Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hamburger Heaven

We've been eating quite healthily lately, so a hamburger or two over the weekend's not gonna kill me, right?

And who cares if they're burgers from the two fantastic joints I've tried for the first times over the last two weeks. One here in Big D and one our west in Fort Worth.

First, the local discovery. I'd heard about Twisted Root Burger Co. for a while, but hadn't made it there yet. Located in Deep Ellum, this is a no frills kind of place. You're likely to find a line out the door, but don't give's worth the wait. By the time I got to the order counter, I'd settled on a "make your own burger" with bacon, blue cheese, and Buffalo sauce. And a side of onion strings. The burger was great. Squishy bun. Beef perfectly cooked to medium. And my toppings made it a tangy, spicy smoky party for my tastebuds.

And don't miss the homemade pickles that you can scoop into little plastic cup at the counter. Delicious dills and spicy pickles as well. My favorite was a perfectly balanced bread and butter pickle. I might have to go back by to see if I can buy those to take home.

The next weekend, after a day of museums in Fort Worth, we headed to the Stockyards to check out Love Shack, chef Tim Love's similarly no-frills joint. The menu is small...with just a few choices. And have cash on hand; no credit cards accepted. I decided to have a Dirty Burger. And it did indeed make me feel deliciously dirty. (You can see it pre-chowdown in the photo above.) It's a pretty straight-ahead burger. Fresh bun, beef, bacon, tomatoes, lettuce and good ol' American cheese. There are two bonuses, however. A tangy Love sauce kicked up with curry powder. And, wait for it... a fried quail egg. While tiny, it adds a wonderful richness. The bites with it in them were even better than the ones without. Definitely worth a trip.

Ill be eating celery sticks and rice cakes all this week so I can visit one (or, heck, both of them) again VERY soon.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Baked Acorn Squash with Mustard and Honey

Growing up, my mom tricked us into eating acorn squash by turning it into candy. Not literally, of course, but a generous pat of butter and spoonful of brown sugar baked into the well was close enough.

This recipe is a bit healthier and just as delicious...the mustard adds a wonderful tang. I might return the favor and fix it for her one night soon.

Baked Acorn Squash with Mustard and Honey
Makes 6 servings.

3 acorn squash, about 1½ pounds each, stems cut off
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons honey
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Set the squash on its side and, with a large knife, cut in half vertically. Trim a piece off the bottom of each squash half so they will lie flat in the pan. Scrape out the seeds and stringy membranes with a large spoon. Place cavity side up in a large roasting pan.

Mix the butter, mustard, and honey in a small bowl until blended. Fill each squash cavity with 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until the squash is very tender, 1 to 1½ hours.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chicken with Goat Cheese, Rosemary and Lemon Stuffing

While it might sound a bit too Martha for some of you, but I keep goat cheese in the fridge year-round. It's great in a spinach salad. I sprinkled some over right-out-of-the-oven roasted beets the other night. (My other half is like a kid when I tell him we're having beets. "With goat cheese?" he giddily asks.) And if you have it on hand, you can make a delicious dinner like this with those ubiquitous chicken breasts you can't ever come up with something to do with.

(Note: The goat cheese mixture would also be great a as a crostini spread...)

Chicken with Goat Cheese, Rosemary and Lemon Stuffing
Makes 6 servings.
From Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine.

8 ounces (about 3/4 cup) soft goat cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) butter, melted (In an attempt at heart-healthiness, I substituted olive oil for the butter.)

Preheat the oven to 350°.

In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, rosemary and lemon peel; set aside. Using a small sharp knife, cut into the side of each chicken breast half to create a pocket. Stuff each chicken breast with about 1 1/2 tablespoons goat cheese mixture and secure with a toothpick.

In a shallow bowl, whisk the eggs and set aside. Place the bread crumbs in another shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add half the melted butter to the bread crumbs and combine. Keep the remaining butter warm for basting.

Cover a baking sheet with foil. Dip each stuffed chicken breast in the egg and then in the bread crumbs to coat; set on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, about 45 minutes, drizzling with the remaining butter every 15 minutes.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Butterscotch Bars

I am usually not a proponent of coconut. (I say usually because I will eat coconut cream pie like nobody's business) Not sure whether it's a texture or taste thing. But I digress.

I live in Ward and June Cleaver territory. Where the neighbors look out for each other, park in each other's driveways when we're out of town. It's bliss. Even better, our wonderful neighbor next door (the one who puts our newspaper on the porch every morning as she walks to the early Mass down the street) returns our Tupperware containers full of some wonderful goodie. This was the last installment.

