Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Becky's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Becky Decatur is a fellow parent at school and her husband Jim is our esteemed Assistant Head of the Upper School.

When she saw my chocolate chip muffin post, she was kind enough to send me a healthier version involving whole wheat flour, flaxseed, and pureed pumpkin.

If you like moist, dense muffins that taste of fall, give these a try.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins


1 cup canned pumpkin (Unsweetened)
2 eggs
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. nonfat milk
1/3 c. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Add to the wet mixture a mixture of:

1 cup white flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/4 ground flaxseed meal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp/ salt
1/2 c. Hershey's mini chocolate chips

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes depending on size

Monday, September 21, 2009

Nat's Oysters Four Ways

On Saturday, my friend Fontella surprised me by making me Curry Chicken. On Sunday, my friend Nat, who is the Associate Director of College Counseling, dropped off a cooler full of oysters freshly pulled out of the bay by Nat's knowledgeable hands.

Is this a great weekend or what?

Giant bag of oysters on ice in cooler.

Coming au natural without the sophistication that cultured oysters bring, these oysters were gnarly things, reminiscent of the crusty ghost pirates in Pirates of Caribbean. Most were Super Bowl sized oysters, and some were even padded with other smaller oysters that were fused to their shells.

These XXL oysters found themselves over the white hot fire of my Big Green Egg, poached open to be consumed with melted butter, hot sauce, and lemon.

Oysters coaxed open by a live fire on the Big Green Egg.

Poached oysters with melted butter and hot sauce.

The smaller ones my husband pried open, and I served them plain, with cocktail sauce, and with a crunchy bread topping of toasted bread crumbs, garlic, shallots, scallions, and bacon.

Raw oysters with crunchy bacon and bread topping.

Raw oysters with cocktail sauce.

My favorites were the raw oysters, small, briny, and sweet, with cocktail sauce and lemon. The poached oysters were okay, but their large sizes were a little too much of a good thing. I shucked those oysters and plan to cut them up and put them in soup tomorrow.

Thank you, Nat, for fishing up some dinner on a beautiful Sunday.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fontella's Curry Chicken

Today I was at school with my kids to welcome and give a tour to a group of prospective families who were considering our school. Fontella, a fellow parent and friend, was there too with her daughters, and she gave me a warm hug and freely shared her lovely smile.

Last year, Fontella brought a Jamaican curry chicken to one of the school's Multicultural family group get togethers. It was the best curry chicken I had eaten, because the chicken was the softest and silkiest I had ever tasted. It was addictive. After that night, I would fondly tease Fontella with a "Where is my curry chicken?"

Well today was no different. I went on and on about where was my curry chicken, hugged her goodbye, and went home.

A couple hours later, I got a call from Fontella. Surprise! She went home and actually made curry chicken, and she called me to come pick up some.

Don't you agree I have lovely friends?

This time she made a curry with Trinidadian curry powder, which she called a dark curry.

I asked her how she went about cooking curry, since I was taught how to make other curries -- Japanese, Thai, Malaysian, Jamaican, Indian, and Guyanese -- from other friends.

Like my Jamaican friend Coleen, Fontella uses pre-mixed curry powders, bought from the local Caribbean store. There's Jamaican and Trinidadian curry powders, duck/goat curry powders, etc.

If Fontella is using chicken breasts, she slices it thin and dusts it with Goya adobo powder, cumin, onion powder, and salt and pepper, so that it can marinate in the spices.

She fries some garlic in oil and takes it out so it doesn't burn. After frying whole allspice berries in the oil until fragrant, she adds the curry powder, chicken, onions, and garlic and cooks them slowly for a few minutes, then adds a little water and cooks it at a low simmer, as Fontella says, "until it's done."

We figured out this was about 15 minutes.

Eat with rice for a lovely meal.

P.S. Fontella's handsome, young son reminds us to avoid those allspice berries -- they're for flavor, not for eating!