Need a quick and easy chicken recipe? Try this slow cooker curry

This slow cooker chicken curry could be made vegetarian by leaving out the chicken, and you could also swap out the sweet potatoes for regular potatoes, or green beans for the cauliflower. Photo by Arsy Vartanian.
This slow cooker chicken curry could be made vegetarian by leaving out the chicken, and you could also swap out the sweet potatoes for regular potatoes, or green beans for the cauliflower. Photo by Arsy Vartanian.

With school in full swing and the weather chilly, slow cooker season is in full force, and this everyday chicken curry belongs in your recipe book.

It’s from Arsy Vartanian’s “The Ultimate Paleo Cookbook: 900 Grain- and Gluten-Free Recipes to Meet Your Every Need” (Page Street Publishing, $30), a joint effort between the California-based blogger and other Paleo bloggers across the country.

The recipe calls for onion, cauliflower, carrot and sweet potato, but if you’re missing one of those ingredients (or don’t really like it), consider replacing with a similar amount of green beans or regular potatoes. Three cups of coconut milk is about two cans; if you only have one can in your pantry, replace half of the coconut milk with 1 1/2 cups broth or stock.

Slow cookers are great because you can put everything in the crock and walk away. This curry cooks for 4 to 6 hours in a slow cooker on low, or less time if you change the setting to high. Vartanian suggests that you might add the sweet potato and cauliflower halfway through the cooking, if you can, so they don’t accidentally turn to mush from cooking too long. If you are not sticking to the Paleo diet, feel free to serve this dish with rice and naan, but if you are avoiding grains, you could serve with cauliflower rice.

Slow Cooker Indian Chicken Curry

1 large onion, chopped
1 small cauliflower, chopped (about 4 cups)
1 large carrot, chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
3 cups coconut milk
4 oz. baby spinach
For garnish: Cilantro and chili pepper flakes

Place onions, cauliflower, carrot, sweet potato and garlic in the slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, garam masala and ginger. Toss the chicken with the tomato paste and the spice mixture. When it is well coated, place the chicken in the slow cooker. Add the broth and the coconut milk. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through. Add the spinach the last 10 minutes of cooking. Top with cilantro and chili pepper flakes and serve. Serves 8.

— From “The Ultimate Paleo Cookbook: 900 Grain- and Gluten-Free Recipes to Meet Your Every Need” by Arsy Vartanian (Page Street Publishing, $30)

Jacques Pépin to speak at the Long Center in June

Chef Jacques Pépin has hosted more than a dozen TV shows and written dozens of cookbooks during his long career. Photo from the Long Center.
Chef Jacques Pépin has hosted more than a dozen TV shows and written dozens of cookbooks during his long career. Photo from the Long Center.

Jacques Pépin turned 80 in December, and the famed chef — one of the most noted from the James Beard/Julia Child generation — will make an Austin appearance in June to talk about his long career and accomplishments.

The event, which will benefit the Austin Food & Wine Alliance’s educational programming, will take place at 3 p.m. on June 5 at the Long Center for Performing Arts, 701 W. Riverside Dr.

Tickets, which start at $19, are on sale now at thelongcenter.org.

Pépin has hosted 14 TV shows, including his current (and final) series “Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul” on PBS, and written more than two dozen cookbooks.

Poll: Savory porridge, yea or nay?

Have you ever had salty oatmeal?

I didn’t realize until a few months ago that lots of people put salt and pepper on their oatmeal. I grew up eating it with brown sugar, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started seeing savory porridges on the menus of fancy restaurants.

In today’s food section, I explain why this savory porridge idea isn’t quite as crazy as it might sound, including several recipes for risotto-inspired porridges and breakfast grain bowls.

As I’ve talked to people about this, it seems like just the idea of savory porridge is pretty divisive, so I thought I’d take a very scientific blog poll to get a sense of where you’re at with the concept. Below that, you’ll find my favorite recipe from the story, which is less porridge and more grain bowl, but similar nonetheless.

We often think of sweet porridge for breakfast, but grain-based bowls can easily turn savory with the addition of eggs or sauteed vegetables. This egg curry breakfast bowl is from “The Whole Grain Promise” by Robin Asbell. Photo by Steve Legato.
We often think of sweet porridge for breakfast, but grain-based bowls can easily turn savory with the addition of eggs or sauteed vegetables. This egg curry breakfast bowl is from “The Whole Grain Promise” by Robin Asbell. Photo by Steve Legato.

Egg Curry Breakfast Bowl

This Indian-inspired bowl uses two teaspoons of curry powder and coconut milk, and although the title suggests that you’d eat it for breakfast, this would be a fine meal any time of day. Double the recipe if you’re planning on serving it as a dinner for four.

