Sunday, January 21, 2018

Cornflakes-masala chicken

You'd think the first food script of the year would happen in, like, the first week of the first month of same year. Yet, for the longest time, it never makes it past... these. few. words. You digress. Perhaps, recipe writing isn't for you. Then again... it could be just the thing for you, always keeping your mind lucid and ideas animated. If you believe your words/ pictures/ directions/ foolery absolutely inspire yourself and the dozen others that drop by to read, then surely this is your charge- at least part of it. Moreover, it triggers thoughts, such as, "if I can do it, then you most definitely will". So, of course, it's imperative to dust off writer fog, if things seen here manifest in your kitchen there, come 2018. And it's totally why, that at the fourth week of January, I am ferociously typing, to run this text out before the end of January. You deserve it. So do I. 

Also, we're exactly at that point in the calendar where we find ourselves deep in irresolute resolutions...chomping much too much on leaves and tubers...inhaling bounteous forms of protein. Take heart. Today's treatise may be an easier way to overcome, and still usher in a bettered/improved you, without having to try nearly as hard.

I realize chicken is the most versatile substance staple, the world over. It is a notable part of our food spectrum, the meat most of us serve more nights in a four week rotation. So, adding to the number of poultry recipes may never be excessive and, right now, at this moment, I feel, today's might be one to seriously consider.

It is essential to marinate chicken. To marinate and coat it soon after with popular breakfast fare is more than genius. To have it taste as good as the two-doors-down-mom-pop fried chicken shop could be an outstanding feat. Doubtless, it's as cravesome as fat laden, calorie pegged counterparts might aspire to be.

Though, really, a batch of these might be a bit farther in essence than batter-dipped pieces cooked in oil (which I'm equally a fan of).  Enveloped in distinct Indian-esque flavors,  there is  a tornado of taste lent to the terrific texture of toasted maize (alliteration was not intentional, but sounds cool. Right ? :)). It's the great mouth feel you get when you sink teeth into juicy pieces, covered in a mosaic of  cornflakes over well seasoned skin that makes you come back for more. 

Points to specifically note in making c. masala chicken:
➢There are three parts to this recipe, that you must diligently go through in the order of: (a)making the marinade and smearing chicken with marinade (b) shaking marinaded pieces in cornflakes (c) baking the coated pieces.
➢You'll have to press marinaded chicken onto the cornflakes, purposefully. They will not all stick on when put into the bag. But once they adhere, flakes obligingly gather in some places more than others, which is ok. Really.
➢ For a distinct fusion between spice and crunch, you need to be generous on the former in order for the latter to stand out and complement. Otherwise, it's just chicken and cereal. Not good.
➢ Half of an 18 oz box of cornflakes should be enough to cover 12 chicken leg drumsticks; also feeds 6,  but often 4 very hungry people.
That being said, you can use any parts of the chicken; bone in, boneless. I like bone-in and my kids (even the one month-short-of-adult) fight for the drumsticks. 

From preparation to consumption, cornflakes-masala chicken takes a little over an hour and a half, where after your initial tweakings and coverings, 80% of time is spent in pieces cooking to that extra special finale.

It will hold up to many culinary expectations. Don't minimize options on how, when or why. Regardless of the regional palate it intends to please or where your fancies take you, know that a piece or two is as gratifying sided to curry and rice, as might be over, roast fingerling potatoes, tucked with garlic scented couscous, and/or a green salad.

Maybe this is that bit of perfection needed to set the course for 2018. Don't you think?

Hoping you a fantastic year And, no doubt, a tasty one too.

Always, thank you for listening. 

The South Indian plate. With rice and a small pool of sambar.

  • 1 ½ tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • pinch turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 pinch mace powder
  • 2 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp plain nonfat yoghurt
  • salt
  • 6 skinless chicken drumsticks
  • 3 cups cornflakes, crushed
  • cooking spray
Once upon a time, during a bitter  Minnesota winter...when I had leftover cornflakes, a pack of cut up chicken thighs, and not much of a budget, this happened. That was more than 12 years ago. Ever since, buying a box of Kelloggs elicits a whole different response with my people here.

