cooking. baking. recipes. eating out.

cooking. baking. recipes. home economics. eating out.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Arugula, Orange and Toasted Walnut Salad

This is a flavorful salad that tastes best in the fall and winter as the ingredients are so seasonal, almost Christmasy, with the oranges and walnuts. In this recipe you will need to "supreme" the oranges. This may seem a bit elaborate in concept but once you do it a few times you'll be able to do a whole orange in a minute. You will also be able to use this skill in other dishes. I think it's a beautiful way of cutting up an orange.

1-2 oranges, number and type by preference
1/4 cup walnuts
2 oz. arugula

1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black or white pepper
1/2 Tbsp olive oil

On a cutting board and using a sharp knife, cut the top 1/2" and bottom 1/2" off an orange.

Next, using vertical cuts, cut strips off the side of the orange. Be sure to cut off all the white part (pith) but try to leave as much of the flesh as possible.

Over your salad bowl and using a very sharp paring knife, start removing the segments from the orange leaving behind the membranes. Let the excess juice fall into the salad bowl and set aside the segments in another small bowl.

Once you have removed all the segments, squeeze what remains in your hand over the salad bowl. You'll have a good tablespoon or two. The juice will be part of the dressing.

Add the vinegar and salt to the orange juice in the salad bowl. Whisk to disolve the salt. Add the pepper. Then whisk in the olive oil. Set aside.

Place a small skillet over high heat. When hot, toast the walnuts for a few minutes until fragrant and changing color. Remove from heat and set aside.

Toss the arugula, half the orange segments and half the nuts in the dressing. Plate on salad plates and garnish with the remaining nuts and orange segments. Using a spoon, drizzle a little of the remaining dressing from the bowl over the salads.

Pan-Roasted Chicken and Rosemary Mac & Cheese

There is no excuse for this dish. Any respectable cardiologist (aside from the cheese-munching, chain-smoking French cardiologist my friend dated) would recoil at this recipe. Nonetheless, it is delicious and the ultimate seasonal comfort food. I always serve this in small portions - though your guests will plead for more - and also with a sharp or citrusy winter salad, like the Arugula, Orange and Walnut Salad above. The acid in the salad (and wine) will help cut the richness and fattiness of this dish.

Olive oil, any kind
2 split chicken breasts
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp brandy

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried or 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary
4-5 oz. goat cheese or chevre

1/2 pound dried rigatoni

Heat a frying pan large enough to hold the chicken breasts over high heat. While this heats, season both sides of the breasts with the salt and pepper.

When the pan is hot, add a swirl of olive oil.

Add the chicken breasts to the pan.

Sear the breasts until golden brown on both sides.

Reduce heat to low and cook another 5-10 minutes. Then turn off the heat and cover the pan. Let the chicken sit in the pan while you continue with the recipe. It will keep cooking and will become quite tender.

Fill a large pot with cold water and place over high heat. Season the water to taste like the ocean. This will take a good tablespoon of kosher or sea salt, or less iodized table salt (a product you shouldn't own, anyway).

Put a teaspoon of rosemary in the mortar and give a few grinds with the pestle. You do not want to create a powder; you just want to break up any particularly hard or brittle pieces. If you are using fresh rosemary, chop it to the desired texture.

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, milk, salt and rosemary over medium heat. Once the cream mixture reaches the boiling point, reduce the heat to very low and allow this mixture to cook for a few minutes. You want a little of the moisture to come off this, but don't let it boil. Once it thickens just a little, add the goat cheese in chunks.

Stir or whisk this into the sauce until melted and smooth. After a few more minutes of cooking, the sauce should coat the back of a spoon. When it does, turn it off and let sit.

Add the pasta to the seasoned water that is now at a roaring boil. Cook until al dente, usually 10-12 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the water in which the pasta was cooked. Return the pasta to the pot in which it was cooked.

Meanwhile, remove the cooked chicken breast to a cutting board. In the skillet you should have about 1/4 or 1/2 cup of pan juices. Turn the heat back up to high and reduce this down to a syrupy tablespoon. Deglaze the pan, scraping up any remaining bits, with the brandy. Reduce this for about 15-30 seconds and pour this dark, delicious and aromatic glaze into the cream mixture and whisk.

