Chicken Cacciatore

For the main course, Minoo picked an Italian dish called Chicken Cacciatore for the South Arm Community Kitchen. Cacciatore refers to a meal prepared “hunter-style” with tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, herbs and sometimes with wine. It is popular to be made with chicken or rabbit.

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This is a rustic and hearty meal complete with carbohydrate, protein and vegetables. You may served the Chicken Cacciatore with pasta, rice or bread.

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken thighs or 3 chicken breasts cut into halves
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 pieces of button mushrooms, slice
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 x 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons drained capers
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • pasta to be served with this dish (allocate about 4 oz per person)

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Source: this recipe is adapted from Giada De Lauentis

Serves 6

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Butternut Squash Soup with Maple Walnuts

Minoo selected a hearty winter soup recipe for the South Arm Community Kitchen. Squash is great for soup and they are in season in the winter. It is always good to eat produce in season for their freshness and cheap price.

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his Butternut Squash Soup with Maple Walnuts is a recipe from Quebec. It is the maple syrup that distinguishes this soup from others.  You may serve this soup as an appetizer or a stand alone light lunch, You may substitute butternut squash with other winter squash like acorn squash, Kabocha squash, etc. You can also substitute the walnuts with other nuts like cashew or pecan.

Ingredients

Maple Walnuts for topping

  • 1 cup (250ml) walnut pieces
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) maple syrup
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • salt to taste

Soup

  • 2 teaspoons (10ml)  vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 pounds (1 kg) butternut squash, peeled and cubed (you can microwave it for 5 minutes to soften it for easier peeling)
  • 1 1/2 cups (350ml) apple cider
  • 2 cups (500ml) reduced sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste, optional
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) maple syrup, optional (we did not add this to the soup as the butternut squash is already sweet enough)

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Source: this recipe is adapted from www.alive.com

Serves 6.

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Pita Pizza with Hummus and Mint

Minoo also prepared a snack item for the South Arm Community Kitchen. Minoo made a Pita Pizza with Hummus and Mint. This makes a healthy lunch box item or after school snacks.

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Minoo used whole wheat pita bread as the base for the pizza. Instead of using tomato sauce for flavouring, Minno used hummus which is high in protein. Minoo used a store-bought prepared hummus for this recipe for simplicity. You can make your own hummus with this Creamy Hummus recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 cup plain hummus
  • 4 greek-syle whole wheat pitas
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot-red chili flakes
  • 1 yellow or red pepper, sliced
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, blanched
  • 1 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup shredded fresh mint
  • cumin and black pepper to taste

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Source: unknown via Minoo

Serves 4 to 8

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Whole Wheat Pasta with Eggplant

For the main course, Minoo prepared a Whole Wheat Pasta with Eggplant. Stella had expressed her desire to learn how to use eggplant before. So, this recipe is a great addition to Stella’s recipe repertoire.

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This Whole Wheat Pasta with Eggplant is a vegetarian pasta dish. Although the whole wheat pasta is much coarser than the regular pasta, it is a much healthier alternative.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound eggplant
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 x 28 ounce cans plus 1 x 15 ounce can peeled tomatoes, chopped or 3 pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or 1/2 tablespoon dried
  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional

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Source: unknown via Minoo

Serves 4

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Tomato Coconut Soup

Stella, the coordinator of the South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors came to help at this kitchen because she wanted to survey the facility and get prepared for the next senior kitchen. Stella single handedly made this soup recipe.  I’m impressed with her capability in the kitchen.

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This Tomato Coconut Soup is a thick, creamy and tangy soup. The creaminess came from the coconut milk which is a very common ingredient in Thai cuisine.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup small dice celery
  • 2 cups small dice yellow or white onion
  • olive oil
  • 1 x 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • cayenne pepper, ground black pepper and salt to taste
  • 1 x 12 ounce can of light or regular coconut milk

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Source: unknown via Minoo

Serves 6

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Thai Chicken Salad with Spinach and Peanuts

The South Arm Multicultural Community Kitchen will be held at the Bethel Church while the South Arm kitchen is under renovation. We were very fortunate and thankful for Bethel Church’s generosity to allow us to use their kitchen. We love the kitchen as it is big and very well equipped. There are 6 washing basins in the center island.

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Minoo prepared four recipes for this kitchen. The first recipe is a Thai Chicken Salad with Spinach and Peanuts. This salad has a little kick with the hot chili flakes. It is a combination of cooked chicken with raw vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 2 large lime or lemon
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons hot chili flakes
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh coriander
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • chopped mango (optional)
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trim fat and slice into thin strips
  • vegetable oil
  • salt to taste

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Source: unknown via Minoo

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Chicken Chili

For the main course, Minoo shared a Chicken Chili recipe at the South Arm Community Kitchen. Minoo served the Chicken Chili with steamed basmati rice. You can find the recipe on how to cook basmati rice here except that Minoo did not flavoured it with saffron  this time.

