Thursday, January 28, 2010

Roasted Mushroom Baked Polenta

I had some button and shitake mushrooms in the fridge, so this was a good way to use them up.

Roasted Mushroom Baked Polenta

1 pound white button mushrooms, quartered
1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps quartered
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tbsp butter
1 small onion, chopped
4 cups water or chicken stock, divided
1 1/2 cups cornmeal (polenta)
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375º. Toss the mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in a large casserole dish. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

While mushrooms are baking, heat a very large skillet over medium heat. Add butter and warm. Add onion and sautee until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Combine cornmeal and remaining water and gradually add to the sauce pan, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes until thickened.

Remove mushrooms from oven. Pour half the polenta over the mushrooms and stir. Top with half the cheese. Pour remaining polenta over and top with remaining cheese. Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until done. Remove from oven and let set for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chicken Peperonata

Another F&W recipe! I couldn't find Peppadew peppers at my local store (surprising, actually, since they're fairly good about stocking odds and ends like that), so I wracked my brain trying to think what would add the right amount of heat - they're similar to a peperoncini on the scoville scale - without adding smokiness. I was rummaging thru my spice cabinet when I came across the answer - harissa.

I served this with roasted mushroom baked polenta.

Chicken Peperonata

1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 large white onions, halved lengthwise and thickly sliced crosswise
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds, coarsely chopped
One 28-ounce can peeled Italian tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/2 tsp harissa
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 whole chicken (4 pounds each), cut into wings, thighs, drumsticks and breasts

Preheat the oven to 350° and set a rack in the center. In a very large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the bell peppers and onions and stir until coated with olive oil. Cover and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the peppers and onions are slightly softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and fennel seeds and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and Peppadews and season with salt and pepper. Pour the contents of the skillet into a large roasting pan.

Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper and arrange the pieces skin-side up in the roasting pan. Roast for about 45 minutes, until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Turn on the broiler and broil the chicken for about 10 minutes, until the skin is browned and crisp. Transfer the chicken to a platter.

Set the roasting pan over 2 burners and cook over high heat until the pan juices are reduced slightly, 7 to 8 minutes. Spoon the vegetables and juices into a deep platter, arrange the chicken on top and serve.

Citrusy Mojito Chicken

Yet another winner from Food & Wine, though, again, overly complicated. Making a homemade citrus salsa is fine and good but not practical for a weeknight.

Citrusy Mojito Chicken

1 red grapefruit
1 lime
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped mint
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Juice half the grapefruit and the whole lime into a small bowl; stir in the olive oil, cilantro and mint and season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture into a ziplock back. Add the chicken to the bag and let marinade for 15-20 minutes.

Remove chicken from the bag, reserving the marinade. Grill the chicken thighs over moderately high heat, turning them occasionally, until they are lightly charred outside and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the marinade to a small sauce pan and heat the mixture over high heat until it reaches a roiling boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and reduce until thickened. Drizzle sauce over breasts and serve.

Pecan-Crusted Tilapia

This was a very tasty meal. We had corn on the side.

Pecan-Crusted Tilapia

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of chipotle pepper
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
2 (8-ounce) tilapia fillets
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
4 lemon wedges

Combine first 7 ingredients in a shallow dish. Combine buttermilk and hot sauce in a medium bowl. Dip 1 fish fillet in buttermilk mixture; dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Repeat procedure with remaining fillets.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 fillets; cook 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

While fish is cooking, in a small sauce pan, heat the buttermilk mixture over high heat until it reaches a roiling boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and reduce until thickened.

Plate the fish, drizzle with the sauce and serve with lemon wedges.

Wine Pairing: A nice, acidic sauvignon blanc.

Pickle Brined Chicken

I apologize for the delay in recipes. The truth is - all of our home computers have died. Ish. The laptop kicked the bucket and our desktop's USB drives don't work (hence, no uploading of photos).

This is still the case, but I figured "The heck with it." I've got too much of a backlog. Eventually I will try and replace the photos with our own.

So, today's photo and (highly modified) recipe is courtesy of Food & Wine Magazine. I loved the idea of brineing the chicken with pickle juice. I found the instructions of the recipe far too fussy, though, so I streamlined them quite a bit. I didn't brine them overnight and still found them flavorful, though I think the extra time would be good. I also think this could be a great recipe on the grill for a summer BBQ.

© Simon Watson

Pickle-Brined Chicken.

4 chicken breast halves, on the bone
2 cups brine from jarred dill pickles
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, thickly sliced
2 carrots, thickly sliced
2 celery ribs, thickly sliced
1/2 cup semi-dry white wine, such as an off-dry Riesling
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
2 pounds Swiss chard, thick stems and ribs removed, leaves coarsely shredded
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the chicken breasts with the pickle juice and a generous pinch of ground pepper. Seal the bag, pressing out any air, and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Pat the chicken breasts dry. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in an ovenproof skillet. Add the breasts, skin side down, and cook over high heat until golden, about 6 minutes. Turn and cook for 2 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Add the onions, carrots and celery to the casserole and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the wine, bay leaves and peppercorns. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Strain the cooking liquid and wipe out the casserole. Return the cooking liquid to the pot and boil until the sauce is reduced to 1 cup, about 25 minutes; keep warm.

Meanwhile, prepare a baking sheet with a layer of tinfoil and an oven-safe cooling wire rack. Place chicken on the rack, skin side up. Place the tray in the oven and roast the chicken for about 25 minutes, until cooked through, turning once halfway thru. If desired, broil for the final 5 minutes to crisp up the skin. Transfer the chicken breasts to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Add the Swiss chard and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat, tossing, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in half of the sauce. Spoon the chard and chicken onto plates and serve with the seared breasts. Drizzle the remaining sauce all around and serve right away.

Wine Pairing: We had this with an unoaked chardonnay.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ginger Crackle Cookies

This recipe comes from A Baker's Field Guide to Christmas Cookies, probably one of my favorite specialty cookbooks I have. I had to modify it slightly because, when reading thru the recipe I missed the part about chilling the dough in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.

Ginger Crackle Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup sugar
about 3/4 cup molasses
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 large egg
coarse sugar

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl

In a large mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until creamy. Add granulated sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and spices. Add egg and beat until well combined.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add in flour mixture, beating well after each addition, until just combined. Dough may be loose. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 20-30 minutes or until dough is firm enough to work.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or lightly spray with oil.

Divide dough into 4 pieces, rolling each into a rope about 12-15" long and 1" thick. Sprinkle the top with coarse sugar. Transfer to cookie sheet, spacing widely apart.

Bake until puffed and dry to the touch, about 18 minutes. Slide parchment onto cooling racks or let cookies cool on the tray (they will be too soft to transfer) and allow to cool completely. Cut each log crosswise into 1 1/4" thick cookies.