Amish Pizza

Wow Lori, your posts all look so amazing and healthy. Glad to see you and baby are eating so well. I’m inspired to make your beautiful crustless quiche, and have some ricotta in the fridge now for that very purpose.

This winter has seemed especially frigid with “polar vortex” daytime high temperatures sometimes only reaching into the teens and checking your part of the weather map even colder! The creek, an ever-changing majestic landscape, is now a strange sight to see – frozen over and in a slumber under a blanket of snow.

creek

Evening fog rolling in when the water is colder than the air.

Chores for living aboard are more difficult this time of year, and you are made acutely aware of all things consumed and discarded for survival, something I’m sure is familiar to your own remote lifestyle. Food, water, heating fuel, trash, laundry and even our own waste are all hauled to and from the boat via a steep rocky footpath and precarious decaying plywood covered dock, and you DO NOT want to fall in! Needless to say, all this hard work works up an appetite.

Last week I made a stop at the North Point Amish Market since I had never been there and was in the area. The Amish have always fascinated me, and they surely know a strong work ethic and how to cook! From the butcher I bought 3 chicken sausage links mixed with herbs, spices and feta. I asked him how he recommended preparing it and he suggested browning the sausage into crumbles for topping on a pizza. It sounded good to me so I took his advice.

pizza making

I cheated and picked up two pizza dough balls from the grocer – for $1 a piece ready-made, you can’t beat it. Remove the sausage links from their casing and sauté in a pan with a little olive oil. While browning, work the dough with a little flour stretching it to fit your pan. Place the dough in an olive oil greased pan and top with spoonfuls of pizza sauce and a 5 cheese Italian blend of  Mozzarella, Provolone, Romano, Asiago and Parmesan. Baked in my ovens high setting (around 375-400) for about 18 minutes using scent and sight as a guide to readiness.

If there is an Amish market in your area, it’s a fun visit. After my recent trip to the market I watched this beautiful PBS documentary titled “The Amish” which answered a lot of questions and curiosity I had about their way of life. My mind wanders back the film occasionally now, reminding me to find spirituality amid the rituals of routine chores.

“The Amish” on PBS American Experience

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Tom Kha Gai – Thai Coconut Soup

It’s soup season again. I’m hoping to perfect making large pots of warming soups and stews with crusty homemade breads from scratch in the months ahead as it turns colder. I’m quite proud of this Thai soup I made last night that tasted authentic to my memory of savoring it at an excellent Baltimore Thai restaurant.

I got the idea to make this while shopping an Asian/International grocery store. I find these markets to have so much greater a variety of produce at reasonable prices. I get excited and dumbfounded by all the exotic and unfamiliar foods I have yet to try here.

asian-mkt

It was the lemongrass stalks that grabbed me with their fragrance. I’ve bought them for juicing before but had never actually cooked with them. They are very fibrous and stringy and can be eaten if sliced up very thinly and cooked down, but really it’s preferable to chop them into large chunks, bend/crush them slightly (like a clove of garlic) to let them release their flavor, then remove them before serving.

thai coconut soup

Ingredients:

1 box of chicken broth (4 cups)
2 cans of coconut milk
1″ of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 stalks of lemon grass, chopped in 2 inch pieces
Juice of 2 limes (1/4 cup)
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp Agave syrup
1 small green Thai pepper, deseeded and finely diced
Dashes of Tobasco green pepper sauce (used as a substitute for Chili Garlic sauce)
2 thin chicken breasts sliced into pieces
1 lb. of shrimp
handful of mushrooms, sliced
1 vine ripened tomato diced
chopped cilantro for garnish

  • Pour chicken broth into a sauce pot over medium high heat an bringing to a simmer.
  • Grate in a 1″ piece of peeled ginger into the pot.
  • Cut the lemongrass stalks into 2″ pieces and bend it slightly to unlock the flavor. If you have a tea diffuser ball or herb sachet you could let it brew in the broth and remove it when ready to serve, as it’s not pleasant to eat unless chopped very finely and boiled down.
  • Stir in fish sauce, lime juice, pepper/tobasco and agave to broth. Simmer at a low boil for about 5 minutes. The ingredients in this soup don’t need to cook long. Much of the cook time is to marry the flavors of the broth.
  • Add the remaining ingredients.. chicken, mushrooms, shrimp, tomato allowing meat to cook, another 5 minutes.
  • Remove lemongrass stalks from soup, ladle into bowls and top with chopped cilantro.

