Wish Upon A Dish: March 2011

March 31, 2011

Stovetop Mac 'n Cheese and a Tagine Marinade

I really wanted to make Moroccan Chicken Tagine but the recipe calls for marinading the chicken overnight.

Don't you just hate that?

Now I have to come up with something else for dinner. When in doubt always go with pasta.

I will list the ingredients for the marinade at the end of this post, so that you don't do what I did.

I took a mental health day yesterday and ate PB&J crackers and yogurt. Yes, I vegged out....I think I came downstairs to let the kitties in every once in a blue moon but other than that I spent a wonderful day in bed.

I have some cheese I need to use, so after watching Lobster Mac 'N Cheese Throwdown yesterday, I actually got a hankering for something ooey gooey.

I like that mascarpone was used in the basic Mornay and I do believe I have about 1 cup in a container in my fridge. I have 3 slices of pancetta I can use for flavoring and a head of cauliflower that just cries out to be cooked in a creamy cheese sauce.

I do not like to make an "empty" meal. I need at least a vegetable and since I didn't buy any blue cheese or tomatoes a salad is out of the question.

Set a pot of salted water to boil. I like shells and The Nudge always picks elbows so I compromise with campanelle.

In a medium saucepan, I sauteed 3 slices of chopped pancetta, 1 small shallot and 1 clove of thinly sliced garlic in a little olive oil until crisp on the edges.

I added a tablespoon of butter to the pan, and 2-3 tablespoons of flour to start the roux.

Add about 1 cup of cold milk and whisk until smooth and thick. Add a large dollop of mascarpone (if you have cream cheese, add that) and whisk until smooth and melted. Salt, pepper, nutmeg, a few dashes of Frank's Hot Sauce and I add a teaspoon of Colemans dry mustard.

In the boiling water, add the capannelle and set the timer for 5 minutes. Cut a few florets from the cauliflower and when the timer goes off, add them to the boiling water and cook for 4 more minutes. Drain and set aside.

Add the grated cheeses (I choose a white cheddar, a fontina and a handful of parmigianna). Stir until melted, add the pasta and cauliflower, stir to combine and adjust seasonings. I diced up a roasted red pepper (for color and Vitamin C) and added a handful of peas. If it is too thick add some of the pasta water or more milk and serve immediately. I made a topping of buttered panko with garlic salt, parsley, and grated cheese to spoon on top for texture. It really made a difference.

If you want to make this ahead of time, pour it into a buttered casserole pan, top with some breadcrumbs mixed with parmesan cheese, dollop some butter on top and place in an oven to bake until the sides are bubbling and lava hot!!

Tomorrow is Chicken Tagine with my homemade preserved lemons.
So you won't forget to marinade your chicken overnight, here is the marinade:

Chicken Marinade
Prepare this 24 hours in advance.
* 8 pieces of dark meat chicken, personal choice
* 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
* 1 tablespoon kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1/2 grated onion
* 2 tablespoons lite olive oil, grapeseed oil or canola oil
* pulp from 1 preserved lemon

I would heat the dried spices in a small saucepan until fragrant.
Immediately add them to the garlic, onions, lemon pulp and oil. Add in the salt & pepper. Pour mixture into a large zip bag along with chicken pieces and place in fridge overnight.

Tomorrow we make Tagine.

March 28, 2011

Roasted Tomato Pesto Salmon w/Orechiette Pasta

I have never eaten a pasta dish that included salmon, most probably because up until last summer, The Nudge would not eat it and I do not usually order pasta out. I can't remember the last time I saw salmon on an Italian cooking or vacation show.

After some research I found that Italians do eat salmon but it is not as familiar as other seafood you might see on the table of an Italian family.
Clams, mussels swordfish, squid, sardines, bacala, monkfish, and of course, octopus....yummy.

Salmon is more prevalent in the south of Italy and probably more is eaten on the island of Sicily than anywhere else on the mainland. I can see it simply roasted, like swordfish, with olive oil and salt & pepper.

I could only find salmon and pasta recipes with either smoked salmon or lots of cream. I did not want a heavy cream sauce. I thought about making a brothy salmon dish with a nest of angel hair pasta at the bottom of the bowl because Mondays are soup days here in our house.

Then I thought of segmenting into spring with a pasta salad using salmon. Neither appealed to me.

I finally came around to the idea of roasting the salmon with the tomatoes, garlic, almonds and pine nuts together in the same sheet pan, tossing everything with olive oil, oregano, salt & pepper and red pepper flakes and serving it over "little ears" pasta.

The key to this recipe is to add ingredients in the order of what takes the longest to roast to the quickest, removing the salmon to a platter and pureeing the remains in a processor with the grated cheese, the squeeze of pesto and more olive oil to get the right consistency to coat the pasta and to drizzle over the salmon. One pot for roasting and an immersion blender or small processor to wash. My kind of dish.

I am naming the final dish......

Roasted Tomato Pesto Salmon w/Orecchiette Pasta
* 1/3 package of Orecchiette pasta
* 1/2 pint of grape tomatoes
* extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
* 1 tablespoon dried oregano
* 4 unpeeled large garlic cloves, bruised
* 5 tablespoons sliced raw almonds, divided
* 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
* 1 good squeeze of basil pesto in a tube
* 1 small roasted red pepper, optional
* 2 teaspoons pine nuts
* 1/3 cup grated pecorino romano, plus more for sprinkling over finished pasta
* juice of half a lemon

