Pasta Bolognese

Pasta Bolognese
Homemade pasta with Bolognese

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Potato-Leek Soup

I have been a cooking machine today! I am trying to make up for all of the lost time this week. I am pretty sure that by the end of the weekend I will have spent 5 hours cooking.

Anyway, onto this soup. Like I said... groceries were not plentiful in the house today, so I had to improvise a little on this recipe.

2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 leeks, white and pale green parts. Well washed, halved and thinly sliced
2 shallots, chopped
2 gloves garlic, very finely chopped
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
4 cups chicken stick or low sodium broth
Bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 2 springs of rosemary, 2 springs of thyme, 2 springs of flat leaf parsley, 6 whole black peppercorns tied together in a cheesecloth)
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)

1. In a stockpot, heat the oil and butter over medium-low heat. Add the celery, leeks, and shallots. Cook until soft, about 4-5 minutes, stirring, but do not brown.
2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
3. Add the potatoes, stock and bouquet garni
4. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, decrease the heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are tender. 40-45 minutes. Remove the bouquet and discard.

I did not have enough potatoes, so I added some barely as well. I added too much, so I would say if you wanted to try this as well, 1/2 a cup of barely is plenty. You can also choose to puree this soup or leave it chunky. (do not puree if you add barely)

Burgundian Honey Spice Bread

I have figured out a way to have breakfast all week long. I bake some kind of bread on the weekend and then take it to work all week long.
This book only has a few items that are breakfast friendly that do not require using yeast. (nothing I ever make with yeast turns out well)

3 tbsp unsalted butter , at room temperature, for the loaf pans
1 1/4 cups milk
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups honey
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp ground fennel seed
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground gloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tbsp finely chopped candied ginger
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
2 tsp baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Brush two 9x5x3 inch loaf pans with butter. Line the sheets with parchment paper. Trust me- if you don't this cake will stick!

2. Heat the milk, brown sugar, and the honey in a small saucepan over medium heat an set aside until slightly cooled.

3. To make the batter, in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer ( I just used a plain bowl because I didn't want to clean the mixer) fitted with a paddle, combine the flour, fennel, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt.
4. In two batches add the honey mixture and candied ginger, scrape down the sides as needed, and blend on low speed just until combined.
5. In a small liquid measuring cup, combine the egg, egg yolk and baking soda. Stir to combine. Add the egg mixture to the batter and beat until well blended.

6. To bake the loaves, pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans, dividing it evenly and not filling the pans more than halfway. Bake rotating once, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. 45 to 50 minutes. Cover it with aluminum foil if the bread becomes too dark.

7. Remove the loaves to a rack to cook slightly, about 15 minutes. Turn them out of the pans and immediately remove the parchment paper. These can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to one week, or freeze.

Ham-and-Swiss Frittata

I am usually skeptical about frittatas because they never seem to want to come out of the pan. The food in the fridge was slim pickings this morning since I have not been able to go to the grocery store all week. I did however, have eggs, onions, ham and some kind of cheese. So this frittata was born.

1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
1 onion, preferably Vidalia, chopped
4-6 slices of cured ham, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar or Gruyere cheese (about 2 1/5 ounces)
1 tbsp snipped fresh chives
salt & pepper

1. Place the top rack about 6 inches from the broiler. Preheat the broiler.
2. In a large, ovenproof skillet, heat the oil at medium heat. Add the onions, ham and cook until the onion is soft and translucent.

3. In a bowl whisk together eggs, half of the cheese, and the chives. Season with salt & pepper.

4. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and cook for 3 minutes, lifting the egg around the edge with wooden spoon or spatula to let the raw egg flow underneath. (tilting the pan). Decrease the heat to low, cover, and let this cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on the top of the frittata and place under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbling. About 1-2 minutes.

Now the tricky part- trying to get the frittata out of the pan with out completely destroying the shape. I took a wooden spatula and went around the edges of the pan. Then I took another spatula and went around the pan (underneath the frittata) then I flipped it onto a plate.

Not too shabby!
This was actually really good. I kind of surprised myself because this was so simple and required such basic ingredients.

Restaurant Review Boka

So this week has been a little crazy. I have been working really late and eating out more than cooking. Tuesday's restaurant was BOKA. I have been wanting to go here for a really long time and after years of living in this city finally made it.

Hmm... what can I say. It was pretty expensive for what you get.We did order pre-dinner drinks, then wine, then dessert wine. I would say we probably spent around $140 on alcohol between the 4 of us. The tab ended up being $200 per couple not including tip. And I did not even order a proper entree.

Aside from the cost complaint, the food was great. We ordered the CRISPY CHICKEN THIGH served with APPLE & CHESTNUT RISOTTO, PICKLED TURNIP, WILD MUSHROOM SAUCE. And the CORIANDER CRUSTED BIG EYE TUNA served with POMELO GRAPEFRUIT, AVOCADO CARPACCIO, HEARTS OF PALM, CILANTRO PEARLS. Both were really good, and I normally do not eat dark meat on a chicken.

Then for the entrees we tried MAINE DIVER SCALLOP which were served with KOREAN SHORT RIBS, FORBIDDEN BLACK RICE, CUMIN DUSTED LOTUS ROOT and ROASTED ZUCCHINI PUREE,. The NEW ZEALAND RACK OF LAMB with BRAISED QUINCE, CECI PUREE, CARROT & CHIVE SLAW and CHERMOULA SAUCE. Someone also had some kind of duck dish that is not on the menu online and then I had the GRILLED BABY OCTOPUS with EEL TERRINE, POTATO & HORSERADISH SALAD, CANDIED BACON and ARUGULA PUREE. I did try a little of everything, but like I said- it was pretty expensive and I would not go back again unless it was on a company tab.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Country Captain Chicken

I bought a whole chicken earlier this week thinking I was going to use it for one of my magazine Sunday recipes, however, I have a birthday party tonight and may have to postpone that post for later this week. I was really all over the place with what I wanted to use this chicken for. If I buy a whole chicken I typically bake it all in one piece, but all of these recipes called for a cut up chicken. Gross! Sorry, even though I eat meat I can't think of the preparation of it. So I enlisted some help.

This was not an easy task and not advisable. Note to self- always buy a cut up chicken if making this recipe again. I am not going to go through the process of how to cut one up because it was a painful task that probably did not come out as it should have. But somehow we got it into the 8 pieces and the recipe turned out just fine.

1 (4-5 lb) chicken, cut into 8 pieces. If you only eat the chicken breast, buy 4 breast with the skin on
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp Hungarian paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, preferably Vidalia, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp curry powder, preferably Madras
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 ( 28 oz) can whole tomatoes with juice ( I used 1 can crushed tomatoes)
1 cup golden raisins (I used dried chopped apricots)
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds, lightly toasted, for garnish
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Combine the flour, paprika, and cayenne in a shallow bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Turn the chicken pieces in the flour mixture until coated. Shake of excess flour. Set aside.
3. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add onion, peppers and garlic to the pan, stir until soft, but not browned.

4. Add the curry powder, cumin. turmeric, cinnamon, tomatoes with juice, and raisins. Season with salt & pepper.
5. Return the chicken to the pan, cover and cook over low heat for 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and juices clear when pierced with a knife. At this point you can take the chicken out and reduce the sauce to thicken for another 5-7 minutes. I served the sauce as it was, and it turned out just fine.

To serve I spooned it over some Naan, but you can always eat this with rice. Sprinkle with parsley and almonds.