Monday, December 20, 2010
As usual, I did have to tweak the preparation of it. The original recipe technique for cooking the chicken would have dried it out in my opinion and I also wanted more of a puree of the "gravy" versus a chunky stew that this recipe called for.
I have to say that it was a success, because Ian had fourths and now there's barely any leftovers. I would like to try this dish again, tweaking it a bit more. Alot of the online recipes called for fenugreek, which this recipe did not call for, and garam masala which after an hour in the grocery store with a three year old telling me he needed donuts and pudding, I had no more patience to look for.
So please try it, enjoy it and tweak it as you like!
800 grams of chicken cut into pieces (preferably boneless)
1 tablespoon slightly sour yogurt
1 tablespoon(s) vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon(s) each of coriander, cumin and red chili powders
1 onion finely chopped
2 teaspoon(s) each of ginger, garlic pastes or finely chopped ginger and garlic
salt to taste
For the Gravy
4 large tomatoes chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fresh cream
1 teaspoon(s) each of coriander, cumin, red chili and black pepper powders
2 teaspoon(s) each of finely chopped ginger and green chillies
salt and sugar to taste
melted butter, fresh cream and finely chopped cilantro leaves for garnishing
Heat half the butter and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil or olive oil on medium-high in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the chicken along with the marinade. Par cook chicken so that the outside is browned, but the interior is still raw. Pull the chicken from the pan and set aside. (Make sure that the dish that you put your chicken in has high sides. You want to retain the juices from the chicken to add to the gravy later.)
There should still be some remaining marinade in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining butter in a saucepan and add the red chili, coriander, cumin and black pepper. Fry for a few seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes, sugar, salt and cook uncovered for about 7 minutes till the puree thickens and the fat separates. Pull the mixture off of the heat and carefully pour into a blender. I suggest that you wait a couple of minutes to let the mixture cool. IMPORTANT: Most blenders have a removable plastic cap that can be used to add ingredients to the blender while blending with out having to remove the entire lid. When blending hot items, I suggest removing this cap and using a kitchen towel to cover the opening and slowly pureeing the ingredients as not to splash yourself with hot gravy. After you get a smooth puree, return the gravy to the saucepan. Stir in the cream and reduce the heat to low.
Add the chicken and chicken juices, chopped ginger and green chillies to the simmering gravy. Sprinkle salt to taste if needed. Mix well. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes or till the curry and chicken is thoroughly heated through.
Just before serving pour melted butter over the curry. Garnish with a swirl of fresh cream and finely chopped cilantro leaves. Serve with Jasmine rice and Naan.
Friday, November 19, 2010
So for the past week I have been acting like a damn fool, trying to get a response out of my man that reinforces his passion and love for me after 8 years of being together. I will give you an example...
Crazy Ass Act #102: Dancing in front of Ian, while he's trying to watch TV, wearing my son's Transformers' helmet, half naked and talking sexy through the helmet's microphone so that I sound like Optimus Prime.
My Reasoning: He's a Sci-Fi geek. He's gettin' two great taste that taste great together. Hot wife and super sick Sci-Fi hero.
The Reality: He laughed his ass off, didn't think it was hot and pleaded with me,"N'Gina Saran Kavookjian go sit down somewhere, anywhere and PLEASE take the helmet off!"
Ok ok ok, failed attempt. Now I know that that kind of behavior would only really be tolerated and or appreciated by some dude at Comic Con, or with a man that likes to play W.O.W or Dungeons and Dragons. So I changed my game plan...
Non-Crazy Ass Act #702: Home-made Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Ravioli with Braised Chicken Thigh Meat for dinner.
My Reasoning: The boy likes to eat
The Reality: He loved it. Complimented me a thousand times, gave me the biggest kiss and said," THAT is why I married you!!!"
Eureka!!!! I followed it up the next night with some home-made meatballs and tomato puree on top of spaghetti. Got the same reaction times 10!!!
So ladies when you're feeling low and that your man isn't giving you the attention that you need, or you're friggin crazy like me and he is spoiling you with attention, but all the blood in your body has gone to your growing baby and not your brain...cook him dinner and put lots of love in it. It's alot more practical than dancing around with a robot helmet on your head.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
So this past Thursday, while hunting for bathroom tile, my husband and I were looking for a place to get something to eat. On the way to the tile store, off of Folsom Blvd, I had noticed a new restaurant called Mama Sue's Kitchen Chicken and Waffles. Out front was a very bored, ghetto fabulous young lady shakin' a sign trying in all her apathy to get people to come inside. I told Ian that we should check it out and got a, "Oh hell yea!" in response.