1. We will start with the marinade. In a small bowl combine oregano, garlic, crushed red pepper, olive oil, and salt & pepper.
2. Rub salmon with mixture and set aside to marinade.
3. In the meantime, add the tomatoes to the marinade and heat the oven to 375F.
4. Place the tomatoes and the garlic on a large sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes.
5. Add salmon and continue baking for 10 minutes. While the salmon is cooking, start a large pot of salted water for the pasta.
6. Add the almonds and pine nuts and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
7. While nuts are baking, cook the pasta according to package directions.
8. Remove pan from oven and set salmon aside while scraping the rest of the roasted ingredients into the processor bowl or back into the original bowl. With the machine running, add the squeeze of pesto and more olive oil until mixture is processed to a chuncky consistency but has some juice. This will depend on the juiciness of the tomatoes. You do not want a smooth puree, you want very small chunks.
9. Spoon enough mixture over drained pasta to coat well. Add cheese to pasta. Season with salt & pepper.
10. Remove the salmon from tented platter and divide into portions.
11. Spoon about 1 cup of pasta on to each bowl and place salmon fillet on top. Spoon additional tomato pesto, a squeeze of lemon, some chopped parsley and serve.

This was exactly what I had in mind for dinner tonight. Even The Nudge said...."hmmmm, good".
It was light and very healthy and I would make this pesto again. It is just different enough from the basil pesto that you could eat both in the same week.
And yes, I used cheese with fish. In parts of Italy, cheese is allowed. In my house it is always allowed!!

Ricotta Filled Buckwheat Pancakes w/Fig Relish

I do not think that The Nudge has ever had a blintz, of any kind. I don't even think he's had a dessert filled with ricotta either. I have had both and I like both.

When I saw a recipe for Buckwheat Blintzes with Fig Relish I decided to give it a try.
While not the most healthiest dessert recipe, it was up there on the ladder.

Buckwheat is wonderful for diabetics, along with ricotta and figs. As long as you used the Splenda No Calorie + the Splenda Brown Sugar it got even healthier.

I was having trouble getting the right consistency on the crepes. Recipe called for buckwheat pancake mix and I just think that it was either too think or too tender.
After I added another egg, I had more success and managed to get 10 good crepes.

I used only a 1 tbls cookie scoop of filling in each one, but the corners still split. Bad thing about that is the ricotta, upon heating, gets runny and some leaked into the frying pan.

6 ended up good enough to eat and after taking a forkful each, we both decided that the buckwheat overpowered the mild ricotta and needed extra cream something, so I whipped some heavy cream.

After folding the crepes, you fry them in butter, yes both sides.

Can you see the edges in this pic? The fig relish was very good and would make that again with goat cheese or cheddar crostini's. I could not find my chopped walnuts so I had to omit them.

They looked good, tasted fine but it needed some mascarpone or cream cheese mixed in with the ricotta, just to give it more denseness. If I did these again I would actually roll the crepes up with the fig relish inside and place a dollop of the flavored ricotta on top. Now that would be a good dessert.

Ricotta Filled Buckwheat Blintz with Fig Relish
as written, serves 6
adapted from food52.com

Buckwheat Crepes:
* 1 1/2 cup buckwheat pancake mix (I use Hodgson Mill)
* 2 egg
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 3 3/4 cups milk

1. In a blender, combine pancake mix, egg, oil and milk. Blend until mixed and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.
2. Heat 1 teaspoon of butter in a 10 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour in 1/3 cup of batter, swirl pan, and let cook for 4 minutes. You’ll know when its time to flip when the flaky bits on the very edge of the pan where the batter just barely covered the pan start to lift up and peel away – this is what you can grab with your fingers for flipping. Gently pick up the crepe, flip over, and cook for 1 more minute. Set aside. If crepes start to stick to the pan as you go on, add a little pencil eraser size piece of butter and smush it around the pan with a rubber spatula.

Filling and Relish:
* 1 1/2 cup ricotta
* 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
* 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 1/2 cup orange juice
* 8 calmyrna figs, cut into eighths
* 3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
* 1/3 cup honey
* 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

1. In a small covered saucepan, gently simmer the figs, orange juice, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, and thyme for 20 minutes.
2. While figs are cooking, mix ricotta, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar.
3. Lay one crepe on a work surface. Place two tablespoons of ricotta filling in a long rectangle shape in the middle of the crepe. Fold top and bottom over, then fold sides in. Do this with all crepes, and set them aside.
4. Heat 1 teaspoon of butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. In batches, add blintzes and cook about 2 or 3 minutes on each side, until a little brown and warm, adding more butter if necessary.
5. While blintzes are frying, add honey to fig pan, bring to a boil and boil until starts to get very bubbly. Turn off heat and stir in walnuts. Serve blintzes with a little bit of fig relish on top.

March 27, 2011

Jamaican Pork Tenderloin

Last week when I made the pork tenderloin for St. Pat's Day I defrosted the whole package, which always includes 2 tenderloins. I browned them both off but wrapped the extra one in foil and put it in the freezer. Since I am trying to clean out the freezer to get ready for BBQ season it is time to bake it off.

I will make another fav of ours only because I have all the ingredients on hand.
I probably could have baked this pork with over a dozen sauces but I guess I was in the mood for something sweet and spicy so..........

Jamaican Pork Tenderloin
makes 4 servings
* 1 cup marinara sauce
* 2 tbls brown sugar
* 1 tsp each, cinnamon, allspice, mace, thyme leaves, cumin and coriander
* 1/2 tsp cayenne
* 1/4 cup white wine
* salt & pepper
* 2 small bay leaves

Mix everything in a bowl, pour over the tenderloin, cover tightly and bake for 35 minutes at 375F.

Remove meat to platter, slice diagonally. Add 2 pats of butter to sauce and spoon over meat.

Serve with rice and a vegetable.
I made caramelized carrots and a Spanish yellow rice to sop up all the sauce.
Even after being browned, frozen and reheated, the tenderloin remained moist and tender, actually perfectly cooked.

