Friday, May 31, 2013

Quick Fish

Here's a big-flavored sauce for a mild piece of white fish. You can use catfish, tilapia, cod, or any other fillets of white flaky fish. The recipe is for a single serving because most fish doesn't reheat particularly well. You can precook extra potatoes and carrots, assemble them with the sauce and fish when you are ready to eat and it will be done in under 10 minutes. Not bad!

Don't try to cook more than 4 servings at once because the fish will cook unevenly - some parts underdone, some parts overcooked.

Fish with Mustard-Caper Sauce
(serves 1, cost varies depending on fish used, $2.80 at $4.99/lb fish)

1 small potato, washed and cut into chunks
1 carrot, scrubbed and cut into chunks
1 ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 ½ teaspoon chopped capers
1 Tablespoon olive oil
6 ounce fillet mild white fish such as cod, tilapia, catfish
salt and pepper

Cover the potato and carrots with water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes until they are tender but not falling apart. Drain and put into a microwaveable dish. Season lightly with salt and pepper. The capers and mustard are salty so you don't need much salt. In a small bowl, combine the mustard, capers, and olive oil. The mustard and oil will separate; that's OK. Drizzle half of this mixture over carrots and potatoes. Lay the fish fillet on top and spread on remaining mustard-caper mixture. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, leaving one corner open a little bit to allow steam to escape. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. The exact time will depend on the thickness of the fillet. You'll know it's done when the thickest part flakes easily. Let sit for 2 minutes to finish cooking.

Cooking Times for Multiple Servings - unlike conventional ovens, you need to adjust the cooking time as you add more food. Remember that the time will depend on the thickness of the fillet. Thin fillets cook much faster than thick ones.

2 servings: 4-7 minutes
3 servings: 6-8 minutes
4 servings: 7-10 minutes

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mark Bittman on salt and processed food

Mr. Bittman just published a blog article on a recent report by the Institutes of Medicine about salt that is causing a bit of a stir. He connects high sodium consumption to processed foods (or junk foods or fast foods), which is not exactly a revelation. But, it is important to understand where most people get most of the sodium in their diet. It's not from salt naturally occurring in foods or salt that home cooks add to food when they cook. It's processed food and restaurant food. If you cook for yourself using unprocessed foods [you can read my discussion of what is a processed food here], you will eat less sodium because so very much is added to processed foods.

Salt is the dominant flavor in many processed foods (sweet being the other biggie) because they are using ingredients that are bland to begin with. For instance, start with a bland starch (corn, wheat), add some artificial flavorings, a bunch of salt, run it through an industrial process and, presto! You have most crispy/crunchy snack foods. If you cook with real ingredients, the salt isn't THE flavor. It's a flavor enhancer, bringing out the natural flavors of nutritious foods.

Mark Bittman sums it up:

"Here’s the thing: Salt intake — like weight, and body mass index — is a convenient baseline for public policy people to talk about. If you focus on eating less salt — and, indeed, less sugar — you will inevitably eat less processed food, fast food, junk food (it’s all the same thing.) If you eat less processed food (etc.) you eat more real food. If you eat more real food, not only are you healthier, but you probably don’t have to pay attention to how much salt you’re eating. Wowie zowie."

Wowie zowie! Cut back on processed foods and you probably don't need to even think about this whole salt controversy.

For School of Eating Good's thoughts on salt and how we use it in our recipes, check out this article from last November. And, you'll get a home-version of microwave popcorn too, just for visiting. :-)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dry Rub Magic

More on grilling, this Memorial Day weekend. If you haven't spiced up your grilling with a bit of dry rub yet, I have a tip for you. Unlike marinades, dry rubs can be put on your meat close to grilling time, so using them requires no advance planning. You can rub them on in advance, if you like, but it's not absolutely necessary to impart flavor. The dry rub brings plenty of flavor in no time at all.

There are an infinite number of dry rubs, depending on where you draw your influence from. This is a traditional American BBQ style rub, a little sweet, and one that you can use on poultry or any kind of red meat, even salmon. I used it most recently on Cornish game hens, which are great on the grill. They are a bit more expensive than chicken, but they are also a bit more impressive than plain chicken. Everyone can get their own half a hen and they cook in 30 minutes if you split them in half before cooking. Another advantage of splitting them in half is you can cover the inside of the bird with the rub too.