And another reason for me to overcome my coconut aversion.

Butterscotch Bars
Makes 3 dozen.

1/2 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts

In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in the brown sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.

Sift the dry ingredients together; add with coconut and nuts to brown sugar mixture. Mix thoroughly.

Spread in greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake in a preheated 350° oven about 25 minutes.

Cut into bars while still warm. Remove from pan when almost cool.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Korean-Style Short Ribs

I have a great go-to recipe for braised short ribs. It's in the hearty French tradition. Red wine and hearty herbs.

But a small package of three short ribs in the Manager's Special meat section gave me a chance to try something different. This version has the spicy sweet heat of ginger and chile paste. A different take, but just as delicious. Looks like I have TWO go-to recipes now.

Don't skip the sesame seed powder and green onion garnish. It is a great finishing touch.

Korean-Style Short Ribs
Makes 6-8 servings. (I reduced ingredients for my 3 ribs.)
From Gourmet magazine. (RIP)

1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted and cooled completely
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot-pepper paste)
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
6 pounds beef short ribs or flanken
3 cups water
1 (2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, smashed

Grind sesame seeds to a coarse powder in grinder. Reserve 1/4 cup scallion greens, then whisk together remaining scallions, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, hot-pepper paste, sesame oil, and 2 tablespoons sesame-seed powder in a large bowl. Reserve remaining sesame-seed powder for serving.

Add short ribs to soy sauce mixture, rubbing mixture into them. Transfer ribs to a large sealable plastic bag and seal bag, pressing out excess air. Marinate, chilled, at least 8 hours.

Transfer ribs to a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot and add water and ginger. Simmer, tightly covered, until ribs are very tender, about 3 hours. (I braised mine in a 325° oven.)

Transfer ribs to a platter using tongs and keep warm, covered with foil. Skim fat from sauce and pour sauce through a sieve lined with a dampened paper towel into a bowl, then discard solids. Serve ribs with sauce in shallow bowls and sprinkle with reserved scallion greens and remaining sesame-seed powder. (We had ours over rice.)

Food/Wine Pairing: The other recipe calls for a big red. Syrah. Malbec. A good Merlot. This one, though, is surprisingly "light." I'm betting it would be delicious with a lighter wine. Like a good-quality rosé. Here's a few definitely worth a try.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Asparagus with Poached Egg and Citrus-Ginger Vinaigrette

Sometime a recipe is cocky enough to have it all. Tangy. Spicy. Crunchy. Creamy. A whole bunch of deliciousness wrapped up in one big and cohesive package.

Here you go. Try this one and thank me later.

Asparagus with Poached Egg and Citrus-Ginger Vinaigrette
Serves 4.
From Food & Wine magazine.

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon pickled ginger juice (from the pickled ginger served with sushi)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons wasabi powder mixed with 2 teaspoons water (or 2 teaspoons or so of wasabi paste)
1 small shallot, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 pound medium asparagus, trimmed
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Canola oil, for frying
Radish sprouts, for garnish

In a small bowl, whisk the orange juice, lime juice and pickled ginger juice with the soy sauce, wasabi mixture and minced shallot until combined. Whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Season the citrus-ginger vinaigrette with salt. Put the panko in a large, resealable plastic bag and crush the bread crumbs finely with a rolling pin.

Bring a wide, deep skillet of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, transfer half of the asparagus to a large plate and the remaining asparagus to a bowl. Add the egg yolks to the bowl and toss to coat the asparagus. Transfer the coated asparagus to the bag and shake to coat with the panko.

Return the asparagus water to a simmer. Carefully crack each whole egg into a small bowl and slip each one into the water. Poach over moderate heat for 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the poached eggs to another plate.

Heat 1/4 inch of canola oil in a medium skillet. Add the breaded asparagus and fry over high heat until they are golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer the fried asparagus to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Spoon the citrus vinaigrette onto 4 plates and add the blanched and fried asparagus. Top with the poached eggs, garnish with radish sprouts and serve right away.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chinese Celery Salad

When I'm on a health kick, I often buy celery...with the idea that I'll snack on it between meals. All too often, it languishes in the refrigerator until it's so limp, it's only good for the compost bin. This recipe, from Lucinda Scala Quinn, saves celery's day. A quick blanch intensifies the flavor without killing its crispness and a few Asian condiments makes it a perfect side dish for just about anything.

Chinese Celery Salad
Serves 4 to 6.

