Friday, July 25, 2014

Jerk Chicken Fingers

I know many of you would have felt knee –jerk reactions during the semi finals of football world cup, well Brazil seemed to be loosing it out at that time and now it will involve many more knee-jerk reactions, jerking all the way from bottom- to –top. Although the management of the entire game schedules were spot on and impeccable and that I must add here. And, also we did get a knee-jerk reaction when we spotted a fox near the back yard of our apartment complex. Well, this is nothing new, it is indeed a common sight for many here, although for us it was the first time in broad day-light. We couldn't believe our eyes, dear daughter caught this moment with our point and shoot camera. And couple of friends have also told us that, if they keep rubbish outside in night, these foxes come and do hunt out food for them, making the well-kept garden messy all over. The sight of Lionel Messi would have been better not the foxes messy,let’s now be tight-lipped about it.

Well, this recipe of jerk chicken fingers is not at all that dramatic and knee-jerking as if you would start dreaming out of it. But, taste wise it is indeed very flavorful and can be considered over-whelming but not certainly knee-jerking, although it still will be called chicken jerk-“fingers” not chicken jerk –“knee”.Ok, please refrain ourselves from further imaginations and let’s say its good as gold to be a great finger food or party food/appetizers.

Coming to the recipe, jerk seasoning that I have used in this recipe comes here in spice packets, and that’s what globalization intends to do to you. I am sure you all must have heard about “jerk chicken” which has its origin somewhere in Caribbean island, and taking that cue, I made these chicken jerk fingers. There are plenty of recipes available in internet to make home-made jerk seasonings and use accordingly. One recipe is this and this- detailed recipe of jerk chicken and this-dry rub spice-mix.
I have used Kashmiri red pepper powder for that reddish color and also it does add little bit of spice also. However it’s not required strictly, a plain Jane type of chicken fingers with only jerk seasoning will also turn out flavorful, overnight marination of chicken pieces is recommended, so that spices can well incorporate inside chicken. Yogurt helps in tenderization of flesh and also as great base to bind all the spices well. If you are allergic to milk-products then you may skip it and use lemon juice or vinegar as well.
Now to the jerk chicken recipe

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Fingers or Tenders
Recipe requirements
Chicken finger fillets about 300 Gms
2 tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp of jerk seasoning
1 tsp of garlic powder
1 tsp of Kashmiri march powder/Kashmiri red pepper powder
½ tsp of freshly crushed black peppercorn
5-6 heaped tsp of thick Greek style yogurt or 2 tsp of lemon juice or any other souring agent
After cleaning chicken pieces, pat them dry with a kitchen towel. We do get chicken finger fillets here, however if you don’t then you can make, cut strips from chicken breast pieces as well.
Now add in all the dry ingredients- coriander powder, jerk seasoning, crushed black pepper, Kashmiri red pepper powder (I have used MDH brand Kashmiri red pepper powder which seems to be little high on hot level and as well on color), for jerk seasoning I have used Rajah Brand and Schwartz brand so far and seems to be satisfied with the results. (Jerk seasoning originates from Caribbean cuisine, specially from Jamaica- a famous chicken recipe is, Jamaican Jerk Chicken , will update the blog with that recipe as well)
Add in salt as per taste and thick Greek-style yogurt also. Coat chicken finger fillets very well with the spices and yogurt mixture.
Now put on the oven at 200 deg C, set it at and grill the chicken fillets for about 20-25 mints or till they get nice smoky texture or are well charred.It would be nice if the tray is covered with foil. It also depend on the cuts of the chicken  fillets , so check out in between and keep an eye over the grilling process in oven.

Or you may bake the chicken as well. For that take out in mid-way, and if you need then coat those with cooking oil.I have never done that as we like to have it oil-free and grilled which turns out soft.You may use sour cream in place of yogurt as well which is even better gives a very smooth texture once the chicken is done.

You may use this seasoning to grill other vegetables like- zucchini, bell pepper, onions etc as well. Vegetarian can skip chicken or meat and use tofu or paneer to make Jerk tofu/paneer fingers, all other ingredients remain same.  
As usual we served along with cooked cous-cous and slices of tomato and cucumber.

