Sweet Potato Curry

Considering I was just trying this out it seemed best to have everything ready.

Actually as creamy as you’d hope.

You hear that, Dear Reader? That’s the sound of me scraping the bottom of the barrel. All joking aside I really am running out of combinations, I just have so few ingredients and only so many ways they can be combined. I’m still without amaranth and now eating quinoa twice a week, well for dinners, I eat it everyday puffed. I’m saying that I racked my brains to make something new, Dear Reader and I failed. Then while finding no squash in the supermarket, all that have appeared since are tiny, I had to make Cottage Pies with just sweet potato which always ends up slightly stodgy, so I decided to blend the sweet potato with some butter, that I had none of, so milk was used, the gravy was left thinner and the pies were absurdly creamy and delicious. So, I went ahead with the idea of using pureed sweet potato with extra water, accidentally stumbled on something useful: Reducing the coconut cream to cook the sweet potato stopped the whole being too much sauce and had to make this again, but better. So, I ended up browning the onions, slow work, but oh so buttery, letting the chicken cook to give it a firmer texture so it wouldn’t be lost in amongst the creamy rich sauce, the maple syrup and spices bringing just the right complimenting flavour to the sweet potato and the whole dish became a decadent rich and flavoursome wonder. It really takes like sauteed sweet potatoes and caramelised onions, without containing either, the onions are only browned, the garlic too which is where the taste comes from even more.

Blended sweet potato looks like melted cheese, doesn’t taste like it, but people like to pretend it does so you’ll follow them.

The onions melt and the sauce darkens.

So, a little more time consuming, but worth taking the time to enjoy while consuming. The curry powder would be a sticking point in another recipe, the variable flavours of every blend out there might clash, but as sweet potato works so well with any blend, most containing common spices and herbs and many of the more unusual ones being perfectly matched to sweet potato, you have no problem getting the flavour just right. The sauce is really velvety and though richly flavoured isn’t in any way heavy or too filling, it’s mostly empty vegetable and taste. You know how it often goes, Dear Reader, a nightshade diet brings out the nomato recipes that without flavoursome vegetables will never really satisfy, here they keep the flavours from overpowering everything. All things in cooking and baking are balance, Dear Reader. I’m glad to finally have a new recipe to share, though I’m nearing five hundred, the majority being originals. I’ll be back with a garden post sooner rather than later, Dear Reader, until then take care.

Ingredients

2 Chicken Breasts, Chopped
160ml Coconut Cream
150g Finely Cubed Sweet Potato
1 Yellow Onion, Chopped
4 Cloves Garlic, Diced
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup

For the Spice Blend:

1 Tsp Curry Powder
1/4 Tsp Ground Cumin
1/4 Tsp Ground Turmeric
1/4 Tsp Ground Coriander
1/8 Tsp Ground Fenugreek
1/8 Tsp Dried Parsley

Method

1. Add Coconut Cream and Sweet Potato to a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Then cover and cook until Sweet Potato is tender and Coconut Cream has reduced and thickened. Remove from heat and pour into a blender, blend until smooth, adding Water as necessary, until a thick pourable puree has formed. Set aside.

2. Wipe out the pan and add Butter, let melt on a high heat and add Onions and Garlic, cook on a high heat, making sure they don’t burn, until Golden Brown. Will take about 15-20 minutes.

3. Reduce the heat to medium and add Chicken and Spices and stir to combine, cook for a further 10 minutes.

4. Add Puree and Maple Syrup and stir everything together, turn the heat to low and let the sauce gentle simmer until it has warmed through and thickened. Serve with Rice.

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Same Old, Same New: Cinnamon Chicken Rub

I’m on a fried onion kick. I’ll get bored eventually.

This style of post has proved useful, Dear Reader, I play around with various recipes in the usual course of weekly meal preparation and being able to share old recipes like this is useful. The Cinnamon Chicken Rub is about four years old, according to the creation date of the text file, yes, I really keep them all in the most basic way possible, which in terms of recipes is ancient. I honestly forgot about this, I generally use the Sweet Sweet Potato Seasoning whenever I want a “sweet” cinnamon flavour. I often think that my recipes are a fine line between stew and smoothie. You can play with the balance of sweetness in savoury recipes and dance long the knife’s edge between a caramel sauce and a rich, but sweet sauce, I have eaten chicken in an accidental caramel sauce and that is not recommended, here the onions cut the cloying sweetness and searing the honey slathered chicken adds a slight burnt taste. I really sat there last night scribbling at a crossword thinking this up, knowing it’d be worth a try if nothing else, I was prepared to sit down to a caramel chicken again, but thankfully it worked out. As lax as I may seem, Dear Reader, I never put you onto a bad thing.

