Wednesday, June 12, 2013

BjörkBQ Sauce

I had the supreme pleasure of seeing Björk for the second time at the Hollywood Bowl last night. She is one of my biggest inspirations and a spectacular artist. Her show didn't disappoint. And, she wore this for her encore, where she sang the hauntingly, complexly, ravishingly emotional "Hyperballad," the song that seems to always make audiences quiet and reflective until the heavy beats make them dance.

For dinner, I made pasta salad and wraps with lettuce, tomato, chicken, and bacon, and a made-from-scratch bbq sauce. I'm not a fan of bbq sauce, but I seem to be in this sauces-made-from-scratch phase right now. The sauce was a combo of garlic (1 clove), onion (1/4 onion), ketchup (1 cup), brown sugar (1/3 cup), maple syrup (1/3 cup), chili powder (a pinch), vinegar (3 tbsp), and Worcestershire sauce (1 tbsp). And, okay, I also added a bit of ginger, which skewed in Asian, not necessarily in a good way.

What's Peanut eating? A detached bird's wing. Didn't swallow, nor did he do the original detaching.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sage Chicken with Cherry Compote

I had a weekend full of experimentation, but in the culinary and the writinary worlds. First, because I bought some cherries, I made what I'm calling sage chicken with a cherry compote. Now, I'll go look up the definition of a compote...

...and it seems to be a suitable word.

The chicken was actually pretty good before the compote, but it was really simple. The cherries made the dish more red and fruity.

So, the compote was:

1 1/4 cup fresh cherries, quartered and with the seeds and stems removed
3 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp vodka
1 cup water

and I think that's it. I brought it to a boil and then simmered it until it was thicker, but not too thick. After it cooled to room temperature, it was quite tasty.

To make the sage chicken, I just got two chicken breasts, salted and peppered them outside and beneath the skin, then tucked in two sage leaves per breast. To cook it, I heated some oil in a pan, placed the chicken skin side down in the oil to crisp up the skin a little and to make the sage flavor permeate the chicken. Then I moved the chicken pieces to a tray and plunked it into the oven at 350 ˚C for about 20 minutes.

Like I said, the chicken on it's own was quite good but simple. The cherry compote could have been substituted by anything that provides some tartness and liquid. We ate it with bread and a delicious Ceasar salad that I should talk about sometime soon.

I also wrote this. I found myself pushing the language and imagery more, out beyond my comfort zone. I'm thinking I would probably pull it back again, but I'm sitting with it to see what I think.

“I admit it’s beginning to make me anxious, my dear. This Lama, this Sera Lama, could delay the whole program.” Pagani paced back and forth near the foot of her bed. Every other step was uneven due to an arthritic right knee. He had one hand braced against the head of his cane. With his other hand he tussled his white beard.

He looked at her. His voice grew soft, conspiratorial. “Perhaps, my dear, perhaps we can get you into their room, not as a spy, not as a spy, no, but, well, after all, you’re the journalist…you’re here to record things—and you have a gift, we all know that. Why are we waiting? You should be starting your work right away.”

“I don’t disagree with you,” she said soberly. Though she didn’t follow his logic, her curiosity had gotten the best of her.

They went up the elevator and walked along the carpeted hall to Sonam’s room. Dr. Pagani knocked on the door, four times softly, like heartbeats. It was silent inside. Diana thought that perhaps the room was empty after all, that somehow the Dalai Lama had fled the country. But after a moment the knob turned and Sonam’s face appeared from behind the white door. Up close he looked more weathered, more like something carved out of wood and hung outside to be colonized by moss, by lichen, by a satiated caterpillar preparing to entomb itself for transformation. Seeing this face floating into view like a dark moon, a sensation that had been swirling inside of her was nucleated and crystallized: the Dalai Lama had lived too much life to be contained in this dorm room, in this building. His was a life meant to spill over like a flooded river.

“If it is still all right with you, I have brought Diana,” Pagani said. “I thought perhaps she could be of help.”

Sonam turned to her with a smile. He was a man of average height, with a sturdy physique that she attributed to the mountain air he had enjoyed as a baby. She met his eyes and saw the wisdom that one sees looking into the eyes of a wild animal.

“If you don’t mind,” she said.

“You are welcome here.”

What's Peanut Eating? Parsley.