Spicy Rice Noodles with Chicken, Basil and Lime

spicy noodles

We all need more recipes like this one. Pantry staples, a pound of ground chicken, and dinner is on the table in about 20 minutes.  And the best part is that it’s not a boring “I didn’t have time to think about dinner” dinner.  It’s sweet, tart, spicy and light.  Interesting enough for the adults yet familiar enough for the kids.

Here’s a thought about rice noodles.  You want to be careful not to overcook them lest they turn to mush.  For this particular recipe, soak them in hot water until they are just as you would like to eat them, tender all the way through but still a nice silky bite.  Then toss them with the hot chicken and sauce and serve right away.  If you let them sit around waiting, they will soak up any available liquid and dry out the dish.  That being said, this stir fry is tasty enough that you will still want to gobble up the leftovers the next day straight out of the frig, mushy noodles or not.

Adapted from one of my favorite chefs, Ming Tsai, and his recipe for Crazy Chicken RIce Noodles, in Simply Ming.

 

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4-6 ounces pai thai rice noodles

3 tablespoons asian fish sauce

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon sugar

1-2 teaspoons sambal (asian chili sauce)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 shallots, thinly sliced

1 pound ground chicken

1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts, chopped

a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped

lime wedges for serving

 

1.  Soak the rice noodles in hot water until tender, about 20 minutes or according to package directions. Drain when ready and set aside.

2.  In a small bowl, combine fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and sambal and stir to combine.

3.  Heat a wok or heavy skillet over high heat.  Add the oil and the shallots and stir fry until they are golden brown.  Add the ground chicken and stir fry, using a spoon or metal spatula to break up the meat into small pieces, until cooked through.  Add the noodles and the fish sauce mixture and toss well.  Add the scallions and basil, toss again and serve immediately.  Serves 3-4.

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Saucy Beef and Lamb Meatballs

Meatballs

Familiar enough to qualify as comfort food, yet just different enough to be new and interesting.  I love the 50/50 combination of the beef and  lamb, and the sauce is perfectly spiced with the warmth of cumin, ginger and cinnamon. Serve these with toasted pita bread for an excellent make-ahead dinner.

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2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons finely minced onion

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons minced fresh mint, plus a bit more for garnish

1/2 pound ground lamb

1/2 pound ground sirloin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup water

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add 2 tablespoons onion and garlic to pan; cook 1 minute stirring constantly,  Cool slightly,  Combine onion mixture, breadcrumbs, and mint, add lamb, beef, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and egg; stir gently.  Shape into 30 (1-inch) meatballs. (if you have time, put these in the refrigerator for an hour or so to firm up…this will make them easier to brown)

Heat pan to medium high with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and add meatballs.  Cook 4 minutes or so to brown them on all sides.  Remove meatballs from pan.  Add 1/2 cup onion and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add ginger, cumin, cinnamon and crushed tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir in the water, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Return meatballs to pan and simmer for 20 minutes or until done. Garnish with additional chopped fresh mint.  Serves 6.

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Flash Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Red Onion and Lemon Pepper

Flash Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts go from raw to crispy/tender in about 8 minutes in a hot oven.  So there is really no need to ever cook them any other way!  Here, I’ve given the onion a bit of a head start so that it could achieve a sweet silky flavor and texture.  The added benefit is that the sprouts get a chance to caramelize on the sizzling hot pan long before they make that unfortunate transition to mush, as they are apt to do when overcooked.  The lemon pepper brightens this vegetable dish up and the pine nuts add a rich little crunch.  Easy enough for everyday….special enough for your holiday feast.

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1 large red onion, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cups trimmed, halved brussels sprouts

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/4 cup pine nuts

salt and lemon pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Toss red onion and olive oil in a large roasting pan (or baking sheet with sides) spread it out, and roast until it is just starting to caramelize, 5-10 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the lemon pepper.  Rinse the cut sprouts in water then put them in a medium sized bowl and pour the butter mixture oven them.  Toss well to coat. Take the roasting pan out of the oven, add the brussels sprouts mixture, toss together with the onions then spread everything out into a single layer.  Return to oven for 8-10 minutes until sprouts are just tender and turning golden brown.  Do a taste test after 6-7 minutes to see where you are… sprouts come in different sizes and you do not want to overcook them. They should be tender on the outside with a bit of a crunch in the middle. (and they will continue to cook for a minute or two after they come out of the oven so err on the side of undercooking here) Remove from oven, add pine nuts and toss to warm through.  Season with salt and a generous sprinkle of Lemon Pepper to taste.  Serve 5-6

