chicken in mustard and tarragon sauce

DSC05369.jpg

You’ll need:
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 skinless chicken legs
1/2 tablespoon sweet and hot mustard (can use Dijon)
1/2 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
2 sprigs fresh tarragon, plus more for garnish (can use 2 teaspoons dried tarragon)
1 cup (8 oz) heavy cream (can use 1 cup plain Greek style yogurt)
1/2 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper

Special Equipment:
DSC05374Oven-proof pan with a lid. This means the handle is metal and can stand high temperatures in the oven. If you haven’t got such a pan, you can use a 9×13 inch pan covered tightly with aluminum foil

 

 

Heat oven to 350˚F.

Skin legs and trim off excess fat. Season with salt and cracked pepper. Set aside.

Cook’s Note: To skin a chicken leg, grasp the bony end and the fat end with paper towels. Pull skin down from the fat to the bony end and pull right off.

DSC05371Heat oil in an ovenproof pan. Sauté chicken legs until lightly browned, about 1 minute per side. Remove from the pan. Don’t discard the oil and the browned bits in the pan.

 

 

To make the sauce, add the mustards, tarragon, cream, and chicken broth to the pan. Stir to combine scraping up the browned bits. Bring to a simmer then return the chicken to the pan. Spoon some of the sauce over the chicken.

Cover the pan and bake 20 minutes. Uncover the pan and bake 5-10 minutes more or until sauce is thickened and reduced.

DSC05372Taste sauce and adjust salt and pepper. Chop up about a tablespoon tarragon leaves and sprinkle on top of the chicken and sauce.

Cook’s Note: You can add 1/2 cup of chopped celery to the sauce while it is cooking. After the sauce is done and just before serving, sprinkle a tablespoon or two of cilantro and scallion that has been chopped fine.

Serving Suggestions:
• 8-grain or multi-grain bread
• steamed broccoli and sautéed spinach.

 

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no-fuss risotto with chicken and herbs

no fuss risotto with chicken and herbs

Since the Fourth, I have been prepping for the oral defense of my dissertation, and on Friday, I passed! So that’s why I’ve been absent from blogging, but I’m ready to come back now. In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about cooking so I bought The Science of Good Cooking by the folks at America’s Test Kitchen. Usually I try out a cookbook by borrowing it at the library first, but I was sure this would be a good one so I splurged on a copy from Amazon.com. In ATK’s inimical style, there’s a lot of text and sidebars explaining the cooking process for the recipes which have been grouped by “concepts” or cooking methods. Though the Test Kitchen recommends rinsing for some  varieties of rice, arborio rice, which is used in risottos,  is actually better without rinsing. The one thing that is daunting about making a really creamy risotto is standing at the stove and patiently stirring the pot. This recipe eliminates that step and still comes out creamy and flavorful. I adapted this recipe slightly by using boneless skinless chicken breasts.

Ingredients
5 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped fine
salt and pepper
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup (2 oz) Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced (I used scallions)
1 teaspoon lemon juice (I used lime juice)

Preparation:

I saved time by using 2 teaspoons chicken broth paste to make the broth. Boil paste and 7 cups water in a large pot over high heat. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, sear the chicken breasts on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken breasts and put them in the pot with the simmering broth and cook until the chicken registers 160˚F on an instant read thermometer, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. Don’t discard the oil.

Add 2 tablespoons butter to the oil remaining in the pot. Over medium heat, cook the onions with a teaspoon salt until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds longer. Add the rice and cook until the grains turn translucent around the edges. In the Dutch pot, this took about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in 5 cups hot broth into the rice. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is just al dente, 16-19 minutes. I stirred the rice after 8 minutes, then 16 minutes. It needed an extra 3 minutes for all the water to be absorbed.

I added 3/4 cup of the remaining broth to the rice to make it creamy, turning the rice gently until the rice became cream and soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan. Remove the pot from the heat and let it stand, covered, 5 minutes.

Slice the chicken breast into thin slices. Add the chicken to the pot with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, parsley, chives or scallions, and lemon or lime juice. Stir gently. If desired, add more broth mixture to loosen the texture of the risotto. Taste. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. I added a third cup more of the Parmesan cheese for flavor. Serve at once.

ah! there’s the (spicy chicken) rub

New Yorkers who were in the direct path of Superstorm Sandy are now picking up what she left behind, counting their losses and their blessings. During the storm, I had wished for the support of family, but I never got to test the kindness of strangers. I’m indeed humbled and so thankful that we survived with very little loss. We lost a week of work but we have our lives and the warm little apartment that is beginning to feel like a home away from our home in Bangkok. Whether I am in Bangkok or New York, I like to fill my home with the smells of cooking (and baking) and here is a really spicy chicken rub that can be mixed up in a hurry, sprinkled on chicken, and grilled in my George Foreman indoors. I don’t need an outdoor barbecue to enjoy this, and neither will you.

Spicy Chicken Rub for Grilling (adapted from allrecipes.com)
3 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Mix all together. Sprinkle generously on one side of the chicken and grill 3-5 minutes per side.

