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Monthly Archives: November 2011

A thanksgiving spread

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The thanksgiving dinner table

Amid all the joy, love and cheer at Thanksgiving the one big thing that stuck out for me at my first thanksgiving here in the US was this: it’s an onslaught of food but don’t give up. Just imagine sitting at a large dinner table so full of food, that you can’t even pass the dishes around. The experience was so gastronomically fulfilling that since Thursday, I have not felt the need for a full meal and I and haven’t cooked since.

We were at Kat’s place (of @Logistikat fame 🙂 ) up in Snohomish. She generously extended an open invitation to join her family and friends for a potluck thanksgiving dinner, and five of us; Sam, Jon, Mariana, Flair and I showed up. Everything was homemade and the menu for the night: a spread of 11 dishes, karaoke and 4 desserts (not to forget mulled spice cider, wine and beer). It’s hard to pick a favourite when there is competition bite after bite. Dinner was served at 5:15 and it went on till 7:00pm, before we rolled in to the living room for some karaoke which would help work an appetite for dessert. I suspect the melodious voices coming out of everyone could’ve been due to absolute satisfaction with the food or the fervent anticipation of pumpkin and cheery pie that was to follow. In any case, it was a wonderful night, and with a menu as the one below one couldn’t help but sing its praise.

Dinner

Turkey

Stuffing

Green Bean casserole

Sweet potato casserole

Mushroom risotto

Mashed potatoes and gravy

Cheese sauce

Boiled broccoli

Chicken tikka,

Rice cakes

Deviled eggs

Bread

 

Dessert:

Pumpkin pie

Whipped cream

Cherry pie

Cake pops

Thanks a million Kat! It was a memorable evening…

Lemon Herb Chicken – Happy Thanksgiving.

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Lemon Herb Chicken

I distinctly recall seeing a very appetising image of a Lemon herb chicken preparation in a magazine few years ago and the underlying truth about food was reasserted – people eat with their eyes. Every sharp edge on that chicken glistened with the marinade. The lettuce, though out of focus, lightly cradled the chicken fillet. Instantly, I knew that this dish would be among my all time favourites. It also most definitely had to be among the thanksgiving week specials. So, I tried preparing it for the first time. My wife correctly advised me to let the chicken sit in the marinade longer than I had originally planned (aren’t they always right….?), and that really got it all juiced up.

I cooked two breast pieces with the intention of preserving one later for dinner. But once I started eating it, I simply could not resist and ended up having both pieces for lunch.

Try it out, it’s very simple, quick to prepare and has few ingredients.

2 chicken breast pieces – boneless and skinless

1 lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp oregano seasoning

Salt and pepper

Pound the chicken lightly for less than a minute and squeeze half the lemon on it. Season it with salt and pepper and let it sit for about an hour in the refrigerator.

In a skillet heat 2 tbsp olive oil and when hot place the chicken in it. Sprinkle the oregano seasoning  and cook on each side for 5-10 minutes. You’ll notice the juices beginning to run dry. That’s it!

Thanksgiving week specials – 1

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Butter garlic shrimp and broccoli

Thanksgiving, this Thursday will be our first ever since we moved here. So I decided that this week would be the one when I cook some of my favourites that came to be over the years. Replicating the dishes as I ate them at various places may not be possible but there are numerous online resources to lean on to.

The first would have to be Butter Garlic Shrimp and Broccoli. It’s something that I ordered without fail at a beach shack in Goa as a pre-meal starter. And, to go with it, some beer and reggae music. This combination never let me down. Much like a favourite movie or song, certain dishes have an effect on you that you can’t quite get over. Which one is yours? Do leave me a comment or two about it.

The name says it all and besides some salt, pepper, red chilli flakes (1 tsp each) and 2 tbsp water you’ll need nothing else.

Just follow these directions and turn on the Reggae station on your media player.

Melt 3-4 tablespoonfuls of butter in a pan. Shell the shrimps (approx ¾ lb) and sauté it for two minutes in the hot butter. Add about 2 tbsp of chopped garlic and let the shrimp cook while stirring occasionally. Add the salt, pepper and sprinkle the red chilli flakes.

Add the broccoli florets and 2tbsp water, stir and cook for another 3-4 minutes and then ‘Go to 11’ with the Reggae 😉

Happy Thanksgiving…

Keeping it light

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With two fiery delights down, I thought of taking a break this morning and lazily putting together some light sandwiches for today. But having made the resolution to cook as often as possible I felt guilty about not doing so. So to neutralise the guilt rolled up my sleeves and entered the kitchen.

