Tag Archives: easy

Buttermilk and Paprika Roast Chicken

Easy and delicious buttermilk roast chicken

Andrew’s Verdict: This dish provides an excellent, quick, and delicious way to cook chicken, perfect for a Sunday family dinner, or as an easy dinner any night. Experienced and inexperienced cooks: give this one a go. It’s fantastic.

A short, telling introduction: once, while attempting to strain pasta, I came very close to burning down our home.  While I do love food (even if I did not, I believe that anyone who spends a significant amount of time around Linh would come away with at least some appreciation for food, even if it were merely peripheral, like wearing a black sweater and leaning against a chalk-covered blackboard written upon by a favorite professor), I do not possess the full passion which Linh does.

Buttermilk and paprika Buttermilk with Spanished smoked paprika marinade.

So, then, it should be clear: cooking is not my forte.  I’ve never had much experience with it, nor have I had a great deal of success on those rare times when I stretched myself and tried to make a more elaborate dish.

Given my past difficulties, when I asked Linh to suggest a meal that I could prepare, the number one criterion was simplicity. After some thinking, she suggested this dish which originates from Smitten Kitchen; it promised to be a simple, delicious way to prepare roast chicken.  The blurb, beginning with a mouth-watering description of chicken done to a golden-tinged exterior perfection with a rich, flavorful, moist interior from the marinade sold me.

Roast for 30 minutes at 350F Chicken roasted to perfection in 30 minutes.

The marinade was very simple and quick to make.  I used a smoked Spanish paprika, and we’ve since prepared it with regular paprika (paprika can be found in many varieties).  Both turned out delicious, it’s just a matter of taste as to whether you’d prefer a less spicy, smokier, woodsy chicken or a something in the spicier spectrum.  I whipped up the marinade, dumped it in the bag with the chicken, and let it soak overnight. Easy. The original recipe noted that a day-long soak makes a remarkable difference, so that’s what I stuck to this time.   We’ve since made this in a time-crunched two-hour soak, and while still yielding a tasty result, the 24 hour sit is definitely preferable.  Roasting the chicken was a simple matter of 30 minutes in the oven at 425 (for legs; 35 to 40 minutes for breasts is suggested).  As per the recipe, I drizzled the legs lightly with extra olive oil, and sprinkled paprika and some sea salt to taste.

Roast chicken with quinoa and broccoli Roast chicken with quinoa and broccoli.

Due to my lack of culinary experience (as previously noted), I messed up a bit and ended up with some soggy sides – a serving of broccoli that was on the limp side, and some ill-timed quinoa– which, in turn, caused me to leave the chicken in the oven a bit longer than I should have.  As it turns out, the marinade saved the day by helping to attenuate any errors incurred from my poor form.  The chicken came out of the oven moist and delicious.

Tender morsel of chicken Super moist buttermilk marinated chicken.

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Balsamic Foil Packed Chicken

Balsamic Foil Packed Chicken

Verdict: This recipe creates chicken that is extremely moist and bursting with the complex flavours of the sweet soya sauce and balsamic vinegar. An easy and elegant weeknight dinner.

This original recipe came together from my sister’s obsession with balsamic glazed asparagus and our obsession with the Singaporean instant fried noodles brand called Mi Goreng. These instant noodles make the perfect late night snack and with a little bit of effort, the perfect quick dinner. In an effort to make these instant noodles healthier (we know, it’s a stretch), we investigated what goes into real Singaporean noodles and how best to incorporate fresh vegetables into the dish. It turns out, the secret ingredient is sweet soya sauce. It is sweeter than regular soya sauce and significantly thicker, like a reduced balsamic vinegar, with some varieties mirroring the viscosity and appearance of molasses.

Shallots and garlic Shallots, the sweet cousin of onions.

I decided to use sweet soya sauce to create a recipe for balsamic glazed chicken. The foil packets cooking method ensures the chicken will be cooked to tender perfection.

Sweating shallots and garlic in butter Cooking the shallots and garlic over low heat until they’re soft and translucent.

This is the kind of dish that immediately makes it into your cooking rotation. The flavours are complex and full bodied, the chicken tender and moist. The shallots and sweet soya sauce impart sweetness, while the twang from balsamic vinegar keeps the sweetness from being overpowering. The sauce is so incredible on rice, this will be your new chicken and rice dish standard.

