Sesame, Ginger and Tahini Chicken and Shrimp

Today I’m thinking about healthy choices – in what I eat, how I move, the interactions I have with my family – and the balance that is required to do these things well.

Greens AND brownies, running AND couch time, speaking my mind AND holding my tongue.  I want them all, just not in the same amount and at the same time.  The trick is to navigate when a brownie is just the thing (and these King Arthur Flour brownies are totally the thing) and when greens are a better choice.  Likewise with relationships, say, just hypothetically, when you are having a conversation with your daughter about future college and life plans when you are both hormonal.  Sometimes the healthiest choice is to say what you feel.  Other times, it’s best to not share exactly what is running through your mind in that specific moment.  When I’m navigating these moments successfully, which, let me tell you, is not always the case, I’m feeling my way to the best choice.  Calmly noticing.  Aware, but not hyper sensitive.

And, not to segue too abruptly to food, but actually, the same is true when I’m making a recipe.  I sort of feel my way to the right flavors.  In the same way that you might feel your way through a delicate conversation.  In this case, it’s a conversation with food and flavors.  This meal, the creamy AND limey, the greens AND rice, the chicken AND shrimp is one with balance.  One that walks the line of not too much sharing and not too much holding back.  I could have used a little more of that last night when in conversation with my daughter.  Ah well, at least I managed it in this meal.

SeasmeTahiniChickenSesame, Ginger and Tahini Chicken and Shrimp over Rice and a Bed of Spinach
This dish is just as easily made with chicken OR shrimp, but the combination of the two is my favorite.
Basmati Rice:
2 cups basmati rice
Salt

Sauce:
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup tahini
1 1/2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup diced onions; about 1 medium onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger
8 ounces boneless chicken breast; about 1 large breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces medium (41-50 count) raw shrimp, peeled
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup water, as needed
8 ounces baby spinach leaves

Garnish:
1/4 cup sesame seeds
Wedges of lime
Cilantro leaves
Sriracha

Rice:
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. The water should be as salted as you want your rice and no more. Add the rice and stir well. When the water again comes to a boil, set the timer for 18 minutes. Pour into a strainer and let sit for 5 minutes or longer while you prepare the sauce.

Sauce:
Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the pumpkin seeds. Heat, stirring often, until the seeds begin to brown. Transfer to a blender and add the chicken stock, tahini and tamari. Blend until well mixed and smooth. Set aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 7 to 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the salt, garlic, ginger and chicken and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the white wine and bring to a simmer. Add the shrimp and cook until you can just see a little bit of gray remaining. Add the pumpkin seed mixture and stir well adding water as needed to loosen the sauce. Serve immediately over rice and a bed of spinach. Garnish with sesame seeds, lime, cilantro, and Sriracha.

Serves 4 to 6

Annie
Finding the balance where I can.

Multi-Grain Flaxseed Sandwich Bread

Okay, King Arthur, you got me good.  Your catalog just arrived in the mail today and I HAD to make your Golden Grains Bread.

Of course, anyone who knows me well is aware that actually following a recipe is next to impossible for me.  I can’t resist making a recipe my own.  Soooo, now I need to say, “thank you,” King Arthur, for the inspiration for this wonderful sandwich bread.

Multi Grain Flax Seed Sandwich Bread

Multi-Grain Flaxseed Sandwich Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour (of course I like King Arthur the best)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
1/4 cup flax seeds
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 1/2 cups warm water

Combine all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add the water and mix until the dough forms a ball.  Knead by hand or with a dough hook until the ball is soft and smooth.  The dough will be just a tiny bit sticky, so add a little flour as needed.  Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until almost doubled.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease two, 9″ x 5″ bread pans.  Form the dough into two equal loaves and transfer to the prepared pans.  Cover and let rise again for another hour or until the bread is at least 1-inch over the edge of the bread pan.

Make 3 diagonal slashes on the surface of the bread.  Transfer the pans to the oven and add steam in whatever way works for you.  (I have a pan of rocks on the bottom of my oven that acts as a sauna when I pour water in it.)  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until an internal read thermometer registers 190 degrees.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely before slicing.

Makes 2 loaves

Annie
Houses that smell like baking bread are also the best!

Sourdough Starter Questions – Do you have to put sugar in your starter?

A slew of questions have come with your requests for sourdough and here are three of them answered.  I'll post more as they come.  It's so good to hear that many of your are having sourdough bread success for the first time!

How much starter do I need to reserve for the next time? 
If you are making a big batch of flour (or mailing over 100 cups of starter as I did) you can easily increase the amount you have by simply adding more flour and more water in equal amounts.  You always want to have at least 1 cup remaining.  So, for the folks who just received starter in the mail or are gifted starter at another time, add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of flour to your starter.  Stir and let it do its thing for a day.  Repeat and then your starter should be ready to use.  My no knead recipes call for 1 cup of starter so this process will give you more than enough.

You don't put any sugar into your starter?  Why is that?
Well, I'm not a food scientist, but the way I understand it is, the flour has all the sugar the natural yeast in the starter needs to flourish.  That's why it's called "feeding" the starter.  Adding sugar to the starter causes the yeast to binge, but then it also gets starved once the sugar is gone.

Can't I use different flours in my starter?
Sure.  The flour I use for my starter is King Arthur all-purpose white flour, but you can use any flour that you like to continue to feed and replenish your starter.  I use white flour because it's the most versatile if you only want to keep one starter going, but use a variety of flours in your breads.  Occasionally, I run out of white flour and feed my starter with either whole wheat or six grain flour and it takes about 5 feedings before it turns back to predominantly white.  I'd assume the same would be true if you used spelt, rye or whole wheat exclusively.

Annie

© 2009 Anne Mahle