Snack Time: Chilli Cheese Toasties

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We are currently addicted to this “Indian” variation of a simple grilled cheese sandwich.  It’s always fun to take something familiar and mix it up just a little bit.  We enjoyed these cheese toasts recently before a family hike and they kept us satisfied as we got some exercise and fresh air.  It was also a fun little cooking project with the little one.  For kids, feel free to omit the chillies altogether – the tomatoes, onions and herbs are enough of a twist.  Another thing we like about this recipe is that you can make multiple cheese toasts at one time by using a sheet tray and the oven, versus slaving over each grilled cheese over the stove.  This is the perfect after school snack for a playdate.

Next time we make these, we are going to try different types of cheeses – goat cheese, gruyere, mozzarella or perhaps even some fontina.  Or maybe even a variety of leftover cheeses that seem to always languish in our fridge.  Another yummy addition could be finely chopped colorful bell peppers.

A throwback to my childhood that I had forgotten all about…excited to have it back :)!
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It’s Only 10am and I Already Smell Like Chicken Curry….

In case you haven’t already noticed, we eat a lot of chicken.  We also eat a lot of chicken curry.  Indian food is what I cook as a default when I am in a rush or out of ideas.  My husband and daughter are fans and it is the easiest way to please them and minimize dinner time whining (which my husband generates more of than Ria).

One of the downsides of Indian cooking is that you often end up smelling like a curry house unless you shower and change your clothes right after.  Which I do not always have the time to do after cooking.  I have had teachers load Ria in the car and remark, “Your car always smells so good!”  I have never told them it is me but I think over the years they have figured it out.  It’s not the takeout, it’s me!  Stand downwind of me at the soccer field and you will smell “Eae De Indian Mama”, a scent that I am kind of not so hot about.  I have repeatedly threatened to go on an Indian food “cooking strike” but given how much my clientele likes it, it has yet to happen.

This Kashmiri Chicken recipe below is by Anjum Anand.  She’s a British import and I am quite in love with her cookbooks and recipes.  We love Kashmiri food and my mother often makes it but this was my first foray in that direction and we were quite pleased with the results.

Kashmiri Chicken by Anjum Anand

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 2 black cardamom pods (optional – available at Indian grocery stores)
  • 1 small–medium onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoons pure red chile powder (or paprika or Kashmiri chile powder, for color) (use less if making for kids)
  • 1 rounded teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 rounded teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 medium–large tomatoes, puréed
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken pieces or 4 leg quarters, skinned (I used bone-in chicken breasts as well)

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick saucepan and add the whole spices; let them splutter for 15 seconds. Add the onion and cook until golden. Meanwhile, using a blender, make a fine paste of the ginger and garlic with a little water. Add to the pan and cook until the excess liquid has evaporated and the paste has fried for 30 seconds. Add the salt, powdered spices and tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until oil is released from the masala sauce, around 10–15 minutes.

  2. Add 3/4 cup water and bring to the boil, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the chicken pieces and cook, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, around 25 minutes. Take off the lid and add a splash of water from a recently boiled kettle if the gravy has reduced too much or, if necessary, cook off excess liquid over high heat. Serve with rice.