Meals en Masse: Honey Chicken with Quinoa

Honey Chicken 13

Here’s another quick-to-make slow-cooking easy-to-freeze recipe that is highly satisfying and adaptable (which I adapted, of course, from i heart naptime). You can use fresh or frozen chicken breasts in the recipe, which means that even if you didn’t plan ahead you’re still going to be just fine.

Honey Chicken 1

Take 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (mine are frozen) and plop them in the bottom of a slow cooker pot turned to low.

Honey Chicken 3

Chop up 1 sweet onion into bite-sized pieces (the original recipe calls for onion powder but I think real onions are better).

Honey Chicken 4

In a bowl, dollop 1 tablespoon olive oil, the equivalent of 2-3 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and a bunch of ground pepper, as much as you like.

Honey Chicken 5

Add to that as well 1/2 cup soy sauce and 3/4 cup honey and give it a good stirring.

Honey Chicken 6

Pour the sauce over your chicken and cook for 4-6 hours on low.

Honey Chicken 7

And if you happened to have additional chicken breasts, you can chuck those in a freezer bag with more onions and more sauce (I made the recipe in triplicate) and chuck those in the freezer for later.

Honey Chicken 8
I realized just now that I wrote “April ’17” on these bags. I hope future me isn’t too sleep-deprived to think that they were made by an even more future-me.

The chicken is done when it falls apart on you.

Honey Chicken 9

I decided to go whole hog and shredded it with a fork to expose all the chickeny bits to the sauce.

Honey Chicken 10

I served it on top of a quinoa-bulgur blend that I cooked with just a little bit of lemon juice added to the water, a little bit of extra sauce, and garnished the whole thing with a pinch or two of white sesame seeds.

Honey Chicken 12

Soy-Dijon Roasted Chicken Thighs

Roasted Chicken Thighs 14

I found this recipe online and halved it for a quick fall dinner to showcase a home-grown squash given to us by our neighbours.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Set 6 chicken thighs (with bones and skin still on) in a baking dish.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 1

Mix together 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small bowl.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 2

Pour that over the chicken, turning the thighs to coat them completely.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 4

Mix together 2 tablespoons fines herbes (or an acceptable substitute — I used half Newfoundland savoury and half herbes de provence) and 2 teaspoons fennel leaves.  Add in some salt and pepper as well.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 6

Sprinkle that evenly over your chicken and cover it with foil. Bake the chicken like that for 45 minutes.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 7

Remove the foil and baste your lovely thighs in the juices they’re producing.  Scrape the bottom of the dish a bit to make sure nothing is getting stuck there.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 9

Pour 1 cup chicken stock into the dish so the tops of the chicken thighs are still exposed but they are otherwise happily bathing in broth.  Bake that for a further hour, and let the tops caramelize.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 10

When they’re ready, drain the juices into a gravy boat to serve separately, and have some lovely fall vegetables (like this roasted squash) as a hearty side.

Roasted Chicken Thighs 13

Sticky Honey Sesame Chicken

Chicken Drumsticks

This quick dinner idea comes from the August 2013 issue of Canadian Living.  I doubled it for a dinner party, but the recipe below serves 4 people.

Chicken Drumsticks

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

Chicken Drumsticks

Skin 2lbs chicken drumsticks (or a combination of drumsticks and thighs, like we did) and set those aside for a second.

Chicken Drumsticks

In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup liquid honey with 2 tablespoons sesame oil, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, and 4 cloves of minced garlic.

Chicken Drumsticks

Toss your drumsticks in this heavenly mixture until they are all coated and lay them out on the parchment. We sprinkled them with a few extra sesame seeds.

Chicken Drumsticks

Bake for about 25 minutes, until their juices run clear when you pierce them with a knife.

Chicken Drumsticks

Garnish with lime wedges and green onions and serve.

Chicken Drumsticks

Chinese Chicken and Pork in False Creek and the Awesomeness of the Internet

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JUL!

Chinese in Gastown

Atlas’s dad has a philosophy that we are born with a spirit and a body.  The body is tied to this earth and will return that way when its time is finished, but the spirit can live on in a new body.  And that spirit is always looking for the good in life, the good people, the good experiences, and so it will actively seek out those who it remembers were good in a previous life.  His family and our family, he says, get along so well because our spirits were friends in a previous life.  It’s a lovely sentiment.

As a child in a military household I moved around quite a bit, and I never stayed in any city longer than five years — until I moved to Ottawa, that is.  So every time we moved I felt like I was starting a whole new life, with new friends, and that my old lives were somehow over.  Visiting the west coast this summer was for me a revisiting of an old life, a way of showing my husband the way I used to be (and I’ll have more on that in a later post).

