Hunter’s Beef Stew

Hunter’s Beef Stew

If I’ve learned anything from the recent recent lock downs due to the deadly virus it’s to make family meals using whatever is on hand.

For many of us lock downs are soon to be a thing of the past if your state hasn’t reopened already.  But the treat of more lock downs may still loom in our future.  Such is our new normal, at least until a vaccine or a cure can be found.  In my opinion that’s a big reason to not forget the lessons we learned thus far.

I’m fortunate enough to live in Hawaii, a state which hasn’t seen the devastation COVID-19 has wielded across the other 48 states that we refer to as the mainland.  I’m not sure if it was our politicians’ prompt stay at home order which began on March 23, our health department’s mandatory 14 day quarantine of incoming travelers, our small population with less high density areas, or our isolated location which kept us from the widespread suffering experienced by the other states.  I’m prone to think it was a combination of all these factors.  But whatever the case maybe the virus was no more real or frightening for us on the islands as it was for our fellow citizens on the mainland.

Our fears heightened by 24/7 news reports and social media posts spurred many citizens to stand in long lines in search of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and disinfectants just like our mainland counter parts.  Fortunately for our family we didn’t wait in long lines searching for basic necessities.  My daughter whose family lives in Northern Italy had been in lock down since February, she had urged us to stock up on food and other necessities weeks before US cases and deaths piled up.  She had warned that it was only a matter of time before we faced the same issues they faced in Europe.  Luckily we listened.  We had shopped in early March, doubling and sometimes tripling what we normally purchased.  Another plus was having an extra freezer and pantry.

Before the lock down began and we were stocking up our homes and kitchens we had decided that the plan was to have enough of everything so that during the lock down we just had to replenish a few things such as fresh fruits and veggies. During the lock down we’d have lists of what we ran out of which made our grocery trips faster and more efficient; we’d also wait until the list was pretty long before heading to the store.

Because we shopped less frequently and when we did shop not everything on the list was always available, we did run short of a few things.  Which is why some of our favorite dishes had to be altered to make use of what we had on hand.

One of the easiest dishes to adapt to ingredients you have on hand is stew.  I never really had to plan on making stew, I’ve pretty much use ingredients I found in my fridge and pantry.  And in a pandemic stews are one of the best comfort foods to serve.

So during the lock down I made Hunters’ Stew.  I call it that because I basically “hunt” for ingredients in my kitchen and toss them together to make my stew.  So here’s my hunters’ stew “recipe”, feel free to substitute ingredients based on your tastes and what’s on hand.

Ingredients:

Meat – beef, chicken, lamb, or no meat at all – cut meat into large chunks

Veggies – any combination of veggies such as potatoes, carrots, celery, okra, etc.

Flour for dredging

Salt & Pepper

2 Tbs. Oil

Garlic – fresh or powder

Oregano, basil, thyme, bay leaf, or Italian seasoning

Stock or broth – use the same broth as your meat – if you’re making beef stew then use beef broth, etc.

2 Cans tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes (you can even use tomato paste if that’s all you have – if you use paste you may have to use more liquid)

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pot.

Mix salt, pepper, flour together.

Coat meat in flour mixture, shake off excess flour and place in pot.

Cook until all sides of meat are browned.

Add garlic and other spices.

Add broth and veggies and stir well.

Lower heat to simmer.

Cook covered until potatoes are cooked.

Add tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes.

Cover and simmer until meat is tender.

Serve hot.

Store leftovers in the fridge.

Reheated left over stew is usually tastier than fresh stew!


Hunter's Beef Stew
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Chicken & Spinach in Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce

Chicken & Spinach in Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce

Looking for something easy and delicious to make for dinner tonight?  How about this one skillet Chicken and Spinach in Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce?

It’s very simple to make using ingredients you probably have in your kitchen.  It has meat, veggies, and dairy and when served with a whole wheat pasta your grains are covered too!

I use fresh Basil leaves from my Kitchen Garden and I use chicken thighs because I believe the thighs tend to be juicier, but if you want less fat then use chicken breasts, but pound them into thin pieces so they will cook faster and not get dry.  I can whip this up in less than a half hour and my family loves it.

Chicken & Spinach in Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce

Ingredients:

2 Lbs. Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs

2 Tbs. Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

1 Cup Tomato Sauce

1 Tbs. Fresh Garlic, minced

1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

1 Cup Fresh Spinach Leaves

5-6 Fresh Sweet Basil Leaves (try to use Sweet Basil, Thai Basil has a stronger flavor)

Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese for Topping

Pasta or your preferred starch

Directions:

Pat chicken dry with paper towel and sprinkle both sides with salt & pepper

Heat Olive Oil in a large skillet

When oil is hot add chicken and cook until both sides are seared about 5 minutes per side

Remove chicken to a plate and set aside

In your now empty skillet add tomato sauce, garlic, and cream

Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low to simmer sauce

Stir in Spinach and cook until wilted

Stir in Basil leaves

Return chicken to skillet and raise heat to medium

Cook chicken in the sauce until it is fully cooked, make sure there is no more pink in the thickest part of the thigh

Remove from heat and sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese.  Serve with a side of pasta or your starch of choice.

