Friday, October 20, 2017

Sheet Pan Dinner (Chicken Thighs and Vegetables)

I came across a recipe I clipped from a late issue of Sunset Magazine.  Since our weather has been cooler, I was in the mood for a new dinner idea in order to use the oven and this was perfect.  I went to a spice store recently where bought Chinese 5-spice.  Bonus.  It's a nice aromatic and made the kitchen smell good.

Preheat oven to 425.  Drizzle Olive Oil on a sheet pan to give a light coating.  Rinse 8 Chicken Thighs and place on paper towels to so they dry.  Peel 1 Medium Sweet Potato and cut in 1/4" slices.  Peel 2 Granny Smith Apples and section into 8 wedges each.  Peel 4-5 Small Carrots and cut lengthwise.   Peel 1 Large Red Onion and Slice into 1/4" slices, keeping the rings intact.  Clean 1 Bulb of Fennel and slice into 1/4" slices.  (NOTE: 2 stores I visited were both out of fennel so it's not pictured).  Place all the vegetables on the sheet pan in a single row or shingled if it's tight, then wiggle the Chicken thighs into the gaps.





In a small bowl, microwave to melt 2 TBL Butter and add to it 2 tsp Honey, 1 1/2 tsp Chinese 5-Spice.  Coat the skin side of the thighs with the glaze.  Add to hot oven.  After 15 minutes, baste chicken with drippings.  Cook for another 20-15 minutes til chicken is golden browned and crispy.







This recipe showed the vegetables carmelized.  There was quit a bit of dripping and carmelizing was not going to occur, so I made a quick decision, to place thighs on a plate and covered them lightly with foil to rest.  I moved all of the vegetables to a new sheet pan and let them continue cooking for 15 minutes total, flip them all once halfway through the cooking process.  Plate and serve hot.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Lemon flavored Ricotta with Tomatoes

I really wasn't sure how to label this recipe.  Before we moved, I cut out recipes that interested me before throwing the magazines away.  Sometimes the picture and recipe weren't on the same page.  This must have been one of those times because I can't find the recipe.  

My in-laws visited in late July and I had a lot of various cherry tomatoes growing in my raised bed at the community garden.  I happened upon this photo in my file but couldn't find the recipe ~ I really wanted to use the tomatoes so I made one up!  I got lucky, it turned out tasty!   Yesterday, my brother S, his wife D and son J overnight, visited over night as they trek across the state to see the total eclipse of the sun.  

Again, I had lots of tomatoes and knew they would like this kind of hors d'oeuvres.  Turns out I was right!  This time I decided to photograph the results and post the recipe the way I made it.  I can see in the original photo that there may have been sesame seeds and I didn't add them.  In other words, feel free to change it up any way you wish.  Things such as flavoring the ricotta with blue cheese and adding bacon.  Or crisping the shallots first.  It's quite forgiving as long as the flavors combine well.  

Our Harris Teeter makes a perfect bread for this so of recipe called Pane di Casa.   It's a large loaf allowing me to top the individual slices before cutting them into thirds.  It makes a perfect 3 to 4 bite hors d'oeuvres.  You can lightly grill the bread first but I prepared them al a minute as we chatted around the kitchen island catching up, so we used untoasted bread.  Once there was 1 for everyone we began eating.  

Add 8 oz. Ricotta to a bowl.  Next, Zest 1 Lemon, then juice the same lemon into the bowl.  Add 1 teaspoon or 2 of Fresh Parsley and Salt and Pepper to taste.  Stir.  Slice bread to desired thickness.  Cut in half Cherry Tomatoes in assorted sizes and colors.  Slice both halves of an Avocado (I have a tool that makes this faster).  NOTE: 1 Avacado and 2 cups cherry tomatoes made 5 slices of bread.  Thinnly slice a large Shallot.  

Next, assemble by speading ricotta mixture, topping with cherry tomatoes, avacado, and shallots.  Drizzle with very high quality Olive Oil, top with freshly ground Salt and Pepper.  I find the flavors come together if you let them sit for about 10 minutes.  Serve at room temperature with libations!



