Through the years I have encountered a common (although incorrect) impression that friends and acquaintences harbor of me, which is: because I like to cook, every dinner served at my house is naturally a multi-course gourmet affair that takes hours to prepare. The perception likely stems from my propensity to over-entertain, to have a "wow factor" attached to my dinner parties. The truth is, I grind out dinner during the week just like everyone I know, whether cooking is a personal passion or not. Creativity is generally lacking in the meals that I prepare Monday through Friday, although the entrées served are tried and true and family favorites (and can be prepared in under an hour).
My traveling gear: Dansko clogs, rain coat and camera bag disguised as purse.
I have discovered over the years that children and the men in my life (my husband and my friend's husbands) appreciate predictability. There is comfort knowing that familiar fare is forthcoming throughout the weekdays: Spaghetti Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Chicken Piccata Wednesdays, and Turkey Burger Thursdays. Friday night's are usually reserved for going out to eat at family friendly restaurants, particularily dining establishments serving pizza, pastas and burgers. On weeknights I am often heard saying, right before clearing the dishes from the dining table, "Another dinner down." The comment is directly related to the feeling that getting dinner on the table Monday through Thursday can feel like any other mandatory task, such as washing the laundry or cleaning the bathrooms. Saturday and Sunday's are my days to shine in the kitchen and push the culinary boundaries. I take extra care on weekends to enjoy the process of cooking and to enjoy a cocktail or two, while putting together a great meal, making the event of cooking a pleasurable experience instead of a mundane chore.
|One of my favorite things: a night stroll in Vancouver, Canada.|
Over the past year, I have been traveling more than usual for business, predominately to Vancouver, Canada, but I also find myself in NFL cities, like Atlanta and San Francisco, and less predictable places such as Portland, Maine and San Antonio, Texas. Last year I spent more than my fair share of time in Las Vegas
|The view of the top-of-the Fairmont from my 22nd floor hotel room in Vancouver.|
(on my own and with my sisters for a
"sistercation"). One of the benefits of traveling is that I continually find Saturday and Sunday meal inspiration on the menus I read around the country such as chimichurri in Orlando or mint pesto in Niagara Falls.
On a recent trip to Vancouver, it seemed as if Chicken Curry was on every menu. Toward the end of one particularily tiring day, my CEO and I decided to grab a quick bite at White Spot, a diner-esque establishment that serves comfort food and earns rave reviews by locals for tasty hamburgers. After a quick scan of the menu, I zeroed in on Bishop's Curry: "Chicken breast simmered with sweet bell peppers and mushrooms in a delicately spiced orange, apple and organic tomato coconut milk curry sauce over Jasmine rice. Served with naan bread, mango chutney and cilantro." It hit the spot, alright. The next night, at my company's local watering hole, Earls Kitchen and Bar, an upscale sports bar and restaurant (I wish Hooter's would take a page out of Earls' book, but it is probably wrong for me to even compare), I once again ordered the Chicken Curry. I guess I didn't quite get my fill because upon returning home, I began to think about making Chicken Curry for a Saturday night dinner.
|Have a seat and enjoy the view in Vancouver, Canada.|
While spending leisurely time perusing a new cookbook purchase, Canyon Ranch Cooking, I came across a Chicken Curry recipe that looked very similar to the dish I enjoyed at White Spot. Canyon Ranch is a world famous spa located in the foothills of northeast Tucson, Arizona. There is also a sister location in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. When the rich and famous descend upon Tucson, their destination is often Canyon Ranch (or else a well-known rehab center located in town).
This recipe for Chicken Curry is easy enough to make mid week, if it won't agitate your family's expectations of a "safe" weekday meal. To make things even easier, you can open a jar of Major Grey's Mango Chutney to serve alongside. On the weekend, the Fig and Apple Chutney favored by Canyon Ranch is worth making and is quite delicious served at room temperature.
|Whale watching in Vancouver, Canada.|
Chicken in Yellow Curry
The Canyon Ranch recipe calls for combining a 1/2 cup of non-fat milk with 2 tablespoons non-fat milk powder for a low-fat solution. Instead, I chose to substitute one small can Thai Kitchen coconut milk, and to make the curry extra creamy, a small container of Greek yogurt. An Indian flat bread such as roti or naan is a great accompaniment to the curry as well as Major Grey's Mango Chutney or homemade Fig and Apple Chutney.
2 pounds boneless and skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size chunks
1 Tbsps curry powder, preferably homemade
2 Tbsps butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 green apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsps all-purpose flour
2 Tbsps curry powder, preferably homemade
2 cups chicken stock
1 5.5-ounce can Thai Kitchen coconut milk, shake well before opening
zest and juice of one medium well-scrubbed lemon
zest and juice of one medium well-scrubbed orange
1 6-oz carton plain Greek yogurt
Cooked white or brown rice, I prefer short grain brown rice
roasted almonds or roasted peanuts
apple and fig chutney
fresh cilantro leaves
sliced scallions, white and green parts
diced bell peppers of all colors
|Food vendor in the Public Market on Granville Island. |
1. Toss the cubed chicken with 1 tablespoon curry powder. Mix thoroughly and allow to rest for 30 minutes while you make the curry sauce.
2. For the sauce, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion, apple, and garlic, and a sprinkling of salt and sauté until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes.
3. Combine the flour and curry powder; mix well and add to the onions, stir constantly for about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, a little a time, while stirring, to rid the mixture of lumps. Add to the pan the coconut milk, and the lemon and orange zests and the citrus juices. Reduce the heat to low and allow the sauce to simmer slowly, partially covered, for 1 hour, or until slightly thickened.
|Making your own curry powder is a rewarding adventure in the kitchen.|
4. In a non-stick skillet, preheated over medium-high heat add the chicken. Cook the cubes of chicken until just done, turning as needed, for even cooking. Add the cooked chicken to the curry sauce; stir. Stir in the Greek yogurt. The curry will hold, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until ready to serve. Do not boil or the yogurt may separate.
5. To serve, place 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice on each plate and top with curried chicken. Serve the chutney(s) and mint. Let everyone garnish as desired.
Two of my favorite things; curry and chutney and because of this blog, guess what I am making tonight? ;-) I make tons of chutney around the holidays and always have some in the freezer and this year's was apple mango with raisins. Thanks for the reminder to make something I haven't done in a while. Thought I had commented on this before, but it disappeared. Another winner, you guys.ReplyDelete