Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dutch Baby Breakfast

A few weeks ago I went down to California for a dear friend's baby shower. It happens to be the same dear friend who shared this recipe for Thai Basil Meatballs and she might be the cutest pregnant lady that's ever lived. Seriously adorable. Well, she and I share another sweet friend, who happens to be the one responsible for this fool-proof crisp. The company and the food is always so good when I'm around these ladies! Jenny made Jeannette's recipe for Dutch Baby Breakfast and it was wonderful! Sort of like a crepe, but easier; sort of like a pancake, but fancier; sort of like a souffle, but not scary. The prep is almost zero, and the bake time is only 25 minutes. Perfect.

Dutch Baby - recipe compliments of Jenny and Netty
Preheat oven to 425

1 cup flour
1 cup milk
4 large eggs
1/4 cup of butter
powdered sugar 

In a blender, combine 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk and 4 eggs. Beat until well incorporated and a bit frothy. About a 30 seconds did the trick for me. Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a cast iron skillet. 

Pour the batter into the skillet and transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Peek at it around 22 minutes. Seriously. This is the easiest breakfast ever.

I cut our pieces right in the skillet using a pizza cutter. I didn't bother trying to place this on a serving dish as the center starts to deflate quickly.

Top with lemon juice and powdered sugar and devour!

A few things about this recipe...

I've been told that this DOES NOT WORK unless you blend with a machine. Netty has tried blending with a whisk and the Dutch Baby didn't puff up. Making my first round I blew up our ancient blender... the Magic Bullet worked just fine, just had to blend in two rounds.

As we were sitting around enjoying our gorgeous breakfast and admiring Jenny's adorable bump, Jenny's mom told us she's diced up apples and added them to the butter before she pours on the batter and then tops with cinnamon. Sounds awesome to me!

We also discussed that since this is a neutral batter we could possibly go to the savory side of things and saute ham in the butter before pouring on the batter and then top with grated cheese. 

Fresh berries or jam or whipped cream also seem like nice toppers. Options abound. 


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chicken Cacciatore

Today, I’m sharing a recipe with you of a dish I made when I participated in a cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.  The class was called An Italian-American Feast: Sunday in Brooklyn.  This class was EXCELLENT!!!  I love Italian food.  It’s my favorite cuisine.  This cooking class was right up my alley.  We made a ragu, braciole, meatballs, cannelloni, veal parmigiana, potato croquettes, broccoli salad, and an espresso biscuit tortoni…in addition to the chicken cacciatore featured here.  Whew!!!  It truly was a feast!

Chicken cacciatore is a braised chicken dish.  It is also known as “hunter’s stew”.  Variations of this dish usually include tomatoes and onions, may include other veggies, and also some wine.  The Duncan household had our own version of a Sunday feast where I served this along with a side of capellini pasta with marinara, broccolini, and garlic bread.  I was so thrilled to re-create my Italian-American experience right in my own kitchen!

Chicken Cacciatore

1 tbsp butter or margarine
2 tbsp olive oil
1.5 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1.5 tsp pepper, plus more to taste
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp onion powder
1 whole chicken, cut up into 6 pieces
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
¼ c Marsala
1c Italian canned tomatoes without their juice, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1c chicken stock
5 or 6 basil leaves
1 or 2 bay leaves
½ c frozen peas
¼ c finely chopped parsley

Season chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and onion powder.  In a wide heavy pan, heat oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the chicken pieces, a few at a time, and brown on all sides.  You may have to brown chicken in batches.  Transfer semi-cooked chicken to a bowl and set aside.

Tip: Butter browns easily so you will need to cook at a lower heat setting than you may normally cook chicken.  I had my heat a little high so the chicken browned a little too quickly.  Monitor your heat to make sure it’s browning slowly and steadily.

Add the sliced onions to the pan and cook slowly until they become translucent and take on some color.  Add the Marsala, and simmer until it is almost evaporated.  Add the chopped tomatoes, garlic, ½ tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper.  Simmer gently for 10 mins.

Add stock, basil, and bay leaves and simmer for another 10 mins.

Add the chicken back into the pan, cover, and gently simmer for a half hour or until a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast reads 165F.

Tool highlight:  My meat thermometer is my best friend!  I NEVER overcook chicken and it’s always moist and delicious!

Add the cooked peas, and simmer for 10 mins more.  Check for salt and pepper.  Serve on a flat serving platter and garnish with chopped parsley.