Friday, June 16, 2017

Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Peach Salsa

We've been eating lighter now that it's hot.  Yesterday I had a hankering for Shrimp Tacos with a zesty Peach Salsa, so I picked up what I needed just before dinner.  Let's say this was a nod to Louisiana.

The Peach idea came from years ago, when a guest chef at the local farmer's market found things at the booths and cooked fish and served it with a simple fresh peach salsa.  I thought it was the coolest idea.  We are talking 15 years ago, so though there is no way I could duplicate what he did I made my own quick Salsa.

Rinse Shrimp, peel devein, pat dry, and add 5 to each skewer, this just makes for easy grilling.  Drizzle with Olive Oil and season with Blackening Seasoning on both sides, I like Paul Prudhomme's the best.

For the Salsa, Dice 2 Ripe Peaches.  Mince a few strips of Jalepeno - use them to your liking depending on how much heat you want.  Add 1 tsp Freshly squeezed Lemon Juice.  Season with 2 tsp minced Cilantro and if you want, 2 tsp Minced Red Onion.  Drizzle with 1 TBL Olive Oil and stir.

Shred lettuce, I used Red Cabbage and Spinach, but you can use micro greens, napa cabbage, sprouts of any sort, really whatever you want.

Preheat Grill til hot and grill shrimp, turning once.  Warm the tortillas in a dry skillet so they are pliable.

We have taco tenders and I recommend them. Assemble tacos by placing shredded greens in the bottom, add 3 shrimp and top with Salsa.  We sampled Gluten Free Tortillas but I didn't care for the texture at all.  I would stick with flour tortilla's or if Gluten Free is needed, I would rather make my own with gluten free flour.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

"The" Cowboy Steak

If you like grilling and chilling with a group this is the steak for you!!!  Last fall I was looking at meat at Sam's and saw these wonderful freshly cut steaks labeled Cowboy Steak.  Even when I was leaving the store, the attendant asked me if there were any left because he had his heart set on bringing one home for dinner. We compared notes on cooking methods because they are not only huge but thick as well.  I have since cooked them a few times and each time they were delicious.

This is a huge steak on account of having the entire rib-bone but the presentaion is awesome!  One steak sliced can feed 4 adults.  It's so large that I made the marinade on a sheet pan, added the steak, then flipped it a few times over a 1 hour timeframe.

Marinate the Cowboy Steak in whatever you like but I normally use Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, Fresh Garlic, Fresh Parsley, Freshly ground Salt and Pepper.  Because of  the vinegar, don't marinate it for more than an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Preheat the grill.  Grill the steak in order to get cross grill marks about 2 minutes X 2 for each side.  Place on a clean sheet pan and finish it in the oven for 20-25 minutes depending on thickness and doneness you are aiming for.  Let it rest for 5 minutes, then slice in 1/4" slices.

For cross grill marks, I like to place the meat diagonally on the grill (ie 1:30 and 7:30), after 2 minutes, flip over keeping the same diagonal.  Then flip over again AND rotate to the opposite diagonal (ie 10:30 and 4:30) then flip over 1 last time keeping that same diagonal.  If you practice using the same flipping method when you grill, you will always know where you are in the process and get perfect results.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

I grew my own potatoes

This January we moved to NC from Lousiana.  (And no I don't miss the rain, but thanks for asking.)  Our neighborhood has a community garden with around 55 boxes in a beautiful location and a nice walk from my house.  The boxes are rented out by the year.    I signed up before we were even packed to move!

After getting my assigned location, I went to a local nursery to pick out varieties of things that would grow here.  I saw "Seed Potatoes".  They were little new potatoes in a netted bag.  I thought what the heck, so I planted them right away, around mid-February, I believe it was.  It took a few weeks for them to sprout because you bury them 4" deep.  After about 3 weeks, I saw green sprouts coming out of the ground.  And the plants grew nicely and in particular very quickly after rain.  Finally, they flowered in early May and  I waited an additional 2 weeks before digging in the dirt to see what I got.

