Indian-Spiced Roast Chicken

Indian-Spiced Roast Chicken

When winter comes, I crave the warm, heart-reaching spices. Garam masala is made with my mortar and pestle. The bright reds of cayenne, chili, and paprikas are used more often to paint every dish. Pinches of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg in almost everything, from home-cooked meals to all baked goods. This isn’t to say I don’t welcome them during the warmer months; I do. This is to say I celebrate the hell out of them when trees loosen up and we find ourselves bundled up, head-to-toe.

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When we spent our first cold and snow-filled week at New Paltz, we ate plenty. But when we ordered take-out from their one-and-only Indian restaurant, Dan and I ate, like, well, animals, according to his father. It was a feast of chicken tikka masala, masoor dal, chana dal, chicken and vegetable biryani, meat and potato samosas, naan, sauces–one a very bright green which reminded me of pandan, something Tory and I discovered while eating Kaya Toast. This feast was everything we NEEDED, and some. It was the best we’ve ever tasted, too.

When we returned to the city, I have not stopped using the spices that filled us that night. I’ve made masoor dal (as usual), Orange Cardamom Crumb muffins, chana dal, and this Indian-spiced roasted chicken. Once in my dutch oven on a bed of scalloped potatoes, and again in an aluminum roasting pan.

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In truth, I was never a fan of the colder months til I fell in love with these spices, especially what they can do when they find themselves together as a rub, marinade, or in soups, stews, pilafs, and baked goods. For this roast chicken, I, unsurprisingly, made a marinade using the juice of an orange and it’s zest. My brother said to me yesterday, “whenever you use an orange in your cooking, it’s damn good.” I use an orange in almost all my cooking these days, so that’s a major compliment coming from someone who has given me a total of 3 within the last 20-something years. Thanks, Bruh.

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Marinade for 3.5-4 pound chicken:

1 sm orange, juice & zest
1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, paste or grated
1 inch ginger, paste or grated
2 tsp garam masala, preferably homemade
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp red chili powder, or cayenne/Hungarian paprika
cinnamon, couple of pinches
salt, to taste

Combine all in a small bowl, whisk marinade thoroughly. Clean chicken, pat dry. Generously salt your chicken inside and out. Rub marinade under skin, in cavity, as well as all over. Refrigerate in a sealed container overnight or up to 24 hours. Day of roasting, oil your dutch oven or roasting pan. Heat oven to 375. Depending on your seasoning/heat tolerance, I sprinkle some more chili powder and garam masala before putting it in. Cover tightly and leave covered for 1 hour. Uncover for next 20-30 minutes, til crisp.

Everyone’s got their favorite way to roast a chicken. Sometimes I like to begin with it roasting breast-side down, then flip it over after about 30 minutes. Sometimes I leave it uncovered at all times. But I am currently in love with my dutch oven. It kept mine very tender, and soaked the potatoes in its spicy goodness.

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Next roast, I’ll use similar spices but create the marinade out of yogurt, which is more traditional to Indian cooking, and usually how I go about making Butter Chicken. On the top of my list of recipes to test out is Chicken Biryani. I have a feeling it’s going to be a favorite of ours.

 

When Friends Ask You to Pick Up Their CSA Share (Part 2)

When Friends Ask You to Pick Up Their CSA Share (Part 2)

You wonder if there is a poem out there that celebrates this moment. Between friends and between yourself and all the veggies, is there a poem? If not, perhaps you could write one, in the same breath as Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, about every saturated-in-color vegetable and fruit that comes home with you on the first Saturday of September–this year and last.

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But if there is a chance you’ve been feeling less like a poet these days, meaning, you haven’t broken a line in a long while for the sake of sound, silence, and meaning, then you become–you are–a poet in your kitchen, roasting tomatoes with whole cloves of garlic. The woody scent of thyme and rosemary from your garden when met with high heat can make you long for the long, deliberate drizzle of rosemary-infused olive oil, and flaky salt, which you know your tomatoes love. You’ve a mind and heart towards Tory and Jon, who shared their share with you as they made their big move into Corona. Think of all the dinner parties and PICNICS, and sneak peaks into their first garden out back.

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Your first thought, after all this gratitude and daydreaming, was roasted tomato sauce, which you learned to make in Valerie’s kitchen a couple of summers ago. This is the way you will make sauce forever. The flavor is tomato multiplied by tomato, on the savory-sweet side. But as you peel each one, you begin to crave soup.

