Archive for the ‘chicken’ Category

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Rillettes

 

I was going to do it. I had every intention. I was going to take a chicken, pull its skin off like a disgusting, slimy sweater and then refashion the whole thing into something that people have said is delicious.

I’ll be honest though, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. For one, the galatine looks like old food (as in not modern) and something I wasn’t really interested in. Secondly it made a lot. I mean the whole idea of this month’s Charcutepalooza challenge was to stretch a small amount of food into an amount to feed a group. I just didn’t want to make a bunch of food that would eventually go to waste and I just didn’t have enough free time this month to throw together a dinner party.

Then came the thing that made the whole point mute. I got sick. So sick. Nothing sounded good to eat and I had no energy for cooking.

Finally with two days to spare, I felt up to cooking, but, I still wasn’t up to full Jennifer strength. I needed my challenge to be easily completed in just a few hours. Galatine out. Rillettes in.

I’ve made rillettes before (I made the fantastic recipe from the Pork and Sons cookbook last month as part of my meal) but I’ve always made it with pork. I wanted to try something new so I thought I would use chicken. Then I started thinking about flavorings. I love the tangy flavor of buffalo wings and I thought that would be in interesting direction to take. Here’s the ingredients.

To start, I combined all the ingredients except for the chicken and the vinegar in a saucepan and heated it until the lard had melted. Then I added the chicken and brought the pot to a low simmer. I stirred it a couple of times, but there was enough liquid in the pot that I didn’t have to worry about it too much.

After an hour I added the vinegar and let it cook for another 45 minutes or so until the chicken was falling apart. Then, using a slotted spoon, I moved all the meat to the bowl of my stand mixer.

Using the paddle attachment I ran the mixer for about a minute until the meat had broken apart. I tested for flavor and consistency and added a few spoonfuls of the cooking liquid and a splash more of vinegar.

 

Then I packed the meat into 3 half-pint jars.

 

While I packed the jars, the cooking liquid separated into layers with the fat on top, so I was able to easily spoon a layer of fat top each of the packed jars.

 

I stashed the jars in the fridge so the fat could re-solidify and the flavors could marry.

Since buffalo wings are often served with blue cheese dressing, I thought that a hunk of good blue cheese, along with some crusty bread and a few celery sticks would be the perfect accompaniments.

The rillettes made a delightful dinner. The “buffalo wing” flavor was subtle, but delicious. I could have used a little more heat (and maybe a little more tang) but overall, this recipe is a winner.

Buffalo Chicken Rillettes
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: three 8-oz jars
 
When checking the rillettes for seasoning, keep in mind that the flavors will not be as strong once the mixture has cooled. Season the mixture a little stronger than you think you should.
Ingredients
  • 5 ounces pork fat or lard
  • ½ Cup Frank’s Original Red Hot Sauce
  • ½ Cup Water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce
  • 1 Pinch cayenne
  • 1 Clove garlic, minced
  • 1½ Pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces, large veins removed.
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients, except for the chicken and white vinegar, in a saucepan and heat gently until the fat has melted. Add the chicken and cook over very low heat, stirring often for 1 hour. Add the vinegar to the pan and continue to cook until the meat shreds easily, about another hour.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix at low speed until the meat breaks into pieces. Adjust consistency by adding a few spoonfuls of the cooking liquid to the bowl (consistency should be spreadable, not runny or dry). Test for seasoning and add more salt, hot sauce or vinegar as needed.
  3. Pack the meat into a suitable jar or ramekin. Allow the cooking liquid to separate and spoon fat over the top of the meat to cover and create a seal.
  4. Serve with crusty bread, celery sticks and good blue cheese.

 

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Grilled Vegetable Chopped Salad with Creamy Pesto Dressing

So far this summer, my trips to the farmer’s market have been largely uninspiring. With the cool, wet weather that we are having in Seattle, summer produce is late arriving. My most recent trip, however, brought a wealth of inspiration. This particular farmer has been using a greenhouse to help summer along so I was able to find my first “warm weather” produce.

