Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Adobo-Rubbed Pork Chops with Pico de Gallo


Pork chops were on the menu this week, and we wanted to do something new with them. We both liked this recipe on the Epicurious web site for Adobo-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Black Bean Pico de Gallo.

We used boneless pork chops instead of pork tenderloin, and made my traditional Pico de Gallo instead of the pico on the recipe that called for black beans.

Below is the part of the recipe we followed (we cut the recipe to three servings; below are ingredients for six) -

Ingredients
  • 6 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp coarse salt
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar (omitted this as we didn't have any on hand)
  • 3 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 24 oz pork tenderloin, trimmed, cut into 3- to 4-oz pieces (we used 3 boneless pork chops)
Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In small bowl, mix paprika, black pepper, salt, chili powder, sugar, and cayenne.
  • Rub both sides of each tenderloin piece with spice mixture.
  • Preheat oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat and pan-sear pieces until golden brown on both sides.
  • Transfer to oven until done (6 to 8 minutes for each inch of thickness). The chops took about 12 minutes - we tested them with an oven thermometer to make sure they were done (160 degrees).
  • Top pork with the pico and serve

These chops were nicely seared on the outside and perfectly juicy on the inside. The pico was a nice, refreshing topping.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Cheesy Chile Chicken



Several weeks ago I saw this recipe on the blog Taste of Home Cooking. Jalapenos? Sounds like my kind of meal.

I made several changes to the recipe - spiced up the chicken, didn't use canned chiles, added red peppers, onions, and garlic, and used a mix of cheeses instead of just Monterey Jack.

I'm giving this post a Mexican tag because of the flavors and am not making any claim that it's authentic!! And please don't mind the yellow tint in my picture - I knew there wouldn't be any leftovers to photograph the next day in natural light!

Below is my adaptation.

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into bite sized chunks
  • Spices: chili powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, Mexican oregano, garlic powder, onion powder (used from most to least)
  • 3 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 sm onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3/4 c white rice, uncooked
  • 2 c chicken broth
  • Approximately 1/2 c shredded cheese - I used a Cheddar/Jack blend
  • Handful of freshly chopped cilantro

Directions

  • Coat chicken with spices
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan; add chicken and cook over medium-high heat until done, about 8 minutes. Transfer chicken to a dish and keep warm.
  • Add 1 tsp oil to the pan
  • Add jalapenos, onions, garlic, and peppers. Saute 3-4 minutes.
  • Add rice and stir
  • Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a light simmer, cover, and cook until the rice is done and liquid has completely absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  • Return chicken to the pan and stir in the cheese and cilantro.

While this dish was cooking Jon kept commenting how good it smelled. And while eating it, he couldn't stop saying how good it was. I even got another "good job" after we were cleaned up from dinner. It was THAT good. Nothing gourmet, just a good one pot meal!

Brunch: Broccoli-Red Pepper-Potato Frittata


Instead of inviting my parents to dinner this weekend, we decided to do brunch. My menu included a frittata that was inspired by this recipe from Cate's blog.

I liked the idea of putting the potatoes into the frittata instead of making them as a side. I used the broccoli from the original recipe, but omitted the spinach. Instead, I added red pepper for color, and topped it with tomatoes and asiago cheese. What a great way to get a lot of veggies into one dish!

My recipe is below.

Ingredients

  • 2 large red potatoes, washed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 red pepper, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 sm onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large head of broccoli, chopped
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/4 c light cream
  • 3 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tomato, sliced; I used a vine-ripened tomato
  • Shredded asiago cheese
  • 1 tbsp butter and 1/2 tbsp olive oil.

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400. Toss potatoes with a touch of olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes. Add (room temperature) peppers to baking dish and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove potatoes and peppers from the oven, and turn it down to 325.
  • Steam broccoli until very tender. Mash slightly with a fork.
  • Whisk eggs with cream, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese.
  • Melt butter in an oven-safe pan over medium heat, and spread olive oil around sides of pan.
  • Add onions to pan and saute until soft.
  • Add potatoes, peppers, and broccoli in an even layer in the pan.
  • Pour eggs over the veggies and run your spatula through the mixture in quick back and forth motions. Also run it around the edges to form a nice clean edge.
  • Once the bottom has set (maybe 5 minutes over lowered heat), top the frittata with sliced tomatoes and asiago cheese. Transfer to the oven until completely set, approximately 15-20 minutes.
  • Transfer frittata to a dish; slice and serve immediately.

