Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Baked Chicken with Oregano and Lemon-Sauced Peppers and Tomatoes

When I fixed this deliciously simple dinner the other night, I posted to my Facebook feed that it proved that simple ingredients well-cooked can create some real magic. Folks asked for details...I shared the following...and the next night a friend texted me a photo of her equally yummy copycat dinner.

Now it's your turn.

Baked Chicken with Oregano and Lemon-Sauced Peppers and Tomatoes
Makes 2 servings. (But it's obviously easy to adjust....)

2 bone-in chicken breasts (or leg quarters if you prefer dark meat)
1 red bell pepper
2 ripe tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400°.

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and place in a baking dish.

Seed the red bell pepper and slice into strips. Core the tomato and slice into thick slices. Place on either side of the chicken pieces.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over chicken, peppers and tomatoes.

Place dish in the oven and bake until chicken, about 45 minutes.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Sundae Toppings

OK...I'm not sure that anything will keep me cool in this Dallas summer. I've investigated an ice water IV, but for some reason, my doctor has advised against it. (He's such a buzzkill.)

So I'll be looking for alternative methods. Including ice cream. Thinking I'll try some of these toppings to shake things up a bit. (Thanks, Everyday Food, for the ideas.)
  • Strawberries (sure) and granola (interesting).
  • Toasted pepitas and sea salt. (On chocolate please.)
  • Diced candied ginger. (And a sesame seed or two I'm thinking.)
  • Peanut brittle pieces. (Duh. Almond toffee as an alternative.)
  • Chopped peppermint patties.
  • And despite the heat, I always make an exception for hot fudge.
What are YOUR favorite ice cream toppings?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cuban Black Beans

It's hot. Strike that... it's HOT.

So if I can get the CrockPot out and avoid turning on the oven, great. Even greater that this batch of beans can provide several meals in a variety of guises. Black beans and rice. Pureed and topping some homemade nachos. You know the drill.

Here's the recipe. Get going.

Cuban Black Beans
Makes 6 servings (about 8 cups).

1 pound dried black beans
5 cups chicken broth
1 onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 strips bacon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Soak beans according to package directions; drain and rinse.

Combine beans, onion, celery, chile, bacon and spices (reserving red wine vinegar) in a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours or low setting for 8-9 hours. Stir in vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Got Herbs? Make Compound Butter.

We are overwhelmed with herbs. It's hot, but we've taken good care of our plants this summer, so we have plenty of oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, mint and more.

So I'm going to whip up several batches of this yumminess in an assortment of flavors. It'll be perfect on garlic bread, potatoes, baked fish...maybe even popcorn.

To make compound butter....

Combine 1 cup unsalted room temperature butter, 3 tablespoons finely chopped herbs (Get creative and combine several different ones.) and 1 teaspoon kosher salt with a spatula.

Place in ramekins or roll up into logs in plastic wrap. Refrigerate up to one week or freeze up to two months.

How will you use yours?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mole Verde Zacatecas-Style

Here's a quick and easy (and fresh and bright) sauce for the summer. Perfect on grilled chicken, fish tacos, chips, a bowl of beans, ice cream. OK...maybe not that last one. But I might just try it anyway.

Mole Verde Zacatecas-Style
Makes about 3 cups.

4 cups chicken stock
8 oz. tomatillos, peeled and chopped
2 jalapeños, stemmed and chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 tbsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 8″ flour tortillas, toasted
3 tablespoons canola oil

Heat tomatillos and jalapeños in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until darkened and thick, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender with cilantro, salt, garlic, tortillas, and 1 cup chicken stock; puree.

Heat oil in a 6-quart saucepan over medium-high heat; add tomatillo sauce and fry, stirring constantly, until it thickens into a paste, about 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining chicken stock and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, until reduced and thickened, about 30 minutes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Quote of the Week...or more.

Yeah, yeah, I know...The Power of Now. Carpe Diem. Blah. Blah. Blah.

I'd much rather (and pretty much do) live by this motto provided by Nora Ephron:

" I don't think any day is worth living without thinking about what you're going to eat next at all times."

Amen, sister.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Artisanal Mac and Cheese

This was the dish alongside Cheeseburger Meatloaf for last night's Father's Day spectacular. I picked it up from Saveur magazine; they got it from the chef at the Manhattan restaurant Artisanal. It's decadent and delicious. (Warning: it's not cheap...the cheese will set you back $20 or so. But it's worth it.)

Artisanal Macaroni and Cheese
Makes 6-8 servings.

