Tag Archives: cook

Greek Lemon Chicken

Allergy season in the San Fernando Valley is, by far, my least favorite time of year. It’s now been a month since my spring-time symptoms kicked in, and I’ve been feeling pretty lousy the entire time: Itchy and watery eyes, non-stop sneezing, postnasal drip (with congestion, which I don’t understand), loss of smell, and the worst part, for me, are those dreadful hours when I loose my sense of taste.

I’m currently taking two different prescription medications that definitely help ease the symptoms, but living with three dogs (who sleep in the bed) only adds to the problem. Peter and I will never get rid of our dogs (aka our “kids”), and honestly, most of the time I just feel really grateful that seasonal allergies are my only health issues.

But last week, on top of dealing with my sensitive sinus problems, I came down with a nasty, head cold. I didn’t even know it was a cold for the first few days because I hadn’t had a good night sleep in weeks, and already felt drained and depressed. I tried to shake the blues by drinking extra cups of green tea, reading my current favorite book on the sunny porch out front, and also by taking extra walks with the pups.

When I woke up Thursday morning still feeling gloomy, I suddenly remembered that one thing that was missing from my days. Talking aloud to myself (with my dogs tucked in snugly beside me), I sat up in bed and said, “cook, stupid”.

Because I was suffering from both allergies and a head cold, I hadn’t cooked a proper meal all week. Hot tea and cereal for breakfast, cold meds for lunch and “frozen entrées” for dinner. No wonder I felt like crap. Physically, I wasn’t getting any real nutrition, and I’d forgotten to do the one thing every day that makes my spirits soar.

I then decided to make one of my very favorite, super EASY one pan meals. Greek Lemon Chicken with Roasted Garlic and Potatoes. I first had it when I visited friends in the Greek Islands over twenty years ago, and it’s always a comforting plate of food. And as you can imagine, I felt amazingly better after just one bite.

Greek Lemon Chicken w/ Roasted Garlic and Potatoes

Ingredients:

3 1/2 to 4 pounds of chicken pieces (I prefer thighs and legs) with skin.

3 medium lemons (juiced, but save lemon halves)

3 pounds of baby potatoes (your favorite)

1 tablespoon of oregano

2 to 3 teaspoons of salt (to your liking)

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

2 medium heads of garlic

1/2 cup of olive oil

Greek Lemon Chicken 2, MyLastBite.com
Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F

Clean the chicken and potatoes, dry then place in large baking pan.

Cut tops of garlic (be careful) to expose cloves, and set face up in pan.

Next add olive oil, the juice of 2 lemons, then rub over everything.

Make sure there’s a nice coating of oil on the bottom of pan, so the chicken doesn’t stick.

Add oregano, salt and pepper. Coat everything in the pan.

Add the last two lemon halves in pan and let bake with the other ingredients.

Now, turn chicken pieces so the skin in facing down on the pan bottom.

Greek Lemon Chicken 3, MyLastBite.comCook for about 90 minutes total:
After 30 minutes, carefully remove hot pan from oven and gently turn over the chicken pieces so the skin is facing UP. This way you’ll get a nice, crispy and flavorful skin.

At the same time, turn over the potatoes and then place back in oven for 60 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

To serve: After the garlic heads have cooled, you can pop out each roasted clove with a knife and serve the sweet, mushy cloves on top of the chicken. Or, do what I did and serve the entire half of the clove itself. They’re delicious smashed into the potatoes or added to warm, crusty bread as well. The extra lemon halves (now soft and baked) can be eaten too. Enjoy.

Greek Lemon Chicken 4, MyLastBite.com

Note: The dish is terrific on it’s own, but it’s even better with a Horiatiki Salata (classic Greek country salad). I didn’t think to get the Greek salad ingredients at the market that day, so I tossed together a side dish with things I had at home: clementines, fresh green beans, and roasted beets.

Mentioned Above:

Horiatiki Salata: Recipe for Greek Country Salad

My Pups

In Greece

Cuties California Clementines

Current favorite book: “A Homemade Life” by Molly Wizenberg

“Cook, Stupid.” written by Jo Stougaard ©MyLastBite.com All Rights Reserved. No usage allowed including copying or sharing without written permission.

