent cooking!  In a heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat cloves, black cardamom seeds, cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks on medium to high heat, stirring constantly.  When the cumin seeds become a darker shade of brown, remove from stove.  Transfer the roasted spices to a bowl and cool for 20 minutes.  Place roasted spices, mace and nutmeg in a grinder or mortar/pestle and grind until it has the consistency of black pepper.  Can be used right away and will keep for up to 6 months.  We’ve found it keeps even longer although I tend to add more to dishes the longer I keep a batch.


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Coconut Shake and Bake with Paprika Roasted Cauliflower

Coconut Chicken with Paprika Cauliflower
THE VERDICT:

This is a fantastic weeknight meal as the prep work is minimal and the dishes can easily be cooked together in the same oven (ignore the different temperature and cooking time suggestions–the cauliflower turned out fine when we cooked it according to the directions for the chicken). Next time we would probably add a simple green salad just to add some more colour to the plate and to help the dish stretch a little further for leftovers the next day.

The Paprika Roasted Cauliflower is a jazzed up version of an underrated vegetable and makes a versatile side. In fact, this is fast becoming one of the go-t0 side dishes in our house. The Coconut Shake and Bake is certainly a tasty alternative to the store-bought variety and is just as easy to make. Coconut-lovers be warned: the coconut flavour in this dish is quite subtle.

In a two person household, this meal will leave you with enough leftovers for lunches or for another night. The cauliflower reheats well and still retains its original flavour though it is a little softer the next day. The chicken, unfortunately, loses much of its appeal when reheated as it becomes quite dry.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPES:

Coconut Shake and Bake (source: www.foodnetwork.ca; from Roger Mooking’s Everyday Exotic)

Paprika Roasted Cauliflower (source: Canadian Living magazine; original recipe)


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