Weekend Warrior

Weekends have become a sacrosanct time for cooking and learning about hobbies other than those that sustain my career. Since sleeping past 7 is an utter fantasy with a 7 month old puppy, there is enough time each morning to plan which frivolities I plan to endeavor each day. It is a comforting ritual to spend my mornings hovering over the stove, taking intermittent breaks for sips of shitty coffee. Inevitably, I end up needing one ingredient or another and have to run to the grocery store in my half-attempt at a real outfit, and it’s nice in a quiet sort of way to see the other early risers, some in their pajamas and some browsing aisles in their Friday night garb, doing the same thing as me. Self checkout is typically as crowded as it can get for a Saturday morning at 7 AM, most people having only one or two items that I like to imagine they are taking home to their sweethearts. Orange juice for mimosas, flour for fluffy Belgian waffles, or even strawberries for palascintas. After a busy week and the stresses that come from finishing up my master’s degree, it’s unbelievably pleasant to spend some time luxuriating in the simplicity of a well-prepared breakfast.

 

IMG_9106.jpgThe aforementioned sleep-depriver (Pete the Pup).

 

Strawberry-Lemon Palascintas

Ever since I was little, my mom has used the word “Palascinta” to refer to her loved ones and family. I honestly had no idea what it meant until a couple of years ago, but after making this recipe I sure am glad I do now. Slightly thicker and fluffier than the traditional french crepes, these pancakes were hardy enough to withstand being rolled like a burrito, hold superfluous amounts of lemon curd and strawberries, and make their way from basement to kitchen while I took my photos (see below). Usually I’m a savory crepe-type, but the tartness of the curd with the sweetness of the strawberries was hard to beat with spring so tauntingly close.

Palascintas

Lemon Curd

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Chicken Tikka Masala Poutine

Whenever I receive word of an upcoming potluck, my mind begins to race with the possibilities the event provides to express my appreciation for others’ friendship through food. In addition, there is always a little friendly competition (even if the other attendees don’t know they’re competing) when it comes to bringing the best dish. Not to be defeated by a group of incredibly strong, driven, and hilarious women on International Women’s Day this past week, I went for something familiar and comforting yet with a fun twist I’ve never seen before. Enter Chicken Tikka Masala Poutine. I realized a bit late that it’s tough to bring french fries to a potluck given their vast surface area to volume ratio and the rate at which they lose heat, but they were a perfect finger food and made for a fun fondue-esque experience as we sat gathered around a table. The best part about this conglomeration of recipes is the enormous quantity of tikka masala sauce I had leftover and all the additional dishes it inspired. I adjusted each of these recipes to fit my own needs, but the overall dish came together in a wonderful combination of flavors.

Curry Base – This makes a TON of sauce. I cut the recipe into fifths, so where they call for 10 onions, I used two, etc.

Chicken Tikka Masala Sauce – I adjusted the spices and ratios on this some, and added extra whole milk (I didn’t have any cream) and yogurt since I found the end product to be relatively spicy

Paneer – I have used this recipe so many times and it is utterly foolproof. So good.

Natural Cut Curry Fries:

Ingredients:

6-8 medium sized russet potatoes
4-5 cups vegetable oil
1 T turmeric
1 T garam masala
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Wash potatoes and cut each in half. Cut each half into 1/4 inch wide slices and then, layering 2-3 slices on top of one another with the wide side on the cutting board, cut the slices into 4-5 fry-sized slices.
  2. Soak cut potatoes in water in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours or overnight if possible.
  3. When you’re ready to fry, place the uncooked potatoes onto several paper towels and blot dry, trying to get them as dry as humanly possible.
  4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. You want it to be around 350 degrees F for the first fry so the potatoes get cookies and translucent, but not crispy and brown on the outside.
  5. In small batches, place the fries into the oil and move them around with a spatula so they don’t stick to the bottom. If they’re still wet at all, you’ll get tons of oil splashing up onto you, so make sure you really blot them dry as well as possible.
  6. Once they’re starting to turn translucent, remove the fries with a spatula or tongs to a plate lined with paper towels.
  7. Once all the fries have been fried once, turn the heat up on the oil so it gets to around 450 degrees F.
  8. Again working in small batches, fry the potatoes a second time until the outsides start to get golden brown. This should take anywhere from 5-10 minutes per batch.
  9. Remove fries from the oil to another paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle generously with salt, white pepper, turmeric, and garam masala.
  10. Eat smothered in tikka masala sauce and sprinkled with paneer for an exotic twist on poutine.

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Brussels Sprout & Kale Salad:

My old roommate showed me this recipe that she’d taken from a magazine at some point, and my initial reaction was that it would be fairly vile. Who eats raw brussels sprouts, and worse, who adds tough, bitter kale to them? She had a batch already made, however, and I was astonished to find the salad both mild and flavorful. It’s become one of my go-to’s for potlucks, holiday meals, and weeknights when I’m desperate for some fiber in my diet.

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Like I mentioned above, the extra tikka masala sauce just begged to be used for fun food experiments that would make Gaggan roll over in his proverbial grave (yes, I realize he’s still alive). One of those experiments involved a rotisserie chicken, some store-bought naan, and generous heaps of shredded mozzarella. The flavor of this personal pizza was naan-stop.

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