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.

Indian shrimp with zucchini, cilantro and coriander

This is a mild spiced Indian dish that comes together in no time. It uses both fresh cilantro and ground coriander which are actually from the same plant.
For the very best flavor, grind your coriander seeds rather than use the pre-ground coriander.

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Serves 4

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium zucchini, scrubbed and cut into 1/2″ chunks
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2lbs medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup canned coconut cream (unsweetened)
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
hot, cooked rice for serving

In a large (12 inch) nonstick skillet, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the zucchini, onion, ginger, jalapeno and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the ground coriander, turmeric and salt. Stir until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp begins to turn opaque, about 1 minute.

Add the coconut cream and lemon juice and bring to the boil. Cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve immediately with the rice

Roast butternut squash stuffed with Medjool dates, cashew nuts and cilantro couscous

I just love winter food especially when it’s anything to do with butternut squash. This one is from Skye Gyngall and is gorgeous with such interesting flavors.

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Serves 2 and could easily be augmented

1 small butternut squash
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
a decent drizzle of olive oil
a good splosh of white wine
sea salt and ground black pepper

For the stuffing

6 oz instant couscous
2 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 small leek, finely sliced
4oz cashew nuts
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 cardamon pod, crushed open with the flat of a knife
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 tsp hot curry powder
6 Medjool dates, chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1/2 bunch of flat-leaf parsley
1/2 bunch fresh mint
juice of 1/2 lemon

Peel the squash, cut it in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash halves in a shallow roasting dish and sprinkle over the garlic slivers and thyme. Drizzle over the olive oil, pour over the white wine and season with salt and pepper.
Cover with foil and roast in an oven preheated to 350 F for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for about 10 more minutes until the squash is tender.
This may take a little longer depending on the size of your squash. Check it’s doneness as you would a potato and remove from the oven. Leave the oven on.

While the squash is cooking, prepare the stuffing.
Put the couscous in a bowl, pour over about 1/2 cup cold water or chicken broth and leave to soak.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, add the shallot, leek, cashews, mustard seeds, cardamon pod, ginger, coconut and curry powder and fry gently until the shallot is soft and the aroma from the spices is making you hungry!
Turn up the heat and add the couscous to the pan, stirring thoroughly.
Remove from the heat, cover with a lid and leave to cook for 10 minutes.
Stir again to fluff up the grains, then add the dates, herbs and lemon juice and season to taste.
Stuff the squash with the couscous and return to the oven for about 20 minutes.
Serve immediately

Roasted and spiced cauliflower “couscous”

This recipe is a wonderful template for adding extra things of your choice like dried cranberries, roasted pine nuts, almonds or cashew nuts, chopped scallions and some chopped Kalamata olives. You can’t go wrong as the cauliflower lends itself beautifully to most additions.
Roasting the cauliflower provides a wonderful nutty and sweet flavor and this dish is so easy to make.

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Serve 4

1 large cauliflower, broken into florets
1/2 to 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
2 heaped tsp fennel seeds
a little olive oil
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
extra virgin olive oil
A handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and ground black pepper

Toss the cauliflower florets together with the turmeric and fennel seeds in a roasting dish with a little olive oil and some salt and pepper.
Place in a preheated oven at 400 degrees and roast for 10 to 15 minutes until the cauliflower is beginning to turn golden but is still al dente. (The latter is important, because if it is overcooked you will end up with more of a mush than a couscous effect)
Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Tip the cauliflower into a food processor and pulse gently until it resembles couscous. Again, be careful not to over-process.
Transfer to a bowl, stir in the lemon zest, a little extra virgin olive oil and the mint (plus any other things of your choice) and check for seasoning.

Slow-cooked pork belly with cinnamon, cloves, ginger and star anise

This recipe is from the wonderful chef, Skye Gyngell and is a deliciously rich and unctuous winter dish. She likes to serve it with braised lentils, but it is also very good with lightly cooked Asian greens, such as pak choi.


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4 to 5lb piece belly of pork
2 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
1 tsp cloves
1 red chili
1 1/2 inch piece fresh root ginger, peeled
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbsp chopped coriander roots and stems
4 fl oz tamari
3 fl oz maple syrup
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Put the pork belly into a large cooking pot in which it fits quite snugly and add cold water to cover. Bring to the boil, then immediately turn off the heat and remove the pork from the pan. Drain off the water and rinse out the pan.

One-third fill the pan with cold water and place over a medium heat. Add the pork, this time along with the spices, chili, ginger, garlic and chopped coriander roots and stems. If there isn’t enough liquid to cover the meat, add some more water. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer very gently for 1 & 1/2 hours until the meat is cooked and very tender. If you have the rib end, the meat will have shrunk back to expose the tips of the bone. With a pair of tongs, carefully remove the meat from the pan and set aside.

Turn the heat up under the pan to high and add the tamari and maple syrup. (If you don’t want the sauce to taste ‘hot’, remove the ginger and chili at this point.) Let the liquid bubble until reduced by half – this will take about 20 minutes. As the sauce reduces, the flavors will become very intense, forming a rich, dark sauce.

In the meantime, slice the pork belly into individual servings – one rib should be enough per person. Season the ribs with a little salt and pepper. Place a heavy-based frying pan over a high heat and add the oil. Heat until the pan is starting to smoke, then add the pork ribs and brown well on both sides until crunchy and golden brown on the surface. Strain the reduced liquor.

To serve, lay a rib on each warm plate (or soup plate) and spoon over the reduced sauce and warm braised lentils. Serve at once.

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.