Friday, February 11, 2011

Cooking with the CilleyGirl

Happy Friday everyone!

I've been staying off the crack of fast food and getting back into cooking.  I feel like cooking much more often when I'm not working ten hours a day and seven days a week.  Go figure!

First up on the menu is....   Coconut-Cashew Chicken from The Paleo Diet Cookbook.  This was one of my Christmas presents to myself.

The recipe, like almost all in this book, is very easy.  Except for the part where you're trying to find coconut milk and garam masala. 

To make Coconut-Cashew Chicken, first you must make Creamy Coconut Curry -- also in The Paleo Diet Cookbook.  Start with heating two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add in a medium onion and a small tomato, both chopped.  Cook for five miniutes.  Then add four crushed garlic cloves (I used about a tablespoon bottled minced garlic) and one one-inch piece fresh ginger root (not sure if I prepared it correctly, I diced up peeled ginger root).  At which point it looks like this.

Or, as I like to call it, something I would never, ever, ever eat in that form.  But that's okay because we're not done yet.  After cooking for one minute, reduce heat to low and simmer for ten minutes while stirring occasionally.  Next, add one teaspoon garam masala spice blend.  I hunted all through Fred Meyer looking for this, but mine did not have it.  I figured I'd have to go to New Seasons or Whole Foods, then remembered that right down the street from me is a world foods market.  It's heavy on the meditteranean/arabic fare and it has, among things -- pretty sure I remember whole, frozen goat heads -- garam masala. 

Ta da!  With the garam masala added, simmer for five more minutes.  Remove from heat and cool for ten minutes.  Then there's some blender fun, as you pour -- more like glop -- the mixture into a blender and puree until smooth.  I used my tiny food processor attachment to my hand blender.

See how tiny?  This is why a real food processor is in my future.  Pour -- or glop -- this back into the skillet and add coconut milk. 

Pretty sure this is coconut milk....

Yay for my ability to read pictures!  Simmer over low heat (the mixture, not that box of coconut milk), stirring constantly, for ten minutes.  At which point it looks like this:

Also known as, stuff that I would actually eat.  You can use the Creamy Coconut Curry for several things.  At least, so says the cookbook.  I have yet to investigate further.

To make Coconut-Cashew Chicken, take four skinless, boneless chicken breasts and pound them thin.  I never use a meat mallet for this; it always ends up decimating the chicken.  Instead, I put the chicken breasts into a large ziploc and pound them with a rolling pin.  Not only does it not not perforate the chicken breasts or the plastic, it's fun! 

Put the pounded breasts into something in which you can marinate them.  I usually use a large ziploc bag for this as well (you can re-use the one in which you pounded the breasts), or you can use a tupperware container; my parents have ones made specifically for marinating.  I use this:

Marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours.  Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking. 

The recipe says to broil the chicken by placing it on a wire rack and cooking for 20 minutes, turning at the halfway point.  I didn't broil mine, I baked them at 400 degrees on a wire rack in a roasting pan, still for about 20 minutes and turning them halfway.  I guess broiling would make them crispier?  I rarely use my broiler for meats because I have a small apartment-sized oven and it smokes/burns things much too easily.

The recipe then says to remove the chicken from the oven and scatter with 1/4 cup chopped, roasted cashews. 

You may notice there are no cashews.  That would be because instead of lightly roasting my cashews, I totally toasted them.  Remember where I said my small apartment size ovens easily burns things?  I almost set the paper tray from a take and bake pizza on fire once.  So, instead of cashews I just topped with leftover coconut curry sauce that I heated thoroughly in a saucepan. 

How did it turn out?  Well....  good, I guess.  I have no idea if it turned out how it was supposed to taste.  If it did, it was good.  Problem was, somehow I got it into my head that the sauce was going to be like thai peanut sauce, but with coconut.  It didn't taste like either of those so I found it disappointing in that regard.  But otherwise, it was good.  And paleo!

In other cooking adventures, a couple of recipes have been inspired by a parmesan-crusted tilapia filet I bought pre-made (but not cooked) at the grocery store a few weeks ago.  The store one was really good, but seemed fairly simple to make so I gave it a shot. 

The first time I tried, I took a tilapia filet and smeared it with about two tablespoons of sour cream.  Literally slapped it in my hand and rubbed the sour cream on both sides like it was cold cream.  I then dredged that in a mix of about two tablespoons bread crumbs, two tablespoons shredded parmesan, and seasoning to taste (I used a non-salt seasoning from Whole Foods that has about ten different spices in it, like garlic, parsley, and so on).  Bake in a shallow greased (sprayed with Pam) dish at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes until it flaked with a fork.

It was yummy. 

Tonight I tried a variation on the theme.  Instead of sour cream, I mixed a few tablespoons of ranch dressing with a little water -- maybe 2/3rds ranch to 1/3 water.  You want to get it to the consistency of milk, only slightly thicker.  I dipped the tilapia filet into this mixture, which adhered nicely, and then dredged it in a couple of tablespoons each of the bread crumbs and shredded parmesan.  The fish went into a shallow greased dish and then I sprinkled some of that same seasoning on top.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes.

It was also yummy, but not quite as yummy as the first version.  The first was more flavorful and the sour cream/bread crumbs/cheese were meltier.  The second needed more spice and it wasn't as moist.  The first version was closer to the store-bought tilapia. 

Calorie-wise?  No clue.  I wouldn't think the breading would add many calories. 

So, there you have it!  If you try it out, or have any recipe suggestions for me, let me know.

the CilleyGirl


  1. Well I know I won't be making this one - considering the chicken and all. But what I do want to know is if the coconut curry smelled good? I don't know why, but when I read that I thought it just had to smell tasty!

  2. That's what I thought, but it didn't smell like much of anything. Not bad, just I thought it would smell like coconut or curry!

  3. This looks great! Love the taste from the coconut milk!