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Once-A-Year Sourdough Cornbread Dressing

Thanksgiving Dressing

Why “once a year”?  Well, sourdough bread and cornbread doused in butter, broth and cream just can’t be an everyday side dish.  And, there is something to be said for keeping a recipe special by only serving it once a year.  This dressing is moist on the inside from the cornbread, with crispy bits on the top from the sourdough bread.  The seasonings are subtle and the whole dish is melt-in-your-mouth rich; the perfect complement to your Thanksgiving Day turkey.  You can make this a day or two in advance, refrigerate it uncooked, and just pop it in the oven on the big day.  My recipe is adapted from one published in the New York Times a few years back.

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3/4 cup butter   (plus extra for buttering baking dish)

6 cups crumbled cornbread (see note below)

6 cups crusty sourdough bread, torn into bite sized pieces

2 cups chopped onion

2 cups chopped celery

1/2 teaspoon dried ground sage (see note below)

2 teaspoons salt

black pepper

6 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 cups chicken broth

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter 9×13 inch baking dish.  Melt the 3/4 cup butter and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine corn bead, sourdough bread, onion, celery, sage, salt and pepper to taste.  Toss until well mixed.   Add melted butter, eggs, cream and 1 1/2 cups broth. Mix lightly but well.  Mixture should be moist.  Pour into prepared baking dish, do not pack it down…you want the top to have some texture.  If mixture seems dry around edges, drizzle with remaining broth.  Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour until firm and golden brown on top.  Serves 12.

For cornbread:  You don’t want to use a sweet cornbread in this recipe.  Here is an easy, quick recipe.  

Preheat oven to 475.  Put 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a small cast iron skillet and place in the hot oven to preheat.  In a medium bowl, stir together 2 cups self-rising white cornmeal mix,  2 cups buttermilk , 1 beaten egg and 1/4 cup vegetable oil.  Just mix it quickly…ok if there are lumps.  Carefully pour batter into hot skillet and bake until golden brown.

Concerning dried sage:  Check the expiration date and smell for freshness.  Some of us find that our dried sage was left over from Thanksgivings past and is nothing more than a flavorless dust!

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Cast Iron Spicy Salmon with Parmesan Grits

creole salmon with parmesan grits 2

Did you know that grits go with everything?  Really, they do.  Grits and Shrimp…no brainer.  Grits and Chicken…yum!  I’ve even had Grits ‘n Mussels at a restaurant in Augusta, GA.  Name any protein or vegetable. Now imagine it with grits.   See what I mean?  Grits make everything just a little bit better and this spicy salmon dish is no exception.

I’m using regular Quaker Grits in this recipe so that the whole dish can come together in about 20 minutes for an easy weeknight supper.  And you will have lots of the spice mix left over ready to add tons of flavor to most any seafood, poultry or meat. (This is a nice, well-balanced spicy rub.  Add more cayenne if you like it hot hot!)

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4 pieces of fresh salmon

spice mix (see below)

3 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup Quaker Old Fashioned White Grits

1 cup milk

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 small slivers of butter for garnish

1 green onion, thinly sliced for garnish

Check salmon for pin bones and remove if necessary.  Sprinkle salmon generously on both sides with spice rub.  Refrigerate until ready to cook.

In a medium sauce pan, bring the water and salt to a boil.  Add grits and stir well.  Lower heat to a simmer.  After 5 minutes, add milk and continue to simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until grits and tender, 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat and add the Parmesan cheese.  Stir well and let rest in the saucepan while you cook the salmon.

Heat a well seasoned cast iron skillet over high heat.  Coat the surface with the olive oil.  Sear salmon steaks until dark golden  brown on each side then lower heat to medium high and cook until just barely translucent in the center, or to your liking.  Timing will depend on the thickness of your salmon but it shouldn’t take more than 5-6 minutes.

Spoon grits into individual serving plates or bowls and top with salmon.  Garnish with a small sliver of butter and a sprinkle of green onions and serve.  Makes 4 servings.  (with extra spice rub that you will be happy to have around!)

