One's Culinary Repertoire

The way it has usually worked around chez nous is that I make the basic stuff (noodles, grilled cheese, burritos, coq au vin [just kidding about that one]) and she makes the fancy stuff. Whoever makes it, I clean up afterward. B has a notoriously impatient streak* with foods, insisting on variety and quality to the degree that if I try to make her the same thing too often, she just won't eat. Thus, on my return from France I am determined to expand my repertoire in the name of greater depth.

On the sacred +5 Keen Battleaxe of Wounding, I swear that I shall master the following:
  • Risotto! I'm starting basic, with shallots and butter, but once I figure that out I'll start seeing about more exotic variations.
  • Roast chicken! Still trying to find a good, straightforward recipe that favors dark meat.**
  • A real proper chicken curry! The kind of hack I put together using Trader Joe's ingredients is fine, but it's time to stop kidding myself. If it revolves around something that comes out of a jar (i.e. pre-fab curry), it doesn't really count. I say: bring on the cardamom and coconut milk.
  • Maybe a fajita or something? Just to shake up the south-of-the-border styles around here?
That's all I've got so far. Anyone know any relatively straightforward recipes that a moderately intelligent kid like me could handle after a few tries?

* As opposed to the notoriously impatient steak, a special cut of beef for people with disagreeable personalities.
** One of those "I really, honestly will never understand" factors in my life is that most people seem to prefer white meat in both chicken and turkey. Are they completely batshit insane? Have they no taste buds?


FOSCO said...

Re: curry. I can't cook it myself, but it know it has something to do with Madhur Jaffrey.

You know who has good recipes? He's not on TV anymore due to molestation issues, but this is one of the best cookbooks ever. You can use it to make all kinds of weird ethnic foods quite easily.

clumsygirl said...

In the special features in Bend It Like Beckham, the director (along with her critiquing mom & aunts) shows how to cook aloo ghobi. Very funny, and delicious. Not that this has much to do with curried chicken.

Also, this may not count now that I'm a veggie, but I have always been against dark meat because of the excessive greasiness. Uck.

There are my two, vaguely related, cents.

kungfuramone said...

F: molestation issues: pesky.
C: though I love you like a sister, you are indeed disqualified from passing judgment on dark meat due to your vegetable problem.

becky said...

my absolute favorite thing right now is flank steak with peanut sauce. actually, it has been my absolute favorite for like 6 months. but it is so good and so easy.
and i totally agree that dark meat is the best. but i don't mind that the rest of the world are crazy white meat lovers, leaves more for me at thanksgiving!

Rachel said...

anything with potatoes is generally fairly simple - for example, I like to buy the cheap skinny cuts of steak that cost like $5 or drumsticks and pan fry those in butter and boil cubed potatoes (when a fork goes through easily, they're done) and add a bit of butter and parsley and garlic to those, and boil or steam asparagus or fresh green beans for seven minutes. That's a pretty fab dinner that takes very little effort. :) Good on ya for always doing the clean-up. ;)

kungfuramone said...

B: I will look into this.
R: Maybe we never reached the crucial "but how do you feel about potatoes" stage of friendship in Oregon, but I *hate* potatoes. I still appreciate the thought, however.

Kelly said...

We should talk. To start, the best, basic way of roasting a chicken is here: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Braised-Chicken-with-Tomatoes-and-Olives-em-Poulet-Provencal-em-241766 . I can give you a whole variety of things you can do to this chicken (add cider or beer, or potatoes, or celery, or carrots, or apples, or stuffing, or curry-honey-mustard-glaze). I also have good techniques for all dark meat roasting options. L has an excellent carne asada marinade (for fajitas), and I can give you a hand with the curry. We'll talk.

another kind of nerd said...

Ummm, I have some FANTASTIC recipes for chili and a couple for macaroni and cheese. All you have to do is ask, my friend. Oh, and the pulled pork. It takes a lot of prep, but then its easy and can feed a ton of people.

Leah said...

We use Cook's Illustrated (online subscription). I'll get you a fajitas, curry, and our favorite risotto. Recipes aren't difficult, they just take time, usually.

Chrissy said...


Sorry about that, I am still recovering from reading that statement. I absolutely could not LIVE without potatoes. They are my favorite and so almost ALL of my favorite recipes are centered around them.

Dude, no potatoes? Thats rough. Im at a complete loss...

kungfuramone said...

Many people are more comfortable with declarations of the most virulent hatred toward their religion, nation, or family than with a verbal affront to potatoes. Example:

Me: "Fuck Jesus Christ, right in his ear."
Person: "Well, it takes all kinds."
Me: "I happen to dislike potatoes."
Person: "I will have you killed by driving a four-foot-long white-hot metal spike up your ass."

(I just think they taste like dirt and I can't stand the texture. I mean no offense to all potato lovers, many of whom are close personal friends. I'm fine with potato-lovers, I just wouldn't want my sister to marry one.)

JPearre said...

oh, don't be such a kitchen-wuss, KFR. Try the coq au vin. it's not that hard, just a little more time consuming than your average weeknight meal. I also second the Cook's Illustrated recommendation. Their general cookbook ("The New Best Recipe")has been our standby for some time now. I like that they try out 20 different methods for each recipe and explain why each one works or doesn't.

noncoupable said...

My Sri Lankan roommate has a nice coconut milk chicken curry (well, several actually) and he comes back next week. Next time we have a dinner party I'll invite you guys to the pre-event cooking so you can see what he puts in there.

Southwest style: tacos are really easy and delicious. I found a great taco seasoning on allrecipes.com. You mix together stuff you probably have (chili powder, salt, pepper, oregano, etc) and in the end it tastes wayyyy better than taco seasoning packets. Then you cut up stuff like tomato and avocado (only in CA of course) and heat the tortillas 20 seconds in the microwave. Easy and delicious.

hardcori said...

Potatos are disgusting.

Dolce Vita said...

Any discussion of food is bound to bring out suggestions and opinions; this is a good post. I'm sorry I got to it so late.

Still have to contribute: mix salt and poultry spices (sage, marjoram, rosemary, etc.) into olive oil (or if you're feeling indulgent, melted butter). Rub it all over the whole chicken (inside, out, and even under the skin) and oven roast. This is so easy and so delicious (the potato-lovers among us add them to the pan during roasting, but carrots, sweet potatoes?, turnips, onions, celery are good too).

Take a trip to Cost Plus/World Market for the curry sauces - they blow TJ's away! I think the label is (questionably) Shere Kahn; I recommend the Tikki Masala.

Adva Ahava said...

I make some tasty chicken fajitas. It's pretty intuitive, simple, and it has J's approval. Let me know if you want the recipe.

The Bandit said...

I, too, prefer the dark meat of chicken and turkey and have an unnatural love of the crispy skin. I am oddly distracted by your dislike of potatoes, but I digress. Check your email for a variety of recipes that I have made on several occasions and feel free to email if you have any questions.