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Chicken in a Pot! (Poule au Pot Henri IV)

21 Oct

This recipe is from my favorite restaurant in Paris, which is “très sympa et on y mange bien” (very pleasant/nice and one eats well there).  This was the recommendation of the owners of an apartment I rented in the 1er, between the Louvre and Les Halles.  I will be in Paris in about 2 weeks, but I don’t think I’ll get to go there for a meal, unfortunately.  I don’t write French well at all, so if I made any mistakes, I apologize in advance.  I wanted to include the metric measurements since I had them and I’m sort of paraphrasing the original recipe at the same time because the ingredients were in a bizarre order.

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT NEEDED:  Covered dutch oven, cheesecloth, kitchen twine

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 pound chicken (1 belle poule de 2 kg environ), cleaned and rinsed
  • 1 pork belly (1 demi poitrine du porc, demi-sel) – see my note below.
  • 1/2 pound ground veal (250 g de veau haché)
  • 1/2 pound ground pork (250 g de porc haché)
  • 1 egg yolk (1 jaune d’oeuf)
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley, washed and minced (1 bouquet de persil, préalablement lavé et haché) – but the parsley bunches are bigger in the US, so I think 1/2 is fine
  • 2 large onions, 1 of which will be minced, the other peeled with 2 whole cloves stuck in it (2 gros oignons, dont 1 ciselé et l’autre piqué avec 2 clous de girofle)
  • 2# carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces (1 kg de carrottes)
  • 2# turnips, peeled and cut into large pieces (1 kg de navets)
  • 2 large leeks, cleaned and chopped into large pieces (2 gros poireaux)
  • 1 stalk of celery, rough chopped (1 branche de céleris) – I am confused as to whether this indicated a single stalk or an entire bunch.  I went with stalk.
  • 2# potatoes (1 kg pommes de terre)
  • 1 branch each of rosemary and fresh thyme (romarin et thym, laurier)
  • salt and pepper
  • mustard and cornichons, for serving (and please don’t skip these, as they really add to the flavor of the meal!)

Note:  It may be difficult for the American cook to find pork belly, especially the lightly-salted version that the French like to cook with.  Basically, it’s bacon – but I would not use American-style bacon as a substitute here.  If you can find fresh, unsalted pork belly at a butcher, you can soak it in brine for about 1 hour to make it ‘demi-sel’ (lightly salted).  If you cannot find it, I recommend using a small portion of pancetta (1/4 pound or so) and soak it in water while the chicken is cooking to remove much of the salt.  Chop it and add it.  It’s the closest thing you are likely to find to poitrine or lardons and don’t skip this as it adds a lot of flavor to the finished product!

Put the chicken in a large, covered pot, and fill about 3/4 with cold water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and let cook about 2 hours, skimming fat frequently.

Soak the pancetta if you are not using pork belly.

Meanwhile, combine pork, veal, minced onion, chopped parsley, egg yolk, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Mix well.  Note you should mince the onion very finely to make it easier to cut later – these onion pieces are too big!

Place on pieces of cheesecloth, roll up and secure with twine at ends and one or two place in the middle to secure the cheesecloth (making fresh pork/veal sausages).  Set aside.

After the chicken has cooked, add the vegetables EXCEPT the potatoes, the cheesecloth-cased sausages, the pork belly/pancetta, the rosemary and thyme.  Cook another 1 hour. Remove the meats and allow them to cool slightly.  Meanwhile, add the potatoes and let them cook another 20-30 minutes.

Remove the meat from the chicken and add back to the pot.  Slice the sausages and add back to the pot.  Slice the pork belly and add it back in as well.

Serve it steaming hot with a little pot of Dijon mustard and some cornichons.  Really.  Don’t skip the mustard, please!

This recipe makes enough for pretty much everyone you’ve ever met to have some.  Eat some now and freeze some for later – it’s such a yummy, flavorful chicken soup for a cold, rainy evening!

Beef Short Ribs OR Why Don’t I Have a Proper Dutch Oven?

14 Oct

Yesterday I decided I needed to make short ribs.  This may have something to do with the fact that I had boneless beef short ribs at a work function on Thursday night and I just needed to get a better fix.

Off we went to the grocery and also to Home Goods, where I picked out an amazing cast iron Dutch oven by Staub and immediately put it back because a) I can’t lift it with my bum shoulder and b) my pocketbook couldn’t lift the $180 (discounted!) price tag.  But it was beautiful.  I’m still coveting it.

Back to the recipe, which I made in my completely crappy, far-too-thin aluminum Dutch oven.  Did I mention that I need a proper Dutch oven?  I suppose you could do this in a slow cooker, but I have to say that I think the oven is more effective for this sort of thing.

