Monday, June 20, 2022

My Name Is Nuggets And I'm A Big Fake Butter Chicken.


   So, unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last few weeks you've seen Nuggets the "Big Fat Chicken" who's actually an Indian Mynah bird and not a chicken at all. My great aunt Amelia had an Indian Mynah, it fascinated me as a kid as it knew all the best swears and never tried to pass itself off as anything but a "Dirty Bird".

But watching Nuggets started me thinking about Nuggets. Not the bird, but actual nuggets like chicken nuggets. I don't cook meat much around here. Generally, it's family holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Passover, or Easter. Depending on which side I'm cooking for. I've been cooking Indian food for 32 years now and with all the variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes available in Indian cuisine I don't need meat to make a fancy meal. I've used banana flower, jackfruit, mushrooms and a variety of other vegetables that take on the meat role in any dinner production but I couldn't get nuggets out of my head. I wanted nuggets but no chicken.

Then I saw it. Okay, so I know it's weird and I don't generally keep up with the Kardashians but I couldn't help but notice  this 

Yeah, there's a lot to unpack here, but ignoring Kourtney, and Travis, all I was seeing was PLANT CHICKEN!!!!!

I cook with Beyond Meat products fairly often when I need something that mimics meat but isn't, like Kheema Mattar. Nobody pays me to cook with it, or has ever given me any of this stuff for free to try. I read about it, bought it myself, and everybody here, likes it a LOT. Hard case carnivores included.

One thing I like about their stuff is that the spices and side ingredients are kept to a minimum. This is important to me especially when I am going to be adding a lot of spices. I want it to have the same bare bones quality that meat or a plain vegetable will have so that the recipe determines the flavor and there are not a lot of other notes being played.

One of the reasons I haven't bought other faux meats is precisely that. There are always too many additives . Especially in the world of nuggets. That is why I got so excited about Daring Chicken

This stuff is pretty pristine, flavor wise. At least the original variety. I could spice the hell out of this and it wouldn't have a bunch of other flavors interfering.

I visited the website, read reviews, and then went out and bought some. But first I wondered where did this faux chicken come from. Travis Barker, Kourtney Kardashian????

Nope. It was this guy. 


Yeah, Drake is one of the investors in Daring Foods, Chicken. I was looking for basically vegan  "naked chicken" and Drake said...I got this!

First time cooking this, I decided to try a very simple weekday dish , Butter Chicken.  I don't make Butter Chicken very often, and I'd just made it last week using Jackfruit in place of chicken so I thought, "great we can contrast them". The perfect opportunity, and damn, did it work!

  This dish took less than an hour to make, which worked great for a workday meal...and there were leftovers. Something I'm particularly fond of as I don't want to finish a days writing and then immediately start cooking. It's great to get a break every few days

So I'm calling this  Drake's Fake Butter Chicken.  

 Here's What You Need:

1 package of Daring Chicken Original Plant  Based Chicken

1 can of coconut milk

1 cup tomato puree, I used a bottle of passata

1 large brown onion diced

3 cloves of garklic or 3 shallots minced

1 Tbs grated fresh ginger

1 Tbs vegetable oil. I used coconut oil

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp Karshmiri chili powder , more if you want it hotter

1/2  tsp ground cumin 

1 Tbs fresh lemon juice

1 Tbs sugar

2 Tbs nutritional yeast

2 Tbs dried fenugreek leaves  (aka methi) 

Cilantro to garnish

Here's What To Do:

Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat, and add the diced onion. Saute for about 3 minutes or so

 Add in the garlic or shallot, and  ginger.

Then add in the spices on top of that.

Saute for another two minutes or so.

Now, add in your Daring Chicken...

...sugar,  nutritional yeast, and fenugreek leaves...

...and tomato puree...

 ...and lemon juice.

Turn the heat up a bit and simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes.

 When your Daring Chicken is tender, add in your can of coconut milk.

 Mix it in and turn the heat down so that the coconut milk doesn't separate.

Serve it up, scatter some chopped fresh cilantro on top.

 I served this with Basmati rice cooked with cashews, sultanas, spices, and saffron.

