Help me out of my cooking funk - what is the absolute best thing you have ever made?
I am a pretty good cook but I am SO bored of everything I make. I feel like I stick with things that are safe and never go out of my comfort zone as I am afraid to waste my time and money on something that we might not like. I need some real winner dishes to get me out of this cooking funk. What are your very best dishes?
I think the tastiest thing I ever made was an hors d'oeuvre at my last 4th of July party. It was a phyllo-wrapped triangle, containing shredded, cooked chicken, pine nuts, ras el hanout seasoning, and salt to taste. Wrap in the phyllo (with copious amounts of butter between each layer!) then bake at 375-400 until crisp and golden. Wish I had a more specific recipe for you, but it was really on the fly. Of course you could also use the same seasonings to do a tagine with couscous, pine nuts, and maybe some dried fruit in there too (raisins, apricots, prunes). But yeah, that combo of flavors is just amazing.
This isn't exactly MY dish, but Anoosh Shariat has a cherry chicken recipe with saffron rice that's fabulous. You can find it on food & wine (or google Anoosh Shariat!).
one of my favorite easy weeknight dinners is Buffalo Chicken Wraps, which I came across in "Cuisine at Home" a couple years ago:
Buffalo Chicken Wraps
1 lb boneless skinless chicken, cut into bite size pieces (I like thighs)
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cajun seasoning
1/3 c. lime juice
1/3 c. honey
2-3 T. hot pepper sauce (tabasco, etc) (+/- to taste)
whole butter lettuce leaves
1 carrot, finely diced
1 celery stick, finely diced
1 cucumber, seeds removed, finely diced
blue cheese dressing, homemade or store bought
Mix chicken, salt, and cajun seasoning in a medium bowl. Heat some olive oil in a saute pan, add chicken, and saute until browned and almost cooked through
In a small saucepan combine lime juice, honey, and hot pepper sauce. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Pour oven chicken, then cook for another 2-3 minutes until the sauce has formed a nice glaze on the chicken
Assemble wraps (usually at the table) by spooning some of the chicken mixture onto a lettuce leaf. Top with carrot, celery, cucumber, and a dollop of blue cheese. Enjoy!
Not sure that I have a single "best" thing I've ever made, but this is a regular favorite of my guests (and I've handed out this recipe numerous times). It actually tastes better the next day. Serve with rice. Makes 4-6 servings.
West African Groundnut (Peanut) Stew
Nketia Fla (en-KEH-tee-ah flaw)
1-1/2 to 2 lbs. skinned chicken parts (I use thighs or leg quarters split into thighs and drumsticks; you can use skinless thighs as well, but not breasts)
-can also use 1-1/2 lbs. chuck or round steak
1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
Dried red peppers (crushed) or cayenne pepper (to taste)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 can stewed tomatoes (plain) or diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
1 plantain, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
¾ to 1 cup natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
In 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat, brown chicken or beef (need not be completely cooked through). Remove when done. In same pot, add 1 tablespoon oil and onions over medium heat. Cook until soft. Add garlic and cook for another minute or two, being careful not to let garlic burn.
Add tomatoes, ginger, pepper, and salt. Sauté for a couple of minutes. Add water and reserved chicken or beef. Turn heat up to high and add plantain and sweet potato. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer (covered) for 30-40 minutes, until meat is tender. Remove about ¼ to ½ cup of stew liquid and mix it with peanut butter in a bowl. Stir peanut butter mixture back into stew. Cover and simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring frequently. If needed, add more water to thin stew. Season to taste with more salt and red pepper. Serve over rice.
Oh, I love making a version of that soup! I use browned dark chicken meat, chicken broth, no plantain, probably more PB, more heat, and lots of spinach, just folded in to wilt thoroughly at the end. So good. I've taken it into work before in a crockpot, too, and even picky eaters gave in and enjoyed it.