Another month begins, a favorite of mine because April means winter is OVER! I survived another meteorological ordeal, and must confess it wasn’t that bad. HA! Am I getting tougher or what? The first Monday of the month brings Reveal Day of Group A from The Secret Recipe Club, so here I am to divulge which blog was my assignment. Drum roll, please…. I got the amazing Thyme for Cooking blog, hosted by Katie. Now, for a shocking statement: I would cook ANY of her recipes, each and every one appealed to me. She is one eclectic cook, having lived in several countries (Ireland, Andorra & France), but not only that, her writing captivates you. I opened a huge smile when I read her About page, and stumbled on this simple paragraph:
From learning about French paperwork (exhausting) to French chickens (of course they come with feet, Duh!) it’s a constant, often / usually entertaining challenge.
Well, I love France, don’t even think I don’t. But until you face the convoluted French bureaucracy, you’ll know nothing about paperwork hell. Unless of course, you’ve lived in Brazil… Those two beautiful countries could compete to see which bureaucracy would drive a foreigner crazy first. I have a tough time deciding the “winner.” But, I digress… Her site kept me glued to the computer for many hours on many evenings. I blamed it for preventing me from sitting down with Phil to watch the news. “Are you coming, Sally?” “I can’t… I can’t… I have Thyme for Cooking, so No Thyme for News.” Just to give you an idea of her level of sophistication, she’s got 9 recipes for cornish hens. Nine. I almost lost my mind trying to decide what to cook, here is a very short list: Ham, Spinach and Avocado Clafoutis…. Shrimp and Spinach Pie... Chicken with Chickpeas and Preserved Lemon…. Zucchini-Courgette Gratin... Chicken with Tarragon Cream… Slow-cooker Coq au Vin... (almost made it for this reveal day, as I also got a slow-cooker recently). And so many more, I simply had to stop bookmarking them. I had no choice but to make two, one savory, one sweet. For savory I went with her Chicken Korma, and for dessert (well, not quite, I made it one week later), her Absolute Best Brownies.
CHICKEN KORMA WITH APRICOTS AND ALMONDS
(slightly adapted from Thyme for Cooking)
3 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut into slices 3 pieces
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 shallot, chopped
1 piece of ginger, about 1/2 inch long, finely minced
1 tbs olive oil
2 bay leaves
5 cardamom pods
4 whole cloves
1 inch of a cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp tomato paste
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
3oz (90gr) dried apricots, cut in half
1/2 cup chicken stock
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bay leaves, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and stir-fry 10 seconds. Add shallot and fry until tender and starting to brown. Reduce heat to medium, add ginger, cumin, coriander and stir-fry 2 minutes longer. Add tomato paste and stir well to combine.
Add chicken pieces, ground almonds, chicken stock and heat to simmering. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add yogurt to chicken and stir well to combine. Add apricots, cover and simmer for 10 minutes longer.
Serve over white rice.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: We loved this recipe! The magical ingredient is definitely cardamon. Every time I open the bottle of cardamon pods I get mesmerized by the smell. The delicate taste they impair to any dish, savory or sweet, is hard to beat. The ground almonds (or almond meal, depending on what is available to you) give the sauce extra body and make it feel substantial and filling. Finally, the apricots bring the bit of sweetness and a pleasant chewy texture. Three chicken breasts were enough for our dinner and lunch a couple of days later. I should add that the sauce was even more flavorful the second time around, although the texture of the meat was better right after cooking. Overall, this korma is not spicy, just very aromatic. We enjoyed it over white rice with snap peas alongside. Delicious dinner!
Just make sure you don’t bite into the cloves! Find them and put them aside…
And now, for the bonus recipe:
ABSOLUTE BEST BROWNIES
(from Thyme for Cooking)
for the brownie:
6 tbs butter, plus a bit more for the pan
8oz dark chocolate, in chunks
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup flour
1 cup walnuts, chopped
for the glaze:
4oz (120gr) dark chocolate, in chunks
1/2 cup heavy cream
Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
Line the inside of an 8-inch square pan with 2 lengths of foil, laying them perpendicular to each other and folding the edges over to form handles. Lightly butter the foil.
In a medium saucepan melt the butter over low heat, add the chocolate. Stir constantly until melted.
Remove pan from heat, add sugar, vanilla and stir well. Add eggs and beat well with a medium-size wooden spoon.
Add the flour and beat vigorously for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Better should be shiny and smooth. Stir in the nuts, and pour the batter into the pan.
Bake for 30 minutes. The center should be almost set. Do not over-bake. Cool brownies completely in the pan. As the brownie cools, make the glaze by heating the cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the chocolate and stir until just melted.
Lift the brownies out of the pan and loosen the foil on the sides and bottom. Transfer to a plate. Pour the glaze over the top and smooth to the edges. When the glaze is cool, cut into small squares and serve.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: You will find this to be a very popular recipe (original from David Lebovitz). Many bloggers have made it, not always successfully, in the sense that for some these did not turn out as “absolute best.” Well, it is all in the technique. For this recipe to work its magic you absolutely MUST beat the batter for at least a full minute, probably two minutes is better. I considered adding the batter to a KitchenAid but ended up beating by hand. Good workout for the right arm, I can tell you that… The brownies turned out great, I think the walnuts worked perfectly well with the chocolate, but if you do a google search you’ll find that the basic recipe can be adapted to all sorts of add-ons, one that seems quite popular is mint. Just crush some mint candy and add to the batter after you beat it into submission. I took the brownies to our department on a foggy and a bit chilly Monday morning. They made many colleagues forget the Monday blues.
Katie, I will be a faithful follower of your blog, and hope you had as much joy with your assignment this month as I had with mine…
For my readers, make sure to click on the blue extra-terrestrial looking frog at the end of this post, so you can marvel at the productions of my fellow secret recipe friends.
ONE YEAR AGO: Josey Baker’s Olive Bread
TWO YEARS AGO: Almonds, A Cookbook Review
THREE YEAR AGO: Pomegranate-Molasses Glazed Carrots
FOUR YEARS AGO: Codruta’s Rolled Oat Sourdough Bread
FIVE YEARS AGO: Roasted Corn and Tomato Risotto
SIX YEARS AGO: Light Rye Bread