My favorite quarantine recipes Part II

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Easter (birthday) chocolate cake with cream-cheese frosting

Still in isolation. Still hungry. Still cooking up a storm!

While I do love collecting and perfecting new recipes, it does push some of my old “go-to faves” further and further into the background. But every now and then I make it a point to scroll back and re-discover some of them. It’s a bit like re-connecting with an old school friend on Facebook. You reminisce, you catch up, you wonder why you lost touch…and then you move on to the next new shiny thing. Here are a few new and old hits that made last week especially delicious.

 

SUNDAY

If you love meatballs and middle-eastern flavors, this recipe for Kofta is an absolute knock-out. Aromatic, nutty, spicy and the bed of lemon-flavored tahini is pure sublimity.

KOFTA MEATBALLS

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Kofta

INGREDIENTS

For the Kofta:

  • 1 lb minced lamb
  • 1 lb minced veal or beef
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves crushed
  • 3/4 cup toasted pine nuts roughly chopped plus extra whole ones to garnish
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsely plus extra to garnish
  • 1 large medium-hot red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tspn ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tspn ground allspice
  • 3/4 tspn grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tspn ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tspn salt
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp melted ghee

For the Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup light tahini paste
  • 3 Tblspn lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 medium garlic clove crushed
  • Sweet paprika to garnish

DIRECTIONS

Put all the kofta ingredients in a large bowl and mix together with your hands. Shape into long torpedo-like fingers. Arrange on a tray and chill until ready to cook for up to 1 day.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees (400 degrees with convection). In a medium bowl whisk together tahini paste, lemon juice, water, garlic and 1/4 tsp salt. The sauce should be a bit runnier than honey. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of extra water if needed.

Heat sunflower oil in a large frying pan and sear the kofta over high heat. Do this in batches so they aren’t cramped together. Sear until golden brown on all sides – about 6 minutes for each batch.
At this point they should be medium-rare. Lift out of the pan and arrange on a cookie sheet. Finish cooking in the oven on the tray for 5 minutes. Drizzle with melted ghee once you remove them from the oven.
Spoon 3/4 of the tahini sauce on a serving plate and arrange the kofta on top. Drizzle the remaining tahini over the kofta in long, thin streaks.
Garnish with pine nuts, parsely and paprika. Serve immediately.
Serve with pita and cucumber and tomato salad.

 

MONDAY

For me, eating shrimp is like eating jewelry. And the one thing that shrimp tends to be paired up with most often is garlic. The Portuguese do it a lot. So do the Spanish, and the Italians, and the Greeks and even the Cubans. But here is a Mexican shrimp dish that uses 26 cloves of garlic that get salted, roasted and caramelized with smoked Chipotle peppers.

MEXICO CITY SHRIMP WITH CHIPOTLE MOJO

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Mexico City Shrimp with Chipotle Mojo

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 heads of garlic (about 26 cloves) peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and minced, plus 2 tsp adobo sauce
  • 2 pounds medium shrimp—shelled and deveined
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  • Grated Mexican cheese
  • Avocado slices
  • Soft shell tortillas

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 325°. In a small ceramic baking dish, combine the crushed garlic and olive oil with a pinch of salt. Put the dish on a cookie sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, until the garlic is tender and just starting to brown. Stir in the lime juice and bake for about 15 minutes more, until the garlic is golden and very soft. Let the mixture cool slightly.

Using a fork, mash the garlic against the side of the dish and stir to incorporate the oil; the sauce may look like it has separated. Add the chipotle and adobo, season with salt and keep warm.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the garlicky oil from the mojo until shimmering. Add half of the shrimp and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden and just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a platter. Repeat with 2 more tablespoons of the garlicky oil and the remaining shrimp. Top the shrimp with more garlic and serve with the excess garlic, lime wedges, chopped cilantro, grated Mexican cheese, sliced avocados and warmed tortillas all on the side.

 

TUESDAY

Just because you can’t go outside shouldn’t mean that you have to divorce yourself from anything barbecued. This pulled chicken slider is a yummy, smoky, vinegary, tomatoey (slightly messy) work of genius that brings the outside inside.

BARBECUE CHICKEN SLIDERS

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Barbecued Chicken Sliders

INGREDIENTS

For the Sauce

  • 1 ½ cups ketchup
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

For the Chicken

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke (separated)
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, halved crosswise
  • Hot sauce

DIRECTIONS

FOR THE SAUCE: Whisk all ingredients together in bowl. Set aside.

FOR THE CHICKEN: Bring broth, molasses, sugar, 2 teaspoons liquid smoke, gelatin, and 1 teaspoon salt to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add chicken and return to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is easily shredded with fork, about 30 minutes.

