Spiced Chicken Pilau

Here’s another favourite recipe of mine; it’s a great crockpot / slow cooker meal – just toss it in, give it an occasional stir, and enjoy!  I prepare and serve the rice separately rather than including it in the mix, but to each his or her own…

If you’re not yet acquainted with Fenugreek, it’s about time!  It’s an amazing little spice that adds a unique flavour to Indian and Asian cuisine.  Hard as a rock, these are NOT something you want to toss in at the last minute!  But given time to cook into the menu, they release an aromatic bouquet of flavours that you’ll wonder how you’ve lived this long without.


Fenugreek Seeds

Spiced Chicken Pilau

¼ C. ghee (lard or butter)

1 bundle of spring onions, thinly sliced

500g chicken meat, diced

½ tsp. turmeric*

2 C. rice

3 ¾ C. chicken stock

5 green cardamom pods, crushed, seed extracted*

½ tsp. cinnamon*

4 whole cloves*

½ tsp. fenugreek seeds*

salt t.t.

1 can peas

½ C. unsalted cashews*

½ C. golden raisins*

Crockpot Method:

Toss it all together, stir well, and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or medium to low for 6-8 hours.  Before serving, prepare the rice separately, and serve together hot.  For topping, you could coarsely crush a handful of raw cashew nuts to sprinkle on top.

Pan Method:

Sauté meat & onions; add turmeric & rice, sauté a few minutes.  Stir in stock & spices; bring to a boil, simmer 20 minutes.  Add the peas cashews & raisins, simmer 10 minutes, then fluff the rice.

[*Spices need to be kept in proportion to each other if you increase the amounts for a larger meal…]

Substitutes for Ingredients in the Kitchen

IngredientsIf you’re like me, you don’t always have the exact ingredients available.  There are some things that I simply don’t bother purchasing, like buttermilk, when I can make it myself in the shake of a lamb’s tail.  Here is a short list of ingredients and their substitutes, to keep on hand for your next baking spree.

1 tsp. BAKING POWDER       =  ½ tsp. cream of tarter + ¼ tsp. baking soda

1 C. BUTTERMILK                = 1 tsp. lemon juice or vinegar + enough milk to measure 1 C.

1 C. CAKE FLOUR                 = 7/8 C. all–purpose flour

1 Tbs. CORNSTARCH            = 2 Tbs. all–purpose flour

¾ C. CRACKER CRUMBS        = 1 C. bread crumbs

1 C. DARK CORN SYRUP        = ¾ C. light corn syrup + ¼ C. molasses

1 GARLIC CLOVE, minced      = 1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. GARLIC SALT              = 1/8 tsp. garlic powder + 7/8 tsp. salt

1 C. HALF & HALF CREAM      = 1 Tbs. melted butter + enough whole milk =1 C.

1 C. HONEY                        = 1 ¼ C. sugar + ¼ C. liquid

1 tsp. LEMON JUICE             = ¼ tsp. cider vinegar

1 tsp. LEMON PEEL              = ½ tsp. lemon extract

1 C. LIGHT CORN SYRUP       = 1 C. sugar + 1 C. liquid

1 C. MOLASSES                    = 1 C. honey

1 ONION (SMALL), CHOPPED = 1 tsp. onion powder or 1 Tbs. dried minced onion

1 Tbs. PREPARED MUSTARD  = ½ tsp. ground mustard + 2 tsp. vinegar

1 UNSWEETENED CHOCOLATE SQUARE (1 oz.)       = 3 Tbs. cocoa + 1 Tbs. shortening or oil

1 SEMISWEET CHOCOLATE SQUARE (1 oz.)     = 3 Tbs. semisweet chocolate chips or 1 square (1 oz.)  unsweetened chocolate + 1 Tbs. sugar

1 SQUARE CHOCOLATE         = 3 Tbs. cocoa + 1 Tbs. shortening

1 C. SOUR CREAM                 = 1 C. plain yogurt

1 C. SUGAR                          = 1 C. packed brown sugar or 2 C. sifted confectioners sugar

2 tsp. TAPIOCA                    = 1 Tbs. all–purpose flour

1 C. TOMATO JUICE              = ½ C. tomato sauce + ½ C. water

2 C. TOMATO SAUCE            = ¾ C. tomato paste + 1 C. water

1 C. WHOLE MILK                 = ½ C. evaporated milk + ½ C. water

1 tsp.  DRIED ORANGE PEEL   = 1 tsp.  fresh grated. 2 tsp.  dried orange peel equals 1 tsp.  orange extract

°   BAKING POWDER doesn’t last forever.  If you are not sure how old yours is, just drop a generous pinch into a little warm water.  If it fizzles or bubbles it is still good.  If it sinks to the bottom of the glass, toss it out, it’s past its prime.

Clone Bisquick & Basic Recipe

For those of us living in every other country on the planet except the USA, we have a wide variety of international products available to us, though there are still a few American products that have either not been successful outside of the US, or for which we’ve at length found a better solution.  This is one such product:  Bisquick.  If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s a pre-mix for baking everything from plain bisquits to pie doughs to crumbles, both sweet and savoury varieties as it’s a neutral mixture.  It was discovered in the 1930s when a sales exec from General Mills was in a train’s dining car, complimented the chef on his biscuits, and the chef unwittingly gave the recipe away – which was then patented and produced by General Mills and the Betty Crocker label.  For me the greatest advantage of making it myself is that I know EXACTLY what’s in it – no chemicals, no preservatives other than the natural ingredients of salt compounds.  So without further ado, here’s that train chef’s recipe:

Bisquick Biscuit

Perfect, fluffy homemade biscuits that melt in your mouth fresh from the oven!

Clone Bisquick

4 C. flour

1/2 C. +  2 Tbs. (250 gr.) nonfat dry milk

2 Tbs. baking powder

1/2 Tbs. salt

1 C. shortening

Combine flour, milk, baking powder & salt. Cut in shortening with a couple forks until the mixture is fine and “packable”, like wet sand.  Store in tightly closed container in cool place.

Uses for this recipe can be googled.  Here’s the easiest, and one I made this past week:


1½ C. Clone Baking Mix

1/3 C. milk in a bowl

Mix, knead lightly on floured board. Roll ½” thick; cut & place on ungreased baking sheet.  If you are in a hurry or don’t like kneading, you can increase the milk to ½ C. for drop biscuits & simply drop the dough by heaping tablespoons onto a baking sheet.

Bake 10 minutes at 230°C (450°F).

Options: Add grated cheese, chopped herbs, or a tablespoon or two of Ranch dressing powder (or any powder mix – soup, dressing, sauce, etc.).

Homemade Smoked Almonds

I’ve made this recipe many a time, and they are always delcious!  You can find liquid smoke and smoked salt online at various shops.  I keep a generous supply on hand, as these are addictive, and “stink einfach” (dead easy) to make!  I just ran out (they evaporated, honest), so I’ll be making these again this week!  My mouth is watering just thinking about it…


Smoked Almonds

Smoked Almonds

2 C. unblanched almonds

½ C. liquid smoke

Smoked salt – amount to taste – experiment, and add more while the almonds are warm

Soak almonds in liquid smoke for 20 minutes. Drain well. Spread almonds on a baking sheet and toast in a very slow oven, 250°F (120°C), until crisp (about one hour). While nuts are hot and still a bit damp, salt to taste. Drain on paper towels. Makes 1 pint smoked nuts. These keep well stored in tightly covered jar.