Monday, September 27, 2010

Mustard Chicken with Fresh Corn Polenta

I love polenta, and adding fresh corn to it makes it even tastier!  It's such a comforting food, and I really like that any leftovers can be chilled and then fried up for breakfast the next morning.  Here, creamy polenta is paired with grilled mustard chicken.  I tried this recipe to give my new grill pan a spin, and I'd have to say it was not a big success.  I had some bone-in, skin-on chicken from the farmer's market, and I think the meat was just too awkwardly-shaped to cook evenly in a good amount of time.  The flavors were great, but next time I'd try boneless chicken and make sure it was an even thickness before trying to grill it.  With that caveat, I think the combination of lemon, garlic, and mustard was a great one both with the chicken and the slightly sweet polenta.  Next time, I'd just use a different cut of chicken or roast it in the oven instead of grilling.

Mustard Chicken with Fresh Corn Polenta (adapted from Bon Appetit, via Serious Eats)
Serves 2

2 T Dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
6 ounces skin-on boneless chicken breast, cut into two pieces
Salt and pepper
2-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup polenta
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp sugar
Corn kernels cut from 1 ear of fresh corn
Olive oil

1. Whisk together the mustard, lemon juice, and garlic clove.  Rub onto the chicken, both under and over the skin.  Season with freshly ground black pepper and a bit of salt.  Marinate in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours, or use immediately. 
2. Meanwhile, make the polenta.  Bring the water to a boil.  Add the polenta gradually, whisking constantly, until incorporated.  Add the salt and sugar, return to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the polenta is creamy, about 30 minutes.  Add the corn and cook a further 5 minutes.  Season with freshly ground black pepper.
3. While the polenta is cooking, grill the chicken.  Remove the chicken from the fridge about 15 minutes before ready to cook.  Grill on a grill or grill pan drizzled with olive oil, or roast in a 400 degree oven in a small, oiled pan until cooked through.
4. Divide the polenta between two bowls, and top each with a portion of chicken.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Squash-Kale-Ricotta Galettes

This galette makes for a super delicious (if not particularly easy) dinner, and it's easy to scale up or down for however many people you're cooking for.  I made two individual-sized galettes just because that's more fun, but you could actually probably serve four with these ingredients if you served it with a big salad or a hearty soup.  I'd recommend going all-out and making your own ricotta if you have time, because it really adds something special - but that's an easy shortcut if you're low on time.

I went for this oil-based half-whole-wheat crust to try and make the galette a bit healthier, but I don't necessarily recommend it.  It wasn't bad, but it was a little tough and just overall didn't have a great texture.  Other than that, though, this was a real winner.  The kale-ricotta filling is extremely tasty, and it's topped with nicely caramelized onions and zucchinis.  If you have some extra time some evening, you should definitely give it a try!

Squash-Kale-Ricotta Galettes (adapted from In Praise of Leftovers and Chocolate & Zucchini)
Makes 2

For the filling:
2 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch thick coins
1/2 small red onion, chopped coarsely
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 bunch kale, trimmed and chopped
1 egg
1/2 recipe ricotta cheese (or about 4-1/2 ounces store bought ricotta)
Zest of 1/2 lemon

For the crust:
4.4 ounces whole wheat flour
4.4 ounces all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup cold water

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Toss the squash and onions with olive oil, and then season with salt and pepper.  Roast about 25 minutes, until browned and cooked through.  Turn the oven down to 375 degrees and leave it on while you finish the galettes.
2. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a non-stick skillet.  Add the kale (in batches if necessary), and season with salt.  Cook until tender, and then transfer to a paper towel-lined colander.  Drain and allow to cool for a few minutes, then press down on the kale to remove as much liquid as possible.  Finely chop.
3. Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl.  Add about half the egg to the ricotta, and reserve the remaining egg to the side.  Whisk in the lemon zest, salt, and pepper, and then stir in the kale.  (Use your judgment - you may not use all the kale.)
4. Make the crust.  Whisk together the flours and salt, and then stir the oil in with a fork.  Add the water, and stir with a fork until the dough comes together.  Divide in half, and roll each half out relatively thinly (as desired).
5. Spread half the ricotta-kale mixture on each crust, leaving a border around the edges.  Top with the squash-onion mixture. Fold the edges of the crust over the filling.
6. Whisk the remaining egg with a bit of water, and brush onto the crust.
7. Bake the galettes at 375 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, until the crust is browned and the filling is bubbling.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Chicken Pie with Cheddar Biscuits