Transfer chicken to medium bowl and set aside. Strain cooking liquid through fine-mesh strainer set over bowl (do not wash pot). Let liquid settle for 5 minutes; skim fat from surface. Set aside fat and defatted liquid.

Shred into bite-size pieces with 2 forks. Transfer chicken, 1 cup sauce, ½ cup reserved defatted liquid, 3 tablespoons reserved fat, and remaining 1 teaspoon liquid smoke to now-empty pot. Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently, until liquid has been absorbed and exterior of meat appears dry, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Serve, passing remaining sauce.

Serve the pulled chicken on white bread or hamburger buns with pickles and coleslaw.

 

WEDNESDAY

If it isn’t obvious yet, I tend to lean towards more flavor-forward dishes. I can’t even spell suttel!? For me, the spicier the better – even on vegetarian night. This crispy potato dish is a relative newbie that rose to “keeper” status after just one bite.

CRISPY POTATOES WITH SPICY AVOCADO SALSA

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Crispy potatoes with spicy Avocado salsa

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/3 cup cold water, plus more as needed
  • 1 medium serrano chile, stemmed, seeded (if desired), and roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 small avocado, pitted
  • 1/2 cup pickled hot jalapeño slices (such as Mezzetta) plus 1 1/2 tablespoons pickling liquid
  • 2 ounces Cotija cheese, grated on smallest holes of a box grater (about 1/2 cup)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss together potatoes, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1 teaspoon salt on a rimmed baking sheet, and spread in a single layer. Bake in preheated oven until fork-tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven.

Increase oven temperature to 500°F. Using the bottom of a 1-cup dry measuring cup, smash potatoes to about 1/2-inch thickness. (Make sure smashed potatoes are still in a single layer.) Drizzle with 3 tablespoons oil; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Bake at 500°F until bottoms of potatoes are golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Flip potatoes, drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake until edges of potatoes are crispy and golden, 8 to 12 minutes.

While potatoes bake, process onion, 1/3 cup water, serrano, 3 tablespoons cilantro, lime juice, and remaining 11/4 teaspoons salt in a blender until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add avocado, and process until smooth, about 10 seconds. If needed, pulse in additional cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to reach a thick but pourable consistency.

Transfer warm potatoes to a large bowl; add pickled jalapeño slices and pickling liquid, Cotija, and 1/2 cup cilantro; toss to coat. Spoon avocado salsa into 4 small bowls; top evenly with potato mixture, and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon cilantro. Serve immediately.

 

FRIDAY

Nothing can take your mind off of a virus like a good, strong, creamy and umami curry and rice. Even though there are a few extra steps to this restaurant-quality Chicken Tikka Masala, they are so worth it. Come on. You can do it.

CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA

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Chicken Tikka Masala

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced (separated)
  • 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 cup yogurt (plain, whole-milk)
  • 2 pounds chicken breast, cut into large chunks
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 5 tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 can coconut milk (separated)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Sambals: sliced bananas, peanuts, toasted coconut, cashews, chutney, atchar

DIRECTIONS

Combine the turmeric, garam masala, coriander, cumin, salt and red chile powder to make a spice blend; divide the blend in half. Combine half of the spice blend with 4 minced cloves of garlic, ginger, yogurt and chicken; mix together by hand in a mixing bowl. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag and marinate for at least 6 hours (overnight preferred).

Warm the ghee in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until aromatic, another minute. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, cardamom pods, white pepper and the other half of the spice blend. Stir to combine, then reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer until dark and thick, about 40 minutes.

While the sauce is darkening, prepare the chicken. Skewer the chicken pieces and grill over direct high heat until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side, flipping once. Alternatively, broil in the oven, about 6 to 8 minutes per side. Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes, then remove from the skewers and set aside.

Once the sauce is dark, transfer to a blender and add 1 cup of the coconut milk. Blend until smooth. Return to the skillet, straining through a mesh strainer to catch the cardamom shells and tomato skins. Stir in the rest if the coconut milk; return to a simmer and cook until slightly darkened, about 10 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed.

Stir in the cilantro and chicken pieces and allow to simmer for another minute before serving.
Serve with Basmati rice and as many sambals as you like on the side.

 

ANY DAY

If the first sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result, then why, oh why do we eat store-bought Lemon curd? If something so pure has a shelf-life longer than a bad mood, then don’t be surprised if all you can taste are the preservatives, stabilizers, thickeners, artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors. I dollop my home-made Lemon curd on just about everything. Toast, yogurt, oatmeal, banana bread, heck I’d even put it on the lid of an Amazon delivery box, if I there was nothing else to eat.

