Smoked Chicken Breast Stuffed with Seasoned Cherries

Stuffed with cherries and smoked chicken breasts

Hot smoked chicken breasts make any meal exciting! Salads, sandwiches, soups, pasta dishes — you name it! — will benefit if you add some smoked lean chicken. But cooking skinless and boneless chicken breasts is easy and challenging at the same time. To make them tender and juicy we need to protect their moisture and to make them uniformly thick. Usually, a combination of pounding and brining is a solution. In this recipe, we make a pocket to stuff it with moist and/or fatty ingredients instead of pounding. As a bonus, different stuffings add interesting flavors to otherwise mild-tasting chicken.

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Happy Thanksgiving! Smoked Apple Chutney

Smoked Apple Chutney

The original chutneys come from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal cuisines. They can be made of fresh or cooked ingredients. Their texture varies from smooth to chunky. To prolong their shelf life, they can be fermented or cooked with vinegar, citrus juice, or tamarind puree. There are many variations, and recipes vary from region to region.

Today chutney is a large category of condiments made of spiced fruits and vegetables. In addition to traditional Asian condiments, there are American and European (aka Major Grey’s style) chutneys that became popular in western cuisines. This recipe is based on the classic Anglo-Indian version with apples and raisins. Serve smoked apple chutney with mild cheddar, ham, roasted pork, poultry, on top of baked brie, etc. This chutney will beautifully flavor brown stock and demi-glace sauces.

May this holiday season bring joy to your heart and a pleasure to your taste buds! Thank you for being Lyukum Cooking Lab friends!

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Quince Poached in Riesling with Vanilla Pods

Quince Poached in Riesling with Vanilla Pods (Instant Pot)

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Edward Lear — 1871 Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets
“The Owl and the Pussy-Cat”

I’ve seen it at the Central Market almost always available but never considered buying because of the price. Then a month ago, I came to shop for something else to the H Mart, and its fragrance attracted me from the moment I entered the fresh produce department. I followed the perfumed scent and after a few turns found a pile of quince with smooth golden skin. It was impossible to miss and irresistible.

Quince is known as one the most difficult fruit to approach. It is tough to prep and long to cook. I’ve been thinking is there a way to cook it elegantly and effortlessly?

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Salsa de Pina y Mango | Fresh Pineapple and Mango Salsa

Pineapple and Mango Salsa

This salsa is one of my favorite. I like seafood, and it’s perfect with many seafood dishes as a side. It’s beautiful! Bright, sunny colors of fresh tropical fruit. It tastes like vacation in Hawaii, if, of course, you come across excellent ripe golden pineapples and Ataulfo mango. This salsa is easy to make — all its ingredients are raw, but you have to know smart ways to cut, slice, and dice pineapple and mango to enjoy the process of making it. When you do, you can make this salsa quickly and impress your guests with a presentation.

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Aam Kasundi | Green Mango, Green Chiles, and Mustard Sauce

Aam Kasundi, Mustard and Green Mango Sauce

I’ve been always curious about differences and similarities of neighboring countries cuisines. Differences are interesting in particular. I also know how dangerous it is to make any assumptions after just a peek inside an unknown cuisine. Yet, I dare to say the use of mustard stands out for me in traditional Bangladeshi cuisine more than anything else. Shorsher tel (mustard oil) is one of the primary cooking mediums. Mustard pastes are often an essential part of food preparation. Mustard seeds are part of Bangladeshi 5-spice mix panch phoron (equal parts of whole seeds: fenugreek, nigella, cumin, black mustard, fennel), and most of dishes are started with tempering it in mustard oil or ghee. One of the most popular dishes in Bangladesh is Shorshe Ilish, Hilsa fish in mustard sauce. All that mustard affair got me thinking. Are those of us, who are not mustard fans, missing something?

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Dumplings: Vareniky with Black and Red Currants

Red and Black Currants Dumplings

I don’t have an explanation why we’ve never made dumplings with red and black currants at home. My Mom used to add currents to the sauce, but never fill dumplings with them. It’s funny that I am tasting this well known version of Ukrainian varenyki only now, so far from home, in Texas, where currants are exotic! I asked myself why dumplings with tart cherries and currants are so popular in Eastern European countries. I think, the key is the intensity of sweet and sour flavors rounded with soft dough and a little bit of cream or butter. Many other fruit and berries change its flavor when cooked, but tart cherries and currants keep it well and tease our taste buds with every bite!

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Japanese Soufflé Cheesecake

Japanese Soufflé Cheesecake with Texas Strawberries

Japanese soufflé cheesecake is also known as “cotton” cheesecake. It is extremely popular in Asian countries for its texture — fluffy and velvety creamy at the same time. I fell in love with it with the first bite. It’s a treat for a true cheesecake aficionados. Japanese cheesecake is not overly sweet, so having more than one slice at a time is difficult to resist. Enjoy it plain, or decorate it with whipped cream and fresh berries.

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Dumplings: Ukrainian Varenyki with Tart Cherries

Varenyki z Vyshnei — Tart Cherry Dumplings

Dark tart cherries are one of the most traditional fillings for Ukrainian varenyki — sweet dumplings served with fruity sauce, or melted butter and honey, or sour cream and sugar. Their recipes vary from region to region. Varenyki I remember were mostly made with the dough enriched by soured milk or whey and eggs. There are also recipes using only boiling water for the dough. All of them have the same goal — a dumpling with a soft and pleasant texture.

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Ode to Texas Peaches: Peach & Pecan Churchkhella

Peach and Pecan Cowboy Leather

The idea of Cowboy Peach & Pecan Leather comes from my childhood delicacy. It’s a natural fruit-n-nut snack popular in Georgia (ჩურჩხელა — Churchkhella). The main idea is to use what is locally plentiful and in season. In Central Texas, they are pecans and peaches. Unlike grape juice, 1 gallon of peach puree needs only 4 tablespoon of corn starch and 2-3 minutes of boiling to become thick enough for dipping.

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Culinary coach and personal chef with extensive knowledge of cuisines from cultures around the world. I invite you into my cooking lab to share my discoveries.
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