Meera Sodha’s Chicken Curry

I received a rice cooker for Christmas! I had to make some sort of chicken dish to serve with my perfectly cooked rice. ūüôā

This comforting chicken curry was very thick and hearty. The recipe was adapted from Made in India: Recipes from an Indian Family Kitchen by Meera Sodha. I also included some of Sam Sifton’s adaptations from The New York Times.

The dollop of yogurt on top was essential. We also ate it with warm naan, roasted cauliflower and steamed spinach.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 2 T unsalted butter or ghee
  • 1 T neutral oil, like canola
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, approximately 2 inches long
  • 2 large white or yellow onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 2 1/2-inch piece of ginger, peeled with a spoon and grated or minced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 green cayenne or jalape√Īo peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced (or 1 tsp chili powder)
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons strained or pur√©ed tomatoes (I used Pomi)
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 T whole-milk yogurt, plus 1 cup to serve with the meal
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 T ground or slivered almonds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • pinch ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups brown Basmati rice, rinsed and cooked per package directions
  1. Melt the butter or ghee in the oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat, and when it is hot and shimmering, add the cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks. Cook for a minute or two, stirring often, to intensify their flavors.
  2. Add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are golden, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, put the ginger, garlic and chilies into a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt; smash them together into a coarse paste. (You can also do this on a cutting board, with a knife.) (I had a bit of a struggle with this! May try the cutting board method next time.)
  4. Add the paste to the onions, and cook gently for 2 minutes or so, then pour in the tomatoes, and stir. Allow to cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture thickens.
  5. Add the tomato paste, ground cumin, ground turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon of salt; stir to combine.
  6. Add the yogurt slowly to the mixture, using a wooden spoon to whisk it into the sauce. It may be quite thick. When it begins to bubble, add the chicken.
  7. Lower the heat, put the lid on the Dutch oven and allow the curry to cook gently for 30 minutes or so, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  8. Add the almonds and the garam masala, along with a pinch of cayenne, and cook for 5 minutes more or so. Taste and adjust seasoning, as needed.
  9. Serve with basmati rice and/or naan, and the additional yogurt for topping at the table.

Linzer Hearts

We drag out holidays in my house. One day just isn’t enough of a celebration. ūüėČ

We were so busy eating leftover Mardi Gras King Cake on Valentine’s Day, I had to make a belated Valentine’s Day dessert! The truth is that I was procrastinating a little bit. As much as I wanted to make this special dessert for my husband, I really didn’t want to peel the hazelnuts. :/ I was quite happy to find a method to remove the skin by blanching the nuts. This method is a little bit time-consuming but it completely removes the bitter skin. Yay!

These cookies were very special- completely worth every minute of work. My husband wants me to add them to our Christmas cookie assortment! (in a different shape, of course) The blanching method used to peel the hazelnuts was adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum, via Fine Cooking.com. The cookie recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. Wonderful!

Yield: 9 3-inch sandwich cookies and 14 2-inch heart cookies

  • 4 1/2 oz (1 cup) raw hazelnuts
  • 4 T baking soda, for blanching the hazelnuts
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam, for filling
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

To Blanch, Peel, and Roast the Hazelnuts:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add 4 T baking soda and the hazelnuts.
  3. Boil for 3 minutes- expect the water to turn black. Run a nut under cold water and see if the skin slips off easily. If not, boil the nuts a little longer until the skins slip off.
  4. Strain and then cool the nuts under cold running water, slip off the skins, blot dry with paper towels.
  5. Place peeled nuts on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Roast in the preheated oven for 7 to 10 minutes, until fragrant.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
  7. Pulse the nuts in a food processor until finely ground.

To Make the Cookies:

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. Whisk the ground hazelnuts into the flour mixture; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and lemon zest; beat to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  5. With the mixer on low-speed, add hazelnut-flour mixture, and beat until just combined, about 10 to 15 seconds.
  6. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface or onto plastic wrap. Divide in half and shape into flattened disks.
  7. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. (I refrigerated overnight.)
  8. Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator, and let stand until softened slightly. (This will help keep the dough from cracking when rolled.)
  9. Between layers of plastic wrap or on a large piece of parchment paper lightly dusted with flour, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to a baking sheet. Place in freezer and freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.
  10. Repeat with second disk of dough. (You can stack the parchment and dough in the freezer.)
  11. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  12. Remove one sheet of dough from the freezer. Working quickly, cut into heart shapes with a 3-inch cookie cutter. Cut out the center from half of the shapes with a 2-inch cutter. (If the dough begins to soften too much, return to the freezer for a few minutes.)
  13. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. (I kept the similar shaped cookies on separate sheets as they had the same baking time.) Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
  14. Repeat with second sheet of dough.
  15. Bake on the center rack, one cookie sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until cookies are crisp and lightly golden all over, about 17 minutes for full 3-inch hearts and 15 minutes for the open hearts and full 2-inch hearts.
  16. Let cool slightly on cookie sheet and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. (Cooled cookies can be stored overnight in an airtight container at room temperature before filling.)
  17. Spread the flat sides of the whole hearts with jam.
  18. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the open hearts.
  19. Just before serving, top open hearts with jam. Cookies should be eaten the day they’re filled.

Christmas 2020 Update: I made 2 1/4-inch rounds with Christmas tree cutouts. I put 12 cookies on each baking sheet. The whole cookies baked for 14 minutes, the cutouts for 12 minutes, and the reserved trees for 10 minutes. Wonderful!

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German Lebkuchen

I love having at least one spice cookie in my Christmas cookie assortment. This year, I selected Lebkuchen¬†because I know my mom is a fan of them. I only made one batch- what a mistake! I should have¬†doubled it (at least)… Next time. ūüėČ

This recipe is from Hannah of the beautiful blog Domestic Gothess. I glazed the finished cookies and omitted dipping them in chocolate. I weighed the dry ingredients and freshly ground the spices in the dough. They were wonderful!

For the Lebkuchen:

  • 150 g (1/2 + 1/3 cup) dark brown soft sugar
  • 150 g (5.3oz) runny honey
  • 50 g (4 T, ¬†1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • finely grated zest of 1 naval orange
  • 300 g (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose¬†flour
  • 150 g (1 1/4 cups) ground almonds
  • 1 T cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 large¬†eggs

For the Glaze:

  • 150 g (1 1/2 cups) Confectioners’¬†sugar, sifted
  • 2 T water

  1. Put the sugar, honey, butter and orange zest in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  2. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, ground almonds, cocoa powder, spices, salt, baking powder and baking soda; set aside.
  3. Beat the eggs into the sugar mixture one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. In two or three additions, mix in the flour mixture until well combined.
  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least half an hour or (ideally) up to overnight.
  6. To Bake: Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 (on convection) and line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Scoop out portions of the dough using a large cookie scoop (1 1/2″ in diameter) or measuring spoon (about 1 1/2 tbsp at a time), and roll between slightly damp hands into smooth balls.
  8. Place them well spaced apart on the baking sheets and flatten them slightly with your fingers.
  9. Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes until firm and lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  10. Transfer the Lebkuchen to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  11. To Make the Glaze: Place the confectioners’¬†sugar in a small bowl and gradually mix in enough of the water to form a slightly runny icing – not too wet though or it will all run off. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet.
  12. Dip the tops of the Lebkuchen in the glaze, allow the excess to drip off then place them right-side up on the wire rack to set.
  13. Once set, store in an airtight container. The cookies improve over time. An apple placed in the container may keep them more fresh.

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