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Pick This Pickleback Slaw as a Side Dish for Summer

There are so many different variations of coleslaw that it seems you can try it in just about any manner with any kind of ingredient. As long as it has some form of cabbage in it, slaw seems to be fair game today. For me, I love to have a slaw that is crispy and wet and soggy and full of mayonnaise. Don’t get me wrong – I like a  coleslaw that uses mayo but I don’t want the vegetables swimming in it. It takes away from the flavors of the cabbage and other vegetables and it isn’t very practical as a summer side dish if you use a lot of mayo and can’t leave the dish out for a bit on a table. This particular recipe I picked up from the New York Times and Sam Sifton and it makes use of an item that you probably throw away most of the time – pickle juice.

Pickleback Slaw

1 small head green cabbage

1 small head red cabbage

2 carrots, peeled and grated

2 apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled and cut into matchsticks

1/2 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons juice from a pickle jar or pickle relish jar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

2 teaspoons hot sauce

Kosher salt

Ground black pepper

Cut the green and red cabbages in half and remove the core from each of the sides. Cut each half of cabbage in half again and slice each quarter of cabbage into very thin ribbons. Mix the red and green cabbages with the grated carrots and sliced apples in a large, non-reactive bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, pickle juice,Dijon mustard, cider vinegar,hot sauce, kosher salt and black pepper until well blended.

Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss the cabbage well to coat it. Season the slaw with salt and pepper to taste. The coleslaw may be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated until you are ready to serve it. Toss the coleslaw again before serving.

Alternatively to slicing the heads of cabbage and grating the carrots yourself you could just as easily use a bag of coleslaw mix that already has all of this done for you. Choose some apples that have good flavor to them and you get even a little bit more taste into the slaw. This slaw has just the right bite to it from the pickle juice and the hot sauce and I loved the way it all mixed with the cabbages and apples. It only seemed to get better after a day or two in the fridge as well, making a great side dish for all kinds of burgers, hot dogs, ribs, sandwiches and more. of all of the coleslaw dishes I have made recently, this one seems to be one of the best choices and I have made it a couple of times since I tried the original.

That’s all I have for today. Check back again next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on June 19, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Lunch, Salad, Side Dishes, Vegetables

 

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A Classic Steakhouse Meal – Steak with Maitre D’Hotel Butter and Mock Frites

I would love to have a great steakhouse meal now and then, but the steakhouses in New York City (which is about 45 miles away from us) are just too expensive and there just are not very many quality steakhouses in the area that we live that are affordable to the average family anymore. Sure, it’s a treat to go out and have a nice dinner once in a while, but it is also great if you make something similar to that experience all on your own at home and without the benefit of having a gas or charcoal grill to use. Even with a good grill, you never are really going to get the same type of steak you get at a good steakhouse unless you are spending a fortune for some quality aged beef and have a professional-grade oven that can get the heat cranked up to 800 degrees to get that great sear you need. So for the rest of us, there are still options to get a great meal for yourself. The New York Times recently had an article in their dining section regarding making a good steak at home and it can be a lot easier than you think with this recipe. It just takes some time and paying attention and you can make your own great steak and potato meal.

Steak with Maitre D’Hotel Butter and Mock Frites

For the Potatoes:

Kosher salt

8-12 new or baby potatoes

3 tablespoons canola oil

For the Maitre D’Hotel Butter:

6 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced

1 small shallot, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Splash of Champagne or white wine vinegar

For the Steak:

2 pounds beef steak, such as boneless rib-eye, approximately 1-inch thick

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Set a large pot filled with salted water on the stove. Add the potatoes, turn the heat to high and cook, gently boiling, until the potatoes are softened, about 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and dry them well.

Oil a sheet pan with half of the canola oil and put the potatoes in the pan in a single layer. Using a potato masher or the bottom of a heavy glass, gently smash each potato, pressing it down to a thickness of less than 1 inch. Drizzle the rest of the canola oil over the smashed potatoes and place the sheet pan on the top rack in the oven and allow them to roast until the exteriors are golden and crunchy, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add salt to taste.

