Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pumpkin Seed Chicken Mole for Trying Times

Pumpkin Seed Mole or Pipian

A typical regional dish from Mexico, this Pipian is a salsa verde based mole thickened with the use of roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) that add depth to the sauce. A relatively inexpensive dish, it is also a healthy alternative with a low fat, low carb content and added fiber thanks to the seeds. Who says that one can't get healthy, inexpensive meals in these trying times? Yes we can! Using exclusively chicken breasts (to reduce the fat content) makes this dish slightly more expensive than using chicken thighs, but at a still affordable $3.70 cents per person!

20 fresh tomatillos, dry skins off, rinsed clean and quartered
1 qt chicken stock
1 qt water
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded
1/2 bunch of cilantro, rinsed
1/2 onion
1 clove garlic
2 bay leaves
6 chicken thighs, bone in, skinless
3 chicken breasts, skinless, bone in or boneless, as desired
1 cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds or pepitas
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Make poaching liquid by mixing the chicken stock and water on a pot with a lid large enough to fit the chicken. Add one bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Sprinkle all chicken pieces with salt and pepper and once the water has reached a light simmer add all the chicken. Bring the liquid back up to a light simmer, move chicken pieces around and cover pot. Let simmer continue for about 5 minutes, then turn off and let chicken cook, covered, until ready. About 15 minutes or until it reaches 170F. Remove the chicken, cover and set aside. Do not discard cooking liquid to use for the mole sauce.

Make pipian. Add the tomatillos to the poaching liquid once the chicken has been removed. Bring to a boil and cook for about 8 minutes or until tomatillos lose their bright green color to a lightly darker one on all sides. Remove from liquid, do not discard liquid. Blend tomatillos with cilantro, jalapeno, onion, garlic and pumpkin seeds (you may need to do this in batches) until smooth.

Add vegetable oil on a pot large enough to fit the mole and the chicken pieces together. Heat over medium heat and once oil is hot, add the blended mole sauce. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. When ready to serve, add chicken pieces to the pipian sauce just to reheat and serve immediately with sauce over the pieces.

Serves 6

Variations: The pipian may also be served with white rice or the shredded chicken can be added to the pipian sauce and served along warm corn tortillas to make tacos. If no fresh tomatillos are available, and/or for a short-cut, use about 3 cups of prepared salsa verde instead of tomatillos.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Durian Durian and Flushing adventures

One of the great advantages of living in NYC is that in the spur of the moment you can immediately travel to a faraway land...on the subway. Inspired by the NYT article ahead of the Beijing Olympics, I took advantage of the beautiful weather over Labor Day Weekend and before I knew it, I was on the 7 train off to Flushing. Yes, plenty of other tourists were heading that way.. to the U.S. Open but for those willing to endure one more stop, great food was the big prize. A little knowledge of mandarin might have come in handy, but nevertheless I was able to taste precious soup dumplings, not that precious turnip puffs, and a wonderful cold noodle salad (with cucumbers, seitan, and a garlicky and spicy concoction) at an adventurous eating spot. Run and try them, but don't bank on a romantic dinner. You will eventually find them, as they have readily posted the NYT article marked with the dishes that you should try there (I missed the lamb sandwich but one has to leave things for a next visit).

Dessert was a nice egg custard at the local bakery, but hardly the ones to match at Hong Kong (and yet the most impossibly delicious ones I've had were in Lisbon called Pasteis de Belem).

Once I was well fed, i thought it an obligation to get some "weird" fruit at one of the shops. A couple handfuls of longnuts (refreshing minty taste with lots of texture), and another couple of handfuls of lychees for good measure. But I could not resist trying that wonderful (if scary looking) Durian fruit. It certainly was not one of the "new kind" that have been "genetically enhanced" to cut out the smell. Oh, and it was pungent once I manage to cut it in my kitchen. Several neighbors and friends were kind enough to let me know if there were any kitchen gas leaks that I was aware of. No wonder the fruit is forbidden at some parts of South East Asia. The taste is indeed hard to describe... a very creamy custardy taste but with a hint of citrus and garlic. Yup... the fruit can be eaten both as dessert and in savoury preparations, so I can understand why. Definitely worth to try more than once.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dallas Barbe et queue?

Should this be the correct way to spell the type of cuisine of the fancy Dallas restaurant Dean Fearing's at the Ritz Carlton Hotel? I guess I'll find out as I head from NYC to check it out. Chicken-fried Lobster here I go! I am looking forward to it and see the season's best produce in the midst of the hot Texas summer. And I will be checking that wine list for Texan wines. I have not had good experience with them, but I see no reason why I shouldn't give them another go. I will trust sommelier Hunter Hammet. Who knows?