Monday, October 22, 2012

Dal round 2!

This Dal recipe comes to you via Sarah Hart via Girl's Gone Child. For some reason or another I had not made it. I had it at Sarah's several time and LOVED it. Last week when I was asking the kids for dinner suggestions, Lola said, "Ms. Sarah's Dal!!!!" Yes Please!
I had to go to the Indian grocery store for ghee. Make a special trip and go get the Ghee, it makes a difference.I love that place, I have been twice before both times just to get food from the cafe they have in the back. If you think going to Fiesta is stepping into another country, try going to an Indian grocery. It is awesome. I thought I would pick up the lentils and cumin seeds as long as I was there. Did you know there are like 100 different types of red lentils most of them have the word Dal on the package?  Another interesting thing, everything is in bulk. I have enough cumin seeds to last me till the end of time, and that was the small bag. You can get a very tiny bag at Fiesta or FoodTown in the Latin spice section.
This is so fun to make, and EASY and fast! Serve with a cold cucumber salad and naan if you are not gluten free. I also rubbed ghee on a sliced egg plant, put a little curry on top and grilled. (YUMMY)
The kids go CRAZY for it. Oh, this is one of those recipes that I doubled but had to skimp on the portions the next night. I am going to triple next time I make it. (Good thing I have 24 ounces of cumin seeds)

Lal Dal (Red Lentils)

1 cup red lentils, washed
4 cups water
½ t turmeric powder
1 t salt
2 T ghee
½ t cumin seeds
1 green chili, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced (I use Anaheims)
1 small onion, chopped
½ t cayenne pepper
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 T fresh lemon juice
¼ cup fresh cilantro.

1. Place lentils in a medium-size saucepan with the water, turmeric powder, and salt. Bring to a boil on a high heat. Reduce heat as froth starts to build up. Remove froth from the surface as it builds up. When froth subsides, turn down heat to low. Partially cover and cook until they are soft and turn into a soup-like consistency, about 15-20 minutes
2. In a small frying pan, heat ghee on medium heat. When hot, add cumin seeds to ghee, soon followed by the chilies and onions. Cook until onions become soft. Add chili powder and tomatoes. Cook for another 3-4 minutes or until tomatoes are soft. Add to lentils and simmer for another 10 minutes.

3. Add lemon juice and garnish with cilantro. Serve hot.

French Chicken in a Pot

This is quite simply one of the best things I have ever cooked. It goes right every single time and tastes so delicious I have served it on many occasions to guests. So incredibly tender, it falls apart in your hands. This recipe is not exactly time fast, it just does not require much of your time. It does cook for a few hours, but I can hang with that. It would be a perfect recipe if you want to make a bit of a jump away from usual cooking methods. 
 EVERYONE likes this recipe. I usually serve with red potatoes sauted with a bit of olive oil and rosemary. The potatoes soak up the yummy sauce created from the chicken.

It comes from the ever tenacious, America's Test Kitchen. 

French Chicken in a Pot

1 (4 1/2-5 lb) whole roasting chickens, giblets removed and discarded, wings tucked under back
2 teaspoons kosher salt (use 1/2 the salt for a kosher chicken) or 1 teaspoon table salt (use 1/2 the salt for a kosher chicken)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped medium (about 1/2 cup)
1 small celery rib, chopped medium (about 1/4 cup)
6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed
1 bay leaf
1 medium fresh rosemary sprig (optional)
1/2-1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat oil in large (5- to 8-quart) Dutch oven over medium heat until just smoking. Add chicken breast-side down; scatter onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and rosemary (if using) around chicken. Cook until breast is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Using a wooden spoon inserted into cavity of bird, flip chicken breast-side up and cook until chicken and vegetables are well browned, 6 to 8 minutes.

3. Remove Dutch oven from heat; place large sheet of foil over pot and cover tightly with lid. Transfer pot to oven and cook until instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees when inserted in thickest part of breast and 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh, 80 to 110 minutes.

4. Transfer chicken to carving board, tent with foil, and rest 20 minutes. Meanwhile, strain chicken juices from pot through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator, pressing on solids to extract liquid; discard solids (you should have about 3/4 cup juices). Allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then pour into saucepan and set over low heat.

5. Carve chicken, adding any accumulated juices to saucepan. Stir lemon juice into jus to taste. Serve chicken, passing jus at table

Real Life Vs. Creative

It is time, way past time to write another food post. I have been typically ignoring my blog over the past few months. I WANT to blog, but it takes quite a bit of time and mental energy. I am re-discovering how much space a two year old inhabits your brain, body and soul. It was right around when Moses was 21/2 that I stopped blogging altogether, for almost 5 years.
Fast forward to today and now I have school to tend with, and PTA and friends and REST! I like my rest. I am the best possible me when I have an hour or two to read, watch TV (no hatin! There are some fantastic shows out there), sleep, or just space out and think for a bit. This of course, is a luxury I treasure each day. As with most luxuries, they come at a price. The blog is one debtor the kitchen can be another.
As you already know, I love to cook. I love to cook long complicated in-depth dishes. This is seriously OUT of the question if I do not start prepping early in the day. Some days I do this. They are rare and usually are days where all the house (everything) was done the day before. So, that leaves cooking to "The Hellish Hour", "Twilight Hour","Kiddie Rodeo Hour", IE: the worst part of the day, 4-6 PM.  My only thought at this hour is, "how fast? how healthy? Please God let the dishwasher be empty!"
I never thought I would be alarmed at the idea of coming up with something new. I never imagined, on some days, just the site of the kitchen would send profound waves of exhaustion coursing through my body. It does happen, it is true. I am human like the rest of the world.
However, this crushing feeling of doom is cut in half when I have an arsenal of good and fast recipes at my disposal. My other mantra? Double-double-double, no afternoon is sweeter then left-over night. Sadly, due to the alarming amount of food my children eat, my "double" does not always extend to a full meal the following night. Not cool kids, not cool at all.
I also find that I pretty much have the capacity to make three things. A protein, brown rice or sweet potatoes, and a veggie. There are many days when we simply eat protein and veggies. That happens to be a popular diet choice, but I do it for connivance and my kids eat twice as many veggies.  I only mention this because there used to be days when I would make 4 or 5 different options. WHAT? These days they are lucky to get water if they don't get it themselves. (Oh the joys of older children!)
I have a few good recipes. Really-really-really good recipes that do not take much time, but render amazing results. I am going to post them separate. The first two are stolen, as is much of what I cook during the week. I am not sure if there are going to be more, but for today, it will be just the two.
I would love to hear your go-to dinner recipes for weeknights. I am always on the look-out for the next best thing.
Happy Hell Hour.