Monthly Archives: February 2010

Curried Ginger-Lime Chicken Salad

Curried Ginger-Lime Chicken Salad

We brined and roasted up a couple of chickens the other night… we like to do that sort of thing in big batches.  We ate part of one chicken for dinner, which left us a lot of extra chicken in the refrigerator.  Whenever we have left over chicken, I like to make this chicken salad.  It is simple and quick to put together and tastes really delicious.

Strips of celery

The mayonnaise-yogurt base is creamy and tangy and is spiked with grated fresh ginger, lime juice, and a hint of curry powder.  Throw in some minced garlic and shallot and then toss your previously roasted chicken.  Pile the whole thing on a tangle of thinly sliced strips of celery for crunch and you have a lovely light meal that would be perfect for lunch with friends, or for yourself.

Making the dressing

Curry Ginger-Lime Chicken Salad

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cooking for Two

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

2 tbls mayonnaise

2 tbls plain yogurt (whole milk is best, low fat is okay)

1 tbls freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 tsp curry powder

1 small clove of garlic, minced

1 small shallot, minced (substitute 1 tbls minced red onion if desired)

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

4 small stalks of celery

Salt and pepper to taste

Lime zest (optional)

To Make:

Using a vegetable peeler, shave thin strips of the celery stalks.  Place 2 shaved celery stalks on each plate and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, yogurt, lime juice, curry powder, minced garlic and shallot, and grated ginger until well combined.  Add the cold shredded chicken and mix until the chicken is coated with the dressing.  Refrigerate for 1 hour to meld the flavors (if desired).  Taste and sprinkle with salt and pepper as desired.

To Serve:

Place half the chicken on top of the celery strips and garnish with lime zest.  Serves two for lunch but is easily doubled or tripled if you want to make a larger batch.  This also keeps nicely in the refrigerator for a few days.

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Spinach Risotto

Spinach Risotto

I have a confession, I am addicted to making risotto in my pressure cooker.  Since discovering the wonder of making perfect risotto in minutes using this amazing device, I make it all the time.  Lunch on a Saturday, let’s have risotto.  Dinner on Tuesday, sure risotto would be a tasty side. 

Fresh spinach

Now I realize this is the third risotto recipe I have posted (if you are hungry, check out apple cheddar risotto and mushroom risotto) but it is too delicious to keep to myself.  This recipe uses fresh mushrooms cooked down until they are brown and meaty and fresh spinach to add lovely color and flavor.  Chicken stock spiked with vermouth adds unusual flavor notes to the rice.  Finally, stirring in some shredded swiss cheese adds a nice bite to the creamy dish.

Browned mushrooms

If you wanted, you could adapt this recipe for stove top cooking.  Just heat the liquid and add it, a ladle at a time, to the rice and stir constantly until it is absorbed.  Repeat until the rice is creamy.

Toasting the rice

Spinach Risotto

Ingredients:

2 tbls butter, divided

5 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tbls olive oil

8 oz fresh spinach, washed and tough stems trimmed off

1 cup aborio rice

2 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup dry vermouth

3 oz swiss cheese

To Make:

In a medium skillet heat 1 tbls olive oil over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the well drained spinach and sautee until just starting to wilt, about 2 minutes.  Remove the spinach to a colander and let drain while the risotto is cooking.

In your pressure cooker (or whatever pot you will be using to make the risotto), melt 1 tbls butter over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic and cook until browned and the mushrooms have given up their liquid, about 15 minutes.  Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter.  Cook the rice, stirring until toasted, about 3 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and vermouth, put the lid on the pressure cooker, and bring to pressure.  Cook for 8 minutes.  Release the pressure and stir in cheese, spinach, and remaining tbls butter until smooth and creamy.

To Serve:

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a side dish.

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Filed under Dinner, Mushrooms, Recipes, Rice, Side Dish, Vegetables

Doughnut Bread Pudding

Doughnut Bread Pudding

This post has been brought to you by Fat Tuesday.  Eat on, New Orleans!

Alex, I’ll take oxymorons for $2000.

A:  The absolute best use of leftover doughnuts.

Q:  What is doughnut bread pudding?

Custard

The oxymoron in this case is, “leftover doughnuts”.  Really, how often do you come across leftover doughnuts?  Well, in the rare case that you do, you’ll now know what to do with them.

Doughnuts taking a bath

It’s important to realize that doughnuts come in two primary forms.  There are the yeast doughnuts which are super light, airy, and it’s easy to polish off a half dozen before realizing that you haven’t stopped to breath yet.  There are also cake doughnuts.  These are much denser, but equally tasty.  Both kinds result in a wonderful bread pudding, but in different ways.  The yeast doughnuts will puff up when baked while the cake doughnuts tend to be more dense.  Feel free to co-mingle or make two desserts-in-one as done below.  Either way, this is a rich and decadent dessert that is just right to help celebrate the debauchery of Fat Tuesday.

Fresh from the oven

Doughnut Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

3 glazed doughnuts (yeast)*

3 chocolate glazed doughnuts (cake)

4 eggs

3 cups whole milk

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

mix of cinnamon and sugar to top (optional)

To Make:

Cut the doughnuts up into approximately 1/2 inch pieces.  Lay out the pieces on a cutting board in order to dry out a little bit (you can skip this step if your doughnuts are already a couple of days old).  Once they have sat for a few hours, make the custard mixture.

Beat the eggs.  Whisk in the milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and vanilla.  Grease a 9″x13″ baking dish.  You can lay out the doughnut pieces in any fashion that you’d like.  Either mix and match the two (or more) types of doughnuts or keep them divided.  Evenly pour the egg mixture over the doughnuts.  Use the back side of a large spatula and press the doughnuts into the egg mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours (or overnight), every once in a while pressing the doughnut pieces to be sure they are submerged in the egg mixture.

When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 325F.  Sprinkle the top of the bread pudding with cinnamon and sugar, if desired.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until the the center is just set.

To Serve:

Enjoy hot.  Now.  Right now.  This very instant.  Or cold, the next morning for breakfast, with a cup of good coffee or a glass of milk.

* If you are feeling a little crazy, go ahead and use any kind of doughnut you have hanging around… jelly, frosted, crullers, it is all fair game.

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Boston Brown Bread

Boston Brown Bread

Boston brown bread is one of those dishes that to me, a non-native New Englander, has always been a little bit strange.  The idea of steaming a loaf of bread rather than baking it is just weird.  To be fair, most of the Boston brown bread I have been served came from a can.  That really never seemed very appetizing to me.  My husband, a dyed-in-the-wool Bostonian, holds a very different opinion about brown bread and he kept urging me to give it a chance.

Ready to bake, er... steam

I gave in one night when we were having pork chops and baked beans for dinner.  How could I say no to brown bread with a meal like that?  Turns out, my prejudices were unfounded.  Made fresh, Boston brown bread is a delicious mix of whole grain flours with some dark molasses for a hint of sweetness and has a surprisingly light and springy texture.  Between the two of us (plus Thing 1) we manged to eat nearly the whole loaf during dinner.

The cooking setup

This recipe makes a small loaf (a little smaller than an average loaf pan) which is good because it has to be cooked on the stove top and, yes, steamed in a small amount of boiling water.  That means you need to have a pot large enough to fit a loaf pan inside.  Luckily, if you use the size loaf pan called for in the recipe, it will fit in a standard 5-quart Dutch oven.  This loaf is the perfect side for a Sunday winter dinner in New England (or anywhere else you don’t mind having the stove on for a couple of hours).

Fresh from a 2 hour steam bath

Boston Brown Bread

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book, 12th Edition

Ingredients:

1/2 cup stone ground cornmeal

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup rye flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (see note)

1/3 cup molasses (we prefer strong flavored molasses such as black strap)

2 tbls brown sugar

1 tbls cooking oil

To Make:

Grease 7 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 2 inch loaf pan well, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl whisk the cornmeal, whole wheat flour, rye flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to combine.

