Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chicken Piccata

This is a classic dish. It's simple. Very few ingredients, and very easy to make. The best part about it is you actually could make it for one person. However, last night my Dad was in town from Virginia, and I needed something quick and easy to make. This is also a great recipe for a big group as well. That's the good thing about pasta. You can make it for one person, or twenty people.
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts halved lengthwise, pounded thin
1/2 flour seasoned with salt and pepper
3-4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour, and sautee in hot oil for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown.
Remove the chicken from the pan onto a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
Turn the heat down to medium low and add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the chopped garlic. Cook the garlic for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. If the garlic starts to burn, add more oil.
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup white wine (whatever you're drinking while cooking)
1 and 1/2 cups chicken broth
Zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Capers (use as many or as little as you like)
Add the flour to the garlic/olive oil and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the white wine and scrape the pan with a wire whisk to loosen all the brown yummy bits.
Add the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, and capers.
Turn the heat up and bring the sauce to a bubbly simmer for about 5 minutes, and season with salt and pepper.
Add the chicken breasts to the sauce, and cook another 5-10 minutes (depending on how thin your chicken is).
Arrange the chicken over cooked pasta, dump the sauce all over it, and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesean cheese and fresh parsley.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cherry Crumb Pie

I can't seem to stop making pies. I don't really eat them, one or two slices maybe, then I give the rest away to people at work, or take them to a party. There's something about making a pie that comforts me. When I'm a little sad, making a pie always cheers me up. Maybe it's the way I work with my hands to form a perfect crust, which by the way, I think I've finally mastered. (Thanks to Smitten Kitchen Deb!) This recipe actually was inspired by Miss Smitten since she posted it the day after I made homemade cherry compote, or pie filling if that's what you want to call it. I had gotten some tart cherries from the Monroe Farm Market, and they were starting to ripen, and I either had to cook them, or freeze them. I also had a bag of sweet cherries leftover from the wine and jazz festival (thanks Jer), so I thought, why not combine them? Kind of a "sweet and sour cherry compote"? I don't think tart cherries are available fresh anymore (they're only available for about two weeks), but you can buy them canned at the grocery store, or here at Montmorency. See Deb's link above for pie crust. I'll admit laziness though, I don't make it by hand, I'm all about the food processor. Sour Cherry Compote (adapted from Gourmet 2001) 2 lb fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted (do this the night before with a bottle of wine and a good movie, cause it WILL take that long) 1 cup sugar 3 tablespoons cornstarch 1 cup water 1 teaspoon vanilla Pit cherries over a bowl to catch any juices. Whisk together sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan, then add water and any cherry juice, whisking until smooth. Add cherries and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring. Boil, stirring, 2 minutes, then drain in a sieve set over a bowl. Return the liquid to saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally, until syrup is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in vanilla, then pour syrup over cherries in a bowl and cool. Form pie crust in pie pan, and poke many holes with a fork on bottom of the crust. Brush entire crust with egg wash (one egg white with 2 tablespoons cold water). Add the cooled pie filling. Topping (adapted from Deb's Smitten Kitchen) 1 cup quick oats 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 3/4 cup unsalted sliced almonds, roughly chopped 1 stick unsalted butter cool, but not cold Combine all the ingredients for the topping in a bowl with your hands. I've tried the food processor with this, it just turns into a mealy want CHUNKS of butter and sugar. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes, until the top begins to brown, then cover LOOSELY with foil (otherwise it'll get soggy), and cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pie Sunday

