Wednesday, June 22, 2016

oatmeal pancakes.

I am for the most part, a savory breakfast fan.  Give me cheesy scrambled eggs and toast over waffles any day. But once every couple of weeks, I get a hankering for pancakes

I love pancakes for their crisp edges and impossibly fluffy interiors, but I generally feel as if I can eat a stack 3 feet tall and never feel full.   While absolutely delicious, they lack sustenance, the stuff that I need to actually stop eating. Which is why, when I stumbled across this recipe for oatmeal pancakes, I felt as if I finally found my ideal pancake.

These are the slightly more indulgent version of your daily bowl of oatmeal.  Oats two ways get combined with your standard pancake ingredients to produce (in my humble opinion) the perfect pancake (a big statement I know).  Served with whatever fruit is at its peak (currently strawberries and raspberries) and an excessive amount of pure maple syrup, you have a pretty awesome breakfast that manages to straddle the line between healthy and extravagant.   

Oatmeal Pancakes
Recipe tweaked from Good to the Grain

Makes about 18 pancakes

3/4 cup oat flour (you can make this by pulsing rolled oats into a food processor or spice grinder until finely ground; 1 cup of oats yielded 3/4 cup oat flour for me)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or coarse salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (plus extra for the pan)
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 cup cooked oatmeal*
1 tablespoon unsulphured (not blackstrap) molasses, honey, maple syrup
2 large eggs

Whisk the dry ingredients (oat flour, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the butter, milk, cooked oatmeal, honey and eggs together until thoroughly combined. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Using a light hand is important for tender pancakes; the batter should be slightly thick with a holey surface.

Heat a 10-inch cast-iron pan or griddle over medium heat until water sizzles when splashed onto the pan. Lower to medium-low. Rub the pan generously with butter; the key to crisp, buttery edges. Working quickly, dollop 1/4-cup mounds of batter onto the pan, 2 or 3 at a time. Once bubbles have begun to form on the top side of the pancake, flip the pancake and cook until the bottom is dark golden-brown, about 5 minutes total. Wipe the pan with a cloth before griddling the next pancake. Continue with the rest of the batter.

Serve the pancakes hot, straight from the skillet or keep them warm in a low oven. We also found these to reheat surprisingly well the next morning, again in a low oven.

Do ahead: Although the batter is best if using immediately, it can sit for up to 1 hour on the counter or overnight in the refrigerator. When you return to the batter, it will be very thick and should be thinned, one tablespoon at a time, with milk. Take care not to overmix.

* Make oatmeal, if you don’t have any leftover: Bring 1 cup water and a slightly heaped 1/2 cup of rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick-cooking) and a pinch of salt to a boil and simmer on low for 1 (quick-cooking) to 5 minutes (old-fashioned), until thick. Let cool. This can also be cooked in a microwave.

Monday, June 13, 2016

bourbon chile sweet and smoky bbq chicken.

BBQ chicken is quintessential summer eating that I have the tendency to avoid.  It's not that I don't love BBQ chicken slathered in a tomato based sauce, it's just that most BBQ sauce is awful.

So awful.

Sauce where the only flavor is sugar (I'll save my sugar for dessert thank you very much).  Most are one dimensional and lack the complexity that I would expect from something that could be loaded with any number of exciting flavors.

Like this sauce which is chock-full of pretty much everything I find delicious in this world - namely bourbon, peaches, and chile.  The chicken gets marinated in part of sauce overnight which helps to tenderize and inject it with flavor.  The next day you cook it and baste it with more sauce.  The resulting chicken is tender, flavorful, and incredibly addicting.  It's BBQ chicken you will actually want to eat.   

Bourbon Chile Sweet and Smoky BBQ Chicken

Recipe from Tasting Table

For the BBQ Sauce

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ small yellow onion, minced
1- 2 red Thai chile—stemmed, seeded and minced
⅔ cup ketchup
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup bourbon
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons peach preserves
1 tablespoon honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Chicken

One 3-to-4-pound chicken, broken down into 8 pieces
1½ cups bourbon-chile barbecue sauce, divided (it will use all the BBQ sauce you make)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Make the BBQ Sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion and chile, and cook until lightly golden, 8 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until thickened, 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely before using to marinate or baste.  Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Marinate the Chicken:  In a plastic bag, combine the chicken and ¾ cup of the barbecue sauce. Seal the bag closed and massage the barbecue sauce onto the chicken. Refrigerate overnight.

