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KotW: Chicken Paprikash and an Imperial Variant. July 29, 2009

Posted by panterazero in all-in-one, chicken, entertaining, herbs & spices, Kip of the Week, pasta, saucy, tomato.
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With this recipe we once again plunge into the stringently prescribed arcana of Hungarian cooking.  Even what I say here will doubtless be counterargued, but whether or not you agree with my stipulations on paprikash — in particular, the inclusion or exclusion of tomato which has been debated for centuries — I hope you find the result delicious.  We must start with the axiom of my skilled friend Amory Lovins: “Meat and onions, weight for weight.”  So since, according to my faithful postal scale, a medium-to-large yellow onion weighs between eight and 10 ounces…

3 pounds chicken thighs, boned and skinned (may be frozen)
3 pounds yellow onions — about five or six large
one-quarter cup good olive oil

Skin and chop the onions.  Warm the oil in a six-quart pot, add the onions, and cook, stirring, until they achieve a uniform golden brown with no scorching.  This takes a while of steady attention.

Meanwhile, broil the chicken thighs, six minutes a side if thawed or ten minutes a side if frozen.  I prefer this to pan-browning since it leaves the chicken more tender at the start of braising.  Let the chicken cool slightly and, according to preference, leave the pieces whole or cut them up bite-size.

To the onions, add

one quarter cup real Hungarian paprika
one-half teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
one-eighth teaspoon caraway seed, or more to taste, crushed
one-half to one teaspoon red flake pepper, optional (sort of depends on your paprika)

Stir the mixture till the seasonings are well distributed, and add
one quart chicken stock, carcass or box
the chicken pieces
the pan juices from broiling, if any, through a strainer

Bring mixture to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and let mixture cook 25 minutes if chicken thighs are left whole, or 15 minutes if you’ve cut them up.  Meanwhile, start water boiling for pasta, then grate together

A small potato, between one (fist-size) and three (big-marble-size)
one ripe fresh tomato, halved and cored
four cloves garlic, peeled

Stir this mixture into the chicken and allow to simmer — not boil — for 15 more minutes.  The grated potato should disappear as far as possible, since its purpose is to thicken the gravy, rather than to make an appearance as an ingredient.  Seven to ten minutes before serving, start cooking

A 12-ounce package wide egg noodles

and when the noodles are ready, the paprikash also will be.  Serve immediately, very hot, to your guests, who will be impatient if they know what’s imminent.

The royal treatment

From the matchless work of Peter van Rensselaer Livingston — whose cookbook How to Cook a Rogue Elephant please do purchase if you find a copy for sale — we find that one good excuse for the Austro-Hungarian Empire was its culinary sophistication.  This is hardly a surprise, since imperial appetite (in whichever sense) provoked a collision and mingling of the best in Austrian, Hungarian, and northern Italian cooking.  Here, with credit exceeded only by my gratitude, I adapt a technique from his book to two of my own recipes.  You will need

three to four tablespoons basil pesto (see previous recipe)
chicken paprikash and noodles as above

When the noodles are cooked and very hot, toss them with the pesto; the objective here is a thin uniform coat on the pasta, rather than pesto as a primary sauce.  Then serve the chicken over the noodles as usual.  The interplay of raw and cooked garlic, basil, pine nuts, caraway and paprika is startlingly unusual and satisfying.

© /KC July 2009

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Kip of the Week: Pantera’s Faisanjan. July 5, 2009

Posted by panterazero in chicken, entertaining, exotic!, fruit, Kip of the Week.
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Persian food is distinctively delicious because a lot of its flavors are strong and unusual at the same time.  Few other cuisines are as enthusiastic about combining fruit and/or nuts with meat, and I don’t know of another one that’s as devoted to sour sauces.

For years I shrugged off this dish because I couldn’t abide the idea of juicing half a dozen pomegranates.  Then suddenly, bottled pomegranate juice became an antioxidant darling of my supermarket’s cold case, and — hey!

