Thursday, April 29, 2010
If you answer quickly enough (in the affirmative. Always the affirmative. Even if you've been single for years. You know that coffee mug that you use compulsively every morning? It's name is now Trevor. And it is dependable, lovable, and quite the perfect companion in every way.) he will usually leave you alone for the rest of the trip. And you've just saved yourself an entire cab ride of wondering at what point you should just jump out of the moving vehicle because man he has gotten creepy.
The second you pause, however. He knows the truth. And then, well. All bets are off.
Case in point.
Earlier this week I took a cab to Queens to visit my parents. The cab driver, as per usual, was being kind of sketchy. At every red light, he would turn around and leer at me. Smiling.
I, in return, attempted to look very busy with my phone. Who knew that text messaging yourself could be so riveting! Which is probably why when he asked the magic question, "So how's your boyfriend?" I paused.
Bad Joanne! Bad! Bad! Bad!
"Eh, no boyfriend right now," I finally answered. My voice. Shaking.
At this point, I'm looking out the window at the traffic behind us. Trying to determine, if I did have to jump, what the likelihood of me dying would be. Calculating the force with which I would hit the pavement and whether or not that would be enough to break a bone or, worse, my skull. So if F=ma and we are moving at a speed of 60 miles per hour and I weigh 52 kg then
Only to be interrupted by his next question. Which was, "What about me, I could be your boyfriend."
My mind. Racing. Panicking.
All I wanted was to do something nice and surprise my parents and in return I am going to die. Great.
What to do. I smiled. Nervously. Laughed. Nervously. Tried to brush the whole thing off. I mean he was old. He couldn't be serious. Right? (At least that's what I told myself.)
(Note to all of you cab drivers out there. I don't know if you think you're funny. Or if you're just trying to make conversation and don't know what else to say. But don't hit on the girls who ride in your cars. It is NOT okay. And it makes us uncomfortable. Because we, as passengers, are essentially powerless.)
I was really working myself into a tither. But then I remembered something.
I had pomegranate seeds for lunch. And do you know what pomegranates are?
And what is the point of a superfood if not to confer super POWERS onto whoever eats it? Then and there I decided. If he tried anything. I would whip his ass.
Needless to say, I got to my final destination in one piece. (Pun not intended). Not without him asking for my number, of course. So if you get a phone call from a guy named Innocent (seriously. That was his name.) looking for a girl who rode in his cab on Tuesday. I am deeply sorry. But I had to do it.
Which brings us back to the moral of the story. Unless your cab is being driven Justin Timberlake or Brad Pitt. Have a boyfriend ready for fabrication. Because you'll regret it if you don't.
In all seriousness. I loved this meal. The red lentil pancakes were just the right amount of spicy and were chock full of flavor. They were my first experience with savory pancakes. And will not be my last.
I paired them with a pomegranate couscous salad that I saw on Closet Cooking a while back. The original calls for pistachios, which I promptly replaced with blue cheese. Mainly because I had some in my fridge that was threatening to bite the dust at any moment. The cheese did well to cool off the spiciness of the pancake and also complemented nicely the tang of the pomegranate molasses vinaigrette (AMAZING!). Which may just be my new favorite salad dressing of all time.
Spiced Red Lentil Pancakes
Serves 4, adapted from Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian
1 cup red lentils, soaked overnight and drained
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped scallion
1 large carrot, finely julienned or grated
salt and black pepper
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 tbsp garam masala
1. Put the lentils in a food processor and add about 3/4 cup water. Puree until a smooth and thick batter is formed. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the eggs, garlic, chile, scallion, carrot, salt, pepper, ginger, and garam masala.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Ladle in the batter to form several smaller pancakes or one large one (I made four SUPER large pancakes). Turn the heat down to medium and cook until the bottom is browned, about 2 1/2 minutes. Flip and cook for another 2 1/2 minutes.