Ok so I'm not sure what's come over me lately. I've acquired practically an overnight obsession with pie. If you remember from a past post, I'm not that much of a sweets person. Give me mashed potatoes and gravy or mac and cheese for dessert anytime. At least, that's what I thought. I spent six hours in the kitchen yesterday making two pies: Peach Blueberry and Chocolate Cream. What's going on? I don't understand it. And another wierd thing: I've listened to nothing but bluegrass music for the last week. It's on my iPod, my home XM Radio, and my in my car. I've also been having these daydreams lately about living on a farm. Maybe it's because I've been thinking a lot about my grandmother lately. She didn't live on a farm, but she had a garden, and she lived a simple but wholesome life.
I've also been thinking about this farmer I met a few months ago. I'm not going into personal details here. Those of you who know me well enough, you know the story, and what I've been trying to find out about it. I also can't get the movie "Food, Inc." out my head. Seriously, if you haven't seen this movie, watch it. I'm not kidding, it will change the way you see and think about the food you eat.
Lately I've just wanted to get back to simpler things. And what could be more simple than working with fresh ingredients, and making a pie? So, I spent Sunday afternoon making pies. It was kind of nice actually. It was so breezy outside, and a few thunderstorms with sunshine peeping through. Music on, TV off, windows was a good Sunday.
Now what does a single girl do with two whole pies? Well, after pictures and a big self-pat on the back, I took them to work and shared them. I'll admit it's nice to hear "wow that pie sure tastes good!", but really I think I just like to share my "food love" with other people. I think that's why I have dinner parties so much, or just randomly cook for people. Food makes people feel good, especially when it's made with love. ((insert warm fuzzy feelings here))
Peach Blueberry Pie
For Crust: I'm not even going to claim this pie crust recipe. If you're not aware of the blog "Smitten Kitchen", go check it out. Her photographs alone are worth a look. Deb's All Butter Really Flakey Pie Dough is the best recipe I've found so far. I never doubt her, and neither should you. After you've rolled out the dough, punch a few holes with a fork in the bottom pie shell, and brush with eggwash.
For Filling: 3 cups peeled and sliced peaches 2 cups organic blueberries 1 tablespoon lemon zest 1/3 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup white sugar 1/4 cup all purpose flour 1 teaspoon vanilla Mix all the filling ingredients, and let them sit about a half hour. When filling the pie crust, use a slotted spoon as a lot of liquid will come off the fruit. This will keep the pie from being too runny. You could do a lattice top which takes a lot of patience, but the end result is so pretty and totally worth it. Or you could just roll out the top layer of crust and crimp. Make sure to cut a few holes in the top to allow the steam to release. Bake the pie at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 and bake for another 30 minutes. Then, cover the pie LOOSELY with foil, and bake for another 30 minutes. Make sure to let it completely cool. It'll be hard to resist I know, but you can wait. Chocolate Cream Pie
For the crust:
2 cups chocolate grahm cracker crumbs
7 tablespoons butter melted
1/4 cup sugar
Combine all the crust ingredients and press into a 9" pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, and let cool.
For the filling:
2/3 cup sugar 1/4 cup cornstarch 1/2 teaspoon salt 4 large egg yolks 3 cups whole milk 5 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), melted 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 1 teaspoon vanilla
Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolks in a saucepan until combined well, then add milk in a stream, whisking. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 1 minute (the filling will be thick like pudding). Check out the fancy video...
Force filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then whisk in chocolates, butter, and vanilla. Cover surface of filling with a buttered round of wax paper and cool completely, about 2 hours. Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least 6 hours. For topping : 3/4 cup chilled heavy cream 1 tablespoon sugar
Top the pie just before serving and sprinkle with chocolate chips.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring Strawberry Pie

This week I've been thinking about what we eat, and where our food comes from. When I was a young girl, my grandmother's basement was chock full of canned goods that she canned from her garden. She had green beans, bread and butter pickels, dill pickels, tomatoes, apples, apple sauce, apple butter, corn, beets, yellow squash, and on and on. All of these came straight out of her garden. We always had "fresh" green beans at Thanksgiving. Oh how I wish she would've taught me how to can and preserve food. I'm sure she would have been delighted to show me too. Had I known then what I know now, I would've come down from that apple tree in her backyard that I spent HOURS in as a child, and paid a little more attention to her working in the kitchen. So, I called my mother last night, and she's going to teach me how to can. I don't have an acutal garden, but I'm planting a few things this year to get the feeling for it: herbs, tomatoes, lettuces and some hot peppers. Spring is here, and the strawberries looked AMAZING at the store. I've decided to master the art of the pie this year. I think my friends and co-workers will be pleased since I'll be giving away all the test pies (minus a piece or two).
When someone says "strawberry pie", I immediately think of cardboard crust, unripened strawberries, and red gooey glue. Okay, I think of Shoney's. Yuck. I've never understood why someone would want to eat that red gooey glue. Here's the ingredients: High fructose corn syrup, water, strawberries, corn syrup, modified cornstarch, citric acid, cellulose gel, FD&C red#40, FD&C yellow #6, potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate (preservatives), salt, sodiumcitrate, artificial flavor. No thanks. I'll stick with the filling with five ingredients I can pronounce. I have to say, I was pretty damn proud of myself on this one.
For the crust, any recipe will do really. You could even buy store bought frozen crust ((GASP)), but I wouldn't tell anyone. Just buy two, because you'll need one for the bottom, and one to make the lattice. I didn't have an actual rolly thing to cut the dough into pretty strips, so I just used a knife. Before baking, brush the crust with eggwash and sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons of sugar. That gives it a nice rich golden color, and a slightly sweet crunch.
For the filling:
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons minute tapioca (this keeps the pie less runny)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
5 cups sliced and diced fresh strawberries
Stir the filling ingredients. Place in pie shell. I think you could even do this non-lattice (is that a word? ha!) Brush with eggwash and sprinkle with sugar. Cover LOOSELY with foil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake for another 30-35 minutes until the fruit is bubbly. Don't forget to put a baking pan of some kind on the rack below the pie to catch splatters and drips. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream if you want, but I just ate it plain.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Poached Egg

