Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- Take one whole head of garlic and slice off the top 1/4 inch. All the cloves should be exposed. Leave the papery skin on.
- Now pour 1-2 tsp of extra-virgin olive oil over the top.
- Sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt.
- Wrap the entire garlic bulb in foil and put it straight onto the middle rack of your oven for 50 mins.
- Take it out, let it cool down, then squeeze out the caramelized, buttery-soft garlic cloves from their skins.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Take 4-5 medium-sized carrots, wash them, scrape the skins off and chop into roughly 1 inch chunks.
- Place them on a foil-lined roasting tray, and pour over 1 tsp of extra-virgin olive oil.
- Pour over 1 tbsp of honey and sprinkle 1/4 tsp dry thyme (or 1 or 2 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves).
- Add a pinch of kosher salt and some black pepper, then mix it all up so that the carrots are coated well with the honey and olive oil.
- Roast them for 45 mins.
Step 3: While the carrots are roasting, prepare the Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and set aside.
- Peel and chop 4 medium-sized potatoes into 1/2 inch chunks.
- Put them in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes chunks are tender, about 10 minutes.
- Drain the water out, then mash the potatoes with 1 tbsp of butter, 2 tbsp of milk, at least 4-5 cloves of the roasted garlic you prepared earlier, along with salt and pepper.
Step 4: While the potatoes are boiling, get started on the main component of Grandma's Famous Chicken.
- Put 2 tbsp of the oil in a skillet on med-high heat.
- Remove the chicken legs from the marinade (don't throw out the marinade) and sear them in the pan, till golden-brown on both sides. Take the chicken out and keep it on the side.
- Pour in 1 more tbsp of the oil in the same skillet, then add the chopped onion. When these turn golden, add back the chicken.
- Pour in the marinade (*gasp* - I know, but trust me, all bacteria will be dead when you boil the heck out of this!) and the cranberry juice and bring the whole thing to a boil. Then turn the heat down to medium-low and cook the chicken till tender - about 20 mins.
- Note: You might want to add more soya sauce OR vinegar per your taste. I personally prefer to add more vinegar than soya. No need to add salt to this sauce because of the soya.
Monday, December 29, 2008
1 small chicken in pieces, with skin
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh dill
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup yogurt OR sour cream
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp brown sugar
Ground black pepper
Dash of paprika/tabasco
1. Boil the chicken with the skin on (keeps the meat moist) till done. Once cool, discard the skin and shred the meat roughly.
2. Mix the mayo, yogurt, lemon juice, brown sugar, dill, salt, pepper and paprika. Keep aside.
3. Combine in a large bowl the shredded chicken, celery, green onions, dried cranberries and walnuts.
4. Pour over the mayo-yogurt mixture into the chicken mixture and thoroughly mix the two. You can add more mayo or yogurt if you need it wetter. Check for enough paprika and salt!
5. My favorite way of enjoying this is the way Ree does, by layering some baby spinach leaves on toasted bread, squirt on some honey-mustard, pile on the chicken salad, and stuff into face.
Thus fortified, I was all geared up for my adventures in Chinatown! The place makes me feel like a complete tourist every time, because there is so much I don't know ... but I love it! I took my girlfriend on the mandatory Canal Street crawl, where we browsed through a sea of knock-off designer handbags. Can someone explain to me how these places get raided every few months, but always keep coming back? How come nothing seems to have changed? There didn't seem to be a decline in the number of people trying to whisper "you want handbag?" as we walked by. As far as I'm concerned, I think Canal Street makes for great tourist shopping, but am just curious to know how they get away with it! Anyone? Do tell.
Then it was up Bowery Street, turning off into the little side streets whenever we spotting something of interest. We wandered into one of the restaurant supply stores there, and I wanted to pay a viewing fee because it felt like walking into a great old museum! A treasure trove of quirky supplies for any kind of asian restaurant, like ginormous woks, steamers, ladles of every size, strainers, sushi making instruments, serving platters ... you name it (if you can actually name everything in one of these stores, my hat's off to you, because I couldn't!).
