Monday, January 30, 2017

Buffalo Chicken Boxes

Yeah, this was a weird thing that happened, gentle reader. Look, I figured the Pats are probably practicing for the Super Bowl, so I should too.

So I made a trial run of my fave Super Bowl dish, buffalo chicken dip—using the leftover shredded chicken from recently documented chipotle tacos; a squirt of sriracha; and a couple ounces each of cream cheese, crumbled gorgonzola, and shredded jack. I know. Weird.

Then I lined one of these weird little box-shaped dishes that my mom got me for Christmas a couple of years ago with a flour tortilla, and then I added maybe 1/4 cup of the chicken mix and crimped the tortilla edges over it.

Then I baked it in the toaster oven at 350° for maybe 15-20 minutes until the crimped edges of the tortilla had nice brown highlights, and plopped some sour cream and salsa onto it.

I took a risk on this weird little box, but it turned out pretty darn delicious. I can only hope that my other Super Bowl boxes will pay off like this one.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Gentle reader, although both apply to this recipe, I have declared a moratorium on the “slow cooker” and the “Ignorant American Fusion” post title devices because it was just getting tired. I need a slow-cooker-vention.

Here’s what I added to the pot, in sequential/bottom-to-top order:

  • 2 split bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed/fat trimmed, sprinkled with kosher salt and cumin
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 chipotles canned in adobo sauce, plus a splash of the adobo
  • 1/2 lime, cut in two
  • A few stems of cilantro sprigs
  • 1 small can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 bottle Corona

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Spicy Carrot Bisque

Gentle reader, last weekend my friend Martie overbought at the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket—as one does, because everything looks so exciting—and since she was going on a trip, she had me over for a delicious dinner and sent me home with produce that I promised to give a good home. (There was also some amazing cheese that does not figure into this post, but I felt I should acknowledge it.)

There were 4 thick stubby carrots that I thought would work well in soup form, especially if given a little heat, in this cold weather. Also, I too had some excess in my fridge, in the form of 3 containers of sour cream, because whenever I go to the store I forget whether I have sour cream in the fridge and I buy more. So, I made this REALLY delicious bisque.

Melt ½ stick butter in a saucepan and add ½ yellow onion, chopped. Cook over medium heat, stirring.

When softened slightly, add carrots, cut into half-coin shapes, and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Leftovers Love: Zucchini Pickles

These pickles, which you got a peek of recently in sandwich porn, were made by simply slicing up a small zucchini that I had not used in my zucchini-onion sautée (they were 3 for $1 at my beloved Mr. Melon), and plopping the coins into the brine left over from my dill-horseradish (cucumber) pickles. (I made these a couple of weeks ago, so don’t think I used rancid veggies or anything.)

They are an excellent addition to sandwiches, as recently documented in the aforementioned porn, and were a hit when I served them as an accoutrement to lamb tacos made with fried scraps of leftover lamb roast, jalapeno jack, iceberg lettuce, sour cream, and cilantro on warmed flour tortillas. Sadly, gentle reader, I did not capture a photo of these tacos, as they were devoured too quickly.

Spread leftovers love, it’s the Brooklyn way!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Slow-Cooker Pork Ramen, Ignorant American Style

Gentle reader, I do NOT love a rainy night. Not when it’s raining, like, buckets. (Although it is exciting when the storm drains on my street are clogged by litter and the street floods and I can legitimately say I live on waterfront property.)

But when life gives you rain, you make comfort food. So I perused a few slow-cooker pork ramen recipes online and then, as is my wont, ignored like 90% of their instructions and mashed up the rest according to my own whim.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Adventures in Slow Cooking: Baby-Back Ribs

Gentle reader, you may have noticed that I am no longer numbering installments of the Adventures in Slow-Cooking series, as it has become readily apparent that they are accumulating too quickly to keep track of, and I was told there would be no math on the blog. I don't even like measuring ingredients.

Anyhoo, baby back ribs in a slow cooker, you can’t beat that. Especially if yours, as mine were, are labeled as “pork loin back ribs,” which just sounds so deliciously dirty.

I severed and peeled off the membrane (that plastic-wrap-like layer on the back of the ribs) and rubbed into the meat a dry rub consisting of the usual suspects: kosher salt, paprika, garlic powder. Kept it simple. Let it sit in fridge overnight.

