Saturday, May 31, 2008

Chicken Fiesta Salad

chicken salad


I rarely buy spice blends, I prefer to mix up my own on an as-needed basis. But some time ago, I picked up a container of something called "southwest seasoning". This was one of those really large containers, the kind you get at Sam's or Costco. I think I've used it once in the past, and it's sat in my pantry ever since. The other night, I was looking for something quick and easy to whip up for dinner and as I started reaching for all the individual spices, I happened to see the large jar of seasoning. I didn't have high hopes for it (for one it was old), but it looked easy and I felt like taking the easy way out.

Quesadilla


I put together a sort of chicken salad, and it was great! It gave the chicken an almost blackened flavor and mixed with yogurt the dressing was amazing. It kind of reminded me of Applebee's blackened chicken salad (but better, if I do say so myself)! The next day, I took the extra chicken breast, shredded it, topped it with some cheese and cilantro and it made a fabulous quesadilla! I know, way to many exclamation points, but I really, really liked this.

quesadilla


Chicken Fiesta Salad
Serves 2 for dinner (with 2 lunch servings also)

Salsa
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn (or fresh, if you are lucky)
1 avocado, diced
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
4 roma tomatoes diced
juice of 2 limes
1 red chili, sliced (seeded if you are wimpy)
kosher salt to taste

Dressing
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon southwest seasoning blend

3 boneless chicken breasts, sprinkled generously with southwest seasoning
mixed salad greens

Mix salsa ingredients and let sit for flavors to blend. Sprinkle chicken with seasoning. Grill or cook chicken using your favorite method. I seared it in a hot oiled cast iron pan for 2 minutes on each side, then covered it and let in cook for about 8 minutes on medium. Perfect every time. Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Mix dressing ingredients (all 2 of them). Toss salad greens with dressing. Place salad on plates, top with chicken (fan attractively if you are talented in that area, otherwise dump on top like I do), and add a few spoonfuls of salsa on top.


WHB


For the zillionth time, my herb of choice for Weekend Herb Blogging , hosted this week by Wandering Chopsticks, is cilantro.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Oh Yeah! Brandied Cherries!

brandied cherries

I know that these look an awful lot like kalamata olives served over ice cream, and you're probably feeling a little nauseous just at the thought of that. But it is the brandied cherries that I posted about here, back almost a year ago. If you were taken in by my step by step brandy making with succulent deep, red cherries, then you are sitting pretty just like me. That means you have a jar filled with the most delish cherries, perfect to spoon over practically any dessert. And let's not forget the cherry brandy that these babies are floating in. See some of it poured over the ice cream.

brandied cherries

If you didn't make these last year. And shame on you if you didn't, then I encourage you to make some. Cherries are starting to come ripe in parts of the US right now. I'll be starting another batch. Oh, yes I will. Because a basement pantry without a batch of these babies, is not a well-equipped pantry at all.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Vermicelli Puttanesca

puttanesca


Pasta ala Puttanesca translates to "pasta the way a whore would make it." Now, before you take offense, I have to say that apparently ladies of the evening have very good taste, because I love pasta puttanesca. According to Wikipedia (which, by they way, is where I get practically all of my info from nowadays. How did I know anything before it?), there is some controversy over the name and how it originated. I had visions of prostitutes making this sauce in some big, old wooden bowl, and then peeing in a chamber pot and tossing slops out windows. That's how old I thought it was, but no, it wasn't even mentioned in print until the 1960's!

puttanesca


This recipe comes from Eating Well , which I modified a little bit. What I really like about it is that it requires no cooking other than boiling water for the pasta. When you add the warm pasta to the sauce ingredients, it warms them just enough to keep it from tasting like a cold salad. Though, leftovers of this cold are wonderful too! If you look closely in the picture, you will see something that looks suspiciously like bacon. It is. I just so happened to have a few slices of bacon leftover from another recipe and went ahead and tossed them in. I mean, there is no reason not to, right? Kevin at Closet Cooking did a puttanesca earlier in May. His is a cooked sauce and he also shows it served over fish, which is genius!


Vermicelli Puttanesca
Serves 4

4 large vine-ripened tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped, or one 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped (3 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
16 large black olives (packed in brine), pitted and chopped
3 tablespoons capers, finely chopped
4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound vermicelli or spaghettini
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Combine tomatoes, parsley, olives, capers, anchovies, oil, garlic and pepper in a large pasta serving bowl.
2. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions.
3. Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl with the sauce. Toss well to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. Sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately.


pasta presto night


This will be my entry for this weeks Pasta Presto Night from Ruth at Once Upon a Feast .