Cook the Chicken: The next day, light a grill. Remove the chicken and scrape off any barbecue sauce on the skin. Rub the chicken with the vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken on the grill, skin-side down, and cook, flipping once, until charred, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Brush with the remaining barbecue sauce, then transfer to a cooler spot on the grill. Cook, covered, until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 160º and the barbecue sauce has caramelized, 10 minutes more. Transfer to a platter and let rest 5 minutes, then serve.

Alternatively, if you are not blessed with a grill, this can be made in the oven via the Smitten Kitchen method.   Simply place pieces of chicken on two very large pieces of foil, large enough to fold over chicken and form packets.  Turn the chicken pieces so their meatier sides are down, and tightly fold the foil around them to make two large packets.

Place two cooling racks (which will act as baking racks) on two baking sheets (one on each). Place a chicken packet on each and place one sheet on an upper oven rack and one on a lower. Bake chicken for 1 hour, then rotate baking sheets. Bake for another 30 to 60 minutes, until the internal temperature of the thickest part of each chicken reads 155 degrees.  Finish the chicken by heating the broiler. Carefully open each packet of chicken and discard accumulated juices. Arrange chicken pieces on open foil packets, coat with additional BBQ sauce, and run each tray under the broiler until lightly crisped at edges and cooked through. Place on serving platter.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

roasted rhubarb pavlova.

After tackling my first pavolva a couple of weeks back, I can't think of any dessert that is more fitting to usher in summer.  

Pavlova is a traditional Australian dessert and it's a fitting match.  Australia (at least in my head) is the land of eternal summer so a national dessert that is incredibly light and refreshing feels appropriate.      

For those unfamiliar with the gloriousness that is pavolva, it is essentially a meringue with crispy exterior and a soft and fluffy like marshmallow interior, covered in whipped cream and fruit.   This version uses caramelized roasted rhubarb as the fruit of choice and it's a brilliant decision.  The combination of tart and tender rhubarb with a sweet and crispy/creamy meringue is irresistible and incredibly seasonally appropriate.   

Roasted Rhubarb Pavlova
Recipe from Sweeter Off the Vine

Some things to note - This is a dessert that once assembled, needs to be eaten ASAP.  All components can be prepared ahead of time, but if you want more then a couple of hours to eat the pavlova once assembled it looses its crisp exterior and the crisp exterior is an important part of the dish.  

I omitted the addition of whipped cream as I didn't have cream on hand and also didn't feel it needed it (shocking I know).  The choice is yours.  It will be excellent no matter what.   

I also think it would be adorable to make individual pavlovas instead of one large one if you were serving them as part of a dinner party!

For the Meringue

1 cup (200g) superfine sugar
11⁄2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 large egg whites
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract 
1 teaspoon white vinegar

For the Rhubarb

12 ounces (340g) rhubarb stalks, leaves removed
1 vanilla bean
1⁄3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
Pinch salt
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon (about 4 teaspoons)

For Serving

1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

Directions for the Meringue: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 225ºF (110ºC). Trace an 8-inch circle onto a piece of parchment paper and flip the paper upside down on a baking sheet.

To make the meringue: Stir the cornstarch and sugar together in a small bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a handheld electric mixer in a large bowl, beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar on medium high speed until soft peaks form. Turn the mixer up to high and with the mixer running, slowly add the sugar mixture about one tablespoon at a time and whip until the egg whites are stiff and glossy, about 7 minutes. Add the vanilla and vinegar and mix for 30 more seconds.

Dollop the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet and use an offset spatula to spread it evenly to the edges of the traced circle. Make a shallow (1⁄2-inch) indent in the center of the meringue leaving a 1-inch border around the edges; this will hold the rhubarb and whipped cream. Bake the meringue for 1 to 11⁄2 hours or until the outside looks dry and slightly creamy in color. Turn off the oven and prop the door ajar with a wooden spoon. Let the meringue cool completely in the oven. It should feel firm and crackly when you press it, but will be soft and marshmallowy in the center. When cooled, you should be able to gently peel it off of the parchment paper and place it on a serving platter or cake stand. The meringue can be prepared a day in advance and stored in an airtight container.

Directions for the Rhubarb: Preheat the oven to 375º (190ºC). Cut the rhubarb stalks into 3-inch lengths. Use the tip of a knife to split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. In a baking dish large enough to hold the rhubarb in a single layer, toss the cut rhubarb with the vanilla bean seeds, sugar, salt, and lemon juice; tuck the vanilla bean pod in among the rhubarb. Bake until the rhubarb is soft and juicy but not falling apart, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then remove the vanilla bean pod, rinse it off, and save it for another use.