In keeping with the quick theme, rub on the dry rub when you start your grill. By the time the coals are ready or your grill is hot, you can put the hens on. If you have more time, put the dry rub on a few hours ahead and refrigerate until you're ready to cook them. Either way, they will be delicious.

This recipe makes more rub than you will need for a single meal. Put it in a glass jar and store in a cool, dark place. You'll have it in the pantry whenever you need a quick BBQ fix. Use it up with a few months of mixing it up. For 4 Cornish game hen halves, you'll need about 6 Tablespoons.

Basic BBQ Dry Rub
(makes 1 cup)

¼ cup coarse salt, such as kosher salt
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup sweet paprika
3 Tablespoons ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon dried minced onion or onion powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix together in a bowl and store in a tightly covered jar in a cool, dry place.

Use on chicken, Cornish game hens, ribs, pork chops or roasts, salmon, or steak.

Adapted from a recipe by Steven Raichlen.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Gentlepeople, start your barbecues!

Memorial Day marks the start of grilling season, though in Colorado we definitely go for the extended season, starting whenever we don't need mittens to hold our grilling tools and going well into the fall. I have grilled my Thanksgiving turkey, for instance.

But, as this weekend is the unofficial start of summer, this is when, collectively, we start cooking everything outside.

I offer a very simple grilled zucchini salad. The method is from Jamie Oliver. He doesn't think you should ever oil up the vegetables before putting them on the grill. I've done it both ways, and I do think that the zucchini takes on more of the smokey flavor if you don't oil it. And, that's a good thing, particularly for zucchini, which is pretty blah on its own.

Grilled Warm Zucchini Salad
(serves 4)

4 medium zucchini, stem end removed
1 medium red pepper, cored, seeded and cut into quarters
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and black pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, or oregano

Slice the zucchini about ½" thick the long way. Much thicker and it takes too long to cook. Much thinner and it dries out. Grill zucchini and red pepper over high heat with no oil until you get nice grill marks on both sides of the zucchini and the pepper is softened. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Dress with oil and vinegar and season with salt and black pepper. Add in chopped herbs and toss. Can be served warm or cold.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Baked Meaty Pasta

Don't you love recipes where you dump the pasta in with everything else, and it magically cooks just right? I do! I used ground bison, you could use any ground meat: beef, lamb, turkey, chicken, even vegetarian "meat." This is extremely simple and extremely satisfying, with a layer of gooey cheese on top. Gets even better on reheating.

This recipe uses homemade creamed spinach, which is easy to make. You make a Bechamel sauce (a milk sauce thickened with butter and flour, one of the classic French sauces) and mix in chopped spinach. You could use a package of frozen creamed spinach, but it's so easy to make your own, why not make it from scratch? Tastes a lot fresher too.

Baked Meaty Pasta
(serves 6-8, costs $9.50, though the cost will vary depending on meat used)

non-stick cooking spray
1 pound ground meat
about 1 teaspoon salt
about ½ teaspoon black pepper
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 Tablespoons dried minced onion
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups water
8 ounces dry penne, regular or whole-wheat
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon flour
1 cup milk (skim, low-fat or whole)
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (see Note)
4 ounces grated mozzarella cheese, about 1 cup

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 3 quart baking casserole dish with non-stick baking spray and set aside.

Spray non-stick cooking spray on a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat and brown. Break up the big chunks into small pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the tomatoes, garlic powder, dried onion, oregano, basil, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper and water. Stir to combine and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Spoon enough sauce into the baking dish to cover the bottom. Add the penne. Spoon the rest of the sauce over the penne.

In the same skillet that you cooked the sauce in (no need to clean it out), melt the butter. Add the flour and stir to combine. Add the milk, stirring to smooth out the lumps. Cook until the milk thickens. Add the spinach, stirring to combine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour spinach over sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes until the casserole is hot and bubbly. Sprinkle on the cheese and return to the oven, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.

