company’s coming: lemon-garlic-rosemary chicken with potatoes

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This is a dish that cooks up in one pan but I used three! First you brown the chicken and potatoes on the stovetop then put them in the oven for finishing. At first I was dubious about the method. Yahoo Shine said to put a roasting pan on two burners for the stovetop part, but I used two pans to brown up the chicken and potatoes, then transferred the lot to the roasting pan. So even if you use just one pan or three, the result is chicken that’s crisp on the outside but juicy and tender on the inside with a delicious lemony flavor boosted by the capers.  I didn’t get any sauce from this dish after baking, but my guests raved about the chicken’s flavor. Using seasoning salt to season the chicken is a little trick I learned from my mother, and I believe it really adds flavor to the chicken. I added brown sugar to the sauce for a little sweetness.

Lemon-Garlic-Rosemary Chicken with Potatoes (adapted from Yahoo Shine)

Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 50 minutes

For the chicken:
4 pounds chicken drumsticks
Seasoning salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

For the sauce:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 lemons, sliced into thin rounds about 1/4 inch thick, discard the thick ends
10 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 teaspoons coarse salt or sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 pounds potatoes, preferably red russet sliced in half (I used Yukon gold, halved then chopped into chunks)

Preheat the oven to 450˚F. Put the chicken drumsticks in a large bowl. Trim the excess fat from under the skin. Season the chicken drums liberally with seasoning salt. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil (either in two skillets or in a roasting pan resting on two burners). Brown the chicken pieces about 5 minutes, then add the potatoes and brown for another 5 minutes.

Transfer the chicken and potatoes to a roasting pan (if using the 3 pan method!) and place in the preheated oven. Bake 50 minutes. The original recipe said 45-50 minutes. Test a chicken leg to see if it is done. It should reach an internal temperature of 165˚F on an instant read thermometer. Serve hot with slices of buttered French bread.

 

Chinese style lo mein

chicken lo mein

The drawbacks to this recipe are its long list of ingredients and its intricate method. If you can overlook those, then this is a delicious recipe that will go with any kind of meat. To make it vegan, use tofu instead of meat, and instead of chicken broth, use vegetable broth. I do NOT recommend you use the Asian style noodles available at some supermarkets uptown Manhattan. ATK is right; they are gummy. The best substitute is actually linguine. I have yet to try a gluten-free noodle in this recipe. I hesitate because they are at least twice the price of wheat and have the same amount of carbs. I used regular green cabbage in this recipe rather than Napa/Chinese Cabbage, because it holds its crispness in high heat and sauces. I also substituted carrots for the mushrooms but you can use both. The original recipe used boneless pork spare-ribs but I hate fatty ribs, so I used chicken breast in this recipe.

Chinese Style Lo Mein (Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

Ingredients
For the marinade
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons hoi sin sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 pound boneless pork tenderloin, trimmed of excess fat and silver, sliced thin (can use chicken or beef or firm tofu)
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

For the vegetables
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth (can use vegetable broth)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
4 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons Chinese rice cooking wine (Shao-Xing) or dry sherry
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed, caps cut in halves or thirds (about 3 cups)
2 bunches scallions, whites thinly sliced and greens cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 small head Napa or Chinese cabbage, halved, cored, and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch strips (about 4 cups)
3 small carrots, sliced thin on the diagonal

For the lo mein
12 ounces Chinese egg noodles (fresh) or 8 ounces dried linguine if egg noodles are unavailable
1 tablespoon Asian chili garlic sauce, plus extra if desired
2 scallions, sliced on the diagonal for garnish
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Instructions
Prepare water for boiling noodles. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat.

Make the pork marinade and sauce. Whisk soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and five-spice powder together in medium bowl. Place 3 tablespoons soy sauce mixture in small bowl; add meat and liquid smoke, if using. Toss, making sure all pieces are coated with marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour. Whisk broth and cornstarch into remaining soy sauce mixture in medium bowl. In separate small bowl, mix garlic and ginger with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil; set aside.

Cook the meat. Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add half of meat in single layer, breaking up clumps with wooden spoon. Cook, without stirring, 1 minute. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 1-2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons wine to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is reduced and meat is well coated, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer meat to medium bowl and repeat with remaining pork, 1 teaspoon oil, and remaining 2 tablespoons wine. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels.
Cook the vegetables. Return skillet to high heat, add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, and heat until just smoking. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add scallions and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until scallions are wilted, 2 to 3 minutes longer; transfer vegetables to bowl with meat.

