Thursday, December 27, 2012

Salmon with Black Current Mustard Sauce

After the rush of the holidays, it was nice to get the chance to just make a simple dinner. I made pan-seared salmon with a black current mustard sauce. To go with it, I made a spinach, apple, and walnut salad with a bacon syrup vinaigrette, and baby Yukon gold potatoes sauteed with garlic.

This gave me the opportunity to use a couple of my Christmas presents. A jar of Trader Jaque's Black Current Mustard was in my stocking, and a friend gave me a bottle of Torani Bacon Syrup. Probably not surprisingly, I got quite a lot of food swag for Christmas.

The mustard sauce was simple, just the some black current mustard, some fresh dill, and a little honey. The potatoes were par-boiled, then sauteed in olive oil with a little garlic and sea salt. The salad was fresh baby spinach, thin sliced gala apple, and walnuts, with a vinaigrette of apple cider vinegar, sesame oil, bacon syrup, cinnamon, and salt.

I was happy with the meal. I thought it was well balanced.


Pan-seared Salmon with Black Current Mustard Sauce

2 4 oz. Salmon fillets
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. black current mustard
1 tbsp. minced fresh dill
2 tsp. honey

In a small bowl, mix together mustard, dill, and honey, set aside.

Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Cook fillets flesh side down until lightly browned. Flip fillets, and cook until skin is crispy.

Plate fillets, spoon sauce over fish.

Bacon Syrup Vinaigrette

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. bacon syrup
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. sea salt

Place all ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk vigorously, until well emulsified.

Happy Eating!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Grades and Textbooks

Sorry I haven't been blogging. I've been atrociously sick, and haven't been cooking for almost three weeks. I'm feeling better, and I will be doing a lot of cooking for Christmas eve. Hopefully I'll be putting up tapas recipes soon.

I got my grades from last semester. I'm happy to report I got an A+ in my Wines of the World class. I've ordered my textbooks for both my classes in spring, and the first one had arrived. The text for the basic savory course is The Professional Chef, 9th edition. Paging through it, I am excited. Should be interesting.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Moscato Zabaglione

Last night, my wine class was doing wines of Italy. As always, I wanted to do something appropriate for the potluck. Looking at what was available, I thought I'd go with a zabaglione, a traditional Italian dessert, which is a light, foamy custard-like dessert. Typically, it uses Marsala wine. I've never liked the one's I've had that had Marsala in them. But, I've long since learned that just because haven't liked a food, means I don't like a food. My tastes may have changed, or I just haven't had the right variation, yet. I had some Moscato, so I thought I'd use that. It is a fairly easy dessert, as long as you are careful. It involves whipping egg yolks, sugar, and wine over a double boiler until it is light, fluffy, and stable. That gets cooled, and then whipped cream is folded in.

A classmate made homemade biscotti, and the two desserts went very well together. For a change, my classmates didn't devour everything, so I had enough to take back to the spouse. Given she licked out her bowl, I'm guessing she liked it.

There is something to Marsala that gives a funky taste to the zabaglione that I find unpleasant. I liked the Moscato a lot, however. It was much lighter, and somewhat sweeter. Also, since this is cooked over a double boiler, it does not get hot enough to evaporate out the alcohol. Since Marsala is fortified, it may be the higher alcohol taste that puts me off. I wished I'd had some blackberries, because I think that would have gone very well with this dessert. Zabagliones are typically served in a martini glass.

Moscato Zabaglione

6 egg yolks
3/4 cup Moscato
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream

Whip cream to stiff peaks, set aside.

You will need a stock pot and a stainless steel bowl. Put enough water in the stockpot such that, when you put the bowl on top of the pot, the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Place pot on medium-low heat, and bring just to a simmer. Turn heat down slightly.

Place bowl on top of the pot. Place egg yolks, sugar, and wine in the bowl. Whisk vigorously, until mixture is lighter in color, and fluffy, about the consistency of whipped cream at soft peaks. Remove from heat, place bowl in an ice water bath, and continue to whisk until zabaglione is at room temperature. Gently fold in whipped cream. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Happy Eating!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Spring Registration

I have registered for the fall semester. I got into both the basic savory and basic baking classes. I'm very excited, and a little nervous. Here's where I really see what I am made of. Can I hack it? I think so, but we'll see. A friend promised me she'd buy my knives as a christmas gift. I'll see what the baking kit requires, the spouse has a lot of stuff from her Wilton courses, so I might already have a fair amount of stuff. Need to see if the books are available used on Amazon.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Black Hat Tea Recipes: Part III, the Sweet Course

This is the third post with recipes for the Black Hat Tea. Part I, the Savory Course, and Part II, the Scone Course, are already posted. The three sweets were Sparkling Cider Pound Cake, Sweet Potato Tarts, and Lady Grey Tea Cookies. The spouse did all these recipes, I can't take credit.


Sparkling Cider Pound Cake

For the glaze:

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. sour apple schnapps, approximately

In a bowl, cream butter into sugar. Add schnapps one teaspoon at a time, whisking glaze after each addition, until glaze is smooth, and thin enough to dip in. Set aside.

For the cake:

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. coarse sea salt
3/4 cup sparkling apple cider
1/4 cup sour apple schnapps
3/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup canola oil
5 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a non-stick mini-bundt pan.

Mix together cider and schnapps. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixture, beat together sugar, oil, and butter until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla extract, beat on high for 3 to 5 minutes, until thicker and lighter in color. Add one third of the flour, beat then add one third of the sour cream and cider mixture, beating until smooth. Repeat, adding baking powder and salt with the second third of the flour.

Spoon each depression of the pan 2/3's full. Bake until golden brown, about 15 to `18 minutes.

Cool on a rack. When cool, trim bottom flat. Dip cakes in glaze.

Sweet Potato Tarts

for the crust:

1 1/2 cup biscotti crumbs
6 tbsp. melted butter

Mix together crumbs and butter until well combined.

for the custard:

2 cups sweet potato, mashed and forced through a sieve
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Mix together all ingredients.

Line the cups of a mini-muffin pan with paper liners. Press a thin layer of crust in the bottom of each liner. Fill liners with custard, about 3/4 full. Bake in a 350 degree oven until custard sets, about 20 minutes. Cool on a rack.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip together one cup heavy cream and one tbsp. sugar, until cream forms stiff peaks. Fill a piping bag with cream. Pipe onto tarts.


