Sunday, August 27, 2006

Suraya Karjeker: Chicken Shahi Korma

I've always been a bit fascinated by Indian food.  The spices, the thick yogurt, produce I've never seen before.  But it's one of those things that seems easier to just get in your local restaurant than try to attempt at home.  Fortunately, I was able to take a cooking class on Indian food, so I have a small repertoire now that can be made on my stovetop.

Probably my favorite Indian dish is something called shahi korma.  It's basically a meat cooked in a spiced nutty creamy sauce.  There is something to satisfying about it.  It takes a while to cook, but it is well worth it. The shahi korma can also be made with lamb or beef stew meat, but if using beef, it needs twice as long to simmer.

Chicken Shahi Korma
From Suraya Karjeker, cooking class at Central Market

4 cloves garlic
1 inch cubed fresh ginger, peeled
1 ounce blanched, slivered almonds
3 tablespoons water
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
5 cardamom pods
3 whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
1 small onion, sliced into rings
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
5 fluid ounces whipping cream
¼ tsp garam masala
1 teaspoon saffron threads

Put the garlic, ginger, almonds, and water into a small food processor and blend until the ingredients form a paste. Set aside.

Add some oil to a large skillet and when hot, add chicken cubes. Cooking in batches, brown on all sides and then place in a bowl to rest. Add cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon to remaining oil in pan and stir for about 10 seconds. Then add onions and brown. Turn the heat to medium and add the paste from the food processor. Add the ground coriander, cumin, and chili powder. Stir and cook the mixture for three minutes; add the cooked chicken along with any accumulated juices. Add about a cup of water and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover and cook for one hour, checking mixture, stirring, and adding water as necessary. When the hour is almost up, don't add any more water and allow mixture to thicken slightly. Pick out the cardamom pods, cloves, and cinnamon stick; discard. Add the salt, cream, garam masala, and saffron. Mix well.

Makes 4 servings

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Fiery-Foods: Hatch Green Chile Sauce and Calabacitas (Creamy Corn and Zucchini)

Every year there's a shipment of green chiles that come from Hatch, New Mexico. They get roasted in giant roasters and sold in bulk. And then everyone makes delicious recipes in celebration. I wanted to participate at home this year since Tex-Mex cooking has become so close to my heart, so I made a green chile dinner in honor of the yearly chile festival.

First I decided on some green chile chicken enchiladas. The mild chiles are perfectly matched with the delicate chicken, and these enchiladas were a hit. To go with them I served a mixture of zucchini and corn called calabacitas that is popular in New Mexico.

Hatch Green Chile Sauce

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup roasted Hatch chiles, peeled and chopped
4 small tomatillos, husk removed, chopped
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Black pepper

Heat a skillet over medium heat, and add the oil when hot. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until soft, about five minutes. Stir in the flour and blend well. Simmer for a couple of minutes to cook the flour, but make sure that it doesn't brown. Slowly add the broth, while stirring, until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly, about fifteen minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

3 cups rotisserie chicken, pulled into bit-size pieces
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 roasted Hatch green chiles, peeled and chopped
12 yellow corn tortillas
Vegetable oil
Green chile sauce
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (pepper jack or queso blanco cheese is also okay)

Spray a 13x9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, mix chicken, cream of mushroom soup, and chiles. Set aside. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add tortillas, one at a time, and cook briefly on both sides (about five to ten seconds) until soft. Immediately remove the tortilla to the prepared dish. Spoon chicken mixture down the center of the tortilla and fold both sides over to form a tube. Make sure the seam is on the bottom before moving to the next tortilla. Repeat steps of cooking and stuffing tortillas until all tortillas are in the large dish.

Pour green chile sauce evenly over the enchiladas. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Place in hot oven and cook for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly and cheese is melted.

Calabacitas (Creamy Corn and Zucchini)

3 zucchini squash, sliced into half-moon shapes
½ cup onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup roasted Hatch chiles, peeled and chopped
2 cups cooked whole kernel corn
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Sauté the zucchini and onion in the butter until the zucchini is tender. Add the chile, corn, and cream. Simmer the mixture for fifteen to twenty minutes to thicken the sauce. Add the cheese and heat it melts.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

World Cuisine Recipes: Pollo Guisado and Freddie's Online Puerto Rican Cookbook: Arroz Coqui Coqui

Since it's super hot outside, and also super hot inside my apartment, I decided that I needed a vacation. Preferably a cruise to the Caribbean. But since I don't have any money, I decided to just cook a meal that made me feel like I was in the Caribbean. I decided to go with Puerto Rican cuisine since I haven't had much exposure to it.