Isn't it beautiful? It was delicious, too. Even better, any leftovers can be reheated the next day! I did that this morning - 45 seconds on reheat in the microwave and it was perfect.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pork Medallions with Dijon-Chive Sauce


When I think of pork dishes, I don't think of a cream sauce. I think that's why I was so intrigued when I saw this recipe for Pork Medallions with Mustard Chive Sauce on the Epicurious web site.

I made a few changes to the ingredients and cooking method.

- The original recipe called for leeks; I didn't have any so I used finely chopped onions
- In the original recipe, they cooked the sauce before hand in a separate pan. What? And waste all those pork juices? I seared the pork first, and used the same pan to make the sauce.
- I omitted the tarragon
- Finally, pork tenderloin was ridiculously expensive this week, so I bought 2 boneless pork loin chops and cut them into medallions. Although they were not as tender as tenderloin, they still worked perfectly.

My adaptation of the recipe is below.

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 c chopped onion
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 2 boneless pork loin chops, each cut into 4-5 medallions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  • Heat butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a saute pan
  • Season pork with salt and pepper; I was very generous with the pepper
  • Add pork to the pan and cook for a few minutes on each side - all sides. This will take about 12-15 minutes. If the pork is still not cooked in the center, cover and let cook for a few more minutes. It took about 18 minutes to cook my pork.
  • Transfer pork to a plate and keep warm.
  • Add 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan over medium heat.
  • Add onions and garlic and cook until tender, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the brown bits.
  • Add the broth and bring to a steady simmer for 5 minutes
  • Lower heat and whisk in sour cream and Dijon mustard until creamy.
  • Stir in chives
  • Serve sauce over the pork.

Jon and I were both very surprised as to how delicious this was! When he read the ingredients and recipe, he wasn't excited to try it. But we both loved it and I'd love to make this again with pork tenderloin.

I served the pork over rice and with sauteed spinach.

Mistakenly Delicious Chicken


Last week I made chicken salad to have for lunches all week. I seasoned it just like I did for my Southwestern Chicken Salad, but added Adobo seasoning this time.

I put the chicken in the pan and then got talking and forgot about it for a few minutes. The pan was on high heat, too. When I ran back to the pan and flipped the chicken over, it was nicely charred, almost blackened. I decided to let the other side char as well as the aroma coming from that pan was incredible.

Once I shredded the chicken for the salad, I couldn't stop eating little bits of it...it was delicious!! The outside was so crispy, but the inside stayed so juicy. And the spices were so smoky because of the charring.

So when planning my meals for the week, I decided to make this Mistakenly Delicious Chicken into a dinner!

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded out just a bit - not too thin.
  • Spices - Adobo seasoning, chili powder, cumin, coriander, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper. I used them from most to least in that order.

Directions

  • Fully coat both sides of the chicken with the spices.
  • Heat olive oil in a pan over high heat.
  • Add chicken and let cook over high heat for about 5 minutes. Flip and cook other side.
  • If your chicken is still pink in the middle, turn the heat down and cover it for a few minutes, until cooked. You could also transfer it to a hotel oven for a few minutes.

I served the chicken with my basic Parmesan Garlic Risotto and roasted Brussels sprouts.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

I bought a bag of multi-colored peppers at the produce store on Sunday not knowing what I'd do with them this week. On Thursday I needed something I could prep ahead of time and pop in the oven when I got home after an appointment, so stuffed peppers were a great choice.

My usual recipe can be found here and features Italian flavors and spices. I wanted something different. Mexican, anyone?

I created this recipe on my own.