Reheat the sauce on a low simmer. On a cutting board, slice the chicken breast into 1/4" slices.

Add the sliced chicken to the cream sauce and turn off the heat.

Dump the cheese sauce over the cooked and drained noodles. Gently turn over to coat the noodles well. The sauce will continue to thicken as this cools, especially once it is plated. So, don't worry that the sauce is too thin. If the sauce is too thick, use some of the reserved pasta water to thin it.

Plate in wide rim or cream soup bowls. Top with a little grated Parmesan, if you wish. Serve with dry wine, a salad and Lipitor.

Serves 4-6.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bruschetta Three Ways

Here is another easy, quick recipe that I hope you will try. These are three finger foods great to make for entertaining that all go well together. The peppers recipe is a modified version of a similar one from Ina Garten. The olive tapenade is a recipe I made up, a copy of what I remember Jac's in Cleveland doing. The tomato bruschetta recipe is the classic American version of this treat. All three are great for serving guests with cocktails before going out, or staying in, for dinner.

Should you be tiring of my simple recipes, worry not. Christmas is only about 10 weeks away and I will merrily be posting many great holiday treats and crafts. Like gingerbread houses. Those are neither quick nor terribly easy.

All three of these, along with the toasts, can be prepped, cooked and assembled in under an hour. They should serve 6-8 people with cocktails.

The Bread

1 baguette
Olive oil, filtered or unfiltered
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 450F.

First, take a baguette and slice it into thin rounds 1/4-1/2 inch thick. You will get 30-40 slices from an ordinary baguette. Place in a single layer on a dry cookie sheet.

Brush the bread slices lightly with olive oil. Season lightly with some kosher salt and a few grinds of the peppermill.

Bake in the hot oven until golden brown and toasted dry, about 8-15 minutes depending how moist the bread was. The mositure should be baked out of the toasts or else they will be tough when cool.

Once out of the oven, allow the bread to cool on the cookie sheet then set aside to dress with the following toppings.

Olive Tapendade

15 pitted Kalamata olives
1 medium clove garlic
4 sun dried tomatoes
1 Tbsp unfiltered olive oil
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Chop the olives until they are between a mince and a dice.

Set aside in a small mixing bowl.

Mince the garlic and add to the chopped olives.

Chop the sun dried tomatoes to the same texture as the olives and add to the bowl.

Add the pepper and olive oil and stir to combine well. Cover and set in the refrigerator to keep cool.

Tomato Bruschetta

3-4 Roma tomatoes
1 medium clove garlic
1/4 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 oz. Romano, shredded
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Few grinds freshly ground pepper

Core and dice the tomatoes and set aside in a mixing bowl.

Mince the garlic and add to the tomatoes.

Chop the parsley leaves and add to the mixing bowl.

Add the olive oil, salt and pepper and combine well. Cover and set in the refrigerator to keep cool.

Roasted Peppers and Chevre Bruschetta

1 Tbsp olive oil, filtered or unfiltered
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
Kosher salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp capers, drained
8 basil leaves, chiffonade
2 oz. chevre (goat cheese)

Core and seed the peppers.

Slice into thin strips.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet large enough to hold all the peppers without cramping. Once the oil is hot, almost to the somoking point, add the peppers all at once. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Saute for about 10 minutes then add the sugar. Cook another 5 minutes until the peppers have carmelized and look deeply roasted. Remember, the peppers need to be cooked enough that they are maleable and fit on a toasted slice of baguette. Large, hard pieces of pepper will make assembling the bruschetta more difficult. Add the capers and saute a few minutes more. Add the basil and remove from the heat and set aside until you are ready to assemble the bruschetta.

To assemble:

Scatter the cooled toasts on the tray on which you will serve these. Top each toast with a heaping teaspoon of olive tapenade, chopped tomato mixture, or the pepper mixture. All three mixes should make about 40 toasts. Sprinkle some freshly grated Romano on the tomato toasts and use a fork to break a little piece of chevre onto the roasted pepper topped toasts. Serve.