It's clicking your ruby heels three times. And realizing that, no, you're not in Kansas anymore.
It's waking up to snow on Christmas morning. And believing in Santa Claus.
But sometimes. In some cultures. Realities. Universes. (Novels.)
It's not quite so benign.
Sometimes magic is loving someone for a lifetime. And having it never be quite enough.
Sometimes the timing is just. Off.
Sometimes it's realizing that requited love. Isn't the be-all and end-all. It's not perfect. And it doesn't solve everything.
And unrequited? Well. Let's not go there.
Sometimes. It's playing with fire. Feeling something with so much verve that it permeates everything and everyone around you. For better or worse. To the point that, in addition to your blood, sweat and tears, you find yourself inadvertently adding in bits of sadness, anger, rage, and joy into that wedding dinner you've just cooked for your sister.
Who is marrying the man you've loved all your life. Such that everyone who eats it is plunged. Headfirst. Into into the depths of every emotion you've ever felt on the subject. (Largely depression. Rage. Fury.) Realized or not. (Talk about emotional eating.)
Yup. That's magic for you.
Or. More accurately. Magical realism.
The kind of magic that is prevalent in Laura Esquivel's Like Water For Chocolate. A book whose plot and characters I found vaguely irritating. But whose ultimate message I loved.
That food holds more power over us than we would ever think or could ever know. It is linked to emotion. To memory. To love. It can make or break our day.
The right meal. At the right time. With the right combination of ingredients. Is worth a thousand words. Or more.
It is the universal language. Or so I like to think.
And so while I would love a little magic in my life. (All I've got right now is the magic of the fact that I only have one test this week instead of two.) There's always the danger that it won't be the magic of fairy tales and happy endings. But that of a little village in Mexico where nightmares as well as dreams can come true.
Instead. I'll just take the food. Which elicits a safer kind of magic. In its own right.
Spicy Grilled Chicken with Creamy Pumpkin Mole Sauce
Serves 4, adapted from Bon Appetit
1 dried ancho chile, stemmed, seeded and torn into large pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, sliced into rings
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 slice bread (I used whole wheat bread)
3/8 cup canned diced tomatoes
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
2 chipotle chiles in adobo
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1 tsp dark brown sugar
honey (to taste - I added this in. The mole didn't have quite the flavor that I wanted or imagined that it should have. I added probably a tbsp.)
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lb)
Heat heavy large pot over medium heat. Add chile pieces; toast until aromatic and lighter in color around edges, pressing with potato masher or back of fork and turning pieces, about 2 minutes. Set aside one 2-inch piece of chile for garnish; transfer remaining pieces to medium bowl. Cover chiles in bowl with hot water; soak until soft, about 30 minutes.
In same large pot, heat 1 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add onion rings and garlic. Sauté until brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to processor, leaving oil in pot. Add bread slice (cut off crust) to pot; cook until golden, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer bread to processor (reserve pot). Add tomatoes to processor. Puree mixture until smooth. Transfer tomato puree to small bowl (do not clean processor).
Drain ancho chiles and place in processor. Add 1/4 cup broth and 1 chipotle chile. Puree until smooth.
Add ancho chile puree to pot; cook until puree thickens and darkens, stirring often, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add tomato puree. Simmer until thick, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Whisk in pumpkin and 1 1/2 cups broth. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until mole thickens and reduces, about 15 minutes. Whisk in milk and sugar (and honey). Season to taste with salt.
Puree 1 tablespoons oil and 1 chipotle chile in small processor or force through sieve to make thick glaze. Transfer to bowl. (Mole and glaze can be made 3 days ahead. Cover separately and chill.)
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or George Foreman grill. Rewarm mole. Spread chipotle glaze thinly over both sides of chicken breasts. Sprinkle chicken generously with salt. Grill until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plates. Spoon mole over each. Crumble reserved ancho chile piece; sprinkle over chicken. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime.I served this with asparagus one day. And sweet potatoes the next. Just simple and roasted.
This is my submission to this edition of Cook the Books!
Also. One thing I did really like about Like Water For Chocolate was the home remedies that it had littered throughout the text. Perhaps my favorite was that for a home cure for burns (since I am constantly burning myself. Will I ever learn that trying to pick up a baking pan out of the oven with my bare hands is not a good idea? Probably not.) Potato peel. It apparently keeps the skin moist without sticking and thus is better than a bandage or even traditional dressing. This is my submission to the Home Remedies Event which is being hosted over at Ruchika Cooks!