Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Spicy Tangy Sticky Kumquat Chutney



When I was growing up in Texas, kumquats and their non-related look-a-likes, loquats or Japanese plums, were common in backyards.  We weren’t fortunate to have our own but neighbors and relatives were more than happy to share.  Over the years, I have bought them when available but never have I seen them as plentiful or as inexpensive as here in Egypt.   It must be the season because I bought a bag of more than two pounds or one kilo for about 50 cents in American money.  And, boy, was I delighted because I had just the recipe I wanted to adapt for them from, once again, my new favorite cookbook  Fried Chicken and Champagne.

Ingredients
About 2 pounds or 1 kilo kumquats
1 1/2 cups or 355ml orange juice
1 1/4 cups or 295ml rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper or red pepper flakes
2 in or 4cm piece of cinnamon stick
1 large, thick thumb-sized piece fresh ginger
4 cups or 900g sugar
1 large fresh chili pepper

Method
Wash your kumquats and remove any stems.  Finely slice them, removing any large green seeds. 



Pile them in a bowl and cover them with the orange juice.  Push them down into the juice a little if necessary.  Cover the bowl with cling film and let marinate overnight in the refrigerator.



The next day, peel your ginger and grate it finely into something that saves the pulp and the juice, because you’ll want to use both in the next step. 

About as long as my thumb, but thicker.


In a large saucepan off of the stove, add in the kumquats, rice vinegar, red pepper, cinnamon stick, ginger and sugar.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved and pick out any large green seeds you might have missed.



Sugar dissolved!
Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn the fire down.  Cook until it thickens to your desired consistency.  The original recipe had some interesting instructions about bringing it to the boil and turning it down three times, so I did this, only to realize that I wanted the sauce to be more like a chutney.  Boiling only three times left it very runny.   I abandoned all that up-flame-down-flame and just gave it a steady very low boil, stirring every few minutes, until it was pretty thick.  Remember that once it cools, it will thicken even more so stop before you can stand a spoon in it or it will be too thick cold.

Be careful at the beginning because the sugar really makes it bubble up.  You do not want this to boil over!


Meanwhile, mince your fresh chili, discarding the seeds if you don’t like things too spicy.  My pepper wasn’t very hot so I serious considered adding two.  Then I remembered the crushed red pepper and thought better of it.  But you can judge for yourself.






Once the chutney almost thick enough, add in the minced pepper.  Stir and cook just a few minutes longer.  You want the pepper to retain its color.  Turn off the fire and remove the cinnamon stick.  It’s done.



While it cools, take your helper out to play with the handful of leftover kumquats.  



This was divine with bacon-wrapped, pan-fried chicken breasts, as well as pork chops. (YES, I FOUND PORK CHOPS IN CAIRO! And they were, despite reports to the contrary, cheaper than steak.)   I don’t have any clean empty jars or I would have bottled the chutney boiling hot, like I did with the pepper sauce here.   It’s in Ziplocs in my fridge, if anyone wants some.

With bacon-wrapped chicken breasts.  Oh, man!

Pan-fried pork chops!
If you are a lover of sweet and sour and especially if you are also a lover of orange marmalade, this is the chutney for you. 

Enjoy!
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Probably Not Papa Tom’s Chicken Spaghetti


My maternal maternal great-grandfather, by which I mean my mother’s mother’s father, was a life-long employee of the railroads, the mayor of his small town of Abbeville, LA for a couple of years, the brewer of his own beer and a good cook.  His name was Thomas Fleming and we called him Papa Tom.

I don’t remember him really, although I have seen photographs and heard the stories so many times, that I feel I must.  But one thing stands out in my mind about him, who knows why these things stick and even if they are accurate, but he used to make spaghetti sauce with chicken and start with a roux.   The family called it chicken spaghetti.  Why not tomato sauce with chicken that we happen to serve over noodles?  Well, probably because that’s just too long.  

Anyhoo.  That’s what I made for dinner tonight.  Possibly it’s not anything like Papa Tom’s but it was made with him, and my grandmother and my mother, fondly in mind.

Ingredients
1 whole chicken
2 medium onions
7-8 garlic cloves
4 sprigs of rosemary or 3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of sugar
Olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
Canola oil
1/4 cup  or 30g all-purpose flour
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 can (14 oz) or 390g whole peeled tomatoes with juice
3 oz or 85 grams tomato paste

Method
Cut your chicken into the usual pieces:  Breasts, wings, legs, thighs.  I also cut the breasts into two pieces.  You may choose to do the same.  Season liberally with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Set aside.