Ingredients:

  • 12 beef short ribs
  • 1/4 cup flour, mixed with 1 T brown sugar, salt and pepper
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, core removed to be eaten while you cook, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 1# package of baby-cut carrots
  • 6 stems of celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs and 2 fresh thyme sprigs, tied with kitchen twine
  • 1 quart beef stock

Preheat oven to 300F.

Coat the short ribs with the flour and brown sugar mixture and brown in olive oil in the Dutch oven.  Reserve any remaining flour for later.  Remove from pan.

Add the vegetables and saute until softened.

Deglaze with entire bottle of red wine.

Add beef stock, tomato paste and herbs.

Cover and bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Place Dutch oven on stove top on medium heat.  Skim off fat.  Beat some of liquid into remaining flour and add slurry back to the pot.  Cook until slightly thickened.  Serve with some crusty bread, mashed potatoes or noodles of some sort and another bottle of wine.

Sigh deeply.

Mango and Tomato Salad

7 Oct

We’re in the last gasp of the good tomatoes, and the weather is getting colder, so this is a bit out of season, but worth a post anyway. Of course I got my wonderful produce from Daisy Mae’s Market in Cincinnati’s historic Findlay Market

Ingredients
2 tomatoes
1 mango
fresh basil, cut in very thin strips (chiffonade)
balsamic vinegar – quality counts!
cracked black pepper

Slice the tomatoes and the mango. Arrange in alternating pattern, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, top with basil and pepper.

NOTE: To slice the mango easily, remember that the pit is shaped similarly to the fruit. That is, a mango is a sort of egg-shape that is flattened on two sides, and the pit is also flat on two sides, following the contour of the fruit. Here’s a link to a good video on www.mango.org.

Salade Niçoise

16 Jun

This is Day 2 of Planned Overs for Grilled Tuna.  We took this delightful dish to a picnic concert at Cincinnati’s Riverbend featuring Natalie Merchant.  While everyone around us ate sad-looking sandwiches, we had this bountiful feast that spilled off our paper plates.

Start with:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Olives
  • Capers
  • Hard-boiled egg (and if you’re going to make hardboiled eggs anyway, make some extras and we’ll make a beautiful egg salad tomorrow)

From Day 1, we had:

  • Grilled tuna
  • Grill fries
  • Green beans, steamed and shocked

I like to top this with Brianna’s Real French Vinaigrette, or of course, homemade vinaigrette would be wonderful.

Natalie Merchant was funny and delightful, even singing a cover version of “Hey Jude”.

Brazil: Urca, Caipirinhas and Banana Pizza

3 Jun

It was our last night in Brazil in August of 2008.  We were in Rio de Janeiro at this point.  Our hostess took us on a whirlwind tour of a series of artists’ studios and we stopped for lunch to have Camarão na Moranga (shrimp in a thick pumpkin sauce served in a pumpkin).  Right after lunch, our hostess pushed us into a taxi and sent us off to Sugar Loaf to watch the sunset.

We spent the rest of the evening in Urca, walking along the waterfront.  Families, friends, and lovers were gathered along the wall, fishing, drinking, and laughing.  It was magical.

We found a little pizza place and drank way too many caipirinhas and decided to order whatever we would be least likely to find in the US.  There it was on the menu:  banana pizza.

While we waited for our pizza, we watched a father playing futebol with his son in a little beachfront playground.  The wind blew across the bay and into the open air seating area of the pizzeria.  Every day we’d had in Brazil, from São Paulo to Ouro Preto to Rio de Janeiro, had been fantastic and this dreamy evening was the perfect way to capstone an amazing trip.

My visa is still valid.  Just saying.

Banana Pizza

  • Pizza dough for one medium pizza (10-12″)
  • Olive oil
  • One ripe banana, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • Cinnamon-sugar mixture, for sprinkling

Note:  Vegetarians should check the “Cheese List for Vegetarians” link for appropriate cheese brands/substitutes.

Preheat oven to 425F (also preheat baking stone if you are using one).  Stretch pizza dough to desired level of thickness – I like it very thin for this pizza.  Brush dough with olive oil.  Sprinkle cheddar over dough.  Top with banana slices.  Top with mozzarella.  Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar over top.

Bake about 15 minutes, until crust is very crispy.

Random Recipe – Pizza Alla Norma

2 Jun

I came across a link about eggplant on pizza at the Unorthodox Epicure.  It was the same week I had purchased a case of eggplant from Daisy Mae’s Market that I was desperately trying to use up.  Coincidentally, I had just finished making pizza with eggplant on it, so I was pleased to see that we weren’t the only eggplant pizza fans.  The combination of eggplant, garlic, tomato, basil and ricotta salata, loosely corresponds to an “alla Norma” preparation that you might have seen on an Italian menu somewhere.  It’s delicious.  Note that the ricotta is quite salty, so you will want to go easy on the salt for the eggplant.