Pomegranate and Blue Cheese Israeli Couscous Salad
Serves 4, adapted from Closet Cooking
1 cup Israeli couscous
4 oz pomegranate seeds
2 oz blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup mint
1/4 cup parsley
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, grated
salt and pepper to taste
1. Boil some water and cook couscous in it as you would pasta.
2. Make the vinaigrette by mixing together the olive oil through salt and pepper. Make the dressing saltier than you think you want it to be because the flavor is going to get dulled down when you mix it with the couscous.
3. Strain couscous and mix with the pomegranate seeds, blue cheese, mint, parsley, and vinaigrette.
The red lentil pancakes are my submission to this week's I Heart Cooking Club, the theme of which is Caravan of Spice.
The Pomegranate and Blue Cheese Couscous Salad is my submission to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted by Katie of Thyme for Cooking.
Last call for entries to Regional Recipes: Haiti! (I know it was a hard country...next month will be easier I swear! But thanks to all who have participated so far!)
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
I have a "friend". Who has a "friend".
Who ate a scoop of peanut butter after every meal. Every day. For a week.
He savored it. Relished it. Rubbed it in the faces of those who love him the most. (He would run through the apartment yelling PEANUT BUTTER TIME at the top of his lungs. Just in case it had somehow slipped our minds. We could have killed him, Sophie and I. Or, you know. Would have killed him. Hypothetically. If this were about us. But it's not. It's about a "friend". Of a "friend". Right.)
The whole point of this little social experiment being to see how his metabolism would react to eating an extra 600 calories a day.
Now. Seeing as how our "friend" of a "friend" wasn't losing weight prior to this. One would expect him to gain about a pound a week. Easy.
So you can imagine everyone's surprise (and utter devastation). When he stepped on the scale after a week. And had lost. Five. Pounds.
Upon discovering this, Sophie and I went through many stages of grief. First, we were in denial. We consulted Einstein. And Newton. We looked up things like the law of the conservation of energy. We calculated and recalculated the number of calories in a pound. To no avail.
Then we got angry. We threw things at him. Tied him to a chair. Jack Bauer-style. And explained to him that if he would just admit that he had snuck off to the gym to exercise when we weren't looking then no one would get hurt.
Finally. Acceptance. Adam is an alien life form.
And that's really all there is to it.
In the midst of all of this peanut butter drama, I found myself craving a good old peanut butter sandwich (no surprise there). With a twist, of course. The roasted plantain and PB combo is something that I've been thinking about for a while now. It's an adult version of the classic PB+banana that we all know and love. Something that tastes familiar and yet not. And by this I mean, absolutely amazing.
Roasted Plantain and Peanut Butter Sandwich
2 slices of bread
Preheat the oven to 400. Peel the plantain and slice it horizontally into 1/2-inch thick slices. Place slices on a greased baking pan. Sprinkle them with salt. Bake for 40 minutes, flipping once halfway through, or until soft and caramelized. Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread. Top with half of the slices. Add another slice of bread. Eat. Save the remainder of the plantains for an afternoon snack. If you have the self control to stop yourself from eating them all in one sitting. Which, if you are me, you won't.
I ate this sandwich on the Milk and Honey bread from HBinFive. The substitutions I made to this were to use buttermilk in place of milk, agave in place of honey, and dried cranberries instead of raisins.
This bread was amazing. It remained soft for a week after I made it and had a really great texture and crumb. It is definitely my favorite bread from the book thus far.
Please check out the round-up of HBinFive breads over at Big Black Dog on May 1st! And this has been yeastspotted! And submitted to Deb for Souper Sundays!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
She says. Wide-eyed. Hairbrush in hand. Microphone-style.
Don't mock. A girl's gotta practice her acceptance speech if she ever plans on doing anything of any import with her life. It's in the handbook.
So. From the top. Minus the judgment. Yes. You there. In the front row. I'm talking to you.
I would like to thank the academy. Family. Friends.
My roommates for allowing me to destroy the kitchen three times a day. And for never complaining when it sometimes takes me hours to put it back together.
The streets of New York for glittering every so often. For luring me in. For never letting me down.
Michael Symon. For challenging me. With all of his Herculean might. For driving me to the edges of my sanity. And then reeling me back in. With every delicious bite.