In another bowl stir together the buttermilk, molasses, brown sugar, and oil.  Gradually add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined.  Don’t over mix or the bread will be tough.  Pour batter into the prepared pan.  Grease a piece of foil and place it, greased side down, over the loaf pan.  Press the foil around the edges to seal.

Place loaf pan on a rack in a Dutch oven or any other pot which is large enough to hold the loaf pan.  Pour hot water into the Dutch oven around loaf pan until the water comes up about 1 inch high on the loaf pan.  Bring the water to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 2 to 2 1/4 hours or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center of the bread comes out clean.  Add additional boiling water to the Dutch oven as needed to keep the water level the same.

Remove the loaf pan from the Dutch oven and let stand 10 minutes.  Remove bread from pan. 

To Serve:

Slice the bread and serve warm, slathered with butter or cream cheese if desired.

Note:  Making Sour Milk – If you don’t have buttermilk on hand when preparing baked goods, substitute sour milk in the same amount.  For each cup of sour milk needed, place 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar in a glass measuring cup.  Add enough milk to make 1 cup total liquid; stir.  Let mixture stand for 5 minutes before using.

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Filed under Baked goods, Bread, Recipes

Mushroom and Onion Frittata

Mushroom and Onion Frittata

I love eggs.  I could eat them for three meals a day and be very happy.  They are so versatile; equally at home playing a supporting role in sweets like cookies or cake or acting as the star of savory dishes like quiche or a frittata.  When you are pressed for time and/or find yourself with nothing in the fridge at dinner time, eggs are a quick and easy foundation for a healthy dinner.

Eggs

If you have never made a frittata, I highly recommend you try it.  Frittatas, essentially rustic, unfussy omelets, are very easy to make, come together quickly, and can be made with whatever you have on hand.  You start with whatever precooked meat and cooked or raw vegetables you have available.  Cook them gently in an oven-proof skillet to warm them.  Add beaten eggs and cook until the bottom is set.  Sprinkle with grated cheese, pop in under the broiler, and in less than 15 minutes, dinner is served.

Mushrooms and Onions

This recipe is for a mushroom and onion frittata but feel free to use this as a guide to the basic technique and adapt to whatever ingredients you like.  Ham or bacon are always lovely additions to a frittata.  Bell (or spicy) peppers, tomatoes, roasted potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, and pretty much anything that you would put in an omelet would be tasty as well.  Of course, you could always go simple and use a variety of cheeses to flavor your dish.  Whatever you do, frittatas make a lovely dinner or brunch dish.

Cheesy goodness

Mushroom and Onion Frittata

Ingredients:

5 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1 small-to-medium yellow onion, finely diced

1 tbls vegetable oil

2 tbls butter

7 oz mushrooms, sliced

salt and pepper to taste

2 oz swiss cheese, shredded

grated parmesan cheese to top (optional)

To Make:

Beat the eggs along with the oregano and salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Place a 10″ oven proof skillet over medium heat.  Add the vegetable oil and the onions.  Cook until the onions are softened and slightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the mushrooms.  Cook until the mushrooms have released all of their juices and have browned nicely, another 10-15 minutes.  Remove the onion, mushroom mixture from the pan and place in a bowl. 

Add the butter to the pan and heat until it is foamy and starting to brown.  Add the egg mixture and reduce the heat to low.  Allow the egg mixture to cook for a few minutes and set on the bottom of the pan.  Add the onion and mushroom mixture to the eggs and top with the shredded swiss cheese.  Continue letting the egg mixture to cook for a total of about 15-20 minutes until set and only slightly runny on the top.  Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese if using. 

Place under a high broiler for about a minute until the cheese is golden brown and the top is set.  Remove the pan from the oven and use a spatula to loosen the frittata from the pan and slide onto a cutting board. 

To Serve:

Cutting the frittata into wedges (like a pizza) and eat warm or at room temp.  Serves 4.

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Filed under Breakfast, Dinner, Eggs, Mushrooms, Recipes, Vegetarian

Baked Mac & Cheese

Baked Mac & Cheese

How do you like your maccaroni and cheese?  Do you like it baked with a crunchy bread crumb layer and stiff enough to slice?  How about from the stove top with a creamy cheese sauce?  Or even (gasp) from the box?  Regardless of how you like it, I highly recommend you give this version a try. 