Assemble vegetables and meat. Add remaining teaspoon vegetable oil and cabbage to now-empty skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Clear center of skillet; add garlic-ginger mixture and cook, mashing mixture with spoon, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir garlic mixture into cabbage; return meat-vegetable mixture and chicken broth-soy mixture to skillet; simmer until thickened and ingredients are well incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

Cook noodles. While cabbage is cooking, stir noodles into boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until noodles are tender, 3 to 4 minutes for fresh Chinese noodles or 10 minutes for dried linguine. Drain noodles and transfer back to Dutch oven; add cooked stir-fry mixture and garlic-chili sauce, tossing noodles constantly with a pair of tongs until sauce coats noodles. Serve immediately in individual bowls or plates.

Serve. ATK forgot to mention how to eat this Chinese style. Simply top noodles with scallions and cilantro and extra garlic-chili sauce, if desired.

casuyon chicken menudo pie

Casuyon Chicken Menudo Pie (adapted from a recipe by Claire Casuyon’s Mom)
If you subtract the pie crust, bacon and leeks you have Menudo, Filipino style. Either one is a great dish, very easy to make for a Sunday supper with an accompaniment of a simple salad of fresh greens and grape tomatoes.

2 slices smoked bacon, chopped
3 cups leeks, sliced thin (about 2 leeks)
1 smashed garlic clove
1 tablespoon canola oil, optional
4 inch ginger root, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
4 boneless skinless thighs, trimmed of visible fat and chopped into 2 inch chunks
2 boneless skinless breasts, halved into 1 inch thick fillets and sliced into 2 inch chunks
1 1/2 cups red potato, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 cups baby carrots (1/2 bag of baby carrots), sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
2 cans of tomato sauce (preferably Hunts)
1 bay leaf
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Menudo Seasoning, or to taste

Menudo Seasoning (from The Cook’s Thesaurus)
Combine two parts oregano, two parts onion flakes or powder, one part crushed coriander seed, one part cumin, and one part crushed red chili pepper. Store in a jar.

Pie
1/2 package of frozen puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator
1 tablespoon fat free milk
1 large egg white

  1. In a dutch oven, cook bacon over medium high heat until brown and crisp. Then sauté leeks and garlic with the bacon and fat until slightly soft; if necessary add more oil. Add ginger and sauté for 2 more minutes.
    Add chicken thighs and stirfry. Reduce heat to medium. Let the meat cook until the outside turns white, stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper for taste.
  2. Stir in two cans of tomato sauce and the bay leaf. Add water if the sauce seems too thick, then let sauce simmer for 15 minutes. Add menudo seasoning. If a stronger, thicker tomato sauce is desired, add the tomato paste.
    Preheat oven to 450˚F.
  3. Add chicken breasts, carrots, potatoes and bay leaf. Cover and let simmer until chicken is cooked and veggies are soft, about 20-25 minutes. Stir every 2-3 minutes. Add the peas. Adjust seasoning.
    Pour meat and vegetables into a 9.5 inch pie plate.
  4. Roll out pie crust onto a well-floured board so that there is an inch overhang. Loosely roll up the pie crust onto the rolling pin and roll it out on top of the meat and vegetables. Tuck the edges under on the rim of the pie plate. Either pinch the edges between thumb and forefinger or crimp with a fork. Mix water and egg white together and brush the top with the mixture. Poke the top with a knife to make slits or use the tines of a  fork to make vents. Bake 20-30 minutes or until the crust is golden. Remove the pie from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
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gluten-free quick chicken piccata

This was quick and easy! I usually don’t play around with a new recipe but I thought I could make some swaps without changing the recipe too much. So I swapped hazelnut flour for the all-purpose to make it gluten-free. Any nut-flour you might have on hand will do. However, without the all-purpose flour, which is also a thickener, the sauce was thin; but I don’t mind a thin sauce. It was a tad sour, so I recommend reducing the lemon juice. After all, the capers have been soaked in brine and they add a salty sour flavor to the sauce. This recipe was originally for chicken breasts, but my son dislikes white meat so I made it with boneless, skinless chicken thighs for him. Other swaps: rice cooking wine for white wine, and cilantro for Italian flat leaf parsley. I am basically, and without apology,  a Chinese cook!

