Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yogurt Spiced Chicken with Cucmber Mint Salad

Subconsciously, cumin must be my favorite spice. In going back through my past posts, just about everything has cumin in it - soup, chili, this. It's amazing because it's so versatile but to be honest, it's not a spice I would label as a favorite. There's something about the smell of cumin that I just don't love... I can't put my finger what that is exactly, but it obviously doesn't bother me that much because here I am, cooking with it constantly. I could go into a long drawn-out debate outlining the subconscious versus conscious, but will save that for another day...or not. I actually like having readers and don't want to scare ya'll away this early on!

I found this recipe when I was looking for a way to use cilantro since my home-grown stock is quickly growing faster than I can use it. Indian food is something I really have to crave to enjoy and I really liked the chicken the night I made it... unfortunately, the appeal was gone the next day when I brought it into work for lunch. I can't emphasize this enough - it's not the recipe... it's me. And my weird love/hate relationship with cumin.

That being said, this was a pretty cumin-heavy dish. If you like curried chicken, you will definitely like this recipe. The scent that hit me while it was baking reminded me of walking into an Indian restaurant - lots of spice and flavor, without being too overwhelming. The yogurt marinade kept the chicken moist and I paired it with a minted cucumber salad, based on a recipe my mom makes frequently. The flavors together were a great combination of spicy and sweet, hot and cool - slightly contradictory in description but pairs nicely together and perfectly matches the sunny/rainy/warm/cold weather we've been having lately in Seattle.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

If there's anything I love, it's good, authentic Mexican food. I grew up in the Bay Area, has all kinds of delicious Mexican cuisine. Seattle has a few good options, for for the most part, places like Azteca just don't cut it.

Enchiladas are a personal weakness of mine, but a bad sauce can ruin it all. I'm definitely a sauce snob - red not green, with enough spice for kick, but not overpower the taste of the filling, salty, not sweet. These are all personal preferences, of course, but they're mine and since this is my blog, I guess that's all that matters... right? Right.

Since I had a ton of Masa left over from making tortillas a few weeks ago, I found this recipe and had to give it a try. The biggest change - making my own enchilada sauce! Canned sauce has a lot of sodium in it, so I hunted down a recipe and made my own... and it was exactly what I would have wanted. If you have the time to prep it the day before to cut down on the cook time, I would definitely recommend doing so. It's worth the extra work.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What is a sunchoke?

Sunday is my prep day. It's the day where I get my life in order for the week. I do my laundry, grocery shopping, meal planning, cleaning, check emails... and typically, I cook. This Sunday was a little different.

It all started late Friday evening when I came home from happy hour, took a nap and woke up with a headache/sore throat combo that was enough for me to be in bed by 10pm. It persisted Saturday, but was manageable with tylenol. Today was even worse, so I forced myself to spend the day resting, which was torturous because weather was in the 60s and I'm sure all of Seattle was out to play. Needless to say, I could barely drag myself off my couch, much less to the grocery store or into the kitchen. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day and I'll have the energy to cook up something tasty and blog about it.

In telling people about the soup I made, I got the same question over and over - what is a sunchoke? Well, here they are. Attractive little buggers, arent they? I've been doing more research on recipes and sunchokes can be prepared almost any way a potato can - in soups, as chips, roasted - but they can also be eaten raw in salads or on sandwiches.

Also known as a Jerusalum artichoke, sunchokes are a root vegetable and a part of the sunflower family. As tasty as they are, be warned - sunchokes contain a significant amount of inulin, which can be difficult to digest in large quantities. I didnt have any issues with my soup, but after reading a few blogs, its definitely good to keep in mind.

I have these leftover from last week's trip to the market but not quite sure what to do with them yet. Stay tuned...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sunchoke soup at 6am

What is one to do when they stay out later than planned on Cinco de Mayo, and didn't make the food they planned on for the rest of the week? Get up at 6:30am and make it anyways!

I know it sounds crazy, but I've been trying to cut back on frozen meals and eating out, and had sunchokes from the Ballard Market that needed to be used so... soup-making at 6am it is. Awesome. I did the prep work and played with the recipe to get it going quickly, then showered while it simmered, then packaged it up and off to work I went! Oddly not the first time I've made soup before work, but that's another story for another day...

