If you’re just joining us now, let me catch you up on what’s been happening for the past 10 weeks. Being a bit of a foodie in a foodie city where all 18,000 food establishments are closed, I decided to embark on a personal challenge: to keep up my beloved culinary variety by cooking a different dish every day until the lock-down ends. And so, as I wring out my recipe books with new, used, cherished, nostalgic and beloved meals, I hope you join me as I eat “out” every night of the week.
It’s hardly surprising that Butter chicken is one of the hottest items on any Indian restaurant menu. It’s relatively mild, silky smooth and a little bit indulgent. But this recipe is not only butter-free, but it pretty much cooks itself too. The real work today was making our own Naan bread for the first time. It’s fun, rather easy (by bread standards) and it “bakes” in the pan.
SLOW COOKER BUTTER CHICKEN
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 cup coconut milk (if necessary, whisk to combine the liquid and solids before measuring)
- ½ cup chicken stock
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
- Cooked basmati or jasmine rice, for serving
In medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions to skillet, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and ginger, and cook another 2 minutes. Add garam masala, tomato paste and salt; cook and stir 2 minutes.
Place chicken pieces in a slow cooker, then add tomato paste mixture, lime zest and juice, coconut milk and chicken stock. Stir everything together, cover and cook on low heat setting for 4 1/2 to 5 hours, until the chicken is cooked through. (You may let it cook up to 7 hours if necessary, but the chicken may be very soft and shred.) Garnish with cilantro and serve with basmati or jasmine rice, and naan if you have some. Serves 4.
- ½ cup ice water
- ⅓ cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ teaspoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- 1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
In measuring cup or small bowl, combine water, yogurt, 3 tablespoons oil, and egg yolk. Process flour, sugar, and yeast in food processor until combined, about 2 seconds. With processor running, slowly add water mixture; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand for 10 minutes.
Add salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of workbowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Let dough rise at room temperature for 30 minutes. Fold partially risen dough over itself 8 times by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle, turning bowl 90 degrees after each fold. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, turning, and rising one more time, for total of three 30-minute rises.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Place heatproof plate on rack. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and divide into 4 equal pieces. Shape each piece into smooth, tight ball. Place dough balls on lightly oiled baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic coated with vegetable oil spray. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes.
Transfer 1 ball to lightly floured work surface and sprinkle with flour. Using hands and rolling pin, press and roll piece of dough into 9-inch round of even thickness, sprinkling dough and work surface with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Using fork, poke entire surface of round 20 to 25 times. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Wipe oil out of skillet completely with paper towels. Mist top of dough lightly with water. Place dough in pan, moistened side down; mist top surface of dough with water; and cover. Cook until bottom is browned in spots across surface, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip naan, cover, and continue to cook on second side until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. (If naan puffs up, gently poke with fork to deflate.) Flip naan, brush top with about 1 teaspoon melted butter, transfer to plate in oven, and cover plate tightly with aluminum foil. Repeat rolling and cooking remaining 3 dough balls. Once last naan is baked, serve immediately. Serves 4.
When Kale salad and I were first introduced, we didn’t really get along so well. It felt like I was chewing down on an old garden hose. But then I discovered that the leaves have a thick coating that instinctively repels even the finest dressings in the world, unless you “massage” them down – literally squeeze the $#!* out of them with a little olive oil and salt in between your thumbs and forefingers until they succumb to the pressure and turn dark green. That’s when all the hoopla happens, and this surprisingly crunchy, salty, creamy salad is a show-stopper.
KALE SALAD WITH GARLICKY PANKO
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup panko
- Kosher salt
- 1 bunch curly kale
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in the panko and cook, stirring, until golden and crisp, 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a plate to cool.
Cut the stems from the kale and tear the leaves into pieces. In a bowl, whisk the vinegar with the remaining 1/2 cup of oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the kale; massage with the dressing using your fingers. Season with salt and pepper and toss. Transfer to a platter, top with the feta, garlic panko and serve.
