Monday, September 23, 2013

Coconut Chicken and a confession

I have a confession to make. From ages 21-24, about 50% of what I made was a Rachael Ray dish (or my own twist on her dishes). I had her cookbooks, knife and large skillet, and pretty much every dish I made started with boneless, skinless chicken breast that I cut into 1-inch pieces and cooked with red onion and garlic. I've come a long way since then, but I still appreciate the confidence her recipes gave me in the kitchen, even though I haven't cracked one of her cookbooks in years.

Making this chicken dish gave me a flashback to my early twenties, when I was living with my three roommates who were finishing college. I'd come home, crack open a bottle of New Age wine, turn on my playlist (a lot of James Morrison in those days), and get cooking. They loved having a homemade meal everyday, and I loved having people to cook for! Now we're all spread out over the country (Michigan, DC, Houston, and of course, Austin), but it felt like they were there last night!

Coconut Chicken

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large red onion (or one small onion), thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional if you don't like things a little spicy)
2 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1 15-oz can coconut milk (not low fat)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 green onions, dark green parts only, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 lime, quartered

In a large pot (I used my 2 qt Dutch oven), warm olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute two minutes. Toss in garlic and ginger and saute another 30 seconds. Add bell pepper and mushrooms and cook another 3 minutes. Add turmeric and cayenne and stir to combine, then push vegetable mixture out to the edges of the pot to make space in the middle.

Place chicken int he middle of the pot, careful to get it in one single layer. Let it cook 2-3 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper while you wait, then flip and let it cook another 2 minutes. Stir the chicken into the veggies, then pour coconut milk into the pot. Add water to the cococnut can and pour it in, then stir to combine. Bring it up to a boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer 10 minutes. Stir in cherry tomatoes.

Serve over Basmati rice and top with green onion and cilantro, then squeeze a lime wedge over the top. Pair with a rose and Enjoy!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Restaurant Review - The Granary 'Cue & Brew

Hey Austinites - has it been a while since you've made the hour and a half drive down to San Antonio? Here's a tasty reason - visit the newish The Granary 'Cue & Brew in the hip reinvented Pearl District in downtown San Antonio! Luke and I headed there this weekend to visit his parents, and they said we HAD to go to The Granary - the brother owners are actually friends of Luke's from his school days!

Imagine that Lamberts and its fancy barbeque is magically transferred to San Antonio, but along the way they added the tasty beer of a microbrewery and the nice dichotomy of a traditional barbecue lunch and more upscale, adventurous options for dinner. That's what you'll find at The Granary! Their menu changes often, so this is just a taste of what you might find there.

To drink
The microbrewery aspect was a huge draw for Luke, and he wasn't disappointed with the beers they had to offer. I went with the beer cocktail route and ordered the shandy - made with their housemade rhubarb soda (they have seasonal soda offerings) and beer. So refreshing on a hot September day - I had two! They also make their own root beer, which is super flavorful! They can make  you a root beer float, if you're daring enough (we wanted to save room for the main event - the meat!).

To snack
They had a strong appetizer menu, but with our eye on the prize, we just ordered a couple small things to taste while we waited. The heirloom tomato salad had a nice mix of large, juicy heirloom tomatoes and some smaller cherry tomatoes. And, interestingly enough, avocado ice cream on the side! That was a first for me (ice cream for an app, not avocado ice cream - I already know I love that!). We also enjoyed the grilled figs which weren't on the menu, paired with a cocoa "dirt" and apricot gel.

To eat
The entree menu was tough to select from - we spent a solid 5 minutes debating what to get. Luke's dad insisted on the Barbecue Board (like what you would get there for lunch) which featured brisket, pulled pork, and stellar sides of potato salad and beans. The nice thing about this was the portion - generous but definitely not too much!

For me, the highlight was the beef clod (a shoulder cut). This was a GENEROUS portion of beef and had a super flavorful crust made of quinoa and coffee, and it had a maltiness (from the tomato caramel I think, which was addictive) that Luke said reminded him of beer! This is a must-get.

A close second was the BBQ Beef ramen. I asked the server if this was more BBQ-y or ramen-y, and he said it was somewhere in the middle - dead on! Love that the noodles were cooked in their beer, and the shallots were so flavorful. Of course the BBQ was amazing, and my only complaint was that the egg was difficult to eat.

Not too sweet
The fun continues to dessert, though there were definitely some options that were stronger than others (we had all 4 items!). Notably missing (or maybe not, since we didn't realize it until we were leaving) was chocolate, but I survived :)

The buttermilk pie was divine (and Luke's family are hard core buttermilk pie fans/critics!), but the most innovative and delicious dessert was the Beer and Pretzel ice cream with mustard caramel - we loved the complex flavor and the sweetness tempered by a bit of bitterness.