Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Curry in a Hurry #FoodieExtravaganza

Foodie Extravaganza is where we celebrate obscure food holidays or cook and bake together with the same ingredient or theme each month.

Posting day for #FoodieExtravaganza is always the first Wednesday of each month. If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you! If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board!

This month Sneha of Sneha's Recipe invited the Foodie Extravaganza bloggers to share their favorite chicken curry recipes. She writes, "January 12 is National Curried Chicken Day. Let's post our favorite curried chicken recipe." Here's the #FoodieExtravaganza line-up...

  • Chicken Curry with Cashews by Karen's Kitchen Stories
  • Chicken Curry in Frithad Masala by Sneha's Recipe
  • Chinese Chicken Curry by A Day in the Life on the Farm
  • Curry in a Hurry Culinary Adventures with Camilla
  • Special Chicken Tikka Masala by Palatable Pastime

  • Curry in a Hurry
    After living with lots of different Indians - and I am not being un-politically correct here, I do mean Indians, as in from India - and having lots of Indian friends in college, I learned a couple of things...

    Number one: Curry powder is not a specific spice, it's actually a blend of spices. Every time one of my roommates visited her parents, she'd come back with a spice kit. A sensual feast for the eyes - carmine paprika, golden turmeric, sandy ginger - and an assault on the nose - pungent coriander, piquant cardamom, aromatic cinnamon - oh how I coveted that hammered stainless steel tin full of ground spices!

    Number two: Every Indian cook has his or her personal blend of those spices. And curries also vary by geography. For example curries in Kerala, one of the most southern Indian states, include tamarind while Bengali curries utilize mustard seed and mustard oil.

    Number three: Curries can be red, yellow, or green. I still don't have a definitive answer about what makes a curry red while another is yellow. But I suspect, based on curry-fact number two, that the human element makes the difference. If someone uses more turmeric in the curry spice mix, it will be more yellow, more paprika means more red. Sounds plausible, doesn't it?

    Number four: There are also wet curries and dry curries. This simply has to do with how much liquid is used to begin and how long the dish is cooked.

    I now have one of those hammered spice tins of my own and I enjoy playing with different combinations of flavors. But for a mid-week dinner, sometimes I cheat and use a pre-blended curry powder. No need to measure tiny amounts of ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger, mustar, black pepper, cinnamon, and cardamon. This is curry in a hurry.

    • 2 lbs organic chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized cubes
    • freshly ground salt
    • freshly ground pepper
    • 2 T curry powder, divided
    • 6 T unsalted butter, cut into 2 T chunks
    • 1 large onion, peeled and diced (approximately 1-1/2 C)
    • 1 T grated ginger (you can omit, if you don't have any, but we love the fresh ginger in this)
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 3” stick cinnamon
    • 1 C tomato sauce
    • 1 C chicken stock
    • 1 C organic coconut milk
    • cooked rice for serving

    In a large mixing bowl, massage the salt, pepper, and 1 T curry powder into the chicken. Let stand for 15 minutes.

    In a large, flat-bottom pan, cook the onions, ginger, and garlic in 3 T butter until softened and the onions begin to turn translucent. Add in the remaining butter and melt. Stir in the remaining curry powder and add cinnamon stick. Cook until fragrant.

    Add the chicken to the spiced paste and brown until cooked through, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Pour in the tomato sauce and chicken stock. Whisk to combine. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes - until the sauce is beginning to thicken. Pour in the coconut milk, whisk to combine, and simmer until that it thickened to your liking.

    Serve garnished with cooked rice. Enjoy!

    Gin-Washed Pork Rib Roast, With Ribs This Time

    Back in July, I hosted Food'N'Flix and asked folks to watch The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. You can read my Food'N'Flix invitation here. You can see what inspired me (here) ...however, I couldn't find a pork roast with the ribs attached at that time. So, when I saw one this week, I snatched it up. And I redid my Guernsey roast - with ribs this time.

