Creole Okra with Chicken and Tomatoes

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 23

I don’t really know that much about southern food except that I like it a lot, and whenever I’m down south (I’m talking the southern US states here) I eat as much of it as I can. This dish started because I found okra at a good price at the grocery store and is more Creole-inspired than actually authentic (because again I don’t know much). It is adapted from something I found on The Kitchn. I doubled the amounts, prepared half this recipe in the pan and then chucked half of it in the freezer for later, like the clever person that I am†. Not that this recipe isn’t dead simple. I’m just lazy.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 1

I accompanied this one-dish meal with another dish: steamed beet greens.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 4

Preheat your oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Zest 1 lemon.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 3

Gather your spices. Creole spice blends tend to run to mixtures of the following, so make one to suit your own taste (this one is about 1 teaspoon of each): onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, parsley, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne. The recipe I was looking at didn’t use creole spices; instead it called for a bit of cumin and coriander. So I just used everything. Set that aside for a few minutes.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 2

Start with your okra, about 1lb, and slice the tops off before cutting it in half lengthwise. Apparently people either love or hate okra, because it’s a bit slimy. I am ambivalent so far.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 5

Lay that on your baking sheet and sprinkle with about 1 cup (canned/drained/rinsed) black-eyed peas.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 7

Next, slice up a small white onion.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 8

Sprinkle that onto the pan, together with a few cloves crushed or minced garlic.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 11

Give that a good drizzle with some nice olive oil.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 12

Now here’s where I kind of diverged from the recipe. This dish is a good meal all in itself as a vegetarian option, but I feed boys (boys who are not vegetarians) so I had to chuck some meat in here somehow. In a large bowl, I threw 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs together with a 14oz can of diced tomatoes and your lemon zest.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 14

Then I chucked in all those lovely spices and gave it a good mixing.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 16

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 17

Spread the chicken and tomatoes evenly across the top of your peas and okra and shove it in the oven for about an hour. Give it a stir once or twice to make sure everything is browning evenly.

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 18

We served ours over rice with the beet greens and it was pretty good. The Pie thought the okra was a little slimy (#1 reason why many people dislike it) but I thought it was pretty good!

Okra Chicken Tomatoes 20

If you plan to freeze this recipe for later, I would recommend freezing it in two parts: in one bag goes the okra, peas, garlic, rice, and oil, and in the second bag goes the tomatoes, chicken, and spices. It just seems like a logical thing to do to tenderize the meat and prevent the peas and okra from getting too soggy.

Advertisements

Fast Tip Friday: Fancy Dip, Freaking Fast!

Garlic Herb Dip 4

You want the best dip ever, and you want to make it fast? Well have I got a solution for you! Granted, its speed is based on the fact that you have a herb garden handy, as well as some frozen pucks of puréed garlic. But if you have been visiting Ali Does It for a while then I expect that you would have both of those things already.

Garlic Herb Dip 1

So go out and grab a bunch of your herbs. Like, a BUNCH. I have some basil, parsley, lemon thyme, sage, and a million chives and garlic chives. Mince those into a bowl with your thawed garlic puck, and add a little salt and pepper to taste. Tip in a 500mL container of plain Greek Yogurt. Stir. That’s it!

Garlic Herb Dip 2

Greek Baked Eggs

Baked Eggs 14My brother and I take turns hosting a family brunch every second Sunday, and because both of our families are on tight schedules on Sundays (us with getting Gren exercised and tired prior to the brunch, and them with getting the General up and ready to go in time), it makes sense to prepare dishes that can be made ahead of time, or that can be cooked all at once, and also dishes that don’t require constant presence in the kitchen when we should be paying attention to the interactions between corgi and toddler. This one from Salted and Styled requires some focus and prior preparation but it’s very quick so you’re not in the kitchen for very long. The original recipe worked for 5 servings, but I upped mine to 8 so the measurements are approximate. Go with what looks good to you. Baked Eggs 2

Start by cracking however many eggs you want into individual bowls. You’ll need to pour these quickly later so that’s why you’re doing this. Grab as well some fresh herbs from the garden: parsley, thyme, and oregano. I bet some sage would be tasty as well, and if you wanted to alter the flavour a little then you could maybe do a sage-savoury-chives combo or something like that. Chop up the herbs and set them aside for a minute. Grab a few handfuls of feta cheese and crumble that up as well.

Baked Eggs 4Grab as well a handful of Kalamata olives, and chop those up (after removing the pits). Mix that with a little bit of minced garlic and some salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt though, as the olives and the feta are both pretty salty in their own right.Baked Eggs 5

Now preheat your broiler and grab a large cast-iron skillet or wide, shallow baking dish. Dollop some butter in there as well as a few drops of heavy cream.