Lady Grey Tea Cookies

for the cookies:

1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp. Lady Grey tea leaves
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. water
1/2 cup butter

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together flour, sugars, salt, and tea leaves until tea is well incorporated.  Add vanilla, water, and butter. Pulse until a dough forms.

On a floured surface, roll dough very thin. Cut out cookies, place on an ungreased sheet pan. Bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.

For the frosting:

Place one cup white chocolate candy melts in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring each time, until all the candy is melted. Brush cookies with a thin layer of the melted chocolate.

Happy Eating!

Vine Cottage

For my Wines of the World class, we were required to go to a wine bar, and ask questions. The spouse had signed up with the San Diego Union-Tribune to get special deals notices in her e-mail. Knowing about the assignment, she purchased a pay $25, get a $50 coupon for the Vine Cottage
The Vine Cottage is a little place at 6062 Lake Murray Blvd. in La Mesa, Ca. It has a small dining area, and a small bar. The interior is warmly lit, with lots of natural wood, but a modern aesthetic. It manages to feel cozy but up-to-date at the same time. They need a light on their sign, however. The Brown on beige color scheme of the sign isn't the most visible at the best of times. At twilight, it was almost invisible.

Our server, Audrey, was very pleasant. Cheerful and helpful, she really made us feel welcome. She was more than willing to answer my assignment questions, but kept it to one per table visit. That was fair, she had other tables to deal with.

We decided to get a couple of appetizers, and then see if we were hungry enough for dinner as well. The menu is small, but comprehensive enough. Looking over the menu, they had black mussels. They had me right there. I adore mussels. They offer three sauce choices, we went with the Basque. The Basque sauce has tomatoes, leeks, spicy sausage, and smoked paprika. The mussels were superb. It is ridiculously easy to overcook mussels. These were cooked perfectly. Extraordinarily tender, and perfectly complemented by the sauce.

The other starter we got was the Artisanal Charcuterie & Cheese Board. It came with three very nice cheeses, crusty bread, pate, prosciutto and salami, and some jam and dried fruit. The cheeses were quite good, including a blue that I actually liked, especially with the jam, that mellowed that blue cheese funk down just enough for me to enjoy it. I am generally not fond of moldy cheese. The bread was good, and seriously crusty. There just wasn't enough for the amount of cheese and pate. Luckily, some very nice pub fries came with the mussels, and made a very good base to spread pate onto. It also had some very nice homemade pickles.

I had a glass of a very nice Spanish garnacha to go with the mussels. It was mildly spicy, and matched really well.

We were mostly full, but well under the $50, so decided to have dessert. We had a very nice pear panna cotta. The panna cotta itself was lovely, the poached pears needed a few more minutes poaching, they were still a little crunchy.

I had a very pleasant glass of a dryish tawny port with dessert.

Overall, and excellent experience. The service was friendly, and the server knowledgeable about the food and wines. The food, especially the mussels, was very good. Definitely worth it.

Happy Eating!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Black Hat Tea Recipes: Part II, Scone Course

This is the second post containing recipes for the Black Hat tea. Part I, with the savory course recipes, has already been posted. These are the three scones, Cilantro-Pepita Pesto, Brown Sugar-Pecan with molasses butter, and Caramel Apple Pie. I hope you enjoy.


Cilantro-Pepita Pesto Scones

For the Pesto:

1 cup cilantro leaves
2/3 cup pepitas
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt

Place everything except olive oil in a food processor. While processor is running, slowly dribble in olive oil until pesto is smooth.

For the scones:

3 1/4 cups flour
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup pesto
3/4 cup butter, cut into small cubes
1 tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut butter into flour mixture, until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk and pesto, stirring until just mixed. Dough should be soft. Turn onto a floured surface, knead just until dough holds together, and is not sticky on the surface. Pat to about three-quarters of an inch thick, cut out in three inch diameter circles. Place scones on a well greased sheet pan. Bake until golden brown, between 10 and 12 minutes.

Brown Sugar-Pecan Scones with Molasses Butter

For the scones:

4 cups flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. coarse sea salt
1 cup butter, cut into small cubes
1 3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups chopped toasted pecans

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut butter into flour mixture, until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cream and pecans, until mixture is just moistened. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead just until dough holds together and is not sticky. Pat flat until about 3/4 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut into 2 inch squares.Brush tops of scones with additional cream. Place scones on a well greased sheet pan. bake until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes.

for the butter:

Beat together 1/2 cup butter with 2 tbsp. molasses, until well combined, and butter is fluffy.


Caramel Apple Pie Scones

for the caramel:

1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

In a heavy sauce pan over medium-high heat, whisk together water and sugar until mixture is combined and starting to boil. swirl occasionally, until mixture turns amber. Whisk in butter. Remove from heat, wait three seconds, then slowly whisk in cream. Let cool, set aside.

for the glaze:

1 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. apple juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

In a microwave proof bowl, heat butter and juice just until butter is melted in a microwave. Whisk in sugar and vanilla until smooth.

For the scones:

 1 gala apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/4 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. coarse sea salt
1 ½ cups butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup buttermilk

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, toss together apple, lemon juice, and spices, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut butter into flour mixture, until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add in apple mixture, stir until well combined.

In a measuring cup, mix together buttermilk and juice. Pour a little liquid at a time into the flour mixture Fold the liquid in. Do this just until all dry ingredients are brought in. You may not need to use all the liquid.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead just until dough holds together, and is not sticky. Pat to about 3/4 inch thick;. Using a sharp knife, cut into triangles. Place scones on a well greased sheet pan. Bake until golden brown, about  15 - 20 minutes.

Remove from oven, place on a cooling rack over a sheet pan. While scones are hot, brush with glaze.

Let cool. Just before serving, drizzle lightly with caramel.

As always, Happy Eating!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Black Hat Tea Recipes: Part I, Savory Course

Sorry for the delay. I've been swamped co-ordinating a Medieval Islamic banquet. I hope to get caught up soon. This is the first post for the Black Hat Tea, putting up the recipes for dishes served in the Savory Course. There will be following posts for the Scone and Sweet Courses.


Cold Apple Soup with Apple Schnapps Cream

10 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 quart apple juice
1 cup moscato
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 whole cloves
1 cup whipping cream
4 tbsp. sour apple schnapps

Place all ingredients except cream ans schnappes in a soup pot over medium heat. Simmer until apples are very soft. Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon stick and cloves. Using a immersion blender, process soup until smooth. Let cool, then refrigerate over night.

Place cream in the bowl of a stand mixer with the schnapps. Beat at medium speed, until cream is a little fluffy, but stop before peaks form.