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients from cayenne pepper to salt. 
  • Coat chicken pieces thoroughly in the spice-yoghurt mixture. Keep aside in marinade for 30 minutes.
  • Place cornflakes in a large Ziploc bag and crush with rolling pin.
  • Preheat oven to 385°F.
  • Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray the foil with cooking spray.
  • Take a marinaded chicken piece and place in the ziploc. Seal the bag and shake up and down or move so that the piece gets coated in cornflakes. Place coated piece onto baking sheet.
  • Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces. Spray pieces with cooking spray.
  • Bake for 8 minutes. Then reduce oven temperature to 350°F and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until chicken is done and meat is no longer pink.
  • Serve hot with rice, roast vegetables, side salad.
When increasing the quantity of chicken, be mindful of spice and seasoning ingredients. Do not increase all these in direct proportion, but test and taste, to suit individual palates and tolerance levels.

Of Januarys past:

 "But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them sing joyful praises forever.
Spread your protection over them,
 that all who love your name may be filled with joy." Psalm 5:11

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Surprise snowball cookies

Always, at the last quarter of the year, I envision myself Tres Grand Baker (sounds so good in French), you know, where I make/share/pack/sell boxes of treats, aaand ease over here to type a terrific amount of words and numerous yet-to-see-light blueprints. I now realize that lofty dreaming needs to be accompanied with several shots of mega energy drinks to get any moxie past 1st week of December, or any day, really. Of course, there's also the reality that time speeds by unforgivingly faster, once you pass quite a few decades in life, and will not stand still to figure in your tardy ambitious calling. Priceless life lesson and a recipe you will not regret...aren't you glad you came over?

Currently, I believe surprise snowballs are calling out to you. The enviable white cover on them is reminiscent of a weather that Christmas should ideally come in. So, if you, like myself, do not live within snowglobe-ish surroundings, you most desperately need a cookie that gets you there. 

As I went through and ate made several of these, I knew you would benefit from the knowledge I share; to mix them in your own mixers, bake them in your ovens, eat them with your own hands in your own mouths. For the love of cookie dough and how dynamically easy jam inside it can be, is really the surprise, and sure prospect for any cookiemaking roster.

So...while going through the instructions on filling and forming the "balls", I realize that once the jam is placed, rolling two saucers into a sphere is not an easy task. Instead of a ball, they structure out more like a disc, or a spaceship. I don't know about you, but surprise spacediscs do not, in any way, convey yuletide. Yet, I suppose, if you were to work on a few dozen batches of these, like I should be, you might make that one of your confection manufacturing goals.

Finally, as I end our conversation for today, I do hope you...

make some cookies
make some memories
make your holiday truly holy days.

Have a holly jolly Christmas!
Simple, yet sublime... to wow the socks off holiday guests/critics/people under your own roof.

(Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy...raspberry almond snowballs)
  • ¾ cup slivered almonds (without skin)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup salted butter
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ half cups powdered sugar
  • 6-8 tbsp strawberry jam

  • Place almonds into the workbowl of a food processor and process until semi-ground and almost chunky bits. 
  • Place in the same bowl, flour and grind with the semi-ground almonds until mixture becomes a finer texture( small nut bits are okay). Pour mixture aside into a separate bowl.
  • Into the now empty food processor bowl, add butter and ½ cup powdered sugar until mixture becomes creamy and combined.
  • Add vanilla and mix.
  • Pour into this, the nut-flour mixture and pulse process until just combined.
  • Scoop a  half tablespoon sized dough and form into a ball using hands.  
  • Make a fairly deep indention (large enough to fit the jam) with your finger or thumb. Add ½ tsp of the jam. 
  • Scoop and shape another ½ tablespoon of cookie dough. Make an indentation in that piece then gently place that indented dough ball over the jam filled dough ball, pressing and sealing with your fingers at the seams, to make one round ball (1 jam filled thumbprint ball + 1unfilled thumbprint ball= one cookie ball). 
  • Transfer to a cookie sheet or plate. Repeat with remaining dough, leaving one inch space between the cookies.
  • Set the balls in the fridge to firm, for about 30 minutes, upto 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F , last 20 minutes of chilling. 
  • Take dough balls out of refrigerator.
  • Bake  cookie balls (leaving extra in the fridge to chill, till ready to bake), 10-14 minutes, they will feel dry to the touch, but still remain soft. Do not overbake as jam will seep out.
  • Let cool on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, then place still warm cookies in a bowl filled with the remaining powdered sugar and gently roll before placing them on racks to cool completely.
  • Store in airtight container or freeze. These store well, if you really can keep them that long.
  • A fresh coating of sugar might be needed, when serving or packaging.

December ~
2016: Grinch cake
2012: Lollipops
"I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago." Psalms 77:11