Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Grilled Chicken Saag, and Sauteed Calamari

Welcome to Part 2 of Welcome Back Jesse: Dinner - this one's a doozy. I decided to grill the chicken rather than brown it in the saucepan as recipes called for to make it a little healthier. That worked fine, but as you can see below, this meal requires many pots, dishes, and steps. It came out good on the end, spicy but not quite like Indian from a restaurant because I was lacking in spices such as coriander, cloves, garam masala, which I didn't feel like going out to get for this. But the best part - this dish is chuck full of spinach, so it's good for you!

1 1/2 cup rice
3 cups water
pinch of salt

1 1/2 lb chicken breast, sliced into 4 pieces
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp curry
salt and pepper
non-stick cooking spray

2 bunches spinach, washed thoroughly and chopped
1/4 cup water

four pitas
olive oil
salt and pepper

olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, minced
1 inch piece ginger, minced
1/2 green chili pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp curry
salt and pepper

Step 1: Combine water, rice, and salt in a pot, bring to boil, and then lightly simmer until all water is absorbed, approximately 50 minutes.

Step 2: Rub chicken with spices. Grill on high five minutes, flip over and grill another five minutes, then grill on low for another five minutes till done. Remove from heat. Don't forget to turn off the grill!

Step 3: Put spinach in a pot with 1/4 cup water. Cover, bring to a boil, and remove from heat. When cool, grind in blender and set aside.

Step 4: Brush pita bread on both sides lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and lightly toast at 400 degrees for 5 minutes until warm and slightly toasty.

Step 5: Sautee garlic, onion, and ginger until lightly browned. Add tomato and other spices and simmer for 10 minutes. Add spinach puree and simmer about 5 minutes. Add chicken and simmer another 10 mintes until sauce has thickened. Remove from heat. Serve over brown rice with pita bread.

Sauteed Calamari

Also, the next night, Jesse sauteed up some calamari that was yummy. It was already washed by the fisherman - I think he just chopped it up and sauteed it on low with olive oil and minced garlic for about 45 minutes until it was tender. And tender it was - I like it much better this way than breaded and chewy like restaurants usually serve it.

Speaking of garlic, we went to the garlic festival in Saugerties today and it was somewhat disappointing. First of all, it was overwhelming - so crowded and so many vendors I didn't know where to start where to go and it was way too easy to keep losing my friends. Half the time was spent losing and meeting back up. Anyway, there were many stands selling what looked and tasted like high-quality garlic as well as garlic spreads and sauces etc. But the actual food to eat there was almost like any county fair - fried dough, tacos, and taco and pork all in pieces dripping with gross oil or whatever stand after stand so that was disappointing. For all the hype, I thought there would be intelligent dishes. Oh well, I'm so tired from being in the car so long I can't even think.

Very Apple Coffe Cake

Whenever Jesse returns from a work trip to LA, I like to use it as an excuse to make some scrumptious treat and serve it to him as a surprise. Last time around, I made flourless chocolate cupcakes, and this time I was originally planning to make German chocolate cupckes (which I've been wanting to make for-ever-er!). But since he is due to return in the morning just after I leave for work, I decided a coffee cake was in order. An apple coffee cake, to be specific, in celebration of the return of fresh apples to the farmers market.

In my health-seeking quest to ban oil and butter and tons of eggs from my baked goods, I decided to try using applesauce as the primary wet ingredient, and to complicate things further, applesauce I made myself. I've done this before, for apple muffins, and figured it would work just as well for a cake. Of course, butter came creeping back in for the crumbly topping, but a coffee cake just wouldn't be complete without that.

I just did a taste test with my roommate - it's on the right track, but the bottom and sides of the cake turned out tough and chewy. Not sure why - maybe I baked it too long, maybe I needed more lubricant in the pan, maybe this is what whole wheat flour does, maybe the batter really did need oil or butter? Hm guess those apple muffins were tough too. I need Alton Brown to explain the science of it all! I don't know, but leaving out the bottom of the cake, it tastes yummy, especially the crumbly top. Will get a final verdict from Jesse tomorrow, but I have the feeling he'll be pleased. And get ready for tomorrow's post, Welcome Back Jesse Part 2: Dinner.(Apologies for blurry picture - my lighting sucks.)

1 large apple (I used Cortlandt, recommended by the farmer I bought it from)
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp honey (buckwheat honey from the Greenmarket)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg (local free range organic yum!)
1/2 cup soy milk or organic milk
1 small apple

Crumbly Topping
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup walnuts
1/3 cup steel-cut rolled oats

Peel, core, and dice apple. Combine apple with other ingredients in a saucepan, cover, and very lightly simmer over very low heat, stirring occasionally. When apples are tender, approximately 25 minutes later, mash with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Sometime before the applesauce is done, preheat the oven to 350.

Meanwhile, combine dry cake ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients for the crumbly topping and then cream butter into the mixture. Also core an apple (do not peel) and cut into thin slices. Also prepare a 9-inch round cake pan with non-stick cooking spray on bottom.