Ingredients for Sauce
  • 32-oz can tomatoes – I used whole tomatoes with their juices
  • ¼ sm onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 jalapeno, finely chopped
  • Approximately ½ tsp chili powder, ¼ tsp cumin, and ¼ tsp coriander
  • Approximately 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • ¼ c water

Directions – Sauce


  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pot
  • Add onions and garlic; sauté 2 minutes
  • Add jalapeno, sauté 1 minute
  • Add chili powder, cumin, and coriander; stir until veggies are coated
  • Add tomatoes and Mexican oregano; bring to a steady simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring often
  • Season with salt and pepper, if needed
  • Puree sauce using a handheld immersion blender or transfer to a regular blender. Thin with water if needed.
You can make the sauce several hours to one day ahead of time.

Rest of the Ingredients

  • 6 peppers, tops cut off and cleaned out (I had 2 peppers that didn't stand on their own, so I cut them in half and put them on their sides, like a boat)
  • 1 c cooked rice (I briefly considered using Mexican rice, like the Goya rice in a box, but didn't want to add that much sodium to the meal)
  • 1.5 lbs ground meat
  • 1 sm onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ¾ of a jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • Spices: chili powder, cumin, coriander, Mexican oregano, Adobo seasoning
  • Cooked sauce
  • Shredded cheese – I used a Mexican blend
Directions
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large sauté pan
  • Add meat and cook until browned and cooked through.
  • Add onion, garlic, and jalapeno
  • Add spices to taste – I added approximately 1 ½ tsp chili powder, ½ tsp cumin, ½ tsp coriander, ½ tsp Mexican oregano, and 1 tbsp Adobo seasoning. Once mixed, taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
  • Add about half of the sauce and let simmer for a few minutes
  • Add just a few pinches of cheese.
  • Coat your baking dish with sauce
  • Fill peppers and place in the baking dish. Note – at this point I covered them and put them in the fridge for 4 hours until I was ready to bake them. If you do this, bring them out of the fridge 30 minutes before you plan on putting them in the oven.
  • Bake on 350 for about 25 minutes; top with some cheese and return to the oven for 5 more minutes.
Everyone loved these, and Jon said he liked them even better than my regular stuffed peppers. They were full of flavor and very moist, thanks to the delicious sauce. Better yet, a stuffed pepper is a full meal – veggie, meat, and starch – all wrapped up in a neat little package.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Guinness Beef Stew



Yesterday was St. Patty's Day and I felt like getting into the spirit of the holiday by cooking something Irish. I don't know exactly how Irish this stew is...just because of the Guinness? Works for me!

I looked at several recipes and decided to use
this recipe for Beef and Guinness Stew as my inspiration. The original ingredient list is below with my changes noted in italics.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs stewing beef
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 tbsp flour I used about 1 tbsp
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne Since I omitted the flour, I used more than a pinch of cayenne
  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced Just 1 clove? I used 3
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste dissolved in 4 tbsp water
  • 1 1/4 c Guinness Stout
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 c carrots cut into 2 inch pieces I used 3 carrots
  • Added: 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • Added: 1 large baking potato, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • Sprig of fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 c beef broth I used 14.5 oz (a full can) since I added potatoes to the stew
  • Chopped parsley for garnish I completely forgot about this
Directions (for the original directions, see the link above)
  • Toss beef with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper, flour, and cayenne (the amount is up to you and how much heat you like)
  • Heat the other tbsp olive oil in a saute pan. Add beef and brown on all sides, about 6-7 minutes.
  • Add garlic and onions, saute 2 minutes.
  • Add tomato paste mixture, cover and let simmer 5 minutes.
  • Transfer beef to a large pot or Dutch oven.
  • Pour half of the Guinness into the saute pan where the beef cooked. Scrape up any brown bits and bring to a steady simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Pour Guinness from the saute pan and the rest of the Guinness over the beef.
  • Add carrots, celery, potatoes, thyme, sugar, and broth. Stir and adjust seasonings.
  • Cover and cook over medium-low heat (just at a nice simmer) for 1 hour 15 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes or so.
  • Adjust salt and pepper, and simmer partly uncovered for another hour.
  • Adjust salt and pepper and serve.
Jon said he liked this better than the really good beef stew with herbed dumplings I made on New Year's Day. I'd rate them as equally good. They were both hearty and delicious, but this Guinness stew had a richer taste and a good kick from the cayenne.
This stew isn't just for St. Patty's day - I'll be making this one again soon before the weather turns too warm!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Meatballs and Homemade Sauce


Sunday - the perfect day for cooking something that can simmer on the stove for a few hours.


