FOOD - Spice up your cooking life with these...
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Jan 17, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

FOOD - Spice up your cooking life with these recipes with a kick

From Thai red curry chicken to firecracker almonds, these recipes bring heat to your weekend.

Compiled by Lisa Day

Butternut squash dal (Lentils)

Here homegrown lentils are combined with nutritious butternut squash and milk to make a satisfying and absolutely delicious vegetarian main course or side dish.

1 cup dried red lentils
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1 tbsp butter
1 chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp minced gingerroot
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp Indian yellow curry paste or powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 cups chopped peeled butternut squash, about 1 lb
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or green onions
Garam masala

Place lentils in a fine sieve and pick through to remove any stones or grit. Rinse well and drain; stir into broth and set aside.
In a large, deep saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; saute onion for three minutes or until starting to soften.
Add garlic, ginger, curry paste (to taste), salt and pepper; saute for two minutes or until softened. Add lentils in broth, squash and milk. Bring to a simmer, stirring often.

Cover, leaving lid ajar, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes or until squash and lentils are soft and tender. Remove from heat and mash lightly with a potato masher. Sprinkle with cilantro and garam masala (if using). Serve with papadum, basmati rice or naan.

Tips: This is an excellent introduction to the flavours of curry for kids who haven’t tried it. The sweet squash and milk smooth out the taste of the curry allowing them to get use to the combination of spices.
- Use a hot curry paste and/or saute 1 1/2 tsp each, whole cumin and coriander seeds and 1 minced fresh hot pepper in 1 tbsp butter and spoon on top of dal with cilantro.

~ Recipe courtesy of Dairy Farmers of Canada

Indian-spiced pork tenderloin with peach and mint chutney
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup each diced onion and red pepper
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 tsp peeled finely grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 (14 oz/398 ml) can California Cling Peach halves in fruit juice from concentrate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
1 pork tenderloin, about 1 lb (500 g)
• 2 tsp garam masala*
Salt to taste
*Garam masala is a blend of Indian spices available in the spice section of most supermarkets.

Drain peaches and reserve juice.
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
Add onion, red pepper, jalapeno, ginger, garlic and cinnamon stick.
Stir just until onion softens, two to three minutes.

Add vinegar, brown sugar, 1/4 cup peach juice and chopped peaches.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer stirring until mixture thickens, five to seven minutes.
Remove from heat and cool. Once cool, stir in mint.

Heat oven to 400 F. Sprinkle pork all over with garam masala and salt. Place in small roasting pan and roast uncovered for about 25 minutes.
~ Recipe courtesy of and News Canada

Indian-spiced mushroom puff pastry braid with plum chutney

1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil plus an extra 2 teaspoons
1 medium onion, diced
1/2-inch fresh ginger, grated
1 generous pinch, hot chili powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1 package mushrooms (crimini or white or a combination)
3/4 tsp salt or to taste
A big handful of chopped fresh coriander
A small handful of chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 pkg (200g) puff pastry
1/4 cup pecans, toasted
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup pre-made date chutney

Heat the 1 tbsp oil in a pan and saute the onions, until soft and golden, about seven to 10 minutes. Add the ginger and stir for an additional 30 seconds.

In a smaller pan, add the 2 tsp of oil and saute the chili powder, garam masala, cinnamon and nutmeg for one to two minutes, stirring all the time. This will take away any rawness in the spices.
Add the fried spices to the onion-ginger mixture and saute for about one minute more. Add salt.

Slice the mushrooms thickly and add to the onion mixture. Cook for about 10 minutes on a medium-high heat, until the mushrooms are tender. They will release their juices, so if the masala is too watery, turn up the heat and boil away any excess water. The mixture should be moist, but not watery.

Taste and adjust seasoning. Take off heat and let cool completely. Stir in the fresh coriander and mint. Leave to go cold.
While the mushrooms are cooling, heat the oven to 400 F.

Roll out the puff pastry to about 30 cm by 22 cm rectangle. Using a ruler or similar, gently mark out thirds lengthwise in the pastry. This will help you figure out where the filling goes.

Gently smear the chutney in the middle third of the pastry rectangle. Top with the spiced mushrooms, then sprinkle over the toasted pecans.
Then cut the side wings of the pastry into one-inch strips at an angle, like left side of a V.
Fold the top and bottom edges of the pastry over the filling.

Brush the sides of pastry with the beaten egg and gently fold the angled strips over the filling, like a braid or a plait, brushing with more egg to seal. Once the braid is done, brush over more egg wash on top, and place in the oven.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, checking every so often, until the pastry is golden.

Gently slide on to a serving plate and let cool a little. Cut into slices to serve. Goes with a simple side salad as well as part of a larger dinner.
~ Recipe courtesy of Michelle of Food, Football and a Baby and News Canada

Roasted apple and sweet potato soup with spiced walnut
A harmonious blend of sweet Spartan apples, creamy sweet potatoes, savoury spices and hot chilies, this velvety soup provides much-needed balance. A perfect lunch option, this wholesome soup is sure to help maintain stamina levels for the remainder of the work day.

10 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes (about five to six)
3 cups peeled, cored and quartered Spartan apples (about five to six)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 long red chili pepper, left whole, ends removed
5 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups peeled and chopped onions
3 fresh thyme sprigs
3 cups milk     
4 1/2 cups cold water
2 tsp cider vinegar

Spiced walnuts
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup walnut halves
1/2 tsp salt     
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 400 F.

In a large bowl, add sweet potatoes, apples, cinnamon, chili pepper and oil. Season with salt and pepper and stir until well combined. Line baking sheet with parchment or foil. Spread potato and apple mixture evenly on baking sheet and place in preheated oven.

Roast for 45 minutes to a hour, stirring occasionally, until apples and sweet potatoes are golden and tender.
In a large pot over medium-high heat, add butter and melt completely. Add chopped onions and thyme and saute for five to six minutes or until onions are tender and lightly golden. Add roasted potato and apple mixture milk and water. Decrease heat to medium and let simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

Once simmered, remove the chili and thyme sprigs and discard. Puree soup with a blender or hand blender until smooth. Just before serving stir in cider vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
For the spiced walnuts: While the soup is simmering, heat a small frying pan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of butter and let melt completely. Add thyme sprigs, cinnamon, cayenne, walnuts, salt and pepper. Continue to saute for four to five minutes, stirring frequently until walnuts are golden and fragrant.

Serve soup piping hot with a garnish of warm spiced walnuts.
Variety tip: For best results, use Spartan, Empire or Russet apples. 2 lbs is about five large apples.
~ Recipe courtesy of News Canada

Any day of the week beef chili
There’s a good reason chilly weather and chili go together! Let your slow cooker do most of the work for this dish.

2 medium yellow onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 lbs ground chuck beef
28 oz pinto beans, canned, drained
14 oz tomatoes, canned, drained, chopped
4 oz green chilies, canned, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 cup beef or chicken broth
1 cup sour cream, for garnish
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated, for garnish
2 tbsp green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish

In a large skillet, saute the onions, garlic and bell peppers until soft. Brown the ground beef and drain off any excess fat.
Transfer the meat and vegetables to the slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients except the garnishes and mix thoroughly.
Cover; cook on low for six to eight hours (or on high for three to four hours).

To serve, offer the sour cream, cheese and green onions at the table.

Thai red curry chicken
1 tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste
2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs, well trimmed and cut into one-inch pieces
1 Japanese eggplant, cut into quarters lengthwise, then cut into one-inch cubes*
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 can (400 ml) coconut milk
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp chopped fresh Thai basil leaves
Steamed basmati rice
Lime wedges
*One medium purple eggplant may be substituted – Peel eggplant, cut it into cubes, toss with 2 tsp of salt in a colander and let drain for 20 minutes. Press cubes between pieces of paper towel to remove excess water.

Place chicken pieces and red curry paste in a slow cooker; stir until combined.
Cover and cook on high for two and half to three hours or on low for five to six hours or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork.
Stir in eggplant, red pepper strips and coconut milk. Cover and cook for another 20 minutes or until peppers are tender and heated through. Stir in cilantro and basil. Serve over hot steamed rice and garnish with lime wedge.
~ Recipes courtesy of and News Canada

Firecracker almonds
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp olive or almond oil
2 cups toasted whole natural almonds
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce or to taste
1 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne) or to taste

Combine chili powder, curry powder, garlic powder and oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Heat until hot and bubbly. Stir in almonds, tossing until almonds are evenly coated and heated through, three to four minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Stir in pepper sauce and red pepper. Allow to cool fully before serving.
~ Recipe courtesy of the Almond Board of California and News Canada

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