Ok, so that’s a weird (some might say intriguing) title, but we are going to talk about all of those things today, and I am SOOO excited about it.
Let’s start off by saying that I’m a big fan of Indian food. I don’t know where my love for it comes from, but it’s there. My hubby is only so-so about the Indian food, but I think he’s been swayed a little in its favor this week. I had already planned to make this Coconut Chicken and Rice, when I saw a recipe for naan on a blog I’ve been reading back-posts of (I’m more than a little obsessive about reading all the old posts of a blog before deciding whether or not to follow it). Let’s take these one at a time. The chicken and rice is delicious and simple. I did have a problem with the rice not cooking in time which I remedied by cooking it for twice as long. Looking at the recipe online, it seems that they incorrectly printed the temperature; it should be 425 degrees, not 325. Next time, I’ll try it that way, but cooking it for an hour works too. Because you’re just throwing ingredients in a pan and sticking it in the oven, it really couldn’t be easier. Plus, one of your sides is cooking with your chicken. Easy peasy!
Coconut Chicken and Rice (from the March 2002 issue of Real Simple)
8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp. cayenne
Zest of 2 limes
3 c. basmati rice
2 c. chicken stock
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
1/4 c. cilantro
1 tsp. salt
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 c. flaked, sweetened coconut
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat a 9×13 pan with Pam. Sprinkle the chicken breast with the garlic, cayenne, and lime zest and set aside.
2. Place the rice in the baking dish. In a bowl, combine the stock, coconut milk, cilantro, salt, and lime juice; pour the liquid over the rice. Arrange the chicken on top of the rice. Cover the pan with foil and bake 25-30 minutes or til the rice is tender and the chicken is cooked through. Remove the foil, sprinkle the coconut over the chicken and rice, and cook 5 more minutes or til the coconut is browned.
Now for a little confession: I’ve never been to an Indian restaurant. It’s not that I don’t want to; I’ve just never had a good one near me. So I’ve never had the opportunity to try naan, but this recipe made it look so easy, I gave it a shot. I can’t say if it tastes authentic, but it is definitely tasty. I had to substitute sour cream for the yogurt, but I don’t think it changed much of the recipe. (5/9/13 Update: I’ve tried it again with yogurt, and both are equally delicious. Also, I think the dough turns out better if you don’t halve the recipe. I think you should be able to save half of in the fridge or freezer for later use. Or you could just eat a bunch of naan.) Again, it’s an easy to make recipe that really delivers on the flavor. My husband has requested that we have more of this next week, so it was obviously a hit with him.
Naan (from Dainty Chef)
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. warm milk
1/2 c. yogurt
1/2 tbsp. oil
1. In a bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar; make a well in the middle of this mix. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk and yogurt. Pour about half of the milk mix into the well and slowly combine them together. The dough should be soft enough to dig your fingers into without applying pressure. If it’s too sticky, put some oil on your hands and punch into the dough. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let the bowl sit in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
2. After the dough has set for a few hours, dust your work board, take out the dough, and knead it for 2-3 minutes. Divide the dough into 8 small balls. Dust the board again and flatten each ball to make a thick, elongated bread.
3. Sprinkle one side of the naan with any flavorings you like; brush the other side with water. Heat a thick-bottomed pot (with a lid) over medium heat. When it’s hot, place the naan wet-side down and cover with a lid. Cook for 30 seconds or til you see bubbles in it. Cook the other side over a direct flame until it’s nicely charred. (I have an electric stove, so I just flip it on its other side, and let it char on the hot skillet.) Smother with butter.
If you’ve ever cooked Indian food (or looked at some of the recipes), you’ve probably noticed a lot of not-so-easy-to-find ingredients. That can definitely be a problem. One of the things I’ve grown to love about Texas is our local grocery store chain, HEB. (Since I’m about to start singing the praises of several grocery stores, I thought that you should know – these are just my opinions. Nobody’s paying me to say this; it’s just how I honestly feel.) HEB is a fabulous store for so many reasons. They have great coupons and deals that make shopping affordable; they carry so many items that Walmart doesn’t; and their store brand is usually very high quality, affordable, yet tasty. Still, they don’t carry all of the more exotic items. HEB also has a higher-end brand and store called Central Market. Central Market is such a fun place to shop, and they do carry a lot more of the harder to find ingredients. Unfortunately, Central Market isn’t as accessible as HEB, so I usually only get to go once every few months. Enter this week’s story…
Last week, my best friend showed up at the Wednesday night service with about 10 pounds of cherries, that she only paid about $13 for. (I’ll do the math for you, that’s $1.29/lb., as opposed to most grocery stores, $4-$5/lb.) She said that she went to a store called Sprouts that’s just a few minutes away from our church. I’ve known about this store for some time, but I always forget about it. Now that she’d reminded me by sharing her bounty (which I’ll be discussing my use of next week), I made it my mission to check it out ASAP. The hubby and I went there before church last night and discovered it to be very similar to Central Market in its good produce, bulk bins, and harder-to-find ingredients. Needless to say, I will not forget about it again. On our survey trip yesterday we bought 1 medium seedless watermelon ($3), 1 lb. of jasmine rice ($1.50 – which, by the way, you can’t find for a such a price in a regular store. The last time I bought basmati rice, I paid $6 for about a pound.), and a bottle of Honest tea for the hubby (free with a coupon they e-mailed me to thank me for signing up for their e-mails); not a bad haul, in my opinion. Hopefully, we’ll be going there every other week, and I’ll be getting some new spices to make more Indian food as well as finally being able to try some new whole grains.