For the butter, place the butter on a cutting board and, using a fork, cut the thyme, shallot, lemon juice and vinegar into the butter until the butter is creamy and smooth. Scrape the butter together with a chef’s knife and form it into a rough log. Roll the butter tightly into a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

As the potatoes finish crisping, make the steaks. Set a heavy-bottomed skillet (or 2 if your steaks are very large) over high heat and let the skillet sit for a few minutes until it gets very hot.Pat the steaks dry with paper towels to absorb any exterior moisture. Shower the steaks aggressively with salt and pepper on both sides. Add the canola oil to the pan and shake the pan to distribute the oil evenly. The oil should almost immediately begin to smoke to let you know the pan is ready. Place the steaks in the skillet and allow them to sear, unattended, for 4 minutes, until they have developed a good crust on one side. Turn the steaks over and cook for an additional 3 to 6 minutes for medium-rare. Remove the steaks to a warm platter to rest. Top each steak with a tablespoon of the compound butter.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and season them with salt and pepper to taste. Place 2 or 3 potatoes on each plate alongside a steak. Top each steak with pats of the butter and serve.

You really need to make sure your pan is very hot before you put the steaks in to make sure you can get a good crust. You also want to make sure you have gotten rid of any surface moisture from the steaks so they are not just steaming in the skillet but cooking to get a good sear. The steaks came out perfectly (of course you can always cook them longer to your particular liking, just keep a close eye on them so they don’t overcook) and the potatoes were perfect, crisp and crunchy just the way I like them. I used New York strip steaks since that is what was on sale when I got steaks and they worked out well. You can serve this with any traditional steakhouse recipe, like creamed spinach or asparagus, and having some nice bread to go along with it or some dinner rolls can really round it out for you. I made some corn on the cob and sautéed some mushrooms and onions to go along with the meal and used some of the steakhouse bread I had in the freezer. The butter is great not just on the steaks but on everything else you might serve as well.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Beef, Breads, Cooking, Dinner, Potatoes, Side Dishes

 

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A Breakfast Treat – Homemade Whole-Wheat English Muffins

English muffins has always been one of those things that you love to have but never even consider making at home on your own. it just seems like they would be complicated and difficult to make and they probably would not taste as good if you made them yourself. When I saw this recipe in the New York Times a few weeks back, I could not believe how simplistic it seemed and it almost seemed like there was no way these were going to be anywhere close to the English muffins you get so used to having at diners or buying in the store. The fact is that they are really is to make, only take a few ingredients and not a lot of time or effort and you can have you own English muffins whenever you want them.

Homemade Whole-Wheat English Muffins

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup warm milk

1/2 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Cornmeal, as needed

In a small bowl, combine the yeast and 1/3 cup of warm water (registering 105 to 115 degrees) and let it rest until the yeast has dissolved, about 5 minutes.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and put it in a large bowl. Whisk in the plain yogurt, milk, honey, salt and the yeast mixture. Add the whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour and the baking soda to the bowl and beat the mixture thoroughly with a spoon or rubber spatula until it is well combined. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow it to rest in a warm spot for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly dust a small baking sheet with some of the cornmeal.

Place a large skillet over medium heat and melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Using a large ice cream scoop or a 1/2 measuring cup, drop the batter into the skillet to form round muffins about 4 inches in diameter, mounding the batter in the center. you may have to use your fingers to help get the dough out of the scoop or cup, so be careful around the hot pan and don’t worry if they do not come out perfectly circular (English muffins aren’t perfect circles most of the time). Repeat the process until you have three muffins in the skillet, leaving the rest of the batter for a second batch. Reduce the heat to low. Cover the skillet with a lid or a baking sheet and cook the muffins for 3 to 5 minutes, until the bottoms are a golden brown. Watch them carefully to make sure they do not burn.