This really takes a while to reduce.

So, I love the loose format of these, it’s freeing, you need the rub, as is, with about a tablespoon of honey, mix all that in a bowl and slash some chicken breasts, then smush everything together, it might take a little bit of mixing to make it adhere, but you’re adding the marinade anyways so don’t worry too much. I fried the onions, add a pinch of salt too, I think it draws out the moisture, in olive oil rather than butter, I like either, but it changes the taste, while you’re doing that cut rounds of sweet potato and toss them in extra virgin olive oil and the aforementioned sweet sweet seasoning, in the oven, at 175c Fan, for about forty five minutes, turning occasionally,  None of this is exact, Dear Reader, just me ad libbing, so, onions until they’re starting to brown, rice is Whole Grain Basmati, a great recipe I have had from the start, fluffy rice with no draining, add the chicken at a high heat, pouring over whatever is left in the bowl, cook both sides for two minutes, then reduce the heat, let the pan cool a little, and add the coconut milk and just gently simmer until it reduces and darkens. Flip the chicken now and then.

Silly presentation are my milieu.

So you end with with a sweet, salty dish that really is a mixture of various kinds of sweet, the scorched honey, softened by the coconut milk’s fattiness, the sweet potatoes natural sweetness enhanced by the sweet seasoning and the natural sweetness of slightly caramelised onions. None of it cloying or too sickly, just a lovely duality of sweet and salt fighting it out on your taste-buds, with tender, moist chicken and fluffy, light rice. Now, I don’t put this up often, but if you ever want to say thank you by buying Dearest Darling Jack a virtual Coffee, you can do so here or via Paypal directly here, if you already have then thank you, I’m extremely grateful. Don’t ever feel the need to do more than you can, Dear Reader, I just put it out there because in-spite of the light tone I do put a lot of effort and work into the site. I’m not here to make money, I probably couldn’t even if I tried, though it may be possible if I were to restrict access to recipes and I swear I will never do that. Just remember that a like, share, comment, anything that promotes the site or engages with it helps these recipes spread, which in turn gets them to more Dear Readers who may need them. See? By putting up with me you help people, no need to thank me. Heh. Until later, Dear Reader.

Same Old, Same New: Sweeter Savoury Strawberry Basil Sauce

This presentation style is now a trademark.

Now, surely you’re thinking that it’d be hard to get delicious tasting strawberries at this time of year, sure there are store varieties, but nothing can compare to those fresh from the garden. Which is true, but these are from the freezer, I stumbled across a bag of old variety strawberries, the harder, slightly tarter type I grow along with the sweeter new kinds, I say that like I planned it and didn’t just get gifted a lot of strawberry plants a few year ago. In truth you’d imagine frozen anything to be inferior, I’d tell you honestly if they were, I’m not proud, but these are as fresh as the day I froze them, they were picked and frozen within minutes, what amazed me, Dear Reader, was the basil that I chopped and froze in water has retained it’s taste and aroma perfectly too. So, what else could I do but make The Titular Sauce, and since I was making it for rice today I felt like changing things up a little. Again the point of these informal recipe reworks is to share what I’ve learned. I’ll gladly freeze basil the same way next year, I never expected much, but I suppose fresh really does matter, it was a matter of half an hour before it was all harvested from the plant, chopped pushed into ice-cube trays, next year I’ll use the large ones, which recently did their duty for turkey juices (Something on that too).

Okay, sorry for the even more confusing aside, I never promised perfect clarity, just rambling, useful tips. So, there was a holiday called Christmas recently, you may have missed it. But on that day, in the Irish way we overcook a turkey, yes, the Irish overcook meat to a nicety, turkey is dry already, but nothing can match the prowess of an Irish person making sure it’s “done”, which in many a case means almost dehydrated. So, this year we decided to buck tradition and turn things on their heads, or rather their front. We left the turkey breast side down and wrapped it up tightly in tinfoil. It did cook for longer than needed, you can’t get away from that completely in Ireland, remember that beef here is grey, but as we lifted it the carcass split, which was worrying at first, then the brown meat, usual dark grey, was just lightly coloured and, for the first time in my life, delicious, usually relegated to the second day curry, this time it  was fought over. The leg bones slipped out, the breast meat just came away whole, the whole bird feed three people for three days and all that remained was bones. The meat was flavoursome and moist. Cooking it upside-down kept it from drying, the legs from burning and made it a miracle bird to those used to dry, almost tasteless meat. The juices were saved, frozen into cubes and used for gravy, they’ll stay in the freezer a while long. Anyway, sorry for the long aide, onto the dish of the day.

