Sunday, February 28, 2010

We roasted a chicken!

Yayz! So we did this before about 2 years ago and it was a disaster and we decided that it totally wasn't worth it all. But then I went to a nutritionist this week (my blood pressure is a bit high) and she was all about roasting chickens. I think it was mostly because she herself has been roasting chickens a lot recently. But anyway, I look cooking on Sundays and so we decided to try it out again. Because it is a bit ridiculous that I can't roast a chicken. We based our chicken on Jamie Oliver's My Perfect Roast Chicken from The Naked Chef.

From "The Naked Chef" by Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver
Servings: 4 (We ate half of it tonight, so yeah I guess that is right)
One 2 1/2-3 lb. free-range chicken (we used a 3.5 lb chicken)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 small handfuls of fresh herbs (basil, parsley, marjoram), finely chopped (basil and parsley)
1/4 cup olive oil (didnt measure)
1 lemon, halved (I quartered it)
4 bay leaves, torn (I left them whole)
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 bag of Teeny Tiny potatoes from Trader Joe's
1 onion, cut into eighths
cloves from 1 head of garlic

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 c vegetable broth


Preheat the oven and a roasting tray (we used Jamie Oliver's [seemed appropriate] Baby Retro Roaster with rack) to 425 F. Wash the chicken inside and out, and pat it as dry as possible with paper towels. Some people remove the wishbone, but I like to leave it in and later make a wish. (We wouldn't know how to remove it) Rub the cavity with salt; then, being very careful, grab the skin at the tip of the chicken breasts, making sure that it doesn’t rip, and pull up gently. With your other hand, gently separate the skin from the meat of the breast. It’s normally connected by a little bit of tissuey-type stuff, and you can either leave this attached in the middle and make two little tunnels either side, or you can try to cut away the middle. (I cut it away down the middle) Sprinkle a little salt down the gaps that you have made (I missed that step) and push in the chopped herbs. (3/4 of them) Drizzle in a little olive oil. (I did this first) I don’t always stuff the chicken but when I do I generally go with lemon, bay and (2 sprigs) rosemary, which I push into the cavity at this point. Pull the skin of the chicken breast forward so that none of the actual flesh is exposed, tuck the little winglets under (under what?!) and tie up as firmly as possible with kitchen twine. (We didnt tie it up because I ran out of kitchen twine and forgot to pick some up today)

To me, the perfect roast chicken has tender moist breast meat, crisp skin and, dare I say it, overcooked thigh meat. So at this point, simply slash across each thigh about 3 or 4 times and rub in some of the leftover herbs (this didnt really work well so I stuffed the rest into the cavity), which allows the heat to penetrate directly into the thigh meat, enabling it to cook faster. With your hand, rub a little olive oil into the skin of the chicken and season very generously with salt and pepper. Remove the hot tray (roaster) from the oven and add a little oil. Put the chicken on one side, breast side down on the tray, and put back into the oven. Allow to cook for 5 minutes, then turn it over on to the other side, breast side down. Cook for another 5 minutes and then place the chicken on its back. Cook for 1 hour. (We cooked for 15 minutes, then added the potatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil, stock and rosemary to the bottom of the pan. Then we put it back in the oven for another 40 minutes. Then we started checking the temp every 10 minutes or so. It ended up taking about 1 hr 20 minutes after searing the breasts.)

There is nothing like potatoes and garlic cooked in chicken fat. Mmmm! We will totally be roasting more chickens.

We are following this all-American meal up with the world's most adorable apple pie (3" round!) that we bought from the Fitler Square Farmer's Market yesterday and a vegan mint chocolate chip cookie from One Shot Coffee today after our lunch at Tiffin (which you are going to have to wait to hear all about!)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Calzone and pizza party

Well it was a party of 2. But yesterday we made 3 calzones and a pizza for dinner. No, we didnt eat them all. But we couldnt decide which ones to make, so we made 3!

Matty made the dough based on a recipe in Mom's Big Book of Baking. I am not sure what the actually recipe was but it is a pretty good recipe (a little sticky sometimes).

Then we made a cold cut calzone, a bbq beef brisket calzone, a turkey and basil calzone and a pizza provencal (kinda).

Cold Cut Calzone
This is one of my own creations, so no real recipe but we used - pepperoni, genoa salami, proscuitto, rosemary ham, provolone and asiago. And it is damn tasty. I usually add tuekry but Matty decided to use rosemary ham instead. All the cold cuts were from Trader Joe's.

