August 9, 2010

Red Salad

I'm still very much in my Nigella phase, and this is another one of her recipes.  It did not disappoint.  I'm always looking for new ways to make salads, for the obvious reason that veggies are so good for you.  Look at the pretty colors in this one!  What is so great about this salad, besides its color, is that it has amazing flavor.  Neither my husband or I could stop eating it. Nigella uses Asian flavorings in this, so it's a bit exotic, and that's what I like.  The lime juice particularly kind of "pickles" the cabbage and onions so that they are crispy but also easy to chew. 

We found this salad very refreshing, especially now in the summer season, although Nigella suggests it for the holiday season, for its redness and her use of shredded turkey in it.  I used shredded chicken, because that's what I had, but I'm sure come the holidays I'll be using turkey.  Needless to say you can omit the meat to make it a vegetarian meal, but keeping in the meat makes this an excellent main course for lunch, and though it's a little time consuming, it's simple and it makes a lot.  Fish sauce and rice vinegar can be found in the Asian section of the grocery store.  I'll list the red chilis as in the original recipe, but I didn't use them. 

I thought this salad was almost perfect, but if we're going for perfection, I think candied pecans and dried craberries take it to another level, and they are certainly perfect for the holiday season if you are serving it then.  That extra sweetness and nutty crunch...heaven!  Then again, not so sure that would go well if you choose to use the chili peppers.  Your call.

Adapted from Feast by Nigella Lawson
Serves 4 as a main course, up to 8 as a side

Red Salad

 for the dressing:
2 red chilis
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons sugar or honey
3 teaspoons rice vinegar
juice of one lime, or 3 tablespoons
4 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil

for the salad:
1 red onion
approx. 8 cups finely chopped red cabbage (about 1.5 pounds)
8 oz radishes
4 cups cold cooked turkey or chicken, shredded
5 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Candied pecans and dried craberries, optional

Finely chop the chilis with or without seeds, according to how hot you like it.  Drop them in the largest bowl you have.  Mince the garlic.  Add the sugar or honey, vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, and olive oil.  Peel and finely slice the red onion into half moons and add to the dressing mixture.  Allow to steep for 15 minutes, making sure they're immersed.  Grind some black pepper into it. 

Add the turkey or chicken and allow to marinate another 15 minutes.  Shred the cabbage as finely as you can and cut the radishes into 8 segments (large enough to have a nice crunchy bite).  Add all this to the bowl and mix very well.  This is my advice: allow to steep at least 10 minutes before serving.  Stir in half of the cilantro, and sprinkle the rest on top when serving.

Toss in candied pecans and dried craberries just before serving, if desired.

August 1, 2010

Make me a Pot Pie!

This week my husband and I celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary.  If you ask him how long we've been married, he'll tell you, "Forever, but it feels like longer!"  Such a jokester.  I decided, since we'll have to wait a while before we can formally celebrate, that we needed to celebrate our anniversary with a homemade pot pie.  Why, you ask, at the end of July, would anyone want to heat up the house making a pot pie?

It's another joke in our house.  When we first got married, and occasionally in the years after, my husband would say, "Woman, get in the kitchen and make me a pot pie!"  Don't worry, he was only kidding!  I would be the first to tell him to get it himself if he wasn't...  He was referring to those little frozen pot pies that you get in the freezer section at the grocery store.  Have you ever had one?  My mom would get them sometimes when I was little, and although there was like a cup of salt in each one, and manufactured cubes of  "turkey" that kind of turned me off, the crust was always phenomonal!  I adore pot pie crust!

I never made those frozen pies for dinner in all our thirteen years together, and I only tried making a homemade pot pie once or twice, and that was ages ago.  When I came across a pot pie recipe in the book I am currently infatuated with reading, I decided we must have pot pie.  We were not at all disappointed, and it tasted even better the next day.  Next time I make this I will fiddle around with the filling and add some sage, onions, and lessen the meat a little by adding more veggies, but the crust was beyond wonderful.  It was just like the crust I remember loving as a child.  I intend to eliminate the bottom crust next time and use a long shallow dish.  That way all the crust will go on top and get brown and flaky. Mmmmm.  

I urge you, people, to make this at least once in your life.  It is the ULTIMATE comfort food.  Creamy filling with flaky, golden crust...need I say more? 

Happy Anniversary to us!

Adapted from Feast, by Nigella Lawson

Chicken Pot Pie

For the dough:
2 cups flour
2 eggs
1 stick, plus three tablespoons cold unsalted butter

Put the flour in a shallow bowl, then add the butter, diced into cubes.  Shake it together and put into the freezer for 10 minutes.  It's this that makes the dough so pliable when rolling it out and so delicate when you eat it, so don't skip this step.  Beat one egg with a tablespoon of iced water and stick it in the fridge while the butter is in the freezer. 

Transfer the butter and flour to a food processor bowl.  (This can also be done with a standing mixer but it takes longer). Pulse until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.  Feed the chilled beaten egg down the chute while it is running, adding a little at a time until it begins to form a ball.  Stop when the dough clumps around the blades.  If you need more liquid to come to this point, add a little iced water down the chute. 

Take out the dough and make into two discs if making a pie, or keep it at one if using a larger dish.  Wrap the disc/s in plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the filling.

For the filling:
4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
1 chicken stock cube
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups cold cooked chicken, diced
1 cup cold cooked ham, diced
(or just 3 cups cold cooked chicken if not using ham)
salt and pepper, to taste

*if you wish to use stock instead of a cube, decrease milk by half a cup and use a half cup of chicken stock)

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, then whisk in bouillon cube and flour.  If using liquid stock, add this after the milk.  Off the heat add the milk a little at a time, whisking to a smooth paste.  When all the milk is added, put back on the heat, turn up to medium or med/high, but don't actually let it boil fiercely, and stir or whisk constantly for a few minutes to get rid of the starch in the flour and make a really thick sauce.  Do not stop stirring at any time, but you may want to turn down the heat.

Mix in remaining ingredients.  Cover the sauce and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and slip a baking sheet in the oven. Roll out the dough.  If you're using a bottom crust, roll out to fit the bottom of your pie plate.  Pour the filling over crust, or into a greased oblong baking dish.  Roll out crust and fit to the top, fluting the edges to seal with a fork.  If there is any leftover dough, use it to make shapes and decorations. 

Beat the remaining egg for the glaze and paint it on the crust.  Vent in the center with a little cross.  Put the dish in the oven on top of the preheated baking sheet.  Bake 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown.