Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Spicy Tangy Sticky Kumquat Chutney

When kumquats are in season, may you be blessed either with a tree that produces the little orange orbs or a generous neighbor with one. This chutney is sweet and spicy with just the right amount of vinegar bite to make it spoonable over everything, from chicken to pork chops to fish.

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.

Spicy Tangy Sticky Kumquat Chutney recipe - Click here to print

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

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. 

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.

Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn the fire down. Be careful at the beginning because the sugar really makes it bubble up. You do not want this to boil over!

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.

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 is 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. Instead I stored in Ziplocs in my fridge.

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. If you like things extra spicy, you might also want to try my nectarine kumquat habanero chutney!


Friday, January 27, 2012

Probably Not Papa Tom’s Chicken Spaghetti

Chicken spaghetti is a rich tomato sauce made with a dark roux base and chicken, served over your favorite pasta. This is the richest sauce ever. Delicious!

Food Lust People Love: Chicken spaghetti is a rich tomato sauce made with a dark roux base and chicken, served over your favorite pasta. This is the richest sauce ever. Delicious!
My 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, Wanda Fleming Gautreaux, and my mother, fondly in mind.

Chicken Spaghetti

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

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.

Food Lust People Love: Chicken spaghetti is a rich tomato sauce made with a dark roux base and chicken, served over your favorite pasta. This is the richest sauce ever. Delicious!
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.

Food Lust People Love: Chicken spaghetti is a rich tomato sauce made with a dark roux base and chicken, served over your favorite pasta. This is the richest sauce ever. Delicious!

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.

UPDATE - 11 September 2018: Almost six years after I posted this, I received an email from one of my third cousins. Marty confirmed that his mom Jo Ann also made chicken spaghetti with a roux but that she would never, ever put rosemary in it! I am concluding that Papa Tom probably wouldn't have either. 

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.

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

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.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Zazu’s Nudder Budders (Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies)

Peanut butter cookies with peanut butter filling. Homemade and so much better than Nutter-Butters. And I adore those so that's really saying something! 

Last Monday I had a company spouses’ potluck lunch to which I had been kindly invited.  But first, there was my new ladies Bible study, which meets on Monday mornings, so I thought the best the lunch plan would be to bring something sweet that wouldn’t require reheating.  This was one of the first recipes I tabbed in Fried Chicken and Champagne because as a child, I adored Nutter Butter Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies.   A homemade version seemed like a great idea.  I halved the original recipe and still got a nice plateful of more than two dozen filled cookies. 

(If I had only realized that higher-level math would be involved in halving the recipe for posting here, I might have reconsidered.  While I could take the amount 1 1/4 cups of peanut butter and happily mix in half of 1 cup which equals 1/2 cup and then half of 1/4 and mix in 1/8 cup, it didn’t seem very professional to make you all do that too.  So I had to add fractions!   No comments – that is higher level math for me. : ) I will not make you do math if you want to make the original recipe so I will add a little note at the bottom with the original amounts.  To my fellow math phobes, you are welcome.  And I hope you have a 1/8 cup measure like I do.  Or a scale.)

Ingredients for the cookie dough
5/8 cup (1/2 +1/8 cup) or 155g peanut butter
1/4 cup or 55g butter
1/8 cup or 25g brown sugar
3/8 cup (1/4 + 1/8 cup) or 85g sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup or 80g flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Ingredients for the filling
1 1/2 cups or 375g peanut butter
2 cups or 250g powdered or confectioners sugar
3/4 cup or 175ml cream

Method for cookies
Cream together your butter, brown sugar and white sugar.   Add in the peanut butter and beat again.

Add in the egg and beat until thoroughly mixed.

Add in the flour, salt and baking soda and beat again.  

Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Using two pieces of parchment paper, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch or a little more than 1/2cm thickness.  My brown sugar had lumps that I couldn't seem to get rid of.  Your dough will probably not be speckled.  I told myself the specks add character. 

Remove the top piece of parchment and cut the dough with your cookie cutter, flouring it lightly first with each cut.  As you can see, I only had a glass.  Those cookies looked way too big for how rich they were going to be when filled so I cut them in half with a sharp knife.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 325°F or 165°C.

Pop the whole parchment (on a cookie sheet or tray or other flat surface) in the freezer for about 10 minutes.  This makes the cookies much easier to remove in one piece.

Transfer the cookies to another piece of parchment on a cookie tray.  Bake for 13-18 minutes or until golden.   (Mine took 13 minutes.)

Continue rolling and cutting and freezing and transferring the cookie dough to a parchment lined baking tray until all the cookies are baked.  Allow them to cool.

While they are baking, you can make the filling.

Method for filling
Cream together the powdered sugar and peanut butter until very smooth.

Add in the cream, while beating.  Set aside.

Give your helper the empty plastic peanut butter jar to clean out. 

Check out that long pink tongue. Very impressive. 

Once the cookies are cool, spread them out with one half up and one half down.  Using a spoon and knife, heap the filling on the upside and spread gently.  Add the downside cookie on to the top to complete the sandwich.  ( I tried to put a generous amount on each, but I still had quite a bit of filling left over.)

There were 27 filled cookies in all. 
 Enjoy with a cold glass of milk!

Afternote:  The original ingredient amounts

1 1/4 cups or 310g peanut butter
1/2 cup or 110g butter
1/4 cup or 50g brown sugar
3/4 cup or 170g sugar
1 egg
1 1/3 cups or 160g flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups or 750g peanut butter
4 cups powdered or 500g confectioners sugar
1 1/2 cups or 350ml cream