Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gratitude and Food

Here is hoping that you and your family have a great Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is at our house this year and it should be fun. Just a note on what we are thankful for this year:

It is finally time again for chestnut stuffing
…and pecan pie
Tristan gets to play with his cousins again tomorrow
Joel has 4 days off
I got some down time today
We get the leftovers this year,turkey croquets… I hear you calling!
We recently got to go out to eat to a new restaurant…even better, with new friends!!
We have people that love us (or at least like us most of the time)
Wine…enough said really.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mushroom Risotto

Believe or not this was the first time I made Risotto. You hear how complicated it is to make and honestly, it scared me off. Then the other day in the supermarket, I see the big container of risotto next to the basmati and I think, “Now honestly, how scary can a little bit of rice be?” So, I buy it and I make it, and I am utterly shocked. Shocked I tell you. It takes the skill level of rice- a- roni. I am not joking. At all. It has all been a lie! But now I know the truth…. I think we will be have a lot of risotto for a while!!
1.5 c. of risotto
4 tbs olive oil divided
1 cup of white wine
4-6 c. of chicken stock (it took me about 5)
1 packaged of mixed mushrooms chopped
1 large or two small shallots finely chopped
1 tbs porcini and truffle oil (optional, you can get at sur la table)
1 tsp tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and cook mushrooms and shallots. Once done set them aside.
Heat the other 2 tablespoons of oil. Add risotto to pan and cook for about 3 minutes stirring until rice starts to yellow/brown just a bit.
Add wine and tarragon. Cook over medium low heat until liquid is absorbed. Add 2 cups of the chicken stock. Cook, until that liquid is absorbed (the recipe on the canister indicates to stir constantly. You do want to stir it a bit, but constantly is a bit of an overstatement. However, you do want to stay close, this is not a dish you can leave and come back to check on.) At this point add liquid a cup at a time. Check doneness of rice after 3 cups of stock and check each cup after. Risotto should be firm but not hard. It will be a bit wet.
Once risotto is done add mushrooms back in, drizzle with oil and serve.
One thing I could use suggestions on is reheating the risotto. The next day I went to have some and it was terrible. It was gluey and pasty and the kids ended up getting it for lunch (they thought it was great). I just microwaved it. Any ideas on a better way to heat it?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Special note: today's post is by my good friend and fellow blogstress, Swestie. She writes about things that inspire her. Check out her blog here. Today, I'm also posting on her blog about how I was inspired to start cooking. I hope you enjoy the switch! Don't forget to let us know what you think! Heeerrrrreeee's Swestie!

Recently, I indulged my taste buds in some banana pudding at a restaurant here in Richmond. This restaurant is known for it ever-changing repertoire of comfort foods, and the banana pudding I ordered there did not disappoint.

Served individually in shallow dishes, the sweet, gooey lusciousness is layered over a crumbly crust, topped by a layer of ever-so-thinly-sliced bananas, fanned over the top and caramelized to crisp, delicate perfection. The caramelization creates such a rich note to the already decadent dessert. Eating the pudding, slowly… mindfully… one immorally delicious bite after another… is the meaning of pleasure in the first degree.

So I decided to try to recreate it… with a recipe from Weight Watchers, no less. Now the WW recipe called for the recipe to be layered into one large dish, creating servings for 12 (only four points per serving!), and one of the layers was “whipped topping” (love the taste, hate the idea). So I modified the recipe to serve the pudding in individual ramekins, without whipped topping, WITH the caramelized goodness on top. Here’s how I did it.

1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
¾ cup of sugar, plus a little bit extra for caramelization
¼ teaspoon of salt
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 ½ cups of 1% low-fat milk
3 tablespoons of butter, divided
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
36 Reduced Fat Nilla Wafers
5 ripe bananas
10 individual ramekins

Crush the Nilla Wavers and distribute evenly between the ramekins.

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a 3-quart saucepan.

Combine egg yolks and milk; stir with a whisk. Gradually add egg mixture to dry ingredients, stirring well. Add 2 tablespoons butter. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and add remaining 1 tablespoon butter and vanilla, stirring until butter melts.

Pour this mixture into the ramekins.

Layer the pudding with bananas sliced very thinly.

Cover and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

When you are ready to serve, layer the top again with very thinly sliced bananas, fanned over the top of the pudding. Sprinkle the top with sugar, and place in a HOT broiler for 3-3 ½ minutes (watch this – don’t want it to burn). Or, if you have one of those kitchen blow torch things, put it to good use, the best way you know how… I’m not so fancy.

If you MUST have the “whipped topping” add it now… or for an even richer taste sensation, use real whipped cream…

Now impress and astound your friends and family with delicious, home-baked - yet easy and slightly fancy – goodness, right in your own home. (5 WW points/serving, the way I fixed it.)