I had a friend in elementary school when I was living in Esquimalt.  Her name was Jordana* and we were friends from when my family was posted out west in grade three, to when her family, also military, was posted away at the beginning of grade five.  When she moved away I thought I would never see her again.  This was of course before Facebook and even email (this was the early nineties) and so the only way to reach each other would have been through letters, and if you’re never going to see a person again, what’s the point in wasting a stamp?

Our grade four class picture, for embarassment’s sake.  Jordana is third from the left in the centre row, and I’m sixth, with my bad-ass Casio watch and my hefty bangs.  This photo is courtesy of the gentleman sitting directly below me in this shot.

I joined Facebook in 2007, twelve years after leaving the west coast and fifteen years after I had last seen Jordana, and we reconnected over the internet.  At this time I was getting ready to move to Newfoundland with the Pie and she was settled in Vancouver, so it was unlikely we were going to run into each other any time soon.  Even so, we communicated back and forth sporadically and learned we had much in common.

Chinese in Gastown

Then my brother decides to get married out west, and Jordana and I figured this was our chance to finally meet up after TWENTY years apart.  She and her partner Daniel live in False Creek, a nice old area next to the water.  On our last night on the mainland, the Pie and took the SkyTrain from Coquitlam to Vancouver and trailed our way over to their place for dinner.

Chinese in Gastown
Their view of False Creek.

And you know, it was instant chemistry between the four of us (which, if you have ever tried to make friends as a couple, you know is a hard thing to accomplish).  Jordana and I talked our faces off for about four hours straight, while the quieter gentlemen exchanged views on computers and other manly endeavours.  We took a walk along the seawall after dinner, and Jordana and I both took a ton of pictures. Obviously.

Chinese in Gastown

And the food, cooked by Daniel, was excellent (yes, I’m finally getting to the recipe, sorry).  We had an amazingly tender chicken and a barbecued pork dish with the most incredible dipping sauces.  While Daniel’s not super keen to share his recipes, Jordana was very persuasive and so I now have them in my hot little hands.  And while Cait and Jul were here (and since they brought most of the spices from Ottawa for us), we decided to try it out.

For the Chicken:

First you start with a whole chicken, about 1.6kg or 3 1/2lb.  Take off all the fat that you can see and wipe down the inside with a paper towel, or two, to remove any goop in there.  Gross, but worth it, trust me.

Chinese Pork and Chicken

Then find yourself a pot large enough to fit a bunch of liquid and a submerged chicken. Into that pot, chuck 1.5L (6 cups) water, 250mL (1 cup) soy sauce, 250mL (1 cup) shaohsing wine (also known as shaoxing), 150g (2/3 cup) light brown sugar, 1 large knob of ginger, peeled and sliced, 3 cloves garlic, sliced, 4 heads of star anise, 2 sticks cinnamon, and 3 pieces dried mandarin peel.

Yeah, that’s a hefty load of ingredients.  Cait and Jul brought the more far-out stuff with them from Ottawa, as I can’t get it here.  Anyway, bring all those ingredients in the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer all that spicy goodness for about 20 minutes.

Chinese Pork and Chicken

Then you can submerge the chicken, breast side down, in the pot and raise the heat again to bring it to a boil.  Then turn it down again and simmer for another 20 minutes.

Flip the chicken over and allow it to simmer for a further 3 minutes, then pop a lid on the pot and remove it from the heat.  Let the chicken cool in the stock.

Chinese Pork and Chicken

When the stock is cooled you can take the chicken out.  If you plan to use the stock later (which you really should), then you need to strain it, bring it to a boil again, and then cool it and chuck it in the refrigerator.

As for the chicken, well it’s now up to you to do what you want with it. You can chop it up in a salad, or slice it thickly and re-form it on a plate (which is what we’re going to do).  You can also fry it in peanut oil and serve with salt and pepper and lemon juice.  It goes well with cilantro and the dipping sauce we’re going to make in a minute.

Chinese Pork and Chicken

For the Pork:

This recipe calls for pork neck, which I can’t find here.  I know it’s a poor substitute, because the consistency is all different, but I’m going to use a pork shoulder here.  I’m sorry.  If you can’t get a neck, try to find something with a bit of fat on it, if you can.

Chinese Pork and Chicken

First you want to mix up your marinade.  Take 4 tablespoons fermented bean curd, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 5 tablespoons shaohsing wine, 3 tablespoons yellow bean sauce, 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce, 4 tablespoons fine sugar, and 3 garlic cloves, minced.  Stir that into a frenzy.

