Asian-influenced chicken and coconut “paella”

This is Tyler Florence’s Asian version of a Spanish paella which is gorgeous. The chicken thighs are lightly crusted with crushed coriander seeds then sauteed and tucked into basmati rice that has been simmered in sweet coconut milk and ginger. Need I say any more?

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Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup coriander seeds
8 chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely minced
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
2 cups basmati rice
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups coconut milk

Pea Salad
1 cup frozen peas, thawed in a colander under cool water
A small handful of fresh mint leaves
1 bunch watercress
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Mint leaves for garnish
Lemon wedges for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 F
Coarsely crack the coriander by either pulsing in a spice grinder, wrapping the seeds in a tea towel and crushing them with a rolling pin or grinding them in a pepper grinder on a coarse setting.
Season the chicken thighs well with salt and pepper and sprinkle all over with the cracked coriander.

Heat 3 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep ovenproof skillet. Lay the chicken thighs in the pan, skin side down and give them a good sear for 4 to 5 mins to develop a nice crust.
Turn and cook for 4 to 5 mins on the other side to brown the meat. Take the chicken out of the pan.

Put another 2 tbsp of olive oil in the pan and turn the heat down to medium. Add the onion, ginger and bay leaf, and cook, stirring for 4 to 5 mins, until the onion is soft but not colored.
Now you’ve got all this great flavor going on in the bottom of the pan; chicken drippings, onion, ginger and bay leaf. Add the rice and season with salt and pepper. Stir for a minute or two until the grains are well coated with oil. Stir in the lemon zest. Now add the broth and coconut milk and bring that to a simmer.
Tuck in the chicken thighs, put the whole thing in the oven, and bake, uncovered, until the rice is tender and bound by a creamy sauce and the chicken is entirely cooked through,about 30 minutes.
Discard the bay leaf.

When the chicken is done, put the peas, mint and watercress into a bowl. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and give it a good toss. Taste for seasoning. To serve take a big spoon and scoop out some chicken and rice and garnish each plate with the pea salad


Eggplant bake with spicy coconut milk and tomatoes

A lovely vegan comfort food with warming spices and creamy coconut milk.

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4 eggplants cut into 1/4″ slices
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tbsp fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp garam masala
1/4 tsp hot chilli powder
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 x 14oz cans chopped tomatoes
8 fl oz coconut milk
sugar, to taste
2 tbsp flaked almonds
small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped (optional)

Heat oven to 425 F. Generously brush each eggplant slice with vegetable oil and place in a single layer on a baking tray, or two if they don’t fit on one. Cook on the low shelves for 10 mins, then turn over and cook for a further 5-10 mins until they are golden. Reduce the oven to 350 F.

Heat the coconut oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan and add the onions. Cover and sweat on a low heat for about 5 mins until softened. Add the garlic, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, garam masala, chilli powder, cinnamon stick, cumin and ground coriander. Cook for a few secs until it starts to smell beautiful and aromatic.

Pour the chopped tomatoes and coconut milk into the spiced onions and stir well. Check the seasoning and add a little sugar, salt or pepper to taste.

Spoon a third of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 4 pint ovenproof dish. Layer with half the eggplant slices. Spoon over a further third of tomato sauce, then the remaining eggplant slices, and finish with the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds and cilantro (if using), reserving some to serve, and bake for 25-30 mins. Serve garnished with more cilantro.

Asian sweet potato gratin.

If you like dairy-free food and Asian flavors, this is a great twist on a heavier, creamier potato gratin.
Sweet potato and peanut butter might sound like a bonkers pairing, but combined with the flavor powerhouses of chili, ginger and lime, the result is magical.

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Serves 2, but easily can be augmented

3 sweet potatoes
8 fl oz of coconut milk
1 tbsp peanut butter
A stem of lemon grass
A thumb of ginger
1 chili
1 lime
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat your oven to 350 F
Scrub 3 sweet potatoes, then slice as thinly as you can.
Place the slices in a medium sized baking dish.

Finely chop a chili. Peel a thumb of ginger with a teaspoon and roughly chop. Take 1 lemon grass stem and remove the tough outer leaves.

Zest the lime and juice half. Tip in 1 tbsp peanut butter, the lemon grass, chili, ginger, lime zest and the juice into a food processor.

Pour in 8 oz coconut milk. Blitz to combine all the ingredients.
Taste and season.

Pour the coconut sauce over the potato. Mix with your hands then flatten.
Cover the dish with foil and seal the edges tightly. Cook for 30 mins.

