Cardamom and Black Pepper Chicken

1 07 2011

Almost exactly a year ago, I got bitten by the Indian cooking bug.  Since then, I’ve been cooking up various vegetable dals on a pretty regular basis.  So when Grapefruit of the blog Needful Things announced that she was starting a monthly Currypalooza event, I was very excited to participate.  Then life happened for a few months – my arsenal of Indian spices were all packed away and I couldn’t get to them, I had insanely busy weeks juggling houseguests, job interviews, and deadlines, but now that we’re finally settled in the new apartment and have a little time to breathe (thank you, vacation!) I’m pleased to be able to play along in this month’s Currypalooza.  The dish in question?  Madhur Jaffrey’s Cardamom and Black Pepper Chicken.

Look Ma!  No Carbs!

The recipe was delightfully quick – prepare a marinade for the chicken, let it sit while preparing the rest of the sauce, throw it in the sauce, marinade and all, and let it finish cooking.  I deviated from the recipe a bit, because I wasn’t sure how or why I should grate a tomato, so I just chopped one up.  Other than that, I was unusually faithful.  Grapefruit will be posting the recipe on her blog, and as soon as she does, I’ll put in the link.  And here it is!

What to serve with a saucy Indian chicken dish?  The obvious answer is probably rice, but Nick and I had already eaten rice at lunch that day.  Or naan, but it was a little too close to dinnertime to start kneading and proofing dough.  I didn’t feel like getting two pots dirty to make lentils, and I definitely wanted a vegetable component to the meal.  Mallika and her wonderful Quick Indian Cooking blog to the rescue!  There I found a delectable recipe for Masala Mattar, a spicy side dish featuring peas.  The two dishes worked well together, and I even got to have some of the leftover chicken for lunch the next day.  The peas were all gone, so that time, I made rice.

On this day in 2008: Get Confident, Stupid!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Remembrance Risotto

2 01 2010

The Christmas goose may be gone, but its memory lives on in the two quarts of stock I made from the carcass.  Périgord month may have gone the way of 2009, and porcini (aka cèpe, another gourmet classic grown in Périgord) season may have wound down for another year - as evidenced by my fruitless search of Paris’ biggest outdoor market a couple of weeks ago – but at least they can be a year-round treat if they’re dried.  The season for fresh peas was so long ago that it’s once again in the near future, but their spirits lie dormant in the freezer, awaiting only a little warmth to bring them back for a meal.

Pea and Porcini Risotto

Throw some short-grained Italian rice into the mix, and these memories become very much a part of the present, as a warming dinner for a cold winter night.

I find the more often I make risotto, the less it seems like a big deal.  In my kitchen repertoire, risotto is edging its way into the “weeknight quickie” category, because really all you need is some stock, rice, and something fresh (or frozen, or dried) to give it personality.  It can serve as a hearty first course, but I like to scoop up a heaping bowl and make it the main event.

One-dish meal.

Happy 2010 to all.  May it bring joy, luck, new discoveries, and delicious memories.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Picnic Pesto

18 05 2009

Picnicking season is finally upon us.  Our blanket is at the ready, our supplies of wet naps have been replenished, and a bottle of rosé awaits in the fridge at all times.  I love the impromptu nature of the picnic.  It’s the sort of meal where Nick can call me from work on a particularly sunny afternoon and ask me to throw together a salad and get out the cheese, tell me he will pick up a baguette on the way from work, and we meet at the canal for a light, leisurely supper.

Ingredients for a springy pesto.

Even when you plan a picnic, like I did a few weeks ago with Hope, it’s nice to have dishes you can throw together at a moment’s notice.  Pasta salad is a picnic favorite in our house, and ever since I learned the trick to making pesto that doesn’t separate and clump when served on cold pasta (hint: it’s mayonnaise), I’ve been experimenting with different combinations of herbs and vegetables.  I usually employ a clean-out-the-fridge method of pesto-making.  Any fresh herbs I have lying around get thrown in, and the results are always tasty.  This time around, I happened to have two bunches of mint that needed some attention.  I had purchased them at the market because they smelled so refreshing, forgetting that I had used up the last of the rum making vanilla extract.

Mint pesto, peas, pasta

I added some parsley to the mix to help maintain the green color, and a handful of peas came along for the ride.  Because what says Spring more than peas and mint?  With the exception of cheese, the rest of the Usual Suspects were there: pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice.  Tossed with twirly pasta, toasted pine nuts, and more peas, it was a hit at the picnic.  The fresh, green flavor helped us all feel a little better about sitting around eating while watching the joggers in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont.  I’ll be sure to make this again, next time I have mint lying around.  Or I may even buy some for the occasion.

Perfect Pesto Picnic Pasta

Pea and Mint Pesto Pasta Salad

 Delicious, refreshing, and utterly springy, this is the perfect dish for the first picnic of the season.  The addition of mayonnaise to the traditional pesto helps it cling to the cold pasta.  If you start the pasta first, you can have this salad ready to go in around 20 minutes.

 For the Mint Pesto:

2 bunches mint, washed and leaved (about 2 cups/450 ml packed leaves)
½ bunch parsley, washed and picked
1-2 small cloves of garlic, peeled
¼ cup/60 ml peas (use fresh if they are young and sweet, otherwise use frozen, thawed)
¼ cup/60 ml pine nuts
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
A little reserved pasta cooking water, if necessary

  1. Combine all ingredients except pasta water in a tall container.  Purée with an immersion blender, adjusting the consistency if necessary with a little of the cooking water.  Taste and tweak the seasoning as you desire.

