Friday, October 29, 2010

Salmon on a bed of rice and spinach

I had some leftover brown rice from a few days back and decided to make a variation on Baked Trout with Mushrooms.   I made a bed for the meal with the rice, to which I added more liquid.  Then I layered on fresh spinach, nestling it down into the liquid, a piece of salmon, and topped it with garlic, green onions, bread crumbs, and the butter-oil-lemon juice mix from the original recipe.  It took about 25 minutes at 375.  Delicious!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stir fry with mchuzi mix

Mchuzi mix is a spice blend in cornstarch that is added to Kenyan soups and stews.  Our Kenyan friends brought us a large jar of the spicy beef flavor mix, and I decided that it would probably be pretty good with one of our classic stir fries too!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pan roasted chicken breasts

Pan Roasted Chicken Breasts

Ingredients for Fancy Brine
3 to 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil
1 c chicken broth
1/4 c vermouth

Brine the chicken pieces in a ziploc bag inside a bowl for about 2 hours. Drain and rinse. In a large skillet, brown chicken topside for about 2 minutes in olive oil. Flip and cook another two minutes. Add broth and vermouth and bring to boil to loosen drippings from pan. Reduce heat and simmer covered for about 20 minutes. Simmer uncovered, turning in the sauce for another 5 minutes or so.

Friday, October 22, 2010

In search of the perfect carrot cake

I've made carrot cake several different ways.  One of our favorites is an Amish recipe, but I also like my tree-hugger-earthy-crunchy recipe too.  Still searching for the perfect "stop the presses" version though!

We tried Alton Brown's version, and we liked it, but it was actually too much like carrot bread and not enough like carrot cake.  Very very tasty, but just not what I had in mind.  Sorry Alton, I adore you, but I'm probably not going to do this one again.  I've shared the link though in case you want to try it.

However, after asking around, Linda from MO in the Cooking Light forum shared the world's most perfect recipe for frosting that she got from MasterCook.  This frosting is amazing.  I have always found the traditional cream cheese frosting to be too thick and sweet.  This recipe makes a lighter bodied and slightly less sweet version.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

2 c heavy whipping cream
1 c powdered sugar, divided
8 ozs cream cheese, softened
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
I added some lemon zest

In a medium bowl, beat the whipping cream and half the powdered sugar until stiff peaks form; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, the other half of powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, and lemon zest. Beat smooth and fold in the whipped cream.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jamaican jerk turnips

Get ready for a blast of heat!  You can turn it up or down depending upon what variety of peppers you chose, and how many.

Jamaican Jerk Turnips

1 jalapeño or 1/4 habanero pepper, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 t thyme leaves, dried
1 T brown sugar
1/4 t allspice
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1/8 t nutmeg
1 t black pepper
Vegetable oil
1/4 c water
About 2 lbs turnips, sliced into 1/4 inch quarter moons
1 T cider vinegar
Scallions, chopped for garnish

In a small glass bowl, mix the jalapeño pepper through the black pepper and set aside.  In a large skillet, heat the oil and water, and add the turnips.  Bring to a boil and then lower the heat.  Cover and cook for about 5 minutes until tender.  Uncover and cook for about 2 minutes until liquid is gone.  Add the spice mixture and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add vinegar and garnish.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Flank steak

What more do you need?  Throw the steak into a ziploc bag in the morning with some tasty marinade and grill it in the evening.  Don't forget to slice thin diagonals across the grain.  What's your favorite marinade?  We usually use some combo of soy sauce, garlic, and ginger.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Beef stew with Belgian beer

I really like beef stews that use beer in their base.  Yes, burgundy is classic, but beer is wonderful too.   Stella Artois is a good choice for this stew, but you can use any amber or brown ale.

Beef Stew with Belgian Beer

4 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 lb boneless chuck or stew beef, cubed
2 onions, chopped
4 c sliced baby bella or cremini mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 - 3 T flour

12 oz Stella Artois (or other amber or brown ale)
2 c carrots, sliced thick
2 c parsnips, peeled and sliced thick
1 c beef broth
2 T Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Bay leaf
1 t dried thyme
1 t caraway seeds

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven until crisp.  Remove bacon and set aside.  Brown meat (half at a time if needed) for about 5 minutes, removing from pan.  Add onions and saute until tender.  Add mushrooms and garlic and cook until about 1/2 the liquid is gone.  Sprinkle flour over liquid and stir for about 2 minutes.  Add beer, scraping the pan.  Add the bacon, beef, and all the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat, simmering for about 2 hours.  Discard bay leaf.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Shrimp dinner by RuthAnn

I need to find out what Mom used.  It was some sort of flavored oil, but I don't know exactly what.  We started with them raw in the marinade for about 15 minutes, and then grilled them till just pink.  Delicious!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Brining chicken breasts

Why brine?  Because there is no better way to end up with fall-off-the-bone moist chicken, turkey, or pork...basically any white meat will benefit from brining.  Our turkey ended up so moist last Thanksgiving that I couldn't even get a picture of it for you: I had to use a picture from a previous non-brining holiday! 

I may be late to the party, but I know a good thing when I taste it.  Most likely, I'll never get another good picture of a chicken or turkey ever again, but it's worth it!