Chinese Pork and Chicken

Cait described the Yellow Bean Sauce as looking like “someone threw up in a bottle.” Seems about right.

Chinese Pork and Chicken

I was more grossed out by the fermented bean curd though.

Chinese Pork and Chicken

Cut the pork into 4cm (~2″) strips and pour the marinade over the meat.  Leave that for about 2 hours.

Chinese Pork and Chicken

Chinese Pork and Chicken

Preheat your oven to 240°C (this is 464°F, so I would err on the side of caution and go with 450°F).

Fill a baking dish with water and fit a wire rack over top.  The ones with the folding legs are handy here, as you can use more water, and then it will keep the pork moist. Put the pork onto the rack and cook for 30 minutes.

Chinese Pork and Chicken

Remove the pork from the oven and heat up 6 tablespoons honey.  Brush that over the pork and leave it to cool.

Chinese Pork and Chicken

For Sprinkling:

Slice up some fresh cilantro to sprinkle over everything.  As well, mince up some ginger and mix it with some black rice vinegar and leave that to sit for an hour or so — it goes fantastically with the chicken.

Chinese Pork and Chicken

Serve the whole thing with some scented rice and some steamed greens.  We fried up some baby bok choy as an accompaniment over jasmine rice.

Chinese Pork and Chicken

Chinese Pork and Chicken

*Jordana is a blogger herself, and a much busier person than I am.  She writes about fashion here and here, and about travel here.  She even has her own online clothing store.  Check her out if you’re interested!

Chicken Fried Rice … for Danger K

Chicken Fried Rice

I got a tweet on Friday from Danger K over at Project: Priceless, looking for a good fried rice recipe.  We happen to have one.  Actually, the Pie has one, which he modified himself from one of our many stir-fry books.  We make this one with chicken, but you can leave that out for a vegetarian option.  If you want to go vegan, you can leave out the egg as well.

So this is what you need:

Half an onion, diced.

Chicken Fried Rice

A boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed.  Add a splash of soy sauce to that.

Chicken Fried Rice

An egg, beaten.

Chicken Fried Rice

Two carrots, peeled and diced.

Chicken Fried Rice

About one cup peas.  These are defrosted frozen ones.

Chicken Fried Rice

A pinch or two of sliced green onion.

Chicken Fried Rice

About two cups cooked rice, cold.  Preferably a day or two old.  The rice needs to be dry and no longer sticky.

Chicken Fried Rice

In a large frying pan or wok, heat a tablespoon oil with a tablespoon minced garlic on medium heat.  Chuck in the onions and cook until they’re translucent.

Chicken Fried Rice

Toss in the chicken and stir until the chicken is cooked through.

Chicken Fried Rice

Make a well in the middle and pour in the beaten egg in a thin layer. Allow it to cook through and then break it up with your spatula and mix it in.

Chicken Fried Rice

Add in all the vegetables and heat through, then add the rice and stir to mix.  Splash in some more soy sauce to taste.  When everything is heated up to your satisfaction, you can serve it.  And it’s as simple as that!

Chicken Fried Rice

O Canada: Maple-Glazed Salmon

Maple Glazed Salmon

You won’t see too many fish or seafood dishes on here, because the Pie won’t eat them.  You can’t do a feature on Canadian cuisine without talking about Canada’s vast ocean resources, so I’ve kind of snuck this one in under the radar.  I discovered the recipe a few years ago when the Pie and I had two other roommates who were a little more into sea creatures than he is, and I made it often.  The plus is that the marinade works really well on pork chops as well, so when I make this I can make a piece of salmon for me and a piece of pork for the Pie and we’re both happy.

Maple syrup forms the basis of this marinade, but the lemon juice, ginger, and soy sauce give the sweetness a bit of a snap.  Quick and easy, too.  I pulled it from an issue of Canadian House & Home a million years ago.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

In a bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 cup genuine maple syrup, 4 tablespoons light soy sauce (I used organic tamari), 1/4 cup Dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon minced ginger.  This is enough marinade for 4 pieces of fish.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

You’ll notice here that I butterflied the porkchop I had, just to make it the same thickness as the salmon. That way I could cook them at the same time.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Place your salmon* (or your pork) in a shallow dish and, saving about 1/4 cup of the marinade for later, pour the sauce over the fish.  Refrigerate that for an hour.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Preheat your oven to 450°F.

