Saturday, September 22, 2007

Fresh Tomato Soup

1/4 cup olive oil
2 large yellow onions, diced
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
18 ripe Roma tomatoes, quartered
Heavy cream or 1/2 & 1/2
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil leaves, if desired

Using a heavy saucepan set over medium heat, sauté onions in olive oil, stirring occasionally until tender and translucent, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Stir in orange zest and tomatoes and continue to cook over medium heat stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, about 20 minutes or until the tomatoes have broken down and rendered much of their liquid.
Strain the mixture through a food mill or medium mesh sieve placed over a clean saucepan, discard remaining peel and seeds. Reheat soup mixture gently over medium-low heat, season with salt and pepper. Add heavy or light cream to taste (anywhere from 1/2 cup to 1 1/2 cups or until you achieve the consistency and flavor you desire.) Season to taste.
Just before serving (about 1-2 minutes before) add fresh basil, torn into small pieces to the soup.

Serves 4 to 6.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Parmesan Chicken

From Inna Garten (Barefoot Contessa Family Style)

4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
Unsalted butter
Good olive oil
Salad greens for 6, washed and spun dry (mix of butter, red-leaf, & Frisee)
1 recipe Lemon Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4-inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin.
Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts. Toss the salad greens with lemon vinaigrette. Place a mound of salad on each hot chicken breast. Serve with extra grated Parmesan.

Lemon Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Yield: 6 servings

Spice-Rubbed Picnic Chicken

From Cook's Illustrated

If you plan to serve the chicken later on the same day that you cook it, refrigerate it immediately after it has cooled, then let it come back to room temperature before serving. On the breast pieces, we use toothpicks to secure the skin, which otherwise shrinks considerably in the oven, leaving the meat exposed and prone to drying out. We think the extra effort is justified, but you can omit this step. This recipe halves easily.

Serves 8
5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, drumsticks, or a mix with breasts cut into 3 pieces or halved if small), trimmed of excess fat and skin
2 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Following illustrations below, use sharp knife to make 2 or 3 short slashes in skin of each piece of chicken, taking care not to cut into meat. Combine salt, sugar, and spices in small bowl and mix thoroughly. Coat chicken pieces with spices, gently lifting skin to distribute spice rub underneath but leaving it attached to chicken. Transfer chicken skin side up to wire rack set over rimmed foil-lined baking sheet, lightly tent with foil, and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours.

2. Secure skin of each breast piece with 2 or 3 toothpicks placed near edges of skin.

3. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees. Roast chicken until thickest part of smallest piece registers 140 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees and continue roasting until chicken is browned and crisp and thickest parts of breast pieces register 160 degrees, 5 to 8 minutes longer, removing pieces from oven and transferring to clean wire rack as they finish cooking. Continue to roast thighs and/or drumsticks, if using, until thickest part of meat registers 170 to 175 degrees, about 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven; transfer chicken to rack and let cool completely before refrigerating or serving.

Rich and Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing

From Cook's Illustrated

Excellent recipe. I served with crisp Romaine lettuce and seedless red grapes from our vine. The combination of the grapes & blue cheese was really delicious--made a great pairing! --Pamela

2 1/2 ounces blue cheese , crumbled (about 1/2 cup) (I like Stella brand crumbled blue cheese)
3 tablespoons buttermilk
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I used Best Food's Light Mayonnaise)
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar (try to find one with just 5% acidity)
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
ground black pepper

Mash blue cheese and buttermilk in small bowl with fork until mixture resembles cottage cheese with small curds. Stir in remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Can be covered and refrigerated up to 14 days.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Teriyaki Chicken with Pickled Cucumbers

Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay
Show: Boy Meets Grill
Episode: Classic Japanese Grill

2 cups mirin
1 cup sake
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup pineapple juice
6 tablespoons sugar or honey, plus 1 tablespoon
1 (3 to 4-inch) piece fresh ginger, cut into coins
3/4 cup rice vinegar
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt plus extra salt and freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning
2 English cucumbers, sliced 1/4-inch thick
4 bone-in chicken breasts
4 drumsticks
4 chicken thighs
Heat grill to medium. Whisk together the mirin, sake, soy sauce, pineapple juice, 6 tablespoons sugar or honey, and ginger in a medium saucepan and cook on the grates of the grill until the sugar has melted and the mixture has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool completely.
Whisk together the rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Add the cucumbers and stir to combine. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Heat grill to medium. Lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place the chicken on the grill, skin side down, and grill until golden brown and slightly charred, about 4 to 5 minutes. Brush with some of the teriyaki sauce, turn over, and continue grilling and brushing with the sauce every few minutes until cooked through, about 25 more minutes. Transfer to a platter with the marinated cucumbers and serve.

