Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Yellow Curry Chicken Legs

When I was young my mother occasionally used to make curry chicken as one of the dishes she served at family dinner (along with others, of course, as per usual Chinese family style of dining). She used whole chicken pieces rather than what one would more commonly get in a restaurant -- smaller pieces or sliced meat. It was a favorite of mine and my brother's. I love curries in general, but recently I've been craving a more Chinese-style curry. I had a can of coconut milk that I wanted to use as part of a curry, but I am almost certain that my mother's curry didn't use milk, which is more traditionally Thai than Chinese, so I couldn't ask her for the recipe. Nor did I want to go online to find a recipe for curry with coconut milk, both because it would undoubtedly lead to Thai-style curries, which I generally don't like due to being too sweet, and because curry seems like the sort of thing that would be fairly easy to improv.

Luckily, I was right. :) Here follows the ingredients I used in mine, with guesstimates as to certain amounts since I didn't do any measuring (marked with an asterisk). Obviously a very forgiving recipe; the ingredients show more what I had in the fridge that I wanted to use than any true planning. For future attempts I'm likely to use an extra carrot and perhaps a red pepper for the contrast in color, as well as more cornstarch to thicken up the curry -- but not too much.


  • 5-6 chicken legs, bone-in and with skin
  • 1/4 pound of fish balls
  • 2 red potatoes, cut into medium-size chunks
  • 1 large carrot, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 brown/yellow onion, chopped into medium-sized pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped into medium-sized pieces
  • 3 large white button mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 3 large crimini mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 5-6 tbsp yellow curry powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Chinese BBQ sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp corn starch
  • 3 tbsp water
  • salt and pepper


  1. Heat peanut oil in a large pot (I used a dutch oven) on medium heat. Brown chicken for 8 minutes, turning once. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
  2. Remove chicken to a plate. Do not clean pot of juices. Toss in the onions and potato and cook until they start to turn brown, just a few minutes. Remove as much as is feasible to a plate.
  3. Add in the coconut milk, fish sauce, curry powder, and BBQ sauce. Stir until fully incorporated and bring to a boil. Simmer until slighly reduced, a couple of minutes.
  4. Add in the tomato slices (they will melt and be part of the sauce). Place the chicken legs in the pot, and try not to crowd them. Add the onions, carrot, and potato on top. The sauce at this point probably won't cover everything, but don't worry, there will be more than enough liquid by the time the curry finishes cooking. Cover, turn the heat to low, and simmer for 2 hours or so. It's probably ready sooner than that, but I like for the meat to be falling off the bone so I leave it longer.
  5. Half an hour before you're going to turn the heat off and serve the curry, mix the water with the corn starch. Add into the bubbling curry and stir to mix. Add in the mushrooms and fish balls. Cover and simmer for another 30 minutes or so.
  6. Taste the curry and season as desired. Serve hot with white rice.

Pictured here with white rice and hot tea.

Crawfish in Seattle

A couple of weekends ago for lunch, I went to a Cajun-style restaurant in Everett called Alligator Soul. See, about a week before that, I interviewed a woman who was from Louisiana. After the interview portion we got to talking, and crawfish was mentioned. It's been something I've longed to try, because I love seafood/shellfish, but have never been to the South (except for one day in Dallas, but that doesn't really count). Doing some research online, Alligator Soul was the only place even remotely near me that served actual whole crawdads (as opposed to bits of it in a gumbo, or jambalaya, or whatever). It seems that every other Saturday they do a crawfish boil during the lunch hour, so I took the opportunity to go.

The place itself is a little run down, but that kind of added to its charm. The service was really friendly. And the crawfish plate for one that I ordered came with 1 pound of crawfish, along with some fixings. I also ordered a "side" of catfish, because I love fried catfish. When the food came I was stunned at how huge the portions were. I know crawfish aren't that big, but I wasn't expecting THAT many in a pound. And it came with two corn on the cob, three huge red potatoes, two halves of a roasted garlic bulb, and two good-sized spicy sausages. And all this for $10.95. O.o The side of catfish was basically a deep-fried filet with some really yummy tartar sauce that was great too. And it was only $4.50.

