Sunday, June 22, 2008

Paella with Peppered Chicken, Spicy Sausage and Scallops

My first attempt at paella about 4 or so years ago was an unmitigated disaster. This one turned out perfect. Perhaps because it remained on the stove top instead of going in the oven. But I was a novice cook and the failure put me off paella for years.

This is based off a recipe I found in my Wine Lover's Cookbook. That recipe called for escargot and mussels, but neither The Spouse nor I like them, so I substituted scallops instead. Suffice to say, I'm much more confident in my cooking skills to make ad hoc substitutions without fear. Not to mention feeling confident enough to make this, essentially, a 1-pot dish.

The only bummer was I got caught up in the steps and forgot about the pepper roasting in the oven. So we didn't have that. But everything else was fantastic. Things I found were that subbing turkey Italian sausage for chorizo wasn't bad in terms of taste - if anything, the dish wasn't nearly as oily as I expected. However, next time, regardless of the type of sausage I use, I am removing the casing before sauteeing. If you have enough oil, it should hold together fine.

Paella with Peppered Chicken, Spicy Sausage and Scallops

4 large chicken thighs, skin on (I used boneless/skinless)
1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 lb sea scallops
2 spicy sausages (spicy Italian, andouille, or chorizo), cut in 1/2-inch slices
2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
2/3 cup chopped yellow onions
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 tsp saffron threads
1/2 tsp hot paprika
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/2 cup white wine
1 3/4 cups chicken stopck
1 large roasted pepper, diced
3 tbsp chopped italian parsley
3/4 cup fresh or defrosted frozen peas

Rince chicken thighs in cold water and pat dry. Rub thoroughly with 1/4 tsp salt and pepper and let rest for a few minutes before cooking.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 2/3 tbsp olive oil. Add chicken and cook on both sides until browned. Remove from pan.

Deglace pan with water, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Discard. Add remaining 2 tbsp olive oil and heat. Add in scallops and cook in oil, 1 minute each side. Remove and place with chicken. Add sausages and saute 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and onions and continue sauteing for 3 minutes. Add rice, reamining 1/4 tsp salt, saffron, paprika, and tumeric and stir to coat thoroughly. Saute for 5 minutes.

Add wine and reduce until liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. add chicken stock, raise heat slightly, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and place reserved chicken and scallops evenly throughout the pot on top of the rice. Cover the pot and cook for 17 to 18 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is al dente. Sprinkle roasted peppers, parsley and peas evernly over the tip of the paella. Cover and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes just to warm through without allowing the peas to lose their bright green color. Season to taste.

Garnish with additional sprinkling of Italian parsley. Serve at table in paella pan or divide servings in kitchen with one thight per person plus evenly divided scallops.

Wine Pairing: The Spouse and I uncorked a fantastic bottle of 2004 Ridge Lytton Springs, which was a blend of 79% zinfandel, 18% petite sirah, 3% carignane. Fantastic wine for a fabulous meal.

Braised Greens with Chipotle Vinaigrette

I found this recipe while searching for something to do with the remaining can of chipotle peppers I had in the fridge. I used a mix of collard greens, swiss chard and kale from our garden instead of mustard and turnip greens, but the same principle applies. I also just used white wine vinegar instead of sherry vinegar.

I think the vinaigrette would also make a fantastic marinade. So if you make more than you need, it would probably re-use really well.

Braised Greens with Chipotle Vinaigrette

2 1/4 cups low-salt chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
3 pounds mustard greens
3 pounds turnip greens
6 garlic cloves, minced

Combine 1/4 cup broth, vinegar, and next 4 ingredients (vinegar through chile) in a blender; process until smooth.

Remove stems from greens. Wash and pat dry; coarsely chop to measure 20 cups. Bring 1 cup broth to a boil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1 cup broth and greens; cover and cook 20 minutes or until wilted. Drain well. Serve with vinaigrette.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Stuffed Peppers with Lavender Couscous

Last December, The Spouse spent 2 weeks in India for off-shore work. About a month ago, one of the guys he met and trained in India came here to the US for more work and training. So, tonight, we extended an invitation for dinner.

The big pre-requisite for dinner was that it had to be meatless. My pre-requisite was that I was not going to make Indian food because, quite frankly, that would be silly.

We had initially thought about making my famous Vegetarian Lasagna but thought "Hey, I can cook a brand-new meal for company. Why not? If it sucks, we can always get a pizza." But it turned out great! The recipe originally called for prosciutto, but I just left it out completely.

Stuffed Peppers with Lavender Couscous

1 cup uncooked couscous
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup vegetable broth
2 tsp lavender, finely ground
3 tbsp olive oil
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
2 shallots, chopped
1/2 cup olives (such as nicoise or kalamata), cut in half and pitted
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 red bell peppers
2 yellow bell peppers
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, cut into slices

Place the couscous in a large heatproof bowl and top with butter. Bring the broth and lavender to a boil in a small saucepan and pour over the couscous. Stir, cover the bowl, and set aside for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Heat 3 tbsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the artichokes and shallots. Sautee 10 minutes for until the artichokes are soft and slightly browned. Stir into the couscous and let cool slightly. Add the olives, pine nuts, and parmesan. Stir well and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400F. Slice the bell peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and membranes. Brush the outside of the peppers with the remaining 1 tsp olive oil. Evenly divide the couscous mixture among the peppers. Place in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish, evenly distribute the mozzarella over the peppers.