We first tried this pizza, many years ago, at a little place called Sorbello’s in Orange Park, Florida that some friends introduced to us.  We haven’t lived in Florida in almost six years, but my parents are still there and my husband keeps Sorbello’s phone number in his cell phone just in case we have the opportunity to order a pizza while we’re visiting my family.  I guess I should mention that he loves it.  His eyes roll back in his head when we talk about it.

So I’m a loving partner and I made pizza alla Norma for my husband, who ate way too much of it.

I do make my own pizza dough, because I enjoy doing that sort of thing from time to time.  I will post the pizza dough soon.  You can freeze pizza dough, too, which makes it easier for the next time.  However, you shouldn’t be intimidated by that.  If you don’t want to mess with a yeast dough, just buy some frozen dough from the grocery.  (But if you haven’t tried making yeast doughs and you have a good mixer, you should give it a go.  It’s quite easy, actually.)

Ingredients:

  • Pizza dough, room temperature
  • Marinara
  • Eggplants, 2 medium, cut into 1″ cubes
  • Garlic, 1 clove, minced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Fresh basil
  • Ricotta salata, shredded
  • Mozzarella, shredded (Vegetarians should refer to the Note on cheeses at the bottom of the post)

Preheat oven to 450F.  If you have a baking stone, you should put it in the oven now.  Toss the eggplant and garlic with salt and olive oil and spread evenly on a lightly greased sheet pan.  Roast about 20 minutes until the eggplant is tender.  You don’t have to overcook it at this point, because it will get cooked again with the pizza. 

Stretch the pizza dough to the desired size and thickness and place on a sheet pan.  If you have a baking stone, put the pizza dough on a thin layer of cormeal on the back of a sheet pan to make the transfer easier.  Top with marinara, eggplant mixture, fresh basil and cheeses.  Put the pizza in the oven (or transfer to the baking stone).  Bake until the crust is fully cooked, about 20 minutes unless you have a smokin’ hot oven.

Note :  Professional pizza makers will use ovens that are fired around 600 degrees.  Many home ovens can’t get close to the level of heat.  If you have a a baking stone and you don’t mind the heat, turn the oven up and cook it hotter and faster. 

Note on Cheeses for Vegetarians:  Ricotta Salata is typically made without rennet.  Mozzarella is typically a rennet-based cheese.  You will want a substitute for the mozzarella if you are keeping a strict vegetarian diet.  Refer to the link in my Blogroll or here (Cheese List for Vegetarians) for information on substitutes.

Random Recipes – Quick Grill Fries

29 May

Yesterday, I was in the kitchen and I spied the bowl of potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic and shallots that I keep on the counter.  We had a lot of potatoes.  Quick glance at the week’s menu plan.  No potatoes needed.  This could be a problem.  Adjust the plan for the week or not?  What the heck am I going to do with all of those potatoes?  I made some quick ‘fries’ to go with the hamburgers I had planned for Memorial Day. 

I love roasted potatoes, especially when they are nicely crisped and brown.  Unfortunately, it takes a long roasting to get them as crispy as we like them and I’m often trying to cook a meal in under 20 minutes.  My husband came up with a method to par-boiling the potatoes on the microwave.  It works perfectly to accelerate the cooking time and then you just need a really hot oven or grill to finish them off.  For the oven, I would do 425F or 450F.

Ingredients:  potatoes, water, olive oil, salt, pepper

Preheat the oven or grill.  If using the grill, put a cast-iron skillet on the grill to heat.

Cut the potatoes into ‘fries’.

Put the potatoes in a microwave-safe container (a Pyrex measuring cup with a handle works great).  Fill the container with water to cover the potatoes.  Microwave until you can easily prick the potatoes with a fork, but not until they are mushy.  You want the potatoes to be mostly cooked, but you are going to finish cooking them on the grill or in the oven.  In my microwave, this is usually about 8 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Put the potatoes in a single layer on the griddle. 

Husband’s Onion Note:  Grilled onions are great.  Grill them with the smaller side of the concentric onion rings down so that the onions don’t fall apart when they are grilled.  Don’t flip them.

Let them cook until crispy on one side and then turn over.  8-10 minutes per side should work fine on a hot griddle.

Random Recipes – Cilantro Pesto

26 May

I adore fresh cilantro, but couldn’t grow enough to satisfy my needs, so I often buy bunches.  As a result, I often have partial bunches of cilantro in my refrigerator, which will slowly turn into a disgusting, dark brown, primordial ooze if I don’t do something with it.  I’m getting better at catching it early these days and one of my favorite things is to make a bit of cilantro pesto, which can be frozen for later use.  You do need at least a small food processor for this.  I use a rocket blender that my friend Mary Beth gave me.  I also love my rocket blender for vinaigrettes, sauces and marinades.