Ice Cold Saketini

Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay
Show: Boy Meets Grill
Episode: Classic Japanese Grill

2.5 ounces dry sake
1-ounce vodka
Chipped ice
1 Japanese cucumber, cut into 1/4-inch rounds, for garnish
Combine sake and vodka in a cocktail shaker with the chipped ice and shake well. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a slice of Japanese cucumber.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Barbecue Pork with Mop Sauce

North Carolinians marinate their barbecued meats with a dry spice rub, then serve them baths in a vinegary, spicy sauce that gets "mopped up" with a piece of bread. Though pork is the meat of choice in this recipe, the tasty spice rub also works well on chicken, beef, or even catfish.

2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoons cayenne
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin*
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Spray the grill rack with nonstick spray; prepare grill for indirect heating. (Grill should be pretty hot, about 500º.)

Mix together brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt, cayenne, and pepper in bowl. Rub half of mixture all over pork and let stand 15 mins.

Combine ketchup, vinegar, molasses and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl and heat in microwave until warm.

Rub pork with remaining spice rub.

Place over indirect heat section of grill; Grill 15 mins. Turn pork and grill until meat registers 150º, about 12 mins. longer.** Remove from grill and cover loosely with foil. Let stand 10 mins. before slicing.

After pork has rested, pour juices into Mop sauce and slice pork thinly.

Serves 4

*1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin equals 2 small tenderloins or 1 large
**Cooking time will vary depending on whether you have 1 or 2 tenderloins

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Spinach Salad with Gorgonzola, Cherries, & Almonds

Raspberry Vinaigrette

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot or red onion
2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon or 3/4 teaspoon dried
1 clove garlic , minced
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Shake all of the ingredients together in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 7 days; bring to room temperature, then shake vigorously to recombine before using.


In a large bowl, combine:
1 bag baby spinach, washed (if necessary)
Handful or two of crumbled gorgonzola cheese
Handful or two of dried cherries
Handful or two of sliced almonds, toasted

Just before serving, toss with an appropriate amount of dressing.

While this is a simple salad I've made time and again using pears, I had never thought of using dried cherries until a business trip brought me to Traverse City, MI - Cherry Capital of the World! Enjoy!

Grand High Tea Menu @ The Grand Lux Cafe

Tea (your choice), served with lemon and honey

Brioche Finger Sandwiches including:
cream cheese, parsley, and cucumber
cream cheese, tomato, mozarella, and pesto
mayonaise, hard boiled egg, roasted pepper, and thousand island dressing
marmalade, chicken salad, candied walnuts

Currant Scones, served with whipped cream, lemon curd, and rasberry jam

Assorted Bite Sized Desserts including:
fresh fruit tart
chocolate chip cookie
peanut brittle
cream puff
chocolate tart with fresh rasberry

Finish the tea service with your choice of champagne, Harvey's Bristol Cream, or Port

Spicy Picanha Style BBQ'd Ribeye

2 ribeye steaks, seasoned with pepper

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a small bowl, combine butter, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper. Grill steaks on high heat until desired doneness. One minute before you're ready to pull the steaks off the grill, slather on a spoonful of prepared butter and let melt for a few seconds with the grill cover closed. Remove steaks to a platter and cover with foil for 5 minutes, until the juices are absorbed back into the meat. Serve immediately!

Roroc and I got the idea for the spicy "picanha" butter from a Brazilian steak house in Dallas called Rafain. They serve a spicy picanha Tri-Tip on long skewers; Roroc absolutely loves it and said "we hit the nail on the head" with our made-up version!

It's quick and easy! You'll love it!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli With Oyster Sauce

From Cook's Illustrated

Really an excellent recipe; we loved it. --Pamela

Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli With Oyster Sauce

To make slicing the steak easier, freeze it for 20 minutes. Serve this dish with white rice.

Serves 4
1 pound flank steak , cut into 2-inch-wide strips with the grain, then sliced across the grain into 1/8-inch-thick slices
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth
5 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
6 medium cloves garlic , pressed through garlic press or minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 inch piece fresh ginger , minced (about 1 tablespoon)
3 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
1 1/4 pounds broccoli , florets cut into bite-size pieces, stems trimmed, peeled, and cut on diagonal into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1/3 cup water
1 small red bell pepper , cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 medium scallions , sliced 1/2-inch thick on diagonal

1. Combine beef and soy sauce in medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour, stirring once. Meanwhile, whisk sherry, chicken broth, oyster sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch in measuring cup. Combine garlic, ginger, and 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil in small bowl.

2. Drain beef and discard liquid. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until smoking. Add half of beef to skillet and break up clumps; cook, without stirring, for 1 minute, then stir and cook until beef is browned around edges, about 30 seconds. Transfer beef to medium bowl. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil in skillet, and repeat with remaining beef.

3. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to now-empty skillet; heat until just smoking. Add broccoli and cook 30 seconds; add water, cover pan, and lower heat to medium. Steam broccoli until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes; transfer to paper towel–lined plate. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil to skillet; increase heat to high and heat until just smoking. Add bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until spotty brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Clear center of skillet; add garlic and ginger to clearing and cook, mashing mixture with spoon, until fragrant, 15 to 20 seconds, then stir mixture into peppers. Return beef and broccoli to skillet and toss to combine. Whisk sauce to recombine, then add to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and evenly distributed, about 30 seconds. Transfer to serving platter, sprinkle with scallions, and serve.

STEP BY STEP: How to Stir Fry

1. Prep Ingredients: Marinate protein (meat, seafood, or chicken). Whisk sauce ingredients in measuring cup. Add small amount of oil to garlic and ginger.
2. Batch-cook Protein: Heat oil until smoking. Drain protein and add half to pan.Cook until well browned. Remove to clean bowl. Repeat with remaining protein.

3. Steam tough vegetables: Stir-fry broccoli, asparagus, or green beans in oil in empty pan, add small amount of water, cover, and steam until crisp-tender.
4. Cook delicate vegetables: Transfer steamed vegetables to bowl; then stir-fry peppers or onions for 1 to 2 minutes in oil in empty pan.

5. Sauté aromatics: When vegetables are browned, add garlic and ginger to center of pan. Cook until fragrant (15 to 20 seconds), then stir into vegetables.
6. Recombine and sauce: Add protein and steamed vegetables back to skillet. Whisk sauce to recombine, then pour into skillet and toss until hot.

Lighter Chicken Parmesan with Simple Tomato Sauce

From Cook's Illustrated

Very crunchy and delicious but not heavy or oily; the simple tomato sauce was excellent and could be used on other recipes as well. High recommendation for these recipes. --Pamela

Lighter Chicken Parmesan with Simple Tomato Sauce

If you are tight on time, you can substitute 2 cups of your favorite plain tomato sauce for the Simple Tomato Sauce. Two cups of fresh bread crumbs can be substituted for the panko (they will shrink as they toast). Because these cutlets are breaded, we found that one cutlet per person was plenty—but try to buy the largest chicken breasts you can to ensure good-sized portions.

Serves 6
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
Table salt and ground black pepper
3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon water
Vegetable cooking spray
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat and sliced into cutlets
2 cups tomato sauce , warmed (see below)
3 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

Simple Tomato Sauce
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
4 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves
Table salt and ground black pepper

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Combine the bread crumbs and oil in a 12-inch skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, about 10 minutes. Spread the bread crumbs in a shallow dish and cool slightly; when cool, stir in the Parmesan.

2. In a second shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. In a third shallow dish, whisk the egg whites and water together.

3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, place a wire rack on top, and spray the rack with vegetable oil spray. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge the cutlets in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip into the egg whites, and finally coat with the bread crumbs, Press on the bread crumbs to make sure they adhere. Lay the chicken on the wire rack.

4. Spray the tops of the chicken with vegetable oil spray. Bake until the meat is no longer pink in the center and feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove the chicken from the oven. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the sauce onto the center of each cutlet and top the sauce with 2 tablespoons of the mozzarella. Return the chicken to the oven and continue to bake until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and serve, passing the remaining sauce and Parmesan separately.

For Simple Tomato Sauce:
Pulse the tomatoes in a food processor until mostly smooth, about ten 1-second pulses; set aside. Cook the garlic, tomato paste, oil, and pepper flakes in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the pureed tomatoes and cook until the sauce is thickened and measures 2 cups, about 20 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside until needed.