After slapping Ian for looking at Miss Ghetto Fabulous's ample backside, we walked inside and took a seat. It was clean, roomy, smelled like grandma's house and had the old school jams on the radio. A very personable waitress approached us and gave us menus that we quickly scoured over. They had all the basics that you would expect on a soul food menu. Ian selected the Deep Fried Catfish with Greens and Mac n' Cheese and I ordered the Fried Chicken Breast and Waffle.
Food hit the table not 15 minutes after we ordered, it was steamy hot and the plates were busting over with Southern goodness. We jumped in and started to partake in the ecstasy that was Soul Food. I peeled back the crust on the chicken and immediately knew these people were not playin' around. The key to GREAT fried chicken is to always season the meat as well as your flour. Many places in Sac neglect to do this, so after the crunchy crust falls off your chicken, you're left with bland meat to dig into. At Mama Sue's you could see the seasoning on the meat and I knew that this was going to be good.
I went to take a bite of the chicken and was quickly scolded by Ian that I had to take a bite of everything together with the syrup. Ian likes to remind me that he, in his red beard, freckled, Irish glory is more black than me. So I did as I was told and I think a small tear spilled out of my eye. Vanglorious!!! The chicken was well seasoned and very balanced, the waffle was buttery and fluffy, and the syrup was not over the top sweet. On their own, everything on the plate was great and together they were only better.
Ian's Catfish was delicately breaded and so moist on the inside. The greens were perfectly savory and full of meaty pork bits. Now the Mac n' Cheese was not all that, but I've been spoiled by Esquire Grill's Mac n' Cheese. Once you have a four cheese Mac with a Bechamel base you can never really go back to Mac n' Cheese made with processed powdered cheese substitute.
We surprising ate every last drop. We were full until 7pm that night. We sat there completely satisfied.
I broke off the last piece of fried chicken skin and looked at Ian and said,
"Do you know what this is?"
"This is Chicharones for Black people!"
"You're stupid N'Gina"
We did the full people's laugh, which is like two "huh huh's" and then paid and thanked our waitress.
So if you are hankerin' for some seriously good soul food, you need to go to Mama Sue's. The prices are super reasonable, the food is fabulous, service warm and inviting and did I mention they have all you can eat Fried Chicken on Sunday's! Whaaaaaaaat!
Mama Sue's Soul Food Kitchen
10113 Folsom Boulevard
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
Monday, September 27, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
1. Leave the peanut gallery at home: The average wedding cost between 10K to 30K. That's the cost of a car! It's a big and personal financial commitment. Would you bring your whole family and all your friends to help you buy a house? Then why would you bring them to a cake tasting, dress fitting or food tasting and let them make the decisions? The day is about you and your partner, not about what your best friend, mom, little brother wished they could have at their wedding. PLEEEEEASE couples allow yourselves to make a deep personal decision that is just for you. Not your guest or your family. (Even if they are paying. Because a monetary gift is just that a GIFT! You don't tell people what to do with a gift.)
2. Plan ahead: If you are having a shot gun wedding, more power to you. No really. For those that are not having one, please don't act like you are. Plan, plan, plan. So much goes into planning the big day. Get help and get help early. Find a friend that is in the industry and ask them for advice. They will be able to steer you in a proper, money and time saving direction to help plan out the big day. Friends in the industry will turn you on to insider tips on how to get the most bang for your buck.
3. The entire West Coast doesn't need to be invited: This is the one piece of advice I give out to everybody I know who is getting married. Nobody ever listens and after they get married they always say, "Wow you were right." No shit! Having a rave for a wedding will exhaust you. Unless you are a raver. We had 50 people at our wedding and it felt like a night of 50 unfinished conversations. The guest that you invite took the time to buy you an expensive gift, travel across the country to be there and sit through your ceremony. They deserve more than 30 seconds of, "Thank you for coming." Our rule was if we hadn't had dinner with you in a year, then you weren't invited. Harsh rule, but it kept the numbers low and the cost down. It made it intimate. My sister got married a year ago and she had 500 people at her wedding reception. It was a par-tay, but that many people in a dark warehouse with booming music scared the shit out of my son and after being there for 20 minutes I had to leave. Missing everything about my sister's wedding reception. Very disappointing and not very intimate. Something that she regretted later.