The quantity of ingredients will vary depending on how much cilantro you have on hand, but assuming I have a half of bunch left (again, an imprecise measurement):

  • Cilantro, half a bunch, washed and picked over, tough center stems removed (just leaves and tender stems)
  • Garlic, one clove, cut into small pieces to make it easier to process
  • 2 T Pine nuts (although I often substitute walnuts or almonds if I have them on hand and need to use them up)
  • 2 T shredded or grated Parmesan cheese (again, you can substitute another hard, nutty cheese if you have something to use up)
  • Olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Put the nuts and garlic and a pinch of salt in the food processor fitted with the knife blade and process until chopped.  Add the cheese and cilantro, and process until well ground, drizzling a bit of oil into the mixture as you go.  In the rocket blender, I add a bit of oil to start, then stop and add a bit more and so on.  Continue processing until all of the cilantro is well chopped.  I find this makes a somewhat creamier textured pesto than that made with basil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

I recommend putting a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pesto so that it won’t turn brown, and then covering it to refrigerate or freeze.  It should keep a few months in the freezer, a couple of days in the refrigerator.

 

Now what to do with it?  I love to slather it on fish before baking or grilling.  Anywhere you might normally use garlic and cilantro will be just fine for this.  With roast pork?  Tossed with pasta?  I recently had a party where we served a variety of fillings for tacos and flatbreads:   grilled flank steak, black beans, mole, grilled chicken, grilled vegetables, assorted salsas and so on.  The cilantro pesto was a hit, and best of all, I took it out of my freezer for this occasion, along with the mole, which I will publish soon.  So easy!

Random Recipes – Roasted Pepper Caponata (aka “Stuff”)

24 May

I started making this roasted pepper dish when I was working at a gourmet food store and catering company in Jacksonville, Florida.  We were never sure what to call it and it went by the elegant name ‘Stuff’ for quite some time until I decided it had a similar purpose in life as caponata and I changed the name.

This is my favorite picnic sandwich filling.  It’s vegetarian (vegan, even?).  It can survive without refrigeration for a while.  You know how your sandwiches get squashed when you pack a picnic?  This sandwich is supposed to get squashed!  How perfect is that?  The filling also makes a great topper for crostini or grilled fish, especially a nice steak-y fish like tuna or swordfish.  What else do I love about it?  It’s cool and refreshing and it tastes like summer.

I make this when I can get good bell peppers and wonderful tomatoes for cheap.  Without good tomatoes, it’s pointless, so this is definitely a summertime kind of meal.

  • 4 roasted bell peppers (preferably a mixture of red, yellow and/or orange), peeled, seeded and sliced into long strips
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 T capers
  • 1/4 c. chopped parsley
  • 2 T chopped olives
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt/pepper
  • Optional:  green onion, squeeze of lemon juice (in lieu of salt), fresh basil, Parmesan cheese (unless making vegan filling).  You could add chickpeas if you needed some protein.

Roast the bell peppers on a baking sheet in the oven until the skins have blistered.  Immediately transfer them to a plastic zip-seal bag to sweat the skins off.  Set aside to cool.  Once the peppers have cooled, peel and seed them and cut them into long julienne strips.

Mix all of the chopped ingredients in a large bowl.  Do not drain – keep any accumulated juices. 

To make a sandwich, split the bread, add the pepper filling, wrap the sandwich tightly in plastic wrap and weight down for a few hours so the juices soak into the bread.

This filling should keep several days in the refrigerator.  I recommend eating any sandwiches the same day they are made.

Random Recipe – Beet Sliders

19 May

I got a bit overzealous with my produce order from the wonderful Daisy Mae’s Market and I ended up with more beets than I know what to do with.  I decided to try a beet slider – after all, couldn’t a beet look a teensy bit like a burger patty?

I rinsed and roasted the beets in a foil-covered baking pan while I was roasting some bell peppers for another purpose.  The beets took about 30 minutes at 350 F to get to fork-tender.  Once cooled, the skins slipped off pretty easily.  I cut myself a couple of nice thick ‘burgers’ and got to work.

I had some pumpernickel rolls which were the right size for my beet slices.  I halved the rolls and toasted them in a lightly oiled cast iron skillet.  I brushed the beets with a bit of soy sauce and tossed them in alongside the rolls to char.

When the rolls were toasted, I added a dollop of Brianna’s Champagne and Caper Dressing, which is a very slightly sweet vinagrette.  I think a nice homemade balsamic vinaigrette would work really well here.  Then I smeared the cut side of the top half of the roll with goat cheese and added a couple of slices of cucumber for crunch.  Add the slightly charred beet slices and smash it together and these were really tasty!

I will definitely do this again on a bigger scale for a vegetarian lunch or perhaps on a smaller scale for an interesting hors d’oeuvre.

 

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