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Friday, August 31, 2012

You cook in a kitchen, not a vacuum. I reveal where the magic comes from and deals with more of Dad's giant produce.

I know what you're thinking. "WAHHH NICK all your recipes scare me, I can never cook like you."

I call BS

I know most Chef's would have you believe everything they do comes from on high like some stone tablet from Mount Sinai. I ain't true. Inspiration can come from any direction. For me it's part my Mom and Dad, part friends, part just stuff that I see or hear about or experience. It'll just hit me. "Hey you know what  would be even COOLER?" Add this, subtract that, change this, yippity-yehaa, something new.

 I've had several postings that came from an idea through an e-mail or conversation, someone wanted to share a family recipe or a favorite meal. Reneene's Chulupa-Beef, Mariam's Assyrian chicken, Mom's Rum-Balls...etc.
 It's not that there was anything wrong with the original, it's just more fun for me to play around with an idea than to reproduce it exactly, write about it and take the credit. That would be stealing.

 Also, my Dad is at it again with the super-huge produce. Remember Arthur and Philip (the giant zucchini) from a year ago? He grows everything in horse manure and sand. Would ya look at the size of that patapan squash? Nobody told him he's supposed to harvest it small. So anyways.....

About a year ago my WHS friend Lisa K. sent me this nifty little recipe using one of my favorite spices, Cumin. Here it is right from her email.

 Its a no brainer...I like to do Cornish game hens...the juice of 4 or 5 lemons...lots of butter to make the sauce brown and thicken...salt ...pepper ...and tons of cumin...I sprinkle enough to make the chx almost green...I do the cumin last so it doesn't get "washed" off the meat...I bast it here and there and the butter makes it golden if some cumin comes off during basting it's all in the sauce...the sauce just needs to reduce in the oven and its magic! Baste often...oh yeah ...I bake it at about 375 to get the liquids reduced in the oven...I also do put the pan low in the oven so sauce will reduce faster...I do this with chx breasts too...they just don't stay in the oven as I really work the sauce lower in the it...totally good and totally good for you healthwisesmile...I hope you enjoy!...let me know how you like it smile..
I got more recipes if you are ever blocked...loll

Just like Lisa's 

Is there something wrong here? Did I think it was flawed? NO WAY. It's great just the way it is. Lord knows I love Cumin but when you send me a recipe it's like giving me a new toy, I gotta monkey with it.


One whole chicken, divided.
4 cloves garlic, shmushed
Fresh Mint
1/3 cup of ground Cumin*
1 TB Chili Powder
2 Lemons. I'll show you what to do later.
6 oz Greek Yogurt, unflavored please, duh
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and crushed Black Pepper

*Some words about using ground spices: When using stuff like Cumin or Chili Powder in a dish like this it's a good idea to toast them up a little. Just heat up a small pan and toss around for a bit. This activates the oils in the spices and really brings out the flavor. In this case we all know what Cumin smells like ok? Should I say it? It's a musky spice and so is my armpit, 'nuff said.
toasting up both the cumin and chili powder

As soon as it starts to toast up, toss it around in the pan and remove from heat, dump into a bowl.

Add the juice from both lemons and all of the peel from one. Here's how you do that. Get a peeler and gently peel JUST the yellow part away from the nasty bitter white stuff underneath. Try for a good long strip.

Lay a couple pieces at a time on top of each other and carefully turn them into very small shreds.

Turn them across and carefully render them into small tiny squares. 
That's my hand, it's how ya know I'm keepin' it real

You'll end up with a pile of this stuff. 
BUT NICK I BOUGHT THIS EXPENSIVE MICRO-PLANE THINGY, CAN'T I USE THAT?? Sure, Micro-planes have their place, that place is in the bakery where you don't want the texture to interfere with the final product. In this dish we don't want soft little strings of peel, we want all that lemony stuff. 

Slice the lemons in half and squeeze out the juice through your fingers to remove the seeds into the same bowl. I'd put up a picture but I can't squeeze lemons, remove seeds and take a picture at the same time. 

Don't throw those exhausted lemons halves away, if you pack them with salt as they dry out they make little but mighty room de-oderizers. 
takes the funk out of your life

Ok so in the bowl you should have the spices, lemon peel and lemon juice. Add the Greek Yogurt, smushed Garlic Cloves, chopped fresh Mint, big pinch of Black Pepper, smaller pinch of Kosher Salt and a solid amount of olive oil. Whisk all that together, it looks like this. 

Dump that over your divided Chicken pieces, nice even coat on all sides please and let sit in the 'fridge for 'bout 3 episodes of True Blood. Bilith is the funniest word I heard this whole week. 

Let's turn our attention to the Patapan Squash. I just sliced right across

 tossed them in, Salt, Pepper, Garlic and Olive Oil. In that order. 

 laid the slices across the grill. 

turned 'em once, removed from heat, added some chopped fresh Basil -done. 

Here's the science. Yogurt (Greek style, that crap from anyone else is dead) is just full of wittle tiny enzymes that help extract all the yuck from our bird. Many cultures across the world use different substances to accomplish the same thing.In the U.S. we brine (unless you're a douche) In the U.S. South they use butter-milk. In Latin-America they use citrus juice and vinegar. In Europe, wine. In Asia they turn to fermented Soy. Whatever you use, the process is the same. Remove the blood and stuff, save the nummy. No idea what I'm talking about?

Heat up the grill, grab the tongs. 400-425 F please. Bill S.  Kevin P.  Are you paying attention? Of course you are.

Lay your Chicken pieces skin side down.

if you grab them and they feel stuck, let them go on heat until they release

When they give, flip them over.
fire good
Just plate up. Garnish with some fresh lemon peel and mint.

Yeah I did some rice pilaf action, I gotta keep some magic for myself

We are cooking poor, eating rich.
 Get your grub on. 
p.s. Hey Troy, she's a keeper.


  1. Wow Nick! ...I like the elaboration on the recipe! ...I can't wait to try it when you make it for me:)...he he

  2. Heck THANK YOU for the inspiration!!

  3. Hey Nick, I see you have gone commercial. Great job generating some $$ from your wonderful blog!
    Nice recipe too. But what about those of us who don't eat chicken skin?

  4. I hate the grill. oven baking ok? and please expound on the take out the yuck concept. my gramma always soaked her meat in salt water before cooking. it was amazing. but hubby thought she was crazy to wash away the blood cause he thinks that is where the flavor is. what is the real deal?

  5. Sure, I've made it in the oven several times. Grilling if just my preference. Great question on brining. Chicken has a decidedly funky character if left alone and it comes from the blood, almost metallic. I can ALWAYS tell. My Mom is one who doesn't. I love her to bits but her Chicken Soup always smells funny to me. Brining removes the blood and replaces it with whatever medium you use. Now I would NOT do that with red meat because your Hubby is right. Only your poultry (except for duck, it's different)