Baked Eggs 6Heat the butter and cream either under the broiler or on the stovetop until bubbly. Baked Eggs 7

Then working very quickly, slide in all your eggs.

Baked Eggs 8Sprinkle with your herbs and olives. Baked Eggs 9

Top with feta.

Baked Eggs 10Shove that under the broiler until the eggs are cooked to your satisfaction (runny or hard, it’s up to you) – probably less than 5 minutes. Baked Eggs 13

Serve straight from the pan with some buttered toast as a plate or for sopping up your yolks. Mmm!

Baked Eggs 15

Five-Minute Frittata, for Two

This is my favourite quick dinner when you want something a little bit better than a cold bowl of cereal but you want to apply pretty much the same level of effort. This dish serves two but I was so hungry after all my efforts in the garden that I ate the whole thing myself.

Five-Minute Frittata 18

First I grabbed some fresh herbs out of said garden. Then I preheated my oven to broil and grabbed an oven-safe nonstick skillet. Nonstick works best for this particular eggy dish, but you have to make sure that it has been approved for use in the oven so you don’t end up killing yourself with chemicals or burning the handle off.

Five-Minute Frittata 1

I chopped up the herbs.

Five-Minute Frittata 2

Then I grabbed a tomato and chopped and de-seeded it as well.

Five-Minute Frittata 3

Now you can start heating up your skillet, with a nice big pat of butter in it to melt.

Five-Minute Frittata 6

Then I cracked 4 eggs into a bowl. I proceeded to beat the crap out of them.

Five-Minute Frittata 4

Add in a big dollop of sour cream. You can use milk or cream but I have recently discovered that sour cream in eggs makes them light and fluffy and flavourful so I like using it.

Five-Minute Frittata 5

Then I poured the mixed eggs into the hot skillet.

Five-Minute Frittata 7

Let that sit for a moment.

Five-Minute Frittata 8

Then start pulling the egg away from the bottom of the skillet. You’re not really stirring the egg, so much as exposing more of the raw stuff to a hot cooking surface.

Five-Minute Frittata 9

Stop scraping before all the wet stuff is scrambled.

Five-Minute Frittata 10

Now you can top it with all the goodness you’ve prepared. This is salt, pepper, chopped herbs, tomatoes, and parmesan cheese.

Five-Minute Frittata 11

And then go ahead and shove it under the broiler for about two minutes, until all the wet egg is now solid. Please don’t judge me for my dirty oven.

Five-Minute Frittata 12

You can see I actually overdid this one a little bit.

Five-Minute Frittata 13

Then you hold the pan over a plate and start to slowly tip it so the whole thing starts to slide out.

Five-Minute Frittata 14

Keeeeeep sliding.

Five-Minute Frittata 15

When you’re about halfway out, lift the pan so that the second half of the egg flips over and covers the first half.

Five-Minute Frittata 16

Top with more pepper and garnish if you like.

Five-Minute Frittata 17

As I said, you can cut this in two and share it. Or if you’re really hungry it makes a great meal for one!

Five-Minute Frittata 22

Sausage Rolls

Sausage Rolls 21

I made these for our end-of-the-year softball team potluck, and despite me making four dozen of them, they were gone within five minutes of opening up the container. I’ve never made sausage rolls before, but I do love them, so it was easy to figure out what should go in them. I will definitely make them again, and probably tweak what I throw in, just for variety’s sake – you should, too!

Sausage Rolls 18

I started by chopping up a bunch of end-of-season herbs from my garden: a bit of sage, parsley, and chives. There is probably about 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs here.

Sausage Rolls 1

Then I chopped up 1 package white mushrooms, about 3 cups minced. Ordinarily I’d probably mince up 1 large onion and do half onion, half mushroom, but one of the potluck attendees is allergic to onions so I left it out.

Sausage Rolls 2

Then grab some (500g) uncooked sausages. These are a little on the spicy side, but nothing too crazy.

Sausage Rolls 3

Slice through the casing and remove the meat.

Sausage Rolls 4

Chuck the sausage meat in a bowl together with your herbs, the mushrooms and onions (if you used onions and/or mushrooms), 2 large eggs, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, and about 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs. Feel free to season with salt and pepper as well. It turned out that I had bought pre-seasoned panko so I didn’t bother.

Sausage Rolls 6

Mix the sausage up thoroughly with the other ingredients. I found it was easier (if more disgusting) to use my hands, but you could probably get away with doing this in the bowl of a stand mixer as well.

Sausage Rolls 7

Now, remove from the fridge that package of puff pastry sheets that has been defrosting in there overnight.  Slice each sheet into three equal strips.