I decided to take advantage of one of our few sunny days and do some grilling. This, combined with some leftover chicken and a couple of ingredients from the pantry produced a wonderful main dish salad. Here’s the ingredients.

To start, I cut the bell pepper into quarters, removing the seeds and what not and then cut the eggplant and zucchini into planks about 1/2″ thick. Then I cut the sweet onions into quarters and pushed them, as well as the garlic, onto skewers. I rubbed everything down with olive oil and then seasoned them all with salt and pepper.

I started the onions and the garlic on the top rack of the grill and then walked away … for too long. Sigh. Burned. That’ll teach me for trying to do three projects at one time. I forged ahead and put the rest of the veggies on the hot grill. Flipping them as they browned …

… and removing them as they cooked through.

I decided the garlic was a goner (and it ended up being unneeded), but went ahead and peeled the charred layers off of the onions so that I could use them. I chopped everything into 1/2″ pieces, including a couple of the greens off of the sweet onions.

I stirred together the pesto, lemon juice and mayo and chopped the chicken. Finally I combined all the ingredients in a large bowl and tossed the whole mix together.

Delicious!

 

GRILLED VEGETABLE CHOPPED SALAD WITH CREAMY PESTO DRESSING
serves 2 generously

This salad can easily be made with prepared pesto and mayonnaise. However, if you have the time, take it and make a batch of pesto and homemade mayo. Put any leftover pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze. That way you’ll have a tasty touch of summer all year round. I used two “ice cubes” worth of pesto in the dressing. Mayonnaise from scratch might sound hard, but it’s easier than you think (especially if you have an immersion blender) and totally worth it. I like to use Alton Brown’s recipe (which I’ve added below) and Chef John’s method (here’s a link). If you can’t find new sweet onions, use a sliced mature sweet onion (for the bulb) and scallions (for the greens). I used leftovers from a rotisserie chicken to keep my kitchen cool.

1 zucchini, cut into 1/2″ planks
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2″ planks
1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
6 new sweet onions, bulbs quartered, some of the greens chopped
10 cloves garlic (optional)
1/4 cup pesto
1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise (see recipe below)
juice of 1/2 lemon
6 ounces cooked chicken, chopped
2-3 ounces Parmesan cheese
4-5 leaves romaine lettuce, chopped

Prepare grill for cooking. Grill all the vegetables, flipping as they brown, until they are softened and cooked through. Cool, then cut into 1/2″ pieces.

Stir together the pesto, mayonnaise and lemon juice.

In a large bowl, toss together the cooled and chopped vegetables, onion greens, chicken, lettuce, cheese and dressing. Divide between plates. Enjoy!

 

Alton Brown’s Mayonnaise

1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 pinches sugar
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 cup oil, safflower or corn

In a glass bowl, whisk together egg yolk and dry ingredients. Combine lemon juice and vinegar in a separate bowl then thoroughly whisk half into the yolk mixture. Start whisking briskly, then start adding the oil a few drops at a time until the liquid seems to thicken and lighten a bit, (which means you’ve got an emulsion on your hands). Once you reach that point you can relax your arm a little (but just a little) and increase the oil flow to a constant (albeit thin) stream. Once half of the oil is in add the rest of the lemon juice mixture.

Continue whisking until all of the oil is incorporated. Leave at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours then refrigerate for up to 1 week.

 

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Five-Spice and Cherry Chicken Sausage

Years and years ago. Back when cooking was a hobby, not a career, I asked my husband to get me the pasta extruder attachment for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. At the time, rather than being an attachment all its own (like it is now), you first had to buy the meat grinder, then you bought a separate plates for the pasta part of the process.

Happily, my husband granted my Christmas wish. Unhappily, after using the extruder just a couple of times, I gave up on it. the pasta came out all clumpy and I was certain the effort involved for the mixer was sure to burn out the motor.

In the years since, even though I still had the meat grinder, I had only used it once or twice to grind raisins for my grandmother’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. I never really thought using the meat grinder as a meat grinder until Charcutepalooza started. Now, I’m using it all the time.

