Mulligatawny

We'll pretend that this was the photo I always planned to use, not was forced to use because we ate the whole pot of mulligatawny last night. Oops.
We’ll pretend that this was the photo I always planned to use, not was forced to use because we ate the whole pot of mulligatawny last night. Oops.

When Josh and I were dating, he took me to Shanghai so I could meet his dad and his dad’s wife before we got engaged. Besides being an incredible trip full of amazing food (and Josh secretly telling them the first day that he had bought a ring and was going to propose soon. NO PRESSURE), one of the best thing’s to come out of the trip was his Malaysian stepmother sending us home with two bags of her favorite curry powder, Baba’s Meat Curry.

One of the first things I used it for for was a heavily altered version of the Pioneer Woman’s Easy Mulligatawny, which is I’m sure itself a very bastardized version of the original. I am in no way claiming that this is an authentic recipe, but only stating that for 6 years now, this has been one of Josh’s favorite meals on earth.

My main advice would be to make sure you love the curry powder you use, because it really is the star player.

Mulligatawny

  • 2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 heaping Tbsp curry powder
  • 32 ounces chicken broth
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
  • 3/4 cup uncooked rice (basmati or jasmine both work great)

Season diced chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden (don’t worry about it cooking through, since it will go back in later in the cooking process). Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.

In the same pot, add the remaining butter and reduce heat to medium. Add diced onion and garlic and stir to cook until the onions soften and start to brown.

Sprinkle flour over onions and stir to coat. Add the curry powder and cook the mixture over medium heat for one minute, stirring constantly.

Stir in the chicken broth and cook for five minutes. Add the coconut milk, some salt and pepper, and cook for another five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the rice and stir well. Cook for about five minutes, stirring often to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom.

Add the chicken and diced apple and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, until rice is done. Turn off the heat and allow to stand 5 or 10 minutes before serving.

Xi’an Famous Spicy Cumin Lamb Hand-Smashed Noodles

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One of my first posts on this blog was written in praise of one of my favorite little New York gems of a restaurant, Xi’an Famous Foods. From the moment Josh and I first tried their insanely addictive and spicy hand-ripped noodles, we were hooked. Oily, intensely flavored, with big pieces of lamb scattered through, it was everything we didn’t even know we wanted.

Then we moved to Ohio.

While we have found a great spot for pho and banh mi locally, as well as other delicious restaurants (Eli’s, you have my heart), there is definitely a big lack of authentic asian cuisine. Not entirely surprising, but sad none the less.

When Mandy from Lady and Pups posted a recipe for her take on the Xi’an noodles, I might have screamed. I’ve been a fangirl of hers since I discovered her blog over 6 months ago, and have made a LOT of her recipes, always incredibly successfully. Her Vampire Slayer ramen? I’m constantly contemplating when to make it again. Her recipes are long, they have ingredient lists that will probably require a trip to an asian grocery store and/or an order from Amazon, but every time they are worth every single minute. She’s opened my eyes to a whole new way of cooking, and Josh is loving it more than words can say.

I would never even presume to retell or repost her glorious recipes, since they are long, involved, and her photos are excellent and often very helpful, but I will make a few notes.

Go, MAKE THESE NOODLES.

  • I think finding the right flour can be one of the most intimidating parts of this, but our asian market had a bag of it. When in doubt, go to your international market. Words to live by.
  • These noodles are spicy. No way around it. I had tears of pleasure/pain in my eyes, and we didn’t even use the chili oil she recommends. Maybe next time? If that much spice scares you, cut the cayenne pepper down to 1/4 or even 1/8 tsp. Go a little hotter than you normally would. It’s part of the experience.
  • The dough hook for my stand mixer isn’t as cool or complex as hers, so I definitely had to work my dough longer. It will not look like any dough you’ve worked with before, and that’s okay. Follow her instructions and use her guidelines. It really will all work out.
  • Don’t stress too much over the ingredient list. I didn’t have white pepper and I never have MSG. I didn’t feel like buying extra dark soy sauce for the tiny amount required. Don’t sweat it. Get as much as you can, and then taste and see if you think something is missing. I wound up adding a little more soy sauce to make up for the lack of MSG, and it was fantastic.
  • Next time, we’ll add more lamb. It was delicious.

Red Beans and Rice

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File this one under “recipes that don’t photograph well but are nothing short of perfection,” because that’s how I view this beauty.