Was it good? You bet. Did my carnivore like it? You bet. He kept saying his head knows it's not real but his body says CHICKEN!!!! 

He kept saying "it's like in the Matrix.Joey Pants and the steak!"

 And I said  "yeah, but dude, you're not hooked up to some alien battery draining your energy while they feed you imaginary  head meat. This is Drake's Fake Butter Chicken, and you're really eating it and it's delicious."

So there you go.  Nobody paid me to eat this fake chicken, I bought it myself and I love it.  The only thing I'm not crazy about is that it's made of soy, but wahtcha gonna do. It's damn good.

Coming up next, I'm going to pick up more of this Daring Chicken. It stores great in the freezer, and I'll be trying it as part of a hot and spicy South Indian Chicken dish, also, I'll be doing some other Summery recipes, Indian and Italian which is how we roll around here. 

Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Sunday, May 15, 2022

From Afghanistan and Points North Tikka Khandahari

Ever since the pandemic started, our social life has shriveled down to nearly nothing. First, I had Covid in March of 2020, pre-vax, and we burrowed in, baking sourdough, cooking every meal we ate, and generally just living the pioneer life out here in the country. When I was enjoying all those great dystopian films and books, I never counted this on my 21st century bingo card. It was all fantasy. Make believe. 

So we got vaxxed and boosted, and started doing outdoor entertaining with just a few people whose habits we knew to be careful. We were all sitting at the table (indoors  with proper ventilation) Thanksgiving of 2021 when we heard about Omicron and everybody got quiet. The partying stopped. Christmas and New Years Eve were zoom celebrations, and later in 2022 we got a boost. 

I bought a heater for the deck so that we could entertain comfortably outside. We started having small groups over for outside dining. Not our busy, every Saturday night out life from before covid, but better than what we were doing. Instead of having big dinner parties or gatherings, I'm doing small brunches, dinners, lunches etc. Just a few and weeks apart for safety sake. I'm also trying to use my Homdoor Tandoor as much as possible before Fire Season is officially upon us and all outdoor flames need to stop.

Last week I  invited a few friends for a midweek tandoor dinner. It's something I rarely do because, work. But these friends have only one day off a week  so Tuesday Tandoor it was. This time it was Tikka Khandahar. Lamb cooked in the style of Kabul and Khandahar. I used to cook these dishes years ago. We had a friend in Los Angeles, who'd just returned from a couple of tours in Afghanistan and he used to come over every time I'd make this.  It was one of his favorite dishes. So, here we go.

Tikka Khandahari

Here's What You Need:

 2 lb of lamb cut from the leg and cubed

1 cup of raw diced papaya (tenderizes the meat)

4 tsp ground Kachri ...(okay Kachri is  this is a type of cucumber grown in Begal, Punjab, and Pakistan. Its a dried ground up cucumber with a tangy sourish taste.)

  I didn't have any kachri in my larder so I used dried amchur powder (dried mango powder), if you don't have that, just use LEMON JUICE

1 cup of yogurt

1 cup of whipping cream

2 Tbs ginger paste (ground raw ginger)

4 tbs garlic or shallot paste  (ground raw garlic or shallot) use your food processor or spice grinder w/ a little bit of water to keep things moving.

2 Tbs ground black pepper

1 tsp ground green cardamom

4 tsp garam masala

2 tsp kashmiri chili or red chili powder

6 Tbs of vegetable oil

2 tsp of salt


Here's What To Do:

 Cut up the papaya.

Mix everything together all except the SALT. The salt goes into the marinade  15 minutes before cooking.

Cut the lamb into cubes for the skewers.

Place them in a bowl. As you can see I have an audience.

Slash the meat with a paring knife, this allows the marinade to penetrate the meat.

Pour the marinade over the meat.

Stir it around well, and pop it into the fridge to marinate overnight or at least 8 hours.

How to Cook:

 Oil and wipe your skewers, and thread the meat onto them.

I use a halved yukon gold potato as a stopper to keep the meat from sliding off while cooking. If you are using a grill you won't have to do this.

Once the meat is on the skewers let it rest for 15 minutes while you light your Tandoor oven.