    Ingredients serves 4 to 6

    • one pork rib roast with, at least, 4 ribs (mine was nearly 4 pounds)
    • 1/2 C gin (I used a terroir gin from St. George)

    Dry Rub
    • 1 C organic dark brown sugar
    • 3 T pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
    • 1 t ground cumin
    • 1/2 t paprika
    • dash of ground coriander
    • dash of ground cardamom
    • freshly ground sea salt
    • freshly ground pepper


    The night before, or first thing in the morning, prepare the rub. Combine all ingredients, and mix thoroughly until well blended. Brush the gin over the surface of the roast, then pat the rub onto all the surfaces, going heavier on the meaty side. Refrigerate for as many hours as you can; I ended up leaving it for 8 hours.

    Bring the rubbed roast out of the fridge to let it come to room temperature while you heat the oven. but at least 30 minutes. A couple of tips for roasting meat: always roast uncovered and always roast fat side up!

    Preheat the oven to 500°F. Set the pork in a small roasting pan. Roast the pork for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. 

    Continue roasting the pork for 15 minutes for every pound that it weighs. Mine was a full four pound roast, so I roasted for an additional 60 minutes.

    Remove pork from the oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

    I served this with smashed potatoes and steamed green beans and happily crossed this off my to-cook list!

    Monday, December 30, 2019

    My Inaugural Jolabokaflod + Icelandic-Inspired Edibles

    When I read about jolabokaflod, I was immediately enamored. My inner bookworm wiggled with glee and I sent off an email to my girlfriends suggesting that we have one as our annual girls' holiday party. I offered to host! In case you haven't heard of it, it's the Icelandic tradition of giving, receiving, and then reading books on Christmas Eve.

    Just before Christmas, the gals came over and we exchanged books and chocolate, ate, drank, and caught up on happenings that we miss when we are all ensconced in our separate daily lives. I've been friends with these girls for over three decades. I love that we all still manage to be part of each other's lives after all this time!

    We kicked off the feast with pickled herring, olives, cream cheese, smoked salmon, cucumber salad, and delicious bread from Chef Ron at Ad Astra Bread Company.

    For the main dish, I served Kjötsúpa (Icelandic Meat Soup). That recipe will be coming soon, but it was a hearty warming stew made with ground lamb and chunks of beef. Yum.

    Then, for dessert, I offered a cookie platter, including Birch Smoked-Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Gingerbread Trees (recipe coming soon), and Iceland Flag Painted Hearts (recipe here).

    And we tasted some Icelandic chocolates, too.

    Just a few shots of our gifts. I found two books for Soraya that were centered around Vietnam; Stephanie gifted me a beautiful volume called The Story of Food! You'll be hearing more about that from me soon.

    And here's the girl crew...

    We didn't have Denise and Erin there as they weren't feeling well. And while we appreciate them not sharing their germs, they were sorely missed. Hopefully they can make it next year as I definitely see the jolabokaflod as being a repeat event!

    Sunday, December 29, 2019

    'Don't Stop Bayleave-ing' Braised Rabbit and Herb Dumplings + Pre-made Spice Blends #Sponsored

    This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Book Club Cookbook.
    I received complimentary product for the purpose of review and recipe development,
    but all opinions are honest and they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.

    I love when friends email me with rabbit availability. I am always game! This time around my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf was adamant, "Mommy, you need to make rabbit and dumplings this time, okay? Not cold rabbit soup, not braised rabbit with gravy! Rabbit and dumplings." Done.

    Earlier, my contact at The Book Club Cookbook emailed, offering me a few more spice blends as a thank you for some other posts with their new spice blends. You betcha! 

    I don't usually like to buy spice blends for one reason - there's always added salt. However, these blends are salt-free. Woohoo. So, I picked Don't Stop Bayleave-ing and decided to add it to my rabbit.


    • 2 to 3 pound rabbit (this one was a little chubby, so I braised it and used half the meat)
    • olive oil
    • 2 C celery, chopped
    • 2 C onion, peeled and diced
    • 2 C carrots, chopped
    • 2 T spice blend (if you don't have the spice blend I used, use some ground cumin, ground smoked paprika, ground garlic powder and a bay leaf of two)
    • water and/or chicken stock
    • 1/2 C wine (I used some leftover white wine for this version)
    • chopped herbs for garnish, optional

    • 2 C flour
    • 4 t baking powder
    • 1 T organic granulated sugar
    • 1 t freshly ground salt
    • 1/2 t freshly ground pepper
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 C buttermilk (you can use yogurt, too)
    • 1/4 C butter, melted
    • 2 T fresh herbs, destemmed and chopped


    Brown the rabbit in a splash of olive oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven. Cook it for 2 minutes on each side to get a nice brown color. Add in the rest of the ingredients, except the parsley, and bring it to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 2 hours. 

    Remove the rabbit from the liquid and let it cool enough that you can handle it. Pull the meat from the bone and reserve the bones for making stock. You don't have to use all of the meat. I reserved some for other dishes.

    Return the shredded meat to the pot and bring it back to a simmer. In the meantime, make the dumpling batter.

    Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Combine eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter in a medium mixing bowl. Fold liquid ingredients into dry ingredients to form a stiff batter. Stir in the herbs. Drop batter by the tablespoon into simmering stew. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.

    Serve hot, garnished with chopped parsley, if desired.

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    *Disclosure: I received product for free from the sponsor for recipe development, however, 
    I have received no additional compensation for my post. My opinion is 100% my own and 100% accurate.

    Wild Boar Tamales + 2018 Cascina San Lorenzo Barbera

    In preparation for the January 2020 Italian Food Wine Travel bloggers event, I tracked down a few bottles of wine from the Piedmont region.

    In My Glass

    I decided to start with the 2018 Cascina San Lorenzo Barbera. Cascina San Lorenzo is a joint effort between Enrico Rivetto, Alessio Povero and Charles Lazzara and was created in honor of Charles Lazzara’s first child, Lorenzo, born in 2014. Coincidentally, San Lorenzo is also the name of the patron Saint of Alba.

    The grapes for this wine come from the historic vineyards in Serralunga d’Alba, Sinio, Santa Vittoria d’Alba, and Canale. For me, the flavors were decidedly red fruit, specifically cherry - and ran the gamut from sweet to tart. I also noted more savory aromas of cocoa and chocolate. This had all of the elements that I really enjoy about Barberas: leathery, earthy characteristics that temper the fruit and add complexity.

    On My Plate

    I just so happened to have wild boar stew meat that I needed to cook. So, I decided to try some wild boar tamales with the 2018 Cascina San Lorenzo Barbera. Yeah...that worked!


    Braised Boar 
    • 1 T  olive oil
    • 2 to 2-1/2 pounds wild boar stew meat
    • 1 C onion, peeled and diced
    • 6-8 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 1 C broth (I used beef broth)
    • 1 C red wine
    • 1 C tomato sauce
    • freshly ground salt, as needed
    • freshly ground pepper, as needed

    • 6 C masa harina
    • 1/2 C butter, softened
    • 1/2 C olive oil
    • 1/4 C vinegar (I used white vinegar, but apple cider vinegar works, too)
    • 4 C organic chicken broth
    • shredded wild boar
    • corn husks for wrapping, soaked to soften
    • sour cream, for garnish
    • salsa, for garnish

    Braised Boar
    Heat the oil in a large pan or pot. Stir in the garlic, then add the boar meat into the pot. Sear on each side for  3 to 5 minutes - until a nice brown begins to appear.

    Add the onions and let them cook until the onion is translucent and beginning to caramelize.

    Pour in the broth and red wine. Stir in the tomato sauce. Bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Let the meat braise for at least two hours - longer is fine, too. Once the boar is tender. Use a fork to shred the meat slightly. Raise the heat to reduce the sauce to your desired thickness. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Place the corn husks in a large lidded pot. Pour boiling water over the top and cover. Let soak for an hour. Drain when ready to assemble.

    While the husks soak, make the masa. Mix the first five ingredients together in a bowl and stir till it comes together into a ball. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

    Lay a corn husk on a cutting board and spoon a scant 1/3 C of the masa into the center. Press it as flat as possible. Spoon 1 generous T of meat on top of the masa. Fold the edge of the corn husk over the stuffing and roll the corn husk to form tight roll.

    Place the tamales upright in a large pot, suspended over water. Bring the water to a boil, then cover the pot tightly and steam for 60-70 minutes.

    To serve, each diner opens the corn husk on his or her own plate. Garnish with sour cream and salsa.

    Friday, December 27, 2019

    Lightning Fast Lumpia Rolling

    I have rolled a lot of lumpias in my life. I remember rolling hundreds per week with my Grandma Sabado because she brought them to the Fil-Am club in Marina and they sold them during bingo nights as a fundraiser. And I've recently started rolling them again as my boys and their friends have wanted to learn.

    Well, lumpia was requested for a Festivus party tonight and two friends wanted to learn. Little did I know that they would be able to roll nearly eight dozen lumpias in less than thirty minutes. Seriously, this rolling crew was lightning fast. I did, however, have the filling ready for them. But that's about all I did. They're hired!

    Quick note: you can use any ground meat that you like. I usually do straight pork, but this time I mixed pork and turkey. During Christmas, my cousin told me that her grandmother added fresh shrimp. I'll have to try that soon because it sounds delicious.

    Ingredients makes approximately 4 dozen

    • 1 pound ground pork
    • 1 pound ground turkey
    • 2 C diced onions
    • 2 C diced celery
    • 2 C diced carrots
    • 2 C chopped green beans
    • 1 to 2 T olive oil
    • lumpia wrappers (I found ours frozen at a local Filipino market - they told me to get the round ones), defrosted and separated
    • water
    • oil for cooking (I used a canola oil)


    In a large skillet, heat 1 T olive oil. Add in the onions, celery, and carrots. Cook until the onions are slightly softened and the carrots are fork tender. Stir in the pork and turkey; cook until no pink remains. Spoon the filling into a colander - over a bowl - and let drain until nothing drips when you press down on the filling. Now you're ready to roll. Keep the lumpia wrappers covered so they stay pliable while you roll and have a small bowl of water nearby to seal the lumpia.

    Place a lumpia wrapper on a plate. Place about 1 to 2 T of filling on the wrapper. Fold in the edges and roll it as tightly as you can without breaking the wrapper. But, if you happen to tear one, don't worry. Double wrap it and that one will just have extra crispy goodness around it!

    Wet the edge of the wrapper and you complete the roll and place the lumpia, seam-side down, while you finish wrapping the rest.

    To cook, heat oil in a rimmed skillet. Use tongs to gently lower the lumpia into the hot oil. Turn them as they brown and crisp. Once they are nicely crisped, remove them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Move to a serving platter and serve with a dipping sauce of your choice.

    Thursday, December 26, 2019

    'Bone Hole!' Also Known As Osso Buco

    I can't even begin to explain how much it made my little foodie heart soar with pride when my best friend's son looked at the dinner I was serving and declared, "Bone hole! I love bone hole!" He was referring to my osso buco...and I am grateful that he knows what that means.

    Funny story: when the boys went on their cruise with my parents in back in 2014, the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf would call us daily and tell us what he had for dinner. "Today I had pheasant." "For dinner I had caviar." Everyday it was something fantastic sounding that made my mouth water.

    One night, he announced, incredulously, "Mom, I ordered osso buco and it didn't come with the bone. Can you believe it?!?"

    Nonna shared that D actually asked their waiter about the missing bone, explaining that osso buco literally means 'hole in the bone.' The waiter shrugged his shoulders and leaned down to whisper to D - You're right...it should have the bone.

    So, when D and I were planning our meals for the parade of celebrations we had this week, including two different parties for his birthday, I suggested osso buco for one of them as I had some veal shanks in the freezer. He requested to serve the osso buco on his family birthday dinner. Done.

    I love that this dish is largely hands off. So, while D's birthday lunch crew played games, I started dinner...then I didn't have to touch it for hours! I did have to make this in two different pots, so each ingredient is doubled, but this recipe is easily halved to serve four. Also, the spices are non-traditional, but I was going to for a little bit of Moroccan flavor here.

    Ingredients serves 8
    • eight osso buco-cut shanks (I had veal shanks)*
    • 3 T butter
    • 2 T olive oil
    • 2 t ground cumin
    • 2 t ground cinnamon
    • 1 t ground coriander
    • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
    • 6 carrots, chopped
    • 6 to 8 celery ribs, chopped
    • 2 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
    • 12 C organic chicken stock (it should come about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the shanks)
    • 1 C red wine
    • 1 fresh tomato sauce
    • freshly ground salt
    • freshly ground pepper
    • polenta, for serving
    • parmesan, for serving
    *I found the veal osso buco at D'Artagnan Foods.

    Blend the cumin, cinnamon, and coriander together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the shanks with the spice mixture.

    Heat butter in olive oil in a dutch oven or other heavy bottom oven-safe pot over medium heat until melted. Brown the shanks in the butter-oil mixture. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes per side, letting a golden crust to form on each side.

    Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the carrot, onion, celery, and fennel; sauté until slightly browned. Season with salt and pepper.

    Return the shanks to the pot. Pour in the stock, wine, and tomato sauce. Bring the liquid almost to a simmer. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 3-1/2 or 4 hours - until it’s almost falling off the bone. You can check it every so often, if you like, but I didn't add any liquid or stir at all! Osso buco should be tender and juicy, but still hold its shape.

    To serve, I put some polenta in the bottom of the bowl, placed shank on top, and drizzled lightly with the sauce. Then I let diners grate parmesan over the top on their own.

    Here's that hole-in-the-bone. The marrow slid easily from the bone and was so, so tasty. 

    Tuesday, December 24, 2019

    Birch-Smoked Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

    This is a cookie that I made for my dessert platter for my Jolabokaflod - that's an Icelandic book flood...more on that soon - and I think it was the surprise hit. It was, by far, the easiest cookie to make in that it doesn't require rolling or any kind of decoration. I have always loved the contrast of salty and sweet. 

    And this birch smoked salt from Iceland* was my inspiration. But feel free to use any flake salt that you have. This recipe is easily halved for fewer cookies.

    Ingredients makes approximately thirty 3-1/2" cookies

    • 1 C butter, softened
    • 1-1/4 C organic dark brown sugar, lightly packed
    • 1 C organic granulated sugar
    • 5 eggs
    • 1 t pure vanilla paste or extract
    • 2 t baking powder
    • 1/2 t baking soda
    • 3 C flour
    • 2 C semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
    • flake salt for finishing


    Preheat to 375° F. 

    Beat together butter and sugars until lightened and fluffy, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the eggs and vanilla. Beat until well-combined. Add in the dry ingredients and stir until everything is moistened. Fold in the chocolate chunks.

    Scoop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets, leaving at least 1" between cookies. Sprinkle cookies with salt.

    Bake cookies for 13 to 14 minutes; the cookies will firm up as they cool. Let cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

    *This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

    Saturday, December 21, 2019

    Nocino v. 2019

    I make this every year and, thankfully, have a local source for green walnuts. My parents have a friend with a walnut tree...and he told her that she should come pick as much as she wanted. Well, that sure beat me trespassing (I don't!) or buying them online (I do!). 

    So, my parents and my boys headed over to their friend's house and picked a ton of green walnuts for me during the summer.

    And I mean a ton. Not two thousand pounds, obviously. But do you see D's basket? At least three of those! A ton.

    This year I had eight gallon-sized jars that went from these green orbs to a potent, delicious Italian-inspired liqueur.

    The staining take a little while to fade from my fingers. "Witchy hands," the boys called them. Yeah, whatever. My friends like my witchy brews! But if you're concerned about the staining, wear gloves! This is a three-part process. Be patient...it's worth every week of waiting. I promise.

    Ingredients makes approximately 3 liters

    • 3 pounds green walnuts (they are in season, in California anyway, from June to August, usually)
    • 2 cinnamon sticks
    • peels from 2 organic lemons or limes (I used Meyer lemon because my parents have a tree in their yard)
    • 6 cardamom pods, cracked open
    • 1 vanilla bean, split
    • 1.75 L vodka
    • 5 C organic granulated sugar
    • 5 C water


    Part I
    Quarter the green walnuts lengthwise. Add the cut walnuts, cinnamon sticks, lemon peels, cardamom, and vanilla bean to the lidded glass container.

    Pour the vodka over the top of the ingredients. Cover and give the container a good shake and let it sit for 6 to 8 weeks.

    Part II
    Strain the liquid from the solids using a cheesecloth lined strainer. You can strain it again if you like. Pour the strained liquid back into the container.

    Add the sugar and water to a medium saucepan and cook until all of the sugar has dissolved. Let simple syrup mixture cool to room temperature. Add the cooled simple syrup to the liquid already in the container. Cover and give the mixture a good shake. Let sit for another 6 to 8 weeks.

    Part III
    After this second aging you can bottle and drink your nocino. The longer you let the bottled nocino set, the more smooth it will taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature. I bottled these for Christmas gifts. Cin cin.

    And it would go really well with a slice of my Panforte Margherita. I might just have to make that happen tonight.