Saturday, September 22, 2012

Chicken Mulligatawny

One of the things that I love about this time of year is the cool breeze that comes when the sun goes down reminding us that winter is just around the  corner. And with cool weather comes hearty soups.  I couldn't wait to break out my soup pot since it hadn't been used since last winter.   As I drove out to the South Fork of Long Island I passed a couple pumpkin patches that were already in full bloom. This would be the perfect for Chicken Mulligatawny I'll mark the season by adding pumpkin.  I couldn't wait to get home and make it. 

Now according to author and food consultant Bridget White-Kumar, the original Mulligatawny Soup can be traced back to the early days of the East India Company in Madras to around the 18th century. It was originally a soup made with chicken or mutton/lamb stock. Mulligatawny Soup had no history in India before the British Raj. Supposedly, it was simply an invention to satisfy the Britons, who demanded a soup course for dinner from a cuisine that had never produced one until then. The Tamil servants in those days concocted a stew like dish that contained pepper and water on the lines of their local “Rasam” or “Melligu –Thanir. It was an interesting mix of East meets West, and was the nearest thing to soup in the cuisine of Colonial India. Mulligatawny Soup was actually the anglicized version of the Tamil “Melligu -Thani”. (“Melligu” meaning pepper and “Thanir” meaning water). As the name suggests it was originally just pepper in a watery soup.

Over time a lot of other ingredients such meat, chicken, coconut, turmeric and other spices were added to give it a completely different flavors. I am sure that if you asked one thousand people from England to India how they make this soup, you will get 1000 versions.  Well this is my version.  You may find it odd that I use roasted chicken but for some reason rotisserie chicken in my neighborhood is cheaper than fresh whole chicken.  It is well seasoned and quite delicious.  You can use whatever chicken you like.  I am sure it will be just as good.

Chicken Mulligatawny 


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
3 cloves garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon minced Serrano pepper
1/2 cup diced leeks
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
6 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 can light coconut milk
1.5 quarts chicken stock
2.5 cups cooked urad dal or lentils
1.5 cups cooked millet
1.5 cups diced pumpkin
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/2  zucchini diced
1 roasted chicken, skin removed diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt to taste
Finish with fresh scallions

In a large soup pot heat olive oil.  Add ginger, garlic, Serrano, onion, leek and carrots.  Sweet until onions become translucent and carrot are tender.
Add coriander, cumin, Garam Masala, turmeric, thyme and  bay leaf.
Continue cooking for about 2 minutes then add coconut milk, stock, urad dal, millet, pumpkin and tomatoes.
Let simmer until pumpkin gets tender but not mushy.
Add chicken, zucchini, salt, lime juice and cilantro.
Simmer for about 15 minutes more.
Taste taste taste.
Adjust flavors as desired.

Once ingredients are well married,  you are ready to enjoy this delicious dish.  Ladle it in bowls and garnish with fresh scallions.  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

Although I prefer  fresh, just off the vine tomatoes  drizzled with olive oil and balsamic,   I had so many beautiful tomatoes this year that I decided   to make a simple sauce for my eggplant Parmesan stacks.  Making stacks is a bit less time consuming than your traditional eggplant Parmesan.  The fresh mozzarella and "urban" basil adds a nice balance to the creamy baked eggplant.

Yes, "Urban" basil.  One of my neighbors is growing basil right outside of our building.  I am always amazed at where fruits and vegetables will thrive in this environment.

The thing that makes this dish delicious is that everything is fresh from the garden.  Not something I'll be able to pull off two months from now.

Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

Fresh Tomato Sauce

2-teaspoon olive oil
2 clove chopped garlic
3 cups fresh tomato concasee’
1-tablespoon fresh basil chiffonade

In a medium saucepan, sauté garlic in olive oil until tender but not brown
Add tomatoes; simmer for about 30 minutes or until most of the liquid is cooked out
Add fresh basil; cook for 5 minutes more

Eggplant Parmesan
1 large eggplant cut in ¾ inch piece
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/3 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
Pinch salt and pepper
½ pound fresh Mozzarella cheese
¼-cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 350F
In a shallow dish or pan combine seasoned bread crumbs and flour
In another shallow pan, add beaten eggs, salt and pepper
Brush a sheet pan with olive oil
Dredge eggplant by dipping each piece in eggs then breadcrumbs; place on sheet pan
Bake eggplant for about 15 minutes on each side
When eggplant is ready remove from the oven and assemble by adding sauce then grated mozzarella.  Stack three high
Bake in the over for 7 minutes or until stacks are warm
Eggplant has a tendency to hold heat so allow cooling before serving. 