My Homdoor Tandoor is fueled by propane, and is a dream to cook with. Fast, efficient, we don't use the grill anymore. Yes, you can make this with a grill or even in the oven but nothing beats the tandoor. And I say this as the weirdo with 4 old school wood grills in my Santa Monica backyard trying to replicate tandoor cooking for a crowd. Homdoor is easier!

A Tandoor oven heats up really  fast. The tikkas are cooked at 500 degrees for 10 minutes.

Put them in the tandoor.

Cook them for 10 minutes, then take them out.

Hang them on the side of the tandoor.

 Then baste them with the marinade, let them rest for 10 minutes.

Then  in again for another 5  to 8 minutes depending on how done you like your lamb.

 When they're done take them out, and rest them on a platter.

Remove them from the skewers, and serve them up.

I served this with a Saffron rice with saffron, saultanas, cashews, and pomegranate arils, an Indian dried fruit salad with rosewater dressing...

 ...a Mint and pomegranate raita...

...and Green Bean Thoran.

Dinner was served in the garden...

 ...where at our house farm to table gets pretty personal as we grow a lot of what we eat.

I dressed the Tikkas up with some cara cara orange slices.

Dessert was Gulab Jamun and chai  click for my recipe.

As the evening ended and it got dark, we didn't even need to employ the heater.


So another successful  Homdoor Tandoor adventure! Coming up next: summer food as it's getting hot out there! Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Saturday, April 30, 2022

The Apricots Are Coming! The Apricots Are Coming!!! Time To Make This Apricot Fragipane Tart


   I love apricots and we're right on the verge of that delightfully tasty, heavenly scented, albeit super-duper, extra short season. Apricot season NEVER lasts long enough, at least for me. So every year when Apricot time rolls around I've got to make this tart, you should too!

Unfortunately two of my favorite fruits have very short shelf lives, apricots and loquats. They're sensitive, bruise easily and go bad if you look at them sideways. But damn! They are delicious.

There are a lot of loquat trees in Santa Monica ,and every year I'd make loquat chutney. I'd glean the fruit from people who had no idea what they had and weren't interested, plus I recruited friends to turn in their unwanted loquats. Apricots were a little fancier. More expensive and they didn't just grow on trees. Well, they do, but you know what I mean, not on trees in my neighborhood. Also when one is making chutney or jam the fruit is not participating in a beauty contest, everything just gets smushed together, and a small bruise is no big deal. 

This tart on the other hand requires the glamor girls of the apricot world, no bruises, no dents. It's not hard looking for a sort of perfection, it just involves selecting your fruit carefully. I'm not talking about an apricot fetish, just giving stuff a second look. So  if you're up for a great apricot season treat, check this out.

Apricot Frangipane Tart

Here's What You Need:


1 and 1/4 cups flour, plus a bit more for dusting. This recipe works with both gluten free and  regular flour.

3 Tbs sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp lemon zest

7 Tbs unsalted butter chopped up

1 egg yolk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

3 Tbs ice water


Here's What To Do:

Preheat the oven 375 degrees, with the rack in the middle.
Blend your flour, sugar, butter, and salt in a bowl with a pastry blender, or do as I do and mix it together with a couple of pulses of a food processor. (much easier)

Blend it until you have a mealy mix. Set it aside.

In a small bowl mix together the egg yolk, vanilla, lemon juice and ice water.

Drizzle this mixture over the flour mixture and pulse it until you have dough.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 5 times.

Shape it into a 5 inch disc and put it in the center of your tart pan.

Cover it with plastic wrap, and then using your fingers, push and spread the dough around the bottom and sides of the pan until they're covered.

Take a fork and prick the dough all over with a fork  through the plastic wrap, then stick the whole thing in the freezer to firm up for 10 minutes. You can also keep it in the freezer, for baking another day.

Blind Baking:

Blind Baking means, you are going to partially bake the crust before you fill it and bake again.

Take a big piece of tin foil. Take your pie crust out of the freezer. Remove the saran wrap, place the foil in the pie crust and up the sides.

Fill the shell with rice, beans, or pie weights.

Pop the tart pan onto a baking sheet and bake in a 375 degree oven for 6 minutes.

