Our dear friend and neighbour Denyse sent me this recipe from the New York Times last summer, and we recently all sat down together to enjoy it. The ingredient list is long, but the results are worth it. The preparation is in two parts, as the chicken is marinated in spiced yogurt for several hours. I served the chicken with basmati rice and Indian-spiced vegetables.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Look for yogurt, butter, canola oil and tomato paste without additives and use fresh lemon juice. Check the spices to be sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents. I use Imagine branch chicken stock.

You can marinate the chicken for up to 24 hours

Simmer for 30 minutes

Butter Chicken with rice and Indian-spiced vegetables

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups (375 ml) full-fat Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon juice

1 ½ tablespoons (25 ml) ground turmeric

2 tablespoons (30 ml) garam masala

2 tablespoons (30 ml) ground cumin

3 pounds (1.5 kg) chicken thighs, on the bone

¼ pound (125 g) unsalted butter

4 teaspoons (20 ml) neutral oil, like vegetable or canola oil

2 medium-size yellow onions, peeled and diced

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely diced

1 tablespoon (15 ml) cumin seeds

1 cinnamon stick

2 medium-size tomatoes, diced

2 red chiles, like Anaheim, or 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced

Kosher salt to taste

2/3 cup (150 ml) chicken stock, low-sodium or homemade

1 ½ cups (375 ml) cream

1 ½ teaspoons (7 ml) tomato paste

3 tablespoons (45 ml) ground almonds, or finely chopped almonds

½ bunch cilantro leaves, stems removed.

Preparation:

Whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala and cumin in a large bowl. Put the chicken in, and coat with the marinade. Cover, and refrigerate (for up to a day).

In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter in the oil until it starts to foam. Add the onions, and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and cumin seeds, and cook until the onions start to brown.

Add the cinnamon stick, tomatoes, chiles and salt, and cook until the chiles are soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the chicken and marinade to the pan, and cook for 5 minutes, then add the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes.

Stir in the cream and tomato paste, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the almonds, cook for an additional 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Garnish with the cilantro leaves. Serves 6.

From the New York Times

This quick stir-fry from the January 2015 issue of Canadian Living is a great supper during the busy holiday season. Stir-fry pork and vegetables, mix in a tangy sauce and serve in Boston lettuce leaves. You can also serve it over steamed rice.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I make hoisin sauce from scratch – the recipe is below. Check the sesame seeds and cashews to make sure they are additive-free. I used Eden Organic red white vinegar instead of white wine vinegar, Eden toasted sesame oil and Tabasco original hot sauce in place of the Asian chili sauce.

Saute pork strips

Saute garlic, ginger and peppers

Return pork to pan and add sauce

Pork and Pepper Lettuce Cups

Ingredients:

Hoisin Sauce

4 tbsp. (60 ml) soy sauce

2 tbsp. (30 ml) peanut butter

1 tbsp. (15 ml) honey or molasses

2 tsp. (10 ml) white vinegar

Pinch garlic powder

2 tsp. sesame seed oil

1 tsp. (5 ml) Chinese-style hot sauce

Pinch pepper

Mix ingredients together

Stir-fry

4 tsp. (20 ml) vegetable oil

1 lb. (450 g) pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut in ½ inch (1 cm) wide strips

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. (15 ml) grated fresh ginger

1 each red pepper and yellow pepper, sliced

3 tbsp. (45 ml) hoisin sauce

2 green onions, sliced

1 tbsp. (15 ml) sesame seeds, toasted

Pinch each salt and pepper

¼ cup (60 ml) chopped cashews, toasted

½ tsp. (2.5 ml) sesame oil

1 tsp. (5 ml) white wine vinegar

1 tsp. (5 ml) Asian sweet chili sauce

12 leaves Boston lettuce

Preparation:

In wok or nonstick skillet, heat 1 tsp (5 ml) of the oil over medium-high heat: sauté garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add red and yellow peppers; sauté until tender-crisp, about 4 minutes. Return pork and any juices to wok. Stir in 1 tbsp (15 ml) of the hoisin sauce and 2 tbsp (30 ml) water; cook until juices run clear when pork is pierced and just a hint of pink remains inside, about 1 minute. Add green onions, sesame seeds, salt and pepper; sauté for 30 seconds. Remove from heat; stir in cashews and sesame oil. Scrape into clean bowl.

