Solstice? Summer? What is that? We have barely seen peaks of the sun in the last 21 days, never mind on the day with the most daylight. Those sundrops are the brightest thing I've seen in days. They practically scream out in the garden against all the gray skies and greenery. A friend is in Iceland as we speak, I hope her solstice is going better than ours, I sent her off with a warning to watch Bourdain's episode and not to eat the fermented shark. It's so cold around here and damp that I was even tempted to light a fire today, but mine would have been to keep warm, not to keep the witches away or the faeries and spirits.
Instead of lamenting the distinctly English summer we are having here in New England I decided to dream of warmer and sunnier places and cook up some hot Indian for dinner tonight.
First I put a boatload of tomatillo, plum tomato, serrano chile, poblano and garlic under the broiler until they were nicely blistered.
I turned them into a salsa that will get a diced, rinsed white onion and become Mexican rice and something else Monday night, Sunday is all about prep for the week. I roasted husbands lemon chicken for his sandwiches as well.
Next I popped the spices in my pan to toast them for the curry.
There aren't too many pork recipes in Indian cuisine, as you would imagine, but Goa and Coorg had some leftover Portuguese influence and some Christians kicking around so the occasional recipe crops up. I could have made a Vindaloo, but husband really hates vinegar, which I could drink by the quart, so I made this one instead with tamarind and a bit of coconut milk, garlic, onion, ginger paste and those nice spices all ground up. I'll make his favourite green beans (Gujerati sem) with loads of mustard seeds, garlic and chile and I have a bunch of diced potatoes kicking around upstairs so I'm trying to find a dry aloo recipe to put them to use, maybe sookhe aloo. I'm hoping that we can at least generate a sweat on this 60oddF day in "summer".
Remind me of this day in august when I'm bitching about the unbearable heat would you?
I've still been pouring through Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen and plucking out dishes here and there that will let me omit the cilantro for husband. He who is with the enzyme (or lack of depending on who you read) and hence his extreme hatred for all things cilantro. Hatred that even extends to those times when I sneak it in without telling him hoping that he won't notice.
Sadly he always does. I know you cilantro haters are thinking "How cruel is she?"
But I learned that when feeding a Brit raised Oop North on post wartime foods if you want to introduce something new, sometimes you just have to sneak it in. We still wouldn't be eating Parmesan, coriander, cumin, or cinnamon if I hadn't done the introductions like that. In fact he'll eat boat loads of coriander seed when I make Indian - go figure you cilantro haters.
By the way, for all of you cilantro haters who have made it this far without slinging arrows at the screen, have you seen this? It would appear that you have quite a few friends.
Sure we can't have cilantro here, but we can eat boatloads of chipotle in adobo. I've mentioned my love of all things smoked before, and these little smoked jalapeno(or chili ahumando) are no exception.
The chicken you see above is so simple and so quick to make, as long as you remember to marinade ahead that is, that your dinner is on the table in 15 minutes. Well, 15 minutes with no side dishes, but you here what I'm saying right?
Take that Rachel 'I'm just too darn happy all the time' Ray!
Just take some chicken breast, skinless, boneless. Open a ziploc, dump in the chicken, open a can of chipotle in adobo and mince up two or three of them, or four or five depending on your love of all things warm and spicy. Dump those in the ziploc. Add two tablespoons of Mexican crema (you can make your own with some heavy cream that hasn't been ultra-pasteurized and some buttermilk and some time). Close ziploc. Smoosh around so everything gets mixed together. Toss in fridge and let it sit for 6 - 8 hours up to 24.
When you are ready put your oven rack on a high shelf, turn on your broiler. Put the chicken in a pan that can withstand the broiler, I use my pyrex. Put chicken breasts in the dish, scrape out all the good bits from inside the bag with a spatula and smear it on the chicken. Sprinkle with salt. Broil 4 - 5 minutes. Flip over, salt and pepper again, add 1 cup of crema. Put it back under the broiler for another 5 minutes or until everything is bubbly and browning and the chicken is cooked through.
Simple never tasted so good.
We tend to have this with husband's new favourite rice dish. Mexican red rice, again from Mr. Bayless, although we have already begun modifying it.
Begin by making your salsa. On a sheet pan slice open 1.5 to 2 pounds of plum tomatoes, 6 cloves of unpeeled garlic, 2 whole poblano chili and 2 jalapeno chili and about 4 tomatillo (left whole, but husks removed). Broil all of this flipping things over occasionally until the tomatillo and tomato are deflated and beginning to brown up and the chili are soft and the skin is blackened enough to peel. Let this cool.
Peel and seed the chilies, extract the garlic from the skin, bung everything including the tomatoes and tomatillos into the food processor and whir it around with 1 tsp kosher salt. I even wet the sheet pan and scrape off any of the juices and stuck bits and add this as well.
Mince a white onion, and do try to get a white onion over a yellow one, they are much mellower, put it in a colander and rinse it under cold water to extract even more of the pungent onion juices off of the onion. You want onion taste, but not an overpowering sense of onion in your salsa. Take the contents of the food processor and dump it in a bowl. Add the mined onion and if you wish, a bunch of cilantro leaves chopped roughly, and add another 1/2 tsp salt. Mix it up. Of course, you can make this ahead of time and have it ready in the fridge.
Now to make the rice.
Take a dutch oven, or a good sized pan with a lid that can go from stovetop to the oven. Preheat your oven to 350. Measure 2 cups of, preferably, medium grain rice, but you can use long grain. If you want extra flavour, heat up 1.5 cups of chicken stock to just get it warm, if not use vegetable stock or water, your choice. To your pan over medium-high heat on the stove add 3 TBS oil and when it is heated add your rice. Stir the rice around until all the grains are coated in oil and they are starting to turn translucent. This may take a few minutes. Once the rice looks good, dump in the salsa (you should have about 2 cups) and let it sizzle and cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Then add the stock (or water). Stir it all up, bring it to a boil, slap the lid on and toss it in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes. Test a grain to be sure it is almost cooked through and then while your chicken is broiling in the oven, allow the rice to rest covered. Fluff it up and serve.
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