Gluten-Free Quick Chicken Piccata (adapted from allrecipes.com)

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Ready In: 25 Minutes
Servings: 6
 

INGREDIENTS:

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast (originally 4 chicken breasts)
2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
cayenne pepper, to taste
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup hazelnut flour for dredging (all-purpose flour in original)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1/2 cup white wine (I used rice cooking wine)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I thought it was too sour, so reduce to 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped (I used cilantro)

 DIRECTIONS:

1. Slice chicken breast horizontally in half. Place chicken between 2 layers of plastic wrap and pound to about 1/2-inch thick. Slice each “steak” in half.

2. Lightly season both sides of chicken with cayenne, salt, and black pepper. Dredge lightly in flour and shake off any excess.

Cook’s Note: The sauce for this recipe is salty, so season lightly! Omit the salt just to be cautious.

3. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place chicken in the pan, reduce heat to medium, and cook until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side for thighs, 3 minutes per side for breasts. Remove to a plate. Don’t wash out the pan.

4. Cook capers in remaining oil in the pan, smashing them lightly to release brine, until warmed though, about 30 seconds.

5. Pour wine into skillet. Scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until reduced, about 2 minutes.

6. Stir lemon juice, water, and butter into the reduced wine mixture; cook and stir continuously to form a thin sauce, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir parsley through the sauce.

Cook’s Note: Since I used hazelnut flour, it doesn’t thicken the sauce like wheat flour does. If you wish to make the sauce thicker, add 1 tablespoon teaspoon all-purpose flour to the capers, then add the liquid.

7. Return chicken breasts to the pan cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. The chicken soaked up the sauce  when it was returned to the pan. Don’t turn them; they’ll look prettier. Serve with sauce spooned over the top.

basil chicken in coconut curry sauce

When a dish “needs something” the cooks in my family (the Jamaican side, that is) always say, “Put  a country pepper in-a de pot!” When I tried this dish from Simply Recipes for dinner, I thought it was light and delicious, but it definitely needed a country pepper. What we call a country pepper is also called a Scotch Bonnet. Its close relative is the Habañero. I took the last Habañero out of  the freezer and put that into the sauce. Now a Scotch Bonnet/Habañero will add some heat but mostly it will add flavor to the dish.

You can tell I’m so used to the vivid flavors of Jamaica and Thailand, and even though I added the country pepper,  I still wasn’t happy with the sauce.  I could hear a voice in my head say “sai nam pla!” So I added some fish sauce to the curry. Fish sauce or nam pla is pungent but it  adds saltiness and flavor without changing the color of the sauce, thus making it ideal for this light curry.

Some compromises in favor of “lite” cooking. To lighten the calorie load of this dish I used “lite” coconut milk. White rice is best to serve with curry sauces because it soaks up the sauce. However, brown rice won’t do this.  So instead of a traditional white rice accompaniment to this curry dish, I made a medley; a mix of white Thai jasmine (hom mali) rice and brown basmati. Both were the long grain varieties. The ratio is 1 cup white to 2 cups brown rice.

Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce

INGREDIENTS

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breast (2 thighs or 1 large breast)

1 large red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large whole country pepper (Scotch Bonnet or Habañero) (2 jalapeño peppers in original recipe)
2 Tablespoons olive oil, grapeseed oil, or canola oil
1 14-oz can lite coconut milk
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce, to taste
3 Tablespoon fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger

Hot cooked rice

METHOD

1 In a small bowl, mix together the salt, ground coriander, cumin, ground cloves, cinnamon, ground cardamom, black pepper, chili powder, and turmeric. Set aside.

2 Rinse chicken, pat dry. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Put into a bowl and sprinkle the spice mix over all the pieces. Coat well and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.

3 In a large skillet heat 1 Tablespoon oil on medium high heat. Add the onions and country pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Remove the onions, pepper and garlic from the pan and put into a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Use the same pan for the next step.

4 Add 1 Tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat on medium high heat. Add one half of the chicken pieces, spreading them out on the pan so they are not crowded. Brown for a few minutes on each side. When the chicken pieces are cooked through, and no pink remains, remove from pan, add to the bowl with the onions. Cook the second batch of chicken pieces the same way. Remove from pan, add to bowl with onions.

