Archive for February, 2012

From Dish Erin:

One of the first dishes I ever truly appreciated as a kid was chicken courdon bleu. Don’t get me wrong, I liked many things (hot dogs, kraft mac-n-cheese, beets[?!]) but I remember getting really excited when my mom would make chicken cordon bleu because though it was so simple (ham, cheese, chicken), the presentation of it ‘wowed’ me. It was my first gastronomic a-ha moment. For some reason the fact that the highlight of the dish was inside the chicken was totally exotic to me. What can I say? I’m generally pleased when my meal contains a surprise. There was one time where my Dad made a meatloaf with a hardboiled egg inside it (apparently this is a real thing, corroborated by one Nigella Lawson) and that was not a good surprise. Though it captured my imagination from a technical perspective, it did not stand up to my beloved cordon bleu. Also, it was kind of gross.

Fast forward to present day, I love a good stuffed chicken. And this is my take on chicken stuffed with cheese and ham.

Also, if you’re feeling a little too skinny, like you need to put on a few lbs for the winter, this is a great recipe for you.

You’ll need:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the filling:
2-3 slices bacon or pancetta, diced
1 heaping handful of baby spinach
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
Salt & Freshly ground pepper

For the sauce:
1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
chopped fresh tarragon

In a deep saucepan, heat diced bacon over medium heat until cooked through/on its way to crispy.

While the bacon is cooking, place each chicken breast between plastic wrap, and pound to an even 1/4-inch thickness with a meat-pounder.

Add spinach and garlic to the pan and stir to coat with bacon grease until spinach is wilted and garlic is fragrant. At this point you will be thinking, “Damn, this smells delicious.”

Remove everything from pan and place in a small bowl. You can keep the flame on because you’re going to put the chicken back in there in just a moment. In the small bowl with the spinach, garlic, and bacon, add the ricotta cheese and black pepper. Stir to incorporate well and put a heaping tablespoon of that cheesy delight mixture in the center of each chicken breast. Fold the bottom edge of each breast over the stuffing, fold in the sides, and roll forward until completely wrapped, to form a tight rolled package. Secure each flap with a toothpick. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place chicken rolls back into heated pan and cook, covered, for about 4 minutes. Flip to other side (gently) with tongs and cook another 4 minutes or so, covered.

Add the white wine, juice of one lemon, mustard and tarragon to the pan, stir to combine and cook another 2 minutes until the wine has rendered, the sauce has fully mixed and is beginning to thicken just slightly.

Serve over mashed potatoes (I made half mashed potatoes half mashed carrots to spice it up) and use the extra sauce as a gravy.

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From Dish Nicole:

This past weekend was Presidents’ Day weekend and I went upstate for some R&R. February has been full of 30th birthday parties, including yours truly’s, and I needed the rest and relaxation. I really really enjoyed the extra day off from work as well. As I was heading back to good old NYC, I took a mental inventory of what I left behind in my fridge that could possibly make a quick and easy Monday night dinner. Knowing I had some Idaho potatoes and frozen corn, I decided on corn chowder. It also happens to be one of my boyfriend’s favorite soups; I left him behind on my weekend excursion so this helped me to get back into his good graces.

Here is what you need for the corn chowder:

3-4 cups of frozen sweet corn
3 small Idaho potatoes- peeled and diced into ¾” cubes
2 stalks celery- diced
2 medium sized carrots- diced
1 medium sized onion- diced
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups of whole milk (or you can go the cream route for a thicker creamier soup)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt & pepper (teaspoon each)

To start, heat the olive oil and butter on the stove over medium heat. Once melted add the celery, carrots, onion and thyme and let them soften for about 10 minutes. Next you will want to dust the vegetables with the flour and mix until they are coated. At this point you can add the stock or broth and bring to a boil. Once the soup is boiling add in the diced potatoes and the milk and bring back to a rolling boil. You will want to let the soup boil for about 15 minutes to let the potatoes breakdown. You will notice the soup thicken at this point as well. Now you can add in the corn and turn the soup down to simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Add in the salt and pepper (use more or less depending on your taste) and the pinch of cayenne (I like my soup with a kick so I added an extra pinch of the cayenne). That’s all there is to it!

The next step in the process is serving up this soup piping hot with some crusty bread. It really was the perfect ending to a nice long weekend.

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From Dish Jodi:

The night after Valentine’s, we made up for the previous night’s pasta and pizza binge at our local italian joint. The people watching on Valentine’s Day was amazing; the 50 year old guy fussing over wine, while his 20-something date stared into oblivion; the guy who clearly forgot to make reservations who stands silent and sheepish while his date freaks out, demanding to be sat at every (reserved) table she can see from the front desk. And our waitress, bless her soul, who was so terrible that the rest of the staff had to help her out. I hope she got to go home to a sweet Valentine to make up for her stressful night.

But anyway – tonight it’s back to simple and healthy. I LOVE pea tendrils, pea shoots, even peas themselves. Sweet, crisp and I feel like I’m filling my body with vitamins with every bite. Some bright marinade on a pork tenderloin and a lemony saute of green goodness and it’s the perfect light dinner.

1/2 C Soy Sauce
1/4 C Lemon Juice
2 T Grated Fresh Ginger
1/2 t Red Pepper Flakes
1 T Butter
Olive Oil
Quarter of a red onion, sliced thinly
Big Bunch of Fresh Pea Tendrils
1 T Grated Lemon Zest
Squirt of Lemon Juice

Mix soy sauce, ginger, pepper and lemon juice in a large bowl and marinate the pork loin in it for a least a half an hour.

Preheat oven to 350. Heat up a large pan on the stove with oil, and sear outside of loin. Then put pan and loin in the oven for 15 minutes or until cooked to you liking. Let rest.

While the meat rests, melt butter and a few more bloops of oil in a pan (I am just using the same one, wiped out) and toss in the onions. Cook until soft. Toss with pea tendrils til they are wilted. Throw in grated zest and big final squeeze of lemon juice and toss.

Plate the greens and top with slices of pork. Enjoy.

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From Dish Rachelle:

For our Grammy watching party of two, the Boy made his famous chili, and I pitched in by making my favorite side for it: sweet cornbread. While we were able to freeze half the batch of chili for a rainy day, baked goods are not so easily preserved. A loaf of cornbread, which doesn’t stay fresh for long, is a lot for two people to consume, and though we did our best to “disappear” it before it turned stale and crusty, we had a few less-than-appetizing slices left sitting in our kitchen. Cut to Valentine’s Day dinner: as a starter, I had a warm butternut squash salad with salty braised radicchio that I loved. I decided the next day, when I was eating alone, to turn my old cornbread into new croutons, and concoct a winter panzanella salad for one.

For this salad, you prepare all the components separately and then toss them together. This means you can make a lot of everything and then store it in various containers so your leftovers will be fresh, and not a bready, soggy mess.

You’ll need:
Sweet cornbread croutons (see directions below)
1 butternut squash, seeds and strings removed and cut into pieces for roasting
2 strips of bacon, cut into small pieces
6-8 large brussels sprouts, sliced lengthwise into thin pieces
½ red onion, sliced thin
2 tblsp. red wine vinegar
1 tblsp. apple cider
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Splash some olive oil on a baking sheet and season your butternut squash pieces. Roast them for 20-30 minutes, careful to make sure they don’t overcook – ideally, the squash will be fork tender but not falling apart, so that it’s easily cut into squares. Remove cooked squash from the oven and let cool.

I used this sweet cornbread recipe, but substituted sour cream for butter, because that’s what I had in the house. It gave it a dense, spongy texture, which turned out to be perfect for croutons.

Cut stale cornbread into small, evenly sized squares and season liberally with olive oil, salt and pepper, tossing carefully to coat. Spread squares on a baking sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes at 325, turning them once to make sure they cook evenly (and aren’t burning).

While croutons are baking, put your sliced red onion in a bowl with the red wine vinegar and the apple cider. Let onions soak for about 15 minutes.

Sauté the brussels sprouts in a frying pan with the bacon, adding a little olive oil to the pan if the sprouts stick. Cook until tender and season with S&P.

