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Archive for January, 2007

Light Chicken Parmesan from Jan/Feb 2007 Everyday Food magazine.

You will need two slices whole grain bread, torn into pieces; 1 T. grated parmesan cheese, 1 t. olive oil; coarse salt and ground pepper; 2 T. AP flour; 1 egg white; 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts; 3/4 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese; 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes; 1 garlic clove, minced.

Preheat the oven to 425. In a food processor, place the bread, parm cheese, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Process until coarse crumbs are formed, place in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, place the flour, and in a third, the egg white. Whip the white with a fork until frothy and season the flour with salt and pepper. Dip the top of each chicken breast first in the flour, then the egg white and then the crumbs, pressing the crumbs firm. Place on a foil covered baking sheet and bake until crumbs are crisp and browned, about 10 minutes. Top with cheese and bake until lightly browned, about 2-4 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, place tomatoes and break them up with a spoon. Add garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook until thickened, about 6-8 minutes. Serve chicken with a generous amount of tomato sauce.

I skipped the tomato sauce as I wasn’t in the mood. And instead of the flour, I used seasoned cornmeal, for the heck of it. I left the bread slices out on the counter all afternoon to dry slightly as they were pretty fresh, then before processing them, they were toasted to make them even drier and the resulting crumbs were perfect. I also used fresh mozzarella instead of shredding a block of it. Fresh is best, I say.

On the side I served whole wheat pasta (Ronzoni’s multi grain spaghetti) with garlic herb oil. For the oil, finely slice two cloves of garlic and put them in about 1/3-1/2 c. olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add a teaspoon or two of red pepper flakes and about 2 teaspoons of dried basil with a shake of oregano, dry parsley and maybe some rosemary, and saute slowly until the garlic is slightly browned. Toss with your favorite pasta. For our vegetable, we ate baby carrots.

The chicken, as I said, was delicious. The crumbs were crisp and very flavorful, the chicken perfectly cooked. There was no heaviness of it being fried, which Mike liked a lot. Griffin even gave it two thumbs up, saying that dredging it through the blue cheese dressing he got out for his carrots was really good too. The pasta was light and garlicky without making us vampire-proof, and the two together was a great match. Now if Martha keeps coming up with such good stuff in her magazine, she might get on my good side eventually. Eventually.

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Hoisin Beef Noodles

8-oz whole wheat or soba noodles (sub any other variety you wish- I used Ronzoni multi-grain spaghetti, my favorite); 8-oz flank steak, cut into thin strips; 1 medium red pepper, cored and sliced thin; 1/2 bag frozen sweet baby peas (or equivalent of edamame); 1 T. fresh ginger, minced; 3 T. fresh squeezed lime juice; 3 T. hoisin sauce; 1-2 t. chili garlic sauce; 1 t. cornstarch. Oil for stir-frying, cilantro for garnish if desired.

In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, hoisin, chili garlic sauce and cornstarch. Set aside.

Bring a pot of water to boil for pasta. Add noodles and cook until al dente. Drain. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil and add steak, cook over medium-high heat stirring often until just barely cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. Remove to bowl with tongs. Put pepper slices in pan with juices and cook, stirring continually, for about 2-3 minutes. Add peas (or what you are using) and cook about 2 minutes. Add ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Add meat back with any accumulated juices to skillet, along with sauce mix. Stir to combine and cook until thick, about a minute or two. Pour over cooked noodles and stir to combine. Top with cilantro if desired.

This was a yummy and quick meal, the tang of the lime juice and the bite of the chili garlic sauce complemented each other well. I think I would add a little more hoisin next time I make it, and probably some other vegetables. It was very good but I thought it needed something more, and lord knows there is hardly a recipe that crosses my countertops that I am not looking at immediately and wondering how I can make it better, tastier, more flavorful or prettier. The meat was very tender and delicious, and would have been better with some seasoning or a quick marinade to bump up the flavor a tad.  But we enjoyed it, even Griffin who has a bad cold and can’t taste anything too well. A thumbs up for us, likely a repeat in our menu repertoire.