March 25, 2011

Chicken Caesar Caprese Salad - Now you can have it both ways

The Nudge surprised me when I asked him what he wanted for dinner tonight. He immediately, without hesitation, said "chicken Caesar salad".

"But you don't like croutons"

"True, but I want a crispy, garlicky dressed salad with chicken cutlets"

To me, the croutons make the salad since there are no tomatoes or cucumbers or any garnish...just croutons.

He will get his salad and I will get my croutons. He really is boring at times.

Thinking about this "I want - He wants" salad, I decided to make a Caprese-style salad with a Caesar dressing using romaine, bocconcini, grape tomatoes, croutons and Parmesan curls (I am also adding julienned beets to mine).
Anne Burrell made an egg-less Caesar dressing on yesterdays show, so I will download that recipe.

You know as soon as I added the beets it turned the whole salad pink.

Eggless Caesar Salad
Adapted from The Food Network
* 1 cup grated Parmigiano, plus a block for shaving
* 2 lemons, juiced
* 4 garlic cloves
* 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
* 3 or 4 anchovy fillets
* Extra-virgin olive oil
* Kosher salt
* 3 to 4 slices day old rustic Italian bread, cut into 1/2-inch dice
* 2 hearts romaine lettuce
* 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
* 7 bocconcini, halved


In the bowl of a food processor add the 1 cup of cheese, the lemon juice, 2 garlic cloves (remember The Nudge wanted garlicky), the mustard and the anchovies. Turn the machine on and let it run for 15 to 20 seconds. As the machine is running, drizzle in 1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil. Let the machine run for another 15 seconds after the oil has incorporated. Season, to taste, with salt (I found mine to be salty enough from the anchovies and the cheese).

Coat a large saute pan generously with olive oil. Smash 2 garlic cloves and add them to the pan over medium heat. When the garlic cloves have become golden and are very aromatic remove them and discard, they have fulfilled their garlic destiny. Stir in the bread cubes, season with salt, to taste, and saute them until they have absorbed all of the oil and are crispy, but still slightly pliable (I hate to say this but I bought a package of a new wonderful all natural garlic and butter crouton).

Chiffinade the tender inside romaine lettuce leaves. Swish them in cool water, then pat them dry. In a large bowl toss the tomatoes, mozzarella balls and the leaves with the dressing. Arrange the leaves on serving plates and sprinkle with the garlic croutons. Shave some Parmesan over the salads and serve on top of a warmed chicken breast.

March 24, 2011

A Pantry Meal Day

Yesterday I started my wintry day with my recipe using a single-serve packet of instant oatmeal to make a batch of healthy Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes.
These are very filling (will keep me full till dinnertime), very healthy and extremely tasty. Oatmeal in any form is a miracle grain and pairing that with blueberries is probably the best thing you could do to start your day.
I can not eat oatmeal in a bowl but mix it in with a pancake batter and I LOVE it.
Go figure.
This time around I used a packet of Instant Cinnamon French Toast oatmeal.

Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes
makes 6 medium pancakes, 8 small ones
* 1 packet instant oatmeal, any flavor
* 1 cup 1% milk
* 1 tablespoon melted butter
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1/4 tsp baking soda
* 1/4 tsp salt
* 1 tbls sugar sub
* 1 1/2 to 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
* Dozen washed blueberries

In a large mixing bowl, add oatmeal, milk and butter and nuke for 75 seconds.
Let sit to soften the oats. Add the rest of the ingredients, along with 1 cup flour.
Stir adding more flour, spoon by spoon until it is lumpy thick but pourable.
Non-stick pan, pour batter, add blueberries. When bubbles appear, flip.
Remove to warm plate, place an inverted bowl on pancakes.
Serve with Cary's sugar free syrup. I have tried them all and this has the best flavor of them all.

Now, what to do about dinner.............

Again, we woke to almost a foot of snow. All day yesterday the snow from Monday melted and dripped on my back patio from the deck overhead. Drove me nuts.

Now it will do it again all day today and Friday. The Nudge got up at 5AM, to take a ride upstate with an engineer from his company to a vendor that makes a glue but made a bad batch and is telling him they have no time to reformulate and test again. Unfortunately this company is the only one worldwide that makes this type glue so they have to do something. Seriously. Potential problem if they can't fix the formula. The Nudge is taking this engineer to see if he can get things back on track so he can get an order in before they run out of what they have in stock.

I am not sure what time he will get home, with the weather and all, so I need a 30 minute meal tonight. So far it has stopped snowing but another wave is coming and they say it will snow all night. He could sit in traffic for hours. I told him not to go but this was too important. I just want him to be safe.

After a quick perusal of my fridge, I found a package of Buitoni whole wheat linguine, left-over ham, a half carton of fat-free half & half, a couple of eggs and a nice hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.....sounds like a quick meal to me.

Pasta Carbonara requires no recipe. I make it the way I saw Jaime Oliver do it. It really is more like an Alfredo then a Carbonara, but really good and filling. I just wish I had lettuce for a salad or at least something green......wait, I could throw in a handful of frozen peas. This is why you need a fully stocked pantry and freezer.

No recipe needed for this either......
Boil salted water for pasta. Use a full tablespoon for each gallon of water (I can not stress this more, taste it...it should taste like the ocean).
In a warmed pasta serving bowl (I stick mine in the oven set on warm), break 2 eggs, 1/2 cup fat-free half & half, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, a handful of peas and prosciutto. Mix well. Add pasta to bowl and toss. If sauce is too thick, add some pasta water and serve with extra grated cheese.

If you wanted to use only egg yolks, then freeze the whites for another day.

March 22, 2011

Slightly Different French Onion Soup

Yesterday we woke up to 3" of very heavy, wet snow.

Yup, it was 70 on Friday and 25 on Monday. A good day for a bowl of hot, cheesy soup.

The Nudge always requests French Onion Soup so I always have the ingredients in my pantry.

Once you make a French Onion Soup you personally like, you will never use a recipe again.

I like a mixture of Gruyere, Fontina and Parmesan cheese melted on the top.

Mine is a little different in the technique because I caramelize 1 large onion in butter and after adding the wines, broths and flavorings, I add another raw, sliced onion. I find that while the caramelized onion adds that great depth of sweetness and onion they tend to disintegrate by the time you are ready to eat. I add the raw onion for texture. Oh, it is still soft and sweet, it just holds it's shape.

This recipe is subject to taste, add more of what you like and omit what you don't. Taste always along the way, after each ingredient and after every 20 minutes of cooking. Food changes once you change it.

French Onion Soup
makes 2 large crocks
* 1 large sweet onion, french cut (about 2 cups)
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 fresh bay leave or 2 dried ones
* 1 tsp dried thyme leaves or 1 tbls fresh
* 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 cup red wine
* 1/2 cup white wine
* 1/2 cup chicken stock
* 2 cups good quality beef stock (not broth(
* 1 tsp tomato paste in a tube
* 4oz apple juice
* 3 tbls dry sherry
* 1 small onion, french cut
* 6 (1/2") slices of a semolina roll, toasted
* 2oz each of gruyere, fontina and parma cheese, grated

Saute large onion slices in butter on low for 30 minutes, until they are caramelized. Add wines and reduce until almost all liquid has evaporated.
Add tomato paste and bay leaves and stir.
Add stocks and apple juice.
Simmer for 30 minutes. Add small onion slices and dry sherry and simmer, uncovered, until onion is translucent and soft.

In an over-proof crock place one slice of bread into bottom of each.
Add soup to 1/2" of rim. Place 2 slices side-by-side on top and add cheese mixture in the amount you would like.
I mound it as high as it will go without falling all down the sides.
Place in a broiler until melty and just beginning to brown.

March 21, 2011

Kung Pao and Pot Stickers - an Asian feast updated

Since The Nudge insisted on grilling sausages yesterday I had to move my Kung Pao Chicken dish to today with the Japanese Dumplings I had also planned for today. We will eat both, that's all, and give my neighbor half of the dumplings. The husband has never had pot tickers...imagine that?.

First I will make my dumplings (sort of an appetizer before dinner) then make the Kung Pao.

My Shop-Rite did not have Gyoza skins so I had to buy Wonton Wrappers and cut them with a round cookie cutter. The whole idea of making them was to give me practice in the pleating technique used. I am tired of simply folding them into triangles.

I will start with something simple and then move ahead finally ending with making dumpling dough from scratch. I am having a hard time locating wheat starch and Glutinous sweet rice flour so I will google and see what I can find.

After a few tries on Google, I found a site for the starches and the resources section in the cookbook led me to a site for a company in San Francisco.

I went to IndianFoodsCo.com and ordered all the starches and wokshop.com for a great 10" hand hammered wok, spatula and skimmer plus an 8" bamboo steamer set.

I can start making my dough by next week. The book says using a tortilla press is a great way to make dumpling skins but I have a pasta roller and that is just as good.

Today will be a trial run.

Japanese Pork and Shrimp Pot Stickers
Adapted from Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen

....The Japanese love pot stickers, ordering them at ramen noodle shoppes, patronizing gyoza restaurants and visiting the Gyoza Stadium food theme park in Tokyo. They consider the dumplings essential to their cuisine, despite the fact that gyoza were popularized only after WWII, when Japanese soldiers returning form China brought back their taste and knack for making Chinese dumplings.

* 2 cups lightly packed chopped napa cabbage (I am using leftover regular cabbage from St. Pat's Day)
* 1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp salt
* 2 cloves of garlic, minced and crushed into a paste
* 2 tbls chopped chives or scallions
* 1 tsp grated fresh ginger, or 1 tbls finely minced ginger
* 6 ounces ground pork
* 1/3 pound med shrimp, shelled, deveined and chopped (4 1/2 ounces net weight)
* Scant 1/4 tsp sugar
* Generous 1/2 tsp black pepper
* 1 1/2 tbls light soy sauce
* 1 tbls sake
* 1 tbls sesame oil

I had to use a 3" cookie cutter to make my wontons round. Have a dish of water and a pastry brush handy and a teaspoon for the filling. Took me a while to figure out the pleating part but once I did they went quickly.

Hold the skin in your left hand (if right handed) and take one teaspoon of the filling and place it into the middle of the skin.
Brush the entire rim of the skin with water, fold in half, pinch at the top and make 2 small pleats on each side. This allows them to stand straight up instead of on it's side.

I a non-stick fry pan, place 2-3 tsp of canola oil and line up the dumplings like the petals on a daisy. They can touch each other. Fry until the bottoms are a really golden brown but not burnt. Once they are all crusted on the bottom, take 1/3 cup water, throw it into the pan and slam the lid on top. Do not remove the lid until you hear sizzling (not steaming)....sizzling.
When you hear that it means the water has evaporated, the dumplings are perfectly steamed and are ready to be eaten.

Dipping Sauce
makes about 1 cup
* 1/2 cup soy sauce
* 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
* 1 tsp sesame oil
* 1 tablespoon honey or agave
* 1 minced scallion, green and white parts
* 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
* 1 tsp plum sauce (optional)

Now for the recipe for a wonderful Kung Pao sauce. I love that this can be used not only with chicken but pork or any shellfish.

Kung Pao Sauce
makes about 2 1/2 cups
* 3 tbls minced garlic
* 2 tbls minced ginger
* 2 tbls sambal oelek
* 1 cup Tamari
* 3 tbls sugar
* 1/2 cup naturally brewed rice vinegar
* 1 tbls cornstarch
* 1 tbls water for a slurry
Grapeseed oil or canola oil for cooking.

