Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mole, Mole, Mole

I love Mexican food. To me, mole sauce is one of the crown jewels. Along with tamales, mole sauce is one of the most commonly served and most commonly ruined delicacies of this genre of cooking. This blend of smoky, sweet, and spicy lend a punch to almost any dish from grilled chicken to ice cream. I normally make mine with ground chili peppers, sesame seeds, nuts, chocolate, chicken broth, tomato paste, and spices. This sauce covered roasted Cornish hens marinated in orange juice, wild rice pilaf, and sauteed zucchini. This was an excellent combination, as the silky sauce paired well with the young chicken meat.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I hate cauliflower; or at least I did. I would not touch the stuff. Raw, cooked, casseroled, it didn't matter. One day a waiter encouraged me to try cauliflower cheese, as he previously experienced the same disdain as I. I immediately fell in love. I started making it at home, and now will make a meal of this dish alone. I start by sauteing onions in butter, adding flour to make a rue. I then add nutmeg, cream, and cheese to make the sauce. This is poured over steamed cauliflower and topped with bread crumbs. This time, I served it with grilled turkey chops. This makes an easy meal, and a great way to con kids into eating vegetables (even though they have lost most of their nutritional value).

Friday, March 13, 2009

Simple lunch

I decided to try making warm sandwiches for lunch. My first attempt was a hot ham and cheese, and the next day I decided to try a cheese steak. I simply sauteed some onions, mushrooms, and peppers with thin sliced roast beef from the deli. This was finished with some cheese and loaded into a hoagie roll. This was very easy, and beat most of the sub shops in this area. Certainly not Philly worthy, but a great way to spice up a boring sandwich.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Americans really do like Indian

Another cooking genre I am currently studying is Indian food. The most common excuse is not liking curry or other weird ingredients. The funny thing is that curry is just a blend of spices, and differs greatly by region. There is usually a strong presence of cumin, which most Americans have only tasted in barbecue sauce or Mexican food. As for the weird ingredients, this is a bogus excuse as well. Since many India natives are vegetarian, they eat the same concoctions of peas, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, onions, cauliflower, and eggplant that we eat. As for meat, there are a great deal of lamb and chicken dishes. The main differences I have noticed that set Indian food apart is that they toast their spices and use them in different combinations. For instance, in the US cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice are usually regarded as sweet spices instead of savory spices. Indian cooking will require toasting these whole along with peppercorns, mustard seed, and cumin, then grinding. I believe that most of you will like Indian food if you try good Indian food. On the flip side, I feel sorry for the subjects from foreign lands in commercials that are subjected to our fast food burgers as their first and only experience with the delicacy. Of course they like their food better.

I decided to try my hand at dal, which is a simple comfort food. I simmered yellow split peas in chicken broth for about an hour till most of the liquid was absorbed. I then added some toasted spices and roasted diced tomatoes. THAT WAS IT! Sounds great, right? I added grilled vegetables, chicken, and rice to make a great warm meal for a cold winter night.

I found that dal saves and freezes very well, and is actually enhanced once the flavors integrate further. I tried the leftovers with more grilled vegetables and chicken. This Indian favorite, chicken tikka, was very easy. I combined a blend of spices with plain yogurt, scored the chicken deeply to allow further osmosis, and stored in the refrigerator overnight. This turned out wonderfully, and the leftover chicken from this meal turned into chicken tikka masala the next night with a simple sauce.

Last but not least, try Indian food for the nann. The pillowy soft pita-like bread is heaven to any carb lover like me. I believe that all Americans would find Indian food provides the warm, rich comfort food that we have come to love.

Thinking of summer

Lately, I have been working on different slaw variations and cold noodle salads. This time, I decided to try a simple noodle salad which consisted of rice noodles, pistachios, scallions, and carrots. I tossed with a mixture of honey, cilantro, rice vinegar, and ginger. I served this with grilled jerk chicken and some avocado slices and shredded beet for color. The salad turned out nice and light, a great contrast to the spicy chicken.