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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken the Old Fashioned Way *Low Iodine Too!*

This is a recipe for one of my favorite Jamaican dishes.  My best friend used to cook a lot of traditional foods, and I remember savoring this dish with a nice thick Jamaican dumpling on the side.  Yuuuum, yuuum!  These days, lots of people have abandoned the burnt sugar base in exchange for the convenience of soy sauce for color.  I take it back to the old school, and respect the demands of a low-iodine or low-sodium diet by using caramelized sugar to obtain the characteristic dark, rich color of Jamaican stew chicken.

Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken
*Serves 6

1 whole chicken or 4 pounds of bone-in chicken pieces
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp whole allspice
about 6 sprigs of thyme, whole
juice of 1 lime
1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, whole
1 1-inch piece of ginger, cut into wide sticks
4 TB sugar (preferably natural brown or turbinado)
2 TB tomato sauce or diluted tomato paste
2 medium potatoes, cut into larger chunks
2 medium carrots, chopped in rings
salt and pepper to taste
about 2-3 TB flour for coating
oil for frying
4 cups water

1. Chop chicken into bone-in bite-size pieces using a sharp, durable knife and a hammer to drive the knife into the meat.

2. Next, you can either use the chopped ingredients for the marinade or throw all but the thyme and allspice in the blender.  Marinade chicken in onion, garlic, green pepper, green onion, lime juice, allspice, thyme, salt, and pepper for at least 1 hour.

3. Once marinated, scrape off excess marinade, them lightly coat chicken with the flour.  You can mix it with clean hands or a spoon.  The objective is to get a thick paste, not an actual clean coating.

4. Heat two TB of oil in a large pan over high heat.  This and the remainder of this recipe will be completed in an uncovered pan.  Proceed to brown meat in the oil.

5.  Meanwhile, in a small sauce pot over medium-high heat, place sugar and allow to sit until dark brown.  Do not stop once it is golden, and do not stir.

6. Once dark brown, add 4 cups of water and allow to boil until the burnt sugar released from the pain and forms a dark sauce.  Add this liquid to the pan once all of the chicken has sufficiently browned. Add reserved marinade.

7. Add in potatoes, carrots, hot pepper, and allspice.  Adjust salt level, if necessary.  Continue cooking over high heat, gently stirring often.

8. Once liquid has reduced to just over the meat, add tomato sauce and ginger.

9. Continue cooking over medium-high to high heat until potatoes are tender, but not too soft.  The sauce will continue to darken throughout the cooking process.  This is a good thing.

10.  Once potatoes are done and liquid has sufficiently reduced to create the look of a braised meat, as opposed to a soup, serve with Jamaican rice and peas or white long grain rice.

Jamaican-Style Peas and Rice *Low Iodine*

Since my diet is a bit more limited than normal, I try to incorporate flavorful foods whenever I can and just make the appropriate modifications without sacrificing flavor.  In this instance, the sacrifice was the beans.  Most beans are not permitted on a low iodine diet, neither canned nor fresh, especially not the traditional red kidney beans that would be used in this recipe.  If you do not have any dietary concerns, you can pop in a can of red kidney beans.  You can either drain the juice or count it as part of your liquid.

*makes 4 servings
1 cup of rice 
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
about 1/4c chopped green pepper
1 scotch bonnet, habanero, or cherry pepper, whole and stem- on*
1 tsp thyme or about 4 or 5 fresh whole stems (remove stem later)
1 green onion, chopped (I didn't have it, so I didn't use it.  No worries!)
1/2 tsp allspice powder
1 cup coconut milk or hydrated powdered coconut milk
salt to taste, about 2 tsp 
black pepper to taste
oil for sauteing

* If you don't like spicy food, maybe just use 1/4 pepper.  Do not chop the whole pepper or it will be far too hot!  Leave it whole

1. Rinse Bruce twice and then drain.

2. Meanwhile,  in a medium-size pot, saute the onion and green pepper until softened and translucent.  Salt them to season at the beginning of the process.  Add the garlic in the last minute or so.