My first favorite moment of the day came as we were walking along and saw this large crowd of people huddling together in front of this chinese grocery store. On closer inspection, my heart started racing. There, in all their "stinky" glory, were boxes upon boxes of durian! Yes! The very same durian that makes my Anthony Bourdain moan with pleasure and makes Andrew Zimmern almost puke. This was my first experience with durian, so I elbowed my way through to the front of the crowd to get a good whiff of this offensive-yet-allegedly-addictive fruit. But to my surprise, I didn't think it was that strong of a smell. Huh. Very strange. Sure, it had that slightly rotten-esque aroma, but nothing too crazy to handle. I was under the impression that this stuff could wipe out a neighborhood with its smell, but in reality I didn't think it was bad at all! The seller did mention that it had been frozen, so maybe that cut down the strength of the smell? I hung around hoping that I could get a free sample, but no such luck. Since I was on a budget, I decided to forgo buying one for $7 (for something I may not even like), but maybe I will next time. I'm still thinking about it and wondering about the taste, so I must go for it the next time I spot it. Done deal!
It was the perfect bite with which to finish off my trip to Chinatown. Needless to say, I'll be back. I can't stay away too long. It's like my drug.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
5. Roll up the burrito (not too tight, or the filling will burst out) and place it on a hot non-stick skillet. Let it turn brown and crispy on both sides.
6. Then eat it right away, because baby, these are good to GO!
Boyoboyoboyoboyoboy! This really wakes up all your senses first thing in the morning. The crispy bite of the tortilla (browning it on the skillet is essential!), the softness of the egg, the gooeyness of the cheese, and the fragrant spicyness of the coriander chutney might make breakfast your best meal of the day.
I usually have a bottle of store-bought coriander chutney in my fridge, for raitas, or to go with tikkas and kababs. And it works beautifully for this Breakfast Burrito. But if I have the freshly made stuff on hand, then obviously there's nothing better!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Tender Seekh Kababs
"Dec 27, 2008 - Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years.
Most of those killed were security men, but an unknown number of civilians were also among the dead. Hamas said all of its security installations were hit, threatened to resume suicide attacks, and sent at least 70 rockets and mortar shells crashing into Israeli border communities, according to the Israeli military. One Israeli was killed and at least six people were hurt.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Saturday blamed Hamas for breaking a cease-fire with Israel."
Really Condie? In the face of a humanitarian crisis, all you want to do is play the blame game? 200 people dead. 400 wounded. In one day. You think a palestinian mother doesn't mourn the way an israeli mother does? And representing the US, you actually have the gall to say "told you so" to one side while applauding the other?! I don't have enough words for you Ms. Rice.
Just remember, karma is a bitch.
Friday, December 26, 2008
There I was, driving into the parking lot of my local desi grocery store, and about to turn into a premium parking spot ... and right in the MIDDLE of it was an empty shopping cart! The cart return area was maybe ten steps away, but NO! Nope. That's too much of a hike for our lazy-ass shopper. I would say that 80% of the people frequenting that desi store would rather leave their empty shopping carts in the middle of the street, than put it back in the cart return area. If there are a total of, say 50 parking spots, most of those are taken up by empty shopping carts. Sometimes when I come out of the store with my grocery bags in hand, some wonderful person has actually parked their empty shopping cart just behind MY car! Or to the side, so that when the wind blows, the cart runs into my car and puts a neat little scratch on it. To that I have only one thing to say: WHAT THE F---?! Remember that you're NOT the only person shopping at that store, and show some BASIC courtesy! Stop being so SELFISH and LAZY! Unload your groceries from the cart into your car, close the trunk, then turn around, and take the extra FIVE seconds to return the cart to its proper place! TRY IT sometime, would ya?! *grumble grumble*
If this pet peeve gets you in a fiery mood too, then boy do I have a dish for you! No more cussing for the rest of the blog though, I promise.
Guys unabashedly gravitate towards food that's "homey" versus anything "fancy". Things that he can dig into with this bare hands make DH a happy man. Oh, I'm not saying he can't operate a knife + fork, but you can see him squirming for the most part! So where I come from, there's hardly a dish more "homier" than good 'ol Kadhai Chicken. It's fresh-tasting, with all that acid from the tomatoes, plus it has the zing of red + green chillies, black pepper (in my version) and garam masala. No onions. Simple, satisfying, desi soul food. The way our moms used to make it.
Pretty, no?! I want to take my hat off to this humble dish, by doing a lovely photo composition for it. I call it "A study in red".