In a wok or saute pan coasted lightly with oil over high heat, add garlic & ginger and saute for 1 minute, just to soften.
Add sambal, taking care not to inhale the chile, and saute until well-blended.
Add soy to deglaze, then sugar and rice vinegar.
Bring to a boil and slowly whisk in slurry to thicken.
Keep warm to use or cool and store in refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

Chop 2 chicken breasts into 1"x 1/2" strips and marinade in an egg white while you chop the rest of the vegetables.
1 large carrot and green pepper, julienned, 4-5 button mushrooms and 1/4 sweet onion, sliced. You could add any other vegetables you want. Broccoli is a good choice and even bok choy would work well. Best to choose vegetables that remain tender-crunchy.
I sliced 2 scallions on the diagonal as a garnish.

In a plastic bag scoop 1/4 cup cornstarch and your chicken pieces. Shake vigorously to coat all the pieces. In a stainless steel frying pan, heat 2 tsp of canola oil till smoking hot (if you have a wok, use that). Place about 1/2 the chicken in the pan and stir to break them up.
Let them sit to get a slight crust on them, then stir again. Continue until they are just cooked and remove. Repeat with the last half,

Another tsp of oil and saute all the vegetables. When they are crunchy tender, spoon in 1 cup Kung Pao sauce and simmer for 1 minute. Add the chicken and stir to coat.
Simmer to incorporate the the flavors and thoroughly cook the chicken. DO NOT overcook the chicken.

Make some Basmati rice and garnish with the chopped scallions and peanuts.


March 18, 2011

Plumber = New Washing Machine

I am ready for a good day today. Since my new washing machine is up against my freezer till it gets hooked up, I can't get in to look for supper.

The temperature will be in the 70's today and then drop 20 degrees. We were hoping to grill this weekend but I can't see me trying to grill a pizza in 40 degree weather.

I can make dough and let it rise while the plumber is here. I have the leftover bolognese sauce and eggs in the fridge along with a package of fresh mozzarella....

PIZZA...oh yeah

but not just any pizza.......Pizza alla Bismark

Has to be the best pizza I have made to date. Even The Nudge agrees and he was a huge Margarita guy....until my Pizza alla Bismark.

I told you to make extra sauce.

Actually, any good pizza baked with a egg on top will do, but the meat in a bolognese just makes it that much better.

I am not a fan of tomato sauce on a pizza, I prefer sliced fresh tomatoes or oven roasted grape tomatoes so the bolognese is perfect.

Since I have leftover Guinness I will incorporate that into my dough. The bitter stout and the yeast in the beer makes the dough so smooth and soft. Perfect for grilling since a softer dough takes longer to grill allowing the cheese and egg to bake to perfection without burning the bottom.

Beer Pizza Dough
Makes 2 pizzas
* 3 cups AP flour
* 1-1 1/4 cups beer (105-115 degrees)
* 1 tsp salt
* 2 1/4 tsp yeast
* 1 tbls olive oil
* 1 tbls agave nectar or honey

Mix all ingredients in a stand mixer with a dough hook or a large food processor. In a measuring cup, add agave, water and yeast. Stir. Allow to bloom for 10 minutes.

Once the yeast mix foams, add to dry mix 1/4 cup at a time running on a medium speed (#4 on a Kitchen Aide). As the liquid incorporates add another 1/4 cup. Once the dough pulls away from the work bowl and it is clean, mix for another 4 minutes.
Remove to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise 2 hours in a warm spot.
Punch the dough down and cut in half. Place one half back in bowl and cover again.
On a wooden board, rub olive oil on the board. With a rolling pin, roll out to a 1/4" width. The olive oil will help to stick the dough to the board so it does not spring back.

Remove to a large sheet pan and roll out the other half. Prepare the grill. Oil the grate and grill both crusts on one side only. Flip over and move back to sheet pan (cooked side up). Prepare 1 pizza on a pizza peel or a pan with cornmeal spinkled on it, in the middle of the grill, place the pizza and cover the grill. Bake until cheese is bubbly and eggs are set about 15-18 minutes. If the thermometer is high (like about 450) it will take less time. I would turn the pizza 1/4 turn halfway into the grilling process.

While that pizza is baking prepare the second one. You will want two pizzas.
The reason you want to halve the dough and not make one large pizza is because to grill using the indirect method does not give you enough of a space for a large pizza. The edges would burn way before the middle cooked. If you have a huge Weber or a huge propane grill your could make one large pizza, but I am talking about having a space at least 15" with no gas or coals under it. See why now?

Enjoy your Pizza alla Bismark a la me.

March 17, 2011

Happy St. Pat's Day

My trip to visit my Dad has been postponed so I can now cook the Irish dinner I had planned to actually make tomorrow.
For the printout of all these recipes click here.

First up is the Tiramisu.

Takes about 8 hours to make this dish when you forget to take the cheese out of the fridge the night before.

I am making 1 small one for the two of us. Since the recipe calls for raw egg yolks, I purchased pasteurized eggs.
I will sift cocoa powder on the top right before serving.

I am defrosting the pork tenderloin in a bowl of water. I think it will be OK in 7 hours. I can get all the prep work done ahead of time and the actually cooking will take only an hour at the most.

I am making the fritters now. I call them Bubble & Squeatters (after the Bubble & Squeak dish with the same ingredients). Whenever you make a patty of some sort that contains a raw egg you should cook a mini sample to taste for seasonings and since I salted my cabbage to remove the moisture I was glad I did just that.

Between the saltines and the cabbage I needed to add NO additional salt.
I have to say they taste amazing. I only made 10 - 2 1/2" fritters and the recipe will reflect that, so if you need 20 for your family, just double it.