I wish I had brought my camera so I could have taken a pic of the giant platter of crawfish that arrived at my table, but oh well -- maybe in two weeks. :D They were good, kind of a cross between shrimp/lobster as many have said, but their shells are so hard that my fingers were hurting part of the way through from opening the shells. The photo is of my leftovers, because it was just too much food for one person. Look at how much is in my leftover box (which was really deep)!

Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto

This delightful and filling risotto makes a lot -- so be sure you have friends over to help finish it all, or you'll be having risotto for days on end! Though I suppose that may not be a bad thing.

Recipe originally found at

  • 1 pound assorted mushrooms, such as oyster and cremini, cleaned
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  1. Remove stems from mushrooms; set aside. Cut mushrooms into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside two-thirds of the mushrooms and coarsely chop the remaining mushrooms; set aside. Place porcini mushrooms, mushroom stems, and 6 cups water in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Let boil for 2 minutes; immediately remove from heat and let stand 15 to 20 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into another medium saucepan; discard solids. Place mushroom stock over low heat and keep covered until ready to use.
  2. Cut 2 inches from the top of asparagus; set aside. Cut remaining portion of the asparagus crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces. Bring a small saucepan of salted water to a boil; prepare an ice-water bath. Place asparagus tips in boiling water and cook until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes; drain and immediately transfer to ice-water bath to cool.
  3. Drain and set aside. Repeat process with 1/4-inch asparagus pieces.
  4. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over low heat.
  5. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add rice and stir to coat. Add wine and increase heat to medium-high; season with 2 teaspoons salt. Let cook, stirring, until liquid is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the warm mushroom stock and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Repeat this process 2 more times.
  7. Add reserved coarsely chopped mushrooms and season with 1 teaspoon pepper. Continue adding mushroom stock, 1/2 cup at a time, and cook, stirring, until liquid has almost evaporated, about every 2 minutes, until rice is al dente, 20 to 30 minutes total.
  8. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add remaining two-thirds of the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add asparagus tips and cook until lightly browned, about 1 minute more. Remove from heat and set aside.
  9. Add 1/4-inch pieces of asparagus to risotto and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove risotto from heat and add remaining 1/4 cup olive oil to risotto, along with butter and cheese. Stir until butter has melted and mixture is well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Divide risotto evenly among 4 serving plates. Top with sauteed mushrooms and asparagus tips. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.

Classic Cheese Fondue

Yesterday a LiveJournal friend asked for ideas about what to do with apples. I suggested cheese fondue, because when Jade and I were in NY not too long ago we went to Artisinal and got cheese fondue, and our server recommended apples for dipping. We were both rather skeptical (maybe because our last experience with dipping fruit with cheese was on our Oregon trip when Amdoch was dipping fruit and cookies on a dare into the pot of Velveeta Rotel that Krim had made), but we were pleasantly surprised by how yummy it was.

So I've been thinking about delicious, gooey cheese fondue, and how easy it is to make. Artisinal is known for its fondue, but what we had tasted exactly like what I myself have made a number of times from a recipe I got at the NY Times. If you have the desire for fondue, make it! You don't even need a fondue pot as long as you have a container that retains heat well, such as a cast-iron skillet. You can get one for like $10-20 new (depending on size), or perhaps even better, find one at a yard sale, sold by someone who doesn't appreciate the years of food memories that have gone into seasoning the skillet. And once you have it, it's good for sooooo much more (traditional Southern cornbread, for instance!).

Many people might say that you can't really have cheese fondue if you don't have a fondue pot, because one of the keys to fondue is keeping the cheese hot and runny to make dipping easy. But you don't need a fondue pot as long as the cheese has a constant heat source -- which you can get from a cast-iron skillet or a small Dutch oven. Since those retain heat very well (and distributes it evenly), the cheese will likely be gobbled up before the heat wears off and the cheese starts to congeal. And even if that happens, it's an easy matter to put the skillet/oven back on the stove, stirring until the cheese is back to a liquid consistency.