1.5 lbs chicken pieces OR boneless chicken
6-8 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 small green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt (or more per your taste)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
3 tbsp canola/vegetable oil
Handful of chopped, fresh cilantro
1. Heat the oil on medium-high in a kadhai (desi verson of the wok) or any pot with a lid, then add the chicken pieces, ginger paste, and garlic. Quickly sear the chicken (golden brown on the outside).
2. Add the chopped tomatoes, green chillies, salt, chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala and black pepper. Mix well.
3. Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover the pot, and let the whole thing cook down for about 15-20 mins. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick. No need to add water.
4. After that, take of the lid, turn the heat to high and bhoono (dry up the liquid partially by stirring often) for 5 mins. Some people prefer this dish to be quite dry, so they bhoono it for much longer.
5. Once the chicken is done, and the gravy is at the level I want it to be, I turn off the stove (remember to check for salt!) and garnish the whole thing with lots of cilantro. Serve hot with parathas.
Every pakistani household has their own version of Kadhai Chicken. Do share yours!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Right off the bat, both DH and I were treated to fresh rosemary bread rolls, along with a pink slab of Himalayan salt, topped off with sweet butter. Pretty, no?! It was gooooooood start.
We were also pleasantly surprised by the great fixed price lunch options. A lot of great choices; three courses for only $24.07 per person. That's a DEAL by most standards, especially in the UES people! I ordered the California Scramble for my first course, which was an ostrich egg scrambled with veggies, and topped off with avocado and creme fraiche. Good brunch dish!
DH ordered the Salt n Pepper Calamari, which were the most tender calamari I'd ever had! They melted in my mouth. I soon switched appetizers with DH because I liked his a lot better than mine. DH wants to me state that he thought the calamari were too salty, just for the record.
Moving on to our second courses, I went for the Veal Saltimbocca. This was one fancy restaurant where neither DH nor I could complain about the portion sizes. Quite sizable, to say the least! So much so that I think they should make their appetizers a little smaller, so that people can have more room for the mains. The veal was good, but I didn't enjoy the coating, which I thought was browned too much. The garlicky spinach and smooth potato puree underneath were fabulous though.
Overall, we had a really good meal, at an amazing price, in an elegant, friendly atmosphere. It felt truly special. So if anyone is in two minds about going to this restaurant, I would say GO. Take advantage of their wonderful lunch options. You won't regret it.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
It seemed only appropriate that it was cold and raining the entire time we were there, making everything just that much more difficult and depressing. A simple procedure that should've taken only about 15 mins or so, ended up taking an hour and a half, and gave poor DH a LOT of grief!
I was definitely able to salvage the day by window shopping and having lunch at a wonderful spot in the UES, which I promise to review in detail in my next post.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
This also happens to be my first submission to Tyler Florence Fridays! I'm very excited to be participating in this group - mmmmmmm, I see a lot of yummy deliciousness coming my way in the near future!
Chocolate Banana Bread (adapted from "Tyler's Ultimate: Brilliant Simple Food to Make Any Time")
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
1-1/3 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ladies & gents, this bread is a winner. Denser than a cake, but lighter than a brownie, and moist. So moist. Makes me want to be a better person ... so in that spirit, I am off to share a few slices with my friendly neighbor. She has NO idea how lucky she is.
This time of year is all about sweater dresses. Pair it with some shimmery tights, boots, layer on some knockout accessories and you're ready to party all night long without freezing your ass off! But it's not easy to carry off this look, thanks to the nature of the material sticking to ALL your curves (especially those unwanted ones). So here's my Fashion Tip Of The Week:
Get sweater dresses that either cinch you just below your bust, or at the waist, then the rest (and this is key) floats away from the body. This will camouflage the tummy, hips & thighs, giving everyone the illusion of a sleeker and sexier you!
Check out the above sweater dresses that I'm oggling at the moment:
(Top) Banana Republic's Wool Knit Dress - on sale for $99.99
(Bottom) Victoria's Secret Stretch Cotton Rib Turtleneck Sweaterdress - on sale for $39.00
Monday, December 22, 2008
2. In the meantime, warm up the oil on medium, then put in the cardamom, black cumin, cloves and onion. I use the inner container of the rice cooker for this - it works fine on the stove.