I have made sauce a few times, but haven't had much luck since the first time I made it, way back in high school. I can't remember what I did that time..it was over 17 years ago! So I went to this recipe for Giada's Simple Tomato Sauce. I followed the basics, but made several changes and doctored it up a bit. My changes are in italics below.

Jon's meatball recipe, his own recipe, is below as well.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped We love garlic so we used about 8 cloves - 4 in the beginning, and 4 later
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Added: 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • Added: 1 32-oz can peeled whole tomatoes
  • Added: 5 plum tomatoes
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional I used 1
  • Added: approximately 2 tbsp dried oregano

Directions

  • In a large casserole pot or Dutch over, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • In the meantime, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut plum tomatoes in half, toss with a touch of olive oil, and roast for about 30 minutes. Let cool and remove skins.
  • Add tomato paste to pot and stir to mix with the veggies
  • Add tomatoes, oregano, and bay leaves and simmer uncovered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. We let it simmer for 30 minutes before pureeing the sauce and adding the meatballs; see recipe below.
  • Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors. I only added 1 tbsp butter. Also, this is when we added the additional 4 cloves of garlic, pressed. We also adjusted the salt and oregano. (yes, we..this was a joint endeavor!).
  • Add 1/2 the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce. I used my handheld immersion blender before adding the meatballs. We let it simmer for another hour or so.

Mmm, this sauce was delicious, and even better on the second day.

Jon's Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 1 lb meatloaf mix - ground beef, pork, and veal
  • 1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • Breadcrumbs - approximately 3/4 c
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  • Mix all ingredients, adding breadcrumbs slowly, and knead thoroughly. Form into balls.

  • Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake on 375 for 20-25 minutes, turning once. Cooking time may be shorter or longer depending on the diameter of the meatballs. His cooking time was based on 1.5 inch meatballs.
  • Add to the sauce

I haven't eaten meatballs in years - as you know I was a vegetarian for years and ground meat was the last meat I started eating again. I LOVED these. Look at how they looked once I cut into one -

I think using a mixture of meats is key for flavor and texture, and I loved the bits of onions and peppers in the meatballs.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Barley Risotto with Marsala and Porcini Mushrooms


It's no secret that Jon and I both love risotto. So I was very intrigued when I saw this recipe for Marsala Barley Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms and Peas on Elly's blog.

I omitted the peas, and changed just a few things about the recipe based on methods I normally use for cooking traditional risotto. My changes are in italics below.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • 1 large shallot or half a small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary (I didn't use this)
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1/3 cup marsala wine
  • 2-3 cups vegetable or chicken broth, kept warm on the stove (I used 4 cups chicken broth plus 1 c water)
  • 1/4 cup peas (I didn't use peas)
  • 1/4 cup grated romano (or parmesan) cheese
  • Added: 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, mostly for color

Directions

  • Add 1.25 cups boiling water to the mushrooms and allow them to reconstitute for about 10
    minutes. I didn't do this. Instead, I heated my 4 c broth and 1 c water and added the mushrooms to the pot. After 10 minutes I removed the mushrooms and chopped them. This is what I usually do when cooking risotto with dried mushrooms. I like how it flavors the broth, too.
  • Meanwhile, heat a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat and add the oil and
    butter until melted together.
  • Stir in the shallot and garlic, and cook until tender.
  • Coarsely chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan along with the barley and
    rosemary. Stir a few times until the barley turns a little golden.
  • Add the marsala and cook until almost completely evaporated. Turn the heat to medium-low.
  • Add about 1 cup of the broth/soaking mixture to the barley and cook, stirring frequently,
    until it's almost completely absorbed. Add more broth and continue this step until the barley is tender and chewy, but still a little firm in the center. You should still have some liquid in the pan—you don't want it to be ALL absorbed. Note: This process took about 40 minutes - about double the time I spend adding liquid to traditional arborio rice risotto.
  • Stir in the peas and heat through. Didn't do this - added parsley instead.
  • Off the heat, stir in the parmesan cheese and season to taste if necessary.