I had kept some kidney beans to soak overnight as my original plan was to make something out of it. While boiling them the plan changed and I got down to trying a salad. This would also be the first time I got down to dressing up some chicken in greens.

I just wished I had checked on my Canon DSLR battery pack before beginning. I had to use the point and shoot instead. I also realised that had I diced the chicken it could’ve made for easier consumption.

Here’s what I put together.

1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic

1 teaspoon olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon basil leaves

¼ teaspoon parsley leaves

1 ½ cups chopped red onion

1 ¼ cups (1-inch) piece yellow bell pepper

½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled cottage cheese

Baby spinach

Directions:

Combine the first 7 ingredients from the list. This is the salad dressing that you will
use at the end.

In a large non-stick skillet heat a teaspoon of Olive oil.

Cut the chicken into ½ inch slices and sprinkle with black pepper, basil and parsley and let it sit for about ½ hour.

Cook the chicken in the pan for about 4-5 minutes on both sides. Add the onions and cook
till chicken is done and the onion gets tender. Stir frequently.

In a large bowl combine the chicken, bell pepper, cheese, kidney beans and spinach
and drizzle the dressing over the entire arrangement.

Light and easy…

A taste of home

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Chicken gravy

When living abroad, it’s common to have flashes of memories back home while going about daily activities. It’s also easier today than ever before to instantly connect back. Thanks to technology, the roots don’t seem so far deep that you can’t reach them. You can instantly chat with friends and family who may be online, listen to your local music; but nothing quite transports you home to the degree that food can. And I’m not referring food of your local country that’s you’d probably get at a restaurant; I’m talking about food that was cooked at right home by mums and grandmums.

The dish that takes me straight home is simple home styled chicken gravy. There is no perfect way to cook it and one that you can rarely go wrong with. All you need is chicken (of course), two medium sized onions, two medium sized tomatoes, 6 different spices and whatever else you’d like as garnish. It’s better to have the onions and tomatoes cut into fine pieces in advance before you start the rest of the process.

This is how it’s done:

Chicken and marinade

Dice about one pound chicken breast into smaller pieces (I prefer it boneless)

In a large bowl, combine 2 table spoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons cumin powder, 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder, 2 tablespoons black pepper, 3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic, and 1 teaspoon
salt. Mix the chicken in this mixture and keep under refrigeration for about an hour.

Gravy

In a medium sized skillet, fry the chopped onions with about 2 tablespoons of oil under moderate heat along with 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic for about 10-15 minutes until the onion is tender and turns light golden in color.

Frying the Onions

To this mix add some 1 tablespoon garam masala (available at Indian grocery stores), 1 tablespoon paprika and stir for a minute.

Making the gravy paste

Add the chopped tomatoes along with the juices and some more salt and pepper to taste and stir till the mixture becomes a thick paste.

Add the chicken pieces and cook for about 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally, then add about one cup water and let it boil for about 10 minutes more. Taste to ensure that you don’t overcook the chicken.

Garnish with some green chilli, tomatoes and cilantro / spinach leaves.

There you have it!

Fishy and Fiery

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Cooking always needed a heart

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It is said that ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’and most men ‘enjoy’ being at the receiving end of this equation while simultaneously harboring a secret guilt of the good type… the type that makes them proud about totally surrendering their heart while fully using their head.

So, let’s say a circumstance arose when the heart and stomach don’t quite complement each other. What happens then? Well… that’s when the man has to learn how to cook; this time hopefully without losing his head.

It’s been only a couple of months since Delia (my wife) and I moved to the US. Delia is a great cook it’s just that her job now has her travelling a lot.  I love eating – it’s been so for the past 37 years of my existence – but being born, bred and fed in Mumbai, I’ve never had to seriously cook and after moving here it’s a new challenge thrown at me.  So with apron, gloves, knives et al I’m on a culinary treasure hunt with no clue.

But nothing is impossible (I say this as I ignore my laughing alter ego). In my defence, in the last few weeks I may have successfully been able to stir up some treats even as I laboured trying to tell the difference between Cilantro and Parsley. As my repertoire expands I’ll share my experiences here, entertain, maybe even inspire and in the bargain thoroughly impress my wife.

So, stomaching the challenge ahead I take heart as I set out on this journey.

Please feel free to post comments and recommendations too. I’m sure I could use all the help I can get.