1 bunch of celery, top and bottom removed, stalks separated and cut in half lengthwise
(I saved a couple of leaves and threw them in as well.)
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 dashes chili oil or hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the celery and blanch for two minutes. Remove, rinse and cool. Peel off the strings and cut into bite-sized pieces.

In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, chili oil, sugar and cilantro. Toss in the celery. Cover and refrigerate to cool before serving.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Homemade Chai Tea

I don't drink coffee, but Starbucks still gets a lot of my money thanks to my fondness (I refuse to call it an addiction) for Chai tea lattes. So I was quite pleased to find this recipe recently. I'll probably continue to tinker with the spice/sweet ratio, but it makes a nice substitute for the $4 version at my friendly neighborhood barista.

Chai Tea
Makes 4 cups.

8 cardamom seeds
8 cloves
6 black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced
2 cups milk
2 cups water
4 tea bags (black tea preferred)
4 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)

Grind the cardamom, cloves and peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. (Or put in a heavy-duty plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.)

Places the spices in a saucepan, along with the cinnamon sticks, ginger, milk and water. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and add the tea bags and sugar. Cover and let steep for 12 minutes.

Strain into cups for serving.

Make a big batch and store in the fridge for up to two days. Reheat in a saucepan or the microwave (although it's pretty good chilled also).

Strain into cups

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Vegetable-Quinoa Soup

So far, so good. I'm on track to lose the %$ pounds I want to lose this year. (You didn't think I'd actually tell you the number, didja?) This VERY healthy recipe will remain in the repertoire for times in the months ahead when I need a flavorful, hearty and slimming meal. It's sacrifice involved. (Even my office colleagues were impressed by the wonderful smells coming from the microwave as I reheated a big bowl the other day.)

(Note: I am posting the recipe as I found it, but it's just crying out for an improvisational riff. Use whatever veggies you particularly like...or just have on hand. I used yellow bell pepper and purple onion, and a pinch of crushed red pepper, garlic pepper and oregano...even dumped a cup or so of leftover sauteed mushrooms in at the end and it added a lot.)

Vegetable-Quinoa Soup
Makes 4 servings.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 large onions, chopped
4 ounces carrots, diced
2 ounces celery, diced
2 ounces green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 quart vegetable broth or water (Oh, and I added a generous splash of spicy V-8 as well.)
2 bay leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
handful of fresh flat leaf parsley

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat until hot. Add the garlic, onions, carrots, celery, green bell pepper and quinoa. Sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the broth or water and bay leaves and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 25-30 minutes, or until the quinoa is soft.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle over with parsley just before serving.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Remoulade Sauce

OK. Now I'm REALLY in trouble. The other half has already decreed that we'll never buy bottled Thousand Island dressing again thanks to this recipe. And now I fear we'll neither one ever want plain ol' tartar sauce either. Thanks to this spicy, tangy New Orleans-style sauce.

(The recipe is from a great Nawlins cookbook entitled Tom Fitzmorris's New Orleans Food. More on it as a part of March and Cooking with Books month.)

Remoulade Sauce
Makes about 1 3/4 cups sauce.

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Creole mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 green onions, green part only, finely chopped

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to blend.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Asian Meatballs with Sesame Lime Dipping Sauce

Happy Chinese New Year! In honor of the Year of the Tiger, make these this weekend...

Made a little smaller, they would be great speared on a toothpick at a party. I prepared them as a part of a meal where we sampled several Asian dishes. I am thinking next time of throwing a couple on top of some soba noodles tossed in the dipping sauce for a spaghetti meal, Far East style.

Asian Meatballs with Sesame Lime Dipping Sauce
From Gourmet magazine.
Makes 24 meatballs.

1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
3/4 pound ground pork
3/4 pound ground veal (I used all pork when I first prepared them.)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup canned sliced water chestnuts, rinsed, drained, and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus 1/4 cup sprigs
5 tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons sugar

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Pour milk over bread crumbs in a large bowl and stir until liquid is absorbed. Add ground meat, egg, water chestnuts, salt, chopped cilantro, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 2 teaspoons oil and mix with your hands until combined well. Shape 3 tablespoons meat mixture into a ball and transfer to a 13- by 9-inch glass baking dish. Make more meatballs with remaining mixture, arranging meatballs about 1/2 inch apart in baking dish. Bake until cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir together lime juice, water, sugar, remaining 4 tablespoons soy sauce, and remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a bowl until sugar is dissolved.

