Recipes for Snacks and Beginnings

Lunch Today

May 7, 2016


Came home late from doing errands, starving, and so eager to eat the chicken that had been marinating in the refrigerator since last night that I did the quick version of cooking rice: simply threw the grains into boiling water for 10 minutes.

While the rice cooked, I crisped the chicken in a hot pan.  Now the house smells like curry, cumin and onions, and I am feeling very satisfied….

Food Cart Curry Chicken

Shopping list: 1 pound chicken thighs, 1 lemon, oregano, 1 tablespoon curry powder.

Staples: 1/2 onion, 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, olive oil, salt, pepper.

Serves 4

Cut a pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs into bite size chunks, and slice half an onion into thin rings.

Make a paste by combining 3 tablespoons of olive oil with 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon coriander seed, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of curry powder, a sprig of oregano, 1/4 teaspoon of paprika, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and a teaspoon of salt.  Whirl it in a spice grinder or a blender.  Grind in copious amounts of black pepper.

Put the onions and chicken into a plastic bag, pour in the marinade and squish it all around so the onions and chicken are thoroughly coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Slick a heavy pan or a wok with a bit of vegetable oil and cook the onions and chicken for about five minutes, tossing every minute of so.  It will splutter a bit, and smell so delicious you’ll be snatching pieces from the pan.

Serve over white rice. I always asked for my chicken without the white sauce, but if you must have it, combine equal parts of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt, with a dollop of sugar and a splash of vinegar. Personally, I think you’re much better off with a righteous hot sauce.

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The Perfect Spring Dish

April 16, 2016


Salmon roe is one of Alaska’s great unsung products. Most of it is exported to Japan and Germany, which is a shame. Nothing tastes quite so elemental; eating this sparkling orange roe always reminds me that I’m glad to be alive.

One caveat: do not buy the pasteurized sort; heating roe changes the texture, making it tacky and tough. The flavor’s compromised too.  I buy mine from Zabar’s who will happily mail-order it  (although it’s about twice as expensive by mail as it is in the store).

To me these blini are best warm, so I make them one by one, so people can snatch them from the griddle while they’re still hot, slather them with sour cream and roe, and eat them with their fingers.  It’s hard to think of a better way to start a party.

Buckwheat Blini with Sour Cream and Salmon Roe

1 cup whole milk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup buckwheat flour

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon yeast

2 eggs

Melt the butter with the milk and cool to lukewarm.

Meanwhile whisk together the flour, buckwheat flour, sugar, salt and yeast.

Whisk the milk mixture into the flour mixture, cover with plastic wrap or a plate, and set aside to rise for 1½ hours in a warm place. The mixture should foam and double in size.

Whisk in two eggs, blending well.

Gently butter a hot griddle or skillet, and pour out enough batter to make a crepe the size you prefer.  Tilt the pan to make the crepe thin, and cook until bubbles have appeared all over the surface and have begun to pop.  Flip and cook another minute or so. Repeat.

Slather the blin with sour cream and top with salmon roe.  Eat gratefully. 

The batter will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator.  Stir well before using.

Another use for salmon roe? On scrambled eggs.  Perfect breakfast.


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A Bowl of Sunshine for this Snowy Day

April 4, 2016


I don’t know anything more delicious – or more comforting – than this rich, tart, soothing soup.


6 cups homemade chicken stock

1/3 cup uncooked rice

1 lemon

4 eggs, separated, whites saved for another use

1/2 teaspoon salt

Bring the chicken stock to a boil,  add the rice, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, grate the rind from one lemon, and squeeze its juice into a small bowl.

Add the egg yolks to the lemon mixture. Whisk in salt.

When the rice is tender, whisk about half a cup of the hot stock into the yolks, then slowly pour the yolks into the soup, stirring constantly. Cook gently for about five minutes, or until the soup is slightly thickened.

Serves 4

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Get Beet

October 26, 2015

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This recipe for a beet mousse seems very modern.  I can imagine finding it on the menu of one of the new vegetable-centric restaurants that are popping up all over. But it’s from the February, 1979 issue of Gourmet.  I, for one, can hardly wait to try it. (Other recipes were for beets stuffed with onion, ham, sour cream and horseradish mixture, and a very lively beet green souffle.)

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Great Balls of Squid!

September 15, 2015

(Dinner for one in Soho – to remind you what 1980 felt like.)

There’s a faint orange glint to the trees – if you stare really hard, you’ll see it – and the air is turning cooler. Night comes on more quickly now, and the city streets seem quieter.  On evenings like this I like to stroll through lower Manhattan, passing food vendors, picking up something warm to munch on my way home. Near East 9th Street, when I’m lucky, I stop for made-to-order takoyaki, irresistible little octopus balls in the style of Osaka. Flipped from small circular grill molds right into my hands, their savory-sweet, slightly briny aroma makes it impossible to wait for them to cool down. And what’s a burned lip when you’ve got something this crisp and delicious?

Just now, cruising through a 1980 issue of Gourmet, I came upon a squid ball recipe. It’s squid, not octopus.  It’s Cantonese, not Japanese. But it still felt auspicious. With its sprinkle of Sichuan peppercorn salt it seems a perfect way to welcome Autumn.






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