Monday, June 30, 2008

Chicken Tikka Masala

Q makes this for me sometimes. I love love love it. It's a great introduction to Indian food for folks that think they don't like Indian Food.
Some learnings from last night - the ff 1/2 & 1/2 from TJs does work, but doesn't thicken as well. Chopped tomatoes aren't as good a substitution as crushed as they don't melt down as much. Lowfat yogurt is fine (plus preparing it with the yogurt makes the tastiest, moistest chook you'll have, even if you decide not to do the masala sauce).
Also, who knew you could totally fake not only garam masala, but cardamom! Thanks interwebs!!!
This recipe was lifted from someone who posted it on Chowhound.

Chicken Tikka Masala

This dish is best when prepared with whole-milk yogurt, but low-fat yogurt can be substituted. For a spicier dish, do not remove the ribs and seeds from the chile. If you prefer, substitute 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper for the garam masala. The sauce can be made ahead, refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container, and gently reheated before adding the hot chicken. Serve with basmati rice.

Serves 4 to 6

Chicken Tikka

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon table salt
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts , trimmed of fat
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (see note above)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Masala Sauce

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion , diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 fresh serrano chile , ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced (see note above)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala (see note above)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

2. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

Speaking of chocolate raspberry combos – for Mother’s Day/Mom’s birthday (she’s cursed with a birthday near a holiday as well) this year, I did a slightly different take on the ganache cake she begs for.
And this one is easy peasy – forget that flourless cake nonsense. This one may not be as elegant, but it’s certainly yummy.
All you need is the ganache recipe from earlier, a jar of SEEDLESS raspberry jam (oh alright, if you’re okay with seeds you can get the kind with seeds, but ew) and a box of your favorite brownie mix. Or brownies from scratch, but man that takes a lot more work.
Make the brownies to the package directions and get them in the pan. Heat up some of the jam to get it “pourable” – half the jar or so. Pour or spoon it on top of the brownies in lines across the the pan (the short side if you're using a rectangular pan, either way if it's square)
Then take a knife and drag the tip through the jam and brownie mixture the long way/perpendicular to the lines of jam so you're dragging the jam from line of jam through line of jam, swirling the jam along the top. Does that make any sense? I tried to draw diagrams for you, but couldn't get my photos in here and got frustrated and gave up.

Bake according to package directions.
While the brownies are baking, you can make the ganache. Adding raspberry liqueur here is up to you – I don’t typically as I find the jam makes it raspberry enough.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Chocolate and raspberry

Chocolate Ganache Cake with Raspberry Coulis
Once upon a time I had this great idea. I love chocolate and raspberry together; they’re a match made in heaven (and anyone who tries to tell you chocolate and orange are a better combo is clearly working for demonic forces, back away slowly). I was watching some cooking show or other and saw them make ganache. It’s. . . chocolate . . . with heavy cream. I can do that. Watching something else showed me the beauty of the store bought chocolate pie crust (or maybe it was that Better Than Candy Pie – I can’t be sure). Well obviously I should make this ganache, and pour it lovingly into this chocolate crust, and make a raspberry coulis to spread on the plate below this heavenly creation – it’s like Oreo wrapped fudge! With raspberry sauce!
Without a thought to what such a creation might actually mean for my health in the long run, I made it for my father’s birthday one year as he is a chocolate raspberry fan as well.
Unfortunately, this treat became a bit of a hit with certain members of my family (I’m looking at you Mom, and maybe you too Dad – though you don’t demand it of me, so I can’t be as sure as I am with Mom). By this time I had realized that I was serving calories, fat, and clogged arteries in chocolate and raspberry clothing. Alas, it was far too late for us to save ourselves, but perhaps there is another way. . .
Whether or not this is any better for you, I doubt, but at least it’s not just a giant slab of ganache.
I’d wait to start on the coulis and ganache until after the cake is ready. The coulis can be refrigerated if you decide to make it in advance, but the ganache might get too firm to work with if you let it sit too long. Best to deal with it while it’s still a little warm.

Here is a flourless chocolate cake recipe, but I haven’t tried it yet.

1 package of frozen raspberries (and if they’re in season, fresh for garnish)
sugar (or Splenda!) to taste – sometimes I don’t need to add sugar at all

Dump your raspberries into a small sauce pan and heat over medium - low. Stir occasionally to move the frozen areas to the bottom. Once the berries start to liquefy and burble, you can decide if you need to add sugar.
Recipes for raspberry sauce may give you a specific amount to add, but that’s crazy talk. Some berries are sweeter than others, so I really think you need to add sugar in small increments until you have a tart/sweet ration you’re happy with.
Once the berries are completely broken down and smooshy, let cool a bit, then press through a strainer to remove the seeds. Some people seem to think seeds are okay. They are not. More devil’s work.

