Posts Tagged ‘Grains and Rice’
I think I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it now and will most likely say it again some time in the future: I am no authority on Indian cuisine. I go to an Indian restaurant, get a little frustrated when I read the description of every dish as “meat with a blend of herbs and spices” (seriously, how am I supposed to differentiate between the dishes with details like that?), and then blindly point my finger to one of the items on the menu with the hope that I’ll end up liking it. That being said, I always do end up liking it because I happen to think Indian food is very tasty. But still, the point I am attempting to make is that I might be a little more than lost when it comes to understanding the nuances and or really even the basics of Indian food.
(As I am re-reading what I wrote above, I’m starting to realize that the technique I described above of blindly pointing my finger to a random item on the menu because I have no clue of what to pick out is something I employ quite often, and not just in Indian food. This is what I did when I was in Italy and couldn’t read the Italian menus, and what I often do when I am too indecisive to firmly pick something out at any type of restaurant, foreign or not. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, maybe I have used at least a variation of this technique for some other, somewhat greater, decisions of my life. Like choosing colleges to apply for, or places to apply to work at. Whoops.)
Anyway, it doesn’t take much expertise or active consideration to flip through the glossy pages of my American Test Kitchen Menu Cookbook, spot a pretty picture of chicken tikka masala, hop over to the store to pick up a serrano chili and a bundle of cilantro, and then do the little bit of chopping and stirring that this dish requires. I don’t know much about this dish (ahem, see first sentence of this post), but I do know that it technically didn’t even originate in India but rather in London sometime in the 1970′s. It has, nonetheless, grown to acquire a level of popularity so much so that it is now considered to be the national dish of India. So you see, chicken tikka masala, you and I aren’t so different when it comes to Indian authenticity after all.
Anyway, no matter the degree of authenticity of this dish or my understanding of the cuisine or the accuracy of my decision-making skills in general, this chicken is just plain good. It’s simple enough for a weeknight sort of meal, and is easy to pair with this simple basmati rice pilaf and some cooked vegetables. The chicken for the masala can be grilled, if summer grilling is on your daily menu in these upcoming months, or it can be cooked under the oven broiler setting, as I did with this version here. After only a few minutes of cooking the chicken, it’s ready to be added to the spicy tomato sauce that is made heavenly with the addition of a bit of cream and some smooth spices (garam masala, I love you). I think this dish becomes exceptionally good after a day or two, once the flavors “meld” or “marry” together or however that goes. My mom brought some leftovers to her work the following day, and once realizing that her delicious-smelling meal did not come from an Indian restaurant, her coworkers promptly asked for the recipe. This recipe is something to keep and take note of, and it doesn’t take any authority on any cuisine to realize that.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Menu Cookbook
Serves 5 to 6
If you’re using a very thick greek yogurt brand such as Fage in this recipe, you might want to thin down the yogurt with a few tablespoons of water when making the yogurt mixture for the chicken.
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 28 ounces total)
1 cup whole, plain yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small to medium onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more for taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 serrano chile, stemmed and seeded, minced
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
minced cilantro, for garnish
To prepare the chicken, combine the salt, cumin, coriander and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Pat chicken breasts dry with a paper towel and place in a platter or dish. Sprinkle evenly with the spice mixture, mixing and gently pressing to help the spices adhere. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to an hour. Whisk yogurt, oil ginger and garlic together in a large bowl and set aside until the chicken is ready to be cooked.
For the masala sauce, heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering and hot. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and cook until softened and lightly brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in garlic, ginger, chili, garam masala and tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the crushed tomatoes and sugar and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low, cover, and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once reduced, stir in the cream and return to a simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.
While the sauce is reducing and simmering, cook the chicken. Grill the chicken on an outdoor grill, or cook under the broiler heat setting in the oven. To broil the chicken, adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and preheat in oven to the high broiler setting. Set a fine wire rack above a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Using tongs, dip the chilled chicken into the yogurt mixture so that the chicken is coated with a thick layer of yogurt and lay on the prepared baking sheet. Discard extra yogurt mixture, if any.
