Friday, February 22, 2019

Creamy Cashew Chicken Curry – Moooove Over Real Cream

This creamy cashew chicken recipe is completely dairy-free (expect for the butter), but that’s not why you should make it. You should make this simple curry because it’s so rich and satisfying that you won’t even care that it’s better for you, and possibly the cows.

It really is pretty remarkable how similar the cashew cream is to regular heavy cream in appearance, taste, and in-sauce behavior. In fact, cashew cream actually thickens up faster than cream, which usually has to be reduced a bit before it will coat the meat.

As far as the rest of the ingredients go, there’s nothing too exotic, except maybe for the garam masala, which in case you’re wondering, translates to “hot spice.” There are many variations, but if you can’t find one, the most common ingredients are cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, mace, dried chilies, sesame seeds, mustard seeds, bay leaves, and turmeric; just in case you want to whip up a batch of your own.

Speaking of spices, how much you should use in this is a very personal thing. Below you’ll see what I went with, which I thought was on the fairly mild side, so feel free to add more. Also, the salt in our dry marinade does a pretty good job of seasoning the chicken, but you’ll probably need more as it cooks in the sauce, so be sure to check. Of course, the hardest thing about this recipe is deciding whether to serve it with rice, garlic naan, or both, but I'm sure you'll figure that out when you give this a try, which will hopefully be very soon. Enjoy! 


Ingredients for 4 large portions Creamy Cashew Chicken:
For the Spice Mix:
(use a little more than half to marinade the chicken, and the rest to add to the sauce)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2  teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoons paprika (hot and/or smoked would also work well)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 generous teaspoons garam masala, or other prepared “curry powder” blends

For the Cashew Cream:
3/4 cup whole roasted cashews
2 cups cold water

For the rest:
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (mixed with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and spice blend, and marinated for 4 to 12 hours)
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 yellow onion, chopped or sliced
rest of the reserved spice blend
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 finely minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
1 cup chicken broth
all the prepared cashew cream
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/3 cup freshly chopped cilantro
freshly squeezed juice of one lime, plus extra wedges for service
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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Garlic Naan – Now, 100% Tandoor-Free

Naan bread, especially this easy to make garlic naan, is the real reason Indian restaurants give you so much extra sauce when you order a curry. I mean, sure, the basmati rice helps, but good luck getting all that goodness off your plate using a fork.

Besides being near lots of great curries, the other advantage the restaurant naan enjoys is being cooked in the intense heat of the tandoor oven. However, we can pull off a pretty good version at home by using a smoking hot cast iron skillet. By the way, it shouldn’t literally be smoking, since we cook these without any oil in the skillet, but the key to this whole operation is waiting for the pan to get up to the proper temperature.

In fact, done correctly, the blistered bubbles will be charred to a lovely golden-black, so be brave. I’m working on the creamy cashew chicken curry seen herein, and hope to post that next, but in the meantime, I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 Garlic Naan:
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 package dry active yeast
1/4 cup plain yogurt
about 2 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp fine salt)
1 tablespoon garlic butter
- Cook in a very hot, dry cast iron skillet for 2 to 3 minutes per side

For the Garlic Butter:
1/2 cup melted butter
4 cloves finely minced garlic
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Friday, February 15, 2019

Garlic Noodles – Roasted Garlic Crab Sold Separately

These deceptively simple, yet devastatingly delicious garlic noodles were invented in San Francisco, at a restaurant called, Thanh Long, back in the 70’s. Usually served with roasted Dungeness crab, the actual recipe is a very closely guarded family secret, but after lots of investigation, and even more experimentation, I think this is very close, at least for a non-MSG laced version.

Apparently, one of their “secret” ingredients is something called, Maggi Seasoning Sauce, which I decided not to use, since I’m not sure how easy it is for the average person to find. Besides, I think my assortment of savory, umami-rich substitutes did the job quite nicely, and everything in the ingredient list can be found at any large grocery store.

The most exotic thing here would be the oyster sauce, which is sort of a very savory, slightly sweet, thick, soy sauce-like condiment. And yes, it does have oyster extracts in it, in case that matters. If you can’t find it, just add a touch more fish sauce, soy, and Worcestershire, as well as little brown sugar.

Most garlic noodles actually call for sugar in the recipe, but I think that makes it too sweet for my taste, since the oyster sauce is fairly sweet, as is all that sautéed garlic. Regardless, whether you enjoy this with some roasted garlic crab, or as is, I really do hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 small portions Garlic Noodles:
PLEASE NOTE: The saltiness of the following ingredients can vary, as can how sensitive people are to the taste of salt, so you may need to increase or decrease the amounts below. 
For the secret sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoon fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
pinch of cayenne pepper
For the rest:
6 ounces dry egg noodles
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 cloves finely minced garlic
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
thinly sliced green onion to garnish
red chili flakes to taste
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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

“Burnt” Basque Cheesecake - Yes, On Purpose

This “burnt” Basque cheesecake is one of the rare trendy recipes that I’m actually posting while it’s still trendy. I usually wait like three or four years, and by that time people have lost interest, and it seems like I’m doing it to be ironic. Well, this time the hype got to me, and now I understand why all the fuss.

By cooking the cheesecake in a very hot oven, we get a beautiful, dark exterior, which not only looks great, but the bittersweet notes it provides makes the light, creamy cheesecake inside seem even more rich, and flavorful. Besides the taste and texture, this method is just plain easier, as long as you can find some parchment paper.

Depending on the size of the roll or sheet you buy, you may have to overlap it, but as long as the pan is covered, and it comes up a few inches past the top, you’re fine. I assumed this technique was adapted from some ancient Basque recipes, but as it turns out, it was actually developed at a café in San Sebastian, called La Vina in the 70’s. That probably explains the Philly cream cheese.

Anyway, if you haven’t had the best luck with traditional cheesecake methods, you should stop trying, and just make this exclusively. Just make sure you tell you’re guests it’s supposed to be “burnt,” although if they’re on social media, they probably already know. Either way, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for one 9-inch cake pan (8-10 Portions):
24 ounces soft cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt (or 3/4 to 1 teaspoon Kosher salt)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 extra large eggs (you can use 5 large eggs)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

- Bake at 400 F. for 50 to 55 minutes, or until puffed and well browned. For a little more color, you can crank the oven up to 425 or 450 F. for the last 10 minutes or so.
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