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Last night I made this recipe from the December issue of Food and Wine. I am always on the lookout for new ways to cook pork as it’s one of our favorite meats to eat, and depending on what cut you get, can be  plenty cheap. I bought bone-in chops for this even though the recipe uses pork medallions.

You will need 1/4 c. finely ground gingersnaps, 2 T. AP flour, 1# pork tenderloin cut to medallions and pounded to 1″ thickness, or (like I used) three bone-in rib chops, 2 T. unsalted butter,1 T. extra virgin olive oil, 1 medium shallot, minced, 1/4 c. apple brandy (i did not use), 1 c. chicken broth, 1/2 c. apple cider, 1 T. cider vinegar and 2 T. chopped chives (again, did not use).

On a sheet of waxed paper, combine half the gingersnap crumbs and the flour; season the meat with salt and pepper and dredge in the crumbs. Melt the 1 T. of the butter with the olive oil in a large skillet, and when hot add all the pork and cook over moderate to high heat, turning once, until browned on both sides and nearly cooked through, about 6 minutes. (i cooked the bone-in chops just a bit longer, probably closer to 10). Transfer pork to a plate. Add the shallot to the pan and cook over moderate heat until translucent, about 2 minutes. If using the brandy, add it now and simmer it until it is reduced by half, about 2-3 minutes. Add the broth and apple cider and simmer until reduced to 1 cup, maybe 5-8 minutes. Add the vinegar, the remaining gingersnap crumbs and the last tablespoon of butter and cook, stirring, until thickened. Return pork to skillet and heat through. Serve with sauce and chives for garnish, if using.

The pork chops searing in the skillet

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The pork chops in the gingersnap sauce

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The finished product, served with my favorite Poblano Rice with Vegetables

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The sauce on this was sweet and tangy from the vinegar and really quite good. It got a bit thicker than I imagined it was supposed to as I let the chops cook for a bit in the sauce to insure they were fully cooked through. Once the remaining cookie crumbs go into the liquid and it thickens, it’s very smooth, but the texture on our finished chops was somewhat thick. I would certainly make it again though as we all enjoyed it a lot. Mike’s not a big ‘bone-in’ guy so I would do it again using a boneless cut. Definitely a winner!

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Tonight I made a Poblano Corn Relish from the October ’06 Food and Wine mag. It was pretty simple; in a non-stick skillet over high heat sear without stirring thin strips of one poblano pepper until slightly charred (use no oil) then add a small amount of oil and one minced shallot. Saute for 5 minutes, add two cloves minced garlic and saute 3 minutes. Add in one cup of frozen corn and cook through, about 3-5 minutes. Remove to a bowl, stir in the juice of half a lemon, a tablespoon of fresh cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Top with fresh cilantro when serving. The recipe also called for one avocado cut into chunks to be stirred in with the juice. I was guilty of using all the avocado in the guacamole earlier this week!

When I cook Tilapia, I dredge it in seasoned cornmeal and pan sear it over high heat in just a tiny amount of oil, cooking it nearly all the way through before flipping it over. This gives it a nice crunchy exterior. I served it with the simplest of veggie side dishes, Spicy Stir Fry Carrots with Peanuts from the Sara Moulton Cooks at Home cookbook.

For the carrots, you’ll need peanut oil,  one 10-oz bag of shredded/matchstick carrots, 1/2 c. finely chopped peanuts and one teaspoon red pepper flakes. Heat oil over high heat in large saute pan (enough to coat the pan), add carrots and stir to coat with oil. Stir fry (toss constantly) for about 2 minutes, add the peanuts and the pepper flakes and stir fry about 2-3 minutes more (maybe slighty longer if you use matchsticks). Easy. Done. Delicious. And it sure makes a pretty plate, doesn’t it??

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From zambezihoney.com, this 1# jar of honey cost $9.95. It’s amazing honey, rich and sweet but not cloying, with an almost smoky taste and fruity finish. It’s organic, raw and naturally created in a sustainable method, derived from a specific honeybee found along the Zambia river that feeds exclusively on the nectar of flowering trees. A few clicks of the mouse and it was at my doorstep. I don’t know if it’s sold at stores in the USA. It is way better than any honey I have ever tasted. This is what honey should taste like.

