Greek Chicken Souvlaki with Tzaziki Sauce

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In the mood for some delectable Greek street food? Then you’ve come to the right place! Strips of chicken breast are marinated in a lemony, yoghurt marinade with garlic and oregano, then grilled to mouthwatering perfection. Serve it with tzaziki,( a refreshing cucumber yoghurt sauce), roasted red peppers, red onions, tomatoes, and garlic slathered homemade naan, or pita bread and you’ll have a deliciously memorable feast.

Ingredients for the chicken:

1 large chicken breast

1/4 Spanish onion, grated

4 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 Tablespoons plain yoghurt

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1/4 teaspoon

1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus 1/8 teaspoon

1 Tablespoon dried oregano

2  tomatoes, cut into wedges

1/2 red onion, cut in thick slices

1 red pepper

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

home made naan or pita bread

wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes before using

Directions:

Cut the chicken into chunks or strips and place them into a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, garlic, 1 Tablespoon olive oil,.1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, oregano, yoghurt, and grated onion. Mix it all together, cover and refrigerate 2 hours. While the chicken is marinating, roast the red pepper and make the tzaziki sauce. Place the pepper over a gas flame, turning frequently with tongs, until the skin is black and blistered. You may also put the pepper under a broiler to blacken it. Let cool, remove the skin, stem and seeds. Cut into strips and set aside in a small bowl. Place the red onion slices and tomato wedges into a roasting pan. Toss them together with the remaining tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Place them into a preheated 350 degree oven and roast for about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the marinade and skewer it. Reserve the marinade, and use for basting the chicken. Grill the chicken on a grillpan, or outdoor barbeque for about 8 minutes, turning frequently, or until cooked through. Serve with the roasted pepper, tomatoes, onion, tzaziki ,feta and warm naan or pita bread.

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients for the tzaziki sauce:

1 English cucumber

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press

pinch of cayenne

1/2 teaspoon dried dill

2 teaspoons fresh mint leaves, minced

salt to taste

Directions: Peel the cucumber. Cut it in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds. Grate it on to a clean kitchen towel and use the towel to wring out all the juice. Place it into a small bowl, and add the garlic, dill ,mint, cayenne and yoghurt. Mix well and serve over the souvlaki.

Yield: 3/4 cup

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Spicy Thai Shrimp and Black Rice Salad

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Kitchenclown recently discovered black rice and is thrilled with this dark discovery.This type of rice originated in China, but is now cultivated in parts of Italy. It’s  aroma while cooking is intoxicating, and it’s chewy texture and nutty flavour add even more appeal. It’s said to have more antioxidants than blueberries, and who wouldn’t want to incorporate all of those characteristics into a healthier diet?

Ingredients:

1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup black rice

1 cup fresh pineapple, diced

2 large mangos, peeled and diced

3 scallions, minced

1/2 red pepper, diced

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, minced

3 Tablespoons fish sauce

1 to 2 serrano peppers, stems and seeds removed, finely diced

3 teaspoons brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated

juice of 2 small limes

Directions: Place the rice into a lidded pot and cover with 2 cups water. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. As soon as the water comes to a boil, turn the heat down to it’s lowest setting. Cover the pot, and cook for 40 minutes to an hour. Taste for doneness. It should be chewy, but not brittle. If there is any remaining water in the pot, but the rice is the proper consistency, simply pour the rice into a strainer and strain off the excess liquid. Remove to a medium sized bowl and cool.

Bring a small saucepan of water to a gentle simmer. Add shrimp and cook for about a minute, or just until the shrimp turn pink. Immediately remove from heat, drain and set aside.

Dissolve the brown sugar in the fish sauce in a medium bowl. Add the garlic, ginger, serranos, lime juice, mint, cilantro, and red peppers. Toss in the shrimp, along with the mangos and pineapple and mix well. Note: If not serving immediately, do not add the pineapple. The acidity of the pineapple can change the texture of the shrimp, turning it mushy, so wait till serving time to add it.