While Josh loves pretty much everything I cook, there are a few dishes that he gets downright giddy when I offer to make. My bolognese is a surefire winner, as well as mulligatawny (which somehow I don’t have on here. Must remedy soon). I’d say that this recipe for red beans and rice is right up there in the top three.

This isn’t the only recipe for this dish that I’ve tried, mainly because this one seemed too easy and I felt that I needed to try some more complicated ones.

Sometimes, simple is best.

Red Beans and Rice (copied from Eat, Live, Run)

  • 1 lb dry small red beans (we use kidney beans)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped (I omit this. Celery is gross)
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 2 ham hocks (about 1 lb) (or pork neck bones, our favorite)
  • 2 tsp Creole seasoning (I love Tony Chachere’s More Spice, but it is quite spicy)
  • 2 tsp original Tabasco sauce (sometimes I use half original, half jalapeño/green Tobasco)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 8 oz good quality smoked andouille sausage, roughly chopped

for serving—

  • 1 cup dry white rice
  • 2 cups water (I like to replace some of the water with broth from the beans)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • extra Tabasco sauce on the side!

Directions:

The night before, rinse the beans under cold running water and then place beans in a large pot. Cover with cold water and let soak overnight.

A few hours before you’re ready to eat, drain the beans. Add the chopped yellow onion, chopped green pepper, celery, minced garlic, Creole seasoning, bay leaves and ham hocks in the same pot with the beans. Cover with fresh water about three inches above beans (I used a five quart pot and pretty much filled the thing to the top with water).

Turn the heat to high and cover pot with lid, letting about an inch open to let out steam. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally.

After an hour and a half, stir in Tabasco sauce, salt and chopped andouille sausage. Simmer slowly for another hour, stirring often at this point.

When the beans are done, the liquid should have gotten very thick (almost like a gravy texture) and the beans will almost look mashed. Remove the ham hock and the bay leaves and turn off the heat. Cover the pot again while you prepare the rice.

To make the rice, boil the rice, water and salt together. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 16-18 minutes (I actually use our rice cooker. Forever and always). Fluff rice with a fork when done and serve with the beans with additional hot sauce on the side.

Oven Poached Eggs

IMG_0308   Happy Friday! This week has been busy and mildly exhausting, so I’m more than looking forward to the weekend. I just wanted to write this suuuuuper quick post because it’s possibly the ultimate brunch discovery. See the above egg? It was “poached” in its shell, in the oven. What?! Even crazier, I cooked a few extras, stuck them in the fridge overnight, and then warmed them up in a bowl of warm water the next night and they were still perfect. Just think of what amazing brunches you could make if you could have perfectly poached eggs cooked days before?! I’m nearly giddy (which I recognize is a little odd to be about an egg, but whatever). This might even beat out 6 minute eggs as my favorite egg. For the full instructions, go over to Lady and Pups.

Have a great weekend!

French Onion Soup

IMG_0113 Last week, the kitchn kept posting about french onion soup, which is really all kinds of cruel. I mean… it’s not a quick, easy dish, it’s delicious beyond belief, and it’s pretty much the epitome of a perfect winter soup. Rich, savory soup topped by a salty, crunchy piece of bread, with browned and bubbly gruyere cheese on top? Uh, sign me up. They used the Julia Child version, and it really doesn’t get any more classic than Julia, right (she’s my hero)? You can go here and get the full directions with step by step photos, including a good visual of just how dark the caramelized onions will need to be. I did make a few modifications (DUH) and have listed them below:

