Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Roasted Chicken Thighs With Bread Crumbs And Mushroom Stuffing

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We have been trying to eat everything in the freezer now for a month so we can defrost the refrigerator and perhaps fix the leak that is coming out from beneath.  It seems that I have hidden chicken parts all over the place including a pack of 8 boneless and skinless chicken thighs that I had bought to make General Tso's chicken. Yesterday was its day but low and behold my daughter brought us dinner from our favorite Chinese takeout and the recipe went out the window.  Mark Bittman had just posted a recipe for roasted chicken breasts and all bells started going off in my head.  A package of mushrooms was also going bad and it needed to be used, so... here you have the results.

This recipe is best with chicken thighs, boneless and skinless, not chicken breasts. They would be too dry.  If you go the latter route, only cook for about 30 minutes or so.  I loved the taste of this dish with the boneless thighs which is something I had only used in the past for the Chinese recipe.  I also think bread crumbs would work better although I used the Panko and they adhered well enough.

Even though it made for a delightful dinner for us tonight, and better leftovers tomorrows, I think this would be a great recipe for a ladies lunch or bridge night.  Somehow I don't like to serve chicken for company at night, so I would not consider it dinner party fare.  I served curried yellow rice with it and the combination was perfect.  So there you have it...  another evening at the improv!

Printable Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the mushroom stuffing

1 Tb butter

1 Tb olive oil

1 lbs white mushrooms coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 shallot finely minced

Salt and pepper to taste

2 TB chopped parsley

2 TB dry sherry, or white wine

Melt butter and oil together in a skillet on medium high.  Add the garlic, shallots, salt and pepper and mushrooms and sautee for about 5 minutes.  Add wine and parsley and reduce.  Remove to the side and let cool.

For the breaded chicken thighs

4 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for greasing the pan

1 cup coarse bread crumbs, preferably fresh, or panko

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup finely chopped nuts ( I used walnuts

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs pounded to uniform thickness if necessary


Directions
1. Heat the oven to 375°F. Grease a baking sheet with a little oil or butter. Combine the bread crumbs, chopped nuts, and 1/4 cup of the parsley in a shallow bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss until well combined.

2.   Lay the chicken thighs flat and fill with about 1 tsp of mushroom stuffing.  Roll closed and stick one or two toothpicks to hold together.  Dip each chicken thigh first in melted butter, then in the bread crumb mixture, pressing down to make it adhere. Put each stuffed thigh, on the baking sheet. If there’s any leftover topping, sprinkle it on top of the chicken and press down a bit.

3. Roast until the chicken is tender and cooked through and the thighs look golden, 50 to 60 minutes or more. Garnish with the remaining parsley and serve.

Inspired by Mark Bittman
Photo: Lindaraxa

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pumpkin Flan With Pumpkin Seed Praline

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Through the years, I've come to the realization that if you love pumpkin there is no law that says you must wait 'til Thanksgiving. Things like pumpkin pie, pumpkin flan or pumpkin soup are too good to get thrown into the shuffle of a family holiday.  I much prefer to serve them for a weekend family dinner or dinner party with friends where I can sit down and truly enjoy them.  Later on, I will show you how to integrate this dessert into a fantastic autumn dinner party.

Flans somehow intimidate new cooks.  The idea of the water bath (bain marie) sends people into a tizzy when in reality there is nothing to it.  Get yourself a pair of kitchen gloves, lay the dish in the pan and then fill it with boiling water.  Open the oven door and carefully slide in.  That's it!  Although this recipe calls for a souffle mold, I have always made my flans in an aluminum tube pan.  I find it works best for me but I will leave it up to you.  If you decide to use a tube pan and you have the energy, whip some cream and add it to the center.  A little dash of bourbon won't hurt!

Printable Recipe

yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings

active time: 1 hr

total time: 7 3/4 hr


Ingredients

2 cups sugar

1 cup whole milk

2 (5-oz) cans evaporated milk (1 1/3 cups)

5 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

15-oz can solid-pack pumpkin (1 3/4 cups)

2 tablespoons bourbon

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Accompaniment:  pumpkin-seed praline*


Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Heat a 2-quart soufflé dish or round ceramic casserole in middle of oven.

Cook 1 cup sugar in a dry 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring slowly with a fork, until melted and pale golden. Cook caramel without stirring, swirling pan, until deep golden, about 5 minutes. Quickly and carefully remove hot dish from oven and immediately pour caramel into dish, tilting it to cover bottom and sides. (Leave oven on.) Keep tilting as caramel cools and thickens enough to stay in place.

Scald whole milk with evaporated milk in a saucepan and remove from heat. Beat eggs and remaining cup sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in salt, pumpkin, bourbon, and spices. Pour milk mixture through a sieve into a bowl and beat into pumpkin mixture in a slow stream until combined well.

Pour custard over caramel in dish and set in a water bath of 1 inch hot water. Put pan in middle of oven and lower temperature to 350°F. Bake until golden brown on top and a knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours, possibly longer. Remove dish from water bath and transfer to a rack to cool. Chill flan, covered, until cold, at least 6 hours.

