Thursday, August 16, 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry with Peas, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free

I've been doing a ton of crockpot cooking this week for a magazine piece I'm working on. It reminded me of this recipe (not part of the magazine feature), which I've had waiting in the wings for the past two months. I realized right now is a great time to post it because summer and slow cookers are more compatible than we tend to think.

Slow cookers do not heat up your kitchen or require you to stand over a hot stove or grill. Yet your house will smell amazing, and you'll have a great meal with minimal effort. This recipe, in fact, is super-low effort. You don't have to brown anything--just toss it all in the crockpot.

Of course, you could use a whole cut-up chicken (remove the skin first if you want things to be healthier) and brown it for great flavor. You'll also get a thicker, rich broth if you use bone-on chicken. I'd brown the onions too if I was going to the trouble.

Or just follow the recipe below, and get a tasty, healthy dish with practically no fuss. With the bright, fresh flavors of lime, ginger and curry powder, it's ever-so appropriate for the season.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry with Peas, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free

Serves 6 to 8

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 teaspoon plus 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cans (14 ounces each) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup water
2 red bell peppers, sliced
1 white or yellow onion, halved and sliced
2 cups frozen peas, thawed and drained
Lime wedges

Add sweet potatoes to slow cooker and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the chile powder and about 1/8 teaspoon of the salt. Add chicken, garlic, curry powder, ginger, remaining ancho chile powder and remaining salt to a large bowl; stir well to coat chicken with seasoning. Add to slow cooker. Pour tomatoes and water over chicken and stir gently, just to evenly distribute the liquid so that you keep the sweet potatoes on the bottom of the slow cooker. Layer the red bell peppers over the chicken, then layer the onions over the peppers (do not stir). Cook on high until sweet potatoes are tender, 3 to 4 hours, or low for 6 to 7 hours.

Gently stir chicken mixture. Add peas and stir to combine. Taste to check seasoning. Cover, turn slow cooker to WARM and rest 5 to 10 minutes to heat peas. Serve with plenty of lime wedges.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Tempura-Fried Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

I live for this recipe when zucchini blossoms are available in the summertime. I've been buying them at the farmer's market, but my Whole Foods occasionally has them too.

Tempura-Fried Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
Batter adapted from Jamie Oliver's recipe on
The carbonation of soda water makes the batter light like tempura. You can use plain water, but it won't be quite the same. Read through the whole recipe before you begin--they are a lot of variables at play, so let your senses help you!

8 or up to 12 zucchini flowers
1 cup ricotta cheese (lowfat or regular)
2 ounces goat or feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil and mint or other leafy herbs
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2-3 tablespoons (as needed) soda water

Vegetable oil for frying

1. Carefully slit open the zucchini flowers and cut out the stamen inside the flower (they taste bitter). Wash the flowers and rest on paper towels to dry.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and herbs. Season with black pepper. Fill flowers with ricotta mixture, adding only so much so that you can "close" the flowers, gently twisting the tips to keep the filling contained. You may have leftover ricotta.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper to taste. Add 3/4 cup of the soda and whisk until flour is moistened. You want the batter to achieve the consistency of pancake batter (not so thin that it runs right off your whisk). Add additional soda water, about 1/2 tablespoon at a time as needed. Let batter rest 5 minutes to allow flour to absorb liquid and whisk again briefly until most lumps are gone.

4. Add about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of oil (use the greater amount if zucchini flowers are large) to a heavy skillet (not nonstick) and heat on medium high until oil sizzles when you add a drop of the batter. Dip 4 to 6 flowers in batter one at a time, coating thoroughly, and add to oil (do not crowd pan). Cook until bottoms sides are golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn with tongs and repeat on opposite sides. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and drain. Repeat with remaining flowers, adjusting heat between medium and medium high to prevent flowers from browning too quickly. Serve immediately.