 For the Pasta Salad:

7 oz./200 g pasta (short shapes with lots of surface area are best – think fusilli or farfalle)
1 recipe Mint Pesto
½ cup/120 ml peas (see note above)
½ cup pine nuts, toasted

  1. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water to just past al dente.  (You’re going to be eating this cold or room temperature, so it should be tender.)  Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking.
  2. Toss the pasta with the pesto, peas, and pine nuts.  Pack into a reusable, picnic-friendly container and get outside!  Serve on a picnic blanket with plastic utensils.

 Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.


Delicious submit to reddit
Digg!

(Sharing buttons are in the trial phase.  Bear with me.)





Spring is Here!

3 04 2009

Not that you’d know it from the weather today, but trust me, there have been more sunny days than not this week in Paris.  And last Sunday at the market I bought asparagus, peas, and sweet strawberries!

To celebrate the arrival of spring, I made this risotto with the asparagus and peas.

Early Spring Vegetable Risotto

It tasted as good as it looks.  I also made a fresh fruit tart with the strawberries and the kiwis that I got in my CSA panier (who knew kiwis grew in the Loire valley?).  The meal was a lovely first taste of spring, and made me hungry for more.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Spaghetti and Fried Eggs

10 11 2008

Sounds weird, I know.  I’ve had this recipe filed away in my mental recipe box for months now.  Every time I brought it up in the past, Nick would give me this look and say “So it’s just pasta?  With a fried egg?” in such a way that eventually discouraged me from pursuing it.

Frying eggs

So I was very surprised one day last week, when, while assessing the contents of our still-not-fully-operational fridge, Nick asked me, “didn’t you have some pasta-fried egg thing you wanted to try?”  Seizing on what was surely a rare opportunity, I agreed to make it the next night for dinner with the caveat that I add something to liven it up a bit.

A trip through the produce section of the supermarket the next day proved somewhat fruitless.  I had hoped to find some mustard greens, dandelions (I have yet to try them but am quite curious), or even arugula or spinach, but they were sorely lacking in the fresh greens department.  (Spaghetti with fried eggs and lettuce doesn’t sound the slightest bit appealing, does it?)  As I meandered through the aisles, searching for inspiration, I came to the realization that I had everything I needed for a great pasta dish at home.  Contemplating the pasta and fried egg concept, I recalled that I had seen it referred to as “poor man’s carbonara.”  Further reflection dragged up some memory of peas in carbonara dishes.  Well, I have a bag of frozen peas that need to be used… but what else can I put in there to make it more seasonally appropriate?  A quick mental scan of my pantry revealed some fresh rosemary and a jar of dried porcini mushrooms.  Now we’re talking!

A jumble of ingredients

This is a perfect dish for busy weeknights.  Fast, filling, infinitely variable – I will certainly be turning to pasta and eggs for future emergency dinners.  I started rehydrating the mushrooms and boiling water for pasta, and 20 minutes later I had dinner!

Stirring the pasta

The eggs were fried in a rather large amount of garlic-infused oil, just like the original recipe.  I threw the peas in with the pasta, timing it so they would be done at the same time, and meanwhile chopped up the rosemary and mushrooms.  I saved the mushroom soaking liquid to adjust the consistency of the final dish, which turned out to be necessary as the runny egg yolks combined with the oil to create a thick, rich sauce.

Quick, tasty, filling, and cheap - what more can you ask for?

For future reference, four eggs, when combined with the pasta and other ingredients, is a lot more than two people can eat for dinner.  Not that we didn’t enjoy trying.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.





Taking Advantage of France

28 03 2008

We’ve had kind of a busy week this week, in preparation for our upcoming move.  I’ve been taking measurements of the new place, shopping around for household items, trying to find the right balance between quality and price, and researching phone/internet/tv deals.  Nick has been, well, working.  On days when we don’t have time to cook, or don’t feel like it, we take advantage of the bounty that France’s boulangeries, charcuteries, and fromageries have to offer. 

Nothing makes a better (or easier) dinner than a wedge of cheese, a slice of pâté, a bowl of soup, some great bread, and a bottle of wine.  Sometimes the soup comes from a box, (My favorite is Knorr’s Douceur de 8 Légumes – eight vegetable soup.  You can’t believe how happy I was to discover that it hasn’t changed in the seven years since I was last living in France.) but last week the stars converged in a fortuitous manner.  Just as an inordinately large bag of frozen peas found its way into my kitchen, so did a recipe for cream of pea soup – calling for frozen peas!  Seeing as I almost always have cream on hand, I didn’t have to do any shopping at all.

And the soup was so easy, it practically made itself.  All I had to do was dice an onion and sauté it in butter, add some broth, bring it to a boil, add peas and cook until tender.  Then I puréed the whole thing using a hand blender (if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up).  I finished the soup with a few ounces of cream and adjusted the seasoning.  What could be easier?  We ate it with the ostrich pâté we got at the salon, a bit of sausage, Roquefort, Gouda, and Morbier cheeses, a tradi, and a bottle of Bordeaux.

Pâté and cheese and bread, oh, my!

While this particular meal was more in a clean-out-the-fridge vein, sometimes we plan these things out a little better.  In the week following the salon, we put together a nice appetizer for ourselves, consisting of bread, that awesome perfectly ripe cheese, and a bottle of Crémant de Bourgogne.  Since both the cheese and the wine were from Burgundy, I figured that they would work well together.  And you know what?  They did.

What grows together goes together…

Have a good weekend, everybody!








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 307 other followers

%d bloggers like this: