Wish Upon A Dish

September 29, 2014

Moroccan Chicken Salad with Oranges and Almonds

I want to apologize for the recent rush of unfinished posts. Due to an unplanned hospital emergency last week, I was not able to stop blogger from doing it's job when I did not do mine. I have all intentions of finishing what I started but for now, those posts will remained tucked away in my draft file.
If all goes as planned in a few days, my dad and I, will be back in our respective homes and life will be back to normal.
Here is the post that was to be published instead.
See you in a few days.

If you love Mediterranean flavors, this salad is for you.
The America's Test Kitchen's newest cookbook is all about make ahead meals and because I have a subscription for their on-line sites, they sent me a preview of a few recipes.
I love just about everything that ATK publishes and proud to be a part of their recipe testing program.

I changed two things and added one.
I subbed out the apricots for Mandarin oranges (apricots are not faved in this house), and I used a bagged baby romaine instead of a mix of Romaine and watercress.

I always have Kalamata olives, so I threw in a handful or more.
Either way, it was delicious but light and extremely flavorful.

If you are looking for a low carb meal that is satisfying, I would put this on the menu.
A perfect take-along lunch for work, which can be grazed on all week. The sturdy lettuces will stand a test of time and the chicken only gets better as it soaks up the dressing.

Moroccan Chicken Salad with Apricots and Almonds

* 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
* Salt and pepper
* 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 teaspoon garam masala
* 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
* Pinch smoked paprika
* 1/4 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
* 1 tablespoon honey
* 1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
* 1 shallot, sliced thin
* 3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped coarse
* 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
* 2 romaine lettuce hearts (12 ounces), cut into 1-inch pieces
* 4 ounces (4 cups) watercress
* 1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted and chopped coarse
1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown chicken well on first side, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip chicken, add 1/2 cup water, and cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until chicken registers 160 degrees, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer chicken to carving board, let cool slightly, then slice 1/2 inch thick on bias. Let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, microwave 1 tablespoon oil, garam masala, coriander, and paprika in medium bowl until oil is hot and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk 3 tablespoons lemon juice, honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper into spice mixture. Whisking constantly, drizzle in remaining oil.
3. In large bowl, combine cooled chicken, ­chickpeas, shallot, apricots, parsley, and half of dressing and toss to coat; cover. Whisk remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice into remaining dressing; cover.
4. Toss romaine, watercress, and almonds together in separate bowl; cover.
5. Refrigerate chicken mixture, dressing, and ­lettuce mixture separately for up to 2 days.
6. Remove chicken mixture, dressing, and lettuce mixture from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Whisk dressing to recombine, drizzle 2 tablespoons dressing over chicken mixture, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss lettuce mixture with remaining dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer lettuce mixture to serving platter and top with chicken mixture. Serve.

Save Some Dressing

To flavor our fresh chicken salad, we made a bold dressing of lemon juice, honey, and warm spices. We used half the dressing to marinate the chicken overnight, ­infusing it with flavor, and stored the remaining dressing and the lettuce separately. We brightened the remaining dressing with a squeeze of lemon juice before adding it to the salad on day two.

September 25, 2014

Shrimp Etouffee ♥ One Master Sauce, Five Meals

So tell me, do you know the difference between etouffee and gumbo? Is it really all that important?
To someone living in NOLA it is.
I knew there was a difference but the minutia escaped me so I hit Wikipedia.

From what I read, an Etouffee (smothered) is thicker than a gumbo and usually focuses on one main ingredient, shrimp or crawfish where a gumbo can be made of many.
The roux is also different, gumbo being espresso dark and etouffee lighter, like peanut butter. While we like the crawfish (or crayfish) version in this house, fresh is never available so I decided to showcase shrimp since they can be found across the world.

Since I am using the master sauce in this recipe, preparation took no time at all. Remember, the master sauce has all the flavorings that go into the sauce for this dish so the majority of my time was spent making the roux and simmering the sauce, all done in under thirty minutes. Enough time to cook the brown Basmati rice.