Wow, this is an old recipe, all the way back from this past January!  Somehow I never managed to get it posted through the spring, and then it didn't seem appropriate for summer months.  Now that fall is rolling around, though, it's definitely one you won't want to miss.  The cheddar biscuits on this chicken pie are amazing - flavorful, cheesy, and tender.  They top the filling of a chicken pot pie, without all the trouble of making and rolling out a pie crust.  This is definitely the recipe to turn to when you're in the mood for comfort food - it's warm, filling, and oh-so-delicious!

 Chicken Pie with Cheddar Biscuits (adapted from Gourmet magazine)

For the filling
4 cups chicken broth
3 carrots, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
3/4 pound red potatoes, quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large ribs of celery, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
2 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken (the meat from a 3-pound chicken)
1 onion, chopped
2 T unsalted butter
1 T olive oil
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

For the biscuit crust
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening, cut into bits
1/3 cup grated sharp Cheddar
1 large egg
about 1/3 cup buttermilk

an egg wash made by beating 1 large egg yolk with 1 tablespoon milk

1. Make the filling:  Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the carrots, potatoes, and celery and simmer uncovered until the vegetables are just tender, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer the vegetables with a slotted spoon to a large bowl, reserving the broth, and add the chicken to the bowl.

2. In another saucepan, cook the onion in the butter and olive oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until it is softened.  Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add 3 cups of the reserved broth in a stream, whisking, reserving any remaining broth for another use. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking. Add the thyme and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste, pour the sauce over the chicken mixture, and stir the mixture gently until it is just combined.

3. Transfer the mixture to a 2-quart shallow baking dish or divide it among four 2-cup shallow baking dishes. (The filling may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled. Bring the mixture to room temperature before continuing with the recipe.)

4. Make the biscuit crust:  Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl.  Add the butter and the shortening, and cut in until the mixture resembles meal. Add the Cheddar and toss the mixture.

5. Into a liquid measuring cup break the egg and add enough of the buttermilk to measure a total of 1/2 cup.  Beat the buttermilk mixture with a fork. Form a well in the middle of the flour mixture, and pour in the buttermilk mixture.  Stir just until the mixture forms a dough, gather into a ball, and pat out to 1/2-inch thick on a floured surface.  Cut out as many rounds as possible with a 2-inch round cutter dipped in flour, gathering the scraps and patting the dough out again in the same manner.

6. Arrange the rounds on the chicken mixture, brush the tops of the rounds with the egg wash, and prick the rounds with a fork. Bake the pie in the middle of a preheated 450 degree oven for 15 to 25 minutes, or until the biscuits are puffed and golden and the filling is bubbling.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mini Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Lemon Glaze

I made these cupcakes for a community gardening group that came to our house to help us fix up the yard.  We spent the afternoon chopping back ivy, pulling weeds, and covering the front yard with compost so it will be ready to plant with beautiful flowers and herbs.  We took a break in the late afternoon for Sweet Potato-Black Bean Chili, roasted veggies marinated in balsamic vinaigrette, and these cupcakes.  I wanted to make everything vegan since I wasn't sure what the folks at the garden party would like, and the meal turned out really well!  These cupcakes were fantastic - despite the lack of dairy products, they were super moist and flavorful.  They taste pretty much like these Martha Stewart cupcakes, but are just a bit more fragile - I had to be very careful getting them out of the pan. If I made these full-sized, I would definitely use cupcake papers rather than just spraying the pan.

I'm not a big fan of margarine, so I went with a simple glaze rather than a faux buttercream.  I like the way the sour lemon glaze sets off the richness of the chocolate.

Mini Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (from Love and Olive Oil, via Sweetest Kitchen)
Makes 24 mini cupcakes

1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons almond meal
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and spray 24 mini muffin cups (or 12 regular-sized muffin cups) with oil.
2. Whisk together the coconut milk, oil, vanilla, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and beat on slow speed with the mixer until just combined, being careful not to overmix.
4. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, and bake until a tester comes out clean (15-ish minutes?). 

Lemon Glaze

Whisk together about 1/4 cup powdered sugar and some lemon juice until smooth.  Add more lemon juice or water as needed to get a glaze consistency.  Dip cooled cupcakes in the glaze.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding Tamales

One of my new housemates asked me to make this recipe from a cookbook he brought home from a conference.  I was only too happy to agree, because the recipe looked amazing!  The bread pudding itself is easy to put together -- not too sweet, perfectly custardy without being overly soggy or dry, and with nice bits of chocolate sprinkled throughout.  What sets this bread pudding apart is really the presentation.  After you bake the pudding, you let it cool slightly, slice it into 9 squares, and wrap each one up in a corn husk like a tamale!  This makes the bread pudding much neater and more special than the usual sort, which usually isn't a particularly fancy dish.

I did have a big failure with this dish, which was trying to make my own cajeta.  I overcooked the caramel and ended up with candy instead of a caramel sauce!  Caramel is tough to make - I've managed to make it properly maybe two or three times, but there have been many more attempts than that!  In this case, at least it didn't burn, so we were able to cut it into squares after it hardened and enjoy it as candy - sort of like a praline.  It was tasty, but definitely not ideal to serve with the bread pudding.  So, unless you're a caramel expert or a glutton for punishment, I'd recommend just thinning some jarred cajeta or dulce de leche to drizzle over the tamales.

Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding Tamales (adapted from Reata: Legendary Texas Cooking)
Makes 9

10 corn husks
3 eggs
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
6 cups cubed bread, either slightly stale or toasted in a 250-degree oven until dry
Cajeta or dulce de leche, thinned with milk until drizzling consistency, to serve

1. Soak the corn husks in hot water until pliable, 1-2 hours.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8x8 square pan with foil or parchment, and spray with oil.  Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the milk and cream, and whisk to blend.  Add the vanilla, lemon juice, salt, pecans, and chocolate, and whisk again.  Add the bread and fold in with a rubber spatula or large spoon until well combined.
3. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, and bake 1 hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out moist but clean.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
4. Lay 9 of the husks flat on a work surface.  Slice the pudding into 9 equal pieces, and place one piece in the center of each husk, spreading it to within about 1 inch of the edges.  Use the final husk to tear off thin pieces of husk.  Use the thin pieces to tie up each end of the husks in order to form little packages around the bread pudding.  Serve with cateja or dulce de leche drizzled on top.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pancetta-Wrapped Cod with Marinated Tomatoes

I love pancetta - it has all the fantastic pork-y flavor of bacon, but it's so thinly sliced that it doesn't overwhelm a dish (and you also save a few calories).  This dish showcases the pancetta perfectly.  It adds a wonderful salty note to a simple fish dish.  I also love the marinated tomatoes that top the fish.  Initially, I was a little worried that the flavors of tomatoes and fish wouldn't go well together, but I don't know what I was thinking!  They might be a slightly unusual pairing, but they go together very nicely.  Using high-quality heirloom tomatoes here really makes the difference...they pretty much taste exactly like summer!