So take the time to figure out what you want and how to get it. Let the conversation be between just the two of you and remember you(hopefully)only get married once. Though you may renew your vows, the next time around some loved ones might not be there to enjoy it, so just do it right the first time.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
As of late food has been a cold, evil mistress for me, so for this post I will be referring to my favorite Fall drink. Chili Pepper Hot Chocolate. Ah Jesus, Mary, Joseph how I love a good cup of spicy hot chocolate. The only way that I drink it is with a dried red chili cooked into the milk. The heat hits you on the back of the throat in such a lovely subtle way. So when the weather gets a little more chilly in a month or so, I highly suggest making a cup and snuggling up on the couch with a good Law and Order marathon. You know I will be.
Spicy Hot Chocolate
2 cups milk
3 0z dark chocolate or 2 tbsp dark cocoa powder
1-2 dried red chili pepper
In a small saucepan heat milk, but do not bring milk to a boil. Slowly stir milk. Crack the dried red chili pepper into milk and continue to warm milk. If using cocoa powder, add to milk and slowly whisk to incorporate ingredients. If using chocolate bars, pre-melt chocolate. Short cut, melt chocolate in the microwave starting at 30 seconds. Remove and stir chocolate, if not fully melted, place in microwave and at 10second intervals continue to heat and stir until melted. Pour melted chocolate into your desired mug and then slowly incorporate the milk, stirring until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
This week we are catering the California Fish and Game graduation dinner in Chico. When we were trying to come up with an idea for dessert, we wanted to do something cool and refreshing because cake wasn't going to work. Have you ever been to Chico in the summer? It's hotter than a black cow in a field with no trees. Fish grease is cooler. So we decided on sno-cones! Hells yea! (The sound of me patting myself on the back).
So I decided, after being invited by my friend Nanc to go blackberry picking along Lake Natoma, to do a blackberry vanilla syrup as one of the options. I've got about four more syrup combinations to create and my hope is to try some really crazy flavors that people will be like, "What the...?" But when the eat them they'll be like, "Can you put a nipple on that syrup bottle for me and I'll finish drinking the rest!" So I will update you on how that goes, but for now here is the recipe for the blackberry vanilla sno-cone syrup.
Blackberry Vanilla Sno-Cone Syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
4 cups blackberries
Take blackberries and place them in a blender with tablespoon of vanilla. Blend the mixture until berries liquefy. Over a bowl, strain the blackberry mixture so that all you have in the bowl is the juice of the berries. Discard the pulp, then set the juice aside. Add 1 cup of water and 2 cups of sugar to a pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Make sure you stir as it comes to a boil, and then boil for a minute. Remove the pan from the stove and allow the water and sugar mixture to cool. Stir in the fruit juice. Pour the blackberry vanilla syrup over your snow cone. If you have any left over, store in the plastic containers with a lid and put it in the refrigerator. It will keep for about a week.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
In this life I truly believe that there are people placed into your life that will always feed you what you need, even if you may not realize it at that time. That food might be love, discipline, hard reality or inspiration. And after an hour long phone conversation with Nanc the other day I realized that she is my spiritual personal chef. When I walk through door beat up and ready to quit, she always offers up a hot plate of inspiration and positive energy for me to dig my fork into. She's got a great compass that points me into the right direction to pull ideas and get me off my ass. Not saying that I'm lazy, but making your dreams come to fruition is the hardest thing that you can do in this life, because sometime poeple don't understand nor support your passions.
Monday, May 31, 2010
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 tbsp chopped shallots
- 1 tbsp chopped garlic
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 chicken breast
- 5 slices pancetta
- 1 tbsp thyme
- 1/4 cup sliced yellow onion
- 1 cup chicken stock
- olive oil
- 2 cups whole wheat rotini
Sunday, May 9, 2010
In 10 days we close escrow on a building that will be the home of our first restaurant. It's an amazing two story building that will house "Eight American Bistro" on the bottom floor and live/work lofts on the second. The later phase will be a penthouse on the third floor. The whole project will be a "green" project. Over 40% of the build will be with recycled products and the other 60% sustainable products. Everybody that is working on the project is soooo excited. It stands to be a catalyst for "green" urban infill in Sacramento. There is just one little problem. Though we have heavy investor interest to back the project once we own the building we still have not been able to rally all the funding towards the down payment to buy the building.
We had investors that were interested before we went into escrow to fund the entire project and entered into escrow based on initial meetings, but disagreements on the details of the deal led to a parting of ways.
So now here we are with the building of our dreams, and more than 165K short of making those dreams come to fruition. I'm trying to find a more poetic way of saying, "This fuckin' sucks!" But lack of sleep is depriving me of such eloquence at this time. The thing that scares me the most really is not that we may lose this building, it's everyone that is so excited about working on this project. From project contractors and consultants to future chefs and serving staff. This whole thing is bigger than Ian and I having the restaurant that we always wanted, it's the community that we have the opportunity to build. The new jobs that will be created, the shift in the way we construct buildings, how we responsibly tackle urban infill and how we take control of the food we eat and make, to ensure we live healthier longer lives....I'm scared to lose all that. It's bigger than just a fabulous location, though it is an amazing location, it's a year and a half of wanting something better for my community and fearing that it could all be gone because of 165 thousand stupid dollars. It keeps me up at night, it makes me cry in the shower so that no one can see, it has me praying to a God that I haven't had a relationship with in three years. It has me scared.
An advisor told me two months ago that I need to move forward with everything that I am doing to make this dream come true. That there will be times of uncertainty, but I had to trust in the Universe. That sometimes people hesitate to make moves because they feel they might not have all their ducks in a row. He said, "Make moves like you do have all your ducks in a row and the Universe will catch you."
And so far it has.
But I get more scared as we near this deadline and attempts to acquire the rest of the down payment just keep not working out. Maybe this is the part of the journey were I need to turn around, cross my arms over my chest, close my eyes and just fall.
Friday, April 9, 2010
So here is the scoop, we found a building that we want to open our restaurant in and are currently in a counter offer bidding war. We have potential investors, but they are from overseas and we don't know if they are legit, we are getting our backyard transformed into a organic vegetable garden for free and on national television, and this week alone I've been working on five caterings, been on the morning news and started working with my new partner for the launch of our online store at the end of this month! CRAZY!!!
And did I mention that 50% of my friends and family are born in the month of March, so it was like birthday party central up in this biotch for four weeks straight. Plus I had two weddings to attend, one in Sacramento and the other in New Orleans. And with that, it will be a wonderful segue into today's blog.
New Orleans, it's my birthplace, the home of amazing people and I was told even more amazing food. Well they lied! I went to New Orleans with my head in the clouds, expecting remarkable food on every corner. I thought that it would be dreamy and intoxicating, with heavy moss covered Live Oaks lining the streets and the smell of gumbo in the air. Southern hospitality at it's finest. I thought that someone would pass me by on the street and take one look into my hazel eyes and say, "Aww gurl, you is Creole fo' sho" and give me a spontaneous voodoo reading about my past lives in the South and my French ancestry. Jesus, what a wake up call I got.
The last time I was in New Orleans I was two years old. So it was my bad for imagining such a fantasy. The first couple of days were disappointing to say the least. It was no different from the super touristy jook joints that you would find in any city. My search for authentic southern food went unanswered for the entire time that we were there; we took local recommendations, magazines reviews, hotel concierge suggestions. All the restaurants, just one disappointing meal after another. I was heartbroken and hungry.
The best meal that we ended up having, was at a small diner called Clover's in the gay district of the French Quarter. We had just left a bar and we were starving. Through the rain, we ran four blocks down a filthy puddle filled street. Left our Bud Lights at the front door and stepped into gay nirvana. Drenched, we sat at the counter and after 10 minutes, were greeted by a soft bodied, overly pale, mid 40's order taker. After scribbling down our order, he posted the tag behind him on the cooks spindle. Our cook was long, lean and had the straightest hot comb pressed hair I have ever seen on a Black man. He had at least 20 different orders going the entire time. He moved from the fryer to the grill to the cold station with the grace of an ice skater. Lip syncing to "Single Ladies" while perfectly assembling my greasy spoon cheeseburger and talking shit to the slow, soft bodied order taker. "Girl, you better move a little faster! I ain't got time fo' yo' shit tonight!"