Slow Cooked Chicken Tikka Masala

So here’s a combination of two things I’ve come to love: the Indian dish ‘Chicken Tikka Masala’ and the ease of slow cooking with a crock pot. I first started making Tikka Masala from jarred sauce from Trader Joe’s which is very good but I’m happy to have learned to make my own sauce and finally put to use the bag of garam masala spice I bought. I followed this recipe from the EatLiveRun blog as a guide.

I used a value pack of chicken thighs with skin and bone, removed the skin but left the meat whole on the bone. Coat and toss chicken with seasonings and let marinate in a large bowl for 10 minutes with:

  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander (aka Cilantro when fresh)
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup Yogurt
Brown the chicken thighs (half at a time in a skillet) with a pat of butter then transfer to crock pot. I’ve found this common practice with slow cooker recipes- to brown or braise the meat prior to putting in the crock pot.

In the same pan you browned the chicken in, add a chunk of butter and sautee:

  • 1 Large diced Onion
  • 6 cloves minced Garlic
  • 2-3″ piece of fresh minced Ginger
  • 3 Tablespoons Garam Masala
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt
  • 30 oz. can of Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
Scrape all the caramelized brown chicken juices from the bottom of pan into the sauce for flavoring and bring to a boiling simmer. Pour over chicken and add 1 whole Jalapeno Pepper (stem removed and pierced several times with a fork). Set crock pot on Low for 5 hours. About 20- 30 minutes prior to dinner, start cooking some rice. The chicken will be fall-off-the-bone tender. 10 minutes before ready, whisk in a bowl:
  • 2 teaspoons Cornstarch and
  • 1-½ cup Half n Half or Heavy Cream
Add cream mixture to sauce along with 2 cans of drained peas or 1 bag of frozen peas and cover for 10 minutes more, allowing the sauce to thicken. Serve over brown basmati rice. This food goes a long way – you’ll have lots of leftovers for the week. Such a ghoulish looking pot o’crock for Halloween!

The Whole Enchilada

I made some impressively good ‘Skinny Chicken Enchiladas’ last night, I had something going on all burners for what seemed like 2 hours, but what a feast! Seems I’ve made a few recipes with ‘skinny’ in the titles lately – been feeling skinnier even though I’m not. The pictures don’t do the meal justice, probably cause I was exhausted and hungry by the time it was ready…it was a bit involved, but turned out excellent.

Basically I followed this recipe, note: I found it only really made 6 enchiladas and I used 3 chicken breasts (instead of the called for 2). I pan cooked the chicken breasts (skin removed) in some olive oil, 6 minutes on each side letting the chicken brown. Then added some chicken broth and let it simmer covered for roughly 25 minutes. This recipe would have been a lot easier if you can save this step and use some leftover cooked chicken.

For the sauce, I used a jalepeno pepper in place of chilis in adobo sauce and did not add any salt or pepper. The chipotle seasoning is strong in smoky flavor and really makes this dish. I used grated sharp cheddar over the top. Served it with white basmati rice seasoned with Saffron and topped the enchiladas with sour cream, salsa and homemade guacamole.

I conserved fuel and baked the enchiladas together with a batch of Black Bean Brownies. I like the idea of sneaking some protein and fiber in with chocolate but it did change the texture quite a bit. Then I destroyed all skinny adjectives connected with this meal by topping it with a scoop of coffee caramel swirl ice cream, bits of walnut and just a drizzle of Frangelico hazelnut liquor. Yeah, I know how to live.

Asian bbq chicken with Indian rice and peas


Dinner the other night was a combination of Asian and Indian flavors. Chicken thighs were parboiled for 15-20 minutes with the skin removed, which helps keeps the grill from flaring up from the fat. I finished cooking the chicken on the grill for another 15 minutes and used bottled Chinese barbecue Hoisin sauce  for glazing – which is made with soybean paste, garlic, chilies, spices, sugar and vinegar.

For the side dish, I cooked up some brown basmati rice and topped it with a Korma simmer sauce from a premixed packet from the store, a combination of spices and coconut milk. I added green peas to the sauce that went over top of the rice. The flavors all combined well – a bit of spicy, sweet tang.