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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


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]
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

Christmas dinner, summarized. December 26, 2008

Posted by sarawr in baking, dessert, entertaining, herbs & spices, holidays, menu, potatoes, poultry.

From a comment I left over on Kip’s journal:

Mine was a 13+ pound turkey, brined 15 hours in a stockpot full of lukewarm water and 1.5 cups salt. Drained, blotted dry, stuffed with the giblets and a purple onion; sage butter spread very lightly (about a tablespoon total) under the skin, salt and pepper rained over the top. I set it atop about 2 cups of halved baby carrots, more diced onion, and a couple of stalks of sliced celery to make a vegetable rack, dusted more sage over the whole shebang, and popped it in a 425F oven uncovered for about 3 hours.

It was… the best turkey I’ve ever encountered, if I’m being honest instead of modest, and it will live on in my memory as a sort of Platonic ideal turkey. It came out cooking-magazine-golden with crisp skin all over, incredibly juicy, and flavorful in the way that you could taste the turkey instead of a bunch of seasoning.

I didn’t save the carcass to make stock because I had no room anywhere to store it and I wasn’t energetic enough to jump right into stockmaking last night or this morning, but I think I’m gonna do the whole thing over next month and I’ll make stock then. The more I experiment with whole poultry, the better I get at it, and while stockmaking has turned out to be something I don’t particularly enjoy, it is well worth it.

I let my mom take home the leftover stuffing, vegetables (I made green beans and corn, both with lemon butter), potatoes, etc. The potatoes were a dream as well (I used a borrowed electric mixer to whip them with cream cheese, sour cream, plenty of butter, and parsley — not “health food” by any stretch, but gosh, were they ever tasty), but I made far too much and didn’t want to hassle with separation and storage. We’ve got a good-sized Tupperware full of leftover turkey, and if I want more potatoes or veg to go with it we have plenty of those too. I think the only thing I forgot was cranberry sauce, but on balance it wasn’t really missed.

I made a strawberry-margarita cheesecake (which turned out kind of disappointing; it was tasty, but not the heavenly goodness it usually is) and a blueberry cheesecake (for which I had to invent my own recipe, because the ones I found all called for ingredients or equipment I didn’t have) for dessert, and the blueberry was the undisputed winner… although it came out more like pudding than pie, due to my absentmindedly taking it out of the oven 20 minutes before I should have.

On balance, the meal was a roaring success. We had plenty of food for everyone, and everyone seemed to like it; I got to experiment with a turkey (which I hadn’t done before, really) and have it turn out brilliantly on the first try; I did some baking, which isn’t something I particularly love, but was fun nonetheless.

ETA: How is it that we didn’t have a tag for potatoes? You can bet I fixed that right quickly!

How was your Christmas food, Schizoids? The comment section awaits!

Kip of the Week: Salmon in Bruschetta Crust August 20, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in entertaining, Kip of the Week, tomato.
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Of the dishes i make — that is, that I made up — this is my personal favorite. The crust, besides being loaded with flavor of its own, seals natural flavor and moisture into the underlying fillet. And with salmon costing what it does today, who would dare dry it out?

You need a food processor and a 9×13 pyrex baking pan.

two-pound skinless fillet of king salmon [warehouse store fillet is excellent]
three or four slices firm coarse-grained bread, or 12-15″ of a baguette, toasted hard [sourdough if you can get it, stale is fine]
three cloves garlic
one tablespoon fresh or one teaspoon dried rosemary
four big pieces roasted red bell pepper from a jar; rinse to remove the black bits of skin
½ cup wet-pack sun-dried tomatoes with some of the oil [if dry-pack are all you can get, add oil]
olive oil as needed for procedure

Preheat oven to 375° F.

In the food processor, grind the bread, garlic and rosemary to crumbs. Add the bell pepper and tomatoes and keep grinding till the result is like fine gravel; then drizzle olive oil into the top chute till the mixture gathers into a ball. This is usually not more than one tablespoon of oil.