Transfer meatballs to a serving dish. Stir sauce, then drizzle meatballs with 1 tablespoon sauce and sprinkle with cilantro sprigs.

Serve meatballs with remaining sauce.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sweets for Your Sweet: Rocky Road-Peanut Butter Candy Cups

Still looking for something decadent for your sweetheart for Valentine's Day? (Who made chocolate a requirement for this holiday anyway?) Forget expensive Godiva and make these. They're easy (albeit a bit messy) and come in a semi-waistline-healthy single bite.

We made them for our officemates and they were loving us...

Rocky Road-Peanut Butter Candy Cups
Makes about 3 dozen.

1/2 package peanut butter chips
1/2 package milk chocolate chips
(Note: For a party, you might as well use the whole bags. Just double the amount of the other ingredients.)
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1 cup miniature marshmallows
3/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped

Microwave peanut butter and milk chocolate chips in a large glass bowl on high for one to 2 minutes or until melted, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in peanut butter until well blended.

Stir in rice cereal, miniature marshmallows and chopped peanuts. Spoon mixture by heaping tablespoonfuls evenly into miniature paper candy cups. Chill one hour or until firm.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Satsuma Orange Cheesecake

This creamy dessert capitalizes on the little Mandarin oranges known as Satsumas that you can find all over the grocery store produce section at this time of year.

Satsuma Orange Cheesecake
Makes 12 servings.
From Cooking Light magazine.

Cooking spray
4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 large egg yolk

1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 cup (8 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup fat-free sour cream
2 tablespoons grated satsuma orange rind
1/4 cup fresh satsuma orange juice
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325°.

To prepare crust, lightly coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine 3 tablespoons sugar and butter in a food processor; process until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk; process until smooth. Add flour mixture to food processor; process just until combined.

Firmly press mixture into bottom of prepared pan. Bake at 325° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.

Combine cream cheeses in food processor; process 30 seconds or until smooth. Add 3/4 cup sugar; process 30 seconds. Add sour cream, rind, and juice; process 30 seconds. Add eggs, 1 at a time, processing well after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl; process 10 seconds.

Pour cheese mixture into prepared crust; place pan in a large baking pan. Add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 325° for 50 minutes or until cheesecake center barely moves when pan is touched. Turn oven off; let stand 30 minutes.

Remove cheesecake from oven and water bath; run a knife around outside edge. Cool to room temperature. Cover and chill at least 8 hours. Cut into 12 wedges.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Spinach-and-Pork Wontons

Sure you could buy these in the frozen food section of your grocery store, but they are fairly easy to make. And you can control the quality of your ingredients as well. I only need three or four of these for dinner. So the leftovers end up in the freezer for later.

Spinach-and-Pork Wontons
Makes 18 dumplings. (Or more if you fill them more lightly than I do.)

2 cups baby spinach, rinsed
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 teaspoon dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of freshly ground white pepper
1/4 pound ground pork
1 small scallion, minced
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
Cornstarch, for sprinkling
Thin wonton wrappers
2 tablespoons chile oil
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

In a skillet, cook the spinach, stirring, until wilted; transfer to a colander and squeeze dry. Finely chop the spinach.

In a bowl, combine 1 1/2 teaspoons of the soy sauce, the sesame oil, sherry, salt, sugar and white pepper. Mix in the pork, scallion, ginger and spinach. Chill for 10 minutes.

Dust a large baking sheet with cornstarch. Arrange 4 wonton wrappers on a work surface, keeping the other wrappers covered with plastic wrap. Brush the edges of the wrappers with water and spoon 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of each. Fold the wrappers diagonally over the filling to form triangles; seal. Bring the two opposite corners of the triangle together; press to seal. Transfer to the baking sheet and cover. Repeat.

In a large saucepan of boiling water, simmer the wontons over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. When they float, cook for 3 minutes longer. Drain the wontons well.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining soy sauce with the chile oil, peanut oil and garlic. Add the wontons and toss. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Three-Pepper Compound Butter

I am proud to say that I grill a mean steak. No real tricks involved...high-quality meat, a good 3 minute sear at high heat and then "roasting" over indirect heat until my handy thermometer tells me that the internal temp is 130°. Let it rest for about 8 minutes and you'll be slicing into bliss.

But there's no reason you shouldn't gild the lily, right? Try a pat of this delicious compound butter-recipe from Texas chef Jon Bonnell. I only made a quarter of the recipe, but after our steak dinner, have plenty left. It's in the freezer to go on top of roasted new potatoes, or steamed veggies, or whatever is around when the spirit moves me.