My husband and I recently got to watch a newly released movie that I think is going to become one of my all-time favorites: Mirror Mirror. This movie is as hilarious and fun as its trailer promises. We laughed so much while watching, and I hope we can watch it again very soon.
As you might be able to guess, I have a little bit of a soft spot for re-told fairy tales (if done well). Last year, one of my best friends introduced me to an author who is really a master at fleshing out and expanding fairy tales into wonderful novels, Robin McKinley. I’ve read 7 of her books in the past year, and I’m eagerly looking forward to reading more soon. Another great fairy tale author is Gail Carson Levine who you might have heard of as the author of the book Ella Enchanted which was turned into a movie. Do you have a favorite fairy tale or fairy tale author?
Ironically enough, our movie choice this week is also a fairy tale. It’s the classic movie, The Princess Bride, which I first watched as a little girl. Back then, I didn’t have much interest in what sounded like a sappy, girly movie, but my parents wisely had me watch the trailer, and I was hooked. I gladly watched the movie and have loved it ever since. The movie starts with a sick child receiving a visit from his grandfather who plans to read him a book. The boy is skeptical at first, but eventually gets sucked in, just like you will be with the movie. The book’s/movie’s story is about a girl named Buttercup who is in love with her farm hand, Wesley. Wesley leaves on a trip and is captured by pirates. Believing her love to be dead, she grudgingly accepts the proposal of Prince Humperdink. Wesley, however, is not dead and soon comes to reclaim her hand. Along the way, you’ll see so many hilarious characters, but I don’t want to give it all away. The movie is very well written and well acted, so it was difficult to choose my favorite scenes. I finally narrowed it down to the rhyming scene, the pit of despair, and the marriage ceremony. As for favorite lines, that was also really difficult. I could probably quote most of the movie to you, but the following lines are just so great I had to share them: “Hold it. Hold it. What is this? Are you trying to trick me? Where’s the sports? (inserted child’s disgusted face here) Is this a kissing book?”, about the word inconceivable – “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”, “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”, “You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you.” “You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die.”, and “My way’s not very sportsmanlike.”
Since there really wasn’t much food in this story, I got the opportunity to make the dish I had planned for last week: cinnabon popcorn. Though it was very good, I’m not completely satisfied. It was a lot of work for a popcorn that didn’t knock my socks off quite like I hoped. If you don’t mind the work involved, I would suggest that you give this a try, but I’ll be looking for an easier version, and I’ll let you know when I find it.
Cinnabon Popcorn (from The Girl Who Ate Everything)
12 c. popped popcorn
1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. brown sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. corn syrup
1/2 c. butter
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
3 squares almond bark
1. Place the popcorn and pecans in an extra large bowl, then set them aside. In another large, microwave safe bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix them together really well. Cube the butter and place it on top of the sugar mix. Pour the corn syrup over the butter and sugar mix.
2. Microwave the sugar mix 30 seconds, then stir to combine. Return the bowl to the microwave and cook 2 minutes. Stir together, then microwave 2 more minutes, the mixture should be very bubbly. Remove the bowl from the microwave and add in the vanilla and baking soda; it should bubble and foam up.
3. Pour this immediately over the popcorn and pecans. Immediately start stirring for a long time; stir til everything is well coated. Spread the popcorn mix on a foil-lined jellyroll pan. Bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Then take out and let cool slightly. Break a little off and try it. If it’s not crunchy enough, bake a little longer. When it’s done, give everything a final stir.
4. Microwave the almond bark according to the package directions. Drizzle the bark over the popcorn mixture and let harden. When cool, break into chunks and enjoy.
Next week, of course, I hope to tell you how my 4th of July menu turned out, but there will also be a twist in our movie/recipe series. You’ll have to come back to find out what it is, so I’ll see you again soon.