Savoury Sambal Chicken and Sausage Soft Tacos with Honey Garlic Stir Fry Veggies

It was one of those days that I wanted to do soft tacos, but I also wanted to do some vaguely Asian flavours. Namely, I wanted to make my own sambal (again, for those keeping track).

I also wanted to incorporate some smoky garlic sausage (because there was some leftover, but really, do I need a reason for sausage??)….Anyways, I bridged the gap between Eastern Europe and Indonesian style chilli sambal with the addition of celery and sweet paprika.

To balance out the fury of homemade sambal (seriously, it can mess you up if you aren’t ready for it), I decided to add a sweeter element. I quickly stir-fried some veggies and glazed it with a fresh honey and garlic syrup.

All of it was held in place (precariously…tacos are supposed to be messy!!), with a homemade, pillowy Sour Cream Flatbread. The sour cream worked into the dough really softens it up to make it a super soft taco!!

Enjoy!!

Savoury Sambal Chicken and Sausage Soft Tacos with Honey Garlic Stir Fry Veggies

For the Sour Cream Flatbreads:

3 cups red fife flour (or other whole grain flour)

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup full fat sour cream

1 cup warm water

   In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the sour cream and crumble it into the dry ingredients until the texture is like course crumbs. Add the warm water and stir into the flour-sour cream mixture until a dough starts to come together. Turn out on to the counter and knead until a soft yet slightly sticky dough is achieved. Divide into 12 dough balls and set aside for 20 minutes.

   Preheat a nonstick pan (or griddle) over medium heat. Roll each dough ball into rough 15cm/6″ circles about 1 cm (1/2″) thick.

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Griddle on each side for about 2 minutes or until speckled with golden elements.  Repeat with the remaining dough balls. Makes 12 flatbreads.

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For the Savoury Celery Red Chilli Sambal:

3 red finger chillis, stems removed, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup total)

2 Tbsp vinegar

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp celery seeds

2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped

1 Tbsp sweet paprika

In a blender or food processor, add the fresh chillis, vinegar, salt, celery seeds and celery. Pulse and purée until nearly smooth with some small chunkiness. Add the paprika and stir to combine. Makes about a cup. Good for one month in the refrigerator.

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For the Savoury Sambal Chicken and Sausage:

1 tsp oil

300g/12 oz boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used about 500g bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and just removed the skin and bones myself), cut into rough 1.5cm (3/4″) chunks

100g smoked garlic sausage (or your favourite cooked sausage), cut into rough 1.5cm (3/4″) chunks

2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced

3 Tbsp Savoury Celery Red Chilli Sambal (or if you don’t want to make your own sambal, use 3 Tbsp store bought sambal oelek and stir in 1/2 tsp, each, celery seed and sweet paprika to approximate the flavour)

1 medium tomato or 6 cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped

1/2 cup water

   In a wok over medium high heat, add the oil. As the oil smoulders and just starts to smoke, add the chicken and sear on each side for about 2-3 minutes per side. Add the sausage, ginger and sambal. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes until the meat is coated and the sambal toasts to boost its flavour. Add the tomatoes and water, stir frying to combine the flavours and allow to simmer for 4-5 minutes until most of the excess moisture reduces. Set aside in a warm place while you prepare the Honey Garlic Stir Fry Veggies.

For the Honey Garlic Stir Fry Veggies:

1 tsp oil

10-12 fresh green beans, thickly sliced

4 stalks celery, thickly sliced

2 medium sweet bell peppers, coarsely chopped (I used two different colours, but any single colour is fine)

5 cloves garlic

1/3 cup honey

3/4 cup water

   In a wok over medium high heat add the oil. When the oil is smouldering and just about to smoke, add the green beans, celery and bell peppers. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes until just starting to char along the edges. Add the garlic and stir fry for about a minute or until the garlic starts to become fragrant, but not quite browning yet. Add the honey and water. Stir to combine and simmer for 2 minutes.

   Draw the stir-fried veggies to one side of the wok and allow the liquid component to reduce over medium high heat for 4-5 minutes or until thickened.

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   Toss the veggies in this honey garlic syrup and set aside.

To serve:

   Spoon some of the prepared Savoury Sambal Chicken and Sausage in the middle of the Sour Cream Flatbreads. Top with some of the Honey Garlic Stir Fry Veggies. Serves 4.

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Knackebrod (Swedish Crispbread/Cracker)

I read a lot about food. I watch a lot of food-related videos. There’s an endless amount of food knowledge from every country in the world and we’re more exposed to other places more than ever now. On Instagram, I follow someone from Sweden and she occasionally puts up food. I work my Translator app on my phone overtime figuring out what is there. And sometimes the words have a common root to English so it’s not too big of a struggle.