So, strawberries as the nightshade free tomato are firmly a favourite of mine now. They don’t replicate a tomato perfectly, but they impart something of the sweet, tartness that is really very hard, if not outright impossible to find without nightshades or citrus. What I did differently was I left the chicken breasts whole, rubbed them with brown sugar, salt and pepper. They’re golden from the butter and oil the onions were fried in, I kept all the sauce and meat to one pan, more flavoursome that way, not that you can see it under the sauce. The onions are cooked until they just started brown, the chicken goes into a high heat for a minute a side, to get the sugar to caramelise a little, they cook a while and then I remove the chicken to rest and toss it the strawberries and basil, leaving the sole additional sweetness to be the brown sugar sticking to the pan, the whole lot simmers and cooks until everything has melded and melted into this wonderfully contrasting sauce, the slightly sweet onions and the warm, tart strawberries, the pungency of the onion meeting the gentle sweetness of the berry is really something, the richness of the butter giving it an pleasant oily mouthfeel, okay, sorry, that pretentious, but it is good. The chicken, with resting juices, go into the pan for the final few minutes. The sweet potato is cooking while this is with this sweet seasoning, brown sugar in there too, just a simple saute in butter and olive oil, I find the oil stops the need to add too much butter when it dries out, making it soggy after a while. The whole is tossed onto the rice, perfectly steamed, as it has been since I originally found the recipe and figured out the ratios for every kind of rice I use.

So, Dear Reader, a lot for such a basic recipe, but you know it helps to know all you can about what you’re eating, you can adapt and tweak anything if you know how and why it works and if you’re on a restricted diet that kind of skill is vital. It’s easy to get into a rut with food, sometimes you need to play around a little to remind you to enjoy what you’re eating or even just the preparation of food. That’s it for today, Dear Reader, I’ll be back again sooner rather than later, hopefully with something new to share. Take care.

Get In The Bag Jerk!

Are titles like those the reason I don’t get guest-post invitations? Don’t answer that.

Ah, dear Jerk. Sorry. It is yet again me, dearest reader, who else would it be? I’m back with a variation to a simple recipe. You may know my Jerk Chicken Rub, far from traditional, I assume so at least, I’d never eaten jerked anything before I tried these recipes, but one that cover many diets. Now, we have an oil free option. I’m not in need of oil free recipes, but I know what it’s like to be on a restricted diet that not many follow. Any help is appreciated, right? I repeat it often, but it holds true, that we should dare to try new foods, new methods of cooking and baking because it won’t just enrich our lives and improve our skills it may very well help others. Grandstanding aside, this may be a small blog, but there are a lot of options here, sure you have to dig a little, but nothing worthwhile in life comes easy, dear reader.

So, we’ve used these bags to cook chickens, I’ve watched others use those commercial seasoning bags too, but never though to try it myself. I opted for a quick dinner and dumped the vegetables in the bag as well. I did slightly over cook them, it is hard to tell when everything is ready when you can’t open the bag, but I’ll learn in time. The bag is a nice way to prepare meat or vegetables in a different way from the usual oven roasted. The jerk seasoning was in every bite. There are so many ways to prepare food, so many possibilities in each, it’s a shame when we limit ourselves because we assume because we’re limited in one way and that means we’re limited in every way. In time I’ll learn to time it better and I’ll probably try a few different things in bags. It’s a bit of fun and a way to distract from my long recovery. I’ll see you again, dear reader.

Butternut Squash Cottage Pie

Slowly replacing photos, dear reader. I managed to get four harlequin squash topped cottage pies and a further fifteen servings of pesto, so Jack is well stocked up for the squashless, basilless Winter.

Pep's Free From Kitchen

2017 Update: Due to a problem with Photobucket, see here, there will be a lot of recipes without photos. I will be slowly redoing the recipe pages, as best I can, but many other posts will be impossible to replace. I’m doing this in my own time, while continuing to update the blog with new recipes and posts. If you’d like to donate, any amount appreciated, you can do so here. The site will always be free, the recipes will never be locked behind a paywall, but this is a lot of additional work. I’m not demanding or begging, just putting it there so if you feel like repaying my hard work you have that option. I don’t make any money from the site, all that I do here is to help others, I couldn’t charge for that.

Pie sans filling.

With harlequin squash topping.