1/2 cup coconut milk
1 medium carrot, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 (15-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice or other grain
4 large eggs, or 8 ounces soft tofu, cubed
2 scallions, sliced lengthwise (white and green parts)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees with the bottom rack positioned at the lowest level.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the coconut milk and add the carrot, onion, and ginger. Stir over medium heat until the carrot is softened and the coconut milk is thick.

Stir in the curry powder, brown sugar, salt and tomatoes and mix well. Bring to a boil and stir in the rice.

Divide the rice among 4 ovenproof ramekins or bowls and make a depression in the center of each. Crack an egg into each depression (or add tofu). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, to your desired level of doneness. (You may want a firmer yolk or a runny one; a runny yolk will act as a sauce.) Top with scallions and serve immediately. Serves 2 to 4.

— From “The Whole Grain Promise” by Robin Asbell (Running Press, $20)

How many food competitions can one weekend hold?

The Austin Lamb Jam is one of a handful of food competitions taking place the last weekend of February. Photo by Addie Broyles.
The Austin Lamb Jam is one of a handful of food competitions taking place the last weekend of February. Photo by Addie Broyles.

Late February is the new April is the new October.

That’s a twisted way to say that there’s a lot of stuff going on this weekend, thanks in no small part to the looming South by Southwest madness that will descend upon the city in a few weeks.

Organizers try to avoid booking events on already busy weekends, and in the months of March, April and October, that means cramming lots of festivals and other activities into precious few weekends that don’t conflict with other big events, such as SXSW, ACL and Longhorn football games.

This weekend, there are no fewer than four food competitions taking place.

Farmhouse Delivery Fais Do-Do & Gumbo Cook Off: Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. at Rain Lily Farm, 914 Shady Lane, featuring gumbo, live music and drinks. (Tickets, benefiting Urban Roots, cost $25 at community.farmhousedelivery.com.)

Spicewood Vineyards Pair It with Claret Chili Cook Off: Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m. at Spicewood Vineyards, 1419 Kromer Lane in Spicewood, with a chili cook-off, live music and wine. (Tickets, $20, at spicewoodvineyards.com.)

Austin Lamb Jam: Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m. at Barr Mansion, 10463 Sprinkle Road, featuring chefs from across Texas cooking lamb dishes. (Tickets, $60, at americanlamb.com.)

That Takes the Cake Sugar Arts Show: One of the country’s largest cake competitions and sugar art shows. Saturday and Sunday at the Round Rock Sports Center. (Tickets, $10, at thattakesthecake.org.)

There’s also the Austin Oyster Festival, which is taking place from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, but I don’t think there’s a competition element to that one.

Months ago, I’d already signed up to judge two of them (the Spicewood Vineyards chili cook-off, which I’ve judged every year but two, and the Lamb Jam), and I hated having to say no to That Takes the Cake, because that’s a really high-caliber baking competition.

Are you gearing up for a weekend full of eating? Which food events did I leave off this list?

 

That Takes the Cake returns for 12th annual show

Hundreds of cakes will be on display at the That Takes the Cake sugar arts show and cake competition, taking place Saturday and Sunday at the Round Rock Sport Center. Photo from That Takes the Cake.
Hundreds of cakes will be on display at the That Takes the Cake sugar arts show and cake competition, taking place Saturday and Sunday at the Round Rock Sport Center. Photo from That Takes the Cake.

This weekend, more than 5,000 people will convene at the Round Rock Sports Center, 2400 Chisolm Trail Road, for the 12th annual That Takes the Cake sugar arts show and cake competition.

It’s one of the biggest cake shows in the country, according to the Capital Confectioners, the local club that hosts the event, and this year, the theme is Night at the Museum.

Bakers from across the country will compete in dozens of categories, and their creations will be on display throughout the two-day event. Attendees, including kids as young as 5, can also sign up to take classes at the venue.

Advance tickets cost $10 per day or $17 for the weekend ($12 and $20 at the door, respectively) and are available at at thattakesthecake.org.

If you’d like to submit a cake to competition, make sure you pre-register online, too.

KUT’s Views and Brews panel to discuss future of food

secretingredientFor several months now, KUT’s Rebecca McInroy has joined Austin-based writers Tom Philpott, food and agriculture writer for Mother Jones, and author Raj Patel, who is now with the LBJ School of Public Affairs, for a biweekly food podcast called “The Secret Ingredient.”

Tonight, the three of them will meet at the Cactus Cafe for a discussion on the future of food. This is part of KUT’s Views and Brews event series that takes place a few times a month at the Cactus, a live music venue on the University of Texas campus.