The other Swedish-related thing I was watching the other day was when Jamie Oliver went to hang out in Stockholm. There I saw them making Knackbrod or a Swedish-style crispbread/flatbread/cracker kinda thing. It’s often served as a snack on its own with coffee, with lemon and sugar or whipped cream and fruit compote or as you’ll see below I took a bit of a stretch to the norm and made a brunch idea with eggs, cheese and berry jam.

When thinking about making this, I learned my Instagram friend was celebrating a birthday today so I asked if I could cook something Swedish she liked. She said spicy, so I said, “A knackebrod with chillis?” She laughed and said yes a Red Hot Chilli Knacke.

Red Hot Chilli Knacke (Spicy Swedish Crispbread)

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup water

14 g/2 packets dry yeast

2-1/2 cups Park wheat flour (or bread flour)

2-1/2 cups rye flour

1 tsp salt

3 tsp dried chilli flakes, for topping

1 tsp kosher salt, for topping

Optional toppings can be caraway seeds, cumin seeds or fennel seeds

   Preheat oven to 250C/475F.

   In a small pot, heat the cream and water to just warm, but not near boiling. I actually kept my finger in the liquid as I heated it up. As the temperature just exceeded body temperature, I took it off the heat. Add the yeast, stir together with a fork and allow to sit for 10 minutes until bubbly and frothy.

   In a large bowl, combine the bread flour, rye flour and salt. Add the frothy cream-milk mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon or fork initially to start to gather the dough together.

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Turn it out to the counter and start to knead to combine the dough the rest of the way. Knead for a further 5-8 minutes until smooth. The cream makes it a very smooth dough to work with almost from the start so kneading is easier than other bread dough.

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Once it is smooth and slightly sticky, divide into 6 balls (although if you want your crispbreads smaller, divide into 12 dough balls. Cover with a clean towel and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes.

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Press down a ball of dough and roll to a rough circle about 15-20cm/6-8″ in diameter. Transfer to a sheet of parchment paper and roll out thinner until it’s about 30cm/12″ or so. Poke the surface all over with a fork to ensure the dough doesn’t rise too much while baking. Sprinkle with dried chilli and salt. Roll again to press the toppings into the dough. Transfer the rolled bread dough to a large baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Turn the bread and bake for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough balls. Once done, turn off the oven and when the oven is almost cooled off completely put the breads back in the oven on the rack and allow to dry completely. Makes 6 large crispbreads or 12 small ones.

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As I said above, I had a bit of fun with brunch using my new tasty knachebrod. I cut up some beautiful garlic-infused pecorino cheese, added a dollop of Saskatoon berry jam (a local berry that grows in Western Canada) and fried a couple of sunny side eggs, then called it delicious!!

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The Basics: Chicken Broth

As I ride the up and down of allergies to cold/flu to sharing it with my lady at home, I’ve gone through several remedies that ease symptoms. Each person is unique in what they can handle when it comes to being weak from any illness. I tend to hit any flu/allergy with something spicy combined with a ton of fluids. Water and juices mainly, but of course, the most basic of remedy: chicken soup.

In recent years, basic chicken soup has been renamed “bone broth.” This can include any animal bone that goes into a pot with mixed flavourful vegetables and water, with perhaps a bay leaf and other aromatic herbs to further flavour it.

Many of us had the comfort of our mother making chicken soup for us when we were ill as children and anything that encourages people to produce their own food and limit waste at the same time is great.

I invariably have the stripped bones from a roast chicken in a freezer bag in my freezer so I can make chicken broth on any given Sunday. Yesterday, with both of us in the house in drippy, coughy mode, I plopped that frozen block of bones in a large pot, roughly chopped/tore some vegetables with a few bay leaves and covered it with water. If you want to leave out the chicken bones and do a purely vegetable broth, I’d recommend adding slices of fresh ginger and whole cloves of garlic to had a more potent punch (and a vegetable broth takes a fraction of the time, about 45-60 minutes).

Your big pot of broth can be divided into smaller containers to go in the freezer so you can have it available at a moment’s notice. It’s obviously great for sipping when you have a sore throat, but it’s also great to cook your rice in for extra flavour or to add flavour to other sauces and gravies (Note: some chicken stock in a Mac N Cheese sauce instead of some of the milk is killer!!)