Remove the foil and cook for a further 20 mins till golden.

Check the sweet potatoes are cooked and soft by piercing with a knife. If still firm, place back in the oven and cook for a further 5-10 mins.

Easy mirin-glazed salmon

This must be the fastest way there is to create a culinary sensation. Nigella Lawson’s gorgeous combination of salty, sweet and spicy.
If there are only two of you eating, I would be inclined to stick to the quantities given here, letting a couple of pieces or whatever you don’t eat get cold, as it makes a fantastic salad the next day.

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1/4 cup mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
1/4 cup soft light brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 x 5oz pieces wild salmon, skinned, cut from the thick part, so narrow and tall, rather than wide and flat
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 – 2 scallions (halved and shredded into fine strips)

Mix the mirin, brown sugar and soy sauce in a shallow dish that will take all 4 pieces of salmon, and marinate the salmon in it for 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second. Meanwhile heat a large non-stick frying pan on the hob.
Cook the salmon in the hot, dry pan for 2 minutes and then turn the salmon over, add the marinade and cook for another 2 minutes.
Remove the salmon to whatever plate you’re serving it on, add the rice vinegar to the hot pan, and warm through.
Pour the dark, sweet, salty glaze over the salmon and top with the scallion strips.
Serve with rice or noodles as you wish, and consider putting some sushi ginger on the table, too.

Lemon-poached chicken with lots of roasted garlic

This is a Tom Kine recipe from rural France. Don’t be put off by the quantity of garlic – when roasted, it becomes very sweet and loses it’s pungency. A great way to eat – just roll up your sleeves and dig in! This dish can be made with a whole chicken in much the same way, but you will need more wine and stock and will have to cook the meat for longer.

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Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
Chicken thighs, drumsticks and chicken breasts, skin on (enough for four people)
20 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 glass dry white wine
Zest of 2 lemons, juice of 1 lemon
Sprig of thyme
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
17 fl oz chicken stock
1 French baguette
20 flat parsley leaves

Heat a heavy-bottomed casserole pan over a medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and the chicken pieces, skin-side down, to cover the bottom of the pan. If the chicken won’t fit in one layer, you will have to cook it in two batches. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Add the garlic cloves. Tip off any excess oil, add the wine to the pan and cook for 2 minutes until reduced.

Add the lemon zest and juice, thyme and bay leaves. Season well with salt and pepper. Add the stock. Cover the pan with a lid and turn down the heat. Gently simmer for 20 minutes.

After this time, check to see that the chicken is cooked by inserting a small sharp knife into the chicken flesh, just by the bone. If the juice runs clear then the meat is done. If the juice is still pink then cook for a little more time.

Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish. Roughly chop the parsley and scatter over the top.

Cut the French bread into slices and toast them.

Place the slices of toast in a bowl alongside the chicken. Let each person squeeze the soft garlic out of its papery skin on to the pieces of toast, which can then be used to soak up the juice.

No-bake cranberry almond energy balls

This is a lovely and super simple recipe from the food blog “Skinny Me” Your kids will love them too and they will be able to help you make them

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1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup natural almond butter, (optional peanut butter)
1/4 cup raw honey
1/2 cup almonds, crushed
1/2 cup pistachios, crushed

In a medium mixing bowl combine all ingredients. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Store in the fridge until ready to eat.

Coconut-braised chicken with chorizo and potatoes

This is a wonderful mash-up of Central and South American ingredients – coconut, Mexican chorizo, cilantro and lime.

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2 tbsp canola oil
6 whole chicken legs (2 pounds)
Kosher salt
1/2 lb fresh Mexican chorizo
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 dried chili de árbol, broken in half
3 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 lb baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tbsp fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
1 tbsp unsalted butter

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro, plus sprigs
7 coffee beans, finely crushed (1/2 teaspoon)
2 tsp finely grated lime zest

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 425°.
In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
Working in 2 batches, brown the chicken over moderate heat, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes per batch.
Transfer the chicken to a large plate.
Add the chorizo and onion to the casserole 
and cook, stirring to break up the meat, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the ginger, garlic and chili and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
Add the coconut milk, potatoes and chicken to the casserole and bring to a simmer.
Cover and braise in the oven for about 1 hour, until the chicken is cooked through.
Stir in the lime juice and butter and season with salt. 

Meanwhile, make the gremolata.
In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well.
Spoon the braised chicken and potatoes into shallow bowls.
Garnish with the gremolata 
and cilantro sprigs and serve with lime wedges. 

Make Ahead
The braised chicken can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently