Sicilian Braised Chicken

chickensalamiThis is an utterly delightful dish, quite spicy, but not in a hot way.

It can be salty so I’ve adapted the recipe a bit to cut down on that, and hopefully preserve the individual flavors of the various ingredients.

You can make this with a whole chicken but I only used four thighs and cut down on the rest of the ingredients make it work.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 chicken thighs,
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  •  1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 -3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 rosemary branch, about 8 inches
  • 1 cups diced salami (see note)
  • 3/4 cup pitted green olives, rinsed and cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2  cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sear chicken in 2 batches until golden brown, about 7 minutes per side. Transfer cooked chicken to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or another large, shallow casserole.

2.  Add onions to skillet and cook in the rendered chicken fat until brown, stirring, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, fennel, rosemary branch,  oregano and red pepper flakes. Pour in wine and simmer to reduce, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring to incorporate, for another 2 minutes.

3.  Pour in chicken broth in batches and stir to incorporate. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in bay leaves and lemon juice.

4.  Pour sauce over the chicken in the baking dish and roast in the oven, basting every 30 minutes, until chicken is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours.  About 30 minutes before dish is finished, add the salami and olives. Return to oven to heat through. Discard bay leaves and rosemary. Serve chicken warm, with plenty of sauce. Works well over noodles, rice or potatoes.

SERVES: 4

NOTES: Use the very best olives you can get. They will be less salty. The salami choice is up to you. A Genoa or Sopressata works well.

SOURCE: Adapted from a recipe by Don Link in the NYTimes

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Lemon Curd Cheesecake

Cheesecake-3I adore cheesecake.

And I adore lemon.

So putting them together is a no-brainer.

This makes a delightful and easy dessert. Especially if you have some lemon curd already made and waiting in the freezer. Just defrost, and it’s ready to go.

If you don’t have any on hand, you can make it a day or so ahead with no trouble at all.

Great for company.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • about 2 c of lemon curd
  • a graham cracker crust, baked and cooled
  • 3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Special equipment: a 9- to 91/2-inch (24-cm) springform pan

INSTRUCTIONS:

oven temperature to 300°F.

Beat together cream cheese and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add eggs 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Beat in sour cream and vanilla until combined.

Pour two-thirds of cream cheese filling into crust, then spoon half of lemon curd over filling and swirl curd into filling with a small knife. (Avoid touching crust with knife to prevent crumbs getting into filling.) Cover with remaining cream cheese filling.

Bake cheesecake until set 1 1/2 inches from edge but center trembles when pan is gently shaken, about 45 minutes. (Center of cake will appear very loose but will continue to set as it cools.) Transfer springform pan to a rack and immediately run a knife around top edge of cake to loosen. Cool completely, about 2 hours, then spread remaining curd on the top, then chill, uncovered, at least 4 hours. Remove side of springform pan before serving.

Decorate with very thin slices of lemon if you wish.

SERVES: 10

NOTES: You can sprinkle with blueberries if you would like as well.

SOURCE: Adapted from Epicurious

The Great BLT Salad

bltsalad_0111You know you love them. With crisp bacon. Lots of bacon.

Crisp lettuce, crunchy.

Smooth mayo, homemade even if you are smart.

And the tomato.

Ah, yes the tomato.

As we endure living in the time of the shelf-happy tomato that tastes like cardboard, the BLT has had to wait until the farmer’s markets or the backyard garden produced a real tomato.

For the tomato is at the heart and soul of the BLT. If the tomato isn’t real, why then the whole thing is a miserable failure.

Introduce the cherry tomato which for whatever reason tastes real and is available all year long.

But such things are hard to work in a sandwich. The little buggers are always slipping out.

So, move the sandwich to a plate and turn it into a salad.