In small bowl, whisk together remaining hoisin sauce, the vinegar, chili sauce and 4 tsp (20 ml) water. Spoon pork mixture into lettuce leaves; serve with hoisin dressing. Serves. 4.

From the January 2015 issue of Canadian Living

This one-dish meal from Real Simple couldn’t be easier to make. Toss quartered plum tomatoes, olives, garlic, oil and thyme in a roasting dish. Then add chicken legs and roast for about 40 minutes. The chicken is tender with crispy skin, and the tomatoes, olives and garlic are caramelized. I used thighs and drums instead of whole legs, and 1 tsp (5ml) dried thyme instead of fresh.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I use the garlic-stuffed green olives from President’s Choice, which are free of additives and preservatives.

Nestle the chicken legs into the mixture of tomatoes and olives

Roast about 45 minutes

Saucy baked chicken legs with olives and tomatoes

Ingredients:

1 pound (500 g) plum or small tomatoes, halved if large

½ cup (125 g) pitted green olives

8 cloves garlic, quartered

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil

1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh thyme leaves

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs

Kosher salt and black pepper

Bread, for serving

Preparation:

Heat oven to 425° F (218° C) with a rack in the highest position.

Toss the tomatoes, olives, garlic, oil, and thyme in a 3-quart (3 L) baking dish.

Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt and ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) pepper. Nestle the chicken, skin-side up, in the vegetables.

Bake until the chicken is browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest leg (avoiding the bone) registers 165° F (74° C), 40 to 45 minutes. Serve with the bread. Serves 4.

From the October 2014 issue of Real Simple

This recipe from the 2015 Milk Calendar is easy, tasty and can be made in less than an hour, so it’s a perfect weeknight supper. It’s made with ground chicken and all your favourite taco ingredients.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Make sure your butter and cheese do not contain colour, and that your spices don’t contain colour or anti-caking ingredients. I used PC Blue Menu black beans, Green Giant frozen corn, President’s Choice white corn tortilla chips and homemade salsa.

Saute ground chicken with vegetables and spices

Place mixture in oven-proof dish and top with chips and cheese

Taco supper bake

Ingredients:

1 tbsp (15) butter

1 lb (450 g) ground chicken

½ small onion, finely chopped

1 red pepper, finely diced

1 to 2 tbsp (15 to 30 ml) chili powder

2 tsp (10 ml) dried oregano

½  tsp (2 ml) salt

19 oz (540 ml) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup (250) frozen corn

½  cup (125 ml) salsa

1 cup (250 ml) milk

2 tbsp (30 ml) all-purpose flour

2 cups (500 ml) grated Canadian Cheddar, divided

1 cup (250 ml) tortilla chips, barely crushed

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat; cook chicken with onion, red pepper, chili powder to taste, oregano and salt, using a fork to break up meat, for about 5 min or until chicken is cooked through. Stir in beans, corn and salsa. Whisk milk with flour. Gradually stir milk mixture into chicken mixture. Bring to a boil, then stir frequently for 2 min.

Remove from heat; stir in 1 cup (250 ml) of the cheese. Transfer into an 8-inch (2 L) square dish.

Sprinkle chicken with tortilla chips then remaining cheese. Bake for 10 min or just until cheese is melted. Let stand for 5 min before serving. Scoop out into bowls. Serve with additional salsa, sour cream and guacamole. Serves 4-6.