For the Spice Mix

1 tablespoon white pepper

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon black pepper

5 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 tablespoons dried basil

1 tablespoon dried thyme

3 tablespoons sea salt

Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Store extra in a small jar.

 

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Magnolia’s Charleston Crabcakes

Magnolia's Grill CrabcakesAs this is the 4th crab cake recipe I have posted to The Right Recipe, I should offer a quick run-down.  If you need to make crab cakes for a crowd, try the Oven Baked Crab Cakes with Two Dipping Sauces.  For an Asian twist, you can’t beat Spicy Asian Crab Cakes.  For an elegant and impressive sandwich, turn to Daniel Bouloud’s Crab Cake Sandwich.

Now to the crab cakes at hand.  These are from Magnolia’s, a fixture on Old Bay Street in Charleston, SC.  The recipe was published in Magnolia’s Authentic Southern Cuisine by Donald Barickman. They have a lovely balance of flavors and are simply chock-full of crab…the way all crab cakes should be.  I especially love the preparation technique (see photo below) because you can put them together hours in advance and you’ll  have slice-and-bake crab cakes at a moments notice.

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1/2 cup minced red onions
1/3 cup minced red bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced tarragon
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 pound jumbo lump or lump crabmeat, gently picked over and drained of any liquid
3/4 cup panko (you can cut this back to 1/2 cup, as I do, if you are willing to be very gentle turning the cakes…they will be fragile without the extra binder but I think it is worth it.)
2 teaspoons salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons light olive oil

Place onions, bell pepper, tarragon and mayonnaise in a mixing bowl and combine. Gently fold in the crabmeat. Add the panko and season with salt, white pepper and cayenne pepper to taste. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes. The panko will absorb some of the moisture and the mixture will stay together.

Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap on a clean counter surface. Place half of the crab mixture on it and use a spatula or a spoon to form it into a tube about 1 3/4 inches in diameter. Bring the wrap up over the crab and roll the crab mixture up. Twist the ends to close. Pierce any air pockets with a toothpick or skewer. Twist the ends even tighter to compress the crab mixture. Tuck under the ends of the wrap and place the tube on a plate. Repeat with the second half of the crab cake mixture. Place the tubes in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.

WHEN READY TO COOK:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

When ready to use, cut the tubes into 1 1/4-inch-thick cakes. Gently remove the plastic wrap, leaving the cakes in nice cylinders.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan (non-stick works well here) over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking. Gently place 4 of the crab cakes in the pan and sear for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Gently turn the cakes over and sear the other side until golden brown. Place them on a baking sheet and into the oven to keep warm.  Wipe the pan, add the remaining olive oil and repeat this process for the other 4 crab cakes. (If you have a big enough pan, you can cook 6 or 8 of them at the same time and skip the warming oven, but the cakes need room to sear properly and be turned so be careful not to crowd the pan)

crabcake rolls

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Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Black Peppercorns and Rosemary

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Black Peppercorn Rosemary Marinade

 

Use this quick and easy marinade and you will almost feel like you are eating a luxurious beef filet instead of a simple pork tenderloin.  If you love the warm, gentle spice of black peppercorns as I do, you will turn to this recipe for casual week-night suppers and elegant dinner parties alike. Adapted from Grilling, Where There’s Smoke, There’s Flavor by Eric Treuille and Birgit Erath.

 

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2 pork tenderloins

Salt

4 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons olive oil

 

Trim the pork tenderloins, taking care to remove all silver skin, then sprinkle lightly with salt on all sides.  Place the rest of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse to a coarse paste.  Rub the paste over the tenderloins, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours or more.  Preheat grill to medium high and grill for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size) or until just barely pink in the center. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.  Serves 4-6

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Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Tomato Salad and Coconut Sauce

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Coconut Sauce and Tomato Salad

Last week, with sweet summer tomatoes lining my kitchen windowsill, I rediscovered a favorite dish from a few summers ago.  Tyler Florence introduced me to this amazing flavor combination and I’ve just tweeked it a bit to accommodate my pantry staples and simplify the steps.  The original recipe can be found in Tyler’s Ultimate, a very reliable recipe source.  Here’s a link… check it out  if you have fresh lemongrass and fresh coconut on hand. Original Recipe.

