Tuesday, December 29, 2009

12/28/09 - Party Prep...baking - Sundried tomato palmiers and cheese sticks

Tonight I had some "slave labor" (self-labelled) join me in the kitchen to get some of the baking started. I decided to make a veggie lasagna and some meatballs (the meatballs were kept separate from all of the lasagna of course and I didn't use eggplant but some carrots were added to the lasagna) on sunday night while I had a little bit of spare time to cook so that I could concentrate on the appetizers tonight. My aunt bought me her favorite appetizer cook book a few months back and I am slowly moving through many of ideas. Since our New Year's Party was going to a little smaller than a usual gatherings I decided that we could try branch out from the old favorites and experiment. I still have no idea what else I will be doing but I know there is going to be something?

From hors'doeuvres by Eric Treuille & Victoria Blashford-Snell

Sundried Tomato Palmiers
3.5 sheets of puff pastry
2 jars oil packed sundried tomatoes
1/4c pine nutes
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
3 gloves garlic - smashed

egg wash

1) Place tomatoes (with oil), nuts, cheese and garlic in food processer and blend into paste
2) Roll out each sheet of pastry dough and add thin layer of pesto
3) but the sheet in half lengthwise so you have two rectangles approx 4" x 9"
4) Roll the sheet up so end meet in the middle and place roll side down on a sheet
5) refrigerate for 20 min or until firm slice each roll into 1/2" pieces
6) coat all sides in egg wash and place on a greased sheet
7) cook for 10 min in a 400F oven

Parmesean cheese sticks
1 sheet puff pastry
2 tsp paprika
3 tbsp grated parmesean
egg wash

1) lay out pasty and add 2 tbsp of cheese and paprika to entire side
2) fold in half and cut into 1/2 " strips - coat all sides with egg wash
3) twist ends around each other and lay on greased sheet
4) bake at 400F for 8 min

Both can be stored in air tight container for a few days - crisp and warm in 400F oven for 3 min before serving

I also made a batch of cheese straws from Smitten Kitchen http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/06/cheese-straws/ however one batch was rolled a bit thin so make sure your dough is 1/8" or more thick as they were better when they were a bit thicker

I didn't have any milk so I had to substitute some water..... they came out fine but I would imagine that milk is a better fit

1 1/2 c grated Cheddar cheese
4 tbsp of butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
3/4 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1-2 tbsp water (to bind)

1) add all ingredients but water to food processor and mix together
2) slowly add water until dough begins to form a ball
3) roll out into 1/8" thick rectangle and slice into 1/4" strips
4) place on greased sheet and cook at 350F for 12 -14min

these can also be stored and served room temp

Sunday, December 27, 2009

12/27/09 - White Chicken Chili

After spending the past week traveling for the holidays I returned to an empty house yesterday. I had tried to clean out the fridge before leaving so my options were limited to take out. On our trip home we stopped at my boyfriends parents house and had a heart bowl of beef soup that his mother prepared and it left me wanting to make some of my own. While I try to avoid chains like Ruby Tuesday's I have to admit it is one of the only options near my work and the salad bar and a bowl of chili seem to be better for me than running to the grease truck for a steak and cheese sub or similar. I have gotten quite fond of their white chicken chili which you can get along side the salad bar for under $10. I knew however that the chili couldn't be that difficult to replicate and perhaps a homemade version would be even better.

After taking a look around the internet I found a few places that replicated their recipe. I had to make a run out to the store to get myself ready for the week ahead (and our New Year's Eve eve party on wednesday night).
I had a hard time finding the diced chili peppers so I stuck with the jalapenos and added a few shakes of crushed red pepper.