3. Remove pot from heat, add coconut milk, and add water until liquid level rises to your first knuckle when you place your finger straight down to stand on top of the even-out layer of rice.  You are measuring from the top of the rice, not the bottom of the pan.  You only need enough water added to reach this level.

4. Return pot to the heat.  Bring water to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.

5. Continue stirring until water reduces to the point that you can see the bottom of the pan when you stir.

6. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes over low heat.

7. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes.

8.  Remove any thyme stems and remove the hot pepper.  Fluff rice and serve.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Multi-Grain Muffins **Low Iodine and Almost Vegan**

This is yet another find for low iodine and vegan diets.  It's not for everyone, but I happen to love grains of all kinds.  If you like bran muffins and multi-grain bread then you'll love these muffins.  They are packed with nutrition and are very tasty.

1/2 c multi-grain oatmeal
5 TB brown sugar (1/4 c + 1 TB)
2 TB oil or softened vegetable margarine
1.5 tsp cinnamon

1 c multi-grain oatmeal
1-1/2 c white flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 TB shredded frozen coconut (Walmart, Asian market, Latin market)
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup unsweetened natural applesauce
2 TB honey
1/2 c coconut milk
1/4c - 1/3 c chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 cups raisins (optional)
1/2 c + 2 TB brown sugar
1/4 c vegetable oil
2 egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Line a muffin pan with baking cups

3. Prepare topping by blending brown sugar, oats, oil or margarine, mixing well.

4. Prepare muffins by combining flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  In a separate bowl, blend egg whites, applesauce, coconut milk, brown sugar, and oil.

5. Stir in dried coconut, nut, and raisins, if using.

6. Fill the cups with a spoon of batter, just enough to cover the bottom.

7. Spoon in a layer of streusel.

8. Fill the cups 3/4 of the way full with more batter.

9. Bake 18 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges.


Walnut Chip Pancakes...that happen to be *Vegan and Low Iodine*

First off, thank goodness for vegans!!  Phew!  Now that I've gotten that off of my chest, I have to admit that I used to be a bit of a special diet hater.  I could deal with vegetarians, and even relate to them, but there was something about veganism that irritated me.  How could you dare go to someone's house and expect them to comply with your dietary needs, how can you study abroad and think that people should change everything in their kitchen to vegan just for you?  Selfish!

Well, well, well, here I am, more like a vegan than I'd ever hoped to be, but not by choice.  Health changes have forced me to temporarily forgo diary of any kind, although I can have meat.  This baker had to learn to give everything an eggless and butter-free makeover.  One of the first recipes I made to comply with my new dietary restrictions was the most basic of them all--pancakes.  My first try was delicious and tender, but it had a crumbly mouth feel, and the coconut milk flavor was stronger than I preferred.  With a few small modifications, I give to you the perfect vegan pancakes!  Test them on anyone!  They'll never know and I'll never tell...shhh!

Walnut Chip Pancakes
1 cup flour
2 TB baking powder 
1/4 tsp salt (regular, not iodized)
1 heaping TB of sugar
1c coconut milk*
2 TB oil
1 TB honey 
a few drops of butter flavoring
1 tsp vanilla extra
1/2 - 1 tsp cinnamon 
1/8 - 1/4 c chopped walnuts (unsalted)
about 1/8 c Godiva dark chocolate chips
Additional oil for cooking

1.  Set stove to medium-low heat.

2.  Stir together flour, baking powder, salt until well-blended.

3. In a separate bowl, combine together milk, oil, honey, vanilla, butter flavoring, and cinnamon.

4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients with a whisk until smooth.  

5. Once combined, stir in chopped walnuts and chocolate chips.

6. Once pan is heated, add oil, allow to heat, and spoon batter into pan.

7. Cook pancakes until bubbles appear in the middle of the pancake.  Carefully flip and cook until golden brown.

*In addition to regular coconut milk, you can either use powdered coconut milk hydrated with water, or you can use the 5 oz can of coconut milk with additional water added to complete the full cup needed