Sure. It may take 3 days to make this recipe. (The Trojan War of dishes, in my opinion. You've got to sneak up on it with your wooden horse. Get it at from behind. And then, when it leasts suspects it...ATTACK.) And it may not exactly equate to winning an Oscar. But it's pretty damn tasty. And that, in a way, is its own reward.
I changed this recipe. A lot.
The original recipe called for the crepes to be stuffed with a duck confit. That is to say, duck submerged in pounds of its own fat for many hours while being slow-cooked. Hah.
So instead. I took some chicken legs. Covered them with the spice rub that Symon calls for. And threw them in the crockpot for many hours (5-6?).
That was day one. On day two. I made the coffee barbecue sauce. But instead of using the spicy ketchup I just used tomato sauce with a hint of sriracha. Due to the whole ketchup/gag reflex thing that I have going on.
On day three. I actually made the crepes. And whoa. Were they good. The chicken had the most amazing flavor from the spice rub...something having to do with the coriander/cinnamon/paprika combo. It really shone through, even after smothering it with the coffee barbecue sauce. Which was really tasty as well.
Big flavors all around. Just the way I like them.
Just a word of advice. If you're going to make this. Plan ahead. Because it can get a little intense. I speak from experience.
Chicken (Not) Confit
8 chicken legs and thighs
3 tbsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and crushed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp smoked paprika
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 minced shallot
4 bay leaves, crumbled
1/4 cup water
1. Rinse the chicken legs and thighs and pat dry. Transfer to a large ziploc bag. Mix together all of the ingredients through the bay leaves. Coat the legs and thighs all over with the mixture. Close the bag and refrigerate overnight.
2. The next day, put the chicken in the crockpot along with 1/4 cup water. Cook it on low for 5-6 hours or until cooked through and easily shreddable.
Coffee Barbecue Sauce
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1 cup strong coffee
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 tbsp chipotle powder
sriracha to taste
1. Sweat the onion in the olive oil with a good pinch of salt in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the coriander, brown sugar, vinegar, and coffee and simmer 10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, chipotle powder, and sriracha. Simmer for 2 hours. Strain, discard the solids and let cool. Store for up to 1 month in the fridge.
Corn Crepes with Barbecue Chicken (Not) Confit
Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a main dish
1/2 cup thawed frozen corn (or fresh)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 orange pepper
1/4 cup RAMPS - I saw these at the farmer's market and thought they would be great here in place of the scallions. They were.
1 cup shredded chicken (not) confit
1 cup coffee barbecue sauce
1. Combine the corn, flour, eggs, milk, salt, pepper, bell pepper and ramps in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
2. Pour a film of oil in a 7 or 8-inch saute pan over medium heat. Ladle in about 2 tbsp of batter and cook until it's slightly browned. Flip the crepe and continue cooking for another minute until it's cooked through. Transfer to a plate and repeat to cook the remaining crepes, stacking them on top of one another. There should be 4-6 crepes.
3. Preheat the oven to 400.
4. Wrap 2-3 tbsp of chicken with a tbsp of sauce in each corn crepe to make a cylinder. Arrange the crepes, seam side down, in a baking dish. Bake until heated through, about 10 min.
This is my submission to this week's Symon Sundays! Be sure to check out the round-up at Ash's blog on Monday!
Friday, April 23, 2010
Or some other witty title that would relay its profound ability to get you laid. Or at least proposed to.
That is, if you actually have the self control needed to serve it to other people. And not sit with it in a corner of your room. Alone. With a fork. Not that I know anything about that...
My proposal came from my friend Amma. Who is, unfortunately, both happily engaged and a female.
Although, after reading an article in the New York Times about how happily married individuals are less likely to develop chronic disease (i.e. cancer, Alzheimer's, dementia) than both unmarried or unhappily married individuals are. (The researchers involved in the study did this REALLY cool experiment where they gave blisters to a series of married couples, videotaped them talking about controversial issues in their marriage, and then tracked how long it took the blisters to heal. In those couples who fought more viciously. The blisters took two. Days. Longer. Impaired immune function? Um. Yes.) I was ready to throw caution and my heterosexuality to the wind. And accept.
Yup. Potential homewrecker. Right here. And probably the only one who can say, "The New York Times made me do it."
Seriously, though. I don't usually like to serve up my food with disclaimers. But beware.
Maybe you want to get engaged.
Or maybe you have a textbook case of commitment phobia. (If so, on behalf of females everywhere. Go see a psychiatrist. And get that taken care of. We don't have time for this! Our clocks are ticking!)
Either way. As a future doctor. I feel compelled (actually, legally bound by...you know...the Hippocratic oath for bakers) to warn you of the potential side effects. So just. Bake with caution.
I baked this, per request, for Sophie's birthday. She wanted a cheesecake. With fruit.
There were many internal debates over which fruit I should use (mango was on the top of the list for a while). But when I saw the first rhubarb of the season at the Farmer's Market. I knew it was fate.
The cheesecake itself was delicious. And how could it not be with five blocks of cream cheese. (It's not called a New York Cheesecake for nothing. It's bold. Unapologetically so. Love that.)
But, honestly, from the feedback I got. It was the strawberry rhubarb topping that really stole the show. I had people requesting spoons so that they could eat the extra from the jar. So even if you don't end up making the cake. I think the compote would be really delicious on a peanut butter sandwich. Or grilled cheese. Or a topping for pancakes. (Can you tell I've thought a lot about this?)
Rhubarb is only in season for a few months. Do it while there's still time. I know I will.
New York Cheesecake
Serves 16, adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from Gourmet
15 sheets of graham crackers, finely ground
8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
5 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softened (you should use Philadelphia brand, the 1/3 less fat is fine - that's what I used)
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
5 eggs + 2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla
1. To make the crust - stir together all of the ingredients and press onto the bottom and up the sides of either a 9 or 10-inch buttered springform pan. Pop it into the freezer while you prepare the filling. I used a 10-inch pan, Deb uses a 9-inch. Either will work.
2. Preheat the oven to 550. Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, lemon zest, and orange zest. Add vanilla. Add the eggs and yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition. Don't cut corners here. Scrape. It also gives you an excuse to lick the spatula after each time. Do it.
3. Put the springform pan in a shallow baking pan (or on a pizza pan, like I did) and bake in the middle of the oven for 12 minutes. Deb's puffed up and browned, mine didn't. I'm not sure my oven is capable of getting that hot. But if yours is, then watch it because you don't want it to burn! If it starts to look like it's burning, proceed immediately to the next step.
4. Reduce the temperature to 200 degrees and continue baking until the cake is mostly firm (it will still be wobbly in the middle). This took Deb an hour and me an hour and a half.
5. Run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it. Cool completely, in the springform pan, on a rack. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 2 weeks.
Strawberry Rhubarb Topping
(Note - Deb made a cherry topping for hers that looks delicious so feel free to just substitute fresh or frozen cherries for the fruit here)
1 lb strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 lb rhubarb, sliced in 1/2 inch slices
4 tbsp (or more) lemon juice
1/4 cup (or more) sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Boil. Cook for an additional four or five minutes or until it looks like it's starting to thicken. Taste for lemon juice and sugar (how much of this you need will depend on how sweet your strawberries are and how tangy your rhubarb is) Remove from heat. Cool completely.
Spread over the cheesecake.
This is my submission to Weekend Herb Blogging which is being hosted this week by Winnie of Healthy Green Kitchen.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I went for two really long walks.
I spoke to both of my parents. In the same day. (Jo, that doesn't make you a real person. Just a real crazy person.)
And where did all of this leave me.
Well. The Times is mostly sitting on my floor. Unopened. Except for the magazine part. Which I tried to read at the gym. Until a lady sat down on the stationary bike next to me. And proceeded to tell me about all of the trials and tribulations that had impinged upon her life so far that day.
Namely that her friend's son had been kidnapped that morning. A $300,000 ransom was demanded. By midday, the police had negotiated that ransom down to $5,000. And sometime in-between noon and 5 pm, which is what time it was when I had the uncanny good fortune to have this individual enter my life, the kidnappers had let the kid go. Because they got sick of him.
