Daring Cooks; nut butters
I am nuts about nuts… Love them all, although I have a slight allergy for them. Ever heard of the most common allergy which is apple, raisins and walnuts? Well, I have it.. Really nothing serious; but whenever I eat a raw apple or walnut (once used in something I’m fine) my throat, ears and chin start to itch and if I make the mistake of touching my eyes before I wash my hands…. the fluids in my eyes start to swell up making me look like something from outer space.. 🙂 I’ve only had that once but it was not a pretty sight! Ever since I make double sure to wash my hands immediately after eating an apple. Yes, I still eat them. I like them too much and the itching is something that passes quickly.
Lately though I have noticed that the allergy seems to have spread to other nuts besides walnuts… Hmm…. I’ve always thought I wasn’t “made” properly.. too many weird allergies, but thankfully nothing all too serious. So… I was quite happy to read about the challenge for the Daring Cooks for this month.
The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.
When I was reading through our various options for the recipes I really wanted to make the Asian salad as that just sounded perfectly for the current hot weather, but… Tom didn’t feel like eating any salad. For some weird reason he always feels that dinner should be positively warm. Even if the weather is +30°C, he still insists something should be served hot. He’s ok if it is only a sandwich, as long as it is one prepared in the oven and eaten hot… How weird is that??
So I do tend to eat my salads for lunch rather then dinner, although I do occasionally just ignore him and prepare a salad for dinner. I mean seriously; what is wrong with a salad??
But for this particular challenge I really liked all four of the options so I decided to please my guy and made the chicken with curried tomato almond sauce.
Making the butter is really a breeze. Just pop everything in the magimix and keep on grinding until it becomes smooth and buttery. I did add a bit more oil as almonds are by their nature rather dry. I did not roast them beforehand but I can imagine that it would be an enhancement to the flavor. The nuts were unsalted to begin with, so I just added salt to the final dish prior to eating it. Which worked fine for me as I felt it would be easier to adjust the levels of saltiness when doing it this way. The finished dish was also very flavorful.
I do tend to forgot to read recipes very thoroughly, so what happens is that I scan through it, check my ingredients and then just start cooking. I sure do check the recipe occasionally but as it turns out; I also forgot to do certain things that are spelled out. Simply because I do not read it thoroughly enough.
In this case I sort of forgot to make it a smooth sauce, as I just chopped the onion into fine bits and left them in the sauce. There was no way I would have been able to remove them anyway and I liked the final result. Not a smooth sauce by any means, but very tasty nonetheless. The almonds you could taste very well in the dish but not in an overpowering way. Really loved the dish!
Recipe notes: Substitute the protein of your choice for the chicken. This is a smooth sauce, so the onion is removed before serving. If you prefer, dice the onion and leave it in the sauce or substitute a bit of onion powder.
- 1 Tablespoon 15 ml olive oil
- 4 6 oz / 170 g boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- Salt to taste
- Spice Blend:
- 1.5 tablespoons 20 ml garam masala seasoning
- 1 teaspoon 5 ml ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon 2 ml ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon 1 ml black pepper
- 4 tablespoons 60 ml butter1 large onion, cut in half pole to pole
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 15-ounce/425 g can tomato sauce
- ⅓ cup 80 ml almond butter
- ⅓ cup 80 ml milk
- ½ to ¾ cup 120 to 180 ml chicken broth or water, more as needed
- 1 cup 240 ml frozen peas (optional)
- Hot basmati rice for serving
- Chopped parsley optional garnish
- Sliced almonds optional garnish
Cook the chicken. If desired, pound chicken to ¼ inch (6 mm) thickness to promote even cooking. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 teaspoon (5 ml) olive oil a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken; sauté 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Cook the chicken in 2 batches, adding more oil if needed for second batch. Dice chicken into bite-sized pieces; set aside on clean plate and keep warm.
Prepare spice blend. Stir garam masala, ginger, cinnamon, and pepper together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Melt the butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook gently for several minutes to infuse the butter with onion flavor. Keep the heat low to avoid burning the butter; a little color is fine. Add the spice blend and garlic and cook for 1 minute or till fragrant, stirring constantly. Add the tomato sauce, stir well, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Whisk in almond butter and milk until thoroughly combined with tomato sauce. The almond butter is thick so it takes a while to make a smooth sauce. Return to simmer. Add broth (or water) to sauce to reach desired consistency; return to simmer. Add more broth (or water) as needed to thin sauce as desired.
Remove onion from sauce and discard. Stir frozen peas (if using) into sauce. Transfer sliced chicken to sauce. Simmer gently for a few minutes until peas and chicken are heated through.
Serve chicken and sauce over rice. Garnish with chopped parsley and/or sliced almonds if desired.