Archive for May, 2007

23rd May
2007
written by scott

fire iron chicken Texibian: WTF, right? Yeah, I know, it’s a stretch. But it’s the only way I can describe the flavor of this dish; if Texas were an island in the West Indies, this would be their chicken.
You might have noticed by now that I have a healthy relationship with my cast iron skillet. I can safely tell you that it is the best $40 you will ever spend on kitchenware.

Makes: 1 hot chicken
Total kitchen time: 30 mins

Shopping list:

  • 1 chicken, quartered (I’ve ranted about this before; get the best chicken your grocery store has to offer) OR your favorite skin-on chicken pieces
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp celery powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup honey

Special equipment: cast iron skillet, aluminum foil shaped into a lid for your skillet

  1. Combine all the dry ingredients (you guessed it, a dry rub) in a mixing bowl. Coat the chicken with the dry rub, patting it onto the skin and meat. Refrigerate anywhere from 0-30 minutes.
  2. Preheat your oven to 450F and set the top rack to the middle position. Heat your cast iron skillet over high heat until it is smoking.
  3. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down and cook over high heat about 2 minutes.
  4. Cover the skillet with the foil and move it to the oven. Cook about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the foil. The chicken should be soaking in a tub of bubbling goodness. With the foil off, set your oven to broil.
  6. Broil about 2 minutes or until the chicken develops deep brown spots. Carefully (your skillet is now hot enough to melt through your kitchen floor) flip the chicken pieces. Broil 2 minutes more.
  7. Remove the skillet from the oven and onto a trivet. Drizzle the honey over the chicken and let sit at least 5 minutes. Plate up the chicken making sure to spoon off the juice left in the pan.

This dish pairs nicely with roasted vegetables (like onions and fennel) and sangria. Or, serve with corn, spiced butter and pink lemonade for a more Kennedy-like affair.

23rd May
2007
written by scott

shrimp bisque There is something inescapably elegant about bisques. Last weekend I attempted a crayfish bisque, only to discover that crawfish haven’t yet made their migratory journey (by truck, I believe) from the murky waters of Louisiana to the salmon-packed streams of Washington. So, shrimp was the next best choice.

Makes: 6 handsome bowlfuls
Total kitchen time: 30 mins

Shopping list:

  • 1 lb uncooked shell-on medium shrimp
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 leek, white and pale-green parts diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 5 oz can of tomato paste (the small cans, you’ll see ‘em)
  • 1/4 cup Brandy
  • 2 cups seafood stock (in a box, next to the chicken and beef stock)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp red cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (to garnish)
  1. Shell and clean the shrimp, reserving shells in a bowl. Cut the shelled shrimp into 1/2″ pieces and set aside.
  2. Heat the butter in a large stockpot until melted. Add the shrimp shells and cook over medium-high heat about 3 minutes. Remove the shells and discard them.
  3. Add the onion and leek to the butter. Sweat over medium high heat until they start to turn golden. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Be sure not to overheat the pan or the butter may separate and burn.
  4. Add the Brandy to deglaze the pan. Flambe (hold a lighter in the pan, with your head far away).
  5. Add the tomato paste and shrimp. Cook about 1 minute.
  6. Add the wine, seafood stock, cream and seasonings. Reduce to a simmer. At this point, you will want to taste the bisque and adjust the flavor with salt and pepper.
  7. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking or burning on the bottom of the pot.
  8. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the parsley.

This soup is great as a starter or an entree. Add a really good baguette and a dry white wine and you’ve got a meal befitting the best yacht club in town.

18th May
2007
written by scott

hens provencal Doesn’t it sounds so much classier when I call them “hens”? They’re chickens. Whatever. This recipe represents one point on a epicurean function to which I’d like to introduce you. This function takes the form
Dinner = chicken + olive oil + salt + pepper + x
In this case, we’re solving for x = Herbs de Provençe.

Serves: 4 leisurely Frenchmen
Total kitchen time: the French don’t care, why should you?

Shopping list:

  • 1 large chicken (though you could just as well use cornish hens, a duck, pigeon, or my dad’s rooster Lucky)
  • 3 tbsp good olive oil
  • 2 tsp Herbs de Provençe (I could tell you what’s in it, but you’re gonna buy the pre-made stuff anyway. No harm done)
  • Salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Side note: Since we don’t have a lot of ingredients working here, I thought I’d take a moment to comment on the importance of salt and pepper. Please, please, please don’t settle for table salt and pepper that looks like gunpowder. IMHO, they’re not the same. If you’re only going to buy one “specialty” salt, pick up a box of Kosher Salt. You don’t have to be Jewish to buy it and the checkout clerk won’t ask you about Passover. Then, get some fresh black pepper (it comes in bb-sized balls) and a grinder. Some spice isles even have a small grinder preloaded for like $6 bucks. Your tongue will thank you.