The event starts at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

 

Love farmers markets? UT Farm Stand debuts this week

The Farm Stand at UT will launch at noon on Thursday with fresh produce and other farmers market-type foods, such as bread. The farm stand will take place six times before the semester's end.
The Farm Stand at UT will launch at noon on Thursday with fresh produce and other farmers market-type foods, such as bread. The farm stand will take place six times before the semester’s end. Photo from @utfarmstand.

The University of Texas is about to get a farm stand.

The student-run stand, funded by UT’s Green Fee with support from the Division of Housing and Food Service, have joined efforts to launch what they are calling UT’s first farm stand, which launches Thursday from noon to 5:50 p.m. in the East Mall. (It seems like there have been other farmers markets or produce stands at UT in the past decade, but I can’t recall exactly where or when. My archive searches didn’t bring up anything, so maybe they are right.)

The farm stand will feature produce from local farms, including Johnson’s Backyard Garden, Fruitful Hill, G&S Groves, UT’s MicroFarm and Farmshare Austin, as well as baked goods from New World Bakery. Customers can pay with cash, cards or Bevo Bucks.

Unlike the other farms markets and farm stands around Central Texas, the UT farm stand won’t be open every week. This semester’s farm stand days are listed as February 25, March 31, April 13, April 27 and May 5, and I believe they alternate between the East and West malls.

This week, according to the Farm Stand at UT Facebook page, they’ll have bread, carrots, kale, beets, green garlic, butternut squash, cilantro, radishes, red cabbage and oranges for sale.

 

A fish pie that’s perfect for Lent

Lent is here, and though you might have plenty of fish fries to attend, you might be looking for a few new fish dishes to make at home.

This cod and corn chowder pie has the appeal of a casserole or a comforting stew, but with a little bit of crunch on top. Unlike many chowders, it doesn’t call for a little bit of bacon to bump up the flavor, but if you aren’t observing Lent, you could certainly crumble some cooked bacon into the filling. This dish pairs great with green beans.

Cod and corn chowder pie is a Lent-friendly dish to feed a family. Photo by Deb Lindsey.
Cod and corn chowder pie is a Lent-friendly dish to feed a family. Photo by Deb Lindsey.

Cod and Corn Chowder Pie

1 1/4 lbs. cod or other mild, white-fleshed fish fillets
1 lemon
1/2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
12 short chive stems (from a clamshell pack) or 3 scallions
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (optional)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise (do not use nonfat)
1 cup frozen or fresh corn kernels
1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. panko bread crumbs, preferably whole wheat

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then grease the foil with cooking oil spray. Use the spray to grease a deep-dish 9-inch pie plate as well.

Arrange the fish fillets on the baking sheet. Use a microplane grater to zest 1 teaspoon of lemon zest into a small bowl, then cut the lemon in half. Squeeze the juice from a lemon half evenly over the fish. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the Old Bay Seasoning, then bake for 8 minutes or just until the fish flakes.

Meanwhile, mince the chives or chop the white and light-green parts of the scallions. If using, microwave the butter just until it’s liquefied.

Whisk together the eggs, mayonnaise and reserved lemon zest in a mixing bowl, then stir in the corn, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning, the chives or scallions and 1/2 cup of the panko.

Use your hands or a pair of forks to tear or shred the fish into bite-size pieces, then gently fold them into the egg mixture. Transfer the mixture to the pie plate, packing it gently. Scatter the remaining 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of panko over the top; if using, drizzle the butter evenly over the panko. Bake for 15 minutes; the top should be golden brown and the pie should be firm and cooked through.

Squeeze the juice of the remaining lemon half over the top; serve hot. Serves 4.

— From “The Six O’Clock Scramble Meal Planner: A Year of Quick, Delicious Meals to Help You Prevent and Manage Diabetes” by Aviva Goldfarb (American Diabetes Association, $22.95)

Step aside, bacon, there’s a new meaty Takedown coming to town for SXSW

AustinMBWEBLast week, I blogged about the food programming at South by Southwest Interactive, and now it’s time to start telling you about the unofficial food fun that will be taking place March 11-19.

Plans are still coming together for Rachael Ray’s Feedback, which you can go ahead and pencil in for Saturday, March 19, at Stubb’s, but this week, we found out the details of my other favorite SXSW food event: Matt Timms’ Takedown, a cooking competition that always brings out some of the most creative, talented home cooks in the area.

The Brooklyn-based Timms hosts these takedowns all over the country. They originated in New York City with chili and have now included ice cream, avocados, tacos, homebrew and cookies. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve judged his annual Takedowns in Austin during SXSW. For years, it was the Bacon Takedown, but last year, he threw a Taco Takedown and the year before that, it was mac and cheese.

This year, I’m  *delighted* to find out that this year, he’s changed the theme yet again.

Instead of bacon, tacos or mac and cheese, cooks will be making their very best meatballs in the Meatball Takedown, which will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 13 at Shangri La, 1016 E. Sixth St.