Oil the underside of the fish and lay it on the baking pan. Spread the mixture over the top side of the fish and press it down to a firm even layer, leaving no gaps. Do leave a small space between the edge of the crust and the pan, or it will burn where it touches the glass.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the crust is an earthy black-speckled red like firebrick.

Good sides for this: Spinach pasta, or polenta with mushrooms, or corn on the cob, and a biiiig green salad. If you’re having wine with dinner, this is one of the few fish dishes I know that really will stand up to a chardonnay.

© /KC August 2008

KotW: Taste of Nepal [review] August 14, 2008

Posted by schizodigestive in cookbooks, entertaining, exotic!, herbs & spices, Kip of the Week, salads, tomato, vegetarian.
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Jyoti Pathak
New York: Hippocrene Press, 2007
ISBN 0-7818-1121-X
470 pp. hardcover
$27.50 list

The cuisines of the roof of the world — eastern Afghanistan, eastern Pakistan, the Punjab, Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan — are as distinct from each other as the great cuisines of Europe, and they’re all terrific. But dishes from these countries aren’t easy to find in most restaurants, and recipes on the net are sparse. This is a pity, because good Afghani, Tibetan or Nepali food will truly expand your culinary horizons.

I was introduced to Nepali food when Adri, fresh from a trip to Kathmandu, sat down with me in my kitchen and we tried to figure out how to make dal bhaat that tasted real. At that time, I had never been able to find a Nepali cookbook in English, still less a comprehensive one. Today, happily, that lack is remedied with Jyoti Pathak’s Taste of Nepal, which is a pleasure to read, a joy to cook from, and as authentic as could be.

The book begins with a section on snacks and appetizers, which are a national tradition in Nepal — partly because Nepalis eat two meals a day and fill the interim with enthusiastic snacking, and partly because local hospitality demands that any visitor, even a surprise visitor, be welcomed with food ready on the spot. Nepali snacks (khaajaa) somewhat resemble Indian chaat, except that they’re tastier, more adventurous, and often more complicated; many of them involve cheura, or pressed rice flakes, a Nepali nibbling staple.

Nepali cooking offers a wide variety of carbs, and meticulous attention is paid to rice, to dal (beans, lentils, and peas), and to bread (roti); there are over a dozen bread recipes in this book, some quite exotic. Vegetable recipes, meanwhile, draw from far-flung sources, so that some here seem almost Chinese, some Indian, and some Pacific.

In Nepal, as the author says, “meat is a high status food and does not feature frequently in the regular diet of most people,” so the majority of meat recipes here are for banquet dishes, with long lists of ingredients and complex preparations. Many call for goat, the staple meat of Nepal. There are also recipes for lamb, pork, and venison, but not for beef, since most Nepalis are of the Hindu faith and avoid beef for religious reasons.

Many of the poultry dishes here, including tandoori chicken, seem very Indian, but the recipes for Cornish hen, turkey, quail, and pheasant are far off that beaten path. Again, many of these dishes are meant for holidays and festivals, but for the right occasions, elaborate preparation would be worth it.

Fish is popular in Nepal because it signifies good luck, prosperity, and happiness. Ocean fish is not available; fish is line-caught from Himalayan rivers and either prepared as fresh as possible, or smoked or dried for storage. Preparations here are simple and are mostly fish fries or curries.

Momo (dumplings) may have originated in Tibet but are wildly popular in all Himalayan countries, and a real delicacy. Filled with chicken, lamb, pork, or mixed vegetables, these are bigger, juicier, and more substantial than either Chinese wonton or Korean-Japanese gyoza. Usually they are steamed, but they can also be sautéed like potstickers.

The section on salads, chutneys, and pickles is worth the price of the book, and rather than go into tedious detail, I’ll give one recipe here:

NO-COOK TOMATO CHUTNEY (Na Pakaayeko Golbheda ko Chutney)

This recipe is my daughter Sapana’s favorite way of preparing a quick chutney. The amount of chili may be adjusted to suit your taste.