This barley version of risotto was SO rich! It was sweet from the marsala but woody from the mushrooms at the same time. I loved it, although Jon wasn't sure about the texture.

Using barley is an interesting twist on risotto, and I am very glad I tried it. I'll do it again, and now that I know it takes a lot longer than traditional risotto, I'll be prepared for the extra cooking time.

Marinade for Steaks


Grilled steaks and risotto - that's a perfect combination in our house.

We usually grill filet mignon, but Jon picked up some NY Strip Steaks instead. The steaks seemed a little tough, so he created a marinade for them.

The steaks marinated in this mixture for about 6 hours.

  • 2 oz olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1.5 oz scotch (he used Johnny Walker Red)

One hour before grilling, he added 3 dashes Worcestershire.

This marinade was delicious, and sweeter than we both expected (in a good way!). Also, the steaks became much more tender than they would have been if we didn't marinate them.

I served the steaks with barley risotto and sauteed spinach.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Balsamic Chicken Over Cous Cous with Baby Spinach


Over the past 7 days I have traveled to 3 cities for work, so I haven't been too creative with dinner or coming up with my own creations. Instead, I'm following recipes.

Last night I made a recipe I have had bookmarked for a while,
Balsamic Chicken with Baby Spinach. This recipe is by Ellie Krieger, a Food Network chef known for her ultra-healthy meals. I made a few minor changes, but still kept this a very healthy meal.
My changes are noted in italics below.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth, plus 2 more for the cous cous (or whatever the back of the box says for liquid - I used broth instead of water)
  • 1 cup low-sodium canned chopped tomatoes with juice
  • 2 cups whole wheat couscous, cooked - I used regular cous cous and cooked it differently. See below for instructions. In addition to cooking it in broth, I added 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 tbsp grated onion and 2 pinches red pepper flakes.

Directions

After reading Ellie's instructions, I completely changed the order of cooking. I didn't want to cook the garlic with the chicken, but rather in the sauce. Also, I knew the spinach would be completely cold if I followed her directions. Overall it didn't make much sense to me!! What I did is below. For her method, see the above link.

  • Heat olive oil in a saute pan
  • Pound chicken thin and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dredge lightly in flour, shaking off excess. I like how the chicken crisps when dredged in flour.
  • Add chicken to pan and cook about 4-5 minutes per side.
  • Remove from pan and keep warm.
  • If pan is dry, add just a touch of olive oil. Add garlic to pan and saute 2 min.
  • Add 1/3 c chicken broth and balsamic vinegar, bring to a simmer. I wanted more sauce, so I added a bit more broth.
  • Add tomatoes and their juices and bring to a steadier simmer. Return chicken to pan and let simmer 5 minutes.

Cous Cous

I wanted to give the cous cous more flavor. Instead of cooking it according to the directions on the box, I did the following -

  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pot.
  • Add onions, garlic, and 2 pinches red pepper flakes. Saute 2-3 minutes.
  • Add 2 c broth (or follow the back of the box for the correct amount of liquid) and bring to a boil.
  • Add cous cous, stir, remove from heat, and cover. Let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

I put cous cous on my plate first and placed the chicken on top. I then poured the sauce over both. The sauteed spinach - baby spinach sauteed for 2-3 min in olive oil - was a nice side.

I loved this. Simple, tasty, and healthy with a lot of flavor.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

More Fish - Baked Basa


Tonight I planned on making barramundi for Jon and found this recipe (scroll down to the second recipe listed) for Baked Barramundi. When I got to the market, they didn't have barramundi, but they did have basa swai, the fish we made last week. And since I'm trying really hard to eat fish more often, I was happy to find something that I knew I liked.

I used the recipe for Baked Barramundi for the Basa.

Ingredients

  • One fillet barramundi (I used 2 basa filets)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Three cloves garlic
  • One fresh chili (I didn't have a chili, so I used a few shakes of red pepper flakes on each filet)
  • ½ cup fresh parsley (I used about 3 tbsp)
  • ½ cup fresh shallots (my market was out of shallots so I used 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion)
  • One fresh lemon
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • Cracked black pepper to taste

Directions

  • Lay a bed of foil in a baking dish and lay the fish on the foil (I put the filets on separate pieces of foil)
  • Cover with olive oil and white wine.
  • Spread minced garlic, finely chopped chili, chopped parsley and shallots on and around the fillet.
  • Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the barramundi and add some cracked black pepper.
  • Fold the foil around the fish and place in preheated oven at 375 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes.