To unmold flan, run a thin knife around flan to loosen from sides of dish. Wiggle dish from side to side and, when flan moves freely in dish, invert a large serving platter with a lip over dish. Holding dish and platter securely together, quickly invert and turn out flan onto platter. Caramel will pour out over and around it. Cut flan into wedges and serve with caramel spooned over and with shards of praline.

PRALINE


1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of water
1 cup hulled (green) pumpkin seeds, toasted

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Lightly oil a sheet of tin foil and set oven baking sheet.

Cook sugar, water, and a pinch of salt in a deep 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring slowly with a metal fork, until melted and pale golden. Cook caramel without stirring, swirling pan, until deep golden. Immediately stir in pumpkin seeds and quickly pour onto foil, spreading into a thin sheet before it hardens. (If caramel hardens and is difficult to spread, put in a 400°F oven until warm enough to spread, 1 to 2 minutes.)

Cool praline on baking sheet on a rack until completely hardened, then break into large pieces.

Cook's Note:  Make the day before.  *You can make the praline or skip it.  The flan will be just as good on it's own although the addition of the praline will take it over the top! Pumpkin seeds can be found at Whole Foods or at certain health food stores.

Recipe adapted from Gourmet 1999

Friday, September 24, 2010

Roast Quail With Fresh Figs And Balsamic

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This is the recipe that finally made me break down and buy demi glace.  For those of you who don't know about demi glace, it is the basis of all great sauces. It is traditionally made by combining equal parts of veal stock and sauce espagnole, the latter being one of the five mother sauces of classical French cuisine.  The mixture is then simmered and reduced by half. Wish it were that simple. The process is a long one, long enough for me to encourage you to buy a good demi glace and forget about making it from scratch.  Williams Sonoma has a great product and although it is expensive, it is well worth the cost and it goes a long way.  For most sauces you will only need a tablespoon or two.  Get the veal one, it is the mother of all demi glaces. 

You can also get a less expensive demi glace through Amazon. It is the one I used in this recipe and it is excellent.  It is good for 6 servings.


More Than Gourmet Demi-glace De Veau Gold® French Veal Demi-glace, 1.5-Ounce Units (Pack of 6)


This recipe is not as much trouble as it looks and most of it can be made the day before.  It is a wonderful main course for a dinner party, one in which you will surely impress your dinner guests.  I would suggest though that you make it for a group of close friends.  This is definitely not for elegant entertaining...you want to be able to get at those little morsels next to the bone and the picture won't be dainty but definitely worth the effort.  I have had quail before at a restaurant and unfortunately was not able to enjoy it to the fullest. This time, I made sure I got every bite and then some!  The stuffing is to die for and can definitely be served  with something else such as cornish hens.

This is your chance to get out your finger bowls and nobody will call you a snob.  They are much needed in a dinner like this and instead of using a pretty flower, I would go straight for a thin slice of lemon.  You will need it to wipe your dainty little fingers after you finish off those birds!

You will find quail at some grocery stores in the frozen meat bin but if you are lucky and live near Atlanta, you can find it fresh at the DeKalb Farmer's Market.  They are tiny little things, so get at least 3 per person. The market also had demi glace at a good price so I hit the jackpot!


Figs before browning


The stuffing


The sauce before the demi glace


After the demi glace...almost done!


The little quails before they went in the oven


Just out of the oven with figs in back




Printable Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

For stuffing

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 celery ribs, finely chopped

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

1/3 cup veal demi-glace

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

1 tablespoon fig balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup chopped walnuts (2 oz)

2/3 cup soft dried Mission figs (1/4 lb), stems discarded and figs finely chopped

1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For figs and sauce

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

1 pt fresh figs, stems discarded and figs halved lengthwise

1/4 cup finely chopped shallot

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

1 cup dry red wine

1 1/3 cups veal demi-glace

1 teaspoon arrowroot or cornstarch

2 tablespoons fig balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For quail

12 semiboneless quail

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Special equipment: kitchen string; wooden picks


Preparation

Make stuffing:

Cook onion, celery, and garlic in butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until pale golden, about 10 minutes. Add demi-glace and boil, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid is evaporated, about 3 minutes. Stir in tarragon, vinegar, walnuts, dried figs, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper, then spread stuffing on a plate to cool.

Prepare figs and make sauce:

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then brown figs, cut sides down, without stirring, about 3 minutes. Transfer figs to a bowl with a slotted spatula. Add shallot and celery to skillet and sauté, stirring, until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add wine and 8 to 10 browned fig halves (reserve remainder) and boil, stirring and mashing figs, until wine is reduced to a syrup, about 5 minutes. Stir in demi-glace and bring to a boil. Stir arrowroot into vinegar until dissolved, then add to skillet, whisking to incorporate. Boil sauce 2 minutes, then pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-quart heavy saucepan, pressing on and then discarding solids. Stir in tarragon, salt, and pepper.

Prepare quail:

Discard any disposable metal skewers from cavity of each quail, then rinse quail inside and out and pat dry. Stuff 1 quail with a scant 1/4 cup stuffing, pressing and shaping it to fill out breast. Tie legs together with string and push legs up against body. Thread cavity closed with a wooden pick. Repeat with remaining quail.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Sprinkle quail all over with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon each butter and oil in cleaned 10-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then brown 6 quail on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer with tongs to a large shallow baking pan. Wipe skillet clean and brown remaining 6 quail in same manner in remaining tablespoon each of butter and oil.

Remove strings and picks from all quail, then roast quail, breast sides up, until just cooked through (check inner thigh —, 20 minutes. Add reserved browned figs to pan for last 2 to 3 minutes of roasting.

While quail roast, return sauce to a simmer, then add remaining 2 tablespoons butter, whisking until incorporated.

Transfer quail and figs to a serving dish and pour any juices from baking pan into sauce. Serve quail with sauce.

Cooks' notes:

Stuffing can be made 1 day ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before proceeding. Figs and sauce (without remaining 2 tablespoons butter) can be prepared 1 day ahead and cooled, uncovered, then chilled separately, covered. Bring sauce to a simmer before adding butter. Quail can be browned 1 hour before roasting. Keep quail, uncovered, at room temperature.

Wine: A red Burgundy or Oregon Pinot Noir such as Domaine Drouhin

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
All photos Lindaraxa

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Crispy Zucchini Gratin

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When I saw this I knew it had to get made and posted...a real zucchini gratin!  Last year, I jokingly called a casserole a gratin seeing that hardly anyone ever uses that term anymore.  Well, whatever you want to call it, this recipe is different and a winner. I have added some basil, onions and Parmesan Cheese to the original recipe as it seemed to need some extra flavor and these are traditional ingredients used with zucchini.  I know, I promised no more zucchini but the crop is almost over, really.

I love zucchini with fish...try it with Grilled Swordfish With Capers And Lemon Butter



Printable Recipe

Total time: 30 to 60 minutes

Preparation: 15 minutes

Baking time: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy


Ingredients

For 4 servings

-  18 oz. zucchini

- 1 small onion sliced*

- 2 cloves garlic, minced

- 2 large or 3 small eggs

- 1 cup heavy cream

- 5 tsp. butter

- 1 Tbsp. olive oil

- (3 1/2 oz.) coarse homemade bread crumbs

- salt and pepper

- Basil (optional)*

- Parmiggiano Reggiano (optional)*


Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F).

2. Slice the zucchini and onion and sauté in olive oil in a skillet with the garlic and some chopped basil for about 10 minutes. When the zucchini and onion slices are lightly browned, spread them in a gratin dish. First the succhini then the onions.

3. In a bowl, beat the eggs, then mix in the cream, salt and pepper. Add a TB or 2 of Parmesan if you like. Pour over the zucchini.

4. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and dot with butter.

5. Bake for about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Adapted from The Worldwide Gourmet

*new added

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Forgotten Recipe...Stir Fried Beef With Snap Peas and Red Peppers

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A couple of weeks ago, I had enough bay scallops left over from the previous night to feed one person but definitely not enough to serve my daughter and me.  What to do, what to do. Why not something Chinese for the scallops and possibly another stir fry with beef and the snap peas in the refrigerator?

Both dishes took less than an hour to chop and prepare while the white rice steamed away.  The sauces were different enough to serve together yet complimented each other very well.  The scallops and beef a great combination....  a kind of Chinese surf and turf!

When you first read the recipe for the beef stir fry you will  think it's too complicated and shy away from it..  It is not.  Read it again.  It really takes no time at all, just a few little steps and you are done. If you cook Chinese, at least occasionally, you should have all the ingredients already in your pantry.  Just chop everything you'll need first, and prepare the sauce.  This is called  mise en place or everything in place (and ready to go) and is key to Chinese cooking. 

Give it a try, you will adore this stir fry. I'm sure you have seen it many  times on the menu of your favorite Chinese takeout. As to the scallop recipe, it is already posted in the country blog.

Serves 4 as a main dish with rice

Ingredients

 2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar plus an additional 1 teaspoon

12 ounces flank steak , cut into 2-inch wide strips with grain, then sliced across grain into 1/8-inch-thick slices

2 tablespoons dry sherry

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup oyster sauce

1 teaspoon cornstarch

3 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

12 ounces sugar snap peas , ends trimmed and strings removed (about 4 cups)

1 medium red bell pepper , seeded and cut into 1/4-inch slices

2 tablespoons water


Directions

1. Combine soy sauce and 1 teaspoon sugar in medium bowl. Add beef, toss well, and marinate for at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour, stirring once. Meanwhile, whisk remaining tablespoon sugar, sherry, broth, oyster sauce, and cornstarch in medium bowl. Combine garlic, ginger, and 1 teaspoon oil in small bowl.

2. Drain beef and discard liquid. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add half of beef in single layer, breaking up clumps. Cook, without stirring, for 1 minute, then stir and cook until browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer beef to clean bowl. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in skillet and repeat with remaining beef. Rinse skillet and dry with paper towels.

3. Add remaining tablespoon oil to now-empty skillet and heat until just smoking. Add snap peas and bell pepper; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add water and continue to cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Push vegetables to sides of skillet; add garlic-ginger mixture to clearing and cook, mashing with spatula, until fragrant, 15 to 20 seconds. Combine garlic-ginger mixture with vegetables. Return beef and any juices to skillet and stir to combine. Whisk sauce to recombine, then add to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 30 seconds. Serve.

