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Chicken Curry

Tuesday is, by far, one of the busiest days of the week. It’s still the beginning of the week so, not only do I feel like the day runs in slow-motion, it’s filled with activity too. I wake up early to head to work, try to cross things off my ‘to-do’ list at my desk, and head to French class at the Alliance Française at the end of the day. I get picked up at 7:30 p.m. and head home, my stomach growling in anger that I’ve neglected it since lunchtime. Typically I get home to a fridge that’s been emptied from weekend activity, and often wish there was a machine that existed that could have somehow prepare dinner for me while I was gone all day. By the time I remember there is, it’s too late and I have to settle for take-out.

Slow cooker to the rescue.

Slow cooker to the rescue.

I’ve suffered too many Tuesday nights hungry or unsatisfied to forget any longer that the answer to my prayers is my trusty slow-cooker. It sits in a cabinet under my counter tops, so sometimes I forget it’s there to help me. Recently, though, it’s taken a more permanent role in my weekly meals and allows me to now let my busy Tuesdays get the best of me. This recipe takes very little preparation time and combines practical ingredients to make a diverse dish. Read More…

Frito Casserole

I’ve been hearing buzz about Frito Pie for years. As I jog my memory, I vaguely remember one of the Food Network’s many celeb-chef hosted shows featuring the kitschy dish. Since then, I’ve seen it on various menus including Honey’s Sit-n-Eat in Northern Liberties. Variations include a bed of Frito’s topped with ground beef, beans, salsa and cheese, like an inspired version of nachos. Some clever, and perhaps eco-friendly, folks simply utilize a single serving bag of Fritos as receptacle to eat in, pouring the toppings into it for an on-the-go treat. My mental image of the dish has always included an actual crust made with pulverized Fritos. Since I couldn’t find it anywhere else, I decided to make it in my test kitchen.

I bolstered my knowledge of cracker crusts with a little research and found a few savory options, as opposed to ever popular graham cracker base. Melted butter was called for as a binder to help the crumbs bind together so they may be pressed into a pie or tart pan. Pulsing Fritos in a food processor for a few minutes will leave you with oily granules, moist enough to come together under a little pressure. I felt ahead of the game as I placed my tart pan, neatly lined with a finely crushed Frito crust, into the 375 degree oven. Twenty minutes later my kitchen smelled like the Frito-Lay factory, and I was anxious to finish my dish with the meaty filling, so anxious that I disregarded the removable sides on my tart pan. Simply pushing the bottom up will give you the option of exposing the exterior of tart or filled pie; if you’re removing a delicate crust from the oven, though, it will only expose the vulnerability of your base and will leave you with an extra chore or two.

Though a good amount of Frito dust marred my oven, I was able to salvage most of it that was left on the bottom of my tart pan. I laughed off the misfortune the kitchen gods tried to dish out, took what was left of my grinded corn chips, and forged ahead. I may not have succeeded in my attempt to create an actual crust from Fritos, but looking on the bright side allowed me to create a recipe just as great as the one I envisioned. Read More…

Stuffed Cabbage

My 8-year old self would have scoffed at my twenty-something self if she knew I made a dish centered around cabbage. I would then explain, over her laughter, how I actually liked it, and that she’d be amazed at the slew of things she would one day enjoy. The leafy, bitter vegetable falls under the heading of “Things I Would Have Never Eaten as a Child,” with brussel sprouts, kiwi, and seafood. If the 8-year old me thought it was ridiculous that she would one day like the taste of cabbage, she would be speechless at the thought of devouring a sushi roll.

My library of cookbooks includes a giant compilation of Cook’s Illustrated dishes, separated into chapters by the regional cuisine they represent. This has made it especially easy for my recent appreciation for Eastern European dishes, and this section of the book includes a pierogi recipe (similar to the one I just tried), beef goulash, and blintzes. The stuffed cabbage recipe was impossible to pass over: reading the description for Stuffed Cabbage with Sweet and Sour Tomato Sauce made me salivate to the point where I had no choice but to satisfy the craving I had just created. Read More…

Farmer’s Casserole

Growing up, it seemed that having French toast or scrambled eggs for dinner meant there were little groceries in the house and mom was just trying to use up what we had. The beauty about breakfast foods, though, is that they taste amazing any time of the day. Every now and then, a great big breakfast is even more satisfying for dinner than at eight in the morning.

Years ago, I made the following recipe for a family brunch, and since then it has become such a hit that I have memorized the steps and forgotten where it came from. Aside from the general label as a “breakfast” item, the other appealing characteristic is its casserole form. Combining ingredients and preparing them in one dish is not only an easy way to appreciate how delicious certain food can be when cooked together, it is convenient, as casseroles are usually served in the dish they are made in. This breakfast casserole not only makes enough to serve several people for a weekend brunch, but will also leave enough for leftovers at dinner. Read More…

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