In my good ole town Carnation, they had these classes. Something along the lines of “Back to Basics” or “Learn from the old, create the new”- I can’t remember the name, but the idea was that people in the community would share their forgotten art skills in a series of weekly classes. Some of the classes: Cooking, bread-making, canning, herbs, gardening, curing meat, making cheese, etc. AND included in the evening, I could hardly believe it: Dinner and free babysitting! All this only cost $5. I love when people put this kind of stuff together. I love you people!!!!!
I now know how to make yogurt- it’s easy really. But that’s not my tidbit I’m sharing today. A very good friend and I went to the canning class- a decent class, a little too basic, but worth it all for this one tidbit: The extraordinary canning woman was showing us how to put up rhubarb compote (for granola and atop ice-cream….duh…) she pulled out some fresh ginger root and began peeling it with a …….. get ready, cause here is the tidbit…… a spoon! That’s right- a spoon! My friend and I were instantly at 100% attention:
Us: “What are you doing?!”
Her: “Oh- you’ve never peeled ginger with a spoon? It’s a nifty little trick- works perrrrfect.”
And it does. The spoon just eats if off, like magic. I used to use a peeler, but that was so cantankerous, trying to get around all the knobs without slicing my fingers. A spoon is all kind curves- I’ll never use anything else. It is really fun. I could do it all day. And the fresh smell of ginger goes straight to the brain- it enlightens the brain, that is.
Chicken Curry with Cashews
**This dish is yummiest made in the morning and eaten later that evening- flavors taste best after having a chance to mellow and round.
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger (peeled with a spoon- schizam!)
3 tablespoons curry powder (add extra if you love curry)
2 teaspoons salt (sea salt of course)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) chicken, cut into 10 serving pieces (or use any chicken you have, just remember bones add a deeper flavor)
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 can coconut milk (or 1 cup cream)
3 T. sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 cup cashews (1/4 pound)
3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
Optional throw-ins: cardamom, cinnamon, California golden raisins, lime juice (I dunno, like 2 tablespoons or so?), diced potatoes and cauliflower
Heat butter in a wide heavy pot over moderately low heat until foam subsides, then cook onions, garlic, and ginger, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder, salt, cumin, and cayenne and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add chicken and cook, stirring to coat, 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, including juice, coconut milk (or cream), sugar and cilantro and bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 40 minutes.
Just before serving: Pulse cashews in a food processor or electric coffee/spice grinder until very finely ground, (OR, you can just chop them up a little- which is what I like to do) then add to curry along with yogurt and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring, until sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.
Serve with cooked basmati or jasmine rice, and chopped fresh cilantro. Delicious!
Note: Curry, without yogurt and cashews, can be made 5 days ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered. Reheat over low heat before stirring in yogurt and ground cashews.