I goes great with Poor Man’s Pasta – that’s a simple dish of spaghetti or any type of pasta that’s tossed in butter and garlic.  Sprinkled with parmesan it’s very tasty!


Chicken & Spinach in Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce
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Asian Garlic Fried Chicken

Asian Garlic Fried Chicken

garlic fried chickenHave you ever tried an Asian style fried chicken?  It’s got many names including Korean Fried Chicken, Garlic Fried Chicken, and Mochiko Chicken, just to name a few.

But whatever you call it the taste is very similar and the recipes are pretty much the same.  And of course it’s delicious!  It’s slightly sweet, slightly salty garlicy chicken pieces that are delicately battered and fried to a crisp chicken that’s tender and juicy on the inside.  In short it’s perfect!

Serve it hot over a bed of hot steamed rice or a stack of noodles.   A crisp fresh salad of greens makes a great addition.  Or serve it as a nice lunch on a bed of mixed greens and drizzle with the homemade garlic sauce.

For the tastiest Asian Garlic Fried Chicken make the sauce ahead of time and marinate your chicken pieces in some of the sauce overnight in the fridge.  Also this recipe uses boneless skinless chicken thighs not breasts which tend to be less tasty and dry.

My family loves this delicious chicken dish I’m sure yours will too!

garlic fried chicken
Asian Garlic Fried Chicken
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garlic fried chicken
Asian Garlic Fried Chicken
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Ingredients
Garlic Sauce/Marinade
Fried Chicken
Servings:
Instructions
Sauce/Marinade
  1. Combine sauce/marinade ingredients in a sauce pan remember to reserve 1/2 of the green onions and sesame seeds.
  2. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat.
  3. Simmer until sugar is dissolved and sauce thickens slightly, about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Chicken
  1. Marinate cubed chicken in about 1/4 of the cooled marinade/sauce overnight in the fridge.
  2. When ready to cook combine flour, corn starch, salt & pepper.
  3. Shake excess marinade off chicken cubes and dredge in flour mixture.
  4. Deep Fry and drain on paper towel.
  5. Place fried chicken in a bowl and toss in the remaining sauce.
  6. Garnish with remaining chopped green onion and sesame seeds and serve.
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Mansaf – Middle Eastern Lamb Dish

Mansaf – Middle Eastern Lamb Dish

mensaf Mansaf, Fatiyeh, or Fatihah this traditional middle eastern lamb stew in yogurt sauce is a big part of Arabic cuisine.  It is a favorite dish for large gatherings including weddings and engagement parties.  In short it plays a large part in Middle Eastern hospitality.

In my experience folks in the Arab world are very hospitable and generous. Rolling out a huge tray of Mansaf is a sign of respect and welcome to anyone visiting an Arab home whether it be in Jordan, Dubai, Europe, or America.

But of course this traditional dish has several names depending on the country or even city one is in.  In most countries like Jordan and Lebanon it’s called Mansaf; it’s the same dish Palestinians from the West Bank call Fatiyeh or Fatihah and those who hail closer to the larger cities call Mensaf.  Whatever it’s called it’s basically the same dish with a few regional additions to the toppings.

So what is Mansaf?  It’s a dish typically made with Lamb that’s simmered in a yogurt sauce made from reconstituted “Chisitch/Kishk/Jameed” (fermented or dried sheeps’ milk yogurt.)  Then the meat and sauce are served on a bed of torn unleavened bread like Shrak or pita and rice.  The whole dish can be topped with fresh parsley and sprinkled with toasted pine nuts; or as I’ve been taught by some of my Palestinian husband’s friends a ring of fried onions and tomatoes.

Really the secret ingredient, or not so secret, is the Chisitch.  Okay it’s not the easiest thing to get your hands on.  I usually get the dried balls of Chisitch from my husband’s relatives who travel to and from the Middle East or my sister-in-law who actually makes it!  I’ve also been able to buy it from a market in Oman during one of my trips there.  But you might be able to find it at a middle eastern market where it’s usually called Kishk or Jameed.  It’s available in liquid or powder form.  Or you can believe it or not order it from Amazon by clicking this affiliate link!   

