Friday, June 21, 2019

Instant Pot butter chicken


Last year, I gave you an adequately easy recipe for butter chicken. Today, I want to expand on that:  same ingredients, in an exceptionally...surprising...wait for it....effortless way. I'm excited about  today's story- not a better version of the former- just an alternate road to bring the same meal to your tables at faster, greater frequency.  

Curtains rise. Cue the Instant Pot. Say hello to Present Hero of My Kitchen, my 10 month new appliance I wax poetic about to any person I have on the phone for more than five minutes. The auto timed, multi cooking piece of magnificence is my new companion, a ten in one use grand machine. It is relentless in its pursuit to produce happiness, predominantly mine. The semi adult/ mid teen child look at you like you're a rockstar, your dining room transforms to Moti Mahal in a matter of minutes-  ALL because of what I'm about to share with you. Yes, people, material goods really can lead one to nirvana.

Of course, the next few hundred words are not to persuade you to buy anything, in any way. Except maybe the stuff needed to produce what's made within the six quart pot. Because, seriously,  friends, you'd know, that any time I open script, it should be, only will be, solely about the food

Most layfolk, who know not left or right of the spice spectrum, consider butter chicken and it's British-Indian counterpart chicken tikka masala natural starting places on the Indian menu. Both are hugely popular and closely akin. Though it's butter chicken that sings in less spice and more butter, is as desi as it gets and is one of my absolute favorite dishes, just falling short of the regional cuisine I inherited.

There is not really a huge margin of error here since the cooker does most of the work. A simple saute of non-marinade ingredients pressure cook into a beautiful mess, which after going through a hand blender (yahhh- it never leaves the pot !!) mashes into the silkiest, smooth spiced, onion-tomato-ey broth you'll  ever experience.

It is a clean step process. The only executive decision you'd need to make is how to brown the chicken pieces, because it's just better that way. You could brown them in the Instant Pot, take out for gravy making purposes and return to simmer after. Or oven bake for tandoori-like, slightly charred flesh. In either situation, allowing the chicken to commingle and settle into it's upcoming murgh makhani role is what you're really aiming for.

Lastly, I feel obligated to impart some advice, perhaps heathen, from all that I've learned, through years of cooking/recipes/kitchens/habitats. Never think an iconic plate of food, or kitchen technique is unattainable, non doable, or as elaborate as the world and their mother make it out to be. Do use ingredients and methods that deem authenticity, not altering blueprints in such a way that have people wonder what it is. Yet, strive to keep the flow easy, classy, economical, friendlier to busy lifestyles, evolving palates, limited budgets. 

So that we all become fearless champions of not only the kitchen, but even our homes. 
Bring on the capes.

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 tbsp red (Indian)chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • salt
  • ½ cup plain yoghurt
  • juice of one lemon
  • 5 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large red onion, cut into medium chunks
  • 2 tomatoes, roughly cut into chunks
  • 2 tsp thinly sliced ginger
  • 6-7 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1 small-ish cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cardamom pod, 
  • 2 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 -1 ½ cups water
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • ¼ tsp powdered fenugreek leaves- kasoori methi (optional)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2-3 tbs of butter
  • 1-2 sprigs cilantro, chopped
  • 1 sprig mint(optional)
Directions:
  • Make a paste of cayenne, coriander, cumin, turmeric, garlic powder, ginger powder, black pepper, salt, yoghurt, lemon juice, 3 tbsp oil.
  • Add the chicken pieces and coat each in the spice mixture thoroughly.
  • Set aside marinaded chicken for 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Using the Instant Pot's saute setting, add 2 tbs. oil and cook onion, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and stir on high 3 minutes. You don't need to brown them.
  • Stir in cinnamon, cloves, cardamom.
  • Add cilantro and salt.
  • Pour in the water. Stir to combine. 
  • Secure the lid and pressure cook on high for 8 minutes. Allow the natural release option to release for 15 minutes, then quick release the remaining pressure. Ingredients should be soft cooked and fork tender. 
  • In the meantime, place chicken pieces onto a foil lined baking tray. Bake at 400° F  for 20-25 minutes. It's ok if they're slightly undercooked, pieces will finish cooking when later simmered in the IP.
  • Open the Pot. Remove, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom.
  • Use an immersion stick blender to puree cooked ingredients into a smooth, thick liquid.
  • Take the chicken out of oven and put pieces into the pureed onion/tomato sauce.
  • Once more, turn on Instant Pot's saute function, simmer the ingredients for an additional 5-7 minutes, more if chicken needs to cook through.
  • Taste and add salt, if needed. Add additional water if you desire a more liquid gravy 
  • If chicken has not fully cooked through, leave on saute to simmer until cooked.
  • Turn off Pot.
  • Stir in the sugar. 
  • Add powdered fenugreek leaves.
  • Add cream, and butter.
  • Garnish with cilantro and mint.
Notes:
To kasoori methi or not? I leave out the powder on most occasions. So, I'd say test with a pinch of it and see if it's what you'd like to eat for the next 5 servings.