6 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped (about 6 cups)
8 to 10 fresh hot green chilies, roughly chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons peeled and roughly chopped fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon Szechuan pepper (timmur), finely ground with a mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon mustard oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice

Place the tomatoes, green chilies, cilantro, garlic, ginger, salt and timmur in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, and mix it with the mustard oil and lemon juice. Taste, adjust the seasonings, and serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The chutney keeps refrigerated for 2 to 3 days.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

The book is rounded out with a nice section on desserts — most of which, unsurprisingly, are milk-based — one on drinks, mostly teas, and one on “after-meal refreshers,” which are highly spiced or intensely fruit-flavored savory snacks. In short, Nepali cuisine and its materials and methods are covered here from end to end, and you could rely on this book when you prepared a banquet, working from the banquet menus in the book’s last section, “Planning and Serving Nepali Meals.”

If you find some ingredients unfamiliar — and I certainly did — you’ll find comfort in the extensive glossaries of ingredients and of Nepali-English culinary terms. Finally, this book proudly includes an index detailed enough to be usable, which is a great asset especially to a cookbook.

I can’t say enough good things about Taste of Nepal, although I’ve tried. You could try a recipe from this book every day for a year, and you wouldn’t run out. Recipes were obviously developed in collaboration and extensively tested; nothing here is faddish, flippant, or obvious. Finally, as a matter of meticulous production, each recipe is complete on one page or on two facing pages so you can put the book in your cookbook holder and get going. It’s a small thing, but the whole book shows that kind of care.

If you’re at all interested in expanding your culinary repertory, you deserve to have Taste of Nepal on your kitchen bookshelf.

(c) /KC August 2008

KotW: Beef & Lime Pasta Salad August 7, 2008

Posted by sarawr in entertaining, exotic!, Kip of the Week, red meat.
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[This week’s post is the long-awaited beef & lime pasta salad. It’s a great summer recipe for using up all those leftover grilled steaks, and it’s novel enough to serve when you want to impress. Let’s give a big hand to Kip, the only Schizo who’s not also a slacker!]

I often think that limes get a bad rap. Too often, lime is thought of merely as a dessert ingredient while its blond and blowsy cousin, the lemon, gets to star in an amazing variety of productions. The line gets much more respect in countries with truly sophisticated spicy cuisines, like Cuba, India, and Thailand. This recipe uses lime juice and zest as the top notes for a dinner salad that’s a little different.

1 lb. fusilli, penne, farfalle, broken-up perciatelli, or elbow macaroni
2 cups medium to medium-rare roast beef or steak, slivered
1 cup stock
1/2 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 large or 2 small limes, zest and juice
shredded Romano cheese, to taste
romaine leaves

Start cooking pasta. In a largish pot, saute the minced garlic and nuts in the olive oil till golden, pour in the stock to stop the cooking. Keep mixture at simmer and, when pasta is cooked al dente, add the pasta and the beef. Refrigerate.

Before serving, add the lime juice, the lime zest and the cheese, and mix again. Serve on romaine leaves.

This recipe is somewhat of a work in progress, and I could see adding ingredients like shredded ginger, shredded basil, nam pla, coconut milk, roasted red bell peppers, roasted cherry tomatoes, diced mango…depending on which direction you want to take it. If you feel like trying this and think of any other exhilarating additions, please mail me at panterazero[AT]gmail.com!

(c) /KC July 2008

Dinner Party Menu: Pesto chicken, lemon basil farfalle and… The Simpsons? June 23, 2008

Posted by Alicia in entertaining, guests, menu.

Good morning everyone!  Do you know what it’s time for?  It’s time for a post that is NOT written by Kip (as much as I adore his cooking and posts)! 