By this point, a few potatoes were crowning.  It was like Easter!!  It was the coolest thing ever!  I was with my sister and we laughed so hard as I dug down returning with a potato in my hand.  She and I split the first ones I picked and this was the last of them.  I think in all, I got about 10-12 pounds of potatoes for the investment of $4.95.  Best thing ever!

Oh and the red onion came from our local farmer's market and the rosemary from my herb pot.  Toss in olive oil, season with herbs and S&P.  Raost at 375 for a little more than an hour from crispy results.  Devour!


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Click on Photos for More Clear View

I'm not certain why my blog post photos are blurry.  They are in focus on my i-pad as well as after I download them.  When I add them to my blog, they are fuzzy, except when I click on them - in that case they look focused.  If you want to get a good idea of what these foods actually look like, click on the photo for an enlarged focused gander.  Happy cooking and eating.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Pasta Night - for Everyone!

Our club offers a pasta night once a week.  It's a really cool concept.  Two times now I have done my own Pasta Night at home ~ once on account of having leftover Rigatoni and last night intentionally using a really good Italian Gluten Free Penne.  

In the even years, my family holds a week long family get-together at Thanksgiving with about 28-30 of us all eating meals together.  We change up some of the dinners from year to year.  Based on the the head count as it builds each day prior to Thanksgiving Day, we decide which dinners are for a smaller group vs the full group. 

This meal is cool because it's cooked to order and the selections are chosen by the diner which works well when trying to accommodate various dietary restrictions.  I have been trying to work this out to serve it for a large group.  Having a few cooks and multiple pans will make it possible for a large group.  I'm also thinking the kids eat first, then adults afterward.

It's all in the prep, then it goes together quickly and with a big group working together, that part is fun.  The more ingredients you have, the more combinations you can offer. 

For last night, for three of us, this is what I served.  I already had the Marinara made, so that saved a step.  I have a vegetable plot in our community garden and had some Broccoli and a small Red Cabbage that I picked about an hour before prepping.  I also picked some Thia Basil from the community garden and I had some Fresh Parsley in my herb pots.  I just bought Sugar Snap Peas and a Yellow Squash.  I also had 2 links of cooked Italian Sausage from the night before that I cut into 1/2" slices.  I also had a locally grown Onion that I bought last Sat at our local farmers market.  So you can see where this is going with all of these fresh ingredients.  

We are trying out a gluten free diet so I precooked and cooled a very good Italian Gluten Free Penne made by a company called Schar.  I made Afredo Sauce and had that near by.  I quickly steamed the sugar snap peas and the broccoli each for about two minutes and placed them in separate bowls.  I thinly sliced the onion and the cabbage and placed them in separate bowls.  I recently bought a new Mandoline and made waffle shaped slices with the Summer Squash.  You can add whatever you want though, sauteed peppers, roasted eggplant, sliced zuchinni, sliced (or quartered) mushrooms, cooked bonelss chicken breast, raw shrimp, capers, pressed garlic, etc.  The larger the group, the larger the offering.

I have a 12" All-Clad skillet that is perfect for this meal.  Heat the pan over medium heat and add a TBL of Olive Oil.  Add the ingredients that the diner requests.  Sauté these together for a few minutes adding Salt and Pepper to taste.  Add the pasta and toss for about 1 minute.  Add Alfredo and toss for about 30 seconds til combined and hot.  If the sauce thickens too quickly, have water ready and add a splash or two as needed.  

For plating, in a pasta plate, add marinara to the bottom and swirl.  Add the freshly cooked pasta to the plate and top with freshly grated Parmesan Cheese and garnish with Italian Herbs and S&P if needed.  Eat at once with a salad and hot crusty bread.  

Wash the pan and utensils and begin again.  

Other sauces that can be added instead of just Alfredo and Marinara are Pesto, Tepenade, a Roasted Red Pepper topping, and even a Marsala or Picatta.  So with the combinations, the dishes are endless.  

