Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chicken Curry

My curries tend to not be quite as liquid as the authentic ones. Good, bad, or indifferent - I don't know. Phillip eats it happily, and I like it, so there you go. This one was kind of a "what do we have in the fridge" curry. Chicken, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, onion, broccoli (probably not the best curry vegetable, but you know...) simmered in coconut milk and Panang curry paste and served over Jasmine rice, sprinkled with cilantro. It was spicy enough for us. I find that about 1 1/2 tsp. of curry paste is enough for me. Anything beyond that and I don't taste the food anymore, so what's the point? Yes, I know I'm a heat sissy. I can't help it.

Why Jasmine rice? First, it has the best flavor, I think, of all the rices. (is that right? Rices? Reece? Reeces Pieces?) Also, when I try to make brown rice, it's all goopy. I need a rice cooker, I know. I think that may be on my list. I've been mighty impressed with the results I've seen from them, but on the other hand, there's that pride thing. Why shouldn't I be able to make a decent pot of whatever kind of rice? But, brown rice eludes me. I vary the cooking time, the amount of liquid, the heat, etc. and it always comes out kind of sticky. I have Jasmine and Basmati down cold. Those are pretty near perfect. I use chicken stock to cook them and they're both tasty. But the brown... meh. The flavor is OK, but the texture isn't. So we'll see. Maybe a rice cooker is in my future.
But back to topic - this was dinner, and it was fine. Yet another use for chicken thighs. Rock!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Southwestern Chicken Salad

OK, so here we go with the unimaginative. Southwestern Chicken Salad.
What do you two think?
This shot?

Or this one?
I'm kind of partial to the side shot, but I don't know. Maybe I need to put it on a white background or something.
Anyway, this is the kind of thing I was talking about a couple of posts ago. Not sure this is especially worthy of being blogged about. It's a typical Chili's type salad. I pan-fried some chicken thigh chunks that I dredged in a cumin/flour mixture in some olive oil. I crisped up some tortilla strips in olive oil also. The rest of the salad was comprised of a little corn, onion, black beans, red bell pepper, grape tomatoes, (no WAY you're getting decent tomatoes this time of year - that's the best you'll do), and some romaine lettuce. The dressing was buttermilk, a little sour cream, lime juice, salt, pepper, and some adobo chile sauce.
Well, it may not have been upscale cooking, but P. devoured it and was very happy to have leftovers for his lunch today. And nothing says "snack me!" like a little thumb-sized piece of cumin-fried chicken in the fridge around 4:00. (Yeah, I know a piece of fruit would be healthier, but come on. I brought it with Tony today. I needed protein.)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Crispy Tilapia with Spicy Asian Black Beans with Christina and Dan

Yesterday was a busy day. A little cleaning, grocery shopping, an afternoon kayak trip with Robert on the Cape Fear River, and then Christina and Dan were coming over for dinner.

We maximized our time on the water, of course, then there's the cleaning up and putting away of gear, AND the fact that I hadn't quiiiite finished cleaning the kitchen before we tore out the door to get on the water. So I needed something a little on the simple side to put together for dinner, but still wanted it to be fit for company. Not just company, but first-time company. This was their first experience at Cafe 305.

So I opted for

Crispy Tilapia
Spicy Asian Black Beans
Jasmine Rice
Chocolate-filled Ebelskivers and Vanilla Ice Cream
(I'm almost out of friends who haven't had this, so you won't have to see it much longer.)
The fish was dipped in Panko crumbs and seared in olive oil until it was crispy. The black beans are simmered with onion, hunks of ginger, and some chinese chili paste, then drizzled with a little sesame oil. I normally do this dish with catfish, but the Teeter was out.
Of course, since I was focused on dinner and guest-entertaining, I didn't manage to get any pictures of dinner or of Christna and Dan, but they're all over the internet. They both do tons of technology articles and Christna has a couple of blogs of her own. One of my favorites is It rocks!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spicy White Bean and Chicken Soup with Sara and Marc

OK first of all, my apologies to my two readers who have been ripping me because I'm being terribly inconsistent with my blog. We've had a string of recent events that have impeded my ability to blog. I shall now list my excuses for you so that you get your money's worth from this entry.

  • My laptop crashed and I had to ship it off to be fixed.

  • I started (and finished) a project to scan all of our hard-copy photos so that we have digital copies of them all.

  • My laptop was returned and I had to transfer everything back over to it, including my MasterCook information, which still is all ganked up. Don't get me started.

  • I do have a job and have been trying to work against some deadlines.

  • I got the "Twilight" collection for Christmas and have totally been sucked into spending my free time reading about teenage vampires. I can't help myself. So sue me. I read grownup books too sometimes.