Bubble & Squeatters
makes 10 (2 1/2") fritters

* 1 medium potato, hand grated and squeezed dry

The next 3 ingredients can be done in a processor.......
* 1/2 cup grated cabbage, salted and drained
* 1/4 onion, grated
* 6 saltine crackers, large grind
* 1 egg, beaten
* 2 tsp prepared horseradish
* 1/4 tsp dry mustard
* 1 tbls agave nectar or honey
* black pepper
* pinch of nutmeg
* enough dry bread crumbs or matzoh meal to bind
* canola oil

Mix all ingredients and make a sample fritter to taste for seasonings. Adjust.
In saute pan heat oil and using a tablespoon scoop mixture into pan and flatten slightly with the back of the spoon.
Saute until browned and flip over, about 3 minutes each side.
Remove to paper towel lined sheet pan and drain.
Can be made ahead and reheated in oven before serving.

Serve with horseradish applesauce and sour cream.

While I am waiting for the tenderloin to defrost, I will start the simmering sauce.
Get a large sweet onion and slice into thin slices.
Saute in olive oil with a pat of butter until they are wonderfully caramelized.

These look great and are exactly what you want. All that brown is flavor, very good flavor.
Season with salt & pepper.

Add the chicken stock, Guinness, mustard, agave nectar and thyme.
Simmer until it starts to thicken and shut off the heat. All this can be done ahead.
Taste for seasoning and bitterness (remember Guinness is a very bitter stout).

See how dark it gets after simmering for only a few minutes. The flavor concentrates and becomes sweeter. Perfect.

Once the pork has cooked in this sauce, we will be adding Balsamic Vinegar and that will change the taste again. If you still find it bitter (but I doubt you will) add another squirt of agave or a pat of butter.

Season tenderloin with salt & pepper and dredge in flour. Saute in oil on all sides, about 3-4 minutes each.

Once the tenderloin is browned, move it to a baking dish. Swish the saute pan with a couple of tablespoons chicken stock to loosen all the fond on the bottom (more flavor, we want that).
Mix that with the already cooked onions and pour over the top of the pork.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 350F.
Remove the dish, check the temperature (should be 140F). If done remove and tent with foil. Continue baking the sauce until it thickens to a nice glaze. Slice the tenderloin and spoon over the onions and sauce.

Serve with the fritters if you make them but mashed potatoes would also be great.

We can't forget the Irish Mist Tiramisu.......

This was light and very tasty but not overly sweet.
You could taste the Irish Mist, the Irish Coffee and according to The Nudge I could make this anytime I wanted to from now on....

YAY for me!!! I hit a home run.

March 16, 2011

Chicken with a Gorgonzola & Sage Sauce

So far this week has been one thing after another.

Bad water hoses prevented me from getting my new washing machine hooked up.
I called the plumber for Friday morning. Might as well get it all replaced and a safety switch put in.

My Dad calls me last night, he went to the hospital with bad pains in his stomach. They do a whole GI series and found a hernia. Not the worst that can happen, even The Nudge has a hernia and has had it since he was 2. They simply push it back in and send them home.

I think I should go visit him, so tomorrow I will take the ride.

Today I have a Dentist appointment to get impressions for my bottom teeth. I won't have time to make dinner when I get home so I prepared the chicken ahead of time.

All I need do is make a bulgur pilaf and throw in some frozen peas. I hate rushing to make dinner and if I can cook a few meals on Sunday I am ahead of the game.

This week is a tough one time-wise. I hate appointments in the middle of the day. I prefer first thing in the AM.

Chicken with a Gorgonzola and Sage Sauce
makes 4
* 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded even
* 1 T oil + 1 T butter
* 1 T flour
* 1/4 cup dry vermouth
* 1/4 cup chicken stock
* 1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese
* 1 large shallot, minced
* 4 roasted garlic cloves
* 2 bunches of sage
* 2 large sage leaves, minced
* 1 roasted pepper, sliced
* herbs de Provence
* salt & pepper

Salt & pepper each breast. Sprinkle one side with the herbs de Provence. Dredge in flour and saute in oil & butter. When breasts are browned on both sides (about 3 minutes each side), remove to a platter and tent with foil.
In same pan, drop in the bunches of sage and shallot and saute for 2 minutes.
Add wine and simmer until halved. Remove the sage and add the broth.
Simmer for 4 minutes and add the cheese & minced sage. When the cheese melts add back the breasts and any accumulated juices.

Add pepper, cover and simmer for 3-4 minutes and serve.

March 15, 2011

A Bolognese, a 3 bean Minestrone & a batch of chewy brownies

I am using a European imported flageolet bean as one of the 3 in my Minestrone Soup tonight. Even though they are a cultivated French bean I am using them in a traditional Italian soup.

Since they came dried, they must be soaked overnight. A half cup yielded over 1 cup, which was a good amount for 1/3 of the beanage. I will open a can of pink beans and navy beans.

Cover the beans with enough water to expect that they will double in size. I add salt to my soaking water to toughen up the skins so they won't mush when simmer for a long time. The specialist say to NEVER cook them in salted water or in a broth with tomatoes in it. They will take forever and some will never soften. I like to make a court bouillon just for beans and simmer them in that. Then I add them to the soups. Try it, it works well.
When they were in the water for 1 hour The nudge took one look into the bowl and laughed. The skins had wrinkled completely and looked like a science project but when I got up this morning they had soaked to perfection.

I just love the color of the flageolet beans. They have the same shape as a cannelloni or kidney bean but slimmer and smaller. Will be interesting to see how they cook up and taste.

