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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

coq au vin in white wine

coq au vin

I think it’s safe to say that winter is on its way. I could not bundle myself warmly enough today – and it came so suddenly on Sunday. What with Saturday night so warm, Sunday greeted us with gusts of wind, dropping temperatures, scarves and sweaters. And warm stew-like food.

I’ve been in a chicken mood lately. Not just any chicken. Chicken that is soft, succulent, falling off the bone chicken. Chicken that doesn’t need to be cut with a knife. Chicken that is so warm, comforting, moist and fragrant, you will be actually excited about the cold weather outside. Hard to believe?

I know I’ve been telling you about how easy various recipes are, and pretty soon I’m going to lose my credibility with you. Maybe? Maybe not. Because this is yet another one of these dishes that practically cooks itself. I know I said that about the last chicken dish, but I swear this is another one just like it, if not easier.

ooh the garlicky broth!

I’ll confess I’m not a big fan of white meat – I find it too dry, even if it’s not overcooked. The meat is just a bit too tough for me. With the dark meat, you come out looking like a chef extraordinaire while the work you put in is quite minimal.

Continue reading coq au vin in white wine.

Friday, November 7, 2008

roast chicken with pears, shallots and leeks

Chicken with Pears and Leeks

If you’re lucky enough to find a handful of dishes that sort of cook themselves you’ve got a pretty good repertoire that you can always fall back on in case you’re not exactly prepared to make dinner for a friend whom you had invited over eons ago and just delayed figuring out a game plan. Not that this ever happens to me. Yeah, right.

As much as I am a born planner and a pretty much a control-freak in most aspects of my life, even I slide at times and kind of let laziness take over. I procrastinate, I watch mindless television, I wonder where did the time go? No, really? Are The Hills that worth my time? Apparently they are – how else would you explain this weekly mind-numbing ritual?

Chicken with Pears and Leeks

Well, here’s a meal for you that does indeed practically cook itself. It’s so unbelievably easy you’ll be tempted to keep this secret to yourself and not let others in on it. After you feed them this chicken, they will beg you for the recipe, they’ll have seconds and thirds and they’ll think that you slaved all evening over the stove.

Nothing can be further from the truth. This is a one baking dish meal and it takes minutes to put together and once you stick it in the oven, you only have to check on it once to turn the pieces over and then – voila! It will be done and delicious. Which, of course, means you have more time for The Hills, or something more intellectual perhaps? Gossip Girl, anyone?

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Friday, April 18, 2008

chicken piccata

chicken piccata

There comes a point at every Passover when I begin to grow tired of the traditional dishes, the gefilte fish starts looking revolting, and no matter which way you slice it, all I really want is a bagel, or a bowl of pasta, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; simple and gratifying,. They are all humble foods, honest and filling, and I miss them terribly. The eight days begin to seem interminable. What can I say – I like my leavened starches!

But truth be told, I doubt I would miss any of those things, if I could take the entire week off and just focus on Passover cooking, if I didn’t have to balance it with a 12-hour workday. I could get creative and just spend my days creating holiday appropriate dishes. I have always wanted to host a Mediterranean seder, serving some Italian and Greek-inspired dishes. Maybe a roasted rack of lamb, or a branzini.

chicken piccata

Oh, but there’s also my version of chicken piccata. I’ve deviated a bit from the traditional way of making it in that I roast my chicken with all the ingredients. Perhaps that’s an insult to the traditional method of preparation, but I like my way better. Sautéed chicken always leaves me a bit lackluster, but roast chicken – now that’s a whole different story altogether.

I also find that on a night when you come home from work, tired and hungry and with a laundry-list of to-do items around the apartment, this version is fantastically easy to put together and not worry about until it’s time to pull the chicken out. With the exception of a singular trip to the oven to turn the chicken breasts over, you are free to buzz about your home, tidying up, paying bills, folding laundry, or simply kicking back on the couch with a glass of wine, watching Seinfeld reruns. The latter happens to be my preference, but somehow errands get in the way.

parsley

By omitting butter from the recipe here, you magically transform this every-day dish into kosher-for-Passover dish. I should do a bit more research, but I believe capers are permitted to use during the holiday. Everything else in the recipe, lemon, wine, garlic, olive oil, salt, are permitted for Passover use.

So there you have it, an easy-peasy Passover recipe that isn’t gefilte fish. How fabulous is that? And I dare say that most of these ingredients should already be in your pantry, save perhaps the capers, but those are easy enough to locate. And maybe adding another dish into your Passover repertoire will make the week go by a bit faster. And before you know it, you’ll be enjoying that bagel or that bowl of pasta all over again!

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

chicken liver and onions

Among many things we quickly discovered about America when we first arrived is that you could buy chicken liver by the pound in plastic containers. In addition to its abundance, it was also shockingly cheap, which worked to our advantage because we were just as shockingly poor. In Russia, the only time you could get your hands on chicken livers would be by buying a chicken, which came with all of its entrails and a few feathers here and there, that you’d be responsible in plucking. This rarity, of course, made it sheer delicacy and would be preserved only for the children’s consumption. They would be the ones with the highest nutritional need, and chicken livers are a great source of iron and hemoglobin.