Remove croutons from the oven, and let cool 5-10 minutes so that they’re extra firm. While they’re sitting, remove the skin from your cooked butternut squash with a knife or your fingers. Cut the flesh into evenly sized small squares.

When you’re ready to eat, add 4-5 tblsp of olive oil to your onion mixture, season with S&P, and whip with a fork to combine (the amount of olive oil you use depends on how “stiff” you like your vinegar-based dressing).

OK! Dinner time. In a large bowl, add squash, croutons and brussels sprouts in vaguely equal amounts. Spoon on as much onion dressing as you like, and toss well.

Recipe inspiration from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted from Michael Chiarello’s version for the Food Network.

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Peppermint Patties

From Dish Paige!:

I’ve been on a real sweets kick lately. For the Super Bowl, I decided to forego the traditional savory, cheese-covered snack and made Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip (do it for your next party, you will not regret it!) but that wasn’t enough to satisfy my sweet tooth, so I kept searching recipes for something else. Using Tastespotting, FoodGawker, and the food board on Pinterest, I peered into the deepest depths of the internet, looking for inspiration (then I got really hungry and had to stop for a sandwich). Finally, I found my recipe. Cornsyrup? YUP! Powdered sugar? YUP! Chocolate! YESSSSSSSSSS! Homemade peppermint patties? OH YEAH!


2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine 2 1/4 cups of the powdered sugar with corn syrup, water, peppermint extract, shortening and a pinch of salt and mix until just combined. Sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and knead the mixture in the bowl until the mixture is smooth.

Roll out the dough between sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap sprinkled with powdered sugar until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Freeze for about 15 minutes, or until firm.
Remove the top sheet of paper, sprinkle with a little more powdered sugar and then cut the dough into 1-inch circles. Lay the circles out on a cookie sheet and freeze one more time for about ten minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 3/4 of the chocolate over a double boiler, and then stir in the final 1/4 off the heat.
Dip the frozen rounds, one at a time, in the melted chocolate, transfer back to the parchment/plastic lined cookie sheet and refrigerate until firm.

(original recipe here)

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Still agonizing over what to get your honey for Valentine’s? Dish Amelia is selling her AMAZING holiday-themed Sugarbuilt cookies:

Anatomical Heart: $8 each (about 4 inches tall)

Vintage Lingerie: $8 each (assorted)

Ironwork Hearts Tile $7 each

email info@sugarbuilt.com to order

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From Dish Amelia:

About a month ago, my friend Alix (a wise, mischievous, and multi-talented gal) brought a loaf of bread she made to a party. Seems simple and good enough right? However, as soon as I tasted this perfect bread my hunger for it and the ritual of making it has only gotten louder. She pointed me directly to the recipe of Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery. There are lots of videos demonstrating the process (the one with Mark Bittman being the most helpful to me) and Flickr pools, and variations to be plunged into. So, I may just be preaching to the choir here, but everyone should try it at least once, if you haven’t already. It takes all of three minutes to put it together, and you bake it the next day whenever you get to it.

3 cups bread flour
1/4 tsp dry active yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water

(and I have been adding a small handful of currants and a teaspoon or more of fennel seeds. ) (I will be adding at turns calamata olives, green chile, and cinnamon in the future…)

In large bowl, place ingredients. Mix with your hands, form into ball. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in warm spot, look at clock and note time. Bread needs 12-20 hours to develop and rise. When it has been this long, flour your work surface, scoop dough onto it, fold on itself a few times, and tuck it into a floured towel. Let rise for an hour or two more.

Twenty minutes before you’re ready to bake, put your oven at 450 and place a heavy lidded pot inside. (I use my red Le Creuset and it has acquired a lovely patina on the interior from this process.) When it is time, take out the pot with mitts, plop the dough in, give it a shake and cover. Bake with the lid on for 30 minutes and remove lid for 15 more. Remove bread from pot and let cool. (Optional: you may want to turn off all the lights and listen to the bread for a few minutes as it cracks and hisses adjusting to its new life.) The bread is crusty and flavorful, stretchy and pillowy on the inside, with large holes.

You may want to have a hunk after yoga with some tea, and pretend its the 1970’s. But for real though, this is a bread for the modern person, and you need it. (Don’t knead it.)

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