Try this on a night when you feel tired of everything you’ve ever cooked.  Trust me, it’s different.  Allow two chicken thighs per serving, and make lots of rice.

four to eight chicken thighs
two tablespoons butter
one large, or two medium, onions
two cloves garlic
one cup walnuts
one cup pomegranate juice
two cups boiling water
one-quarter cup dried cranberries
eight fresh or dried apricots
one small cinnamon stick
salt and pepper to taste

Put the cranberries in a cup and, if you’re using dried apricots, dice them and add them too. Pour the boiling water over the fruit and cover the cup with a saucer.  Let this sit while you do the rest. If you’re using fresh apricots, chop them and set them aside.

Mince (don’t slush) the onion.

Process the walnuts, garlic, and pepper together, to a paste.

In a pan large enough for the whole dish, brown the chicken thighs quickly and thoroughly.  Set the meat aside and pour off and discard the fat, keeping as much of the nice brown stuff in the bottom of the pan as possible.  Add the butter to the pan, let it melt, add the chopped onion and sauté it till it’s golden.

Add the walnut-and-garlic paste and stir thoroughly.

Add the pomegranate juice, the fruit with its liquid, and the cinnamon stick, and bring the sauce just to a boil.  Return the chicken to the pan.  Cook at a simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is very tender.  Add the chopped fresh apricots if you’re using them, and salt as needed.

Serve with rice.  If you want to be really Persian, serve a green salad with crumbled feta cheese, mint leaves, and lightly toasted walnut pieces.

©  /KC July 2009

KotW: Citrus Chicken. February 25, 2009

Posted by panterazero in chicken, entertaining, fruit, Kip of the Week, quick & dirty, saucy.
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This is just about guaranteed to be new to your guests, and it’s soooo easy.

chicken pieces
flour [optional]
salt
pepper
thyme
1 or 2 oranges
1 or 2 lemons
1/2 to 1 bottle white wine (I prefer a dry one like a pinot grigio, but you could experiment with something like a riesling, just stay away from chardonnay which doesn’t cook well)

If you like extra browning, shake the chicken pieces in a bag with flour, salt and pepper, but that’s really optional. In a large skillet brown them nicely on both sides, being careful to dry out but not burn the juices in the bottom of the pan. Meanwhile seed the fruit, if necessary, and slice it thinly, discarding the ends.

Remove the browned chicken from the pan and line the pan with a layer of orange and lemon slices, then replace the chicken and season it with salt, pepper and thyme. Cover the chicken evenly with the rest of the orange and lemon slices.

Add half the bottle of wine, raise the heat, and bring the wine just to a boil. lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and let everything cook for 20 to 25 minutes. Check it two or three times and, if a lot of the wine has evaporated, add more; there should be plenty of pan juice when the dish is done.

Serve with rice, couscous, orzo, kasha, or anything sort of grainy that’ll soak up the juice. I’ve made this dish two or three times a year for thirty years and it usually gets raves.

© February 2009 /KC

KotW: Unbelievably Complicated Borscht January 28, 2009

Posted by panterazero in all-in-one, chicken, holidays, Kip of the Week, potatoes, poultry, soups and stews.
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If you’re like me, your early experience of borscht was with the over-refined broth often served as a starter course for Jewish holiday dinners. It looks like cranberry-grape kool-aid and tastes like a nondescript root vegetable; if you’re lucky it’s elaborated with a few shreds of beet or carrot; and if you garnish it with sour cream it’s not bad, really.

Nahhhh.

With a tip of the chef’s hat to my old pal Harriett, I give here the recipe for the reason the Soviet Army beat the Waffen-SS; the borscht that was in the fuel tanks of the first Sputnik; borscht that could make a chronic emphysema patient run the high hurdles.  Plan about three days ahead to make an eight-quart pot of this stuff, which will take hours and cost you serious money. And when it’s done and boiling, if a wooden spoon won’t stand up in the middle of the pot, you missed the bullseye.

STEP ONE.