Take the crust out of the oven, Take the foil and pie weights out of the crust, and put your naked crust back in the oven for another 6 minutes.  After 6 minutes take it out and set it aside. You are done with this part.

Lower your oven heat to 350.


Time to make The Filling!!

The filling has 3 parts

Frangipane Cream:

 Here's What You Need:

1/3 cup caster sugar

6 Tbs unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup of flour

3/4 cup of almond flour

2 eggs

1 tsp almond extract


Here's What You Need:

12 ripe yet firm apricots

1 cup + 2 Tbs water

1 cup caster sugar

2 tsp almond extract

The Glaze:

Here's What You Need:

3 Tbs apricot jam

1 Tbs water 


Here's What To Do: 

1: Put all the Frangipane Cream Ingredients into a food processor and mix them together. You will get a thick yet spreadable paste.

2: Top prepare the apricots, mix the sugar and water in a wide saucepan and heat it gently until all the sugar is dissolved and it comes to a boil.

3: Cut the apricots in half. When the water starts to boil, place them cut side down in a single layer in the sugar water mix. Turn the heat down to a simmer, and place a cover on the pan.

4: Cook them gently for 4 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they can turn mushy fast. After 4 minutes they should be tender yet still whole. If they are still too firm let them cook a minute or two longer.

5: Remove the apricots gently from the syrup with a slotted spoon and let them drain on a plate.

6: Remember that tart crust you set aside? Fill it with the Frangipane Cream. Arrange the apricot halves cut side down, in circles on the surface of the tart, until it's covered with apricot halves. 

7: Bake the tart for another 40 to 45 minutes until the frangipane has set and the crust is nice and golden.

8: Take the tart out of the oven. 


The Glaze!

Heat the glaze ingredients in a microwave for about 20 seconds them mix and brush the hot tart surface (apricots and all) with the glaze. Set the tart on a cooling rack and let it cool before unmolding.

 When it's cooled, unmold, and enjoy!!!!!

 This is great with a bit of whipped cream, and if you really want to go crazy, try a scoop of vanilla ice cream.....just a hint. Anyway,  coming up next  I'll be firing up my Tandoor oven again since fire season hasn't started yet....I'll be cooking some Tikka Kandahari with fixings!!  So come on back, and follow along on Twitter @kathygori


Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Ragu, Hot and Spicy. Meatless Too!

   Wednesday is Pasta Day at our house. Growing up very Italian there was a LOT of pasta, and for a long time I was fairly tired of it. In the 80s and 90s there was a trend to the Alta Cucina style of Italian food, the dishes of Northern Italy where my family is from, and Tuscan cuisine became a thing. Northern cooking favors meats, game meats, venison, wild boar, pheasant, rabbit, mushrooms, truffles, butter, cream, cheese, and polenta. It is not overly spicy or hot.These were the dishes that my dad's Tuscan immigrant parents cooked.

   My mom on the other hand, liked things hot. She liked peppers, and spices, hot sauces. Her family started out in Louisiana, the after a brief sojourn in Canada they moved down river to New Orleans. They were French Creoles and their cooking embraced alllllllll the spices of everyone they came across in Louisiana that became part of our family. They picked up some Northern Italians too along the way, but they kept the hot stuff. In fact she and my dad used to make a dash for take-out to a place called The Hot House back when I was a kid. We never got any as they used to tell us kids we wouldn't like it. Wrong!

   I inherited her taste for hot, which is why I love this Southern Italian ragu, which uses Italy's version of Sriracha/red chili paste, Calabrian sambal oelek. If you don't have the Calabrian stuff, any good spicy red pepper paste works so when you see this ingredient you can sub in Harissa, Sriracha, basically any sambal oelek paste. If you don't like too much heat but want something milder you can try smaller amounts of it, or use some dried red pepper flakes. Your call.

In place of the usual meat this can be made with jackfruit (works great) , any ground meat substitute, (I like Beyond Meat) , ground mushrooms, or you can just use  plain old ground meat.

So here we go.

Ragu With Calabrian Sambal Oelek

Here's What You Need:

1 lb of ground Beyond Meat, or any meat substitute, or yes, you can of course use meat.