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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toasted orzo risotto with corn, thyme, tarragon, and chives

The secret to this deliciously simple dish is the orzo. For best results, this tiny pasta must be al dente. And I recommend making it with a vegetable stock because it tastes so much better! As the orzo absorbed the stock, it turned brown. If you use water, the orzo will be white. I insist that all the ingredients must be fresh: fresh corn, thyme, tarragon, chives, garlic, lemon, and shallot. It’s surprisingly sweet but tangy, with a faint peppery flavor from the tarragon. To get the corn off the cob, I used a sharp knife to slice the kernels off the cob, then lightly chopped them to separate them. Be careful when you do this;  I put the cob lengthwise on the cutting board and sliced downward.  I added tarragon and chives because the thyme was already in the recipe, but I think experimenting with a combination of fresh herbs would be delicious. Savory Simple recommends Penzey’s Sunny Paris Spice for seasoning, but I think it is only available by mail order. I just used salt and pepper, which is simple and easy. Like this recipe. The whole thing took 25 minutes to prep and cook.

Toasted Orzo Risotto with Corn, Thyme, Tarragon, and Chives (adapted from Savory Simple)
Makes  2 entrees or 4 side dishes

Ingredients

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup shallots, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup orzo
1 ear of sweet corn, approximately 3/4 cup kernels (see note)
Juice of 1 lemon
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, leaves only, minced fine
2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced fine
1 3/4 water or homemade stock
salt & pepper to taste
optional: 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Preparation

  1. In a 10 inch skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds Add the orzo to the pan and turn the heat up to medium. Allow the orzo to toast while stirring. You can go lighter or darker with the toasting. As the orzo browns, it will develop a nutty flavor.
  2. Turn down the heat to medium-low and stir in the corn kernels, lemon juice, thyme, tarragon, and chives. Add 1/4 cup of water or stock. Stir frequently to prevent the orzo from sticking to the bottom of the pan. When the liquid is absorbed, add another 1/4 cup liquid. Repeat until a total of 1 1/2 cups liquid is added  to the pan and is absorbed by the orzo. Reserve the last 1/4 cup.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the last of the water or stock, pine nuts (if using) and salt and pepper to taste.

pan-fried fish fillets with mediterranean tomato sauce

I’ve been cooking a lot with tomatoes lately!  Tomatoes are so versatile raw or cooked, so naturally, I had to try this new fish recipe. According to myrecipes.com, this recipe, if made with 6 ounce yellowtail snapper fillets with the skin on, amounts to 282 calories per serving. I used tilapia because it was available (and cheaper) but I think any white fish will do. The sauce has a nice light taste; not overpoweringly tomato-y. In fact,  all the flavors of the herbs come through, so be sure to use fresh as directed in the recipe.

Pan-Fried Fish with Mediterranean Tomato Sauce (adapted from myrecipes.com)

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons butter
2 cups chopped seeded plum tomato
1 1/2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (flat-leaf parsley in original recipe)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper or to taste
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 pounds tilapia fillets (approximately 2 large fillets)

1. In a medium skillet heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add tomato to the pan and cook 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the capers, Dijon mustard, and minced garlic. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 2 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley, chives, and tarragon. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper to taste. Cover the skillet to keep warm.

2. In a large nonstick skillet heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish with about 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper per side. Add fish to the pan and cook for 3 minutes or until browned. Turn the fish over; cook 3 minutes or until the fish turns white and flakes easily with a fork. Serve fish with the warmed sauce.

lotsa tomato! baked quinoa patties

I took a break from the blog but I didn’t stop cooking! I’ve been experimenting with this recipe from 101cookbooks.com. First I tried it straight but it came out too coarse. Then, on the second try,  I put in some blackbeans, salsa, and cheese, and it was moister but still coarse. On the third try I remembered that my aunt adds a tomato to her shrimp fritters to make them moist, so chopped up half a tomato and put it in with the original recipe. It did come out moist but still coarse. I finally realized what I should do is reduce the amount of whole wheat breadcrumbs in the recipe.  I served it with tomato salsa and arugula and plum tomatoes. Is lotsa tomato, like we say in Jamaica. But I love tomatoes. And this is the season for them.

Baked Quinoa Patties

2 1/2 cups / 12 oz /340 g cooked quinoa, at room temperature (1 cup raw quinoa)
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/3 cup/ .5 oz /15 g finely chopped fresh chives
1/3 cup /.5 oz /15 g finely chopped fresh dill
1 cup / 1.5 oz /45 g finely chopped kale
1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon (toasted) cumin
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup / 3.5 oz /100 g whole grain bread crumbs, plus more if needed
water or a bit of flour, if needed
1/3 cup / .5 oz / 15 g crumbled feta (optional)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400F / 200C.

Combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the chives, dill, kale, onion, garlic, and cumin. Stir well.