Greek Lemon Chicken W/ Roasted Garlic & Potatoes on Foodista

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Filed under Food Stories (written by me), Recipes

Sri Siam Café [3]

For my third visit to Sri Siam Café, I invited my good friend Bob for lunch. This time I was determined to eat Thai food the way I’ve always eaten Thai food… very HOT and very SPICY. Not all food has to set my mouth on fire to be pleasurable. There’s just something about Thai food that doesn’t quite taste “authentic” without the extra heat. I think it’s because when I first tried it (twenty years ago) the dishes were always extra hot and spicy.

Crispy Rice Salad at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.comFor lunch I suggested Bob and I start with the Nam (crispy rice salad), which has Thai sour sausage mixed with roasted peanuts, ginger, green onion and crispy rice. The unusual sour sausage almost tastes like it was soaked in lime juice, and the crispiness of the individual rice kernels are a surprising, savory crunch. The spicy Nam had been my favorite bite from lunch the week before, so I wanted to share it again with Bob, and he LOVED it.

When I asked for “very hot and spicy” on my first two visits, the waitress smiled and brought me what I thought was a medium heat, which is totally understandable since I was a new Sri Siam diner. She probably assumed I didn’t understand how hot and spicy Thai food could be, and didn’t want to throw out perfectly good food just because I ordered incorrectly.

On this visit I asked our server (a waiter this time) which dish was the “spiciest” on the menu. He pointed directly to “Poh Tak” (spicy seafood soup). It’s a hot pot filled with mussels, shrimps, crab, fish and squid in a sour spicy broth. I ordered the Poh Tak and made sure the waiter understood that I wanted it extra spicy. I made a point of saying that my food wasn’t spicy enough before and to please ask the chef to make the soup extra HOT and VERY SPICY. The waiter then raised an eyebrow and was probably about to ask me “are you sure?”, when I butted in and pleaded “I need my food to be very, very spicy PLEASE!”.

When my hot pot of spicy seafood soup arrived, I gave the waiter a look of “hmmm… this looks a little spicy, but we’ll see if you succeeded here”. He graciously scooped out the first little bowl of soup for me and then I went ahead and started in on the beautiful (and delicious) green mussels. Bob ordered the Panang Chicken lunch special, which came with steamed rice, soup and a vegetable egg roll. After I took a few sips of my soup, Bob asked me a question and it was the strangest thing… even though I was trying to answer him, my mouth wouldn’t work. Right then my eyes started blinking and I sat there with my mouth open, struggling as I mouthed “OH MY GAWD”. This was the hottest (and spiciest) thing I had ever tasted in my life, and it was truly a whole new level of fire in my mouth.

I know spice and heat are all relative, but I just want to note that I can easily handle blazing habanero chilies (even with the seeds intact). One of my favorite spicy treats I make at home, is a dessert I saw on tv a few years ago called “Fire and Ice”. It’s half of a habanero chili filled with lemon sorbet. The fire and ice gets under your tongue and it’s sort of paralyzing (in a good way) for a second.

Back in my 20’s I read (in some glossy, fashion magazine) that rubbing a slice of jalapeno on my lips would make them plump… a cheap alternative to lip injections. On the morning I decided to try this “natural” method, I was also scheduled to meet my new boss, who was flying in for the day to check on his photo gallery. Following the magazine instruction, I cut a dime-size piece of the jalapeno and pursed my lips while I rubbed the chili round and round. At first, nothing… then came the screaming and crying. NOTHING took the pain away and I ended up with a large, uneven, red outer ring that looked like “double” lips. If you can remember “Wax Lips” candies, then you get the picture.

Later in the day, when my new boss shot me a strange look, I just laughed and said my lips were overly chapped and did my best to hide in the office. I never admitted that I’d purposely rubbed jalapenos on my tender, perfectly fine, natural lips.

Currently, I have my fridge stocked with habanero stuffed olives that I order online from Primos Gourmet. The habaneros are perfect little, painful explosions that make me do the “happy eating dance” around the kitchen.

Just how hot are habaneros? Chili peppers are rated by Scoville units. As noted on Wikipedia: “The number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present. Capsaicin is a chemical compound which stimulates nerve endings in the skin”. For example, on the Scoville scale, a bell pepper would measure 0 (that’s zero, zilch, nothing). Jalapeno peppers would measure from 2,500-8,000.

