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The White Album- Perfect Music to Listen to for a White Meal

The White Album- Perfect Music to Listen to for a White Meal

Okay, so the fashionistas all agree that you can’t wear white after Labor Day, but, I’m wondering about eating white after Labor Day.  Think about it.  If you can’t wear white, you’re probably wearing darker colors and if you spill… yikes!  Who knows…maybe tomorow the manner experts are going to outlaw fettuchini alfredo, sugar cookies, and White Russians!!

Just in case, maybe you should try this all-white Labor Day menu.  It’s not exactly the most waistline-friendly, but that’s not my fault.  I was trying to think of what was white and, of course, I thought of heavy cream!  It’s not my fault this meal is so creamy and delicious.  I have to make sure every one gets one last white meal during Labor Day.

You know, just in case.

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Due to my illness, I took the week off to recover and try to eat something other than dry pasta.  I’ve been partially successful.

I did want to get back on track with my calendar so I’m using this week to talk about spices.  And why I am so excited about spices?

That’s right you guessed it…because in exactly one month the Spice Girls kick off the world reunion tour!!!  No, really. 

On a personal bummer note: the closest they’re coming to me is Chicago… 🙁

Anyway, for this installment of Spice Week, I thought I’d start with Indian spices.  Indian food is a style of cuisine that relies on a large variety of different spices to create its unique flavor profile.  In making even the most basic Indian dish, you are going to need turmeric, ground coriander, cumin seeds (or ground cumin), garam masala, salt, and pepper.  Plus garlic, ginger, and onions which do a heck of a lot for the flavor a dish.

However, if you can get that mix down, you’ve got the leg up on just about any Indian dish.  Except butter chicken.  Do not even get me started on butter chicken.

I came upon this mixture as the cornerstone of Indian cooking during a recent Indian cooking class I took with my wife for her birthday.  That combination of spices (turmeric, coriander, cumin seeds, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, and onions) formed the basis for every dish we made.

To test the mixture out in a dish of your own, try making my potato cholay:

  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 8 small red potatoes cut into 1/4 inch “coins”
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup of water or broth
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon (two inches) grated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon of garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 tomato, diced (or 1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes drained)
  1. Preheat a skillet over medium heat and add two tablespoons of olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the potatoes and a pinch of salt.  Toss the potatoes to coat them in the oil.
  2. Cook the potatoes covered until soft.  Add a tablespoon or two of the water or broth if the pan gets dry.  This will take 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add the onions, another pinch of salt, ginger, and garlic and saute until the onions soften, 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the spices and the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes become warm and give off a little liquid.

Viola!  Potato Cholay.  For me, learning this basic spice mixture was receiving the keys to the kingdom.  I now fear no Indian food because I have an idea of the basic spices that give this cuisine its unique flavor.

This is another recipe I created in my quest for chicken for the next issue of BIAO Magazine.  I really liked how it turned out with several different flavors going on at once: the citrus tang of orange with the spiciness of ginger and a little soy and garlic to bring it all home.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 6 oranges or 1/3 cup of orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons of grated ginger
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  1. Trim any excess fat from the chicken and cut into cubes if desired.
  2. Roll the oranges on the counter.  This will make them easier to juice.  Cut each orange in half and squeeze out the juice into a bowl.
  3. Make a marinade by combining the orange juice, grated ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Stir vigorously.
  4. Taste the marinade.  It may be a little strong, but it should generally taste like something you would want to eat.  If not, add a little more salt and pepper.  Retaste.
  5. Add the chicken.  If you have time, marinate in the refrigerator for up to thirty minutes.  If you need to get dinner on the table quickly, go ahead and move to step 6.
  6. Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and dump the chicken into skillet with the marinade.  Cook until the chicken has an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  7. Serve over rice or lettuce leaves.

Enjoy!  And if anyone tries this recipe and the plum chicken recipe, tell me which one you like better!

In a recent article for BIAO Magazine, I was asked to put together a healthy cocktail party spread.  I decided to make the centerpiece of the spread a chicken dish that would focus on that elusive combination of light and tasty.  I tried several different recipes before finding the one that worked best with party concept.  You will have to find a copy of the magazine to see which chicken made it, but here’s one I liked that did not quite fit the theme.

  • 4 chicken boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
  • 2 tablespoons of salt plus one more pinch
  • 1 tablespoon of pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of mustard powder 
  • 5 plums (I used 2 black, 3 red, but you can use all of one type), diced in quarter inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon of grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 serrano chili, sliced
  • 1/2 cup of apple cider (apple or grape juice would also work)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  1. Trim the fat from the chicken and cut into cubes no more than one inch by one inch.  The size of the chicken is not as important as keeping the cubes roughly equal so that the chicken cooks evenly.
  2. Make a spice rub by mixing the Mix the salt, pepper, and mustard in a bowl.
  3. Coat the chicken with the spice rub and set aside for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the plums, pinch of salt, ginger, garlic, and serrano to a skillet over medium heat.  Cook for about three minutes.
  5. Add the cider and put the heat on medium low.
  6. The sauce is ready when the cider is reduced by half.  It should still be a little runny as it will be cooked again with the chicken.
  7. Heat a second skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.   When the chicken is almost cooked, ladel in the plum sauce and continue to cook until the chicken is finished.  (You may need to do two batches.)

Serve over rice with a side of soy sauce.