Butter Tarts

choc-butter-tart-with-bite

Thinking about making butter tarts tonight, but I’m holding myself back because I made some many oatmeal chocolate chip and oatmeal cranberry cookies this morning. I’m sure the husband won’t mind, though. He never does. 🙂

I’m trying to figure out which of these two recipes I want to test drive if you’re at all interested in making your own:

VidalButterTart

The difference between them is the use of light corn syrup. I’m not a fan but I have been known to use it in my Rice Krispie squares, so I already have some on hand. I’m also a bit puzzled by the comment left on the recipe using the corn syrup that the butter tarts came out runny. I’m not sure how that would happen with a strong binding ingredient like corn syrup. Odd.

I’m using store bought tart shells because my hands are too hot to work with cold butters while forming pastry doughs. Oh, sure I’ve tried the dip-your-hands-in-cold-water-then-quickly-wipe-them-dry trick, but it never works for more than 30 seconds before the dough starts to mush out in my hands. It doesn’t matter how cold I can get my hands, either. Butter + my hands = disaster. I can’t even hold a chocolate bar for long because I can feel it sink into my fingers. I have to get my husband to hold it while we walk from the aisle to the checkout. Pathetic.

Alas, this is the reason I never became a baker. It’s a curse no baker wants to have. (le sigh)

 

Auntie Stacey’s Butter Chicken

ButterChicken-PanOne of my favourite uses for boneless chicken is Butter Chicken. If done right, this dish can satisfy, comfort, inspire, delight and sting. It’s magical. Truly.

The secret to a dish like this is making it spicy and creamy enough to stand up to the fragrant nutty smelling jasmine rice it’s going to sit upon. When butter chicken and jasmine rice meet, my body and soul are nourished in a way I can’t quite describe.

It’s…

Magical.

So, for people who have never tried butter chicken (criminal!!), this is my version. Give it a go! 🙂

Auntie Stacey’s Butter Chicken: (Yields 8-10 servings)

JASMINE RICE:
1/2 C (per person) Jasmine rice
1/2 C Water (per portion per person) water
1/4 C Water (additional)

Place the jasmine rice in your cooking pot and run water over top up to three times to remove as much of the starch as possible (optional – sometimes I don’t even bother because I like starchy rice). With your hand, swish the rice around till the water goes cloudy, then drain it. Repeat this step two more times  before measuring out your cooking water.

With the rice and cooking water in the pot, heat the pot till the water starts to gently boil. At that point, drop the heat down to the lowest setting, lid the rice pot and set the timer for 15 minutes.

After the timer goes off, lift the lid and place a small wash cloth the opening of the pot and then replace the lid before moving the rice off the burner. Set the timer for a final five minutes. The cloth is used to absorb most of the remaining moisture so the rice doesn’t remain mushy, but rather finishes in an almost dry and fluffy state.

If the rice finishes before the butter chicken is made, it can stay in the pot off the burner till it’s needed for plating.

BUTTER CHICKEN:
20 oz Boneless chicken
6 C Water
2 Tbsp Chicken stock powder

Dissolve the chicken stock powder in hot water in a large pot on the stove. Add the chicken when the water comes to a boil. Cook the chicken until it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees. Remove the meat and set aside to cool until the meat no longer lets off a visible steam so you can cube it into bite sizes or pull it apart by hand or in a large mixer using the paddle attachment. (The chicken can be made up to two days prior if timing is too tight to make it all in on go.)

1/2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Vegetable oil
1/4 C Fine diced yellow onion

Heat up your pan, and when hot, add the oil. Heat the butter until it foams up and then add the oil and heat through until a drop of water crackles when it hits the fats. Add the onion and saute until it becomes translucent.

Note: I don’t like the stench of garlic on our breath, but if you like it, feel free to add some in the pan when you cook your onions. I would think one minced clove would do the trick.

14 oz Tomato puree
1/2 C Diced tomatoes (or stewed from a jar)
1/2 Tsp Black pepper, freshly cracked
1/2 Tsp Sea salt
1 Bay leaf

Add these five ingredients to the pan and heat through while you mix all of the dry spices together in a small bowl. After that, start pulling the chicken apart in to bite size chunks.