As with most creole dishes, you will need the Holy Trinity and I always have a bag of frozen onions and peppers in my freezer, so all I needed was some celery, Creole spices and garlic. I like to add a spicy sausage to a highly spiced Creole dish, and with a good Mexican chorizo in the freezer, I was ready to roll. If you can find good andouille, use that but if you can't, a hot Italian sausage will do just fine.
I bought a half pound of shrimp (or the two of us), shelled and veined because of time and I got lucky, it turned out to be the cheapest in the market that day. As a guideline, use 1/4 pound per serving.

One cup master sauce, a few tablespoons of cajun seasoning (Tony or Emeril's) and a cup of chicken broth is really all that is needed. Oh, and brown Basmati rice (if you want rice, this is the best for a Diabetic).

I am loving this concept of using one master sauce for 4 dinners. The sauce has garlic, onions, bay leaves, and tomatoes already in it, so this was by far the easiest dinner yet.

I have to say, this was much better than I expected and really good and when The Nudge eats this for lunch next week, I know he will agree. As a matter of fact, I made all the dishes while he was traveling, so I have 4 nights of dinners that just need defrosting (yup, one of the perks).

Easy Shrimp Etouffee
makes 4 servings

* 1 pound of shrimp, cleaned & veined
* 1 cup master sauce
* 2 tablespoons flour
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 tablespoon creole seasoning, divided
* 1 cup chicken broth
* 1 spicy sausage, sliced into coins (andouille, chorizo, hot Italian)
* 1 cup each peppers, onions and celery (large dice)
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 scallions, sliced

Brown Basmati Rice

1. Heat the oil and when shimmering, add the flour and stir continuously until the mixture is the color of a penny (this will take about 5 minutes).
2. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of Creole seasoning on cleaned shrimp and when the roux is ready add the sausage and saute until cooked. Add the garlic, the vegetables, remaining  tablespoon Cajun seasoning mix, and salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables are tender.
3. Add the shrimp, and when cooked add the broth and the master sauce and stir until the sauce is thick and coats the shrimp.
4. Serve with rice and sprinkle with scallions.

September 22, 2014

Dried Carrots - Get Your Hydrator On ♥ Recipe Redux Challenge September 2014

First let me say something........

OK, now that I got that off my chest.


Sorry, it just came out.
Here in New Jersey we had the summer of my youth this year, the way summer's were in the Garden State growing up. Only two days over 90 degrees, sun and breezes. Perfect for growing vegetables and flowers. The don't call New Jersey the Garden State for nothing. I had a bumper crop of Sweet 100's and Big Boys, my miniature eggplants grew to about plum-sized, and my chard was bountiful.

I bought a dehydrator many years back and I finally got the chance to use it this year.


I mostly dehydrate aromatics, you know, carrots, peppers, tomatoes. Not for using during the cold winter months but to concentrate their flavors for use in sauces, all year round. Most of the dried goodies never reconstitute to what they were, certainly not like mushrooms, but the reward is in the juice that leaches out of these foods. For me it is all about the burst of flavor they can give to a sauce, adding nutrients as well as a huge burst of flavor. Just like you get when using anchovies and tomatoes in a tube.

My secret weapon to sweeten a sauce naturally without the addition of sugars, is to throw in a tablespoon or two of dehydrated carrots. See the color of the carrot soaking liquid? That goes into your sauce. One sip and you will be convinced to buy a few bunches of carrots, slice them as thin as possible on a mandolin and dry them overnight. You could use a dehydrator (Ron Popeil still sells them) or on a Silpat in an oven as low as the heat can go.
The flavor you will extract is a safe way to sweeten dishes and that's something a Diabetic can love.

But hey, I think with all the recent high fructose awareness, everyone could benefit from natural sweetening. Honey is wonderful, but sometimes you just want a light sweetness that is not pronounced, like in a wine sauce, a cream sauce, a pasta sauce, or a meat gravy. For those who don't like cooking with wine (for what ever personal reason), throwing a handful of dried carrot slices instead, will sweeten a sauce just enough to balance the acid.

Italians use the dried porcini soaking liquid in many sauces, so I took my inspiration from them.