All These and a Bag of Chips

Welcome to some more amateur sandwich porn.

The lunch I packed for my man tonight included (clockwise from top left): (1) turkey and ham with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and mustard; (2) baby-back rib meat and American cheese with iceberg lime-mayo slaw; (3) roast beef, mozzarella, and tomato with sriracha-mayo-mustard spread; and (4) turkey, cream cheese, and lettuce.

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, gentle reader, this lunch was accompanied by some barbecue-flavored potato chips, or “crisps” as Davy's people call them. There was also a can of Red Bull, because for some reason he enjoys Red Bull when vodka is not involved, which is weird. Actually, it’s weird to like Red Bull even when vodka is involved. But there is nothing at all weird about liking 4 different sandwiches, and a bag of chips.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Adventures in Semi-Homemade Ignorant American Fusion Slow Cooking: Korma Is Not a Bitch

Gentle reader, I’m not gonna lie: I have not been employed full-time for some time. (What, how did you think I made time to suddenly and vociferously resurrect this blog?) And while I was extremely, extraordinarily grateful to have scored a week’s in-house freelance assignment in Manhattan, I was unprepared to be thrown back into the cowpen of personal-space violation that is the C-train morning commute. (Pro tip: Ladies of the C train, if you have ever lamented aloud to your significant other that you’d like to spoon more often, BE MORE SPECIFIC about whom you'd like to spoon with, because if you don’t, all I have to say is, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.) Mind you, this was morning time I would ordinarily spend Instagramming my breakfast while watching "In the Papers" on NY1, then observing the progress of Jamie Shupak's baby bump, then wondering just how drunk everyone on the Today show is, then maybe throwing some stuff in the slow cooker, then maybe going back to bed until like 11. Okay, fine, noon.

Anyhoo. I determined to still make at least a couple of weeknight dinners in the course of the week, even though I would probably not be able to get home before 7PM, given the bashful C train's tendency to wait for FOUR FREAKING A TRAINS TO GO BY before it works up the courage to pull up into the station.

But oh right, the slow cooker—that part of my morning ritual could actually carry over! This, I realized, would be a good opportunity to continue evolving my slow-cooking skills, which I will definitely need to rely heavily on if I am ever again gainfully employed full-time. I resolved to purchase a jar of premade Indian sauce, slather it on a chicken, and call it a day before starting my day. I figured, hey, if the semi-homemade approach is good enough for the plucky unofficial First Lady of New York, Sandra Lee, it’s good enough for me.

I also thought that leftover chicken could be used for lunches, because another traumatic memory that came rushing back this week was HOW FREAKING MUCH A MEASLY SOGGY SANDWICH COSTS IN MANHATTAN! (Don’t get me started on what happens if you want a salad. Let’s just say it’s a good thing that I never want a salad.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Chicken-Fusilli-Onion Soup

Okay, fine, gentle reader, you got me. Obviously I could have just called this recipe chicken noodle soup. But listen, me and chicken noodle soup have—no pun intended—beef. I resent the hegemony of chicken noodle soup at every deli in New York. It always seems to have a seat at the table (or rather, beside the buffet table), and I think that is unfair to the marginalized and more creamy and delicious soups such as broccoli-cheddar and cream of cauliflower. Chicken noodle is to soups as the 1% are to the economy: Disproportionally privileged in a society that calls itself a democracy…or a deli, or whatever. The analogy isn’t that sound. The point is, it pisses me off.

Anyhoo. Chicken and noodles in broth do have their medicinal purpose in cold January weather. Having embraced my mission to fill my boyfriend’s thermos at ungodly hours (that was not the weird innuendo that it came off as; please follow this link for clarification), I made him this soup. Okay, fine, it was not such a healthful version.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Please Enjoy Some Sandwich Porn

Feast your eyes on this pseudo-Cuban beauty: Ham, turkey, Swiss, mustard, mayo, and sliced zucchini pickles (post to come here).

(Kindly disregard the poor Photoshopping around the edges to conceal my messy kitchen in the background. It is still a thing of beauty, gentle reader, is it not?)

