Friday, May 29, 2009

Chicken Scaloppine over Broccoli Rabe

I had originally spotted this recipe and thought the concept sounded tasty.

Then I read the recipe. Not the best way to prepare a veggie as bitter as rabe. Plus, really, how hard is it to make your own "italian" breadcrumbs?

So below is a highly modified version. No, it's not a "1-pot" dish but it tastes pretty darn good.

Chicken Scaloppine over Broccoli Rabe

1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
black pepper
salt-free italian seasoning
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast cutlets
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp butter
1 lb broccoli rabe (rapini), cut into 3-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained

Combine breadcrumbs, pepper, salt and seasoning in a shallow dish; dredge chicken in breadcrumb mixture.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and warm thru. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; keep warm.

Add wine, broth, juice, and butter to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Let simmer until slightly reduced. Stir in parsley and capers.

While chicken is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in rabe and blanch 1-2 minutes or until just tender. Drain. Add garlic to pot and sautee briefly with rabe, season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Plate rabe, top with chicken and drizzle with the wine sauce.

Wine Pairing: For highly acidic dishes like this one you should go with a acidic wine. In this case, a good Italian white wine is ideal. We had a chardonnay/pinot grigio blend from Orvieto that was very good.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Spanish Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Today was a miserably cold and wet day, more appropriate for mid-April than late-May. So it seemed appropriate to make a warm chowder for dinner. I also wanted something "spanish" to honor the UEFA Champions League finals between Manchester United and Barcelona, since The Spouse and I were both rooting for Barça... as it turned out, we were celebrating a Spanish WIN! Yay!

Taken from this recipe, I used skim milk instead of 2%, reducing the amount to just 1 cup, and increased the salt and cumin to a full teaspoon. I also made some very quick goat-cheese crostini, which actually were phenomenal with the dish.

But the biggest impact was the teaspoon of saffron I added. If you ever want to turn a dish from hum-drum to exquisite, add saffron.

"Spanish" Shrimp and Corn Chowder

2 tbsp butter
1 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 finely chopped serrano chile
1 can chopped green chiles, undrained
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup skim milk
1 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups frozen Southern-style hash brown potatoes, diced, thawed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp saffron
1 can whole-kernel corn
1 lb peeled and deveined small shrimp
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell pepper, and serrano chile to pan and sauté 2 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.

Add canned chiles to pan and cook 1 minute. Add flour to pan and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in milk and next 6 ingredients (through corn) and bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick.

Stir in shrimp. Cook 1 minute or until shrimp are done. Cover and simmer another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Ladle into bowls, top with crostini and serve.

Wine Pairing: A nice, fruity pinot grigio balances the heat of the chiles and the sweetness of the corn.

p.s. I realize that just adding saffron doesn't make this dish "spanish" but it had totally slipped my mind that the finals were tonight. ::sigh::

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cocoa-and-Chile-Rubbed Pork Chops

The Spouse had originally requested my Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops but I decided I wanted to make this one instead. It involves some techniques that really piqued my interest (brining! indirect grilling!). It was a bit cold and cloudy to grill out but that's never stopped us before, seeing as we've shoveled the grill out in times past.

I made a few changes - notably, I only brined the pork chops for 30 minutes since ours weren't as thick as the original recipe called for. I also omitted the olive oil - it didn't need it.

As far as cooking, we have a large 4-burner grill and the hottest spot is the left hand corner. To create an appropriate "cool zone," I turned the two left burners on, left the 3rd one off, and turned the 4th one on medium-low. Then I put the pork chops just to the right-of-center after the first 4 minutes. I think that this helped balance the heat a bit better and provided a nice slow, even cooking temp.

The result was a taste that was almost like a deconstructed mole and chops that was perfectly moist and juicy.

Cocoa-and-Chile-Rubbed Pork Chops

2 quarts water
1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 1/2 tsp plus 1 tbsp Kosher salt
4 boneless pork loin chops
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp ancho chile powder

In a large bowl, combine the water with the red pepper and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and stir until the salt dissolves. Add the pork chops and let brine at room temperature for 1 hour.

Light a grill and create a cool zone (for a charcoal grill, rake the coals to one side; for a gas grill, leave one side unlit). In a bowl, mix the cocoa, sugar and ancho powder with 1 tablespoon of salt.

Drain the pork chops and pat dry, removing any bits of crushed pepper. Roll the pork chops in the cocoa rub and pat to help it adhere. Grill over moderately high heat for 4 minutes, turning the chops once until lightly browned. Transfer the chops to the cool zone, cover and grill for about 15 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the chops registers 135° for medium meat. Let the chops rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Wine Pairing: Food & Wine recommended a fruity Zinfandel from Paso Robles, so I picked up a bottle from Trader Joe's called Novella. As The Spouse put it, this was a fantastic summer grilling wine and, I predict, will become a staple for summer parties to follow.