And the lady. Well. She was really excited about all this. Because it would make a great storyline for her next book, don't you think?
I mean, what use is having someone you know kidnapped if you can't exploit it as much as possible?
Only on the Upper East Side. And only to me.
Between matchmaker cabdrivers and this. It really is a miracle that anyone gives any credence to anything that I write.
Suffice it to say. When I got home. (Especially after the talk with my parents. It's my policy to talk to only one of them in a given day. We have a system, you see. I call. My sister usually answers. And then they get to fight over who gets to speak to me. Or she gives me the inside scoop on who is in the better mood. And we take it from there. No such luck this time. My mom answered. And then passed the phone off to my dad. Subterfuge, I tell you.)
I needed a stiff drink.
Or, better yet. To finally get around to cooking my submission to Taste and Create, a blog event that pairs you up with another blogger so that you can each choose a dish from each other's blog. And then, well, cook it and blog about it. This month I was paired with Dave of My Year On The Grill. Who, in addition to being an awesome (and extremely prolific) blogger, is also my dating guru. He's not afraid to tell it like it is. Apparently my real problem is that I eat tofu. I'm working on it.
Dave has been cooking a lot with coconut rum lately, since he's been forcibly relocated to the Virgin Islands (although forcibly is not necessarily the word I would use) where rum flows like water and rotisserie chickens are cheaper than, well, anything.
For my recipe, I decided to make his garlic popcorn coconut shrimp. With chicken. Instead of shrimp. Because I don't really do the whole shellfish thing.
And let me tell you. This was delicious. The breading was perfectly flavored so that I felt like I was being transported to the beach with every bite. Especially after the requisite shot of rum that I took before eating it.
A girl could get used to this.
Also. Dave's had a rough time this week seeing as how his cat passed away on Monday. So please stop over by his blog and give him a virtual hug. I think he would love it.
Garlic Popcorn Coconut Rum Chicken
Serves 4, adapted from My Year On The Grill
1 1/2 lb chicken breast
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup coconut rum
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko)
1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1. In one bowl, combine the egg and the coconut rum. In a second bowl, combine the garlic, salt, breadcrumbs, and 1/2 cup coconut. In a third bowl, place the other half cup of coconut.
2. Pat the chicken dry. Dredge in the bowl with the breadcrumbs and coconut. Dip in the egg and rum. Dredge in the bowl with the coconut.
3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Cook the coconut-covered chicken.
And since I was already in a tropical state-of-mind, I decided to have with this my submission to Regional Recipes: Haiti (hint hint), which is this vegetarian version of Joumou, a Haitian pumpkin soup, that I found in The Tropical Vegan Kitchen. I decided to add some okra into it because okra is prominent in French Creole cuisine. And because I saw it at the Farmer's Market and couldn't resist.
I am also submitting this to Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sundays!
Caribbean Pumpkin Soup with Okra
Serves 4, adapted from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen
1 tbsp canola oil
1 lb cubed acorn squash (also a Farmer's Market find!)
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp habanero or Scotch bonnet pepper
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
black pepper, to taste
1 bay leaf
1 lb okra, sliced
1. In a medium stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the squash, onion, chili, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add teh remaining ingredients (except for the okra) and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
2. Blend in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Add the okra to the pan and cook to desired consistency. Serve warm.
Monday, April 19, 2010
The first automobile was driven by Charles Duryea.
The Bay of Pigs invasion ended.
Grace Kelly married Rainier III of Monaco.
The first space station, Salyut I, was launched.
Joanne Bruno did not have the day off from school to celebrate Lexington. And Concord. And the gusto with which her forebears (okay not her forebears since her great grandparents didn't immigrate from Italy until the 20th century. But. You know. Creative license) threw caution to the wind. And made that American Revolution happen.
(If she lived in Massachusetts. Or Maine. Or Wisconsin. There would be parades. Observances. Re-enactments. It would be called Patriot's Day. She would get to wake up late. And walk around the city aimlessly. And dance around her room in her underwear. I guess she can do that anyway.)
On this day in history.
