Sunday, January 29, 2012

Amazing Fried Chicken

I have made fried chicken a few times during my cooking days and even blogged about it already once. I feel though that the recipe I am sharing today is so blog-worthy, it's not to be missed if you're a fried chicken fan. It is flavorful through and through thanks to an overnight refrigeration covered with an amazing dry rub. And unlike other fried chicken recipes I have tried, this one creates a nice crunchy crust and very moist, tender meat. Not an easy combination to achieve.

This is another wonderful recipe from Bon Appetit, my go to culinary magazine of which I have been a devoted follower for many, many years. This is from their most current edition for February 2011. I won't go into too much detail about the preparation as the recipe is very self-explanatory. You can also go to their website and not only see a video on how they made it in their test kitchen, but also had to take care of your cast iron skillet.

Have I mentioned recently how much I love my cast iron skillet? It is my favorite tool in the kitchen. Purchased as a graduated set of 3 pans, 10 inch, 8 inch, and 5 inch for an extremely reasonable price of $5.00 at a garage sale, these pans were an absolute steal. They were used but in very good condition and I continue to treat them very well. They will last me forever. Which may not be that long if I don't quit eating fried chicken!

Skillet Fried Chicken
(Bon Appetit February 2012)

2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 3–4-lb. chicken, cut into 10 pieces, backbone and wing tips removed
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Peanut oil (for frying)


Whisk 1 Tbsp. salt, 2 tsp. black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Season chicken with spices. Place chicken in a medium bowl, cover, and chill overnight.

Let chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl. Whisk flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 Tbsp. salt, and remaining 1 Tbsp. pepper in a 9x13x2" baking dish.

Pour oil into a 10"–12" cast-iron skillet or other heavy straight-sided skillet (not nonstick) to a depth of 3/4". Prop deep-fry thermometer in oil so bulb is submerged. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°. Meanwhile, set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet.
Working with 1 piece at a time (use 1 hand for wet ingredients and the other for dry ingredients), dip chicken in buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge in flour mixture; tap against bowl to shake off excess. Place 5 pieces of chicken in skillet. Fry chicken, turning with tongs every 1–2 minutes and adjusting heat to maintain a steady temperature of 300°–325°, until skin is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 165°, about 10 minutes for wings and 12 minutes for thighs, legs, and breasts.

Using tongs, remove chicken from skillet, allowing excess oil to drip back into skillet; transfer chicken to prepared rack.
Repeat with remaining chicken pieces; let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Thai Green Curry Seafood

I always thought I wasn't a fan of curry after a dreadful experience tasting curry for the first time in college. I believe the curry was some sort of yellow powdered mixture that a dorm neighbor cooked up. She was half Japanese and introduced some of us non-adventurous diners to things such as seaweed covered rice balls, ramen noodles, and the aforementioned curry.  I still love seaweed in the sushi format and indulge occasionally in a doctored up bowl of ramen, but it wasn't until I braved curry again in the form of a Thai dish did I decide that it was delicious.

I saw this recipe while cleaning out old copies of Bon Appetit (May 2009) and thought it looked intriguing and perfect for the cold, wet, wintery days we've been experiencing.  It is like a soup and actually Bon Appetit referred to it as an International chowder.  Be forewarned though, it is very, very spicy in my opinion.  As my BFF Patti would say "burns baby's tongue."  It called for two jalapeno peppers and I used only one and it still was quite spicey.  I read the label on the curry paste and it said it was 30% peppers which could explain the heat.  I would definitely make this again but omit the extra pepper altogether and not use as much water called for to make it a bit thicker in consistency. 

Many Thai recipes require a lot of different ingredients and this one was no exception. Once I got everything prepped though, it went together very fast-about 20 minutes. 

Thai Green Curry Seafood

2 tablespoons unrefined peanut oil
5 green onions, finely chopped, dark green parts separated from white and pale green parts
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons Thai green curry paste
1 1/4 cups water
1 13- to 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
2 small fresh red Thai chiles or 1 red jalapeño chile
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 large carrot, peeled, thinly sliced on diagonal (about 1 cup)
4 cups thinly sliced bok choy
8 ounces uncooked medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
8 ounces bay scallops
1 pound green or black mussels, scrubbed, debearded
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
2 cups (about) steamed rice
Unrefined peanut oil can be found at natural foods stores and markets. Thai green curry paste, coconut milk, and fish sauce are sold at many supermarkets and at Asian markets. Look for fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves at markets. If unavailable, use 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel for each lime leaf.