The Basa is such a light fish without much flavor, so these ingredients worked perfectly. I served the fish over some rice and with a side of roasted asparagus.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Fried Chic Peas


We picked up some broccoli rabe today and I had planned on making a dish I make often, Pasta with Broccoli Rabe. It's quick, easy, and delicious. Sometimes I change it up and add sausage, like in this dish, Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe.

I was looking for something a little different, so decided on this recipe for Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Fried Chic Peas. I made a few changes, noted in italics below.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta (little ear-shaped pasta) or penne (I couldn't find orecchiette, so I used medium shells, about 10 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 15 1/2-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), well drained (I only used 1 can and it was more than enough)
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh sage (I didn't have sage, and wanted something bolder, so used 6 cloves sliced garlic instead of the 4 listed above)
  • 1 1-pound bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • Added: 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Directions

  • Cook orecchiette in large pot of boiling salted water until pasta is tender but still firm to bite. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.
  • Meanwhile, melt butter with olive oil in another large pot over high heat.
  • Add garlic and stir 30 seconds.
  • Add garbanzo beans and sauté until garbanzo beans are beginning to color, about 8 minutes.
  • Add half of sliced fresh sage and sauté 1 minute to blend flavors. This is when I added the red pepper flakes.
  • Add broccoli rabe, wine, and 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid to pot. Cover and simmer until broccoli rabe is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Uncover and add pasta, remaining sage, and Parmesan cheese; toss to combine.
  • Mix in more of reserved cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls if pasta is dry.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer to large bowl and serve.

I enjoyed this. Jon was a bit freaked out by the texture of the chic peas, but I liked that they added a bit of protein to this vegetarian meal.





Sunday, March 1, 2009

Roast Chicken Breasts with Garbanzo Ragout and Gremolata



We had my parents over for dinner tonight. Whenever they come over, I like to try something new. And since it's Sunday, I had a lot of time to spend in the kitchen.

Earlier in the day I made this roasted tomato soup that we enjoyed before dinner. I found the recipe for our main course, Roasted Chicken with Garbanzo Ragout and Gremolata, on my favorite web site for recipes, Epicurious.

There isn't anything difficult about this recipe, but there are a lot of things to prep. I took advantage of the "can be made up to 4 hours in advance" notes in the recipes and did all the prep I could in the afternoon.

Ingredients

For the Garbanzo Ragout

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (about 8 ounces), chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed, drained
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons Creole mustard (I couldn't find this so used a recommended substitution, coarse ground Dijon mustard)
  • 2 2x3-inch pieces beef jerky
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs (thyme isn't Jon's favorite flavor so I used just a pinch of dried thyme)

For the Gremolata

(Note, I did not follow the recipe for the gremolata; see the above link for the original recipe. Instead, I made a traditional gremolata based on what I had seen on episodes of Top Chef).

  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed

For the Chicken

  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese (we are not Feta fans so I used Parmesan cheese that I chopped into tiny pieces)
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless French bread (I used storebought breadcrumbs)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil (I used olive oil)
  • 4 6- to 8-ounce skinless boneless chicken breast halves

Directions

For ragout

  • Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Add onion and garlic and sauté until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes.
  • Add 2 cups broth and remaining ingredients. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until thickened and flavors develop, adding more broth by tablespoonfuls if too dry, about 25 minutes. Remove jerky. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

For gremolata

Mix all ingredients in small bowl. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

For chicken

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Using on/off turns, blend feta (Parmesan), breadcrumbs, olive oil, and lemon juice in processor until smooth. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
  • Heat canola oil (olive oil) in heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Add chicken to skillet and cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Remove pan from heat.
  • Divide breadcrumb mixture among chicken breasts, spreading to cover top of chicken.
  • Transfer pan to oven and roast until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, rewarm ragout. Divide among 4 shallow bowls. Top each with chicken breast.
  • Sprinkle gremolata over.