BBQ Beef Brisket Calzone
This one is pretty basic - Trader Joe's Pulled Beef Brisket in Smoky BBQ Sauce, shredded cheddar. Mmmmm . . .

Turkey and Basil Calzone
This is based on this recipe - Chicken and Basil Calzones. With some modifications of course.

Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2008. Ground chicken breast is a lean alternative to beef. Substitute ground sirloin, if you prefer. (We used ground turkey) Total time: 40 minutes. (That is their pic but our filling looked pretty similar)

Cooking spray
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground chicken breast (1.25 lb ground turkey)
3/4 cup prepared pizza sauce (Trader Joe's Tomato Basil Marinara)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (1 tsp)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 (13.8-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough (Matty's crust)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
(Trader Joe's lite mozzarella)

1. Preheat oven to 425°. (350)

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic and chicken to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, stirring to crumble. Stir in pizza sauce and pepper. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in basil. Let stand 10 minutes.

3. Unroll dough onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; cut dough into quarters. Pat each portion into an 8 x 6–inch rectangle. Divide chicken mixture evenly among rectangles; top each serving with 2 tablespoons cheese. Working with one rectangle at a time, fold dough in half over filling, pinching edges to seal. Repeat procedure with remaining rectangles. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until golden. (We just made 1 calzone, we used about 3/4 of the filling because the dough wasn't stretching quite enough for us)

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 calzone) (Again, we made 1 calzone total)

CALORIES 459 (14% from fat); FAT 7.1g (sat 1.8g,mono 1g,poly 0.4g); IRON 3.7mg; CHOLESTEROL 74mg; CALCIUM 111mg; CARBOHYDRATE 56.4g; SODIUM 919mg; PROTEIN 39.1g; FIBER 3g
Pizza Provencal
The pizza was loosely based on this recipe - Pizza Provencal.

Cooking Light, JUNE 2009. Upgrade pizza night by making a pie loaded with fresh basil, rotisserie chicken, (we left out the chicken) and all the best of Italian-inspired ingredients. A food processor makes quick work of the homemade sauce. (We didnt make a sauce per se. That is their pic. Ours looks NOTHING like that.)

1/4 cup niçoise olives, pitted (I used kalamata cuz I had them)
3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (I used 2 Tbsp of a sundried tomato tapenade)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind (I used dried lemon peel)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic (We used 1 head of roasted garlic)
1 teaspoon water (left this out since we werent making a sauce)
1 (16-ounce) loaf Italian bread, split in half horizontally (We used Matty's dough)
2 cups thinly sliced roasted skinless, boneless chicken breast (about 6 ounces) (Left this out)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled goat cheese (we used half goat cheese, half feta)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1. Preheat oven to 450°. (350)

2. Combine first 7 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. (I just chopped the olives, mushed the garlic cloves and mixed it all together in the dish we roasted the garlic in) Place bottom half of bread, cut side up, on a baking sheet (reserve top half for another use). Spread olive mixture over bread (We just used the olive mixture as a spread o. Arrange chicken over bread; sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until heated. Sprinkle with basil. Cut into 4 pieces.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 piece) (We made a full size pizza from it)

CALORIES 330 ; FAT 10.7g (sat 4.4g,mono 3.8g,poly 1.6g); CHOLESTEROL 46mg; CALCIUM 98mg; CARBOHYDRATE 34.4g; SODIUM 595mg; PROTEIN 23.2g; FIBER 2.3g; IRON 3mg

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Creole Recipes

Someone asked me for the crawfish creole recipe, so I figured I would post it here in case anyone else wanted it. A creole is like a tomato sauce kinda? It was originally from The Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine. I got it from Best of the Best from Louisiana. And then I modified it. I made three recipes-worth since I was making alligator (big oval pot in the back), crawfish (big round pot in the middle), and no-meat (small round pot up front) versions. But here is a single recipe. The directions from the actual recipe were really helpful . . . no they totally weren't. They say things like "saute all seasonings until done." Not helpful. Especially since I dont consider 3 cups of vegetables "seasonings." But here is what I did.

Creole Sauce
4 Tablespoons vegan margarine (recipe calls for butter, wanted to make vegan)
1 T canola oil
6 Tablespoons brown rice flour (recipe calls for flour, wanted to make gluten-free)
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
6 cloves garlic, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
4 bay leaves
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 tsp sugar
16-oz can tomato sauce (I used 52 oz for 3x recipe)

Melt margarine in heavy bottom pot (I used the Le Creuset French Oven). Add oil. Add onions, celery, pepper and garlic. Saute until tender. Add lemon juice, bay leaves and flour. Mix until flour is covered vegetables. Add tomato sauce, hot water and sugar. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes.