Add the shrimp mixture to the black rice and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings and serve either over lettuce leaves, or in individual lettuce cups.

Yield: 6 servings

Tomatillo Salsa Verde

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This sensational sauce is exactly that because of it’s versatility. Use it on huevos rancheros, add it to chicken enchiladas, or simmer browned, cubed, pork in it, for a scrumptious Mexican stew served over rice. This recipe yields 3 cups of sauce, so if you want less, just cut it in half.

Ingredients:

6 cups tomatillos

1 bunch fresh cilantro, or about 1 1/2 cups, washed

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1 large Spanish onion, peeled, cut into quarters

2 serrano peppers, stems removed

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Place the tomatillos in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, or until the papery skins become loose. Remove from heat and drain.Cool and remove the skins. Place the tomatillos, onion, garlic, cilantro, serranos, salt and pepper into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour the sauce into a saucepan, and simmer over low heat 30 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasonings. Use in a favorite recipe, or refrigerate for later use. I’ve found that this sauce doesn’t freeze particularly well, but keeps well, refrigerated, for several weeks.

Yield: 3 cups sauce

Huevos Rancheros with Salsa Verde and Refried Black Beans

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This Mexican breakfast is utterly delicious and a cinch to make, if you have a few of the essentials on hand. By keeping a supply of corn tortillas in the freezer, and canned refried black beans and salsa verde in your pantry, you’ll be able to whip these up in no time, and you’ll be oh so happy as a result. Don’t feel as though you must limit it to just a breakfast food, as it makes for a yummy lunch or simple dinner as well. I prefer home made salsa verde over a bottled or canned version, but the store bought stuff will do. I’ll be posting a recipe for the salsa verde post haste.

Ingredients:

2 corn tortillas

1/2 cup well seasoned, canned refried black beans( add a little sauteed, minced onion, toasted, ground cumin seeds and a dash of hot sauce or cayenne pepper to taste).

1/2 cup salsa verde

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 eggs

1/4 cup grated cheddar or queso fresca, crumbled

fresh cilantro and sliced avocado for toppings

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a small saucepan, heat the seasoned, refried beans. Do the same with the salsa.

Place the tortillas in a large non stick skillet. Cook over medium heat, just until heated through. 

Fry the eggs in the olive oil.Season with salt and pepper. Spread the tortillas with the refried beans. Top each tortilla with an egg. Pour the hot salsa over the eggs. Sprinkle with the cheese and garnish with cilantro and avocado slices.Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 servings

Heartwarming Lentil Soup

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There was a time, long ago and far away, when Kitchenclown’s sister, Catherine, refused to share things with her punk sister, moi. We’re all grown up now, and one of the things I love about my dear sister, is the fact that now she willingly shares her secrets, and triumphs in the kitchen. Like me, she is a fanatical foodie , and a fabulous cook to boot! So, when she called me the other day, raving on about this soup, I asked if she would share. She happily obliged, and I immediately marched my clownish self into the kitchen to make a pot of this magic, and to see if it was worthy of the incessant raves. I’m happy to report that her raves were warranted. She has yet to fail me, because she definitely knows a good thing when she sinks her fangs into it! So, be kind and share this outstanding soup with familly and friends on a cold winter’s day. You will warm their hearts and they will love you for it! Thank you, thank you, thank you dearest Catherine, for warming mine!

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

8 to 12 oz. mushroons, sliced

1 cup dried French lentils

1 can fire roasted tomatoes

3 Tablespoons tomato paste

4 to 5 cups home made chicken stock

3 cups dark leafy greens, such as spinach or swiss chard, roughly chopped

1/2 cup flat-leafed Italian parsley, minced

1 to 2 Tablespoons toasted cumin seeds, ground. ( I used almost 2, because I’m a cumin junkie).

1 generous teaspoon ground coriander

salt and pepper to taste

Optional:

1 1/2 cups diced potatoes, shredded chicken, sliced Italian sausage, or turkey kielbasa.