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For the Pork:

2 pork tenderloins, trimmed

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1/2 lime

 

For the Chile-Coconut Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

zest of one lemon

1 hot red chile, cut into rounds (or sub crushed red chile flakes, about 1/4 teaspoon)

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

1 can unsweetened coconut milk (not “lite”)

1 teaspoon sugar

juice of 1 lime

1 tablespoon asian fish sauce

salt and pepper to taste

 

For the Salad:

2 pounds fresh heirloom tomatoes, cut into big chunks

1/2 small red onion, slivered

leaves from 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro

handful of fresh mint leaves

salt and pepper to taste

extra virgin olive oil

2 scallions, trimmed and chopped

 

1.  Marinate the pork:  Put the pork on a platter and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Add the olive oil and lime juice and turn to coat the pork. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator.

2.  Make the sauce:  Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the ginger, garlic, lemon zest, chile and chopped cilantro and cook to soften, about 3 minutes.  Add the coconut milk and sugar and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Squeeze in lime juice and season with the fish sauce, salt and pepper.  Cool to room temperature.

3.  Make the salad:  In a big bowl, toss together the tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, mint, and salt and pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil and fold in the scallions.

4.  Grill the pork:  Grill the pork over high heat until crusty brown on all sides and just cooked through, 10-15 minutes.

5.  To serve:  Slice the pork and add it to the bowl with the tomato salad.  Pour over the chile-coconut sauce and toss it all together.  Serves 4-6

 

 

Two Bite Turkey Sliders… For Manly Men

Low Carb Turkey Sliders for Manly MenThis recipe was inspired by  Turkey Patties for Manly Men in The Family Chef, by Jewels and Jill Elmore.  Admittedly, I may have made these burgers a little less “manly” by turning them into adorable sliders but they are hearty and flavorful and will be loved by everyone!  Note: If you have mushroom-phobic children at your gathering, just don’t mention that particular ingredient.  The mushrooms are imperceptible here, although they, along with the onions and parsley, provide a deep, rich flavor that you don’t usually find in a turkey burger.

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extra virgin olive oil

1 cup finely minced Vidalia onion

1 cup finely minced button mushrooms

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

salt and pepper to taste

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

1 pound ground turkey

9 party-size (2-inch) potato rolls, split

4 slices provolone cheese

1/4 cup Hellmanns’s mayonaise

1 tablespoon brown mustard

cherry tomatoes

small basil leaves

18 small wooden skewers

In a hot skillet, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sauté the onions, mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper until onions are caramelized and mushrooms have absorbed their liquids and are beginning to brown.  Stir in garlic and parsley and remove mixture from heat to cool completely.

In a medium bowl, add all of the sautéed ingredients to the ground turkey, season generously with salt and pepper, and mix together gently with a fork.  It is important not to overwork this meat mixture!

Form the meat into small burgers, about 2 tablespoons each, once again being careful not to overwork the meat…just gently press into shape….they won’t fall apart. (use a #40 cookie scoop if you have one, to keep the size uniform).  Place the burgers on a baking sheet covered with waxed paper and chill in the refrigerator while prepare the rest of the ingredients.  (can be made ahead)

Cut the split potato rolls into 1 1/2  inch circles with a cookie cutter then flatten the circles slightly with the palm of your hand.  Place onto a baking sheet and top each circle with a bit of provolone cheese.

Preheat broiler.

In a small dish, stir together the mayonnaise and the brown mustard. Set aside.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and clean and trim the small basil leaves.  Set aside.

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Cook turkey patties for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown and just cooked through.  Keep warm while you toast the bread and cheese lightly under the broiler.

Assemble the sliders by placing a burger onto of each piece of toasted cheese bread.  Add a small dollop of mayo/mustard.  Pierce a cherry tomato half with a small skewer first, add a small basil leaf then press the skewer all the way though the slider to serve.

Makes 18 sliders.

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Spicy Grilled Chicken Satay

new skewers to postA tried and true Summertime Classic…. and one loved equally by kids and adults! This recipe adds an extra pop of flavor by soaking the bamboo sticks in a flavored brine…super easy since you have to soak them anyway to keep them from catching  fire on the grill. ( see another grilling tip below)  Make it even simpler by starting with prepackaged chicken tenderloins thus avoiding the trimming and slicing.  Recipe adapted from New South Grilling, by Robert St. John.