The Fruit Crisps are another product available on the ‘net (crispygreen.com), and again, I am not sure if they are in stores anywhere. I would guess natural food/co-ops etc. would be the place to look. It is all natural, freeze dried fruit that retains all it’s nutritional value. It comes in a 6-pack at $7.99, each individual pouch has about 1 cup worth of fruit in it, 35 calories per individual pouch and no fat. I bought a six-pack of peaches and apples, and was sent a sample of pineapple and apricot free of charge! Bonus! They are crisp little pieces and flavor-wise it’s a great treat. The apple were very light in flavor, similar to what we have dried in our dehydrator. I thought the apricot were somewhat tangy, Mike said they had the taste of sulphur in them but I didn’t get that when I ate them. The peach and pineapple were my favorites; the peach were fantastic, way better than the traditionally dried pieces I have bought. Light and very peach-y. The pineapple were excellent, really really flavorful and they still gave me that kind of tingly feeling in the mouth that fresh pineapple does, the chemical bromelain in the pineapple is what causes that- a natural sedative, sort of. (And something good as a natural defense against mouth pain from dental work. So next time you’re getting a cavity filled, tooth pulled or some other work, eat pineapple or drink the juice before and after. Trust me, from experience I know) OK, enough of that! The texture of the fruit was really interesting; crispy and light, you could hold it in your mouth and it simply collapses, somewhat like popcorn does. This is a great snack, a good, healthy alternative.

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Mac and Cheese (Grant Achatz’s from Food and Wine magazine, Dec ’06)

6 thick slices of bacon, diced, 1 medium onion, minced, 2 bay leaves, 1 T. sweet paprika, ½ t. cayenne,1/3 c. AP flour, 6 c. milk, 1 # elbow macaroni, 1# extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded. Browned bread crumbs if desired.

Preheat oven to 350° and spray a 9×13 pan with non stick cooking spray

In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy, about 7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add onion and bay leaves to pan and cook until onion is softened, 5 minutes. Stir in paprika and cayenne until fragrant. Add in flour and stir to incorporate. Slowly whisk in milk until smooth. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, stirring frequently for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Boil water and cook pasta until just soft. Drain. Stir all but approximately one cup of cheese into the sauce, stirring well. Add in bacon. Pour over macaroni and mix well. Spread mac and cheese in baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbling. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Broccoli (from Everyday Food, Jan/Feb 2007)

1# small shape pasta (i used orriechiette)

3 chicken sausage links, cut to bite size

2# broccoli (or broccoli rabe) cut into bite size

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 c. white wine

1/8 c. good olive oil

Salt, fresh ground black pepper, fresh whole nutmeg

Heat salted water for pasta. In a large saute pan, sear sausage until browned; add garlic, stir and cook for one minute, pour in wine. Allow to boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes. Pour into a bowl. Add broccoli to pan and cook, stirring occasionally until bright green. Add about 1/2 c. water and cover to steam until broccoli is fork tender but still somewhat firm. Add sausage back to saute pan with liquid, toss to coat broccoli. Cook pasta to taste, then drain. Add sausage and broccoli to pasta and toss well to coat. Season with salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh whole nutmeg grated over the top. Serve with parmesan/asiago/romano cheese if desired

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What a great meal! It had good flavor but not really overwhelming or anything. There was the tang of the wine, the flavor of the seasonings, the sausage and good broccoli. It was light, hearty and best of all, really really easy. I would make it again, maybe add more vegetables and make the sauce more noticeable. Any time I can cook with some good wine is all right with me. I liked the flavor that a good olive oil gave to the sauce, a nice rich taste but without the heaviness of butter. (I do LIKE butter, don’t get me wrong, but….y’know, my personal poundage and all isn’t really where I would like it to be right now)

But that won’t stop me from jumping into the Annual Mac-n-Cheese Off that’s coming! Co-sponsored by Kevin at Seriously Good and Cookiecrumb of I’m Mad and I Eat, bloggers have been challenged to post their best scratch Mac-n-Cheese recipe, complete with ooozing cheesy photos to make everyone drool. So stay toooooooned……..!!!!!!

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