White Chicken Chili
3 cans canellini beans - rinsed and drained
6 chicken tenders - cooked and diced
2 c chicken broth
1/2 green pepper - diced
1/2 red onion diced
3 scallions - diced
1 jalepeno - diced (seeds removed)
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp oregeno
1 tbsp chili powder
salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
sour cream
2% mexican cheese blend

1) add oil to pan and saute onions until translucent
2) add diced peppers & scallions and seasoning
3) add beans to pan along with broth and chicken- bring to a boil
4) use a potato mashers to squish some of the beans
5) continue to simmer uncovered and allow to thicken
6) when serving stir in about 1 tbsp cheese and top with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro

Thursday, December 17, 2009

12/14/09 - Chicken Rolatini

This is an easy but fun dish that always a great idea when you have company as it seems a bit fancier than it is (though I have to admit with out some pasta or rice my plate is looking a little empty!) The easiest way to make this is to use the chicken breasts labeled as "thin- sliced" in the meat department but you can always butter-fly and pound out a standard boneless breast if you don't have access to them.

Chicken Rolatini w Marsala mushroom sauce
6 thin sliced chicken breasts
1/2 tub garlic & herb cheese spread (like rondele)
6 slices of proscuitto
6 toothpicks (to secure chicken breasts closed)
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil

8 oz white button mushrooms
1/2 c marsala wine
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter
5 slices of pancetta - diced
salt, pepper, oregeno, garlic powder, parsley

1) On a flat surface, spread cheese over 2/3 of chicken breast surface and top with prosciutto
2) Roll and secure with a toothpick to keep closed
3) Repeat with remaining chicken breasts
4) In a large pan (that can go into the oven....so no plastic handles!) heat oil and butter.
5) Heat oven to 350 F
6) Place chicken rolls in the pan and sear on each side approx 5 min
7) Place entire pan in the oven and cook 10-15 min or until chicken is cooked throughout
8) While chicken is finishing in oven, in another pan cook pancetta
9) Add mushrooms and butter
10) Once melted sprinkle flour on top and make a roux by combining
11) Add marsala wine and seasoning
12) Serve chicken with a spoon full of sauce on top

12/13/09 - Late Night Gnocchi

It was too late to start defrosting some meat for dinner but it was too early to go to bed hungry. Luckily I have some frozen homemade pasta in the freezer for just these types of occasions. This dish was a simple fast fresh sauce made with some left over vegetables and some canned crushed tomatoes with a bit of seasoning. It doesn't have the flavor of a sauce that has cooked all day long but sometimes all you need is a little something warm in your belly!

Fast Homemade Sauce
6-7 mushrooms - sliced
1/2 green pepper - diced
2 shallots - sliced thin
5 sun-dried tomatoes - cut into ribbons
2 cloves of garlic - smashed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 c crushed tomatoes
1/4 c marsala wine
salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil, oregano and parsley

1) Over medium heat, saute garlic and shallots in oil
2) Add peppers and cook until soft
3) Add sundried tomatoes and marsala wine - cook until softened
4) Add tomatoes, mushrooms and seasoning
5) Bring to a simmer and then serve over pasta

(I also think that olives would be a great addition to this sauce but some one in my house is anti-olive!)

Friday, December 11, 2009

12/10/09 - Christmas Cookie Spectacular

With the Channukah party in full effect last night I had to stick a bit of Christmas into the night. I have been wanting to have a cookie decorating party since I know that after a few glasses of wine the creative juices are at their best.... or so we might think!

As always I woke up to a giant mess but all the laughs last night are worth all the dirty dishes (especially when you aren't the one who has to do them! thanks Jeremy!) Quite a few cookies met an untimely fate before the camera snapped them and final count was only about a dozen survivors! The recipe called for 40-50 cookies which makes me wonder where the other 30 something went!

I used a sugar cookie recipe from seriouseats.com who took it from The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet

2 1/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 stick butter in 1/2" chunks
2 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla

1) combine all of the dry ingredients and add butter - mix till in small pea sized balls
2) Blend yolks and vanilla together and mix into mixture
3) Keep mixing until it forms a ball
4) Cut in half and roll each half into a disk between 2 sheets of wax paper - place in fridge for 30 min
5) Remove from fridge and roll out even thinner (cookie thickness) and place in fridge again for 30 min
6) Remove and cut out shapes (using cutters) and place on greased cookie sheet
7) cook at 350 F for 10 min or until browned

Thursday, December 10, 2009

12/10/09- Tree Trimming Latke Party

This weekend starts the holiday of Hannukah but since I have some plans I decided to have some people over to help decorate the tree and enjoy some holiday festivities. The brisket that I made for the last holiday (Rosh Hashanah...which we also celebrated on our own schedule) was just so good and the weather so cold that I couldn't help but cook it again. I started it last night and let it sit and cool while I was sleeping/at work today then heated it back up right in the same pan (enameled cast iron) after slicing it against the grain.