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Skewer Soak

1 cup water

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/4 cup coconut milk

twenty-four 6 inch wooden skewers

Chicken Marinade

1 1/4 pounds boneless skin-less chicken breasts, cut into 24 strips (or 24 chicken tenderloins)

1/4 cup pineapple juice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1-2 tablespoons asian chile sauce

2-3 tablespoons peanut oil (to brush chicken before grilling)

Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons peanut oil

1 tablespoons minced shallots

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 cloves minced garlic

2 teaspoons fresh minced jalapeños ( or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup chunky peanut butter

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 lime, zest and juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

cayenne pepper to garnish

1.  Combine skewer soak ingredients.  Soak skewers 2 hours or longer.

2.  Combine pineapple juice, soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil, and chili sauce.  Pour over chicken and allow to marinate, refrigerated, for 3-4 hours.

3.  Make dipping sauce:  Heat the peanut oil in a skillet and sauté the shallots, ginger, garlic and jalapeños over low heat 4-5 minutes.  Add coconut milk, vinegar, and peanut butter, stir well and simmer 5 minutes.  Let cool slightly then transfer to a blender and puree, adding all remaining ingredients. Thin with a couple of tablespoons of warm water if mixture is too thick.  Serve dipping sauce in a small bowl garnished with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and additional chopped cilantro.  (sauce may be made in advance, store in refrigerator and bring to room temp. before serving)

4.  Remove skewers from marinade. Remove chicken from marinade and thread onto skewers. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel then use a pastry brush to lightly coat the chicken with peanut oil.

4.  Preheat grill to high.  Grill skewers 5-7 minutes, turning only once, until cooked through. (use folded foil to protect skewers, see below) Arrange on platter to serve.  Dipping sauce can be drizzled over or served on the side.  Serves 6-8

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Herbed Watermelon Salad with Feta

watermelon salad 2 to post

The next time you are cutting up a whole watermelon for the kids, save about 4 cups of the best bits to make this refreshing summer salad for the adults.  This recipe, adapted only slightly from For The Love Of Salad, by Jeanelle Mitchell, would be an excellent side dish to any 4th of July meal….or throw a few grilled shrimp on top for a bright and  healthy lunch or supper.

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For the salad:

4 cups cubed seedless watermelon (small bite-sized pieces)

2 cups cubed baby cucumber

1/2 cup finely chopped sweet red or yellow pepper

1/2 cup sliced Kalamata olives

1/4 cup finely minces red onion

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1 cup diced feta cheese

For the vinaigrette:

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

zest of one lime

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

sea salt and pepper to taste

Place watermelon, cucumber, sweet pepper, olives, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, mint and basil in a large bowl. (you will add the feta cheese later)

For the vinaigrette:  whisk together lime juice, lime zest, olive oil, and honey in a small bowl,  Season with salt to taste and set aside.

Just before serving, drain excess liquid from watermelon mixture, then add vinaigrette and feta to the salad and toss lightly to coat. Taste and correct seasonings if needed.  Serves 6

note:  Can be made 1-2 hours ahead but keep in mind that the watermelon and the cucumber will start to release their juices and will water down the salad.  If you make it ahead, you will want to drain some of the juices before serving.

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Butter Rubbed Salmon with Savory Blueberry Sauce

blueberry salmon to post

Another excellent recipe from Pure Flavor, by Kurt Beecher Dammeier, this fantastic dish is over-the-top beautiful and rich. The blueberry sauce is lemony and buttery with just a hint of sweet blueberry flavor despite it’s gorgeous purple hue. I use the Lemon-Caper Rub for everyday cooking of almost any type of fish but I save the addition of the blueberry sauce for special occasions.

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1 2-pound salmon fillet, skinned

Lemon-Caper Butter Rub (see below)

Blueberry Sauce (see below)

Cut the salmon fillet into individual servings (or 2-bite sized pieces as I have done here).  Using a basting brush and about half of the butter rub, coat one side of the salmon pieces with the rub.  Refrigerate the salmon for 5 minutes, or until the butter just hardens into a glaze.  Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium high heat.   Lay the salmon pieces, butter rub side down, in the pan and cook until the bottom half of the salmon flesh is opaque, about 3 minutes, brush remaining butter rub over the salmon and flip the pieces,  Cook for another minute or so until the salmon is nearly opaque throughout but still very moist.  Serve hot, topped with blueberry sauce.