Here’s how:

INGREDIENTS:

For the Salad

 

  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 loaf French or Italian bread cut into one inch squares
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped romaine
  • 1 cups chopped iceberg
  • 5-6 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 c cherry tomatoes sliced in half

For the Dressing

 

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Zest from ¼ lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon or sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon  honey
  • Few drops sriracha, or other hot sauce of your choice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Few grinds freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon basil finely chopped

INSTRUCTIONS:

    1. Cut bacon strips into four pieces each and cook until crisp in a large skillet. Set aside on paper towels to drain and save one tablespoon of bacon fat in the pan and two more for the dressing for a total of three tablespoons reserved.
    2. Add the oil to the one tablespoon of bacon fat and heat to medium high. Add bread, salt and pepper and toss continuously until toasted on all sides, about ten minutes. Set aside.
    3. Cut romaine and iceberg into bite sized pieces and place in large bowl. Add whole basil leaves, tomatoes, cooked bacon and toasted bread and toss.
To Make the Dressing
  1. Place all dressing ingredients except bacon fat, oil and basil into a blender. Blend ingredients and slowly add bacon fat and olive oil with motor running. Toss in the basil and pulse a few times to combine.
  2. Serve dressing drizzled over the salad and tossed to coat, or on the side if you prefer.

SERVES: 2

NOTES: You can of course just use plain mayo if you prefer, but I found the tanginess of the dressing absolutely wonderful with this. Since there is more lettuce than you would have in a sandwich, it demands a bit more than simple mayo to bring it together. I might consider a bit of pesto if fresh basil is not available. Don’t bother with dried. It won’t work.

SOURCE: Adapted slightly from FamilyFeast

 

 

Stuffed Italian Chicken Pouches

baked-chicken-rollatini-alla-parmigiana-with-spinachThis is one of those rather versatile dishes that can be altered to fit your particular taste buds, is decent for company, but not a lot of bother and parts can be made far ahead so you aren’t spending a ton of time in the kitchen.

Phew.

Oh, yeah, they taste pretty good.

So if you want a nice company meal where you can do most of the work even a day before, this would be it.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 large skinless/boneless chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise (makes 8 thin pieces of chicken)
  • 1 cup whole wheat Italian style bread crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 5 ounces fresh baby spinach (I like “Organic Girl” brand!)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon extra light olive oil
  • ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 egg
  • 3 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced into 8 pieces
  • 2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
  • fresh basil for topping, sliced
  • 1 lb of vermicelli cooked as directed

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cut the chicken into 8 pieces (cut each large breast length-wise) and pound the pieces until they are thin and as wide as possible. About ⅓ inch thick.
  2. Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
  3. Chop the spinach and saute it on medium with the garlic and the olive oil for 2-3 minutes or until just barely wilted.
  4. Combine the sauteed spinach with the ricotta, the rest of the Parmesan cheese, and 1 egg. Stir until well combined.
  5. Make your rollups!: spray the bottom of a large baking dish and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place one piece of chicken on a flat working surface. Put a spoonful of ricotta-spinach filling right in the middle and roll the chicken up so that the edges meet to form a “seam”. Dip the entire chicken roll in the other egg which has been beat until just a bit foamy, and then roll it in the breadcrumbs.
  6. Place in a baking dish, seam side down. Repeat for the remaining 7 pieces of chicken. Don’t place the chicken too close together, to allow the breadcrumbs to crisp.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes.
  8. After 25 minutes, the chicken should be cooked through (white on the inside) and browned on the top. Remove from the oven and cover the chicken with the remaining marinara sauce.
  9. Place a slice of mozzarella on top of each chicken breast
  10. Bake for another 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melting. (I also broiled the dish for about 3 minutes (watch closely not to burn!) to make the cheese extra melty)
  11. Sprinkle with fresh basil
  12. Bring to the table with a bowl of your favorite marinara sauce, and the vermicelli. Plate some pasta, a chicken roll and then some sauce over all. Pass some Parmigiano Reggiano for the top.
  13. Enjoy!
 SERVES: 8
NOTES: You could easily substitute other things like broccoli for the spinach or any vegetable you prefer, just make sure it’s tender crisp before and chopping it into small dice first. Leaving the sauce off in the baking process means that this works excellently as a left-over.
SOURCE: Adapted from The Cookie Rookie

Mexicali Hash

green-chile-chorizo-hash-food-lab-17-thumb-518xauto-395511This is simply a superb Sunday brunch.

But make it any time.

Because it’s grand.

