Christie's Corner

Christie's Corner
Ontario, Canada
June 02
I'm a professional food writer with a penchant for gadgets and more cookbooks than sense. Join me as I push my newly renovated kitchen to the limits. It's just me, a camera and enough curiosity to keep a blog going for years... My motto: Real food. Real life. It ain't always pretty.


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NOVEMBER 21, 2011 12:15PM

Recipe: Coconut Baked Chicken with Dipping Sauce

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The biggest (okay, only) disappointment in meeting Roger Mooking is he is not a Gemini. How can that be? We’re so alike.

Like me, Roger once felt “like a mad man caught in two worlds.” It took a long time for him to realize his love of food and music both branch from the common root of entertainment. I spent years figuring out my food/writing dichotomy is anchored in story telling. Same thing, if you think about it — only I have a blog and he has a recording studio.

Roger and I also share the tendency to be passionate yet down to earth. When he talks, he waves cilantro about like he’s conducting a Wagnerian opera. There’s no mollycoddling of herbs and romancing of spices. Ask him how to store cilantro and he’ll tell you to wrap it in slightly damp newspaper and stick it in the fridge. You could almost read my tag line in the fallen cilantro leaves.

If these parallels aren’t enough, he loathes his trademark words as much as I regret naming this blog Christie’s Corner. He shakes his head at his catch phrase “obedient ingredient”, which garners him as much hate mail as praise. He also rails against the term “exotic” — despite having a Food Network show and cookbook entitled Everyday Exotic.  “What’s exotic?” he asks, flicking his hands in the air like a dog shaking off water after a swim. “It’s strictly based on relativity!” He picks up a fuzzy tamarind pod and swivels it in his fingers. As a kid he hated them. Why? “Because they fall and I had to pick them up — just like leaves.” Point taken.

The only area on which we don’t agree is sweets. Baking is too precise for him. He finds it too limiting and dislikes the “tedium of measuring.” Me? I’ll do almost anything for a perfect cake.

Although each recipe in Everyday Exotic is triple tested (twice internally by food professionals and a third time by friends or family), at home Roger never makes the same recipe twice. When I challenge him on this claim, he riffs on mashed potatoes:

  • cream
  • whipped cream
  • 2 % milk
  • milk with garlic steeped in it
  • raw garlic
  • roasted fennel
  • riced potatoes with fried skins on top

Okay, Roger. I believe you.

Based on what I had in the fridge, I adopted Roger’s No-Recipe-Made-Twice approach. I cooked up a variation of Coconut Baked Chicken, swapping in cilantro for mint, ground cumin for garlic powder, and boneless chicken thighs for chicken pieces.

Somehow I don’t think he’ll mind.

Review in Brief

This will appeal to: Anyone wanting to expand their cooking repertoire. Most “obedient ingredients” are easy to come by — avocado, buffalo mozzarella, feta, chickpeas and arugula are just a few of the items Mooking explores. All have has at least 3 recipes, so even if you do have to go to the specialty shop, the trip is worthwhile.

If Mooking’s newest TV show, Heat Seekers, scares you, don’t worry. Unlike the show, the spicing in this book isn’t over-the-top hot.

Must Make Recipes:

  • Thai Basil Chicken Soup
  • Five-Spice Lam Burgers with Homemade Cucumber Relish
  • Wonton Ravioli with Apple Cider Glaze

Biggest Delight: Other than having sections dedicated to my favourite ingredients — cilantro, ginger and coconut? His ability to demystify “exotic” ingredients. While the main ingredient may not be familiar, you won’t need specialty equipment. The mix of new and familiar is inspiring and encouraging. Ever been tempted to try King Oyster Mushrooms but were afraid to try? Now’s your chance. Roger’s got your back and some mouth-watering recipes.


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