Balsamic chicken with rice and asparagus

The toughest ingredient to find will be the sweet soya sauce, found at Asian supermarkets or the ethnic aisle of your grocery store. We’ve tried three to four different brands and found the Lee Kum Kee Sweet Soy Sauce to be the best performer: mellow kind of sweetness with right consistency: thicker than regular soya sauce but not as thick as honey or molasses. Regardless of the brand you find, please ensure you use sweet soya sauce. I’ve tried this with regular soya sauce and the flavour combination simply did not work; the resulting sauce was too tart.

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How to Fold Foil Food Packets

Foil packet balsamic chicken

Summary: Learn to fold foil food packets that make quick and easy meals.

Food that is wrapped in foil can be cooked in the oven, on the grill, or over an open camp fire. This cooking method prevents loss of moisture and produces very tender meat. Plus, there’s minimal clean up.

Equipment:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Food items – usual food packet combination includes: meat, veggies and 2 – 3 tablespoons of sauce or broth

Note: you can substitute the foil with parchment paper if placing the food packets in the oven. This is not recommended if cooking over a bbq or camp fire as it will just add to the fire.

1. Select a piece of foil that is approximately 15” long. (My aluminum foil was 15” in length and default width of 12”.) Place food items in the center of foil  and drizzle with sauce or broth.

15" by 12" piece of foil

2. Bring up the lengths of the foil sides like a tent and roll down towards center, stopping about an 1” before you reach the meat – this leaves room for heat circulation.

Food tent with foil

3. Fold the foil ends toward center to seal pack.

Roll bottom toward centre

4. Cook packet in oven, on grill or over a camp stove.

Foil food packet bliss

Meal Ideas

  • Balsamic Chicken – 4 breasts will cook in about 30 minutes at 425 F
  • Salmon with lemon, garlic and dill, with 2 tablespoons of butter or white wine – 4 fillets will cook in 20 minutes at 350 F

Green Thai Curry – Chicken with Broccoli

Thai green curry.

Verdict: This is the only recipe you will ever need for Thai curry. Once you are comfortable with how to prepare the dish, there are unlimited combinations of curry, meat and veggie to try.

Hey everyone! For my first post, I wanted to share a recipe we turn to often. We used it a lot when I first moved to Calgary from Vancouver in March 2010. It encompasses the elements that I love about home cooking: simple, hearty and healthy. Under time pressure I’ve been able to make this, from start to finish, in 20 minutes flat.

Growing up, I learned to associate food with spending quality time with loved ones. Regardless of how busy things got, our family always tried to have dinner together. When I first moved to Calgary (marking my first time living away), I tried to recreate that tradition with Sunday “family dinners” with my new roommates.  I’ll admit, I was also trying to woo them into thinking I was a worthy roommate. I would later need their adoration to get away with listening to music too loudly – at all hours.

Among the meals we cooked on Sunday nights, I remember the Thai curries the most vividly. The sweet and spicy curry paste, the fragrance of simmering coconut milk, the fresh cooked rice.  My roommates, who weren’t crazy about cooking, asked for lessons on how to make this dish and soon after, not a month went by without one of us making Thai curry. At first, we went crazy with the ingredients. Being health conscious, we used to overload the curry with as many different vegetables as we could. Over time, I’ve learned that the curry really shines when you have one meat item and a maximum of four vegetables.

Thai green curry ingredients.

We’ve made many different Thai curries over the years and I find the green curry with chicken and broccoli the easiest and most approachable. You’ll only need to stray from your regular grocery shopping routine for the Thai curry pastes, coconut milk and fish sauce which can be found in the International (Asian/Indian) aisle in most grocery stores. I’ve yet to find kaffir lime leaves in Calgary though. To get started, I recommend buying the red and green curry pastes first. They last over a year in the fridge and make for a quick weeknight dinner.

Note that the following recipe is a basic guide for making Thai curries. In the future, you’ll see many more permutations of this recipe as we always have a few jars of Thai curry pastes in the fridge. If you make this only once, you’ll be surprised how quick and delicious it is to make home made curries. If you’re like us, you may love making homemade Thai curries so much, you lose interest in restaurant varieties completely.

Pot full of curry.

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