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You never made tomato bisque. I don’t think you ever had tomato bisque so you’re not entirely sure where to begin, but to begin. It started as your favorite sauce, with the addition of chicken stock, cream, carrot and celery, pureed til silky. Doesn’t the same happen in writing a poem? You never know how a poem will end til it begins to unfold itself, line by line, and if it ends on bisque with warm slices of bread instead of tomato sauce, then you take slices of your warm, roasted garlic ciabatta and you dip dip dip it into the creamy broth.

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It almost looks like your favorite carrot soup, which you’ll write about another day. The local farm feta, and micro-cilantro which was part of the share, didn’t just provide this bisque with good looks. It went amazingly well together. Having had Brooklyn Grange’s micro-greens quite a few times, you think you’ll just start picking your cilantro from the garden earlier than usual, because after a week, you honestly want to give up with their eagerness to bolt.

Then there is the tenderness of toy choi, which you just discover and are fond of.

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But with something so tender, you need to put it to use almost immediately. By 9PM the first day, they were wilting. So the next morning, without getting all fancy and having a panic, you whip up a fine breakfast in which you sauteed their small, cabbage leaves, along with their flowers, with smoked kielbasa and red onion. Served it with egg, heirloom tomato salad with local feta, and a blueberry muffin your mom made.

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Everything else will come together, slowly, as the week goes by. You’ll think Jen was making use of the fairytale eggplants because the bowl was getting emptier and emptier as days went by. You’ll soon find one in almost every corner of the house, courtesy your cat, Loonz.

You’ll take what’s left of their most adorable selves (you make a note that you’ll grow them next year, seriously this time), and you roast them with warm spices (garam masala) and garlic.

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You’ll want to stuff the beautiful, red peppers but never find the time to, so you add them in salads and stews. You do the same with the two onions.

You’ll blister shishito peppers, finishing them with smoked salt.

You’ll share arugula with mom, because everything about this is about sharing.

You’ll eventually find the time to write it all down. You’ll feel exactly as you feel when a poem has ended. Which is the same feeling you’ll get when every tomato, herb, oil and cream came together in your pot one afternoon, and again when the last bit of bisque is gone.

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my harlem lunch hour

my harlem lunch hour

slabs of seedless watermelon
lush pink and bright yellow next door

i’ve never had the yellow but i want yellow i want
something close to sun

heirloom tomatoes all the way from his garden in Jersey
sit on storefront windowsills sunning til a red he is fond of blooms

to then be chopped along with cucumbers and parsley
a salad sold for simple souls at a shop called 7 Grains

i order my usual no matter how hot of a day it is
split pea unlike any other split pea with it’s
ham-less, Moroccan flare.
he takes out a bottle of all natural soy sauce and
taps it over your legumes tap tap tap 3 times exactly.
“we don’t use salt here.” but they sure use spice.
i taste cumin. cayenne. garlic. paprika. “do you want
a spoonful of brown rice with that?” yes.
and then a final finishing tap of cayenne before
it gets it’s lid and i hand over $4.50.

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back at work, i asked my boss’ son what he’s having for lunch.
it’s become a ritual, before sharpening pencils and binding books
and sorting papers and making calls,
i must know what everyone is eating.

“marco polo,” he says.
the name of a sandwich that was
poorly selected for him to choose from on
a menu with 20-something other poorly-named sandwiches.
no, what is in your sandwich?
he doesn’t know he says with a shrug.
i place the lid back on my split pea and push it aside.
i tell him to take a big bite, chew slowly, and name what you can taste.

after a long moment, eyelids fly open and he names
lettuce
tomato
turkey?–no, chicken.
he’s smiling as he stares deeply between two slices of Italian bread and says,

“marco polo, are they serious?”

One of Many Ways to Eat Spring

One of Many Ways to Eat Spring

When Spring returned to us in all its young green finery,
I wanted to eat it. To squeeze a little lime on it
in broad daylight and find my way, past
the beefsteak tomatoes,
standing strong on the sides of heirlooms,

the tall, bruised green of the earth.

The day before Easter, I grabbed the first asparagus of the season at my mom’s local farmers market and decided I was going to create a spring feast, highlighting these thick spears along with other bright and deep greens, such as peas, spring onions, cilantro, thyme, arugula. I wanted fava beans but I couldn’t find any. I stopped by my favorite kielbasa vendor and he handed me the cutest, smokiest ham I’ve ever held, and tasted. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it then, but knew I had to leave with it.