Summer isn’t summer without a good Gazpacho. There’s just something special about being able to drink sun-ripened heirloom tomatoes. This recipe easily serves about 8, and so we siphon off a little each day for just under a week. If you’re a purist, be warned: I took the liberty of adding some feta to this predominantly Spanish recipe. I know. I know. But it does give it a smidge more creaminess. Don’t hate me until you try it.
GAZPACHO WITH AVOCADO SALSA
For the Gazpacho:
- 6 heirloom tomatoes
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1-2 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup good olive oil (or less,depending on consistency)
- 2 peeled cucumbers
- 2 Tblspn white wine vinegar to taste
- 2 square inches of feta cheese.
- Salt & Pepper to taste
For the Avodaco Salsa:
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1/4 tsp Tabasco
- juice from 1 lemon
- 1 Tblspn chopped parsley
Blend all ingredients for at least 5 minutes on highest blender setting. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.
Dice the avocado and carefully toss with the other three ingredients. Layer on top of Gazpacho before serving.
I found this recipe in the New York Times Magazine a few years ago, where it was originally called “Scratchy husband spaghetti”. Evidently, whenever the food writer’s husband would have a bad day at the office, she combined two of the most popular Roman pasta dishes into one. A sensational example of 1+1=55.
LINGUINE CACIA E PEPE & AGLIO E OLIO
- ¾ cups extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ pound unsalted butter
- 1 whole head of garlic, or at least 10 cloves, peeled, sliced thin across the grain
- Good quality salt
- 1 pound linguine
- 4 teaspoons of chile flakes
- A generous 1/2 cup of grated pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Many, many, many cranks of the pepper mill
Bring large pot of water to a boil. Simultaneously bring a 10-inch deep-sided sauté pan to medium-low heat.
Add the olive oil and butter and sliced garlic to the pan and let the butter melt, as the garlic begins to warm through.
When the pasta water gets roiling, add salt to taste. Add the pasta.
Add chile flakes to the warming garlic-oil mixture and swirl the pan a bit and let the garlic soften and start to turn golden as the butter starts to foam. When the pasta is al dente, pull it from the boiling water with tongs, let it briefly drip its excess water above the pasta pot, but then place it right into the garlic-chile-oil pan, letting the last drips of water go right into the sauce.
Turn up the heat under the pasta now and stir vigorously for about a minute.
Turn off the heat, add cheese and a lot of black pepper. Toss and distribute all the garlic and the cheese and the chile flakes using two forks like you are tossing a salad, making sure every bit is coated and luscious. Serve.
I’m a big fan of big flavors. And the smoky heat of Gochujang (Korean fermented chilies) always hits the spot for me. These Barbecue Ribs are dry rubbed the night before, and then blasted 3 times with a jolt of vinegary, peppery spice while they cook low and slow. Don’t skimp on the peanuts and scallions. They add some brightness and crunch as the meat falls off the bone and your face gets smeared with sauce, from nose to chin.
GOCHUJANG BARBECUE RIBS
For the Ribs and Rub:
- 3 racks St. Louis-style spareribs (2 1/2 pounds each)
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup ground black pepper
For the Gochujang sauce:
- 1/2 cup gochujang
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chile powder, such as ancho
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
For the Garnish:
- 1 cup chopped peanuts
- 1 cup sliced scallions
The day before you plan to cook the ribs, use a paper towel to help you pull the silver skin off the backside of the ribs. Combine salt, light brown sugar and black pepper to make a rub, then generously season ribs with the rub on both sides. (You may have some rub left over.) Place on a rimmed baking sheet, wrap in plastic, put in the refrigerator, and let sit overnight.
For the sauce, combine all ingredients and whisk until brown sugar is dissolved. (You can use a hand mixer if you’d like.)
The next day, prepare a charcoal grill (preferably a kamado, the egg-shaped ceramic grill) and warm it to 225 to 250 degrees. If your grill doesn’t have a thermometer, use an oven thermometer to try to keep the temperature consistent. Place ribs on a rack so they are not sitting directly on the grate. If baking in an oven, preheat to 275 degrees and cover ribs with tin foil. Cook 3 to 4 hours, turning and basting ribs with barbecue sauce every hour.