1/2 Tsp Cayenne pepper (or more if you really like heat)
1/2 Tsp Ground coriander (or dried basil if coriander isn’t on hand)
1 Tsp Cumin
1 1/2 – 2 Tsp Garam Masala
1/4 Tsp Cardamom (found in Indian grocery stores)

Add the chicken to the pan and heat that up in the tomato sauce and then add the spices. After you add the spices, stir really well the evenly distribute the flavours.

1/2 C Thick yogurt (or fat sour cream)

Stir inthe dairy to the pan to turn the tomato sauce into a creamy base that coats all of the chicken. Keep stirring until it’s combined fully. At this point, taste the sauce before you can finish the dish with a bit of salt (if needed). Now is the time for the final taste tweaks!

Add some freshly parsley or cilantro leaves to give the final sauce and chicken another flavour, colour, and texture.

Plate your jasmine rice into large shallow dishes (something with a small wall would be fine), and top the rice with one or two heaping scoops of your butter chicken. Serve this with toasted flat or naan breads in case it’s too spicy for some.

Alt Plating Ideas: Steamed cauliflower for the warm naan, dry parsley for the cilantro (since only half of any given population like this herb), and mashed potatoes for the rice.

Iced Tea At Home

Ice tea

I love iced tea, but I really don’t like the overly sweet commercial products sold in stores and restaurants. Syrups used in them are typically made from corn, and almost always way overdone. Gag! So, I make my own, at home, with as much or as little sweetenings as I like. It’s not hard. I make three large bottles on a weekend or a weeknight, and store them in the fridge for the whole week.

Doing this has allowed me to avoid soft drinks, milks and more coffee than I need to consume at night with dinner and afterward. I try to keep my calorie consumption to about 1400-1500 per day, and this is one of little tricks I employ since a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar in each 8 ounces of iced tea cup doesn’t add up to much. It’s mostly water, and then the sugar and then the teabag extract. Cool, huh?

IkeaBottle

Here’s my method for Homemade Iced Tea:

1. I fill up a 12 oz mason jar with clean water and stick it into the microwave for 3 minutes to heat it up.

2. Carefully I remove the jar from the microwave when it’s done and drop one or two teabags into the hot water depending upon how strong I want my brew to end up at.

(For teas like Earl Grey I may use one bag, whereas with the herbal teas like Strawberry or Mojito Lime, I will use two. I like a strong herbal punch to my iced tea.)

3. I let the bags steep in the water till it’s completely cooled down. This can take 30-45 minutes.

4. I run the facet till the water is as cool as I can get it, or I pull a few bottles of water from the fridge and get them ready.

5. Using a small funnel, I pour the brews into each of the jars and top them with as much cold water as will fit, cap them and then stuff them in the fridge to chill for at least two hours to overnight.

6. I don’t add sugar to the iced tea jars, so I tend to add my half teaspoon to a cup, run a bit of water over it, and then swirl both around to dissolve the crystals before I add the iced tea and ice cubes over top.

If you like at this point, you can top the iced tea with things like fresh basil leaves you’ve muddled a bit in jar or bowl, or just drop a wedge of lemon or lime into your glass to punctuate the natural tea flavour.

Peanut Butter Cookies

OPCPeanutButterCookies

Something about today is just breaking my brain. Or, perhaps my brain isn’t quite awake like the rest of me? Not sure. But, I’m fairly certain only simple things will get done today, like this simple 3-ingredient recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies. All it requires is one egg, 1 cup of sugar and one cup of peanut butter. (Ratio: 1:1:1)

Or, if you’re running on full steam unlike me today, and you like a bit of jazz hands with your Peanut Butter cookies, you can always try this version from Tasty Kitchen. You can’t go wrong with anything from that site!

How to Sew Blind Hems

For those who aren’t experienced enough in sewing to know how to do proper tailored hems, here is a video from Threads Magazine on how to do it with a home sewing machine using a hemming foot. (If your machine didn’t come with a blind hemming foot, you can always purchase one for your machine model from sewing stores.)

BlindHem

How to Sew a Blind Hem – Threads.