Three-Pepper Compound Butter
Recipe as written makes about 1 pound.

1 pound unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle powder
1/8 teaspoon chiles de arbol powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced

Let the butter sit and soften at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Place in an electric mixer or food processor with the paddle attachment. Add all ingredients and blend well, scraping down the bowl several times to make sure all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Scrape the soft butter contents onto a sheet of parchment paper (or heavy plastic wrap) and roll into a 2- to 3- inch diameter log shape. Refrigerate (or freeze) until ready to use.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Another Super Bowl Party Recipe: Cuban Sandwich Crostini

Yesterday, I posted recipes themed to the two teams who play in tonight's Super Bowl. here's another one worth trying...this time inspired by the host city Miami. I have to admit this recipe is "untested," but I trust me some Bobby Flay, and this finger food recipe he provided Parade magazine seems to capitalize brilliantly on the Cuban cuisine found in the South Florida hotspot.

Cuban Sandwich Crostini
Makes 20 appetizers.

2/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin, excess fat trimmed
7 thin slices good smoked ham, cut into thirds
7 slices Swiss cheese, cut into thirds
40 dill-pickle slices
Olive oil
20 slices French baguette, 1/4-inch thick
Parsley leaves, for garnish

Mix the mayo, mustard, and garlic in a food processor until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Scrape into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes so flavors meld.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat oil in a medium oven-proof pan over high heat. Season tenderloin with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown, 8 minutes. Transfer pan to the oven; cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 150°F, 15 minutes. Remove to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest 10 minutes. Slice into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Place the bread on a baking sheet, brush with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until slightly crisp; 5 minutes. Remove bread; turn oven to broil.

Place a slice of the ham, pork, and Swiss (in that order) on each slice of bread. Broil to melt cheese. Top each with 2 pickles and 1 teaspoon of mayo mixture. Garnish with parsley.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Super Bowl Recipe: Indianapolis and New Orleans Potato Skins

I paid special attention to the NFL playoffs this year. Partially because the hometown team (Dallas Cowboys) actually won one, but mostly because Food Network magazine had a two-page spread with a potato skin recipe for every NFL team. (The jocks who harassed me in high school wouldn't be surprised by this...)

I was really pulling for San Diego (Guacamole, sprouts and Monterey Jack...sounds fresh and yummy) and Baltimore (Melted butter, Old Bay seasoning, grated parmesan and chopped chives. Maybe some crab too, huh?). Oh, well....

And Dallas' would have been good also. Chunky chili, grated longhorn cheddar cheese, chopped onion, sour cream and salsa.

But the two winners that you need to be serving at your Super Bowl party are:

Indianapolis' Fried Pork: Mayo mixed with mustard and hot sauce, sliced fried pork cutlets, chopped tomato and diced red onion. (I guess that's and iconic dish in Indiana?!?)


New Orleans' Muffaletta: Sliced Italian deli meats, provolone, olive salad and sliced pepperoncini.
(That one makes more sense. Although I'd also be tempted to come up with a version that included seafood and Creole seasoning in a tomato-based sauce.)

What do you think? What potato skin would you make to represent your hometown team?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Crunchy Onion Chicken

I have often posted recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers...what to do with cranberry sauce, turkey meat, even mashed potatoes. But what the heck do you do with half a container of those French's onion rings? (You know...the things that are on the top of green bean casserole.)

First off, even if you find them in January, you don't really worry about their freshness. Plenty of preservatives to keep them...ahem...fresh. Just grab a chicken breast or two and whip this up. I have to admit it provides a pretty tasty crispy crust.

Crunchy Onion Chicken
Makes 4 servings.

2 cups (4 oz.) FRENCH'S® Original or Cheddar French Fried Onions
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
4 (5 oz.) boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten

Place French Fried Onions and flour into plastic bag. Lightly crush with hands or with rolling pin. Transfer to pie plate or waxed paper.

Dip chicken into egg; then coat with onion crumbs, pressing firmly to adhere. Place chicken on baking sheet.

Bake at 400°F for 20 min. or until no longer pink in center.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

"Dump Soup": Southwestern Chicken Noodle Soup

On a recent cold Saturday afternoon, I set about reorganizing the pantry. Grouping things by category and putting them close to each other. Invariably, I would end up with one can of this and one can of that that just wouldn't fit in the one row I had allotted to them. So those orphans got put on the kitchen counter. By the time I finished, I ended up with the ingredients for a pretty yummy soup.