1 onion thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves or shallots peeled and crushed with a knife

kosher salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbs (generous)  Calabrian sambal oelek

1 28 oz can of peeled tomatoes with their juice. I use San Marzano tomatoes for this.

1/2 lb of lasagna noodles. Use the kind that needs to be boiled. There is evidently a type I saw at the market the other day that says No Boil...Do NOT USE those. Break the noodles into 1 to 2 inch pieces before boiling them.

1/4 cup of Cabernet or Merlot wine

1 tsp fennel seed

1 cup of ricotta

1 lemon, zested

flaky salt ( I use Maldon) 

1/4 cup olive oil and a bit extra for a drizzle.


Here's What To Do:

Heat the olive oil on medium.

Add in the onion and shallots/or garlic. Add a bit of salt and saute until they start to soften, this takes about 5 minutes.

Now add in your  ground meat substitute. You want it to start to brown, but don't cook it through.

A note about browning a non meat substitute. If you want the caramelized effect of browned ground meat without using meat sprinkle a pinch or two of sugar on it as you are browning. That crisps things up nicely.

Add in your Calabrian Sambal Oelek.

Add in the red wine and stir things up to make sure nothing is sticking or burning.

Add your tomatoes and their juices. You can either crush them with your hands while adding them or use a potato masher once they're in, it just depends on how much rage you have about the world situation bottled up and how you want to express it. I go back and forth on this one.

Now cook on medium low until the tomatoes break down and the "meat" is cooked through. This takes about 1/2 hour.  Midway through, add some salt and pepper to taste.

Boil your pasta.

While it's boiling, toast the fennel seeds in a small skillet until they are fragrant (this does NOT take long.) 

When they're toasted, crush them or grind them.

When your pasta is cooked, drain it, and add it to the ragu, toss it coat it in the sauce. 

Serve it up with a nice dollop of ricotta. 

Sprinkle with lemon zest, the toasted fennel, the flaky sea salt and pepper. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil for the finale.

This is so good, hot, spicy, a bit sweet, just perfect. In fact writing this up, I'll be making this for us tomorrow. It's also great as leftovers.

So there you have it , if you've got the ingredients this can be on the table within an hour. That to me on a work day, is damn near perfect timing!

Coming up next, I'm finally getting to those caramelized pears. 

Follow along on Twitter at @kathygori or on IG Kathy Gori


Friday, March 25, 2022

A Dish Fit For A King (With A Tandoor) Tikka Mughlai! And The Power Of The Dog!!!

So, another one of my birthdays passed in Plague Time. I haven't done any birthday celebrating since March of 2019.  That's a while. 

March of 2020 I was in isolation with Covid for my birthday. March of 2021 I was vaccinated but taking no chances. March of  2022, I'd gotten my booster in February, so I was now as ready as I was ever going to be to celebrate my birthday, and I figured why the hell not fire up the Homdoor  Tandoor and invite some friends over to semi-party. Usually we fill the house, this time it was  just a few friends and kids in the garden for an outdoor Indian lunch.

Of course what to cook? It was a birthday, and I hadn't had one of those in going on 3 years. BTW, I did not count those missing year birthdays so I'm actually 3 yrs younger.Those are my new plague years rules, live with it. We are all 3 yrs younger.

I thought the perfect dish to cook for a company tandoor lunch would be something regal. The ultimate royal tandoor dish would be Tikka Mughlai.  We were going all the way back to the days of the Mughal Empire. We'd have lamb, flowers, Basmati rice, saffron, and all the fixings.  I even baked a Chai and Apple Cake and decorated it in gold. There's a story behind this cake...wait for it.

 We had Goldilocks weather, not too hot not too cold. perfect to set a table in the garden.

Tikka Mughlai is the product of the merger of Islamic cooking with the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent during the rule of the Mughal Emperors in the early 1400s to the mid 1800s. It's recipes are rich with aromatic spices, butter, cream, saffron, dried fruits and nuts. This cooking takes time, it's where one sees the gold and silver leaf, the edible flowers as decor. The Works! Make no mistake, this is the food of the elites! Perfect for someone who hasn't celebrated in going on 3 years.