Curry leaves nod to a much needed South Indian dimension, one which I'm familiar with and oftentimes longing for. I admit, even if I don't have much love for it, fenugreek leaves lend authenticity in fragrance and flavor. An overgenerous serving of butter doesn't hurt either. 

Indian chili powder is just pure ground red chilies. American chili powder is not. It is a combination of several spices, including cumin. I cannot vouch for the Mexican kind either, or those from other parts of the world.  An appropriate substitute would be cayenne pepper, which is about the same thing.

Honestly, I had not planned this at all, but almost exactly one year ago on this date~

June 2018:butter chicken
******
"Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment." Matthew 9:22 (NIV)

Monday, June 10, 2019

Project cake: caramel-fudge filling

This. In queue simply because I had another full time gig for much of the year. Which is why I am punching the words that came straight to my head about 90 days ago onto the screen today, before they leave me forever.

Not that I will forget how staggeringly good the combination of what I am about to report on really is.  It would be a story of how an awesome piece of cake possessed the ability to transform into something even more astounding, it deserved several repeat visits. The frosting, the filling, the flowers participate in too grand a party that you'd never ever wish to sit out on.

Getting down to the real of it, I wanted to construct something that combined two of my very favorite things onto one single plate. So this would be my ode; to cake and the decadent caramel sugar-condensed milk-butter fudge that I once fell in love with, a few many years ago that might have you gasp...wow, is she really that old(!).

As said, the cashew studded filling comes from a place of nostalgic admiration. Forged with mainly 3 ingredients, yet not a real reduction, it is simmered to a toffee-ish quality which makes everything it touches just right. 

The cake, as such, is incredibly accommodating to the thick middle that it sandwiches. Whole eggs and liquid whites evidence for a similar-to-cloud texture. In turn, you get an almost airy crumb which yields beautifully to the butter cream and fondant gild that are called to adorn it.

Take it as your cue; to flavor up/try/test/ mix/match/experiment on things that could and would spin your future cake baking endeavors out of orbit. Release that beast chef within. 

And remember to come back to tell me all about it.

I created this meadow cakescape at the onset of what I seasonally infer to as "Spring". With too many months in our Southwest Inferno-esque summer, I might consider cooking cake on the sidewalk next time. I'll tell you about it, if I don't turn to ash myself😎
Fondant not only makes things pretty, the homemade marshmallow kind actually lends nice flavor. Since I have two of the pickiest cake testers on the planet to vouch for this,  I can tell you each and every modicum of display counts and had them fighting for pieces post picture taking.

For the cake-
Ingredients:
(Adapted from Sally's baking Addiction)
    • 3 and 2/3 cups cake flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 and 1/2 cups salted butter
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 3 large eggs + 2 additional egg whites, at room temperature*
    • 1 tbsp vanilla extract 
    • 1 and 1/2 cups well stirred buttermilk
    Directions:

    • Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 3 8" round cake pans.
    • In a bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda. Set aside.
    • In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar on med-high until pale and fluffy. 
    • Reduce speed and add eggs and egg whites, and vanilla extract. Increase speed and beat until pale and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. 
    • Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with flour and fully incorporating after each addition.
    • Pour into pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out  clean.
    • Allow to cool in pans for 5-7 minutes, then turn onto wire rack. 
    For the vanilla frosting-
    Ingredients:
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature
    • 3 3/4 cups (1 1-pound box) powdered sugar, sifted
    • 4 tbsp heavy cream
    • 1 tsp vanilla 
    Directions:
    • Beat butter, on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy.
    • Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until incorporated.
    • Pour in cream and vanilla and beat.
    For the fudge filling-
    Ingredients:
    • 3 tbsp caramel syrup
    • 1/2 stick of butter
    • 1 can condensed milk
    • 1/2 cup raisins(optional)
    • 1/2 cup salted cashews 
    Directions:
    • Put first three ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan  and bring to a boil on moderate heat
    • Boil for 3-4 minutes, until slightly thickened, a scoop-able, but, not too dense consistency.
    • Take off heat.
    • Add raisins and cashews. Stir to combine well.
    • Allow to cool slightly.
    Assembly.

    • Spread fudge filling over one cake and top with second. Spread evenly and decorate with buttercream.
    Notes:
    Butter, eggs, milk, cream should be at room temperature

    Past Junes~
    2018: Butter chicken
    2017: Coconut ice cream
    2014: Pastry tarts
    2013: Chaat masala french fries
    2012: Cannelloni
    ******

    After reading Ruth Reichl's (food writer and past editor-in-chief of now shuttered Gourmet magazine)book, "Delicious", I think I will continue on to "Save Me the Plums." This summer I am aiming towards 10 books, 2 thus far read, one a mystery that had me sleep with lights on for several nights. I intend to visit with you more often here, maybe download a smidge of the gazillion recipes that crowd my head, to pages of my white screen. Wish me luck and, always, thank you for reading.

    "And He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together." Colossians 1:17