Note: Instead of frozen spinach, you can use a 10 ounce package of fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped, or 2 cups cooked broccoli. You can even use a combination, which is what I used.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Meatless Monday: Sweet and Sour Tofu

The most common restaurant form of sweet and sour anything is a rather gloppy dish, often with an alarmingly red-colored sauce, thanks to red food coloring. This is not that dish. This is a light but tasty interpretation that is only a little bit sweet and a just a little bit sour. Usually, the "meat" is battered and deep-fried. No meat here, just tofu, and no deep-fat frying either. Frying may result in a delicious crispiness, but I find it rather a pain to execute. First, you need to heat up a fair bit of oil, even for shallow frying. That means you get to eat a fair amount of oil too. But, worst of all, is dealing with the oil afterward, hot oil being something like napalm. Frying is a fine technique once in a while as a treat. It's not what I consider a quick everyday sort of thing, however.

In this recipe, I do brown the tofu in a little bit of oil. This is to change the texture - it becomes chewy and I like that. If you don't want to bother (tofu, with its high water content spits a great deal when you brown it), just skip the browning step and use raw tofu. The texture will be softer but the flavor will be very similar. And, it will cut a bit of time off of a dish that comes together quickly, even if you brown the tofu.

Sweet and Sour Tofu
(serves 4, costs $5.10)

14-16 oz. firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into ½" cubes and blotted with paper towels
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
½ of a medium onion, cut into ½" chunks
½ to 1 whole medium red pepper, cored, seeded and cut into ½" chunks
1 cup fresh or canned pineapple, cut into ½ chunks or use canned bits

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 Tablespoon white or cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons sake, rice wine, or dry sherry
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sugar
⅔ cup vegetable or chicken stock

1 Tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tablespoon cold water
¼ - ½ teaspoon salt
sliced scallions or chopped cilantro, for garnish if desired

Combine all the sauce ingredients(the garlic to the stock) in a medium bowl and set aside.

If browning tofu, get a large skillet or wok very hot and add the oil. [You want to fit all the tofu in the pan in one layer without crowding them together so they will brown nicely. If your wok isn't big enough to do this all at once, brown the tofu in 2 batches.] Add the tofu and brown on one side, give it a stir, and brown on another side. It takes too long to brown all six sides, but 2 sides is enough to change the texture. After the tofu is browned on 2 sides, remove to a bowl.

Get the skillet very hot again and add the onion. Cook until it just starts to brown a little and the onion is softened. Remove to the bowl with the tofu. Reduce the heat to medium and add the red pepper, then the sauce. Bring to a boil. Add in the cornstarch-water mixture, bring back to a boil, and cook until the sauce thickens. Add in the tofu, onions, pineapple, and salt. Stir and cook for a few minutes to get everything hot. Garnish with scallions and/or cilantro, if desired. Serve over hot rice.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Food Revolution Day 2013 in Boulder Colorado

It was a fine day for a cooking competition at our local Whole Foods Market! What better way to celebrate Food Revolution Day then to try to whip up two dishes using seasonal ingredients in fifty minutes? It was intense but loads of fun. 

My competition, two very fine chefs: 

Brandy Dreibelbis, Boulder Valley School District Manager of The School Food Project 

Dana Villiers, Whole Foods Market Pearl Street Cooking Coach

Two rounds of twenty-five minutes each. Believe me when I say twenty-five minutes flies by in about thirty seconds!

The appetizer round: pork belly, asparagus, and polenta. Three very different results. Brandy put together a great looking breakfast with fresh herb polenta, fried egg, and pork belly. Dana made a Filipino pork belly with chiles and her secret ingredients, a 9 year old balsamic vinegar. I made honey-soy glazed with ginger grits and grilled asparagus.

The entree round: hanger steak, ramps, and gluten-free pancake mix. The pancake mix definitely was the wild card. Dana definitely was the crafty one with the pancake mix. She used it to make a crepe that she used instead of a pancake for her moo shu hanger steak. I think that's what sealed the win for her. :-)

Whole Foods presenting a big check to BVSD's School Food Project
Big thanks to our Pearl St. Whole Foods Market! We so appreciate their support of Food Revolution Day 2013, the School Food Project, and the Growe Foundation.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Cooking to Advance Community and Health for Everyone

On this Food Revolution Day 2013, the School of Eating Good would like to announce a new initiative: Cooking to Advance Community and Health for Everyone (CACHE).