I've had an organic sweet potato/yam on my counter for at least a month. Also, I've just recently discovered that ORGANIC groceries last longer than non-organic. My friend E and I were discussing organic milk this past weekend. I told her that I had just bought a carton of organic milk with a "best by" date of April 6. She said, "Nuh-uh! No way". I'm going to have to do a little more research on the shelf-life of organic items. You'd think the stuff with hormones, pesticides, and chemicals would last longer. I'll let you know what I find out.
Here in Charleston, we have a great little pizza place nestled in a quiet neighborhood which operates out of a cracker box house called Lola's. Their Sweet Potato Salad inspired the one I made last night. I've been trying to eat a little healthier lately. I'm trying to incorporate more veggies and whole grains into my daily nom-nom-ing. This salad turned out to be more delicious than I had anticipated. Try it, you'll dig it.
One Organic Yam/Sweet Potato diced into cubes
Two Tablespoons Olive Oil
One Clove Garlic Chopped
One Teaspoon Brown Sugar
Fresh Thyme
Fresh Ground Pepper
Mix all ingredients and roast in 400 degree oven for 25 minutes and let cool.
Mixed Baby Spring Greens
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Toasted Walnuts
Craisins (dried cranberries)
Cooked Brown Rice (cold)
Goat Cheese
One Poached Egg
Two Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar Two Tablespoons Chopped Sweet Onion Two Tablespoons Honey One Teaspoon Orange Zest
Juice from 1/2 an Orange 1/4 Teaspoon Dry Mustard 1/4 Teaspoon Salt 1/8 Cup Olive Oil Pulse first 7 ingredients in a blender or food processor until blended. With blender running, add olive oil in a slow, steady stream, processing until smooth.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Quick Tomato Sauce

About once a month, I raid my mother's bookshelf filled with just about every food magazine she's ever received. She says she "keeps them just in case she needs to find a recipe". There's 500 magazines on that bookshelf...bad for her if she's in a hurry, good for me to find new recipes! Plus, I read food magazines and cookbooks while I eat dinner. This way instead of eating alone, I get to have dinner every night with people like Emeril Lagasse, Dean & Deluca (my ALL TIME favorite cookbook), and Christopher Kimball from Cooks Illustrated (my favorite magazine), where this recipe came from the June 2009 issue. This sauce has a REALLY FRESH flavor right in the smack dead of winter. In the time it takes to open and heat a jar of spaghetti sauce you can make this in the same amount of time, and it's DEEELICIOUS. I guarantee I ate more of the sauce than the pasta**. Enjoy! 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1/4 cup grated onion 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano 3 garlic cloves minced 1 (28-ounce) can crushed organic tomatoes 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1 tablespoon dried basil 1 tablespoon olive oil fresh ground black pepper salt Heat butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add onion, oregano, and ½ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and sugar; increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in basil and oil; season with salt and pepper. **Cooking pasta for one person is difficult. It seems like I always make too much. So here's what I do with leftover cooked pasta: FREEZE IT in a ziploc bag. To "re-cook", throw it in some boiling water for 1-2 minutes. You'll never know the difference!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cast Iron Skillet Corn Bread

I just realized that it's probably pretty cruel of me to have BREAD as my first posting of the year. With all the New Year's resolutions to loose weight, this will do nothing but tempt you. But it's COLD outside. Not chilly, it's freakin' bitter a$$ cold. I did not leave my house this past weekend it was too cold. I dug deep into my freezer, and found all kinds of stuff to cook, including cornmeal. I've somehow inheirited this trait from my mother that when I open my freezer, it's so full, stuff falls out. I don't know where it all comes from, and I don't know how it got there. But what I do know is that when I'm stuck inside my house for three straight days (because I'm too much of a wimp to go outside in ten degree weather) I will not starve, and neither will you. Also, if you don't own a well-seasoned iron skillet, don't even bother making this because you WILL be disappointed. Where can you get one you ask? Go buy one today, cook everything you eat in it for the next 20 years, then make this cornbread. My iron skillet belonged to my grandmother. It was the ONE thing she owned that I had to have. This is her recipe. This is my mother's recipe. This is my recipe.
1 cup cornmeal (I prefer yellow, but white works also)
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup Crisco (the solid kind, not the liquid...I know, I know, but it's the only way to do it RIGHT and make Granny proud)
Put the Crisco in the CAST IRON SKILLET, put it in the oven, and turn the oven to 375 degrees.
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.
In another bowl, mix eggs and buttermilk, then add to the dry ingredients, stir well.
Once the crisco is melted and your pan is HOT, dump half into the batter, leave the other half in the skillet.
Stir the batter until all ingredients are mixed well, and dump into the HOT skillet.
Bake 30-45 minutes depending on how big your skillet is until lightly browned and crispy.