Macadamia-Crusted Chicken Fingers

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Macadamia nuts – if you’d like, substitute cashew nuts instead.

This is a recipe I adapted from a fish recipe, as I prefer fish in the water and not on my plate.  It’s delicious, flexible, and doesn’t really take that long to prepare.  It’s one you can get ready the evening before and let it chill until you are ready to cook.

 

Macadamia-Crusted Chicken Fingers

1 ½ lbs (675 gr.) chicken breasts, cut into thin strips

S&P t.t.

Flour for dredging

2 egg whites, lightly beaten

1 Tbs. milk

1 C. macadamia nuts, finely chopped and put into a wide, shallow bowl for coating

3 Tbs. coconut oil

 

Lemon wedges – for garnish

fresh parsley, finely chopped – for garnish

 

Beat the egg whites & milk together in a wide shallow bowl.  Season the chicken strips with S&P.  Dust each piece lightly with flour, then dip into the egg mixture, & roll gently in the finely chopped nuts to coat.  Refrigerate for  30 minutes to an hour (use that time to set the table, make your side dish of rice, etc).

When you’re ready to cook,  heat the oil in a large skillet over moderate heat & saute the strips for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until crisp & brown.  Garnish with lemon wedges dipped in chopped parsley & serve immediately with hot rice or side dish of your choice.

Homemade Sambal Manis

Sambal ManisWe love Sambal Manis, but recently the shop we’d found it in went out of business – so I had to make my own.  Sambal Manis is sweeter, milder, and with a sweet-sour taste, compared to Sambal Oelek / Ulek (there are a variety of spellings), which is basically straight chili paste.  I personally have an aversion to handling raw chillies ever since I nearly ended up in hospital to have my eyes flushed, while handling them in a Mexican restaurant I worked at!  So I used the Sambal Oelek as a basis.  I searched online for recipes, and there are quite a few, but none were very specific as far as proportions with prepared Oelek.  I experimented and noted what I did, and came up with a keeper!  It requires a few unusual ingredients, all of which I just happened to have as I do a lot of international cooking.  But if you want to make this yourself, just look for the ingredients in a good international shop, or an Asian supermarket.  It’s well worth it if you like to jazz up your meals with a bit of spicy flavour!

Homemade Sambal Manis

50 gr. Sambal Oelek /Ulek

4 Tbs. coconut sugar or palm sugar

2 tsp. Tamarind paste*

1/2 – 1 tsp. salt

 

Combine well in a non-reactive bowl (glass), making sure the sugar is mixed in well (it tends to be quite compact).  Store in a glass jar in the fridge, and enjoy!  Make sure you wash any utensils, as well as your hands, thoroughly before touching any sensitive body parts such as anywhere near your eyes!

* If you want more sour than sweet, you could add a bit more tamarind paste.

 

Schinken-Kaese Strudel

This recipe is simple, delicious, and prepared quickly.  It’s one of those meals you can throw together in minutes, and perfect for a cool evening.  The cheese you choose will determine the distinctive flavour; I tend to use a sharp cheese, such as Gruyére cheese aged in a cave, or réserve if you can’t get anything more aged.  Cheddar might have too dominant a taste, but to each his or her own!  You can always experiment!Käseschinken Strudel

Schinken-Kaese Strudel

1 Phyllo pastry dough, rectangular

2 eggs

200 gr. grated cheese of choice

1 C. cream cheese

150 gr  Ham, finely chopped

1/2 onion, finely chopped

A sprinkling each of chives, salt and pepper

A bit of cream to brush to dough

Chop the ham & onion finely, then mix the eggs, spices & cheeses into the blend.  Mound along the centre of the phyllo dough leaving the ends and sides free; wrap and press the seam together carefully, then pinch together at the ends.  Flip over, seam-side down, and brush with the cream; take a sharp knife and cut a few slits along the top of the dough to allow steam to escape.  Bake at 200°C ~20-30 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve it alone, or with either a steamed vegetable of choice, or oven fries baked on the same tray as the strudel, surrounding it (bake according to their packaging directions; it may require more or less time than the strudel, so you may need to add one or the other seperately to time it well).

Afghani Mourgh (Afghani Lemon & Garlic Chicken) with Mint Couscous

Afghani Mourgh & Mint CouscousThis is a recipe I made on Sunday, and it was delicious!  This is a great recipe for trying out the Salted Lemons, and it was a success.  If you’re like me and only come up with these glorious cooking schemes a few hours before you need it for dinner, you can skip the overnight marinating, and just get it marinating as soon as you can.  It’s a simple dish, refreshing, and a nice change of pace!

TIP:  If you don’t have any fresh mint on hand, take a bag or two of peppermint tea (after all, it’s dried mint in a bag!), tear them open and pour them in.  I used both fresh mint, and 1 bag each (for the meat, and the couscous) for the meal.

Serve this with fresh plain yogurt, and hot peppermint tea.

Afghani Mourgh (Afghani Lemon & Garlic Chicken)

2 lg Cloves garlic

1 Tbs. finely chopped Salted Lemons (OR:  ½ tsp. Salt plus Juice & pulp of 1 large fresh lemon, 3 to 4 Tbs.)

2 C. Plain, whole-milk yogurt

black pepper (amount to taste)

2 lg Whole chicken breasts, about 2 pounds (boneless and skinless).  You can either use them whole, or slice them into strips.

a small handful of fresh mint sprigs, washed and finely chopped (leaves and stem)

1/2 an onion, finely diced

 

Chop up the salted lemons into half-pea-sized bits.  Any juice that comes with it can be poured into the marinating bowl, and add a bit more from the preserves jar if needed.  If you haven’t yet made the salted lemons, then simply add the salt and lemon as above.  Finely chop a couple cloves of garlic, and stir all together.  For a finer mixture, mash them together with the back of a spoon until you have a paste.

Add the plain yogurt & pepper, then the chopped peppermint and onion.

Skin the chicken breasts, remove all visible fat & separate the halves, or slice as you like it.

Turn the meat into the marinade, and stir until well-coated. Cover the bowl tightly & refrigerate. If you thought of it ahead of time, allow it to marinate at least overnight, up to a day & a half. Turn when you think of it.  Otherwise, let it marinade as long as possible.

To cook, remove breasts from marinade & wipe off all but a thin film. Broil or grill about 6 inches from the heat for 6 to 8 minutes a side, or until thoroughly cooked. Meat will brown somewhat but should not char. Once the meat is slightly brown, pour in the marinade and allow it to cook down somewhat.

Serves 2-4

Mint Couscous

2 C. uncooked couscous

1/2 an onion, finely diced

a small handful of fresh mint sprigs and leaves, washed and finely chopped

2 to 2 1/2 C. boiling water

 

In a heat-proof bowl, pour in the uncooked couscous, then stir in the onion and mint; add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour in the boiling water, stir quickly, and cover.  When the liquid is absorbed, fluff the couscous with a fork and test; if it needs more boiling water, or flavouring, adjust accordingly.