Uncover the skillet and flip the muffins using a spatula. Cover the skillet again and cook the muffins for 2 to 4 minutes longer or until the other sides are also golden brown. Place the muffins on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the process using the remaining batter and another tablespoon of the butter.

Bake the muffins in the oven for 6 to 9 minutes, or until the muffins are puffed and cooked through. Split the muffins with a fork and toast before eating.

As I said, I was skeptical at first but these English muffins come out great. They are so easy to make and taste fantastic you can easily find yourself saying you will never have to buy English muffins again. You get a much better tasting muffin than what you get in the package. It is certainly fresher, comes out crisper and has a nice yeast taste to it. I am going to experiment and try making them just with all-purpose flour next time to see how they come out, but the whole wheat ones are phenomenal and it really takes no effort at all to make them. With the cost of a package of 6 English muffins between two and three dollars a pack, I made eight of my own for a fraction of that and used ingredients I have around the house. It is definitely worth making and trying these on your own.

That’s all I I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Breads, Breakfast, Cooking

 

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Try a Classic Pizza Recipe – Roberta’s Pizza Dough and Pizza Margherita

Pizza is always a great option for dinner and to me it tastes even better when you can make your own at home. I have tried a lot of pizza recipes and started making my own dough about a year ago. Once I saw how easy it actually was and how much money I could save by making my own pizzas instead of ordering out from one of the local pizza places, I decided to do it almost all the time. Sure, like anyone else there are times when you are too tired to cook or just feel like having a slice of pizza from your favorite pizzeria, but if you are planning ahead, you can make some great pies on your own. Recently the New York Times posted recipes for pizza dough and pizza Margherita from Roberta’s, a well-known pizzeria located in Brooklyn. The pizza looked very good so I thought I would give it a try and see how it came out.

Roberta’s Pizza Dough

153 grams 00 Italian pizza flour (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
153 grams all-purpose flour (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons)
8 grams fine salt (1 teaspoon)
2 grams active dry yeast (3/4 teaspoon)
4 grams extra-virgin olive oil (1 teaspoon)

In a large mixing bowl, combine both flours and  the salt. In a small mixing bowl, stir together 200 grams (about 1 cup) lukewarm tap water, the yeast and the olive oil, then pour it into the flour mixture. Knead the dough with your hands until it is well combined, approximately 3 minutes, then let the mixture rest for 15 minutes.
Knead the rested dough for 3 minutes. Cut the dough into 2 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Place the dough on a heavily floured surface, cover the dough balls with a dampened cloth, and let them rest and rise for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature or for 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator. (If you refrigerate the dough, remove it 30 to 45 minutes before you begin to shape it for pizza.)
To make pizza, place each dough ball on a heavily floured surface and use your fingers to stretch it, then your hands to shape it into rounds or squares. Top and bake as you like.
Just as a note, the measurements for the dry ingredients are given by weight for greater accuracy. If you have a scale that you use for baking you will get the most accuracy. The equivalent measurements that are provided are by volume and are approximate. The dough was very easy to make and to work with and had some great flavor, making it perfect for the Margherita pizza recipe also from Roberta’s that was supplied by the New York Times.
Margherita Pizza
1 12-inch round of pizza dough, stretched (see recipe)
3 tablespoons tomato sauce 
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 3/4 ounces fresh mozzarella
4 to 5 basil leaves, roughly torn
Place a pizza stone or tiles on the middle rack of your oven and turn the heat to its highest setting. Let the oven heat for at least an hour.
Put the tomato sauce in the center of the stretched dough and use the back of a spoon to spread it evenly across the surface, stopping approximately a 1/2 inch from the edges.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the pie. Break the cheese into large pieces and place these gently on the sauce. Scatter basil leaves over the top.
Using a pizza peel, pick up the pie and slide it onto the heated stone or tiles in the oven. Bake the pizza until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, approximately 4 to 8 minutes.