By the by, I have now perfected my technique of packing non-soggy sandwiches for the next day’s lunch: I drape a sheet (or two) of cheese on each cut-open side of the bread, then stack on the cold cuts, spreading condiments between the layers. Any wet ingredients such as tomatoes and lettuce also go between the meats, sealing in the moisture. Revolutionary and revelatory—I know, right?

You’re welcome.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Adventures in Slow Cooking, Part V: Curried Chicken Thighs With Mushrooms and Green Beans

Gentle reader, in my ongoing attempts to master cooking with my new slow cooker, I dare say this might have been the most successful yet. Now, I’m not going to lie: This recipe is basically a variation on the Ignorant American Fusion Tikka Masala recipe I recently posted. The biggest difference is, you would really want to use thighs over breasts on this one, because they’re moister (read: fattier), and they will end up shreddy as opposed to chunky. Also I skipped the heavy cream component in the sauce, because I had no idea what consistency that would yield. Maybe next time.

I took maybe 3 pounds of bone-in chicken thighs, deskinned them and trimmed the blobby fat seams with kitchen shears, and rubbed them with a mix of curry powder, paprika, kosher salt, garlic powder, and cumin. (I was pretty generous with this dry rub, because I figured it would kind of dissipate into and flavor the sauce.) I left them in the fridge overnight like this, but eh, you needn’t bother.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Zucchini-Onion Sautee

It doesn’t get simpler or easier than this side dish; there are just a couple of seasonings (spoiler alert: nutmeg, thyme, and lemon) that make all the difference in bringing out the flavor of the veggies.

Start by melting a pat of butter (or you could use olive oil) in a saucepan over medium heat, then throw in some sliced or diced onion and let it soften, stirring so it doesn’t over-brown or stick to the pan. Grate a bit of fresh nutmeg (like 1/4 tsp.) over it. Mince a few sprigs’ worth of thyme leaves with about 1 TBSP of kosher salt, scatter it over the onion, and add 1 small-to-medium zucchini, sliced coin-style. Spritz on the juice of half a lemon and toss everything together.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Silence of the Lamb Roast

Gentle readers, my rollercoaster love-hate relationship with the Key Foods (née Met Foods) continues. Today I fell in love with it all over again when I found bone-in leg of lamb for $2.99 a pound. I purchased a roast that was about 2 1/2 pounds—mind you, knowing that a fair bit of that weight was the bone itself, but still feeling psyched that it was a good value.

I came home (singing “Kiiitty had a leg of lamb, leg of lamb, leg of lamb...”), preheated the oven to 350°, and slathered the meat with a paste of Dijon mustard, panko bread crumbs, garlic powder, shaved lemon zest, paprika, kosher salt, thyme, and parsley. (Tip: Mince your herbs/zest on a bed of the salt and other dry spices, it helps break them down. This works well for garlic too, but to my immense shame, I did not have any fresh garlic in the house.)

I put the meat in a foil-lined baking pan splashed with a bit of olive oil (photo below), and dropped it into the oven, followed shortly by another foil-lined baking pan containing unskinned Idaho potatoes, cut into wedges and tossed in salt and olive oil.

I also sliced and sautéed an 8-oz. package of white mushrooms in butter with a bit of thyme and salt and a splash of balsamic, to serve as a dressing for the lamb. Finally, I tossed some arugula in a mix of lemon juice and Dijon mustard—to echo the flavors of the lamb paste while creating an acidic counterpoint to the meat’s richness—and diced some mozzarella into it, because I didn’t want it tooooo counterpointy.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Ignorant American Fusion: Chorizo-Cheddar-Chile Lasagna

I know what you’re thinking just reading the post title, gentle reader: That sounds like something that would be on the menu at Chili’s. Well, fine, maybe it would—but at least I’m not killing your buzz by printing the calorie count on a menu, okay?

This weeknight meal (about 30 minutes start to finish; could easily be prepped in advance and reheated covered in foil) was inspired by my lack of motivation to go to the grocery store. In the fridge, I had a 4-pack of Goya chorizo, a 4-oz. can of mild diced green chiles, an 8-oz. package of cream cheese, a block of jalapeno jack, and the last gasp of a bunch of cilantro. In my cupboard, I had some lasagna noodles—which was a small miracle considering that last week I nearly had to be escorted out of the Key Foods after I pointed out to the woman ringing up my groceries that the packages were on sale two-for-one, which she summarily denied, and after I stormed into the pasta aisle and returned with the sale card, she looked at it and goes, “No, it’s not two for one. It says buy one, get one free.” I SWEAR TO GOD, gentle reader. I was like, HOLD MY EARRINGS.