5 Add the coconut milk, minus a couple tablespoons, to the skillet. In a small bowl, mix the remaining coconut with the corn starch to dissolve the corn starch. Add the corn starch mixture back to the skillet with the coconut milk. Cook on medium heat and stir till thick and bubbly. Mix in the fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce. Add chicken mixture, basil, and ginger. Cook 2 minutes more to cook through.

Serve over rice. Serves 4.

I served basil chicken in coconut curry sauce with Stir-Fry Baby Bok Choy from about.com. Baby bok choy is sweeter and the stems thinner than the adult variety.

Stir-Fry Baby Bok Choy

Ingredients:

4 bunches baby bok choy (basically, 1 bunch per person)
2 slices ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup water
A few drops sesame oil, optional
1 tablespoon vegetable oil for stir-frying

Preparation:

Wash the baby bok choy and drain. Separate the stalks and leaves. Cut the stalk diagonally and cut the leaves across.Trim the tips and the ends.

Heat wok and add oil. When oil is ready, add ginger and stir-fry briefly, for about 30 seconds, until the ginger is aromatic. Add the bok choy, adding the stalks first, and then the leaves. Stir in the soy sauce, sugar, and salt, and stir-fry1 on high heat for 1 minute.

Add the water, cover the wok and simmer for about 2 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil and serve. Serves 4.

pictures of pretty (delicious) things to eat

I had such a busy week wrestling with the dissertation that I didn’t have time to post something, but I did have time to cook! What can I say? It’s therapy. So I made this Smilebox collage, and I  set it to Joni Mitchell because Chelsea Morning is all about food. What we’ve got here (clockwise from the top) is: black bean veggie burger on an iceberg lettuce “bun,” roasted sweet potato wedges, and cilantro dipping sauce; zucchini pie with chopped turkey ham; brown rice sautéed in coconut oil; chicken with vegetables; and finally, a simple spinach sauté with a poached egg hat.

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coconut curried chicken

I’ve made this recipe from the South Beach Diet cookbook many times and each time it always surprises me because it’s so flavorful. It’s sweet, sour, salty, nutty, and a little bit spicy. To season it, I’ve added fish sauce (in Thai: nam pla) instead of salt  and it really makes a difference. Instead of brown rice,  I served the coconut curried chicken tonight with cooked pearled barley, steamed broccoli drizzled with lemon juice, and steamed green beans with kosher salt.

Coconut Curried Chicken

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound chicken tenders
1 tablespoon chicken broth
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon powdered coriander or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup light coconut milk
2 tablespoons almonds, ground
1 teaspoon sugar substitute
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
2 teaspoons water
Scallions sliced diagonally for garnish
2-4 teaspoons fish sauce, to taste, if desired

Preparation

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, heat the broth. Add onion, garlic, cilantro, ginger, lemon peel, cumin and turmeric, and cook 5 minutes or until the onion is tender. Stir in the coconut milk, almonds, sugar substitute, and red pepper. Return chicken to the skillet, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken to a plate. Reserve the sauce. To the sauce in the pan, add the tamarind paste mixed with 2 teaspoons water. Stir into the sauce and gently boil until thickened. Add the fish sauce, if desired, to taste. Pour sauce over the chicken.
  4. Serve with brown rice, if desired, and sugar snap peas with red peppers.

the Hot Italian

It sounds like a come-on, doesn’t it? But I’m talking about spicy Italian cooking here! Now, I’ve done things like spaghetti,  lasagna, and pizza. Sandra, the Feisty Italian chef told me some things about Italian food that I didn’t know. First, pizza isn’t real Italian food. That’s like chow mein isn’t real Chinese food either. The second thing Sandra explained was that Italians only eat lasagna on feast days. I was too ashamed to mention what a horrible thing the Thai have done to spaghetti sauce (ketchup is the main ingredient. Shudder.).

I went grocery shopping for ingredients mainly at Trader Joe’s on Broadway. On Wednesday afternoon, I picked up ciabatta bread, basil, eggplant, peppers, tomato paste, romaine lettuce, fresh mozzarella cheese, and rigatoni all for just $19.02. At Fairway I got a jar of hot cherry peppers, two 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes, a zucchini, and dried parsley. I decided to treat us to sparkling apple cider so that came to $14.96. I bought four chicken breasts with the bone-in and skin-on @$1.99 per pound and a small bottle of apple cider vinegar for $1.00. The cost of the meal came up to just over $40.00.