If you want to make a quick homemade tomato sauce that is perfect for the pizza, in a food processor, whiz together whole, drained canned tomatoes, a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and you are good to go. I actually put a couple of slices of tomato on mine as well just to round it out and I used a little more cheese than the recipe called for. The pizza has a nice thin crust and great flavor with just the simple ingredients so you can make this easily at any time.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!
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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Pizza

 

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Sam Sifton is Right – Make This Chicken and Shallots Dish!

I had seen this recipe both on Twitter and in the New York Times last week and it sounded too good to pass up. Sam Sifton, who writes food articles for the New York Times, had gotten the recipe from Andrew Zimmern, the well-known chef and host of Man vs. Food. Andrew Zimmern had gotten the recipe from his wife Rishia, who adapted the recipe from one from Martha Stewart. Needless to say the recipe has made its rounds and it is quite simple but makes a really delicious chicken dish with just a few ingredients that you may already have around the house. I love simple recipes like this one so I knew I was going to try it as soon as I saw it.

Rishia Zimmern’s Chicken and Shallots

8 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons butter

12 to 15 whole medium shallots, peeled

2 cups white wine

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 sprigs tarragon

2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half

Rinse the chicken thighs in water and pat them very dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with the flour, kosher salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or skillet set over medium-high heat. When the butter foams, cook the chicken thighs, in batches if necessary, until the chicken is well browned and crisp on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Set the chicken aside.

Add the whole shallots to the pot and saute them in the butter and chicken fat until they begin to soften and caramelize, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Add the wine to deglaze the pot, stir with a large spoon, then add the Dijon mustard and the sprigs of tarragon, then the chicken thighs. Cover the pot, turn the heat down to low, and simmer the chicken for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and allow the sauce to reduce and thicken, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes to the pot, stir lightly to combine and serve immediately.

It is a very simple recipe that turns out some great tasting chicken with a nice sauce that is flavored well by the wine, mustard, tarragon and the shallots. I ended up cutting the recipe in half because 4 chicken thighs are more than enough for the three of us for a typical meal, but if you are feeding a larger group you could go with the full recipe. I served the chicken with some white rice and roasted asparagus and I think it all went really nicely together.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Poultry

 

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One More Thanksgiving Side Dish – Stuffing with Mushrooms and Bacon

When I made the simple roast turkey the other day, I also wanted to make a very simple stuffing to go along with it. I wanted something that didn’t use a lot of ingredients and would use what I most often have on hand in the house so I could be sure to whip it up with ease. Luckily, in the same New York Times article that I found the turkey recipe I also came across this stuffing recipe and it was perfect for what I had on hand. Not a lot of fuss, ingredients or anything else. The only change I made to it myself to make things easier is that the recipes calls for leeks, which I did not have on hand. I substituted an onion instead, and I think the results were just fine.

Stuffing with Mushrooms and Bacon

3 tablespoons melted butter, plus more as needed for greasing the pan

1 1/2 pounds sliced white bread or corn bread

1/2 pound bacon

2 large leeks or onions, trimmed and sliced (3 cups)

1 1/2 pounds mushrooms (mixed variety or use what you have), cut into bite-size pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped sage

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 1/4 cups chicken stock, plus more if needed

1/4 cup apple cider, if using white bread

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Heat the oven to 250 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Trim the crusts from the white bread and cut it into 1-inch cubes; if you are using corn bread, coarsely crumble it. Spread the bread pieces out on one or 2 large baking sheets. Toast in the oven, tossing occasionally, until the bread crumbs are very dry, about 30 minutes for white bread, about 1 hour for the corn bread. Transfer the crumbs to a large bowl to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon strips until they are crisp. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the leeks (or onions) to the bacon fat and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1.2 teaspoon of black pepper. Cook, tossing frequently, until the mushrooms are tender and most of their juices have evaporated, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the sage and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until it evaporates, about 2 minutes. Spoon the mushroom mixture over the dried bread. Stir in the chicken stock. If you are using white bread, stir in the cider. Add the parsley, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. The mixture should be moist and very soft. If you like your stuffing extremely moist, add enough stock to make it seem slightly soggy but not wet (Think that it should look like pudding). Crumble the bacon and stir it into the mixture.

