ffwd – Food Revolution Day

FRD_Logo

Today is Food Revolution Day, and our French Fridays with Dorie crew is participating by blogging about a recipe from Around My French Table. The idea behind the Day is that we need to get back to making healthy food at home. So many people who are busy working, with family and other activities struggle to find the time or inclination – or they never really learned how to make meals in the first place – so this is a day to share our love of cooking and sharing what we make with our friends and family.

The rule of this week’s challenge was to make a recipe from the book and blog about it. There are lots of great recipes, and this is a great way to learn to cook, or add some skills. That said, when I think of “what do I think are basic/essential types of recipes for a beginning cook”, these aren’t necessarily the ones I think of. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to choose one that fit my criteria.

Absent the cookbook requirement, there are things I think people should know how to do: a bechamel (white) sauce so you can make “stuff on toast”, or a great mac and cheese, authentic lasagna or canneloni, or even use it for a soup base. Other things would be something like muffins – an essential quick bread – nothing says “I care about you” more than something warm, yummy and homemade. I often bake something to share when I’m not in the best of spirits. Eggs! Or a simple vinaigrette. Any kind of vegetable. Fresh Salsa! I could go on.

In the end, I decided to make curried chicken, peppers and peas en papillote. While it sounds fancy, it’s actually very easy, a well-rounded meal – and quick! When I was contemplating what to make, I reminded myself of the near-daily conversation in my head while driving home: “I’m hungry, I should just stop and get X” “No, I have stuff at home, I just bought a bunch of vegetables” “But I don’t feel like cooking anything right now” “Oh really? It will take about the same time as picking something up anyway, and besides, you don’t want to waste that food!”. This is exactly the kind of thing that fits into that scenario.

These are ingredients that I almost always have on hand. The only thing to do is get some chicken breasts thawed (or pick them up at the store) – otherwise, only a very few ingredients: bell pepper (I like red or yellow), red onion (or any kind, but this is pretty), some frozen peas, plus a little olive oil and for Dorie’s version – curry powder.

100_2349

This is super-simple. The oven is heated to 400 degrees. The chicken is cut into strips, and the vegetables are prepped. Except for the peas, I wanted everything to be a similar size – mostly so it looks nice, but things cook more evenly that way too.

100_2352100_2353100_2354100_2355100_2357100_2358

I recently read that 3-sided peppers are “female” and 4-sided are “male”. The suggestion was to buy the 4-sided because it’s easier to cut them up – maybe, but picking the freshest -looking is really my goal. I started cutting up peppers this way a few years ago – it’s a bit less messy to cut sections off of the stem/core.

All of the ingredients are mixed together in a bowl.

100_2360

The olive oil is added, and then seasonings. As I mentioned before, Dorie suggests curry powder. And to be honest, I still think it’s my favorite. But I have a lot of different seasoning blends, so sometimes it’s fun to try something new.

100_2362

This time, I decided to split the recipe in halves – I used the classic curry in one, and a sate seasoning in the other. To that one, I added a little sesame oil as well for a little extra flavor. I’ve tried adding sauces in the past, but it doesn’t work very well – as the chicken and vegetables release their juices too, and it can be a bit too much. All of the seasonings and bit of oil (about 1 t per packet) get mixed together so that the chicken and vegetables are evenly coated. They get a bit more seasoning with salt and pepper as well.

100_2364

Rather than the traditional parchment paper, I used foil. I’m sure it’s fancier to use the parchment, but since I wasn’t serving this for company – I thought I’d stick with what’s simple. For this recipe, it requires 4 sheets (for 2 chicken breasts, 1 each pepper and onion and about 1 c of frozen peas), about 12″ square. The mixture is divided evenly among them and then the packages are sealed up. Dorie mentions that they can just be gathered together – I think it’s a bit easier to fold them up. But in any event, leave some space for the ingredients to steam in the oven. The packets get put onto a baking sheet before putting them in the oven.

100_2366100_2369100_2370

At this point, it’s possible to put these into the refrigerator for a few hours – just add a couple of minutes to the overall time. The packets are baked for a bit over 20 minutes, and then they are ready to serve. Almost exactly the amount of time to make a bit of rice in my rice cooker!! Once the time is up, check to make sure that the chicken is cooked through. The packets can be served at the table, or plated in the kitchen.

100_2371100_2372

100_2375

Of course, this dish can be switched up –  change the chicken out for fish, use all vegetables, add fresh herbs or other seasonings, change the vegetables to whatever you have on hand – and if you’re willing to take some more time, you could even add potatoes or other root vegetables (which reminds me of the “hobo dinners” we’d have while camping as kids). It really depends on what you have on hand, and what suits your mood.

