Friday, February 25, 2011

Pancetta Chicken with Lemon Fries is a beaut

Is that the most gorgeous chicken breast you've ever seen or what? And the fries, yes, they tasted as good as they look. Why the recipe for Pancetta Chicken with Lemon Fries has been sitting, ignored, in my recipe book since my days at the Seattle P-I, I do not know.

Well, honestly, even though the recipe was quite easy for looking so gorgeous, it actually required quite a bit of teamwork. I called in Bryan to make the fries using our mandoline, which always takes a bit of time to figure out. Meanwhile, I carefully wrapped the chicken (with prosciutto because it's what I had, but I will definitely be using pancetta next time!), not only on both ends but also on the bottom.

By the way, Bryan and I both ate the best bite first. You know what I'm talking about, the one shown at the very bottom of the picture, wrapped in succulent prosciutto. And for the rest of the chicken, we had the lovely pan drippings (shown on the top left) to keep every bite just as flavorful and moist.

The greens: broccollini, mixed with 2 t. extra-virgin olive oil, zest of one lemon, and kosher salt/garlic salt/Mrs. Dash Garlic Seasoning to taste, roasted for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees F.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What's your favorite way to prepare arugula?

One of the struggles/joys of being part of a CSA is throwing together veggies without having any idea how they'll turn out.

We had some leftover chicken thighs on the menu last night, which I knew would be perfectly complemented by a bed of polenta. But for the veggies, I had to get creative. I'd hoped to use some arugula I'd gotten from the farm for a pizza, but I knew that wasn't going to happen within the shelf life of the arugula. So I reverted to my old standby: a quick saute over high heat with 1-2 T. extra-virgin olive olive, 1-2 cloves of minced garlic and about 1/2 t. salt.

It works for any leafy green vegetable, but I have to admit, the arugula wasn't able to sustain much of its flavor, so it definitely felt like I was wasting a lovely vegetable. But it had a great texture cooked like that, and tasted even better with the roasted red bell pepper and crispy prosciutto that was thrown on top.

I'm still learning how to eat this spicy, tasty veggie. Got any tips?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Singapore-style noodles vs. Costco dogs

Last week I went to Mom's and this is what we ended up eating for dinner.

And yes, that's a Costco dog, which we got after a day of shopping, preceded by a late lunch that Mom announced was our supper.

Yeah, I knew better to believe that. And the dog actually was a perfect way to end the night. But I still found myself craving the Singapore-style noodles that Mom had made for lunch, so I decided to whip up a batch myself.

Pan-fried Singapore-style Noodles
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. soy sauce
1/2 t. salt
Dash freshly ground pepper
4 "buns" of dried Chinese egg noodles (about 4 oz.)
1 T. canola oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 bunch broccollini, cut in bite-sized pieces
2 Chinese-style sausages, sliced
1-2 T. soy sauce
1-2 T. Sichuan Spicy Noodle Sauce
1/2 t. garlic-chile sauce
1-2 T. curry powder

Gently mix chicken breast chunks, garlic, soy sauce, salt and pepper, then let marinate for about 2 hours.

Cook the noodles according to package directions; set in a colander and rinse periodically with lukewarm water to prevent sticking together.

Heat large saute pan over medium high heat. Add oil, then saute onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic for the last 30 seconds. Remove to a large bowl, then add broccollini and bell pepper to pan and continue cooking until soft, about another 5 minutes. Add veggies to the bowl.

Add oil to the pan if needed, then saute marinated chicken until cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Add sausage and stir until cooked through. Turn off heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, pan-fry the noodles in a pan similar to how we make Fried Rice: Heat a small amount of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, add a handful of cooked noodles and stir. Let the noodles sit for a minute or two, then turn over as best as possible and let sit for another minute or so. If the noddles aren't a little dried out by this point, repeat the process until the texture is still moist yet not sticky. Otherwise, place the pan-fried noodles into the large bowl with the veggies and continue pan-frying the noodles until they're all in the bowl.

Stir noodles and vegetables with the meat and add seasonings to taste. I usually use soy sauce, Sichuan Spicy Noodle Sauce, garlic-chile sauce and curry powder, but experiment with your favorite sauces (and vegetables) and let me know what your ideal combination is!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

German beer calls for Schweinebraten

The longer I go without a visit to Germany, the more I crave the food, which Seattle has been more than willing to accommodate lately with German-style pubs and restaurants in practically every neighborhood.

But with a new craft and import beer specialty store just down the street, now all I want to do is learn how to make the food myself so I can enjoy German grub for days and still down it with a gorgeous German beer.

With Wiener Schnitzel already under my belt, I decided this weekend to tackle Schweinebraten, a lovely pork roast that I've been craving ever since I ordered it in Leavenworth and got something completely different (although also quite tasty!).