Happy cooking and have a lovely weekend

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce

These days we are seeing lots of sunshine quite unlike of British summer, which makes us yearn for things which is so typical of summer that we are habitual of seeing in India, like chilling out with a cup of cold coffee or ice-cream sundaes or "mishti doi"etc and these  have become regular in our home. But then it’s not only about cooking, eating, drinking cold drinks, summer activities also includes going out in parks or having a nice picnic, now that I somehow can’t imagine myself doing that in typical Indian summer. Even though schools are still open and summer vacations haven’t yet started here, well actually it’s another week and we will be having school vacations here. And we all know once the school vacations starts all mothers across the globe, do become even more busier, making ferries to local library, parks and activity center, becomes almost a daily happening for them.

Sometimes, when kids do shift their attention, they do come up with great innovative things. These days loom bands have caught my daughter’s attention; apparently every kid these days seems to be hooked to it here, it is kind of a trend here. She is on a spree of making many bracelets out of it. She still has some left-over loom bands loops which incidentally, I hid it from her while she was away in the school. Now, she is up to the “lost loom bands project” kind of “Sally Bollywood” and had been searching the entire household. May be I will keep them as memento and gift her later on, once her interest grows out of it, just to have that surprise look on her face.

Now coming to this recipe which is as simple as it sounds. As you can see daffodils in the picture above, this was made in the month of March and was lying in drafts since then. But it’s good to be late than never, right. When you can get fresh –healthy fish and if a fish is salmon, and you add butter and lemon to it, you know how subtle flavors can be coming out from it. I always have liked the flavor of salmon. I just happen to add dried herbs for extra goodness, I was thinking of putting up dried parsley, as parsley is a great herb, extensively used in Mediterranean cooking, but I didn't had parsley, so used dried Italian herb which is what I got at that time, but to my surprise it turned out nice, since then I have made this many times and with dried Italian herb only. Garlic powder is included and so is red pepper powder, which gives bonus to the overall flavor without over-empowering the distinct flavor of the fish itself. If you don’t get salmon, shrimp or other white fish fillets can also be used in this place, replace butter with olive oil or may be any other oil like – corn oil, sunflower oil, to make it less saturated. But always remember our body does need butter as well, all it requires is moderate activity level to burn down that saturated fat, nothing less.

Just want to emphasize that all health foods might not be good for you, read here,  a striking story about a food blogger's eating disorders regarding  vegan foods.I highly advise consulting a nutritionist before you jump on to any sort of diet-plans or any type of drastic changes in your eating patterns.Remember loosing weight , also depends on how physically active you are, not just on what you eat.Sleep and rest is also necessary to restore lost stamina from your body.

Now to the recipe

Pan fried Salmon in Lemon-Butter sauce
Recipe requirements
3-4 salmon fillets
Half lemon, squeezed for the lemon juice
2 tbs of butter
¼ tsp of red pepper powder or as per taste or freshly crushed chilly flakes
½ tsp of garlic powder
¾ tsp of dried Italian herb powder
Salt as per taste
Clean and rub salt all over salmon fillets. Keep aside for half an hour. We do get salmon fish fillets here easily and 3 or 4 fish fillets weigh roughly 400-450 gms.
Now melt butter in a fry pan, add in salmon fillets, and skin side down first. Fry them about 4-5 mints. Flip the side and do another 3-4 mints depending on the cut of the fillets or the thickness of the  fillet . Fry till it’s no more pinkish in color. Take out and drain.
In that butter itself, add in dried Italian herb, red pepper powder, lemon juice and salt if required at low flame. If you are using salted butter, there is no need of adding extra salt. Add in salmon fillets.

Now cover the fry pan and let it cook further 8-10 mints or till salmon is cooked. Sometimes, I skip frying salmon fillets and mix all the ingredients and melt butter in a fry pan then add in salmon+spices+dried herb and let it cook well in it’s own juices, I must add, it turns out even more soft.
You can even grill the fish and prepare the sauce separately and then drizzle the prepared sauce all over the grilled salmon fish fillets.

Happy Cooking Friends