Last night I had a dinner party that I threw together at the very last moment.  Now here’s the deal; I’d known I would be having guests for over a week.  My excuse is that I found out at the last minute that one of the guests did not care for a main ingredient in my chosen menu (fish — I’d been planning on pomegranate-orange glazed salmon, a bulgar salad wih cranberries and orange zest and a tossed salad).  Anyway, far from being irritated, I was thrilled.  Planning, cooking for and hosting dinner parties in one of my great passions in life (I blame it on being Italian).  I like nothing better than having people over for food, wine, good music and conversation.  Several of my favourite childhood memories revolve around the dinner parties my parents used to have — helping my mother clean the house (my favourite job was wiping down the glass coffee table with Windex until it gleamed), watching my parents cook together and getting to try new dishes that were just a bit too complicated for family dinner during the week.  Then there were the guests, elegantly dressed and full of witty conversation, the clink of wine glasses and silverware against plates and music (usually jazz) in the background.  Dinner parties were always a source of wonder for me and all I really wanted to grow up to do was be the perfect hostess at my own. 

The guestlist last night included my boyfriend (Jesse) and I, his brother (Mike), his mother (Jan) and his uncle and aunt (Jim and Rhonda).  Jan, Jim and Rhonda had been in town over the weekend and we thought it would be nice to have a small gathering to catch up with them.  All in all, I think it turned out quite nicely.  Sure, it wasn’t quite the glamorous affair that I remembered but I keep reminding myself that we’re young, still practicing, and entertaining in a very different way.  We’ll get there eventually. 

Please excuse the not-so-fabulous pictures.  I still need to get a new, better camera, should work on my presentation skills and have to remember to take pictures BEFORE people have started eating, not after.  I’m new to this — it’ll get easier. 

We started off the evening with bruschetta (I didn’t actually serve that piece to our guests as I felt it was too burned — it was delicious though), sundried tomato hummus and Italian-style guacamole (with lemon juice, garlic, oregano and fresh basil). There were tortilla chips and whole wheat pita for dipping as well. At this point The Simpsons was still being watched in the living room so I didn’t get my dream of fabulous conversation over Beethoven. C’est la vie!

We took a bit of a break at this point so I could finish off dinner and everyone else could work up a bit of an appetite. Jesse was his usual helpful self and kept the dishes from piling up — nothing’s worse than ending an evening with three sink’s worth of dishes.

After about 20 minutes, dinner was ready. The first picture showed what everyone except I had. There was a spinach and arugula salad with chopped tomatoes and my Dijon balsamic vinaigrette (no, I can’t give you the recipe because I don’t know how I make it — my father taught me to eyeball it and at this point I could do it in my sleep but not explain it), chicken breasts baked with pesto and fresh mozzarella and farfalle with a lemon basil sauce. The lemon basil farfalle was something I’ve been dreaming about for a while: citrusy, slightly tart and green with plenty of freshly ground pepper. I actually managed to find a recipe online which gave me basic proportions but I still played around with it. It took about 2/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil, 2/3 cup of shaved parmesan, 1/2 cup of lemon juice and 1/3 cup of fresh chopped basil. Once the farfalle is cooked (I like to keep my pasta more than slightly al dente but cooked it a bit longer for our guests last night), toss it with abovementioned mixture and garnish with about a tablespoon of lemon zest, more fresh basil and black pepper. I, of course, skipped the chicken and went for a larger salad with chopped bell pepper along with my pasta.

All in all, this was a lovely, simple meal for a summer dinner party. The hummus and guacamole can be prepared far in advance, the bruschetta only take about five minutes in the oven at 450 degrees and the chicken only needs to bake for about 40 minutes. If you’re feeling lazy (like I was) you can use storebought pesto and bruschetta topping — mine came from Trader Joe’s. Top it all off with a light Viognier to drink and you’ve got yourself a party.

Who wants to come over for dinner? Also, tell me your favourite dinner party recipes! Tell me about one that you’ve thrown that worked well and one that was a disaster. Do you hate hostessing and entertaing? Why? What’s the largest number of guests you’ve cooked for?