Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Quick Indian-Fusion Fried Rice

Developing this recipe uses the typical four-step Eron-approved Bachelor Chow method: 

Step One — Start by poking around in the fridge, determine what produce is going to turn bad soon and set it on the counter. 

Step two — Rummage in the cabinets and pull out whatever staples, such as rice, beans, canned tomatoes, broth, or pasta might compliment the produce and set them on the counter. 

Step three — Dig around in the spices, condiments, hot peppers, garlic, herbs etc to flesh out the dish and set those things on the counter too. 

Step Four — Repeat steps adding or subtracting ingredients from the pile on the counter until you have a dish that seems coherent. 

I wish I was joking, but being a visual artist I'm also visual thinker, so this method of setting everything out helps me visualize the flavor and texture combinations. In this case, I realized that I had the right bits around to make a biryana-inspired fried rice dish.

Quick Indian-Fusion Fried Rice
Serves 2 

1 pack saffron rice
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper (or 1/2 c. mixed sweet peppers), diced
1/2 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (optional)
2 tbs almonds, roughly sliced
1 tbs dried blueberries, cherries or raisins
1 tbs canola oil
1 c. cherry tomatoes, cut in to mixed halves and quarters
1 small handful of cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
your favorite simple yogurt raita or chutney for a condiment

1) Cook rice according to the directions on the package. Let rest for 5 minutes and fluff with a fork. (You can chop all your veggies while this is happening.)
2) Place the chopped tomatoes in a bowl with a decent pinch of salt and mix. Let sit for 5 minutes then drain, reserving the tomatoes.
3) Once the rice is ready to use, heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat then add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
4) Add the peppers and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
5) Add and mix in the rice, chickpeas, almonds, cherry tomatoes and fry over high heat, stirring often for 2-3 minutes, or until the rice's texture seems a bit more firm. 
6) Mix in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with raita or chutney on the table. 

This would go together in a lovely fashion with a new beer I discovered called "Le Petite Prince" by Jester King. This is a very low ABV beer (2.9% ABV!) that is quite dry on the finish but is loaded with herb and grass anotes nd has hints of golden dried fruit flavors hiding throughout. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chicken, Leek and Caper Pasta

This is a quick dish that is the perfect use for the leftover bits of the previous night's roast chicken. Using the combination of sweet leeks and bitter shallots to make a wonderfully rich base for the flavors is something that I stole from a random cookbook who's name has been lost to the ages. To whomever wrote about it (perhaps Patricia Wells?) thank you! Aside from that, the combination of capers, white wine and chicken is a classic. 

As a technical digression, if you don't understand the underlying principle, the reason you use wine in a recipe (specifically the reason you use *dry* white wine) is not just to add a wine-y flavor, but much more importantly to add acid. The acid from the wines will act the same way that lemon or vinegar will cause all of the other flavors flavors in a dish to "pop," assuming you have the salt level correct. 

Serve this with whatever white wine you had to force yourself to open to make the dish ;)

Chicken, Leek and Caper Pasta
Serves 2 with leftovers for tomorrow's lunch

1 lb leeks, halved, washed and sliced 
2 small shallots, minced
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 lb leftover chicken, shredded
1/8 c dry white wine
2 tbs cappers, rinsed and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
1/8 tsp hot pepper flakes
2 tbs italian parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 lb linguine or tagletelle, fresh or dried 

1) Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

2) Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, until fragrant (the idea is to infuse the oil).

3) Add the pepper flakes, cappers and shallots and sauté for about 60 seconds. 

4) Add the leeks and cook for 4-5 minutes until they are lightly colored. 

5) Pour in the wine and cook until it's mostly reduced. 

6) Add the chicken reduce the heat to low and cover, stirring occasionally, until the leeks soften and the chicken heats through. (About 10 minutes.)

6) Add the pasta to the water so that it finishes cooking to al dente a minute or two after the leeks are done. 

7) About 5 minutes after you cover the leeks add 1/2 cup pasta water to the leek mixture.

8) Transfer the noodles from the pot with a pasta fork once they are done. 

9) Add the parsley and mix it in well the noodles and leeks. Turn off the burner and let stand for 3-4 minutes so the noodles can absorb some the sauces flavor. 

Serve with a simple mixed greens salad and some thin slices of galric bread. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Pepper and Sweet Potato Frittata

While Callie and I were sad for many reasons that we had move from our cool loft in downtown LA, not the least of which reason was that our new place was too far away to participate in the CSA which had fueled so many of the great recipes I've posted on Curio. The recent opening of a small farmer's market less than a block's walk from our new place in Palms has brightened our week, so I've got a couple recipes to share to brighten yours! It's no Wednesday Santa Monica market (the market where most of the best restaurants in LA shop) but having access to local, seasonal produce is the vital to me because of the constant challenges the ingredients create for me in the kitchen. 

This recipe, which would be perfect for this weekend's brunch, uses two of those ingredients, Japanese sweet potatoes and Italian curly peppers. I've eaten Japanese sweet potatoes every fall, roasted directly over hot coals by street vendors in Little Tokyo. They are firmer in texture and higher in sugar than the normal variants. As for the Italian peppers, had never even heard of these weird, gnarled red and green curls. Almost as mild as a bell pepper, they have only the mildest bite and are light in flavor. I decided to turn them in to a gloriously simple but amazingly rich frittata the moment we got home from the market.

I would serve this with a simple salad with a champagne vinaigrette with plenty of ripe cherry tomatoes heaped on top, a glass of prosecco or vinho verde, and some great jazz on the record player.

Pepper and Sweet Potato Frittata 
Serves 4

1 tbs olive oil
1 lb Japanese sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced in to 1/8" thick half moons
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 lb Italian red and green sweet peppers (or a 4:1 mix of red bell peppers and Anaheim chiles)
1/4 cup whole milk (or cream)
5 eggs
salt & pepper to taste
fresh basil, cut in to thin ribbons (cilantro would work too)
sour cream 

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the eggs and the milk together.

2) Parboil the sweet potatoes. Parboiling means "partial boiling", which is easy to do. You just put the potatoes in a pot covered with plenty of water, then cover and bring to a boil and then boil for about 5 minutes so the potatoes are still firm. Drain and set aside.

3) In a small oven-proof skillet, heat the olive oil of medium heat. Saute the onions with a pinch of salt until they are soft, about 5-6 minutes. 

4) Add the peppers and saute until soft, an additional 5-6 minutes. (Make sure the onions don't burn, so feel free to turn down the heat as needed). 

5) Turn off the burner and season the saute with salt and pepper. 

6) Place the paroiled sweet potatoes on top in a layer.

7) Pour the egg mixture on top and gently shake the pan so the mixture settles in.

8) Bake for 20 minutes — until the eggs are cooked through and the top is lightly golden. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. 

9) To serve, place a dollop of sour cream and a smattering of basil on top of each slice. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wasted Days Mix

Earlier this summer everyone was hanging out at Cana celebrating Callie's birthday by drinking copious amounts of rum punch. The conversation drifted to music (as it tends to when I'm around) and one of our friends, Jenny, mentioned with general agreement that she missed my old mix tapes from back before I was in to metal. That comment stuck with me for two reason: 

First, I totally understand that no matter how much I would try, no matter how great the music might be, I would never be able to convince someone who is not an initiate to like death metal, funeral doom nor black metal (or free jazz for that matter). 

Second, I was a bit shocked because I hardly listen exclusively to metal. Yes your most likely to catch me at Behemoth or Winter or whatever, but my previous mix was a jazz mix. The one before that was an DJ mix of electronic music. Before that, sure "Shadowside"  went crazy noisy and metal for the last half, but apparently those tracks were so abusive that no one even noticed the first 50% of the mix was all indie, jazz and rap. (Also, there might have been a funny/frightening incident with Callie and her mom involving accidentally setting the mix on randomize.) 

While these mix-related thoughts fermented in my brain, I ended up drinking tons of beer, wrecking my hearing and getting sunburnt all weekend at the inimitable FYF Fest in Los Angeles. So many amazing bands played, but I was struck by a number of acts I had heard but hadn't paid enough attention to: Bands like HEALTH, Cloud Nothings and Purity Ring made me immediately go back and check out their albums. While other bands that I already loved reminded me why I love them: Atals Sound, Nicolas Jaar and Aesop Rock (even though he could have stolen a page from the hipster book and worn sunglasses so that he wasn't completely blinded the whole show). 

Inspired by the amazing weekend of music I decided to try to make a mix that duplicated the generally cool but inclusive vibe of the festival. This is a mix for the dusty, sweltering first days of late fall. This is a mix that everyone out there who likes cool music and wants to find a few new bands to expand their musical taste. This is a mix that is pretty much free of metal and hardcore, but if you don't like it because it's too indie or poppy, screw you, I'm playing Anata as I write so you haters can go back to listening to your trendy grindcore crap.  

"Song" — Artist — Album
1) In Medias Res — Los Campesinos! — "Romance Is Boring" (Thanks Ross!)
2) Party Talk — Craft Spells — Idle Labor
3) Belong — "The Pains of Being Pure at Heart" — Belong
4) What Whorse You Wrote Id On — Owls — Owls (I have no idea how I missed this album for like 10 years — it's the only thing older than a couple of years on here)
5) 'sus Envy — Myty Konkeror — I Miss The Future.
6) Solitary Traveler — Torche — Harmonicraft
7) Shugo Tokumaru — Lovely Allen — Vicious Circles Vol. 1
8) In Citrus Heights — Tera Melos — Patagonian Rats (I'm breaking a rule by including this on more than one mix, but holy crap this album keeps blowing my mind more and more as I listen to it.)
9) Recent Bedroom — Atlas Sound — Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But… (The most recent album is even better!)
10) Broken Pieces — Siamese Twins — Demo [Cassette]
11) Saltkin — Purity Ring — Shrines (Go see this band live!!!)
12) Peso — A$AP Rocky — LiveLoveA$AP Mixtape
13) Snakes & Ladders — Snowman — Absence
14) Cycles To Gehenna — Aesop Rock — Skelethon (the best album he's done since Labor Days even if his show at FYF wasn't as brilliant.)
15) Die Slow — HEALTH — Get Color (Touring right now with Crystal Castles — go see them.)
16) Wasted Days — Cloud Nothings (This one gets a bit crazy, but damn is it a perfect track for the last days of summer.)
17) Variations — Nicolas Jaar — Space Is Only Noise 

Seventeen tracks in just a bit over an hour — Let me know what you dig on and what inspires you! As always, if you like anything, for sure go buy the album, go see the band live and/or buy some merch to support these amazing artists.