I’ve always wanted to learn how to cook from an Italian so I bought this coupon from AmazonLocal for a three course Italian meal for up to four people cooked right in our apartment for $99.00.  AJ invited his friend Robin. Then The Feisty Italian cook Sandra Catena came on Thursday afternoon to the Teeny Tiny Apartment. Sandra proceeded to show us how to make a delicious home-style Italian meal in two hours. I learned the difference between EVOO and OO. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is the most expensive and is very light and delicate, best suited for salads. Olive Oil is better for cooking. So here it is.

The Hot Italian: A Three Course Italian Meal (by Sandra Catena, The Feisty Italian)

Romaine Lettuce Salad with Vinegar and Oil
1 pound romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1 loaf Italian bread (e.g. ciabatta)

Rigatoni Pasta with Marinara Sauce and Vegetables
1 pound rigatoni
1 cup mozzarella cheese, coarsely chopped
Salt
Olive Oil
2 quarts water
Olive oil

Marinara Sauce
1 medium eggplant
1 medium zucchini
1 yellow bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 onion, minced
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
8 whole fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped (1 teaspoon dried)
1 sprig fresh oregano (1/4 teaspoon dried oregano)
1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes (peperoncino)
Olive oil

Chicken with Hot Cherry Peppers
4 chicken breasts (skin on, bone in)
1/4 cup salt
4 cups water
1 (16 oz) jar hot cherry peppers

  1. Brine chicken breasts in cold water to cover and 1/4 cup salt for 2 hours before cooking.
  2. Peel off the leafy top of the eggplant and cut off both ends. Make 3 horizontal cuts in the eggplant from the bulbous end at the bottom. Make 3 vertical cuts in the eggplant. Slice into thin strips. Cut off the top and bottom of the zucchini. Split it in half lengthwise. Split each length down the middle. Thinly slice each length crosswise. Put in a large bowl and set aside. Slice the peppers into thin strips. Add to the bowl and set aside.
  3. Mince the onion and the garlic.
  4. In a large pot, put the tomatoes and tomato sauce. Cook on high heat until it is bubbling. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes or until thickened.
  5. In a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes to develop the flavors.  Add the cut-up vegetables. Toss and stir until thoroughly cooked through, about 20 minutes. Spoon the vegetables and liquid into the tomato sauce. Add the parsley and and oregano. Do not wash out the skillet.  Let the marinara sauce with vegetables cook an additional 20 minutes or until thickened. Turn off the heat.  Add the whole basil leaves and stir.
  6. To the (unwashed) skillet add the chicken and peppers with liquid. Cover and cook over medium heat, turning chicken occasionally, until cooked, about 35-40 minutes. Remove the skin and discard. Cook’s Tip: I would reduce the cooking time for the chicken to 25-30 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F on an instant read thermometer. Insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken.
  7. Cook one pound of rigatoni in a large pot of water seasoned with a teaspoon of olive oil and salt. Cook as directed on the package. Drain. Put about a cupful of pasta in a medium bowl. Spoon marinara sauce over and toss in a few chunks of the mozzarella cheese.
  8. Coarsely chop the lettuce. Add the vinegar and olive oil and toss to coat thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with slices of ciabatta bread.

To serve, start with the salad and the bread. Then proceed to the pasta. Fill a bowl with a cup of rigatoni, a ladleful of marinara sauce with vegetables, and a tablespoon of mozzarella cheese.  Serve the chicken last. The salad was crisp and tart. The pasta was superb; al dente and the sauce, mm-m! It was infused with fresh vegetable flavor–rather like a ratatouille. Oh darn. I forgot to take a picture of the chicken when it was cooked. I was so hungry, I was halfway through the pasta when I remembered to take a picture of it. After the pasta I was too full to eat more than a mouthful of chicken. Today, AJ ate all the leftover chicken so I have no pictures of it at all!

Moroccan grilled chicken and sautéed peas with shallot and mint

I was enjoying the sunny cool weather on Broadway last Sunday afternoon when I came across a street fair on the east side of 103rd Street. At the very first table I looked at I found this George Foreman grill  marked $5.00. The lady said, oh, no, it’s more than that. She wanted ten. I figured she had bought it at another street fair for $5.00 and now she was selling it at 100% markup. The thing had never been opened and never been used. I figured $10.00 was still a steal so I bought it.