 

This month’s challenge was to not only make my own sausage (specifically a poultry and fruit sausage), but take the process one step farther and stuff that sausage into casings. A little research yielded the fact that I could buy yet another Kitchen Aid attachment to get the job done (and it would only cost $8).

I placed an order for the attachment and for natural casings, then started plotting what the flavor of my sausage would be. During what seemed like an interminable wait two things happened. First, I got the chance to eat a special lunch at Allium on Orcas Island. The main course of squab with a five-spice and cherry demi helped determine what the flavor profile of my sausage would be. The combination was so good, I knew I had to borrow it. Second, a missed meeting during (one of the last) fried chicken nights at Spring Hill resulted in a number of Twitter messages between Kelly Cline (@kcline on Twitter) and myself that went something like this. Me: “How could we miss each other, I must have walked right past you?” Kelly: “Guess this just means we’ll need to get together another time, how about drinks? Me: “How about you come over at help me stuff some sausage?” And then a flurry of suggestive tweets followed (the topic is low-hanging fruit when it comes to dirty jokes).

Stuffing sausage into casings is a two-person project. I must say, I was grateful for guidance from a set of experienced hands. As we worked, we talked tricks for sausage stuffing (along with more jokes, seriously, it’s like we’re eight), plus family, gardening and the fact that we are both big nerds. What we didn’t manage to do is take any photos. All fours hands were needed for the sausage making. So, while I have photos of the sausage making portion of the project (which was done the day before Kelly came over) the stuffing portion of the project will have to remain a mystery.

Here’s the ingredients.

I started by pouring the port over the cherries (so they would plump a little).

And then I toasted up the spices.

Once they cooled a little I put the mix in my spice grinder And then put them through a sieve to  get rid of the big chunks.

Then I strained the cherries and popped the port into the fridge to use later.

I combined all the ingredients (except that port that I just put in the fridge).

And mixed it all up.

Then, it was grinding time.

I threw the port into the bowl of the newly ground meat.

And mixed it for a couple of minutes until it was sticky and tacky (and honestly, kinda gross looking).

I fried up a little test patty to make sure that the seasonings were good (and oh boy, were they). Then the mix went in the fridge until the next day when Kelly came over.

A couple of hours after her arrival, we had these.

So pretty (in a weird kind of meat-loving way).

I thought a little tang would be a nice compliment to the richness of the sausage, so I quick-pickled some sweet onion and fresh cherries kind of using a recipe from David Lebovitz but instead of using the spices he suggested, I used allspice berries and star anise.

At dinner time I whipped up some Israeli couscous and gently sautéed the sausages. Alongside I sautéed some kale tips seasoned simply with salt and pepper.

Finally I plated it all together with a couple of spoonfuls of pickles onions and cherries.

So, so good (and so, so rich). Seriously, I’ve made some tasty food before, but this sausage is awesome. Kinda sweet (but not overly so) with an unctuous, snappy bite. The pickled onions were good, maybe even necessary as a compliment. If you decide to make this sausage, consider the onions too.

 

FIVE-SPICE AND CHERRY CHICKEN SAUSAGE
loosely adapted from Charcuterie by Ruhlman & Polcyn
makes 20ish 6-inch sausage links

I got the idea for the flavoring of this sausage during a meal at Allium on Orcas Island. We were served squab with a five-spice and cherry demi that was freakishly good and I knew I needed to steal immediately.

If you like duck (and have won the lottery so you can afford to buy a lot of it) feel free to substitute it for all or part of the chicken.

Spice mix
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 2-inch cinnamon stick
3 star anise
5 cardamom pods
6 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon Coriander
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1 Tablespoon black peppercorn

1 Tablespoon orange zest
2 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 Cup dried tart cherries
1/2 Cup port
4 Pound skinless, boneless chicken thigh meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 Pound pork fat back,cut into 1/2-inch cubes
10 feet hog casings soaked in tepid water for 30 minutes, then rinsed

In a small saute pan, heat all of the spice mix ingredients until they are toasted and fragrant. Grind into a fine powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Move this to a small bowl and combine with the orange zest and salt.

