Posts from January 2015

Butter Chicken with Cilantro



Alas, yet another dish with chicken that I thought was going to be easy, but didn’t turn out like I had hoped. Such as with my Coq au Vin, the chicken in this Indian-spiced dish ended up being overcooked. It could have been because of my tweaks to the recipe I got from the NYTimes: I omitted lots of the butter (ironically, since it’s the name of the dish; I like to save my calories for dessert), and swapped the cream and yogurt for coconut milk since my dinner guest was dairy-intolerant. I did use all the Indian spices here, since I have them all on hand, but I’m sure you can cheat and just add a bunch of curry powder if you’re in a hurry. It probably wouldn’t be as complex, but it would do the job.

I’m writing the instructions below for how I WISH I would have cooked this, not how I actually did.


1 c coconut milk
2 T lemon juice
1 ½ T ground turmeric
2 T garam masala
2 T ground cumin
3 lbs chicken thighs, on the bone
1 T butter
4 t coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 T fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced
1 T cumin seeds
2 red chiles, diced
c chicken stock
3 T chopped almonds
½ bunch cilantro leaves, chopped


First, whisk together the coconut milk, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala and cumin in a large bowl. In a large pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter in the oil. Dry off the chicken, and salt and pepper the thighs. Add them to the hot oil, and sear on both sides (approximately 3-4 minutes each side) until they start to brown. Remove from skillet. Turn the heat down to medium, and add the onions, and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, chilies, and cumin seeds, and cook until the onions start to brown. Add the chicken and milk marinade to the pan, and cook for 5 minutes, then add the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for approximately 30 minutes. Garnish with the almonds and cilantro leaves. Serve with naan or rice.

Orange Bitters



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe plan this past year was to make Orange Bitters as holiday gifts to give to loved ones in driving distance. However, after making them, the flavor seemed too esoteric to make en masse. The recipe I followed called for lots of anise seeds; I know licorice is one of those either-love-or-hate flavors, so I decided to not gift a jar that tastes like orange black licorice to some who may recoil in disgust.

I did end up giving a pint of this to our friend Sam, who I know loves all things licorice, and it turned out that he had been tasked with bringing Orange Bitters as an ingredient for a holiday party he was attending the next day. I love serendipity! Sam experimented with mixing it with ginger beer, which is delicious! A twist on the Moscow Mule, Sam named it the Gainesville Donkey. Recipe for that is below, too.

Ingredients for Orange Bitters:

1 orange
1 lemon
1 T anise seeds
8 cardamom pods
3 T lemon juice
2 c vodka
1/3 c light brown sugar (added later)


Heat oven to 125 degrees. After rinsing the orange and lemon, peel them both with a vegetable peeler being careful to not get any of the white pith. Set the peel on a baking tray, and bake for about an hour, or until they’re firm and crisp. With a mortar and pestle, crush the anise seeds and cardamom seeds. (The original recipe kept the shells on the cardamom seeds; I shelled them and just crushed the seeds.) Place the seeds, peels, 3 T lemon juice, and 2 c vodka in a quart mason jar. Let sit in a room temperature place for about 3 weeks. Shake the jar when you think of it.

After it has set, set a sieve lined with cheesecloth or dishtowel, and pour the mixture through. Heat 2 c water with 1/3 c light brown sugar in a sauce pan on medium heat. Let the syrup cool and add it to the strained citrus vodka. This can be sipped and drank plain, or over ice, or with a splash of seltzer.

Ingredients for a Gainesville Donkey:

1 1/2 oz Orange Bitters
2 oz Ginger Beer
1 oz seltzer

Mix together with ice. Garnish with either zest of an orange, or an anise star.

Mousse au Citron




Along with my Coq au Vin I made the other day for our wine party, Thomas and I also made a French lemon mousse. I will admit, though, it does NOT pair well with red wine; the sweet and sour desert killed our French reds. I would say coffee would make a better pair.

I used my Meyers, of course. The recipe came from Saveur.


8 eggs
1¼ c sugar
½ t kosher salt
2 Meyer lemons, juiced and zested (or the juice and zest of 4 regular lemons)
1 c heavy cream
1 t vanilla


First, whisk together 4 eggs, 4 yolks (reserve remaining whites), and 1 c sugar in a 4–qt. saucepan. Add salt and juice and zest; stir until smooth. Place saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring, until mixture thickens to the consistency of loose pudding, about 10 minutes. Chill.