I did that much on Thursday night. Then I let it cool and put it in the fridge until Saturday. I took it out and let it get to room temp and then split it into 3 pots (crawfish, alligator, no-meat). I added the meat to each one (or not meat) and then let it simmer for about an hour before putting it out. The no-meat one I simmered for about 30 minutes by itself.

We bought 2.75 lbs of alligator steak, frozen. We thawed this overnight in the fridge. Then I cut each steak into thirds, you can see the picture here. I put them in a big pot, added some no-salt creole seasoning, 1/4 tsp salt and enough water to cover the pieces. I brought this to a fast boil and boiled for 3 minutes. Then I removed the pieces from the water and let them cool, keeping the water. They were not completely cooked all the way though. It looked a lot like chicken, white on the outside, pink in the middle. Once they were cool we cut them into bite sized pieces and then added them to the creole sauce. I used some of the cooking water to thin out the sauce some since it had gotten pretty thick in the fridge.

We bought cleaned, cooked, seasoned crawfish meat (about 2-2 1/2 lbs) from Reading Terminal and so it was all ready to go. I added it to the sauce with the water from the container to thin it out some.

The recipe said to serve over rice with chopped green onions. I totally forgot the green onions.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mardi Gras

This weekend we had our Mardi Gras party. This is a party that we inherited from my parents who had it for 17 years before deciding that they had had enough. They gave us their recipes and decorations and we started having it last year. They came down for it last year with 3 of their friends and this year with 2 of them. And we have a great time. This year I think I really got the recipes down since everyone was raving about the food and we tried some new things. 42 people! In our tiny apartment! I think everyone had a great time, and it was even worth being up til 4 cleaning. And we went through a huge amount of liquor (4 cases of beer, 3 bottles of red wine, 2 bottles of bourbon, 2 bottles of whiskey, 3 bottles of vodka, 1 of gin, 2 of rum . . .) Pictures are available here including most of the food. Ok, so here is the menu (let me know if you want any of the recipes):

Cajun Crab Dip
Okra Gumbo (vegan)
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Shrimp (to add to stuff since I dont cook with them)
White Rice (for gumbos, red beans and creoles)
Red Beans (vegan, gluten free)
Jambalaya (gluten free)
Pork and Alligator Sausage (gluten free)
Smoked Andouille Sausage (gluten free)
Chipotle Franks (vegan)
Alligator Creole (gluten free, all the creoles were made with brown rice flour [my first experience cooking with it])
Crawfish Creole (gluten free)
Creole Sauce (vegan, gluten free)
Crawfish Cheesecake
Cajun/Buffalo Chik'n Dip (vegetarian [used Morning Star Chik'n] and added some cajun seasoning)
Jalapeno Cornbread (vegetarian)
Remoulade (vegan [used vegenaise and tamari for mayo and Worcestershire], gluten free)
Mardi Gras Dip (vegan, gluten free)
Mardi Gras Peanuts (vegan, gluten free)
Cajun Hot Sticks (vegan)

Sugar Glazed Pecans (vegan, gluten free)
King Cake
Chocolate Bread Pudding with Bourbon Glaze
Caramel Pecan Bars (vegan)
Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla and Strawberry Frosting (gluten free, brought by a guest)
Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes (vegan, gluten free, brought by a guest)

Mardi Gras punch (vodka)
Hurricanes (dark rum)
Strawberry "Jello" shots (vegan, vodka)
Grape, Lemon and Lime Jello Shots (vodka)

Monday, February 8, 2010

One-Skillet Bean & Broccoli Rabe Supper

This was super tasty and different. And I think you could play around with it. We used hot italian sausage and white beans. But you could use the merguez and chickpeas or chorizo and black beans.

One-Skillet Bean & Broccoli Rabe Supper
If beans and greens are not a part of your regular menu, this one-pot dish will change your mind. Sausage and garlic flavor the broccoli rabe and beans while the big, rustic croutons soak up the broth. Yield: 4 servings. (We ate it all that night, didnt think it would keep well) Active/Total Time: 45 minutes (I think it only took 30 or so) From EatingWell (It is our picture)

