Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkebabs

I always associate the Harry Potter books with late summertime. My family proudly likes to claim that we were the first people in the USA to “discover” the beloved series, and I have vivid memories of my mother reading the first two books to me on hot nights in the only air-conditioned room in my childhood home.

However, my mom gave up on the series after book #2, claiming that “the weird weasel-y character” (Dobby) freaked her out. If she only could’ve continued on to the third, my favorite of the series.

As the summer quickly draws to a close, these chicken satay skewers are the perfect complement to a hot evening outdoors. Like Harry Potter’s beloved godfather, Sirius Black, the peanut sauce seems spicy and potentially dangerous, but after several bites the smooth, silky, sweetness takes over and wins all hearts.

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Grilled Chicken Satay:

4 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes

Marinade:

Pineapple yogurt (or plain if you prefer)

1/2 cup olive oil

Zest and juice of 3 limes

Plenty of salt and pepper

Instruction:

1. Whisk all marinade ingredients together. Coat cubed chicken in marinade, cover with cling film, and refrigerate for several hours (at least 2).

Peanut sauce:

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 tbsp soy sauce

Zest and juice of 3 limes

1/4 cup boiling water

1 garlic clove

2 shakes red pepper flakes

2 shakes chipotle powder

Salt and pepper

Optional: scallions to garnish

Instruction:

1. Combine all ingredients in blender (adding hot water last). Blend until smooth.

*If sauce is too thin (depending on juiciness of limes), transfer to saucepan and simmer until thickened to syrupy consistency.

2. (Optionally) top with chopped scallions.

Assembly:

1. Soak skewers for at least an hour in water. Then skewer four or five chicken cubes, allowing excess marinade to drip off.

2. Place skewers on grill set to medium-high and lightly coated with cooking spray. Cook on one side for about 5 minutes, then flip and cook other side for 4 minutes. (This will vary depending on strength of grill and size of chicken cubes!) Serve with spicy peanut sauce.

Enjoy chicken satay kebabs with J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and check in at http://warandpeach.com for future recipes and book reviews!

The Chronicles of Naania

Last week I spent several days with my dear friend Allison. It was just the sort of spontaneous visit that we both needed. We had both been feeling pretty restless in our summer downtime, and the mini-vacation filled with cooking, wine, and a bit of gossip really hit the spot.

To get out of our late-July slump, we decided to enter into a completely magical land in the kitchen. Like young Lucy in The Chronicles of Narnia, we were seeking something exciting, and we found it by daring to try something foreign and new. In making this chutney and naan combination, just as Lucy found when she climbed through the wardrobe, the most interesting parts were the unfamiliar. We paired spices whose uniqueness created perfect complements. Some of the color and flavor was completely accidental, as when the lid fell off the curry powder and a heaping amount turned from a mistake into a brilliant innovation.

The result was delicious, and Allison and I contentedly parted ways with renewed spirit (and palate)!

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Mango ginger chutney:

3 mangos

1 red onion

~1/4 cup fresh ginger root

1/2 cup lemonade

1 tsp olive oil

1/4 cup brown sugar

Spices (about two shakes of each): ground ginger, garlic powder, curry powder, cumin, chile flakes, cinnamon, salt, pepper)

Instruction:

1. Peel and slice mangos, discarding of pit. Thinly slice red onion, and finely chop fresh ginger root.

2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add all spices and onion, allowing the latter to soften for about five minutes. Stir in brown sugar, ginger root, and mango. Allow sugar to melt – about two minutes.

3. Add lemonade and bring mixture to boil. Lower heat to a simmer and leave (uncovered) for about 45 minutes. Turn off heat and leave chutney in pan – letting it come to room temperature.

Naan bread:

2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp yeast

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp curry powder

1/2 tbsp cumin

3 tbsp olive oil

¾ cup whole milk

1 egg yolk

Instruction:

1. Whisk olive oil, milk, and egg yolk. Set aside.

2. In food processor, pulse flour, yeast, sugar, salt, curry powder, and cumin. Begin to process while gradually adding wet ingredients. Stop when dough has just come together (about five seconds after all ingredients have been added).

3. Turn out onto floured surface and knead until smooth – about two minutes. Transfer to oiled bowl and cover with tea towel. Leave in a warm place for about two hours.

4. Punch air out of dough and knead again. Divide into four equal parts and form each part into a smooth ball. Transfer to a lined baking sheet and cover with tea towel again.

5. After another hour, roll each ball out into a disk – about quarter-inch thickness. On very hot grill (about 450 degrees), place each disk, grilling each side for about two minutes. Serve warm with chutney.

Enjoy naan bread and mango ginger chutney with C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, and check in at http://warandpeach.com for future recipes and book reviews!