After looking at a lot of recipes on the internet for various Puerto Rican specialties, I decided to avoid the traditional arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) and pork recipes. What I came up with was a chicken stew with green rice. The green rice really fascinates me. Its Spanish name is Arroz Coqui Coqui, and it appears it was named after a little green frog native to Puerto Rico called the Coqui. So cute! I didn't add as much cilantro as the recipe calls for since my dad tends to be a little suspicious of food that's a color other than what he expects, but I'm sure it's delicious either way.

The chicken dish requires a special ingredient called sofrito. Sofrito is a mixture of green pepper, onion, cilantro, garlic, and an herb called recao. I had quite a time trying to locate some recao since it's also called culantro, long coriander, ngo-gai, Mexican coriander, and saw tooth. In the end I finally found it at a Thai grocery (after the produce guys at Fiesta looked at me like I was crazy). I'm not sure if sofrito is available pre-made, but I made my own batch since it can easily be frozen.

From Freddie's Online Puerto Rican Cookbook

8 stems of cilantro
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped coarsely
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 small onion, chopped coarsely
6 leaves of recao, stems removed
1 tablespoon olive oil

Drop all ingredients but olive oil into a food processor and puree. While processing, add olive oil in a stream.

Pollo Guisado (Chicken Stew)
From World Cuisine Recipes

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts OR 2 breasts and 4 thighs
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 medium potatoes, skinned and cubed
3 tablespoons sofrito
1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
12 small pimento-stuffed green olives
2 bay leaves
1 ounce green pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups water

Put the chicken in a pot with enough water to cover by at least ½ inch. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat to medium. Cook the chicken for 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and discard the water. Cool the chicken for 15 minutes, then cut it into ½-inch pieces. Set aside.

In the pot the chicken was boiled in, add the sofrito, remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, crushed tomatoes, olives, bay leaves, green pepper, olive oil, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken to the tomato mixture. Continue to simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.

Arroz Coqui Coqui (Coqui Coqui Rice)
From Freddie's Online Puerto Rican Cookbook

3 cups short or medium grain rice
1 stick butter
2 cans chicken broth
4 sticks celery, chopped finely
1½ cups cilantro, chopped finely
½ cup slivered almonds
1 cup water

Wash the rice to remove the excess starch and drain until dry. In a large pot over medium high heat, melt butter. Add rice and stir often until the rice starts to turn golden brown. Add the rest of the ingredients; turn the heat down to medium. Cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is soft, stirring occasionally.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Scandinaviancooking: Swedish Meatballs and Gretchencooks: Creamed Cabbage and Red Onion

Well, this past weekend I went to IKEA for probably the first time ever (unless my mom snuck me there as a kid when we lived in Virginia). I've never seen such a huge warehouse of stuff that all seems so incredibly important to possess. Everything was so functional and fun! And more! But the best part was waiting by the exit - the small Swedish food section. A whole little area full of fascinating things like jars of pickled herring and lingonberry jam.

When I got home, I was still in the mood for all things Swedish, so I decided on Swedish meatballs (yes, it's cliche, but delicious), Hasselback potatoes, and creamed cabbage and red onion for dinner.

Swedish Meatballs

½ pound ground pork
½ pound ground veal
¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
1 egg
½ cup half-and-half
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons olive oil
10 medium mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons flour
1 can beef broth

Combine the pork, veal, breadcrumbs, egg, half and half, mustard, and nutmeg until well mixed. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. When it's hot, drop the meatball mixture in small rounds into the hot oil (I use a melon baller to get the right size - they should be small!). Cook for approximately five minutes or until done throughout. Drain on a paper towel. You may have to cook in batches depending on the size of your pan. When all the meatballs are cooked, add the sliced mushrooms to the fat remaining in the pan. Saute until soft, probably about five minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms to absorb the oil. Add the beef broth slowly, stirring well. The broth will begin to thicken as it simmers. When the broth has started to thicken, add the meatballs back into the pan. Heat through and serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Creamed Cabbage and Red Onion

1 large head cabbage, cored and chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1½ cups half-and-half
Juice of one lemon
White pepper
1 teaspoon sugar

Place chopped cabbage, onion, and half and half in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until cabbage is soft. Add seasonings. You may need to adjust to your individual taste.