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Spiced Cucumbers and Coconut Milk

Spiced Cucumbers and Coconut Milk

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups 1/4-inch-thick slices peeled lemon cucumber (or any other cucumber)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 small tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 red Thai chiles (with seeds), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Recipe Preparation

  • Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add cucumber. Sauté until beginning to soften, about 1 minute. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  • Add tomatoes, scallions, chiles and garlic. Sauté until vegetables are soft, 2–3 minutes.

  • Add coconut milk and honey; simmer until vegetables are cooked through, 2–3 minutes. Stir in cilantro leaves and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.

  • Serve with rice, if desired.

Recipe by Jody Adams of Trade in Boston,

Nutritional Content

5 servings, 1 serving contains: Calories (kcal) 120 Fat (g) 10 Saturated Fat (g) 6 Cholesterol (mg) 0 Carbohydrates (g) 10 Dietary Fiber (g) 2 Total Sugars (g) 6 Protein (g) 2 Sodium (mg) 130Reviews Section

How to Make It

In a small bowl, mix coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, and vinegar until smooth.

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Rub spice mixture all over breast halves.

Pour oil into a 10- to 12-inch nonstick frying pan over high heat, swirling to coat bottom. When oil is hot, add chicken and turn as needed to brown on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to a rimmed plate.

Add onion, garlic, and ginger to pan stir often until onion is lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add coconut milk and 1/2 teaspoon salt stir often until mixture boils. Add chicken and any accumulated juices, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered, turning pieces once, until no longer pink in center of thickest part (cut to test), 10 to 12 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a rimmed platter.

Turn heat to high and boil sauce until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 4 minutes. Spoon evenly over chicken. Add more salt to taste, and garnish with pepper rings if desired.


Recipe Summary

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • ¼ teaspoon ground dried turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 4 boned, skinned chicken breast halves (5 to 6 oz. each)
  • 1 teaspoon salad oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 can (14 oz.) reduced-fat coconut milk
  • About 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Thin red or green bell pepper rings (optional)

In a small bowl, mix coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, and vinegar until smooth.

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Rub spice mixture all over breast halves.

Pour oil into a 10- to 12-inch nonstick frying pan over high heat, swirling to coat bottom. When oil is hot, add chicken and turn as needed to brown on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to a rimmed plate.

Add onion, garlic, and ginger to pan stir often until onion is lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add coconut milk and 1/2 teaspoon salt stir often until mixture boils. Add chicken and any accumulated juices, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered, turning pieces once, until no longer pink in center of thickest part (cut to test), 10 to 12 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a rimmed platter.

Turn heat to high and boil sauce until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 4 minutes. Spoon evenly over chicken. Add more salt to taste, and garnish with pepper rings if desired.


  • 1.5 lbs chicken thighs (or ground chicken, see note)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 inches ginger, grated (see note)
  • 1 T garam masala
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp Himalayan pink or sea salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 2 T avocado oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped (about 6) dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup full-fat canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 English cucumber, julienned
  • handful fresh cilantro
  • lime wedges
  • 1 head butter or bibb lettuce (about 12-15 small leaves), leaves washed and dried
  1. Cut chicken thighs roughly into 1" pieces and add to a food processor. Pulse about 10-15 times, until finely chopped but not pasty. (Better to under do it than over do it.)
  2. Turn ground chicken out into a large bowl. Add crushed garlic, grated ginger, garam masala, tumeric, cumin, pink salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Combine well. Set aside while you chop onions, peppers and cucumbers + wash and dry lettuce.
  3. Heat a large cast-iron skillet or fry pan over medium-high heat. Add avocado oil and heat until just shimmering. Add onions and bell pepper, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until translucent and brown in places, about 3-4 mins.
  4. Add seasoned chicken to onions and peppers and brown until cooked through, breaking up into pieces with a spoon, about 5 mins. Add apricots, peas and coconut milk, reduce heat to low and cook until peas are warmed through, about another 5 mins.
  5. Serve spiced chicken filling spooned into lettuce cups. Top with julienned cucumbers, cilantro and lime juice. Enjoy!

Coconut rice with aubergines and pickled cucumber

Ideally, you’d have two wide, lidded pans – one for the rice and one for the aubergines. Serves four.

