Lucullun-Adventures, Vol.1, 2nd Edition

Lu.cu.lan (adj)- extremely luxurious, esp. of food.

This week our Lucullun adventure takes us to the exotic locale of East India.

CHICKEN IN COCONUT MILK from The Best-Ever Curry Cookbook

The Ingredients:

-a handful of ground almonds
-a handful of dry, unsweetened, shredded coconut
-2/3 cup coconut milk
-2/3 cup ricotta cheese
-1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
-1 tsp chili Powder
-1 tsp crushed garlic
-1 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
-1 tsp salt
-2 Tbs veggie oil
-1 lb cubed chicken breast fillets
-3 cardamom pods (or 2 tsp card. powder)
-1 bay leaf (we used 3 dried bay leaves)
-1 dried red chili (we opted out of this)
-2 Tbs fresh chopped coriander (optional)
The Business

1: Dry roast the almonds and coconut in a large wok, use no oil. Be sure you brown them, not burn them. We found this embarrassingly difficult. Set aside dry mix in a small bowl.
2: Add the coconut milk, cheese, coriander, chili powder, garlic, ginger, and salt in a medium bowl, mix well. Side note: instead of ricotta cheese, we use the whole can of coconut milk. It tasted great! but was very oily due to the oily nature of coconut. We recommend using the ricotta cheese/coconut milk combo instead.

3: Heat the veggie oil in the wok and add chicken, cardamom, and bay leaf. Stir fry for about 2-3 minutes (ours took about 4) until you no longer see pink chicken bits.

4: Pour in coconut mixture and stir. Zap the heat to low, add the chili and coriander. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid reduces by at least 1/4 (or more if you want it thicker).

5: Uncover and simmer for 2-3 more minutes, stirring frequently. Garnish the finished dish with the dried almond-coconut crunchies mix.

Serves four.
A great way to serve this puppy would be with nan or basmatti rice. If you like, keep some of the extra sauce to pour over rice for leftovers. It only gets better after a day or two.

The Outcome:

ck: very tasty. The coconut is subtle enough to taste the garlic in there. I was a little concerned about the shredded coconut. I was unable to find unsweetened shredded coconut. Instead, I washed sweetened coconut in a large sieve over the sink. I rung out all the water several times, then patted it dry with a kitchen towel. It worked great. I wished we would've had ricotta cheese, as the coconut was very oily and made the sauce look orange (its supposed to be a creamy white color). 4/5

che: oily, but good. It was a little tough to sense when the chicken was done because of all the sauce. I might cook them through for another few minutes before adding the coconut mix next time. 3.5/5

Try this at home! It easy to replicate and takes no time at all.

By the way, thats grapejuice and and a bottle of gingerale...in case you were wondering.


Its Curtains for You

I've received word that my father-in-law is going to visiting our little slice of heaven in less than a week. You know what that means...we have to make it look like adults actually live here. I'm now attempting to finish (or at least partially finish) as many home improvement projects as possible. I can't get them all done, but I figure I can choose a few from the list:

-recovering the up-cycled loveseat.

-painting the bathroom

-recovering all the old throw pillows

-framing fabric (more on this one later)

-painting details on the huge storage chest, coffee table and rocker in the living room

-sanding/staining the bathroom medicine chest

So much to do with little time. I figure the two most pressing jobs first, that is the couch and painting the bathroom. The loveseat is pretty important as it is the only thing to sit on in the living room. And the bathroom? Well, its just gross. You'll just have to tune in later to see who wins out.


I completed a project today, actually.

We have groovy french doors that separate the britchen and living room. My only complaint about these awesome vintage doors is the lack of privacy, that is, the glass is completely uncovered. Putting curtains on these babies would be complicated (i.e. drilling, placing rods, finding curtains to fit) and pricey. Instead, I went the cost effective/visually simple route, my old friend paper.

I picked up this trick, believe it or not in bible school. I was seven and it was Christmas. Our bible school teacher had us make stained glass ornaments from oiled butcher paper. Flash forward to my high school years and I was re-creating 15th century European cathedral stained glass on my bedroom windows. My tools? Oil and colored crepe paper. I discovered if you oiled a window and simply applied the paper shapes to it, the paper would create a semi permanent and opque bond to the glass. Beautiful.

There is a distinct lack of views from our first floor apartment, that is from the bottom panes, anyway. So I've covered the bottom panes of our back windows in white geometric patterns using white crepe paper. The effect in the daytime is a pleasing creamy wash of light, while in the night time, the patterns really standout. Using a water-glue concoction I can layer paper as many times as I want.

I've done the same to our lovely french doors. Take a look:




Culen-adventures Begin!

Hey folks,

Been a while hasn't it? Sorry about that. che and I have been doing so much lately that the blogging was on the back burner for a bit. No worries- I have plenty of new blog-worthy material to share with you over this coming week. So check in often...

First up, a new tradition from the Wallings, jr kitchen:


Lu.cu.lan (adj)- extremely luxurious, esp. of food.