Cooking is about sharing, as the tagline for FRD2013 says: Cook it. Share it. Live it. We cook for ourselves and we cook for others. It binds us together in a community. It's how we show we care.

And what better way to show how much we care, then by bringing people together to learn a few things about real food, cooking from scratch, and how these things can enhance our health. Then, we share some great food, building community.

In the past, our efforts for food education have focused on young adults - specifically college students - but we want to broaden this because we believe everyone enjoys sharing food with friends and everyone can discover the hidden "chef" within them to share their love with others. We're not talking fancy but we are talking cooking from scratch with real ingredients.

For the blog readers locally (local being the Denver/Boulder area), this means if you have a group of people that wants to learn about cooking delicious food quickly, we'll come up with a 2 hour class. We'll work together to find a good space. The number of people is up to you. For small groups, we can be very hands-on, like in our classes for college students. For bigger groups, we'll be cooking and you'll (mostly) be watching. But, no matter what, you'll get to try some delicious food at the end of it.

What about the cost? School of Eating Good was conceived as a not-for-profit school. We believe cooking is such an important skill, that everyone needs to know how to do it. We fully support efforts to bring food education back to schools but it's going to be an uphill battle. Until that happens, School of Eating Good is doing what we can in our community to teach everyone to cook, in a fun and friendly way and at a reasonable cost. We will work with anyone to arrive at a price that fits your needs. [And if you want to support our mission, get in touch. We've happy to take donations.*]

The significance of the acronym CACHE? A cache is a hidden treasure, a repository of wonderful things. That's what cooking skills are - a cache of knowledge that you can pull out everyday to make your life and the lives of the people you care about a little bit better.

Cook it! Share it! Live It! And have a tasty Food Revolution Day!

*School of Eating Good, Inc. is in the process of applying for recognition as a 501(c)(3) and is organized as a not-for-profit corporation in the State of Colorado.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Google+ Hangout with Jamie Oliver for Food Revolution Day

Tomorrow is officially Food Revolution Day! Events are taking place around the world. Our event is happening Saturday and it promises to be quite a good time. Hoping to see my local readers there and we can eat some great food provided by Whole Foods Markets, listen to some live music, and talk about food, cooking and food education.

In celebration of the day, Jamie Oliver is holding a Google+ Hangout to talk about all the great things happening for Food Revolution Day. There will be Jamie, who is hoot and so full of energy about real food and food education that you'll want to run to the kitchen to cook something right away. Special guests will include Lindsey Shifley, one of my fellow Ambassadors and the power behind The Mullies, a great blog about one mom's journey on the road to real food and cooking.

You can see the particulars and RSVP for the Hangout here or watch the event live-streaming on I'll be watching so Jamie can fire me up for my Mystery Ingredient Cooking Competition on Saturday.

Cook it. Share it. Live it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How to save some money by keeping your kitchen clean

A friend of mine forwarded me this link about saving money by keeping things tidy in the kitchen.

How a Clean Kitchen Saves Your Family Money

It has some great reasons to:

  • Clean up dirty dishes promptly
  • Keep your countertops clutter-free (of dirty dishes and other stuff)
  • Keep on top of what's in your refrigerator
They offer some smart solutions to getting these things done, all the time. I can personally attest to the problem of eating through stuff in the fridge, instead having it end up in the garbage. What a waste! One thing I would add to their list of solutions: learn to turn leftovers into something new. There are lots of posts here on the blog about taking leftovers and making a delicious meal out of them. Check out:
Tips to make cooking more pleasurable and less stress-free AND save some money? Sounds great to me!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Countdown to Food Revolution Day 2013

I'm one of the chefs in the Cooking Competition. This is going to be fun! Excited to compete against chefs from my great partners for Food Revolution Day: Whole Foods Market, who is providing food, entertainment, and their awesome Pearl St. store's West Patio, and Boulder Valley School District's School Food Project. 