I used the same recipe as I did for Rosh Hashanah however since I made (with some real life jewish help) latkes, which are traditional potato pancakes I didn't make the sweet potatoes and carrots. After using the mandolin to matchstick about 3 lb of potatoes I realized that the food processor I had just received for my birthday was much better suited to the job. So I re-shredded everything and added a lot more matzoh and flour than I expected. They were a big hit with everyone, however, so I think that it all worked out.

taken from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Grandma-Ethels-Brisket-with-Tzimmes-231787

5 lb first cut brisket
2 can beef broth
1 c sherry
1 tbsp oil
salt, pepper and "steakhouse" herb grinder blend
1 c raisins

1) In a large dutch over heat oil. Pat brisket dry and season all sides with salt, pepper, and herb blend.
2) Sear each side of the brisket (about 7 min each side)
3) Add liquids and place in 350F oven for 3 hrs covered - add raisins for last hour
4) Meat should be ready to shred but still solid - remove from heat and leave uncovered to cool
5) Refrigerate over night
6) Skim fat off and remove meat from liquid and slice against the grain.
7) Return meat to pan, cover and heat at 350F for at least 1 hr

Potato Latkes
6 med russet potatoes (about 3 lbs)
1 onion
2 eggs
4 tbsp matzoh meal
4 tbsp flour
salt & pepper

1 c vegetable oil (for frying)
apple sauce
sour cream

1) Using a food processor (or large holes in a grater) shred the potatoes and onion
2) In a large bowl mix eggs, potato, onion and matzoh together - add flour until it becomes tacky enough to form clumps, season with salt & pepper
3) In a frying pan with hot oil, place about 2 tbsp of mixture, repeat in clockwise direction (I could fit like 5 in the pan at once but it all depends on your pan size)
4) After about 5 min, gently flip over
5) Remove from oil and absorb excess oil on a paper towel
6) Serve hot with side of applesauce and/or sour cream

(if you want to get creative you can add carrot or sweet potato as well)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

12/9/09 - Chicken Marsala w Fettucini

Yikes it been exactly a month since I posted anything and in actuality I have only cooked a few times in all of that (except for a marathon butternut ravioli session thanksgiving eve). But I am hoping to work on that in the next few weeks when I am actually going to be home. With the holidays almost here I am excited to get started on making some goodies!

Tonight I made an old favorite that I haven't made in forever, Chicken Marsala. I bought some Marsala wine a few months back when I visited one of the mammoth liquor in the 'burbs and sort of forgot about it until this weekend when I made my first visit to a giant liquor store that opened nearby me which got me thinking.
I served the chicken with some fresh (well frozen) pasta I had made while assembling the ravioli earlier this month. I do wish that my head wasn't elsewhere (tomorrows brisket) when I began cooking tonight as I forgot about the bag of shallots I bought earlier this week till after dinner was on the table. This dish definitely could have used a bit more seasoning in it as the sauce was a bit light... maybe some fresh herbs would have helped too? Speaking of seasoning a friend mentioned today that she uses 6+ heads of garlic a week! I think maybe I need to spice things up a bit as I only use a measly one (on average) though I do use almost a mill full of peppercorns a week! How is your hand with the spices?

Chicken Marsala
1 container button mushroom - cleaned and sliced
6 thin sliced chicken breasts (or 3 large butterflied)
1/2 c flour
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil
2 gloves garlic - smashed
Salt & pepper
1 c marsala wine

1) Mix flour, parsley, salt and pepper together and coat chicken breasts
2) In large pan heat oil and butter together, add garlic clove
3) Saute chicken in pan - flip once browned (5 min each side)
4) Remove chicken from the pan and add the mushrooms and wine
5) Let simmer until thickened
6) Add chicken back into the pan and coat with wine sauce