1 pkg good quality semisweet chocolate chips, I like Ghiradelli. Please let the record show you can also grab a good bar (hello Scharffenberger) and chop it into small pieces, up to you.
1 small container of heavy cream, or perhaps we try that TJs ff ½ & ½ ?

Chop up your chocolate if you’ve opted for the bar – you can do this while your raspberries are heating.
Create a double boiler by placing a bowl over a small saucepan with a couple of inches of water in the bottom. You don’t want so much water that it touches the bowl, but not so little that it will boil off. The steam is what you’re using to melt the chocolate.
Put your chocolate into the double boiler and stir periodically as it begins to melt. Once you have more melted chocolate than not, you can bring the cream into the equation.
Again, recipes abound with exact amounts, but I’ll be damned if I ever pay attention (aside from my first attempt – if you’ve never done this before you should probably find one of those). I just pour a bit in until it looks right. How’s that for unhelpful? The cream acts to soften your chocolate so it won’t harden back to solid, but will stay squidgy and awesome. Add too much and it won’t firm up enough. Science is tricky! The beauty here is that you can flavor it however you’d like (with extracts or liqueurs), or leave it plain and chocolatey delicious.

Then you take this melty goo and pour or spread it all over whatever it is you’re pouring it over. In this case, the cake. It is equally amazing on brownies, for fondue, on yellow cake, rice krispie treats, fruit, your fingers, the spoon, uh, anything really.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Chow Mein

The chow mein recipe I followed turned out AWESOMELY, but I only followed it as a guideline. I also don't have a wok, so I used a large saucepan. That being said, here's my guideline.

8 oz fresh thin Chinese egg noodles* (also called Hong Kong noodles; not wonton noodles)
1 (1/2-lb) piece flank steak - I used TJ's Bulgogi, and the flavor was awesome - just half the package
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or medium-dry Sherry - I used Dry Sac
1 tablespoons oyster sauce (I didn't have this, but didn't really miss it in the final product)
1 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon white pepper (I used black)
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil (I used veg)
1 teaspoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
3 scallions, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces (1 cup)
fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps quartered (2 1/2 cups)
2 pkgs TJ's brocollini (ends trimmed, any flowers removed)
a couple handfulls of sugar snap or snow peas

These amounts are guessed at, a couple of weeks after the fact - you really want to make sure you have a good amount of veggies and beef to pair with your noodles; we ended up with tons of uneaten noodle portions because we ran out of yummy other stuff - fyi.

The original recipe had us cooking the noodles into a pancake of sorts. This ended up being really difficult to eat, and fattier than I'd like.

Here's my recommended steps, although I haven't tried them this way myself yet.

Bring 8 cups unsalted water to a boil in a 6- to 8-quart pot, then add noodles, stirring to separate, and cook 15 seconds. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water until noodles are cool, then shake colander briskly to drain excess water.

Cut steak with the grain into 1 1/2- to 2-inch-wide strips.

Stir together 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 1/4 teaspoon white pepper in a small bowl until smooth, then stir in chicken broth.

Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Pour 1 tablespoon peanut oil down side of wok, then swirl oil, tilting wok to coat sides. Add beef, spreading pieces in 1 layer on bottom and sides as quickly as possible. Cook, undisturbed, letting beef begin to brown, 1 minute, then stir-fry until meat is just browned on all sides but still pink in center, about 1 minute. Transfer meat and any juices to a plate. With the little bits of meaty yumminess left behind, chuck the noodles back in, perhaps with another dash of oil, and fry a bit til they get some nice, stir fry color on them. Transfer them onto the plate on top of the meat.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to wok over high heat. When oil just begins to smoke, add ginger and garlic and stir-fry 5 seconds, then add scallions and stir-fry 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and stir-fry until softened, about 3 minutes. Add choy sum and stir-fry until leaves are bright green and just wilted, 2 to 3 minutes (if using broccoli, cook until almost crisp-tender). Stir broth mixture, then pour into wok and stir-fry until sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add beef & noodles and stir to coat.
Fight people off with your chopsticks.

Pistachio Crusted Chicken

Okay, I can swear that I saw Robin Miller make this one weekend morning, and it spurred me into action and I made it as well, but I'll be damned if I can find it now.
Where the hell is that recipe?! It was so fast, and so easy, and I know I'll butcher it if I try to do it from memory.

I know I put some pistachios in the food processor (or you can just chop 'em up on a cutting board, but they're wiggly little suckers; ooh, or put them in a plastic bag and bash the heck out of them). I brushed the chicken breasts with honey mustard and goat cheese, smashed on some pistachios, and baked it. Oh hell. It was seriously delicious.