Photo Emily Sterne

I forgot to post this recipe at the time it was written hence the discrepancy in dates!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Confiture d'Ognions

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Now that we are entering hunting season, I thought I would share with you this wonderful and easy recipe for an onion jam that goes well  with game as well as  pâtés, terrines or foie gras. If you want to serve it with game, use 125 g (4 oz.) sugar.


Printable Recipe

Total time: 15 to 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy


Ingredients

- 2 Tbsp. oil

- 500 g (18 oz.) onions

- 250 ml (1 cup) red wine

- a pinch of salt

- a grinding of fresh pepper

- 75-125 g (3-4 oz.) granulated sugar

Method

Peel and halve the onions; slice into half circles.

In a saucepan, sweat the onions over low heat in 2 Tbsp. oil. They should be translucent without being browned.

Add the red wine, salt and pepper; add the sugar. Continue cooking until the wine has reduced completely.

Source: Recettes du Monde

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pumpkin Pear Soup With Coriander

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Once you discover a good recipe, stick with it.  Sure, you don't want to serve it to the same people all the time, but use it as a benchmark and only substitute when you must.  I see so many new cooks, particularly the young ones, always trying something new and never sticking with a recipe they like for long.   Don't make that mistake.  You don't need a million recipes to be a good cook.  Make and perfect a few good ones and soon enough, cooking will be a breeze.  If you are entertaining, this is not the time to try something new. Stick to the old tried and true and only experiment with  family or close friends. 

This fabulous soup is one I used to make when I entertained in Florida and it always got rave reviews.  It was my star soup of the Fall and I loved to serve it in small pumpkin shells for my Halloween dinner parties.   Somehow I forgot all about it when I moved until I found it under some papers a couple of days ago. I feel as if I've had found a relic!

The combination of the pear and the coriander seed together with the pumpkin gives it an exquisite taste.  No one will be able to guess what it is! Use coriander seed instead of powder  In this case it will make a difference.

Tell me, do you have a favorite soup for the Fall?

Printable Recipe 

yield:  8 servings

Active time: 30 min Start to finish: 45 min

Ingredients

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 scallions, finely chopped

3 large shallots, finely chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 lb fresh sugar pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 lb yellow-fleshed potatoes such as Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock or 2 cups chicken broth mixed with 2 cups water

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds

2 teaspoons fine sea salt

Freshly ground mixed or black peppercorns

1 ripe Bartlett pear

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Garnish:

finely chopped fresh cilantro and fresh chives


Directions

Heat oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook scallions, shallots, and onion, stirring, until softened but not browned. Add pumpkin, potatoes, stock, sugar, coriander, salt, and pepper to taste, then simmer, covered, until pumpkin is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

While soup is simmering, peel and core pear and cut into 1-inch pieces. Stir pear into soup and remove from heat. Cool 10 minutes and pureé in a blender in batches, transferring to a bowl (use caution when blending hot liquids).

Return to pan and add butter. Reheat over moderate heat, stirring, until butter is melted. Season with salt and pepper and, if desired, thin soup with water to desired consistency.


Cooks' note: •Soup may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sour Cream Scones With Strawberry Almost-Jam

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Fall not only means a return to serious cooking but also a return to afternoon tea!  There is nothing in the world I enjoy more that to stop around 4 o'clock for a quick cup of tea and a cookie.  But my favorite part of the whole tea thing has to be the scones and when I have weekend guests at the lake, whether they drink tea or not, they are always treated to scones on Saturday afternoon.  There's a great recipe for scones in the country blog but I thought I would try this recipe from the London Telegraph which has sour cream added to the batter.  The only thing I detected was they were a tad moister, perhaps less crumbly, but just as great as the others.  Anyway, a great excuse to make a batch..   They are giving the strawberries away so take advantage of it!

Would you believe I also have some clotted cream in the refrigerator?  The Real McCoy!!!





Makes 10 scones and enough jam for six people for tea



Ingredients

350g (12oz) strawberries

75g (2¾oz) granulated sugar

juice of ½ lemon


For the scones


225g (8oz) plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

¼ tsp salt

45g (1½oz) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

2 tbsp caster sugar*

200ml (7fl oz) sour cream

milk for glazing

clotted cream or butter, to serve


Directions
Wash and hull the berries, chop them into chunks (leave small ones whole) and put in a pan with the sugar and lemon juice. Set over a medium heat and help the sugar to melt by stirring from time to time until it has dissolved. Roughly mash the fruit with a fork or potato masher. You want to end up with a mixture that is part purée, part chunks of fruit. The fruit will be in quite a lot of syrup at this stage, so turn the heat down very low and leave to simmer until thickened. In all, it will take 20 to 25 minutes to make.

Be careful not to let the pan burn. Pour into a bowl and leave to cool. It doesn’t set like jam but becomes a thick, chunky, fresh-tasting purée. To make the scones, sift the flour with the bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl, then rub in the butter with your fingers. Make a well in the centre and add the sugar and enough sour cream to make a soft but not too sticky dough. Start bringing the mixture together with a blunt knife, then use your hands.

Pat or roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1.5-2cm (½-¾in) thick. Using a 5cm (2in) cookie cutter stamp out rounds and lay them on a floured baking-sheet. Brush the tops with milk. Bake for about 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 for 10 minutes or until risen and golden. Leave to cool a little.

Serve warm with clotted cream or butter and the jam

*caster sugar is superfine sugar.  Just use regular sugar here in the States, it's fine enough!

Photos/recipe The Telegraph

Monday, September 13, 2010

An Early Fall BBQ Under The Trees... Honey Barbecued Chicken -

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If I had to entertain, this would be the optimal time of the year to do it.  The days are warm but the nights are cool and bright and the chances of rain are slim.  Nothing like an early Fall dinner barbecue under the trees.  Serve the Mushroom Bruschetta to start.  Succotash and saffron or brown rice would go well with it. I would serve the End Of Summer Peach Crumble Pie for dessert!

This whole grill-roasted chicken is rubbed with an intense spice paste and then basted with a tangy honey glaze on the grill for a double dose of flavor. It's easy to double for an early Fall BBQ party.


Printable Recipe

Serves four.

Ingredients

 2 Tbs. olive oil

2-1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. sweet paprika, preferably Hungarian

1 tsp. light brown sugar

1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. chipotle chile powder

1 clove garlic, minced

4-lb. chicken, butterflied, patted dry

1 recipe Honey Glaze


Directions

Season the Chicken:

In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, salt, chili powder, paprika, brown sugar, thyme, black pepper, chipotle powder, and garlic. Rub all over the chicken and between the breast meat and skin. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours or let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Set aside 1/4 cup of the honey glaze for drizzling over the cooked chicken.

Cooking

Whether you are using charcoal or a gas grill, you want to prepare two zones, a hot and a medium one.  You are going to brown the chicken on the hot side of grill for 5-10 minutes and then move to the cooler side and continue cooking for another 30 minutes, covered.  Baste with the honey glaze every five minutes and turn frequently.

Honey Barbecue Glaze

Yields about 1/2 cup.

1/4 cup honey

1 Tbs. soy sauce

1 Tbs. ketchup

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. cider vinegar

1/2 to 1 tsp. Asian chile paste, like Srirach

Directions

In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients. Set aside 1/4 cup of the glaze for drizzling over the cooked chicken.

Make Ahead Tips

The glaze may be made up to 3 days ahead.
The recipe can be easily doubled or tripled

 Adapted from Tony Rosenfeld Fine Cooking

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ah, Fall!...Mushroom Bruschetta

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It's time to switch gears and start focusing on all the wonderful things Fall has to offer.  By this time of the year if I see one more tomato or ear of corn I think I will jump in the lake.  My daughter has suggested we pull up all the tomato plants even though they look as if they might just have another spurt in them.  No thank you, I have had all I can take from those plants and the prospect of freezing and canning anything else is, well...just not going to happen. 

Even though the temperatures are still in the high 80's here in North Georgia, you can see a definite change in the sky.  Come to think of it, the bird chirping seems to have subsided quite a bit.  All that is left are the elusive hummingbirds.  No matter how hard I try, I can't even get a bad picture of one eating from our feeder.  So I guess it's time to say goodbye to summer and look forward to the wonderful bounty that is in store for us in the months ahead.

This recipe is a great transition from Summer to Fall. All kinds of mushrooms will be showing up at the local supermarket in the weeks to come and it will be hopefully warm enough to light up the grill at least through the end of September.  Take advantage of it, make this your star appetizer.

These bruschette from the cookbook Simple to Spectacular by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman, are simple to make and always get raves when I serve them. Each is topped with an array of mushrooms—shiitake, cremini, and chanterelle —that is set off by fresh tarragon and a wonderful mushroom syrup. There is nothing like a glass of Champagne to accompany them..


Printable Recipe

Serves 6 as a first course

Active time: 30 min Start to finish: 45 min


Ingredients

For mushroom syrup

8 oz white mushrooms, coarsely chopped

2 shallots, coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups water

For bruschetta

6 slices (1/2 to 3/4 inch thick) from a round loaf (6 to 7 inches in diameter) of sourdough or country (firm, crusty) bread

3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves: 1 halved and 2 minced

1 lb mixed fresh mushrooms such as shiitake, cremini, and chanterelle, trimmed (discard shiitake stems) and chopped

2 shallots, minced

1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 to 3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon

2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest


Method 


Make mushroom syrup:

Sauté white mushrooms, shallots, and garlic in butter in a 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated and mushrooms begin to brown, about 10 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add water, then simmer briskly, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

Pour mixture through a sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids. Discard solids and return liquid to skillet. Boil until liquid is syrupy and measures about 1/3 cup, 6 to 8 minutes.


Make bruschetta:

Prepare grill for cooking or preheat broiler.

Brush bread on both sides with 1 to 2 tablespoons oil.

Grill or broil, turning occasionally, until golden.

Rub both sides with cut sides of garlic clove.

Sauté mixed mushrooms, shallots, and minced garlic in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir in parsley, tarragon, zest, and salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon mushroom mixture onto toasts and drizzle mushroom syrup on top.

Simple to Spectacular: How to Take One Basic Recipe to Four Levels of Sophistication

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Restaurant To Remember

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I don't think there is a single New Yorker or former New Yorker who doesn't miss the World Trade Center.  I, for one, can't still believe those towers are gone forever.  Every time I fly back to New York, whether it's from the air or from the streets of Manhattan, somehow the memory of those two imposing towers seldom leaves my mind..  Most of all, I miss them when I'm downtown.  They were such a point of reference...all you had to do was look up and you knew exactly where you were.  Now there is nothing, nothing to guide you back to where you came from.

More than New York, New York The Twin Towers were the symbol of New York City, The Big Apple.





One of the best restaurants in the city was at the World Trade Center.  It was appropriately named Windows On The World and it occupied the 106th and 107th Floor of the North Tower.  It offered majestic views of the New York City skyline and boasted one of the best wine lists in the city. Every month they sold 10,000 bottles of wine as accompaniments to their dinners. Attached to the main restaurant was a popular wine bar called Cellar in the Sky and at the time of the attack the restaurants $37,000,000 in annual revenues made it the top grossing restaurant in America.




O the morning of September 11, 2001, there were 78 employees serving breakfasts on the two floors to approximately 100 guests. When the plane struck the North Tower, all of them perished in either the initial crash or within the hour when the tower crumbled.


Click here to view the menu

Kevin Zraly, Wine Director for Windows On The World. Zraly conducted classes at the restaurant for those interested in learning more about wine. He now publishes the immensely popular Windows On The World Complete Wine Course which has sold over 3 million copies. Andrea Immer, noted wine critic and author Great Tastes Made Simple had been a sommelier at the restaurant.   I highly recommend their books and should you find yourself with some time on your hands, go take the course.


Windows on the World Complete Wine Course: 25th Anniversary Edition
                                   

As a food and sometime wine blogger I wanted to use this day to remember those who perished at the restaurant and the towers, as well as those in the Pentagon and the fields in Pennsylvania.  May you rest in peace.


Schwartz Project - my favorite!

All photos Getty Images

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Boliche...The Cuban Pot Roast

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When I fly to Miami, my Cuban genes start percolating the minute the plane touches down at the airport.  I make a mental list of all the things that I want to eat or buy when we take off so that I can hit the city running.  First thing is a good cup of Cuban coffee at the airport that will keep me flying high at least for the next 24 hours.  Next comes all the things I haven't been able to find in the markets where I live although that is getting easier all the time.  Even though I can make a lot of this stuff at home, they are really best when enjoyed in situ. I remember once smuggling fruit from Brazil through US customs in New York, no less, only to find that it didn't taste as good in the middle of winter in Connecticut as it did on Ipanema Beach.  That could have been an expensive lesson!

Most of this trip, unfortunately, was spent eating at the hospital cafeteria but I did manage to have some boliche, or carne asada, on the last night of my trip.  Made by me, but directed by my mother (from her bed!).  Boliche, or carne asada, is essentially a Cuban pot roast very similar to the one we have here in the States except with a very traditional cuban marinade of onions, garlic, and naranja agria (bitter orange).  You will not find the latter in your neck of the woods, so just add a small amount of lime or lemon juice to the orange juice to make it bitter.

The recipe below is essentially the same one published by the Cuban Betty Crocker of the 40's and 50's, a lady by the name of Nitza Villapol.   It is as traditional and authentic as you can get.  I usually stuff it with prunes as the recipe says, but it can also be stuffed with ham or chorizo as the photo above.  Either way, it's divine. Serve with white rice, black beans, and fried bananas (tostones or maduros)  Will you believe that the whole reason for making this dish was to have it with black beans and I forgot all about them until I started typing this post?

Printable Recipe

8 portions

Ingredients

1 boliche (about 3 pounds) or eye round roast

1 large onion

1 green pepper

2 cloves of garlic

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 sour orange (or juice of three or four limes)

6 prunes, no seeds

1/4 pound sweet ham, sliced

-------------

2 slices of bacon

1 clove of garlic

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup dry white wine (preferably Spanish) or dry sherry*

3 or 4 oranges (sweet, not sour)


Directions


Clean the boliche, prick with a fork.

Perforate the meat with a sharp knife, making six holes. Place the prunes wrapped in the ham slices.

Prepare a marinade with the mashed garlic, black pepper, sour orange juice.

Pour over the meat adding the sliced onion and sliced green pepper.

Marinade overnight.

Heat a pot and fry the bacon slices until the fat is rendered. Drain the boliche and brown in the fat until it is browned. Add the wine,  the juice of two oranges, salt and pepper and a few drops of Worcestershire Sauce.  Cook well, covered, at a low heat until it is tender.This will take about 2 1/2 to 3 hrs. depending on the meat.  Make sure  a large fork goes all the way through when pierced and the meat is very tender.  It will be very similar to pot roast.   While cooking, add orange juice as needed to make sure it does not scorch.  If you do not have enough sauce, add more wine and another cup of water about 1/2 hour before it is done.

