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


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.

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

Watermelon Tomato Salad with Cumin and Fennel

Another vegan, dairy-free beauty of a salad (from Food 52) for those hot summer days. If you like, you can add crumbles Greek feta cheese or even sliced Kalamata olives to have some variety, of course it would become vegetarian.

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Serves 6

6 cups cubed (1/2-inch cubes) watermelon
2 heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup sliced mint
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp chile powder
Juice of 1 lemon
Optional – Greek feta cheese, crumbled
halved pitted Kalamata olives

Puree 2 cups of the watermelon in a blender and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the remaining watermelon and tomato and toss with the sugar, a large pinch of salt, the mint, and lime juice.

Set a large saute pan over medium heat and add enough oil to thinly coat the base of the pan. When the oil is hot, sprinkle in the cumin, fennel, and ginger, and toast for 30 seconds. Add the turmeric and chile powder, then 1/2 cup watermelon juice, and the lemon juice. Bring to a simmer. Add salt or sugar as desired, and cook for 1 minute.

Pour the sauce over the watermelon and tomatoes and gently fold together. Divide among 6 shallow bowls, and serve.

Vegan Coconut Milk Rice Pudding with Citrus and Ginger

I could eat this whole thing in one go, being a coconut addict and it’s delicious for breakfast, lunch or dessert for dinner. The addition of the ginger and citrus really takes it to another dimension

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Serves 4

1 can (13.6 fluid oz.) full fat coconut milk
1 cup water
3/4 cup orange juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 cup long grain basmati rice
2 to 4 tbsp maple syrup, to taste
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp orange zest

Mix the coconut milk, water, orange juice, vanilla extract, salt, and rice in a medium-sized pot. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. Cover the pot, but leave the lid very slightly ajar to let steam escape.

Simmer the rice for 30 minutes, or until most of the liquid has absorbed. Stir in maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, and zest. Continue cooking till rice is creamy and soft. If necessary, add a little more water or maple syrup.

Serve warm or cool, dusted with extra cinnamon if desired!

Simple, stunning salmon tartare

On a hot day with a glass of champagne or Rose what could be more wonderful than this?

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Serves 4

8 oz fresh boneless wild salmon, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp good quality mayonnaise

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients. Refrigerate until very cold before serving.

Chinese chicken salad

Don’t be put off by the number of ingredients in the dressing. It is well worth it and you will mostly have them in the pantry if you like Asian-style cooking. This is one of my favorite salads.

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Serves 6

For the Sesame-ginger dressing
3 tbsp Chinese mustard
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 medium piece of ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tbsp hoisin sauce (available in most supermarkets)
1/2 tbsp sweet chilli paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To make the dressing;

Put the mustard in a blender and then add the sesame oil, olive oil, honey, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger, garlic, hoisin sauce, sweet chilli sauce and salt and pepper (go lightly on the salt because of the soy sauce).
Give it a quick blend and check for seasoning.

For the chicken salad

1 medium Napa cabbage, washed and shredded
1 medium iceberg lettuce, washed and thinly sliced
1 medium romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 green bell pepper, julienned
1 cup snow peas, sliced
4 green onions, chopped
3/4 to 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 cup carrots, peeled and shredded
1 cup bean sprouts
6 chicken breasts, (6 oz each) cooked and diced
Garnishes for the salad
crispy wontons (available in supermarkets)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp white sesame seeds, toasted

To make the salad

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, lettuces, peppers, snow peas, peanuts, green onions, carrots, beansprouts and diced chicken.
Toss together with the sesame-ginger dressing until well combined.
Divide the salad among 6 plates and garnish with the crispy wontons, cilantro and toasted sesame seeds.