For the pickle
½ cucumber
2 tbsp lemon juice
¾ tsp caster sugar
½ bird’s eye chilli, very finely chopped

For the rice
350g jasmine rice
300ml coconut milk (the rest of the tin goes into the aubergines)

For the aubergines
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 red onion, peeled, halved and cut into thin half moons
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 ½ bird’s eye chillies, very finely chopped
1kg aubergines, cut into quarters and then into 1cm-thick slices
100ml coconut milk
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp light soy sauce
Salt
½ tsp sugar
1 handful salted peanuts, crushed

First make the pickle. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways, scoop out and discard the seeds (use a teaspoon), then chop the flesh into a fine dice. Put the cucumber in a bowl with the lemon juice, a quarter-teaspoon of salt, the caster sugar and chilli, and mix to combine.


Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric from Alison Roman in The New York Times

Spicy Chickpeas are cooked in garlic, ginger and onion

This recipe landed in my inbox in a collection of the 10 Most-Popular recipes in The New York Times. Turns out the Times runs posts of its Most Popular recipes so frequently, that I cannot tell you what time frame they’re referring to. However, the recipe was first published right after Thanksgiving this year. Since I have resolved to cook with more plant protein and less animal protein, I was really excited to see it. I’ve had huge success with a Chickpea recipe in the past so I was drawn to this one. (There’s a link to that recipe after this one. Do check it out) I cooked it and we loved it. Chickpeas are added to a spicy mix of garlic, lots of ginger and yellow onion. They crisp away on the stove sizzling along in the pan. When they’re cooked, you put a cup of the chickpeas aside to top the finished stew. Red Chili Pepper and Turmeric go in with coconut milk and stock added after you’ve crushed the chickpeas to thicken the stew. It bubbles away, a lot longer than the recipe indicated. The final ingredient—a choice of greens—is added, the stew is ladled out, topped with the reserved chickpeas, mint and a dollop of yogurt. I actually topped mine with Ricotta since we had no plain yogurt in the house. It’s sublime! But little did I know what wild controversy there is surrounding this wonderful dish.

Alison Roman of The New York Times

I always like to put recipes in context. So I circled back to the New York Times and discovered a lot more than I bargained for. Alison Roman had written an introduction to her recipe which seemed fairly innocuous to me. It was titled “Creamy Hearty and (Sort of) Virtuous.” In it, she made a case for not labeling recipes. In her example she wrote “Call it vegetarian and I will convince myself that whatever it is would have been better with sausage in it”. Ms. Roman went on to say that this almost vegetarian recipe (you can use chicken stock in it) is ‘a hearty, creamy, heavily spiced stew that just happens to be free of meat or dairy and full of protein and leafy greens.” She wouldn’t label the stew vegetarian because it might turn off omnivores. Sounds reasonable to me.

It’s essential to use full-fat coconut milk for this recipe…no reduced fat or coconut water or coconut cream please!

Well, the readers of The New York Times were having none of that. Bang at the top of the Comments was a woman who ridiculed the dish pointing out the fat content of coconut milk. She claimed she’d done ‘some quick nutritional calculations’ and the dish has more saturated fat (32 grams) than a woman should eat in a day ‘making this a decidedly UNhealthy recipe’. So much for any “(Sort of) Virtuous” label for this reader. But “Suzy” of New York was the tip of the iceberg. “Why on earth is Roman apologizing for offering a vegetarian recipe and why is she refusing the label it as such. Afraid of annoying her Republican in-laws or something?” (I had no clue Republicans were anti-vegetarian, did you?) From there, the comments descended into rather predictable Times talk about saving the planet. Good lord it’s a stew. And a darned good one. And here is the recipe:


Broth and Stock

As long-time readers know, I'm a big advocate for bone broth. Further, broths and stocks are some of the most cost-saving foods you can prepare at home. Commercially prepared stocks at your local health foods store can cost upwards of $6/qt, but made at home they're almost free.

What you need: Bones, the frame of a roast chicken, a fresh chicken, and water make the easiest stock. You might also add vinegar or wine to better extract minerals from the bones, or vegetables and herbs to flavor your stock. You'll also need a large stockpot or a slow cooker.


Shrimp and Sweet Potato Curry with Lemongrass and Coconut Milk

In about the same amount of time you’ll spend on takeout, you could make this recipe. And: It tastes incredible and feels so much better to eat.

1 tablespoon yellow curry paste

1 (13½-ounce) can light coconut milk

10 ounces tail-on shrimp (deveined)

1. Prepare the ingredients: Wash and dry the fresh produce. Thinly slice the scallions, separating the white bottoms and hollow green tops. Halve the sweet potato lengthwise cut crosswise into ¼-inch pieces. Using the back side of your knife, smash the lemongrass to release the oils cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Quarter the bok choy lengthwise through the stem ends. Cut off and discard the bottom inch of the bok choy stems separate the leaves. Halve the lime crosswise.