Stir egg and milk into the applesauce. Then beat the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Pour half the batter into the cake pan, spreading evenly. Arrange apple slices in a layer on top, and then pour remaining batter over it, again spreading evenly. Arrange crumbly mixture evenly on top, pressing it in slightly. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. Enjoy with your next morning coffee for breakfast.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Mashed Potatoes and Salad

By misuse of technology, I lost the pictures of this meal. But the description still remains. This meal begins with the barbecue I had earlier this summer. Our neighbors had given us a pork roast, and cooking it for the bbq was my first experience cooking pork. To my delight, after eight hours on low in the crock pot, it turned into pulled pork when I went to slice it.

Weeks later when I was at the Greenmarket, I was waiting in line to get chicken or lamb or whatever I usually get from the nice man from Dines Farms. He has quite a following, always long lines, and sad exclamations from people when he's out of his variations of chicken sausage, and people place their order ahead of time to be sure they get what they want before he runs out, and he even gives out his cell number for orders. I try to get all my meat from him, though sometimes I run out and have to make do with "supermarket" meat. So there I saw - aha he sells pork roast - I could buy and make it again! Because I am always trying to make myself use my crock pot more. And because Jesse didn't get to try the pulled pork at our bbq because he was too busy at the grill! So I bought a roast and threw it into the freezer, unsure of when I would make it.

I decided to make it for this Saturday's dinner, after a long week of working overtime and before Jesse headed off to LA for a few days. Then, since it turned out that roommate and a friend were joining us, I decided to bolster the meal with sides - a Greenmarket salad, and my first time making mashed potatoes. Growing up, I hated mashed potatoes - it falls into the category of things I don't like because of creamy texture: mashed potatoes, whipped cream, yogurt, frosting on cakes from bakeries. But then my roommate made me mashed potatoes and now I'm all into them, I think because hers has tasty chunks amid the mashed potatoes and because I'm slowly getting over my picky standards from childhood.

The pork turned out nice and juicy, although it took longer than I thought it would. Unfortunately the rolls I selected from a local bakery for assembling the sandwiches were stale, so that wasn't great because it made the sandwiches tough to bite into, and many pieces of roll were left discarded on the plates. It would have been much better to use soft hamburger rolls like at my bbq. The mashed potatoes were fine, I think it would be pretty hard to mess up mashed potatoes. My friend in attendance, also named Julia, thought the salad was awesome - I chalk it to the juicy tomatoes and homemade breadcrumbs and Cindy's Kitchen, my favorite brand of salad dressing. Then today, Jesse proclaimed that he doesn't want to eat pork anymore because it felt so fattening. In fact, he felt it was so gross that it almost made him want to become a vegetarian (he who must eat a protein, preferably meat, at every meal). And that is exactly the reason why my mother never made pork growing up and why this will remain one of my few forays into cooking it, probably ever.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Slice 1/2 onion into long, thin slices. Brush approx. 2lb pork roast in barbecue sauce on all sides. Put both in crock pot with few more dabs of bbq sauce, salt, and pepper. Cook on low for eight hours. Depending on the size of the roast, it may need to cook longer. I cooked mine on low for six hours and then on high for another two and a half hours. It is done when you slice into it and don't see any pink. Lightly toast four hamburger buns and top with dollop of bbq sauce. Pull pork out with a fork and heap on each bun. Serves four.

Mashed Potatoes with Scallions

Bring pot of water to boil, with salt. Meanwhile, chop two large yukon gold potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Also mince one clove garlic. Add potatoes and garlic to water, cover, bring to boil again, and then uncover and continue to boil until potatoes are tender. Drain potatoes in collander and then return to pot. Mash with a wooden spoon, leaving chunks. Add salt, pepper, 1/4 cup milk, 1 spoonful of butter, and a diced scallion and combine with potatoes.


In a bowl rubbed with a garlic clove I combined the following ingredients picked up at the greenmarket that morning: 1 juicy tomato, cut into small chunks; 1/2 onion diced; 1 clove garlic, minced; 4 handfuls of mixed greens, rinsed and patted dry; homemade croutons made a week earlier out of stale bread, salt, peper, garlic powder, other dry spices, toasted in the oven for 20 min and stored in tupperware until its use this night; all tossed with Cindy's Kitchen Honey Dijon Vinaigrette.

Enjoy with a nice white beer and friends.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Potato Salad with Basil Oil, Tomato, and Onion

This dish is inspired by the August 2007 Bon Appetit - potato salad with basil oil. Because I had potatoes and basil and wanted to use them up. However, I also wanted to use my bounty of tomatoes and onions, so I decided to add them into the mix. Also, the Bon Appetit recipe called for me to make a basil oil and a dijon vinagraitte but 1- i didn't think they would taste great together and 2-why complicate things? so i stuck with just the basil. it didn't get the best rating from my boyfriend, but it will do. i just had this for dinner because i didn't feel like making a main meat dish, but it would be good as a side too, with pesto or balsamic chicken.

1 large potato
1 tomato
1/4 onion
1/2 cup basil
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp hot water

In large saucepan, bring enough water to boil to cover potatoes with 1 inch water. Meanwhile, chop potato into 1 inch cubes. When water boils, add potatoes, lower heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are tender, approx. 10 minutes. Meanwhile, blend basil with 3 tsp olive oil, 3 tbsp hot water, salt, and pepper. Dice onions and tomatoes and combine in a bowl. Add basil mixture to bowl. When potatoes are tender, drain in collander and add to bowl. Serve as warm summer side dish for two.