Tag Archives: Spices

How we danced

I’m writing this all down before I forget.

I didn’t take many photos this past weekend. Or, none that were food related, anyway. Or of myself or my friends who were in town for that matter. For the most part, I was too busy simply enjoying the rightinfrontofme.

Instead took photos like this one:

Spotted on a quiet street in Brooklyn, which lead to a debate of who actually wrote it. (I’ll spare you the suspense: it was Alexander Hamilton.)

And this:

Look closely and you can see Jane’s Carousel in the distance. It’s a venue so secure in its own permanence that it has a plinth announcing “Since 2011″—I laughed when I first saw it, but on second thought, I like the brashness of it, the implied staying power. Something from another time, made modern by the architecture.

Naturally, the kids waiting in line don’t think about these things. They’re just happy for the chance to ride one of the hand carved horses. Or, if they’re really lucky, to get a chance to share one of the chariots with a friend. I thought about doing just that.

Then, surrounded by the children and their parents, I got bashful.

I’d like to say that’s unlike me, although that might be a stretch. It’s of no consequence. I knew that had I asked, my friend Ben would have done so—after all, in the first weeks of our friendship we had tangoed across the floors of the Tate Modern. It was closing time soon, so the docent let us be. I’d like to think that he also felt the Rothko room needed a little less red and a little more life in it.

At the present moment, there were places to go and sites undiscovered as of yet.

Including Cindy Sherman (the exhibit and the artist. Or, at least some of us thought).

And, then it was time for us to say goodbye. That’s the thing about having dear friends or family in different cities, you’re often saying goodbye or attempting to share experiences from afar.

It’s easy, if you have someone to show you the way.

In this case, while we can’t share meals, we can share recipes. This, then, is a variation on Ben’s Thai Green Curry.

brookyln bridge

Thai Green Curry with Chicken and Eggplant

1 bunch cilantro
2 limes, zested and juice
1 small knob fresh Galangal (appox. 1 TBS), peeled
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2-3 sprigs scallions—the white part should be roughly chopped and the green parts should be chiffonaded and set aside
5 garlic cloves, peeled roughly chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped
5-6 bird’s dried eye chilies
2 TBS peanut oil
12 ounces coconut milk
6 ounces water
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 eggplant, roughly diced
fish sauce (approx 2 tsps)
soy sauce

garnish: scallions

Using a food processor, combine the cilantro, Galangal, garlic, dried bird’s eye chilies, onions, white portion of the scallions, and lemongrass stalks and pulse until the mixture becomes a thick paste. Add water if you are having difficulty getting into combine.

Heat a heavy bottomed pot over a high flame. Add in the peanut oil and allow to heat, approximately 1 minute. Add in the cilantro paste and heat approximately 5-10 minutes, until the paste become aromatic. Reduce the heat to medium low, and add in the coconut milk and water. Stir and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add in the chicken and stir. Cover the pot with a lid and allow to simmer 10 minutes. Add in the eggplant, mix together and simmer for another 20-30 minutes, until the eggplant has become soft.

Season to taste using fish sauce (approx. 2 tsps, depending on how salty you like your curry) and soy sauce. Garnish with the green part of the scallions and serve with white rice.

Serves 4 as a main dish

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They Say It’s Your Birthday….

Right, the title of the post.

Perhaps a little explaination is required.

Well then, when I told my mother I was cooking chicken satays for a friend, her response was, “Why? Is it her birthday?”

And, in fact, for the past ten years, I’ve been cooking my mother a birthday dinner often featuring this dish. Or, more precisely, various iterations of it.

When she first asked me to make her an Asian inspired dish years ago, quite honestly, I didn’t know much about Asian cooking. The ingredients I knew were soy sauce and seasame oil. So, I took the the household cookbooks, cobbling something together with flavors that sounded like they would fit.

Then I tweaked and tweaked. And tweaked.

And, at last, I think I’ve got the recipe down.

The honey balances out the spice and the soy gives a much needed boost of salt. Tying it all together, I think, is the corriander. You don’t quite know what it is, but the flavor ties everything else together, making it a cohesive whole.

Even better, it’s the ultimate make-ahead dish. Since you can marinade it overnight and then bake it off in the oven, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy your dinner with along with your guests.

Chicken Satays

This recipe is adapted to cook indoors, but it would be fantastic grilled. If you choose to go that route, once you’ve marinaded the chicken, put it on bamboo skewers and grill (or, if you’re indoors, use a grill pan). The cooking time will vary, based on the thickness of your chicken. Be sure to soak your skewers for at least 20 minutes before you use them so that they don’t burn.

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp sriracha
1 tsp honey
2 TBS sesame oil
3/8 cup light soy sauce
juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime (approx. 3 TBS total)

Mix all of the ingredients, except the chicken, together, whisking to form a well blended marinade. Once that’s complete, place your chicken in a container or vessel with a firm seal, such as a Ziplock quart sized bag. Pour your marinade over the chicken and shake to evenly coat.

Marinate for at least 1 hour. Ideally, you want to marinate it overnight to give the flavors time to meld.

Once you are ready to cook, either put the chicken strips on a baking tray in a preheated oven and cook for 15-20 minutes at 350 F, being careful not to overcook.

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