Soak the dried cherries in the port for 30 minutes. Drain the cherries and reserve the wine. Refrigerate the wine to chill it.

Combine the cubed chicken and pork fat with the spice mix and cherries and stir to combine. Chill until you are ready to grind.

Grind the mixture through the small die into a bowl set in ice.

Add the chilled port to the meat mixture and use the paddle attachment on a stand mixer (or a very sturdy spoon) to mix until it is well combine and has a uniform appearance (about one minute).

Cook a small portion of the sausage and adjust the seasonings if necessary.

Stuff the sausage into the hog casing and twist into 6 inch links. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to cook.

Gently roast, grill or saute the sausage to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Dinner for Friends

I live by a few major tenets when it comes to food related gifts.

1. If you give me a gift of something like, say, fruit off of your tree, you can count on getting some of it back in a new improved form (pie, jam, infused liquor, etc.).

2. If I do happen to give you a jar of jam or chutney or what not and you don’t return the jar to me, I probably won’t give you more jarred goods (the cost of jars really starts to add up).

3. If you and a bunch of my other friends get together and buy me an expensive new toy for the kitchen, I’m going to make you a fancy dinner.

That last one, number three, that happened this Christmas. My husband and several friends all chipped in to get me this:

A Sous Vide Supreme Demi (and a vacuum food saver, since it is integral to the process). I decided to make a dinner that would show off what I think are the best features of cooking sous vide (French for under pressure).

Over the span of a couple of weeks of planning my menu developed into five courses. I wanted to do a fish course too, because that is a place where the sous vide method really shines, but my friends include one with a salmon allergy and one that hates all things that used to swim in the sea (I also had to work around dislikes of winter squash, hazelnuts, raisins, olives and one friend with a dislike of vegetables in general). I also did a cocktail pairing to go with each course, ’cause that’s how I roll.

My awesome friend Dawn took a lot of the pictures that follow (and also helped clear the table, serve drinks and load the dishwasher). Not sure I could have done it without her (well, I could have, but it would have been way less fun and there would be like five photos).

Here we go…

xxx

Eggs are especially nice cooked sous vide. The whites are just set and the yolks get really creamy, almost custard like. I also took this opportunity to serve of some of my home cured duck prosciutto (in fact, this is the same salad I developed and posted the recipe for just a couple of weeks ago).

xxx

If you’ve ever opened up a can of park and beans, you’ve seen that sorry excuse for a piece of pork just floating there on top. Well, my pork and beans instead featured a large square of my home-cured bacon which I finished sous vide instead of in the oven (I’ll be posting more about my bacon experiments soon). Cornbread seemed like the perfect accompaniment.

xxx

The beauty of chicken cooked sous vide is that it can safely be cooked to only 140°f (where the normal safe temperature is 165°f) because it is cooked for at least an hour. This makes for exceptionally moist chicken. I served it with a plum chutney that I canned over the summer and a mustard vinaigrette. The carrots were also cooked sous vide with a touch of butter and a bit of brown sugar. Even my vegetable hating guest said that they were tasty.

xxx

Another strength of cooking sous vide is the ability to turn a tough cut of meat into a something that is tender and delicious. Generally I would cook short ribs in a braise. Sure they turn out great but they have to be cooked well-done. With the sous vide, they can be cooked medium-rare (130°f) but since they are cooked for 48 (or even 72) hours they still get super tender. I adapted a recipe from Grant Achatz’s Alinea Cookbook using the root beer cure and the fennel recipes found on page 356 (though I cooked my fennel sous vide). However, since I am not a “foam” person, instead of a vanilla-potato foam I roasted potatoes with vanilla salt and a vanilla bean (though I’ll admit they got a little over cooked). I also completely forget to make the poached prunes. I was four cocktails in after all.

xxx

Lastly I made what I called my “Ode to the Captain” (Captain Crunch, that is). I will have a post with pictures of the process and a recipe later this week. But for now…

xxx

Thanks to all my awesome friends (and my even more awesome husband) for the great gift and a great night!

xxx

P.S. Five courses, with five cocktail equals a lot of dishes to put away.

