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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Rounding Out The Year

Happy New Year to my buddies on the other side of the world!

If there is one thing that I love about the internet, it's that I've made such good friends in places I will likely never reach. They're still there nonetheless and I live through them vicariously as they relate their day to day lives through email.

For the first time in years, Greg and I are going to a New Year's Eve party. Normally we stay home, but tonight we are going to brave the police and drunks. Hopefully, we will meet neither.

My friend, Mel puts on spreads the likes of Martha Stewart so it would be folly to miss it. I am bringing my Yakitori Chicken. (recipes to follow)

Did everyone have a good Christmas? I got two exceptional gifts on Christmas, both dog-related. A friend gave me a wonderful book called Old Dogs. If you are a dog lover or know a dog lover, buy this book. It will make you cry and remind you why we love these creatures.

Another friend gave me a (life-size) statue of a pug. I collect dog figurines and it fits nicely with the pack. The first thing I thought of when I saw it was the movie, "Life With Father". Does anyone remember the scene where Irene Dunne brings home a ceramic pug dog and tells her husband (William Powell) that it didn't cost her any money? Priceless!

Even though this was a very rough year on various fronts, it seems to be ending with a soft landing. Good food, good friends and good memories.

Below my recipe for Yakitori Chicken and Muqueca, a Brazilian dish I tried recently.

Yakitori Chicken, Japanese kabobs

6 Chicken thighs, deboned, cut into bite-size chunks
Handful of Green Onions, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
Bamboo skewers

Soak the skewers in water while you're preparing the marinade so they won't burn in the oven.

2/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 TBL of white wine
1 clove minced garlic
1 TBL flour

Cook ingredients in a small pot to boiling. Thicken sauce with flour, then coat chicken. Some people cook chicken immediately, but I like to marinate it for several hours.

Marinate cut up chicken for up to 4 hours. Don't forget to turn them. Skewer chicken bites and pieces of green onion and broil for about 10 minutes in a medium heat. You can also put them on the grill which would taste even better.

Muqueca (sometimes spelled moqueca)

This is a dish that is usually made with fish, but I prefer shrimp. Its other virtue is that it is very simple to make. (another requirement for me)

1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
Handful of cilantro
4 good sized plum tomatoes (seeded)
10-12 green onions
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
Coconut milk
Important: Please be sure that it is NOT sweet coconut milk, like the kind you use for drinks. Look for this coconut milk in the Oriental foods aisle.

Shrimp/Lime: most recipes call for a pound of shrimp, but I like a lot of meat so I usually use 1.5 lbs of shrimp. Remove shell and squeeze lime juice over the shrimp while you wait for the stew to warm up.

Chop up all the vegetables in chunks and process in a blender with half the coconut milk. Pour this part into a deep, wide pan. Process the other half of veggies with milk. Heat everything on medium heat until it comes to a boil. If you use raw shrimp, you can throw them into the pan. I like to cook them separately and throw them into the mix just before they get pink.

Simmer for about 20 minutes more or until most of the liquid evaporates. You should get a nice thick stew and the color should deepen while it cooks.

Season with salt and pepper, and cumin if you have it.

Serve with white steamed rice.

This is terrific on cold nights. Very hearty.



Marianne Arkins said...

I can't possibly get "Old Dogs"... just the blurb made me cry. Losing my darling dog, Bailey, is still too fresh. She was the best Old Dog ever.

Happy New Year!!!

Maria Zannini said...

I understand completely. I was blown away at how well the author understood dogs. His words spoke straight to my heart.

Happy new year, Marianne!