2. Start the curry: In a large, high-sided pan (or pot), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the curry paste and sliced white bottoms of the scallions. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until thoroughly combined and fragrant. Add the coconut milk (carefully, as the liquid may splatter), sliced sweet potato, smashed lemongrass, and ½ cup water season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 13 to 15 minutes, or until the sweet potato is tender when pierced with a fork.

3. Finish the curry: Once the sweet potato has cooked about 10 minutes, pat the shrimp dry with paper towels season with salt and pepper. Add the seasoned shrimp and prepared bok choy to the pan. Loosely cover with foil and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes, or until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through. Turn off the heat. Carefully remove and discard the lemongrass pieces. Taste, then season with salt and pepper if desired.

4. To serve: Garnish the finished curry with the sliced green tops of the scallions. Serve with the lime halves on the side garnish with as much of the juice as you’d like.


Other recipe ideas for leftover cucumber:

4. I really wanted to find a really good historic British recipe using cucumber, notwithstanding that in the 17th and 18th centuries, they were generally thought to be poisonous or only fit for cattle fodder (hence the name “cowcumbers”), but by the Victorian era and early 20th century the British were frankly committing crimes against the blameless cucumber. The idea of boiling a cucumber and serving in a white sauce, beloved of some of my older cookbooks is one that I find really unappealing. However, in 1925 Hilda Leyel in The Gentle Art of Cookery came up trumps by suggesting chunks of cucumbers, dipped in seasoned breadcrumbs and fried. Which sounds suspiciously like the American “frickle” (fried pickle). Sadly Leyel rather lets the side down by suggesting serving hers with bread sauce. I’d just have mine with a cold beer!

5. Rupert Kirby of Casa Rosada has tweaked the classic vichyssoise soup by adding refreshing lemongrass and coriander to his cold cucumber soup.

7. Dominic Franks of Belleau Kitchen proves that lightly cooked cucumber works beautifully with a summery salmon and fennel dish.

8. Cookie and Kate’s refreshing cucumber and mint gimlet is the perfect cocktail on a hot summer’s day.

9. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall naturally has loads of ideas for using up cucumbers. What about his delicate cucumber with sorbet? Apparently the Pimms is optional. As if!

10. A cooling Turkish cacik is a simple dipping sauce of cucumber and yogurt, which is very nice with lamb burgers or even a smoked salmon sandwich.

11. For something a bit spicy try Diana Kuan of Appetite for China’s pork and cucumber stir fry. She also has a great recipe on her website for a Sichuan spicy cucumber salad, which is probably not for the faint-hearted!

12. Karen Burns-Booth of Lavender and Lovage makes these elegant little cucumber cups with smoked salmon and creme fraiche.

13. Camilla Hawkins of Fab food 4 All makes this spicy but creamy Spanish-style chilled soup with cucumber and tomato, full of the flavours of sunshine.

14. Yotam Ottolenghi’s Thai-inspired cucumber and papaya salad and is packed full of far eastern flavours.

15. If you love Korean kimchi, but don’t want to go through the whole faff of fermenting it, try this seasonal cucumber kimchi from food historian Laura Kelley, (although you will have to reduce the quantities as she makes a vast amount!)

16. A quick Asian-style pickle is the perfect accompaniment to Malaysian chicken satay.

17. Amy Sherman of Cooking with Amy makes this delicious fruit salad of mango and cucumber.

18. The Guardian Cook section’s 10 best salad drawer recipes has some corkers that use a little cucumber, but the one that really grabbed my attention was Michael Mina of Cook Taste Eat’s clever chargrilled cucumber salad recipe.

19. For more information about cucumbers, check out the Cucumber Growers’ website - full of useful information and lovely recipes.

20. And if none of that inspires you, why not try a few life hacks with cucumber …

So how do you like your cucumber? A cooling raita, tzatziki or a yogurt and cucumber soup? Would you cook your cucumbers or leave them raw? Do you make your own sushi or add cucumber to a classic Pimms cocktail? Or do you, like some fanatics, prefer your delicate cucumber with a hefty hit of Marmite?

Rachel Kelly is the Guardian home cook of the year 2013. Read more on her website or follow her on Twitter @MarmadukeS.

Interested in finding out more about how you can live better? Take a look at this month’s Live Better challenge here.

The Live Better Challenge is funded by Unilever its focus is sustainable living. All content is editorially independent except for pieces labelled advertisement feature. Find out more here.


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