Joanne Bruno did not run the Boston Marathon. Her heart broke. Just a little.
She is not going to cry.
She will not pass go. Or collect $200.
But she will eat brownies.
Because if anything in this world equates to happiness. Brownies are it, right?
I'm sorry to be such a downer you guys. Honestly. I can't help it. I just really had my heart set on running. And I'm so tired of being injured.
Next year, right?
(I should mention, to any new readers, I qualified for the Boston Marathon in October at the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco with a time of 3:35:11. Only to injure myself in November (from which I still haven't fully recovered). And so I've had to defer my Boston entry until next year. I'm really not just whining about not getting the day off.)
These brownies really are fantastic. And I'm not even a brownie person. At all. But these were the perfect texture. Fudgy. Moist. Without being excessively chewy. There's also a hint of vanilla. Which takes them over the top. And has people coming up to you and asking, "What is it about these that makes me unable to stop eating them?" Yup. It's the vanilla. I'm pretty sure.
Once again, reaffirming for me that Mark Bittman. Is. A. Genius. These are my submission to this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs, the theme of which is Potluck!
I doubled the recipe to make a 9x13 dish and cut them into 36 squares, adapted from The Minimalist and/or Bittman's How To Cook Everything
(This is the doubled version)
6 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup AP flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla, not optional
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over very low heat, stirring occasionally. When chocolate is just about melted, remove from heat, and continue to stir until mixture is smooth. Meanwhile, grease a 9x13 baking pan. If you like, also line it with waxed or parchment paper and grease that (I lined. And greased. Makes clean-up infinitely easier).
2. Transfer mixture to a bowl, and stir in sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add flour, salt and vanilla, and stir to incorporate. Stop stirring when no traces of flour remain.
3. Pour into pan, and bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until set and barely firm in the middle. Cool on a rack before cutting.
On an infinitely happier note. I met up with Shannon of Tri2Cook this weekend and we had an AMAZING time walking around the city! We got a delicious Mexican brunch/lunch at Dos Caminos and just spent hours (3? 4?) talking. Oh how I love meeting other bloggers.
And GOOD LUCK to my friend Justin. Who is running the marathon today! Although he's so fast he'll probably be done before I've even finished writing this.
Regional Recipes: Haiti! Come ON people!
Saturday, April 17, 2010
It didn't quite get the memo that "never sleeps" really just implies staying out really late, destroying your liver, and then sleeping in until 1 or 2 to replenish it. An energetic kind of insomnia.
Instead, it decided to take the whole thing at face value. By 8 AM. I am up without fail. Whether I went to bed at 11 or at 4 (although if I went to bed at 11, odds are I was up by 6).
And all my friends wonder why I absolutely refuse to stay out past 3. It's not just about my intrinsic lameness (although I'm willing to bet that is a key factor.) It's physiological. (Anatomy may be over. But we have a physiology exam left. Followed by spring break and 8 more weeks of immunology. So "it's over" but not really. Just like "I sleep" but not really.)
Now I bet you're saying. Um. Joanne. I really like hearing about your Circadian rhythms. In detail. Seriously. I'm...uhhhh...fascinated. But...I came for the food. So what does this have to do with curry?
Funny you should ask.
Because the answer is. Everything.
Fun fact of the day that may someday help you when you are on Jeopardy or Who Wants To Be A Millionaire or Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader (I watch that show at the gym sometimes...way more depressing than anything else on the air. Apparently my academic potential peaked. At age 10.)
Mangoes are high in tryptophan. (That molecule in turkey that your Uncle Bill raves about on Thanksgiving every year. Yeah. You know what I'm talking about.) So high in fact that, unlike turkey (sorry Uncle Bill!), they actually have somnolent effects (whereas the post Thanksgiving dinner nap is probably due to the massive amount of carbs and alcohol. And not the poultry.)
So, you know, if you're like me and are completely adverse to taking any medication. And you have sleep issues. This dish is worth a try. Plus it tastes way better than Lunesta or Ambien or whatever meds you're on. Which is, I guess, an added benefit.