The Best Beer for Wisconsin Beer Brats

Usually the Spouse and I just grab a bottle or can of Heineken or other "crap" beer and call it a day. Generally because we don't want to waste a good beer on a batter.

I'm officially changing my tune. There is now only one acceptable beer (or style of beer) for use when making beer brats:

Fuel Cafe Stout

Fuel Cafe Stout is made here in Wisconsin by Lakefront Brewery. If you cannot get Lakefront beers where you live, find an acceptable coffee-flavored stout. Because, after years and years of making brats with skunk beer, nothing else will ever, ever do.

I've also tweaked my brat recipe a bit to better incorporate the wonderful flavor of beer. It remains true to the roots of the dish. Enjoy!

Wisconsin Beer Brats with Fuel Cafe Stout-glazed Onions

1 pkg uncooked bratwurst
1 onion, halved and sliced
1 bottle Fuel Cafe stout
1 pkg brat buns
brown mustard

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray. Add brats and sautee on both sides until lightly brown. Remove brats from heat.

Pour about 1/2 cup of the stout to hot pan to deglace. Reduce heat to a simmer and let beer cool down - about 10 minutes - until it is simmering very slightly. Add brats back in (if you add the brats in earlier they'll split from the heat) and let simmer in the beer 10 minutes, flipping once halfway thru. Remove brats from pan and reserve pan with leftover beer. Heat grill to 375º. Add brats and cook for 10 minutes, flipping once halfway thru.

While brats are cooking, return pan to heat and add onions. Sautee onions until soft and the beer has reduced to a glaze. Remove from heat and keep warm until brats are done.

Serve brats with sauteed onions and brown mustard.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Grilled Salmon with Peppercorn-Lime Rub

We love grilled salmon, though I've never made a rub for it before. I found this recipe and decided to modify it.

Grilled Salmon with Peppercorn-Lime Rub

2 tsp grated lime rind
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
4 salmon fillets
Lime wedges (optional)

Combine lime rind, salt, pepper, garlic and a splash of lime juice. Rub over the flesh of the salmon fillets and let sit for 15 minutes.

While fish is resting, preheat the grill to 400ºF. Add fish, skin-side down, and grill about 8 minutes until it flakes easily with a fork and is still somewhat pink in the middle. Tent with foil and let rest a couple minutes. Remove skin and serve.

Rosemary-Merlot Flank Steak

A quick and easy marinade that turns into a homemade steak sauce. Fabu!

Rosemary-Merlot Flank Steak

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup merlot
1 tsp dried rosemary (or 1 tbsp fresh, chopped)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp italian seasoning
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 flank steak

2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp tomato paste

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large plastic bag. Add flank steak and let marinade in the fridge for 30 mintues.

Remove flank steak from marinade, reserving the liquid. Preheat grill while meat comes to room temperature. Add steak to grill and cook 10 minutes, flipping once halfway thru. Remove steak from grill and let rest under tented foil for 5 minutes. Slice across the grain.

While steak is cooking, combine marinade, tomato paste and mustard in a medium skillet and reduce, stirring occasionally, until thickened into a steak sauce (about 1 cup). Plate steak slices and top with sauce.

I served this with Grilled Potato Chips and fresh steamed broccoli.

Grilled Potato Chips

An idea that popped in my head for dinner last night. Turned out pretty good.

Grilled Potato Chips

2 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
spray olive oil

Heat water to boiling. Add in potato slices and boil 2 minutes or until just slightly tender. Transfer to an ice-water bath to stop the cooking process.

Layer potatoes on paper towel to dry. Lightly spray with cooking oil and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the grill to 375ºF. Add potatoes directly to grate and cook for 10 minutes, flipping as needed. Remove from grill and serve.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Ultimate Tandoori Chicken Recipe

The Spouse has been requesting Tandoori Chicken for dinner once a week for the last several months. I haven't been making it that often but I think we've had it half a dozen times so far this year.

Hence, I've had a lot of time to experiment. I started with the recipe from Cook's Illustrated, which is a lovely recipe but really does not impart enough flavor of the yogurt marinade. So I started messing about with ingredients, preparation and have finally achieved Tandoori Chicken Perfection (sorry ATK).

The Ultimate Tandoori Chicken Recipe

2 tbsp vegetable oil
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 cup plain fat-free greek-style yogurt
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp kosher salt
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts

Heat oil in small skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant. Add garam masala, cumin and chili powder and cook another 30-60 seconds. Transfer half the garlic mixture to a bowl, stir in yogurt and 2 tbsp lime juice. Refrigerate mixture until needed.

Combine remaining spice mixture with salt and remaining lime juice. Rub salt mixture onto chicken and let stand at room temperature for 30-40 minutes. Place chicken in a ziplock bag, add in the yogurt mixture and close. Toss to coat chicken thoroughly and place the bag in the refrigerator. Let marinade for about 1 hour.