HOME-MADE LEMON CURD

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Lemon curd

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 Lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 lb butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar

DIRECTIONS

Melt the butter slowly in a double boiler. Lightly beat the eggs and add to the butter with the lemon juice and zest. Stir slowly but immediately with a whisk to blend the ingredients.
Add the sugar while continuing to stir until well mixed.
Allow to cook slowly and gently for 30 – 45 minutes or until it coats the back of the spoon. (Do not overheat or the eggs will scramble.) Strain the curd into a jug, and pour into warm jars and cover. Refrigerate and use within a month.

 

Stay safe. Stay sane. Stay inspired. But above all, stay at home.

Keep Calm and Curry On!

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It was very much within my lifetime that London’s most traditional meal switched from Fish & chips, to Curry & rice. By contrast, New York’s Indian fare is nowhere near the scope and scale of London’s, but the clutter of turmeric-awninged establishments up and down Lexington avenue in Manhattan’s Curry (Murray) Hill are just the preview of the larger story. Thanks to an incredible fellowship of chefs from all across the Indian peninsula, Michelin and the New York Times have been generously honoring Indian restaurants with stars, stripes and other accolades. Here’s how they shake down for me.

Chicken Kati rolls – IndiKitch

Categorizing from fastest to slowest (Curry in a Hurry notwithstanding), IndiKitch is the papadum and samosa version of Taco Bell. Good, clean, tasty and fresh. You build your meal from carbs to cattle with chutneys, sauces and rices on the side.

For in-home delivery I have Dhaba on speed-dial right below 911, thanks to their vast menu of all-time classic favorites, made just the way I like them: Tandoori, Korma, Paneer, Masala, Vindaloo…even a collection of British-inspired curry dishes. If you love Poori like I do (a hot-air filled, angry, blow-fish looking pillow of bread – the size of which remains curiously dependent on the weather) you have arrived!

Pondicheri

One of the newer kids on the block is Pondicheri. What the exposed-ceilinged, cavernous Flatiron space lacks in intimacy, with one teal wall and a massive gray mural with what looks like a couple of giant balls of wool quickly unraveling across another, or the head-scratchingly ominous tangle of cables and wires overhead, it more than makes up for in non-traditional, but authentic pan-regional fare. The Houston import is more of a “community concept” than just a restaurant. With a huge enviro-agenda, cooking classes, pop-up event dinners and a super-busy in-house bakery, where chef Anita Jaisinghani churns out the most extraordinarily yummy Indian interpretations on popular western confections.

Bakery Counter – Pondicheri

Donuts dripping with rose-water honey, Financiers with pistachios and cumin, Rice crispy bars with nuts and curry, coffee cakes, cookies and ginger snaps that populate the breakfast and lunchtime counter. Dinner is a bit smarter. Down goes the lighting, and out comes the wait staff. The best way to navigate the mainly street-food menu, is to go for one of the freshest and tastiest Samosa’s on the island, followed by one of the Thalis platters, that provide a half dozen different dish-lets of kebabs, soups, poultry, ribs, greens and more. I thoroughly enjoyed the one called Earth for its standing-ovation worthy Butter Chicken.

Paowalla

If you’ve ever wondered what happened to Tabla on Madison Park, turns out chef Floyd Cardoz is back, but this time he’s converted one of those typical West Village neighborhoodsy corner cafés into his next culinary canvas. Paowalla (named for the bicycle peddlers of traditional breads) offers so much more than just cumin/cardamom/chili delights. The carb-forward menu is a striking introduction to the real world of Roti and Naan, stuffed with cheeses, radishes, bacon and herbs. Cardoz also pulls together a few unexpected pairings, many of which make for happy surprises like Burrata submerged in a delicious puddle of Dal, or the tandoor-fried Black Pepper Shrimp, while others…not so much. The overly-soggy, coconut-laced Baked Crab might have been more comfortable under the protection of its shell, but I adored my first ever Dogfish curry, smothered in flavor, steamed in banana leaves and served with tart mango over brown rice.

Short and Saintly Rib – Tapestry

Going even further along the bridge toward experimentation, Michelin star winner Suvir Saran’s new downtown bistro is appropriately named Tapestry, in my mind suggesting the very fabric of what comprises our city, offering up a menu every bit as diverse as the kitchen staff, the clientele and the planet in general. Saran calls it “comfort food from around the world.” Maybe. I prefer: “The united nations of yum!” It’s where India whimsically intersects with Italy, Morocco, Mexico, Peru, Portugal and Louisiana – otherwise known as the F train.