Add the baking powder and bread crumbs, stir, and let sit for a few minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. Gently stir in the feta. I’ve left out the feta cheese and it had no noticeable difference.

I used a one-third cup measure to make 11 patties. To make the patties moister, 101cookbooks recommends adding another beaten egg or water one tablespoon at a time to the quinoa mixture.  To make it dryer, add flour, one tablespoon at a time.

Generously spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, and arrange the patties with a bit of space between each. Bake for ~20 minutes, or until the bottoms are brown. Flip the patties over and bake for another 5 minutes.

Enjoy hot, or allow to cool to room temperature on a cooling rack. Makes about a dozen patties. It tastes pretty good hot or cold.

pasta al pomodoro crudo

 

I found this recipe on a blog but for the life of me, I can’t remember whose. I usually make a note but I forgot to do it this time. It’s real simple; the tomatoes and seasonings aren’t cooked at all. They get warmed up by the pasta. I’ve changed it a bit because I like my pasta dry unless the pasta sauce is thick.  However, I found that with the addition of salt, the tomatoes “spring water” as we say in Jamaica. So, to keep the tomatoes from making juice, I would salt the tomatoes before mixing them with the seasoning to leach out the water. Draining them on paper towels afterwards helps too. And I added the mozzarella cheese. It melts so beautifully in the heat of the pasta into delicious stringy bits that cling to the pasta. This is definitely quick and easy, and it’s going to be part of my week-night dinner menus from now on!

Pasta al Pomodoro Crudo

  • 4 medium to large tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped (about 6 cups)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, peeled and put through a garlic press (use more or less according to taste)
  • 1 cup chopped basil
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pasta, such as angel  hair, spaghetti, spaghettini, linguine, or other thin types of pasta
  • 1/4-1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese, grated  (I used Parmesan and Romano, and I recommend it)

In a large bowl sprinkle salt on tomato pieces and toss. Put tomatoes on paper-towel lined tray and let it drain 15 minutes.

Put drained tomatoes, garlic, basil, parsley, and oil in a food processor and pulse until combined. The mixture should be chunky.  Add salt and pepper to taste, then set aside.

Cook 1 lb  pasta in salted water. Cook according to package directions until al dente.  Drain well and divide pasta into four bowls. Put mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup of sauce over each bowl of pasta and toss thoroughly.  Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Cook’s note: Add chopped turkey pastrami or prosciutto to the pasta, if desired.

P.S. Robin Jean Marie wrote to say that her recipe is the basis for this one! See Spaghetti with Raw Tomato Sauce at Bringing Europe Home. Thanks, Robin!

pappardelle with mushrooms, rosemary, and light tomato sauce, redux

I’m stubborn. Especially when I like a recipe and it doesn’t work the first time around.

It’s been a challenging week. Just as I was getting used to the rhythm of work, I started an online course last week. I’m keeping up with the assignments but not getting much sleep. It’s been tempting to eat out or to eat prepared foods from the supermarket, and so far I have not given in–though we did eat out once this week, and I told myself it’s just because it’s hump-day.  I am still determined to cook healthy low fat low carb meals, but now they have to be quick and easy recipes or they don’t make it into my kitchen! Still, I was stressed out enough that I needed some baking therapy.  I made Martha Stewart’s white butter cake recipe again, but this time I added strawberries to it. It tasted fine but that recipe needs to be revisited too. The strawberries sank to the bottom. I saw somewhere on the internet to dust the fruit lightly with flour to prevent this from happening. Does anyone knows if this really works?

Pappardelle with (Wild) Mushrooms, Rosemary, and Light Tomato Sauce (adapted from Dana Slotkin)

Serves 8 as a side dish or 4 as a main course

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra ­virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 large red onion, minced
2 garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (15­ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup low ­sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half (It doesn’t need it; I left it out)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound homemade or store­ bought pappardelle (or other wide pasta)
1 pound assorted wild mushrooms, washed well and sliced (I used baby bellas)
Grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper, for serving

Preparation
1. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over low heat and sauté the onion and garlic until fragrant and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the white wine, increase the heat to medium, and simmer until the wine has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and rosemary and continue cooking until the sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes. Add the broth and cook until thickened slightly, about 10 more minutes. Stir in the cream, if desired; simmer for one more minute, and season with salt and pepper.

Cook’s Note: I had some grape tomatoes that I wanted to use up. I sliced them in half and added them to the onion and garlic mixture. You can never have too many tomatoes!

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

3. Transfer the sauce to a blender and blend the sauce; keep warm.

4. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until it is tender but still al dente; drain (do not rinse) it and set aside.

5. While the pasta is cooking, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over high heat and sauté the mushrooms until they are golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

6. Add the tomato sauce and pasta to the skillet, tossing to blend. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. With a large serving fork, twirl the pasta and transfer it to serving bowls. Top each portion with extra sauce and grated Parmesan cheese. I added a few twists of freshly ground Trader Joe’s four peppercorn mix. I served it with a fresh salad and Hugo’s sushi vinaigrette salad dressing.