Okay, here goes:
Cooking spray
8 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup honey mustard
6 ounces soft goat cheese
1 cup pistachio nuts
- out of their shells

Heat oven to 400

I pounded my breasts down a bit on the fat side. S & P the chook, slather the tops in the honey mustard and goat cheese. Sprinkle (mash) the pistachios onto the goat cheese and put into a baking pan. Cover with foil and pop into the oven. Bake for oh, 20-30 minutes (check after 20). Once the chicken is done, uncover and leave in for another 5-10 minutes to get a nice brown crust on top.

I served this with cous cous with cherry tomatoes, basil and goat cheese; but let's be honest, practically anything in your kitchen makes good cous cous.

Sauceless spaghetti sauce

One summer evening, I was in the mood for a nice light pasta, similar to Amatriciana, but using what I could find in the kitchen. This was the result of that serendipity of culinary flotsam and jetsam, and I've made it several times since. Sometimes it gets tweaked yet again, depending on what I have on hand. You could even add a dash of cream or half and half to make a pink sauce. Yum!

a smashed garlic clove or two
olive oil
sliced onion - maybe half a cup's worth
red pepper flakes
cherry tomatoes - maybe two cup's worth
basil if you have it
Parmesan (or another dry cheese for pasta toppin') (or goat cheese, but I put goat cheese in any recipe that holds still long enough for me to do so. . . . )

Glug some oil into a sautee pan, maybe a tablespoon or so and turn the heat up to medium. Add the garlic clove and the onion once the oil is hot and sautee until soft, or until the onions start to caramelize, depending on your preference (remove the garlic once it starts to brown so it doesn't get bitter!) Once the onions are ready, drop in a pinch of red pepper flakes (again, to taste), and your tomatoes. If they're bigger guys, you can cut them first, but you don't have to.
Continue cooking, adjusting heat as necessary, adding more oil if necessary. The tomatoes will give up their juice and get squishy and start to meld with the other flavors; once they begin to do so, throw in some basil if you've got it - I recommend fresh here though rather than dried as this is not a slow cooked sauce.
Once it looks like something I think will work as a sauce, I dump in some cooked and drained pasta and stir it around (*tip - a little of the pasta cooking water can help add to the sauciness of it if need be). Plate it and finish it off with plenty of fresh parmesan or parmiggiano-reggiano and eat it up!

I really need to come up with a more clever name for this yummy dish. I'm open to suggestions if anyone ever reads this.

Curried scallops

To go with my simple pan seared scallops, I wanted something Indian inspired, preferably featuring curry.
To that end, I pilfered this from one of Emeril's recipes:

1 tbsp unsalted butter
½ c finely chopped onion
2 tsp minced garlic
4 tsps curry powder
1 c chicken stock
½ c oj
1 c heavy cream

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, and curry powder, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and orange juice, and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by 1/2, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cream and cook until thickened, about 1 minute.

Don’t make my mistake and use old spices – I forgot to grab mine from home and used some very old curry powder at Q’s house. The flavor was a mere ghost of how vibrant curry should be. Heartbreaking.
I think I’ll try to lighten this one up a little the next time I make it. Perhaps some I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter or heart healthy olive oil, and maybe I can get away with the fat free half and half from TJ’s. It’s just to add creaminess to the sauce, so I think it should be fine.


Could scallops be any easier? I really think not. If only they were less expensive, I'd eat them far more often. I think they're good for me too (please don't correct me if I'm wrong, not that it matters, since I douse them in all kinds of fat laden sauce anyway).

A "knob" of butter
A "glug" of olive oil
s & p
(toldja it was easy)

Heat the butter & oil in a skillet over med-hi. Salt and pepper your scallops while you wait for the pan and fats to heat up.
Once the pan starts to smoke, you're good to go. Place your scallops in the pan (don't crowd them; they shouldn't be touching - you don't want them to steam) and leave 'em alone. Once they get golden brown on the bottom (2-3 minutes), flip and do the same on the other side.
Et voila. They should be browned to your liking on both sides, translucent in the middle.
Stupid easy, crazy delicious.

First things first

I'll start my blog by posting my (kick ass) pizza sauce recipe. I mean, it can still hang out over at Mock Eel too, but it should live here or else I'll forget it, like I did the second time I tried to make it and did it all wrong.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
½ can tomato paste
3 stewed Roma tomatoes from a can
¼ cup cabernet sauvignon
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf

1. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.
2. Smash and peel two cloves garlic and add to pan, removing when they start to brown.
3. Add remaining ingredients and let simmer and thicken, stirring frequently.
4. Remove bay leaf before using.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

See Me Eat!

Tired of wanting to "guest write" on the love's page every time I do something yummy in the kitchen, I decided it was about time I get my own damn blog. Here it is.

Infuriatingly enough for anyone who might ever try to follow my recipes (myself included) - they tend to be eyeballed, approximated and MacGyvered to within an inch of their lives. Cooking is a fluid art that allows for some flexibility. Baking is not, so don't get any ideas.