Friday, September 30, 2011

Perfect Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs

My brother-in-law Steve came through again, recommending this winning recipe he had previously tested. This recipe originates from Bon Appetit magazine and it is from the June 2011 issue.  It is in the quick and easy section and it was just that.

This was a fast no-fuss way to prepare a succulent chicken dish.  I had the entire meal on the table within 30 minutes, from start to finish.  I served this along side some rice with roasted almonds and fresh green beans and tomatoes from our garden.  A couple of helpful hints:  take the chicken out of the refrigerator 1/2 hour to 1 hour prior to cooking to ensure your chicken is cooked through, and I feel it is imperative you use a cast iron skillet to get optimal browning of the chicken skin.  Enjoy!

Perfect Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs

6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
fresh thyme or rosemary sprigs, for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking.

Nestle chicken in skillet, skin side down, and cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high and continue cooking skin side down, moving chicken around to ensure even heat. Cook skin-down until fat renders and skin is golden brown, about 12 minutes.
Transfer skillet to oven and cook 10-13 minutes more. Flip chicken so the skin side is facing up and cook until the skin is crisp and the internal temperature registers at least 165 degrees, about 5 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a plate and allow to rest 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh herbs, if using.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Overnight Buttermilk Waffles

I have found the perfect waffle recipe. I'm serious. These are the best. They come together in a matter of mere minutes the night before cooking them. They then sit in the refrigerator overnight and the little yeasties work their magic and in the morning, Viola! Magnificent waffles. 

I must warn you.  Be sure and use a nice big bowl when you make these as the batter expands dramatically.  I nearly had a batter disaster in my fridge in the morning.  The batter was up to the very edge of the bowl.  These are best eaten immediately after they come off the waffle iron in order to keep the wonderful crispness intact.  If serving for a brunch or breakfast for a crowd, it might be best to borrow a couple of waffle irons and have a few going at once. 
I served mine with extraordinary Irish butter and Canadian pure maple syrup. Heaven!!

Overnight Buttermilk Waffles

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (.25-oz)
1/2 cup warm water (approx 100-110F)
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 tbsp sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp baking soda

In a large bowl, stir together yeast and warm water. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Whisk in buttermilk, melted butter, sugar and eggs until well combined. Stir in flour and salt until batter is smooth.

Cover bowl with a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (for 8-12 hours).
In the morning, remove waffle batter from the refrigerator. Stir in baking soda, and mix vigorously until well incorporated. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.

Preheat your waffle maker as directed by the manufacturer.

Dollop waffle batter onto hot, lightly greased waffle iron (as directed by the manufacturer) and allow to cook until golden brown.

Serve immediately, with butter and maple syrup.  Serves 4-6

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Heirloom Tomato Soup

I just have to make recipes right now to use up the bounty of tomatoes coming from our garden.  With many, many days of 85-95 degree weather in the middle of September, the tomatoes have decided to ripen all at once.  The picture below is one Sunday morning's harvest.  As there are just The Gardener and The Cook  in our home, I look for recipes that will freeze for the future and this fits the bill.
This recipe comes from Lynne Rossetto Kasper's wonderful site for her radio show on PBS called The Splendid Table.  If any of you foodies out there haven't discovered her weekly hour long radio show devoted to all things good in food and wine, you must tune in.  Of course
it's available to download via podcast so there is no excuse not to listen.  It is informative, inspirational for cooks, and often amusing. 

I used all yellow heirloom tomotoes and I opted not to serve this soup with the heavy cream called for.  I wanted to savor the wonderful, pure taste of tomatoes and basil in soup form.  Very delicious!
Heirloom Tomato Soup

Extra virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large cloves garlic, minced
Pinch hot red pepper flakes
1 generous tablespoon tomato paste
2-1/2 to 3 cups chicken broth (homemade preferred, but low sodium canned works, too)
A big handful fresh basil leaves, torn
15 medium or 10 large delicious ripe tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped (do capture their juices for the soup)
1 cup whipping cream for serving

Generously film the bottom of a 12-quart pot with olive oil. Set over medium high heat. When warm, add onions and about 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions start to color.

Stir in the garlic, red pepper, and tomato paste. Cook 1 minute. Add broth, basil, and tomatoes. Bring to a lively simmer, cover the pot, and cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until tomatoes are softened and soup tastes fresh, but mellow. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Once soup has cooled, puree two-thirds in a blender or food processor. Rewarm or serve close to room temperature. The all-important finish is stirring a generous tablespoon of cream into each bowl.  This soup freezes well without the cream.  Serves 6-8.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tomato Caprese, Part Three

Each year I have had this little blog of mine, I have done a recipe at the end of the summer involving a take on the Italian classic Tomato Caprese.  Year one with my sorrowful lack of knowledge about how to use my camera gave you this example.  In year two I learned how to use the vivid colors feature and the zoom lens and created this plate of goodness.

This year I must carry on the tradition but I added a twist and made a wonderful hot pasta dish with all of the components of a Tomato Caprese salad.  I must confess that not all of the tomatoes this year were from our garden but  the yellow and red ones were, as was the basil.  A most delightful and very quick to put together supper.  Here is how it's made as best as my memory serves me as I had no recipe.
Tomato Caprese Pasta

12 oz. dried pasta (choice of shape is optional)
1 container of small mozzarella balls, cut in half
1/4 cup good olive oil
2 cloves of garlic sliced finely
3-4 medium tomatoes, cut into small pieces
10-12 basil leaves, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Put pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.  Gently heat up the olive oil in a saute pan.  Add the garlic and watch carefully so it doesn't burn.  As soon as it starts to color, add the tomatoes and turn the heat down to low.  Cook the pasta.  When done, drain and put in large bowl.  Toss in the tomatoes, garlic, and oil along with the cheese and basil leaves.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve along with some Italian bread.  Enjoy.  Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Shrimp and Grits

Southern cooking.  Not something I'm very familiar with. I've done the pan fried chicken with so-so results and that about covers it until I tried this recipe for Shrimp and Grits.  Spectacular!  Normally served in the South as a breakfast meal, I made this for dinner and it was very satisfying.  For an added boost of protein, a fried egg could be the topper.
We have a local company in Oregon called Bob's Red Mill and they make a huge array of grains and one of their wonderful products is various sizes of cornmeal.  For this recipe I used fine ground and the end results were the most fantastic, smooth and creamy grits.  Think of grits as Cream of Wheat only with a corn flavor and amazingly rich and delicious because of the cheese, butter, and cream.  Topped with the spicy shrimp and sausage bits; a perfect compliment to the grits.  This recipe will definitely be on the cooking rotation.
Shrimp and Grits

1 cup yellow grits (not instant)
1 cup grated sharp white cheddar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 jalapeño, seeded, diced
1/4 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup 1/3" cubes andouille sausage
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (optional)
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, divided
16 large shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled, deveined
1/4 cup (or more) beer
1/4 cup low-salt chicken stock
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon



Bring 3 cups water to a simmer in a large saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits. Turn heat to low; gently simmer until grits begin to thicken. Continue cooking, stirring often and adding water by 1/4 cupfuls if too thick, until tender, about 1 hour. Stir in cheese, butter, and jalapeño, then cream. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.


Meanwhile, heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add sausage; sauté until fat begins to render, about 5 minutes (if sausage is very lean, add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet). Add garlic and 1 tablespoon butter; stir until butter melts. Add shrimp. When garlic begins to brown, add beer and chicken stock. Simmer until shrimp is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; set aside.
Divide grits among bowls, forming a well in center. Spoon shrimp mixture into center of grits. Sprinkle tarragon over.