Monday, June 7, 2010

Chicken with Indian Spices and Corn, Squash and Beans with Jalapeno Butter

I am no stranger to a cocked eyebrow. You cook where? Really?

Most people have practical questions regarding my kitchen-less situation such as, where do you do your dishes or what do you cook with? But then there is the question of cleanliness. And for those skeptics out there, you have a good point. I would be apprehensive about eating something that came out of someone else's john too. But for what its worth, let me just say I would never cook something that I wouldn't feel okay serving to my mother. New York City is dirty and chaotic enough, I like to keep a clean house. 

But let me ask a question back, if I may, and it's one I've also been asking myself. Before your food gets to the grocery store and then home to your presumably tidy kitchen, do you know where it's been?

The more I read about food the more it resembles a bad Broadway show, a lot of smoke and mirrors. I dog-eared a few pages from books like Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, The Omnivore's Dilemma by Micahel Pollan, and Real Food by Nina Planck, debating whether or not to post some of the horrifying research about the lack of cleanliness, abundant use of synthetic fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, bleach, radiation, wax, preservatives and food dyes, to name a few, commonly found in food production in the United States, but I think I won't. This is a food blog after all with the aim to get people cooking not puking.

But it might be worth our time and health as a country to approach a factory farmed chicken or bunch of spinach with the same scrutiny we apply to a person who says they cook in their bathroom. All you need to do is open a newspaper or turn on the TV to be reminded of the latest food recall or e coli break out. Or do a little digging to uncover dirty little secrets like the fact that factory farmed salmon is actually white and they use pink dye to give it that familiar salmon glow. Or that scientists have known for years that the hydrogenated oils in margarine and processed foods cause heart disease, but were silenced so as not to jeopardize profits. 

There is some scary shit going on and I think it would be good if we all got into the habit of asking a lot of questions and cocking a lot of eyebrows when it comes to what's for dinner. The above books are an excellent place to start.

Some food for thought, and now some food for you:

Chicken with Indian Spices (adapted from the David Tanis recipe in A Platter of Figs)

1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
3 cloves
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt + pepper
1 tbs. olive oil

Toast the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in your toaster oven on medium, and then grind to a fine powder with a mortar and pestle. Split the chicken breasts in half and cut into two in square pieces. Place into a bowl along with the yogurt and spices and let marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for at least half an hour. When you are ready to cook them, heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium heat and when it's hot, but don't let it smoke, add the chicken with all the yogurt to the pan. Arrange the chicken pieces so they are all laying flat, let them brown on one side and the flip them over to brown on the other. Cook about eight minutes until they are no longer pink inside but still tender and juicy.

Corn, Squash and Beans with Jalapeno Butter (adapted from the David Tanis recipe in A Platter of Figs)

1 tbs. olive oil
2 shallots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
kernels from 2 ears of corn
1 zucchini, medium dice
1 summer squash, medium dice
1/2 lb. green beans topped and tailed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 stick butter
1/2 lime, zest and juice 
1 tbs. cilantro leaves
salt + pepper

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, saute the shallots until clear. Then add the garlic, corn zucchini, squash and green beans. Toss around, add 1/4 cup water, cover and steam about 5 minutes until veggies are tender but still retain their bright colors. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, combine the butter, lime juice and zest and jalapeno with a little salt and pepper. When the vegetables are cooked through. Turn off the heat and add the jalapeno butter, gently tossing. Serve hot garnished with some cilantro leaves.


  1. If I wasn't married to you, your blog would make me wish I could find a girl like you to marry.

  2. As always....It looks So Delicious!!!

  3. We often have dinner at my mom's friend's house, and her brother contributes most of the meal. He doesn't really have a proper kitchen, either, and has to use his bathroom sink. My mom and I were always a little turned off by that, but I read to her part of this post and it makes a lot of sense to us. Such great points, thanks!

  4. I'm so glad! Thank you for your comment. Erica