Easy Curry chicken and eggplant

Ingredients:

boneless chicken breast, 1/2#

coconut milk, 1 can (Chaokoh brand is good)

red curry paste (Maesri brand)

eggplant, 300 g+, cut into large chunks. Or small Thai eggplants if available.

cilantro, chopped

optional: fresh peppers — hot or sweet; ginger, garlic, mushrooms, onions

Well it’s so 2017, but I have launched myself into (back into?) it with a purchase of yes, an Instant Pot. I read about Amazon’s one day a year sale on them, and again missed it this year but then read about Walmart competing with an even better model and for only 50 bucks I sprung. I have a honking-large 6-in-one pressure cooker, slow cooker and who knows what else because though I have washed it is in just sitting in the middle of my kitchen taking up an elephant-size share of real estate.

I thought I might try it last eve since I got out of the library the “butter chicken lady” cookbook called Indian Instant Pot Cookbook. Still too involved what with the making up the garam masala mixture before I even got to cooking and I was getting hungry, so I used my can of curry paste and cooked in my mother’s old-fangled dutch oven. Here’s what I did:

Sauté 3/4 can red curry paste in 1 T oil. (Or you can instead of oil, use the skimmed coconut fat/oil on top of the can of coconut milk.) Cook and stir for a couple minutes. Add one can of coconut milk and bring to a boil. (I think you can add some fresh ingredients before the milk, such as: fresh peppers — hot or sweet — ginger, garlic, mushrooms, onions and other sauté-type ingredients.)

Add boneless chicken breasts, cut into large pieces, and eggplant also cut up. Simmer covered for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until eggplant is cooked through. Taste and correct with fish sauce, soy sauce and/or sugar.

Serve with rice garnished with cilantro.

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Impromptu summer fish bake

When tomatoes are starting to come in and you want to make an easy indoor dinner, try this sauce for baking fish:

Garlic, parsley, capers, tomatoes, olive oil & salt whirred in mini-chopper. Place fish in buttered pan and pour sauce over fish. Cover and bake at 375 degrees.

Or: roast with butter and use as sauce afterwards.

Serve with boiled green beans and farro.IMG_6064

Summer pasta with shrimp and nduja

Quick and easy, truly! Sauce is made in less time that it takes to cook pasta. I know, many recipe writers state that but this time I can attest it’s true!

Ingredients:

shrimp, Frozen are fine, defrosted under running water (takes about 5 minutes or less)

garlic cloves, 2 minced

tomatoes, 2 small-ish, cut into chunks, or equal amount of cherry tomatoes, halved

nduja, 1 oz (no need to cut up; it will dissolve to create a luscious sauce)

lemon zest, and perhaps some juice

fresh basil or parsley, chiffondade

pasta, such as campanelle, 2 oz per person

Directions:

Defrost shrimp under running water.

Put up large pot of water to boil for pasta.

Peel and devein shrimp. Mince garlic. Cut up tomatoes into large chunks. Slice off a hunk o’ nduja.fullsizeoutput_1d92

Directions: When water boils, add salt and pasta. Stir, bring to boil and cook in usual manner.

Heat sauté pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil, and then garlic and shrimp. Cook, stirring about 2 minutes. Add: tomatoes, nduja and lemon zest. Cook, stirring about another 4 minutes or so. IMG_6053If it’s dry, add in lemon juice. Cover and let sit waiting for pasta to finish cooking.

Dump the pasta into the sauce and give it a stir. IMG_6054

Chiffonade some basil if it’s handy. Otherwise parsley is good too.

Greens and beans

This is a classic Italian dish, and I believe is “classic” because it is so very delicious. The ingredients are interchangeable as long as there is plenty o’ garlic, greens and those thar beans!

Here is a pleasant summer variation, close to standard:

Broccolini

new or older onion, sliced in half-moons or quarters

garlic cloves, rough minced

chicken or vegetable stock

parmesan cheese

cannelini beans

Directions:

Cut up onion and garlic. Sauté onion in olive oil until soft. Add garlic and crushed red pepper, and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Rinse broccolini and add to sauté pan with S&P. Turn up heat and add stock. IMG_6042

Turn in stock, cover and cook on medium for about 5 minutes until just under crisp tender. Add beans to warm through about 3 minutes. IMG_6043

Serve with drizzle of lemon juice or vinegar, olive oil, and grated parmesan.

Green beans, farro & shrimp summer dinner

In July when green beans are at their peak harvest, quick sauté/braise stovetop with garlic scapes, new onions and almonds. Serve with farro and some easy oven roasted shrimp. Healthy, balanced meal that is also delicious!

Lay of the land:

You’re going to sauté green beans in olive oil after first sautéing garlic scapes and onions. Add beans, toss to cook quickly and then add water, cover and cook for 5+ minutes to crisp-tender. Remove cover and increase heat to boil away liquid. If you have pre-cooked farro (rinsed and cooked in 2-3x boiling salted water 20-25 minutes), you can heat it on one side of the pan while you finish cooking the beans. IMG_6035

Preheat oven to 450 degrees with pan in the oven to heat up. You will defrost and marinate some shrimp perhaps in an Asian-style marinade.

When you add green beans to sauté pan, remove shrimp from marinade with tongs and toss into oven for 8 minutes, turning with tongs halfway through.

Summer party menu

I am not a hot dogs and hamburger on the grill kinda gal when I invite people over for a pool party (or frankly when I go to others’ parties). I am not averse to meat, if it is good. I patronize my local organic farms when I want a semi-annual steak, and certainly whenever I want a cut of pork. I have begun to greatly appreciate the Boston Butt cut of pork. It is forgiving — you stick in the oven and it is done, whenever. It also is a fatty cut which has the glorious advantage of essentially self-basting in its fatty porkiness which accentuates the good flavor.

Menu:

Little neck clams on the grill, served with melted butter (melted in small dish on grill). Clam broth is optional.

Grilled kielbasa. Buy the best quality you can find. Fatty pork is a happy complement to clams.

Reheated pork butt. I prepared the day ahead by slow-roasting in oven; I marinated the pork in Puerto Rican style a la Mark Bittman.

Potato salad

Deviled eggs. Because it’s not a summer party without ’em! These go early and fast!

Garbanzo salad

Cherry pie

Strawberry shortcake

Garbanzo quinoa vinaigrette

This is an easy and healthy-ish salad perfect for summer gatherings. With no dairy it can go outdoors without danger. And it’s super-easy to assemble, and flexible too. It’s just a simple vinaigrette including both lemon juice and white wine vinegar, heightened with hot pepper — fresh or dried flakes — and mustard and honey to balance. It’s beans with red onion and some carrots and red peppers or whatever is fresh in early summer.

2 large cans of garbanzos (chick peas), drained and rinsed

red onion, 1/2, sliced then quartered, and macerated in white wine vinegar for 15 minutes to mellow

Vinaigrette: lemon juice (~ 2 T), garlic scapes or garlic, mustard, honey, red pepper flakes or fresh hot hot pepper, minced, S&P, olive oil.

Mix together:

Garbanzos

Onions

Red or other color peppers — not green, diced

carrots — #2-3, cut into dice about size of beans or smaller

minced parsley

cooked quinoa, cucumber, garlic scapes, cumin, and/or garlic, optional

Variation: substitute lime juice for lemon juice; substitute black beans for garbanzos, and add cilantro and scallions.  Use cumin.