I mixed a couple of recipes I had together then improvised when my veggies started turning black. Both recipes I was using called for roasting the pork shoulder at 450 degrees F, so I reduced the heat for more of a slow-and-low approach and it turned out juicy and flavorful.

1 T. kosher salt
2 T. caraway seeds
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
3- to 4-lb. pork shoulder
4 slices bacon, chopped
2 medium onions, quartered
4 large carrots, cut in bite-sized pieces
German dark beer

Mix salt, caraway seeds and black pepper in a small bowl. Rinse pork shoulder and pat dry, then rub salt mixture over all sides.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and heat bacon in a large skillet. Cook until beginning to crisp, about 12 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.

Place the pork roast in the skillet, fat side down. Brown each side for about 5 minutes. Place in a 10-x-13-inch baking dish, fat side down, and surround with the onions and carrots, then sprinkle bacon all over everything. Add about 1/2 c. water to the dish, then put in the oven and cook for about 2 hours, or until a meat thermometer registers at 160 degrees F.

Check the roast periodically and add hot water if needed; turn it so the fat is facing up about halfway through. During the last half-hour of cooking, score the fat then pour about 1/2 to 1 c. dark beer over the fat to help it crisp up. Turn up the heat to 450 degrees F for the last half-hour.

When roast is done, let it set for 5 minutes before serving. Although my books say it's a sin to add any thickening agent to the gravy, I just couldn't help myself and I thickened it up with about 1/4 to 1/2 c. flour and the drippings that were still in the skillet after I drained the fat. I had to add about 1 c. water because the pan juices were so flavorful, so be sure you try it as you go.

I served mine with Kartoffelknoedel, a mushy yummy mass of potatoes that sops up gravy like a sponge. But I won't claim any credit for that one, since I used a box. After 10 years away from the real stuff, though, I couldn't even tell the difference.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My frittata rules: eggs, onion and cheese

Last month Veronica and Julie came over for a much-needed brunch, and Julie was asking me for the frittata recipe we were devouring.

"What recipe?" I asked smugly.

But really, there is a basic recipe that my kitchen-sink frittata is based on: Chard and Salami Frittata from Bon Appetit.

Since the first time I made it, I've been playing with the ingredients to see what works. And I haven't ruined one yet. I've tried it with spinach in place with the chard, with very positive results. And although I've made it with salami plenty of times, as the frittata evolved into more of that kitchen-sink recipe, I started using bacon more frequently because it's such a mainstay in our kitchen.

But its evolution continues, and Julie got a special treat when I used pancetta for the first time, which gave it enough extra kick to make it worth waiting in the deli line again. But the eggs, onion and Parmesan cheese I'd never do without.

Frittata for Julie
6 eggs
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, divided
2 T. olive oil
4 oz. pancetta, cut in strips
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, sliced
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 bunch red chard, washed and cut in 1/2-inch ribbons

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix eggs, salt, pepper and 2 T. Parmesan. Set aside

Heat large cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Stir in pancetta and cook until curled and crispy, about 4 minutes. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel.

Throw garlic and onions in skillet and saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue cooking until mushrooms are cooked, about 8 minutes. Add chard in batches and stir until wilted, then add egg mixture and lightly mix to evenly coat the veggies. Sprinkle remaining 2 T. Parmesan on top.

Place skillet in oven and cook until lightly puffed and golden, about 15 minutes. Slide a spatula around the edge, then invert onto a place. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More fun with sunchokes

Now that I'm working at Bastyr University, I'm trying to familiarize myself a little more with food allergies and other special diets, and what better place to start than blogs?

One of the first I'd ever heard of is Gluten-Free Girl, who in addition to being local, was one of the first people who brought celiac disease and other gluten-intolerance issues to the mainstream. It certainly helps that her husband is an amazing chef who once owned the Madison Park restaurant Impromptu, where we were able to take a friend who also has celiac disease on a rare a fear-free meal for her birthday.

Between the amazing creations by the Gluten-Free Girl and her husband, I don't think they're missing the gluten much. Take, for instance, this Potato-Sunchoke Soup with Homemade Chile Oil, which I just had to try after perusing her blog for something else entirely.

Of course, I took the very lazy way out (I nixed the chile oil and the straining), and will share that version with you.

Potato-Sunchoke Soup
2 T. olive oil
2 oz. prosciutto, sliced
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. sunchokes, scrubbed and cut in chunks
2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
5 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. cream
2 T. lemon juice
1/4 t. nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven then add prosciutto and stir until crispy, about 4-5 minutes. Remove prosciutto to a plate lined with paper towels, then stir in onion and garlic. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes, then add sunchokes and continue stirring for another 5 minutes. Add potatoes and stir to coat, then pour in broth. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Puree soup in batches in a blender, then pour into a new pot. Add cream, and stir to heat through. Then add lemon juice and nutmeg and stir again. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve each bowl with the crispy prosciutto sprinkled on top.