Another note is that you want the wine you use to be good. Not good as in expensive, but good as in good. I'm no wine connoisseur, but even I was able to taste the difference when using 'bad' wine in this recipe. Good wine for drinking and good wine for cooking are different things -- so you don't need to get an expensive bottle of wine. I recommend Charles Shaw, which you can get at Trader Joe's. It is a run off of Napa Valley so it is still good, but it is very inexpensive. Depending on where you live, it may cost up to $4/bottle. It's $2.99/bottle where I live, and in California it's $1.99/bottle. And you won't even use the whole bottle in this recipe, so really, it's perfect imo.

Originally posted at The New York Times


  • 1 small garlic clove, halved

  • 1 cup dry white wine (such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc)

  • 3/4 pound Gruyère cheese, grated

  • 3/4 pound Emmenthaler, raclette or Appenzeller cheese, grated

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons kirsch (optional)

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste (optional)

  • Crusty bread cubes; steamed broccoli or cauliflower; carrot, celery or fennel sticks; cubed apple; seedless grapes; clementine sections; cubed salami, soppressata or kielbasa; roasted chestnuts and/or dried apricots, for serving.

1. Rub cut side of garlic on inside of large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan, preferably cast iron, rubbing the bottom and halfway up the sides. Add wine and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss cheeses with cornstarch. Add a handful at a time to simmering wine, stirring until first handful melts before adding next. Reduce heat to medium and stir constantly until cheese is completely melted. Add kirsch, if using, and heat until bubbling, about 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, if desired. Serve with crusty bread and other accompaniments.

Yield: 6 main course servings or 10 appetizer servings.

If you don't have kirsch, don't worry about it. I personally don't think it adds that much, just a hint of sweetness. Also I love garlic, so after step #1 I sometimes will mince the halves and throw them into the melted cheese for extra garlicky flavor.

Sourdough Pizza Crust

I have failed to make decent pizza crust for many years. After all this learning about sourdough, I was finally successful with a recipe I cobbled together from a simple one I found in various places online and a not-so-simple one from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread.

This all came about because I had ripe sourdough starter (extra from feeding discard) that I didn't know what to do with. So I deliberately used a recipe that used sourdough starter instead of anything that required the addition of active dry/instant yeast. The online recipes seemed too simplistic (like the other recipes I've tried in the past that were failures) while the recipe from the book didn't use sourdough starter at all. So I just kind of combined the two to make them work for my purposes.

  • About 2 cups ripe sourdough starter (100% hydration), cold
  • About 2 cups bread flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt

* If you can, weigh the ingredients and put the same amount of flour as you have starter. Adjust the amount of salt and oil accordingly.