August 2017 Update:

View original post 389 more words

Breads Here Revisited Part 5: Buckwheat Flour Vegetable Bread

 

The end of an era is upon us, the final part of this dissertation on delectable, er, breads is here. You’ve possibly noticed that these have been almost exclusively buckwheat flour breads, well the reason is simply that I enjoy it and it’s the most versatile flour and much more readily available for me. This bread started originally as a means to get more vegetables into my diet. As seen in the main version it’s pretty healthy, the variations is where it became something sweeter. The reason being is that I reworked my meals and ended up eating more vegetables that I ever imagined I would, enjoying them too, shocking I know, and I had a bread that felt lacking. The sweet, though not too sugary, we’re still talking bread and not cake here after all, took over and now I mostly use the Gingerbread Pumpkin Loaf or the Hokkaido Pumpkin Cinnamon Bread. I eat it once a week and a little sweetness does the mind good. They’re still not what I’d call unhealthy, but if sugar puts you off I’d just like to let you know in advance to stick to the original. So, without any further ado, it’s:

Buckwheat Flour Vegetable Bread

If the Nutty Banana Bread is varied it can be said that this goes beyond variations. It has options, that don’t just tweak, they change the bread. I recently served the Hokkaido Pumpkin Cinnamon Bread to guests and they were won over. This is, again, a simple recipe that works thanks to the balance of ingredients. I’ve talked about the preparation on these posts and the vegetable bread is no different. The one great aspect is that you can use steamed vegetables, instead of roasted say, and the results will be as dry or moist as you want assuming you change the amount of water. Folding in vegetable purée gives you body, bulk and taste. It’s a wonderful way to make a meal out of bread and with the sweeter versions  it’s also handy way to appease a slight sweet-tooth. The thought of vegetables in bread might be off putting to some,, it was to me once, but when you taste the lovely springy bread, get a hit of whatever spices you’ve chosen and just enjoy the moist, yet firm texture I think you’ll be won over.

I’ve talked so much about the basics of these breads, they all share a common origin after all, so there isn’t a lot to say here. The choice of vegetable is up to you of course. I prefer sweeter vegetables like sweet potato or squash. I’ve tried less sweet squash, harlequin, but I think orange fleshed varieties are preferable here. I  can’t find a parallel bread to compare this to, that’s not bragging mind, it’s just an interestingly different bread. There are shredded vegetable breads, courgette/zucchini, but to me they’re a different story altogether. The purée melts into the bread and mingles with the flour to create a uniform texture throughout. Nor is it the sweet carrot cake. It’s its own bread. One I’m very proud of and glad to have at hand at all times.

I hope in sharing these bread with you, dear reader, that I haven’t oversold them. I find them useful, nutritious and delicious, but I won’t attach any claims to them that I don’t feel true. They’re not going to change your life, nor will they alone help you lose weight or be healthier, they’re just a small part of the diet that I follow. I’ve found them useful and I hope in sharing that someone out there might find them useful too. The problem with having so man recipes is that you can never share them all or present them all the same way. Recipes that have been here since the blogs inception are going to be presented differently from newer recipes, the style I write in evolves, as does my knowledge. In writing up these posts I wanted to just show a little of what I adhere to, there are so many ways to eat healthy and I can’t encapsulate everything I do into a few posts, I can just share a little here and there, stating things as simply and honestly as I can. I hope this helps. That’s all I want really. Perhaps I’ll do this again, dear reader, maybe I’ll do it before this even publishes! Take care and I’ll see you again.

Slow Cooked Beef and Sweet Potato Pie

2017 Update: Due to a problem with Photobucket, see here, there will be a lot of recipes without photos. I will be slowly redoing the recipe pages, as best I can, but many other posts will be impossible to replace. I’m doing this in my own time, while continuing to update the blog with new recipes and posts. If you’d like to donate, any amount appreciated, you can do so here. The site will always be free, the recipes will never be locked behind a paywall, but this is a lot of additional work. I’m not demanding or begging, just putting it there so if you feel like repaying my hard work you have that option. I don’t make any money from the site, all that I do here is to help others, I couldn’t charge for that.

This camera makes everything look good.

Yes, this is a variation of my BNS Cottage Pie, still a staple dinner for me. This was inspired in part by a pie that’s nicknamed: Paddy Pie. It’s a beef brisket under potato cooked in a wine gravy. A fancy Shepard’s Pie in other words. I thought I could play with that a little to give myself a little variety in my pies. There is an ideal version of this that if my squash grows well I’ll be able to make. A harlequin topping instead of the sweet potato as it emulates potato perfectly. For now this is  more than good enough. There’s nothing extraordinary here, but it covers a lot of intolerances and allergies and gives you a filling, rich, but not too decadent meal. One that can be made in advance, frozen and cooked with no worries of loss in quality.