Roasted Cauliflower – Tapestry

You can’t help smiling as you scan the remarkably affordable menu that has the chutzpah to combine a heavenly Arancini with green curry, or a tangy, sweet and crispy Okra salad with chaat masala. How about an irresistible Cauliflower roasted with hakka spices? Or the only time I can ever remember asking for left-overs to be boxed up: a super-tender Short Rib with cashew-poppy kurma. And the dish that just became my ultimate bribe ever – the utterly sublime Masala Fried Chicken. I still dream and drool about those flavorful sections of spicy, fried chicken tossed in a sticky, sweet and savory chutney, alongside a peanut slaw. And finally, almost triumphantly, a guava and passion fruit, flaming tribute to a baked Alaska called Fire and Ice. We’re not talking fusion here. This is pure kitchen magnificence.

Fire and Ice – Tapestry

That brings us to the northern end of the price/flavor scale. Indian Accent just celebrated its first birthday as one of New Delhi’s finest exports into Manhattan’s midtown maze. The dark, sleek and sexy interiors look, smell and feel nothing like your typical Indian restaurant. Almost formal – if you’re judging by the prix fixe options of 3 or 4-course menus, but casual enough to do without the tablecloths.

Indian Accent

Despite the litany of translations and explanations the poor wait staff have to decode – thanks to the lexicon of unrecognizable and unpronounceable items, there’s no collective sighing or rolling of eyes – yet. The plating is gorgeous. The flavors are remarkable. The cocktails are imaginative. The service is excellent. The prices are high.

Crab Claws – Indian Accent

Standouts (and judging by our neighbors on both sides who imitated us plate-for-plate) are the Potato Sphere chaat, which is a charming miniature birds nest of crispy potato shoelaces spun into a ball over a white pea mash, the utterly finger-lickingly delectable, butter-pepper-garlic baptized Crab Claws, the unsharably wonderful sweet and sour, fall-off-the-bone Pickled Ribs, the scrumptious Chicken Kofta (meatballs), and the magnificently tender Braised lamb with prune korma.

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Pickled Ribs – Indian Accent

Each main is accompanied by a choice of Kulcha (if an enchilada and a calzone had an Indian baby) stuffed with any number of interesting ingredients like hoisin duck or pastrami mustard. Yes folks, we’re a long way from curry in a hurry!

Potato Sphere – Indian Accent

https://www.indikitchtogo.com/store25/restaurant.php

http://www.dhabanyc.com/

http://www.pondichericafe.com/new-york

http://www.indianaccent.com/index.html

Pippali review

Pippali - There are two things I have to warn you about before you step foot into Peter Beck’s relatively new Indian bistro Pippali in Curry Hill: the one is the noise, and the other is the food! Chances are, you probably prefer the one over the other, but you will undoubtedly have to concern yourself with both. The combination of the understandable (yet unpredicted) popularity of this semi-subterranean dining room with woefully inadequate sound-absorption materials seems to recreate the chaos of the Bangalore railway station at rush hour.  But be that as it may, if your waiter can manage to hear your order above the infernal roar, then you are in for one of the most exotic Indian treats this side of London.

Beck has successfully impressed New Yorkers with his inventive elevation of Indian classics into ultra modern culinary delicacies since he opened the Michelin star winning Tamarind in 2002. This new venue further permits him to take bold risks and blend western ingredients with Indian spices. While you might recognize some of the dishes by name on the vegevore/carnivore menu, the resulting flavors will most definitely surprise you.

Pippali - Jaipuri Kofta

Jaipuri Kofta

The spinach Samosas are bursting with lentils and humming with heat – which is broadened and softened by the orange chutney. There’s hardly any need to wonder why the Jaipuri Kofta is one of the most frequently ordered dishes. These too-good-to-be-true green pumpkin and chickpea meatless meatballs are steeped in garam masala with ginger and spinach, and arrive submerged in a sauce made from precisely the same ingredients! The incredibly plump and flavorful Chorchori Chingri (marinated shrimp) are sautéed in mustard seeds and a thick coconut cream. I was tempted to try the Batak Uttapam (black pepper hand rubbed duck breast with portabella mushrooms) but ultimately chose the incomparable Tabak Maz (grilled rack of lamb).

Pippali - Grilled Rack of Lamb

Grilled Rack of Lamb

Three succulent chops grilled to perfection with roasted aromatics that create an immaculate balance between taste, tang and tart – finished in a creamy saffron and fennel sauce, (the kind that if no-one was looking, you would bury your head deep into the plate and lick up every last drop!)

So don’t let the noise deter you. Just light some candles, put on some cool jazz, call Pippali and order in!

http://www.pippalinyc.com/