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Whiskey and Brown Sugar Glazed Chicken

Tomorrow I go in for surgery on my ankle. I’ve spent the last few days preparing for my six-week recovery period, renting a knee scooter, moving rugs, finding a seat that I can use in the bathtub and most importantly stocking my freezer with tasty meals (because try as he might, the husband is not a great cook).

Wednesday I went through my freezer, finding out what proteins I had to work with (and pitching everything I couldn’t recognize). Thursday I did some menu planning and a little shopping to round out the grocery list. Friday I cooked (and cooked and cooked). Most of the veggies from this weeks box went into these efforts (and a few went into a lovely salad on Wednesday night). I now have several weeks worth of meals stocked up ranging from Cuban to Asian to plain old comfort food (mmmm, mac and cheese).

Saturday was a beautiful day here in the Seattle area, Sunny and warm and begging for some grilling. The thing is, with all my preparation efforts on Friday there was not much food left in the house. A look around turned up chicken breasts (which I had actually thawed for use on Friday but never got too), a few leeks and one giant sweet potato. Okay then, that’ll work.

One of my very favorite things is russet potatoes smoked on the grill. Basically you build an indirect fire, add the smoking chips and then put the potatoes directly on the grill for about an hour. When they are done you can top them as if they are baked potatoes (sour cream, chives and what not) but they have this subtle smokiness to them that is delicious. I decided to use this same method for my sweet potato. Unfortunately, I think the different kind of skin on the sweet potato kept the potato flesh from getting that same smokiness, but nonetheless the resulting potato was so good. Topped with chives and a touch of sour cream this was sweet and tangy and creamy goodness.

Once the potato was cooked I piled the coals together and stoked the fire a little more. I grilled the leeks (simply seasoned with olive oil and salt and pepper) and the chicken which I finished with a whiskey-brown sugar glaze (you’ll find the recipe below).

My that’ll do dinner turned out just great. Knowing that in just a couple of days cooking would be a whole lot more difficult I really took my time, savoring the experience and enjoying myself. I know a lot of people would consider  six weeks off from cooking a godsend, but for me it is something that I will truly miss (especially now in the heart of spring vegetable season).

I’m really hoping that I can get the hang of my knee scooter so that I can get back to cooking sooner rather than later. Worst case scenario, I’ll be back on my feet by Memorial day (just in time for summer vegetable season).


Whiskey and Brown Sugar Glazed Chicken

For the Marinade
1/2 cup apple juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the glaze
2 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whiskey

chicken breasts or thighs

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a ziploc bag. Add the chicken and let it marinade for a couple of hours in the refrigerator.

While the chicken marinates, combine all the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes (until it is a glaze consistency). This will thicken as it cools so you may need to reheat it before use.

Remove chicken from marinade (discard marinade) and pat dry with paper towels.

Grill chicken over a hot fire until the chicken is cooked through, brushing on both sides with the glazes just before the chicken is done. Brush with a little extra glaze just before serving.

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

A Tale of Two Chickens

This week I decided to take on a couple of recipes from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home Cookbook. The recipes from Ad Hoc are intended to be family-style “you can make this at home” recipes. I like this idea because some of the recipes from say his French Laundry Cookbook which might call for something like, an entire pig’s head (not really an everyday ingredient) or require three days of prep are not too accessible for the casual cook and are certainly not intended for weeknight dinner type cooking (at least not at my house). Not to say I don’t cook from it, or from his other cookbook Bouchon, because I have and everything I have made has been phenomenal, it’s just not “everyday” cooking.

I had lots of tasty root vegetables waiting around so I decided to start with the recipe for Whole Roasted Chicken on a bed of Root Vegetables. Out of respect for the author, I’m not going to reprint the recipe here, but if you have the book (and if you don’t I recommend it) you’ll find the recipe on page 22.

