Ever since my parents came to England in 1972, my mum has had a wild love affair with roast chicken.
The only thing she loves even more is her family and, unfortunately for her, my dad is a vegetarian. So for 41 years now, her opportunities to turn the oven on, throw caution to the wind and put a beautiful bird in to roast have been limited. She’s simply too loving a wife to torment my dad like that.
That’s why every Mother’s Day, there is only one thing that we will cook: tandoori roast chicken. But this isn’t just any old roast chicken; it is one worthy of a feast. It has all the merits of a normal roast chicken, flavorful crispy skin, butter-soft meat and largely fuss-free prep, but it is much more elegant and celebratory.
The chicken is made tender with a marinade of yogurt and lemon juice, then enlivened with earthy cumin, garam masala, ginger and garlic. Once the ingredients have been blended into a paste, all that’s needed is a quick rub down and rest (the chicken, not you) before it goes into the oven, leaving you free and out of the kitchen.
It’s the only time of the year we force our father into the kitchen to help with the sides (supervised, of course). But given that there are plentiful greens around this time of year, they are quick and easy, too. We love to serve this with spring’s finest asparagus, peas and spinach, a little lime pickle, toasted naan bread and some crisp white wine.
All of this fuss-free cooking allows us more time for a relaxing family lunch together. Until we need to tackle the washing up, that is.
But if you want to opt for a breakfast in bed instead of a roast chicken, a strata is a great way to go
Breakfast in bed is a love language. Anytime there is a special occasion to celebrate — a birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, whatever — it’s a great idea to gather the family together in the kitchen to craft a breakfast-in-bed tray.
There are some guidelines to follow to help ensure everything goes smoothly.
Do the bulk of the work the night before. Overnight breakfast recipes are key. The (critical) decorating of the tray with small kiddos sucks up a surprising amount of time, leaving precious little space for complex recipe execution in the morning.
Serve something a little special. Stepping outside the routine breakfast menu has incredible power to make the whole morning feel like a party.
Keep in mind the logistics of eating off a tray while mostly reclined in bed. Cereal, aside from breaking Tip 2, is just about impossible to eat in bed without spilling. And while you don’t need to be limited to finger food, think twice before getting too cozy with messy and liquid-based meal ideas.
So what dish covers all these bases? And is healthy? Egg strata, which layers bread, eggs, meat and veggies all in one dish. I make mine in a muffin tin, which results in perfect portioning, pretty presentation and the flexibility to pick up breakfast with your hands or use a fork and knife. I use white whole-grain bread and a combination of eggs and egg whites to keep the nutrient profile reasonable. So even your morning breakfast party can boost your day with protein and fiber.
Associated Press writer Melissa d’Arabian contributed
Tandoori Roast Chicken
Recipe from the Associated Press
You will need a blender to make the marinade. I like to marinate the chicken first thing in the morning to give it time for the flavors to mingle.
4-pound whole chicken, giblets removed
3 green serrano chilies, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic
1 thumb-sized piece ginger
1 tablespoon garam masala
1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
3/4 teaspoon hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt (or to taste)
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
Line a roasting pan with foil, then place the chicken in the center.
Combine all remaining ingredients, except the yogurt, in a blender, then puree until reduced to a fine paste. Mix in the yogurt. Rub the yogurt mixture over all parts of the chicken, then refrigerate and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours.
When ready to cook, heat the oven 350 degrees.
Roast the chicken, not covered, on the oven’s middle shelf for 40 minutes. Baste the chicken with any juices in the pan, then lightly cover with foil. Roast for another 40 minutes, or until the meat reaches 170 degrees at the thigh and 165 degrees at the breast. Remove the chicken from the oven, leaving it covered, and set aside to rest for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 4.
Per serving: 874 calories; 52 g fat (12 g saturated fat; 54 percent calories from fat); 9 g carbohydrates; 4 g sugar; 267 mg cholesterol; 890 mg sodium; 98 g protein; 2 g fiber.
Overnight Egg Strata
Recipe from the Associated Press
8 slices of white whole-grain bread
2 small breakfast sausage links or 1 large link chicken sausage, mild or spicy (uncooked), casings removed
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped button or mixed mushrooms
4 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess liquid squeezed out
1/4 cup (2 ounces) light cream cheese
1/4 cup salsa
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 whole eggs
2 egg whites
3/4 cup low-fat milk
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 medium tomatoes, cut into 8 thin slices
1/4 cup shredded Gruyere, Swiss or cheddar cheese
Cut the crusts off the bread, then cut the crusts into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.
Use the palm of your hand to lightly press the slices of bread flat, making them thin and a little doughy. Coat the cups of a muffin pan with cooking spray, then gently press 1 slice into each cup, creating 8 little crusts. Set aside.
In a medium saute pan over medium-high, cook the sausage, crumbling with a spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook until fragrant, about another minute. Add the spinach, cream cheese and salsa, then cook for another 2 minutes (the mushrooms will not be fully cooked). Remove from the heat and stir in the mustard. Allow to cool for several minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites and milk until frothy. Add the slightly cooled mushroom and sausage mixture and stir to combine. Season with generous pinches each of salt and pepper. Place a few cubes of bread crust in each muffin cup, then spoon the egg mixture on top. You may not need all of the bread crusts. Lay 1 slice of tomato on top of each tart, then 1/2 tablespoon of cheese over that.