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add white and pale green parts of green onions, 1 tablespoon cilantro, and garlic; sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Add curry paste; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1 1/4 cups water, coconut milk, chiles, lime leaves, and fish sauce. Bring to simmer. Add carrot; cover and cook until carrot is just tender, about 5 minutes. Layer bok choy, shrimp, scallops, then mussels in pan. Cover and simmer until mussels open and seafood and bok choy are cooked (discard mussels that do not open), about 5 minutes. Stir in dark green parts of green onions, 2 tablespoons cilantro, and basil.
Divide rice among 4 shallow bowls. Ladle curry over rice and serve.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Snow and Soup

Today we experienced our first snow of the winter.  Only a dusting but still lovely as it is Sunday and tomorrow is a holiday so no need to worry about traveling to work.  What a perfect day to make a pot of soup.

We have a wonderful company here in Oregon called Bob's Red Mill and they make the most amazing whole grain, flour, beans, and a plethora of other natural products. I found a package of their 13 Bean Soup Mix at the store last week and the variety of colorful beans looked so fantastic.  Knowing I had a ham bone in the freezer left over from Christmas I knew that a bean soup just had to be made. 
This soup turned out so well.  It is hearty yet it is made with no added fat so it is also healthy. It has just the right amount of heat from the chili powder without being overwhelming and the cumin gives it some added flavor dimension. A great soup to have on a snowy Sunday and leftovers for lunches throughout the week.  Perfect!
13 Bean Soup

2 cups 13 Bean Soup Mix

1 Ham Hock
1 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 15 oz can tomato sauce or 1 quart tomatoes
1-1/2 tsp to 1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground coumin
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic or 2 tsp garlic powder

Wash and soak 13 Bean Soup Mix overnight.

Drain and rinse beans. In a large pot, bring 2-1/2 quarts water to boil with beans and ham hock. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 to 3-1/2 hours.  Remove ham hock and let it cool. Remove any meat from the bone, chop it into small pieces and return it to the pot.
Saute in another pan, chopped onion, carrots, celery, garlic, salt, pepper,chili powder, cumin, and garlic.   Add the sauteed vegetables and the tomatoes into the soup pot. Simmer 30 minutes.

Makes about 8 servings.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Seattle Vacation

I leave you with some pictures of some iconic Seattle locations this week. No time in the kitchen for me.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

I am going to relax today as I begin a week-long vacation.  This will be my first whole week off since I began a new job in November 2010.  In reflection, 2011 was truly one of the most satisfying years of my life.  Though it was somewhat stressful initially learning a new job after fourteen years at the previous one, I have not looked back once regretting my decision.

My new career choice has filled me with such satisfaction and a new found compassion for my fellow human beings and an empathy for people, most of the time by no choice of their own, are dealing with such difficult lives.  Prior to taking my new job I had no idea what real suffering was all about.  I am so glad I can be a small part of a healing process for people who face huge challenges.

I give you this recipe for yummy chocolate peanut butter cookies that are really over the top if you're a peanut butter cup lover (I am)!  And I leave you with hopes that you have a wonderful New Year filled with happiness, laughter, time with your families, however you may define the word, and the ability to do what you love in life.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

1½ cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. coarse salt
¾ stick (6 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. milk
2 cups coarsely chopped peanut butter cups, divided

 Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, peanut butter, and sugars. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add in the egg, vanilla extract, and milk. Blend until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Add in 1½ cups of the chopped peanut butter cups and fold in gently with a spatula.
Use a large dough scoop (about 3 tablespoons) to drop rounds of dough onto the baking sheets, spacing 2-3 inches apart. Gently press a few pieces of the reserved peanut butter cups into the top of each of the dough balls. Bake 12-14 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. (The cookies may seem too soft immediately after coming out of the oven but they will set as they cool. You don’t want to overbake them.) Let cool on the baking sheets about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.