I served the chicken with sauteed spinach and garlic smashed potatoes.

I loved every single thing about this! The garbanzo ragout was so smoky and flavorful. The gremolata was a light and fresh topping, and the bread crumb mixture was so good, and totally not what I expected! Look how it crisped up on the chicken:

I would definitely make this one again, and think it is a meal that could be added to a dinner party menu to impress your guests.

Soup Sunday - Roasted Tomato Soup


It has been a while, but I was finally able to make this Sunday a Soup Sunday! I have been making other things on Sundays - stews, chicken salad to have in for the week, big dinners - but with the snow coming tonight I was in the mood for soup.

I came across
this recipe for Roasted Tomato Soup in Annie's blog. It's a very simple recipe that delivers big flavor. When tasting it you would think that I added cream, but I did not - this is a very healthy soup. The creaminess comes from pureeing the soup.

Below is Annie's recipe -

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. ripe tomatoes, cut in half, insides scooped out
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28 oz. can) whole or chopped tomatoes, with their juices
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves (or ½ tsp. dried)
  • 4 cups chicken stock (I think a vegetable broth would work well for a vegetarian option)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Toss tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Spread tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet covered in foil and roast in the oven for 45 minutes.
  • In a large stockpot over medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic with 2 tbsp. olive oil, butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes until the onions start to brown.
  • Add the canned tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 min.
  • Pass through food processor. I used my blender since my food processor is tiny, and I did it in 3 batches.
  • Return to pot to rewarm before serving

There is no need to EVER buy canned tomato soup when this recipe is so delicious and easy, and you can't find a soup this healthy in a can. I think it would be great with some fresh Parmesan grated on top, and/or some homemade garlic croutons or a side of crusty bread.

I'm looking forward to eating a cup tonight before dinner. And I think tomorrow I may have a cup with a grilled cheese sandwich - what a perfect lunch for a snow day!




Leek and Pea Risotto

Jon is always asking me to make risotto. His favorite is my basic Parmesan-Garlic Risotto. I, however, like playing around with different ingredients and flavors. Check out the risotto tag in this blog to see all of the variations I have made.

Last night I came across this recipe for Leek and Pea Risotto on the Epicurious web site. I served it with Jon's grilled, marinated pork chops.

The recipe on the Epicurious site also includes ingredients and directions for the calamari. I didn't make the calamari so the ingredients and directions below are for the risotto portion of that meal only.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced and washed
  • 1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I didn't use this)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions

  • Bring stock to a bare simmer in a medium saucepan, then keep at a bare simmer.
  • Cook leeks in 2 tablespoons oil in a 4-quart heavy pot (I used the large saucepan I always use for risotto) over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  • Add remaining tablespoon oil and rice to pot and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is coated evenly, about 1 minute.
  • Add wine and briskly simmer, stirring, until most has been absorbed, about 1 minute.
  • Add 1 cup hot stock and briskly simmer, stirring constantly, until stock has been absorbed. Continue simmering and adding hot stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next, until 1 cup stock is left, 15 to 18 minutes.
  • Add peas, leeks, and remaining cup stock and cook, stirring, until rice is just tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Stir in butter (didn't use this) and cheese, then remove from heat.

Leeks and peas - not something I would have put together on my own but it worked. This was delicious!

I love how risotto is so versatile, but it's also all based on the same basic recipe. However, each recipe can taste so different based on what you add to it - meat, seafood, different veggies, red vs white wine, cheeses, etc.

Risotto is also extremely easy to make. I always hear people saying they are scared to try it - don't be!!! I promise that if you follow the instructions, keep your broth warm, keep stirring, and taste the rice often near the end, you will end up with a perfect risotto.


Another New Marinade for Grilled Pork Chops


Jon picked up some thick, boneless pork chops on Saturday and came up with another great marinade for them.

He doesn't measure as he creates, so these amounts are approximate -
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4-1/3 c scotch
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp each ground mustard, white pepper, coriander, cumin, dried cilantro

The chops marinated for about 8 hours before grilling. Another great marinade creation! This worked well on the pork and would also be a nice marinade for chicken.