Now I've never cooked, or even eaten sunchokes. They're a funny little root vegetable that look like ginger root but are rumored to taste like artichokes. I love, love, love artichokes but hate the amount of work and time it takes to both cook and eat them so was super excited to try these. The verdict? When cooked, they are potato-like in texture, but the taste... slightly more mild then artichoke hearts, YES! I wish I had discovered these earlier in the season as I would definitely like to experiment with them more.

So, the soup... even though I halved the recipe, I accidentally added the full amount of chili powder and boy you can really taste it! I calmed the kick down with some Crème Fraiche (also courtesy of the market), and the artichoke-like flavor was definitely dominant. Salted sunflower seeds helped bring out the nutty flavor but between the spicy kick and the unique flavors of cumin and coriander, the soup is almost Indian in taste. A bowl of roasted chickpeas with lemon and cumin would actually be the perfect accompaniment for a light and satisfying lunch. It's also thick - really thick - and unlike most soups, actually filled me up for most of the afternoon.

I'll keep this one on file, but next time want try making a soup with a different assortment of spices to really play on the artichoke-y flavors. More garlic, some lemon juice, maybe a little parmesan... everything you would want when eating a real artichoke...mmmmm...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday night madness - Fish Tacos edition

For the last few weeks, once a week, my friend Megan and I have gotten together and cooked up a veritable feast of goodness. There's no rhyme or reason to what we cook but it's a small tradition that brightens up the beginning of the each week. Megan is a phenomenal cook and she challenges me on a regular basis to try new things because she does so on a regular basis (carrot turnip mash, anyone?) and it's always a hit! She's also been on a no-dairy, no-gluten kick, which makes our evenings together even more of a challenge - one I'm happy to take on.

Tonight's endeavour could not have gone better - we made halibut tacos with homemade tortillas and a mango jalapeno slaw. I haven't made tortillas from scratch since I was about 12 and I have to say - they're super easy and actually fun to make!The halibut was extremely subtle in flavoring, and became more of a back-up dancer to the diva that was the slaw. More sweet than spicy and super light, it tasted like something you could eat all summer long. As we ate, Megan and I came up with 101 ways to use the slaw - with chicken, serve as a side, add avocado, etc. It's that good, I swear!

In keeping everything dairy and gluten free, the tortillas were made with Masa, a enriched corn flour found in the Mexican section of most grocery stores, and the slaw was made with dairy-free mayo (found at Trader Joes). All around dinner - 4 stars... or, maybe that would be 4 tacos... which is exactly how many Megan and I ate at dinner. Each.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The white chili that wasn't

Chili is one of my standard fall-back recipes. It's the cold-weather-I-dont-want-to-go-to-the-store-but-want-something-hearty food and I love it. I love the variety of it - how one little dish can be changed by an ingredient or two and it's a totally new experience. It can be white or red, flaming-hot or pleasantly mild, made with chocolate, beer, beef, turkey, chicken, you name it! Regardless of the type, it's almost always good.

So, after spending a fun day out on the chilly waters of Lake Washington for Opening Day of boating season, I did an extensive search for "ground turkey" recipes I came across a recipe for turkey white chili. It was going to be limey, it was going to use some of the cilantro I'm growing, it was going to be white, it would have been great. Until halfway through I changed my mind, threw in a can of tomatoes and (as Emeril would say) BAM! Red chili.

The result of my indecision:
Mildy spicy, luscious, tangy, hearty, healthy turkey chili. YUM!

What am I doing here?

As I've gotten older, I've realized one thing (well, I've realized many things but you know what I mean) - I love food. I love eating it, I love making it, I love shopping for it, I even love staring at pretty pictures of it... need I say more? Nothing is more relaxing after a long day than finding something tasty to make, pouring a glass of wine, putting on some music and dancing around the kitchen while I create a (hopefully!) delicious meal. Sometimes it's just for me, sometimes it's for friends... but no matter what, when I make something amazing I will always share the recipe! More often than not, my recipes are a collaborative effort, made from several different recipes pulled together into one.

This site was the brain child of my good friend Jessica, just for that purpose - to share my recipes and food adventures with my friends and family. So... bon appetite!