Monthly Archives: March 2021
I’ve got an abundance in in of Thai basil and Thai chilies growing in my garden, and they’re begging to be harvested. Ok, so what to do with them?
A while back, at the Manheim Township public library, I did a cooking class in making Thai noodle bowls, and it was one of my most successful classes ever. So hankering for something different, tasty, and filling, I think I’ll make a batch for supper.
Like noodle bowls? Try these:
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced, thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions or lemon grass, white and light-green parts, cut to 1-inch pieces
4 sprigs fresh Thai basil
5 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon red curry paste
½ teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
8 ounces rice noodles
Toasted sesame oil
Fresh bean sprouts
2 ounces thinly sliced mushrooms
1 red chili pepper, thinly sliced
Fresh limes, cut into wedges
Make the broth:
1. Heat a pan to medium high with coconut oil (or peanut or vegetable or canola oil).
2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper; brown the chicken on both sides, set aside on a plate and allow to cool to room temperature.
3. Add the ginger, garlic, and scallions or lemon grass, and sauté until softened. Add the curry paste, stir, and simmer 1 more minute.
4. Add the stock, scrape the bottom of the pot, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Prepare the rice noodles per the package directions, drain and toss with a bit of toasted sesame oil.
6. When the stock is ready add the fish sauce, brown sugar, and soy sauce.
7. Shred the chicken with 2 forks.
Prepare the bowls:
I want to tell you about my latest adventure in roasting a whole chicken. I think I’ve finally mastered the beast, and I’m not changing a thing.
First of all, a few years ago on this site I posted what I think is the perfect approach to roasting a chicken. It’s mostly hands off, takes only a few minutes of preparation, and an accurate kitchen timer—30-40 minutes in a hot oven (450 hot) and the same time with the oven turned off. Perfect every time. The timing, of course, depends on the size of the chicken. ATK says 30/30, for a 3 1/2 pound chicken. Good luck finding one of them in the grocery store. Everything now os 5-6 pounds, loaded with growth hormones and water. But I do get them at the farmers’ market, and they tend to run about 4 pounds. At that size, use 35/35.
But now, I’ve discovered a new seasoning profile, and it’s so good that I’m loathe to try anything else. Because let’s face it—roasting a chicken is, while an essential skill, pretty boring.
You’ve got to try this. Because it’s all about flavor. This recipe turns an ordinary every-day roast chicken into a feature dish to which to be looked forward (um…grammar rules, you understand, but still…)
So here’s the blueprint:
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp Harissa (mild or hot—you decide)
1 Tbsp dried sage
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp granulated garlic
1 tsp finely ground white pepper
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
Start by mixing up the dry ingredients—standard stuff, mind you). Mix in some good olive oil and harissa until you have a thick paste. :
Run your fingers and/or thumbs under the skin of the breasts AND legs and thighs, to separate the skin from the meat.
Then, rub the seasoning glop all over the entire chicken—top, bottom, sides, into the crevices of the legs and wings. Then slather more under the skin, covering as much of the breast, leg, and thigh meat as possible. And don’t forget to dump a bit inside the front and rear cavities.
Tuck the wing tips under the bird.
Then follow the directions as in the earlier post—which I’ll repeat here because it takes only a few words. Preheat the oven AND A HEAVY 12-INCH OVEN-SAFE FRY PAN—an enamel pan is best, but a cast-iron pan works too—to 450 degrees. Carefully take the pan out of the oven, place the whole bird in the pan, and return the pan to the oven. Set the timer for 30-45 minutes (depending on the size of the bird). When the timer goes off, turn the oven off and set the timer for the same amount of time again. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR!!! When the timer goes of this time, take the pan out of the oven, set it on the counter, cover the bird with foil, and set the timer for 15 minutes. Then carve and enjoy.
Perfect every time. And if you have a convection setting on your oven, even better. The skin will be crisp and tasty, the chicken will be perfectly done and as moist as can be.
And by the way, this goes double for a turkey (or triple, depending on the size of the bird (which I did, just before writing this entry). Just use a larger vessel for a turkey.
This one’s too easy not to share. And too good to keep it all to myself.
Mulligatawny is one of the signature dishes in all of Indian cuisine. It’s a soup, in the same fashion that a Rolls Royce is a car, or a Rolex is a watch, or Linda Ronstadt is a voice.
Friday night in the time of the pandemic has become, for many of us, just another night. Boring. Routine. Yawn. I suspect that many of you share this sad way of life. Not because you’re boring, or unimaginative or worn out. I for one have fallen into the pandemic-driven blahs. I think you know what I mean.
We’ve decided to change that. Friday nights are special—should be special—so we’re making it so. It’s the end of our work week (the days all have run together this year, what with working from home and all, so that all the days have started to look the same.
Not any more.
Now I suspect many of you have reached this point already, but we are, I guess, a little slow.
But special it is. And we started at the top-shelf Lancaster restaurant Himalayan Curry & Grill. Which brings me back around to mulligatawny. Himalayan makes it as good as I have ever tasted. Thick and rich, sweet and spicy, familiar and comforting.
But then, hey, I can do that! My teacher taught me that flavor trump’s heat in a spicy dish, and that’s what this dish wants most of all—spicy, but flavor forward. I cruised the recipes on line, and came up with my own version, using only what I have on hand.
You should try it. It’s actually one of the easiest soups I have made, and yet so flavorfully complex. You should try it.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 red jalapeno, seeded and finely minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons peeled and minced ginger root
2 small firm apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup red lentils (uncooked)
3 cups vegetable broth
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
Salt and black pepper to taste
Chopped cilantro and/or scallions for garnish
1. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
2. Add the onion, carrot, and jalapeno, then saute for 4 to 5 minutes or until the onions have softened.
3. Add the garlic, ginger, apples, and diced tomatoes to the pot. Saute for another 3 minutes, then add in all of the spices and toss to coat. Add in the lentils and broth and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
4. Puree about 3/4 of the ingredients by transferring the soup to the bowl of a standard blender. You may need to do this in two batches. Leave some of the vegetables whole, as it adds texture and consistency to the soup. Return the soup to the pot, then stir in the coconut milk, and bring the soup back to a slow simmer. Adjust the flavor to your liking with salt and coarsely ground black pepper.
5. Serve topped with chopped cashews and cilantro or scallions along with naan bread for dipping.