Broil the chicken until the exterior is lightly charred in spots and the chicken registers 160 degrees, about 10 to 15 minutes, making sure to flip the chicken half way through its cooking time. Once fully cooked, allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes. Cut the chicken up in to 1-inch chunks and stir into the warm sauce. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve over rice pilaf (recipe below), and garnish with cilantro.
Basmati Rice Pilaf
Serves 6 to 8
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed
3 3/4 cups water
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in rice and cook, stirring often, until the edges of the rice begin to turn translucent, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and continue to simmer until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Wait—before you box this dish into a category of food in your head that sounds something like, “really healthy and nutritious so I should probably make it but probably won’t actually because, you know, too healthy” consider the fact that its appeals might not just be in vitamins or calories (or the lack thereof) or a correct carb-fat-protein ratio. Consider the flavors, too: caramelized onions, the tang of sharp cheese, the slight crunch of quinoa. Ribbons of wilted and slightly bitter kale that offset the sweetness of the onions. Not so bad, right?
Then again, if the nutrition of this dish caused you to take a second glance at it and maybe even perhaps consider trying it out, then all the better. Because honestly, that’s why I lingered on the webpage I found it on over at Food 52 and it’s also why I promptly printed the recipe out to take home and make. Well, that and the fact that I had every required ingredient already in my fridge or pantry (always a plus).
Thing is, I know I’m not suppose to think like that. I should really only be interested in the complexities of the flavors, the combination of textures–you know, “foodie” things like that. And believe me, this dish delivers on all of that too. I was actually a bit surprised at just how good this thing ended up tasting. After it came out of the oven, golden brown and crispy around the edges from the white sharp cheddar cheese, I couldn’t help but slice a wedge of it to try out. And then I had another. I loved how each component of the “quiche” had a bold flavor but when all together, they create something of a mellow and perfectly balanced taste.
But it just doesn’t only come down to taste, because I know that on some level (more present in some than others), we care about just what we’re eating and exactly what types of things we’re putting in our bodies. So, just like how you can’t wholly attribute all of the goodness to this dish in the fact that it’s “healthy,” you can’t completely ignore the fact that when you’re eating it and it tastes delicious, somewhere inside you’re pleased with yourself for knocking off a couple of those daily requirements of vitamins, too. After I finished off the last slice of this quiche, I decided I would make it again–not just because of it’s taste or it’s nutrition, but because of some messy, dependent combination of the two.
(Just sayin’ though–next time I make this I might just cook up a couple strips of bacon to a crisp to add in. Not because there’s something missing in the flavor of it as is, but just because when it comes to that flavor-health trade-off, just try and guess at which one tends to overpower the other for me. Yeah, I’ll choose the bacon.)
Crustless Quinoa and Kale Quiche
Adapted from Food 52
Makes 8 slices
I replaced what the cream cheese the original recipe called for with feta, but feel free to experiment with different combinations of cheeses. Also, see bacon comment above. Yeah, next time it’s gonna happen.
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch kale, stems removed and cut into thin bite-sized ribbons
1 vidalia onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup white cheddar cheese
4 ounces feta
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch pie dish. Set aside.
Combine the quinoa with 1 cup of water and a big pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about twenty minutes or until fully cooked. Keep covered and set aside when done.
While the quinoa is cooking, carmelize the onions. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. When hot (the oil should be shimmering), add the sliced onions and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are completely softened and browned, about 10-12 minutes or so. Remove the onions from the pan and place in a large mixing bowl.
Add the ribboned kale into the hot pan used to cook the onions and cover with a lid. On medium heat, cook until the kale is slightly wilted and bright green, about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow the greens to slightly cool. Squeeze out any extra liquid, if any, using a sieve or clean dish towel.
Add the kale, cooked quinoa, minced garlic, and cheeses to the onions in the mixing bowl. Stir the ingredients so that they are evenly combined.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until even and combined. Pour over the quinoa kale mixture and stir until everything is evenly distributed and the eggs cling to the greens. Add a little salt and a few cranks of freshly ground pepper.
