TND – Misanthropic in Massachusetts

September 10, 2012

It’s time for another set of food related pet peeves for no particular reason other than that I’ve spent quality time recently trying to work my way around the issues that they present (albeit none of them for this particular dinner).

1 – Restaurants that don’t have websites.  Or, restaurants that only have place holder websites.
This is mostly because I like looking at menus, and even if the menu that you have up isn’t the menu that I’m going to be ordering from when I show up I like to have an idea of the prices and kinds of dishes that you serve.

2 – Recipes that don’t tell you how many servings they make.
I find nothing more frustrating that being confronted with a recipe and not being given a guideline on how many servings it will make.  Sometimes you can work backwards from the quantity of raw ingredients (3 lb of stew beef will serve about 6 people), and sometimes you can work it out based on the container they want you to use to cook it in (a single layer cake baked in a 9” pan will serve 6-8).  But sometimes you have a recipe that could serve anywhere from four to eight people and it’s impossible to tell from the ingredient list or the baking pan size (1/3 cup rice + 1 ½ lb of zucchini in a 2 quart baking dish – how many people does that serve as a side dish?  I have no idea.)

These should not be confused with recipes that give completely unrealistic serving suggestions.  12 oz of boneless, skinless chicken thighs will not serve four people no matter how hard you try, but thank you for playing.  Nor will 2 oz of pasta adequately feed anyone over the age of 10.  This is a trend you tend to run into a lot if you end up looking at healthy recipes.  I got Cooking Light Magazine because it was free with a subscription to some other magazine I was ordering, and by and large CL is actually really good about creating recipes that are light and healthy without resorting to better living through chemistry (by which I mean things like egg substitutes, and fake sugar).  They do, however, occasionally veer into the territory of creating a ‘healthy’ dinner only by trimming the portion size to a point where it’s just going to send you running to the fridge an hour later.

3 – Recipes that call for a bunch of anything, because what does that even mean?
Exactly how much is in a bunch of spinach?  Or a bunch of arugula?  A bunch of spinach that I buy at the farmer’s market will feed maybe one person, but a bag of spinach that I buy at Wilson Farms will feed 3-4 people easily.  So, which is a bunch?  I want a weight.  Ditto on a handful of anything – what size are your hands?  Or the wildly unhelpful recipes that call for a unit of something that comes in a range of sizes.  Telling me to dice an eggplant is unhelpfully vague since eggplants can run anywhere between ½ lb to 2 lb depending on the variety and age of eggplant.

Feeling misanthropic in Massachusetts
(misanthropy not aided by the post-Labor Day return of everyone to the city clogging the T cars, jamming the streets, and walking while texting on the sidewalks)

Tomato Ginger Chicken Curry
Spiced Basmati Rice
Roasted Cauliflower & Broccoli
Apple Raita

Tomato Ginger Chicken Curry
(serves 6)

2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
Vegetable oil
2 onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
3” ginger, grated
2 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp garam masala
Pinch of allspice
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1/8 – ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (depending on taste)
6 oz tomato paste
2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
Honey (to taste – less than 1 Tbsp – I just drizzle and taste)

Preheat the oven to 325.

Trim excess fat from the chicken and cut into 1” chunks.  Season with salt and pepper.  Heat some vegetable oil in a heavy oven safe pot (e.g. a Dutch oven) and sear the chicken on both sides.  Remove and reserve.

If necessary add a little more oil to the pot and then add the diced onions and cook until softened, scraping up any fond from the bottom of the pot.  Add the ginger, garlic and spices and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).  Add the tomato paste and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).  Return the chicken to the pan and add the tomatoes with their juices.  Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.

Cover the pot and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.  At this point you have two options.

Option A: remove the lid from the pot and continue to cook in the oven for 15 minutes to thicken the sauce.  Season to taste with honey, salt/pepper/cinnamon.  Remove cinnamon sticks and bay leaves before serving.

Option B (what I usually do):  Remove the pot from the oven.  Allow to cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight.  Reheat the next night (or two nights hence) on the stove top, simmering until the sauce has the consistency you want.  Season to taste with honey, salt/pepper/cinnamon.  Remove cinnamon sticks and bay leaves before serving.

Spiced Basmati Rice
(serves 8-10)

3 cups basmati rice
5 cups liquid (some combination of water & stock)
1 cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods, crushed
1 bay leaf

Rinse the rice until the water runs mostly clear.  Allow to drain.

Meanwhile melt the butter (or vegetable oil) in a heavy pot and toast the whole spices until fragrant (about 1 minute).  Add the drained rice and stir to coat.  Add the liquid and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a bare simmer, cover and allow to cook for 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes (I frequently put a towel in between the pot and lid at this point).  Remove whole spices.  Fluff & serve.

Roasted Cauliflower & Broccoli

Recipe Previously Given:  It Could Always Be Worse

Apple Raita

Recipe Previously Given:  One Week Ago . . . or, Virtue is Its Own Reward



  1. […] Recipe previously given:  Misanthropic in Massachusetts […]

  2. […] Recipe previously given: Misanthropic in Massachusetts […]

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