Today was a brilliant, sunny 68 degrees. I woke up and walked to yoga class without a jacket. Ninety minutes later, I walked home, drenched in sweat and on a little bit of an exercise high. I confess that I might have given a slightly superior look to all those bleary-eyed people slowly waking up over coffee in the local diner. But to the people already lined up at my local bakery (the one with the EXCEPTIONAL scone-sized cookies), I gave them all a mental high five. Those people have their priorities in order: Warm cookie > commute.
I drank a very milky latte (when does it just tip into coffee-flavored milk territory? real question) on my terrace and got a truly awkward sunburn in the shape of my v-neck shirt. That's the price you pay for A. applying sunscreen that likely expired in 2010 and B. not shifting positions to tan evenly because then you'd have the man next door, sunbathing in his very tiny underwear, in your line of sight. No one needs to see that, sir. No one.
I took a run, and met my sister on the grassy expanse of Sheep's Meadow in Central Park. We flopped down and did some seriously lackluster attempts at calisthenics. Apologies to any personal trainers who may have seen us. We realize that was a weak effort at a push-up. And a sit-up. We discussed my aforementioned awkward sunburn, the pros and cons of spring in New York, and why so many people wear jeans in hot weather. (Really, why? Aren't you jeans-wearing guys sweaty? Are you afraid of shorts? It's such a mystery.)
At home, I continued on an epic cooking streak. Dinner this week in my household has been like an excerpt from a Barefoot Contessa cookbook. No, a Barefoot Contessa cookbook meets an Ottolenghi cookbook, falls in love, and has a baby cookbook. An excerpt from that. Except maybe the Ottolenghi cookbook had an illicit affair a few years ago with Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin and so maybe the baby cookbook's identity is up in the air. You get the idea.
I've been whipping up pork with English peas and lemony pasta with capers and a truly exceptional crispy skinned roast chicken over sauteed greens. This might sound like I am bragging, but let me just say this week came hot on the heels of a string of three days where I ate iceberg lettuce sandwiches and cheesy popcorn for dinner. Some days you're up! (And some days you find stray pieces of cheesy popcorn in your pajamas the next morning.)
One of the week's best meals was this riff on a Nepalese chicken, inspired by a Blue Apron recipe but I made some changes to fit my tastes. And my desire to mince fewer ingredients. It's a bit unusual in terms of flavor, but sometimes it's nice to step out of your routine and try something new on a Wednesday, especially when it's not very difficult to execute well (this isn't, I promise).
Nepalese Chicken with Spinach Rice
Adapted from Blue Apron; serves 2
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup jasmine rice
1 1/2 cups water
15 ounces crushed tomatoes
3 cups baby spinach
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground curry powder
salt and pepper
Heat a splash of olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn't burn.
Add the rice, a pinch of salt, and the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover and cook until tender, about 14 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the baby spinach and season with salt and pepper. Cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a cutting board, let cool slightly, then chop finely and add it to the pot of rice. Stir the chopped spinach into the rice.
In the same skillet, heat a thin layer of olive oil. Whisk together the spices with some salt and pepper, and set half of the spice blend aside to use later. Rub the other half over the chicken breasts (if you like more spice, just use a bit more of all of the spices). Add the chicken to the hot pan and cook until browned and cooked through, about 6 minutes per side, depending on how thick your meat is. **NB: I always cover my skillet partially with a pan lid or some foil so that my stove doesn't get crazy messy with oil splatters.**
Remove the chicken from the pan, transfer to a cutting board, and let cool until you can handle it. Once cool enough, cut into 1" slices on the diagonal.
In the pan you used to cook the chicken, add the crushed tomatoes, the minced ginger, and the rest of the spice blend. Cook for a few minutes, then add the creme fraiche and cook for another couple of minutes.
Plate your dinner with a scoop of spinach rice, a scoop of tomato sauce, and the sliced chicken breast on top.