It’s my hope that this year’s Food Revolution Day will inspire people to cook a bit more, to spend time in the kitchen and at the table together – and to occasionally ignore that thought that tells us to just pick something up or go out. Happy cooking!

“Food Revolution Day is a chance for people all over the world to come together and stand up for good food and essential cooking skills. It’s a chance for people to come together in homes, schools, workplaces and communities to cook and share their kitchen skills, food knowledge and resources. Food Revolution Day is a global day of action to raise awareness about the importance of good food and better food education for everyone.

21 thoughts on “ffwd – Food Revolution Day

  1. I’ve made this recipe often! I actually brought this, all ready to go in packets, to a friend after she had a baby. No-fuss dinner!

  2. What a great choice to cook this recipe for today´s Food Revolution Day – and how creative to add different spice blends to your dish, both your choices, saté as well as the curry powder must have been delicious!
    Have a great Friday!

  3. Great post! i love how thoughtfully you write about skills for beginning cooks and I think this recipe really exemplifies how easy it can be to make good food at home.

  4. I have that same conversation with myself all the time. I don’t think I’ve even noticed this recipe in the book, but now I’m looking it up. Seems like the perfect answer, and so flexible. I love your assortment of Penzey Spices. I love that place. There’s one just a few miles from my house and I’m a frequent visitor. Hope you have a revolutionary weekend!

  5. Your internal debate sound EXACTLY like what I go through every time I’m heading home after 7pm. Something I like to do is transfer the chicken I’m going to cook in the evening from the freezer to the fridge before heading out to work. It gets a bit of a head start in the defrosting department. I usually end up cooking fish on weekdays because it thaws so much faster.

  6. An easy-well rounded meal 🙂
    “It’s my hope that this year’s Food Revolution Day will inspire people to cook a bit more, to spend time in the kitchen and at the table together – and to occasionally ignore that thought that tells us to just pick something up or go out” You hit the nail on the head!

  7. I have not tried that recipe yet, but it looks so good I am going to try it this week. I like your
    story of the peppers, I had never heard anything about three sided or four sided peppers.
    Have a great weekend.

  8. Great post- loved all the in process photos too. I have not tried this one but you had me at the conversation you hold in your head frequently….as I have that same talk about what is going to be on the table that night 🙂 And interesting about the 3 sided vs 4 sided peppers- never heard of that- interesting !! Yes, I must revisit this cooking in packet concept again soon- thanks for the inspiration.

  9. This is a great post and I certainly agree on all the early cooking skills that you recommend. To me those are revolutionary indeed. So is the entire papilotte method really…one I should do more often. Dorie’s salmon is on our regular rotation but really I should be doing it with everything it is so easy and healthy.

  10. What a well-written Post, Candy. I often get the hunger pangs and need to eat “right now”. I have those same converstions that you do. Since it’s just me now, I really have to resist the urge to stop and pick up something at the deli/grocery store because it’s just easier and quicker. But, bravo Mary, I usually do eat at chez Hirsch. I must have joined FFWD after you all made this recipe because it’s something I will really like making. You, Paula and Liz have made things this week that I never tried but want to make soon. It’s nice to have you back cooking with us. Really nice. By the way, I like your brand choice of spices – now that I’m finally settled in Colorado, I need to replenish my spice drawer so I’m earmarking pages of the Pensey’s catalogue. I know they are a bit pricey but I do think it’s worth it and you must think so also.

  11. My garden was quietly producing stalks of fresh Thai basil, mint and cilantro without any idea that a food revolution was brewing on it’s horizon. As it turned out my herbs would be willing participants in an international movement for awareness of the importance of good wholesome food and essential cooking skills in our communities started by Jaime Oliver who has a passion for teaching cooking from scratch. Yes, I pressed my fresh herbs into service for a global cooking day to try and raise awareness for the importance of making meals from scratch using fresh ingredients in our own kitchens, including using herbs from our own kitchen garden plots, just like our parents and grandparents.

  12. your chicken papillotes look fantastic! 🙂 I’ve been wanting to make this one for some time now, but waiting for it to come around on the rotation… it looks fantastic!

  13. For how long can one hold to that ‘just came from vacation’ glow? Even though it’s been little over a month since we came back, I am wishing I had more of it left over. I didn’t realize how much I missed the places and the foods I enjoyed in Savannah and Charleston until I found myself reading through this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes and Prunes . While I enjoy the occasional prune and entrées “on the sweet side of the sweet-savory continuum” , I wasn’t feeling the combination of spices, honey, and fruit. I wanted… bacon. And collard greens. And I wanted to be out of the kitchen in under an hour. Dorie’s French-Morrocan chicken tagine was getting a Lowcountry makeover.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s