For a big group, set out the pasta plates and the ingredients buffet style.  Allow each diner the chance to add to the bowl what they would like.  Then they can bring it to the cook who can make the dish to order.  NOTE: If using raw Shrimp or any raw meat, the plate has to be washed before serving.  I would have raw shrimp near the cook who can add it directly to the pan and all other meats I would precook.

Another option is have everyone gather in the kitchen, allow the cooks choice on the combinations, enjoy them one by one as they are done by sharing straight out of the pan onto small plates.  

Have fun and photograph all the selections as the dishes are finished.  

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Shrimp and Grits

Last year was the first time I had Shrimp and Grits - if you can believe that!  I lived near New Orleans for 26 years.  The way it happened was, we were in the city for a Saints game and were surprised no one was at the entrance.  We inquired as to where everyone was only to learn that the game got moved from Noon to 3:30pm.  Since we lived 45 minutes away, we decided to go to Mr. B's for brunch and to look at artwork in the French Quarter.  There was a jazz combo playing and everyone seemed to be enjoying typical New Orleans Brunch fare.  We saw (and smelled) the Shrimp and Grits.  As the servers, ladened with dishes lined up their arms bustled by, that delicious New Orleans Barbecue scent lingered around us.  With that, we both ordered it!  The following week, I cooked the same dish for dinner and even a few times since then.  Now in NC where fortunately the shrimp is very good, I made Shrimp and Grits for dinner last night.  My son, who used to eat just three shrimp and not finish them, piled his plate high and ate every remaining shrimp.   I just had the five I photographed!  Oh well, next time I'll have to cook more.

Peal and devein enough Shrimp for those you are serving.  I had 1 1/2 pounds of Shrimp - after it was cleaned.   Place single layer on a paper towel lined plate in order to dry the exterior so it will brown.

You will need to find a Barbecue Shrimp Seasoning (I only use LaDon's) prior to attempting this dish.  To a small pot, add a few TBL of the Barbecue seasoning to 2 TBL butter, 1 Tbl Olive Oil, 1 TBL Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce and Juice of 1 Lemon (zest the lemon first for a garnish).  Heat until melted.  Swirl to combine.

Cook enough Grits counting on 1/2 cup cooked grits per serving.  The way Mr. B's cooks their grits is they use milk.  Milk can be very salty so I use a ratio of 1/2 Cup Milk and 1 1/2 Cups water.  Cover and heat over medium high heat til it boils.  With fork in hand, slowly add the 1/2 Cup Grits stirring all the while until combined.  Add a 1 tsp Salt and 1 Tbl Butter.  Turn to low and cover and allow to cook for about 5 minutes.  Stir again, turn off heat, and cover to allow to finish.  Stir one last time to make sure they are cooked.

Heat an empty skillet over medium high heat.  Add 2 TBL Olive Oil and 1 TBL Butter.  Add Shrimp and cook quickly tossing all the while to ensure all the shrimp are cooked.  This only takes a matter of minutes.  Top with Lemon Zest and Fresh Parsley.

For plating, to a pasta plate, add the barbecue seasoning, top with grits and top with Shrimp.  Enjoy with crusty warm bread and a salad and maybe even a jazz tune.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Smashed Baby Red Potatoes

Before we relocated, I began getting rid of magazines, dozens and dozens of them.  I tore out all sorts of recipes and stuck them in a folder to add to my personal cook book.  This recipe is in that folder and I just bought herbs and a variety of baby potatoes plus we are grilling rib eye steak tonight.

This is simple enough that if you are entertaining you can at least boil the potatoes in advance.  You can also make them ahead entirely and have them ready for the oven after guests arrive.

In my estimation, any single herb or combination of herbs will do, just base it on what you are serving with them.  You could even use only minced chives or only minced parsley and serve with a side of sour cream for dipping.  Tonight though, I used Thyme.