From the 2015 Milk Calendar

You wouldn’t think these pork chops would cook in the amount of time suggested in this recipe from Canadian Chef Michael Smith, but they do. While they rest, whip up a quick sauce of orange juice, marmalade, mustard, spices and Worcestershire sauce and dinner is on the table in a jiffy.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use butter without colour and pure orange juice. I used Wilkin & Sons marmalade, Vilux organic grainy mustard and Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce.

Season the chops well

Sear the chops until brown on one side

Assemble your ingredients for the sauce

Make the sauce while the chops rest

Pork chops with marmalade mustard pan sauce

Ingredients:

4 pork chops, thick cut, approx 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick

1 tsp (5 ml) salt

generous amount black pepper

1 tbsp (15 ml) vegetable oil

2 tbsp (30 ml) butter

½ cup (125 ml) orange juice

¼ cup (60 ml) marmalade

2 tbsp (30 ml) grainy or dijon mustard

1 tsp (5 ml) dried tarragon or thyme

1 tsp ( 5ml) Worcestershire sauce

Preparation:

Heat a heavy large skillet to medium high. Pat chops dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Add oil to pan then butter to oil, cook until melted, and slightly browned.

Add chops and sear until meat is browned, about 5 minutes. Flip, cover tightly and reduce heat to low. Cook for 3-4 minutes more. Remove chops to plate and tent with foil.

In the pork chop pan, return heat to medium high, add orange juice, and stir in marmalade, mustard, tarragon and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Spoon sauce over pork chops and enjoy! Serves 4.

From Family Meals in Minutes, by Michael Smith

Lucy Waverman recently published this recipe from Estonia in the Globe and Mail. She described it as a “powerful, full-flavoured but not spicy dish with the taste of the sun that we sorely need at this time of the year.” Estonia is in the Baltic region of northern Europe and Tallinn is its capital city. You can make this dish ahead, and serve it with rice or egg noodles. However to be truly Estonian, Lucy says to serve it with black rye bread.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Make sure your spices do not contain colour or anti-caking agents. I used nitrite-free bacon instead of pancetta and a red wine with a sulfite count of less than 10 parts per million. Unico tomatoes and Pilaros olives are additive-free.

Season the chicken thighs

Use only the white and pale green part of the leeks

Brown the chicken well and set aside

Bacon and parboiled garlic add flavour

Saute the bacon and vegetables

Add spinach and chicken and then bake

Chicken from Tallinn

Ingredients:

1 head garlic, separated into cloves

1 ½  lb (750 g) boneless skinless chicken thighs

½ tsp (2.5 ml) ground fennel

½ tsp (2.5 ml) chili flakes

1 tbsp (15 ml) finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup (125 ml) coarsely chopped pancetta

3 tbsp (45 ml) olive oil

4 leeks, white and light green parts only, well washed

½ cup (125 ml) red wine

1 ½ cups (375 ml) drained canned tomatoes, chopped

1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock

½ cup (125 ml) Kalamata olives, pitted, halved

1 tbsp finely chopped preserved lemon or 1 tsp grated lemon zest

4 cups (1 L) packed baby spinach

4 caper berries

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 F (205 C).

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Remove root end from garlic cloves and add to water. Boil for 2 minutes. Drain and peel garlic cloves. Reserve.

Cut thighs in half. Sprinkle with fennel, chili flakes, rosemary, salt and pepper. Slice leeks on a diagonal into ½-inch (1.27 cm) pieces.

Heat oil in a large oven-proof skillet over high heat. Brown chicken in batches, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and reserve.

Add pancetta to pan and cook for 1 minute. Reduce skillet heat to medium-low. Add garlic cloves and leeks, and sauté 5 to 7 minutes or until soft. Add red wine and bring to boil, reduce by half. Add tomatoes and stock, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add olives and preserved lemon and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in spinach. Return chicken to skillet.

Transfer to oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in centre. Sprinkle with parsley. Top each portion with a caper berry. Serves 4.