Per Serving:
Cal 310; Fat 8 g; Sat fat 2.5 g; Chol 75 mg; Carb 20 g; Protein 38 g; Fiber 1 g; Sodium 790 mg

STEP BY STEP: Preparing the Chicken Cutlets

1. Tenderloins tend to fall off or disintegrate during pounding, so they are best removed and reserved for another use.
2. Halve breasts horizontally to form two cutlets. Cut this way, they need little or no pounding. If pounding, follow steps for small breasts.

FOR SMALL BREASTS: 1. Pour 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil in the center of a sheet of plastic wrap. Turn one cutlet in the oil to coat. Top with a second sheet of plastic wrap and pound gently to an even 1/4-inch thickness. Repeat with remaining cutlets, adding additional oil as needed.
2. Breasts pounded to 1/4-inch thickness (right) have considerably more surface area than unpounded breasts (left).
STEP BY STEP: Breading the Cutlets

1. Coat the dry chicken breast - liberally and evenly with flour before spanking the excess off, leaving only the barest film.
2. Using tongs, dip the floured breast in the egg wash, taking care to coat the entire surface before letting the excess drip back into the pan.

3. Good crumb depth is essential for an even, dry coating. Toss the chicken in the crumbs to coat and then press with fingers for even distribution.

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

From Cook's Illustrated

Excellent enchiladas; can be made-ahead

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

If you prefer, Monterey Jack cheese can be used instead of cheddar, or, for a mellower flavor and creamier texture, try substituting an equal amount of farmers' cheese.

10 enchiladas, serving 4 or 5 as a main dish

2 teaspoons vegetable oil or corn oil
1 medium onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
3 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
3/4 pound small tomatillos , husks and stems removed, each tomatillo quartered (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 large jalapeño chiles , seeded and coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt

2 teaspoons vegetable oil or corn oil
1 medium onion , chopped (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 4 thighs), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , grated (2 cups)

Tortillas and Toppings
10 corn tortillas (six-inch)
Vegetable cooking spray
3 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese (3/4 cup)
3/4 cup sour cream
1 avocado , diced medium
5 leaves romaine lettuce , washed, dried, and shredded
2 limes , quartered

1. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomatillos, jalapeños, sugar and salt; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1/3 cup of water and bring to a simmer; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until tomatillos are softened, about 8 minutes. Transfer mixture to blender and puree until smooth, about 30 seconds; set aside. Rinse out saucepan.

2. FOR THE FILLING: Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes; add onion and cook, stirring ocassionally, until beginning to soften and brown, about 3 minutes, then reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until browned, about 3 minutes longer. Add cumin and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer chicken mixture to large plate; freeze for 10 minutes to cool, then combine with cilantro and cheese in medium bowl and set aside.

3. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 300 degrees.

4. TO ASSEMBLE: Follow illustrations to heat tortillas and fill, roll, and sauce enchiladas. Cover baking dish with foil. Bake enchiladas on lower-middle rack until heated through and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover and serve immediately, passing sour cream, avocado, lettuce, and lime wedges separately.

Foolproof Oven-Baked Brown Rice

From Cook's Illustrated

This was amazingly easy and delicious. --Pamela

Foolproof Oven-Baked Brown Rice

To minimize any loss of water through evaporation, cover the saucepan and use the water as soon as it reaches a boil. An 8-inch ceramic baking dish with a lid may be used instead of the baking dish and foil. To double the recipe, use a 13 by 9-inch baking dish; the baking time need not be increased.

Serves 4 to 6
1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice , medium-grain brown rice, or short-grain brown rice
2 1/3 cups water
2 teaspoons unsalted butter or vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon table salt

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread rice in 8-inch-square glass baking dish.

2. Bring water and butter or oil to boil, covered, in medium saucepan over high heat; once boiling, immediately stir in salt and pour water over rice. Cover baking dish tightly with doubled layer of foil. Bake rice 1 hour, until tender.

3. Remove baking dish from oven and uncover. Fluff rice with dinner fork, then cover dish with clean kitchen towel; let rice stand 5 minutes. Uncover and let rice stand 5 minutes longer; serve immediately.

Per Serving:
Cal 180; Fat 3 g; Sat fat 0 g; Chol 0 mg; Carb 36 g; Protein 4 g; Fiber 2 g; Sodium 200 mg

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