Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sweet potato casserole with hot pineapple, ginger relish

And it finally is... the day before the next several hours of prepping and manufacturing ten hot dishes, fillings for a host of midget pies and a huge bird that is nightmarishly not perched too even on the hinge of my refrigerator shelf.

How does one restore any sanity(let's say I have some) in all of this? And find the small pocket of time to become ridiculously generous, since really I've not been excessively so in Thanksgivings past ?
It's a recipe I've used for the amount of thankful Novembers numbering years more than my firstborn has been alive.
And it's as beloved. Perhaps even more so.

Take it and run.
Because I may not always be this lavish.

Therein, as I get to my composing / cleaning/ cooking/ cleaning/ baking/ (final) cleaning before the day's end, allow me type you some gratitude...

Thank you for the patience in wait of my oft lagging dialogue. We're hoping things come faster and more furiously with the coming 2017:-)

Thank you for tolerating the silence that echoes terribly through these blogger doors.

Thank you for humoring me with your comments and the quaint number of FB likes.

Thank you for your gracious audience.

Have a joy filled, crazy fun, memorable Day of Giving Thanks. 

Ingredients:
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced 1/8 inch thick, either in food processor with slicer attachment or using a mandolin 
  • salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2-3 thai red peppers
  • 1 tsp thinly sliced ginger
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup canned crushed pineapple, drained
  • salt
  • pepper
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • Smear generously with butter a square 9x9 casserole dish and arrange the potatoes in even layers (even horizontal, freeform or a tucked flower form- look at the pictures for ideas)
  • Add small pats of butter on top, season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
  • In the meantime, melt two tablespoons butter in saucepan, add red thai peppers, ginger. Cook for a minute until soft.
  • Add brown sugar. Stir until melted.
  • Add pineapple and cook on medium-low flame, until soft and mixture is reduced slightly, about 7-10 minutes. 
  • Add, salt, pepper to taste.
  • Take potatoes out of oven.
  • Pour pineapple relish over them.
  • Return to oven and bake, uncovered for an additional 20-25 minutes.
  • Serve warm.

Notes~ Not so adventurous? Jalapeños seeded are magnificent in lieu of the red chillies.
These pictures were taken before the casserole was fully cooked. Your end product for this should be bubbling deep brown caramelized dish.

Saltbrining is the lifesaving answer to the dilemma of Moist vs. Dry. I will take it any day over having a pot and fridge and floor full of mess plus the headache that lasts several days after.


A collage peek at what my Thanksgiving was like.
And if you can't quite decide on a fitting dessert, why not build the four layered MONUMENT I created a few years ago? 
******
"When you come to Me with a thankful heart, it opens up windows of heaven. Spiritual blessings fall freely through those windows and down into your life. A thankful heart opens you up to these blessings, and then you have even more reasons to be grateful... Being thankful doesn’t mean you close your eyes to the many problems in this world. It means you find Joy in Me—your Savior—in the midst of a messed-up world. I am your hiding place and your strength. And I’m always ready to help you!" —Jesus Calling for Kids by Sarah Young
"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crops fail and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God, My Savior." Habakkuk 3:17-18

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Cashew chicken curry



I bet we can all agree on how rushed-quick the past 10 months of 2016 flashed through, much like the incredible hero scenes from Barry Allen's secret  life.  Right? Right. And if you can't, let's not take this to word. Just nod along and pretend you do.

We  are at second to last holiday of the year, one which reminds us to live in thanks, is opener to THE most extensive meal our plates have seen in 364 days and official  kickoff to the yuletide season. Not to mention the joyride of weeklong leftovers that everyone looks forward to all year long. This, in less than four days, and here I am between bouts of panic and absolute procrastination swims. What do I do? Probably as I type this, keeping my mind at ease in the knowledge of saving precious refrigerator space for the few days working up to The Great Feast. 

And so we go on to more pressing things in life.


The time you visit the neighborhood Indian restaurant and order a meal, possibly(?) better than some things you've ever made, and you begin to question your existence. I know. I try shamelessly to plug my stellar cooking mastery here, (thank you for putting up with the ego parade) and it is hard to admit great food might exist outside the confines of my kitchen. Ahh, did I just say THAT?! You know, we don't need to repeat everything I say. Please.

Things happen when people who live under your roof, whom you feed, clothe, care for and rightfully demand loyalty from, claim that a menu produced the most excellent thing they have ever tasted. It gets personal. And offensive. You forget the 14 pound turkey you were supposed to buy yesterday and get to work on restoring your reputation.


Not that comparable results haven't passed through this kitchen, with some chronicled into plating here. But it is hard to be outmatched by an item on an order list of 20 things that people make at least 50 times a day. 

To recreate/remaster/reclassify a masterful carte du jour, and similar renditions that I've probably eaten my way through countless times than recalled, became my mission, right after my midday nap/yoga/run or whatever initiative my mind had been preset to.

I've gone into the variables of what can make a masala medley magnificent (sounds nice, right?). As is it's without doubt, totally one's own jurisdiction to whether onions, garlic, ginger merely coalesce, mildly mingle or strongly stampede, decisions to turn your own Indian cuisine borderline meh or an arrant outrageous.

Chicken is good. Curry is good. Chicken curry is very very good. And innumerable kinds and types should be, always are needed, welcomed, and greatly applauded.

Cashew chicken curry as I would like to call it, possesses an old world grand. Almost like a throwback to how glorious Central Asian cuisine could actually be. It bears a stamp from medieval India, of those regal Mughals and their spiced loaded, crazy aromatic gastronomics . Other recipes that c. chicken curry can be pen named under: Chicken Korma, Rezala, or Mughlai chicken. I really am no pundit in ranking curry, though I believe I am the best you would probably come to know(😀).  I do, however, know that this can ideally be that meal fit for kings.

It is quite indisputably a feast. For the eyes. For the belly. And though it may sound cliche, for the very depths of your soul.

There is comfort in the velvet cream of cashews and spices pasted. Quick heat renders meat pieces a true envied char. The steeping in topnotch ingredients, somewhere, somehow brings us to beauteous curry making reality A distinctive, air-scenting finish becomes the thick, luxe end-all we so clearly associate as the accompaniment to rice/ naan dishes in formal or less formal settings. It is magnificence that should be lauded in the courts of any layman's dining room.

Don't let the expansive ingredient list scare you. It might be shocking to see how a mere (no smirking) 27 ingredients come together, in perfect harmony, while still pulling off what's arrogantly impressive. Which definitely works in any favor, as your home cook status gives way to chef magnifique, and those many revisits hereafter will make you master of a cultish curry cuisine.

An assembly of The Superior, ready to coalesce on to the perfect destination.


Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ pounds skinned, bone-in chicken, cut into 1- 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2-4 tbsp red chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt
  • ½ inch piece peeled ginger, roughly chopped
  • 6 whole cloves garlic
  • 4-5 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 sprig mint
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp coriander powder
  • ¼ cup cashews soaked in ½ cup water
  • 1/4 cup tbsp cooking oil(I use canola)
  • 1 whole star anise
  • pinch fennel seeds
  • 1 small stick cinnamon
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 large red onion finely chopped
  • water(upto 1- 1/2 cups)
  • salt
  • ¼ cup plain nonfat yoghurt
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • chopped cilantro(2-3 sprigs) for garnish

Directions:
  • Marinade chicken with red chili powder, black pepper, turmeric, lemon juice and salt. Keep aside for 15- 30 minutes to half an hour.
  • Meanwhile, process the ginger, garlic, cilantro,  mint, cumin, coriander, cashews with water in a food processor or mini prep until a smooth paste forms.
  • Heat oil in dutch oven/large deep set skillet. Add chicken and deep brown on all sides of pieces for about 7-10 minutes. Pieces do not have to cook through.
  • Take out chicken from oil and set aside.
  • Crush star anise, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom in mortar and pestle. Add to the oil used for chicken, in the pan.
  • Stir in onions on medium heat. Cook until soft.
  • Pour in the ground paste. Add a small amount of water into the blender vessel to shake clean any leftover paste. Pour this into pan.
  • Saute ingredients until moisture evaporates,  mixture is fragrant and color changes to a pale green/brown, about 5-7 minutes. 
  • Add chicken. 
  • Add remaining water.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Bring ingredients to boil on high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to cook for an additional 25 minutes.
  • Stir in yoghurt until blended with curry.
  • Add garam masala, sugar. Stir.
  • Pour in half and half.  Mix once and turn off heat.
  • Sprinkle with cilantro.
  • Serve warm with green rice, white rice, naan, maybe even K parotta Anything that spins your orbit.
Notes:
If you desire to inhale higher levels of heat, upto inferno, by all means marinade with more red chili powder(cayenne).

Past Novembers~

 The star that perks the overall scene.
A few decades ago( it surprises me how long I've lived) I'd visit a restaurant that served a similar, if not better cashew creamed curry. My friend took me there to perk me up after a particularly hard day. Yes, people, it had already begun, where food was solution to all my world problems. For a year or so, it became a routine for us. So also, memories that would last a lifetime. A friend that would too. Love you Ranikutty❤️
We love moon watching. And the super one that came up November 13,14 had me taking over 1000 pictures. Because people. I really have nothing to do. I played with different shutter speeds, apertures. I don't know if any of this constitutes as good photography, but it made for some very enjoyable bonding time with my tribe.
******
John 1:3
Yes. All pictures taken by me. Tisa Jacob. Do not borrow without asking. Not nice. Thanks:-)

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