Sunday, January 25, 2009

warming winter cooking

I am interrupting Ben's string of extremely cute posts to blab about food. Sorry to those expecting puppy action.

The importance of Chinese medicine (TCM) in our food choices is often overlooked, or completely out of our awareness. TCM teaches us how to choose foods that are healing to the individual. In my limited understanding of TCM, I believe that balancing the Yin and Yang and nourishing Qi and bloodis the goal. It is ideal to have a balance between hot and cold. Foods have the power to tonify, cleanse, and regulate the body.

For this meal I am focusing on Warm/Hot foods, which includes garlic and chicken. These warming foods have the medicinal functions of warming meridians, strengthening Yang, invigorating Blood, opening collateral meridians, and eliminating cold.

Foods such as winter squash, nuts, and carrots, that take longer to grow, are generally warming. Warming spices include ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, and cayenne pepper, bring blood from the center of the body to the skin.

Slow Cooker Crock Pot Moroccan Chicken with Chickpeas and Apricots
adapted from a recipe from Cooks Illustrated.


  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coridander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinammon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 lemons
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-4 lb whole chicken, cut into parts
  • 1large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 14 ounces chopped tomatoes
  • 14 ounce cooked chickpeas
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into rounds
  • 6 ounces dried apricots
  • salt and black pepper


  1. Combine spices in small bowl and set aside. Zest lemons; combine minced garlic and mince together until reduced to fine paste; set aside.

  2. Season both sides of chicken pieces liberally with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat. Brown chicken pieces skin side down in single layer until deep golden, about 5 minutes; using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown on second side, about 4 minutes more. Transfer chicken to large plate, peel off skin and discard. Reserve 1 tablespoon fat from pot.

  3. Heat remaining oil in same pot, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have browned at edges but still retain shape, 5 to 7 minutes. Add spice mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until darkened and very fragrant, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in broth and flour and stir until lumps are gone, scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Add honey and canned tomatoes and mix well.

  4. Pour the above tomato,onion & spice mix, juice of 1 lemon into slow cooker.

  5. Add chicken and chickpeas and mix well.

  6. Add carrots, apricots, making sure everything is covered with liquid

  7. Give it a gentle but good stir to mix everything together. Cook on high for about 3 to 4 hours.


Spiced Whole Wheat Couscous Pilaf with Almonds and Currants

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced (about 3/4 cup)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 navel orange, zested
1-3/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dried currants
1 cup couscous
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice; more to taste

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very soft, about 7 minutes. Stir in the broth and zest, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the currants, cover, remove the pan from the heat, and let sit for 10 minutes so the currants can plump.

Return the broth to a boil over high heat. Stir in the couscous and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, cover, remove from the heat, and let sit for 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape a fork through the couscous to fluff it. Add almonds and stir them into the couscous with the fork. As you stir, sprinkle on the lemon juice to taste. Serve immediately.


Maple Glazed Pumpkin Bread

1¾ cups sifted unbleached/or whole wheat all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. double-acting baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup water

Maple Glaze

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 Tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a Pyrex loaf pan, 9 by 5 by 3 inches.

Into a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.

In another bowl beat together the eggs, oil, pumpkin puree and water. Add to the flour mixture and beat until the batter is combined. Pout the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Combine maple syrup and butter and cover surface of loaf.

Bake in center of preheated oven for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. (Test after 1 hour and 15 minutes.) Let the bread cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes.

Combine maple syrup and butter and cover surface of loaf.

Indy does not find it amusing that Im spending so much time baking and not playing frisbee in the cold!

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