Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Poppy Seed Dressing

Our 11 year old daughter requested poppy seed dressing for her salads.  She's always been a great salad eater -- even at the age 4 and 5! Her dressing choice then was balsamic vinaigrette. When I asked her what kind of poppy seed dressing (just to make sure we were on the same page), she responded, "Um, in a bottle?"  Not in the house! I found this recipe and it is delicious. I put some on my chicken salad sandwich and we dipped cucumbers and even peaches in it.

We're thinking this would be super yummy on grilled chicken!

Poppy Seed Dressing
3/4 cup mayo
1/3 cup sucanat (or sugar)
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Mix all ingredients together (or shake in a jar). Serve!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Southern Fried Chicken

I can't believe that it has taken me this long to get around to making fried chicken.  I was afraid that it would be too much work with poor results. WRONG! Aside from having to plan ahead, this recipe was easy and mouth watering delicious. Move over, Colonel!

In order to move things along, I fried the chicken in two cast iron pans (one small and one large) at the same time.  The chicken really needs to sit in the oil and cook so you can easily manage two pans at once.  I also ran out of buttermilk so I marinated the chicken in 1 cup buttermilk and 3 cups half and half.

Southern Fried Chicken
3 pound chicken cut in to pieces or 10 chicken pieces
1 1/4 cups flour
2/3 cups corn starch
4 cups buttermilk
3 cups oil (I used coconut oil)

Combine flour, corn starch, salt and pepper. Set aside 1 1/4 cup of the mixture.  In a large bowl combine buttermilk, salt, and pepper.  Dredge each piece of chicken in the remaining flour mixture and then put in the buttermilk mixture.  Marinate chicken in the refrigerator for 3 hours (or overnight).

Heat oil in a frying pan.  Transfer reserved flour mixture to a pie pan.  Remove chicken pieces from buttermilk and dredge in the flour mixture. Fry chicken until golden brown and cooked through, about 16-20 minutes per batch.  Transfer chicken to a cooling rack.

Adapted from the July/August 2011 Everyday Food Magazine.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Basic Scones

We love scones, but I've never made plain, basic scones.  These were delicious -- just slightly sweet with a nice tender crumb.  I served these with soup, but they would be great for breakfast or with a cup of coffee or tea.

Basic Scones
2 cups flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
6 Tablespoons butter, cubed
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk

In  alarge bowl, or in the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda.  Cut in butter.  Whisk together egg and buttermilk in a small bowl. Add to dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Knead dough about 10 times. Pat down in to an 8 inch circle. Cut in to 8 wedges. Separate edges and bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Potato and Leek Soup

I have been wanting to try Julia Child's potato and leek soup recipe  Even though it was over 100 degrees today, I couldn't turn down the opportunity to make the recipe with potatoes and leeks we picked ourselves. We picked the produce in the morning and made soup in the evening.

Our 11 year old is responsible for cooking dinner once a week so she actually made the soup.She was very proud of her dinner and was begging our picky 4 year old to just try a little bit!

It's amazing that water, potatoes, leeks, salt, and pepper make such a delicious meal. We figured out that it cost about $.75 to make a gigantic pot of soup. We added in a scoop of sour cream and served the soup with shredded cheddar cheese on top.

Potato and Leek Soup (Julia Child)
4 cups sliced leeks
4 cups diced potatoes
7 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
Pepper to taste
Optional: sour cream to taste

In  a heavy 3 quart pot, bring the leeks, potatoes and water to a boil.  Add salt to taste, partially cover, and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Puree soup with an immersion blender. Add in salt and pepper to taste, sour cream, butter, cheese, etc.

Serves 6-8.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Blueberry Pie

I have a few bags of frozen blueberries left in the freezer from last summer's season.  I want to use them up so I can freeze a new batch later this summer. As it turns out, blueberry pie is my husband's favorite pie (how can you know someone for years and still learn new things about them?!).

I was prepared to tell you to ignore the terrible pictures because in general, my pies don't win any beauty contests, but they always taste wonderful.. I have the worst time getting the crust rolled out correctly.  I just finally figured out how to crimp the edges! But this pie turned out beautifully! I still can't believe how nice it looks.