From Lucy Waverman

This is a classic beef stew recipe from Family Meals, written by Canadian chef Michael Smith. I’m not sure about making it on a weeknight, as it benefits from at least two hours of simmering, but it’s perfect for supper on a chilly November Saturday or Sunday. And it’s even better the next day. I added scallions, fresh herbs, and peas to the basic recipe.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Look for tomatoes with no additives, such as Unico or Blue Menu brands. I used a wine with a sulfite level of fewer than 10 parts per million and Imagine organic chicken stock. If you add chickpeas, bacon or cheese, make sure they don’t contain colour, additives, or nitrites.

Brown the beef well

Simmer the stew for a couple of hours; if there is too much liquid, simmer with the lid off

Weeknight or Weekend Beef Stew

Ingredients:

For the classic weeknight stew:

2 pounds (900 g) of cubed stewing beef

2 tablespoons (30 ml) of vegetable oil

2 onions, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

2 potatoes (or 2 or 3 parsnips or 2 sweet potatoes or a turnip), chopped

A 28-ounce (796 ml) can of whole, diced, crushed or pureed tomatoes

1 bottle of big, beefy red wine (pour some for the grown-ups first!)

4 cups (1L) of beef broth or plain water

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon (15 ml) of sea salt

Lots of freshly ground pepper

Weekend finishing flourishes- choose 1 or 2 or all

4 green onions, thinly sliced

Leaves from 1 bunch of fresh thyme, sage, tarragon or rosemary, minced

1 to 2 cups (250 to 500 ml) of frozen green peas

1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and chopped

A 14-ounce (398 ml) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

8 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

1 wheel (5.2 ounces/150 g) of your favourite Boursin cheese, crumbled

Preparation:

Heat your largest, heaviest pot over medium-high heat while you gently dry the beef on a few paper towels. Splash a pool of oil into the pot, swirling and covering the bottom with a thin film. Using tongs, carefully add a single sizzling layer of beef without crowding the pan. This is your only shot at adding the rich, deep flavours that can only come from respectfully browned meat. Listen to the heat. A simmering pan means nothing. Sizzle is the sound of flavour. Too loud, though, and a sizzling pan becomes a smoking-burning pan. When the beef is deeply browned all over, transfer it to a plate. Repeat with the rest of the beef, 10 to 15 minutes in total. Pour off any excess oil, leaving behind any browned bits of goodness.

Add the onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, tomatoes, wine, broth, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Return all the beef to the pot. Stirring frequently, bring to a furious full boil, then immediately reduce the heat to a slow, steady simmer. Cover tightly and very gently simmer for at least an hour, another if you can, stirring now and then, patiently tenderizing the meat, releasing the richness and building deep beefy flavour. Serves 4 to 6.

From Family Meals by Michael Smith

This pasta dish from Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes is a favourite of his wife, Jools. It’s very good and doesn’t take long to make. Mix together scallions, carrot, celery, sausages and spices in the food processor, then cook in a frying pan. Add garlic, balsamic vinegar and canned tomatoes and toss with cooked penne. You can top it with parmesan cheese if you like.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Sausages, spices, balsamic vinegar and canned tomatoes may contain artificial ingredients. Look for all-natural sausages and spices with no colour or anti-caking agents. I use a balsamic vinegar with only naturally occurring sulfites and Unico brand tomatoes.

Cook the sausage meat and vegetable mixture

Add garlic, balsamic vinegar and tomatoes

Jools' Pasta

Ingredients:

4 scallions

1 carrot

1 stick of celery

1–2 fresh red chilies

3 or 4 good-quality sausages

1 heaped teaspoon (5 ml) fennel seeds

1 tsp (5 ml) dried oregano

500 g dried penne

4 cloves of garlic

4 tbsp (60 ml) balsamic vinegar

1 400 g can of chopped tomatoes

A few sprigs of Greek basil, or regular basil

Preparation:

Turn your oven to 375°F (190°C). Put a large frying pan on a high heat. Put the standard blade attachment into the food processor.