Slice across, half to three quarter inches thick slices. Pour the gravy on top before serving


* If you go to the Spanish section of most supermarkets, you will find a very inexpensive vino seco that you should use in this recipe

Image Photobucket
(I didn't bring a camera along but I will post my photo when I next make it)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lindaraxa's Tidbits...Kitchen Knives

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When I first started this blog, my brother suggested I write an article about knives, particularly those that are essential in everyone's  kitchen.  Of course I forgot all about it but David Leibowitz has written a great one which appeared on his blog about four months ago.  Since I know a lot of my readers might not have knowledge of his blog,  I am giving you the link and strongly suggest you check it out.  It is everything you need to know and more.

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2010/05/how_to_take_care_of_your_knives.html

It never amazes me to see all the unnecessary gadgets people keep in their kitchens;  but ask for a knife and you are in for a big surprise.  Usually they will open a drawer and there amongst all the cooking spoons, graters etc, you will find a couple of dull knives.   Amazing.

If you don't have good sharp knives in your kitchen, you can't possibly be serious about cooking.  It is the one thing you shouldn't even think of skimping on.  Spend the money on good quality knives and sharpeners and cooking will be a breeze.  Good chefs bring their own knives when they are on the road, that's how important they are.

My favorite knives:


Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Cuisine 10-Piece Knife Block Set

Multicolored paring knives
You do not need to spend a fortune on your knives.  Calphalon, for example has a very good line of knives, fairly priced and quite attractive.  I gave my daughter a set a few years ago and they are still in great shape. I consider them as good as my Henckels, hardly notice much difference at all.

 If you don't have a Santoku knife, you don't know what you are missing.  I honestly don't know what I would do or how I got along all these years without one.  It is the one knife I use every day for chopping vegetables, especially onions, celery and carrots as well as herbs, and for mashing garlic.  It will even slice for you.  Indispensable.  If you can only buy one good knife make it this one, whether its Calphalon or Henckle or any other good brand that is on sale.


Calphalon 7 inch Santoku knife


The second knife I use the most is the serrated bread knife, not only for bread but to slice tomatoes when they are very mushy.  What I really need is a serrated utility knife but I keep forgetting to get one!





Next come the pairing knives, the slicing knife and the scissors, although I have a separate pair to cut poultry.  I don't use the butcher knife as much, but it is essential if you need to cut beef as in shish kabobs, or trim fat off.  A boning knife is also useful, although not absolutely necessary.

As for steak knives, never get serrated ones, they tear on the meat.  My favorite, of course are the Laguiole, made in France but there are many good brands around. Just not serrated!


Laguiole steak knives


Two simple rules to remember:

Never put your knives in the dishwasher.  Wash them by hand, dry them and place them back in the wood block.  If you must place them in a drawer, place them on  a plastic sheath before you put them away.

If you have marble or granite counter tops, never ever cut on them. The most common cause of wear of the cutting edge of a knife is due to contact with the cutting board surface. Boards made of glass, ceramic, marble etc are completely useless, they damage the cutting edge in the first cut. Wooden and plastic boards are better and have a much lower dulling effect.

Check out the Williams-Sonoma website for more information and check out their sale on kitchen knives.  Some are half price.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Crab And Corn Chowder

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This is another one of those recipes conceived when you have nothing on hand and it's dinner time.  You may have noticed that the most recent recipes on Lindaraxa's Garden and the country blog have included crabmeat or corn which is in abundance right now and cheap, cheap, cheap!  This recipe is a byproduct of cleaning the refrigerator before the weekend guests arrived and a cup of leftover crabmeat from last night's crab cakes waiting to be put to good use.  The good news is I am saturated with corn and I have sworn I will not buy another ear, no matter how cheap, until next summer.  We'll see how long that lasts...

You can substitute chicken for the crabmeat, but in my estimation, it's not even close!  This is the one time of the year when crab and corn  are in season and can be bought for a reasonable price.  Actually, the crab is reasonable, the corn they are giving away!  Take advantage of it.

Printable Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

4-6 ears sweet white corn, such as Silver Queen , shucked
OR 3 cups

4 pieces thick-sliced bacon, chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 stalks celery chopped fine

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups good fish stock**

2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup white breadcrumbs, firmly packed

1 cup crab meat

Dry Sherry (optional)

chopped parsley

chopped chives


Method

Schuck, wash and cut enough corn from the ears to equal 3 cups.

Sautee the bacon until most of the fat is rendered.  Remove to a paper towel to drain and chop in 1/2 inch piece.

Add the onions and celery to pan. Saute until tender and translucent, about 5 - 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the broth and corn.  Bring to a boil, reduce to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Add the nutmeg and cayenne. Add the cream, and the crabmeat.  Cook for another 5 minutes.  If you opt to add sherry, do it now and simmer another 5 minutes.  Add the dry breadcrumbs and cook until the are incorporated, about another 5 minutes. Remove from stove and add chopped parsley and chives.. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with the reserved  parsley and chive.*

*I like to rest the soup rest for about 30 minutes to absorb all the flavor.  You can reheat if it cools.