The thing about Thomas Keller recipes is that they are precise, explaining exactly how each ingredient should be trimmed and cut. The thing about me is, I’m not that precise when it comes to chopping vegetables, I mean, I cut everything pretty close to the prescribed sizes, but I certainly am not as exact as he is.

I did make a couple of changes to the recipe. First, it calls for leeks, rutabagas and turnips in addition to carrots, onions and potatoes. Well I didn’t have leeks and I just flat out don’t like turnips (and I am a grown up so I don’t have to eat them if I don’t want to). It’s been so long since I’ve had rutabagas I can’t remember if I like them or not. If I get the opportunity to get them in my CSA box I will happily try them again, but I had no interest in a special trip to the store to pick up a item I may or may not like, so I left them out too. What I did have was parsnips and golden beets, and since I like both of those things, into the mix they went.

Otherwise I followed Keller’s instructions. I pulled out my ginormous cast iron pan and deposited my olive oil dressed vegetables along with my trussed chicken which I had rubbed the inside of with fresh thyme and garlic. Then I but 4 TABLESPOONS or butter on top of the chicken (along with some salt and pepper) and popped it into the oven. The thing is, I must have been really sleepy when I was making this because after I trussed the chicken I stupidly put the chicken into the pan breast side down instead of breast side up.

So, while it cooked just fine, the yummy crispy skin was on the wrong side of the chicken (sad). However, the chicken itself was wonderful, moist and gently seasoned. While the vegetables were really good, I personally think that 4 tablespoons of butter was at least 2 tablespoons to much. A little too greasy and not quite crispy enough for my taste. So when I make this again I think I’ll go with less butter and maybe a few less vegetables in the pan (I think they might brown better if they weren’t as crowded).

So, one chicken down, one to go. Each year I cook dinner for two of my best friends, their family and of course the husband and myself as my birthday gift to them (their birthdays are on two consecutive days so I can get away with one dinner as two gifts). The recipe that seems to get the most attention from this cookbook is the one for Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Because I had heard so much about this recipe I asked if I could put it on the menu. I like to try out new things on this group because they are always (luckily) a forgiving group.

This recipe is really easy to find online (in fact it is on the Amazon sale page linked above) so I’ll leave you to find it for yourself. You can also buy it as a kit (which frankly seems silly to me, but you know, to each his own).

Keller specifically calls for 2 1/2 to 3 pound chickens stating that you may need to go to a farmers market to find them. However, I did not have the time to search out tiny chickens, so, I went for the smallest chickens I could find at my local QFC which were 4 pounds each.

So, once again I followed the instructions. Brined the chicken overnight, combined all the ingredients for the coating then packed everything up to prepare at my friends house.

Once there I set up two pans with oil (one for light meat and one for dark) as well as a dredging station (the chicken goes through the flour coating, then into buttermilk, then into a second batch of coating, then onto a parchment lined baking sheet until each piece was coated) and a cooling rack. This took A LOT of room.

So into the oil went my first two batches of chicken (one with thighs and one with breasts). This is when I started having serious heat control issues. A lot of the coating came off and even though the chicken was cooked to temperature the skin wasn’t even crispy. Sad fried chicken.

This is when I started to get despondent (and thankful for a kind group of friends (and my cocktail)). Time for a few adjustments. We turned off the kitchen fan, readjusted the temperature controls and waited for the oil to come back up to temperature. In went the drumsticks, a second batch or breasts and once they were done, the legs.

Success (mostly). As we gathered around the table I encouraged everyone to try the drumsticks first (as they were the most golden brown and delicious) then the breasts, then the legs (I didn’t even serve those first two batches, bleaagh). I was supposed to have fried up some fresh thyme and rosemary to sprinkle over the top, but at this point I was just happy to be getting something edible on the table so we decided to just dig in.