  • We donated our sailboat and have been getting it ready to truck to FL. OK! OK! I really haven't had much to do with that, but Phillip has been, and it's cut into my cooking time. Sort of. All right, fine. Strike that one.

  • Most importantly, I have been going through one of my uninspired periods, where my cooking is lackluster and unimaginative. It happens sometimes. I really didn't figure you wanted to see multiple entries on "homemade pizza" or "burgers" or repeats of other stuff I've already made. Where's the fun in that?

But back to the evening at hand. Marc and Sara, as I've mentioned, own a restaurant. One of my favorites, actually. Valentine's Day for them is just hard work. So I thought I'd make them dinner here to celebrate on their night off. I had big plans. Huge! I was going to do duck breast in blackberry conac sauce, coconut black rice, etc. etc. Unfortunately, the other ten thousand people who descended on Fresh Market over the Valentine's Day weekend had the same idea, and they only had one duck breast. It probably would have been stretching it to feed the four of us. It was cold outside, and I opted for a cozy, homey evening instead. So I went with:

Rosti Potato Pancakes with sharp cheddar and prosciutto (where's the umlaut on this thing?)

Mixed Greens with Honey-Lime Vinaigrette, Strawberries and Fried Goat Cheese
Spicy White Bean and Chicken Soup with Chorizo
(graciously provided by Marc and Sara a while back - man that stuff is good!)
Cheddar Biscuits

Chocolate-filled Ebelskivers with Caramel and Chocolate Ice Cream (yes, again. I wish my uncle could see how much mileage I'm getting out of his Christmas present to us.)

Marc seemed to have a hard time with the heat in the soup, so let that temper your wild enthusiasm for the menu. He asked Phillip what they'd done to make me so mad that I'd serve them really spicy soup. I didn't think it was that hot, and I'm a heat sissy, but I think Marc didn't like the chipotle quite so much. He did seem to like the cheddar biscuits. Sara liked it all. (What a good girl!)

They did like the Ebelskivers. Yes, if you haven't been to my house yet for dinner, you will probably get them too!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Heather and Walt

Heather and Walt are good friends who used to be good neighbors. They lived next door and shared a few meals with us, then they moved a little further away, had two babies and now it's not so easy. Especially since they can't just walk out the back door and get here in three seconds. So we REALLY enjoy it now when we can find the time to get together.

Walt's favorite of mine is Catfish with Black Bean Sauce, so I had to brace him when he got here that he wasn't getting that. Instead, we had:

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Boursin Sauce

Roasted Broccoli

Mashed Parmesan Potatoes


Chocolate-filled Ebelskivers with Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce (yes, it's my new favorite dessert, so if you are reading this and eat here, you'll probably have it served to you until I run it by everyone at least once.

The pork tenderloin was a big hit with Catfish Walt. He raved about it, and I didn't even pay him. Here it is, prepped for cooking. It wasn't difficult at all. I just sauteed some mushrooms and shallots, added some spinach, then put it in the food processor to get it a little more finely chopped. I butterflied the pork tenderloin, put a line of the filling down the length of it, rolled it up and tied it with twine. About 30 minutes in a 375F oven did the job nicely.

He also said he liked the roasted broccoli. Phillip was far less enthusiastic. I think he groaned and left it on his plate. I probably shouldn't do that to him. I never have to eat English Peas anymore...

(These are homemade rolls.)

Here was the whole dinner.

We talked about all kinds of stuff, including cooking. Walt was asking me what I cook every night for the two of us, when we don't have company. Walt, buddy, if you're reading this, just scan on back through. I have some catch-up to do - I'm missing several nights that I have pictures for. I'll try to get to that this weekend. (I know! You can't wait!)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Mac and Cheese with Mac and Shea

Oh, OK, Jenn and David came too. And we did have more than Mac and Cheese, and a VERY good time.
We set up the aerobed in the den so the boys could wallow and watch a movie after dinner.

They spent some time jumping too.

Fried Chicken Thighs
Mac and Cheese (that's it before baking)
Green Beans

Ice Cream Sundaes

The boys ate right away, but the grownups decided we'd rather linger over cocktails first. I taught Shea the proper way to eat Mac and Cheese (with ketchup!) and he dug it. Then they went to watch Ratatouille.

After we cocktailed (David and Phillip rather enjoyed their ale) and then ate, we joined them for the rest of the movie. I love that flick. Santa brought me a copy this past Christmas. (Saved his skin, lemme tell ya.)
One note on the fried chicken - I tried making it with Panko crumbs this time, and it was nice and crunchy, but I don't think it keeps as well as traditional fried chicken. It gets soggier than just flour-dredged. Still good, but I'll probably go back to the traditional method.
I had a vat of mac and cheese left over and sent some home with the Tuckers. I hope Jenn remembers to hand Shea the ketchup bottle.