  1. Anyway… Preheat your oven to 425F. Set the rack to the middle position.
  2. Quarter the chicken. Season the pieces with olive oil, salt, pepper and Herbs de Provençe.
  3. Heat a large, heavy, oven-proof skillet (may I suggest cast iron) over high heat until it is pretty rocket-hot. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down, making sure you have enough room to fit them all in. Cook over high heat for about a minute. This is our crisp skin insurance.
  4. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the fattest part of the breast registers 150F. Flip the pieces over so they are skin side up. Raise the heat to a broil and cook about 3 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and let rest several minutes before serving.

Not feeling completely French yet? Try adding some savory carrots, a fresh baguette and a bottle of wine. Viva la gastration!

18th May
2007
written by scott

sweet and savory carrots I grew up on these carrots. Adding depth to a naturally sweet vegetable, this recipe will make you think twice next time you reach for the steamer. As a variation, puree the carrots at the end of the recipe and sprinkle with fresh sage.

Serves: 4 smugly-sarcastic rabbits
Total kitchen time: 20 mins

Shopping List:

  • Carrots (a-duh? But seriously, a note here. Try to find beautiful carrots. For your sake and mine, don’t buy a pre-packaged bag of those mini carrots. Those are for 5-year olds to dunk in Ranch Dressing. You want the big boy carrots.)
  • 1tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups water
  1. Clean up your carrots with a vegetable peeler. Get rid of the tough outer skin, but try not to go all mechanical pencil sharpener on them. That’s food you’re wasting.
  2. Arrange the carrots in a single layer in a large skillet. Sprinkle over the cloves and cinnamon. Toss to coat.
  3. Add the water and honey and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until carrots are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.
12th May
2007
written by scott

mille feuille enchilada I love “gourmet Mexican” cooking. This dish was inspired by more traditional stacked enchiladas – with a twist. Using fillo dough instead of tortillas gives the meal a lighter, flakier texture – reminiscent of European and Mediterranean layered-dough pastries.

Serves: 4-6
Special Equipment: Large casserole dish (9×13 will work)

Shopping list:

  • 1 package Filo (filo, phyllo) dough sheets, thawed
  • 3 small cod fillets (about 1 lb total)
  • 1/2 lb Cotija cheese, crumbled (look for it in the Mexican cheese section. Substitute Chihuahua or Fontina if you must)
  • 1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups (uncooked) baby spinach
  • 2 dried ancho chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb Woodear mushrooms, coarsely chopped (substitute with another “gamey” mushroom such as Oyster)
  • 1 tbsp red cayanne pepper
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar (rice, sherry or plain white vinegar will work fine)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil (in a sprayer, if you have one)
  • 2 1/2 cups prepared salsa verde (may I recommend the mojito marinade?)
  1. Preheat your oven to 375F and set the rack to the middle position.
  2. Combine the cayanne pepper, paprika, liquid smoke, vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the cod and toss to coat. Set aside to marinate, at least 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat your most grill-kike surface (bbq grill, indoor grill, grill pan, big skillet) over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until brown and soft, about 10 minutes. Remove the onions and set aside in a large mixing bowl. Add chilies and mushrooms to the bowl.
  4. On the same hot grill, cook the spinach until wilted, about 1-2 minutes. Coarsely chop the wilted spinach and add to the bowl that’s beginning to smell delicious in your kitchen.
  5. Keeping your grill good and hot, cook the cod fillets, about 4 minutes per side. Toward the end of the cooking, mash up the fillets with your tongs or spatula. Cook another 1 minute over high heat to develop crusty bits.
  6. Add the cod and 2 cups of the salsa verde to the mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
  7. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of your casserole dish with olive oil. Add one sheet of filo dough to the bottom of the dish. Lightly spray or brush the dough with olive oil (very lightly). Add another sheet and repeat until you have 5 or so sheets built up on the bottom.
  8. Add about 1/2 of the cod/veggie/fungi mixture to the dish and spread into an even layer. Top with 1/3 of the cheese. Add another 5 layers of filo dough, spraying oil in between each layer.
  9. Repeat step #8 with the remaining cod mixture. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup of salsa verde over the top of the fillo sheets. Add the rest of the cheese in an even layer.
  10. Bake at 375F for 15 minutes or until the cheese is slightly browned. Set aside to cool at least 5 minutes. Cut and serve!

Serve alongside refried beans mixed with the juice of 1 lime and some chopped cilantro. If you’re timid about cod, try using shredded chicken, pork or steak. As a brunch variation, try using lobster meat and Fontina cheese, substituting the salsa verde for a buttery cream sauce. Look how fancy you are!

P.S., like its traditional Mexican counterparts, this dish is also great the 2nd day.

09th May
2007
written by scott

grilled pizza With equal parts hunger and bravery, you’ll find that your grill cooks much more than burgers. This recipe is a summer staple for me; as soon as the weather warms up, I start to crave pizza on the grill. Be creative with your toppings – choose 2 or 3 veggies, a cheese and a meat. When I recently made this recipe for some friends, I went overboard (7 veggies was just too much) but the result was still delicious.