  • When a recipe is this simple, each ingredient really matters, so I made a batch of beef broth. Our Whole Foods has packs of marrow bones, and I grabbed a 1.5 lb pack, browned the bones at 450 for about an hour, flipping once, and then put them in a crock pot with a skin on quartered onion, 2 carrots broken in thirds, 2 smashed cloves of garlic, a good splash of apple cider vinegar, and a sprig of thyme. I filled the crockpot with filtered water and let it cook on low for about 24+ hours. I got roughly 12 cups of delicious broth from this, more than enough to make this recipe and save some for later. This wound up saving me money in the end, and the broth is delicious and flavored exactly the way I want it to be. DO IT.
  • Thyme was my herb of choice, because I just think it pairs so beautifully with the flavors of the soup. I put some in the broth while making it, and put couple of stems in the soup when simmering.
  • The onions took a full hour of babysitting to get to the right color. It will seem at times that the color hasn’t changed for far too long, but resist the urge to turn up the heat. Low and slow.
  • Instead of white wine or brandy, we chose to use a delicious local beer. Rhinegeist has quickly become our favorite Cincinnati brewery, and we went with 1/2 c. of their Cougar beer. It’s a blonde ale, and light enough to enhance the soup without overwhelming it. Plus, then we had another 5.5 cans to drink. Yay!
  • We don’t have any special bowls for a soup like this. Our normal bowls are technically oven safe, but I always get nervous when it comes to putting them close to the broiler, so we just skipped that step. Instead, I pan fried stale slices of baguette in olive oil, sprinkled them with salt, and place them on the soup. Then I topped the bowls/mugs with shredded aged gruyere cheese, let them sit for a few moments to soften, and then… pulled out our brûlée torch and went to town. It’s always more fun with an open flame. Fact: when Josh and I got together, we each brought a brûlée torch into the relationship. We were meant to be.

My only regret is that it’s taken me so long to make this soup the right way.

Red Lentil Dal

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I believe that as a home cook, there are three key words I try to aim for when it comes to a recipe: cheap, healthy, and delicious. Sometimes things are just delicious, sometimes cheap or healthy and delicious (always being delicious is a requirement). Sometimes the three meet and make a magical trifecta of perfection.

This dish is one of those. Also added to the list? Easy.

What’s not to love?

This dal is creamy, with just enough spice to warm you up, but not enough that even a small child should have issues with it. It takes a surprisingly short amount of time to make compared to beans, and this recipe makes a huge batch, so your cooking is pretty much done for at least a few days.

You’re welcome.

One of the other great things about this dish is its versatility. It’s great over rice, excellent when used as a dip for naan or roti, and so cozy when eaten as a soup, which is what I did this week. Add a swirl of yogurt and a little fresh cilantro and you’ve got a perfect winter dinner.

Red lentil dal (adapted from this recipe)

  • cups red lentils
  • medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 14oz can of diced tomatoes (fire roasted is always a plus)
  • 7 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black or yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 handfuls of chopped cilantro
  • 1 14oz can coconut milk

In a large pot or dutch oven (always my first choice), combine the lentils, chopped onion, can of tomatoes with the juice, cayenne, ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, and salt. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, or until the lentils begin to break down.

In a small frying pan over medium high heat, add the oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the cumin seeds and the mustard seeds. Cover the pan and wait until you can hear the seeds begin to pop. Add the diced onion and cook until lightly browned, stirring often.

Add the seeds and onion mixture to the lentils, along with the chopped cilantro and coconut milk. Stir to combine, and let cook for another 10 minutes or so to let the flavors blend together. Taste and add salt, if necessary.

Serve, and stay warm and happy.

Chicken Pho (Pho Ga)

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So…. yesterday I tried the chicken pho recipe from Smitten Kitchen, and good lord IT’S SO GOOD.

Like, worth every minute (and it took a lot of minutes), made us eat until we thought we’d explode, thought about it as soon as I woke up good.

Add it to the rotation of my favorite recipes ever good.

Good.

For the full recipe, go here. I thought I’d share my notes on it though.

  • First of all, be prepared for how much time this will take. I’d say plan for about 4 hours. The good thing is that you can easily cook the broth longer if your dinner plans are pushed late (which ours were). If the broth reduces too much, just add more water. Easy.
  • Instead of the wings and quartered whole chicken she called for, I used 3 lbs of chicken thighs, plus some extra legs and thighs. This resulted in a ton of delicately flavored shredded chicken that I’ll be freezing for future uses. As long as I’m doing all the work, I think it’s great to get so much in return.
  • For the spices, I took 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 8 cloves, 2 green cardamom pods, 8 black peppercorns, and 4 coriander seeds, toasted them in a dry skillet until very fragrant, and then tied them up in a teabag. This made the broth so fragrant, and I think I’ll do those same spices again next time.
  • My largest pot was pretty much completely full after adding all of the onions, ginger, spices, and chicken and covered them with water, so once I shredded all of the cooked chicken and added the skin and bones back into the pot, I filled the pot back up with water to get as much broth out of the process as possible.
  • I’d advise you start with 1/8 c. fish sauce, taste, and then go from there. I didn’t add the full 1/4 c. because I was afraid it would overwhelm the broth.
  • We kept the toppings very simple this time. Lime, sriracha, basil, and cilantro.

Glory.