Moroccan Spiced Grilled Chicken Breasts (from Simply Recipes)
INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts

METHOD
1 Mix the marinade ingredients (yogurt, cilantro, olive oil, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper) together in a medium sized bowl. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and thoroughly coat with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator from 6 to 10 hours.
2 . Grill the chicken breasts until cooked through, about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes in the Foreman grill. Take care not to overcook, as chicken breasts can easily dry out.

Honestly, this recipe had a very light flavor. That’s probably because I only marinated the chicken for 45 minutes instead of the recommended 6-10 hours. This website didn’t give the nutrition information so I can’t begin to estimate the number of calories, fat, protein, and sodium that are in it. In the Foreman grill, I could only cook each chicken breast one at a time. I discovered that I had to wipe the grill plates once halfway through cooking the fillets because charred bits tended to stick to the chicken. The grill was slanted so that the  fats and juices ran down into the little trough that came with the grill. This bargain Foreman grill performed very well; the chicken was tender and juicy. I think I got my $10.00 worth. I’d make this again but I would marinate the chicken longer.

Sautéed Peas with Shallot and Mint (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
Serves 4
I made some changes to this recipe because the amount of salt in it is alarming. Two things to remember: it isn’t necessary to thaw the frozen peas first and the purpose of adding the lemon juice is to prevent the peas from turning brown. But mine did anyway.  However, the lemon imparted a light flavor that enhanced the sweetness of the peas. The mint wasn’t too strong; next time I will buy mint from Whole Foods. Their herbs tend to be fresher but more expensive.  I would make this again because the peas were firm enough to chew but not creamy soft. I liked that.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon) (I used red onion)
Salt (omit salt if using chicken broth)
1-2 garlic clove(s), minced
1 pound frozen baby peas (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water
1/4 teaspoon sugar (I left this out)
1/4 cup fresh mint, minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Dash of Mrs. Dash’s Italian Medley (I added this to compensate for the low salt)
Pepper

  1. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the shallot and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in the peas, broth or water, and sugar, if using. Cover and cook until the peas are bright green and just heated through, 3-5 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking.
  3. Stir in the mint and butter until incorporated. Turn off the heat. Stir in the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Per serving: Cal 130; Fat 4g; Sat fat 2g; Chol 10mg; Carb 17g; Protein 7g; Fiber 5g; Sodium 110mg (will vary if you use water instead of broth)


Sunday Dinner, March 13, 2011

Today’s main course is my take on America’s Test Kitchen’s take on the French recipe for stuffed chicken breast roll. I served it with  green beans amandine, and for dessert, strawberry cream pie. That’s my take on Diane Mott Davidson’s recipe called Strawberry Super Pie. I also made sure I had all ingredients prepped before I started cooking and assembling. Taking the time to prep everything is a good idea because sometimes you combine ingredients quickly!

Stuffed Chicken Roulade
I’ve got men in my house who eschew chicken breast. So I adapted this recipe by using boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

INGREDIENTS
4 boneless,skinless chicken breasts (I used 1 breast and 4 boneless, skinless thighs)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 ounces white mushrooms,trimmed,wiped clean,and sliced thin (1 cup)
1 small leek,white part halved lengthwise, washed, and chopped (about 1 cup)
2 medium garlic cloves,minced or pressed through garlic press (Use large, more garlic is better!)
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (Be generous and use a teaspoon)
1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Chinese Rice Cooking Wine)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves (I used cilantro and minced it fine)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (I used vegetable broth)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the chicken. Butterfly the chicken breast. Put one hand over the hump of the breast and lift your fingers. Slice the chicken breast horizontally in half, so that the breast opens up like a book. Put the chicken breast in a zipper lock bag or between two sheets of plastic. Pound it to 1/4 inch thickness. Remove from the plastic and trim until the breast is approximately 8×5 inches. Set aside the trimmings. Repeat for the boneless, skinless thighs. Trim any excess meat or fat from the thighs. Discard fat and set aside the trimmings. You should get about 1/2 cup of trimmings. Put the trimmings in a food processor bowl and puree for 20 seconds. Remove the meat to a medium bowl. Do not rinse the workbowl of the food processor.

