tasty nom nom an exception to the daily meal

20Jan/130

Warm goopy food

Dear Dinner People -

Instead of aliening your friends, Saturday was be mean to your spouse day - chicken. Hater will hate. And well, he and I had a lot of beef while his family was in town a couple of weeks ago. I initally selected a chicken and chickpea dish, but decided I need to change after I saw your chicken and chickpea stew. Should. Not. Repeat.

I looked for inspiration from the foodblogsphere and food magazines all week long .. nothing ... I blame the foggy weather, which also fogged my brain.  Finally, Saturday morning, a search with braise and chicken came up with a Chicken and Vegetable braised in peanut sauce recipe.  It is a boring looking recipe, but a good starting point. After I pulled the ingredients together, I modified it by adding lots of ginger, cilantro stems, shallot, and taramind pulp, to turn the dish into a south east Asian, a cross of a Thai peanut sauce and Singapore / Malay rempah. Really, from a recipe that was classified 'African' to some unrecognizable Asian inspire, it was make it up as I go along.

Untitled caution: do not inhale deeply, this paste made me teary

I browned the chicken in my now favorite Le Creuset Dutch oven, rendered a lot of fat from the drumsticks and thighs ... (can you say latkes!) then I sweat the flavoring paste in the pot, scraped up the bits, dumped in two cans of fire roasted tomatoes, 2 giant scoop of peanut butter, chicken broth... taste.. Couldn't put my finger on what's missing - added some shrimp paste, sweet dark soy sauce, splash of rice vinegar... Simmer for a couple of hours. Taste, still missing something. Pulled the chicken out to remove skin and debone. Cooled the liquid, and surprisingly, there was no layer of fat. Where did all the fat go?

Before serving, simmered the sweet potatoes for about half an hour to fork tender, put the chicken back in .. then stirred in giant handfuls of spinach. I did not anticipate the chicken turning into shred. Not part of the plan. Fortunately, whatever flavor that seemed to be missing, may have been mitigated by the last touch of salt and pepper. I think it turned out ok. Phew.

Peanut sauced chicken and sweet potatoes and spinachJ's plate, with extra fresh spinach

A couple of weeks ago, I called my mon to find out which white rice she uses - Golden Phoenix, Jasmine, New Crop, from Thailand. I was very excited when I lifted the lid of the pot, the rice smell so good, reminded me of home. White rice, one of my guilty pleasure. Yum.

After some goopy food and white rice, you were so kind to suggest we play Acquire...  You are also right on that Everyone is getting better at this game. Nick still cleaned house.

Untitledshould have, could have, woud have, sold ...

We threw in the towel and ended the nice evening with more coffee. See you next time!

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17Jan/130

Accidentally Alienate Your Friends

Dear Dinner People:

When I plan dinners, I usually start at one ingredient or one dish that I want to make and flesh it out from there. This week I just wanted to play 7 Wonders. That did not help with menu planning.

N and I discussed options. Lebanese lamb? Herb-rubbed beef tenderloin? Chili?

Chili won out, but specifically Terlingua Red chili like our DC area fav Hard Times serves.

My favorite item to order at Hard Times is Chili Bubba -- cornbread topped with two types of chili, plus sour cream, tomatoes, onions, and cheddar cheese. I always get Cincinnati and Terlingua Red (aside: when I was a vegetarian, I loved their vegetarian chili).

With some web-searching I came across a recipe for Hard Times Terlingua Red that had all of the notes on how to cook it for competition. Why not? While we were at the butcher shop picking up coarse grind beef, we picked up a pork chop. And I tossed it in the pot.

chili
J's chili

I had planned to eschew the beans since N keeps telling me he hates beans in chili. I was surprised when he suggested we add red kidney beans and black beans. I love kidney beans in chili, so we added a can of each.

In the end, the chili was not exactly like Hard Times Terlingua Red. I can't put a finger on exactly what was off. It was tasty enough for this chili fan, though.

jicama salad
jicama salad

I wanted a cool chopped salad to go along with the chili and work as a palate cleanser. I liked this jicama salad because it had cool and tang and crunch and sweet. When I found that recipe, it reminded me of one you made back in July of 2011.

A couple of weeks ago N and I went to Sazerac in Seattle. While waiting for our friends to meet up with us, we ordered two appetizers. One was bacon wrapped, cheese stuffed medjool dates. N remembered that they were stuffed with goat cheese, but I said it was blue cheese, so he bought that. I was wrong. N made his-my version. They were ok if you like savory dates.

stuffed dates
stuffed dates

I was determined that we would play a new-to-us game, 7 Wonders (BGG). I prepared. I over-prepared. I read through the instructions, set up a board, watched a How To Play video and then an entire game played out by the WatchItPlayed crew. Then I convinced N to play a 2-player round with me the night before you and G came over! I was determined that we were going to play 7 Wonders and that we were going to like it!

E's board, end Second Age
E's board, end second age

We played one game and I'm not so sure how we felt as a group. I think N felt good since he beat the rest of us by almost twenty points!

Learning all of the cards and iconography and how to win the game takes at least a game's worth of playing. I think it would have been much smoother the second time, but someone requested a break to formulate a strategy. Maybe we'll try again next time.

I do think the game scoring is fairly even. Even if you don't build your Wonder, you can make up the points on military or science or guild. That's where I think the gameplay is interesting. I can also see that it is frustrating because you aren't sure where you are relative to one another, especially if you are not seated next to someone!

After some tasty Salted Caramel & Strawberry Basil ice cream (thanks!), we played a round of... Uno.

Uno!
Uno!

Apparently our new Uno cards with the stupid design gave me a stroke but I still kicked y'all's asses handily. Chili power!

PS: sorry about all the hated food! I hope all the fritos helped mollify the menu made up of your hated foods.

4Jan/130

Happy New Year!

Happy 2013, E!

I usually make something special for the new year but I did not this year. No hoppin' john, no sauerkraut, no cake, no pork. Maybe the cookies I made for Christmas can carry over to the new year. No? I guess Chinese New Year is coming up and I can ready my house for that.

cookies

I made four types of Christmas cookies this year that we shared during our Pre-Christmas dinner.

  1. The usual 7 layer bars, aka magic cookie bars. A favorite of N's.

  2. Ginger molasses cookies, the type you roll out and ice. My favorite cookie, but I tried a different recipe this year and I didn't like it as much.

  3. Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti, a last minute addition. I should have baked them longer the second time.

  4. Rugelach, two flavors. Bleuberry-marcona almond-white chocolate and orange-pineapple-coconut. The orange-pineapple-coconut ones were universally appreciated and I think my new favorite. I always use Lora Brody's dough recipe.

Hibiscus drinkie

For a festive drink to go along with our celebration, I made what the hibiscus jarring company calls a wild hibiscus royale -- muddle mint, remove from glass. Put hibiscus flower in bottom. Add 1/2oz rose water. Add a bit of the hibiscus syrup. Top with champagne (I used a dry cava that had good reviews, Segura Viuda Brut Reserva). Add some more mint as garnish (which I didn't do). It was pretty!

As a side, roasted brussels sprouts in a mushroom sauce was much tastier than I expected. I guess you can't go wrong with mushroom sauce and roasted vegetables.

Maybe next time we can try another new game...