Transfer the bread mixture to the prepared baking pan. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of melted butter over the stuffing. Bake until the stuffing is golden, about 35 to 45 minutes and serve.

I did make one other change to this stuffing. I did add in one diced apple to give it a little extra crunch and flavor. Michelle said it seemed like just what the dish needed and she really enjoyed it with the apple in it, but make your own call if you like that kind of stuffing. The great thing about this dish is that it was easy to do. If you make the bread crumbs ahead of time (the day before), you can throw this together and put it in the oven while your turkey is resting and it should be done in plenty of time. I think this stuffing would go well with your regular weeknight roast chicken as well if you wanted to make your weeknight meal a little fancier or just feel like having some stuffing.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for more recipes. I will be making a post tomorrow, most likely with links to some other websites that have Thanksgiving meal hints and recipes. I will have a post in the coming days as well as you try to make use of some of your leftovers. I think I have some easy ideas of things you can do. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day (if you are on the East Coast, you are getting pelted with rain, like we are) and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on November 27, 2013 in Cooking, Holidays, Side Dishes, Turkey

 

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One More Easy Turkey Recipe Before Thanksgiving – Simple Roast Turkey

Okay, there is still plenty of time left if you haven’t really decided want you want to do with your turkey on Thanksgiving. It’s only Monday, so you still have time to do some kind of brining if that is what you want to do. I made another turkey this past weekend to try out a dry brine method that I saw from The New York Times and Melissa Clark recently because I wanted to see if it made any difference in the bird. If it seems like I have made a lot of  turkey the last few weeks, well I have. I wanted to try some things out to give people some options and see how things work and since I wasn’t cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year myself, it seemed like a good idea. I even have 1 turkey left to cook, but my family is getting kind of tired of eating turkey at this point so I might hold on to that one until we get closer to Christmas. In the meantime, here is a very simple dry brine recipe that adds some great flavor to the turkey.

Simple Roast Turkey

1 turkey, 10 to 12 pounds

Coarse kosher salt

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 lemon, zested and quartered

1 bunch fresh thyme or rosemary

1 bunch fresh sage

12 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

1 bottle hard cider (12 ounces)

Dry white wine or water, as needed

2 onions, peeled and quartered

3 bay leaves

Olive oil or melted butter, as needed

Remove any giblets from the cavity and reserve for stock or gravy. Pat the turkey and the turkey neck dry with paper towels; rub the turkey all over with 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt per 1 pound of turkey, the pepper and the lemon zest, including the neck. Transfer the turkey to a 2-gallon or larger resealable plastic bag. Tuck the herbs and 6 garlic cloves inside the bag. Seal and refrigerate the turkey on a small baking sheet or wrapped in another plastic bag for at least 1 day and up to 3 days, turning the bird over every day or after 12 hours if brining for only 1 day.

Remove the turkey from the bag and pat it dry with paper towels. Place the turkey, uncovered, back on the baking sheet. Return it to the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours to dry out the skin. This will help to crisp the skin while it is cooking.

When you are ready to cook the turkey, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature for one hour.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. In the bottom of a large roasting pan, add the hard cider and enough wine or water to fill the pan to 1/4-inch depth. Add half of the onions, the remaining 6 garlic cloves and the bay leaves. Stuff the remaining onions and the lemon quarters into the turkey cavity. Brush the turkey generously with olive oil or melted butter.

Place the turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack set inside the roasting pan. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Cover the breast with aluminum foil. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh registers 165 degrees, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours more. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.