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Double Chocolate Biscotti

Chocolate Biscotti


Biscotti is about the only baked good that I make with any sort of regularity. It's pretty much impossible to mess it up. It's supposed to be dry, it doesn't have to rise much, it's usually not light and fluffy, and a lot of recipes don't even call for using a mixer. Another good thing about biscotti is that it is pretty easy to find healthier versions that don't use lots of butter or eggs.

Chocolate Biscotti


I found this recipe at Eating Well , and I figured anything that had "double chocolate" in the title was worth trying. This did not disappoint. It was really good, and fairly healthy also! It does have eggs, but no butter, and uses whole wheat pastry flour. Whole wheat pastry flour is one of my favorite things to use, since it adds more nutrients than white flour, but it still results in lighter textured and flavored baked goods.

Double Chocolate Biscotti
From Eating Well (Feburary/March 2005)

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup sugar or 1/2 cup Splenda Sugar Blend for Baking
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped, or chocolate chips, melted

1. Position rack in the center of the oven; preheat to 325°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In another large bowl, beat eggs, egg yolk and sugar (or Splenda) with an electric mixer until thick and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla and melted chocolate. Stir in the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon until just moistened.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead for 1 minute, then divide in half. Roll each piece into an 8-inch log; flatten slightly to about 3/4 inch high and 3 1/2 inches wide. Place the logs side by side on one of the prepared baking sheets.

4. Bake until lightly browned and firm, about 20 minutes. Cool on the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Keep the oven on; switch the oven racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

5. Slice the logs on the diagonal into cookies 1/2 inch thick. Arrange, cut-side down, on the 2 baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the biscotti over and rotate the pans from top to bottom; bake until dry, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thai Grilled Beef Salad

Thai beef salad


In honor of the Memorial Day holiday here in the US, I present you with my favorite grilled beef recipe. I love beef salads. One - they allow for portion control, a little bit of juicy, red meat sliced thinly and fanned attractively across the top of a salad is a great way to feel like you are getting a lot, when really you are probably getting just the right amount. Two - I always feel like I am keeping a healthy balance when I include a generous serving of salad with my beef. Much better for you than that butter and sour cream loaded baked potato (though, I do love a loaded baked potato!)

thai beef salad



This recipe comes from one of the best barbeque cookbooks, ever! It is The Barbecue! Bible: Over 500 Recipes by Steven Raichlen. When I first saw this book, I thought, "How many recipes can there be for barbecue?" I mean, there's regular barbeque with a red sauce and then there's a vinegar sauce. There's beef and then there's pork, and sometimes chicken. End of story. Except this book is more, so much more. It is barbecue recipes from around the world, not just what many Americans think of when we think of barbecue. Yes, there is Texas-style Barbecued Brisket and then two pages later there is Brazilian Stuffed Rib Roast. Pork more your style? There's Elizabeth Karmel's North Carolina-Style Pulled Pork and then there is Uruguayan Grilled Stuffed, Rolled Pork. See what I mean? Really, this book is amazing. It is a summer ritual of mine, to sit down with this book, on the back porch, with a glass of wine or a beer, and reacquaint myself with it's grilling goodness.

One of the first recipes that I tried was the Thai grilled beef salad. It has become such a standard around here, that anytime anyone sees a flank steak marinating the fridge, they immediately get excited, hoping that we are having this salad. I've made it so many times, that I kind of do it my own way.

Spicy Thai Grilled Beef Salad

Beef and marinade
1 flank steak (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

Dressing
3 cloves garlic
1 to 6 thai, bird, seranno, or jalapeno peppers thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I use lime)

Salad
1 head boston or bibb lettuce
1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced (I cut mine into bite size pieces)
1 small sweet onion thinly sliced (I omit, I don't like raw onion)
12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
12 fresh mint leaves (optional, but I always include)

Garnish
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dry-roasted peanuts

Combine marinade ingredients and pour over a lightly scored flank steak. I don't usually score mine, so that's up to you. Marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours or as long as 8, turning several times. A ziplock bag works perfect for this.

Preheat the grill to high.

Prepare the dressing. Grind the garlic, chilies, and sugar into a paste in a mortar with a pestle. Work in the fish sauce and the lime juice. You can also just puree in a blender.

Drain the steak and grill on a well-oiled grill for 4-6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steak to a cutting board and allow to cool slightly or completely, before thinly slicing across the grain.

The recipe calls for you to line a platter with the lettuce and then top with the salad ingredients, I usually just toss them in a bowl with the dressing right before serving. So, I place the salad ingredients on a plate. Top with the steak and sprinkle with the fresh cilantro and chopped peanuts.

This salad can be served warm or at room temperature. I love the beef the next day, it makes the perfect leftover lunch!

WHB


This will be my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging , hosted this week by Cate at Sweetnicks.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Strawberry-Buttermilk Gelato

gelato


Oh my gosh! It doesn't get much better than this! It is strawberry season in Tennessee and school is out!!!! I left school at exactly 9:46 am. I can barely control my happiness. It was so exciting, I came home and took a nap. Why? Because I can!! I am a big nap taker, it's my favorite hobby for over the summer. I don't actually sleep, I just lie there enjoying the fact that I am doing nothing!

strawberries


What better way to enjoy doing nothing than with gorgeous, in season, organically grown, seductive strawberries. My CSA box has had 2 quarts (or whatever those little green baskets are) for the past three weeks. I individually froze some of them because there were just too many for me to figure out what to do with, but one batch went into becoming this fresh gelato. At this point, I was going to get all knowledgeable on you and explain the difference between a gelato and an ice cream, but kind of like the difference between a taco and a fajita, I'm not really sure. This recipe is titled strawberry-buttermilk gelato, so I am taking their word for it, that it's a gelato. I wish I could give appropriate credit for this recipe, but I've been making it for years, and there is no source listed, and I've long since forgotten where I found it at. Also enjoy the shot of my ice cream attachment in action. It's a thing of beauty!

attachment


Strawberry-Buttermilk Gelato

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups quartered strawberries
1 cup low-fat buttermilk

Combine sugar and whater in a large saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. pour into a large bowl; cool completely.

Place strawberries in blender, and process until smooth. Add buttermilk and simple syrup and pulse again briefly to combine.

Pour the strawberry mixture into your favorite ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Yiddish Policemen's Union

I'm bad at challenges. I joined several book challenges at the beginning of the year, and then have been very, very lax in keeping up with them. There are all kinds of food events that I'd like to participate in, but about the only one that I can routinely keep up with is Weekend Herb Blogging, but there are only 3 more days of school left. So, starting officially Monday, I will be a blogging fool. I will post daily, join food events, and even post some of my reading challenges. Heck, I might even post twice a day. You will become sick of me, I promise. Oh wait...Monday is a holiday. Well...okay...starting Tuesday. No, wait, I have no plans for Memorial Day, so, back to starting Monday! Can you tell I'm dawdling? I'm procrastinating, because I believe if you can't say something nice about something, don't say anything at all (I really don't believe that, I talk bad about people and things all the time), but I'm about to write a review of a book that I didn't like. It pains me. It really does. I've read another book by this author, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which I loved. But I can't put it off forever, so without further ado, my review of The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon for the Notable Books Challenge.



I am sad to say that I did not enjoy reading this book. The setting of Sitka, Alaska, populated with Jews who have been granted a temporary safe have after the Holocaust, is interesting. The writing is excellent, with some memorable lines, but the book is peppered with yiddish words and expressions. Liberally peppered. So much so, that I feel that half the time I didn't know what was going on. About a quarter of the way through the book, I checked the back for a glossary. Don't laugh, I remember struggling through A Clockwork Orange, taking notes on what words might possibly mean, only to turn the final page of the story and find a glossary! There is no glossary in the back of this book, however. In addition to the Yiddish words, the characters have unusual names (or at least for me), like Mendel Shpilman, Ester-Malke, and Berko Shemets. These names just do not stick in my head. It was so bad, that at the end of the book, when the murderer was revealed, I thought "who?" Now, to be fair, I read this a little bit each night, after a long, tiring day at work. Maybe if I had read it over the summer, with less distractions and more time to read in one sitting, I might have felt differently. If this sounds intriguing to you, give it a try, the writing is certainly good, but if you are wanting a light read, you might want to chose a different book.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pea Tendrils Salad with Radishes and Feta Cheese

Pea Tendril Salad


When my first box from my CSA contained pea shoots and beet shoots, I was enthralled and hesitant at the same time. I had read about pea shoots and admired their pictures (they are always so pretty and springlike), but I had never used them or eaten them before. Some lovely reader left a link in a comment to this salad, from Bon Appetit. It sounded intriguing and as a plus my CSA box also contained some absolutely gorgeous radishes! Just look at the picture, they are a lovely pale blushing pink. The original recipe called for cumin seeds and fresh dill. That sounded kind of odd to me. I know, who am I to second guess Molly Stevens, but second guess I did, and I omitted them from the final recipe, which now leaves me wondering how would it have tasted with those ingredients. I planned on making it again as written, but alas, there have been no more pea tendrils in my box.

radishes


This really was an easy and healthy salad. So pretty! I served it as a main dish salad and it was quite filling. My husband was sort of taken back by all the radishes, but they were so mild. These were the first radishes of the season, and they almost didn't even taste like a radish, hardly any bite to them at all, just sweet crunchy goodness.

Pea Tendrils Salad with Radishes and Feta Cheese
Serves 2 (as a main dish), 4 as a side salad

Juice of one lime
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

2 cups frozen petit peas, thawed
1 bunch radishes, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 cups fresh pea tendrils


Whisk together dressing ingredients. Place salad ingredients in a large bowl, pour dressing over and toss.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Risotto with Spring Vegetables

risotto


It's spring! That means it's asparagus season. It's the time of the year when you can buy gorgeous thin stalked asparagus without paying a small fortune, though I have to say, for organic, it was till quite high. One of my favorite ways to use asparagus is in this Risotto with spring vegetables, from Eating Well magazine. I'm posting it exactly as it appears on the website, but it's a very easy recipe to modify and make your own.

asparagus


I didn't have any baby carrots, so I used regular carrots, made into largish matchstick size. I also didn't have any sugar snap peas, so I used frozen peas instead. I've made this before and it is definitely better with the snap peas. The snap peas had a crisp sweetness that was lacking in the frozen peas. It was still good, but I really recommend the snap peas. What I love about this dish is that it is spring-like with all the pretty vegetables, but it is still warming and comforting. You know how fickle spring can be, gorgeous and in the 70's one day and cloudy and in the 40's the next! So, whatever weather mother nature gives to you, this risotto is perfect.

Risotto with Spring Vegetables
Serves 4

5 1/2-6 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
16 baby carrots (6 ounces), trimmed, peeled and halved lengthwise
16 thin stalks asparagus (6 ounces), trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
1 cup sugar snap peas (4 ounces), trimmed, strings removed
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 9-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add carrots and cook until almost tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add asparagus and peas and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove the vegetables to a bowl with a slotted spoon and set aside. Maintain the broth at a gentle simmer.
2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large wide saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic; cook, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat grains. Pour in wine and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the broth and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 3 minutes. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice begins to soften, about 15 minutes. Stir in artichoke hearts and thyme and cook, adding more broth as needed, until the rice is just tender and the mixture is creamy, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in the reserved vegetables and cheese. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.


Description


With fresh thyme from my herb garden, this will be my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging , hosted this week by Gay from A Scientist in the Kitchen.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Do You Want to Know a Secret?

Do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell? Now, that you are all singing The Beatles lyrics along with me, I'll tell. Yesterday was my birthday. I turned the big five-oh. I kept it very hush-hush at school. Not because I'm freaked out about turning old!!! But mainly because this is such a busy and stressful time of the year. Unlike most teachers, I know ahead of time most of the students that I will have next year, because as a special education teacher, I attend their transition meetings. Which is some cases is good and in some not. Let's just say, the other 6th grade special education teacher and I are not looking forward to next year. We have some really scary kids coming up. Violent, aggressive kids. I keep trying to tell myself that it will be okay, but it's hard when you start worrying about something in May, that's not going to happen until August. So, with all this on my mind, I didn't really want to mess with the whole birthday thing. Kate, my darling daughter home from college for the summer, made me the most amazing flourless chocolate cake, which I took some pictures of and as soon as I get them off my camera and on to the computer, I'll show you!

So, let's try to think positive. Yes, I'm old, but so are Sharon Stone and Geena Davis, to name a few (yes, I actually googled "celebrities over 50").

Also, there is one week of school left!!!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Baked Cod with Chorizo and White Beans

Baked cod


Did you know there are two types of chorizo? There is a Spanish type and a Mexican type. From what I've read, and I may be completely wrong, so someone feel free to correct me, the Spanish is usually cured and spiced with paprika and the Mexican is usually not cured and it is spiced with peppers. The grocery store that I've started shopping at has fresh chorizo sausage and I was curious to try it, I think it's the Mexican variety (again, excuse my ignorance)! When I saw this recipe in the January/February issue of Eating Well magazine, I knew I wanted to try it. It is a wonderful, rustic recipe, very hearty. I would have never thought to combine fish and sausage in a dish. Even though, my sausage was the wrong kind of chorizo (maybe?), it was still very good. I served it over rice.

Baked Cod with Chorizo and White Beans
Eating Well January/February 2008

Ingredients

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 ounces Spanish chorizo or turkey kielbasa, diced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup dry white wine, divided
1 15-ounce can great northern beans, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 1/4 pounds Pacific cod, cut into 4 pieces (I used one pound)
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a 9-by-13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallot, chorizo (or kielbasa) and thyme and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and 1/4 cup wine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are broken down and the wine is almost evaporated, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in beans and 1/4 teaspoon salt and remove from the heat.
3. Sprinkle fish with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper; place in the prepared baking dish. Top each piece of fish with equal amounts of the tomato mixture (about 1/2 cup per fillet). Pour the remaining 1/4 cup wine into the pan and cover the pan with foil. Bake until the fish is just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve the fish with the sauce spooned over the top.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tuna Panzanella

Description


According to Wikipedia, panzanella is an Italian bread salad which contains bread, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Well then, technically, mine is not a panzanella. But then it goes on to say, that is it sometimes thought of as a "leftover" salad. I would like to go a step further and say that it can also be a "clean out your fridge" salad, because that is what I did, and it was mighty yummy!

Description


I had some stale bread on the counter (always). In the fridge was a quickly aging red bell pepper, a bag of some salad greens, and some kalamata olives. I preheated the oven to 400, while I cubed some of the bread, and then toasted it in the oven, until nicely brown. While the bread was toasting, I diced the red bell pepper, pitted and chopped the black olives, and whisked together a simple vinaigrette from the juice of a lemon and extra virgin olive oil. I looked in the fridge and the pantry for something to make it a little more substantial and found a pouch of tuna. Perfect! I quickly tossed the bread, bell pepper, tuna, olives and dressing, salted and peppered to taste and served over the salad greens. A quick and easy lunch for a busy Saturday!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Moroccan Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken


Roast chicken. Those two words bring such a lovely smile of happy, contentment to the faces of many people. It's so comforting. It's so good. It's wonderful when it's left simple and yet with a little chopping and blending, you can fancy it up. I know that some people think a whole roasted chicken is easy enough for a weeknight dinner. Not me. It's probably because mine has usually been frozen, and it seems like the inside never really thaws. So, I'm usually sticking frosty red hands deep inside the cavity, trying vainly to chip away the heart or kidneys, which are invariably frozen to the ribs. Then when I finally get everything out, it never seems to cook evenly, because, of course, the inside is still so cold. The answer for me is cut up roasted chicken.

One of my very favorite cookbooks, is Mediterranean: food of the sun. It's absolutely beautiful to look at and practically every single recipe sounds delicious! When I saw this simple marinated chicken, I knew I had to try it. You can do it with a whole chicken or chicken parts.

Moroccan Roast Chicken
Slightly modified from Mediterranean: Food of the Sun
Serves 4

3-4 lb chicken, cut up
2 small shallots
1 clove garlic
1 sprig fresh parsley
1 sprig cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 lemon, quartered

Finely chop shallots, garlic, herbs, salt and spices in a food processor. Add butter and process until it forms a smooth paste.

Rub the paste onto the chicken and let marinate in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400. Place the chicken in a roasting pan, squeeze a little of the lemon juice over the chicken, and scatter it around the pan. Roast for about 1 hour, until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve with fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish if you wish!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Roasted Tomatoes with Fresh Chives

roasted tomatoes


Roasted tomatoes is such a quick and easy side dish. Now, I'm not talking about the slow roasted tomatoes, that's a whole other story. I'm not talking about simply cutting a tomato in half, seeding it, sprinkling with a little salt and pepper, any fresh herb of your choice, and roasting it for a few minutes. It deepens and sweetens the flavor of even off season tomatoes.