Chop your onions and garlic into small pieces.  Pull the rosemary leaves off the stalk and mince.  If you are using bay leaves, leave them whole. 


Drizzle a good amount of olive oil in your pot and add in the two tablespoons of butter.  When it starts to sizzle, add the chicken, a few pieces at a time.  Brown on one side, then the other.  This could take as much as 10 minutes a side.




As the chicken pieces brown, remove them from the pot and set them aside on a plate.  When all the chicken is browned and on the side plate, turn off the pot.  Scrape off the lovely brown bits and heap them on the chicken plate.


Pour the oil from the pan into a heat resistance bowl and allow it to settle.  Wash the pot out thoroughly.


Pour the reserved oil from the bowl into a measuring cup, leaving behind the sediment.  Fill the measuring cup up to the 1/4 cup mark with new Canola oil.  Pour it into your clean pot and add an equal amount (1/4 cup) of flour.




Cook over a medium heat , stirring constantly, until the roux turns a medium dark brown.  Do not let it burn.




Add it the onion, garlic and rosemary or bay leaves.  Give the pot a good stir.


Add in the can of whole peeled tomatoes and the tomato paste.  Add in one can’s worth of water.


Put the chicken back in the pot and add enough water to cover.  This took one more can full.


Add a good sprinkle of salt, a good couple of grinds of fresh black pepper and the tablespoon of oregano.  Mix in the teaspoon of sugar and stir.



Bring to the boil and then simmer until the chicken is tender and trying to fall of the bone.  Serve over freshly cooked spaghetti noodles.  This is the richest tomato sauce you'll ever taste.


This cooked down and thickened for about two hours.  Just because we
had nothing better to do.  It was probably cooked and technically ready to
eat in less than 45 minutes, albeit not as thick.

Enjoy!


A P.S. to family members who would like to correct my poor childhood memory, please do!  I will add updates or retractions to this post, as need be. 


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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sticky Roasted Quail with Sausage




Today I went off shopping in search of heat.  The heater in our house stopped working again, when the new repairmen came by.  “It needs parts,” they said. “We need to speak to the landlady,” they said.  What they neglected to say was, “We also disconnected the actual working parts.  You will be cold until we can come back.  Perhaps next week.”  Well, we discovered that soon enough so, today, with authorization from the landlady, I went to look for small space heaters that would warm us until the repairmen come back.  Next week. God willing.   But since Cairo is experiencing an unusually cold winter, there were no space heaters to be found.  Or firewood, which was plan B.  I did, however, find quail!  Which kept me warm this afternoon and part of the evening because I roasted the little babies in the oven. 

Adapted from Jamie’s Great Britain.

Ingredients
4 whole quail
4 fresh sausages
4 slices of smoked bacon
6 cloves of garlic
Four stalks of fresh rosemary
Sea salt
Black pepper
Olive oil
1 – 2 tablespoons honey
Several splashes white balsamic vinegar or cider vinegar

Method
Clean your quail by cutting off all visible fat and removing any residual feathers.  Cut them up into pieces just as you would do a chicken.  Two breasts, two legs, two thighs and two wings.  I left the backbone attached to whichever pieces seemed most handy because I was not about to throw any of these small birds away.



This is for scale.  The legs compared to my teaspoon. 
Cut your sausage into 16 pieces. Cut your bacon slices into four pieces each.  Yeah, that is 16 pieces too.   Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

Crush the garlic with the side of a knife. 

Pull the leaves off of the rosemary and mince.


Pop your sausage, quail and bacon into a large bowl.  Add in the garlic and rosemary and season well with salt and pepper.  Mix thoroughly.



Drizzle generously with olive oil and mix again.  Leave to marinate for about 30 minutes.


Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375°F or 190°C.

 Skewer the quail (skin side up for all the pieces) and sausage and garlic and bacon.  One satay stick holds half a quail (one breast, one thigh, one leg and one wing) and two pieces of sausage and two pieces of bacon.  I spread the garlic around as justly as I could.



Roast in your hot oven (skin side up at first) for 20-30 minutes, turning once half way through.  

Near the end of cooking, take the tray out and turn the skin side back up.  Drizzle with a little runny honey and the vinegar.  (I did take one photo of me drizzling on the honey, but unfortunately it was really blurry.  Sorry.)  Return to the oven for a few more minutes.  Remove from the oven when sticky and caramelized.



Enjoy!


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