If all else fails and you simply can not get a hold of Chisitch/Kishk/Jameed then use Buttermilk!  Yes the carton you find in your grocer’s diary section.  Good old fashioned buttermilk, the stuff you can use to make Buttermilk pancakes and biscuits!

If you’re using balls of chisitch from where ever you must reconstitute it – meaning soak the balls in water overnight, then place all of it in your blender until it is liquified.  You might need to add water to the blender to get the liquid you need.

If you’re using powdered kishk or jameed then dissolve it in water.  Obviously the easiest one to use would be liquid jameed or buttermilk.

Whichever one you use the real secret is to keep the jameed or kishk liquid from curdling when you add it to your meat.  To do that you must temper it by slowly stirring the liquid into a little bit of lamb broth.  This brings the temperature of the jameed up to the temperature of the stewed meat.

To season this dish I use my Lebanese 7 Spices Mix Click here for that recipe!

So if you want to try this yummy dish at home scroll down for my recipe.  It’s pretty fussy, it takes me a whole afternoon too make it!  This recipe is for a fairly small tray, you can double or triple it if you need to make a large tray for more people.

By the way Mansaf or Fatihah is traditionally eaten with one’s fingers right off the serving tray.  The polite and proper way to eat this dish is to use your fingers to take bite-sized portions from the tray and pop it in your mouth.  You take portions only from the meat and rice that is directly in front of you; respect other diner’s tray space.  That’s how it’s traditionally eaten; at our house it’s served family style with a serving spoon used to spoon a portion on to each person’s plate and we uses forks and knives.

 

Mansaf
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Mansaf
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place meat in large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil.
  2. While meat boils fat will come to the surface. Skim off fat and discard. Continue this process until fat stops forming on the surface.
  3. Strain meat and set aside while you thoroughly wash out the pot. Dry pot before proceeding.
  4. Heat 1 Tbs. Olive Oil in pot and add 1 portion of chopped onions. Cook onions until they start to soften.
  5. Add meat and Lebanese 7 Spices Mix and stir well. Cook until onions become translucent.
  6. Add beef broth to cover meat. Bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 2 hours.
  8. Meanwhile you can prepare other parts of the dish.
  9. Heat remaining Olive Oil in frying pan and add remaining chopped onions. Cook until onions start to soften.
  10. Add garlic to pan and cook about 1 minute stirring constantly.
  11. Add chopped tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are soft and juices start to come out. Salt & Pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
  12. Melt 2 Tbs. Butter in saute pan and toast pine nuts until they start to turn golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  13. About 30 minutes before stew is cooked prepare rice by first melting remaining butter in pot.
  14. Add Vermecelli and saute until pasta starts to turn golden brown.
  15. Add dry rice and saute another minute.
  16. Stir in about 4 cups of water to cover the rice. Cook covered over low heat for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked. Let rest at least 5 minutes to absorb any remaining water.
  17. Check you meat. It should be tender and falling off the bone.
  18. If meat is cooked turn down heat very low.
  19. Remove about 1 cup of broth from pot to temper your jameed or buttermilk.
  20. Slowly pour liquid jameed or buttermilk into that broth. Stirring only in one direction as you add the jameed. This is tempering the jameed. It is very important that you stir as you combine the liquids and stir only in one direction to keep the jameed from curdling.
  21. Once the jameed is tempered using the same procedure slowly add the tempered jameed into the pot of stew.
  22. Simmer on low heat for about 20 Minutes.
  23. Meanwhile prepare your serving tray. Break up the bread into pieces and place pieces on to the tray.
  24. Cover bread with rice.
  25. Place meat on the rice. Pour yogurt sauce (liquid you cooked meat in) over the meat and rice.
  26. Spoon tomato mixture around the meat.
  27. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.
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Chicken Milanese with Lemon Butter Sauce

Chicken Milanese with Lemon Butter Sauce

Chicken Milanese with Lemon Butter Sauce, wow!  Sounds fancy doesn’t it?  Sounds like something you’d order in a fancy Italian restaurant.  It brings to mind the city of Milan, one of the world’s most fashionable city.

The name doesn’t lie, Chicken Milanese simply means Chicken made Milan style.  It is one of the signature dishes of Milan; in Italian it’s called “Pollo alla Milanese”.  Are you impressed yet? Traditionally it was made with veal, Cotoletta alla Milanese, but chicken has become a popular alternative.

Well let me tell you the first time I ever had Pollo alla Milanese was in a chic little restaurant in Cernobbio, a town on Lake Como about 40 kilometers away from Milan.  And yes I ordered it because I thought with such a grand name it must be something different.  Imagine my surprise when the waiter set a fried chicken cutlet in front of me and it didn’t even have any gravy!

