Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chana masala

I was inspired to make this recipe after trying the chana masala at the White Tiger restaurant on Capital Hill and at the Tasty Kabob food truck. Chana masala is a spicy Indian chickpea dish. More traditional versions of this dish use amchur powder (dried mango powder), but that's pretty hard to find in the US, so I went with an alternative version. This recipe comes a blog called Orangette. The author notes that her and her husband have some disputes over whether or not to include yogurt in the recipe. Personally, I agree with her that the yogurt adds a nice cool flavor to the dish, but you can take it out if you prefer. I was very happy with how this dish turned out. Its a very nice vegetarian option if you're looking for one.

Good-quality olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garam masala
3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1 Tbs cilantro leaves, roughly torn, plus more for garnish
A pinch of cayenne, or to taste
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6-8 Tbs plain whole-milk yogurt, optional
A few lemon wedges, optional

1. Film the bottom of a large saucepan or Dutch oven—preferably not nonstick—with olive oil, and place the pan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until it is deeply caramelized and even charred in some spots. Be patient. The more color, the more full-flavored the final dish will be.
2. Reduce the heat to low. Add the garlic, stirring, and add a bit more oil if the pan seems dry. Add the cumin seeds, coriander, ginger, garam masala, and cardamom pods, and fry them, stirring constantly, until fragrant and toasty, about 30 seconds. Add ¼ cup water, and stir to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the water has evaporated away completely.
3. Pour in the juice from can of tomatoes, followed by the tomatoes themselves, using your hands to break them apart as you add them; alternatively, add them whole and crush them in the pot with a potato masher.
4. Add the salt.
5. Raise the heat to medium, and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the cilantro and cayenne, and simmer the sauce gently, stirring occasionally, until it reduces a bit and begins to thicken. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
6. Add the chickpeas, stirring well, and cook over low heat for about five minutes. Add 2 Tbs water, and cook for another five minutes. Add another 2 Tbs water, and cook until the water is absorbed, a few minutes more. This process of adding and cooking off water helps to concentrate the sauce’s flavor and makes the chickpeas more tender and toothsome. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
7. Stir in the yogurt, if you like, or garnish with lemon wedges and cilantro.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cranberry cippolini compote

One of my favorite things about living on Capitol Hill is how close I am to Eastern Market. The market is a great place to walk around, pick up fresh fruits and vegetables, and get brunch. A cool recent development has been the addition of cooking demonstrations on Saturday mornings. Jonathan Bardzik, author of the outstanding food blog, What I Haven't Cooked Yet, cooks some delicious food and gives very entertaining performances teaching the audience how to make his dishes.

This recipe comes from a demonstration he gave of various Thanksgiving side dishes. It's a bad sign that it took me until Martin Luther King Day to post a Thanksgiving dish. I really need to get up to speed with my posts. I'm not normally a big cranberry sauce fan. The canned cranberry sauce that comes out as one gelatinous blob creeps the bejeezus out of me. This cranberry compote is lighter than most cranberry sauce recipes. It's also more savory and less sweet than most versions. I thought it was so tasty that I had to try making it at home and it turned out quite well. This is a great side dish, even for non-Thanksgiving meals.

2 cups cippolini or pearl onions
2 tbs butter
3/4 cup maple sugar (If you can't find maple sugar  you can substitute a mixture of half light brown sugar and half white sugar.)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
1.5 cups vegetable or veal stock
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup port
1/2 cup apple cider

1. Blanch onions in boiling water for 1 minute. Remove to an ice bath. Trim tips and roots of onions, be careful to leave the base of the onion intact so that they don’t fall apart. If the onions are larger than bite sized, cut them in half.
2. Melt butter over medium heat in a 3 qt saucepan. Add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown in places.
3. Add 1/4 cup sugar, garlic and rosemary. Cook 1-2 minutes until garlic is golden.
3. Pour in stock, reduce heat and simmer until liquid reduces to a thick glaze. Be careful not to burn the garlic as the liquid reduces.
4. Add cranberries, port, and cider. Simmer over low heat until liquid is reduced to a glaze and cranberries have turned jammy. The cranberries will pop delightfully as they cook. but don’t worry, the juices don’t spatter out of the pot.
5. Season to taste with balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper, and additional sugar if needed.

The Results

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

It occurred to me recently that I've gotten lazy about posting stuff to this blog (I missed the entire month of December), so one of my New Year's resolutions is to post more regularly. I've still been cooking a fair amount; I have three other recipes with photos ready to be posted. Two of those turned out well, the other not so much. I'm posting this chicken pot pie recipe that I made last night ahead of the older ones, because I'm excited about how good it was and it made me feel like posting.

This recipe comes from allrecipes.com, though I made some of my own tweaks to it. I was considering getting a chicken pot pie from a new place on H Street called Dangerously Delicious Pies, but decided to make my own. I still really want to try that place out. Their menu has a great selection of both sweet and savory pies.

The recipe is below. My changes are in italics. I added some extra vegetables and herbs to give it some more flavor. The pie turned out really well and it was easy to make. Enjoy.

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup frozen corn (I forgot to include this when I made it, but I would add it in future batches.)
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C.)
2. In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, celery, corn and mushrooms. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
3. In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, celery seed, onion powder and garlic powder.
4. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
5. Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape. (I mixed the chicken mixture and the sauce together in the pot, rather than in the pie plate. This worked very well and it seems like an easier process to me.)
(I would totally eat this by itself as a really thick soup. It was delicious.)

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

The Results