3- to 4-pound whole chicken
one large yellow onion
Seasoning as for Roast Chicken

Season the chicken and stuff it with the peeled onion. Roast it till done, but moist; water the roasting pan (at least) midway through so the drippings don’t burn.  Put the chicken in a bowl to catch the draining juices, and allow it to cool.  Strip the chicken (don’t be compulsive about getting the last of the meat off the carcass) and refrigerate the meat.

STEP TWO.

bones and skin of the chicken
pan drippings and collected juice
onion from cavity, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
bay leaf
1 clove garlic, smashed but not skinned

Put all the above in an 8-quart stockpot and cover it with 6 quarts boiling water, then simmer for several hours — I let it bake overnight in a 225-degree oven. Refrigerate until you can remove the fat easily, 24 to 36 hours.  Meanwhile

STEP THREE.

1 bunch fresh beets (4 to 8 beets depending on size) with greens

Cut the greens off the beets.  Stem the greens and wash them THOROUGHLY in 2 or 3 changes of cold water.  Boil the beets in lightly salted water for 15 to 20 minutes.  Shred the greens.  Let the beets cool slightly, peel and chop them.  Put beets and greens into a tightly covered plastic container and refrigerate.

STEP FOUR.

two pounds meaty beef short ribs (2-3 ribs)
two or three yellow onions skinned & diced
one or two peeled baking potatoes
one tablespoon oil
the stock from step two

Skim the fat off the stockpot. Lots of stock will stick to the stocktrash, so let it drain into a colander into a big bowl.  Discard the stocktrash. Wash out the 8-quart pot and brown the beef ribs in it; remove them to a plate.  Discard some of the fat, add the oil, brown the onions till golden.  Put the ribs on top of the onions, then strain in the stock through a fine strainer.  Bring to a simmer, cover and let simmer (not boil) for 3 to 4 hours.  Add the potatoes for the last hour. Meanwhile

STEP FIVE.

four carrots
six stalks celery
half a small green cabbage
four to six cloves garlic

Pare the carrots and cut them into chunks.  Wash and slice the celery.  Dice the cabbage.  Shred the reserved chicken.

STEP SIX.

Remove the beef ribs from the broth and let them cool, separate and shred the meat, and discard the bones and surplus tissue.  If you have a food processor, chop the garlic, then add the potatoes and a couple of cups of stock till everything is a thin smooth slurry.  If you don’t, mash the potatoes, press the garlic, and combine them while you add stock; the result won’t be as evenly thick but will still work.

Add the chicken, beef, potatoes and garlic, and beets to the broth and let simmer 30 minutes.
Add the carrots and celery and let simmer 10 minutes, stirring.
Add the beet greens and cabbage, bring to a slow boil and cook 10 minutes, stirring.  Serve.

There you have it, comrades; the borscht of commissars. And personally, I think topping this with sour cream would be like gilding a tank, but who am I to tell you what to do?  Enjoy, you’ve worked for it.

Plain Ordinary Borscht

So now you’re saying “Kip, only a maniac would go through that.”  And I look haplessly about the room for the maniac in question, and concede that you might be right.  I pretty much guarantee that if you make borscht from the elaborate recipe once a year, after a year, you will be so hungry for it that you will resign yourself to performing those miracles again.

But what if you just want, you know, borscht, and you don’t want it to take three days, but you certainly won’t stoop to the Manischewitz stuff in the jug in the supermarket?  Well…

For the carcass stock above, substitute four quarts of box stock.  If you do that, you might want to dice up a few boneless, skinless chicken thighs to give the stock some substance; and season it generously.

The irreducible minimum for borscht is:

    Stock containing one kind of meat
    a second kind of meat (as noted, beef short rib is great, but you can use beef chuck or pork shoulder)
    beets
    beet greens
    carrots
    onions
    a little garlic
    assertive seasoning.

With that as a base, you’ve actually got some latitude.  You can include the potatoes, or not.  You can add tomatoes, which traditional cooks in very old countries might sniff at, but they’re still good.  You can use other greens in addition to the beet greens; I’ve made fabulous borscht with kale.  You can add parboiled lentils.  You can add canned white beans.  If you use your imagination, you may arrive at something that some people wouldn’t call borscht, but so long as you call it delicious, there’s no harm done.  Enjoy!