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sour Cherry Orange Scones

I promise next week that I will prepare something that unrelated to bread or made with a crust, even though they are ranked amongst my favorite things to prepare.  September always feels like it should be the start of a new year, since strategies  at work change, kids are back to school and the sunsets a little earlier.  It is also a time when I go from having a bowl of cereal, yogurt or a protein shake for breakfast (on the weekdays) to having some type of toast or baked bread.  This weeks early morning break will be some type of egg dish for my protein and a Sour Cherry Orange Scone.  Now I have made this recipe a number of ways over the years, but I find that the slight addition of whole-wheat pastry flour still give the scone the light and airy texture that is distinct to this quick bread.  Although you can add more whole-wheat pastry, flour the texture will not be the same.  I recommend that no more than a 1/3 of the amount of flour should be whole-wheat pastry flour.

Sour Cherry Scones


1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) butter
1 cup re-hydrated sour cherries*
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg white slightly beaten
powdered sugar (optional)


Preheat oven to 375F
Place flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl; stir to mix well.
In a smaller bowl combine cherries, orange zest, egg yolk and buttermilk

Cut butter into flour mixture until mixture looks like fine granules
Add wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir until a soft dough is forms
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and give about 10-12 kneads
Form dough into a ball and press gently into a circle 3/4 inches thick.

Cut into desired wedges

With a spatula, carefully transfer the wedges onto a parchment paper lined sheet pan 
Brush tops of dough with egg white; sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired
Bake 18-22 minutes, until medium brown.
Cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes


Side Notes

One of the most challenging things about writing this blog is formulating recipes that anyone can follow.  Having devoted most of my life to the pursuit of flavor and the perfection of culinary technique, I sometimes get caught up in details that the average person would never consider.  If you do like details, you’ll like Side Notes.  It will give you more detail and explanation as well as alternative ingredients that can be used in the recipes.  

*Re-hydrate cherries placing in a small pot add half brandy and half water just enough to cover, zest of a half orange and a half of stick of cinnamon.  Bring to a boil, let simmer for about 7 minutes, remove from heat and allow cooling.  If you use dried cherries as much as I do, you may want to do a large batch, put them in a glass jar and store them in the refrigerator.  That way they are ready when you need them.  Re-hydrating many dried fruits for baking makes a significant difference in flavor.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Peach Turnovers with Lemon Verbena Ice Cream

As Labor Day approaches and summer comes to an unofficial close, I find myself grasping for things that are distinctly summer-- like out door movies under the late night stars and warm fruit pies with homemade ice cream.  I ‘ve been so busy this summer I haven’t had time to make ice cream.  Since we are all together this long weekend I thought I’d make a batch of my favorite frozen confection.  But in a deliberate attempt to break with tradition, I made turnovers.  Now we are a covered pies family and those pies are blueberry pie and apple pie.  Yes, we might make a coconut custard or lemon meringue pie for Easter but for the most part, we are strictly blueberry or apple with vanilla ice cream.   Set on doing something a little different I made Peach Turnovers with Lemon Verbena Ice Cream.
Peach Filling for Turnovers

2 recipes double-crusted pie dough
6-8 large fresh, firm, ripe peaches (3-4 lbs)
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup Turbinado
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean seeds
2 Tbs bourbon or whiskey.  
½ stick melted butter
1 egg beaten, for egg wash

Score, blanch and shock peaches to remove the skin. Cut to medium dice
Place peaches in a bowl add remaining ingredients
Toss until well combined
Roll out dough to make turnovers.
Fill with peach filling
Place turnovers on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper
Brush with egg wash
Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until golden brown

Lemon Verbena Ice Cream  

1 1/4 C fresh lemon verbena leaves
1 1/2 C milk
1 1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 C + 1 T sugar
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks

Remove the lemon verbena leaves from the stalk. Place the milk, cream,   1/2 cup sugar and salt in a saucepan on medium low heat, stirring to dissolve. When it begins to simmer, add the lemon verbena leaves and continue on a very low simmer for another minute. Remove from heat, cover and steep for about an hour.

In a separate bowl whisk egg yolks and 1 Tablespoon sugar.

Strain out the lemon verbena from the cream mixture and set aside leaves.  Warm the infused cream.  Slowly add half of the warm cream to the eggs, whisking constantly. Pour that mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium low heat, stirring continuously with a heatproof spatula and scraping the bottom of the pan. Cook until the custard leaves a clear track on the spatula when you drag your finger across it. Immediately pour the custard into a clean container and stir to cool it down. Taste for salt and add another pinch if necessary. Cool completely and then chill the custard base thoroughly, preferably overnight.
Freeze in your ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions. Pour into a clean container, press a piece of plastic wrap into the surface and seal with an airtight lid. Place in your freezer to firm up.