A couple of things about roasting turkey. Though you have probably heard it a thousand times by now from every cooking show, magazine and blog out there, brining isn’t a necessity when cooking turkey; it does seem to help as far as flavor and the skin itself, but the only real key to having moist turkey is removing the turkey from the oven when it is the right temperature. Don’t go by those little buttons that pop up on the turkey; they are often set to pop when the internal temperature is already high, sometimes 180 degrees, and the bird will continue to cook as it rests outside the oven, leaving you with dry turkey. Invest the money in a thermometer and insert it into the thigh to check the temperature. When it is at 165, pull the turkey out and LET IT REST. Don’t carve it right away; it won’t be ready, you’ll lose all the liquid that needs to re-distribute while the bird rests, and you will end up with dry meat.

If you don’t have a roasting rack to put the turkey on, you can make something of your own to get the turkey up out of the liquid so it browns all over. Form a solid ring out of aluminum foil to place under the turkey to lift it out of the liquid. That is what I did with this bird since I wanted to use one of those disposable pans this time and my rack did not fit in the pan. It worked out really well and it is easy to do.

The dry brine in this recipe really seemed to add some flavor and I did like the combination of the cider and the aromatics. It helped to create some very tasty gravy for the meal. This is one of the easiest turkey recipes I have come across and one of the most effective. If you are making a larger bird, the New York Times does have a scale so you can adjust the herbs and seasonings and cooking time of your bird accordingly. You can check it out here if you wish. I would use this recipe if you want to do things easily for yourself and have great tasting turkey.

That’s all I have for today. I still have a couple of more side dishes to share before Thanksgiving, so check back for those. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Cooking, Dinner, Holidays, Poultry, Turkey

 

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Essential Thanksgiving – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com

Essential Thanksgiving – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com.

The New York Times lays everything out for you perfectly in this article. They cover everything you need to know and prepare for your Thanksgiving meal to make things as easy as possible for you. Check it out!

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2013 in Cooking, Cooking Websites, Dinner, Holidays, Turkey

 

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A Chinese Takeout Classic at Home – Gong Bao Chicken with Peanuts

Let’s face, we all love the convenience and taste of most Chinese takeout. There is nothing quite like getting an egg roll, some fried rice and one of a dozen or so classic Chinese takeout meals to make things easy and tasty on a weeknight or weekend. I admit we get Chinese takeout about once a month now, mainly because I have found that anything that we really like I can make at home and have it cost a lot less and often times taste better and fresher.I had come across this recipe in the New York Times a while back for a classic Chinese menu meal of Gong Bao chicken with peanuts. This one is so easy to make and only takes a few minutes of your time and you can have a meal that tastes better than your favorite takeout.

Gong Bao Chicken with Peanuts

For the Chicken:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 garlic cloves

1-inch section of fresh ginger, peeled

5 scallions, white parts only

4-6 dried chiles

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon Sichuan pepper

1/3 cup roasted peanuts

For the Marinade:

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

1 teaspoon dry sherry or dry vermouth

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the Sauce:

1 tablespoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon light soy sauce

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon chicken stock or water

Cut the chicken as evenly as possible into half-inch strips, then cut the strips into small cubes. Place the chicken in a small bowl. Add all of the marinade ingredients and 1 tablespoon of water to the bowl with the chicken. Mix well and set the bowl aside.

Peel and thinly slice the garlic and the ginger. Chop the scallions into chunks as long as the chicken cubes so they match in diameter. Snip the chiles in half or into sections, discarding the seeds.

In a small bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients and mix well.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the vegetable oil, chiles and Sichuan pepper and stir-fry briefly until the chiles are darkening but not burned. Remove the skillet from the heat if necessary to prevent the pan from overheating.

Quickly add the chicken and stir-fry it over high heat, stirring frequently. As soon as the chicken cubes have separated, add the ginger, garlic and scallions and continue to stir-fry everything until the garlic and ginger are fragrant and the chicken is just cooked through, about 2 or 3 minutes. You can test one of the larger pieces of chicken to be sure it is done.