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“You can use it as decoration for your Easter table,” he told me. I politely shook my head no. I can–and will–use it in everything throughout the week, beginning tomorrow. After tomorrow, then they’re going in omelets, slow-cooked beans, etc. But it was tomorrow I wasn’t exactly sure about.

Before bed, I cracked open my notebook and brainstormed dinner, which I’m doing more often these days before dinner parties. It relieves stress knowing that I’ve some idea as to what I want to accomplish the next day. I’m very used to just winging it. Once dinner is over, I return to the journal and jot down what I actually ended up doing, which helps me to better understand my kitchen-mind. Here’s how it stormed that night! I actually made everything on this, with some minor changes.

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I’ve such a fondness for this time of year. Easter morning I ran some errands, grabbing the last of the ingredients that I needed to complete our dinner. It felt like the first, true warm day of the season and I was at peace. Outside the supermarket, an older woman asked me if I could walk her a few blocks to the bus. While I held her hand, we talked about family dinners. She’d cook for a family of 10. She’d make 3 different salads, 2 different cakes, she’d roast a fish and a chicken and sometimes, on special occasions, would make brisket. She had zero help because she never asked, and she thought it was beautiful I was going to spend the day in the kitchen with my mother making a meal for a family of 7. There was so much we agreed on in those three blocks: we love the farmers market, springtime awakens a hunger for healthier things, and food is love.

When I returned to mom’s kitchen, I moved around with such light feet. What I ended up doing with the greens I have since done often.

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I am calling this a Spring Pilaf and rice will never be boring to me again. You can add anything you want to it. It can be made fresh, or made with leftovers. This one is smoky due to the ham I purchased from the market, and the shredded carrots truly makes this a festive-looking dish. I used jasmine but now only use basmati.

After I made this one, I started toying with the recipe and included seasonings I love most.
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Here’s my Indian-Spiced Spring Pilaf.

1/2 cup Basmati, cooked with a pinch of turmeric and salt, butter.

I like more veggies than rice so eyeball amounts according to your preference. I used green beans and asparagus, corn, sliced mushrooms, a small red onion, 3 garlic cloves, grated carrot (towards the end), quickly stir fried in cumin seeds & powder, garam masala, 4 cardamom pods (cracked open a bit), fresh herbs such as cilantro and thyme, pepper and salt to taste. Use whatever herbs you love!

I made this again for Valerie’s Poetry & Coffee BBQ yesterday, just because I want to feed people as much of spring as they can get. And then they’ll have to deal with my summer pilaf shenanigans.
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A few days ago I went with my love to the Queens County Farm and saw rows of asparagus shooting from the earth. It was a beautiful sight, how they stood, perfectly, like soldiers we hold in our hearts today, every day.

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Join Me for Queens Writes Weekend!

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There’s this feeling you get when people from all over Queens (and other boroughs!) gets together to write all weekend long. It’s sorta like the feeling you get after taking the very last bite of a piece of bread delicately smothered in fig jam, at a picnic your friend or neighbor had thrown for no other reason than to eat with you. It’s the last bite where you think to yourself how necessary to the very core of you this was.

There are a few things I love most about the borough that is my home: it’s people, Newtown Literary Journal which this benefits, AND IT’S FOOD. So it only makes sense that I put together a food writing workshop inspired by good eats at the Queens International Night Market, right?

Join me in eating and writing. I will be waiting for you by the information booth at 6PM. There will be prompts geared towards the experience of eating, cooking, being around such a diverse community. Freewriting is an option. All I ask is that you pay close to attention to the food and the people around you. I am welcoming poets, (non)fiction writers, bloggers, food lovers, people who do not consider themselves any sort of writer–basically, everyone.

Because this is a fundraising event, there is a suggested donation of $5, which goes to printing costs for future issues of Newtown Literary Journal, as well as a kids’ writing contest, writing classes and workshops, and community readings.

If you can’t make it to my event or you’re not feeling inspired to write, don’t worry–you can still participate. There are many other workshops and gatherings happening during this weekend! If you can’t make it to mine, find one near you! There is also a kick-off reading on Friday night, May 19th at the Astoria Bookshop, and a wrap-up reading/open mic at Terazza 7 in Elmhurst at 7pm on Sunday evening, May 21st. Before the wrap-up reading/open mic, there will be a Meet the Editors event where you can meet the editorial staff of Newtown Literary to get advice on writing and publishing.

