It’s probably a testament to how busy things have been at work and at home of late that I found the time to actually cook something and take a few snapshots, then sit on it for six weeks without processing the photos and writing it up.  Talk about your grade A fail.

That said, anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I’m still here and still have a lot to say.  Everyone’s welcome!  Even if Twitter seems somewhat self-indulgent, the realm of celebs and news sources and people who like to hear themselves talk…I still think it’s a good thing.  It helps me think.

sour grapes? not quite.

sour grapes? not quite. definitely a must for chicken tikka marsala.

But yes, I have been knitting and cooking, and as I said, six weeks ago, inspiration struck via my absolute favorite foodblog, Thursday Night Smackdown.  (Can I have two seconds to rave about TNS?  Michelle’s straightforward, frank about everything–food, celebrity chegs, television, her struggles with mental illness, lousy shots from her camera–and just a really enjoyable smartass, period.)  Cooking something new, from the book, isn’t something I do on a regular basis, either from energy or trouble, but a weeknight and the house to myself meant it was time to buckle down.  I just didn’t put it up in time to be on TNS, but that’s cool.  She’s doing Hobo Mondays now, and one of these days I may just have to duck out of my SNB and give it a try.

Inspiration strikes and sometimes you just can’t duck it, and truth was, I wasn’t just inspired by visions of blog roundups–I missed curry.  Not real curry, mind, just chicken tikka marsala, in the form of the 99p frozen dinner I got in Glasgow when I was studying there in 2005.  Milwaukee has a few good Indian restaurants, but they’re not exactly takeaway caliber, more sit-down and spend $15 on your entree caliber.  Which is good in itself, but not when you’re trying to save money for graduate school and don’t feel like going out on a Thursday because CSI is on (and I keep trying to quit CSI and just can’t).

actionshot

the infamous action shot. Mom would like credit for the stove.

Matt had sent Mom Jamie Oliver’s latest, only out in Britain, for Christmas, as Jamie is the patron saint of adorable cookery in this house, never to be overthrown.  And since I knew anything with chicken and curry wouldn’t be tops on her list, I commandeered Jamie’s Ministry of Food, marketed as a cookbook for people new to cooking.  Fairly simple, a little complex if you make the curry paste from scratch as I did, but not hard to do.

And it’s good.  Surprisingly good.  Everyone always talks about Jamie Oliver and ‘big flavors’, and it’s pretty true.  My only complaint is that the meat and veg doesn’t really taste like much–the sauce is the real flavor source.  I might consider browning them a little more before continuing with the process and adding the cream and tomatoes.

and the final product, with tumeric flavored rice.

and the final product, with tumeric flavored rice.

Admittedly, I played a little fast and loose with the recipe–right, way to go, forgetting to buy fresh coriander even if it’s available all year round, and subbing in cream for coconut milk.  The latter turned out to be a good plan, as it’s pretty close to too sweet otherwise.  In making it again a second time (but with pork), I did get the fresh coriander and fresh chilies and that improved the sweetness factor, cutting through it nicely.

Once you get down the process and cut through the British cooking terminology (which…I guess wouldn’t be an issue if you were British), Jamie’s chicken tikka doesn’t take too much time, isn’t too costly save in herb/spice investment, and, I suppose most importantly, is wicked tasty.  It fixes my cravings, at least, and what better rec can I give?

There are several other curry recipes in Jamie’s Ministry of Food, all of which appear to be similarly workable.  The book might not make it over in this form, though–all of the concepts, testing families, etc. are very British and wouldn’t translate well.  Even so, it’s a gorgeous cookbook, and I highly recommend it if you can get a hold of a copy.

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