Monday, February 18, 2019

Brainy Spiced Moroccan Coconut Chicken...

You may not know that coconut is often used in Moroccan cooking. It is used for flavor; though, not always used in the same way.

For this brainy dish "Brainy Spiced Moroccan Coconut Chicken" you do not have to use a traditional cooking vessel called the - tajine. You can use a covered skillet or covered enamel pot.

To begin, in a covered skillet/pot, melt in 4 tbs of coconut oil (or olive oil) and some seasonings: a little paprika and cumin as well as dried herbs: rosemary, mint or tarragon and oregano.

Prior to that, coat thin strips of chicken breasts in a smooth blend of mayonnaise (you can omit if you don't like mayo) and coconut milk; then lay into bread crumbs infused with fresh grated coconut and some extra sprinkles of dried herbs and a couple more dashes of spices: cumin or turmeric (don't need both) paprika and cinnamon.

Lay these strips into the spitting coconut oil. Brown on all sides on med/high heat. Next, push aside the chicken breasts and saute in the same skillet, adding a bit more coconut/olive oil, shaved fresh green zucchini.

Once browned, drizzle a light coat of honey over all (chicken and zucchini), cover the skillet and gently simmer for 15 min. on low heat.

Serve and garnish with red seedless grapes. A dab of yogurt acts as a light and tasty condiment.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Moroccan Chicken Stew ~ Brainy Gourmet Style...

Stews... you can find them just about anywhere!

If you know anything about spices, then you know that cumin is a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern, Asian, Mediterranean (including Morocco) and Mexican cuisines, and is one of the main ingredients in curry powder. It is an aromatic spice with a distinctive bitter flavor and strong, warm aroma due to its abundant oil content. Cumin "seeds" are actually the small dried fruit of an annual plant in the parsley family and it is native to the Mediterranean.

For this dish, you will need skinless, boneless chicken breasts, one onion, one green pepper and red grape 'cherry' tomatoes, buttermilk and peanut butter. As you now know, a good cook/chef can cook without following a specific recipe... even for this dish. All you have to know is what your taste buds like in terms of combinations of sweet and savory.

Another way to get used to cooking without a recipe is to cook like an artist... using color to guide you. Sometimes, that is exactly how I start out, using color to help decide what spices and how much.  Saute the onion, green pepper and tomatoes on med. heat in coconut oil, adding some red pepper flakes, garlic powder, paprika and cumin as well as either white or black pepper to taste.

Set aside the onion, pepper and tomatoes, and brown the chicken breast meat cut into chunks in the same skillet adding a drizzle of olive oil. Then return the veggies to the same skillet.

To this, add about 1/4 cup of gourmet buttermilk and 1/4 cup of heavy cream along with 1 tbs of creamy peanut butter. Stir and let simmer on low heat while you prepare a side of mashed potatoes. Once the potatoes are tender, drain and mash with butter and sour cream until thick and smooth. Ladle onto a low lipped plater, pour the chicken stew over the top and serve.

~ Tutti a Tavola

Friday, February 15, 2019

A Brainy Gourmet Taste of North Africa...

North African cuisine is as hot as it is hot in the Sahara desert and most always cooked in a tajine. A lot of people don't know that the top of portion of the African Continent is the Sahara desert; and, the fact is... its an area as large as the United States.

Since, I am fascinated by that part of the world, I want to share some history. North African identity is complicated. As far as native Arabic speaking North Africans go (majority of the Maghrebi population) they are linguistically, culturally and politically Arab yes. 

At the same time, one cannot overlook European interests. North Africa had in various regions and countries the presence of Greek, British, Germans, and Italians as well as the strong French influence which introduced the French language as an attempt to reject any other. As far as food influences, it seems the desert prevailed and its hot.

For this dish, you will need to have: skinless, boneless chicken thighs, one glove of garlic, one purple or sweet Spanish onion, jarred roasted red bell pepper, red chili peppers or red pepper flakes, coriander and cumin. Also, you will need: Kalamata olives, diced tomatoes, yogurt and potatoes.