The hottest chili pepper I’ve ever eaten is the habanero, and it would measure approximately 100,000-350,000 on the Scoville chart. Culinary Masochism? Well, if that means I’m getting intense pleasure (go endorphins!) from intense pain (gastronomically speaking), then fine, I admit it…. I need a little C&M in my life.

Sri Siam’s spicy seafood “Poh Tak” soup felt like it was OFF the Scoville chart, and at first I thought it was way too fiery for me. After the initial shock wore off in my mouth I absolutely LOVED the broth, and from then on it was a heavenly seafood feast of squid, crab, shrimp and those delicious green mussels. Poor Bob had to watch me wipe the sweat off my brow, and he laughed as I dashed to the restroom several times to deal with a heat-induced runny nose. This meal was the perfect Thai experience I’d been after.

When we finished lunch, I went back to the kitchen and thanked the chef. He gave me a little smile and looked a little baffled, so I wasn’t sure if he understood what I said to him. I can’t imagine it, but maybe it was the first time he’d ever heard, “Thank you, thank you… thank you for making me hurt so good“.

Spicy Seafood Soup at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.comSpicy Seafood Soup, Poh Tak: Mussels, shrimps, crab, fish, squids in a hot pot and sour spicy soup.

Panang Lunch Special (chicken) at Sri Siam Cafe, MyLastBite.comLunch Special Panang Chicken: Served with steam rice, soup, vegetable fried egg roll, and fresh fruit.

Egg Roll & Soup at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com

A few photos in the Sri Siam Kitchen, and the wonderful crew.

Lovely Pork at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com

Sri Siam Cafe Wontons, MyLastBite.com

Sri Siam Cafe Wontons, MyLastBite.com Sri Siam Cafe Wontons, MyLastBite.com

Sri Siam Cafe Kitchen, MyLastBite.com Thai Eggplant at Sri Siam, MyLastBite.com

Sri Siam visit #4 (with photos)

Previous Visits to Sri Siam (with photos)

All my Sri Siam Photos on Flickr

Sri Siam Café  Website
12843  Vanowen Street (at Coldwater)
North Hollywood  91605
818 982- 6262

Primos Gourmet Foods (Habanero Olives)

More about Scoville Units

My Friend Bob

Dining Date: 1/16/09

Sri Siam Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Eating Out, Food Stories (written by me)

Fruit “Caviar” – Adventures in Molecular Cooking [3]

“Fruit Caviar” 

Last week I received the elBulli Texturas MiniKit that I ordered from the UK. Not only did it include the groovy Texturas ingredients, but also the tools and guidebook that I needed to really jump into this brave new world. 

Eines (Tools), elBulli Texturas Kit, MyLastBite.comThe tools that came with the elBulli Texturas kit included a collecting (straining) spoon, measuring spoons and a syringe. I have to say, there is something sort of thrilling about using tools with “Albert Y Ferran Adrià” ENGRAVED on them. It’s silly, but it makes the experience a little more special.

The phrase “Molecular Gastronomy ” (or molecular cooking) used to scare me. It sounded like brainy “science fiction” gibberish, especially when I started reading about techniques called “spherification” and “emulsification”. 

My current obsession with it began after I attended a “Molecular Gastronomy” class in November. The next day I started ordering the special ingredients and tools, then created a “molecular cooking” corner in my funky, vintage kitchen. During that first class, our instructor (the awesome Chef Michael Young) demonstrated how to make Ferran Adria’s fruit caviar, but I didn’t actually get to try the caviar recipe that day.

A couple of years ago, I remember being dumbfounded while watching Ferran and Albert Adrià working at their elBulliTaller (laboratory) in Barcelona, Spain. It was on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” episode titled “Decoding Ferran Adrià“. The brothers Adrià were showing Bourdain how to make mango “caviar” and I thought, “I wish I could do THAT in my kitchen!”.

Fruit "Caviar", MyLastBite.comWell I’m very proud to say that yesterday… I did it. I spent all afternoon making various sizes of elBulli “caviar”. It was AWESOME.

