chicken curry with potatoes and vegetables

This is just something I threw together the other night, but it’s a decent basic curry and will give you room to experiment if you want to mess around with it.

Ingredients:
One onion
2 or more cloves of garlic
1/2 lb chicken breast
2 red potatoes
1 red bell pepper
2 of the small bags of frozen mixed vegetables
1 tbsp ginger
1 tbsp hot curry powder
salt to taste – start with about 1 tsp
cilantro and parsley to taste

Instructions:
Chop the onion and garlic. Cube the potatoes. Cut the red peppers into square pieces or whatever shape you like. Cut up the chicken into bite-size pieces. Put the veggies on the counter to thaw out if you haven’t already.

Fry the onion in canola until it turns translucent and starts to caramelize a little at the edges. Put in the garlic, ginger, and curry powder, and stir until everything is coated with the spice mix. Put in the potatoes and chicken, and then pour in water to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or longer if the chicken and potatoes need it. Add the frozen vegetables and cook for about another ten minutes. When the curry is almost done, add the red pepper – you want this to stay on the firm side rather than getting mushy. While the other ingredients are cooking, chop up parsley and cilantro to taste.

Serve with rice.

Notes:
For onions, I like sweet vidalias if I can get them.

With the garlic, I’m in the camp of people that normally looks at a recipe and triples the garlic. I had big garlic cloves when I made this, so I used two. Use as much as you think is going to be awesome.

I used boneless, skinless chicken breast. You can use whatever chicken parts work for you.

Vegetarians and vegans or people who just love chickpeas, you can use chickpeas instead of chicken. Canned is fine.

For the frozen vegetables, I got two of the small packs of mixed corn, carrots, and green beans. Any mix you like is fine. I do think some combination of carrots and green beans is really good, and it’s fine to use a similar amount of fresh if you want – this was what I had on hand.

I used two red skinned potatoes. I recommend some kind of thin-skinned potatoes like these or Yukon Golds.

For the parsley and cilantro, depending on what you like you can either use a small amount as a garnish or a lot and make it a significant flavor. I like the latter option.

For the curry powder, I made this hot madras curry powder recipe. It’s pleasant and a little on the hot side. Making your own is definitely not required, but I recommend either this or something similar, like a Sri Lankan style. Don’t use a sweet one like garam masala, you want some good heat. You can get a hot madras pretty easily online. If you don’t like the heat so much, a milder madras is fine.

places I like buying tea from

This isn’t a recipe. A friend asked me where was good for ordering tea from, and I realized that I have a lot of opinions about this because I drink tons of tea and have become a big tea nerd.

First and foremost, go to your local Asian grocer and check out what they’ve got. There is a lot of quality tea to be had at Asian grocery stores for relatively cheap, and I get a lot of my teas from my local spots. I also get some from various big box grocers. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s cool to learn about tea, it’s kind of pointless to refuse to try stuff just because it’s cheap or doesn’t come in fancy packaging.

House of Tea in Philadelphia. A small business with a really solid selection. Morning blends, flavored and aromatic teas, assams, oolongs, Chinese greens, keemuns, about 15 distinct estate-grown darjeelings. Their green blends are made with a sencha base, which is a bit of an unusual choice but works out well with the light flavors they favor. They tend to have more teas from India than from China but the selection of keemun teas is quite good. Personal favorite: black tea with blood orange.

High Garden in Nashville. The couple who run this place are super nice and absolutely brilliant at making tea blends. Their unblended teas are all really well-chosen, too. They don’t have everything up on their website, unfortunately, so you’ll have a better selection if you can go in person, but everything I’ve had here had been wonderful. Personal favorites: Roasty mountain morning, french earl grey, orange blossom green.

Souvia in Phoenix, AZ. A small family run business with a very well-chosen selection. Anything you get here will be high quality. Favorites: milk oolong. Wow.

Dobra Tea. Originally a group of Czech tea smugglers, now a legitimate business. This is where I learned to drink and appreciate tea. Their selection is excellent for teas that aren’t blended or flavored, though the few flavors and blends they have are delightful. Favorites: qi hong mao feng, ya bao, pu tuo fo cha.

Zhi Tea in Austin, TX. Do you like high mountain Taiwanese oolongs? Welcome home. The guy who runs it goes by Dr. Oolong online and he really knows what he’s doing. Their non-oolong teas are lovely too, but this is definitely a shop with a specialty. Favorites: any oolong I’ve ever had from here.

Verdant used to have an amazing storefront with food, but sadly closed down to do mail order only. Their focus is Chinese teas, and ordering from them will let you realize just how diverse Chinese teas can be. The website is set up well and good for both new tea drinkers and people who are experienced with good information about what flavors are present in different teas. You can search by tea type or by the growers. Favorites: whatever is fresh.

For slightly larger and chain businesses –

TeaSource has both good blends and good unflavored teas. Solid selection, website is easy to navigate. Favorites: da hong pao.

Adagio has a good online business and has lots of good sampler packs to try things out. This is a much bigger company and I tend to prefer the small businesses, but their selection is quite good and they have good deals on bulk and some very enticing sales. Favorites: apricot black tea.

David’s Tea is a small chain in Canada and the northeastern US. Their selection is a little on the trendy side with some solid teas and good blends, and then some blends that tend toward mildly caffeinated fruit punch. Good, but you have to be able to filter out what you’re going to like. Favorites: three wishes.

