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

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

Indian Chicken Curry

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On a recent trip to London, KC’s mom was kind enough to bring back curry powder for me, which she purchased from an Indian spice shop. The clerk, selling her the curry powder, warned her in advance, “Deece won ees berrie, berrie hot!”  Thank you kind clerk, whoever you are, for the warning! Kitchenclown would normally add 3 to 5 Tablespoons of curry powder to this chicken curry, but having been warned of the incendiary quality of this particular gunpowder, I decided to sneak it in, one teaspoon at a time. Praise Jesus, or any   Indian God or Goddess…it proved to be the right move! That clerk sure knows his spices, and I’m very happy with the results, of sneaking the powder in, bit by bit. Unfortunately, the original box( that the curry powder arrived in) was tossed in the trash, making it impossible to identify the brand. All I know, is that it’s orange, reddish colour conjures up images of heat and flames, which is  just how hot and fiery your mouth will feel, if you go overboard with this stuff!   Proceed with caution,( if you get your hands on this variety), and you will have a fabulous feast awaiting you!

Ingredients:

1 4 1/2 to 5 lb. chicken

3 Tablespoons Vegetable oil

2 cups peeled apples, cut into small chunks

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, diced

1 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 tomatoes, peeled, deseeded, and diced

!/4 cup tomato sauce

1 can coconut milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon garam masala, plus !/2 teaspoon for the chicken

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

3 heaping Tablespoons mango chutney

1 1/4 teaspoons hot curry powder, plus 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder (If you don’t have the hot variety, start with 3 Tablespoons of regular yellow curry powder, and add more, if you like.)

3 teaspoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup chicken stock, or water, for thinning the sauce.

Condiments for topping the curry:

Toasted coconut

Bananas, sliced and sauteed in butter

Crumbled bacon

Chopped hard boiled egg

Golden raisins

Scallions, finely minced

Roasted, salted peanuts, finely chopped

Mango chutney

Directions:  Rub the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon garam masala and sea salt. Place in a 350 degree, preheated oven and roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until thoroughly cooked. The legs will wobble free easily, and the juices will run clear, when cooked through. Remove the flesh from the bones and cut into bite sized pieces. Set aside. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, over medium- low heat. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, and ginger and cook, stirring often until the onion becomes translucent. Add the chopped tomato and tomato sauce, along with the coconut milk. Add the turmeric, garam masala, cinnamon, brown sugar, sea salt,  curry powder, chutney and cream,and continue to cook over low heat, stirring often. As the sauce starts to thicken, add the apples and raisins, and slowly add the chicken stock, or water to prevent the sauce from sticking to the pan, and becoming too thick.Continue to cook for about 25 minutes, stirring often. Add more chicken stock, or water, if needed. Add the chicken to the sauce, give it a good stir and cook a few minutes,  until heated through. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Remove bay leaves and serve over basmati or jasmine rice. Place the condiments in individual bowls and let your guests have fun, topping it all off with their own favorites. Throw in some garlicky naan,  cucumber raita and a little Ravi Shankar, and hunker down for a  fabulous feast. Be prepared, very prepared, for the raves you will surely receive!

Yield: 4 generous servings

Freaking Fabulous Meatless Mexican Fideo

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Some years ago, Kitchenclown owned a whole series of cookbooks published by The California Culinary Institute, including one on Mexican food. I’m quite sure it was absconded, by one of my evil, thieving friends, so if you’re reading this and you are indeed the guilty party, Clown wants it back! I’d tried the recipe, for fideo, from my stolen book, before it went MIA, and was delighted with it’s success. Here, I’ve created  from memory, my version of this remarkably easy dish.This is truly Mexican comfort food at it’s finest.

Ingredients:

1 package fideo or vermicelli

1/2 large white onion, finely chopped

2 tomatoes, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans, drained

1 lime

2 cups well seasoned chicken or vegetable stock

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder

1/2 teaspoon fajita seasoning

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

extra lime wedges for garnish

salt to taste

Directions:

Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into a large, non stick saute pan. Heat over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic, and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent. Remove the onion and garlic, and place in a separate bowl. To the same saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the package of  fideo to the oil. Cook, stirring often, over medium heat until the pasta is a toasty, golden brown. Add the chicken stock, cumin, chipotle powder, fajita seasoning, drained garbanzo beans, black pepper and the reserved tomato- onion mix.Squeeze the juice from the lime into it. Give it a good stir and cover the pan with a lid.Cook for about 5 minutes, or until all the stock has been absorbed by the pasta. Place into a serving dish. Taste for salt and add, if needed.Garnish with lime wedges and  cilantro.and serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings

Incredibly Easy Black Beans and Rice

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Black beans and rice…so easy, so very, very nice! Looking for a simple dinner that doesn’t shrink the budget, but totally titillates the tastebuds? Lucky you! You’ve come to the right spot! Spicy and completely, utterly, satisfying. If you can’t stand the spice…get outta the kitchen, or just omit the chipotle powder and sriracha sauce.

Ingredients:

1 can black beans

1/2 green pepper, finely diced

1 small white onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder

1/2 teaspoon oregano

2 slices bacon

1 squirt of sriracha, or any other hot sauce

sour cream( for topping)

cilantro( for topping)

salt to taste

1/2 cup raw rice

Directions:

Cook the rice, according to directions on package. While the rice is cooking, cut the bacon into small pieces and fry it. Drain on paper towels.To the bacon grease, add the onion, garlic, green pepper, cumin, chipotle powder, and oregano. Saute over medium heat, until the onion is translucent. Add the can of black beans, undrained, and the squirt of hot sauce Stir and let simmer for 10 minutes.Remove from heat. Put some rice in a bowl, ladle some beans over the rice. Top with a dollop of sour cream, bacon, and cilantro. Buen provecho!

Note: If you want to keep it vegetarian, leave out the bacon and just saute the onion mixture in 2 teaspoons olive oil

Jamaican Me Crazy Jerk Chicken with Grilled Pineapple

Kitchenclown loves, loves, loves the flavours that hang with this Caribbean specialty. I’ve paired it with grilled pineapple, because I thought they’d make great mates. Put on some Harry Belafonte or Bob Marley, while devouring this dish, and be transported to a tropical isle! If you’re not a lover of spicy food, and don’t want your socks blown off, just omit the cayenne and serrano chiles. It will still be scrumptious enough to blow your mind!!!!! Also, a terrific marinade for pork.

Ingredients for the jerk marinade and chicken:

1 tablespoon allspice

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons ground sage

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons salt

6 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup orange juice

2 serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed, finely diced

1 cup onion, finely diced

1/4 cup scallions, finely diced

12 chicken thighs

Directions: Place all the ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight.

Preheat a grill. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place the chicken on the grill, or grill pan. Cook over medium heat, turning and basting with the marinade, until thoroughly cooked. You can also broil it, or roast it, if a grill isn’t handy.

Ingredients for the pineapple:

1 pineapple

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

Cut the top off the pineapple and remove the skin. Slice into six even rounds. Smear a teaspoon of the butter- sugar mix onto each side of  the pineapple slices, and place on the grill. Cook until nicely caramelized and golden on each side. You may also use a cast iron skillet, or broiler.

Yield: 6 servings

Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken Wings

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These chicken wings, from  Nicole Routhier’s cookbook “The Foods of Vietnam”, are glazed in a glorious caramel sauce, with fresh ginger and shallots, and will stop you in your tracks! The first time I made them, I was stunned by their sheer deliciousness. Great for a party, easy, and addictive, your guests will be pleading for more., Note: KC would recommend doubling the sauce…if you want to cover other things…perhaps, Jasmine rice, for a full meal.

Ingredients:

2 pounds chicken wings

1 Tablespoon finely shredded fresh gingerroot

For the caramel sauce:

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup Vietnamese fish sauce

4 shallots

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Cook the sugar in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, swirling constantly, until brown. It will smoke slightly. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir  the fish sauce into the caramel, being careful to guard against splattering.The mixture will bubble vigorously.

Return the mixture to low heat, and gently boil, swirling the pan, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the shallots and black pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Note: Cool the sauce thoroughly before using. If cold food is added to a caramel sauce that is hot, the sugar will harden instantly, and you will end up with a dish full of candy chips.Yields 1/3 cup

Cut the wings into three pieces: the main wing joint, the second joint, and the wing tip. Discard the tips. In a 3 qt. saucepan, add the chicken wing pieces and shredded ginger to the cooled caramel sauce. Stir to combine. Set over high heat and bring the mixture to a rapid boil.Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. Skim off any fat. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with black pepper.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings