Monday, November 4, 2013

News! And Lunch, to Travel

I have to apologize...

Rich was out of town, and I was busy with some things, and I haven't been cooking or writing much, and this site got neglected.

But I have great news!

My project has been a new site for Inhabited Kitchen!

A self hosted Wordpress site, which allows me to have more features, and gives me more flexibility in the long run. I was able to get my own domain as Inhabitedkitchen, which makes the transfer easier...

Don't worry, this site will still be up, if you have linked to it. (I'm still tidying up the links on the new site...) But all the posts have moved over, and all new activity will be there.

Including a description of this delicious lunch I packed for Rich to travel...

See you over there, soon!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Melted Onions and Quick Curried Chicken

Several years ago, I watched a man I knew from India make a simple chicken dish. He sliced onions very, very thin, then cooked them very slowly, in a heavy pan over low heat, until they almost melted, stirring frequently. Then he added commercial curry powder (he was not in his own kitchen -  suggested it would have been a commercial masala, or spice mix,  at home, but I don't know what mixture) and stirred it in. Then he browned chicken legs in the pan, added water, and simmered. about half an hour, until the chicken was fully cooked. The onion made a rich sauce, the whole thing smelled wonderful, and tasted delicious. But it took time...

The next Fall, when I could buy bags of field fresh onions at Greenmarket for little money, I remembered that, and decided the onion would be a good choice for pre-cooking. I pulled out a heavy frying pan, sliced pounds of onion almost paper thin, and cooked it up and froze it. (I then found myself going to it when I didn't feel well for cooked onion - which is the reason I then started pre-cooking ordinary sauteed onion.) But it was very easy to use it to make a quick curry.

A few weeks ago, I bought my ten pound bag of beautifully fresh onions, and cooked about half of them.  I cut them in half, and then  cut the half again, and sliced them thinly, so they fell in fine shreds.
Then I took out a big heavy enameled cast iron pan - the heaviest pan I have - heated canola oil in it, and filled it with the shredded onion. The onion cooks down incredibly, as the fresh juice simmers and concentrates,  so I basically kept slicing, adding, and stirring. Once the pan was full, I put the heat as low as I could, and left it there, stirring occasionally. (I did this on a Sunday afternoon while watching a baseball game, and stirred between innings...  it does take time, but most of it isn't *my* time.)  The onion just kept melting into a smooth mass of savory goodness - the kitchen smelled wonderful!
Often, I stop it when all the onion is soft and transparent, but this time I let it brown a little. Be careful, though - once it starts browning stir frequently, as it can suddenly start to burn, and that would be just too sad... (I caught this one *just* in time... you may see bits of the darker brown...)

Once I had it the way I wanted, it, I turned off the heat and let it cool, then packed it in zipper bags, pressed thin, so I can  easily break off pieces the size I want. It's amazing how little space five pounds of onion takes, after it is cooked down. I lay the bags flat in the freezer, and knew I had gold.

One day last week, when my schedule called for a quick and easy dinner, I decided to make curried chicken. When I got home, I took out the frozen onion, and a boneless chicken breast. I broke off a chunk of onion, and dropped it into a saute pan over a medium flame, to melt while I cut the meat up in bitesized pieces.

 Once the onion was heated through, I sprinkled in some curry powder. (As I've said before, the amount is going to really vary, both with your taste and with the heat of your curry powder.) I stirred it around with the onion - sauteing the spice mixture helps bring out the flavor.

Then I added the cut up chicken, and stirred it until it was coated with the onion-spice mix and starting to brown. I poured in half a cup of water, brought it just to a boil, then lowered the heat and let it simmer about five minutes, while I heated kale and rice I had already cooked. I tasted it to be sure I had enough curry powder, and served. The water, onion, and spice had simmered down into a rich sauce.

I don't know if my friend from Goa would approve (well - probably he would - he's very practical!) and I certainly would not claim this to be any cuisine but 21st Century New York - but it was good, and took very little time.

Quick Curried Chicken

1 onion, sliced thin  (or a chunk of precooked Frozen Melted Onion)
Canola oil if using fresh onion
1 t curry powder, or to taste
1/2 pound boneless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup water

If using fresh onion, heat oil in a pan, add the onion, and stir over low heat until absolutely soft. If using Frozen Melted Onion, place it in a pan over low heat until heated through.

Stir curry powder into the onion. Raise the heat under the pan. Add the chicken. Stir until coated with the onion spice mixture, and let brown slightly. Add water.

Simmer until chicken is cooked through, and sauce thickens - about five minutes. (This may be a little longer if you increase the recipe.)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Simple Microwaved Winter Squash

Isn't that pretty?

Why, yes, I do like winter squash... All kinds - this Carnival, and acorn, and butternut, and hubbard, and...

We're having a very strange year. It's October, and we're still getting corn and tomatoes. Not that I'm complaining - we love them - but... in October, I want squash.

And, sometimes, the simplest treatments are the best. I've made my soup, and I'll do many things before the season is over - but I just want to savor the taste... with maybe just a touch of butter and salt.

My favorite preparation is to bake it - which is fine if I have the oven on anyway, and have time... The sweetness concentrates, especially if it browns a little - but it takes at least half an hour in the oven (not to mention time to preheat.) And I don't always want to heat the oven, and I don't always have the time.

So, sometimes, it's the microwave...

All I did was split the squash, and scoop out the seeds. Then I put it, cut side down, in a pyrex dish. (This was a large enough squash that we only ate half of it - I'll do something else with the other half.) I microwaved it for five minutes. At that point, I let it sit while I cooked the rest of dinner.

Shortly before everything else was ready, I took it out and turned it over, with tongs. At this point, I looked at it to see how well cooked it was - this will vary, by the size of the vegetable and the power of your stove. Poke it with a knife if you're not sure - it should be soft all through. (You'll see parts that are cooked, and parts that are still firm.)  I only needed to give this one another three minutes - I find that, with my microwave, it's usually three-five. With my old one, it would have needed at least another five minutes, and maybe more... they vary a lot. When in doubt, start with less - you can always give it another few minutes. However, unlike most vegetables, it's hard to overcook this - don't worry.

When it was done, I then split it in serving sized pieces. Added a touch of butter - and it was done. Couldn't ask for simpler.