Blueberry Pie
Pate Brisee recipe, doubled
6 cups fresh or frozen bluberries (allow frozen berries to thaw and drain)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons butter, cut in to small pieces

Egg wash: 1 egg and 1 Tablespoon milk

Prepare the crust. Roll out half the dough to about 13" in diameter. Fit the dough over a 9" pie pan. Trim edges to about 1/2". Put pie pan with dough in to refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

Gently mix berries, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Pour mixture in to chilled crust in pie pan. Dot with butter pieces. Roll out the other half of the dough the same as the first half.  Place dough on top of pie plate. Tuck and pinch seam together. Cut off extra dough and crimp edges.  Put pie back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Whisk egg and milk together and then brush top of chilled pie with the wash. Score the top of the crust with 4 cuts for steam to escape.  Bake pie on middle rack of oven (with a jelly roll pan underneath to catch any drippings) at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn temperature down to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.

This post has been linked to Sweets for a Saturday.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pate Brisee (Pie Crust)

Pate Brisee is simply an all butter, super flaky pie crust.  You can use this for both sweet and savory recipes (just use less sugar if using it for something like chicken pot pie). Even though the French term sounds fancy, make the crust is actually very easy.

There are two important components to a light, flaky crust (or biscuit or anything else "flaky") -- super cold butter and very little processing.  If you want flaky, your butter must be COLD.  When the little bits of cold butter hit the hot oven, they melt thus creating small air pockets which results in flaky layers.  While it  may be more work to cut butter in (unless you use a food processor), it is worth effort in the long run. Overworking the dough results in the butter warming up (from the heat of your hands) or just getting too small to create effective air pockets.

Pate Brisee (Butter Pie Crust)
This recipe makes enough for 1 pie crust. If you need a crust for the top of the pie, double the recipe

1 stick butter, cut in to Tablespoons and then cut those in half
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar (1/2 teaspoon for savory recipe)
4-6 Tablespoons of cold water

Place cut up butter in the freezer for at least 15 minutes, but preferably for an hour.

In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture is coarse with pea sized pieces. Add water, 1 Tablespoon at a time. The mixture will be very crumbly, but only mix until you can pinch the pieces together and they stick.

Remove dough on to a clean, lightly floured surface. Gently press the dough into a disc. Wrap disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

When ready to use the dough, remove from fridge and allow to sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Roll dough out to 1/8" thickness and about 12" in diameter.

Adapted from Simply Recipes.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Mocha Frosting

On a whim I decided to take cupcakes to my sister's house for our Memorial Day grill out. I needed something to do with my 4 year old daughter during her brother's nap anyway and the girl just loves to "help" me cook!

 The original recipe says this makes 18 cupcakes if you fill the muffin cups 2/3 full. I only got 12 cupcakes, but they rose quite a bit above the top of the cups. I think you could easily fill the cups 1/2 full and get 18 cupcakes. If you really want moist cupcakes, put the cupcakes in a container that has a lid and allow them to cool with the lid ON. It will take a while, but you will have some super moist cupcakes.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon butter at room temperature
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 egg
1/3 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds to mix. Scrape sides of bowl and pulse until smooth.  Line muffin pans with paper liners. Fill muffin cups 1/2 to 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

Milk Chocolate Mocha Frosting
9 ounces of milk chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup half and half (or heavy cream)
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
1 Tablespoon instant coffee
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Put chocolate in a medium bowl.  Combine rest of ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Pour mixture over chocolate and mix until all chocolate has melted.  Allow frosting to cool to room temperature. Frost cupcakes.

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates

My first experience with dates was in Palmyra, Syria.  I was there during date season and I could buy them freshly picked off the tree. Oh my! It's hard to compare any dates I get in the grocery store with that!  But when my younger sister was telling me about a stuffed date appetizer she recently ate I put aside my date snobbery. I'd never eaten stuffed dates before I made these, but I am so glad my sister told me about them! I'm planning to take these to any and all pot lucks from now on.