Sausage Rolls 8

Grab some mustard. I bought this fancy Tarragon Dijon stuff and I don’t regret it.

Sausage Rolls 9

Brush a line of mustard down the length of each strip of puff pastry.

Sausage Rolls 10

Evenly distribute all your sausage meat on top of your mustard line on each strip.

Sausage Rolls 11

Bring the edges of each strip of pastry together to seal the meat into a long tube. You may have to stretch the pastry a bit to do this, depending on how full it is.

Sausage Rolls 12

Shove your sausage tubes into the freezer for 15-20 minutes to firm up the dough and the meat and make it easier for you to slice them. You can preheat your oven now, to about 425°F. My oven cooks a little hotter (you’ll notice the finished ones are slightly charred on the bottom) so feel free to reduce the heat to whatever you need to if you have the same problem.

Sausage Rolls 13

Slice the now-firm tubes into 8 equal pieces – this will give you 48 sausage rolls.

Sausage Rolls 15

Bake the rolls for 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and puffy and the sausage is cooked through.

Sausage Rolls 17

Allow them to cool slightly before you stuff them all in your face. I don’t know how long they will last after baking them, in terms of storage, because I never got the chance to find out.

Sausage Rolls 20

Punchy Potato Salad

Punchy Potato Salad 12

With potato salad, like most salads, you can wing it more often than not and it turns out great.  It does help, however, to have a general idea of what sort of flavour theme you want to have ahead of time.  For this one I wanted something creamy but also with enough greenery and fresh things in it I didn’t feel like it was coming straight from a plastic grocery store container.

Punchy Potato Salad 9

I started off by washing and chopping 13 medium sized potatoes.  I like to leave the skins on.

Punchy Potato Salad 1

I then boiled them until they were quite soft.

Punchy Potato Salad 2

Then I hard-boiled 6 large eggs by putting them in a pot of water with a dash of vinegar (the vinegar makes the shells easier to remove) and bringing it to a boil; then I turned the water off and left them for 20 minutes.

Punchy Potato Salad 3

I drained the potatoes and chucked them in a large bowl together with about 3 stalks minced celery.  Then I grabbed a handful of herbs from the garden and minced those as well: dill, chives, parsley, green basil, and purple basil.

Punchy Potato Salad 4

Into the bowl.

Punchy Potato Salad 5

Some chopped baby dill pickles too.

Punchy Potato Salad 6

And of course the eggs, which I peeled and chopped coarsely.

Punchy Potato Salad 10

The dressing was simple: Dijon mustard, Wafu’s sesame dressing, and some aioli I picked up at the grocery store (instead of standard mayonnaise).

Punchy Potato Salad 7

A little black pepper never hurt.

Punchy Potato Salad 8

Mix that all together.

Punchy Potato Salad 11

Oh the creamy, dill-y goodness!

Punchy Potato Salad 13

Fancy Baby Meatloaf

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 15

The other day the doorbell rang just as I had my hands deep in after-dinner dishes.  The Pie answered, and I heard him speaking to someone, and then the door shut and he came back all excited to tell me that we were going to be receiving FREE MEAT!

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 11

Are you skeptical?  I was a little skeptical, picturing some guy with a Radio Flyer wagon trundling around tossing steaks of unknown origin at people.   But I know the Pie will never turn down a free sample of anything, especially meat.

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 3

Anyway, the next day, the Pie got a call and a lovely farmer came in and sat with us for about ten minutes and told us all about his farm in Vankleek Hill and the prospect of buying meat through Nutrafarms.  He gave us a little sheet of paper with some bullet points on it and his contact information at the bottom.  As he left, he handed us a free sample of about half a pound of frozen ground beef.

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 1

So to test it out, I made meat loaf.  Two wee tiny meatloaves.  The Pie LOVES meatloaf.

I started out by finely dicing a small onion.

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 6

I chucked that in a bowl with some garlic, 2 sprigs chopped fresh rosemary, and about 4 sprigs chopped fresh parsley, with some salt and pepper.

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 7

Then I chucked the defrosted meat into the bowl with 1 egg and stirred that around.

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 8

I bought this Brown Sauce for the Pie for Christmas and I figured now was as good a time as any to try it.

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 5

It’s got a date base, and the fruity tang I thought would balance the sharpness of the rosemary and parsley.  So I added a few tablespoons brown sauce.

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 9

Then I sprayed two tiny casserole dishes and patted the meat into place.

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 12

Now all that’s left is to bake it for 30 minutes at 350ºF, then let them rest for a few minutes before eating.

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 14

We served ours with steamed broccoli and wee roasted potatoes.  What a great comfort meal!

Fancy Wee Meatloaf 13