Saturday, February 28, 2015

Afghan Chicken Korma (Korma-e-Murgh)

The path that led to the dish started with a quest for Seville oranges. I know, you're looking for a link and just not seeing one ... well campers, you're not alone. It's a twisty-turvy tale ... No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Food blogger goes to international market for Seville oranges (it's marmalade making season, yo) and finds none. Thinking it's a fluke she drives across town to the new international food store. Alas, no oranges. However because she's there she purchases fresh pita pockets from a local baker, because PITA POCKETS.

Cute story - no? It's not over. I grew up eating fresh pitas a lot ... it seemed like everyday, but let's not trust the memory of toddler me. Toddler / little person me also has this VIVID memory of being at preschool for some kind of parent event with LindaG where I changed an orange into an apple with the phrase "Bibitty-bobitty-boo." It was under a handkerchief at the time. Yes, I'm aware I didn't actually change one fruit into another. Not the point. Point is - LindaG has NO memory of this particular moment of my life. So - did I dream it? Make it up? Is LindaG systematically deleting the stranger moments of my early life from her memory? Bigger point - *points at self* I'm not a reliable witness to my own childhood memories, but not many among us are. 

Fresh pitas. Ate them a lot as a child. Still do when I can buy them fresh made. Trust me on this, if it's not fresh made - and by that, I mean locally - don't bother; save yourself the foodie-heartache.

The only thing that kept me from following my normal eating pattern with pitas (stuff 'em full of yummy things and chow down) was the name of the baker: Afghan Bread House. I was intrigued and immediately fell into a wild-cooking-hair spiral. I'd never had Afghani food before, and I needed it RIGHT NOW. Thus began a long, delightful, and delicious quest to fill a void in my knowledge of world cuisine.

This whole escapade started with a soliloquy about my deep love for pitas and you know what you don't see in these pictures? I ate them all. And I haven't learned how to make them. True story. I feel like this is something someone needs to show me how to do ... I mean, there's got to be a trick for getting the pocket to form, right?

This dish requires full fat greek yogurt, and if you're thinking "sure, sure" and that you'll simply replace it with nonfat ... just don't. I tried nonfat greek yogurt first because that's what I keep in the house. I tried nonfat yogurt more than once, thinking the first snafu was just me working out some kinks with a new recipe. Wrong. Use the full fat yogurt, because: it gives the korma a creamy smoothness that is muy, muy importante.

Afghan Chicken Korma (Korma-e-Murgh)


2 lbs bonesless, skinless chicken thighs trimmed of extra fat
2 TBSP vegetable oil
2 TBSP ginger, minced
2 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white onions, finely chopped
1/2 - 1 green chile (aka: Anaheim / Hatch), finely chopped
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 - 1/2 tsp hot paprika
1/4 - 1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
250 grams plain Greek yogurt (full fat)
1 can diced tomatoes, drained of excess juice

cooked rice


Heat vegetable oil in skillet or dutch oven over medium-low heat. Once oil has heated sautee chicken until golden brown on both sides. You will want to work in batches - never have more than two or three pieces of chicken in the skillet at once. Remove chicken and set on paper towel covered plate to absorb excess oil.

Reduce heat to low. Add ginger and garlic to the skillet and cook until fragrant. Add onions, stir to combine. Cover and let onions cook until translucent. Stir in yogurt. Add in spices and salt, stirring to combine. Return chicken to skillet, cover and cook for 8 - 10 minutes.

Add in tomatoes and chiles, stir to combine and cook until bubbling.

Serve with rice and/or pita pockets.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Orange-Glazed Apricot & White Chocolate Biscotti

The love I have for biscotti its true, and it runs deep. I don't recall when or how the obsession started - but it probably started with a trip to Missouri Baking on The Hill (The Lou's version of Little Italy). They make the cutest little - like two inch long - biscotti you've ever seen. Somewhere after consuming my umpteenth itty-bitty biscotti I said to myself, "I can do zat." Here we are a few years further down the road, and I have become a veritable biscotti making queen. Or something.

Biscotti are meant to be crisp; they're supposed to crunch when you eat them - as their name suggests. Hang on to your hats word nerds, I'm about to break it down for you. Biscotti is the plural of biscotto, biscotto comes from the word biscoctus, and the Latin translation for biscotus is "twice-cooked / baked." What I'm saying here is biscotti were Italian before Italy was Italy ... like "Lucius-Caecilius-probably-enjoyed-a-biscotti-on-Volcano-Day" Italian.

Twice baking is muy, muy importante. You cannot, I repeat, CANNOT just bake biscotti once. Well, I mean, you can - but don't expect a crisp snap when you bite into them. Oh - and the other very important lesson (and it's going to be in all caps) is: DON'T BAKE THE DANG THINGS UNTIL THEY'RE CRISP IN THE OVEN. You'll break a tooth, or four. Learn from my mistakes, campers; learn from my mistakes.

Dried apricots are kind of my jam ... I especially like them in this dish (and you can read about my early life confusion between apricots and peaches), but they're equally good just to chow down on as a snack. But in biscotti - in biscotti they border on the divine. I went with white chocolate as the sweet element because I felt that both semi-sweet and dark chocolate would be to overpowering; strangle out the hint of sweetness provided by the apricot, not to mention the flavor of the wee stone fruit. If you don't want a sweet element in your biscotti (there are those - amazingly - who don't like chocolate in their baked goods), feel free to try swapping in something like almonds.

The crowning jewel of this recipe is the orange-glaze. The citrus zest gives these cookies an added oomph; plus the zest looks smashing decorating the top with little swirls of sunshine. These biscotti are perfectly scrumptious without the glaze, but  ... trust me: just make the glaze.

Orange-Glazed Apricot & White Chocolate Biscotti


1 stick butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 TBSP vanilla
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups flour
3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 - 3/4 cup white chocolate morsels


1 orange, zested and juiced
6 TBSP powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350.

Using the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. Add vanilla, mix to incorporate.

In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to creamed butter and sugar mixture. Continue to mix until a dough has formed.

Note: I "chopped" my apricots by pulsing them in a food processor a few times - I find this infinitely easier than trying to chop them by hand - they get a wee bit sticky - speaking of which I also sprinkle a bit of flour onto the apricots as I pulse them in the food processor so I don't end up with one giant apricot goo-ball.

Stir in chopped apricots and white chocolate morsels (or almonds if you prefer) until thoroughly mixed.

Scoop dough out onto a Silpat covered baking sheet and form into a roughly 15x4 inch block. Bake until a light golden color (approx. 30 minutes). Remove from oven and cool for 20 minutes.

Carefully remove log from baking sheet to cutting board. Using a long knife (serrated if you prefer) slice log into 1/2 inch wide pieces. Return pieces to baking sheets, and return to oven. Bake for additional 15 minutes.

While the biscotti are baking the second time mix up your glaze (if you want to glaze all of the biscotti you will need to double the recipe) and set aside.

Remove biscotti from oven, and place on a cooling rack (I remove my biscotti from the hot baking sheet and pace them directly onto a cooling rack - with a baking sheet under it because glaze = messy). While still warm gently brush glaze onto each piece. The glaze will dry as the biscotti cools.

Once completely cool (and the glaze is no longer tacky) seal biscotti in an air tight container.