A Note on Toppings

Contemporary supermarket sour cream needs to loosen up a little bit.  Stir in a little half-and-half or whole milk, while you watch the texture carefully — you want it still thick enough to stand up when it’s applied.  A little grated horseradish is a good addition.  Alternatively, use paprika, and use enough that you can taste it!

Another direction: a good slug of basil pesto, or walnut pesto, to top each serving.

© /KC January 2009

Thai Vegetable Stew January 3, 2009

Posted by panterazero in chicken, exotic!, Kip of the Week, soups and stews, Thai.
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Okay.  Our international readers don’t have this problem, but in the United States, the two holidays when turkey is classically served — Thanksgiving and Christmas — unfortunately happen to be only a month apart.  After two turkeys in the space of a month, it’ll probably be six months before you want to even think about cooking and eating another turkey, and six months after Christmas, you can’t find one to buy.  So, whether for personal or logistical reasons, we’re all through with turkey for the moment.  Let’s tackle something that in its format, in its ingredients, and in its seasoning is a complete relief.

Complicated?  Yes.  Healthy?  Yes.  Bliss-inducing?  Surprisingly.

First Day

Prepare stock:
2 quarts water
1 quart box chicken stock
6 boneless, skinless (Costco) chicken thighs; no need to thaw first
one whole stalk celery with leaves
a piece of fresh ginger the size of your thumb, peeled, and cut in quarters lengthwise
two bay leaves

Bring the water to a boil.  Add the stock and bring to a boil again (you don’t want to boil box stock very long).  Add all other ingredients, cover pot and put in 225° oven for 2 hours.

Take the pot out of the oven.  Remove the chicken thighs, put them on a plate or in a bowl, and refrigerate them.  Return stock to oven for another 2 hours.  Remove and discard the celery, ginger and bay leaves.  Cover the stock and refrigerate it overnight.

Second Day

Skim the fat off the stock, strain it if necessary, and warm it slowly.

Prepare garlic:
10 cloves garlic
2 T corn or canola oil

Chop garlic (a food processor helps) and mix it with the oil in a small microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave one minute at a time, checking, till the garlic takes on color, then thirty seconds at a time till the garlic is golden brown.  (This should take about three minutes total, but that depends very much on your microwave.  Don’t take it beyond golden brown or it may be unusable.)

Add to the stock:
the prepared garlic
one large yellow onion skinned and chopped
six medium carrots pared and cut in thick hunks
1 lb. white mushrooms washed and sliced thick

Bring to a boil, then simmer on lowest heat (you don’t want the carrots to disintegrate) for about an hour.  Meanwhile

Prepare the topping:
1 or 2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 green onions, white part and healthy-looking green part, sliced
1 cup Trader Joe’s Lime and Chile Peanuts [or:
1 cup roasted peanuts
half teaspoon red flake pepper
zested rind of one small lime ]

In a food processor mince the garlic, add the green onions and mince, add the peanuts and pulse-chop till everything is sort of chunky and sticky.  Put the mixture in a serving bowl and refrigerate.  Take the poached chicken thighs, remove and discard any fat, and shred the meat.

Stem and soak your greens (see below) if they’re not prewashed.

Add to the soup:
the shredded chicken
one 14-oz can coconut milk
2 to 4 small zucchini, diced
one 1-lb bag baby spinach
one bunch broccoli rabe, stemmed and chopped

Bring the soup to a boil and stir just until the zucchini is tender.  Serve very hot with the topping on the side; the serving spoon for the topping should hold a generous tablespoon (e. g. Chinese soup spoon).

© /KC January 2009

KotW: Roast Chicken, Part One (The Bird Itself) November 1, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in chicken, Kip of the Week, roasts.
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A roast chicken is one of the most satisfying dishes you can make for dinner — and, if you approach it correctly, economical as well. At this writing, a good-grade, battery-raised, cold-case chicken can cost less than a dollar a pound, and the yield of cooked meat is about 50% of the raw weight, so the meat on your plate and ready to eat is still less than two dollars a pound… a lot less than almost any kind of red meat or, actually, even some vegetable dishes. Furthermore, chicken is really tasty if you cook it correctly.

