Sunday, May 26, 2019

Ruth Reichl's Sweet Cherry Lemonade

It's Memorial Day Weekend, my daughter just graduated from high school, and we're on summer break until the middle of August! Woohoo!

On the flip side, my fridge and my air conditioner are broken so I needed a dish that was easy and wouldn't heat up the house at all. Ruth Reichl's Sweet Cherry Lemonade was just the thing!

This is a really tasty lemonade that comes together easily. A simple blend of cherries, a squeeze of lemon, and a bit of sugar.  No sugar syrup necessary.  No wait time. You can make this in a few minutes and serve it with at your Memorial Day picnic.

Hooray for Summer!!

Sweet Cherry Lemonade
Adapted from My Kitchen Year
by Ruth Reichl
Serves 4

1 quart sweet cherries
4 lemons
1/2 cup sugar

 Note: Ruth's recipe doesn't say how much water to add to the mixture and this is entirely up to you. I liked a ratio of about 3/4 lemonade mixture to 1/4 water (or just a touch of water).

The joy of this drink, other than its slightly sneaky flavor, is that you don't have to remove the cherry pits. You do, however, have to remove the stems from a quart (about 2 pounds) of cherries.  Toss the cherries into a blender, whirring them until they've become a rough mush.  Some of the pits will be chopped too; that's fine because you're going to put them in a strainer and press hard, extracting as much puree as you can. Discard the solids.

Place the cherry puree into a pitcher and stir in the juice of the lemons and the sugar.  (If you like things really sour, you might want less than 1/2 cup sugar; if you've got a sweet tooth, you'll want more.)

This will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator. When you're ready to drink the lemonade, pour into glasses and add water (or sparkling water) to taste.

Want to turn this into cocktails? Add a few splashes of vodka or gin, and garnish with a spring of mint.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

White Bean Dip with Pita Chips

Giada's White Bean Dip with Pita Chips has been on my "to-make" list for about 10 years. So it's about time that I finally got in the kitchen to make it.  Now, I've made my fair share of bean dips and I've loved them all, but I think the thing that draws people to this recipe is the puffy golden baked pita chips. I mean they look perfectly dunkable, don't they? Crunchy and herby and crisp and golden...they are addictive!

Then you have the bean dip...simple and satisfying. It's really no wonder this recipe has 378 five-star reviews on the Food Network.  I think pretty much anyone would enjoy it at a party or potluck. It's got that whole texture satisfaction thing going on, a little creamy and a little crunchy.  Not to mention it's all fairly healthy, as far as appetizers go.

If you wanted to make this more veggie-forward that would be easy to do.  Carrot sticks, celery sticks, radishes, snow peas, endive leaves, any dippable veggie would be great on the side.

If you're looking for a winning appetizer recipe, look no further! This is a winner!

White Bean Dip with Pita Chips
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 6-8 

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
6 pitas
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat oven to 400F. Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and parsley in the work bowl of a food processor (I used my high-speed blender and it worked just fine).  Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl.

Cut each pita in half and then into 8 wedges.  Arrange the pita wedges on a large baking sheet.  Pour the remaining oil over the pitas.  Toss and spread out the wedges evenly.  Sprinkle with the oregano, salt, and pepper.  Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until toasted and golden in color.

Serve the pita toasts warm or at room temperature alongside the bean puree.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Madhur Jaffrey's Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken. Quite easily the single most popular Indian dish of all. Imagine my surprise when I searched and scoured the internet looking for Madhur Jaffrey's Butter Chicken recipe and found only one, with directions that were about as vague as could be. Can someone please explain to me how in the world Madhur Jaffrey doesn't have an online recipe for Butter Chicken, the single most popular Indian dish? 

So, I messaged my fabulous friend, Deb of Kahakai Kitchen, hoping she had Madhur's recipe and what do you know...she did! So, big thanks to Deb for saving the day and sharing the recipe with me!

I didn't follow Madhur's recipe exactly, but that was because I didn't have precooked tandoor chicken and I don't suppose I ever will. Precooked tandoor chicken isn't a common commodity in central Kentucky and I don't imagine it is in other parts of the country.  So, I made do with chicken breast. Chicken thighs would also work well, probably even better.

In order to layer the flavors I decided to marinate my diced chicken in the blend of spices below (see note). I allowed it to marinate for 10-20 minutes while I gathered all my ingredients. I then seared the chicken in a wide skillet before removing it to a bowl. I added the sauce to the skillet and allowed it to cook for a while, letting the flavors meld, before adding the chicken back in to finish cooking. I think this method worked perfectly as the flavors were in fact layered and the chicken was ultimately tender. While this method may not be traditional, I feel as though it was the best option using the ingredients that I had on hand and I must say, the results were absolutely delicious. This is, beyond a doubt, a delicious and comforting bowl of food. This is a mild dish, one that is definitely very family-friendly, yet there are layers of warmth from the spices making it slightly complex and ultimately comforting. It's a hug in a bowl!

Butter Chicken
Adapted from Kahakai Kitchen
Madhur Jaffrey's 100 Weeknight Curries
by Madhur Jaffrey
Serves 4

For Sauce:
4 tablespoons tomato puree
3 cloves garlic, minced
2.5 cm (1-inch) cube fresh ginger, peeled and grated very finely
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon garam masala
3/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 fresh hot green chili, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
4 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin

For Chicken:
4 ounces butter
1 quantity of tandoor chicken, precooked OR
1 pound diced chicken breast*
Optional: Rice or naan bread, on the side
Optional: Diced shallots, jalapeno, chopped cilantro, chives, etc.

*Note: (I did not follow Madhur Jaffrey's cooking instructions exactly): This recipe indicates that your chicken has already been cooked. My chicken breast had not. Instead of following the directions below, I tossed all the seasonings (salt, black pepper, cayenne, garam masala, and cumin with raw diced chicken and allowed it to marinate for 10 minutes. Then I added the butter to the wide saute pan and seared the chicken on all sides, locking in all the flavor of the spices. I then removed the chicken to a bowl and heated the sauce in the same pan, placing the chicken back in to finish cooking. 

*Madhur Jaffrey's cooking instructions: First prepare the sauce. Put the tomato puree in a large clear measuring jug.  Slowly add water, mixing as you go to make up 1 cup tomato sauce.  Add the remaining sauce ingredients and mix well.

Heat the butter in a wide saute pan or a large frying pan. When the butter has melted, add the spiced sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook on medium heat for a minute, mixing in the butter as you do. Add the chicken pieces. Stir once and put the chicken on a warm serving platter, spooning extra sauce over the top.