Sunday, October 16, 2011

Down Low! ... Too Slow

I misjudged the amount of time I needed to make both the dessert and get the chicken korma in the slow cooker and ended up running out the door in a flurry yesterday ... after cleaning up the kitchen so it only looked as if a small bomb had gone off.

Process began with the cookies, where I did everything right - until I forgot the salt, up to the point where I already had one batch in the oven and a second prepped. Rather than try and unscoop / rescoop (are those words?) the second batch, I ... stuck a little salt in them. Sadly, this is not the first time I've done this.

Backing up a bit, this makes a massive amount of batter, rich, thick and velvety. I chose to sift my ingredients into a bowl rather than onto parchment paper and thought this was a better idea, as I would have needed more parchment than I could have easily lifted. I predict the entire batch would have wafted across the kitchen. I placed the cream cheese and butter for the filling at the back of the oven and actually overwarmed it - the butter started to melt.

While the cookies were in the oven, I actually started working on the chicken korma, cutting the chicken and pan-frying the sliced almonds. I did not sufficiently mise en place and ended up scrambling a bit to get all the spices into the pan at the same time - not to mention forgetting that I couldn't use the spice grinder on the almonds and ending up with a small glop of paste - but it all came out in the end.

I had decided to run the slow cooker on low for four hours and high for one hour to get the three hours at high the recipe required. This seemed to come out perfectly ...

Not so much for the last batch of pie cookies / tops, where I had turned off the oven before I put the last batch in! I caught it when the timer went off and I wondered why they weren't quite cooked ... they came out crustier than the others, but not too bad. Then I set about filling them with the cream cheese mixture, a simple expedient of plopping with a spoon. Amazingly ... I actually had exactly the right amount of mixture. (Since I had less than the target number of cookies, I can only assume I went astray somewhere else, but it all balanced out.)

Into the refrigerator with the cookies ... using every covered plastic container I own because they were so immense ...

Final verdict (pies): Wow - these are rich and intense, and the cream cheese has a strong, sweet kick. The cookie crust that surrounds the filling isn't especially sweet, but I found it satisfying. It is, however, somewhat crumbly, so handle with care.

Got home, kicked the slow cooker up, and started rendering the potatoes for the fries. I think I could have made these smaller and thinner - I ended up with small wedges instead. Have I remarked before on the insane quantities of oil it takes to deep fry? Wow. These took far longer than advertised to cook, so either my temperatures or my portions were way off ... but even with that, and being more of a baked fry than a truly crispy fry, I got a satisfying texture in the end.

Meanwhile, off came the lid of the slow cooker and in went cream, garam masala and lemon juice / rind. I also fried the seeds and spices for the fries ... possibly over-fried, for they were right on the edge of burny without quite going over, but - when tossed with the fries, it was just perfect.

Not-Really-Final verdict (korma): My jury is still out on this. I decided not to make rice with it - but most of the flavor appears to be in the sauce. The chicken itself is somewhat bland. If rice improves it, I will make this dish again. If not, I will skip any "ethnic" dishes from this cookbook in the future.

Final verdict (fries): These are salty, pungent and - indeed! - a little sweet, and positively addictive. I could have eaten the whole batch; I forced myself to save some for today. My only criticism is that the spices don't stick to the potatoes all that well.

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