Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last Supper #8: Vimal Dhar

Indian chef Vimal Dhar listed 7 different dishes for his last supper, of which I selected three to make. All are Indian: Lamb Rogan Josh (chunks of lamb with yogurt, almonds, green chiles, and lots of spices), his recipe for tangy eggplant, and potatoes.

The lamb turned out wonderful. I'm not going to put the recipe here because Lamb Rogan Josh is a farily common dish so recipes aren't hard to come by.

The eggplant recipe appears in the book and I have to say we just didn't like it. The amount of spice paste in it overpowered the eggplant.

I couldn't find the specific potato recipe chef Dhar mentioned, so I chose one for Aloo Timatar (Potato and Tomato Curry with Cilantro) which appears in one of my very favorite cookbooks: From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail. The book was a gift from my sister a few years ago and I don't think I've found a recipe in it I don't like. Here's the recipe for the potatoes:
Aloo Timatar (Potato and Tomato Curry with Cilantro)

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 1/2 pounds wxay boiling potatoes
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 Tbsp. corn, peanut or olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp. asefetida (substitute garlic powder)
  • 1/2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. whole mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup grated fresh tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. plain yogurt
  • 4 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Boil the potatoes, drain them and cool. Don't refrigerate. When cool enough to handle, peel them and cut or break into bite-sized pieces. Put them in a bowl and add the salt, coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper and turmeric. Toss to mix and set aside.

Pour oil in a lidded pot over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add the asefetida (or garlic powder), cumin seeds, and mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, put in the ginger and stir for a few seconds. Add the grated tomatoes. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes or until the oil separates from the tomato puree. Add the potatoes and stir to mix. Add 1 1/2 cups water, stir and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes. (You can extend this cooking time and remove the cover to reduce the broth a bit if wanted. this will give a slightly thicker sauce)

Put the yogurt in a small bowl and beat lightly. Add about 4 Tbsp. of the sauce from the potatoes and mix it in. Stir in the cilantro then pour this mixture into the pot, stir to blend and check for salt.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Last Supper #7: Guillaume Brahimi

Born in Paris, Guillaume Brahimi now resides in Australia. For his last supper, he listed oysters, caviar, foie gras, ribeye, and some cheese. Rather than break the bank on oysters, caviar AND Foie gras, I made a simple green salad and served on the side D'Artagnan Foie Gras with black truffles. Talk about rich! Of course, both Jeff and I ended up putting little bits of the truffled Foie Gras on our hot steak. MMMMMMM!

We grilled a ribeye from our favorite local butcher, Barth's, in New Providence, New Jersey. I also skewered a few shrimp and seasoned them with some herbs because the steak looked a little small for the two of us. A few roasted asparagus spears rounded out the meal.

The cheese turned out to be a bit of a treat because I went earlier that day with my Mom to the Greek Store in Kenilworth where I bought a chunk of a firm variety of goat cheese. Delish!

With 33 more Last Suppoer ahead, I'm already thinking I'll be a bit sad when it all ends... :(

Monday, December 8, 2008

Last Supper #6: Helene Darroze

Had this post not been in the Last Supper project, I would have called it Funky Chicken, where funky is good, really really good. But, alas, it is the Last Supper of Helene Darroze...

For her last supper, French chef Helene Darroze listed a number of dishes, so I constructed a menu choosing several of them. We started with cheese and crusty bread, simple, but always a favorite. For the entree, she wanted roast chicken with potato fries and the book provides a recipe for the potatoes that she loves. I used that potato recipe, but I decided to fancy-up the roast chicken because roast chicken can be a little boring (or so thinks this cook). The recipe I found was anything but boring. Prior to roasting, you slather under the skin a delightful olivada - olives, herbs, spices, garlic! Within minutes my kitchen smelled out of this world.
Roast chicken with spicy olivada is a new Epicurious favorite I'll make again and again. I used a 7-pound chicken as the recipe calls for and there was plenty of olivada - some might want a little less. I also made the pan sauce the recipe calls for and that made sure our chicken was nice and juicy, even when we had leftovers!

The potato fries were... well, potato fries. Nothing extraordinary, I must say, at least until dipped in the sauce from the chicken! I also served some green beans with a little lemon zest, butter and walnuts.

And for dessert, Helene listed two options: chocolate eclairs or shortbread with whipped cream and strawberries. I opted for the second choice since I made eclairs over the summer for a Daring Bakers' challenge.

This was a great roast chicken recipe, especially for those of you who, like me and my husband, might find roast chicken a little lackluster - especially during the holiday season when roast turkeys are popping up on everyone's dining room table...
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