  1. 1. Mix all of the ingredients together in an electric mixer with the dough hook attachment for 5-7 minutes, until the dough is homogeneous and smooth (it will be sticky but not too wet).
  2. Divide dough into 6-oz portions (every 6-oz portion will make a 9-12" pizza) or as big/small as you prefer. Discard leftover dough or make into grissini.
  3. Lightly dust each portion. Gently shape into a ball. (At this point you can freeze them by lightly oiling each ball and putting them individually into freezer bags. Defrost the day before you intend to make the pizza.) Lightly oil dough balls and put them on a baking sheet (or smaller container depending on how many balls of dough you have). Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours.
  4. Two hours before you plan to make the pizza, take the dough out of the fridge. Lightly flour your hands and press the dough down to a disc to about 1/2" inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and proof (leave it alone) for 2 hours.
  5. About 45 minutes before you plan to bake the pizza, place a pizza stone on a lower third rack oven the oven and preheat to 500°F or as high as your oven will let you go (the higher the better, but most home ovens cap at 500 or 550).
  6. After the 2-hour proof, dust your hands and put the disc of dough over your knuckles, using them to gently rotate and stretch the dough. If you're brave or feel comfortable, toss the pizza as the professionals do! The gluten should be relaxed (and yet developed enough) for you to be able to stretch it easily and it can get fairly thin without tearing. If it does tear, DO NOT RESHAPE (doing so will almost certainly make the dough too springy and "tough" and you'll have to wait another 5-20 minutes for the gluten to relax so you can try again). Simply pinch the hole closed with dough on either side.
  7. When you have the dough shaped how you like it, transfer it to a peel. Top with sauce, cheese, and your choice of toppings (try not to overload, especially if it's a thin crust). In this order, I used Trader Joe's pizza sauce, basil leaves from my new homegrown plant, mozzarella cheese for melty goodness, and a 3-cheese blend of hard cheeses like parmesan, romano, and pecorino.
  8. When the pizza is ready for the oven, sprinkle some semolina flour on the pizza stone, to make sure that the pizza will slide easily on (and more importantly, off). Use the peel and quickly slide the pizza onto the stone -- don't be too hesitant or it will just be messy.
  9. Bake for 5-8 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and brown and the crust is golden. Use a peel to take the pizza off the stone (should be easy with the semolina base) and wait a few minutes for the cheese to set a bit before slicing.

The Pictorial

After the dough was proofed for 2 hours, it was stretched out to a shape kind of, sort of, resembling a pizza (sadly, I think this is the best I've ever done). I did it right on the pizza peel so that there would be less transferring back and forth.

Here I've put on the sauce and the toppings: tomato, basil, red onion, and garlic.

With the glorious addition of cheese: mozzarella and a "quatro formaggio" blend of parmesan, fontina, asiago, and soft provolone.

Here it's been slid onto a hot pizza stone (oven is at 500°F, which is the highest my oven will go) dusted with semolina flour.

8 minutes later.

3 minutes later. It's sitting on a plate way too small to hold it because it's the biggest plate I have. >.>

Hmm, okay, it might be TOO thin. Or the tomato slices were too heavy for how thin the crust was. Still, it was melty and delicious.

Close-up shot of how thin the crust is. Success at last! :-)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Masterlist of Recipes


- Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
- Caesar Salad
- Guacamole
- Hodge Podge Salad
- n-Layer Dip
- Pico de Gallo
- Potato Salad (Red Hot and Blue)
- Tomato and Cucumber Salad

- Corn Dogs
- Feta Burgers
- New York Steak and Quick-Roasted Potatoes
- Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, and Browned Butter and Mizithra
- T-Bone Steak with Melting Marrow Gremolata
- Tomato-Braised Oxtail Pasta

- Acme's Herb Slabs
- Butter Popovers
- Buttermilk Biscuits
- Chinese Bakery Style Hot Dog Buns
- Hot Cross Buns
- Lavash Crackers
- Lemon-Scented Pull-Apart Bread
- Pecan Honey Sticky Buns
- Sourdough Pizza Crust

- Bridge Creek Heavenly Hots
- Butter Popovers
- Cocoa-Nana Bread
- Raised Waffles
- Sugar Donut Muffins

- Cha-Siew (Chinese BBQ Roasted Pork)
- Cha-Siew II (Restaurant-Style Chinese BBQ Roasted Pork)
- Chinese Noodle Soup
- Ginger and Scallion Crab
- Panda Express Orange Chicken
- Red-Braised Beef
- Shanghai-Style Drunken Chicken
- Slow Cooker Congee
- Sweet Pork Jerky
- Yellow Curry Chicken Legs

Dessert/Sweets - Cakes, Bars & Sweet Breads
- Apple Tart Cake
- Banana Cake
- Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever (Pioneer Woman)
- Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting
- Cheesecake Brownies
- Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce
- Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies
- Chocolate Valentino
- Cocoa-Nana Bread
- Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
- Lovely Lemon Cakes (HBO/Game of Thrones)
- Macrina Bakery's Squash Harvest Loaf
- Pecan Honey Sticky Buns
- Pineapple Upside-Down Miniature Cakes
- Raspberry Yogurt Cake
- Sugar Donut Muffins
- Tall and Creamy Cheesecake (Dorie Greenspan)
- Tres Leches Cake