Yup that’s what Pollo alla Milanese is, a battered and fried chicken cutlet.  If we were talking Southern cooking it would be called chicken fried chicken and chicken fried steak if veal were used instead of chicken.

But because it’s an Italian style cutlet it’s not smothered in gravy and served with mashed potatoes and corn, like the perfect Southern comfort food.  Instead it’s usually served with a bed of crisp fresh greens like an arugula salad.  Instead of gravy they usually squeeze a slice of lemon over the cutlet or top it with a light lemony butter sauce.  As far as I can determine that’s the only difference between chicken fried chicken and Chicken Milanese.

Well whatever you call it it’s still delicious!  A bit fussy to make (you have to cut, pound, dredge, dip, bread, and fry) but so worth the time and trouble.  I make it at home and serve it both ways, Milanese and fried cutlet with gravy, depending on what I’m hungry for.  Either way my family loves them!

Here’s the recipe for Chicken Milanese with Lemon Butter Sauce!

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Ingredients:

4 Pieces Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts – sliced horizontally to make 8 thin slices

2 Cups Flour

3 Eggs beaten

2 Cups Panko or breadcrumbs – I prefer Panko which can be found at Asian Markets, but bread crumbs work fine

1 Tbs Garlic Powder

2 Tbs Italian Seasoning

1/4 Cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Oil for frying

For the Sauce:

4 Tbs Butter

1 Tsp Minced Garlic

1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

1/2 Cup Chicken Stock

1/2 Cup White Wine

1 Tsp Italian Seasoning

2 Tbs Lemon Juice

Salt & Pepper to taste

Procedure:

Place chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap – you will have to do this with 2-4 pieces at a time

Using a kitchen mallet pound breasts to 1/4″ thickness

Pounding chicken breasts between plastic wrap keeps chicken juices from splattering all over the kitchen counters.

Set aside while you get the other ingredients ready.

Mix flour and garlic powder together and place in a shallow dish or bowl

Beat eggs in another shallow dish or bowl

Mix Panko with grated cheese and Italian seasoning in another shallow dish or bowl

Line bowls up in order (flour, egg, Panko) next to the stove.  This makes the frying process so much easier and neater.

Heat oil in a large frying pan.  Oil will be hot enough if it sizzles when you drop a piece of panko in it.

Dredge a slice of chicken in flour making sure both sides are completely covered

Dip both sides of chicken in egg

Dip both sides of chicken in Panko mixture

Place in frying pan and fry both sides about 3 minutes per side or until golden brown

Drain on paper towel

Serve with Roasted Potatoes and Lemon Butter Sauce

 

Sauce:

Melt 1 Tbl Butter in saucepan

Saute garlic in butter until it starts to brown

Stir in cream, stock, and wine until well combined

Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat

Whisk in remaining butter 1 tbs at a time

Stir in seasoning and lemon juice

Season with salt and pepper to taste

Serve over Chicken Milanese

 


Chicken Milanese with Lemon Butter Sauce
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Chicken Milanese with Lemon Butter Sauce
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Ingredients
Chicken
Sauce
Servings:
Instructions
Chicken
  1. Place chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap - you will have to do this with 2-4 pieces at a time Using a kitchen mallet pound breasts to 1/4" thickness Pounding chicken breasts between plastic wrap keeps chicken juices from splattering all over the kitchen counters. Set aside while you get the other ingredients ready.
  2. Mix flour and garlic powder together and place in a shallow dish or bowl Beat eggs in another shallow dish or bowl Mix Panko with grated cheese and Italian seasoning in another shallow dish or bowl Line bowls up in order (flour, egg, Panko) next to the stove.  This makes the frying process so much easier and neater.
  3. place in a shallow dish or bowl Beat eggs in another shallow dish or bowl Mix Panko with grated cheese and Italian seasoning in another shallow dish or bowl Line bowls up in order (flour, egg, Panko) next to the stove.  This makes the frying process so much easier and neater. Heat oil in a large frying pan.  Oil will be hot enough if it sizzles when you drop a piece of panko in it. Dredge a slice of chicken in flour making sure both sides are completely covered Dip both sides of chicken in egg Dip both sides of chicken in Panko mixture
  4. Place in frying pan and fry both sides about 3 minutes per side or until golden brown Drain on paper towel Serve with Roasted Potatoes and Lemon Butter Sauce
Sauce
  1. Melt 1 Tbl Butter in saucepan Saute garlic in butter until it starts to brown Stir in cream, stock, and wine until well combined Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat Whisk in remaining butter 1 tbs at a time Stir in seasoning and lemon juice Season with salt and pepper to taste Serve over Chicken Milanese
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