Give the sauce a stir and add it to the ingredients in the skillet, continuing to stir and toss the mixture. As soon as the sauce has become thick and shiny, add the peanuts, stir into the mixture and remove the skillet from the heat. Serve.

There are a few things about this dish. First, if you can’t find Sichuan pepper (and it may not be readily available), there is a Sichuan oil that you can get instead to use. It doesn’t add any heat to the dish but has a lemony flavor to it. you can always omit it from the dish if you can’t locate anything else. The peppercorns are often used in Chinese five spice powder. The same goes for the dried chiles. My family does not like things very hot, so I simply went with red bell peppers and added some chili oil for a little bit of heat. One thing you do need in this dish is the peanuts. Michelle and I both agreed the peanuts made the dish. They add great crunch and flavor. You can buy already roasted peanuts in the store or you can roast your own in a 250 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Just watch them closely because they can burn pretty easily. I stir-fried some green beans, mushrooms and carrots in a separate skillet so we had some vegetable with the meal and also served it with white rice. I loved the flavor of the sauce and marinade and the peanuts really gave a lot to the dish.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for some more recipes. I had hoped to get some Halloween stuff together, but it just didn’t happen with other things going on around here, so maybe next time. however, I did make some homemade peanut butter cups which I will share next time. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal and have a happy Halloween!

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Posted by on October 31, 2013 in Cooking, Dinner, One Pot Meals, Poultry, Sauce

 

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Rainy Labor Day? Make Some Indoor Beer Can Chicken

It looks like it is going to be a rainy, cloudy and muggy day here for Labor Day today, which may put a damper on some people’s plans for picnics or cookouts. While you may not be able to have the barbecue you were hoping for on the last unofficial day of summer, you can still have food that tastes just as great. I came across this recipe in the New York Times awhile back and have been waiting for the right time to use it and with the rain we had yesterday and the fact that I found a whole chicken on sale for $4.00 the time was right to give it a try. I have done beer can chicken outdoors before, but I had never ventured to try it in the oven.

Indoor Beer Can Chicken

1 whole chicken, about 4 to 5 pounds

4 tablespoons sweet paprika

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon granulated white sugar

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

1 can beer, ideally yellow in color, with the top half consumed or poured off

Remove the top rack from the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the neck and giblets from the chicken. Rinse the chicken well in cold water and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels.

Combine all the spices together in a large bowl and blend. Apply the dry rub to the chicken both inside and outside. Place the beer can on a solid surface such as a counter top or tabletop. Pick up the chicken and, taking a leg in each hand, put the cavity of the chicken over the beer can and slide the bird down the can. Carefully transfer the bird and the can to a roasting pan and place the pan carefully in the oven.

Roast the chicken for about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours until the breast meat registers 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer or until the legs of the chicken feel very loose in their sockets. You can tent the chicken with foil after 45 minutes of cooking if you want to try to keep the skin from getting too dark. Carefully remove the chicken from the oven, remove the can from the chicken and allow the chicken to rest, tented loosely with foil, for about 10 minutes before carving.

The one I cooked was literally falling off the bone. It was very moist on the inside and the spices not only added great flavor but made for a super crispy skin that everyone just loved. You could easily just use this spice rub if you want to just roast some chicken pieces or do some chicken on the grill. You could also baste the chicken with barbecue sauce along the way as it roasts if you want that flavor, but I chose to just go with the dry rub this time. We had the chicken with some mashed potatoes, corn on the cob and biscuits and it was delicious. I’ll definitely be making this one again.

That’s all I have for today. Check back again during the week to see what else comes up. I have a few things on hand to make this week and I am going to get to the lemon icebox pie, ciabatta bread, some homemade pizza rolls, a new pork chop recipe and a nice polenta with roasted vegetables recipe I got from Williams-Sonoma. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on September 2, 2013 in Cooking, Dinner, Grilling, Poultry

 

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