Now, mind you, this is not meant to be a recipe, but an inspiration. I'll list the ingredients I used, but you should feel free to do your own thing.

Southwestern Chicken Noodle Soup
Makes 12 servings.

12 cups chicken stock
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 can Ranch-style beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can diced green chiles
1 can whole kernel corn (or 1 bag frozen corn)
1 small can tomato paste
1 bag egg noodles (OK, OK, I only had 1/2 bag. Worked just fine.)
Seasonings: garlic pepper, crushed red pepper, salt, cumin, chile powder

Place chicken stock in large stock pot and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Put chicken breast in and poach for 20 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside to cool.

"Dump" beans, tomatoes, chiles, corn and tomato paste into stock pot. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add seasonings to taste.

Shred chicken breast and return to soup.

Add egg noodles and simmer until cooked, about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Black Cod with Hoisin and Ginger Sauces

Here's another two-fer. The fish and sauce are wonderful together. But the glazed fish can stand alone. And the ginger sauce would be a delicious dipping sauce for homemade (or even store-bought) dumplings.

Black Cod with Hoisin and Ginger Sauces
Makes 4 servings.
From Bon Appetit.

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 tablespoon honey
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 1/4 teaspoons hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 7-ounce Alaskan black cod fillets (or other firm, but flaky fish. I used halibut.)

Whisk first 6 ingredients in small bowl.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Stir hoisin and chili paste in another small bowl. Heat oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add cod, skin side up. Cook 2 minutes, then turn cod over. Spoon hoisin mixture over fillets, dividing equally.

Transfer to oven and bake until fish is just opaque in center, about 5 minutes. Place 1 fillet in each of 4 shallow soup bowls. Spoon ginger sauce around fish and serve with steamed rice.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Macaroni and Cheese with Almond Crust

My perfect mac and cheese is creamy and crunchy all at the same time. The center is cheesy goodness, the top is crusty-cheesy and a bit of crispness never hurts. And I also like a more substantial pasta for a bit of toothiness; for example, cavatapi tubes instead of plain ol' macaroni elbows.

This recipe kicks it up even more with a nice bite of heat from the pepper jack cheese. I think it's perfect, but if you're wary of spice, feel free to use plain Monterey Jack and omit the pepper sauce.

Macaroni and Cheese with Almond Crust
Makes 10-12 servings.
From Bon Appetit.

3 tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove, pressed
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 cups hot whole milk
10 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
8 ounces hot pepper Monterey Jack cheese, grated (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 2/3 cups lightly packed grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
1 pound short tube-shaped pasta (such as cavatapi or macaroni)

Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add flour; stir 3 minutes. Whisk in hot milk. Bring to simmer, stirring. Cover partially; simmer until sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add cheddar and Jack cheese, 1 1/3 cups Parmesan cheese and hot pepper sauce. Whisk until sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Generously butter bottom and sides of 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Blend 1/3 cup Parmesan, almonds and breadcrumbs in processor until nuts are coarsely ground. Add 1/2 cup almond mixture to prepared dish. Tilt dish to coat bottom and sides. Return any loose almond mixture to processor.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender. Drain well. Return pasta to pot. Add sauce; stir to coat. Transfer to prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining almond mixture over.

Bake until almond mixture is golden and crunchy and sauce bubbles, about 30 minutes. Cool on rack 5 minutes.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Sauteed Spinach with Roasted Red Pepper

If you're like me, you have one of those big plastic boxes of baby spinach hanging around your fridge. It's an easy side dish option. Thrown into a salad. Made into a quick gratin. Or just wilted down to sauteed goodness.

But a pile of sauteed spinach can sometimes be quite boring, so I'm always happy to find a new flavor boost to pep things up. Here's a perfect example.

Sauteed Spinach with Roasted Red Pepper
Makes 4 servings.
From Martha Stewart Living.

(N.B.: I used about half a jar of roasted red peppers instead of making my own, and it was still quite delicious.)

1 medium red bell pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 pound baby or regular spinach, tough stems discarded
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Place bell pepper directly over the flame of a gas-stove burner or under the broiler. Roast pepper, turning with tongs, until blackened all over. Transfer pepper to a medium bowl, and cover immediately with plastic wrap. Let steam 15 minutes. Discard skin, stem, seeds, and ribs; slice pepper lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick strips, and set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; cook, stirring, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add roasted pepper; cook, stirring, until heated through, about 30 seconds. Raise heat to medium-high. Add half the spinach, and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add remaining spinach, and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes more. Stir in salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and serve.