You can typically go to your local grocer, purchase a whole chicken, and have the butcher cut it up into pieces for you.  I went to Whole Foods because they always offer to do that sort of stuff for you.  I love how accommodating they are.  I highly recommend this rather than buying individual pieces because it’s much cheaper.  However, if you prefer a certain cut of meat, you could always choose to make this with all breasts, all thighs, etc.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Baked Gnocchi

Potato gnocchi is a dumpling that is most often made of potatoes and flour.  They are a great pasta substitute, with its ability to soak up almost any sauce and its chewy texture.  Potato gnocchi is available in the refrigerated pasta section of most grocery stores so it makes for a quick meal.  Or you can make your own like Sarah did here.

Giada de Laurentiis made this recipe on the Today Show last year.  I happened to see this recently and immediately said I had to make it.  It looked so yummy!  She tends to make this dish as a macaroni and cheese substitute.  After making it, I can see how this rich and creamy dish can be an easy stand-in for the comfort food favorite.

Clearly this isn’t very healthy with all of the cream and cheese.   I lightened it up slightly by using half and half instead of heavy cream (which is what the original recipe calls for).  It was so rich that I still think I could cut back some of the fat by subbing some milk.  Some other minor modifications I made was to use chicken stock instead of broth, adding more seasoning, and topping with Italian seasoning.  Personally, if you're on a diet, I recommend just cutting back the portion instead of the fat because it's worth every bit of it!

Baked Gnocchi
*slightly modified from Giada de Laurentiis

2-17oz packages potato gnocchi
3c half and half
1c chicken stock
¼ c flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp grated nutmeg
12 oz baby spinach
1/3 c crumbled goat cheese
½ c grated Parmesan
½ tsp Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 400F.

Place gnocchi in a 13x9” baking dish lightly coated in cooking spray.  Set aside. 

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the half and half, chicken stock, and flour over medium heat.  Continue whisking until the sauce is simmering and thickened, about 5 mins.  Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Stir and taste for seasoning.  Add seasoning as needed.  Add spinach and toss to coat in the sauce.

Note: I only had about 8 or 9 oz of spinach at home so I used what I had.  Therefore, the pictures may be a little lighter on spinach than what yours would be at home.  Next time I will definitely ensure I have enough spinach because it adds a flavor element and at least one healthy element to the dish.

Pour the sauce mixture evenly over the gnocchi and spread spinach out evenly.  Top with goat cheese, Parmesan, and Italian seasoning.  Bake until top is lightly golden, about 30 mins.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Potato Galette

This is a simple and gorgeous dish. It does take a bit of time, and it takes a few special pieces of equipment, but it's worth the investment in both. The recipe calls for a non-stick, oven save skillet and while you might not need a mandolin, I really can't imagine doing this without one. I've made this recipe a few times and followed the directions from the original to the letter - a rare thing for me to do. We've had this as a side dish for stepped up dinners, but with a nice salad it would be a great main dish.

Potato Galette - from Cooks Illustrated
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees

2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and sliced 1/8 inch thick 
4 tablespoons of melted butter
1 tablespoon butter, for melting in the skillet
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

Slice potatoes and place in a bowl of cold water. Rinse off starch, change water and rinse again. Thoroughly dry the sliced potatoes by arranging them on dish cloths and blotting off the water with fresh towels. 

Whisk 4 tablespoons of melted butter with the cornstarch, salt, pepper and rosemary in a very large bowl. Toss in dry potato slices and stir to coat with butter mixture.

Place the skillet over medium heat and melt the last tablespoon of butter. Remove from heat to layer the potatoes. Arrange the first layer of potatoes in an overlapping pattern. This is what you'll see when you flip out the galette, so I tried to get a nice pattern going for that first layer. After the first layer, I really wasn't very careful. I just tried to get even layers.

Once you've layered in all of the potatoes, cook about 5 minutes, or until the potatoes around the edges of the skillet start to turn translucent; about 5 minutes. Spray a sheet of tin foil with cooking spray and press onto the potatoes. Use a 9 inch pie dish weighted with pie weights and press down onto the potatoes (rice or dry beans also works if you are sans pie weights. Obvi, I'm sans pie weights.) Put the skillet in the oven and bake 20 minutes.

Uncover the potatoes and bake another 20-25 minutes or until potatoes feel tender when pierced with paring knife. Place a wooden cutting board big enough to cover the skillet completely and with oven mitts on, flip the gallet out. Cooks Illustrated says you can cook the galette a few minutes longer on the stove top shaking a little to loosen the potatoes, but I didn't need to do this. 