To serve, place soup in bowl. Add a dollop of cream to the center of the bowl.

Pumpkin Bread with Walnut Butter and Pear

For the Pumpkin Bread:

2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves

In a bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together brown sugar and shortening. Add eggs, beat until well combined. Add pumpkin and milk. Mix well. Slowly add flour mixture, mixing until all is combined, and batter is smooth.

Turn batter into a well greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes.

For the Walnut Butter:

1 lb. shelled walnuts
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil (approximately)

Place walnuts in the bowl of a food processor with the salt. Process, slowly dribbling in oil, until they become the texture of peanut butter.

To assemble sandwiches:

Refrigerate bread over night. Using a serrated knife, trim loaf until it is rectangular. Slice thinly. Spread slices with a thin layer of walnut butter, then add a thin slice of ripe pear.

Open Faced Canadian Bacon and Swiss Sandwiches

4 English muffins, split
8 slices Canadian bacon
8 slices Swiss cheese
1/4 cup chipotle jelly
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard

On each half of an English muffin, spread a thin layer of the jelly. Add a piece of Canadian bacon, and place a slice of swiss cheese on top. Spread a thin layer of brown mustard on the cheese. Place under a hot broiler until cheese is melted, bubbly, and just starting to brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.

For the tea, we quartered the sandwiches, since we wanted just small bites.

Stuffing Rounds with Roast Turkey and Cranberry Mustard

For the Stuffing Rounds:

2 cups small peices of dried bread
1 small white onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups milk
4 eggs
2 packages Knorr homestyle chicken stock
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried basil
15 large fresh sage leaves, chiffonaded
Sweat onions and celery in olive oil until tender. Set aside.

Beat together eggs, milk, stock base, salt, oregano, and basil.

Grease a muffin tin. Place a small layer of bread peices in the bottom. Scatter a little onion, celery, and sage in each cup. Ladle in just enough custard mix to cover. Bake in a 350 degree oven until custard sets, about 15 minutes. Remove disks, let cool on racks. Makes about 36 rounds. 

For the sandwiches:

Place a thin slice of turkey breast on a round. Spread a thin layer of cranberry mustard on the turkey slice.

Happy Eating!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Stuffed Pumpkin, Too

Last night for Halloween, the spouse requested stuffed pumpkin. Since I made one recently, I decided I wanted to go in a completely different direction this time. The spouse had purchased a couple of nice little one pound pumpkins, the kind that make great one person meals. She bought two different varieties; one all white, one white with orange stripes. Since I had some chicken breast that needed cooking, I decided to use that. As well I had a lot of apples, and I always have dried bread cubes. I decided a chicken, apple, and cheddar stuffing sounded good.

I sauteed the chicken with some red onion, then mixed it with dried bread cubes, diced apples, and cheddar cheese. I moistened the stuffing with cream, then stuffed the pumpkins. I ended up with enough stuffing for about five or six small pumpkins, so mixed a couple of eggs into the extra and made it into a bread pudding.

I thought this turned out quite good. Chicken, cheddar, and apple is a classic combination. Between the cream and the liquid exuded by the pumpkin, the stuffing was quite moist. The pumpkins picked up the flavor of the onion and cheese as well. The pumpkin is quite good with just a dab of butter or margarine.

Chicken, Apple, and Cheddar Stuffed Pumpkin

6 one pound pumpkins, cleaned
1 1/2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups dried bread cubes
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 gala apple, peeled, cored, and diced
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup heavy cream, approximately
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute chicken in olive oil until about halfway done. Add onion and garlic, and cook until chicken is cooked, and onion is tender. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, mix chicken, bread cubes, apple, and cheese. Moisten with cream, until moist but not soggy.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Stuff mixture into pumpkins,then cover with lid of the pumpkin. Place pumpkins in a shallow baking dish in the oven, then add about 3/4 inch of hot tap water to dish. Bake until stuffing is set, and pumpkin is tender, about one and a half hours. Remove lids about 20 minutes before done, to brown top of stuffing.

Remove from oven, and let rest five minutes. Slice pumpkins in half to serve.

Happy Eating!

HalloweenTreats from My CSA

Halloween was my pickup day from my CSA. It seemed to be a particularly bountiful box. This time we got a head of bronze leaf lettuce, some beets with greens, some variegated eggplant, a lot of kale, two spaghetti squash, some late season tomatoes, some mixed herbs, a couple of onions, clover sprouts, carrots with greens, fennel root, and a large bunch of mint.

I'm particularly happy to have the carrot greens, inasmuch as they make terrific pesto. I love fennel, the spouse isn't so thrilled. I'm looking at a Spanish cream of celery and fennel soup, though, that looks fabulous.

As always, any suggestions on different things to do with the bounty are always appreciated in the comments.

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Black Hat Society Tea

Last year, the spouse started a tradition of doing a tea for Halloween. Riffing on the Red Hat Society and their penchant for teas, she decided there needed to be a Black Hat Society tea for witches. The picture to the left was the inspiration for the party. We borrowed a friend's new place, which is a retired firehouse, to have room for 30 people. The ladies wore a great variety of hats; witches' hats, top hats, classic ladies' hats, and more.

For the food, we wanted to focus on fall flavors. Last year, we made pumpkin the theme, with a pumpkin dish in each course. This year, we chose apple as the theme flavor.We followed a traditional order of courses; savory, scone, and sweet. In this post, I will put up pictures and descriptions of the items, detailed recipes will follow in additional posts.

Savory Course

We made four items for the savory course; cold apple soup,pumpkin bread with walnut butter and pear, broiled open face Swiss and Canadian bacon sandwiches, and stuffing rounds with roast turkey. The savory course was paired with Scottish Breakfast tea. This is a hearty, robust blend of black teas.

Cold Apple Soup with Apple Schnapps Creme

This soup is based on granny smith apples, flavored with moscato, cinnamon, clove, ginger, and honey. The cream is lightly whipped, with some sour apple schnapps to kick up the apple flavor. It was served chilled. The most frequent comment was that it tasted like a really kick-ass apple sauce.

Pumpkin Bread with Walnut Butter and Pear

I made pumpkin bread, which we sliced thin, and topped with a homemade walnut butter, and a slice of fresh pear. This had a great balance of textures and flavors. The crispness of the pear contrasted well with the soft bread and creamy walnut butter. The little touch of bitterness in the nut butter helped balance out the sweetness of the pear and bread.  I think this was a really nice bit of fall in a bite.