Basic Brine

(For a 6 to 8 pound roasting chicken)

1-1/2 cups each of salt and sugar
Crushed garlic
Crumbled bay leaves

For a larger bird, just increase the amounts slightly.  Boil a couple of cups of water and dissolve the salt and sugar.  Remove from heat and add the other ingredients to steep for about 10 minutes.   Add the liquid to ice cubes to cool it quickly and to increase the amount of water.  Soak the chicken in it for a couple of hours prior to cooking.

Fancier Brine

1/2 c salt
1/4 c molasses
12 whole cloves
12 black peppercorns

1 orange

Boil a couple of cups of water and dissolve the salt and molasses.  Remove from heat and add the other ingredients to steep for about 10 minutes.  Cut the orange in half and squeeze juice in before adding rind.   Add the liquid to ice cubes to cool it quickly and to increase the amount of water.  Soak the chicken in it for a couple of hours prior to cooking.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chili sauce to serve with fish

This spicy sauce works well with any type of fish.  We tried it with salmon the first time, and the flavors together were amazing.  The only thing is, we like salmon and trout so much without any embellishment that I've decided to probably stick with white fish fillets from now on.   

Chili Sauce for Fish

Pine nuts, toasted for garnish
1 - 2 T chili powder
Salt and pepper
1/2 c cornmeal
1/4 c milk
Fish fillets
1 shallot, minced
1/2 c chicken broth
A dash of Worcestershire sauce

Toast the pine nuts in a dry saute pan until lightly browned. Remove and set aside.

Mix the chili powder, salt and pepper, and cornmeal together on a small plate. Brush the non-skin side of the fish fillets with milk and dredge them in the cornmeal mixture. Reheat the saute pan and cook the fish in butter until almost completely cooked through. Remove to the small cornmeal plate and keep warm.

Add a bit more butter and cook the shallots. Add the chicken broth and stir up the browned bits. Add a teaspoon or so of Worcestershire sauce and cook the sauce down slightly. It will thicken a bit from the cornmeal leavings in the pan. Add the fish back, skin side down, and reheat to serve. Sprinkle with pine nuts.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

German Chocolate Cake

For my birthday this year, my great love offered to make me a cake.  The catch was that he only does package cakes.  No thanks...I'll make my own.  It's a lot of work to make a German Chocolate cake properly, but it is soooo worth it!  So he took care of the flowers instead.  My one concession to time was to make it as a sheet cake rather than a layer cake.  I've given you instructions for both below.

German Chocolate Cake
4 oz of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
1/2 c boiling water
4 eggs
1 c butter or margarine
2 c sugar
1 t vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 1/2 c cake flour
1 c buttermilk

Grease the bottom and sides of a baking pan (or three 8 inch cake pans) and add waxed paper to the bottom. Preheat the oven to 350. Gather together all ingredients plus the following bowls: 2 c glass measuring cup, 4 c glass measuring cup, small bowl, and a large mixing bowl.

In the 2 c glass measuring cup, pour 1/2 c boiling water over the broken up chocolate. Stir until dissolved and let it sit until cooled.

Separate the eggs, placing the whites in the 4 c glass measuring cup and the yolks into a small bowl.

In the large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy. Slowly add the egg yolks, one at a time. Add the chocolate mixture and the vanilla, beating them in thoroughly. Add the baking soda and salt, mixing them in well. Add the milk and the flour, alternating between them, beating the whole time.

Beat the egg whites at high speed until they form firm peaks. Fold the whites into the batter, half at a time, slowly and carefully.

Bake the cake for 50 minutes (for a pan) or 35 minutes (for 8 inch rounds). Check with a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean. If doing a layer cake, let the layers cool for 15 minutes before removing them from the pans. Use a knife to loosen it from the pan, and then flip them over onto a cooling rack and remove the wax paper from the bottom.

1 c heavy cream or evaporated milk
1 c sugar
3 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 c butter
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla
1 1/3 c unsweetened coconut
1 c pecans, chopped and roasted

Heat the pecans for 2 minutes, stirring after one minute, in the microwave. Mix the cream through the vanilla on a stove set on medium heat for 12 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the coconut and roasted pecans. Cool the frosting until it is firm enough to spread.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lemon-dill sauce for steamed vegetables

I'm betting that this sauce would be good with fish too!

Lemon-Dill Sauce

1-1/2 T fresh dill, chopped
1 small shallot, minced
1 - 2 T olive oil
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 t dark mustard
Salt and pepper

Whisk together while vegetables or fish is steaming. Heat gently in microwave before pouring over.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Flortentine style chicken

There are dozens of ways to make Chicken Florentine.  Some use Parmesan cheese, some don't.  The sauce is made from canned cream soup (ick!), mayonnaise (double ick!), heavy cream, or sour cream.  Some have rice, some don't.  I've combined what I like from several sources to come up with my family's favorite. 

Florentine Style Chicken

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
Salt and pepper
Flour for dredging
2 T shallots, sliced
1 T garlic, chopped
1 1/2 c dry white wine
1 c sour cream
1 bag of fresh baby spinach
Parmesan cheese, grated

Start the rice, preferably in a steamer, or use pre-cooked rice.

Salt and pepper the chicken pieces and dredge them in flour. Brown the chicken inbutter, sautéing about 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Sauté the shallots and garlic until tender. Add wine and scrape the sides. Boil for a few minutes to reduce the wine by about half. Lower the temperature and add the sour cream. Stir in the rice and add the spinach to the top to wilt. Add the chicken. To serve, top with Parmesan cheese and drizzle with excess sauce if desired.