Every weekend, or close to anyway, che and I will whip out one of our many cookbooks and try a new and fabulous recipe. Lucky for you, we’ll share our joys and dismal failures with you here, In the Nest. With no further a due…

For our first lucullan-adventure, we decided to shake it up with two Spanish entrees and a Hawaiian dessert. Lets begin.

From our ‘Tapas’ cookbook comes CHICKEN IN LEMON & GARLIC.

This ones easy-ish, and not too exotic. We halved the recipe, which usually serves six to eight. The ingredients (in the original measures) are as follows:

-4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
-5 Tbs olive oil
-1 onion, finely chopped
-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
-1 grated lemon peel, save the juice of the lemon
-4 Tbs chopped parsley, extra to garnish
-salt and pepper

The Business: Slice up the chicken into thin(ish) strips. Cook the onions for about five minutes in a large saucepan (very large, like titanic). Add the garlic to the onion, cook 30 seconds without browning the onion or garlic. Add chicken. Cook thoroughly. When the chicken is no longer pink on the inside, add the lemon juice and peel. Simmer until the garlic and lemon create a glaze on the bottom of the pan. Mix the chicken and glaze a few times, otherwise the lemon will burn on the pan, bad news bears. Add salt and pepper to taste. Plate it up with a spring of something green, some extra lemon juice and fancy lemon peel.

The Outcome:
Ck- Not bad at all. Lemony, but not too lemony. I might add a bit more garlic, as it seemed to get lost in the citrus. 4/5
Che- tasty. 4/5

Next up, also from the ‘Tapas’ cookbook- TORTILLA ESPANOLA

This dish is basically the Spanish version of potato pan cakes, not at all the Taco Bell tortilla that it’s name implies.

The Ingredients:
-1 lb waxy potatoes (no idea what makes a potato waxy. We went with red potatoes)
-1 ¾ cups Olive oil, you’ll likely be needing more than that
-2 onions chopped, we used ½ that with plenty of onion-ness in the finished dish
-2 large eggs
-salt and pepper
-fresh parsley to garnish

The Business: Peel and cut the potatoes and onions into small cubes. Heat up the olive oil in the pan, add the onions and potatoes. Here’s the tricky part: heat the little devils so they become soft but not browned or falling apart. That’s what the book says, you got me how to actually accomplish that. We failed big time. While the onions and potatoes stubbornly brown despite your efforts, beat the eggs in a small bowl with salt and pepper to taste. Once the potato-onion cook-fest is done (about 20 minutes on low/medium heat), strain the extra oil and set aside to use in a bit. Add the eggs to the onions and potatoes in a large bowl. Heat up the olive oil you strained in the large sauce pan. Add the egg potato mixture to the pan , flatten and cook for 3-5 minutes. The underside should be setting by then. The whole thing should be similar to a very potato-y omelet. Loosen the pan cake with a spatula, place a plate over the top of the skillet and slip the pan cake onto the plate. Slide it back in to the pan, browned side up. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. To serve, cut into several slices like a pizza and garnish with parsley.

The Outcome:
Ck: Loved it. So tastey. I was worried the onions would overpower the dish, but they cooked down into a really mild yummyness. 4.5/5
Che: the flipping was way to hard. We failed in that department majorly. They just wouldn’t stick together. There was no way to flip them as directed in the cookbook. But they did taste ubergood. 3.5/5


This is actually a Hawaiian breakfast entrée, akin to French toast. I kicked up the sugar and vanilla extract a notch to make it more dessert worthy.

The Ingredients:
-fresh fruit of your choice, we chose blueberries, mango, and starfruit
-Banana, sliced (we skipped this)
-Passion fruit , which we substituted for more obtainable Manjo-Orange jucie, 1 ½ cups
-sugar, 2 tbs (I put in about a 1/4 cup)
-4 egg whites
-1/4 cup orange juice
-1 tsp vanilla extract (I used 2 TB)
-whole grain bread, four slices
For the cheesecake cream:
-1/2 cup ricotta cheese
-1/4 ts lemon zest (I used a 1 TB)
-1/2 ts vanilla extract (I used 1 TB)
-2 TB powdered sugar (I used ¼ cup)
(combine all four ingredients in mixer until creamy)

The Business: Combine the passion fruit juice, sugar and fresh fruit. Let the fruit marinate in the syrup while you work. Combine eggs, OJ and vanilla. Wisk until mixed. Dunk the bread slices and slap some premade cheesecake cream on them, making a sandwich with two slices of dunked bread. Cover and set in the fridge for about 10 minutes. In a large skillet, melt 1 TB of butter. Cook each sandwich, browning both sides. To serve, cut each sandwich in halves, spoon mixed fruit and syrup over the slices. We put some powered sugar on there as well and garnished with star fruit slices.

The Outcome:
Ck: ok. Not really a fan of this one. I want my desserts sa-weet. And this didn’t really do it for me. Even with the extra sugar it was a bit blah. I would also substitute the whole grain bread with white bread. It tasted way too wheaty. 2/5
Che: Liked it. The fruit was very tasty. The “cream cheese” stuff could have been sweeter still. 3/5.

Until next adventure-