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The Chicken Chili is very saucy and tomato’ish. The sauce is good with the steamed rice.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1/8 cup good olive oil, plus extra for chicken
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more for chicken
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried ones
  • 4 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  • freshly ground black pepper

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This recipe used skin on and bone in chicken breast which is cheaper. The chicken breast is cooked with the skin on and bone in for more flavour. The skin and bones can be easily removed after cooking.

Source: unknown

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Vegetable Noodle Soup

Minoo prepared 3 recipes for the South Arm Community Kitchen.  A Vegetable Noodle Soup, a Chicken Chili and the Lemon Pudding which I had blogged earlier.

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This Vegetable Noodle Soup is a great vegetarian dish if you use tofu instead of chicken. It will be a great dish for the cold season if you made it with chicken stock.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons sasame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon each dried thyme, oregano, cilantro and ginger
  • 5 cups water (more if it’s too dry)
  • 1/2 inch bunch (2 oz) whole grain spaghetti, snapped in shorter lengths
  • 2 cups cooked chicken or firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon tamari
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes for garnish

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Source: unknown

Serves 8

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Braise Lamb Shanks with Aromatic Vegetables and Mixed Grains

Chef Ian Lai from the Terra Nova Schoolyard Society demonstrated a simple Braise Lamb Shanks with Aromatic Vegetables and Mixed Grains in the Eating Together cooking class organised by the Touchstone Family Association in the celebration of Family Day in Richmond in the month of February. Ian’s philosophy on eating together is to introduce simple recipes with a few ingredients to encourage cooking at home.

Ian shared some lights on grains during the cooking class. We should eat more grains and stay away from refine food and processed food. Ian has shared about grains in a basic food skill workshop which I had attended.  Here is more information about grains which Ian shared during the cooking class. I’m passing along the tips I learned here so that more can benefit from it.

Bulgur

Bulgur is a form of whole wheat that has been cleaned, steamed or parboiled, dried, and then ground into grains of several distinct sizes. Bulgur may be made from any variety of wheat, but durum is the most common.

Although the term bulgur is often used to mean cracked wheat, the two products differ in one important way; bulgur is precooked and hence requires only minimal preparation before eating. Unlike cracked wheat bulgur is ready to eat after just ten minutes of boiling.

Bulgur has a delicious, mildly nutty flavour. It is a good source of protein, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins. It is packed with fiber i.e. one cup (182 grams) serving of cooked bulgur has 8 grams of fiber and contains very little fat.

Couscous

Couscous is a coarsely ground semolina pasta that is a dietary staple in North African countries. It is also widely used in Middle Eastern countries and has become popular in American dishes. It is made of semolina, flour, salt, and water. Similar to rice in shape, color, and texture, it is used in many dishes as rice would be.

Couscous is available in a pre-steamed version in many grocery stores. To prepare this type of dried couscous, pour boiling water or broth over the pasta and then seal the bowl with plastic wrap. After a few minutes, the grain swells and can be fluffed with a fork. When correctly prepared, it has tender, moist taste and a light, fluffy texture. It is faster to prepare thena most types of rice.

Buckwheat

Buckwheat is a plant cultivated for its triangular grains. Unlike most other grains, it’s not a grass but a plant crop. That means it has broad, spreading leaves; it also has lacy white flowers. Buckwheat cultivation is on the decline in the United States, where other grains have supplanted it in popularity. The grain continues to be produced in a number of countries including japan and Canada.

Most commonly sold as a dark flour, buckwheat gets its color from husks that are left behind during the milling process. this grain is usually included in a variety of types of flour mixes, like pancake and waffle mix. Plain buckwheat, perhaps for baking bread, is also available. Buckwheat is also sold in whole or cracked from for use in breakfast cereals or to add texture to breads and other baked products. It has a distinctive nutty flavor that can be quite pleasing to the palate, especially when contrasted with other, more mild flours.

Quinoa

Though not technically a grain, quinoa can substitute for nearly any grain in cooking. Actually the seed of a leafy plant, quinoa’s relatives include spinach, beets and Swiss chard. Due to its delicate taste and rich amounts of protein, iron, potassium and other vitamins and minerals, it is quite popular. It is also a good source of dietary fiber and is easily digested.