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates
Feta Cheese
Barbecue Sauce

Carefully slice open each date and remove the pit.  Fill date with about 1 teaspoon of feta cheese. Cut each slice of bacon into thirds. Wrap bacon around date and secure with a toothpick (if needed).  Once all dates are stuffed and wrapped, brush with barbecue sauce.  Cook dates on grill or under a broiler until bacon is cooked. These can be served hot or at room temperature.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fingerling Potato Kebabs

I picked up a small bag of fingerling potatoes at the Farmer's Market.  When it came time to make the potatoes, I had no idea what to do with them except roast or boil them.  Then it occurred to me that they were small enough to be skewered for kebabs.  There were so cute and fun to eat!

Fingerling Potato Kebabs
12-16 ounces fingerling potatoes
2 Tablespoons salt
Olive oil
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
Dried rosemary

Put potatoes in a medium pot. Add water and 2 Tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes are tender. Drain.  Thread potatoes on to skewers and lay skewers on a platter. Brush potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary.  Cook potatoes on grill for about 5 minutes just until skin is browned.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Argentine Beef Skewers with Chimichurri Sauce

Summer is officially here (supposedly -- it was 70 degrees last weekend!) and with summer comes grilling. Ok, we grill year round, but for anyone who lives where it snows, summer is grilling season!  I have big plans for our grill this summer (including baking bread on it!) and this recipe will definitely be making a regular appearance.

You could definitely serve this with rice or pasta, but I served it with roasted asparagus and fingerling potato skewers. The original recipe calls for tenderloin, but I used sirloin. Use whatever steak you have or find at a great price. In every picture I've ever seen of chimichurri sauce, the sauce is green. This one is not and I forgot to take a photo of it. It's more of a clear sauce like a vinaigrette dressing.

Argentine Beef Skewers with Chimichurri Sauce
3 pounds steak, cut in to 1 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
3/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon ground pepper

Chimichurri Sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Whisk all sauce ingredients and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.

Whisk all ingredients for the beef, except beef, in a large bowl. Whisk in 1 Tablespoon salt. Add beef and toss to coat. Cover and chill 1 hour, turning occasionally

Heat grill on high heat. Put beef with some marinade still clinging on to skewers.  Grill skewers until beef is charred on all sides and cooked to desired doneness.

Adapted from Bon Appetite March 2011 issue.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chicken Rollatini

This is a fun take on chicken kiev or cordon blue.  I clipped the recipe out of a magazine years ago and just got around to making it (seriously, you should see my "to make" binder!). You could definitely get creative with the "stuffing" part of this dish. I made some of the chicken rolls with asparagus in the middle.  Whole Foods had the Boursin cheese spread on sale a few months ago so I picked it up to make this dish....eventually!

Chicken Rollatini
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
Boursin cheese
Roasted red peppers, sliced

Spread 2 Tablespoons of the cheese on to each chicken breast.  Lay the peppers across each breast. Roll chicken from small end to large end. Use a toothpick to keep the chicken rolled. 

Place breasts, seam side down, on a baking sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees until chicken is done, about 20-30 minutes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Garlic Pull Apart Bread

Ready to eat!
This recipe was an "ah ha" moment for me.  I often want to serve garlic bread with dinner, but my homemade bread is usually round boule type loaves and not the long french loaves garlic bread is made with.  This recipe allows me to use my homemade round loaves and get some super yummy garlic bread!

I used the recipe to make garlic bread, but if you follow the link to the original recipe, you will see that there are many options. I think pesto would be delicious!

Garlic Pull Apart Bread
1 loaf round bread
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2-5 Tablespoons softened butter
Olive oil
Dried oregano and basil
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely diced or pressed

Slice bread every 1 1/2" not quite all the way through the loaf. Rotate loaf and slice again every 1 1/2".  Place bread on a foil lined cookie sheet.

In a small bowl, mix together butter, garlic, salt, pepper and spices to taste. Add enough olive oil to make a smooth mixture between a paste and a sauce.  Using an offset spatula, gently spread the mixture in to the cracks of the bread. Then fill cracks with 3/4 cup of the cheese.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of loaf.

Bake in a 350 degree oven just until bread is toasty and cheese melted (about 15-20 minutes).

Adapted from Our Best Bites.

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