Flageolet Beans
* 1 quart filtered water
* 3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
* 2 fresh bay leaves or 3 dried ones
* 1 teaspoon both thyme and rosemary
* Top 1/2" of an onion
* Sprinkle of olive oil

Bring to a simmer, place the beans in the pot, cover and lower to a gentle simmer for 1 hour. Skim the scum off the top every half hour.
After an hour check for doneness by squeezing one between your fingers.
If it squishes, try another and another. If all three seem to be done, remove from the pot and cool.
At this point they can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.

This soup is more like a "Clean Out the Refrigerator" soup than a Minestrone. Although when you read a few Minestra recipes the things they all have in common is tomatoes, beans, pasta/rice or potatoes. A sofrito of onions, carrots, celery and garlic starts the process with some kind of pork fat, being pancetta or bacon. The rest is whatever you want. I would have liked some cabbage in it but didn't buy it, even at 17 cents a pound, so I added mushrooms and the leftover creamed spinach from Saturday night to the three beans.....peas (1), pink beans (2), fageolets (3) one small diced potato and 1/4 cup tubettini. I had a Parma rind in the freezer and threw that in. It will be extremely healthy and filling and I will have lunch for the rest of the week......lol

I decided to make some homemade dinner rolls to go with the soup tonight.
They had a nice texture to them, chewy but very firm.
You use a Texas muffin tin.

These rolls are a very basic recipe. I used only half. The other half was put in a sprayed Zip bag and into the fridge for tomorrow night's garlic knots.

3 cups flour
1 packet rapid rise yeast
1 cup warm water
1 T. agave nectar
1 T. olive oil
1 tsp salt

Everything goes into the bowl of a Kitchen Aide with the dough hook attached. Mix on medium for at least 8 minutes. Remove onto a floured board and cut in half. Divide that half into 4 pieces and make 4 balls. Spray a Texas muffin tin with Pam and place 1 ball into a muffin hole. Cover with wrap and a towel and place it on top of the oven while it preheats to 400 degree.
Let rise to 2x their size. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle sea salt on tops and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the rolls to a sheet pan and continue to bake for 5 more minutes. This will brown all the sides. Remove and let cool.


Now to dish #2.... Bolonese Sauce

My Bolognese is a basic, but really good one. I make mine like Christina Ferrare does on Oprah's Network cooking show Big Bowl of Love. Only difference is I use less tomato product then she does and after browning all the ingredients I plop them into a 5 cup Crockpot and hit the LOW button.

I am sorry about the messy dish but I did not take a pic of dinner so I took one of my lunch (which I nuked in a small paper bowl).

I never did get the time to make fresh pasta but I did find a wonderful dried pasta that I will buy over and over again.
It was light and very tasty for a dried pasta and the perfect shape for my bolognese sauce.
I love the leftover sauce, so make plenty.

I also see another Pizza alla Bismarck on the menu this weekend (recipe here)

Get Christina's bolognese recipe here or you could search this blog for my recipe which includes an Italian hot sausage.

Pork Tenderloin with Guiness and Onion Gravy ♥ Not your traditional St. Patty's Day dinner

The Nudge is Irish, I am Italian.

He does not want Corned Beef anything, I want the whole shebang.

Guess what we are having on Thursday?

I have no idea.......

Maybe a pork tenderloin with a Guinness gravy, potato and cabbage fritters and an Irish Whiskey Tiramisu.....

Not bad, I might just surprise The Nudge with an Irish meal after all.

I will post the recipes now so you could also make them if you choose, but remember, I won't be cooking these until Thursday. These are my creations but have not been tested yet. There may be an OOPS in there.

I started with a basic professionally written recipe for the tenderloin and the tiramisu and substituted ingredients that go with my Irish theme. The fritters are a basic fritter recipe with the cabbage and horseradish added.

Pork Tenderloin with Guinness and Onion Gravy
makes 1 tenderloin, double if cooking 2
* 1 pork tenderloin, silver skin removed
* salt and freshly ground pepper
* AP flour
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 3 large onions, thinly sliced
* 3 large garlic cloves, minced
* 1 cup (about) Guinness
* 1 cup (about) chicken stock
* 1 tablespoon (or more) coarse-grained mustard
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
* 1 1/2 teaspoons (or more) balsamic vinegar
Season pork with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour, shake off excess.
Melt butter with 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large deep skillet over medium-high heat.
Add pork brown well, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer pork to plate and tent with foil. Set aside.
Dredge onions in flour; shake off excess. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Season with salt. Cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring once.
Uncover and cook 4 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/4 cup stout and 3/4 cup stock and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Return pork to skillet.
Spoon some of onions over pork. Add enough additional stout and stock to bring liquid halfway up sides of pork. Cover skillet with foil, then lid. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
Turn pork over and cook until very tender, about 10 more minutes. Transfer pork and onions to platter using slotted spoon. Degrease pan juices. Boil juices until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Whisk in 1 tablespoon mustard. Add chopped parsley and 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar. Taste, adding more mustard or vinegar if desired. Pour gravy over pork.
Garnish with parsley and serve.
Potato, Cabbage and Horseradish Fritters
makes 10 fritters
* 2 small or 1 medium potato, grated, squeezed dry
* 1 cup grated cabbage (you could use cold slaw mix)
* 1/4 onion, grated
* 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
* 1 tbls agave nectar or honey
* 6 saltines, smashed into large flakes
* 2-3 tablespoons flour or matzoh meal
* 1 egg, beaten
* plenty of salt & black pepper
* grate of nutmeg
* 1/4 tsp dry mustard

Combine everything in a bowl. Set it aside to rest for 30 minutes. If there is too much liquid after resting, add a few pinches of additional flour or meal.
In a saute pan heat canola oil until rippling.
Using a 1/4 cup measure, drop 4 pancakes in pan. Saute on each side 4-5 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove and keep warm in oven while you finish the next batch.
Serve with additional horseradish sauce, sour cream or apple sauce.