Come join in the fun! If you don't live near Boulder, check out the main Food Revolution Day site for listings of Food Revolution Day activities throughout the world. Or, have your own Food Revolution Day celebration: invite friends over and cook a meal using real ingredients.

Cook it. Share it. Live it.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Shrimp Florentine - something special for Mother's Day

Florentine is a classic French recipe. Florentine means it contains spinach, usually along with a rich sauce. As shrimp is a bit pricey, and the classic French rich part is a bit of a treat, I think this makes an appropriate Mother's Day dish. You can serve it for brunch, lunch or dinner. Serve it over rice and make a fresh green salad with a classic vinaigrette for a proper French meal. It's cheaper than taking Mom to Paris. :-)

Shrimp Florentine
(serves 2-3, can be doubled)

1 10-12 ounce package of frozen spinach, thawed
non-stick cooking spray
½ pound raw medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 Tablespoons butter
¼ cup finely minced onion
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
pinch of nutmeg, optional
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 dash of Worcestershire sauce
½ Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ Tablespoon minced fresh or frozen basil  (a few leaves)
2 Tablespoons heavy cream

Squeeze out most of the moisture in the spinach and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 1 quart baking dish with cooking spray. Heat a medium skillet until very hot. Spray the pan with cooking spray and immediately add the shrimp in one layer. Cook on one side until just pink, turn over and cook on the other side until pink. The center may still not be cooked, which is fine. It will finish cooking in the oven. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add 1 Tablespoon butter to the skillet. No need to clean it out; any bits sticking to the pan will add flavor to the sauce. When the butter is melted, add the onion and cook for a minute. Add the spinach, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, if using. Stir and cook until the spinach is hot. Pour the spinach into the prepared baking dish.

Add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter to the skillet. When it's melted, sprinkle in the flour. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes. If your roux (that's the butter-flour mixture) starts to brown quickly, your pan is too hot and you need to lower the heat. Add the chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, basil, and cream. Stir gently until there are no lumps. Cook until the sauce thickens; it should coat the back of a spoon. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Add in the shrimp. Pour over the spinach. Bake for 20 minutes until sauce is bubbly.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tabbouleh: A Middle-Eastern Bulgur Salad

Tabbouleh, without the vegetables. Still plenty tasty.
Tabbouleh is one of my go-to summer salads. It's hearty because it's made with a whole grain: bulgur. Bulgur is wheat berries (whole wheat kernels) that have been steamed, dried, and ground. Bulgur is not cracked wheat, though the terms are often used interchangeably. Cracked wheat is raw ground wheat and it needs to be cooked before using (and cooked quite a long time).

Tabbouleh is bright and light because of lots of parsley and lemon. It usually contains fresh tomatoes and other crunchy vegetables. I find that the veggies get mushy and the dressing gets soupy if you keep the salad for very long, but the bulgur just gets better the longer it sits and absorbs more of the lemon and oil. So, if you are going to eat the salad within 24 hours, mix in the vegetables. Otherwise, add some salad veggies when you eat it. Besides tomatoes and cucumber, add chopped red onions, chopped scallions, diced bell peppers, olives, even avocado, though that one is definitely not traditional!

Tabbouleh is also delicious served with simply grilled fish or chicken, with or without the added veggies.

(serves 6-8, costs $3 without any added veggies)

1 cup bulgur, coarse to medium grind
1 cup chopped parsley, 15 to 20 large sprigs
2 Tablespoons chopped mint, the leaves from about 6 large sprigs (optional)
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
¾ teaspoon salt + more when you add the veggies
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Soak bulgur in 6 cups cold water for 1 ½ hours. The bulgur will still be slightly chewy but not hard. Pour into a strainer to drain off water and set over a bowl to catch any drips. Let it drain for about 15 minutes so the bulgur dries out a little. Pour off any collected water in the bowl and put the bulgur in the bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Can be served immediately but it's better if it sits overnight in the dressing.

