Wednesday, February 15, 2017

socca.



In our new apartment, we have a lot more cabinet space.   It's awesome (because who doesn't want more space) but it's also extremely annoying because I now see, on an almost daily basis, the items I purchased, used half of, and are now languishing in the cabinets just waiting to be used again.   

So the challenge has become, how can I use these half finished bags of things. Things like chickpea flour which I bought at one time and only used 1/4 cup of...

And this my friends is how I found myself making socca for dinner one night.   Socca is a chickpea flavored flatbread/gluten free version of pizza and it's quite frankly awesome.   It comes together in about 20 minutes and works with a wide array of toppings (making it an easy way to finish off those bottles of assorted pickled things you have in your fridge).   Our favorite version involves olives, roasted red peppers, and feta which gives it a middle-eastern vibe, but you could easily make it more Italian (with pesto, arugula, and Parmesan).  The possibilities are endless (and it may mean chickpea flour will now be a pantry staple).   

Socca
Recipe adapted from the NYTimes

1 cup chickpea flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
Toppings of your choice - Feta, roasted red peppers, olives, herbs, roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, sprouts, pesto

Heat the oven to 450. Put a well-seasoned or nonstick 12-inch pizza pan or cast-iron skillet in oven. (If you have a socca pan, obviously that will work well also.)

Put the chickpea flour in a bowl; add the salt and pepper. Slowly add 1 cup lukewarm water, whisking to eliminate lumps. Stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover and let sit while the oven heats, or for as long as 12 hours. The batter should be about the consistency of heavy cream.

Remove the pan, pour 1 tablespoon of the oil into it and swirl. Immediately pour the batter into the pan and top with desired toppings. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the pancake is firm and the edges set.

Cut it into wedges, and serve hot or warm.  Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days and eaten at room temperature.    


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

feta-brined roast chicken.


I buy a lot of feta cheese.  I love its briney, tangy flavor and how well it pairs with any number of ingredients by providing an extra level of "punch".    (Avocado and eggs are so much better with a little sprinkle of feta).  But, its always felt sad to me that when you finish your feta you're left with a plastic container of feta flavored water that just gets dumped down the drain.

That was until the NYTimes came along and showed me that you can use the feta brine to brine chicken!!

This is a game changer.  One, it gives me a new way to use something that would typically get thrown out and two, it results in a chicken that is so incredibly tender and flavorful that I feel there is no better chicken recipe out there.   

Feta Brined Roast Chicken
Recipe from the NYTimes 

The original recipe calls for you making your own brine by combining feta with water but I realized you could just use the brine the feta comes in instead of making your own.  If you don't have a full four cups of leftover feta liquid, you can offset this by making (some) of your own feta "water".  

4 cups of feta brine or 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
3 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 3 1/2- to 4-pound whole chicken
1 to 2 tablespoons cracked black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons dried Greek oregano
2 large lemons
¼ cup olive oil, more as needed
1 large bunch arugula or other sturdy salad greens, for serving

If you have 4 cups of feta brine - The day before serving, combine 4 cups of feta brine with 2 teaspoons of salt.   Put chicken in an extra-large resealable plastic bag or a container large enough to submerge chicken, and cover with the feta brine. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

If you don't have 4 cups of feta brine - The day before serving, combine 2 ounces feta, 2 teaspoons salt and 4 cups water in a blender and blend until smooth. Put chicken in an extra-large resealable plastic bag or a container large enough to submerge chicken, and cover with the feta brine. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

Before cooking, remove chicken from brine and transfer to a towel-lined tray. (Discard brine.) Pat chicken dry with paper towels and allow to come to room temperature for 1 hour.

In a small mixing bowl, combine remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, the pepper, the oregano and the zest of the lemons (about 1 tablespoon). Liberally cover chicken in herb mix and gently massage entire bird. Halve lemons and place 3 halves in cavity (save remaining half for serving). Using kitchen twine, tie legs together.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place a large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add oil and heat until it just smokes. Place chicken, breast-side up, in pan. Transfer entire pan to oven. Cook, basting once or twice, until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife, 50 to 60 minutes.

Remove pan from oven, then stir remaining crumbled feta into juices in pan and stir well. Let chicken rest for 10 minutes in the pan before slicing and serving on a bed of greens, with feta-laced pan juices on top, drizzled with a little lemon juice from the reserved lemon half.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

lemon poppyseed cake.


With the world feeling impossibly grim as of late, I've been craving bright flavors.  Namely lots of citrus. 

Grapefruit!  Oranges!  Limes!  And of course, Lemons.    

Lemon poppyseed cake is something that begs to be made in the winter.  During the cold doldrums of January and February, cake is necessary and cake that reminds you of warmer places is even better.

This lemon poppyseed cake is the best I've ever made.  It's a one bowl (no mixer required!) pantry staple cake that somehow manages to get more moist and flavorful as the week goes on (magic!).   It's delicious and just the thing to share with your friends who may need a little winter pick-me-up.   

#bakeamericacakeagain

On a not food related note - If you are ask appalled as I am about the Muslim ban (that isn't a ban but let's be honest it is a ban) on countries that have never attacked us (shockingly the countries that have attacked us aren't on the ban list because SURPRISE SURPRISE someone has business ties to them) consider donating to the ACLU.  I set up my monthly donation this past weekend because I appreciate the hard work they do to support American's rights.   

In addition, as I've said before, if something angers you, CALL YOUR SENATORS and call them everyday.   Whether it be the wall, the muslim ban, Betsy Devos, Scott Pruitt (the one who angers me the most), Steve Bannon being part of the NSC, call them.   

Lemon Poppyseed Cake
Recipe from the NYTimes

Feel free to sub the buttermilk for sour cream or creme fraiche.   I also subbed 3/4 cup of the white flour for spelt since I've been very into utilizing different grains in my baked goods.   

Butter, for greasing pan
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour, more for pan
Zest of 2 lemons
1 cup sugar
½ cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons lemon juice
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
½ cup confectioners’ sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch loaf pan.

In a bowl, combine lemon zest and sugar and rub with your fingers until it looks like wet sand. Whisk in buttermilk, 4 tablespoons lemon juice and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk dry ingredients into the batter, then whisk in oil and poppy seeds.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in pan until warm to the touch, then turn out onto a baking rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Turn cake right side up.

Whisk together remaining 4 teaspoons lemon and the confectioners’ sugar. Use a pastry brush to spread glaze evenly over top and sides of cake. Cool completely before slicing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

white chicken potpie.


I have a running iPhone list of foods I want to make.  Sometimes these foods remain on the list for the better part of 2 years without still being tackled (I'm looking at you croissants) and other times they last 2 days before being made (tahini chocolate chip cookies).  Some dishes get added to the list because Tyler mentions them offhandedly (which is why I'll be making pierogi's next weekend) and other times its because I stumbled across a recipe that is made up of my favorite things (the best Sicilian pizza).   There is no rhyme or reason to the list and that's why I love it.    

Chicken pot pie somehow made it's way on to the revolving list a couple of months back.   I don't remember what triggered me adding it, but this past weekend, knowing we were heading into several days of cold, rainy, and dreary weather, it felt like the appropriate time to finally make one.  

Chicken pot pie has a lot of variations and people have vastly differing opinions on how it should be prepared.  Should it have both a bottom and top crust?  Are peas cool?   Can you use white and dark meat?  The list goes on.   This version incorporates my favorite things (lots of peas and chicken) under a biscuit like crust.  The resulting dish is full-blown comfort food and the perfect thing to eat this time of year.

*On a not food-related note, call your senators if you are unhappy with how things are going.  I called mine this morning because the climate change changes that have gone into effect the last couple of days leave me feeling queasy.  Do the same if you feel un-happy about something.  There job is to listen to you!

White Chicken Potpie
Recipe adapted from the NYTimes

Ok - I liked this recipe in theory but edited a decent amount.  First off, I wanted to make this a one pan affair so I used my 10 inch cast iron.   You will want to do this to, it will make your life a lot easier.

The initial recipe made a LOT of biscuit topping.  Way more then seemed logical to me.  So I reduced the topping by 1/3 (my edits shown below) and feel this was a more "normal" ratio of biscuit to filling.   

After speaking about chicken potpies with my mama, I decided  to add in some mustard.  I find this to be a welcome addition as the accidity offsets the richness of the dish nicely.   I also made peas mandatory because peas below in a potpie.  

Last but not least, this makes a lot of chicken potpie.  You've been warned.   