That’s the good news. The less good news resides in two chronic shortcomings. One: A supermarket chicken seasoned with salt and pepper and shoved in an oven doesn’t taste like much, and a full-flavored free-range or kosher chicken (at least where I live) can cost about $3 a pound. Two: Even with the best will in the world, it’s hard to cook a chicken so the dark meat is completely done and the white meat is still moist.

You can solve both these problems with planning and technique — in other words, by really cooking, not just shoving the bird in a cold oven and turning it on. A lot of the flavor of the finished product will be flavor that you’ve carefully added during preparation. As a bonus, once you’ve used all the meat, the carcass will be ideally seasoned to make stock for soup; in my humble opinion, if you roast a chicken and don’t make stock afterwards, you’ve thrown out half the chicken.

For optimal results you need to consider every element of the process: the oven, the chicken itself, the seasoning, the temperature, and the timing. Let’s start with the oven.

OVEN

A good oven for roasting, like a good oven for baking, necessarily involves more mass than the manufacturers of your oven were disposed to give you. A chicken prepared for roasting is like a loaf of bread — it needs a lot of heat and a persistent temperature. An ordinary sheet-steel oven really gives you neither, especially when you consider that by opening the oven door for more than a second or two, you lose a quarter to a third of the heat that you waited for.

The solution, generally, is to put heavy, dense, heat-resistant objects in the oven and let them heat up too. Personally I have a Hearthkit rock (http://www.hearth-oven.com/) which is expensive up front, but rugged enough to last essentially forever, and which improves just about everything I cook in the oven. But if you’re on a budget, you can put an oven rack in the bottom slot and cover it with re-used quarry tile or firebrick, or you can just put a large saucepan of boiling water in the oven next to the chicken.

CHICKEN

Supermarket chickens are sold in two standard sizes: a “frying chicken,” weighing 3 1/2 to 4 pounds, or a “young chicken,” weighing 5 1/2 to 6 pounds. After a lot of chickens, I happen to think that the larger size has a little more flavor by nature, but this roasting technique is certainly worth doing even for the smaller size.

Remove the chicken from its plastic bag, and discard the absorbent pad under the backbone. From the cavity, remove and reserve the neck, the gizzard and the heart. (Personally, I discard the liver, but if you like chicken liver, refrigerate it immediately until you’re ready to cook it.) Peel the thick pads of fat away from one or both skin flaps at the edges of the cavity, and reserve those too.

Put the chicken in a large steel or glass bowl, dump at least two tablespoons of salt (kosher salt is best, table salt will do,) into the cavity, and fill the bowl with cold water. Leave it undisturbed for at least half an hour. This cleans out the cavity and thaws any lurking frozen sections in the chicken — you want it to be at the same temperature all the way through, or as close as possible.

SEASONING

There’s a bunch of things that you can use as seasoning for the cavity, in any combination you like:

Kosher salt (but go light, there may be salt in one or more of your other seasonings)
ground or crushed black or green pepper
crushed fennel seed or cumin seed
dried red flake pepper
“poultry seasoning” (typically thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, black pepper, and nutmeg, but may also contain salt)
“Creole seasoning” (typically cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt)
dried or fresh herbs like sage, tarragon, thyme, rosemary, dill, oregano, and/or parsley

PREPARATION

Preheat your oven to 400°. Have ready:

9 x 13 glass baking dish
steel barbecue skewer
one medium or large yellow onion, peeled
three or four cloves of garlic, crushed without peeling
two to three tablespoons of your preferred seasoning mixture

Put the chicken in the baking dish and hold it vertically with the opening at the top. Drop in the crushed cloves of garlic. Pour in the seasoning mixture, and wiggle the chicken to distribute the mixture over the inside of the cavity. Finally, put in the peeled onion. Close the flaps of the cavity over the onion, so that they overlap; run the steel skewer through both cavity flaps and the onion, and out through the hole under the stub of the neck. The steel skewer conducts oven heat into the cavity, and also gives you a handle to remove the chicken from the baking dish when it’s done. Lay the chicken backbone down in the baking dish. In the corners of the dish, put the neck, heart, gizzard, and fat pads.

