kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
[personal profile] kindkit
Something I've cooked recently: Lack of cash means I'm relying on things I had on hand. This can have the pleasant side-effect of making me cook more creatively. Today I improvised a tagine-ish chicken dish.

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
Olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
6 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 2-inch piece ginger root, coarsely grated
Zest of about half a large orange, grated
1 or 2 hot green chiles or to taste, chopped
About 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
About 1 teaspoon cinnamon
About 2 cups good chicken stock
1 14 ounce (about 400 grams) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Cilantro (fresh coriander) leaves
Salt to taste

Brown the chicken pieces in oil in a dutch oven or deep skillet, remove from the pot and set aside. Cook the shallot and carrot in the pot (add more oil if needed) for couple of minutes, then add the garlic, ginger, orange zest, chiles, turmeric, and cinnamon. Cook for another minute or so. Add the chicken stock and chick peas, bring to a boil, and simmer for about ten minutes or so, until the stock has reduced a bit. Add the chicken pieces, cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, another five minutes or so. Add the cilantro and salt and serve over couscous.

Notes: I thought about using saffron instead of turmeric, but I was worried it would be overpowered by the other spices. If I were making this again and able to pick and choose ingredients, I would use chicken thighs instead of breasts (then you can simmer the dish longer once the chicken is added and meld the flavors better), a medium red onion instead of a shallot (or, alternatively, more shallots), and I might add a chopped tomato. Other additions that might be tasty: green olives, preserved lemon, raisins or chopped dried apricots. Still, this turned out rather nice considering the limited ingredients and the insipidity of chicken breast meat.

I hadn't meant to bake because it's been hot here, but then I needed bread, so yesterday I baked a loaf of the four-grain pot boule I like, which also handily used up the last of my bread flour.

While I was at it, I made some peanut butter and chocolate chip brownies. Recipe under the cut is from the Bon Appetit Cookbook, ed. Barbara Fairchild, 2006.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chunk Brownies

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature (or cold if you're using a food processor)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (i.e., contains only peanuts and perhaps salt--the kind you have to stir after opening)
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped, or good quality chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F and generously butter an 8x8x2 inch metal baking pan.

Beat the butter by hand or in a mixer until smooth. Add the peanut butter and beat until well blended, then add the sugar and beat until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

Thoroughly whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add to the peanut butter mixture and stir until blended. Stir in the chocolate pieces. Spread evenly into the pan and bake for about 33 minutes, until a tester inserted 2 inches from the edge of the pan comes out with moist crumbs attached. Put pan on rack and cool completely.

Notes: I used more like 4 1/2 tablespoons of butter and added a little more peanut butter to compensate. I put the batter together in the food processor, which is easier than beating by hand. Use butter that's pretty cold (just out of the refrigerator if your house is warm, or softened a little if it's cold--if you use room temperature butter it will melt), and add the butter, sugar, and peanut butter to the processor all at once. Whir around until well blended, then add the eggs and vanilla as directed, then add this to the flour mix in the bowl. I also used a glass baking pan, because that's what I have, so I reduced the oven temp by 25 degrees and baked a little longer.

The recipe says this makes 25, but I think that's ridiculously small even for such a rich brownie. I cut the batch into 16 squares.

So now in my freezer I have a bunch of brownies, plus about a quarter of the orange cake from the other week, and a few brownies and a bit of orange cake in the fridge for more immediate consumption. The downside of baking for one is that you really have to stick to recipes that can be frozen and stored (a full-sized cake filled with whipped cream and fresh fruit, say, would just go to waste) but the upside is that you end up with a freezer full of tasty sweet things to be eaten as the mood strikes you.

Something I have definite plans to cook in the near future: Not until after payday, but I want to try this pork and kimchi stir-fry soon, since I have 3/4 of a jar of kimchi that's a little too fermented to eat raw (for my taste) and therefore is perfect to cook with. Last week I used some of the kimchi in an improvised stir-fried rice noodle dish, and it was very tasty.

Something I'm idly thinking about cooking someday: It's a little early yet but I'm craving summer foods like sweet corn and, if I can manage to get some, good tomatoes. And peaches. The peaches here are seldom good enough to eat raw, in my opinion, but they make a perfectly nice clafouti or cobbler. Oh, and I'm in the mood (again) for potato salad with blue cheese and bacon, which is the most delicious thing in the universe and which I might eat with bratwurst, since I've been craving something hotdoggy. (Basic recipe for the potato salad: Cut some bacon into small pieces and fry it up until crisp, then set the pieces aside. Cut some red potatoes into bite-sized pieces and boil until tender. While they're boiling, mash up some room temperature creamy blue cheese with a bit of mayonnaise and yogurt. Slice some green onions thinly. When the potatoes are done, drain them and leave them in the colander until they're lukewarm, not hot. Stir them into the blue cheese mix and sprinkle in the green onions and bacon pieces.)


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