What I’ve discovered thus far is that “molecular cooking” requires three SIMPLE things:

1. Special ingredients such as Sodium Alginate and Calcium Chloride…

2. Tools including a digital scale, squeeze bottle and straining spoon…

3. And most of all… ENTHUSIASM!

Recipe for Ruby Red Grapefruit “Caviar” (I picked Ruby Red Grapefruit for the color… such a pretty pale pink!)

Making Fruit "Caviar", MyLastBite.com9 oz. Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
18 oz. Cold Water
1 g Sodium Alginate (or Algin)
3 g Calcium Chloride (or Calcic)
Digital scale
1 large bowl
2 medium bowls
Immersion blender
Fine mesh strainer

1. In one of the medium bowls, fill with cold water until the bottom is covered up to about four inches. Set this water bath aside. It will be used as the final step in making the fruit caviar.

2. In the large bowl, mix the sodium alginate with 1/2 the fruit juice and blend till completely dissolved.
Making Fruit "Caviar", MyLastBite.com

3. Mix in the remaining fruit juice
Making Fruit "Caviar", MyLastBite.com

4. Strain into empty medium bowl and allow to sit to remove any air bubbles. 
Making Fruit "Caviar", MyLastBite.com

 5. In a medium bowl, dissolve the calcium chloride in the 18 oz. of cold water. I used a small whisk and it took about a minute to be completely dissolved.

Making Fruit "Caviar", MyLastBite.com

6. Fill syringe or squeeze bottle with the juice mixture. It will be a little thick and “goopy”.
Making Fruit "Caviar", MyLastBite.com

 7. Gently discharge the mixture into the calcium chloride bath drop by drop.

Fruit "Caviar", MyLastBite.com
8. After a minute, gently remove the “caviar” using a straining spoon and add to the cold water bath.

Tiny Fruit "Caviar", MyLastBite.com

9. Wait a couple of minutes then remove the “caviar” from the fresh water into a serving bowl or serving spoon.

Fruit "Caviar", MyLastBite.com

Note: I had a kitchen towel folded next to the water bath. Right after removing a spoonful of caviar (with the straining or collecting spoon), I gently tapped the bottom of the spoon onto the towel and it removed the excess water.

10. Serve and enjoy!
Fruit "Caviar", MyLastBite.com

My Trio of Sizes.
Fruit "Caviar", MyLastBite.com

Fruit "Caviar", MyLastBite.com Fruit "Caviar", MyLastBite.com Spherification, MyLastBite.com Fruit "Caviar", MyLastBite.com

I see Ferran Adrià’s  “Liquid Olives” in the very near future!!!

Previous Posts: 

 

“Adventures in Molecular Cooking [1]”

“Adventures in Molecular Cooking [2]”

About Molecular Gastronomy:

Video of Hervé This discussing Molecular Gastronomy

Books: Molecular Gastronomy by Hervé This and Malcolm DeBevoise

Where to buy ingredients:
Le Sanctuaire

Texturas elBulli

elBulli Texturas Mini Kit, MyLastBite.com


Infusions LTD sells an elBulli “mini starter kit”


Books about Molecular Cooking:

Under Pressure: Cooking Sous-Vide by Thomas Keller

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee

A Day at el Bulli by Ferran Adria

Alinea by Grant Achatz

Kitchen Chemistry by Ted Lister and Heston Blumenthal

The Big Fat Duck Cookbook by Heston Blumenthal

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Ferran Adrià’s team demonstrates how to make fruit caviar

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Ferran Adria’s Pea Ravioli

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Molecular Gastronomy & Molecular Cooking  on TV:

Be sure to look out for a terrific molecular cooking episode of “Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie” titled “The Inventors” (the series is currently in reruns). It features Herve This, PolyScience inventor Philip Preston (Anti-Griddle and Immersion Circulators) and Nathan Myhrvold, a former CTO of Microsoft turned Sous-Vide master.  Short video clip here.

José Andrés Made in Spain. If you missed it the yogurt spherification episode, it’s titled “Paella Day”

Read more about Spherification here

A recent Time Magazine article about Ferran Adria

Very excited to meet Ferran Adria!

 


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Filed under Food Stories (written by me), Molecular Cooking, Recipes