Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chicken Tikka Masala

For regular blog readers, you all know that I like to cook a variety of ethnic dishes. My interests often lean toward Asian foods so it came as a bit of a surprise to me when I realized that I have never attempted Indian food. This may be a partial lie, because I have made tandoori chicken before, but it was a very long time ago and I'm sure I tried to make it healthy and therefore lost the true essence of the traditional flavors. But not this time! I went all in with this Indian dish. Heavy cream? Check. Full-fat yogurt? Check. Lots of awesome spices? Check! Check! The resulting dish made for a small army, but I imagine you could easily cut this in half. I served with a brown basmati rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala (serves 8)

  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 tsp. ginger, grated
  • 4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-milk yogurt (not Greek!)
  • 1 TB kosher salt
  • 2 lbs., boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise
  • 3 TB ghee (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 2 dried chiles de arbol (or 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes)
  • 1 28-oz can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cups chopped cilantro


Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin in a small bowl. Whisk yogurt, salt, and half of spice mixture in a medium bowl; add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and chill 4-6 hours. Cover and chill remaining spice mixture.
Heat ghee in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, tomato paste, cardamom, and chiles and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining half of spice mixture and cook, stirring often, until bottom of pot begins to brown, about 4 minutes.
Add tomatoes with juices, crushing them with your hands as you add them. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes.
Add cream and chopped cilantro. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack inside sheet. Arrange chicken on rack in a single layer. Broil until chicken starts to blacken in spots (it will not be cooked through), about 10 minutes.
Cut chicken into bite-size pieces, add to sauce, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Serve with rice and cilantro sprigs.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Food Porn: Izakaya Seki

Earlier this month, I celebrated another birthday. Something else that is noteworthy to point out, is that Washingtonian Magazine had recently released it's Top 100 Restaurants issue, which is one of my regular go-to publications for things to do in DC. So I decided that for my birthday, I would check out one of the restaurants listed. I settled on Izakaya Seki, a small Japanese restaurant that I had walked by before with a friend and wondered what it was all about. I was told it was a great place to go for an authentic Japanese meal and that I would not be disappointed. And I most definitely was not. This place was wonderful.

My dinner companion and I had several different dishes, but I'm highlighting the three most visually appealing here. The first of which, shown above, was a special dish. All of the details are a bit foggy (we also consumed two bottles of sake), but from what I can recall, this was a scallop in a ridiculous amount of butter. This was so rich, I'm glad it came early in the meal so that I could fully enjoy the flavor. So delicious.

The next photo, shown on the right, was a raw tuna dish. I'm a big fan of sushi-grade tuna and this was no exception. This was called tuna tataki. It was a yellowfin tuna served with garlic chips. I don't have words for how flavorful this was. And light. A great follow up to the rich scallop.

Lastly, I present to you the Inaniwa Udon noodles with pork belly. I've been on a big noodle bowl kick this winter, regularly finding myself trying different noodle bowl dishes throughout the city. This is probably a close second to one I had with duck at Union Market several weeks back. The flavor on this was comforting and it was a great way to end a meal. This is my kind of dessert!

So if you haven't tried this place out, I'd suggest giving it a go. You can visit the website at My parents are coming into town this coming weekend so I plan to hit up another place off the Washingtonian list. Write-up to follow!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Apple Brandy-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Cooking with booze. I'm sure there's a cookbook by this name. And if there isn't, I might have just discovered my next million dollar idea. A few weeks ago, I decided to make this dish, which was featured in one of my holiday issues of Cooking Light. Anyone who reads my blog knows I'm a big fan of pork. And apples. And alcohol. So why not combine the three?

This was a simple recipe but the hardest thing for me to find was brandy. I eventually had to go to one of the higher-price liquor stores to find it and I only had one option for purchase, so this is what I went with. I apologize for the lack of food photo on this, but I made this around the time I spent the better part of a week trying to get my new iPhone fully functional, so I'm guessing the picture got lost during one of many attempted backups. So you'll just have to settle for a picture of booze. With this crowd, I doubt this is that disappointing.

But to be honest, I wasn't crazy about this recipe. It was a little on the bland side for me (I was more interested in the roasted fingerling potatoes I served with it!) So now I have all this this won't be the last of my "cooking with booze" posts.

Apple Brandy-Glazed Pork Tenderloin (serves 6)


  • 3 cups unfiltered apple cider
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 large shallot, sliced
  • 2 TB butter
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 1/2 lbs. pork tenderloin, trimmed
  • Cooking spray

  • Directions:

    Combine first cider, brandy, thyme and shallot in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 30 minutes). Remove from heat; discard thyme and shallot. Stir in butter, mustard, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

    Preheat oven to 475°.

    Sprinkle pork evenly with remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Place pork in a roasting pan; bake at 475° for 9 minutes. Turn pork over; brush evenly with 2 tablespoons cider mixture. Bake an additional 8 minutes or until thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of pork registers 140°. Let pork stand for 10 minutes.

    Slice pork, and serve with remaining sauce.

    Monday, February 17, 2014

    Nutty Almond-Sesame Red Quinoa

    As I mentioned earlier this month, I have a few friends who decided to go vegan for the month of February. They all continue to do well on their cleanses, and I've tried to be supportive in making vegan dishes this month for our various dinner get-togethers. Quinoa has become a regular fixture as a result, and here is another great quinoa side dish...this time of the red variety!

    Nutty Almond-Sesame Red Quinoa (serves 4)


    • 1 2/3 cups water
    • 1 cup red quinoa
    • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
    • 2 TB lemon juice
    • 2 tsp. olive oil
    • 2 tsp. dark sesame oil
    • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
    • 3 green onions, thinly sliced

    Bring water and quinoa to boil in a medium saucepan. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 12 minutes or until quinoa is tender. Drain if necessary.

    Stir in almonds, juice, oils, salt and onions. Serve warm.

    Thursday, February 13, 2014

    Cinnamon-Sugar Mini Muffins

    It's a fairly rare occurrence that you can look at a recipe and realize that you have EVERYTHING needed to make it. No need to go to the store. Knock on a neighbor's door for a fraction of a teaspoon of a certain spice. These are a rarity, even with the amount of cooking that I do!

    We have a snow day today. And if you're anything like me, you try to be productive in your home and find this a good time to cook food. But I have a ton of leftovers from food I'd made earlier this week, so I find myself uninspired to make more food at this time. And I elected not to run to the grocery store in a panic yesterday. I had my toilet paper. I had my milk. I had my leftovers. I'm good for a few days as far as I'm concerned. But maybe you want to bake and need a little inspiration. I'm here for you. And so is this recipe.

    I made these mini muffins last week. They are simple and I'm guessing many of you have the needed ingredients already. So bake away, you won't be disappointed. They taste a little like Snickerdoodles...for breakfast!

    Cinnamon-Sugar Mini Muffins (makes 2 dozen mini muffins)

    • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
    • 1/3 cup butter, melted
    • 2 TB sugar
    • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 cup butter, melted

    In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and allspice. Combine the egg, milk and butter; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Spoon into greased or paper-lined mini muffin cups.

    Bake at 400° for 12-14 minutes or until muffins test done. For topping, combine sugar and cinnamon.
    Brush the tops of warm muffins with butter; sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.

    Friday, February 7, 2014

    Pierogies with Kielbasa and Caramelized Onions

    Some people would say that there are two primary food groups in Pittsburgh: meat and potatoes. There's a certain comfort to eating these types of meals, and it makes me feel at home. But there's just something about starch wrapped in starch with tube meat that gets me infinitely more excited than your standard comfort food fare. So last week, I finally cooked the frozen pierogies that I picked up while home in Pittsburgh over the holidays. And these ain't no Mrs. T's. These were large and in charge and made by the Polish ladies of Pierogies Plus in Pittsburgh. Seriously, they are the best. You should order some of these.

    Pierogies with Kielbasa and Caramelized Onions (serves 4...but let's be real...more like two hungry people)

    • 3 TB olive oil, divided
    • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 lb frozen potato and cheddar pierogies, do not thaw
    • 1 lb kielbasa, sliced, any variety will work
    • 2 TB apple cider vinegar
    • 2 TB whole grain mustard
    • fresh parsley, chopped for garnish (optional)

    In a large saucepan, heat 2 T olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, stirring occasionally, until they turn a golden color, about 15-20 minutes. Spread pierogies on top of onions in a single layer. Lower heat to medium, cover pan and let cook another 5 minutes, stirring every other minute. Add sausage slices and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until pierogies and sausage are cooked through and starting to turn golden brown.
    Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together vinegar, mustard and remaining 1 TB olive oil.
    Add dressing to pan with the sausages, pierogies and onions and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. I did not add salt because this was plenty salty enough. And I LOVE salt!
    Garnish with parsley, if you want.

    Sunday, February 2, 2014

    Vegan Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

    I have several friends who are either a week in to a 30-day vegan cleanse, or have elected to go vegan for the month of February. I tip my hat to you. Last week I was asked to bring a vegan side dish to a family dinner, and I found this great recipe online. This had a nice kick to it flavor-wise and is something that I could see making again as a side dish...perhaps to a nice steak. ;)

    Vegan Quinoa and Black Bean Salad (serves 4-6)


    • 1 cup quinoa
    • 2 cups water
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 limes, juiced
    • 2 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste
    • 1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
    • 1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1/14 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    • salt and pepper, to taste.


    Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender and water has been absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

    Whisk olive oil, lime juice, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and red pepper flakes together in a bowl.

    Combine quinoa, tomatoes, and black beans together in a bowl. Pour dressing over quinoa mixture; toss to coat. Stir in cilantro; season with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately or chill in refrigerator.