Numero uno: Minced Meat with Peas (Kheema Matar) (pg 62 of Indian Cooking). On day one, I thought this was pretty bland. I fully admit that I'm veering toward the lower end of her spicing recommendations until I get my footing, but still, this was "eh." However, the next night, Matt made sandwiches out of it on pita, with cucumbers and the leftover cucumber mint yogurt stuff. Insert Homer Simpson drool face here. It was so good.
Last night, I tackled Lemony Chicken with Cilantro (pg 95). I chose this because I had all the ingredients. Cilantro is not something that I normally spring into action for, and the recipe only calls for two tablespoons of lemon juice, so i didn't have high hopes. Foolish me. Brown chicken, and then quickly cook a butt-load of cilantro (1.5 cups for half a batch of chicken) with a million spices. Add water to the spices, and let the chicken simmer away for a half hour. I don't think I've ever had cilantro that was cooked down so much and used as a real present component of a dish. The meat was perfectly tender, and the flavor was surprisingly lemony and complex. Matt continually muttered, "Oh my God. Oh my God" while eating. It was cute. It seems like everything I make out of this book, he says is the best Indian food ever.
I'm not a huge lentil fan, but I've liked them in Indian restaurants, so figured I'd give it a shot. Madhur keeps recommending Red Split Lentils with Cumin Seeds (pg 165) as an accompaniment to dishes, so it seemed like a good place to start. There was no picture, so I expected the lentils to retain their shape and identity. These turned out to be the consistency of refried beans, which, in my opinion, is a great thing, because I'm a fool for refried beans. They had a ton of flavor (I fear I'll be saying that a lot this month), and were the highlight of the meal for me.
I had the bright idea to use some rotting bananas to make Cocoa-Nana Bread (pg 46 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking). It's in her "Breakfast Sweets" section, and I thought, "Hey! I'll bet Charlie will eat that." Wrong-o. What is wrong with the men in my house? Charlie wouldn't touch it, and Matt nibbled one bite, then said that he doesn't do chocolate for breakfast. Grumble. It's becoming increasingly clear to me that I better focus on loaves of bread (not the sweet kind) if I want my family to appreciate my baking. Forget them.
The Cocoa-Nana bread was way more chocolatey than I expected it to be. It was really more of a cake, and I'll admit I wouldn't normally want that much chocolate for breakfast either. For a snack or dessert, it's moist and choco-licious, though. I didn't expect the bananas to be able to compete with all that chocolate, but they did. More than anything, it reminded me of a banana split.
Apparently my loaf pan was not the right size.
For book club, I made Dorie's Brrrrr-ownies (pg 103 of Baking). They're brownies with chopped up York Peppermint Patties in them. Not my favorite brownie mixture, but I do love the York Patties in the brownie. I may just add them to David Lebovitz's "Robert's Absolute Best Brownies" instead, though, because they're the absolute best.