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 1/2 pounds) or 2 1/4 pounds of chicken parts (I used half chicken so I got a mix of white and dark meat)
Kosher salt
Black pepper
3 cups chicken stock or water
1 cup white wine
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
1 rosemary sprig
3/4 cup unsalted butter (12 tablespoons), chilled, additional for greasing pan
2 leeks, thinly sliced, white and light green parts
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk, more as needed (or 1/2 cup heavy cream + 1/2 cup whole milk)
2 small carrots, peeled and diced (1 1/4 cups)
1 medium potato, peeled and diced (1 1/4 cups)
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup buttermilk

Season chicken lightly with salt and pepper. Let rest 15 minutes. In a medium pot over medium heat, combine chicken, stock or water, wine, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and rosemary. Bring to a simmer and cook chicken gently until no longer pink, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer meat to a plate to cool completely. Strain and reserve cooking liquid (you should have about 2 3/4 cups). Once chicken is cool, shred into bite-size pieces.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. 

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 10 inch cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. Add leeks and shallot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Melt in 4 more tablespoons butter. Stir in 1/2 cup flour and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the strained stock and the milk (or milk and cream). Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring mixture to a simmer. Stir in celery root or carrot, and potato; simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, 10 minutes. Stir in chicken, peas if using and mustard.  Remove from heat and set aside.   

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, the baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt. Cut the remaining 6 tablespoons butter into cubes; using a pastry cutter or two forks, mix into flour until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk. Dollop mixture on top of potpie filling (it’s O.K. if there are spaces between biscuits). 

Transfer casserole to oven; bake until top is golden brown and filling is bubbling, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

zatar and parmesan popcorn.



When you're a child, snow days are a magical thing.   But as an adult, they loose a lot of their allure. Snow days mean schlepping to work even if the skies just dumped 8 inches of snow. 

Much of the joy I have for snow days stems from the tradition my mom started of making my siblings and I Parmesan popcorn (recipe form the Kids Cook Cookbook!) and hot chocolate when we came in from playing outside.   This past weekend, while Tyler and I were taking Jackson to the park in the middle of a snowy Saturday afternoon, I got a sudden bout of nostalgia for such a treat.  And so I did what I always do when that happens, I returned home and set about re-creating such food memories.   

This is my ode to my childhood snow day treat.  Freshly popped popcorn covered in a dusting of Parmesan and Zatar.   Zatar, an incredible Middle Easter spice blend, provides just enough of a kick to the bowl of popcorn, managing to make the popcorn taste just a little more adultish while still fully embracing what I loved about it as a child (the cheesy bites).   It's great snack food on snowy afternoons though I could also see myself serving it as an appetizer for a party (Superbowl anyone?). 

Zatar and Parmesan Popcorn 
Recipe adapted slightly from Serious Eats

I used the popcorn from the Whole Foods bulk bins though I am really keen to order some of this popcorn since I hear it's so great! 

1/2 cup popcorn kernels, popped (about 8 cups popped)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup store-bought za'atar spice blend 
1/2 cup parmesan or Pecorino grated on a microplane 
Kosher salt

Place popped popcorn in a large mixing bowl and drizzle olive all over, tossing to coat evenly. Add za'atar and cheese, tossing to coat evenly. Season with salt and serve. Popcorn can be stored at room temperature in a zipper-lock bag overnight.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

pasta e fagioli.


To counteract the effects of me eating my body weight in oysters and ridiculously good local beers while Tyler and I were in Charleston (oh and all the cookies I consumed before then), I've been on a bit of a soup kick.  

I've talked a lot about soup on this blog because I love it.  It's up there with cheese and peanut-butter as one of my favorite foods. It's satisfying and filling and it's my winter comfort food.  Most people think of comfort food, especially winter comfort food, as food involving cheese and butter.  But for me, brothy soups filled with pantry staples like beans, pasta, and carrots, is my kind of belly-warming comfort food.

This soup is about as basic as it gets but somehow all the basic ingredients come together to create a beautiful cohesive soup that makes cold January evenings all the more bearable.  

Pasta e Fagioli 
Recipe from Tasting Table

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnish
2 ounces pancetta, minced
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups dried white beans, soaked overnight
10 cups chicken stock
1 - 1 1/2 cups small pasta shells
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to tast
Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, for garnish

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta, carrot, celery and onion, and cook until golden brown, 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, rosemary and garlic, and cook until the tomato paste is caramelized and the rosemary and garlic are fragrant, another 2 minutes.

Drain the soaked beans and add to the pot along with the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, 45 to 50 minutes. Add the pasta and cook another 10 minutes.

Taste and season with salt and pepper. Divide the soup between bowls and garnish with grated cheese. Serve.