After Holiday Break

I think this is what everyone needs. At least I do. I’m not complaining, as I had an absolutely fantastic Christmas and New Year’s celebration with my family. We all met at our home in Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico. We laughed and cooked and ate and laughed some more. And ate. And visited with friends. And ate. Oh my, I just realized that I can probably save a lot of time by not eating at all this month!

However, having said that, I wanted to tell you about a Peruvian restaurant I discovered. My youngest son and I were the last of our group left in Albuquerque, and we decided to try somewhere new for lunch. We picked “Pollito con Papas” on Gibson Boulevard.  Here’s what we ordered: fried yuca, grilled chicken thighs with fries, and grilled chicken thigh with stuffed potato. The yuca was fried to perfection, the chicken was lightly spiced and delicious and the potato was stuffed with a tasty chopped chicken filling. It was all very good. The presentation was simple and basic. Each dish was accompanied by “aji” sauce, which was a fresh tasting thin dipping sauce with a slight bite. My attempts to find something similar online have been unsuccessful, except to learn that it varies dramatically from table to table. Many versions contain tomatoes, but this clearly did not.fried yuca and aji sauce chicken and fries chicken and stuffed potatoThe menu was limited and straight forward. They serve chicken and potatoes in several variations. I had my first taste of Inca Cola – a bright yellow soda pop which I could not bring myself to try in Peru. It is far too sweet for my liking. The only dessert on the menu is flan, which we felt obligated to try. It was a little more dense than I was expecting, but it was yummy. The fries and yuca are not the most healthy eating choices for after Christmas, but I thought I’d wait till I got back to Calgary for “real world” eating to take effect.

Now that I’m back home, I’m definitely trying to make better food choices. It has been so cold that I chose to hibernate for two days, but today I was able to visit the grocery store and stock up on lots of vegetables. My activities since arriving home have been somewhat limited as I’ve had a cat almost glued to my lap. It’s nice to know I’ve been missed! I’m working on some quilt bindings. Kush was content to sleep beside me for a little while but then decided she should help by weighting down my project. She’d hate to see it slip off the sewing table!Kush on my pillow Kush sleeping in the studio Kush sleeping on my work in the studio

chicken peanut stew

Cold weather is stew weather, and here’s a recipe based on one I found on Epicurious. I made a few changes and rewrote the bizarre instructions and I think it turned out really well.

browning sweet potatoes

veggies and broth

cooked chicken

roasted peanuts

cut up tomatoes

almost ready

finished dish with rice on top

Chicken Peanut Stew

2 medium white onions, sliced

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 hot chilies, cut in half, seeds and ribs removed

One 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced

2 bay leaves

6 white peppercorns

4 cups water (or part chicken broth)

12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each cut into 3 pieces

2 cups unsalted peanuts

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes

4 tomatoes, cut into quarters, or 2 cups chopped canned tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

1 pound spinach, tough stems removed, washed

Combine the onions, carrots, chilies, ginger, bay leaves, peppercorns, and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, add the chicken thighs, and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

While the chicken is simmering, toast the peanuts in a small dry sauté pan over medium heat until golden brown and fragrant. Let cool, then grind 1 cup of the toasted peanuts in a food processor to a smooth paste. Set aside.

Using tongs, remove the chicken from the cooking liquid and set aside. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to the food processor; discard the bay leaves. Puree the vegetables until smooth and return to the broth.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When it begins to shimmer, add the potatoes and sauté until they are golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat.

Bring the broth to a boil. Add the peanut purée and the remaining cup of whole peanuts and whisk until well combined. Add the tomatoes, chicken, and potatoes and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with the salt. Add the spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted. Serve with rice.

The picture above shows the stew with the rice on top because  I forgot to put it into the bowl first. The spinach isn’t totally wilted because I put it in the serving bowl instead of in the pot. The photo below shows what it looked like the second go round, with the rice where it belongs. The stew was much thicker the second night, but you could add chicken broth if you want more sauce. I love the way the spinach wilts in a few minutes after it is added to the hot stew, and I think you can put loads in and enjoy all that green goodness.

more typical presentation

black rice package

For those of you not familiar with black rice – you must try it. I think of it as brown rice on steroids, and I mean that in a good way. Nutritionally there is only a slight difference, but taste-wise and texture-wise I think it is much more interesting. Most of the available varieties I’ve seen are from Thailand. My bag is nearly empty so I’ll be stocking up soon. You need to try it. Seriously.

Thought I should mention that this is post number 200. I don’t know about you, but I’m impressed! (Not impressed with the photos on this post, so you’ll have to take my word for the yummy factor on the recipe.) Oh, and since I mentioned my knee the other day, I should say that it is on the mend. I was not very mobile for about a week and discovered that I’ve hyperextended my right knee. I’m going out on a limb (get it?) to say it is a mild injury that will heal in 2 – 4 weeks with proper care. I have to stretch, ice and be gentle with it while it heals. Apparently it’s not a good idea to sit away from your desk with your legs extended straight out in front resting on the desk, with a computer and/or a cat on your lap. Who knew?

what? dorowat

Looking for a simple chicken recipe that didn’t require too much of my left hand, I found this delicious Ethiopian recipe for my slow cooker. It comes from the recipe book “Slow Cooking” by Catherine Atkinson. I left out the hard-boiled eggs and didn’t garnish because – come on – I only have one good hand! But next time I’ll try the full meal deal.

onions ready to chop

chopped onions


garlic and ginger

chicken chili

This is a recipe from the good people at Fine Cooking. It arrived in my email box a couple of days after I’d made turkey stock so I thought I’d adapt and give it a try. It was quite delicious. I have never been disappointed with a recipe from Fine Cooking.

I used home-made turkey broth, leftover roasted turkey and added some chopped cooked broccoli and red pepper. Perhaps I forgot to mention that I scored turkey carcasses from two Thanksgiving dinners. I am so lucky to have good friends.

Chicken Chili

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 large onion, cut into medium dice

2 Tbs. ground cumin

2 tsp. dried oregano

3 medium cloves garlic, minced

3-1/2 to 4 lb. rotisserie chicken, meat removed and chopped

1 jar or can (about 4 oz.) diced mild green chiles, drained

1 quart reduced salt chicken broth

Two 15.5-oz. cans white beans, drained

1 cup frozen corn

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cumin, oregano, and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Stir in the chicken and chiles and then add the broth and 1 can of beans. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partly covered and stirring occasionally, until the flavors blend, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, purée the remaining can of beans in a food processor. Stir the puréed beans into the chicken mixture along with the corn. Continue to simmer to blend the flavors, about 5 minutes longer. Ladle into bowls and serve.