Pour the mixture into prepared pan and cook in preheated oven for about 45 minutes, or until the top is darkly golden and the pie has started to slightly pull away from the sides of the pan. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled (my favorite).
I first made this recipe when I was staying with my sister and brother in Seattle for a week over Christmas break. I think it was automatically assumed by all of us that throughout my stay, I would be the dinner-maker (cook seems to weird too write out). Sounds fun, but keep in mind that this was at a time when their fridge held little more than a half eaten three layer carrot cake, some kalamata olives and a half a pound of bacon. Their pantry, to their credit, did have a few all-natural, healthy staples (thank my sister for that–lovely near hippie that she is) such as quinoa, whole wheat flour, barley, wheat germ and the likes.
Anyway, this meant that besides a batch of pasta alla amatricana we made one night, we mainly subsisted off of the 6 loaves of bread I made over the course of that week–my brother ate almost a loaf a day, I swear–as well as this humble little salad. When I made it, I think we were all expecting something healthy and nourishing, but I don’t think we expected it to taste as good as it did. We really liked it.
Please don’t let the fact that we might have been a little starved for some variety of flavor lead you to believe that our taste buds’ opinion on this salad was invalid though! Because really, just imagine the flavors here: sweet, roasted broccoli and nutty quiona are tossed with arugula when warm, enough to soften the leaves a little bit. The mustard dressing and tangy feta cut through the arugula to tame that “bite” that people always say it has. The red pepper flakes add that background of heat, always welcome with roasted vegetables, and especially in this case. So yes, jaded taste buds or not, this salad is pretty spot-on.
And besides, I can assure you that back in the routine of school in Oregon, this salad tastes as good as ever. The only thing missing is the context–aka, Lindsey, I miss eating this salad for dinner in your room before going out only to stand at the bus stop in the rain for a half hour doing our Dancing in the Dark side-step snap. By the way, reader, please tell me you think Bruce Springsteen is wildly attractive too?
Quinoa, Roast Broccoli and Arugula Salad with Feta
Adapted from The Kitchen Sink Recipes
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side
The one drawback to this salad is I don’t think it would fare well with substitutions. I can see maybe replacing the feta with goat cheese, but besides that, each part is essential to create that overall flavor that makes this salad so good.
1 cup quinoa
1 head broccoli
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
2 cups baby arugula
1/4 cup crumbled feta
Preheat oven to 475. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Heat quinoa, 2 cups of water and a big pinch of salt in a pot with the lid on over high heat until the mixture reaches a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the quinoa has absorbed the water. Remove from heat and with the cover still on, set aside.
Meanwhile, prepare the broccoli. Cut the florets into bite-sized pieces. Trim the woody ends off the bottom of the stalks and slice the stalks into coins. You may have to cut some of these in half–the goal is to really just make similar bite-sized pieces. Place on the prepared baking sheet and toss the broccoli pieces in about a tablespoon of oil, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes. Roast in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until the broccoli is browned in spots.
While the quinoa and broccoli are cooking, whisk together the grainy mustard and the juice of one lemon in a big bowl. Whisk in about a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Once the dressing is combined, add the arugula and toss to coat the leaves. Once the quinoa and broccoli finish cooking, add them to the arugula and toss to wilt the arugula and coat all parts of the salad with dressing. Sprinkle with the feta and serve.
Being home has proved to be a bittersweet excuse for me to recklessly abandon all attempts at cooking. Why cook to feed myself, when the pantry and fridge are full (thank you, mom and dad) and there is that butter and sugar and flour waiting to be baked up into something delicious? It’s in the holiday spirit to bake, after all!
Everyone’s already gotten used to the higher influx of baked goods that circulate every couple days. Last night when my sister, brother and I were watching television my Dad walked in the room and in a hopeful tone asked, “Amy, aren’t there any treats to eat?” It’s became the assumption that there is always something sweet to snack on around here, so when I replied reminding him that there was leftover chocolate hazelnut yule log hidden in the fridge, everything seemed as it should.