Prepare the stuffing. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12 inch skillet. When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until they brown, about 8-11 minutes. Add the 1 tablespoon oil and the leeks. I used chopped onion because I couldn’t find leeks at the supermarket. Cook about 2-4 minutes or until the onions turns transparent. Add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice to the mushroom mixture and cook until all moisture has evaporated, about 30 seconds.

Transfer mixture to the bowl of the food processor. Return the empty skillet to heat and add the wine, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom. Remove from heat. Pour wine into a small bowl and set aside. Rinse and dry skillet with paper toweling.

Pulse the mushroom mixture 5 times in 1-second bursts. Scrape contents into the reserved pureed meat and add 1 1/2 teaspoons minced parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix well.

Assemble and cook the roulades. Cut 12 pieces of twine, each about 12 inches long. With the short end of each fillet away from you, put about 2 tablespoons of the stuffing in the center of the thigh fillet, leaving a border. I did the breast last and used up the remaining stuffing. Roll away from you. Tie each roll; twice for the thighs and three times for the breast. Trim excess string.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and fry each roll 2 minutes on each side for a total of 8 minutes. Add the broth and the white wine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer 12-18 minutes. I turned each roll about halfway through the cooking time. Remove the rolls to a plate and tent with foil. The internal temperature should be 163˚F.

To the liquid in the pan, add the Dijon mustard, whisking it in. Increase heat to high and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any brown bits. Reduce liquid to about 1/2 cup, about 7-10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add butter, remaining parsley, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Because I had used Chinese wine, it was a little too sour so I added a teaspoon of sugar.

Slice into rounds and pour sauce on top. Serve with my version of

Green Beans Amandine
1 pound fresh green beans, washed, ends trimmed
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Blanche the green beans in boiling salted water. After about 4 minutes they turn bright green. Drain and rinse in cold water to set the color. This means you’ll have to heat up the green beans before serving but it looks so pretty and won’t change to that putrid olive green color once it cools.

In a 10-inch skillet, melt the butter and add the almonds. Fry until golden brown. Heat up the green beans in the microwave–about 60 seconds. Scrape the almonds on top. Sprinkle with lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste. Simple and delicious!

Strawberry Cream Pie
I should have been warned; beginning with that graceless name “Strawberry Super Pie” this recipe was going to be a problem. I should always be suspicious when a cook resorts to hyperbole.  The problem was the crust. Though the dough spread fine in the pie dish, it puffed up and shrank on baking, and became a hard almond cookie.

Crust
12 tablespoons (3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup chopped almonds, optional (pecans in original recipe)

Topping
2 pounds strawberries, divided
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Filling
1 1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 pound (1/2 cup) cream cheese, softened
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven 375˚F. One 10-inch glass pie plate, buttered.

Make the crust. Mix melted butter with flour, confectioners’ sugar, and nuts. Press into the prepared pie plate. Bake 25 minutes or until light brown. Allow to cool completely. [Notes: I should have pressed the dough up the sides and onto the rim. I was too conservative with the bottom and was afraid it would have holes in it. Thinner would have been better.]

Make the topping. Mash enough strawberries to make 1 cup. Cut tops off the rest of the strawberries and set aside. Place mashed berries in a saucepan and add water. Mix sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to crushed berry mixture and bring to a boil on top of the stove, stirring. Boil about 1 minute or until clear and thickened. Set aside to cool.

Make the filling. Whip cream until stiff. In another bowl, beat cream cheese with vanilla and confectioners’ sugar. Carefully fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture. Spread in cooled crust and refrigerate. [Notes: Refrigerate how long? I put it in the freezer for ½ hour to firm up the cream cheese filling. It could have used at least 2 hours in the refrigerator, I think. ]

Assemble pie. When crushed berry mixture is cool, pie can be assembled. Stand whole (or halved, if you prefer) strawberries on top of cream filling, cut side down. When entire filling is covered with whole berries, carefully spoon cooled crushed berry mixture over all. Cream filling should not be seen between whole berries. Once the crevices have been filled, do not overload the pie with the crushed berry mixture, as it will just drip over the sides. Any leftover crushed berry mixture can be served on toast or scones. [Notes: The filling came up to the top of the rim because the crust was thick. I sliced the berries thinly and layered them on top of the filling then poured the topping on top of the berry layers.]