I am really excited about this dessert. I have never made a tiramisu before.

Irish Mist Tiramisu
* 1 1/2 cup prepared strong coffee
* 1/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream or Irish Mist liquor or Irish Whiskey
* 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
* 8oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
* 1/3 cup brown sugar
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar
* 24 ladyfingers
* 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Transfer brewed coffee to a shallow dish.
2. Add 2 tablespoons Irish liquor of choice.
3. In a large bowl, combine Mascarpone and cream cheese.
4. Beat at high speed until smooth.
5. To cheese add brown and granulated sugar and remaining liquor.
6. Beat until well-blended.
7. Have a 8-inch square baking dish ready.
8. Split ladyfingers in half lengthwise.
9. Briefly dip flat side of ladyfinger halves in coffee mixture.
10. Place (flat side down) ladyfinger halves on bottom of baking dish (you should use half of the ladyfingers).
11. Spread half of cream cheese mixture over ladyfingers.
12. Sprinkle with half of the cocoa powder.
13. Repeat with remaining ladyfinger halves, cream cheese mixture, and cocoa powder.
14. Chill 2 hours.

March 12, 2011

A good steak, a twice-baked spud and creamed spinach

My gums have healed and the stitches are out....yay, I can eat in the sun again.
Last night I tried to bite into a juicy hamburger but that did not go so well. I had to cut it into wedges and then bite into it. Too much too soon.

Hey, I have to learn to eat differently. I am just happy to be able to eat something that isn't mush.

So, tonight, in honor of The Nudge being understanding and not requesting a steak or pork chop this last two weeks, I went to the butcher's and bought him a really nice Rib Eye. Tomorrow night we are grilling his other meat love, a boneless pork loin chop. I have this miso marinade and glaze that I will use and brine them overnight. I always brine my chicken and pork.

I make my twice baked potato the same way most of us do. Sour cream, sauteed red pepper, onions and mushrooms and cheese. I always scour the packages of "cheese ends" that you can get for under a dollar.

Creamed spinach is the best. Fat-free half & half, nutmeg and fresh spinach along with roasted garlic, onions and lots of black pepper and Parma cheese.

Want to come over for dinner?

Twice Baked Potato
makes 2 halves
* 1 baking potato, nuked for 5 minutes
* 1 tablespoon lite sour cream
* 1/4 sliced onion
* 1/4 red pepper, sliced
* 1 tablespoon chopped mushrooms
* salt & pepper
* 1 tablespoon fat-free half & half
* 1/4 cup cheese
Roast pepper, onion and 2 cloves of garlic in EVOO for 30 minutes until golden brown.
Chop finely.
Remove insides of potato with a melon baller, careful to not break through the skin.
Mash potato with everything else and stuff into each half, over stuffing is encouraged. Save a few fingerfuls of cheese for topping right at the end. These can be baked ahead just run it under the broiler right before serving.

Creamed Spinach
makes 2 cups
* 2 large bags of Dole baby spinach
* 1/4 cup chopped onions
* 1 clove garlic
* 1/2 cup fat-free half & half
* 1 tablespoon flour
* salt & pepper
* grated nutmeg
* 2 tablespoons grated Parma cheese
In large stockpot heat EVOO. Add spinach, cover and steam until wilted (you may have to do it in batches).
Add the onions, garlic,and flour. Cook for 1 minute.
Add cream and nutmeg.
Cook until it bubbles and thickens. Add salt & pepper to taste and the Parma cheese.

March 6, 2011

Lemony Chicken Saltimbocca

The Nudge loves, loves, loves veal saltimbocca. I have made it many different ways from the Italian way (which is on this site) to the way I made it last night using chicken cutlets. The last time I bought veal from the butcher it was tough and I pounded the hell out of it. This time I went with chicken, I am glad I did.

Early in my marriage I would take a piece of prosciutto and a sage leaf, place it on a cutlet, fold it in half, dredge it in flour and saute in butter/EVOO. Then I saw Giada make it with the prosciutto and a sage leaf toothpicked to one side of a cutlet, dredge it in flour and saute it. I didn't like the idea of a toothpick (they can be hard to pull out after the meat shrinks). The last few times I made it the way Lidia Bastianich makes it and it was pretty good because after francesing the chicken (you dip it in beaten egg before sauteing) you basically layer it with prosciutto, wine, lemon juice and Parma curls, then bake it and I could prepare it right up to the point of the oven, then get the pasta water boiling and the spinach sauteing and not feel rushed to get it all done at the same time.

This time when I saw this recipe, I decided to try this technique.

The Nudge pronounced it as good, if not better, than the way he used to get it at Macaroni Grill. It really was good. Moist from the prosciutto wrapped around it, flavorful from the lemon, wine and sage and silky from the butter used to finish the dish with. I served it with sauteed spinach and angel hair pasta.

I will be using this technique from now on. I have found my perfect Saltimbocca recipe.

Lemony Chicken Saltimbocca
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cutlet and 2 tablespoons sauce)
* 4 (4-ounce) chicken cutlets, pounded to 1/4"
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 4 extra large fresh sage leaves plus 2 for garnish
* 2 ounces very thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 8 thin strips
* 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
* 1/3 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
* 1/4 cup white wine
* 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
* 1 tablespoon butter to finish
* Lemon wedges (optional)


1. Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt. Place 1 sage leaf on each cutlet; wrap 2 prosciutto slices around each cutlet, securing sage leaves in place.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add chicken to pan; cook for 2 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

3. Combine broth, lemon juice, and white wine; stir with a whisk until smooth. Add mixture and the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil to pan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for 1 minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly with a whisk. Spoon sauce over chicken. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.