Here I was photo bombed by our toddler.

A few things about this recipe...

Cooks Illustrated calls the rosemary optional, but I really like the addition. I would try thyme in place of rosemary.

The simplicity of this is amazing, but we are onion lovers and I'll try mandolin-sliced onions layered into this also. Maybe with some nutmeg and gruyere... oh boy. That sounds good.  

Drying the potatoes really well is REALLY important. This dish can have a too-wet texture if the potatoes are wet when they go in the oven.

Finding myself out of tin foil, I have used parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray in place of the foil... it worked just fine.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

White Chicken Chili

I have been looking for a great white chicken chili recipe for the longest!  I just feel it’s not something everyone gets right in restaurants.  And since I love it so much, I wanted to make it at home and be able to have it whenever I want.  Well, the Neelys on Food Network knocked this one out of the park!  I was eating this for 3 days! 

White chicken chili is a great alternative to regular chili.  It doesn’t take long to make and is a fantastic one-pot dish.  It’s also something nice to make on the weekends and have it for lunch because it continues to get better and better as it sits and all of the flavors meld together.  Poblano peppers are my favorite pepper so I was thrilled when I realized this recipe used them.  This dish has the perfect amount of spice, earthy tones, and flavors that I just couldn’t get enough of.  Every bite was better than the last.  Please, please, please make this soon before summer hits!  After all, who wants chili during the summer???

White Chicken Chili
*slightly modified from the Neelys

2-15oz cans white beans
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium jalapeno pepper
2 medium poblano peppers
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 ½ tsp ground coriander
1 tsp hot chili powder
4-5c chicken stock
2 limes, juiced
1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat shredded
¼ c chopped cilantro leaves (also additional for garnish)
sour cream, for topping
tortilla chips, coarsely crushed, for topping

Drain and rinse the canned white beans.  In a medium bowl, mash half of the beans with a potato masher until chunky.  Set beans aside.

Note: For this recipe I used Northern beans but any white bean will do.  It’s a larger white bean with mild flavor so I think it blends well with the chili and isn’t overpowering.

Add oil to a large dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat.  Add peppers, onion, and garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant (~5 mins).  Season vegetables with salt and pepper, to taste.  Stir in chicken stock and lime juice and bring to a simmer.  Add the beans and continue to simmer for 20 mins.

Taste and add seasoning as needed.  Stir in shredded rotisserie chicken and cilantro and simmer until heated through.  Serve chili topped with sour cream, tortilla chips, cilantro, and lime wedges.

Tip: Your hands are your best kitchen tools!  I shred chicken with my fingers.  It’s so much easier than using two forks.

All of the garnishes and toppings are a MUST!  Do not forget them!  The citrus from the lime, freshness from the cilantro, and tanginess from the sour cream takes this way over the top.  Definitely blog-worthy!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Haircot Verts with Tomatoes

Okay so I know we haven’t been giving you a lot of side dishes.  But, sometimes you need something to actually go WITH your entrée right???  Well, here is a great option.  It’s easy, healthy, and flavorful. 

I didn’t make many changes to the Food Network Kitchens recipe but I chose to use haircot verts instead of green beans and I added garlic.  Other than that, the recipe is simple and flawless.  Haircot verts are just French green beans.  They’re longer and thinner.  I prefer the flavor but I can’t really put my finger on the distinct taste differences.  For me, I prefer haircot verts because I can usually find packages of perfectly fresh haircot verts in the produce section of most grocery stores and I don’t have to pick through mounds of green beans that are either shriveled or browned.  I try and make cooking easier whenever possible.

I could pair this with just about anything.  This time, I made it for Easter dinner.  We had honey glazed ham, broccoli-rice casserole, haircot verts with tomatoes, cornbread and a yummy peach cobbler for dessert.  It was a fantastic Easter dinner but you know what was completely gone by the end of the night???  The veggies!  That should tell you something :)

Haircot Verts with Tomatoes

½ onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp EVOO
1 ¼ lb green beans or haircot verts, trimmed
15oz can crushed tomatoes
1 ¼ c water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
pinch of cinnamon

Cook onion in a pot with EVOO for about 3 mins.  Add garlic and sauté another 2 mins or so.  Add beans, tomatoes, water, salt, pepper, and a pinch of cinnamon.  Partially cover and simmer 35 mins.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Tip: Cook until most of the water is evaporated.  It is important that you only partially cover or the steam won’t escape (which means the water isn’t evaporating).