** You can make a quick fish broth by boiling some white fish, celery, onion, bay leaf, parsley, carrot and salt and pepper for about 30 minutes in about 4 cups of water.  Freeze what you don't use.  It will come in handy when you make the Simple Paella for Sunday Lunch

Adapted from Lee Damon Fowler,
The Savannah Cookbook

Friday, September 3, 2010

Maryland Crabmeat Cannelloni With Leeks And Saffron Scented Sauce

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If you live in the New York City area and have never visited the Homestead Inn in Greenwich Connecticut you MUST.  It is one of the most charming inns in the world and believe me, I have been to quite a few, especially in Europe.  Although I haven't been there in almost 15 years, I am sure none of the charm has disappeared and, if nothing else, the food is better than ever, thanks to the presence of Chef Thomas Henkelmann who in the late 1990's acquired the 1799 inn together with his wife Theresa.  Chef Henkelmann did his internship at the Auberge de L'Ill in Illhausern, Alsace which, in my time, was considered one of the best restaurants in the world.  For years it was in my short list of places to visit and finally in the 1990's I was able to get there for a fabulous lunch.  It is not the easiest place to get to as it is in a small town on the border with Germany and you must have a car and a deep sense of commitment.  If you do get there someday,  the first thing you must look for are the storks whose nests are visible on the chimneys and who parade themselves in the garden while you are having lunch. We spent a delightful afternoon not only enjoying a fabulous meal but also having coffee in the garden by the river.


The Homestead Inn

The Homestead Inn, a member of Relais & Chateaux,  is less than an hour's drive from New York or you can get there by train to Greenwich and a short cab ride from the station to the inn.  It is a wonderful place to visit for Sunday lunch or, better yet,  come on Saturday for dinner and stay overnight.  I guarantee you won't be disappointed.   Do check for Sunday lunch service though, as it is not available year round.  In my day, you could eat in the enclosed air conditioned porch.  If this is still the case, I highly recommend it.


The porch at the Inn where cocktails are served

In this recipe, I recommend using the ready to bake Barilla lasagna sheets or ready made crepes.  If you have frozen lobster stock, like I do from the lobster risotto, you are halfway there.  This is why I always tell you to keep and freeze everything, especially stock.  If not, buy a lobster tail and make the stock with some onion, celery, tarragon, saffron and parsley. Whisk in the butter.

Printable Recipe

Total time: 1hr to 2hr

Preheat the oven at 200° C. (400° F)

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 30-40 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

.
Ingredients

Ingredients for 8 servings

- 500 g (18 oz.) jumbo lump Crabmeat

- 100 g (3 1/2 oz.) diced blanched Leeks

- 100 ml (6 tbsp.) Béchamel sauce

- 20 g (2/3 oz.) fresh chopped tarragon

- Salt, pepper and cayenne

- 8 crêpes or cooked pasta sheets

- 125 ml (1/2 cup) heavy cream + 125 ml (1/2 cup) water

- 200 ml (3/4 cup) lobster stock flavored with tarragon and Saffron

- 80 g (1/3 cup) butter to whisk into the lobster stock

- + 20 g (4 tsp.) to sauté the spinach

- 50 g (2 tbsp.) Parmigiano Reggiano

- 300 g (10 oz.) spinach

- 8 sprigs of tarragon and some diced tomato for garnish


Method

1.Combine the crabmeat with the warm béchamel sauce, leeks and tarragon. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne.

2.Place 1/8 of the crabmeat mixture onto each pasta sheet and roll into a tight cannelloni.

3.Place the cannelloni side by side in a deep ovenproof dish. Pour a mixture of half cream and half water into the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle the grated cheese over top.

4.Place the cannelloni into a preheated 200° C (400° F) oven and bake for approximately 10-15 minutes until the top is lightly browned.

5.Sauté the leaf spinach in butter, season with salt and pepper and place in the centre of a warm serving dish.

6.Place the cannelloni on top of the spinach. Garnish with a tarragon sprig and some diced tomato. Carefully spoon the saffron-scented lobster jus around it.

Chef's Note

Try preparing the cannelloni with crêpes instead of pasta

Adapted from The Worldwide Gourmet

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Last Days Of Summer...Creamed Corn

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I have been looking for a good recipe for creamed corn since forever.  I came across this one browsing my mother's old Gourmet magazines while in Miami.  She used to make it often when I was young for my father adored it.  Although this dish is old-fashioned and simple it is truly memorable. The uncomplicated sweet delicacy of fresh, juicy corn is the secret.

If you want a very authentic southern version which involves (you guessed it!) bacon, check out my country blog in a couple of days.

Printable Recipe

Serves 8

Ingredients

12 ears corn, shucked

2 cups water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Preparation

Cut corn from cobs (reserve cobs) and put in a large saucepan with water, butter, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Simmer over medium heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, scrape cobs in a small saucepan to extract "milk." Whisk in cream and flour. Boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Carefully transfer cream mixture and 2 cups corn with some of cooking liquid to a blender and purée (use caution when blending hot liquids). Stir purée into corn and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in chives; season with salt and pepper.

Cooks' note:

Creamed corn, without chives, can be made 1 day ahead and chilled (covered once cool). Reheat gently and stir in chives.

Gourmet Magazine

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