Directions:

Saute onions and carrots in oil until tender, 8-10 minutes.Add garlic and mushrooms, and saute another 6 to 8 minutes. Add  cumin , coriander, salt, and pepper and saute 2 more minutes.Add tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, lentils, parsley, spinach or swiss chard, and any of the optional ingredients you choose to add. Continue to simmer, over low heat, stirring often, until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings Add more stock, if you prefer a thinner version. Toss in a loaf of crusty, cheesey garlic bread, and be prepared to be enamoured! Pour into warmed soup bowls and hunker down by the fire! Absolutely warming, delicious, and cuddly. Just like a winter food partner should be.

Yield: 6 healthy servings

Pasta Carbonara

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This pasta dish, made with bacon and eggs, is one I yearn for in my dreams! The heat of the pasta cooks the eggs, yielding a rich, wonderful sauce. If you’ve never had it, or tried making it, RUN, don’t walk, into your kitchen, and do so this very minute. It’s comforting! It’s cheap! It’s scrumptious! So get in there and give it a go! You’ll end up a happier person…trust me on this. Kitchenclown never lies!!!!

Ingredients:

8 oz. bacon, or pancetta cut into small pieces

1 lb. pasta…spaghetti, linguini, or fettucine all work.

2 Tablespoons butter

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 small white onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/3 cup dry white wine

2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese, or a mixture of both.

Freshly ground black pepper

salt, to taste

Directions: In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk  the cheese into the eggs and set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is warming, fry the bacon in a medium sized skillet. Drain on paper towels and add to the bowl with eggs and cheese. Pour off the bacon grease, and add the butter and olive oil to the same pan. Add the onions , garlic and hot pepper flakes to the the oil, and cook over medium heat, just until the onions are translucent, stirring often. Add the wine, and continue cooking until it has reduced by half. Cook the pasta, until just done. Drain and immediately add it to the eggs, bacon, and cheese. Toss well and add the onions and garlic. Toss again and add freshly ground pepper and salt to taste. Serve immediately .Go on…I dare ya!

Yield: 4 servings

Positively Perfect Pad Thai

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Pad Thai…my, oh my! This Thai noodle dish is a classic, and loved by all who have had the experience of tasting a really well prepared version. There are many variations, but I’m including chicken and shrimp in this one, because they happen to be my personal favorites. Feel free to substitute pork, for the chicken and shrimp, or tofu, if you prefer a vegetarian version. Give it a go…your tastebuds will be eternally grateful! .

Ingredients:

3/4  pound rice stick noodles

3 chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch strips

1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped in half

1/2 cup fish sauce (nam pla)

1/3 cup sugar, plus 3 Tbs.

!/2 cup white vinegar

2 Tbs. tamarind paste

1/4 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon paprika

2 Tbs. soy sauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

3 eggs, beaten

2 cups mung bean sprouts

2 serranos, finely minced

8 scallions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped

2 limes, juiced

4 limes, cut into wedges for garnish

1/4 cup finely minced cilantro( optional, but recommended)

Directions:

Place the noodles in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over them and let soak about 12 minutes. Do not over soak them. You want slightly firm noodles. Drain in a colander.

Combine the sugar, fish sauce, ketchup, paprika, tamarind paste,vinegar and soy sauce in a small saucepan, and cook over medium heat, until the sugar has dissolved..

In a large wok, or saucepan, heat the 1/4 cup oil over high heat. When hot, add the garlic and chicken. When the chicken looks almost done, add the shrimp and continue cooking, stirring often, just until the shrimp turn pink. Add the noodles and toss very, very gently.

In a separate, large saucepan, heat the remaining 2 Tbs. oil. Add the beaten eggs, and cook over medium heat just until the eggs are set. Do not stir…simply swirl them until set. Remove and slice into strips. Add to the noodles, along with the scallions and bean sprouts.

Bring the sauce to a boil, and add the minced serranos and lime juice to it.Remove from heat and pour over the noodle mixture. Cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring very gently, so as not to break up the noodles. Remove from heat and place on a large serving platter. Sprinkle peanuts over all, and garnish with lime wedges and cilantro.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings