Thursday, April 20, 2017

mushroom tartines.



Build me a window to watch everything
Leave it unshuttered so nothing slips by
No season, no sorrow, no wonderful thing
No raspberry, strawberry sun in the sky
I will bring music and marsipan bars
And live deep inside you
Wherever you are

-Joni Mitchell, Gemini Twin 

I haven't had much of a desire to cook new things over the last couple of weeks (partially due to the fact that I just want some asparagus and rhubarb as I am so sick of kale and sweet potatoes). But, I did convince myself a couple of weeks back to make these mushroom tartines after seeing them on the Smitten Kitchen blog (I needed something to tide me over until more green things arrived at the market).

You need to make these.   They make for a great light dinner when paired with a nice green salad. They also taste shockingly good the next day (I'm as surprised as you are).   I also think that you could make them a "madame" by throwing an egg on top.  Not necessary but also not a bad idea.      

Mushroom Tartines
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen 

For the Sauce

2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons (15 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (175 ml) milk, ideally whole but lowfat should work
A few gratings fresh nutmeg
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon (15 grams) smooth Dijon mustard

For the Mushrooms

1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) fresh mushrooms (cremini, white or a mix of wild all work), thinly sliced
Olive oil and butter as needed
2 teaspoons minced mixed fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sage
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 of dry white wine (optional)

For the Assembly

1 pound loaf of a hearty white or whole wheat sourdough bread, in 3/4-inch slices
8 ounces (225 grams) coarsely grated gruyere or comte
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, to garnish

Make the sauce: In a large skillet (so you can use it again for the mushrooms), melt butter over medium heat and then stir in flour until a paste forms. Very slowly drizzle in milk, whisking the whole time to keep the mixture smooth. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until mixture has simmered for a couple minutes. It will be thick and get thicker as it cools; this makes for a better spread. Scrape into a bowl and stir in Dijon. Adjust seasonings if needed. Set aside.

Heat oven: To 425 degrees F. Line your largest baking sheet with foil. 

Cook the mushrooms: Wipe out skillet and heat over medium-high. Add a glug of olive oil or a mix of olive oil and butter. Once it is very hot, add 1/3 to 1/2 of mushrooms, 1/3 to 1/2 of herbs and let sear in pan until brown underneath, about 2 to 3 minutes, before stirring and continuing to cook until tender and any liquid in the pan has cooked off, about 5 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining mushrooms.  If you have some brown bits on the bottom of your pan, deglaze with the wine and cook until all absorbed.   

Assemble and bake: Spread bread in one layer on prepared baking sheet. Schmear each all the way to the edges with sauce; you should have exactly enough for a thin coat on each. Heap each slice with mushrooms; use them all. Sprinkle cheese over and since the mushrooms are heaped so high, you’ll probably have to press it in a bit with your hand. You’ll be glad you got all the cheese on there.

Bake for 10 minutes, until cheese is melted all over, then transfer to the broiler and cook until tops are browned, a few minutes more (but keep an eye on it because broilers vary wildly and mine is rather weak).

To serve: Scatter with parsley and eat with a knife and fork, preferably with a big green salad on the side. (And more wine.)  Serves 4


Monday, March 27, 2017

wine harvester's chicken.


Should you decide you want to throw a dinner party for friends and serve them something that you can...

1 - Prepare a day or two ahead of time 
2 - Utilizes an under-appreciated piece of meat
3 - Tastes as if your super talented French grand-mother spent hours making it

Might I suggest this chicken dish?   I made it this past weekend for a group of friends and it was a big hit (6 plates were wiped clean so I consider it a success).   It's fragrant, flavorful, full-bodied (that combination of tender shallots, bacon, and reduced wine is quite the trifecta) and just the thing to eat while were're in the middle of this "is it winter/is it spring" kind of weather.  

Wine Harvester's Chicken
Recipe tweaked slightly from David Lebovitz

My only issue was that the sauce didn't quite reduce enough for my taste after 45 min in the oven.  To remedy this, I took the pot out of the oven, took the chicken out, and reduced it on a medium-high burner setting for about 15 minutes.  This got me the right consistency.   

You're also looking for flavorful grapes here!  I used muscat grapes that I found at Whole Foods.   

About 6 chicken thighs (weight about 2 - 2.5 pounds total)
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a tablespoon or more for frying the bacon
1 cup (150g) diced, thick-cut bacon
3 shallots, minced, or 1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups (375ml) dry white wine
1 1/2 cups (375ml) chicken stock
1/4 cup (60ml) red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Two 1-inch (3cm) strips fresh orange zest
10 branches fresh thyme, (or 2 teaspoons dried thyme)
10 allspice berries, lightly crushed or 1/2 teaspoon ground all-spice 
2 cups (315g) stemmed grapes

Season chicken with salt and let sit overnight in the refrigerator. (This step isn't imperative, but does make the meat more succulent.)

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven, large, wide casserole, or roasting pan, that has a lid.

Sear chicken piece so they are brown on both sides, about 5 to 8 minutes per side. Depending on the size of your Dutch oven or casserole, you may need to do them in batches. Remove pieces of chicken to a bowl once they're browned.

Preheat oven to 350ºF/175ºC.

Saute the bacon in the pot. If necessary, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Stir the bacon until it's mostly cooked, then add the shallots or onion and garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, until the onions are translucent, about 2 minutes.

Add the wine, stock and vinegar to the pot, and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the black pepper, orange zest, thyme, and allspice. Put the chicken pieces in the pot, skin side down, cover and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove the pot from the oven. Turn the chicken pieces over, so they're skin side up. Bake, uncovered, adding the grapes to the pot midway during cooking, until the liquid in the pot is thick and reduced to the point where the chicken pieces are about halfway submerged in sauce, and the chicken is browned. (About 30 to 45 minutes).

Serving: As per David - The chicken would go well with mashed potatoes, or another root vegetable puree, or wide noodles tossed in a little butter.  I served it with homemade semolina gnoochi and roasted carrots (and bread for sopping up the juices!).   

Storage: The chicken will keep for up to three days in the refrigerator.



Thursday, March 9, 2017

baked char siu bao (roasted pork buns).


My weekends are for tackling cooking projects.  Not all of them are labor intensive 48 hour adventures but on occasion I get that itch to tackle an over-the-top project that's been on my to-do list for some time.  

(Like croissants which 3 years later are still on my to-make list. )

Char Siu Bao are one of those weekend long projects.  They aren't particularly difficult (though the length of the recipe may lead you to believe I'm lying) but I find it best to draw the preparation of them out over a couple of days.   It makes the whole thing more relaxing and stressful.   

If you've never had char siu bao (otherwise known as a roasted pork bun) you're in for a real treat. Extremely tender (and very light and fluffy) dough encases shredded a sweet and spicy shredded pork that people find irresistible (I find it seriously irresistible).    I love them for their portability but also because the dough which utilizes a process called tangzhong is super soft which means you can reheat them in the microwave and they stay tender (it's kind of magic).   

So yes, making these is a project, but it's a project that's well worth it.     

Baked Char Siu Bao
Recipe from Crepes of Wrath and Serious Eats

These freeze brilliantly so don't worry if you can't eat them all!   

For the Char Siu Pork

3 pounds boneless pork butt or shoulder, cut into large pieces
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon chili oil
1 tablespoon black bean paste
1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice
1 3-inch knob of ginger, grated on a microplane or finely minced
4 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane or finely minced

For the Char Siu Filling

1 pound of your roasted pork, diced into ¾-inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely diced
6 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon black bean paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup minced chives 

For the Tangzhong

3 tablespoons bread flour
1/2 cup water

For the Dough

1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Roast your pork - Cut your boneless pork shoulder or butt into 5 or 6 pieces and place it in a sealable back or container. Whisk together all of your marinade ingredients, and pour it over the pork. Marinate for at least 3 hours, or as long as overnight. When ready, preheat your oven to 300 degrees F, place your pork in an oiled baking dish, cover with foil, and roast for 2½ to 3 hours, until the pork is very tender and shreds easily. Remove the pork from the oven, uncover, and let cool slightly. You will only need about ⅓ of your pork for the buns - the rest makes for great leftovers! Toss it with some roasted or stir-fried broccoli and you've got lunch for the rest of the week.

Make your char siu filling - Chop ⅓ of your roasted pork into small cubes and set it aside. Finely dice an onion, heat your vegetable oil in a medium-sized pan over medium heat, and add the onion. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Whisk together your water, cornstarch, vinegar, hoisin sauce, sugar, black bean paste, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Add your pork to the onion, and add your sauce to the pan. Stir to combine, and cook for 5-8 minutes, until the mixture has darkened and thickened - be careful not to burn the filling, as the sugar will quickly caramelize. When ready, remove the pork from the heat and set aside until ready to use.  Can be made 1 day ahead and stored in the fridge until ready to assemble.

For the Tangzhong - In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, mix together the water and bread flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick and lightly golden. Remove from heat and transfer the tangzhong to a small container. Cover with plastic and chill for at least 1 hour.

For the Dough - Warm 1/2 cup of milk and pour in the yeast. Let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes. Combine the yeast-milk mixture, the Tangzhong, and the remaining dough ingredients in a large bowl, and stir until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Remove from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured work surface until stretchy, about 10 minutes longer. Spray the dough all over with nonstick spray and return to the bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the dough to prevent it from drying out and set in a warm, draft free area until doubled in size, about 1 hour (or overnight in the fridge).

Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into 16 even pieces. Roll the pieces into balls. Using the palm of your hand, press down each dough ball until flat. Place 2 tablespoons of filling on the center of each round. Pull up the edges and pinch together to seal. Transfer the filled buns, seam-side down, to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Re-cover with the coated plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly brush your bao with your beaten egg, then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes, then brush lightly with honey and sprinkle with chopped chives. Serve warm. These will keep well for up to 5 days - just heat them up for 15-20 seconds in the microwave before serving. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

almond olive oil cake.


A couple of weeks back, I was left in charge of making my Dad's birthday cake which is not a task I take lightly as birthday cakes have the ability to make or break the day and therefore carry a lot of weight in my book.   

(Nothing like a little pressure.)

When you think about a traditional birthday cake I'm sure you conjure up a vision of layered yellow cake with lots of chocolate frosting.   That to me is the quintessential celebratory cake (and one that I love) but sometimes, you want a birthday cake that exudes a more subdued vibe.   

This is that cake.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this one but since it's a Gina DePalma recipe (her zucchini olive oil cake is one of my top 5 favorite cakes) I figured it had to be pretty delightful.  In reality it's one of the best cakes I've ever made and one I plan on making again before this winter is over.   

The combination of almond flour, olive oil, and orange juice produces a light and delicate cake that is reminiscent of a chiffon or angel food cake. During the winter when everything feels dense and heavy, this is a welcome alternative.   But lets be honest, the best thing about it is a the brown butter glaze which provides an extra layer of flavor and something that transforms this from basic into a celebratory.   

Almond Olive Oil Cake
Recipe from Gina DePalma at Serious Eats

For the Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup blanched or natural almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
Grated zest of 1 medium lemon or 1/2 a medium orange
1/2 cup orange juice

For the Glaze

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup confectioner's sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk
A few drops of fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sliced, blanched almonds, toasted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan or springform pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt to thoroughly combine them and set aside.

Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk them lightly to break up the yolks. Add the sugar to the bowl and whisk it in thoroughly in both directions for about 30 seconds. Add the olive oil and whisk until the mixture is a bit lighter in color and has thickened slightly, about 45 seconds. Whisk in the extracts and zest, followed by the orange juice.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk until they are thoroughly combined; continue whisking until you have a smooth, emulsified batter, about 30 more seconds.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake the cake for 30 to 45 minutes, rotating the cake pan halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning. The cake is done when it has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, springs back lightly when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool for ten minutes in the pan, then gently remove it from the pan and allow it cool completely on a rack.

While the cake cools, make the glaze. Melt the butter over medium heat in a small, heavy saucepan. When the bubbles subside, lower the heat and watch the butter carefully, swirling it in the pan occasionally to distribute the heat. When the butter begins to turn a light tan color and smells slightly nutty, turn off the heat and let the butter sit. It will continue to darken as it sits.

While the butter cools, sift the confectioner's sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk until completely smooth but thick, then slowly whisk in the butter. Taste the glaze and add a few drops of lemon juice to balance the sweetness. Stir in the toasted almonds. Spread the almonds and glaze onto the top and sides of the cake and let it sit until set and dry.


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.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

pasta with brussel sprouts, cheese, and sweet potato.


Hi 2017.

I debated endlessly over doing my yearly end of year life/blog/things of note re-cap but if we are being honest, 2016 took a lot out of me (I have so many more grays then I did a year ago) and I just didn't feel up to re-living it. 

But 2017, I have goals for you.  Finally (I mean it) making homemade croissants, traveling again (Charleston this weekend!), being a more mindful person and asking myself why (Why do you need this shirt?  Why do you need another cookie instead of an apple?).  Listening more to my gut, giving more hugs to my husband and dog, being a better consumer, trying new recipes that utilize new ingredients.  Go and visit my parents more often, throw a dinner party at least once a month, find a nightstand and bedroom table lamps, learn how to keep a plant alive, take more walks, listen more. Spend more time reading.  Watch some new documentaries. Learn more about wine.  Take a yoga class at least once a month.      

One of my goals is also continue to figure out ways of how to do something out of (what feels like) nothing. Being a cook means you look for ways to use what you have instead of always relying on some ingredient (you may need to buy) to make a meal.  Making something out of nothing is an art and it's an art I hope to perfect.   

This recipe is one of those turn leftovers into a meal kind of recipes and I feel its genius.  Roast some vegetables, turn a small bit of ricotta into a sauce, throw in some pasta, and suddenly, you have dinner.  Its magical and delicious and such an easy way to clean out the fridge.  Here's to more kitchen magic in 2017.   

Pasta with Brussel Sprouts, Cheese, and Sweet Potato
Adapted from the NYTimes 

I loved the idea of this recipe (pasta bake!  lots of veggies!) but felt it could be improved upon.  I roasted my veggies instead of boiling them because roasted veggies are far superior.  I swapped the white potato for a sweet potato because that's what I had on hand and because I love sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts together.   I grated the cheese over cubing it since I find grated cheese disperses itself more easily.   Regardless this is a stellar recipe that lends itself to endless variations (mushrooms and white potato anyone?). 

1/2 - 3/4 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (or quartered if large)
1 (8-ounce) sweet potato, peeled and in 1-inch dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound pasta (NYTimes recommends whole wheat or spelt tortiglioni or penne)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 - ½ cup ricotta
4 ounces Gruyère, parmesan or pecorino romano grated 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
Additional parmesan or sprinkling on top  

Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a large baking sheet, place the sweet potato.  Drizle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.   Roast about 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and add the bruseel sprouts to the same sheet pan, drizzle sprouts with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and return the pan to the oven for another 12 minutes or until everything is roasted and browned.    Remove from the oven but keep oven on.   

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously, then the pasta, and let water come back to a boil. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Just before draining, remove 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid and set aside.

Return pasta to the pot.  Add brussels sprouts and sweet potato, then add ricotta, Gruyère (or parmesan) and 3/4 cup cooking water, and toss well. Taste and additional salt and pepper if needed. Add more liquid if you think the pasta is too dry.

Pour the pasta into an 8x8 square pan.   Sprinkle with Panko, Parmesan,a and additional black pepper, and bake for 20 minutes, by which time the surface will be scorched a light gold. Let stand for at least 15 minutes before eating.