CHICKEN & ZUCCHINI STIR-FRY

Zucchini is a delicious vegetable but pretty tricky to stir-fry, as it can go mushy super quickly. Today I share a recipe that deals with this problem and results in a nice one-pot meal, flavorful and easy to put together. Just keep in mind you’ll need 30 minutes to draw the juices out of the zucchini slices, which is about the same time the chicken will need to marinate. Perfect timing!

ORIENTAL-STYLE CHICKEN AND ZUCCHINI STIR-FRY
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

3 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons salt
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1/2 inch pieces

to marinate the meat:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cornstarch

for stir-fry:
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 bell pepper, sliced thin
1/2 Serrano pepper, finely minced
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp cornstarch
salt to taste
roasted peanuts, about 1/3 cup
fresh cilantro leaves to serve

Prepare the zucchini by adding it to a large bowl and sprinkling the salt all over. Leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes. Rinse briefly to remove the salt, dry the slices over paper towel. They are now ready to use.

Marinate the chicken by mixing sherry, soy sauce, cornstarch and baking soda in a small bowl, and adding to the meat. Leave it for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Make the finishing sauce by mixing water, hoisin, soy, sesame oil and cornstarch. Reserve.

Heat the oil on a wok, add the chicken pieces and fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove to a bowl, add more oil if needed, sauté the bell pepper and Serrano pepper for a couple of minutes, seasoning lightly with salt. Increase the heat to high, add the zucchini slices, move them around for 10 seconds or so, add the chicken back, stir fry everything together for a minute. Add the finishing sauce, and heat it all together until it thickens slightly. Add peanuts, cilantro, and serve over steamed white rice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I really like the fact that marinating the meat and prepping the zucchini takes the same amount of time. Once that is out of the way, dinner will be ready in minutes, and all textures will be perfect. The zucchini cooks so quickly that you can also add it together with the finishing sauce and just heat it for a few minutes until it all thickens, making it even simpler. If you like more heat, add Sriracha or any other type of chili oil. Of course, for most people garlic and onion sauté with the bell peppers will be great too. As I always say, your kitchen, your rules… But definitely give this a try, you will not look at zucchini stir-fry the same way…

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MEET THE PRINCE!

We are thrilled to introduce you to our new family member, Prince Freckles. Prince was born on June 12th, and joined our home 24 hours ago. Having a puppy is like falling in love with a special someone. Everything makes you smile, fills your heart with joy, and you cannot quite understand how you’ve lived your life without that being as part of it. We are absolutely smitten by this bundle of energy. His heart-shaped nose, his delicate black spots very similar to those of our dear BogeyQT. In less than 24 hours he learned to go down the two steps from kitchen to TV room, which scared him beyond belief at first. He almost did a full body flip the first time, and how we wish we had captured it on video! The images are already so many, as I type this post they fly through my mind and I cannot stop smiling. We needed him. And he is here. Welcome to the Bewitching Kitchen, Little Prince!

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE: KOREAN CHICKEN THIGHS

Mix a few ingredients, marinate the chicken. Grill. Done. It will go into our rotation, which tells you how much we loved it. Spicy to the right level. Sweet to the right level. Tender and moist.

KOREAN CHICKEN THIGHS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons Gochujang sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste

Mix all ingredients for the marinade, whisking them well. Add the pieces of chicken and move them around to coat each piece with the marinade. Leave it in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

Sprinkle a little more salt on the pieces of meat and grill until done, about 7 minutes per side, depending on how hot your grill gets.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Two of my best buddies are Gochujang and Sriracha. I like to drizzle Sriracha over turkey burgers or other things ready to eat, but Gochujang I prefer to cook with. I find it a bit too strong on its own. In this marinade it is the dominant flavor, but unless you really dislike spicy food, it is not overpowering. I was quite amazed by how tasty leftovers turned out even when tortured fora couple of minutes in the microwave. We had them with air-fried zucchini (which I did not do a good job, over-crowded the basket and they turned out mushy), and British-style roasted potatoes (Sally pats herself on the back, they were perfect).

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BANANA BREAD FROM THE EXPERTS

This is a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, the folks who test every single variable in a recipe multiple times until they come up with perfection. With the best. Or, as they called this one, The Ultimate Banana Bread. They’ve been known to go after food bloggers who either share their recipes without permission, or tweak their versions. I find the tweaking part a bit funny. Taste is so subjective that adjusting any recipe to suit the palate is what any cook should be doing…

THE ULTIMATE BANANA BREAD

The recipe is available online, so you can get it with a jump here. I actually did not see that review until after making the recipe, but I read it smiling all the way through… It turns out that I removed all the fuss and no major harm was done.

As the folks at thekitchn mentioned, the addition of turbinado sugar on top is brilliant. I actually added it in two installments, first right before placing in the oven…

And the second time another sprinkle just over the bananas when the bread had been baking for 40 minutes. I baked for a total of 55 minutes, in a 9 x 5 inch pan. The other tweaking I did was using frozen bananas without worrying about draining excess liquid. I also measured the amount of mashed bananas that went into the bread, as the fruit varies so much in size: 600g of banana pulp. One single fresh banana was used for the slices on top. Doing that, the recipe is really super simple, two bowls, one for dry ingredients, one for wet. Done.

Keep in mind that going at the sugary crust to peel it off and eat it is considered a faux-pas. Stealing extra slices of banana and running away? Equally distasteful. What you should do is make this recipe, available online in the link I provided or in this cookbook. Tweaking is optional. Your kitchen, your rules!

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KASHMIRI CHICKEN THIGHS

This is a pressure cooker (or Instant Pot) recipe. I am afraid that to get the texture of the meat and depth of flavor in the sauce just right, you’ll need to use it. Also, don’t be tempted to keep the skin on the chicken thighs, because they will make the sauce very fatty and heavy. So take a deep breath and remove it.

KASHMIRI CHICKEN THIGHS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium shallots, minced
4 whole cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tsp kashmiri chili
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
5 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
1 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup yogurt, full-fat
1 tsp cornstarch
fresh cilantro, to serve

Heat the oil in a pressure cooker (or your Instant Pot using the sauté function), add the shallots, cardamon pods, cinnamon stick and salt. Cook until the shallots are soft and fragrant. Add the ginger, tomato paste, chili, cumin, and paprika. Cook for about 1 minute, add 1 cup of water, gently stir, then add the chicken pieces.

Close the pan and cook in full pressure for 12 minutes, then let the pressure reduce naturally for 15 minutes. Release any pressure left (running water over the lid or doing whatever method is called for in the Instant Pot), open the pan and remove the chicken pieces to a serving bowl, keeping it tented with foil. Remove the cinnamon stick and cardamon pods, then reduce the sauce by simmering for 10 to 15 minutes. Mix the yogurt with cornstarch, add to the simmering sauce, return the chicken to the pan, and simmer it all together for a few minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Sprinkle fresh cilantro. Serve over rice or with your favorite side dish.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Kashmiri chili is a great spice, with subtle heat and unique flavor. The pressure cooker does a wonderful job tenderizing the meat and allowing the sauce to develop that complex taste usually reserved for things cooked for hours and hours. Adding a little amount of cornstarch to the yogurt prevents it from separating during simmering, and gives a velvety texture I am quite fond of. If you rather not use it, whisk the yogurt as you pour it into the pan, and avoid cooking for very long. The sauce will be obviously a lot thinner, but still taste wonderful.

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