Smothered Buckwheat Honey Sriracha Roast Chicken over Creamy Roasted Barley Grits

Sometimes, I feel like dressing up another dish when it feels like it’s only a component.  When I made Buckwheat Honey Sriracha Roast Chicken Legs, the easy thing is just to eat them like that or with mashed potatoes. I wanted something that would be equal to the boldness of these flavours. Periodically, I roast dry barley for various reasons, the Japanese tea, mugicha, an extra flavourful risotto or in today’s case, I ground it coarsely to make an extra flavourful version of grits.

This is just extra fun. If you want to simply enjoy the roast chicken as it was, that’s great!. And if you want to enjoy this dish without making the previous variety of roast chicken, that’s ok too. Just use leftover roast/grilled chicken of any kind. Or pan-roast some mushrooms for a meatless option. It’s up to you! 🙂

Smothered Buckwheat Honey Sriracha Roast Chicken over Creamy Roasted Barley Grits

For the Smothered Buckwheat Honey Sriracha Roast Chicken:

Roasting veg and drippings from Buckwheat Honey Sriracha Roast Chicken (or other roast chicken)

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

1 to 1-1/4 cups water

1/2 tsp, each, salt and hot paprika

Shredded meat and chopped skin from 1 recipe Buckwheat Honey Sriracha Roast Chicken (about 2 cups total)

   Place the roasting veg and drippings in a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Set aside.

   In a medium pan over medium heat, add the butter. When it melts, whisk in the flour and toast it for a few minutes. Add the water gradually, whisking it until it smoothly combines. Whisk in the roasting veg purée until it is smooth. Season with salt and hot paprika. When the mixture is thick, fold in the shredded meat and skin and heat through. Set aside and keep warm while you prepare the Creamy Roasted Barley Grits.

For the Creamy Roasted Barley Grits:

1/2 cup Roasted Barley (dry barley that’s toasted in a pan over medium high heat until golden about 7-10 minutes), ground in a food processor until nearly a flour. A few slightly chunky bits are good, even preferred, for that “grit” texture

1-1/4 cups milk

1 cup water

2 Tbsp butter

1/2 tsp salt

50g/2 oz grated pecorino cheese (or parmesan)

   In a medium pot over medium heat, add the water and milk. Bring to a simmer and slowly whisk in the roasted barley grits. Keep whisking for 7-10 minutes or until smooth. Take off the heat, whisk in the butter, salt and most of the pecorino cheese (reserve 2 Tbsp for garnish).

To serve:

   Divide the Creamy Roasted Barley Grits over two plates, allowing it to spread over the whole plate. Ladle some of the Smothered Buckwheat Honey Sriracha Roast Chicken in the centre of the grits and finish each with the reserved grated pecorino cheese. Serves 2.

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Buckwheat Honey Sriracha Roast Chicken Legs

A couple of weeks ago, a lovely friend of mine gave me a bunch of buckwheat honey. Each variety of honey has their own unique flavour profile depending on the flowers the bees dined upon. With buckwheat flowers, the resultant honey is bold, molasses-like and a bit musky for some tastes. My friend hadn’t experienced buckwheat honey before and was somewhat overwhelmed so she wanted to give it a good home. She kindly thought of my penchant for odd flavour combinations and creativity so she gave me several jars of this intense nectar.

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Happily and graciously, I started to dream of various things to do with it. Desserts, granola (just tweaking the recipe on that before blogging, coming soon), then when I made my homemade sriracha sauce, I couldn’t resist making a quick glaze for chicken legs. It’s easy and mostly hands free so you can prepare other sides with it or just two fist these guys and gnaw on them like your living in a cave!! Enjoy!!

Buckwheat Honey Sriracha Roast Chicken Legs:

For the glaze:

3 Tbsp sriracha sauce (homemade or store bought)

2 Tbsp buckwheat honey (or any honey if you aren’t a fan of the intense flavour of buckwheat honey)

4 tsp butter

   In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the sriracha, honey and butter. Stir until the butter melts and the glaze is smoothly combined. Set aside to cool.

For the Buckwheat Honey Sriracha Roast Chicken Legs:

3 stalks celery, roughly chopped

2 whole chicken legs, or 4 chicken thighs or drumsticks

Reserved glaze

   Preheat oven to 190C/375F.

   In a medium, deep roasting pan, add the chopped celery. Place the legs, skin-side up on the chopped celery. Divide the glaze over the top of the legs, brushing it evenly. Add about 1-1/2 to 2 cups of water to the bottom of the pan.

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Place on the lower rack of the preheated oven and roast for 40 minutes or until deeply golden on top.