Open Faced Canadian Bacon and Swiss Sandwiches

This is a variation on a sandwich my grandfather used to make. The base is one half of an English muffin. A thin layer of a spicy condiment goes next. My grandfather used Mrs. Renfro's Chow Chow, but that is very hard to come by outside of Texas. For this version we used chipotle jelly. Next is a piece Canadian bacon, topped with a piece of Swiss cheese. Finally, a thin layer of spicy mustard. The sandwich is then broiled until the cheese is bubbly and a little caramelized. We  quartered the sandwiches, as the point of the event was small bites.

Stuffing Rounds with Roast Turkey and Cranberry Mustard

I wanted to create a taste of thanksgiving in one bite. I also wanted to continue to expand on what can be used as a base for tea sandwiches. Sage stuffing is one of my top comfort foods, and will definitely be a future post. The round is a little savory bread pudding, flavored with basil, oregano, thyme, onion, celery, and sage. It's topped with a slice of roast turkey, and a little cranberry mustard.

Scone Course

We made three scones for the scone course. I wanted to use the scone course to transition from savory to sweet. We started with a savory cilantro-pepita pesto scone. Next, we presented a pecan-brown sugar scone with molasses butter, and ended with a caramel apple pie scone. A friend made some Devonshire cream to go along with the sweet scones. The scone course was paired with a white tea. This is a light, delicate tea.

Cilantro-Pepita Pesto Scones

For this scone, I made a pesto of cilantro, pepitas, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. This was then incorporated that into the batter for the scones. The cilantro was prevalent but not overwhelming, and gave a great flavor.

Brown Sugar-Pecan Scones

The first sweet scone was a brown sugar-pecan scone. It was mildly sweet, and very nutty. I made a molasses butter to go along with it, to get that pecan pie flavor. They were a hit. They also went well with the Devonshire cream.

Caramel Apple Pie Scones

The final, and sweetest, scone was a caramel apple pie scone. Made with chunks of apple, and with apple juice and buttermilk as the liquid, they were very moist. They were flavored with typical apple pie spices, then glazed with an apple juice powdered sugar glaze, and finally lightly drizzled with homemade caramel. They were a huge hit. The under ten crowd, in particular, loved them.

Sweet Course

We also did three items for the sweet course. These were all the work of the spouse, I can only take credit for final assembly. Continuing with the apple theme, the first sweet was a sparkling cider pound cake, followed by sweet potato tarts with vanilla whipped cream, and finishing on a light note with Lady Grey tea cookies. The sweet course was paired with a Papaya and Passion Fruit tea. We wanted something sweeter, and a little fruity, for the sweet course.

Sparkling Cider Pound Cake

These are a lovely cake, both flavored and partially leavened by sparkling apple cider. The spouse also added a bit of sour apple schnapps, to up the apple flavor. The spouse used a mini bundt pan, to produce delightful little individual cakes.

Sweet Potato Tarts

The next sweet was a sweet potato tart with vanilla flavored whipped cream. The spouse used a biscotti crumb crust on the bottom. The sweet potato was rather laboriously shoved through a sieve, to remove the more fibrous material, and lighten the tarts.

Lady Grey Tea Cookies

We wanted to end on a light note, so the final sweet was Lady Grey tea cookies. This is sort of a shortbread, flavored with Lady Grey tea. The more delicate citrus notes of that tea are very refreshing, and a bit subtler than Earl Grey tea. They are lightly frosted.

Recipes will follow in subsequent posts.

This was a great event, and I'm already looking forward to next year.

Happy Eating!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Islamic Medieval Dinner 2

As I've mentioned before, I am co-ordinating a medieval Islamic banquet next month, and I am testing out recipes. Previous experiments can be seen here and here. This time, I was working on recipes for chicken with pistachios, carrots and leeks with tahini, and lentils with taro and chard.

The chicken was diced, sauteed, then covered with chicken stock and simmered a bit with the coarsely chopped pistachios. I like it, but I think it is crying out for just a hint of cardamom. I think that would really pop the pistachios.

The carrots and leeks are simmered in vegetable stock, and spiced with tahini, nutmeg, clove, pepper, and ginger. I think next time I will get the carrots almost done before adding the leeks.

Taro is an interesting beast. The skin is quite tough, but the buggers are slippery as heck when peeled. According to sources on the web, some people react to the raw taro, which can cause an itching sensation on the hands, or in the mouth, if eaten under-cooked. I did not learn this until after I peeled and diced them, so apparently I am not one of those people. They can have a slimy texture, but I found that if boiled to tender, then drained and rinsed, they can have the same texture as boiled potato. Chard really has two components, the leaf and the stem. Both are delicious, but need to be handled differently. I diced up the thick stems, and sauteed them in  oil for a few minutes, until tender. The leaf I just rough chopped, then added to the lentils just at the end of cooking. The cooked taro was added just before serving, as well.These were quite good. The spouse said they were the star of the plate.


Chicken with Pistachios

2 chicken breasts, diced
1 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
1 cup chicken stock
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. olive oil

In a skillet, saute chicken in olive oil over medium-high heat until half way done. Add stock, pistachios, and salt, cook until chicken is cooked but tender.

Carrots and Leeks with Tahini

5 medium carrots, cut into 1/2 inch wide, 4 inch long pieces
white part of 1 large leek, quartered and cut into 4 inch long pieces
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tbsp. tahini
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
a pinch of clove
salt to taste

In a saucepan, simmer carrots in stock until mostly tender. Add leeks and spices. Cook until both carrots and leeks are tender. Drain, toss with tahini and salt.

Lentils with Taro and Chard

1 cup lentils
4 small taro roots
5 leaves of chard
2 cups vegetable stock
4 cups water
salt to taste
1 tbsp. oil

Peel and dice taro. (Care should be used with raw taro, it can cause itching. Safest to wear gloves). In a saucepan simmer taro in 4 cups water, until tender,  15 to 20 minutes. Drain, then rinse thoroughly. Set aside.

Separate chard stems from leaves. Dice stems, chop leaves into roughly 1 inch square pieces. Saute stems in oil over medium heat until tender. Set aside.

Simmer lentils in stock until tender, between 15 and 20 minutes. add water as necessary to keep lentils covered. When tender, stir in taro, chard stems, and chard leaves. Cook until chard leaves are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Salt to taste.

