Sunday, July 12, 2009

Birthday Week - Last Day

Last night was Bo's birthday "party". We had friends over for dinner. The beauty? Everyone brought Indian food, and all I had to do was make the cake! Its fun to have dinner made for you sometimes!!!

Bo made the main dish and veggie side. The recipes came from one of our favorite books 660 Curries. Bo has dozens of Indian cookbooks, but since I bought this one, it is what he reaches for the most. He made Wok-Seared Chicken with Mustard Greens and Spicy Soy Sauce for the main and Green Beans, Potatoes and Eggplant with a Cilantro-Onion Sauce for the side. Along with that there was a beef kabob, dal (lentils), rice with peas and naan. Our friends are great cooks, my husband is a great cook, so all in all, a FABULOUS dinner with friends, food, drink and music!

Like any recipe made from 660 Curries, these were top notch! We subbed spinach for the mustard greens in the chicken dish. The flavor of this dish is outstanding.

The green beans called for 4 serrano chilies. You can never predict how hot a pepper will be and in this case it made the dish VERY spicy (and we LOVE spicy food!), but a touch of yogurt helps to cool things down.

Dessert was Bourbon Espresso Cake. This cake was very easy to make. It was moist and buttery (I actually think the butter could be cut down a bit) and very full flavor. I used decaf coffee (a rich locally roasted bean) and opted for no frosting. Instead I served it warmed slightly with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

***NOTE when making Indian food, Bo always makes ahead, chills, then re-heats. It helps the flavors develop more. A big plus is it makes it easy to have dinner ready when your guests arrive!

Green Beans, Potatoes and Eggplant with a Cilantro-Onion Sauce (Adapted from 660 Curries by Raghaven Iyer)

6 servings

1 large tomato, cored and coarsely chopped
1 medium-size red onion, coarsely chopped
½ cup firmly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
4 fresh green Thai, cayenne or serrano chiles, stems removed
1 large white potato, such as russet or Yukon Gold, peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes, and submerged in a bowl of cold water to prevent browning
2 tablespoons canola oil
12 small purple Indian (or 1 large Italian) eggplants (about 1½ pounds total), stems removed, cut into pieces 2 inches long, 1-inch wide, and ½- inch thick
4 ounces fresh green beans, trimmed, cut into 1-inch lengths
2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt

Plop the tomato into a blender jar, and then add the onion, cilantro, and chiles. If the tomato is juicy, it will provide ample liquid for the blender blades to function. If it isn’t, you might need to add ¼ cup water. Puree to form a light purple-red sauce with flecks of green.

Drain the potato and pat it dry with paper towels.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Carefully add the potato and stir it around. Cover the pan to contain the spattering, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potato cubes are evenly browned with a slightly crispy skin, 5–10 minutes.

Pour in the sauce, and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze it, releasing any browned bits of potato. Stir in the eggplant, green beans and salt. Heat to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are fork-tender, 20–25 minutes. Serve.

Wok-Seared Chicken with Mustard Greens and Spicy Soy Sauce (Adapted from 660 Curries by Raghaven Iyer)

4 servings

1 T tomato paste
1 T soy sauce
1/2 t sea salt
1/4 t Chinese five-spice powder
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 T cornstarch
8 T canola oil
8 oz fresh mustard greens, well rinsed, finely chopped and patted dry.
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
3-5 fresh green thai, cayene or serrano chilies, to taste, stems removed, cut in half lengthwise (do not remove the seeds)
2 T finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems.
3 scallions (green tops and white bulbs), cut into 2-inch lengths

1. Stir the tomato paste, soy sauce, salt and five-spice powder together in a small bowl.

2. Toss the chicken and the cornstarch together in a medium size bowl.

3. Heat a wok or well seasoned cast iron skillet over high heat. Drizzle 2 T of oil down the sides of the pan. When it forms a shimmering pool in the bottom, add the chicken and fry, stirring constantly until the chicken turns reddish brown and is no longer pink inside, 5-8 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

4. Trickle 2 more T oil down the sides of the wok. Add half the mustard greens. Stirfry until they are wilted, 2-4 minutes. Add this to the chicken. Repeat with the remaining greens.

5. Now drizzle the remaining 2 T oil into the wok and quickly stir-fry the garlic and chilies. The garlic will brown within seconds. Add the tomato paste mixture and stir to warm it, about 30 seconds.

6. Return the chicken and greens to the wok and stir well to combine. Once the chicken feels hot to the touch, 2-4 minutes, stir in the cilantro and scallions.

Bourbon Espresso Cake
NOTE- I made only half of this recipe. It was perfect size for 8 people.

7 (1 oz) squares unsweetened cooking chocolate
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup strong coffee
1/4 cup bourbon
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1. Grease 2 8 ½ X 4 ½ in loaf pans

2. Put the chocolate, butter and coffee in a heavy saucepan. Place over low
heat, stirring constantly, til chocolate is melted then stir until blended.
Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Beat in bourbon, eggs and vanilla. Sift
dry ingredients together and beat into chocolate mixture until well blended.
Divide batter between prepared pans and bake 275 for 45-55 minutes. Cool
for 15 minutes then turn out to cool completely.

Never fear if you dont have cake flour. I used the technique from King Arthur below to make my own!

Cooking Tip: A second way to lighten a cake made with King Arthur Flour is to approximate the characteristics of “cake flour” more closely. To do this, spoon 2 to 4 tablespoons of cornstarch into a one cup “dry” measure. Sprinkle in your King Arthur Flour until it is full and scrape off the
excess with the back side of a knife. Blend this thoroughly and you’ll have pure, golden, never bleached, never bromated King Arthur “Cake” Flour. While this technique will produce lighter cakes, many King Arthur fans use our flour straight because they prefer “King Arthur Cakes.” And many of us who prefer robust cakes use some whole wheat flour in place of unbleached


  1. Ok, YOU calling a cake awesome is of the highest on compliments in my book!!!