Directions for Assembly: Whip the cream and sugar together to stiff peaks. Top the cooled meringue with the whipped cream, then the cooled roasted rhubarb pieces. Finish by drizzling with the pomegranate molasses and any rhubarb juices left in the baking pan. Slice into wedges and serve immediately.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

creamy tahini and lemon aspragus soup.

Can we talk about how no one tells you how absolutely awful the home-buying process is?  How it's an endless sea of spending money, how it occupies all of your time and energy?  It's truly awful.  I keep reminding myself that there is a light at the end of this tunnel and that the whole thing will at some point be worth it by my god does it suck getting to that point.   

With the home search occupying what feels like every waking moment, I haven't had much opportunity to cook all of the spring things I want.  By the time I finally make it to the kitchen on a Tuesday evening, all I want to do is cook whatever will get dinner onto the table the quickest.  This means a lot of vegetable salads paired with cheese and crackers.  No one is complaining so I take that as a good thing.   

This soup, a departure from our almost daily salads,  falls into the quick and easy dinner meal.  It comes together in under 20 minutes, involves staple spring ingredients (i.e. asparagus and lemon), and tastes as if you slaved over an hour.   The tahini turns the soup impossibly silky smooth making it taste a lot more decadent then it really is.  

Creamy Tahini and Lemon-Asparagus Soup
Recipe from Dolly and Oatmeal

Makes 2 large servings or 4 small 

1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch spring onions (or spring garlic), chopped (roughly 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 lb. asparagus, woody ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (preferably homemade!)
1/4 cup fresh chives
2 2-inch pieces lemon peels
1/4 cup tahini paste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
sea salt & fresh pepper

Optional Garnishes 

Asparagus ribbons
Pea tendrils or baby greens
Tahini paste

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat.  Once hot, add the olive oil and onion or garlic, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes, until soft and translucent.  Add the garlic, stir and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the asparagus and cook for 1 minute, then add the broth, chives, and lemon peels.  Bring soup to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer and cook until the asparagus is tender, about 10-15 minutes. Remove soup from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.

Carefully transfer soup to an upright blender, add the tahini paste and lemon juice.  Blend on high for 1 minute, until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust salt and/or lemon juice.

Return the soup back to the soup pot and bring to a simmer.  Garnish and serve hot. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

rhubarb and rye upside-down cake.

I won't lie, I didn't hate the weather NY experienced last week.  

Sure I was sick of lugging my umbrella everywhere, but I love the coziness that comes with gray skies and rain. After a winter that wasn't really a winter, I'm relishing in having a few extra weeks that allow me to nestle under blankets, wear cozy socks, and turn on my oven without sweating to death.   By this time next month it will probably be all sunny skies and humidity.   

This isn't to say I'm not happy about spring produce slowly creeping in. Tyler and I have eaten several pounds of asparagus over the last couple of weeks and rhubarb, probably one of my most favorite vegetables has finally made an appearance at our farmer's market.   

This cake is the perfect way to welcome rhubarb back into your life. Caramelized, impossibly tender rhubarb sits a top an incredibly moist flavorful cake.  I'm a sucker for using different types of grains in my cakes and the rye flour adds an incredible amount of nuttiness that pairs well with the tart rhubarb.   Served with a dollop of whipped cream, it makes for a delightful dessert but I also like having a piece as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea on a dreary May afternoon.   

Rhubarb and Rye Upside-Down Cake
Recipe from Sweeter off the Vine

Makes one 9-inch cake

Rhubarb Topping

1 pound (450g) rhubarb, leaves removed, cut into 2-inch (5cm) lengths
1 vanilla bean (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
3⁄4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup (55g) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Pinch salt


1 cup (125g)
 all purpose flour
1 cup (130g) rye flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened
1⁄2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (page 235)
1 1⁄2 cups (355ml) buttermilk, at room temperature

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375F . Butter a 9-inch cake pan or springform pan, 3 inches tall, line it with parchment paper, and butter that too. Dust the pan and paper with flour.

To make the rhubarb topping: Use the tip of a knife to split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds; reserve the pod for another use. Combine the sugar, butter, vanilla seeds, lemon zest, and salt in a skillet and set over medium low heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar and butter begin to melt together, then add the rhubarb. Cook the rhubarb, turning it occasionally in the pan, until it is juicy, tender, and slightly caramelized but not falling apart, 6 to 8 minutes. Pour the rhubarb and its juices into the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Set aside while you prepare the cake batter.