Saute chopped onion in 3 tbs olive oil and 1 tbs coconut oil with a pat of butter. Once browned on the edges, push aside in the skillet and add the chicken thighs (marinated in fresh squeezed lemon juice for 15 min prior to cooking).

Next, add half a jar of roasted red peppers, half a med. can of diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt, Kalamata olives (as many as you like), 1 tsp of red pepper flakes (or more if you like hot), 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp of coriander and some dried rosemary and mint.

As this mixture simmers, boil several 'whole' potatoes and a few green beans as a side.

*serve with additional yogurt to spoon on...

~ Tutti a Tavola!

*Source ~

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day ~ Stay Home and Dine like Royalty!


Tomato Soup with Meatball and Pasta ~
Lemony Chicken Picata ~
 Malaysian Pork with Linguine ~
 Louisiana Andouille Sausage on Linguine ~
 Mediterranean Chicken ~
 Louisiana Shrimp Jambalaya ~
Spicy Thai Pork on Rice ~

*Check past blogs (see archives) for dinner ideas...

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Thai Chicken in Peanut Sauce on Linguine...

The Brainy Gourmet has never been about brainy ideas when it comes to dinner time. Its about being brainy with what you have and knowing what you like and what you can afford to do; that's frugality which never lacks in flavor!

Anything and everything is good on a bed of linguine. This pasta is not as wide as fettuccine or tagliatelle.  Its something in between.

For this dish, you will need linguine pasta, boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sun dried tomatoes, hand stirred peanut butter and heavy cream or coconut milk if you have. To begin, saute chopped onion in olive oil and a pat of butter until brown on the edges.

Push aside and sear the thighs on all sides. Bring back the onion and simmer adding 1/4 cup of chicken stock. Next, add 1/3 cup of hand stirred peanut butter and 1/4 cup of heavy cream... tossing in several chopped/diced sun dried tomatoes and a handful of dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano.

While this simmers, boil the linguine and prepare any other side you want to serve.  Before you serve, drizzle in a squeeze of lemon juice and a shake of red pepper flakes along with a drop of soy sauce.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Apricots as a side dish... really!

Fresh and dried fruits are great flavor enhancers to any dish. We don't often think of dried apricots or fresh apricots as a side dish... let alone part of the main course.

Whatever main course you prepare, consider a side of apricots or even dried plums. They can be cooked on the side or in the same skillet/dish/pan.

Mark's Asian chicken with apricots and seared flank steak with apricots...

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Woo Wee... Cajun Kitchen Tonight

Once in a while, the brainy gourmet likes to go Cajun crazy in a kinda crazy way...

Cajun craziness for me starts like this... taking a few left overs while adding something fresh and zesty. From this week's leftovers of: angel hair pasta with tomatoes, stir fry veggies and coconut chicken, I added fresh shrimp for a dish that turned out lip smacking good... topped with crushed jalapeno and lime chips not to mention some cayenne hot sauce.

It came together rather quickly. The pasta with tomatoes was microwaved while I stir fried the shrimp in red pepper infused olive oil, garlic powder and chili powder. To that, I added the left over stir fried veggies and diced up leftover coconut chicken breasts. Once, the pasta was done, all I had to do was wait for the shrimp, chicken and veggies to get a little black crispiness gathering around the edges.

The pasta was ladled onto a low lipped serving plate and topped with the Cajun 'ratatouille'. Lastly, the crushed chips were tossed on top and a good dash of hot sauce.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Veal Stir Fry with Wild Rice...

Veal meatballs in 'Thai' stir fry... why not. Its brainy good!

For this dish, you will need: ground veal (or turkey), onion, carrots, asparagus, and green pepper along with wild rice, honey, soy sauce and a thick sweet and sour sauce if you have.

To begin, make your meatball the brainy way using: dried bread crumbs, heavy cream, soy sauce, garlic powder, a tiny pinch of salt and dried herbs. Mix and form into meatballs. Set aside while you saute chopped onion and green pepper to be sauteed in olive oil.

Once browned, toss in baby asparagus spears and julienne baby carrots. Stir fry along with the onion and green pepper adding a bit more olive oil with a dash of soy sauce and a splash of beef stock.