Pour about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the baking dish and cover the dish loosely with foil. Bake for 40 minutes or until the peppers are very tender. Cool slightly before serving.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Risotto with Lemon Shrimp, Roasted Garlic and Goat Cheese

Last Friday we wanted just a nice, quiet meal. This suited the bill quite nicely

Risotto with Lemon Shrimp, Roasted Garlic and Goat Cheese

1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp chopped lemon zest
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp dried dill
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine

12 oz medium shrimped, peeled and deveined

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter (1 tbsp optional)
1/2 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms
2 tbsp chopped shallots
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3/4 cup white wine
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 cups hot chicken stock
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
2 tbsp roasted garlic
1 tsp minced lemon zest
2 tbsp chopped green onions

12 cherry tomatoes, optional

To make the marinade, combine all ingredients in a medium, nonreactive bowl and whisk thoroughly. Add shrimp and marinate, covered and refrigerated, for 1 to 2 hours.

Just prior to cooking the risotto, pour contents of marinade with shrimp into a medium sauce pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and just cooked through. Remove shrimp from pan with a slotted spoon and keep warm.

To make risotto, in a large saucepan over medium heat, heat olive oil and 1 tbsp butter. Add mushrooms and shallots and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add rice and continue cooking for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring continuously to coat rice with oil-butter mixture.

Carefully add the wine and lemon juice and simmer until it is nearly evaporated. Start adding the heated stock in 1/2 cup increments and slowly stir until each addition of stock is absorbed into the rice. After 2 cups have been added, taste the rice to see if it is cooked al dente. If not, continue adding small amounts of stock until rice is al dente. Add the goat cheese, roasted garlic, lemon zest, green onion, warm shrimp and 1 tbsp butter and stir thoroughly while still on heat. Serve immediately, topped with halved cherry tomatoes if desired.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak

I was out of dry sherry for this, so I subbed in white wine with a dash of dry vermouth. The chipotle gives things a nice smoky flavor. Delish.

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak

1/3 cup dry sherry
3 tbsp loss-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp chipotle in adobo sauce
2 lb flank steak

Mix all marinade ingredients together. Place flank steak in a large plastic bag. Add marinade. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours.

Preheat grill. Remove flank steak from fridge and let come to room temperature. Discard marinade. Grill steak over direct medium heat until done, about 10-25 minutes, depending on thickness of steak. Remove steak from grill and let rest under tinfoil for 5 minutes. Slice into strips, cutting across the grain.

Serve with Corn and Black Bean Salsa, cheese, salsa and tortillas.

Wine Pairing: Serve with a Zinfandel

Corn and Black Bean Salsa

Corn and Black Bean Salsa

2 ears of corn, boiled and removed from the husk
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1 bunch scallions, minced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Spray with oil. Add the vegetables and beans to the skillet, sautee, 5-10 minutes or until cooked thru. Remove from heat. Place vegetables in a large bowl, add lime juice, salt and pepper. Mix until well combined.

Asian-Marinaded Salmon

This was supposed to be grilled but I really didn't feel like fussing with it last night. So I baked it instead - turned out brilliantly.

Asian-Marinaded Salmon

2 tbsp less-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp chile paste
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ginger

1 lb salmon filet

Mix all the marinade ingredients together. Put salmon in a small baking dish, skin sidedown. Pour marinade over top, cover and refrigerate. Let marinade 1-2 hours, turning halfway thru.

Bring dish out of refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 375º. Uncover and place dish in oven. Bake at 375º for 15-20 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove skin, plate and serve.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Loyola Academy Buttermilk Bread

This is a recipe from The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking, which was my first-ever bread book. The recipes in there are relatively simple and a good start for a beginner. This is one of my absolute favorites - it makes great sandwich bread and deliciously crunchy toast. Yesterday I used well over 4 cups of flour - closer to 5 - but I had a bit more buttermilk than normal as well. I also used the Bread Proofing setting on my oven for the first time. So.Cool. Though it also cuts down on baking time - good thing I kept checking frequently. Turned out wonderful.

Loyola Academy Buttermilk Bread

1 package active dry yeast
2 cups warm buttermilk (~100-110º)
2 tsp salt
5 1/3 tbsp butter (I did just 5)
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1 cup whole wheat flouwer
3 1/2 to 4 cups unbleached flour (reserve some of this for kneading)

Combine the yeast and buttermilk in mixer bowl. Stir in the salt and butter. Gradually add wheat germ, whole wheat flour and unbleached flour, beating vigorously until the doubg pulls away from the sides of the bowl (about 10 minutes).

Turn out on a lightly floured surface. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary to prevent stickiness.

Lightly oil a large bowl with olive oil. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat on allsites. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk - about 1 1/2 hours.

Grease two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.

Punch down dough. Divide in half, shape into loaves, and place in the pans. Cover with a tea towel and let rise again until doubled in bulk - about 45 minutes.

Place in a cold oven set at 375 degrees. Bake for 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Grilled Tandoori Chicken

We've been meaning to have this dinner for a while.

Grilled Tandoori Chicken

1 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp fresh ginger
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts

Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place chicken in in a plastic bag and add marinade. Place in refrigerator for 6-8 hours.

Remove chicken from marinade, discard. Remove excess marinade from chicken. Grill for 10-15 minutes, turning halfway through. Let chicken rest about 5 minutes, then serve.