Next, whisk egg whites and remaining sugar in a bowl until stiff peaks form; add this to curd. Fold gently until combined; set aside. Whisk cream and vanilla in a bowl until stiff peaks form; add to curd mixture. Fold until combined. Chill in refrigerator until serving. Serve in individual cups and garnish with lemon zest or shaved chocolate.

Coq au Vin





Because I live a long way away from my siblings (and lament it!), it’s always a special occasion when one of them comes to visit. Thomas, my youngest brother, was here just for a brief stay, so we put every hour here to good use and threw a French wine-tasting party with French food. Thomas taught us to note the acidity and tannins in the reds which place them in the North or South regions on France’s map. His blind taste test with the numerous wines was challenging, but he deemed us all winners in the end. (Who cares about your D- graded taste-buds when you get to drink a red from Châteauneuf-du-Pape!)

I made Coq au Vin, or Chicken in Wine, for dinner. Never having made it before, I thought it would as simple as Beef Burgundy: throw some meat and carrots and onions in a pot, dump a bunch of wine on it, and voila, dinner a couple hours later. But for some reason, it’s not that easy. I think it’s harder because the chicken can easily be over-cooked, and maybe the beef adds some thickening agent when cooked that chicken doesn’t? Whatever the case, fifteen minutes before our guests arrived, as I looked at my soupy muck, I almost ordered emergency pizzas instead. But is that what a French chef would do? Ah, non! So I added lots of corn starch, and it thickened right up.

We used our garden’s carrots, onions, parsley, rosemary, and a few shittakes from our last mushroom bloom. The only thing missing from our French evening was an actual French person. Hopefully next time Thomas’s French wife can attend. This recipe was amended from Ina Garten


4 oz. bacon, diced
1 medium chicken, skinned and cut in 8ths
3 large carrots, chopped
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 t garlic, chopped
1/4 c brandy
1/2 bottle cheep dry red wine such as Burgundy
1 c good chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
2 T fresh parsley, chopped
2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 1/2 T all-purpose flour
3 large shittake mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon. Meanwhile, lay the chicken out on paper towels and pat dry. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.

Add the carrots, onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the brandy and put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just not pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.

Mash 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour together and stir into the stew. In a medium saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another hour. If the stew does not thicken (mine did not), add 1 T cornstarch to 3 T cold water in a small bowl, and mix together well. Add that to the hot liquid and stir in. Wait 5 minutes to see if it begins to thicken. If it didn’t, repeat. Serve with good French wine and good company.




Gary and I spent New Year’s eve with his parents and relatives making pretzels, a Southern German tradition. We made my German-American mother-in-law’s recipe that has been passed down through generations. In some areas in Germany, pretzels are given to loved ones on January 1 to symbolize good luck and good fortune. On our other side of the planet, we happily continued this tradition.


These pretzels are known as Lye Pretzels, for they’re first boiled in lye before they’re baked. The lye denatures the proteins, which causes the exterior to become chewy. I find it ironic that here I try my hardest to avoid processed foods and soda because they’re bad for me, and here I am boiling my dough in drain opener (note the “Danger! Poison!” warning on the label). Go figure.



5 lbs all-purpose flour
1 c melted shortening
1 qt buttermilk
1 can milnot
3 eggs
3 t baking soda
3 t baking powder
a hand full of salt


(This makes a LOT of pretzels. We actually halved this recipe, and it still made too many. I suppose this recipe made enough to wish everyone in the entire town good luck and good fortune.)

Mix all the ingredients together. Gradually add the flour until the dough works off your hands. Knead the dough until pliable. Let rest in the bowl for 2-3 hours. Cut into small pieces, and roll into pretzel shapes.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a pot of water to boiling (do not use an aluminum pan; use cast iron), and then add 1 t lye to 2/3 skillet of water (sorry the vague directions here). Drop pretzels in boiling lye water for about a minute or so. When they float to the top, they’re ready. Put them on a baking sheet (again, not aluminum), and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Bake on greased cookie sheets until brown (or about 10-15 minutes). May your New Year be full of good luck, fortune, and glorious things like gluten!

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