Happy Eating!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Easy Flat bread

I'm co-ordinating a medieval Islamic feast next month, so I am experimenting with some recipes before hand. Some of my previous experiments can be seen here. The kitchen we are using has two pizza ovens, so I'm interested to see if we can bake our own flat bread. I looked around the web at a number of recipes, and decided to base mine on this one, which uses the dough recipe here. It really is one of the easiest bread recipes I've ever made, and pretty fast, too. It took me 22 minutes to bake 8 rounds, with four in the oven at a time. The dough takes a total of 20 minutes to produce.

Easy Flat bread

2 cups warm water
1 pkg. yeast
4 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
5 cups flour
1/4 cup canola oil

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix water, yeast, sugar, salt, and 2 cups flour. Cover with a warm, damp cloth and let stand ten minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 550 degrees.

Add 3 cups of flour, and oil to bowl. Place on mixer with a dough hook. Let dough hook work dough on medium speed for ten minutes.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Dough will be soft and a little sticky. Work in just enough flour to make dough handleable. Divide into eight balls. Roll out balls one at a time to 1/8 inch thick.
Place  flat bread on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake until lightly brown on top, about 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool on a cooling rack.

My Refridgerator Runneth Over

Our CSA provided us with a rather voluminous bounty this week. Still transitioning from summer to autumn. Got two heads of lettuce. I have such a surfeit of lettuce, any good ideas beyond the usual? Getting more of the sturdier greens; kale, rainbow chard, and beet greens. Moving to fall squashes; got a nice butternut squash, and some lovely round yellow squash. I found that they make a great vegetarian meal, as squash Parmesan. Lots of fresh rosemary and cilantro. One yellow, and one white onion. Three beets, which may be pickled. Radish sprouts, which I love. And, finally, another favorite of mine, wax beans. As always, I'm open to suggestions, if anyone has any great ideas to use this bounty up, post a comment.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Grilled Chicken Strata

Some friends stayed over at our place Friday, and as we had a busy day planned Saturday, I wanted to make a hearty breakfast, but still keep it simple. Strata is a great way to do this. Strata is a savory bread pudding, and, like quiche (which is another post), it is infinitely flexible. This version used grilled chicken, but it is great with bacon, ham, sausage, ground meat, or even just vegetables. I usually use onion, garlic, and peppers. It's one of the reasons to keep old bread.
Grilled Chicken Strata
1 cup diced grilled chicken
2 1/2 dried bread cubes
3 cherry peppers, diced
1/2 large white onion, diced
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 eggs
2 cups milk
1 tbsp. prepared spicy brown mustard
1 tsp. kosher salt
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a well greased 8 inch glass or ceramic baking dish, scatter bread cubes. Distribute chicken, onion, and peppers over bread cubes.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, mustard, and salt. Gently pour over bread cubes. Spread cheese over the top. Bake until custard is set, and cheese is melted, about 40 minutes.
Happy Eating!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Turkey Meatball Stroganoff

I wanted to do something hearty and simple last night, so went with meatball stroganoff. I had a pound of ground turkey defrosted that needed used up. I love beef stroganoff, but this recipe helps cut back on the fat. I substitute non-fat Greek yogurt for the sour cream. I used a can of Progresso Recipe Starters Creamy Portobello Mushroom instead of mushroom soup, because I had it. I think it produced a rich, creamy sauce. I also used Amish Country Kitchen Homestyle Noodles. These are a thicker, more robust noodle than most commercial egg noodles, and held up to the sauce quite well.

I made a green salad of mixed leaf lettuce, zucchini, yellow cherry tomatoes, and cherry peppers. I had a bit of pepper roulette with that salad. I tasted one, and it was sweet and not at all hot. I cut up a second one, and did not try it. I was a bit surprised by a bit of heat when I had the salad, although not unpleasantly.

Turkey Meatball Stroganoff

For meatballs:
1 lb. ground turkey
1 small white onion, diced
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
2/3 cup fine bread crumbs

For the sauce:
1 package sliced fresh mushrooms
1 can Progresso Recipe Starters Creamy Portobello Mushroom
3/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup red wine
1 tsp. paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Make meatballs by mixing together meatball ingredients, and forming into approximately one inch diameter balls. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add two tablespoons canola oil. Brown meatballs, then remove from pan. Turn heat down to medium. De-glaze pan with red wine. Add mushroom sauce, yogurt, paprika, salt, and pepper. Add mushrooms, return meatballs to pan. Cook until mushrooms are tender, and sauce has thickened. Serve over egg noodles.

Happy Eating!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Stuffed Pumpkin

One thing I always look forward to in the fall is pumpkins. When the spouse and I were newly married, we saw stuffed pumpkin in a cookbook. Intrigued, we tried it, and loved it. So, we make at least one every fall. Our CSA gave us a lovely little pumpkin in our last box. I use ground meat and rice, with onion, peppers, garlic, and herbs. The pumpkin itself is very nice with a little butter.

A great side benefit is the seeds. I rinse them thoroughly, making sure to separate them from any flesh. I spread the damp seeds on a cookie sheet, and sprinkle them with kosher salt and chili powder. I bake them in a 350 degree oven until crispy, about 10 minutes. they are a great snack.

Stuffed Pumpkin

1 10 inch diameter pumpkin
3 cups cooked rice
1 lb. ground turkey
1 medium white onion
2 medium yellow sweet peppers
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Cut off top, remove seeds and loose flesh. Save the seeds for later. Brown meat, when mostly done, add onion and cook a few minutes. Add peppers, herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper, cook until onion and peppers are tender. Let meat cool.

Mix rice, meat mixture, and egg. Stuff mixture into pumpkin. Excess stuffing can be placed in a loaf pan, and bake with the pumpkin for the last 1/2 hour.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Place pumpkin in a shallow baking dish with about 3/4 inch of water. Bake until pumpkin is tender, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Remove from oven, let rest five minutes before slicing to serve. One pumpkin this size feeds three.

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Spicy Pear Empanadas

In my wine class last week, we were covering the wines of Argentina and Chile. I always like to make something typical of the region, like the red cabbage for Germany. Looking around, I found pear empanadas were considered a typical dessert for Chile. My recipe is based off of this one I found on The cheesy, salty pastry contrasts nicely with the sweet, spicy filling. I made a double batch, getting twenty seven empanadas, so figure 12 to 14 from one batch. It went really well with the Chilean whites, especially a Carmenere and a Torrontes.

Spicy Pear Empanada

2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated aged cotija cheese
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
12 tsp. butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
1 egg yolk
up to  1/3 cup ice water

6 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and diced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 small lime, cut in half
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 whole cloves
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 egg yolk
1 tbsp. heavy cream

to make pastry:
In the bowl of a food processor, add flour, cheese, salt, and butter. Pulse several times, processing until flour mix resembles coarse meal. Add egg yolk and two teaspoons water. Pulse several times. Add water, one teaspoon at a time, pulsing several times bettweeen each, until dough just starts to come together. Remove from processor, form into two disks. Wrap disks in plastic wrap, refridgerate for at least one hour.

To make filling:
Place all ingredients except vanilla in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Simmer, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has evaporated, and pears are tender. Remove from heat, remove lime halves and cloves, and stir in vanilla. Let cool.

To make empanadas:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together egg yolk and cream to makre glaze.

Working with one disk of dough at a time, roll out dough to under 1/4 inch thickness. If dough is too crumbly to work, dampen and fold a few times. Cut into 3 inch rounds. Place 1 tsp. of filling on each round. dampen edges, fold and press to seal. Use a fork to press the edges.  Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet, and brush with glaze. Bake 15 - 20 minutes, until golden brown.

First Fall Harvest

We got our first box of produce for fall from our CSA. ?Starting to transition from summer to fall produce. Still getting peppers(both sweet and hot), tomatoes, and lettuce (head and mixed leaf), but also getting bitter greens, this time kale, sunflower sprouts, a couple of white onions, a pile of zucchini, cilantro, and a small baking pumpkin. I'm excited for the pumpkin, because I will be stuffing and baking that. Look for that in an upcoming post.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Medieval Islamic Dinner

A couple of friends have been enthusiastically asking me to cook for them for awhile. We finally found a mutually acceptable date, so the spouse and I went over to their place, and I had the pleasure of cooking for them. I'd been wanting to try some dishes that I'm thinking about for a feast I am co-ordinating in November. I wanted to give them maximum bang for their buck, so to speak, so did the full meal thing: appetizer, main dish, dessert.

For the appetizer, I made a chickpea paste with pita bread. This is an ancestor of humus, but without tahini. It's flavored with preserved lemons, white wine vinegar, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, and served with fresh mint and parsley, and olive oil. I really liked it. The pickled lemons gave it a unique tang. I did have to run the food processor longer than I usually do to make humus, the lemon was resistant. The fresh herbs added a nice contrast.

For the main dish, I made spice rubbed sauteed beef cubes with almond stuffed dates, on a bed of walnut butter couscous, with fried eggplant with a sweet and sour sauce. The beef is a London broil, cut into cubes. I tossed it with a spice rub of coriander, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger,and kosher salt. It was sauteed with dates stuffed with whole blanched almonds. The sweet dates added a nice contrast to the spicy beef.  I cooked the beef just to a nice medium rare. It came out juicy and tender. The walnut butter couscous was rich and fragrant, I'm particularly happy with it. The eggplant was fried in shallow oil, until brown. It was dressed with a sauce of lemon juice, white wine vinegar, sugar, cilantro, parsley, mint, garlic, black pepper, ginger, and cinnamon. The acid of the sauce helped cut the richness of the beef and couscous.

For dessert, I kept it simple. I made fried bananas with pistachio syrup. The bananas were fried in a little butter on the griddle, until golden brown. The syrup was a simple syrup of sugar and water, with a little salt, and rough chopped pistachios. For all it's simplicity, it was very good. It was missing a cold component and a little acid, though. I think next time I will serve it with a little cardamon-honey creme fraiche.

All-in-all, I'm very pleased with this meal. I feel I'm starting to get a handle on plating. I felt really good about timing and multi-tasking to get all the components of the main dish to finish at the same time. I think the balance of flavors, and textures was spot on.


Chickpea Paste with Preserved Lemon

1 8 oz. can chickpeas
1/2 a preserved lemon
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. chopped mint
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tbsp. olive oil

Drain chickpeas, reserving 1/4 cup of liquid. Place chickpeas, chickpea liquid, lemon, vinegar, spices, and salt into a food processor. Process until smooth. Place on a platter, sprinkle with fresh herbs, drizzle with olive oil. Serve with wedges of flat bread, like lavosh or pita.

Sauteed Beef with Dates

1 1/2 lbs London boil
8 oz. pitted dates
1/3 cup blanched whole almonds
2 tbsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. whole coriander seeds
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. olive oil

Carefully insert an almond into the cavity of each date, set aside. Cut beef into 3/4 inch cubes. Grind up coriander in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. In a small bowl, mix salt and spices. Toss beef cubes with spice mix until well coated. In a frying pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil. Add dates, saute for a couple of minutes, then add beef. Cook until meat is browned, but still pink in the middle.

Walnut butter couscous

2/3 cup walnuts
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. kosher salt
2 cups dried couscous
4 cups boiling water

Place walnuts in a food processor. Process, drizzling in olive oil until walnuts are a thick, peanut butter-like paste. Set aside. Place couscous in a bowl, pour on boiling water. Let sit 10 minutes, until water is absorbed. Use a spoon to fluff up couscous. Add walnut butter and salt, stir until butter is incorporated.

Fried Eggplant with Sweet and Sour Sauce

1 eggplant
juice of 1 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. chopped mint
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
canola oil for frying

In a small saucepan, simmer juice, vinegar, spices, herbs, salt and sugar over medium-low heat. Cook until sugar dissolves, and garlic is tender.

Slice eggplant into 1/2 thick slices. Put a thin layer of canola oil into a frying pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, fry eggplant on both sides until brown, place on paper towels to drain. Plate eggplant, drizzle with sauce.

Fried Bananas with Pistachio Syrup

3 bananas, sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices
1/2 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
1 tbsp. butter
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt

Place water, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer until sugar and salt are dissolved, let cook until slightly thickened. Stir in nuts, set aside.

Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat. When hot, lightly coat with butter. Fry bananas on both sides until bananas are caramelized, and softened. Plate sauce, arrange bananas on top.

Happy Eating!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

German Red Cabbage

For my wine class tonight, we were tasting German wines. So, I decided to make a German style red cabbage. I used the crock pot to slow cook it. It was flavored with apple, red onion, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, caraway, celery seed, black pepper, and apple cider vinegar. I was really happy with it. The spiciness and apple matched really well with a fruity and peppery Riesling.

German Red Cabbage

1 large red cabbage, shredded
2 small red onions, diced
2 Fuji apples, diced
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. caraway seed
1 1/2 tsp. celery seed
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 pinches ground clove
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

Place 1/4 of cabbage in a crock pot. Layer 1/3 of apples and onions. Sprinkle on 1/3 of spices. Repeat twice more. Cover with last 1/4 of cabbage. Pour vinegar over cabbage. Put on lid, cook on high for at least 6 hours. Stir thoroughly before serving.