One ruler in particular, Shah Jahan of Taj Mahal fame took this cooking to the heights, expanding the use of spices and lavish panoply. Meals were fit not just for a King, but for an Emperor. So, yeah, perfect for my garden. I decided to go for the gold and prepare Tikka Mughlai.

It seems like a complicated dish, as there are a LOT of ingredients but nothing you can't find at any market. The main prep equipment is a food processor, or a wet dry grinder ( an inexpensive little device that really comes in handy for Indian cooking) I bought mine for about 20 bucks online.

 Tikka Mughlai

   This recipe feeds: 2

 (I tripled mine as we had 7 people.)

Here's What You Need:

1 lb of marbled meat from a leg of lamb

A few Yukon Gold potatoes to be halved and placed on the end of the skewers to hold the meat.



1 cup of yogurt

2 Tbs raw papaya paste

2 Tbs ginger paste

1 Tbs garlic (or shallot) paste 

2 Tbs almond paste

2 Tbs pistachio paste

1/2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp caraway seed

1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder

3 Tbs corn flour

3 Tbs vegetable oil

Here's What To Do:

 Make your almond and pistachio paste's how to do that:

Make these separately, it's pretty simple. I bought almonds that were already blanched (skin off) which I recommend doing . I couldn't find pistachios already blanched so here's how you do that.

Take about 15 almonds or pistachios.

Add about 1/2 cup of water to a small saucepan . Bring the water to a boil. When it's boiling add in the almonds  or pistachios (whatever nuts you are using)

Take the pan off the heat and let the nuts sit in the boiling water for about  5 minutes. Then drain them and using a soft cloth or paper towel rub the skin off the nuts.

Take the nuts, put them in a food processor or grinder...

...and grind to a paste.

This is how you make either almond or pistachio paste

Papaya paste is easy.

Cut open a papaya.

Scoop out the soft flesh and blend it in a food processor.

Papaya paste

Ginger paste and garlic/shallot paste are done the same way. Grind them  with a bit of water in a food processor.

Mix all of the ingredients  for the marinade together in a big bowl.

 Mix it all together well.

The Lamb

Cut the lamb pieces (the Tikkas)  in to chunks that you can thread on to a skewer

Slash the pieces with a paring knife to allow the marinade to penetrate the meat, then pour the marinade over everything.

Stir it around well. Cover the bowl and refrigerate it for at least 8 hours, or overnight.

When You Are Ready To Cook:

Add 1 tsp of salt to the marinade, mix it in and let it sit for 15 minutes. 

Now wipe your skewers down with vegetable oil and thread the tikkas on to them

when the meat is on the skewers add a half potato to use as a stopper.

Let the skewers rest for 15 minutes before cooking, which gives the marinade a chance to dry out a bit on the meat. Pay no attention to the dog in the corner. He comes into the action a bit later but he didn't get any of the tikkas.

Heat your tandoor oven. The temperature should be between 480 to 500  degrees.

Place the skewers into the oven.

Cook for about 10 minutes, rotating as needed. 

After 10 minutes take them out and rest them on the side of the tandoor oven to let the drippings fall for about 5 minutes

Brush them with more marinade then pop them back in for 5 to 8 minutes depending on how well done you want your meat.

Take them out.

I took the meat off of the skewers, covered it and kept it covered  in my warming oven while I finished the  Basmati pulao with raisins, cashews, saffron, and flowers.

I served the meat over the rice. I used one of the beautiful platters Paula Wolfert had given me .

 I served it with an Indian Dried Fruit Salad with Rosewater and Star Anise

And a mint and pomegranate raita...

...and a cold Spinach Salad with Peanut and Coconut powder Palak Koshimbar.

 We had a great time, good food, good drinks, good company.

Now, about that cake.

As I said....I baked Nik Sharmas ( A Brown Table)wonderful Apple Chai cake. It turned out beautifully  but how did it get from this... this....


Coming soon....The Dog Ate My Birthday Cake. A tale of theft and a recipe.

 So there it is, was it a great birthday after a wait of nearly 3 years? You betcha! Did Tyrion?  No unfortunately he did not. Details forthcoming. Follow along on Twitter  @kathygori


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