Feel free to improvise with the veggies. Traditionally, it's diced tomatoes and chopped onion. I like it with 2 medium tomatoes and a ¼ of a chopped medium red onion. Add another generous sprinkle of salt when you add the vegetables.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Rice with Spaghetti

One more Cinco de Mayo recipe - rice cooked with fried spaghetti. Angel hair pasta, vermicelli, or fideos (coils of very thin pasta for soup) work best but regular spaghetti is fine too. It's a great way to use up a little bit of spaghetti. The nuttiness of the fried pasta is delicious with the rice, and it gives it a nice texture. This is wonderful under our Cinco de Mayo Chicken.

This is entirely a pantry recipe - it has dried minced onions and garlic powder instead of fresh garlic and onions. If you want to use fresh, add 1 minced clove of garlic and ¼ cup minced onion when you add the rice.

If you prefer, you can use vegetable broth to make this a vegetarian rice.

Rice with Spaghetti
(serves 6, costs $2.25)

1 cup long-grain rice
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup spaghetti pieces
2 ¼ cups chicken stock or vegetable broth, hot
1 Tablespoon dried minced onion
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt (optional)

Place the rice in a bowl and cover with hot water. Soak for 5 minutes, pour into a strainer and set aside to drain.

Mix the stock with the onion, garlic powder, and black pepper. If stock is unsalted, add salt.

Heat up a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil. The oil should be nearly smoking and shimmer before you add in the pasta. Add the pasta and stir constantly for about 1 ½ to 2 minutes until the pasta is a rich brown. Do not burn - when the pasta is brown, add the rice to slow down the browning. Reduce the heat to medium, add the rice, and stir for about 1 minute. Add the stock (make sure to scrape out the flavorings that may have collected at the bottom), and stir to mix. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let rice sit, covered, for 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Simple Cinco de Mayo Chicken

This is a delicious and unbelievably simple way to cook chicken. The recipe is inspired by one from Rick Bayless. He uses a tomatillo sauce but it works just as well with a spicy tomato-green chile sauce. Serve this over rice or pasta to soak up the sauce. There is a lot of sauce, but that is not a problem. It is delicious and rich. You can use the leftover sauce in something else, like our chilaquiles, or mix in some cooked beans and serve over pasta to stretch in into a whole other meal.

Roasted Chicken in Spicy Chicken Sauce
(serves 6, costs $11)

1 recipe of Spicy Tomato Sauce - the Mexican version, heated
3 pounds bone-in skin-on chicken parts, whatever kind you like
salt and pepper
½ cup heavy cream
8 - 10 sprigs cilantro, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Pour the hot tomato sauce in a baking dish or large skillet. Lay the chicken pieces in the sauce, skin side up. You don't want to submerge the chicken because you want it to roast, not braise. Season the chicken with salt and black pepper. Place in the hot oven, uncovered and roast for 25-35 minutes, until cooked through. Make a cut into the thickest part of a piece of chicken to make sure it's done all the way through - the juices should run clear and there should be no pink.

When the chicken is done, remove the chicken from the pan to a clean plate. Stir in the heavy cream. Taste for salt; add more if the sauce needs more. Return the chicken to the pan, sprinkle with cilantro, if desired, and serve.

Spicy Tomato Sauce - the Mexican version

Cinco de Mayo is coming up on Sunday. Time to break out the margaritas! I'll be posting a chicken recipe before then that uses this tomato sauce. This sauce is similar to Indian version - amazingly similar, in fact! The difference is this sauce includes roasted New Mexican green chiles as well as a hot green chile but no ginger. You can use mild or medium green chiles, or a mix. Medium green chiles have a pretty good kick; if you don't want your sauce too spicy, use a 4 oz. can of each kind.

Like the Indian version, it's adaptable to many recipes: use on enchiladas (see our recipe for chicken enchiladas and sub this sauce for the green chile sauce), sub it for the tomato sauce and Mexican tomatoes in our chilaquiles, or pour over grilled fish or shrimp.

Spicy Tomato Sauce - Mexican version
(makes about 4 cups, costs $5)

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
7 - 8 ounces diced green chiles (mild or medium or a mix)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 - 2 Tablespoon minced seeded jalapeño chile
2 Tablespoons dried minced onion
26 - 28 ounces tomato puree or chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Add garlic, green chiles, ground cumin, and jalapeño chile. Saute for a few minutes, stirring. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20-30 minutes.