Star anise chai blend

This is a chai blend that features star anise as one of the stronger flavors. You need a spice grinder or a really clean coffee grinder for this.

1/2 cup whole star anise or 1/3 cup ground star anise
1/4 cup cardamom seeds
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp ground cloves
1 tbsp nutmeg

This makes a little less than a pint, but more than a cup.

Assam tea for blending.

Instructions: grind the whole spices in the grinder and transfer to a jar. Once all the spices are in the jar, shake it up so they blend together.

What I did at this point was get a smaller jar and fill it 1/3 of the way up with the spice blend, and then the rest of the way up with assam tea leaves. This is about the ratio you want of spices to tea, but you can store the spice blend separately and just mix it with whatever tea you have on hand as you go, though I do recommend assam or another similarly strong black tea like orange pekoe or ceylon.

Raspberry coconut ice cream

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Equipment: an ice cream maker

One can of coconut milk
One coconut milk can’s worth of simple syrup
One tsp vanilla or raspberry flavor
One 8oz bag of frozen raspberries, thawed

Instructions: put your ice cream maker in the freezer about two days before you’re going to make ice cream. Make simple syrup in advance, let it cool, and put it in the fridge so it’s chilled when you start. Get a can of regular coconut milk, none of the lite stuff – you want something like Thai Kitchen, the kind that looks solid when you open the can and then gloops out. The lite stuff won’t work. Thaw your raspberries in advance so you don’t just have a brick of frozen berries.

Set up the ice cream maker. Open the can of coconut milk and dump that in. Use the can to measure the simple syrup and put that in – you want equal parts coconut milk and simple syrup, and this is the easiest way to get that. Turn on the ice cream maker and leave it to do its thing for a while, at least ten minutes. When it’s starting to gel, put in a teaspoon of vanilla or raspberry extract and the bag of frozen raspberries. Leave it to mix some more until it gets to the consistency you like.

You can of course use fresh raspberries if you like. If you do this, you may want to crush some of them a little, or use a mixture of fresh and frozen. For a garnish, fresh berries, a few fresh mint leaves, or both will be lovely.

Marinara

Olive oil
One onion, chopped
At least three cloves of garlic, chopped
28 oz can of fire roasted crushed tomatoes
red wine
salt
Italian seasoning

Instructions:
Heat the olive oil. Fry the onion for a few minutes until it turns translucent. If you like it caramelized, you can fry it until it starts to brown at the edges. Add the garlic and fry for another minute. Add the tomatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally. When it’s starting to cook down a little, add 14 oz of red wine, using the tomato can to measure it – half the tomato can of red wine. Stir occasionally. Add salt and Italian seasonings to taste. Simmer it until it’s the consistency you want.

Notes:

I like sweet vidalia onions, but whatever onion you have is fine.

Three cloves of garlic is a minimum, add more to taste or repel vampires as needed.

I like the muir glen fire roasted crushed tomatoes, but whatever equivalent amount of tomatoes you want will work no problem.

I think a cabernet sauvignon pairs really well with these tomatoes, but a merlot or shiraz is going to do just fine too. Don’t use a wine you wouldn’t drink, a good wine is vital for cooking because the flavor gets even stronger.

This is a very versatile sauce, and you can add all kinds of things if you want. Here are my suggestions:

Zucchini
Parsley
Fresh basil
Bell peppers
Spinach
Carrots if you want to add a little sweetness
Cayenne or other hot peppers if you want spicy, sriracha will work fine for this too
Veggie burger crumbles
TVP
Pretty much anything that will go with red sauce

I’ve never made this with meat but I’m sure that would work fine.

Use the sauce for pasta, dipping, or cook down more and mix with some tomato paste for pizza sauce.

This will freeze fine in ziplocs or wide-mouth jars.

raspberry mint yogurt popsicles

Sounds fancy, right? That’s pretty much all of the ingredients. You’ll need popsicle molds of some kind.

Two and a half cups of greek yogurt
1 1/2 cup raspberries
a bunch of mint leaves

You have two options for yogurt: I get The Greek Gods honey vanilla yogurt, which is already sweet. If you’re using plain yogurt, add a tablespoon or two of honey and maybe a quarter to a half teaspoon of vanilla.

If you don’t have access to fresh raspberries or they’re insanely expensive, this will probably work fine with some plain yogurt and some raspberry yogurt. If you’re doing this, get a fruit on the bottom kind.

Instructions:

Roughly chop the raspberries. Chop the mint leaves a little smaller. Mix them with the yogurt. Put the mixture into the popsicle molds and freeze for a few hours.

Rose coconut ice cream

This is based on my dad’s recipe for a vegan coconut ice cream.

Ingredients:

One can of coconut milk
One coconut can’s worth of simple syrup
One teaspoon rose water

Put everything in the ice cream freezer and turn it on until it turns into ice cream.

Notes:

Get the regular coconut milk in the standard-size can, none of that lite or low-fat stuff and nothing in a box. The lite stuff won’t thicken up properly. The stuff that people have for cereal is definitely too thin for ice cream, you want the chunky heavy full fat delicious stuff. I usually get the regular Thai Kitchen stuff.

If you want to garnish this, fresh fruit or fresh rose petals are nice. If you get rose petals, make sure you get ones that haven’t had a bunch of pesticide sprayed on them.