While that’s heating up (mine takes forever), peel 2 very large carrots and wash 3 very small zucchini.  Or whatever ratio you prefer.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Use a mandolin to slice the vegetables thinly lengthwise.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Plop them in a pot with a few inches of water.  Add a generous pat of butter and some fragrant herbs, like herbes de provence.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Cover and steam for 8-10 minutes, until the carrots are all bendy.

Thinly slice up about 3 tablespoons scallions or green onions.

Maple-Glazed Salmon

Spray a glass dish and set your fish in it with a bit of marinade to coat.

Maple Glazed Salmon

Bake for about 10-12 minutes, basting halfway through with some leftover marinade.

Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with some of that 1/4 cup of marinade you saved earlier.  Sprinkle with the sliced onions. Drain the vegetables and serve as well.  Mmmmm … This makes up a little bit for the poutine we had last week, but won’t stand up in the face of what I’ve got planned for you on Friday.  Stay tuned!

Maple Glazed Salmon

*** THE END ***

*If you’re reading this asterisk-ed caveat, you got me: that is actually trout, not salmon.  It was in a big jumbled pile at the seafood counter and I picked it up by mistake, okay?  Sheesh.

Tofu Feature Month: Tofu-Spinach Calzones

Tofu Spinach Calzone

[Note from Photographer’s Ego: Yes, I know these pictures fail to follow that number one rule of food photography: use natural light!  I will be building myself a light box soon, not to fret.]

This will be our final tofu recipe for you folks for a while.  Our digestive systems are not used to so much soy and they have unequivocally had enough.  The Pie especially so.  Poor man.  Pity him that his wife cooks new things for him on a regular basis.  Tsk.

The last time the Pie and I attempted calzones, we ended up with floor pizza.  I was determined to get it right this time.  The recipe below, with some modifications, comes from the Savvy Vegetarian, and it’s pretty easy.  The dough is nice and stretchy, and I could definitely use it again for a calzone with a different filling, which is exciting!  The yield for this is 10 hand-hold-able calzones, and I halved it (because there’s only the Pie and myself — Gren doesn’t get people food).

For the dough:

In a small bowl, dissolve 1 teaspoon granulated sugar in 1 1/4 cups warm water.  Stir in 2 teaspoons active dry yeast and allow that to sit for 10 minutes.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Or until it gets all foamy.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

In a larger bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon salt to 3 cups flour and mix well.

Rub in (exactly how it sounds) 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Rub it between your fingers until there are no large clumps left.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Stir the water/yeast mixture into the flour until it forms a shaggy ball.  Make sure to get all the floury goodness at the bottom of the bowl.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

On a floured surface, knead the ball for about 10 minutes.  The more you knead it, the tackier it will get, so you will need to add more flour on occasion.  Also, keep in mind that the more you knead it, the more elastic it will be (because you worked all the gluten together).  You want your dough to be nice and stretchy.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover it with a clean cloth and set it in a warm place to rise for about an hour.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

For the filling:

Dice up 1/4 cup onion, and about 8 mushrooms and toss them in a frying pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons minced garlic.  Sauté until soft.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

In a small bowl, mix up 1 tablespoon flour, 1 tablespoon powdered vegetable stock, 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil, a pinch of cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Toss that on the vegetables in the pan and stir it around.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Plop in 16 ounces fresh baby spinach (you can use frozen spinach, if you thaw it and drain it first), as well as 2 12-ounce packages of firm silken tofu and a dash of soy sauce.  You can break up the tofu before you toss it in, but it gave me something to do while I waited for the spinach to wilt.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

I had some leftover chèvre, 8 ounces worth, so I tossed that in as well.  So if you’d like to add that to this recipe, chuck in 8-16 ounces goat’s cheese and stir it around until well-incorporated and completely melted.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Remove the mixture from the heat.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Calzone Assembly and Baking:

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Punch down your dough.  Literally.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Divide it into 10 equal parts, rolled into balls (remember, my recipe is halved, that’s why you only see five).

Tofu Spinach Calzone

On a floured surface, roll each ball out into a 6″ round.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Divide the filling into 10 equal parts and place each portion on a round, slightly to one side.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Wet the edges of the dough with your finger and fold over each round to make a half circle.

Squish down the edges with your finger and crimp with a fork to seal them.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Place the calzones on a baking sheet.  You can brush them with oil and sprinkle them with salt if you like, for a crusty, salty top.  I chose to cook ours on our pizza stone, which I put in the oven when I turned it on. Cut two diagonal slices in the top of each calzone to let the steam escape.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Bake for 15-25 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and the filling bubbles up through the holes.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Be careful, they’re HOT!