You can see from the picture that I also served a tower of biscuits. What not pictured is some very delicious macaroni and cheese (which my 5-year old picky-eater Goddaughter actually approved of) and a salad made with greens, the white-wine poached pears that I canned in November, blue cheese and glazed nuts.

The chicken was really good. The brine kept it really, really moist (and added a great flavor) and the coating was lightly seasoned, crispy and delicious. In the cookbook Thomas Keller says that once you try this chicken you’ll want to add it to your weekly routine. Well, while it was very good, it was a lot of work. It might make an every six months routine at our house.

To end the meal I served cake balls (similar to these). One of my diners was almost two-year old Rowan. He was cracking me up while he was eating them so I snapped a few pictures (yeah, they’re a little blurry but it was a little dark and little kids move fast).

Here’s the approach.

Next a few nibbles off the bottom.

Then the whole thing went in.

He looked like a chipmunk hoarding nuts.


Too cute.

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Curried Chicken Salad

Last week I came home exhausted almost every night. Between my full cooking schedule and the triathlon training, I am felling a little worn out. With the tiredness, I ended up ordering in a bit more than I like so I decided to be proactive and do some extra cooking on Sunday.

Here’s the ingredients:


4 chicken breasts (the meat from a rotisserie chicken would work well here too)
1/2 of a red bell pepper (I used the rest in the shrimp tacos)

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted

1 cup of celery, diced

a bunch of grapes, halved

2 spring onions, diced
2 Tablespoon curry powder

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

I started by baking the chicken breasts. I used frozen chicken breasts from Costco that I cooked right from their frozen state (following the instructions on the bag).

While the chicken cooked I prepped the rest of my ingredients and stirred them all together. Once the chicken was cooled I diced it and added it to the mix. Then, into the fridge it went.


On Monday I served this with lettuce leaves, crackers and some cherry tomatoes with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.


On Tuesday I ate a little for lunch, then the husband ate some for dinner while I was out. Finally the husband finished it off on Wednesday while I was at tri-training (a sure sign that he liked it).

All-in-all, five servings of a really tasty salad, all for less than 30 minutes of active cooking time in the kitchen. I love that I was able to eat and provide a tasty home-made meals with minimal weekday effort. It was like having my own personal chef!

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Asian-Grilled Chicken with Stir-Fried Vegetables

It has been a very busy week for me and I’ll admit, I’ve been a bit of a lazy chef this week. Today was my at-home paperwork day (and triathlon training rest day) so I had more energy for cooking tonight.

After a quick perusal of the crisper drawer I was rewarded with shitake mushrooms, a whole bunch of green veggies (including a zucchini that had seen better days that went in the bin rather then the meal) and in the meat drawer some chicken. I decided to put a quick marinade on the chicken and stir-fry some veggies.

Here’s the ingredients for the chicken:

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon honey
a healthy squeeze of sriracha
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 chicken breasts

I combined all the marinade ingredients in a ziploc bag. Then I trimmed my chicken and cut each breast in half horizontally so that they were thinner and would cook faster. I set this aside which I worked on the veggies.

After about 15 minutes I removed the chicken from the marinade (reserving it for later), dried them well with paper towels then tossed them on my hot grill. When it was done I set it aside to rest covered with foil while I cooked the veggies.

Here’s the ingredients for the veggies:

On the left are the veggies to top the chicken on the right are the veggies for under the chicken (that will make more sense later).

8 or so shitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
4 green onion, chopped
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup dry sherry

1 shallot, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
12 sprigs asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch spinach

In a small saucepan I warmed the sesame oil and then added the mushrooms and green onions to saute.

When they were just about cooked through I added the sherry and then put it back on the heat and let it cook until the pan was almost dry.

While this was cooking I added just a little more sesame oil to a large saute pan then tossed in the shallots, green onions and asparagus. When the veggies were cooked almost through I added the reserved marinade (making sure that it boiled for at least a minute since it had raw chicken in it) and then the spinach.

Now I was ready to plate. I made a little bed of rice, then topped that with the stir-fried asparagus combo, then topped that with grilled chicken, then topped that with the shitake mushrooms.

