Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Quickie Weeknight Chicken Curry

I've mentioned before that weeknight cooking is to cooking as commuting is to driving.  All the same mechanics, but none of the thrill.  I'm always happy -- finding water on a desert island-level happy -- when I stumble on an easy weeknight meal.

Last week I took a whack at an easy curry, hoping to save money on take-out, and I stumbled on meal that requires few ingredients and takes little hands-on time.  This won't rock your world if you're a real curry aficionado, but if you need something cozy and mildly kicky that doesn't take all night, this is great.  I've eaten it four times in a week and I'm not sick of it yet.


2 TBS vegetable oil
2 medium onions, quartered and sliced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 inch of fresh ginger root, grated
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (thighs would be fine, but adjust cooking time and trim well) cubed in 1 1/2 inch pieces
2 1/2 TBS good quality curry powder
pinch cayenne
1 cinnamon stick or 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup good quality chicken stock
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, with juices
1 package frozen chopped cauliflower
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen petite peas
1/3 c Greek yogurt (2% or whole fat - you're less likely to have the sauce "break" if you use whole fat)  Note: If you plan to freeze this, don't add the yogurt until you thaw and reheat.
unsweetened flaked coconut, toasted


 Over medium-high heat, saute onions, garlic and ginger.  Don't be afraid to let them sizzle and get a little brown -- the more color you have now, the more flavor you'll have later.  While you've got this going on, trim and cube your chicken breasts.  When the onions are all translucent and partly browned, add the dry spices -- curry, cayenne, and cinnamon.  When really fragrant, add the cubed chicken breast - mixture will be fairly dry in the pan.   Add the wine and reduce until it has barely evaporated, and then add tomatoes and chicken stock.  Finally, add cauliflower and bring to a simmer.

I've been using my amazingly awesome slow cooker, the insert of which is flameproof.  At this point in the cooking, I put the insert back in the slow cooker base and cook it on low for about 30 minutes.  You can achieve the same result, but with a bit more vigilance, on the stove on low.

Give it a taste at this point and adjust salt, cayenne, and acid.  With the last batch I needed to add a tsp of honey -- the tomatoes weren't quite as sweet as they could have been.  Add your peas at this point -- they won't take long to come up to temperature.  Finally, add your Greek yogurt.  Alternately, you could add 1/4 cup coconut milk.  If you do this, you most definitely won't need honey -- the coconut milk will add sweetness.  Simmer a few minutes to thicken.

Serve over rice and sprinkle with cilantro leaves and toasted coconut and some store bought nan, heated in the oven.  When my stepmom made curry when we were kids she always added cashews and raisins to the top, too, and it was one of my favorite meals. (Honestly, hers was better but I've never been able to get the recipe out of her.)  I've developed a strange dislike for fruit in my food over the years so I skip the raisins.  The coconut, because it's unsweetened, I still love.

Serves 4 with leftovers.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Better Than Cream Cheese: Poached Egg on Avocado Toast with Goat Cheese

I am a cream cheese fan – a hot, toasted bagel with cream cheese will tear down my defenses and destroy my diet every time.   The only thing better, and it is hands-down better in every way, is creamy mashed avocado on toast.

Last Saturday I picked up a beautiful loaf of from 3 Square, a neighborhood bakery that’s my Saturday morning haunt, post-workout, and somthe fresh eggs at the farmer’s market.  On Sunday, we had a friend in town from England.  He’d run the neighborhood and cycled the neighborhood and meandered the neighborhood and had just a half hour before his long flight back for brunch. 

My favorite quick meals almost always involve a poached egg, and when I can get a poached egg, good bread, mashed avocado, and Cypress Grove goat cheese in one place, I’m a happy girl. And after brunch on the front deck in the sun I seemed to be a happy girl with a happy guest – bonus.

Many happy things have happened since I was here last with my Bolognese – most of them were small and fleeting and left no specific impression, just a general glow.  A few things stuck out, though.  I got to talk to my sister, who lives 3,000 miles away, and got general updates from home.  I spoke to my niece on her birthday; she told me that she is two and she like cupcakes, and then my heart exploded into sparkles.   My friend and work cube neighbor made beet cake and was converted.  Her children were nonplussed by beets in their cake, and her chocolate-loving husband was impressed.  

(These are her beautiful cupcakes.)

And finally, our newest friend, the six-week-old beautiful baby girl of our good friends, smiled at me. Twice!!

Life is busy, what with a new job and home construction and wedding planning and a million other things life throws at you as you’re bending over to pick up your car keys while holding an overstuffed grocery bag with eggs perched on top.  In the meantime, I’m making the most of sunshine when we can get it, and fresh avocados and second birthdays and smiling newborns.  Why on earth would you focus on anything else?

Update: Elsewhere on the internet, on the very same day, this was posted on this very cool food and music blog I just stumbled across!   Who knew?!