After about 2-3 min. remove from skillet (set aside) and in that same skillet flash fry the meatballs in a drizzle of olive oil. When browned on all sides, reintroduce the veggies. Add 2 tbs of honey, a 1/2 cup of sweet and sour sauce. Let this bubble into a near sticky consistency.

Boil the wild rice in beef stock until tender. Make sure that the rice has absorbed all the stock. Ladle onto a low lipped serving plate and top with the meatballs and vegetables.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Brainy Beef Stroganoff for You...

When Beef Stroganoff is served, you think: rich and creamy and romantically delicious! You can even imagine that you are at some far off tucked in European bistro...

For this dish you will need: quality cuts of beef (stew meat or thick sirloin cut into chunks), one medium onion, dark brown Bavarian mushrooms, beef stock, heavy cream and wide egg noodle pasta - Tagliatelle.

To begin, marinate the beef in balsamic vinegar and pink Himalayan salt for 30-40 min. When that time is nearly finished, in a large skillet saute the onion in olive oil until dark brown on the edges.

Remove from skillet and in the same skillet, brown the mushrooms, adding 3 tbs of butter. Once the mushrooms are darker and tender, remove from the skillet putting them aside with the onion and sear the beef in chunks (drained) in the same skillet, adding a drizzle of olive oil.

Bring back into the skillet the onion and mushrooms, pour in about 3 tbs of beef stock, a half shot of either white wine or vodka, stirring on high heat. Then turning down the heat, add the heavy cream about 1/2 cup, cover and let simmer while you prepare the pasta and a side of blackened asparagus.

Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water until tender, drain and ladle onto a low lipped plater. The asparagus should be flash stir fried in olive oil, then cover to simmer on medium high adding 1 tbs of beef stock.

 Serve all together, start the music and pour the wine...

~ Tutti a Tavola

Brainy Mashed Potatoes...

Few people think of potatoes as a 'gourmet' food. And, not too many people know that the French love a good 'mash' of potatoes besides their French fries...

The Ratte potato is famous for its 'mash or puree'. It is a small smooth fingerling potato with an amazing buttery nutty flavor and delicate texture. The nutty flavor is said to have come from rich French farm soils that the variety is grown in. 

The Ratte potato has an ovate shape, often with a slight curve and golden speckled skin. The flesh of this potato is a deep golden yellow and its delicate texture maintains even when cooking. Some say that the American Yukon Gold is similar.

For a gourmet mash potato dish, wash, peel, quarter and boil as many potatoes per person to be served of your favorite potato (not a baking potato) in lightly salted water. When they are tender, drain and rinse quickly with cold water. Return the potatoes to the pot they were boiled in. If you boiled about 8-10, once drained, immediately add 1/2 stick of creamy butter, 1/4 cup of heavy cream, and 1/2 cup of whole milk...begin mashing. *Sour cream can be used instead of heavy cream.

Serve topped with dried herbs or grated cheese. Mash can be eaten alone or as a side with any meat. 

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Brainy Gourmet ~ A Ministry of Food and Family!

The Brainy Gourmet is a ministry of food and family; which is about being frugal and brainy in the kitchen for your family. In this way, by serving your family, you serve God. You demonstrate His love with your actions... preparing a meal and gathering around the table.

You don't have to be a 5 star chef to be frugal and brainy in the kitchen. You just have to be in love with God, and your family. Why in love with God first? Because, He is the Creator of all things seen and unseen (COL 1:16). He holds all things together (COL 1:17). In Him, we live, breathe and have our being (Acts 17:28).

Being a brainy gourmet also means understanding your own God given talents (no matter how simple or extraordinary) and tastes (in terms of preferences for sweet and savory) and putting them to use. Don't bury your talents...(Matthew 25:18).

You don't have to be wealthy either to be a brainy gourmet. The most basic of foods can be made into a 'gourmet' meal. There is a basic pantry list on the right margin of this blog from which one can begin to be frugal and brainy.

Alongside of this blog is the Brainy Gourmet Webpage where you can find additional meal archives and Brainy Tips.