Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Slow down, you move too fast...

It was Christmas Eve and Shabbat this year, combining two of the oldest traditions in religion. In honor of the coziness of the winter, I decided to do a trial run of my new slow cooker Crock Pot with a delicious cut of Brisket I had ordered from my friends at Holton Farms this summer and frozen. I've never used a Crock Pot before but my friends all swear by them and recently I went to a meal where they'd used it to make a vegetarian Cholent, a stew traditionally made with meat, potatoes, carrots, onions and in Hungary and the "old country" they add whole eggs. I was enraptured by the stew and idea of it simmering all day and melding all the delicious flavors together, layering and deepening. I had to get a Crock Pot.

On my most recent trip to Costco, I picked one up for a job I was working on with the intention of making soup in it. I started making a sweet potato, butternut squash soup in it when I was working on set and got frustrated with the slowness of it. When I want to make soup to be made and eaten in an hour, I need speed. I put in butter, onions and garlic and expected them to sizzle and brown like I normally cook them, but no dice, this wasn't how it worked. In frustration, I put it in a regular soup pot and went on with my business, saving the Crock Pot for another time when I had more time.

I had the urge to give it another try last week and pulled my brisket out of the freezer to defrost. I picked up a bunch of carrots, a nice big onion and about 6 small Yukon Gold Potatoes and about 4 fat cloves of garlic that had been split from a head.

I chopped all my vegetables up and put them in the Crock Pot and browned the brisket which I had seasoned with coarse sea salt and ground pepper and then put that in on top of the veggies. I grabbed a partially empty bottle of Dijon mustard from the fridge and added some whole grain mustard, ground rosemary, oregano and apple cider vinegar and shook it up and then coated the brisket with it on top of the vegetables. Then I added about a half a bottle of Pinot Noir that had been sitting around for a while and smelled like it would lend itself to the cause quite nicely. I plugged in the unit, put the setting on Low for 10 hours and went and watched "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and had a glass of wine.

All night long as I slept the aroma of the brisket floated through my dreams. By the time I woke up, I was starving! In the morning I made Kasha according to the directions on the package and indulged in brisket and kasha for breakfast. It’s not traditional but this is my favorite meal of all time and as far as I’m concerned, can be eaten any time! Sorry there aren't any pictures but some things taste much better than they look!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Everyone loves a Hottie!

So, I was on my way home tonight and stopped in at Whole Foods by Columbus Circle to get something to cook for dinner. This in and of itself is a bit of madness, it being high tourist season and the Time Warner Center is always a bit of a zoo and the Whole Foods there can get so crowded that the line goes almost all the way through the store to the produce section, but I had plenty of time and decided to take my chances.

Breezing through the store was always such inspiration for me when I lived on 57th Street, they really know the lure of visual impact in there and I always got suckered in. I had a short list tonight, just chicken breasts. There was a sampling of Rick's Picks going on and I went over to try some of the new products. I'm a big fan of the Smokra, the smoked okra and it plays a major starring role in my turkey chili, and up until now, was my secret weapon. I got to chatting with Deittra, one of the Rick's Picks staff and she told me about a recipe contest they were doing with the newest member of the family, the "hotties", a spicy sriracha pickle chip, all I had to do was come up with a recipe and send them a picture of myself with my dish. I was practically cooking on my way out the door.

I'm ridiculously lucky to have a wide variety of ingredients left over from my commercial shoots, so I pulled together the ingredients from my shelves and refrigerator and it wasn't long before I had it all assembled and marinated the chicken. I can't even begin to describe how delicious this dish came out to be!!!
Peanut Chicken and Rick's Picks hotties

1/4 cup lime juice
juice from one clementine
2 Tablespoons of Peanut Butter
1 Tablespoon of honey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice Powder
1/4 cup of Toasted Sesame Oil

1 cup of Coconut Milk
1/2 jar of Rick's Picks hotties
1/2 english cucumber cubed
buckwheat soba noodles

Marinate about a pound of cubed boneless breast of chicken for 15 minutes to half an hour.

Cook up buckwheat soba noodles according to instructions.

Heat 1 Tablespoon of Coconut Oil in a heavy sauce pan and add chicken to brown it a bit, then pour in marinade, coconut milk and pickles and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Cube fresh cucumber and plate noodles with cubed cucumber, add chicken and sauce and enjoy!

I would have finished this with fresh cilantro if I had it, but I didn't and it was delicious all the same!