New Recipes #1

Tonight I made roasted harissa chicken with potatoes, leeks, arugula, dill, and garlic yogurt from this NYTimes recipe


I’ve been meaning to begin this project where I try a new recipe every weekend that yields a week’s worth of food, but this is the first weekend that I’ve had the time, space, and inclination to do so. Like most people my age, I know how to make a number of dishes things by heart/feel/intuition. I have fridge, pantry, and produce staples, and I’m skilled enough to do some freestyle cooking. But I also want to explore new recipes so I can expand my cooking skills and knowledge of ingredients. Where do I go to stretch my culinary wings? The NYTimes Cooking page, because it offers appealing recipes at low to medium difficulty.  Mark Bittman’s and Anthony Bourdain’s recipes are also great.

Modifications: I roughly doubled the recipe. I didn’t use Yukon gold potatoes, just the red, white, and yellow ones I had on hand. I also used a low fat plain yogurt, instead of regular.  I didn’t have cumin, but did have a Mexican spice blend and knew that would probably be ok.  I also added an extra clove’s worth of grated garlic to the yogurt sauce, because I love garlic. Making this yogurt sauce is so easy, and it is my favorite part of this dish.  Oh, I also want to thank my friend Amanda because she gifted me a jar of her homemade harissa, and it has lasted me a good long time <3. I dedicate this dish to Amanda!

Because this is the first entry in my “New Recipes” series, I thought it would be a good idea to re-cap my culinary timeline:

  • Childhood: As kids, my siblings and I enjoyed playing around in the kitchen.  Because we didn’t have cable, we turned to daytime cooking shows for entertainment, and when the shows were over and we were bored, we played with food. Shoutout to Martha Stewart, America’s Test Kitchen, Jacques Pepin, Lidia Bastianich, and Simply Ming.  Shoutout also to my parents, who are excellent cooks and make the best-tasting Filipino food.  My siblings and I stuck to simple stuff, (deviled eggs, melted cheese sandwiches, boxed cake mix) but we did try our hand at making caramel (mega fail!). The first thing I ever cooked by myself was scrambled eggs and pancakes when I was probably 7 or 8.
  • Teen years: Later on when I was 16, I remember devoting winter break to “mastering the omelette” and I got pretty dang good.  I was inspired, in part, by French class.  I remember when I first was inspired to cook something good: My older sister took a cooking class, and she made a homemade mac and cheese from scratch…. it still stands out as the best mac n cheese I’ve ever had. Around the same age, I also tried brie for the first time, and tried to be a vegetarian (lasted 6 days in a meat-eating household).
  • Adulthood: Living in the Bay Area during my college years exposed me to a world of new produce and great restaurants, but the only thing I remember making were French madeleines (inspired by Proust), a pretty epic mac and cheese pie, and hearty brothy hangover soups.  It wasn’t until my early 20’s after college that I began to learn how to make different things and find cool recipes. With my parents’ help, I tried my hand at some Filipino dishes.  I will also give due credit to an ex-boyfriend who really loved to cook, and inspired me to cook as well.  He and I were part of a group of friends that hosted rotating dinner parties, and this exposed me to new dishes and ways of preparation.  Highlights were Anthony Bourdain’s recipes for carbonara and boeuf bourguignon,  and pizzas from scratch. Living in a house with really nice appliances helped immensely. In my mid-20’s during law school, that’s when I really learned how to cook on my own and explore, even without Wusthof knives and Le Creuset dutch ovens. I had my own apartment and a big enough kitchen to treat as my “mad scientist” lab. I would make a date with myself to go out and gather ingredients, then I’d turn on some good music and cook and bake by myself.  Now I am in my later 20’s and am seeking to grow and refine my skills. By the time 30 comes, I’ll have some favorite recipes (including more advanced Filipino dishes) that I can share with others 🙂

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