Dessert/Sweets - Cookies, Ice Cream & Misc.
- Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Roll
- Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
- Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze
- Meyer Lemon Sablés
- Rugelach
- Stracciatella Ice Cream

Dessert/Sweets - Pies, Tarts & Pastries
- Apple-Pear Tart
- Apple Tart Cake
- Baklava
- Cherry Limeade Icebox Pie
- Pear and Hazelnut Frangipane Tart
- Pumpkin Pie with Hazelnut and Ginger Streusel
- Rustic Chocolate Pie
- Strawberry Sour Cream Pie

- Rich Brown Gravy
- Cream Gravy
- Garlic Scape Pesto
- Guacamole
- Mayonnaise
- n-Layer Dip
- Pesto
- Salsa, Bright Red
- Salsa, The Pioneer Woman's Restaurant Style
- Spinach & Feta Cream Cheese Spread
- Sweet and Sour Sauce (McDonald's)
- Tomato Sauce (Marcella Hazan)

- Aloo Gobi
- Chicken Curry in a Hurry
- Murgh Makhani
- Palak Mattar
- Palak Paneer
- Paneer
- Raita

- Spinach Pasta (Homemade)

- California Rolls

- Beef Bulgogi
- Chamchijeon (Korean Tuna Pancakes)
- Dak Kang Jung - Korean Crispy, Spicy, and Sweet Chicken Wings
- Jap Chae (Glass Noodles with Beef and Vegetables)
- Kalbi - Korean Marinated Short Ribs
- Kimchi Jigae (Simple)
- Kom Tang - Beef Bone Broth
- Mak Kimchi

- Apple Butter
- Breadcrumbs
- Homemade Butter
- Homemade Yogurt
- Honey Walnut Cream Cheese
- Preserved Lemons
- Rendering Lard
- Strawberry Freezer Jam

- Apple Dijon Pork
- Bacon (Homemade)
- Croque Monsieur
- Milk-Braised Pork
- Stuffed Zucchini
- Sweet Pork Jerky

- Broth-Boiled Kale with Fried Egg on Toast
- Chicken Carbonara
- Chicken Enchiladas
- Chicken Friand
- Chicken in Guinness Red Sauce
- Chicken Stew
- Coq au Vin
- Duck L'Pomegranate
- Faux Pot Pie
- High Roast Chicken
- Oven-Fried Paprika Chicken
- Turkey and Broccoli Goulash
- White Chicken Chili

- Fish Tacos
- Linguine with Clams
- Roasted Salmon Steaks with Pinot Noir Sauce
- Seared Chilean Sea Bass and Scallops
- Sole Meuniere
- Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli
- Tuna Burgers

Side Dishes
- Baked Fries
- Baked Garlic Parmesan Fries
- Baked Macaroni & Cheese
- Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes (Zuni Cafe)
- Classic Cheese Fondue
- Cream-Braised Brussels Sprouts
- Creamed Broccoli
- Garlic Brussels Sprouts
- Garlic Smashed Potatoes (Tom Douglas)
- Hand-Cut Garlic Fries
- Potato Salad (Red Hot and Blue)
- Potatoes Au Gratin (Slow Cooker)
- Quick-Roasted Potatoes

- Clam Chowder
- Cream of Broccoli (or Brussels Sprouts) Soup
- Creamy Scallop Soup
- Creamy Tomato Bisque
- French Onion Soup (Slow Cooker)
- Kimchi Jigae (Simple)
- Kom Tang - Beef Bone Broth

- Baked Macaroni & Cheese
- Broccoli Alfredo
- Classic Cheese Fondue
- Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto
- Pizza
- Rotini with Vegetable Marinara
- Spinach Pasta (Homemade)
- Tomato Tart