For me, however, chicken livers meant gagging and disgust – it was one of my most abhorred foods. My mother would fry up some onions, dust the chicken livers in flour and salt and fry that up as well. The resulting dish was then placed before me and my mother, standing akimbo in the kitchen over me, would oversee the torturous and seemingly interminable feeding process. I would, of course, eat the onions and then poke around at the liver. The meal would always end in tears, with my mother finally losing her patience and snapping; and me, scared and nauseous, wailing over my plate.

raw livers

I don’t mean to paint my mother a monster – she certainly was trying her best to make sure I had as much good, wholesome food as possible; and has taught me how to make some of my favorite dishes. I think that I was a very picky eater in my childhood and could pretty much drive the most patient of people crazy. Chicken liver, back then, was my arch-nemesis.

not the most appetizing shot, i know

I don’t know when my palate changed and learned to love chicken livers, but it does now. And I was excited to find out when KS and I started dating, that I found another chicken liver fan as well. I showed him how we made it in my family and he turned around and made the preparation even better. His secret, while the chicken livers are cooking, to periodically add a tiny bit of the flour mixture to places that have become “un-coated” with it. The result, a crispy outside, delicately textured, almost buttery taste. Nothing goes better with it than a plate of freshly fried onions, a tiny dash of good balsamic vinegar, and a sprinkling of Maldon sea salt.

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Friday, November 2, 2007

tamale pie

poblano peppers as decoration

I took a taxi to work yesterday. I know, I know – decadent, extravagant and wholly unnecessary. But at 6:40am before the sun even gave me a hint of its arrival, Tribeca looked quiet and desolate and I got scared. Yes, side from being wasteful with my money, I am also a total sissy. Fifteen dollars and fifteen minutes later, climbing out of the taxi in midtown I looked up at the sky – it had barely changed its hue. Sigh. Seeing that I just splurged on a cab, I walked past our building Starbucks longing for a latte, but restraining myself nonetheless. I can’t wait for daylight savings to being – the morning darkness just wrecks me.

Life’s been hectic and busy, but then again, it’s year-end and whose life hasn’t been this way? Who isn’t trying to remind their management that they’re not only a worthwhile employee, but one that should be rewarded at the end of December for all their hard work in the last twelve months?

I sneak time in the wee hours when I arrive to my desk while I’m letting the caffeine kick in and during lunch, to read news, personal email, and food blogs as I look for inspiration of what to make for dinner. Would it be better if I could plan every meal in advance? Without a doubt – but sometimes, I put that ground turkey in the fridge to defrost and scratch my head. We just did turkey chili, so something else will have to do. Blogs are perfect for people like me – they’re like electronic cookbooks to go. I don’t have to take the Martha Stewart oeuvre on the train with me (I’ve done that before – you get some odd looks) – I can access some great, creative stuff from typing a few links on my keyboard.

Case in point, this great idea from the Clumsy Cook – who, in my opinion, isn’t clumsy at all – at least, not with her culinary endeavors. The tamale pie sounded terrific – a one pot meal that seemed comforting, filling, different. And with ground turkey waiting to be made into something fabulous – I wanted to give this a go.

I took a few liberties, however, namely substituting turkey for beef and omitting the cheese – since KS is lactose intolerant, we skip dairy when we can. Undoubtedly, I think this recipe would benefit from melted cheese, but in my opinion, very few things would not. All in all, this reminded me of shepherd’s pie, only with a south-western twist. Had I thought ahead, I would’ve made a meal bowl of guacamole for us to snack on as a side dish. Next time, I promise.

For a working person, this dish is one of those creations you’re likely to repeat over – it’s a one pot meal, delicious, filling and comforting especially in cold weather, not to mention the details that will make or break your weeknight cooking experience, especially if you’re like me and are making dinner closer to nine o’clock at night. The fact that it’s all in one pot, makes it super easy to assemble and just as easy to clean up. And who doesn’t like that?

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

turkey chili

onions instead of sour cream

Ever since I read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” I’ve been rather preoccupied with eliminating high-fructose corn syrup from my diet, and trying to get my hands on grass fed meat and true free range chicken. Yes, I’ll eat whatever meat is being sold in Whole Foods from time to time, but when I can, I will try to get the stuff from small family farms, and by small, I mean small.

welcome, fall!

In general though, we’ve been trying to decrease the red meat consumption – for health reasons more than anything. And as temperatures suddenly dropped last week and we all felt a fall chill, my mind turned to chili. Everyone marks fall in their own way and for me, nothing signals the change of seasons more than crisp, fall apples (preferably Cortlands) and a steaming bowl of chili. And yes, chili con carne is the traditional way to go, but I’m making a few alterations.

dried poblanos
without planning and in a hurry, canned beans will do turkey for me, turkey for you

And if anything, seeing King Corn this afternoon with KS and his younger sister made me feel a lot more vindicated for abandoning the classic oldie-but-goodie and sticking with something slightly healthier (nevermind the whole Topps debacle). For the record, the film is great and I was (for the most part) engaged and entertained. I’ve learned little new as Michael Pollan has obliged in educating me in this matter, but it did drive the point home yet again – we are what we eat and for the most part, Americans are children of the corn.

oh the goodness!

I have to confess that eating this batch of chili made me realize that I actually prefer the turkey version to its original “con carne” one. I suppose that “chili con gobble” doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as easily as “chili con carne” does, but I’ll get used to it – my palate has already.

Since we’re decreasing/limiting dairy consumption in our household, we chose to top our chili off with some chopped onions and added some hot sauce (when do we not). But I think that the most preferred way is to give your generous bowl some sour cream, sprinkle with cheddar cheese and green onions and award yourself with a heaping spoonful!

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