Here is the calendar of events: https://www.newtownliterary.org/qww17 

Be sure to get your QWW 2017 t-shirt, tote bag, and mugs, too! A portion of every sale goes to fund future Newtown educational programshttps://teespring.com/stores/newtown-literary.

Very much looking forward to eating with you!

where you are planted / bloom

I was a little
tipsy on the dance
of the velvety heart rolling
in my mouth

I was dumb-tipsy on the day.

Connie and I didn’t know it yet, but walking first into Wave Hill’s Sunroom before lounging in all of it’s unabashed green was a high-five moment.

We actually high-fived each other.

I am writing about a summer day, nearing Winter, because of the chicken pot pie I had during this visit (I’ll get there soon).

Anyway, if you know anything about my love of playing Skyrim (in which I live through my character who hand picks her flowers and shrooms for alchemical, kick-ass purposes), then you may begin to understand my excitement when I found this station of roots and flowers:

That’s Connie, not hiding HER excitement whatsoever. What is there not to love about a hands-on, minds-off exhibition?

There were bowls full of chrysanthemums, damiana leaves, angelica root, hops, lavender, rose buds, hibiscus and mugwort root. We were to take a mortar and pestle, fill it with whatever we chose from the bowls, grind them all together and then place them into a pouch. We were to walk around the space with this pouch full o’ flower and roots and then leave them on a shelf where other visitors have put theirs to rest.

I’d like to note that Connie chose more flower than root, and I, the opposite. There was an urgency about it. I’ve noticed a bright blooming about Connie. Me? My recent break-up made me want to root myself somewhere, anywhere, inside and out. There was a journal in Wave Hill’s gift shop that says to bloom where you are planted. I couldn’t agree more.

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LIKE THIS:

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Wave Hill was quiet on this day. While Connie meditated on waterlilies and fish, I spotted me a dad who was playing hide-n-seek with his two daughters. It wasn’t a quick play either. They must’ve been playing for at least 45 minutes and my heart filled up with joy and a sudden sadness I couldn’t grasp til recently.

We found ourselves a bench and she cracked open Ross Gay and read me the first poem in the book, To the Fig Tree on 9th and Christian. It reads like a happy run-on. Twice, lines from this poem rang true as I stumbled upon trees and plants I wanted to show everyone around me (or just Connie, who had to deal with my enthusiastic “LOOK!” every so often.)

and soon there were
eight or nine
people gathered beneath
the tree looking into
it like a constellation pointing
do you see it

Do you?

And then after all that fig talk and all our long walks, we grew hungry. It was a very hot day but I couldn’t resist a rustic, chicken and root veggie pot pie. There were cute fingerling potatoes in it, skin-on, that made me think of Glasbern. It sounded so comforting to me and today was all about healing. Connie ordered a beet burger with a side of beet chips. That’s ma girl. Go beet or go home. I would’ve ordered that, too, had I not seen this as an option. What stood out to me about the pot pie was that a puff pastry was used, and the broth itself was packed with so many different herbs. I already knew I’d be making my own version of this later on during the week.

We spent the rest of the day lounging on the grass, reading and journaling and talking up a storm. You could smell lavender in the air. We stayed til it was literally time for the place to close down. Wave Hill has made it onto my list of green places I’d like to visit during each season, to photograph it’s changes and growth; even when not-so-green.

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Next week I wanted to make my version of the rustic chicken pot pie, but with beef. I baked a puff pastry and topped it with butter and fresh rosemary that I grew. I made sure the broth was rich with fresh herbs. The star of it for me were the English peas I used that I had just gotten from the farmer’s market. So sweet. Sometimes it makes me sad to cook just for one person, I always want to share, but I loved having leftovers of this. It’s the perfect time of year to make this once again, and I promise to write up the recipe when I do. You pretty much just throw everything in a pot and simmer.