Glaze the ribs with the sauce once more before serving. Cut the ribs and then sprinkle with peanuts and scallions and serve. Serves 6.
Just in case we didn’t have enough garlic going on this week, (I must be driving my poor neighbors crazy) this Spanish version of Garlic Shrimp has a few taste surprises that manage to cut through the luxuriously delectably garlicy olive-oil.
GAMBAS AL AJILLO
- 1 1/2 pounds shelled and de-veined large shrimp, tails intact
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic
- 1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small dried hot red chile, seeded and crumbled
- 1/2 cup minced parsley
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry, such as manzanilla
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- Crusty bread, for serving
In a large strainer, toss the shrimp with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and let stand for 2 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with water and toss another 1 tsp salt and let stand for 2 minutes. Rince thoroughly and dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a 9- to 10-inch cast-iron skillet, combine the garlic and olive oil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is very fragrant and just starts to brown, 5 – 8 minutes. Add the chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds.
Add the shrimp to the skillet and cook over medium-low, stirring and turning the shrimp occasionally, until barely pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, sherry, lemon zest and a generous pinch of salt. Remove from the heat and let stand until the shrimp are cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve in the skillet, passing crusty bread at the table. Serves 4.
Don’t be misled by what looks like a complicated fish dish. In fact, the Roasted Sea bass is very simply baked with a little oil, sea salt and pepper. The oomph comes from the 3 different mushrooms that are an absolute knockout of deep, rich, sumptuously earthy flavors.
ROASTED SEA BASS WITH WILD MUSHROOMS
- 1/3 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for fish
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 small red onion, halved through the root end and sliced thin
- 1 pound portobello mushrooms, stems removed, caps halved and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms, halved
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
- Ground black pepper
- 4 skinless fillets Chilean sea bass, each about 1 1/2 inches thick (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
- 1 small lemon, cut into wedges
Mix the dried porcini mushrooms with 1/2 cup hot tap water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, cut several steam vents in the plastic wrap with a paring knife, and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Let stand until the mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes.
Lift the mushrooms from the liquid with a fork and mince. Pour the liquid through a small strainer lined with a single sheet of paper towel and placed over a measuring cup.
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees.
Heat the butter, olive oil, and rosemary in an ovenproof 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until the foaming subsides. Add the onion, fresh mushrooms, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have shed their liquid and their cut surfaces have browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic and minced porcini. Cook, stirring frequently, until aromatic, about 1 minute.
Remove the pan from the heat and season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste.
Using a wooden spoon, clear 4 spaces in the skillet for the fish fillets. (The spaces should be equidistant from one another so that the fillets don’t touch.) Rub each fillet with enough oil to coat lightly and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper to taste.
Nestle one fillet into each space in the skillet. Drizzle the reserved porcini liquid over the mushrooms (avoiding the fish) and immediately set the pan in the oven.
Cook until the fish is opaque and cooked through, 11 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness.
Sprinkle with the parsley.
Divide the mushrooms among individual plates and place a piece of fish on top of the mushrooms on each plate. Drizzle the fish with any juices remaining in the pan as well as a little olive oil. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Serves 4.
Remember when I told you to throw away your Banana bread recipe for the one I’ve been making for 20 years? Well, now it’s time to throw that one away too! This has got to be the most banana-ry Banana bread ever – and it’s really rather dashing and statuesque too.
THE ULTIMATE BANANA BREAD
- 1 ¾ cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 6 large very ripe bananas (about 2 1/4 pounds), peeled (see note)
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.
Place 5 bananas in microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and cut several steam vents in plastic with paring knife. Microwave on high power until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer placed over medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes (you should have ½ to ¾ cup liquid).
Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.
Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Slice remaining banana diagonally into ¼-inch-thick slices. Shingle banana slices on top of either side of loaf, leaving 1½-inch-wide space down center to ensure even rise. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.
Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 55 to 75 minutes. Cool bread in pan on wire rack 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Stay safe. Stay sane, and most importantly – stay at home!