Posts Tagged ‘cuisine’

Biryani was originally a Persian dish that remains wildly popular in Southeast Asia. Biryani has as many variations as stir fry in that you can use any vegetables, meat, fish, or eggs in this dish. I appreciate the versatility of the dish in that if you learn how to cook one version, you can easily substitute ingredients to suit your fancy. But what I really appreciate  about this dish is that the whole thing cooks entirely in one pot making clean up a snap.

Cooking will go fast on this one so make sure you have your ingredients in order and accessible. Even though there is a bit of prep to go through before you even touch the stove, it’ll pay off in the end.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2c chicken stock
  • 1c basmati rice
  • 1/2c golden raisins
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Cut the chicken into cubes. Place a skillet overr high heat with 2 tbsp of canola oil in the bottom. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper and place in the pan. Sear the chicken on all sides. Take the chicken out of the pan and set aside.

Note: The chicken does not need to be cooked through as it will finish cooking later.

2. Lower the heat to medium high. Place the onions in the pan and sauté until nearly translucent.

3. Add the cinnamon, curry powder, cumin, garlic, and ginger to the onion and stir to combine with the onion. Cook until fragrant – around 30 seconds.

4. Add the chicken stock to the pan to deglaze. Be sure to scrape up as many brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pan and add the raisins and rice. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to simmer and cook covered for 20 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid.

5. Turn off the heat and let the dish sit for 5 minutes before serving. Serve the Chicken Biryani piping hot in large bowls.

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Meet Remy, aka “Little Chef”, the star of Disney’s Ratatouille. Remy has played a very powerful role in my culinary education and experience.

In an alley, Remy leaves his brother Emile and goes into the kitchen pantry to find a late night snack. He returns to see his brother scavenging and eating garbage. “No no no,” he scolds, “spit that out!” He goes on to instruct Emile how to eat. His instruction is completely disregarded as his brother, unable to control himself, takes an entire piece of cheese and inhales it. “No no no,” Remy scolds again, “don’t just hork it down!”

Don’t just hork it down? What an interesting idea. After watching this scene, I began to wonder about my own eating habits. Do I hork food? Did I pile mounds in at a time, never stopping to think about what I’m eating or enjoying the taste? Was I missing out?

With a little reflection, I realized that I was not and had never been a patient eater. For years, food was fuel and nothing more. Sure food tasted good, but not good enough to sit for longer than it took to consume.

Remy introduces this concept to his brother by bringing him a piece of cheese, salty and sweet with a nutty finish (my guess is reblochon, a French cheese). He pairs this with a strawberry. I went to the grocery and bought some strawberries and brie (reblochon cannot be imported from France) and forced myself to sit and enjoy the food. It may be ironic that I had to force myself to enjoy something, but I come from a long line of horkers. Horking is in my genes. I took a dab of cheese and placed it on my tongue, trying to distinquish the complex flavor held within. It took a few minutes, but eventually I was able to convince myself that brie tasted like something more than cheese. I did the same with the strawberry, focusing on the tanginess of the fruit and the sweetness hidden within. When eating the fruit and cheese together, flavors emerged that could never exist alone. As the bouquet of flavor evolved, it slowly began to subside. There was no sudden crash of flavor that keeps horkers horking; just a mellow hint of flavor taking a bow.

Skiers ski, dancers dance, parents parent, knitters knit, and they do this as often as possible because it gives them purpose. If we work to live, there has to be some payoff.  I have been working since I was 13, but never did anything with my funds that I really enjoyed. I bought some stuff, went to movies, paid bills – normal stuff. But none of it was ever a passion, a deep yearning to do it all the time. I was floundering to find my place in the world. It’s amusing now to realize that, quite literally, the answer was in front of my nose all along.

In thirty seconds of film, Disney was able to completely transform my perspective of an everyday occurrence by using a cartoon mouse and his garbage eating brother, to my passion. I identified with Remy despite our obvious differences. Remy lived for the experience that accompanies food. Now so do I.

Eaters eat, diners dine, cooks cook. Hi, my name is a Keith. I’m a foodie.

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For further reading on doing one thing at a time in order to enjoy life to its fullest, I highly suggest you read this post by Dr. Gerald Stein. His wisdom is beyond valuable.