Rinse the 2 lbs Baby Potatoes and place in a pot and cover with cool water.  Add to the pot,  3 Smashed Cloves of Garlic, 6-8 Sprigs of whatever Herb you plan to use and a 1/4 Cup Salt.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, reduce heat and simmer until tender.  Strain potatoes and discard the garlic and herbs.  Leave the potatoes in the strainer for 10 minutes in order for them to dry off.  They will be crispier that way.

Preheat oven to 425.  To a sheet pan, add 2 Tbl Olive Oil.  Place potatoes in a single layer on a sheet pan.  Using either the heal of your hand - or I used the flat side of my meat tenderizer - flaten each potato until it is the thickness of 1/2".  Brush upward facing side with 1 TBL Olive Oil.  Season with Salt and Pepper.  Roast in the hot oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.  I turned the potatoes over about half way through cooking.  

While the potatoes are roasting, mix together, 2 TBL Unsalted Butter, 1 Tbl minced Fresh Parsley, 2 tsp chopped Thyme, 1 tsp chopped Rosemary, 1 Pressed Garlic Clove, 1/2 tsp Salt, 1/4 tsp pepper.  When potatoes are golden brown, place on serving platter and brush them with the herbed butter.  Serve immediately.  

NOTE:  If you don't prefer the uncooked garlic, you can omit it all together and instead before roasting, quarter lengthwise 2 bulbs of Shallots and place the separated the layers to the pan.  Red Onion will work as well.   

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Gougeres

I moved to a new state about a month ago and am in a new Reading Club.  We read the book, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.  The story is set in France when the Germans occupied the country during WWII.  Though they probably didn't enjoy a food like this during that time on account of food shortages, this is said to have originated in the Burgundy Region of France.  

I have on my blog a Dauphine Potato recipe as well as Profiteroles, both based on simple Choux Dough recipes.  This dough is similar and is made savory with the addition of cheese, in particular Gruyere.  

In looking for a recipe to give a nod to the French, I found this recipe in my book where I have indexed recipes from late food magazines.  I've never made them so this is my first go at it.  Based on the font of nearby recipes on other pages, I am fairly certain it came from Food and Wine, December 1988, wow, so practically 30 years old!

Remove 6 Large Eggs  from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature.  5 are for the recipe itself and 1 to brush on the Gougeres before baking.
NOTE: This recipe calles for a total of 5 EXTRA Large Eggs ~ so I made an adjustment on account of using Large Eggs
Preheat oven to 425.   
Grate 6 oz Parmesan Cheese and 1/2 Cup Gruyere Cheese into a bowl.  Set asside.  
In a medium bowl, combine 1 Cup Flour, 3/4 tsp Salt and 1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Pepper.  Set aside.

In a large heavy saucepan, combine 1 Cup Whole Milk and 1 Stick Unsalted Butter.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring as the butter melts.  Remove from heat immediately and add the flour mixture all at once.  Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon just until the dough masses into a ball and doesn't cling to the sides.  
Transfer dough to a mixing bowl and using the paddle beater, on medium, add a total of  5 Large Eggs, one at a time, mixing after until each egg is completely absorbed.  The dough should appear smooth and satiny and hold it's shape when a small amount is scooped with a spoon.  Add the Cheese Mixture and mix until throughly.  








I am going to use parchment paper on my sheet pans so they lift easily.  You can either pipe, scoop or spoon 2 tsp of batter into mounds leaving 1 1/2" of space between each.  

Beat remaining egg, and brush each gougeres with the egg glaze before baking.  Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes until rich golden brown.  The recipe called for 10 minutes of baking time but I clearly needed more time.  

Serve warm or at room temperature.  
Can be made ahead and reheated before serving.  Bon appetit!!




Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I'll have to post this recipe when I get a chance.  Pineapple is in season and right now a fresh one costs about $3.  This is a must for a crowd pleaser dinner.  I have written before about using my Sautéuse pan.  It's quite large as you can see, easily fitting 10 chicken thighs.  What I like best is that I can cook on top of the stove, assemble the rest of the dish, and put it straight into the oven for finishing.