And if you end up winning one of the aforementioned game shows due to this useless trivia that I've inoculated you with this morning. I take Paypal. And checks. And gift cards to Trader Joe's.
I'm pretty sure this curry is Burmese in origin, which really means that it is a mixture of everything southeast Asian (though mostly Thai and Indian, in this case). It is bursting with flavor from the spice of the curry powder, sweetness of the mango and raisins, fat from the coconut milk and acidity from the vinegar. The chicken is poached in the mango curry sauce rather than fried separately and so it is smooth and silky. Moist and delicious. As, you know, good chicken should be.
Mango Chicken Curry
Serves 4, adapted from Simply Recipes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 tbsp yellow curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
2 mangoes, peeled and diced
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless, chicken thighs cut into small pieces
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup lite coconut milk
salt, sugar, and pepper, to taste
cilantro to garnish
1 Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the red bell pepper and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the curry powder and cumin, cook for a few more minutes. The spices will absorb some of the oil, so if anything begins to stick too much to the bottom of the pan, add a little more oil to the pan. Add the ginger and garlic, cook for one minute more.
2 Add the vinegar, water, and a 1/2 of the chopped mango to the pan. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a low simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat. Scoop the sauce into a blender. Purée the sauce, pulsing until smooth. Return the sauce to the pan.
3 Add chicken pieces and raisins to the pan. Return to a low simmer. Cover the pan and let cook for 8-10 minutes. Chicken should be just cooked through. Use a knife to cut open the largest piece to check.
4 Add remaining mango pieces to the pan. Stir in the coconut milk. Let cook at a very low temperature for another minute or two, uncovered. Do not let boil! Or the cream may curdle. Adjust seasonings. If a little too sweet, add a little more vinegar. If not sweet enough, you can add a dash of sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Bittman's Coconut Rice with Swiss Chard, String Beans and Pistachios and Baked Tofu with Soy and Sesame
We are doing the lower extremity (i.e. leg and foot) in anatomy right now. And there are two nerves of import - the sciatic and the femoral. The sciatic is not a problem. (Unless you're a drug user. In which case, please remember to ONLY inject your heroin into the upper lateral quadrant of your butt. Anywhere else in your gluteus maximus and you risk jabbing your sciatic. It will hurt. The needle will get stuck. Just don't do it. Trust me.)
Anyways so the sciatic is pretty predictable. It starts in your behind area and travels down your whole thigh, leg, and foot. Giving innervation to just about everything in its wake. Sure, it splits a few times. But nothing a seasoned anatomist like myself can't handle.
The femoral nerve, on the other hand? Enters the front of your thigh from your abdomen at the top of your pelvis. Right next to your hips. And it meanders around. Innervates a few things. Meanders some more. And then suddenly you're in the lower leg/calf area. And you have no idea what has happened to it. It's like it just. Disappeared.
This is when I usually wake up. Screaming.
Then I have to remind myself (by which I mean recheck my notes for the umpteenth time) that the femoral does not disappear. It just changes names and becomes a cutaneous nerve (meaning it innervates the skin rather than the muscles). That runs down the inner part of your leg. Obviously.
This may all sound slightly deranged. But the good news is. There's an end in sight. You see. This is my last anatomy test. Ever. (Until September when we spend five months dissecting the brain and head. But we are not going to think about that right now.)
Maybe I'll get to be a real person again. Talk to people who haven't been dead for the past year and a half. Get a haircut. (Which I haven't done. Since last May.) Cook ridiculous food. Clean my room.
Until Friday, though? I have a date with my anatomy textbook.
So I was super glad that the theme for this week's IHCC was Pantry Raid. Not only did I not have to go to the store. But I was prohibited from doing so. Gotta love Natashya, Deb, and Kim. Always looking out for my best interest.
When deciding what to make I thought about what ingredients I had sitting in my fridge that needed to be used up. There was about a cup of coconut milk left over from a curry I had made. And some string beans and chard that I had bought at the farmer's market last week. That I had absolutely no plans for. So I set to googling. And stumbled across this list of simple salad ideas that Bittman wrote for the NY Times last July. Number 96. Swapping in string beans for peas and red swiss chard for spinach. Rice and pistachios, which I always have on hand. And cardamom pods. Which I just restocked last month. Perfect.