Kosher salt, to taste
12 ounces hollow pasta, preferably penne
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3⁄4 cup dried bread crumbs, preferably panko
1 oz. finely grated Parmesan (about 1 cup)
1⁄4 cup flour
3 1⁄2 cups milk
4 ounces grated Gruyère (about 1 1⁄2 cups)
4 ounces grated Comté or Cantal (about 1 1⁄2 cups)
4 ounces grated fontina (about 1 1⁄2 cups)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 350°. Bring a 4-quart saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until not quite al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain pasta, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over low heat. Add the bread crumbs and Parmesan, toss to combine, and transfer to a small bowl; set aside.

Wipe out the saucepan and set over medium heat. Melt the remaining butter and whisk in the flour until smooth. Whisk in the milk and cook, continuing to whisk often, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the Gruyère, 1 cup of the Comté, and 1 cup of the fontina and whisk until the cheese is melted and incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove pan from heat and stir in the reserved pasta. Pour the mixture into a 2-quart baking dish and top with the remaining Comté and fontina. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over the top and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dill Pickles

If it's Thursday, it must be pickles. Sorry, but I'm addicted to making these tasty summery treats.

Here's a quick and easy Bobby Flay recipe from Food & Wine.

Dill Pickles
Makes one quart.

1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

3/4 teaspoon dill seeds

2 cups hot water

2 pounds kirby cucumbers, sliced 1/4 inch thick

3/4 cup coarsely chopped dill

3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

In a large, heatproof measuring cup, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seeds, coriander seeds and dill seeds with the hot water and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Let the brine cool.

In a large bowl, toss the cucumbers with the dill and garlic. Pour the brine over the cucumbers and turn to coat. Place a small plate over the cucumbers to keep them submerged, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the pickles overnight, stirring once or twice. Serve cold.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cocktail of the Week: Cherry Pop Martini

It's already summer here in Texas and our thoughts turn to ice cream...snow cones...Popsicles. Sticky sweet coldness that soothes the soul.

Only problem?

They're non-alcoholic and don't fit the bill at happy hour one little bit.

The sticky sweet coldness of this high-octane drink will fill in just nicely.

Cherry Pop Martini
Makes one cocktail.

2 ounces vodka
1/4 ounce Amaretto
1/2 ounce grenadine
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup

Shake all ingredients together in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Strain into a martini glass.

Then sit and mockingly laugh at the heat.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Chicken Cacciatore

Now..before you click this window closed... *What is he thinking? It's too HOT for a braised, full-flavor dish. Give us a salad.* ...hear me out.

I agree with you. I love stews, chilies, braises, pot roasts, soups, you name it during the winter. They warm the cockles of my soul.

But there's no reason to put the slow cooker into hiding all summer. After all, it heats the kitchen up a lot less than the oven does. And this recipe hits the spot with bright flavors and a not-too-heavy texture. Try it and let me know what you think in the comments.

Chicken Cacciatore
Makes six servings. (And extra sauce that would be excellent on pasta as leftovers.)

6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed and seasoned with salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 (15 ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and cut up
1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 onion, sliced
8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (or one anchovy fillet rubbed into a paste)
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1 red bell pepper, sliced

Dredge chicken in flour. Shake off excess.

Heat oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat and brown chicken on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a slow cooker.

Deglaze the pan with wine and let cook until reduced by half. Transfer wine mixture to slow cooked.

Add tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, garlic, Italian seasoning, anchovy paste and crushed red pepper to slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 4-4 1/2 hours until chicken is tender. Add bell pepper and cook for another 30 minutes.

It's delicious by itself, but awesome over rice or polenta.

And of course pour a beautiful Italian red to go with your meal.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Pickled Radishes

I know I am in imminent danger of turning this blog into the "All Pickles, All the Time" blog. But I'm fascinated. Such an interesting way to pump extra flavor into a bounty of summer vegetables that can then be used as condiments on all sorts of things...sandwiches, tacos, salads, or just eaten on their own.

So if you'll indulge me, here's another one that is living in my fridge....

Pickled Radishes
Makes enough to fill a quart jar.

1 cup very hot water

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 cup distilled white vinegar

8 small radishes, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly slic

In a quart-size glass jar with a tight-fitting lid or in a large resealable plastic container, combine the water, sugar and salt; cover and shake until dissolved. Add the vinegar along with the radishes and garlic. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Drain the pickled radishes before serving.

Note: recipes like this always say that the pickles remain good for a week or so. I always keep them much longer...and often replenish with more veggies as the spirit moves me.