To make the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk the all purpose and rye flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together at medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix for 30 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Alternate adding the flour mixture and
 the buttermilk in three additions and mix until just combined. Carefully pour the batter over the rhubarb in the pan and smooth the top. Tap the pan gently on the counter to remove any air bubbles. If using a springform pan, set it on a baking sheet to catch any potential leakage.

Bake the cake until the top is golden and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cake cool on a rack 
for 15 minutes, then carefully invert onto a serving platter. Remove the parchment paper and re-position any rhubarb that has stuck to the paper. Cut into wedges and serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream, if you like. This cake is best served the day that it’s made.

Friday, April 29, 2016

chicken tinga.

Cinqo de Mayo more then any other holiday makes me nostalgic for college.   In college we looked for any excuse to celebrate and a holiday involving drinking copious amounts of Coronas' with Lime and wearing sombreros was about the best you could get.   I'd give anything for a cooler full of cold beers and a dance party with my girlfriends next Wednesday.   

And nachos!  The most popular bar on Main Street (home to Saturday night Eighties night) served a giant plate of nachos and cheap pitchers of beer.  As a poor college kid there was nothing better that that.  On Cinqo de Mayo the line to get into this place was so long but the promise of nachos made the wait worth it.   

But this monstrous plate of nachos was not well-designed.   Oh no, it was poorly executed with a a copious amount of chips on the bottom and an assortment of toppings strewn haphazardly over the top.  Now, almost 10 years later (god I feel old), I see the error in their ways.  A plate of nachos should be so well-designed that a little bit of everything is incorporated into each and every bite.  It's all about the combinations of flavors which is why it's important to start with flavorful ingredients.

Chicken tinga (a fancy name for spicy Mexican shredded chicken) is the best nacho base.  Because it's chicken nestled in spicy tomato sauce you basically get your protein and your salsa in a single dish.  From there it's up to you.  I like homemade black beans, cheese (duh), pickled jalapenos, and a tomatillo/avocado salsa.   Sour cream optional on the side.    The key is freshly fried tortilla chips (go big or go home) and laying all of the tortilla chips onto your baking sheet so you can top each chip with a little of bit of your ingredients (as demonstrated below) followed by a generous layer of cheese.   Sure it's more work, but the resulting nachos are awesome.   Best served with a cold beer (but you already knew that didn't you?).   

Chicken Tinga (Spicy Mexican Shredded Chicken)
Recipe adapted (slightly) from Serious Eats 

2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves (about 1 1/4 pounds; 550g)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons (30ml) lard or vegetable oil
6 ounces tomatillos, peeled (170g; about 2 medium)
10 ounces ripe plum tomatoes or diced can tomatoes (270g)
4 medium garlic cloves
1 small white onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons (30ml) cider vinegar
2 cups (475ml) homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock (or water)
2 to 3 canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, plus 1 tablespoon (15ml) sauce from can
2 teaspoons (10ml) Asian fish sauce

Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over high heat until shimmering. Add chicken skin side down and cook, without moving, until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. (Lower heat if pot is smoking excessively or chicken starts to burn.) Flip chicken and cook on second side for 2 minutes. Transfer to a large plate and immediately add tomatillos, tomatoes, and garlic to pot. Cook, flipping occasionally, until blistered and browned in spots, about 5 minutes.

Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add oregano and bay leaves and cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add vinegar and stock. Return chicken to pot, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a bare simmer. Cover the pot and cook, turning chicken occasionally, until chicken registers 145°F when an instant-read thermometer is inserted into the center of the thickest part, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to a bowl and set aside. Continue cooking the sauce at a hard simmer, stirring, until reduced to about half its original volume, about 5 minutes longer.

Add chipotle chilies and adobo, remove and discard bay leaves, and blend the sauce using an immersion blender or by transferring to a countertop blender. Sauce should be relatively smooth, with a few small chunks. When chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones and finely shred the meat. Return it to the sauce. Add fish sauce and stir to combine.

Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until sauce thickens and coats chicken. It should be very moist but not soupy. Season to taste with salt and pepper (if necessary). Chicken tinga can be served in tacos; stuffed into enchiladas or burritos; on top of nachos, tostadas, and sopes; or on its own.