Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Onion & Pepper Omelet: A Recipe in Pictures

chop chop.


melting and swirling...

veggies meet butter!

she's going for it..

and the toss!
(not pictured)

that was fun, now back to the heat


eggs & milk join...

And we're cookin'!

At this point the camera battery died, but imagine adding melty cheese and the introduction of delicious iced coffee to finish the deal!


One Word Wednesday


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chicken with Red Wine Sauce Knockout

Here’s a recipe for the books, a perfect look-how-awesome-I-am-don’t-you-want-to-date-me meal. It's sure to win over any object of your desire for two reasons. One, it’s ridiculously delicious - tender tender bits of chicken combining with tasty little pearl onions and mushrooms that act as perfect little sauce-to-tastebud vessels. Two, after you’ve prepared the dish, you finish it off for 20 minutes in the oven so when he (or she) walks in the kitchen has been cleaned up, the house smells good enough to eat and you’re relaxing with a bottle of wine like it was a piece of cake (but keep your apron on so they know you didn't order takeout).

If you really want to impress your date, instead of saying you're making chicken with red wine sauce, tell them this dish is coq au vin. :) Which, is actually is... just a made via un petit shortcut.

And it’s not that hard – just think about what you’re doing! Don’t stress over measurements, and trust your cooking instincts.

Here’s what you’ll need:
1 onion, diced
4 shallots, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
20 whole pearl onions, peeled (peel them well! Make sure there’s no filmy onion skin on the outer layer)
Mushrooms – whatever kind you like, sliced however you like, as much as you like! If you love mushrooms, I’d say load ‘em up. They’re soo good in this dish – I use a container from the grocery store of pre-sliced white shrooms
FRESH Poultry blend of herbs, still on their stalk. You can get this at your grocery store pre-packaged in the produce section.
2 lbs of chicken tenderloins, cubed
½ lb thick-sliced bacon, cut in ½ lengths
2 cups of red wine (anything will do but buy something you like so you can have a glass while you’re cooking)
1 ½ cups of beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
S & P

You’ll need a big pot for the chicken and sauce (like a Le Crueset if you have it… otherwise just know your cookware and don’t follow my timing if something is cooking faster/slower because of your pot), a pot to boil the onions, a 10-12 inch skillet for the bacon, a casserole dish for the finished product, and a mesh strainer.

First thing – bring a pot of water to boil (you won’t need this for a bit, it’s just for the onions). When it gets to a boil, throw your 20 pearl onions in and cook them for 15 minutes, then strain them and set aside. We're doing this to soften them up a bit.

While the water is heating up, warm oil in the big pot on high (a few tablespoons is enough… we’re not deep frying here). The oil will be ready when 1.) you can smell it or 2.) it sizzles when you flick some water into it.

Add the chickens and turn in the oil – cook just until the pieces have all turned white (or mostly white). Note - you'll be simmering these chicken pieces in the sauce and then in the oven so don't worry about cooking them through right now.

Then turn the heat down to medium-high, add the onions and sauté for just 2 or 3 minutes.. catch them just before they brown! Next, sprinkle in a few tablespoons of flour and toss to coat. Make sure there are no big clumps. You’ll find the onions and chicken pieces stick together a bit. Cook for 2-3 minutes, just until the flour begins to brown.

Now it’s sauce time – add the wine, broth, tomato paste, herbs, shallots, and garlic to the pot. Salt and pepper generously, turn down the heat to low and stir it up well. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

The onions should be on their way to softness by now, so let’s focus on the bacon and mushrooms.

We want to blanch the bacon to take out the saltiness, so put the bacon pieces in the skillet with enough water to cover. Bring the water to a boil on high heat, strain, wash the bacon pieces with cool water, then repeat. Wash out the skillet and use it to sauté the bacon until is just between soft and crispy, or until it produces about 2 tablespoons of bacon fat. Move the bacon to a paper towel.

Now the mushrooms – put them right into the skillet with the bacon fat and sauté until their color is just a little deeper, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

The onions should be finished, so put them into the skillet next, just for 2 minutes or so, until they brown up just a bit. Set aside.

When the 30 minutes is up for the big pot, remove the chicken and place it in the casserole with the onions, mushrooms, and bacon.

Pour the remaining sauce through the mesh strainer. The sauce should be the consistency of whole milk. If it’s too thick, add a bit of water. If it’s too thin, boil it down (if you’d like to add in some cornstarch or flour to thicken, stir it into a bit of the sauce in small bowl, then add to the rest and stir. This prevents clumps.)

When the sauce has reached the desired consistency, pour it over the chicken, onions, mushrooms, and bacon. Put the casserole into the preheated oven. You want to simmer it in the sauce for a bit to let the flavors meld together. Check on the dish frequently. Depending on your cookware, the sauce will begin to simmer in about 10-15 minutes. Let it simmer for at least 5.

Now clean up your mess, set the table, pour some wine, and get ready for lots of “MmMmMm!”

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Meat Butter

Meat butter.

Does that phrase leave you with an icky feeling in your brain? Does it make your lips pucker and your forehead wrinkle? Then get out of here. Move your little fingers to the previous button and go back to where you came from.

Are you intrigued? Curious? Salivating? Then welcome, welcome, welcome! There's more where that came from - think rarebits, beef wellington with foie gras, and rich wild mushroom risotto. I'm talking about the food at the Marliave (Boston, Mass.).

Ever had rarebits? Do you like beer, cheese, bacon, and bread? Are you human? If you've answered "yes" to one or more of those questions, then you need to go into the Marliave and order yourself up a portion of their rarebits.

Served hot in a cast iron pan with perfectly toasted bread slices, the Marliave's rarebits appetizer is every man's dream, every woman's fantasy, and every dieter's nightmare. The thick center-cut bacon is chopped and cooked to perfection, artfully dancing the line between too soft and too hard while it floats in a spa of cheese and beer. Scoop it out of the pan fast because the cheese loses its meltyness as it comes to room temperature. And order extra toast.

Take a break between your rarebits and your entree because whatever you order is going to be hearty, rich, and so delicious you will clean your plate. I have three suggestions for you...

1.) Shrimp Scampi - Giant shrimp so fresh that they taste like crisp sea air with fresh fresh fresh pasta and a perfectly garlicky and lemony white wine sauce.

2.) Yankee Pot Roast - Meet your friend Meat Butter. The short rib in this pot roast is slow cooked to perfection in a red wine reduction along side tasty little vegetables. No teeth necessary for this dish, the meat literally melts in your mouth. Butter wishes it could be this soft. A knife is required simply for stability while you pull bits of meat off of the short rib with your fork. Don't leave out the fingerling potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, pearl onions, and little button mushrooms. They're wading in reduction just ready for the taking.

3.) Beef Wellington - Don't judge! Beef Wellington may seem like an odd choice, and a bit of an antiquated dish, but those who think they are better than Beef Wellington are just silly and foolish. Wrapped in a flakey, buttery pastry crust is a medium rare beef wonder with a special surprise on top - decident fois gras. Don't be disappointed by the seemingly small portion of food on your plate - your Beef Wellington is resting in its red wine reduction waiting to quell all your hunger fears.

Feel the need for a side? Get the wild mushroom risotto. Or anything else. Yes, literally order any of the sides, you won't be disappointed - and they're big enough for two.