Chicken Cacciatore Pasta

1.5 lb pasta
1-1.5 green pepper depending on size, sliced
2 small yellow onions halved and sliced
2lbs chicken cut up into small pieces
1 large can of crushed tomato
1 large can of petite diced tomato
3 TBS olive oil
3 TBS Italian Seasoning
Pinch of sugar
1 tbs garlic
Salt and pepper
Add olive oil to stock pot and turn burner to medium. Add onion and sauté in pot for 2 minutes. Add both can of tomatoes and Italian Seasoning, pinch of sugar and garlic. Bring to a boil. Add the chicken, reduce heat and simmer on low for 1 hours or until the chicken is very tender. Add green peppers and simmer another hour. Adjust salt and pepper.
Meanwhile put pasta on. Once pasta is done, add on ladle of pasta water to pasta sauce . Drain pasta, take sauce off heat, toss and serve.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fried Green Tomatoes Topped with Crab

Okay, okay I did not invent this, at all. I didn’t even improve it. My parents made this for me and I don’t know where they go the recipe. It is just so good I can’t stand it. I will tell you if you want to make this a bit healthier, instead of frying, spray a nonstick pan with cooking spray, and then lightly spray the coated tomatoes. Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes or until crispy. Honestly, the yumminess of this dish is the flavor combination not the frying. No matter how you slice it, Hollandaise is just fancy butter, so it is not low cal, however, you drizzle it over (so you don't use much) so use your judgment. If you just can’t bring yourself to do the Hollandaise use a butter substitute with a lot of lemon or just lemon juice.

Start with the Hollandaise and set it aside until you need it. You can also by the jar stuff but it is quite easy to make
Add 3 egg yolks, 2 tbs lemon and a pinch of salt and pepper to a food processor or blender. Blend for 30 second. Heat 1stick (yeap a whole durn stick) until bubbling. Here is the trick, while the processor or blender is going, slowly, slowly add the hot butter. If it seems a bit thin at first, don’t worry it will thicken.
You will need 1 lb of crab, though you will have likely have left over crab (but you don’t have too!!) . I by back fin, because I am cheap, but lump….of course would be better.
Fried Green Tomatoes
2 large green tomatoes
2 egg whites beaten
½ c. white flour
½ c. cornmeal
Salt and pepper
3 tbs oil
Slice tomato. Combine flour and cornmeal and salt and pepper. Coat tomato with egg white and dredge though flour combination. Meanwhile heat oil. You really don’t need to deep fat fry these, a little oil goes a long way. Fry them up until they are gold brown on both sides. Remove. Top each slice with a healthy scoop of crab and drizzle with the Hollandaise. ENJOY…these are good!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Chicken

1.5-2 lbs chicken
1 c. sun dried tomatoes (get the ones packed in oil)
16 basil leaves
1/4c. Cream
Salt an pepper
1tbs olive oil
Filet chicken breast, pound out and season. Remove ¼ c. of the tomatoes and set aside remaining. Line chicken with tomatoes and basil leaves, roll and secure with toothpick.
In skillet heat oil and add chicken. While chicken is cooking in food processor add remaining tomatoes and cream and 1tsp salt. Process. Check salt. When chicken is almost done, spoon cream mixture on top and let finish cooking.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Salmon with Honey-Soy Glaze (aka Miso Honey)

I have to say a special thanks to someone that stopped by and suggested the name change (aka). It was such a great idea I had to roll with it.

This was a recipe that my husband adapted from Gourmet. It originally called for Maple Syrup. We like it far better with honey.
¼ c. soy
¼ c. honey
2lb salmon
Boil honey and soy in saucepan over medium heat. Reduce to about 1/3 c. (about 5 minutes).
Heat oven to 450.
Pat salmon dry and season with salt and pepper. Reserving 1.5 tablespoons of glaze for later use, brush salmon with glaze. After 5 minutes brush with remaining glaze. Put salmon in oven and let cook for 10 minutes. Turn on broiler and broil 4-5 minutes. Brush with reserved glaze (use clean brush) and serve.

There are not any other fish I think this glaze would be good on, however I think it would be great on scallops.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Rosemary Pasta

I am behind on posting. We had a lot of heavy food that went a long way and then I have been lazy of late. This is easy and so good. Add some chicken or shrimp for a protein if you want. I suspect you could use any fresh herb (oregano, basil) to do this, I just love the rosemary so much I have never strayed. Since this is really simple the Parmesan is a real stand out in this. Get some good stuff. I recommend hands down Locatelli. However, if you don’t want a big block go to Ukrops you can by the end pieces and it will cost your near nothing. Plus you can use the extra on popcorn (yummy).
½ lb pasta
¼ olive oil
½ stick butter
1-2 spring fresh rosemary
Fresh Parmesan
Start pasta, while that is cooking melt butter and oil in a pan. When the butter mix just starts to bubble, throw in the rosemary and take off the burner. Allow rosemary to steep in the butter for 5 minutes or more. Once pasta is done, remove rosemary and toss with pasta. Serve immediately with fresh grated cheese over.