Spices and onions

This mac and cheese is extra cheesy and has a crunchy panko bread crumb topping.  Whole wheat elbows adds a light nutty flavor (and some extra fiber).  This is the ultimate in comfort food and is ripe for modifications.  I could see additions of bacon or some wilted spinach.  Alternatively, you could throw in some blue or goat cheese for an interesting flavor option.

Making the cheese sauce

This is great right out of the oven or eaten cold out of the fridge the next day.  The perfect dinner for a cold winter Sunday night.

30 minutes to heaven

Baked Mac & Cheese

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking 

Ingredients:

8 oz whole wheat elbow pasta

5 oz mild cheddar, shredded

4 oz Monterey jack, shredded

1 small onion, diced

3 tbls tablespoons butter, divided

2 tbls flour

1 1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp paprika

1 bay leaf

 2 cups milk (2%)

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

To Make:

Shred the cheeses and set aside. 

Fill a large stock pot with water and cook the pasta until just tender, according to the packaged instructions.  Drain and set aside.

Grease a 1 1/2 quart baking dish and preheat the oven to 350F.

Meanwhile, in another large saucepan, over medium heat, melt 2 tbls of butter.  Add the diced onion and cook until softened and translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes.  Add in the flour, dry mustard, and paprika and whisk to combine.  Cook for 2 minutes to get the raw flour taste out.  Slowly stream the milk into the pot, whisking constantly to incorporate.  Add the bay leaf.  Continue to cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture is thick, about 10 minutes.

Remove the cheese sauce from the heat and stir in about two-thirds of the shredded cheese until melted.  Stir in the maccaroni.  Empty about half of the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Layer with half of the remaining cheese.  Empty the rest of the mac into the baking dish. 

In a small skillet, melt 1 tbls of butter.  Add the bread crumbs and stir until lightly browned.  Top the mac and cheese with the remaining cheese and finally the toasted bread crumbs. 

Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

To Serve:

Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.  Serves 6 as a main course.

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Filed under Dinner, Pasta, Recipes, Vegetarian

Asian-Inspired Kale Salad

Asian-Inspired Kale Salad

 As I mentioned here, one of the best things about our deep winter CSA is that we get locally grown greens in the middle of winter.  When you try to eat seasonally in New England, it can feel like a long winter of root vegetables when the only the greens you have are those you froze the previous summer.  With our last distribution, we got some very fresh and tender kale.  We almost always eat our kale cooked, frequently sauteed in some olive oil with onions and garlic.  Last week at a business meeting, I had a cold kale salad and suddenly, a new world of possibilities opened up.

Fresh kale in the steamer basket

Normally, when I see cold kale it is on the side of a diner plate as garnish.  I never really thought to serve kale as the base of a salad.  However, this salad was really delicious and I thought maybe it would be worth it to try to make my own kale salad.  Last night, this dish was the result of that effort.  Steaming the kale briefly locks in the bright green color and cooks it just enough to take the toughness out.  Toss it with some paper thin red onion slices and a very simple dressing right before serving and you have a quick, easy, healthy, and really tasty salad in minutes.

Asian-Inspired Kale Salad

Ingredients:

2 medium bunches of kale (any variety will do)

1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 tbls Tamari soy sauce (low sodium)

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1/4 tsp fish sauce

1/4 tsp finely grated fresh ginger

1 small garlic clove, finely minced

To Make:

Wash kale, cut the leaves off the stems, and chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces.  Fill a large pot outfitted with a steamer basket with about an inch of water.  Bring the water to a boil and add the kale to the steamer basket.  Steam, with the cover on, until bright green and tender, about 5 minutes.  Place the steamed kale in a bowl and chill. 

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl (or place all ingredients in a container with a lid and shake until combined).  Just before serving, top the kale with very thinly sliced onion and toss with the dressing.

To Serves:

Serves 4.  Kale can be made ahead of time and chilled, undressed, until ready to serve.

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Filed under CSA Talk, Dinner, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian