Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Roasted Garlic Parmesan Sauce

This is a pretty basic white sauce, with a few upgrades. You can try little changes like a different cheese, or fresh instead of roasted garlic, to make it your own. Have fun and don't forget to stir!

2 T Butter
1/4 cup Flour
5 cloves Roasted Garlic
Cream - half pint
1/2 (more if needed) Milk
Fresh Grated Nutmeg
Red Pepper Flakes (RPF)
1 cup Leeks - sliced and cleaned
1/4 Parmesan Cheese - freshly grated
1 Chicken Breast and 2 Thighs (Optional) - poached and shredded

Heat a sauce pan on med to med-lo and add the butter. Slowly mix in the flour with a wooden spoon. Stir the whole time so that the flour doesn't burn on the bottom of the pan. Stir this for 1-2 minutes. You're looking for a blond roux. (So don't let it brown.)

Stir the garlic in. Smash it up and into the roux with the spoon.

Next, stir in the cream and milk. Add a little of the milk at first, then more if you need it. Remember that the sauce will thicken as it cooks.

Turn the heat down to low.

Season the sauce to taste with the s/p, nutmeg, and RPF.

Blanch the leeks. When I made this sauce I was making a lasagna, so I just threw the leeks into the salted boiling water that was ready for the pasta.

When the leeks are soft and light green (this should only take a minute), remove them from the water and dry them between two paper towels. Squeeze out the excess water.

Next, stir the leeks, cheese, and chicken (if you're using it) into the sauce and you are done.

This creamy sauce is great mixed with brown or white rice, farro grain, or pasta. Mix it with one of these in a casserole pan and top with bread crumbs and small pats of butter or a drizzle of EVOO. Then bake till it's bubbly.

Baked Orzo in Cream Sauce served with Smashed Peas

Or, you could try it as a layer in lasagna. Yummm!

White Lasagna with Roasted Veggie Sauce

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cabbage and Pasta

I know this sounds like a strange combination, but it's what I wanted to eat. So I made it happen, and it was quite tasty!

Large pot of boiling Water
Manicotti Noodles
2 T Butter
Onion - diced
Garlic - diced
Celery - chopped
Red Bell Pepper - finely diced
Tomato Paste
1 T Flour
1 Large can of whole Tomatoes (I like the fire roasted ones)
Vegetable Stock
Cabbage - cut into bit size pieces
Fresh Oregano - chopped
Shredded Cheese

Heavily salt the water. Add the pasta and boil it, stirring occasionally, for a little over half of the recommended cooking time. It will finish cooking later, in the sauce.

Then, drain the pasta and cut it into bite size pieces.

As the pasta cooks, heat another pot and sauté the celery, onion, red pepper, and garlic in butter till the onion is clear. Do not brown the onion. Season with s/p.

Then, stir in the tomato paste and cook for couple of minutes.

Sprinkle the flour on the veggies and cook for another two or three minutes. You want to stir constantly at this time so that the flour cooks without burning.

Add the tomatoes and break them up with your hands or the back of a spoon.

Pour enough stock into the pot so that the cabbage will be even with the liquid. Just guess. If you need more, you can add it later.

Bring to a boil.

Add the cabbage and cover till the liquid comes back up to a boil.

Uncover. Cook till the cabbage is tender.

Next, stir in the pasta and oregano. Taste for seasoning, and add more s/p if needed.

Top with cheese and serve.

I made Italian breaded chicken strips with this meal. But, if you want to keep it vegetarian, just serve with your favorite bread and enjoy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Baked Salmon with Fennel and Leeks

Salmon is great baked. The cooking time is longer than other methods but, the fish stays so moist and flavorful that it's worth it. Now that fall is upon us, lets turn on our ovens and bake some tasty salmon.

1 cup Leeks - white part only - sliced and cleaned
1 Fennel Head - quartered and sliced
Juice and Zest from 1 Lemon
Red Pepper Flakes

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Rinse the salmon and pat it dry.

Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.

Grease a baking dish.

Place 1/3 of the veggie mix on the bottom of the dish.

Lay salmon on veggies.

Cover with the remainder of the leek mixture.

Place the dish in the middle of a preheated oven and bake till the fish is done.

My fish baked for forty minutes.

You want it to be med-rare. Don't over cook the salmon. It's done when it's flaky, use a fork to test. Remember that the fish will continue to cook after you remove it from the oven. So, take it out when it's still a little less done then you like it, and let it sit while you prepare the plates for serving.

I served this baked salmon with braised leeks, fennel, and parsnips.

Another Tony approved meal.

This is a gluten free recipe.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lansdowne Braised Veggies

Braising is a cooking method that includes both dry and wet heat. First, the food is cooked over high heat without liquid, then liquid is added and the food is steamed. Both vegetables and meats can be braised. Ones with low moisture content work best.

In my recipe, the fennel and leek look alike after they're cooked, so you don't know what flavor is coming till it's there. The parsnips add just the right sweetness and texture. But, you don't have to use all of these veggies. If you don't like fennel, just leave it out.

2 T Butter - separated
1/2 T EVOO - separated
4 large Garlic Cloves - sliced
1 cup Leeks, white parts (bottom) only - sliced
2 Parsnips - peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 head Fennel - cut into bite size pieces
1 cup Leeks, green parts only (top) - cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
Crispin's Lansdowne Cider*
fresh Sage (about 6 leaves) - chopped
fresh ground Black Pepper
Fennel Fronds - chopped
1 spoonful of Sugar - optional

I cooked the veggies with one pan, but in two steps. I'm sure you could cook all the veggies at the same time if you use a larger pan and/or less veggies. Just be sure that each piece can touch the bottom of the pan. You want a little sear.

Start by heating half the butter and oil in a sauce pan on high to med high. Add the garlic and white parts of the leeks. Stir till the leeks are cooked, soft.

Slide the leeks over and add the parsnips. You may need to turn the heat down a bit at this time. DO NOT stir or shake the parsnips for three to four minutes after you put them in the pan. They need to stay in contact with the pan to form a nice sear. Then, stir and remove from pan. (Put on a plate and set aside.)

Heat the rest of the butter and EVOO. Add the fennel and leave alone for a few minutes. Once again, you want to sear the veggies. Then, remove the fennel and repeat with the greens of the leeks. Once this is done, stir the all the veggies back together in the pot.

Now, cover the veggies half way with Crispin. Stir in the sage, black pepper, and fronds. Put a lid on the pot and reduce the heat to med-low. Cook till fork tender. Don't over cook the veggies, you don't want much. A few minutes should do.

Once the veggies are done to your liking, remove the lid and turn the heat back up. Stirring constantly, add the sugar and cook till a syrup is formed. If you don't want to add the sugar, cook till the liquid is gone. Just another minute or two.

Sprinkle chopped fennel fronds over the finished dish. I served these braised veggies with baked salmon. The flavors went wonderfully together.

*You can substitute apple juice, veg broth, another cider, or even water for the Crispin.
This is a gluten free technique.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Swordfish with Pineapple and Tomatoes

This is a quick gluten free meal with few ingredients and lots of flavor. I served it with potstickers. Yum!

2 T EVOO - divided
2 T Butter - divided
1 steak Swordfish - cut into large cubs
Tomatoes - cut into large chunks
Pineapple - cut into large chunks
splash of White Wine or Chicken Stock
Chives - finely sliced
Soy Sauce - less than a 1/4 cup
1 spoon Corn Starch

Heat half EVOO and half of the butter in a sauce pan. Add onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally till the onion is clear. Then, add the tomato, pineapple, s/p and wine. Cook for about 5 minutes.

In the mean time, heat another pan with the remaining EVOO and butter. Season the fish and cook it in this pan. Flip the Swordfish several times to insure even cooking.

When the fish is firm to the touch, lower the heat and add the tomato pineapple mixture. Be sure to loosen any brown bits on the pan left from cooking the fish. These are concentrated bits of flavor!

Bring the sauce up to a boil. Next, stir in your cornstarch, soy sauce slurry and lower the heat. Let the dish cook on low for a couple of minutes and then serve over rice.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tip - How to Cut Corn Off the Cob

I love to use fresh corn cut off the cob. When it's in season, it's so sweet and crisp. The kernels are great raw in salads. You can also use them in puddings, soups, breads, or try it on your next pizza.

First, remove the husk and silk from the corn. If the silk sticks to the kernels, gently wipe them off with a clean cloth. Then, cut the tip off the ear so that you have a flat surface. This will make the cob more steady on the board. (I skip this step.)

Hold the stem end of the cob and place the cut tip end down on a large cutting board. Place a sharp chefs knife (or any sharp, large bladed knife) at the top of the corn. Run the blade straight down, towards the board. Turn the cob and repeat, cutting the next rows till all the kernels are removed.

Save the cob - I like to throw a de-kerneled cob or two in my stock when I'm making one.

If you're into gadgets, there's something called a corn zipper that you might be interested in. It comes in many different styles, some look like corn and others look like knifes, mine smiles at me. A zipper can be safer and more precise than a knife, but also more time consuming.

I think you'll enjoy finding new ways to use corn. Cut some off the cob and throw it in something unexpected today!

Corn and Heirloom Tomatoes on Puffed Pastry

Christine and I made these treats.

Corn Pudding with Pomegranate and Caramelized Onion Relish

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Chicken Strawberry Mango Salad

I made this salad for Krista's baby shower about a month ago. Strawberries were at their peak and they were great in this savory-sweet salad.

Start by poaching a whole, cut up chicken. Let it cool and then pick the meat off. Save the bones to make stock with. You could also buy a rotisserie chicken, let it cool and use it's meat to save time.

Next, make a citrus vinaigrette and set it aside.

Celery Heart - finely chopped
Red Onion - very thinly sliced
Jalapeño - very finely chopped
Mango - diced
Strawberries - tops removed and cut into bite size pieces
Pecans - chopped and lightly toasted
1-2 T EVOO
Garlic - chopped
Shredded Chicken
2 T Citrus Vinaigrette
2-3 T Mayo or Salad Dressing
Juice from 1 large Orange
1 head Curly Leaf Lettuce - cut into bite size pieces

Mix the first six ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

In a pan large enough to fit all the chicken, heat the oil. Add garlic and cook for a minute or two. Then, add the chicken and vinaigrette to the pan. Stir and cook till the chicken is steamy and evenly heated. Turn the heat off and stir in the mayo (add more mayo if needed) and OJ. Combine the chicken and fruit mixtures.

Place lettuce in a large bowl. Toss with just enough citrus dressing to wet the greens. Make a well in the center of the lettuce and fill it with the chicken mixture. Top with the remaining nuts and serve.

These salad and dressing recipes are both gluten free.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chicken Potstickers

Potstickers, like egg rolls and tamales are a great excuse to have a cooking party. Make the filling before your friends arrive. Then sit around the table together, fold, and fill. Be sure to make enough so that everyone gets some to go. Freeze the extras for latter. You don't have to defrost the potstickers before cooking, just increase the time a little.

These dumplings are great as a snack or a meal. I served them with swordfish and rice for dinner, and as an appetizer for that same dinner. We just couldn't get enough!

Chicken Breast* - ground**
Broccolini - finely chopped
Carrots - shredded
Cabbage - finely shredded
Red Bell Pepper - finely chopped
Garlic - finely chopped
Chives or Green onion - sniped
Soy Sauce
Rice Wine Vinegar
Sesame Oil
Wonton Wrappers
small bowl of Water
Cooking Oil
Chicken Stock*

In a small bowl, mix equal parts soy sauce and vinegar. Then add a very small amount of the oil and taste. You want the sesame to be subtle. Be careful not to over do it.

Next, mix the chicken and all the veggies (i.e. the next seven ingredients) together in a large bowl. Your clean hands work best for this task. At this time, mix the sauce in a spoon full at a time. The filling should be wet, but not runny.

Set one wonton wrapper in front of you and cover the rest with a damp cloth so they don't dry out. Place about 1/2 a teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wrapper.

Dip your finger in the bowl of water and then rub it around the edge of the wrapper. This will act as the glue to hold the sides together.

Then, you want to fold the wrapper so that all the air gets out and a tight seal is formed. There are many ways to do this. Experiment. Once you find a way you like, stick with it and you will become a very efficient dumpling maker. Tony helped me fold these, some of his looked nicer than mine. Who knew?

Once you have a batch sealed and ready to cook, heat a large pan. Add two tablespoons of oil and let it get very hot. Almost smoking hot.

Carefully, place your dumplings in the pan. They should not touch each other or the sides of the pan. Pour about a 1/4 cup of chicken stock in the pan and quickly cover it. Cook for 9-12 minutes, till the potstickers are crispy on the bottom and steamed on the other sides.

While this batch cooks, make more. When they are done, you can put the little purses in a warm oven or just start eating!

Serve with a soy, sweet and sour, or spicy mustard dipping sauce. A simple sauce can be made by adding chives and red pepper flakes or ground ginger to the left over sauce used to wet the chicken mixture.

*To make veggie potstickers omit the ground chicken and substitute the chicken stock with a vegetable stock.

**I used a food processor to grind my chicken, but you could buy it ground instead.