Eat it in a traditional way, or do it the Mexican way, wrapped in a tortilla and sprinkled with salsa or pico de gallo and slices of avocado.

Either way, it fills the bill.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 pounds russet or Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 3/4- to 1/2-inch dice (see note above)
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 ounces Spanish chorizo, diced (If you can’t get Spanish Chorizo, then you can substitute with bacon, other sausage, ham, etc)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable, canola, or olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 scallions, white and light green parts cut into 1-inch lengths, greens sliced and reserved separately
  • 2 poblano or Anaheim (Hatch)  peppers,  charred, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 small avocado diced
  • 1/2 cup salsa or pico de gallo for serving (optional)
  • 12 warm corn tortillas for serving (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

 

  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with 2 quarts cold water. Add vinegar and 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes after coming to a boil. Drain potatoes in a colander and let drain for 2 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, place chorizo chunks in a cast iron skillet and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until chorizo is crisp on all sides and fat has rendered out, about 10 minutes total. Remove chorizo with a slotted spoon to a large bowl, leaving fat in skillet. Set chorizo aside.

  •  When potatoes are drained, add 3 tablespoons oil to skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add drained potatoes and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until potatoes are deep brown and crisp on all sides, about 20 minutes total. Add cumin and paprika and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer potatoes to bowl with chorizo and set aside.
  •  Add remaining tablespoon oil to skillet and heat over high heat until shimmering. Add scallion whites and light greens and poblano and cook, stirring occasionally, until charred, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper then transfer to bowl with potatoes and chorizo. Toss contents of bowl and return to skillet. Make 4 wells in potato mixture.
  •  Carefully break 1 egg into a small bowl and slide into a fine mesh strainer over the sink. Swirl egg very gently until excess loose white drains away. Carefully add to one of the cavities in the skillet. Repeat with remaining three eggs.

  • Drizzly eggs with a few drops of oil, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to oven. Cook until whites are barely set but yolks are still runny, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, garnish with sliced scallion greens, chopped cilantro, and avocado. Serve immediately with salsa and tortillas.

     

    SERVES: 4

    NOTES: You can skip the swirling of the egg in a strainer and just crack directly over the hash with no alteration of taste, and very little of the “look”.

    SOURCE: adapted from Serious Eats

 

Beefy Standwiches with Cheddar and Horseradish Sauces

beef-and-cheddar-horseradish-sauce-thumb-518xauto-395670This is a Saturday meal for sure, or any day when you don’t have a lot of time, but want something awesomely good.

Yes, I said awesome.

A stop by the deli and you’re good to go.

Make it.

And then make it again.

Seriously.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • For the Cheddar Cheese Sauce:
  • 8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons Frank’s Red Hot or other hot sauce
  •  
  • For the Roast Beef and Buns:
  • 1 pound thinly sliced roast beef
  • 4 pretzel buns or other rolls, split
  •  
  • For the Horseradish Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup prepared horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

 

  • For the Cheddar Cheese Sauce: Add grated cheese and cornstarch to a large bowl, and toss until combined. Transfer to medium-sized saucepan. Pour in 1 cup evaporated milk and the hot sauce. Cook over low heat, whisking occasionally, until sauce is bubbly and homogenous, about 5 minutes. It will thicken considerably as it warms up. Keep warm, thinning cheese sauce with additional evaporated milk if it becomes too thick.

  • Meanwhile, for the Beef and Buns: Adjust racks to upper middle and lower positions and preheat oven to 300°F. Place roast beef slices in a heatproof dish, cover with aluminum foil, set on the bottom rack, and cook until warmed through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, wrap buns in aluminum foil, set on top rack, and cook until warmed, about 5 minutes.

  • For the Horseradish Sauce: Add sour cream, horseradish, chives, and lemon juice to a medium-sized bowl. Stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper.

  •  Smear the cut-side of the bun bottoms with horseradish sauce, and top each with 1/4-pound of the sliced meat. Drizzle with some of the cheddar sauce and then crown with top bun halves. Serve immediately.

    SERVES: 4

    NOTES: You can use cheese wiz but my god, why would you?

    SOURCE: Serious Eats