How was it? Well I think I would give this dish a solid “B”. It could have used more garlic, especially in the mushrooms, a little soy sauce wouldn’t have hurt anything (but their was none in the pantry) and I could have been a little more heavy handed with the sriracha. For the most part the husband enjoyed it too, but I did get a “was there spinach in this” when we were done. I can’t get anything past him.

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

The day before I got sick…

… I made this for dinner. Chicken and Black Bean Tacos (chicken marinated in spicy vinegar, cumin and chili powder plus black beans with cumin and red onion),

with Corn and Tomato Salsa (frozen corn, green bell pepper, tomato, red onion, lime juice),

and avocado relish (avocado, red onion, garlic, lime juice)

Delish.

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Chicken and Garbanzos over Lemony Chard and Tomatoes

A lot of the time I walk into the kitchen with no idea what I plan to make for dinner. This was one of those time. I basically just started pulling things out of the fridge (looking especially for things that were about to go wrong) trying to find items that would go nicely together.

I settled on a dish that took advantage of the one chicken breast and the half can of garbanzo beans that I had left over from earlier in the week. I also got some chard in my CSA box this week that I was ready to use and I had some cherry tomatoes that were starting to get wrinkly. For good measure I also decided to add a few sprigs of asparagus.

For the Lemony Chard and Tomatoes

1 bunch rainbow chard, stems separated, leaves and stems chopped
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp red pepper flakes

For the Chicken and Garbanzos

4 slice center-cut bacon, diced
2 small shallots, sliced
1 chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
8 or so marinated artichokes
1/2 can garbanzo beans
2 Tbls fresh parsley, minced

For the Sauteed Asparagus


12 sprigs Asparagus
olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper

Now, I wanted all of this to finish up cooking at the same time, so that meant a bunch of pans and a bit of attention to timing.

In the chicken pan I sauteed the diced bacon, then removed it from the pan. Next I added the chicken and shallots to the pan and started them cooking. Meanwhile in the chard pan, I heated some olive oil then added my chard stems, tomatoes and red onion. Then, I heated olive oil in a third pan and tossed in the asparagus which I seasoned with salt and pepper.

Just as the chicken was finish cooking through I added the garlic, then I turned the pan down and added the artichokes and garbanzo beans to heat through. In the chard pan, I added a clove a garlic and the red pepper flakes let that saute for a few seconds and then added my chard leaves and the lemon juice. I let this saute until the greens were cooked through. While doing all this, I was tossing my asparagus occasionally so that it cooked evenly.


I added the cooked bacon and parsley to the chicken then checked everything for seasoning and plated it up. I started with a bed of Lemony Chard and Tomatoes, topped this with the Chicken and Garbanzos, then finished up with a few sprigs of asparagus and a sprinkle of parsley. I also made a bit of toast (buttered and seasoned with sea salt and black pepper) to accompany the meal.


The meal took on a definite Mediterranean feel. While I love bacon, in this dish it kind of vanished among all the other flavors, so I probably would leave this out and save the calories next time.

I loved the flavors of this dish. The chard had a bit of warmth from the chile flakes and a great tang from the lemon which contrasted nicely with the creaminess or the garbanzo beans. The husband said it was really good, but that it would have been “better without the leafy green stuff”. Fair enough, but I like the leafy green stuff and it’s good for us, so that’s what he is going to get. It pays to be the chef.

About Me

I'm a personal chef living happily with her picky-eater (but willing to try anything) husband, neurotic black lab and a red heeler puppy.

I watch way too much TV and enjoy hip-hop more than any reasonable grown-up should.

I'm an avid swimmer and sometime triathlete (whenever I'm not nursing an injury).

Find out more about me here.

About This Blog

I started this blog at a time when my personal chef business was quite slow and I needed to keep my mind busy and my skills sharp. But now, business is booming so I've had to put the blog on the back burner. So, no new recipes for now, but please enjoy my archives.

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