Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Closer - Cilantro Mint Chutney

I made a quick cilantro "chutney" (if I weren't making an Indian-themed meal it would just be called a sauce) to round out my Indian meal.

To make: Throw a handful (about a cup) of cilantro leaves, a smaller handful of mint leaves (about 1/3 cup), 1 serrano chili (I seeded it), 1 tablespoon of water, 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt and the juice of one lime into a blender. Blend until smooth and enjoy - very simple yet very tasty.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Indian Feast Partie Deux - Potatoes!

I made a mustard seed-y, bright yellow (care of the turmeric) potato dish to go with my chicken. It is kind of like aloo gobi, but without the gobi (cauliflower). 

Deep-sea diving mask at the Alameda Flea  Market.
To make: I began by simply quartering 3 pounds of yukon gold potatoes. Then it got exciting, I heated some oil in a pan and, having glanced at a recipe, was instructed to add 3 tablespoons of black and yellow mustard seeds until they began to 'pop.' This sounded reasonable enough - I have heated spices and seeds in oil before to infuse the oil with flavor, thus setting up a nice flavor base . . . It wasn't hard to notice when the seeds began to pop because they rapidly started to hurl themselves out of the pan and across my kitchen. Calm, as always, I started shrieking and laughing as I watched my newly mopped kitchen become cluttered with flying black seeds. I eventually gathered my wits about me enough to yank the pan off the heat and, lacking any better option, thrust the pan out the open window. 
It was all blue skies from there on out - I brought the pan back in added some more mustard seeds to the now warm oil (as all of the original mustard seeds were enjoying their new home on my floor). I then added in a chopped onion, my potatoes, a bit more oil, salt, a couple teaspoons of turmeric, a dash of paprika and ground ginger. I let it cook for a few minutes before pouring in a few tablespoons of chicken stock and covering the pan to let the potatoes steam. I steamed until the little taters were tender, removed from heat, tossed with a half cup of chopped cilantro and served. 
Alphabet at the flea market.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Indian Kick - Tandoori Chicken

Setting the scene: It was a perfect San Francisco summer day – 64 degrees and gray skies – and I had a craving for Indian. 

Display at the Alameda Flea Market

I am going to do my best to do a little series that made up my Indian extravaganza, starting with my Tandoori Chicken. Now, I did some serious research, as I didn't want to have a totally white-washed version of Tandoori Chicken . . . that being said I took some liberties and I definitely don't have a real Tandoor oven.

For a great post on Tandoori Chicken you can read about David Lebovitz's foray here

I started with 1 teaspoon coriander, 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons garam masala, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few shakes of cayenne. I combined the spices with 2 or 3 tablespoons minced ginger, 2 minced cloves of garlic, 1 sliced serrano chili, the juice of one lime and 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt. Once all the ingredients were mixed I poured the marinade over my 4 whole chicken legs and stuck it in the fridge to marinate. It should marinate for a nice long while (overnight is always good) but sometimes when you get a craving, you aren't able to plan that far ahead. I now know that the chicken turns out just fine if it only marinates for some hours. 

View of the city from Alameda
Pull the chicken out of the marinade and cook on a grill pan at high heat for about seven minutes a side. If the chicken isn't cooked through (as was the case when I made this) pop the chicken in a 400 degree oven for another few minutes (leaving it on the grill pan can result in the skin getting a nice char). 

For chicken accompaniments . . . stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Faux-Forager's Delight - Morels

I never liked mushrooms. That is, until one day, when I was in 4th grade, during a trip with my family to Costa Rica. We were each served a bowl of mushroom soup, and I begrudgingly agreed to try it. One creamy, earthy taste and I was sold . . . going on to lick my bowl clean and then greedily eat most of my mother's portion as well. I now have an intense love of mushrooms and am prone to order any mushroom-y menu item when out on the town. 

My mother is visiting, and I took her to my version of Disneyland - Berkeley Bowl. It is an amazing produce-centric market in Berkeley with the most incredible array of fruits and veggies from around the globe. Walking through the mushroom section we both locked our eyes on the box of morels and began to drool. Then we noticed that the price was outrageously affordable (only $15/pound – if that sounds like a lot, they are $40/pound at my neighborhood grocery), and we dove in.
As for preparation, with such a luxuriously lovely ingredient I wanted to keep it simple and just enjoy the morel. I sauteed one diced shallot in butter. Once translucent I added in one diced clove of garlic. After a minute of letting those flavors marry, I added my half-pound (!) of morels and sauteed over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. To finish, I seasoned them generously with salt and pepper, reduced the heat to low and poured in about 3/4 cup of heavy cream. I let the sauce cook for 10-15 minutes over very low heat, until the cream was infused with a nice mushroom-y-ness.
We ate the mushrooms over plain pasta . . .
 . . . and savored every last morsel.
My dishwasher.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Lunch Craving - Tuna Melt Sandwich

For about, mmmm. . . 5 years, from 5th grade to 10th grade, I went on a bit of a 'kick' and I think I ate, or at least requested, a tuna salad sandwich every day for lunch. You would think after 5 years of tuna I would never want it again but, luckily, I rarely tire of any kind of food. Thus, I found myself at home yesterday on a nice rainy Sunday and craving a tuna sandwich.
Roses next door
To create:  Open a can of tuna and mix in a good handful of fresh dill, an indiscriminant amount of mayonnaise, chopped pickles (I'm a sucker for Bubbies brand), diced bell pepper, and salt and pepper. Once combined, pile the tuna salad on a piece of bread and top it off with a generous amount of jarlsberg swiss cheese. Pop it under the broiler for a moment and once it reaches the desired melt-y-ness, enjoy.

It is a personal requirement that tuna sandwiches be eaten with a glass of chocolate milk - I have received some negative responses to this requirement but, for me, it is like eating a burger without a shake - completely unacceptable.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gluttonous Berry Pie

In the Presidio, close to the "Spire" by Andy Goldsworthy.
I love being surrounded by fresh berries. They are so sweet and juicy right now that I almost felt guilty baking them – but I did it anyway.
To make the pie dough I combined 2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons sugar. I cut in 12 tablespoons butter until it resembled coarse meal and then slowly added about 1/2 cup of ice water – just enough to make the dough come together but not so much that it gets sticky. I formed the dough into a disk and set it to chill for an hour (or longer).
For the crumble top, I combined 2/3 cup brown sugar, nearly a cup of oats, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon flour and cut in 6 tablespoons of chilled salted butter.
For the filling I put in a cup of blackberries, 1 cup of blueberries and a ton of strawberries, quartered. I tossed them with a generous 1/3 cup of granulated sugar (maybe 1/2 cup), the zest of a lemon, a squeeze of lemon juice and 1 1/2 tablespoons flour. I rolled out the pie dough and laid it in a buttered pie tin, made a neat edge and then added in the fruit mixture. To finish, I heaped all of the crumble topping on the fruit and then popped it into a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes.
(Jan, this is by the Lombard Gate entrance to the Presidio.)