Chicken Broth

Bones from 2.5kg/5lb chicken

2 medium onions, roughly chopped (and used the stems and peels too, they have a ton of flavour)

6 stalks celery, roughly chopped (I use the inner stalks and leaves plus the knobby end of the head that would usually get thrown out)

4 medium carrots, unpeeled, roughly chopped

4 medium parsnips, unpeeled, roughly chopped

3 or 4 bay leaves

   Place all of the ingredients in a large pot. Add enough water to just cover, bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 3-4 hours. Turn off heat, allow the bones and vegetables to steep for a further hour or two (or three or four if your recovering from a bit of cold or flu and you fall asleep after turning the heat off haha). Strain.

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Feel free to pick any meat from the bones. It isn’t haute cuisine, but it’s just fine to add to your soup. Waste not want not!! Seriously, the meat from the shoulder blade of a chicken is THE best part of the whole chicken!! Eat it!!

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Like I said above, the strained broth can be divided into small containers (I use containers about 500mL in size).

   For a basic option that harkens back to my childhood, is to take a couple cups of broth, bring it back to a simmer over medium heat and cook some egg noodles in it (I just used about 1/2 cup dry csiga noodles. They’re a Hungarian short noodle, but just use broken spaghetti or vermicelli if you like). Add some of the chicken meat from the carcass and enjoy!!

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…..enjoy maybe more noodles than broth. Fine, I like noodles. A nagging cold can make me a little childish!! 😉

Herbed Roast Chicken Thighs with Volcano Gravy

For the last few days, my allergies have been slapping me around. The winters in this part of Canada are long, with an extended period of snow cover. This allows whatever was buried beneath to go stagnant in a way. And with the odd freeze/thaw cycles we had throughout this past winter, it also gave opportunity for the proliferation of snow mould. Essentially, this is when the dessicated matter like leaves and dead grass grow mould. If it was covered by snow and extremely cold for the bulk of the winter, this wouldn’t be an issue, but with this year’s weather, it made a “bumper crop” of snow mould…..And I’m a scratchy-throated, drippy-nosed mess.

….Throw in the Daylight Savings thing and I need to take extreme measures to feel better.

I had the typical tea and honey to soothe the throat. A nice little tea shoppe not far from where I live takes care of me that way….

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The next step I take seems counter-intuitive. I make a sore throat burn with spicy food. Part of the reasoning is based in organic chemistry. To put it simply, the active compound in chillis, act to break apart mucus of any kind. And if your immune system is a little low and susceptible to other infections (colds, flus), then it will also make your throat an inhospitable environment for anything new to grow.

…..Enough dork-speak, time for Volcano Gravy!!!

Herbed Roast Chicken Thighs with Volcano Gravy

For the Herbed Roast Chicken Thighs:

4 chicken thighs, skin on, bone-in (because it has more flavour and maintains moisture better)

1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped

2 stalks celery, roughly chopped (this is where I use those interior stalks from the head of celery with the gnarly leaves and odd shaped stalks)

2 medium carrots, roughly chopped

2 medium parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped

2 Tbsp dried thyme (or 1/4 cup fresh)

2 Tbsp dried sage (or 1/4 cup fresh)

1/4 cup softened butter

1 cup water

2 or 3 red finger chillis, roughly chopped (for the gravy)

Prepared rustic skin-on mashed potatoes, to serve (if you want, the gravy is fine as a dip for the roast chicken if you wanna eat it caveman style)

   Preheat oven to 190C/375F.

   In a 20cm/9″ square roasting pan/cake pan, scatter the onions, celery, carrots and parsnips along the bottom.

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Lay the chicken thighs, bone-side down over the vegetables. Smear the tops with softened butter and sprinkle the dried herbs over the top of the chicken and amongst the vegetables. Add the water to just cover the bottom of the pan and place in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes (chicken thighs are pretty forgiving, a few extra minutes won’t hurt. Especially good for people that aren’t feeling well and bending over into a hot oven haha!)

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Once roasted, remove the chicken from the pan and keep in a warm place (if you’re making mashed potatoes, turn on the pot at this point while you prepare the gravy. If not, just dunk the chicken in the gravy. You’re an adult, go nuts!!). Transfer the roasting vegetables and juices from the pan to a blender and purée until smooth. At this point it would be a perfectly fine, regular gravy (or add 1/2 cup chicken stock and reduce with 1 Tbsp butter + 1 Tbsp flour stirred into a paste to make a larger amount of gravy), but because I wanted to add more spice, I added 2 fresh red chillis to the blender.

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Once smooth, I transferred it to a small pan and heated it back up as I mashed potatoes. Proceed with caution, this doesn’t mess around. Serves 4 brave souls (or portion out 1/4 of the vegetable purée, add the chillis and serve everyone else regular gravy. It’s okay to be accommodating of others, even when you’re not feeling 100%.