My chives are gorgeous right now. As a matter of fact, they are more than gorgeous, they are invasive, they are popping up everywhere! Really all of my herbs are doing well, we have been blessed so far with almost perfect spring weather, just the right amount of sunshine and rain. Thank goodness after last year's drought.

Roasted Tomatoes


This really isn't a recipe, more of just an impromptu process. I preheated the oven to 450 (because I wanted to do this really quickly). Cut the tomatoes in half, remove the seeds, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and fresh chives. Roast in oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and add a little parmesan cheese. That's it. It took longer for my oven to preheat than it took me to make these. Next time, I will add a little more fresh chives at the very end, for flavor and brightness.

WHB


This will be entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Laurie from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Potato Salad

Potato Salad


Do you like your potato salad, creamy and mustardy, or oil and vinegar-y? I don't really think I've ever met a potato salad that I didn't love, but I tend to make those with an oil and vinegar base more often than I make a creamy one. I'm not sure why, it just seems to work out that way. I think perhaps it's because you can alter the flavor of the vinaigrette so easily and totally change the flavor of the potato salad.

My go-to base recipe is a modified version from The Martha Stewart Cookbook: Collected Recipes for Every Day, which I picked up at a garage sale for just five bucks! I sometimes omit the mustard, use flavored oils (chive oil is great), and add whatever fresh herbs are currently flourishing in my garden. For the version pictured above, I used some fresh chives and a little chive oil.

Warm French Potato Salad
(slightly modified from a Martha Stewart recipe)

1/4 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
7 or 8 waxy potatoes
Fresh black pepper and kosher salt

Whisk together wine, vinegar, olive oil and mustard.

Put potatoes in pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.

As soon as you can handle the potatoes, dice or cut into slices. Toss with the vinaigrette, while potatoes are still warm. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cupcakes!

cupcakes


My grandson turned one this past month. Unfortunately, he had a cold, along with with his mom, dad, and me! So, we didn't want to plan too much of anything, but I offered to make cupcakes, this despite my total lack of baking skills. I can bake bread in my sleep, but anything else is bad news. Because of my lack of talent, I wanted to keep it totally simple and basic, so I went to How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman. I found a basic yellow cake recipe with a buttercream frosting. Sounded easy, and it probably would have been if I had followed the instructions, especially the part where it says to use 2 muffin tins! It just didn't look like that much batter, but after baking, the cupcakes all touched each other on the top, I had to sort of cut them apart, so they came out looking like square mushrooms! But even looking deformed, they were really moist and tasty! I used all organic ingredients for this, and unfortunately, organic powered sugar is not very white. So my icing came out a sort of beigey-ivory. To try and perk up the muted icing, I topped it with cheerful lifesavers. I'm not going to post the recipe here, since everyone probably has their own basic cupcake recipe, just remember if it says two muffin tins, it probably means it! At least they looked cute in my vintage cake tin, which I never get to use, since I don't bake!

tin

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sauteed Chicken in Mustard-Cream Sauce

chicken


Do you make pan sauces? I don't really, and it's something that I'd like to get better at. I know the basics of it: brown and cook the food, deglaze the pan to get all the wonderful brown bits off the bottom, add liquid and seasonings, reduce until desired thickness. I found this recipe while browsing through Everyday Food: Great Food Fast. This cookbook is recipes gathered from the Everyday Food Magazine from Martha Stewart. So, as I was looking through the spring section, I saw this simple chicken saute with a mustard cream sauce. I don't know what exactly makes a chicken saute very springlike, but I served it with roasted asparagus, which is my favorite spring vegetable. Anyway, this was excellent! It was so easy, a perfect weeknight dish. The recipe can be found here, and I've posted it down below with the modifications that I make.

Sauteed Chicken in Mustard-Cream Sauce
Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, (6 ounces each)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine, or chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried tarragon, (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh)

Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high to high heat. Add chicken; saute for 2 minutes until browned. Turn over and saute for 2 minutes on that side. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 8 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken to platter and keep warm.

Pour wine into hot skillet; cook, stirring, until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Whisk in cream, mustard, and tarragon. Cook, whisking, until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Pour any accumulated chicken juices into sauce. Right before serving, drizzle cream sauce over chicken.