I, for the 30 minutes that we were there, was in heaven. Then Beyonce's coworker came around the corner. Eyeliner, size 0 Dereon jeans, and mad jewelry on his wrist. He danced around the diner which was no bigger than my living room, bussing tables and also talking shit to the soft bodied order taker. "If you was sick then WHY did you come to work?!" I told him that it wasn't fair that he, a man, could fit into size 0 Dereon jeans and I, a woman, could not. He snapped his hips back and forth and retorted, "It ain't my fault baby, lose some weight and I'll give you these jeans!" My reply, "Ewwww bitch!" It was all in fun and I tell ya it made the burgers and milkshakes taste even better.
On the plane ride home, my husband and I discussed how disheartening it was that we didn't get that Southern meal that we wanted of New Orleans. In our conversation, we realized that we had had an absolutely wonderful meal. It was at my Aunt Fran's house near Biloxi. We had stopped into Biloxi for two days to visit family and she had hosted a party while we were there. She made her traditional Southern favorites and it was authentic, memorable and satisfying. We had been so stuck on finding real food in a restaurant, that we neglected to realized that "real" Southern food is not available in restaurants, but in the recipes that family pass down from generation to generation. Thank you Aunt Fran, you gave me what I was looking for and now I know that real Southern fare is no further than my own family's cookbook.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
- 2 large potatoes
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 egg
- pinch of kosher salt
On a floured surface, take the gnocchi dough ball and cut into quarters. Working with a quarter at a time, roll the dough into a ball and lay it on the floured work surface. Lightly roll the ball into a long cylindrical shape, like the shape of a snake. Make sure that you have a very even cord. Once you have a cord of dough with even thickness throughout, cut the dough into about 1 inch portions. Set aside on a floured surface. Continue to roll the remaining dough into cords, cutting the dough into the 1 inch dumplings.
After you have finished, take each dumpling and roll them over the back of a fork. This will create little wells that help to hold onto the sauce that you may dress them with after cooking. If you have a gnocchi roller, then go ahead and use it, if not the back of a fork will do. You can also skip this step all together. Often when I am lazy I don't do this last step. They taste the same, rolled or not.
Bring a pot of water to a gentle boil, I like to add a little olive oil to my water. I lightly flour my gnocchi one last time before I add them to the water. Place the gnocchi in the water and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Or until the gnocchi float to the top. Don't crowd your pot with lots of gnocchi, as they will stick together and not cook evenly. Instead work in small batches. Take your cooked gnocchi and dress with whatever your favorite sauce may be. The options are endless, from browned butter to spicy tomato basil. Eat and Enjoy.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Like a Jamaican, he's gone most of the day at work and as the title of his post reads, "It ain't easy bringing home the bacon." So the other night I made a dish that we have not had since before Isaac was born. Gnocchi! I forgot how simple gnocchi is too make. It's 4 ingredients and whammo you have these beautiful little dumplings. Ian assisted me in the kitchen, which again, has been rare since the birth of our son. We used to cook every night together in our tiny apartment that we had on I St. in downtown Sacramento. The apartment was so small that we had no dining room. We used to put the food in one big serving dish and sit on the bed and eat
it out of the bowl together. At the time I felt like we were a couple of poor asses, with no extra room or furniture, but when I think of it, that was romantic dammit! It's so Lady and the Tramp. I miss subtle romance like that. Ian made the pesto for the gnocchi and he went old school too. Instead of just placing all the ingredients in the food processor, he ground everything together with a mortar and pestle. Hats off to you babe! It was really good. The flavors, as he explained, would be more intense and they were. As the dish came together and I got ready to plate the gnocchi I asked him, "Hey, do yo want to eat this old school?" He replied, "Hell ya, let's do it." I took the big bowl of gnocchi and plopped down next to Ian on the couch, and as we tried to watch TV through our son's afro, we enjoyed our dinner. (Side note: It may time to cut that boy's hair.)
With Valentine's Day on the horizon, sometimes the big flashy displays of love aren't the most genuine or satisfying. Regardless of what Zales and The Diamond Store may try to say, sometimes I just need subtle romance and sitting on the couch next to the love of my life, sharing a bowl of gnocchi and watching our son do "The Stanky Leg" dance while blocking the TV is enough for me.