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The skin turns into crazy-cracklin crisp so eat it or you’re missing out on most of the beauty of this dish!! Serve with mashed potatoes, rice, salad or on its own. Or use it in a couple of recipes…..keep scrolling….It’s spam-blog day!!!

Homemade Sriracha

Why, yes, I do disappear from blogging from time to time. I don’t stop cooking, but sometimes, the act of sitting and blogging eludes me for one reason or another. I could get into the various states of my overall health at times, or how I’ve been helping my brother get through some of his own health battles lately, but everyone has their own problems.

To make up for my absence, I’m making homemade sriracha sauce!

Yes, the rooster bottle that everyone shoots like ketchup on everything is relatively easy to make. If you have your windows and a fan going. The chilli fumes can get a little ferocious so be careful.

I make a lot of my own condiments for several reasons: Firstly, I know the ingredients going in. Next, I feel a closer connection to the product knowing the work that went into it and can respect the efforts of those before me. And finally, and most importantly, it ALWAYS tastes better!!

And of course when you have sriracha in the house, you gotta do a bunch of other stuff with it, so I’m gonna spam-blog a few right away. Enjoy!!

Homemade Sriracha Sauce:

12 long red finger chillis, stems removed and coarsely chopped

14 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 cups rice vinegar

   Place the chopped chillis, garlic and vinegar in a food processor or blender.

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Purée until smooth. (There will be seeds that never purée, but that’s ok because they’re getting strained anyway. You just want their heat blended into the garlic-chilli mixture)

   Pour the mixture into a strainer fitted over a large bowl.

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Press as much of the mixture through the strainer as possible. Discard the chunks of skin and seeds.

   Pour the smooth purée into a large, wide-bottomed pan over medium heat. Stir constantly for 10-15 minutes or until it reaches a desired thickness (basically, like a ketchup or tomato sauce).

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This is just a small batch, feel free to make a whole load of it when your red chillis are on sale or seasonal where you are. I’m fortunate enough to have greenhouse/nursery growers nearby who grow the most amazing red chillis so I’m going to start doing this more often. With plenty of ventilation. Seriously. The fumes will be like getting hit with pepper spray. Because, duh, that’s what pepper spray is. Concentrated chillis (ie. capsaicin) 😉

Apple Strawberry Rhubarb Honey-Glazed Ham

Whenever a holiday weekend comes around, I think of the food that I’m going to prepare. A lot of the decision is based on what I had growing up. Now that I live with my partner, I also ask her what were some of her favourite things growing up during a given holiday.

This weekend, I made a family favourite for Good Friday: potato pancakes. And when I asked her about Easter, she said honey-glazed ham. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know I won’t just go with honey. It’s gotta have something more in that glaze.

One of the organic farmers at the local farmer’s market makes jams with his summer fruits and after a winter of root vegetables (which I love, but it’s been six months!!), I love a bit of freshness. His strawberry rhubarb jam was the right burst of freshness to welcome the very gradual spring here. And add dimension to a glaze for baked ham! I added a bit of apple cider to the mix for further flavour bursts and a diversity of sugars to caramelize in the oven. It all blended into sweet, crackly meat candy at the end!

Enjoy!!

Apple Strawberry Rhubarb Honey-Glazed Ham

For the Apple Strawberry Rhubarb Honey Glaze:

1/2 cup apple cider

1/2 cup strawberry rhubarb jam (but any jam will work great)

1/4 cup honey

   In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the cider, jam and honey. Stir occasionally to bring the ingredients into a smooth glaze. Simmer for 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Set aside in a warm place.

For the Apple Strawberry Rhubarb-Glazed Ham:

1 kg/2 lb smoked ham (the farm I buy from cut their hams into all kinds of sizes, this is great for two people with a bit of leftovers)

2 apples, cored and thickly sliced

1 medium onion, peeled and thickly sliced

Reserved Apple Strawberry Rhubarb Honey Glaze

   Preheat oven to 135C/275F.

   Line a medium roasting pan with a long sheet of foil, enough to completely wrap the ham. Lay the apple and onion slices along the bottom of the foil. Place the ham on top, skin side facing up and wrap it tightly in the foil. Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes or until heated through (the rule is to bake about 45 minutes per kilo/20 minutes per pound, so if you use a bigger ham, add time accordingly).

   Take out of the oven. Increase the temperature of the oven to 220C/425F. Open the foil to expose the ham to the heat directly. Brush the ham with half of the glaze, allowing it to be thickly coated over the skin. Return to the hotter oven for 10 minutes.

   Take out of the oven again. Switch the oven from bake to broil/grill. Brush the ham with the remaining glaze and place it under the broiler on the middle rack of the oven and broil for 4-5 minutes, or until deeply caramelized. Carve into thick slices and serve with mashed potatoes or a new tradition in my household, Rustic Root Vegetable Mash along with steamed vegetables and butter or a nice green salad.