  • 3 slices whole-wheat country bread (5-6 ounces), crusts removed (We used ciabatta and leftover Italian Bread)
  • 2 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces lamb merguez sausage, or Italian chicken, turkey or pork sausage links
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe (about 12 ounces), trimmed and coarsely chopped (We used 1 bunch, next time I would use 2)
  • 2 cups cooked cannellini beans, plus 1/2 cup bean-cooking liquid or water (We used 1 can of canned beans and water)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Tear bread into 1/2- to 1-inch irregular pieces. Place on a large baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon oil. Season with pepper. Bake until golden brown and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Remove sausage from casing and cook, breaking it up, until browned and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Let the pan cool.
  4. Pour off any oil left in the pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and place over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broccoli rabe and cook, stirring, until wilted and tender but still bright green, 4 to 6 minutes. (Add 1 to 2 tablespoons water if the greens seem dry.)
  5. Add beans, bean-cooking liquid (or water), the sausage and 1/8 teaspoon salt to the pan, stirring to combine; bring to a simmer. Make 4 indentations in the bean mixture and break an egg into each one. Season the eggs with the remaining pinch of salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook the eggs, checking occasionally, until desired doneness: 3 to 5 minutes for soft-set yolks, 7 to 9 minutes for hard-set yolks. (We cooked about 8 minutes and they were just "hard-set")
  6. Top the bean mixture and eggs with the croutons and serve immediately.
Nutrition -Per serving : 463 Calories; 24 g Fat; 7 g Sat; 10 g Mono; 233 mg Cholesterol; 37 g Carbohydrates; 25 g Protein; 9 g Fiber; 586 mg Sodium; 506 mg Potassium

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Soup's on

Saturday night we had some people over for soup since it was so goddamn cold out. Also for some Modern Warfare and Mortal Kombat II. I tried two new soup recipes - Red Lentil Dal with Charred Onions and Italian White Bean and Spinach Soup. They both needed more salt. I liked the dal better than the spinach soup, especially since I didnt cook the dried mushrooms long enough. I would probably make the dal again but the other was a bit lackluster. They were both super fast and easy to make though which is nice. And they are both vegan.

Red Lentil Dal with Charred Onions
Quick-cooking red lentils don't need to be pureed since they break down as they cook. Lentils are a great source of protein, as well as fiber. This recipe gives 20 percent of your daily fiber goal. Serve over brown rice with a side of broccoli for a vegetarian meal. (We served with Naan and mini whole wheat pitas from Trader Joe's) Yield: 7 servings (serving size: 1 cup) (We got 9-10 bowls (though we had two soups)) Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2007 (That's their picture)

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 whole clove
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 dried hot red chile
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
1 cup dried small red lentils (Couldn't find red lentils so used brown)
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large heavy cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; cook 2 minutes or until charred. Carefully turn over onion, and cook an additional 4 minutes or until blackened and charred. (I am not really sure what the difference between "charred" and "burnt" is) Remove from heat. Coarsely chop; set aside.

Combine mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and clove in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook 1 1/2 minutes or until fragrant, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Combine mustard mixture, cinnamon, cardamom, and chile in spice or coffee grinder. Pulse until ground.

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a small Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Stir in spices; sauté 1 minute. Add broth, lentils, and tomato to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover; add onion, and cook 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro and juice.

CALORIES 149 (17% from fat); FAT 2.8g (sat 0.3g,mono 1.6g,poly 0.3g); IRON 2.1mg; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 33mg; CARBOHYDRATE 23.6g; SODIUM 354mg; PROTEIN 8.4g; FIBER 5.5g
Italian White Bean and Spinach Soup
Dried shiitake mushrooms lend this appetizer soup rich intensity. It's delightful with a grilled cheese sandwich for a light supper. (We served with a loaf of Italian Bread) Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 cup) (We got 7 bowls from it) Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2007 (That's their picture)

1 (1-ounce) package dried shiitake mushrooms
2 cups boiling water
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (used 1/2 tsp dried)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14-ounce) can organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
Fresh thyme (optional) (Didn't use)
Crushed red pepper (optional) (Didn't use but maybe should have)

(We served with grated parmesan to top)

Combine mushrooms and 2 cups boiling water in a bowl; cover and let stand 15 minutes. Drain mushrooms in a colander over a bowl, reserving liquid. Chop mushrooms; set aside.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and mushrooms to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. (Make sure the mushrooms are tender! Ours were a bit chewy and not very good) Add the reserved mushroom liquid, spinach, and next 5 ingredients (through broth); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Garnish with thyme and red pepper, if desired. (I thought it was good with the grated parmesan)

CALORIES 78 (22% from fat); FAT 1.9g (sat 0.3g,mono 1.1g,poly 0.4g); IRON 1.3mg; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 42mg; CARBOHYDRATE 13.5g; SODIUM 261mg; PROTEIN 2.8g; FIBER 2.9g