A quinoa grain is flat and has a pointed oval shape. The grains exist in several colorations, including yellow, red, brown and black. When cooked, quinoa expands to about three or four times its size. It also has a unique texture; the grain itself is smooth and creamy, but the tail of the grain has a crunchy texture.

Barley

Barley’s been feeding humans for millennia, though it fell out of favor during the last one as people came to see it as low-brow peasant fare. It’s most often used in soups and stews, where it serves as both a puffy grain and a thickener, but it also makes a nice side dish or salad. At most markets, you”ll have to choose between two types of barley. Hulled barley is the most nutritious, since only the tough outer hulls are polished off. Pearl barley is polished some more, so that the outer bran layer is also scrubbed off. It’s less nutritious, but more popular since it’s not as chewy as hulled barley and it cooks faster.

Grain to Liquid Ratio Chart

Grain (1 part) Method Liquid Ratio Time
Couscous Rehydration 0.75  – 1.0 7 – 10 mins
Bulgur Steam/Rehydration 1.25 – 1.5 15 mins
Buckwheat Steam 1.00 – 1.25 10 mins
Quinoa Steam 1.25 – 1.5 15 mins
Pot barley Pasta 5.0 45 mins

Grains are versatile, nutritious, high in fiber and inexpensive. They can be added to meatballs or meatloaf to keep it moist. Cooked grains can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week. Cook various grains individually as they need different cooking times. Do not wash the grains unless it’s stated on the package (like quinoa) as washing the grains will wash away the nutrients on the surface. Grains can be mix into salad, soup, wrap up with a tortilla, as breakfast cereal or make into a dessert by adding coconut milk and fruit.

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This Braise Lamb Shanks with Aromatic Vegetables and Mixed Grains is another simple and hearty recipe. You can make a big batch and freeze the leftovers in single portion size since this recipe requires long simmering time.

Ingredients

  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 2 large carrots cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion cut into chunks
  • 2 ribs celery cut into chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes

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Source: Ian Lai

P/S: you may substitute the lamb shank with oxtail or stewing meat. You may also add in some garam masala for an Indian flavour lamb shank.

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Fresh Pasta with Spicy Sausage, Shrimps and Bruscetta Sauce

Lorna alerted me about the free cooking classes organised by the Touchstone Family Association. These cooking classes is part of the Eating Together activities carried out in the week of Feb 21st to 28th. Feb 21st is proclaimed as Family Day in Richmond by the Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie. Research has found that families who eat together, stay together; more so if the families grow, shop, cook and eat together.

When I called up to enquire about the free cooking classes, there were only two spots left for the last cooking class. Without hesitation, I registered the spots for Lorna and I. I was glad to know that the chef who will be demonstrating for this cooking class is none other than chef Ian Lai from the Terra Nova Schoolyard Society. I had blogged on several of the workshops hosted by Ian Lai before here:

Here are some tips on cooking at home shared by Ian:

  • prepare multiple portions that you can use for lunches, freeze or share with neighbours
  • incorporate more grains into your diet as they are inexpensive, versatile and can be used on their own or in combination with soups, stews, as a hot cereal or as dessert
  • use no more than 5 ingredients and you do not need to keep a huge pantry
  • focus on quick and nutritious recipes
  • eat as fresh as possible
  • shop the perimeter, neighbourhood corner stores
  • support local farmers market for sustainability
  • get your children involved
  • turn off cell phones, TV’s and computers during the meal
  • share your bounty and provide for those in need
  • think three meals ahead
  • give yourself a day off
  • work those flyers for deals
  • dont buy it if you cant pronounce it
  • limit pre-packaged, high salt products; it does not take much to make your own spice blends
  • learn how to purchase and use a quality knife as in this Knife Skills workshop

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The free cooking class was attended by close to 30 people. It was held at Trial Appliances in Richmond and hosted by Arlene Kroeker, a food writer for the Richmond Review. Trail Appliances has a top notch kitchen for cooking demonstration.

We were greeted with some appetizers on the table while waiting for the cooking class to start. There were baguette, hummus, bruscetta sauce and the above spicy crisp.

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The first dish presented by Ian Lai is called Fresh Pasta with Capicola, Shrimps and Sun Dried Tomatoes. I remembered Ian used some spicy sausage and bruscetta sauce during the demonstration, hence I used a more appropriate name for the recipe.

Ian usually do not use recipes in his demonstration. How, for this demonstration, he actually prepared a recipe and it makes my job so much easier.

Ingredients

  • package of fresh pasta
  • 1/3 cup of diced shrimp
  • 1/3 cup spicy sausage
  • 1/3 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup fresh tomato sauce (he used bruscetta sauce during the demo)

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P/S: please ignore the onion, carrot and celery as they are for another recipe.

Source: Ian Lai

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