Happy Eating!

Chicken Party Recipes Part 2

So this is the second set of recipes for the Chicken Party. The first four recipes are already up.

Ravioli with Hazelnut-Sage Chicken

1 9 oz. package fresh mini ravioli
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 + 3 tbsp. butter
12 fresh sage leaves
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
salt and pepper to taste

Cook ravioli according to package directions. Drain when done, set aside.

While ravioli is cooking:

In a saute pan, heat olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Saute chicken, seasoning with salt and pepper. When browned, remove from pan. Add 3 tbsp. butter, sage, and lemon zest. Cook until sage is tender. Return chicken to pan, add ravioli. Toss, cook until everything is hot. Garnish with hazelnuts.

Maple-Pomegranate Glazed Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Skewers

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 lb. bacon, cut into 4 inch pieces
6 green onions cut into 4 inch pieces
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp. ginger

Soak bamboo or wooden skewers in water. Wrap chicken pieces in bacon, place on skewers with scallion pieces. Mix pomegranate molasses, maple syrup, and ginger. Grill skewers, brushing with glaze. Cook, turning frequently, until both chicken and bacon are done.

Sweet Pepper-Zucchini Slaw

3 medium zucchini, shredded
4 small sweet peppers, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 + 1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. pomegranate molasses
1/3 cup pomegranate flavored dried cranberries

Place shredded zucchini in a colander with 1 tsp. kosher salt. Let sit 10 minutes, then squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Mix  with peppers. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, salt, and pomegranate molasses. Toss with peppers and zucchini. Chill. When served, garnish with dried cranberries.

Green Chili Chicken Stew

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
14 oz. chicken stock
1/4 cup corn meal
2 medium carrots, minced
2 ribs celery, minced
1 tbsp. ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
6 4 inch diameter corn tortillas
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
canola oil to fry

Cut tortillas into thin strips. Place 1/2 inch oil in a frying pan. Heat to 370 degrees. Fry until crispy. Drain on paper towels, and set aside.

Place chicken, stock, and corn meal in a crock pot. Cook on high until chicken is done. Remove chicken, shred, and return to pot. Add cumin and carrots. Cook about an hour and a half. Add celery, cook until tender. Garnish with cheddar cheese and tortilla chips.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chicken Party Recipes Part 1

The first post on the Chicken Tasting Party has the pictures of the dishes and the descriptions. Here are the recipes for the first four dishes.

Chicken, Hazelnut, and Dried Cranberry Salad

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 salt
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tbsp honey.
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
micro basil to garnish

Cut chicken into 1/2 inch cubes. Simmer chicken, oregano, thyme, and salt in a water in a small sauce pan. When chicken is done, strain and cool. In a bowl, mix mayonnaise, yogurt, rosemary, and honey. Stir in chicken, nuts, and cranberries. Plate, garnish with micro basil.

Asian Cold Noodle Salad

1 lb. chicken tenders
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup lime juice
3 tbsp. fish sauce
3 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 small hot chilies, minced
8 oz. rice noodles
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
3 small white cucumbers, cut into matchsticks
1/2 lb. pea pods, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup salted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup white parts of scallions, cut in thin slices
2 tbsp. basil, cut in thin strips

Dice chicken. Place unsalted peanuts in a food processor. Process peanuts, dribbling in olive oil until peanuts have the consistency of peanut butter. Whisk together fresh peanut butter, lime, juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and chilies. Place chicken and 1/2 sauce in a sealable plastic bag, and refrigerate for at least two hours. Bring a stock pot of water to a boil. Turn off heat, add rice noodles, let stand ten minutes. Drain noodles, place in an ice water bath to stop cooking. Remove from bath and refrigerate noodles. Remove chicken from marinade, stir fry in a hot wok with a little canola oil. Cool chicken. Toss noodles with chicken, vegetables, and remaining sauce. Garnish with scallions, basil, and peanuts.

Eggplant Parmigiana with Chicken Alfredo Sauce

For eggplant parmigiana:

2 medium white eggplant
1 cup fine bread crumbs
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. Italian herb seasoning
1 tbsp. kosher salt
2 eggs, beaten
canola oil for frying

Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch thick rounds. In a bowl, mix breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, and salt. In a large frying pan, put 3/4 inch of canola oil, heat to 370 degrees. Run eggplant slices through egg, then dredge with breadcrumb mixture. Fry eggplant in oil, a few at a time, turning over once. Cook until golden brown on both sides.

For chicken alfredo sauce:

2 boneless skinnless chicken breasts
1 cup butter
2 cups heavy cream
2 8 oz packages cream cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste.

Season breasts with salt and pepper. Grill on a hot grill until cooked through. Let cool, then shred meat. In a large saucepan on medium-low heat, melt butter. Add cream and cream cheese, stir until cream cheese is melted and incorporated with the butter. Add parmesan and garlic, stir until melted. Add shredded chicken. Season with salt and pepper.

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Hoisin Barbeque Sauce

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs
3 small white cucumbers, cut into matchsticks
1/2 large red onion, cut into thin strips
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
3/4 plus 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. whole allspice berries
1 tsp. whole cloves
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
1/2 tsp. chilli powder
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
3/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
24 Hawaiian sweet rolls

Place chicken in crockpot on high. When cooked, shred. For the pickle, place cucumber and onion in a bowl, mix with salt and lemon juice. In a small saucepan, place 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar, allspice, cloves, peppercorns, chili powder, and sugar. Bring to a boil, cook until sugar is disolved. Remove from heat, allow to cool to room temperature. Pour over cucumbers and onions, place in refridgerator to chill. For barbeque sauce, in a saute pan over medium heat, saute garlic in olive oil. Add hoisin, soy, and 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar. Cook until thickened. Add barbeque sauce to shredded chicken in the crockpot. Cut rolls in half, place on a cookie sheet cut side up. Place under a low broiler for about a minute, until rolls are lightly toasted. Put a layer of chicken on each bun, top with pickled vegetables.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Garlic-Sage Chicken, Chrispy Fried Okra, and Rainbow Chard with Bacon

Tonight was about using up things that needed to be used. I had about a pound of chicken breast left over from the Chicken Tasting Party. I also had some purple okra and rainbow chard from our CSA that needed to be used before it went bad. So far, I've only found two ways to use okra effectively, throw it into a soup or stew just before serving, or bread it and fry it. Admittedly, just about anything can be made tasty that way. I had some leftover bacon, and bacon and greens is always a good combination. Finally, I had leftover sage, and sage and chicken are a classic.