Pancetta-Wrapped Cod with Marinated Tomatoes (adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques)
Serves 3

3 fillets of cod or snapper, about 1/3-pound each
Zest of 1 lemon
About 1 T fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper
2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
2-3 medium heirloom tomatoes
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Cabernet or red wine vinegar
Several leaves of basil, thinly sliced
1-2 tsp finely diced shallots
Spray oil
Lemon wedges, to serve

1. Sprinkle the lemon zest and thyme leaves evenly over the fillets of fish.  Season with salt and pepper.  Carefully wrap the pancetta around the fish.  Cover with plastic, and let chill in the fridge for a few hours (or all day, if you'd like to prepare the fish in the morning).
2. Remove the fish from the fridge about 15 minutes before ready to cook.  Cut the tomatoes into large chunks, and add the olive oil, vinegar, basil, and shallots.  Season with salt and pepper, and allow to marinate while you prepare the fish.
3. Heat a non-stick grill pan, griddle, or large skillet over medium-high heat.  Spray with oil.  Place the fish on the pan, and cook until the pancetta is crispy, 3-4 minutes.  Flip the fish, and cook a further 3 minutes.  Check for doneness by poking into a piece of fish with a knife and fork, and continue to cook if the fish is not yet opaque on the inside.
4. Serve the fish topped with the marinated tomatoes and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Baked Polenta with Summer Veggies

This casserole is a great way to showcase whatever summer vegetables you have sitting around.  I made it with a bunch of veggies I got at the farmer's market, and tossed in a few leftovers from the fridge as well.  Just be sure to keep the fire roasted vegetables and the polenta, and then top with whatever else you like.  You could definitely make your own polenta to save a little money, but I opted for the prepared polenta from the refrigerated section at the grocery to save some time.  This recipe only uses half a tube, so you can save the rest for breakfast - it's fantastic fried in a bit of butter and topped with syrup or stewed fruit.

 Baked Polenta with Summer Veggies (adapted from Dana Treat, original recipe here)

Olive oil
2 ears corn, kernels cut from the cob
Salt and pepper
1 large tomato
Several leaves basil
2 tsp minced jalapeno pepper (more or less to taste)
1/4 cup chopped, steamed kale, squeezed dry (optional)
2/3 cup fire roasted crushed tomatoes (such as Muir Glen brand)
1/2 tube prepared polenta, sliced
Burrata or fresh mozzarella cheese, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Heat a little oil in a non-stick skillet.  Add the corn and saute for a few minutes, until just tender.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
3. Coarsely chop the tomato, and then toss in a bowl in about 1 tsp olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Julienne the basil, then add to the tomatoes.  Let marinate for about 5 minutes while the corn cools off.
4. Toss together the corn, tomato mixture, jalapeno, and kale.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Pour the crushed tomatoes into the bottom of a pie plate.  Top with the polenta, spread into an even layer.  Pour the veggies over, and spread into an even layer with a rubber spatula.
6. Place the pie plate on a sheet pan, and then bake until bubbly and heated through, about 25 minutes. 
7. Serve with burrata or another fresh mozzarella cheese.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Peach-Blackberry Crisp

This fruit crisp is a testament to Chez Panisse's philosophy of simple food using local, perfectly ripe ingredients.  I made this while visiting my parents in Ohio, using fresh-picked blackberries and peaches from a local orchard right behind my parents' house.  They were so tasty that they needed little accompaniment to make a delicious dessert.  The fruit is tossed with some flour and sugar, topped with a crunchy almond crisp, and then baked until bubbling.  It makes the perfect summer dessert - super flavorful and just bursting with fresh fruit flavor.  Use whatever you have on hand - I bet nectarines and blueberries or plums and raspberries would also be terrific.  You could even make the filling with apples and a bit of cinnamon in the fall or winter - just be sure to taste and adjust the sugar as needed.

Peach-Blackberry Crisp (adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts)

7/8 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 T granulated sugar
1/3 cup salted butter
1/3 cup slivered almonds
2 pounds peaches, pitted and sliced about 1/2-inch thick
1 cup blackberries
1 T flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar

1. Put the flour and sugars in a bowl. Cut in the butter, and then stir in the almonds.  Set aside.

2. Toss together the peaches and blackberries, and then toss with the flour and sugar. Turn into a 9-inch pie pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle an even layer of the topping over the fruit.

3. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Strawberry Barley Scones

These are some of the most amazing scones I've ever eaten!  The barley flour adds a fantastic nutty flavor, and I think that having less gluten in the scones makes them extra tender.  I love the idea of baking the jam right into the scones - you can use any flavor you like, and the scones will be especially good if you have homemade jam on hand.  These are especially good warm out of the oven, but they keep fairly well for a day or two - I'd recommend reheating the scones in a toaster oven before eating them.

Strawberry Barley Scones (adapted from Good to the Grain)
Makes 8

Dry Mix:
1 cup plus 2 T barley flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1-1/4 tsp kosher salt

Wet Mix:
4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
½ cup buttermilk
1 egg

To finish:
½ cup strawberry jam

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.

2. Whisk together the dry ingredients.  Cut the butter into 8 pieces and then cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two knives.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and buttermilk. Pour into the dry mixture and mix until barely combined.

4. Transfer dough to a well-floured surface and dust with flour.  Divide into 2 halves, and pat each piece into a disk about ¾ inch thick and 7 inches in diameter.  Cover one disk with the jam.  Top with the other disk and press down gently.  Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 wedges.  Place on the baking sheet.

5. Bake the scones 22-26 minutes.  To keep the scones from sticking, slide a thin spatula under while still warm and place on a cooling rack. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Baba Ghanoush

One of my housemates got some eggplants in her CSA box, and I decided to turn them into baba ghanoush.  While it wasn't quite as transcendent as the baba ghanoush at my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant, Aladdin's Eatery, it was quite delicious as a dip for heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers.  I made my own tahini out of sesame seeds and olive oil because the grocery store was only selling it in huge quantities, and that's definitely the part of the recipe I'd try to improve next time.  It ended up a little bitter, I think because I accidentally bought un-hulled sesame seeds.  Next time, I'll try it with the hulled variety, because it was definitely a lot cheaper than purchased tahini!  Overall, this was a very tasty and healthy dip, and it was a lot easier to make than I thought!

Baba Ghanoush (adapted from Serious Eats)
Makes 1/2 cup

3 Japanese eggplants (about 14 ounces)
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 small garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp tahini
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a sheet pan with foil, spray with oil, and then place the eggplants on the pan.  Prick all over with a fork to allow steam to escape.  Roast, turning occasionally, until the eggplants are totally collapsed and mushy, about 45 minutes.
2. Allow the eggplant to cool slightly, then cut in half and scrape out the flesh.  You should have about 3/4 cup, packed.  Place in a colander and allow to drain for 3 minutes.
3. Place the eggplant in a food processor along with the lemon juice, garlic, and tahini.  Add a generous pinch of salt and a few good grinds of pepper.  Process until the texture is coarse and choppy, then taste and adjust for seasoning.  Process until almost smooth.
4. Place in a serving bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic on the surface of the baba ghanoush.  Chill at least 45 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Roasted Poblano-Goat Cheese Soft Tacos

I love dishes with just a few simple ingredients that combine to make something extraordinary. Such is the case with these roasted poblano tacos. Even with only four ingredients, these tacos are full of flavor.  The peppers are the only time consuming part of the recipe - they take a while to roast, and then getting the skins off is a bit of a pain, but it's totally worth it!  The longer you roast the peppers, the easier they'll be to peel.

The vegetal, slightly spicy flavor of the peppers is perfectly offset by the creamy, tangy goat cheese.  I definitely recommend flour over corn tortillas for this recipe, since the richer, softer texture combines well with the fillings. 

Roasted Poblano-Goat Cheese Soft Tacos (adapted from Local Flavors)

1-2 poblano chiles per person
Vegetable oil
Small flour tortillas
Goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the chiles with oil and spread in a single layer in a baking pan.  Roast about 40 minutes, turning occasionally, until the chiles are charred.  Place the chiles in a bowl and cover.  Let steam 10-15 minutes until cool enough to touch without burning your fingers.  Peel the skins off the chiles and cut into strips.  Be sure to remove all the seeds.

Heat the tortillas in a pan or oven until warmed through. Fill with strips of chiles and goat cheese.