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Chokladbollar (Swedish Chocolate Coffee Balls)

As I’ve mentioned recently, I’ve been reading more about Swedish food. The main reason I like to explore other cultures is I’ll see different ways to use ingredients I already have on hand. One of the best examples of this idea is when I came upon the concept of Chokladbollar. It’s a little treat usually given for dessert in many Swedish restaurants. A blend of butter, sugar, vanilla, coffee, cocoa and oats that is then coated in coconut. Simple ingredients, easy preparation. I was left thinking, “Where has this recipe been all my life?!?!?”

I’m not the biggest fan of coconut (I know, I know, take it easy “coconut everything” people), so I obviously had to coat it in something else. I toasted some flax seeds and rolled oats, cracked them into smaller pieces and coated with that. You could coat it with all kinds of things. I’m thinking of coarsely cracking toasted spices next time as a coating, like fennel seeds.

The interior could also be up for interpretation. If you like more coconut, use coconut fat instead of butter and coat with coconut. You could also play around with different coffee varieties or use brewed tea instead or a favourite boozy beverage like an orange liqueur. Like I said, I saw the recipe and thought of the endless possibilities (and the subsequent increase in gym time afterwards 😉 ). It’s about having fun either way. And a little treat along the way adds to the fun! 🙂

Chokladbollar (Swedish Chocolate Coffee Balls) (adapted from one of my new favourite sites for Swedish recipes: swedishfood.com

1/2 cup superfine sugar (I just took evaporated cane juice and buzzed it in a blender for a few seconds to take it down to nearly a powder consistency)

1/3 cup softened butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 Tbsp strong coffee, hot

3 Tbsp cocoa powder

Pinch salt

1-2/3 cups rolled oats (I used a larger flake rolled oats. If you use quick oats, the volume may differ. Add 1-1/2 cups initially and see how it combines)

3 Tbsp flax seeds, toasted in a dry skillet over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes, until it starts to “pop”)

3 Tbsp rolled oats, toasted in a dry skillet over medium high heat for 4-5 minutes until starting to go golden

      In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar until smooth and no longer gritty. Whisk in the vanilla until smoothly combined.

     In a small bowl, whisk together the hot coffee and cocoa powder. Allow to cool to room temperature. Whisk into the butter/sugar/vanilla mixture until smooth. Whisk in the salt to combine.  Add the oats and fold in until uniformly combined. I find the mixture at this stage too soft to form into balls, so I place the bowl in the freezer to firm up the butter for about 15 minutes.

     Coarsely grind the toasted flax seeds and oats and set in a small bowl, tossing with your fingers to evenly combine.

     Using about a tablespoon of the mixture at a time, form into small ball shapes about the size of a walnut. Roll the ball in the flax-oat mixture and place on a wax-paper lined baking sheet. Place in the freezer to firm up and transfer to a container with a tight fitting lid. Makes 25-30.

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I did little egg shapes because it is the Easter season and everyone is egg crazy 😉

     To serve, it’s normally given at the end of a meal, but I enjoy it with a coffee as an alternative little sweet bite.

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Spiced Roasted Tomato Jam

I was making a BLT the other day and thought I’d boost the flavour of certain elements and it evolved into a crazy sandwich with lentil sprouts and tomato jam. The sweet and savoury jam really popped with the bacon and crisp lentil sprouts (yes I sprout my own lentils, I have various ways to amuse myself in the kitchen 😉 ).

Anyways, the longest part is roasted tomatoes and most of that is down time, so it’s easy to throw together and have in your fridge to add to a BLT or any sandwich.

Spiced Roasted Tomato Jam

For the Roasted Tomatoes:

5 medium tomatoes, halved

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

2 tsp oil

   Preheat oven to 220C/425F.

   In a deep baking pan, lay the tomatoes, cut-side down. Scatter the chopped onion over it, drizzle with oil and roast on the lower rack for 15 minutes. Pull out of the oven, turn the tomatoes over and roast for a further 10 minutes until very soft and starting to brown along the edges.

   Transfer the roasted tomatoes and onions to a blender and purée until smooth. Set aside.

For the Spiced Roasted Tomato Jam:

1/2 tsp oil

1 small onion, peeled and chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 tsp, each, cumin seeds and fennel seeds

1/2 cup roasted tomato purée (you’ll have leftover roasted tomatoes from above. Use it in a quick pasta sauce or just double this recipe)

1/4 cup honey

1/2 tsp salt

   In a small pot over medium high heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and celery. Sauté until the onions and celery are softened (about 3-4 minutes). Add the cumin and fennel seeds. Stir to toast the seeds until they become fragrant (about a minute). Add the roasted tomato purée, honey and salt. Reduce the heat to medium, allow to simmer, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes until thick like a jam. Makes about 1 cup.