Cooks can register to compete by emailing Timms at Matt@TheTakedowns.com, and attendees can also grab tickets ($20) at  thetakedowns.com or at the door.

You asked for it: Three recipes to kick-start your own month of cooking

A roasted chicken turned into three meals, including a chicken tortilla soup with extra tortilla chips. Photos by Addie Broyles.

In last week’s food section, I wrote about my monthlong home-cooking challenge and included an overview of some of the dishes I made. A number of you wrote, called and emailed to ask for specific recipes, including for that indispensable no-knead bread.

The other much-requested recipes were for the chicken tortilla soup and roasted chicken. Instead of writing those out in a traditional manner, I’ll explain how I made them because I cooked them on the fly. But I wanted to reprint the no-knead bread recipe in case you don’t have a clipping handy from when we originally published it several years ago.

For the roasted chicken, I rubbed butter between the skin and the meat and coated the outside with a random spice mix I pulled from the cabinet. Which mix? Well, I have a handful of “steak seasoning” blends because I just don’t cook steak that much, so I used one that included garlic, coriander, dill and black pepper. I’m a firm believer that those spice mixes can be used for far more than their labels dictate. I baked the chicken at 400 degrees for as long as it took for the internal temperature to reach close to 165, which was between 35 and 45 minutes. When roasting whole chickens, I rely heavily on the temperature, not the time, to tell me when it’s ready.

A roasted chicken turned into three meals, including this chicken tortilla soup. For the month of January, I tried to only eat home-cooked food. There were a few exceptions, but I cooked nearly every day. I baked bread and lemon bars, roasted vegetables and meats and tried totally new dishes, like a loose meat (or Maid Rite) sandwich from Iowa. Photo by Addie BroylesA few days later, I used some of the leftover meat from that bird to make tortilla soup. Start by sauteing a chopped onion, from 1/2 to a whole one, and then adding 3 to 5 cups broth or stock. I used a spoonful of Better than Bouillon because I hadn’t thawed any stock from the freezer. Add the chopped chicken and as many crumbled tortilla chips as you like — which in this case was a lot, because I was really craving a thicker soup — and top with cilantro. I also had half a can of green enchilada sauce in the fridge that I added, which gave the soup just the right tang from the tomatillo and a little extra heat and body.

No-Knead Bread

Baking your own bread can save you money, even if a batch doesn’t come out quite right. Photo by Addie Broyles.
Baking your own bread can save you money, even if a batch doesn’t come out quite right. Photo by Addie Broyles.

This recipe is based on Jim Lahey’s highly adaptable no-knead bread recipe, which uses roughly the same technique and amounts of flour, yeast, salt and water. I like to sprinkle Kosher salt on top of the loaf before baking, which is why I reduce the salt in the initial recipe. You could also add endless herbs, spices, olives or grated hard cheese — such as Parmesan — when mixing the dough or on top right before placing the loaf in the oven.

I’ve started to make this recipe entirely with a scale, which is why I’ve included the weight measurements. Some no-knead fanatics use a little more salt, 400 grams of bread flour and 300 grams water. A lighter hand measuring flour by the cup might only end up with 375 grams by weight and need slightly less water, which just goes to show that baking is rarely as exacting as we wish it were.

The good news is that 3 cups of flour costs less than 50 cents, even if you’re using the nice stuff, so it’s not an expensive mistake if your dough is too wet or dry and doesn’t turn out just right. After the first day or two on the counter, this loaf does start to get crusty, but that’s nothing that a quick stint in the toaster can’t fix. I can rarely finish an entire loaf over a workweek, but I don’t feel as guilty throwing out the last quarter because the loaf didn’t cost $4 in the first place.

3 cups (430 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp. (1 gram) active dry yeast
1 tsp. (6 grams) salt
1 5/8 cups (345 grams) water

In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast and salt. Add the water and stir until blended; the dough will be shaggy and sticky.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at least 12 hours — preferably about 18 hours or, in the fridge, for up to two days — at room temperature. The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles.

Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or your fingers, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball, tucking the folded parts underneath.

Generously coat a clean cotton dish towel (not terrycloth) with flour, semolina or cornmeal and place on top of the dough. Let rise for 1 to 2 hours.

When it is ready, the dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least half an hour before the dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enameled cast iron or ceramic) in the oven while it’s preheating. (Make sure that the lid of the vessel can withstand such high heat. Some Le Creuset models have plastic knobs that can melt at more than 400 degrees.)

When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven and take off the lid. Carefully place the dough, seam side down, in the pot and cover with the lid. Bake for 20 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 15-20 minutes until the loaf is browned. Remove the pan and cool completely on a rack.

— Adapted from a Jim Lahey recipe