sauces & condiments

Ruth Is Right

Sharwoods Curry with yogurt

A friend’s cool, dark basement was a welcome place to spend a sultry summer evening. After watching some of a recording of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s New Year’s celebration, our host popped in the dvd I had brought along. The Lunchbox came out in 2013, but I’d never heard of it. If you have an interest in foreign places and/or enjoy food for more than just nourishment, you might like the movie.

The story was set in India so now, naturally, we are craving curries, paneer, and chapati.  Since the last two recipes from Ruth Reichl’s book, Tender at the Bone, have recently provided success in our kitchen, I thought I would see what she has to say about Indian food. At the end of one of Gourmet‘s foodie travel videos, Reichl gives instruction for a simple tandoori-style entree that you can make at home.

Rather than insisting you purchase a zillion spices to create an imitation of the complex flavors of an Indian restaurant, she claims that the bottled sauces at your grocery store will be sufficient. Besides a bottle of Vindaloo sauce, you need yogurt, cilantro, and mint to season your chicken.  You should let the skinless chicken marinade for at least 40 minutes.

The cooking method almost convinced me to set the recipe aside. Summer temperatures in July do not encourage one to use the oven, much less an oven set to 500*F.  However, after a torrential downpour last night, the outside temperatures have dropped to near 70* F. Because I was still afraid of setting off the smoke alarm,  I didn’t leave the chicken in long enough for it to get the prescribed char.

I’ve got to work on the Basmati rice. But, alongside the curried vegetables, and the slices of raw tomato and avocado, the false-tandoori chicken was satisfying.

 

Categories: Chicken, Entertainment, Food and drink, Herbs and Spices, Rice, sauces & condiments | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Rush a Pig

 

Pork chops were on sale, so even though I didn’t have meat on my grocery list, I brought a package home with me.  Since there were six huge chops I separated them into zipper-seal bags and put them into the freezer. One morning I left two of the pork chops in the refrigerator so that they would thaw in time for dinner. A few recipes claim that you can prepare tasty pork chops in just ten minutes with only salt and pepper for seasoning, so I decided to see if it would work.

However, when my husband emailed me to see if he could help get anything ready for our evening meal, I googled to see if there were any interesting marinades. Ideas for “Summer pork” included fruity combinations as well as mustard-soy-worchestershire mixtures.  Joel mixed together the ingredients in a list that I emailed to him and when I got home from the office the pork had been absorbing the flavors for about an hour.  All I had to do was heat our stove-top griddle and throw the chops on.

Maybe I wasn’t patient enough. The pork chop did not want to let go of the griddle after cooking for five minutes on one side. I put a cover over the meat to see if capturing some moisture would help it release; no luck.  Eventually, I was able to force the pork chop off and flip it over, but when we cut into our pieces the flavor had not penetrated the meat. Also, it took several days of soaking and scrubbing to get the bits of burnt-on pork off my griddle.

Pork chops take two.

The next weekend, our grocery store’s flyer was advertising their “buy theirs get ours free” offer. One of the items was barbeque sauce. If you purchased a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce they would give you a bottle of the grocery store brand for free. They hoped that you would compare the two and notice that their version was just as good as the “real” name brand product.  Sweet Baby Ray’s has quite a few interesting-sounding flavors to choose from, but I stuck with the classic regular one.

At first, I thought that I would just throw the rest of my frozen pork chops into the crockpot and let them cook until they were tender enough to shred for pulled pork sandwiches. I couldn’t remember if you were supposed to put the barbeque sauce in the whole time you were cooking the meat or if you were to wait and just mix it in at the end. So, I looked it up.

While looking, I ran across a recipe that cooked potatoes along with the meat. Cooking two-thirds of your meal in one slow cooker sounded like a good idea to me. The author(ess) suggested greasing the inside of the crockpot and layering sliced potatoes, sliced onion, pork chops and bacon. Barbecue sauce goes between the layers. You let these ingredients cook on the high setting for 4 hours. Then you are to add cheese for the last 10 minutes. I decided to keep things simple and leave out the bacon and cheese.

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The moisture from the pork drops to the bottom of the slow cooker, mixes with the barbeque sauce, and boils the potatoes. The liquid was a bit runny after the first 4 hours of cooking. But we didn’t eat it until the next day, and when I reheated the mixture it had thickened enough that I didn’t need to add any roux or cornstarch.  A bag of steamed peas added some color to the plate.

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We enjoyed the meal, but next time I might let the meat cook a bit longer, because I like fall-off-the-bone tender pork.

Categories: Food and drink, Pork, Potato, sauces & condiments | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cream Cheese Spinach Alfredo

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Savory.

That’s the name of one of the local grocery store’s monthly magazine. It really is mostly advertising: coupons and recipes using ingredients that you can find on their shelves. Since it is free, I flip through the pages just in case one or two photos might inspire me.

Of course, the January issue contains recipes that promise to help you with your New Year’s resolutions. Since all of the ingredients in the Lightened-Up Pasta Alfredo happened to already be in my kichen, I decided to tear that page out. It stuck to my refrigerator door as a reminder for me to prepare it sometime this week.

The catch is that I didn’t have the “light” cream cheese or the “low-sodium” chicken broth, so I can’t tell you if their diet-version actually tastes good or has a good texture.

The other substitution I made was lime zest for the lemon, and I don’t recommend it. Otherwise, the no-heavy-cream alfredo was quite tasty.

Ingredients (for about 4 servings):

9 oz spaghetti/fettuccine/linguine (your choice), prepared according to package directions

Zest of one lemon

6 oz fresh spinach leaves, cut into shreds then chopped

1 T butter

2 tsp minced garlic

5 T cream cheese

1 c chicken broth

1/8 t nutmeg

½ c grated Parmesan cheese

 

Instructions:

Cook the spinach in about 1/2 cup of water until the leaves just begin to wilt. Drain the water off and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Fluff the spinach apart with a fork, and set it aside.

Saute the garlic in the butter for about one minute. Add the cream cheese and chicken broth, whisking to smooth out the liquid. Season with nutmeg, salt & pepper (You can add the lemon zest if you are interested.). Let this mixture simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the Parmesan.

Combine the spinach and cooked pasta. Pour the alfredo sauce over the pasta, and stir the combination so that everything is coated evenly.

Enjoy! We had some leftover cold ham on the side.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Cheese, Food and drink, pasta, sauces & condiments | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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