Last night was the photo extravaganza in my apartment. Shashank and Lauren had to take photos of food for a project, and I was the chosen one.
I, at first, decided to make only two different dishes for them. Earlier in the week, it was StressFest ’10, and I didn’t think I’d have the time or the energy to do anymore than that. BUT, I worked things out, got it done and ended up making them three separate meals and one side of brussel sprouts… just for them to taste.
First up: Asian Chicken with Broccolini and Basmati Rice.
On Monday, I had a bit of a breakdown after talking with my Public Speaking professor. I was to the point of not being able to eat… this just doesn’t happen. I choked down some yogurt and proceeded to marinate the chicken I had laying out for dinner. Well, the next night, I didn’t have time to eat dinner, so this chicken had been marinating since Monday evening.
The marinade consisted of sesame oil, soy sauce, a little salt, pepper, and McCormick Salt-Free Savory All-Purpose Seasoning. I seared it on each side in a hot pan with olive oil and let it rest. Simple, yet delicious.
For the basmati rice, I placed a chicken bouillon cube, handful of diced onion and a splash of olive oil in the water. Boil. In goes the rice. Lower heat. Cook. It’s as simple as following the directions. Rice is such a home-y element to me, and this picture captures that:
Sometimes, I feel like college students overthink the process of cooking. If you learn some basic techniques and tricks, you can create a myriad of dishes.
Anyway, back to the meal.
For the broccolini… so easy. I cut off the tough ends, sliced the thicker stalks down the middle and threw them in the pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper. For the last minute of cooking, in went some garlic.
Top everything with sesame seeds. Done.
Second dish: Curry Chicken with Mushroom, Onion and Zucchini Pearl Couscous.
This chicken didn’t marinate quite as long as the asian chicken, but it was still tasty. I did marinate for as long as I could, though.
The marinade: olive oil, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, curry powder, cayenne pepper, thyme and McCormick Salt-Free Savory All-Purpose Seasoning.
Now for the COUSCOUS! This was a favorite of the night… and for good reason. It was delicious, if I do say so myself. I just bought plain Pearl Couscous and cooked it according to the directions. Boil water with oil or butter. Couscous in. Heat down. Cook. Just like rice, man. Piece o’ cake.
I cooked it first, just to make sure it came out right, then went on to the veg.
I diced onions, baby portobello mushrooms and zucchini into roughly the same size chunks – fairly small. Olive and butter in the pan (since mushrroms are like little sponges, you’ll want to use a little more than usual). In went the onions; they went for about a minute until I threw in the shrooms. Cook until brown and soft. After that, put it in the pot with the couscous and stir.
Zucchini time. Olive oil in a hot pan. Zucchini chunks. Salt and pepper. Brown. In they go with the couscous.
Top it all off with a twisty lime. Do it to it.
After we all started eating, the most hilarious part of the evening was when I realized I had more couscous in the pot. Everyone’s face completely lit up at the pile of it on the plate and just dove right in. It was great.
Third dish of the night: Barbeque Chicken, Feta, Cucumber, Onion and Pear Sandwich on Focaccia.
This was the most controversial dish.
Jessilyn didn’t like raw onions.
Lauren didn’t eat mayonnaise (or chicken, for that matter).
I’m not sure Shashank even cared… he just wanted food.
But did they adore this sandwich? Sure thing.
I started making this sandwich for my lunch pretty much daily. Lunch is my least favorite meal, so I just needed something enjoyable. I pulled out random ingredients from the fridge, and this is what happened. Success.
The focaccia I buy (from Bi-Lo) comes in a circular tin. Cut it into quarters and you get four sandwiches from one loaf. It’s two bucks and well worth it.
1. Take a quarter, cut it into the top half and bottom half. Warm it in the toaster oven.
2. I buy barbeque rotisserie chicken from Bi-Lo as well. Take some of the meat pulled from the bone and heat it up for 30 seconds.
3. Take the bread out and spread some mayo on both halves.
4. Add crumbled garlic & herb feta to the top half and press into the mayo.
5. Thinly slice some english cucumber, onion and pear. Make sure the pear is firm though, not soft. Spread the onion, pear and cucumber over the bottom half of the bread in layers.
6. Add the chicken pieces over the feta. Smash it down a bit.
7. Take the bottom half (with the veg) and place it over the chicken half. Smash everything down together and turn the entire sandwich over.
I love this sandwich so much because everything just works so beautifully together. The hot raw onion is balanced by the sweetness of the pear (how Jessilyn could eat the raw onion). The cucumber adds a freshness that I adore. The chicken is buttery, and the barbeque flavor adds a little flavor punch that you aren’t quite expecting. The mayonnaise is creamy, and the feta is sharp and tart. It’s like every good flavor is coming together for this sandwich.
It’s a party in your mouth.
One thing to mention on how Lauren could handle the mayo.
On the bottom, the juice from the onion and cucumber melds with the mayo and it becomes runnier and kind of like a dressing.
At the top, the feta mixes with it and it’s almost bleu cheese-y.
In both instances, it isn’t simple mayonnaise anymore. Ergo, she could eat it.
All in all, this night was perfect. I loved every minute of it, and I’m pretty sure I could be content in life just cooking for people all the time.