Thai cuisine is wonderful. Growing up in New Hampshire, I can’t ever remember seeing a Thai restaurant. It wasn’t until I lived in New York City that I had my first Thai dish – Tom Yum Goong. It was a rather unassuming dish that came highly recommended from the server. My first bite was impressive, the second divine. The soup was spicy, salty, sour, and sweet. Everything was in perfect balance. That, I learned is the basis of Thai cuisine – balance. The hot doesn’t outweigh the salty which doesn’t outweigh the sweet. You can taste everything.

My recipe for Thai Coconut Pork balances sweet and salty together by melding coconut milk and peanut butter. If you so desire, you could easily spice this dish by adding hot sauce or a diced chile. This is a quick and easy go to dish that can be made in under thirty minutes.

Ingredients (4 servings)

For the sauce

  • 1/2c Coconut Milk (highest fat content you can find)
  • 1/3c Chicken Stock
  • 2 tbsp Peanut Butter
  • 1 tsp Honey (only if using natural peanut butter)
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger (substitute 1 tsp ground ginger)
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha (Thai hot sauce) – optional
  • Corn starch slurry (2 tbsp corn starch and 1 tbsp water whisked together in a separate bowl)

For the pork

  • 4 center cut Pork Chops
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper, diced
  • 1/4c Flour
  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Salt

1. Measure all of the sauce ingredients, put into a mixing bowl, and whisk together until combined. Coconut milk is canned and can be found in the ethnic aisle of any major grocery store. The milk used in this recipe is 12% fat which is one of the highest I ‘ve ever seen. When you open the can, you will most likely find a solid mass at the top and water underneath. If this is the case, pour out all of this into a separate bowl, whisk together and then measure. If you are going to add Sriracha, don’t go overboard and break the balance.

Now do yourself a favor, taste the sauce. This is the time to adjust anything. Can you taste the ginger? Can you taste the coconut and the peanut butter separately? If you added hot sauce, can you feel the heat without it overwhelming the rest of your senses? If something is missing, add a little more in to the sauce, whisk again thoroughly, and let it sit a minute or two. Then repeat until you are happy. As a note, cooking the sauce is going to mellow the sweetness of the coconut milk, so if you think it is overpoweringly sweet, that will subside.

2. Before we dress the pork, this is the time to prepare whatever side dish will go with the pork. I served this alongside blanched and sauteed green beans. This would also be wonderful served atop a big pile of rice. You will also want to take the time to dice the red pepper if you haven’t already.

I highly recommend you do not skip the pepper. It adds a cool, crunchy texture that will offset the smooth, hot sauce.

3. On to the pork. Place the flour, paprika, and salt on a plate and stir with your fingers to combine. I use salt minimally here because the sauce contains most of the salty flavors we will need and we don’t want to over salt the dish. Salt is a flavor enhancer, not an additional flavor. Put each pork chop into the flour, flip over to coat both sides, and shake any excess off. You should have a red-speckled chop by the time you are finished.

4. When your side dish is five to seven minutes from finishing, it is time to cook the pork chops. Put some olive oil into a saute pan and turn to medium high (that would be a number 7 on the dial). When the oil is hot, put each chop in. If you don’t hear a sizzle, you didn’t wait long enough. Cook the chops until golden, flip and cook on the other side.

I’ve demonstrated in the picture to the right what happens to meat when the pan is not hot enough.The chop in the back and to the left of the pan were placed inthe pan shortly after putting oil in the pan, the chop in the middle and the right were put in at the right time.

Color = flavor = happy smiles when eating.

5. Press on the center of the chops. If it is firm but springy, it is most likely done. This is what I call the push test in cooking. If you can master the push test for meat, you will never worry whether your meat is finished cooking on the inside. Still, if you want to be sure, you can use a meat thermometer to check. Take the chops out and place under some aluminum foil or in a separate pan with a lid over it to keep warm. Turn the heat of your skillet to high. Pour the coconut-peanut butter sauce into the pan. With a whisk, scrape up as many of the brown bits on the bottom of the pan as you can. When the sauce comes to a boil, slowly pour the corn-starch slurry into the mixture while whisking the sauce in the pan. The slurry will thicken the sauce. Ensure that you keep whisking until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This will happen very quickly.

6. Now it’s time to assemble your plate. Place the pork chop on the plate, spoon on a healthy serving of sauce, and top with raw red bell pepper and peanuts. If serving this alongside rice, I would put a serving of rice on the plate, and pile this on top. The juices from the pork and coconut sauce will seep into the rice. Here, I’ve served this alongside some basic sauteed green beans.