This makes four large servings, but you can makes it however you want.

This is one of those recipes, that though it takes time to prepare isn’t all that complex. There are numerous stages, but you can change it at every single one. You could use beef you had left over from a roast, you can add whatever vegetables you’d like. You can fiddle with it and because it’s a really simple, but satisfying, dish you won’t be able to go far wrong. It’s hard to tell if I’ve covered all the necessary steps properly, a lot of this was winged and you can’t always tell if it’ll be clear to someone else. If you have any questions, if anything is unclear just ask. I cook my beef in vacuum bags, sealed with a machine, but I cook it using a rice cooker with a slow cook setting. Fill it with water and the next day you have tender, shredded beef. How you cook the beef is up to you. Just make sure your machine is suitable if you are trying.

Cashew butter is the only nut butter that works this well in gravy. Stays smooth even with a reheat after a freeze

One of the things I ave to do, but also enjoy doing, is seeing all the way I can use the ingredients that comprise my weekly meals. Nothing here is new, I use all these throughout the week, even using these ingredients to make a more traditional meal. Back in the fat days I used to eat an entire side of beef, which meant that when I stated to move away from those days, to the days of Jack and Roses, beef was left by he wayside. Oh, that’s a terrible image. Beef, abandoned by the side of the road. A roadside roast. Anyway, beef wasn’t something I ate, I couldn’t at first, my gut was healing I’d guess, but my Mother started sous viding  her beef and instead of the hard lumps that passed for meat they were tender, juicy beef. Naturally I ad to try and here we are.

There will be some cleaning up I’m afraid.

So what does a Jack Pie, so tempting to call it that, but I like descriptive names better, taste like? Like beef, in gravy with sweet potato. Heh. Let’s break it down a little. The beef is tender, as you can see in the photo above. It does have a slight dryness to it, but when you combine it with the rich, thanks to the juices, gravy it becomes a juicy, toothsome meat. The sweet potato topping is creamy and distinct enough to work well with the gravy. The cashew butter is the secret to the thick and velvety gravy. As I say I will try this with harlequin squash if possible. If you can tolerate them then potato would be great here. I added carrot to get a little extra goodness, you could also add peas. It’s very soft compared to mince, but I like the different texture. The best way to get a varied diet is to know different ways of preparing the same ingredients. I hope you’ll enjoying look at these photos, reading about the steps and thoughts behind them, maybe even try the recipe for yourselves. Until later, dear reader.

I could eat the top when grilled forever.

Ingredients

For The Meat:

1 Kilograms Round Roast Beef or Preferred Cut
1 Beef Stock Cube
Salt and Pepper to Taste

For The Gravy

1 Beef Stock Cube dissolved in 600ml Reserved Juices, Topped up with Water as Needed
1/2 Large Yellow Onion, Chopped
1 Large Carrot, Chopped Fine
4 Tbsp Cashew Butter
1 Tbsp Thyme or 3 Tbsp Fresh Thyme
1 Tbsp Parsley 3 Tbsp Fresh Parsley
1 Tsp Black Pepper
1 Tsp Garlic Granules
1/4 Tsp Salt
Olive Oil for Frying

For The Topping

1000g Cubed Sweet Potato
150g Red Cheddar, Grated
Salt and Black Pepper to Taste

Makes Four Servings.

Method

1. Season the Beef and seal it and the stock cube in a vacuum food bag, leaving room for the juices to accumulate, then using your preferred method cook until beef is fork tender and shreddable. Takes about 16 hours in a slow cooker. When ready sieve and drain Juices into a jug and set aside. Shred beef with a fork and put into a bowl and set aside.

2. Fry the Onion and Carrot in the Olive Oil until soft, being careful not to burn. Mix together the Herbs, Pepper, Garlic, Cashew Butter and the Stock until everything has combined and the Nut Butter has dissolved. Add to the pot with the Onion and Carrot and bring to a boil, leave for a few minutes, then reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring as needed, for about ten minutes or gravy has thickened.

4. Add cooked Gravy to Shredded Beef, stirring together until well combined. Spoon into containers.

5. Steam the Sweet Potato until tender and when cooked add to a bowl season with Salt and Pepper then mash until smooth and the stir in Red Cheddar until combined and Cheddar has melted. Spoon mash over Beef mixture. Either freeze or use right away.

6. Cook in the oven at 175c (Fan) for 25 minutes, or until gravy starts to bubble. Then grill for remaining 5 until top is slightly crispy.