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Maple Ginger Beef and Vegetable Stirfry with Sambal

I seem to get these creative waves in the kitchen lately and just want to cook, cook, cook and before I know it, I have three or four recipes that I didn’t blog. Do I blog everything I do in the kitchen? Not necessarily. I’ll work some aspect of what I’m doing into a sandwich or something and think it’s a pretty easy concept to understand so I may add that to the bottom of an existing blog. If it’s something I should do as a separate post, feel free to smack me around and tell me to blog more. Or you know, look here for various permutations of things I’m doing oftentimes before I blog it (Insert shameless Instagram plug here).

The most recent thing I did last night was a good old beef and veggie stirfry. Since it’s maple syrup season in many parts of Canada, it’s customary to pour the stuff everywhere!! (not really, it’s just an awesome Canadian stereotype, but parts of Canada go maple crazy about now). So I wanted to incorporate that complex sweetness to a beef marinade for a stirfry. I tend to go with the Grade B or Amber maple syrup most times because it’s bold in flavour and its sweetness has just the right level of background bitterness to compliment it.

The traditional thickener in any good stirfry sauce is corn starch. The best way to know that your corn starch isn’t GMO (if that’s important to you. I tend to try to avoid it when I can), is to buy organic. Yeah, it costs more, but I’m not paying a delivery driver a tip when I make this, so it pays for my fancy corn starch 😉

Maple Ginger Beef and Vegetable Stirfry with Sambal

For the Maple Ginger Marinated Beef:

1/4 cup dark soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

Celery leaves from the interior of a head of celery (about 1/4 cup)

300g/12 oz beef ribeye steak, cut into 1 cm (1/2″) strips across the grain (discard any larger bits of fat if it’s a concern)

   In a medium, wide bottomed bowl (or I used a glass lasagna pan), combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, water, maple syrup, ginger, garlic and celery leaves. Lay the strips of beef in the marinade and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes. The salty soy and acidic vinegar will penetrate the thin strips of beef with flavour quite quickly.

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To prepare the beef:

   Preheat a wok over high heat. Add 1 tsp oil and pull the strips out of the marinade with tongs, allowing the excess to drip off as much as possible. Sear the beef on both sides for 45-60 seconds per side. Transfer to a bowl and set aside while you prepare the veggies. Strain the marinade, discard the solid components and reserve the liquid component for the sauce. Don’t worry about having raw meat in it. You’ll be cooking the liquid over very high heat and any risk of pathogens will be killed. Plus, don’t waste flavour!!! 😉

For the Maple Ginger Beef and Vegetable Stirfry with Sambal:

2 tsp oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 medium onion, peeled and sliced

3 stalks celery, sliced

3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

100g/4 oz green beans, tips trimmed then halved

2 medium sweet bell peppers, seeds, stem and core removed, sliced

1 cup cauliflower, cut into 3 cm (1-1/4″) florets and stems thinly sliced (don’t waste the stems, they’re delicious!!!)

2 Tbsp sambal oelek (or your favourite chilli sauce. Yes, you can use Sriracha if you want 😉 )

Reserved seared beef

Reserved marinade

2 Tbsp corn starch + 1/4 cup water

Water, to ease things along the way

   The key to any stirfry is to have all of the veggies ready to go before you even turn on the wok, so have it all sliced and ready so it’s easy to “dump and toss” so to speak.

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Heat a wok over high heat. Add the oil and as it smoulders and just about to smoke, add the garlic and ginger. Stirfry with a quick tossing and shaking motion for no more than 15 seconds. You’ll see the edges start to brown. Add the onions, celery, carrot and cauliflower. Toss quickly, stirring with a large slotted spoon. Add a bit of water if the heat starts to scorch too much. Add half of the sambal and toss to coat the veggies. Add the green beans, sweet peppers, the reserved marinade and another 1/3 cup water. Stir and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes to just cook the veggies enough to take the raw crunch out of them but leave a pleasant crispness.

   Add the reserved beef, the remaining sambal and stirfry quickly to combine. Pull the beef and veggies to one side of the wok. Add the corn starch/water mixture and stir to combine it into the sauce. As it comes to a boil (very quickly at this heat), the sauce thickens. Stir to coat all of the beef and veggies. Serve over rice. Serves 2-3.

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If you’re serving people that aren’t into chilli heat, it’s easy to omit the sambal. The sauce will still be tasty without it, but I love the heat, so it’s there 😉