Trim the spring onions, carrot and celery. Roughly chop all the vegetables, then blitz in the food processor with the chilies (stalks removed). Add the sausages, 1 heaped teaspoon (5ml) of fennel seeds and 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of oregano. Keep pulsing until well mixed, then spoon this mixture into the hot frying pan with a lug of olive oil, breaking it up and stirring as you go. Keep checking on it and stirring while you get on with other jobs.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season well then add the penne and cook according to packet instructions.

Crush 4 unpeeled cloves of garlic into the sausage mixture and stir in 4 tablespoons (60 ml) of balsamic vinegar and the tinned tomatoes. Add a little of the starchy cooking water from the pasta to loosen if needed.

Drain the pasta, reserving about a wineglass worth of the cooking water. Tip the pasta into the pan of sauce and give it a gentle stir, adding enough of the cooking water to bring it to a silky consistency. Taste, correct the seasoning, then tip into a large serving bowl.

From Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes

At this time of year, I like to cook a big pot of soup on Sunday. This soothing Ginger Chicken Soup from epicurious.com is delicious and very comforting if you have the sniffles.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

There are no additives or preservatives in these ingredients.

This recipe calls for lots of ginger

Remove the chicken breasts after about 30 minutes

Shred the chicken

Rewarm the stock after straining out the solids

Ginger Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

1 onion, sliced

2 celery stalks, chopped

8 ounces (250 g) unpeeled scrubbed ginger, cut into ½ “-thick (1.27 cm) slices

2 garlic cloves, crushed

10 whole black peppercorns

1 3-pound (1.5 kg) whole organic chicken, cut into 7 pieces (2 breasts, 2 legs with thighs attached, 2 wings, 1 back)

Kosher salt

Cilantro leaves (optional)

Preparation:

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large heavy pot. Add chicken, placing breasts on top. Add 6 quarts (6 L) water (preferably filtered or spring water); bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover with lid slightly ajar. Reduce heat to low; simmer until chicken breasts are just cooked through, about 30 minutes. Transfer chicken breasts to a plate; let cool, then cover and chill. Continue to simmer soup, uncovered, until broth is fully flavored, about 2 ½ hours longer. Return breasts to soup to rewarm, about 5 minutes.

Remove chicken from broth. When cool enough to handle, coarsely shred meat; discard skin and bones. Place a fine-mesh sieve over another large pot; strain broth, discarding solids in strainer (you should have about 8 cups broth). Season with salt.

Rewarm soup. Divide chicken among bowls. Pour hot broth over, dividing equally. Garnish soup with cilantro leaves, if desired. Serves 8.

From Epicurious.com

This is a great weeknight dinner because everything is roasted together on a single baking sheet. Inexpensive chicken legs, potatoes and olives are tossed with a mixture of bay leaf, fennel seeds and crushed red pepper flakes and then roasted for 35 to 45 minutes. For easy clean-up, line the baking sheet with non-stick foil.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Check the spices for colour and anti-caking agents. Olives may contain preservatives; I use Pilaros brand from Costco.

Toss the chicken, potatoes and olives with the spice mixture and arrange on pan

Cook until the chicken is done, 35-45 minutes

Roast chicken with potatoes and olives

Ingredients:

1 bay leaf, crushed

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes; plus more for serving (optional)

1½ pound fingerling potatoes, halved

½ cup pitted Kalamata olives

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick; about 3 lb.)

½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves with tender stems

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450°. Pulse bay leaf, fennel seeds, and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes in spice mill until finely ground.

Toss potatoes, olives, 2 Tbsp. oil, and half of spice mixture in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet and rub with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper and rub with remaining spice mixture.

Arrange potato mixture around chicken. Roast until potatoes are fork-tender, chicken is cooked through, and skin is crisp, 35–45 minutes. Serve chicken and potato mixture topped with parsley, lemon zest, and more red pepper flakes, if desired; spoon pan juices around. Serves 4.

From the October 2014 issue of Bon Appetit

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