The chicken is sauteed with onion, garlic, and sage. I used both the stems and leaves of the chard. They have different textures, and I like the contrast. The chard stems are cooked in the bacon fat, then the greens and some rice vinegar added to steam and wilt. I breaded the okra in seasoned cornmeal, then fried in hot canola oil.


Garlic-Sage Chicken

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
12 large fresh sage leaves, cut into thirds
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Toss chicken cubes with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. In a medium-hot pan, add olive oil and chicken. Saute until browned, but not completely cooked. Add onion and sage, cook until onion is nearly translucent, then add garlic. Cook until chicken is done, but still moist.

Crispy Fried Okra

1/2 lb. fresh okra
1 cup fine cornmeal
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 egg, beaten
canola oil for frying

Trim okra, then cut into approximately 1/2 inch long pieces. Mix cornmeal, salt, and spices in a bowl. In a small saute pan, add about 3/4 inch of canola oil. Heat to 370 degrees. Toss okra with egg, then cornmeal mixture, until well coated. In small batches, fry okra until brown and crispy. Be careful not to crowd the pan.

Rainbow Chard with Bacon

2 bunches rainbow chard
1/4 lb. bacon, diced
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

Chop chard into 1 inch long pieces, keeping stems and leaves separate. In a stock pot on medium heat, cook bacon until fat is rendered and bacon is crispy. Remove bacon. Cook stems in bacon fat until tender. Add leaves and vinegar, put on lid. let steam until chard is wilted. Return bacon ton pan and toss.

Happy Eating!

On Recipes

There is something I'd like to touch on that I feel is implicit in my posts, but I'd like to make it explicit. When I put up a recipe, it is intended to be descriptive, not proscriptive. That is, it is meant to document what I did, but not to put limits on what you do with it. So, I may specify certain ingredients, but their use just means it's what I had. Say I specify Persian cucumber, unless I give you good reasons why they are superior for this purpose, just use whatever cucumbers you have. Feel free to substitute, reduce, increase, add, remove, etc. to your hearts desire

Then come leave a comment and tell me what you did, 'cause I'd love to know.

Happy Eating!

Chicken Party

The spouse is mildly addicted to the House Party website. It's kind of a weird site, where commercial companies offer stuff if you host a party to promote their products. There are a limited number of each party, so you apply, and you might get chosen, or you might not. The spouse has won a few, including one from Werther's, where they sent us bags and bags of candy, and now one from Foster Farms.

Luckily, they didn't mail us chicken. Instead, they gave us two $25 coupons, fourteen reusable shopping bags, a cookbook, and a chef's jacket. Amazingly, the jacket fit me almost perfectly. So, I added a picture of me in it to the blog. To pay for all the swag, however, you have to hold, and document, an actual get together.

So, the plan by the spouse was to have people over, and do lots of little dishes. We ended up settling on eight courses. Now, we both have been enamored of the concept of a tasting party for some time. The little dishes are really cute, and the spouse found some on sale cheap. Seemed like a good thing to try. We did a few old favorites, a few from the recipe book they sent, and few made up on the fly by me.

My goddaughter did yeoman duty as sou chef all day. She was a joy to work with, and I couldn't have pulled it off without her help. The spouse chipped in, as well as doing the bulk of scullery work keeping the pans clean throughout the day.

 For the first course, we went with a favorite cold dish; chicken, dried cranberry, and hazelnut salad. It has a great blend of tastes and textures, with chicken, dried cranberries, celery, nuts, yogurt, mayonnaise, honey, and herbs. I've done variations on this many times, and it works well with walnuts or almonds. You can also add a little diced granny smith apple, instead of the celery, for a little more tang.

I garnished it with a little micro basil from our CSA.

For the second course, we made a cold Asian chicken noodle salad. The chicken is marinated in the dressing, which has fresh ground peanut butter, fish sauce, soy sauce, chilies, garlic, and lime juice.  The chicken is then stir fried, and chilled. It's added to cold rice noodles along with fresh pea pods, and carrots. The noodles are dressed with the same sauce as the chicken was marinated in. It was garnished it with scallions, basil, and chopped peanuts.

For the third course, we made eggplant parmigiana with chicken Alfredo sauce. I had some beautiful white eggplant from my CSA. It was very firm, and quite mild. I breaded it with a mix of fine bread crumbs, shredded Parmesan, and Italian herbs. It was fried in very hot oil until brown and crisped, then placed in a 200 degree oven to keep warm. The goddaughter made the Alfredo sauce. It was a mix of butter, heavy cream, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, and garlic with shredded grilled chicken. It was garnished with micro basil.
For the fourth course, we made pulled chicken in hoisin barbeque sauce with pickled cucumbers.and red onion. The chicken was cooked in a crockpot, then shredded. The BBQ sauce has hoisin sauce, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and soy sauce, The cucumber and onion are pickled in lemon juice and cider vinegar, flavored with clove, allspice, black pepper, and chili powder. It's served on a toasted Hawaiian sweet roll.

For the fifth course, we served hazelnut-sage chicken with ravioli.We used a mini ravioli. The chicken was sauteed with sage and lemon zest, and then tossed with the ravioli. It was garnished with chopped hazelnuts. The consensus among the cooks was that we should have used more zest, as the lemon just didn't come through.

For the sixth course, we made bacon wrapped chicken skewers with maple-pomegranate glaze with a pepper-zucchini slaw. Hard to go wrong with bacon, and the pomegranate molasses and maple syrup, with a hint of ginger, had a great sweet/sour thing going. The slaw, is a red wine vinaigrette, was garnished with pomegranate flavored dried cranberries. The acid in the slaw helped cut the fat of the bacon and the sweet of the glaze. I'm most proud of this one. I feel it was my most original of the day.

The seventh course was a miniature version of the lime marinated grilled chicken soft tacos I made earlier. We used mini corn tortillas here, and diced things smaller in proportion.

The final course was an old favorite, green chili chicken stew. A friend developed this recipe, and it is classic. Chicken, celery, carrots, and green chilies, with cumin just works beautifully. usually served over corn chips, I instead garnished it with fried tortilla strips. It was additionally garnished with shredded cheddar cheese.

Since this post is getting soooooo looong, I will end here, and post the recipes in a separate post.

Happy Eating!