Makes: 4 10″ pizzas

Shopping list:
Dough:

  • 2 packages (2 oz total) active dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup + 3/4 cup warm water (105F- 115F)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Toppings:

  • 1/2 cup goat’s cheese
  • 1 dz fresh figs, halved
  • 2 Vidalia onions, cut in 1/4 in circular slices
  • 1 lb fresh chicken and apple sausage
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, torn into small bits
  1. Proof the yeast in 1/4 cup of the warm water for 5 minutes.
  2. Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, yeast and remaining water. Mix until combined, but don’t over work the dough. Roll into a large ball and coat with olive oil. Cover and let rise 1 1/2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
  3. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll out into ovals (or circles or hearts or whatever shape you like) about 1/8″ thick. These will be really thin, but try to make sure there are no holes or weak spots. Lightly brush each of the doughvals (get it?) with olive oil and set aside until you’re ready to grill.
  4. Preheat your grill on medium. Add the chicken sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until they look right. The cooking time depends on a lot of things, but trust me, you’ll know when they’re done. Slice into 1/4″ pieces and set aside and keep warm.
  5. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook the onions until brown, soft and sweet, about 10 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
  6. Grill the figs, cut side down, about 3 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
  7. Turn your grill down to low and wait for the heat to dissipate. Grill the doughvals until set, about 1 minute per side. Add the goat’s cheese, onions, figs and sausage. Sprinkle on the mint and top with really good olive oil, if you like.

Cut and serve the pizzas. They pair great with a dry white wine and a platter of sliced, preserved meats. Also try any of the following for toppings: {Stilton, apricots, pork sausage}, {Manchego, pesto, shrimp}, {feta, lamb, cucumber}, {mozarella, bell pepper, eggplant}. If things have gone well, you’ll have a whole new admiration for your grill.

01st May
2007
written by scott

chicken fingers Look, I’m all for haute cuisine. In fact, I’m tempted to lie and tell you that the picture to the right is pan-fried Fijiian oysters with julienned pommes de terre and saffron aioli. But it’s not. It’s chicken fingers and cheese fries. Sometimes you just want comfort food.

Makes: you forget you’ve ever been to Denny’s
Total kitchen time: 45 mins

Shopping list:

  • 1-1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 box Corn Flakes (plain, no raisin or strawberry BS)
  • 1 tbsp rosemary (I used dried for this recipe, but fresh works too)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Trim the chicken thighs, removing any excess fat. Cut into 1″ strips and place in a baking dish. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken and add the paprika and buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate 30 mins.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 and adjust the top rack so it is 6-8″ from the top heating element.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients (Corn Flakes -pepper) in a food processor. Pulse a few times, but not too many that you end up with dust. Keep the mixture coarse for crispiness.
  4. Spread 1/2 of the Corn Flake mixture on a plate. One by one, shake the chicken pieces dry and roll in the breading, coating thoroughly. Arrange on a greased or non-stick baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, flipping once. When 15 minutes is up, if they don’t look crispy, set your oven to broil and watch them closely (about 2-3 minutes).

Serve with french fries (tossed with crumbled blue cheese and sea salt) and home-made BBQ sauce (sorry blog readers, I’ll never tell!).

01st May
2007
written by scott

swordfish Nothing signifies the start of summer like fish on the grill. If you’re ever going to be picky about your ingredients (which I recommend), now’s the time. Make a special trip to the best fish market you can find. You want a place that’s very busy (fast turnover = fresh products) and doesn’t smell like fish at all. Ask the fish monger to let you smell a piece of fish. If he refuses, shout profanities at him and storm off – you didn’t want his fish anyway.

Serves: 2 old men and the sea
Total kitchen time: 30 minutes (plus marinating time)

Shopping list:

  • 2 swordfish steaks (about 1/2 lb each)
  • greens (choose one you like: watercress, escarole or endive all work well)

Marinade:

  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger (finely grated)
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp red curry powder

Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 2 tbsp coarse mustard (creole mustard works great)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp red curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine marinade ingredients in a large, shallow baking dish. Add the swordfish steaks, turning to coat. Cover with foil and refrigerate 30 mins.
  2. Combine all the vinaigrette ingredients in your food processor and blend until smooth. Taste it now and then and adjust as necessary. Salad dressings, in my humble opinion, are the last bastion of organic alchemy.
  3. Preheat your grill (or grill pan) over medium heat. Make sure the grates are as clean as possible. Rub the grates with peanut oil.
  4. Place the swordfish steaks on the grill DON’T move them. They’ll stick. Be patient. After 5 minutes, they’ll release on their own (or with a little coaxing). Give them a 1/4 turn to get pretty grill marks. Cook 5 minutes more (depending on your grill) then flip and repeat.
  5. Plate the swordfish on your lettuce and drizzle the vinaigrette over both.

As a side dish, I might recommend a steamed artichoke. Mix together 2 tbsp of mayonnaise with 1 tsp of red curry powder as a dipping sauce. Now, go ride a bike, work on your tan – hell, go fishing! Most of all, enjoy the summer season.