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Needless to say, I am ready for 2016 to come to a close, but not without getting what I can out of the lessons I learned throughout the year. Especially remembering this day that kept reminding me of the importance to grow and bloom right where you are, even when, at times, you think the soil is not right or the days are too ugly for personal growth. But that’s right when we do grow, yes? Even Ross Gay entered our day with that message, which I will leave right here for you today:

c’mere baby,
he says and blows a kiss
to the tree which everyone knows
cannot grow this far north
being Mediterranean
and favoring the rocky, sun-baked soils
of Jordan and Sicily
but no one told the fig tree
or the immigrants
there is a way
the fig tree grows
in groves it wants,
it seems, to hold us

some of what the earth says

some of what the earth says

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Have you ever felt like rows of cut rainbow swiss chard and heads-down sunflowers, with skies of gray threatening an any-minute-down-pour? Yeah. That was me the moment October hit. I feel similarly now, and decided to carry William Stafford with me in hopes for a better mood. But, like my good friend Valerie says, “He’s so comforting and yet disturbs or awakens (awakens is a better word) at the same time.” Which is what I need.

The earth says where you live wear the kind
of color that your life is (gray shirt for me)
and by listening with the same bowed head that sings
draw all into one song, join
the sparrow on the lawn, and row that easy
way, the rage without met by the wings
within that guide you anywhere the wind blows.

Listening, I think that’s what the earth says.

The earth was saying a ton when October hit. It was saying it in rain and darkened clouds. In the passing of my favorite neighborhood flowers, the cosmos. In the threatening of all outdoor plans. The last of my tomatoes. I felt Earth’s words held deep in my bones, which hurt, mind you, especially when it rains. Let go, it says. Or this is all necessary, it saysOr don’t let ME get in your way.

I was to spend Saturday the 1st throwing a picnic with my loves at a winery in Long Island. And Sunday, I was to go apple picking. Neither of these things happened. Both sky and health kinda put a damper on plans, but I did my BEST not to let it ruin every single thing about that weekend. Earth, I was listening.

What I wanted to bring to the picnic I STILL had to make; a gallete of roasted beets and apple, feta, orange zest and herbs. I had already bought half the ingredients. It’s a recipe I toyed with in my mind that I really wanted to test out. I enjoy the cold salad version very much but wondered how everything would taste in the oven. I mentioned this to Tory and told her if there is a moment where it is not thunder-storming it’s butt off, I will hop on the F and R train to her home and we’ll bake up this idea I had. Plus, we were both incredibly sad about our winery plans falling through, so we clearly needed to hug it out.

And hug it out, we did.

I dropped off my FIRST homemade pie dough (GRATE FROZEN BUTTER INTO THE FLOUR Y’ALL), which I carried on the train like it was a newborn, and we then set out to the Brooklyn Grange to pick up her CSA. I asked her not to let me buy more than one thing and she said she’ll stop me at three. I love her. I purchased a container of spicy radish and arugula sprouts, solely because I wanted to sprinkle this on my gallete. I regret not buying the last of the tomatoes. I thought I saw sauce in my future but at least there was definitely sauce in Tory and Jon’s.

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First thing I did when we returned was drop the beets in a pot of water. During this time, we drank pumpkin beer while Tory made us appetizers of cream cheese stuffed blossoms and fried baby green tomatoes. It made for a wonderful mouth experience.

When the beets were half-way done I took them out and sliced them. Same for the green apple which I peeled first. I tossed both in olive oil, salt and pepper, fresh thyme, roasted them for about 15 minutes. When done, I tossed ’em in a little freshly squeezed orange and a bit of it’s zest. More pepper. I rolled out the dough in STYLE. This thing is made of marble, errbody. And then to Tory’s surprise, I carefully arranged beet and apple at it’s center, instead of throwing it on top like she thought I would. The finishing touches are the spicy sprouts and feta. Tory rolled honey on the crust ❤

While the galette was in the oven, Tory worked on her spicy carrots and garlicky yogurt, which were so delicious and beautiful to look at. Lots of mustard seeds in that pan. Lots of love for this girl, elegantly crushing her garlic.

The earth says always eat with love and laughter surrounding you. A rush of color reddens your cheeks and that’s the color to wear, always, like the stain of a beet. On this day, I ate with Tory and Jon and it was a beautiful, soul-satisfying meal. It always is when we come together. When, what we make comes together. I love how it always works out. I’m already brainstorming all sorts of galettes I could possibly make. It’s FUN, guys. And I would tweak this recipe a bit. Try a different cheese, a different herb, more honey and citrus and heat. But I have zero negative things to say about my first. It was beautiful.