Anyhoo. Although I was in no mood to return to said Key Foods, the two aforementioned cheeses were clearly not adequate for a lasagna, so I got a half pound of sliced cheddar at the Brooklyn Sub on Bergen just off Washington (next to the liquor store where you play a decidedly less titillating variant of Spin the Bottle by putting your purchase into the bulletproof-glass Lazy Susan). Gentle reader, I highly recommend Brooklyn Sub as a place to purchase your deli meats and cheeses. It has a great selection; the staff is super nice; and it is where I first learned of the existence of chipotle Gouda, so it has a special place in my heart—and also, the guy with the ponytail is the most dextrous deli slicer ever, so do not be put off by his ponytail, because he is a true professional, and none of that hair is going to end up in your food, trust.

Anyhoo x2. I got half a pound of sliced cheddar. Okay, now here’s the actual recipe...

Leftovers Love: Beef-Vegetable Soup

Gentle reader, as I have previously expressed, I am very grateful for the fact that I met the man of my dreams in an otherwise dismal 2016. I am also grateful that my mother gladly welcomed him into our family Chrismukkah celebration and gifted him with much-needed cold-weather items such as warm socks, a sweater ... and a lovely metal thermos (below) whose surface proudly declares “The adventure begins!” (It appears from the graphic that the purveyors expect you to paddle a canoe through the thermos, but I'm not buying it.)

Anyhoo. Christmas morning. “For soup, Davy!” my mother crowed. “Katherine will make you soup for lunch! The soup will stay warm!” And my man was all like, “Great! I can dip the sandwiches she makes me into the soup!” And I was all like, uh, whuuut? I did not sign off on this.

Mind you, he gets up before 5 AM to go to work, God love him, and in January it is pitch-dark and damn cold. I am happy to make the effort to pack him a sandwich and chips the night before, then go to bed exhausted from the effort, eventually rising at the crack of noon.

But soup? Dude. Even if I make that the night before, I have to heat it up in real time. As far as I could tell on Christmas morning, that was the true adventure of which the thermos spoke. And it was now my conscripted duty to embark on it.

I mean, I do like a good adventure—as long as it involves food, and not getting up before noon...

Monday, January 2, 2017

Ignorant American Fusion: Chicken Tikka Masala

Photo of Minar buffet via Midtown Lunch

Happy New Year!

Speaking of New Year's... Back when I worked in Times Square (cut to Marlon Brando hissing “The horror... the horror...”), one of the few bright lunch spots in the area was an Indian take-out joint called Minar, at 46th just off Broadway. (There was also Sophie's Cuban Cuisine on 45th between 5th and 6th, and an exellent biryani cart at 44th off 6th, where a disheveled and disoriented Pauly Shore once, moments after devouring a hot dog from the adjacent street cart, snagged the chicken kati roll I had ordered, but that’s another story.) (Well, actually, that’s the whole story. The only postscript is that now I see why they used to call him the Weasel.)

Anyhoo, at Minar, I always got the chicken tikka masala. It's amazingly delicious, although it costs $10 for an 8-oz. container with like 4 or 5 pieces of chicken floating in the amazingly rich and delicious sauce. Everything is out buffet-style, so it's a very quick grab-and-go lunch (although you can eat in, it's not the most ambiancey spot). You can get your meal with rice or naan, and if you select the latter, the woman behind the counter will turn toward the kitchen and yell “NAAN TO GO!!!,” and you will promptly begin salivating like a Pavlov dog. Damn, that is some good naan. It's a huge fluffy disc with crispy bubbles, all nice and warm and soft. You dip it in the sauce to sop up every drop after you've finished those measly 4 pieces of chicken.

Sadly, I do not know how to make that naan. (Sorry, gentle readers, for being a naan-tease.) But I did figure out a super-easy Ignorant American Fusion hack for the tikka masala, and you can feed dinner to 3 to 4 people with this chicken dish for the amount of money it would take one luncher in midtown to consume those 4 or 5 floating pieces.