Remove from refrigerator and let chicken warm up. Preheat grill to 400ºF. Remove chicken from bag, making sure to leave some of the yogurt marinade on the breasts, and discard the remaining marinade. Grill chicken 10 minutes, flipping once halfway thru, until a probe inserted reads 160ºF. Remove chicken from grill, tent with tinfoil, and let rest 5 minutes. Serve with couscous and tomato & cucumber salad.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Chicken with Dark Beer

I found this recipe while poking about for new dinner ideas. Anything that involves beer, gin and fire sounds like a party to me. And when that beer is from New Belgium brewery (recently made available here in WI), it's bound to be good. We used Fat Tire, though had debated between that and 1554.

The only real problem was I'd never flambed before. So I was caught a bit by surprise when I lit the gin the first time


It turned out fantaaaaaaastic, though we had to do a 2nd pour and lighting of the gin. I consider that making up for the missed juniper berries.

Coq à la Bière

3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cut-up chicken, skin removed
1 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp dry gin
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped peeled carrot
1/2 cup chopped shallots (about 3 medium)
1 (8-ounce) package mushrooms, halved
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp parsley
1 bay leaf
1 cup dark beer
1/4 cup Greek-style yogurt
2 tsp white wine vinegar

Combine first 3 ingredients; sprinkle evenly over both sides of chicken. Heat skillet over medium heat and add butter and oil. Cook until butter is lightly browned. Add chicken to pan; sauté 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove pan from heat. Pour gin into one side of pan; return pan to heat. Ignite gin with a long match; let flames die down. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

Add celery, carrot, and shallots to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms. Place thyme, parsley, and bay leaf on a double layer of cheesecloth (a coffee filter can be used in a pinch). Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely. Add cheesecloth bag to pan. Return chicken to pan, nestling into vegetable mixture. Stir in beer; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the meaty parts of chicken registers 160°.

Discard cheesecloth bag. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Place pan over medium heat; stir in yogurt. Cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated (do not boil, as the yogurt may curdle). Remove from heat; stir in vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning, if desired. Plate chicken and top each serving with sauce and vegetable mixture.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Szechuan Tofu

In an effort to eat less meat, I dug out a similar recipe from The Joy of Cooking and, well, fixed it. But this makes a quick, healthy dinner on a weeknight

Szechuan Tofu

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp minced ginger (or 1/4 tsp ground)
1 bunch scallions, minced
Various Stir-Fry veggies (we had carrots, broccoli, pea pods, mushrooms)

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp chile paste
1 tbsp dry sherry (or white wine)
1 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp sugar

1 package firm to extra-firm tofu, pressed and diced into 1/2" pieces.

Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and heat thru. Add garlic, ginger and scallion to the pan and stir fry for 1 minute. Add vegetables of choice and stir fry 3-5 minutes or until somewhat wilty. Combine chicken broth thru sugar and then add to pan. Cook 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Add in tofu and simmer until warmed thru, about 3 minutes. Serve with rice.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ancho-Rubbed Flank Steak

Originally based on this recipe, though I was out of cumin. Whoops. Also, we grilled it instead of pan-frying.

Ancho-Rubbed Flank Steak

1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground ancho chile powder
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
1 (2-pound) flank steak, trimmed

2 bell peppers, sliced into strips
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 lime

Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl; rub evenly over both sides of steak. Let rest for 1 hour.

Preheat grill to 400ºF. Grill flank steak 10 minutes, turning once halfway thru the cooking time, or until steak is medium. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting.

Meanwhile, place onions and pepper strips on the grill pan and squeeze half the lime over them. Grill 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until veggies are done. Remove from grill and squeeze the remaining lime half over them.

Slice flank steak into strips across the grain. Serve with grilled veggies, warmed tortillas, cheese, salsa and other fixings for fajitas.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Curried Chickpeas with Veggies

When The Spouse and I sat down to make this week's menu, I mentioned that I would prefer to add in a few meatless dishes. He agreed, though somewhat nervously because I said tofu would feature largely. He doesn't mind tofu if it's well prepared or mixed in with other items, but

This is one dish, though, that I felt would be pretty safe since he loves Indian food.

Curried Chickpeas with Veggies

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp chopped ginger
2 tsp madras curry powder
1 cup chickpeas, cooked
1/2 large head of cauliflower, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 cups fresh green beans, cut into 1" pieces
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 - 1 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 cup yogurt
2 tbsp flour

Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and heat thru. Add in cumin seeds and toast until fragrant. Add in minced garlic and ginger and sautee until aromatic, about 1 minute. Do not let brown.

Add in curry powder and sautee until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chickpeas and remaining ingredients. Stir to coat. Cover and let simmer 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are cooked. Remove from heat.

Combine yogurt and flour and stir into vegetable mixture until well incorporated. If necessary, return pan to heat and heat thru, stirring constantly, being careful to not bring to a simmer. Serve immediately.