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Yotam Ottolenghi's Turmeric Pancakes with Coronation Chicken and Spinach

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I know. Just the name of this meal sounds fussy as all get out. But actually, it's simpler than you think. And you know what else it is? Fun. Also, delicious! Despite the multiple steps, I highly recommend it for your next eat-with-your-fingers meal. And it's fast enough that you could make it on a weeknight, especially if you're the kind of person who remembers to make the chicken salad the day before. (I am not this person yet, but I am constantly striving to become this person!)

What the meal consists of are soft, floppy crêpe-style pancakes (flavored with cumin and turmeric, which gives them a Day-Glo hue), filled with coronation chicken salad (which is just boiled chicken mixed with yogurt, curry powder and mango chutney, essentially) and some sautéed spinach. Before eating, you add fresh cilantro, shredded coconut and an essential lime squeeze. Roll it up, eat it, done!

Picky children may react suspiciously to the meal at first. If you let them fill their own pancake, from all the little bowls that you have set out containing the various elements of the filling, they might relent in their resistance somewhat. Maybe. Of course, letting them fill their own pancake means they may only eat the chicken salad and the pancake? But so be it! You will be so happy stuffing yourself that you won't even mind.

(Some of these children may be heartened to know that the chicken salad contains no mayonnaise, only yogurt.

(Maybe don't mention the mango chutney?)

(While we're doing this, I should say that you could, arguably, even leave out the spinach entirely. I tried these with and without spinach and give you full permission to skip it.)

(Good-bye.)

Turmeric Pancakes with Coronation Chicken and Spinach
Adapted from The Guardian
Serves 4

For the pancakes:
300g all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 eggs
Salt
600ml whole milk
Vegetable oil for the pan

For the coronation chicken:
4 cooked chicken breasts, skinned and finely shredded (400g net weight)
200g plain whole-milk yogurt
1½ teaspoon medium curry powder
3 tablespoons mango chutney
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon lime juice

For the spinach:
40g unsalted butter, or ghee
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1.5cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
300g baby spinach

To serve:
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges
A handful of fresh cilantro stalks, optional
30g dried shredded coconut, optional
30g store-bought fried onions, optional

1. Start with the pancake batter. In a large bowl, mix the flour, cumin, turmeric, eggs and a teaspoon of salt. Add a little milk and whisk to a smooth, thick paste. Slowly whisk in the rest of the milk, until you have a smooth, fairly thick batter, then refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

2. For the coronation chicken: In a large bowl mix the shredded chicken, yogurt, curry powder, chutney, turmeric, lime juice and a teaspoon of salt, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 8 hours before serving. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving, and stir in the cilantro.

3. For the greens, on a medium-high flame, melt the butter in a large saute pan for which you have a lid. Once it starts bubbling, add the onion and fry for five to six minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, tomato paste and a good pinch of salt, and fry for a minute more. Add the spinach, cover the pan and cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until most of the water has evaporated and the spinach has wilted/cooked. Reheat before serving, or leave to cool to room temperature.

4. When you're ready to eat: Drizzle some vegetable or olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan on a medium-high heat. When it's hot, add three to four tablespoons of batter and swirl and shake the pan so the batter spreads out evenly over the base in a round. Fry for a minute or two on each side, until golden brown (if the pan gets too hot, turn down the heat to medium). Place the cooked pancake in a warm oven while you repeat with the remaining batter. You should end up with approximately 12 pancakes.

5. To serve, put the chicken and spinach in separate bowls on the table. Place a pancake on each plate, then add a few spoonfuls of chicken and spinach. Top with some fresh cilantro, dried coconut and fried onions, if using, then squeeze some lime juice over. Roll up the pancake and eat.


A Day in Milan with Neff at EuroCucina 2018

Last week, I took a little break from my everyday life. I packed a tote bag full of old New Yorker issues, some eye drops and a snack, snuck out of the house before anyone was awake, got in a cab and went to the airport. Then I flew to...Milan.

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I was in Milan for the Salone del Mobile, the largest furniture trade fair in the entire world, and specifically to visit the EuroCucina - an exhibition hall full of kitchen companies showcasing their latest developments (mostly technological developments, though I couldn't help ogling a lush Dolce & Gabbana run of Smeg refrigerators or a 6-burner turquoise lacquered La Cornue stove situation, you know, for your run-of-the-mill country estate).

My host was Neff, the kitchen company that I've done some work with in the past. At their stand, a cozier, homier one than most of the others, which were outfitted to look far more cutting edge and futuristic, fresh fruits and vegetables were part of the display, as were big sacks of dry goods and gorgeously hued piles of spices and herbs. Sonia Peronaci, an Italian blogger who founded the country's largest cooking website, Giallo Zafferano (which my mom uses on the regular), held down the fort there with a slew of cooking demos.

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I had the pleasure of joining Sonia for a demo and we cooked side-by-side, making pork belly and salmon that was then devoured in about 27 seconds flat by the gathering crowd. Before the food was gobbled up, though, it was plated on a series of gorgeous handmade plates by Reiko Kaneko.

Kaneko is a Central Saint Martins trained ceramicist whom Neff commissioned to make a series of plates inspired by the "science of gastrophysics." Kaneko worked together with Professor Charles Spence, an expert in multisensory perception, specifically sensory perception of food, to create the three plates. One is for starters, one for mains and one is a dessert vessel. Their colors, textures and shapes elevate the various flavor profiles of the foods they are meant to showcase.

So, for example, the starter plate, oblong and unevenly ridged, enhances the flavor of salty, savory food, specifically seafood. The plate for mains is slightly more bowl-like, with a lacquered surface and higher sides, is meant to enhance the flavor of spicy foods. The round dessert bowl in soft pink increases the perception of sweetness and fruitiness in desserts, especially those made with berries.

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After my demo was complete, I got to have lunch at one of the fair's staff cafeterias, hidden up on the top of the building. Since we were in Italy, the cafeteria food was - no surprise - pretty amazing. Think tiny meatballs in tomato sauce, delicious boiled broccoli (I know!), possibly the best white lasagna I've ever had. Even the tangerine I pilfered from the fruit bowl for later was perfect. Oh, Italy!

I took a nice, long wander of the Salone, marveled at the supreme elegance of the men and women all around me, then made my way back to the airport and, later still, my delicious boys asleep in their beds. What a day!

This post was sponsored by Neff.