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Smoked Sausage Pepper and Feta Frittata Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I’ve always thought brunch was the best meal. It’s one of those meals where anything goes. You want a burger? Sure, just put an egg on it and voila it’s brunch! You want a boozy drink? Sure, just add fruit juice or something and it’s brunch!

Today, I wanted a grilled cheese sandwich and a frittata, so I put them all together and, you guessed it, it’s brunch!!

Smoked Sausage Pepper and Feta Frittata Grilled Cheese Sandwich

For the Smoked Sausage Pepper and Feta Frittata:

50g/2 oz smoked sausage (I used a Hungarian Paprika Smokie, but a smoked garlic sausage would work great), sliced into thin strips 1cm(1/2″) x 4cm(2″) in size

1 small sweet bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, thinly sliced

1/2 medium onion, roasted, chopped (I had some leftover, but 3 green onions finely chopped would be great too)

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

50g/2 oz feta cheese, crumbled

3 large eggs

6 Tbsp milk

   Preheat oven to 190C/375F. Line a 20cm/9″ square cake pan with parchment paper.

   Scatter the sausage, peppers, onions and celery along the bottom of the prepared pan.

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Beat the eggs in a medium bowl until you have smoothly combined the yolk and white. Add the milk and whisk together until smooth. Pour over the sausage and vegetables and crumble the feta evenly over the top.

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Bake on the lower rack of the preheated oven for 20 minutes until the eggs are set and the edges just start to brown. Cut into four pieces and set aside in a warm place.

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For the Smoked Sausage Pepper and Feta Frittata Grilled Cheese Sandwich:

Prepared Smoked Sausage Pepper and Feta Frittata

8 slices whole wheat sandwich bread, crusts cut off to square off the bread (it’ll fit the frittata easier. It’s not to make it dainty. It just worked out that way 😉 )

100g/4 oz Cayenne Peppercorn Gouda (or any flavoured cheese that’ll melt nicely in a grilled cheese sandwich), shredded

2/3 cup softened butter, for spreading on the bread

   Spread the butter on one side of two slices of bread. Lay them buttered side down on a griddle (or large pan) over medium heat. Sprinkle the bread with enough shredded gouda cheese to cover in a thick layer. When it’s done over medium heat, by the time the cheese has melted, the buttered sides of the bread will be grilled to a nice golden brown. Lay one quarter of the prepared Frittata on one slice of bread.

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Lay the other prepared slice of cheesy grilled bread on top and transfer to a baking sheet. Turn the oven off and the residual heat from baking the frittata will keep the sandwich warm while you prepare the remaining sandwiches. Repeat with remaining bread, butter, cheese and frittata portions. Serves 4.

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Apple Cider-Glazed Garlic and Mushrooms

The winter goes on for months in this part of Canada. I love winter and enjoy all kinds of weather. It’s a matter of proper preparation and layers. And when there’s even a hope of spring-like temperatures, I’m eager to sit on my little patio and enjoy a coffee or a simple dinner like soup and sandwiches. Today was one of those days. Beautiful sun, melting snow, more birds singing a spring-like tune and a breeze to remind you of the warmth that took a break for a few months and is coming soon.

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I usually have some kind of soup in my freezer for an easy meal. And with the beauty of an outdoor meal, I wanted a quick dinner, so I heated up some Buttercup Squash Soup and dug out some mushrooms from the fridge to stuff into panini. My mushrooms were at that “half shriveled” stage where it’s just starting to dry but could still be pan roasted. I wanted to bring them back to full life so I added some apple cider. To finish it and not have it taste too “dessert-y,” I added sliced garlic and finished with black pepper.

So grab your soup and sandwich and get outside. The cold won’t last forever. Sometimes, you just have to coax it a little with spring-like behaviour 😉

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Apple Cider-Glazed Garlic and Mushrooms

100g/ 4 oz fresh mushrooms, thickly sliced

2 tsp oil

2 tsp butter

1 cup apple cider

3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

1/2 tsp black pepper

   In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, add the oil and butter. When the butter has melted and starts to bubble, add the mushrooms in a single layer. Leave to roast on one side for about 2 minutes. Toss the mushrooms and roast on the other side for about another 2 minutes. Add the apple cider and garlic. Simmer for 5-7 minutes or until the liquid has reduced completely and the apple cider “syrups” have glazed everything. Take off the heat and finish with black pepper.

To serve, I just sandwiched this in a bun with shredded gouda and pressed on my indoor grill. Feel free to put it in a grilled cheese sandwich, on a toasted slice of baguette as a bruschetta or on a pizza. It’s sweet, savoury and meaty. The perfect way to transition away from the cold into the next season 🙂

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