But really, I haven’t given up on cooking. My mom passed off the responsibility of Christmas dinner to me this year. Ha, as if it were a responsibility! I received this “responsibility” as easily as I received my Christmas presents. (I should note here that I only had to plan this for 5 of my immediate family members, including myself. There wasn’t much pressure to succeed if it all fell through in the end anyway.) I plotted my menu, and it came to be something like this:
Pot Roast Risotto. More details on this later, obviously.
Braised kale with lemon, onion and red pepper flakes.
Salad with fennel, dried cherries, walnuts and roquefort.
These fresh potato-buttermilk rolls.
And for dessert, a chocolate-hazelnut yule log (also known as buche de noel).
Pretty simple, but everyone liked it and I’d like to think it all went fairly well in the end. From these things I want to share the pot roast risotto though. It’s a fairly straightforward recipe: sear the beef, braise in oven, use braised juices to feed the risotto. This concept of using the leftover braised liquid to flavor the risotto comes from Tyler Florence, and I think it’s pretty neat. It resulted in a really flavorful risotto and a pretty presentation with all the meat piled on top of a big heap of risotto (please forgive the photography that does little to show off the dish). As most all pot roasts are, the meat was tender and fell off the bone as we dug our forks however barbarically into the serving dish itself to grab at pieces of meat.
While this little stint at Christmas dinner got me in the mood in to cook, I’m afraid I’ve already begun retreating into that little comfortable cove of the oven with baking sweet treats. I blame you, wintertime and the holiday season.
Pot Roast Risotto
Adapted from Tyler Florence, here
Serves about six
6-8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 lb beef shoulder (I actually used a ribeye cut, because it was on sale. A lot of different cuts work, though.)
3 garlic cloves, smashed
2 large onions, sliced roughly
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup red wine
1-2 quarts beef stock (depending on how large your dutch oven is)
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
8 cups pot-roast braising stock, strained, skimmed and heated
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/2 cup italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped (optional)
To start with the pot roast, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil over the pot roast and season liberally all over with salt and pepper. You can’t really over-do this when it comes to this. Meanwhile, heat three or four tablespoons of olive oil over moderately high heat in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot with a cover. When the oil is hot enough that it shimmers (and maybe even smokes), add the meat in the pot. Sear each side for about one or two minutes, making sure to sear the sides as well. The meat should get a nice crust and even, dark color. Once seared, add the garlic, chopped onions, thyme sprigs. Then pour in the red wine and stock, adding in the beef stock until liquid comes up to about half the height of the meat (this depends on how large your pot is).
Cover the pot tightly and place in the preheated oven. Cook for about 3 hours until the beef is fork tender, while making sure to bast the meat every thirty minutes or so with the pan juices and stock. Set the meat aside and take out the vegetables and thyme. Strain the braising liquid and skim the fat. This stock will be used to make the risotto, and if the fat isn’t skimmed out, the risotto will be heavier and greasier than it should. The stock should be kept warm on low heat throughout the process of making the risotto.
To prepare the risotto, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon or so of butter in a large, deep skillet (12-inches is best) set over medium heat. Add diced onions and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the rice, making sure to coat all the grains with the oil. Add the white wine and thyme leaves and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. At this point, ladle in 1 cup of the prepared, hot braising stock. Using a wooden spoon, stir the rice constantly until most of the stock has been absorbed. Keep adding stock, one cup at a time, as the rice absorbs almost all of the liquid, making sure to consistently stir the rice. After about 10 to 15 minutes of this process, test the rice. It should be cooked and creamy but still be slightly al dente (you may not need all of the stock). Season with salt and pepper and then stir in about two tablespoons of butter and the grated parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning then remove from heat and cover. Serve the dish with the pot roast placed on top of the risotto and sprinkled with parsley. Extra pan juices can be served over the roast and risotto, if desired.