Sunday, June 28, 2009

Roast Chicken and Sweeet Potatoes

I dread ordering chicken. Too often, it arrives at the table dry and dense (whether lounging on salad greens or snuggled between two slices of bread. Worst yet, it has the flavor profile of raw zucchini. Try as one might, the flavor of the chicken cannot be revived with thick goops of mayonnaise or other forms of fat. Luckily, I grew up in an era when family meals often centered around roast chicken. The only thing lovelier than biting into the moist, rich flesh is inhaling the aroma that permeates the kitchen and beckons anyone in it's path to S -L-O -W down. As you'll see from the recipe below, it takes very little effort to create a satisfying and healthful chicken dinner. 


Serves 4 to 6

- You can limit the seasonings in this recipe to salt and freshly ground pepper and produce a delicious bird. Adding thyme, parsley, rosemary and oregano will make the meat even more flavorful.
- It's most economical to grow your own herbs. I have an array in my community garden. Before I got a plot, I raised them in window boxes.
- I'm not one to advocate for buying a lot of kitchen gadgets, but I do recommend investing in a pepper mill. The bright, almost lemony flavor of freshly ground peppercorns really outshines pre-ground varieties.
- I opted to pair the chicken with sweet potatoes because I love the subtle molasses flavor they develop when roasted. They also provide a strong dose of the heart healthy antioxidant, beta-carotene. 


1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) chicken, preferably free range
Freshly ground pepper
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoons fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 large sweet potatoes, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons fresh sage finely chopped (optional)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Rinse the chicken and pat dry.

Place the chicken in a 9 x 13 inch roasting pan. Season the cavity and outside with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and garlic. Gently lift the chicken skin and spread the herb paste over the flesh.

Truss the chicken to ensure even cooking.

Arrange the potatoes on a large cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and sage. Drizzle on the remaining olive oil.

Roast the chicken for 1 hour or until the thermometer reads 170 degrees. Roast the potatoes until fork tender.

Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Get Your Fiber


Serves 8 to 10


2 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 tablespoons black mustard seeds
2 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon paprika
Dash of turmeric powder
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup tomato, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 cans chickpeas (15 oz), drained
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt


Heat 1/2 tablespoon of canola oil in a small pot on low heat. Add the mustard seeds and cover. When they begin to pop, remove from heat.

Grind the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, paprika, turmeric, peppercorns, and cayenne together in a coffee grinder.

Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a saute pan on medium heat. Add the ground spices and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato and tomato paste. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the onion, ginger, and garlic. Cook until the onion becomes tender. Stir in the mustard seeds.Stir in the chickpeas, water, and salt. Cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Early summer salad

2009 Cardamom Kitchen LLC All Rights Reserved

Serves 4


1/2 pound boneless chicken breasts
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
5 ounces fresh spinach
2 tablespoons crumbled feta
Olive oil (optional)


Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment.  Season both sides of the chicken with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place it on the parchment paper.

Bake for 20 minutes. Cool. Shred with your fingers. 

Wash and dry the spinach. Divide it between 4 plates. 

Top each serving of spinach with 1/4 cup sliced strawberries, 1 1/2 teaspoons of feta, and 1/4 of the shredded chicken.

Dress lightly with olive oil (optional).

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Strawberry Yogurt Parfait

An alluring shade of red.  A fruity, floral aroma. Succulent flesh. Fresh strawberries rival even the most decadent desserts. (I confess to frequenting my fridge last week just to inhale the heady scent of a pint from the farmer's market.) But unlike many nutrient bare desserts, fresh strawberries also nourish the body.  A cup of strawberries exceeds the recommended daily dose of vitamin C. In addition, the tiny seeds - which are the true fruit - provide fiber. This sinfully delicious berry also contains an infusion of antioxidants, including vitamin C, which help protect against heart disease.  So consider eating fresh strawberries this summer, in place of other desserts, to feed your soul and body.

Serves 4

  • Locally grown strawberries provide the best flavor profile.  
  • Remove the green caps AFTER washing fresh strawberries to avoid diluting their flavor.
  • The combination of strawberries and vanilla yogurt in this recipe provides a surprising amount of flavor. So if you use frozen strawberries, choose a brand with no sugar added.  

4 cups fresh or frozen strawberries 
1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt


Wash fresh strawberries and remove caps.  Slice.

Place a 2-inch layer of the sliced strawberries in four clear glasses.

Top with a 1-inch layer of yogurt.  Repeat until glasses are full.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Family Favorite

(2009 Cardamom Kitchen LLC All Rights Reserved)

Serves 6 to 8


1 cup masoor dhal (red lentils)
1/2 cup diced onion
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
10 fresh curry leaves
3/4 teaspoon canola oil
1/8 teaspoon black mustard seeds
3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
1 dry red pepper


Place the dhal in a medium sized sauce pan. Cover it with water and stir to remove excess starch. The water will turn cloudy. Drain. Repeat until the water becomes clear. Drain.

Add the water to the rinsed lentils.

Reserve 1/4 cup of onions for later use. Add the other 1/4 cup to the dhal.

Add the garlic, salt, cayenne, cumin, turmeric powder, and curry leaves. Stir and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes. (The dhal will soften and expand as it cooks.) Remove from heat.

Place the oil in a small saute pan on medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and cover. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add 1/4 cup onions and stir. Cook uncovered until the onions begin to brown.

Add the coconut and red pepper. Cook until the coconut becomes lightly toasted.

Add the coconut mixture to the dhal and stir to blend completely. Serve with rice.

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Saturday, June 6, 2009


Being a yard less urbanite is fine in the winter (who wants to shovel snow). But I always feel cheated by the concrete come spring.  I grew up with a garden that attracted bees, fireflies, and humming birds. Fortunately, I inherited a plot in a community garden in May. Eager to partake in spring planting rituals, I bought seedlings for the rich, Who-filled soil. Tomatoes, bell peppers, basil, thyme, sage, dill, parsley, and hot peppers, at the insistence of my Indian mom, all found a place in the small plot.  

I felt content with my garden until I noticed a small patch of lime green plants in a neighboring plot. The deeply grooved leaves, which sat close to the ground, looked familiar. Strawberry plants! Why wasn't I trying to beckon summer's first fruit? A week later, white petaled flowers with  yellow centers graced the stems. I knew the blossoms would turn into glossy red berries - more fragrant and flavorful than the super-sized varieties shipped from California. Fearful of my weakness for their juicy flesh, I scheduled a trip to the farmer's market. 

June strawberries satisfy all the senses, whether dressed up (with cream or chocolate) or eaten right off the stem. In addition, they provide a healthy dose of dietary fiber, thanks to the tiny seeds polk-a-doting the outer flesh, and vitamin C. The one drawback: this exquisite fruit lingers around for about month. So don't waste time coveting your neighbor's patch. Visit your local farmer's market this week or schedule a trip to the closest U-Pick farm!

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