TEMPERATURE AND TIMING

For a 3 1/2 to 4 pound (“frying”) chicken:

30 minutes at 400°
30 minutes at 325°
20 minutes with the oven turned off and the door closed. This lets the temperature equalize and prevents redness at the bone.

For a 5 1/2 to 6 pound (“young” or “roasting”) chicken:

30 minutes at 400°
one hour and 10 minutes at 325°
20 minutes with the oven turned off and the door closed.

Remove the chicken from the oven. Pick it up by the steel skewer and put it on a platter for carving. Take the baking dish, without disturbing or discarding any of the contents, and refrigerate it. You can slice the onion from the cavity and serve it as a somewhat crunchy vegetable, or keep it for the stockpot.

After dinner, remove any remaining meat from the carcass and refrigerate it in a Ziploc (it makes great chicken salad). Put the bones and skin in the baking dish. This can hold in the refrigerator overnight till you’re ready to make the stock.

Next week: Stock from the carcass.

KotW: Roosevelt County Chicken October 2, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in chicken, Kip of the Week, New Mexico.
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If you want something that’s quicker than green chile stew, and a lot less work than pollo adovado, but still has that ineffable chile flavor..

6 chicken thighs, boned and skinned (no need to thaw if they’re frozen)
2 or 3 ripe tomatoes in bite-size chunks, or two dozen cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes cut in half
6 to 8 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon oil
2 four-ounce cans diced green chiles (Hatch if you can get ’em, Ortega if you must)
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

Broil the chicken thighs till browned on both sides. For the last three minutes of broiling, add the tomatoes to the pan.

Meanwhile, sauté the garlic slowly in the oil until golden brown. Add the chicken, tomatoes and pan juices to the garlic and oil. Dust the chicken pieces with the Creole seasoning. Add the green chiles and chicken stock, using some of the stock to rinse the can. Simmer until chicken is tender. Serve over brown rice or noodles.

© /KC October 2008

KotW: Chicken in Mustard, Capers and Garlic September 17, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in chicken, herbs & spices, Kip of the Week.
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A quite French recipe with a tip of the hat to Jacques Pépin, but more forceful seasoning, Kip-style. If I did want some crunch in this dish I might coat the chicken pieces with panko breadcrumbs, but I’ll leave it to you to try that.

2 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon butter
3 chicken breasts and 6 chicken thighs, boned and skinned
4-6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon capers
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup Dijon-style mustard
3 cups white wine
[or:
1 1/2 cups Sherry or Madeira
1 1/2 cups water ]

Heat butter and oil in each of two 12″ pans over medium heat, using more in the pan for the white meat than the pan for the dark. Sprinkle the meat with the pepper. When the fat is hot, add the chicken pieces and one bay leaf to each pan.

Brown the pieces approximately 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Watch your heat; you want pan juices the color of butterscotch sauce. Meanwhile crush and skin the garlic, rinse the capers and press them dry. Mince the capers and garlic together.

When the chicken pieces have a good brown coat, combine them into one pan and keep them warm. In the empty pan, saute the garlic and capers; careful not to burn them! but let them brown lightly till you can barely resist eating them out of the pan, scraping the mass around with a spatula rather than a spoon so that you loosen the pan juices. Add the mustard and work it in. Add half the wine and stir to a thin smooth sauce, heating to a simmer.

Transfer the chicken pieces to the pan with the sauce. Deglaze the empty pan with the other half of the wine, scrape, and add it to the chicken. Discard the bay leaves.

Simmer covered for 10 minutes, uncover and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes longer, till the sauce is glossy and showing all its alluring green and brown bits. Voilà.

© /KC September 2008