Cover the muffin tray with foil and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When you are ready to serve, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes covered, then remove the foil and continue baking until the eggs are firm, another 10 to 15 minutes. Serves 8.
Per serving: 170 calories; 6 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat; 29 percent calories from fat); 19 g carbohydrates; 5 g sugar; 75 mg cholesterol; 430 mg sodium; 10 g protein; 2 g fiber.
Roasted Spring Vegetables with Arugula Pesto
For the roasted vegetables
4 cups baby or new potatoes, 1 to 2 inches in diameter, halved or quartered, depending on size
5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 cups peeled baby carrots
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into thirds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup baby arugula for garnish
For the arugula pesto
1 clove garlic, peeled
5 cups baby arugula
1/2 cup finely shredded Asiago cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (see note)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
To prepare vegetables: Position rack in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 425 degrees.
Toss potatoes with 2 teaspoons oil in a large bowl and spread on a large baking sheet. Roast in the lower third of the oven for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, toss carrots with 2 teaspoons oil in the bowl and spread on another large baking sheet. After the potatoes have roasted for 5 minutes, place the carrots in the upper third of the oven and roast potatoes and carrots for 15 minutes.
Toss asparagus with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Add to the pan with the potatoes, toss to combine and return to the oven. Continue roasting until all the vegetables are tender and starting to brown, 8 to 10 minutes more.
To prepare pesto: Drop garlic through the feed tube of food processor with the motor running; process until minced. Stop the machine and add arugula, cheese pine nuts, 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse and then process, scraping down the sides as necessary, until the mixture is a smooth paste.
Toss the roasted vegetables with 1/3 cup pesto and 1/2 teaspoon salt in the large bowl (reserve the remaining pesto for another use: refrigerate for up to one week or freeze). Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with arugula, if desired.
Recipe notes: To toast pine nuts, place in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
Per serving: 157 calories; 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat; 31 percent calories from fat); 21 g carbohydrates; 5 g sugar; 2 mg cholesterol; 243 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 4 g fiber.
Recipe from EatingWell.com
A judicious smear of mascarpone (half the fat of butter) is part of the luxury, but even lighter low-fat cream cheese will work, as well. The real secret is warming the berries just enough to make the flavor bloom and transform their juices into a rosy syrup.
4 thick slices whole-wheat bread
6 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cups sliced or diced hulled strawberries
4 tablespoons mascarpone, (Italian cream cheese)
Toast bread in a toaster. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over high heat. Add sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts and the mixture begins to bubble, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add strawberries and stir until juices begin to exude and the berries are heated through, 30 seconds to 1 minute more. Spread 1 tablespoon mascarpone on each piece of toast. Top with the warm berries. Makes 4 servings.
Tip: Prepare the sauce cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month. To reheat, microwave on High for about 1 minute (defrost first, if necessary).
Per serving: 203 calories; 5 g fat (2 g saturated fat; 22 percent calories from fat); 40 g carbohydrates; 23 g sugar; 9 mg cholesterol; 152 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 4 g fiber.
Naan Pumpkin Breakfast Pizzas
If you can’t find naan, the Indian flatbread, use another version of flatbread. Adapted from abcdsofcooking.com and the Huffington Post.
2 whole-wheat naans or small flatbreads
2 teaspoons vegetable or olive oil
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 teaspoons dried sage
2 cups canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
2 cups shredded cheese (mozzarella, gruyere, white cheddar or a mix)
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place a naan in the dry skillet and warm through, then turn to crisp the other side. Place on a baking sheet.
In the hot skillet, warm the oil and add the onion. Cook about 5 minutes, until softened. Stir the onions and sage into the pumpkin puree. Spread half of the puree on each naan, then top with the cheese. Use the back of a spoon to make an indentation in the center of each topped naan, then crack an egg into each one.
Place in the oven and bake about 4 minutes. Turn the baking sheet and continue baking 4 to 5 minutes, until the egg white is set and the yolk is as done as you like. Serve warm. Serves 2.
Per serving: 989 calories; 30 g fat (14 g saturated fat; 27 percent calories from fat); 125 g carbohydrates; 11 g sugar; 259 mg cholesterol; 1,387 mg sodium; 54 g protein; 11 g fiber.
Recipe from EatingWell.com
In this fast asparagus soup recipe, potato adds creaminess without adding cream. Double or triple this soup and freeze the leftovers for a quick lunch. Spring is the best time to snag young, tender asparagus and this is a good way to use up any leftovers you may have.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons, divided
1 medium shallot, chopped
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup diced peeled potato
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole-wheat country bread cubes (1/4 inch), optional garnish
Sliced scallion greens, optional garnish
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add broth, asparagus, potato, horseradish and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender or in a regular blender. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.)
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add bread cubes and cook, stirring, until browned and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve the soup topped with the croutons and scallions, if desired. Serves 4.
Per serving: 190 calories; 10 g fat (1 g saturated fat; 47 percent calories from fat); 22 g carbohydrates; 1 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 338 mg sodium; 5 g protein; 5 g fiber.