Coconut Rice with Swiss Chard, String Beans, and Pistachios
Serves 4, adapted from The Minimalist
1 1/2 cups brown rice
1 cup lite coconut milk
2 cups water
3 cardamom pods
pinch of salt
1 lb string beans
1 bunch swiss chard, torn
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
a hint of soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
In a pan with a cover, combine the brown rice, coconut milk, water, cardamom pods, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for fifty minutes.
In a separate pan, steam the chard and string beans in water with a drop of soy sauce until cooked to desired consistency.
When the rice is done cooking, remove the cardamom pods. Mix the rice with the veggies. Salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with pistachios.
I am submitting this to Reeni's Side Dish Showdown!
To go with the rice, I also decided to make Bittman's Baked Tofu with Soy and Sesame, as tofu is also something I always have on hand. This recipe comes from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and is SO simple.
Preheat the oven to 350. Combine 3 tbsp soy sauce with 1/2 tsp sesame oil. Cut a block of extra firm tofu into four pieces. With a paper towel, squeeze out the liquid. Brush the tofu with the soy/sesame marinade. Reserve the extra marinade. Put the tofu on a greased baking pan and bake for one hour, brushing every so often with the remaining marinade.
Please, if you haven't yet, vote for my morel recipe over at the MarxFoods website. Mine is the Butternut Squash and Morel Chutney!
And remember to submit your recipes to me for Regional Recipes: Haiti!
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Because you do. You really do.
That shirt really brings out the color of your eyes. I feel like I could look into them. Forever.
Does sexy eyebrow raise.
And WHOA is that your bicep? Have you been working out? No, really. Flex it for me. Again.
I just can't get enough of that action.
Damn. I think I need a cold shower.
You seem like a pretty smart, knowledgeable, able-bodied person to me. Someone who's very good at pointing. And clicking. (Among other things. Are you sure you don't run marathons? Or fly spaceships? Or derive the theory of relativity in your head on a daily basis? Because you look like there's a lot going on up there. Just saying. Does sexy eyebrow raise. Again.)
But, you know. Just to be sure. I think we should put these skillz, as they say on the street, to the test.
So. If you wouldn't mind. There's this contest that I entered. Over at MarxFoods. And, if it wouldn't be too much trouble (which it shouldn't be. Due to your skillz and all.) I would really appreciate it if you voted for me. My recipe is the Butternut Squash and Morel Chutney.
And while you're at it. Enter my caption contest. You could win a dried bean sampler (at a $70 value, this is no laughing matter!). And my unending affection. Which is priceless.
And in exchange? I'll give you this recipe for strawberry bread. Also priceless. Now that strawberry season is upon us. (Bribery? Me? I don't know what you're talking about.)
Okay I'm going to give it to you either way. But if you don't vote in exchange. Well. Don't blame me if you can't sleep at night.
This recipe is good in a very down-to-earth, girl-next-door kind of way. (And what am I, if not the girl next door. Does sexy eyebrow raise.) When I make it again (as soon as I can find strawberries on sale for $1 a carton) there are a few variations I want to try. Such as combining the strawberries with banana. Or kiwi. Adding in swirls of nutella. Or chocolate chips. Or peanut butter. Or cream cheese filling. Or a cinnamon streusel swirl. But it's also really good as is. Especially with a dollop of whipped cream. And/or vanilla ice cream.
Strawberry Yogurt Bread
Makes 1 9-inch loaf, adapted from the Joy of Baking
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup yogurt (I used Greek, the original recipe called for sour cream.)
2 cups strawberries, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Cream together the butter and the sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla until well blended.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
4. Add a third of the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until just incorporated. Add 1/2 of yogurt.
5. Repeat step four. Add the last bit of the dry. Mix. Stir in the strawberries.
6. Pour the batter into a greased 9 inch loaf pan. Bake for about 60 minutes until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
This is my submission to Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being hosted by Katie of Eat This!