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Lemon Caper Butter Rub

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon capers, drained and mashed

1 teaspoon grated packed lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend

1 tablespoon diced yellow onion

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together…may be prepared up to one week in advance.

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Savory Blueberry Sauce

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1/2 medium yellow onion

1/2 sweet apple, such as Fuji

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

In a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil, Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, apple, and thyme,  Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, turning over the onion and the apple until the stock is reduced by half.

With a slotted spoon, remove the onion, apple and thyme from the stock and discard.  Add the blueberries and bring to a boil, Reduce the heat to medium low and summer for 20 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to 3/4 cup.

Remove the pan from the heat.  Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper and stir.  Add the butter and whisk the sauce until the butter is completely melted, about 1 minute, Serve hot.  Sauce can be made up to several days ahead, refrigerated, and gently reheated over low heat before serving.

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Cauliflower “Rice” Pilaf with Fresh Herbs

cauliflower rice pilaf to post

Honestly!  Is there anything you CAN’T make with cauliflower??  Clever people looking to lower their carb intake and/or avoid gluten have come up with wonderful recipes for using cauliflower as pizza crusts, bread sticks, tortillas and my favorite… “Rice”.  Cauliflower “Rice” is simply grated cauliflower but the texture is very rice-like and you can take the flavor anywhere you like.  Here is a simple version of mine, full of fresh herbs…a great side dish on it’s own or served as a bed for sauteed fish, chicken or mixed vegetables.

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1 head of Cauliflower, trimmed and cut in half

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 small shallots, peeled and minced (optional)

1/4 cup mixed chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, mint and chives

salt and pepper to taste

pine nuts, lightly toasted, to garnish

Coarsely grate the cauliflower with the large hole side of a box grater.  Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Saute shallot, if using, until translucent.  Add the grated cauliflower and let cook, tossing every few minutes, for 8 minutes or until tender.  There is enough water in cauliflower for it to steam itself so you will not have to add any liquid. Do not cover the skillet…you want the excess moisture to evaporate as the cauliflower steams to keep the rice-like texture.  Toss in fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with pine nuts to serve.

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Our Favorite Cilantro-Grilled Chicken Marinade

cilantro chicken to post

Cilantro lovers take note….this may just be your go-to marinade for summer 2013.  Use it on any cut of chicken (here I’ve simply used boneless, skinless chicken breasts), marinate for at least 2 hours…more is better….and grill.  Easy and fabulous…perfect summertime fare.

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leaves from one bunch fresh cilantro (about 1 cup)

2 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon asian fish sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce, regular or gluten free

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse 6-8 times or until blended.  Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.  Use as a marinade for chicken or pork.

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Indonesian Grilled Pork Tenderloin

pork again tp post

Today I am sharing an excellent marinade courtesy of Tide & Thyme.   I’ve adapted the recipe for a quick turn on the grill, either gas or charcoal, and I’ve butterflied the pork tenderloins. This maximizes the surface area to soak in the yummy marinade, and also speeds up the grilling time so that the meat cooks through before the outside burns… which tends to happen when there is any sugar in a marinade.  To prepare the tenderloins, simply trim all visible fat, remove the silverskin (very important) then use a large knife to cut the meat lengthwise, about 1/2 of the way through.  Open the meat up to lay flat and pound  gently  to even it out, either with a meat mallet or just the palm of your hand.  For best flavor, marinate overnight.

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2 pork tenderloins, trimmed and butterflied (see note above)
1/4 cup apricot preserves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine preserves, garlic, coriander, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, peanut butter, lime juice, orange juice, crushed red pepper and black pepper in a small bowl. Whisk well to combine, paying attention to break up the peanut butter.  Place pork tenderloins in gallon sized Ziploc bag and pour the marinade on top. Squeeze out the air, and seal, using your hands to squish bag and distribute marinade evenly. Place in refrigerator and let marinade for at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours.

Preheat grill on high.  Remove pork from marinade and bring the marinade to a boil in a small saucepan, reduce to a simmer and keep warm.  Grill tenderloins on both sides until you have nice golden grill marks then turn the heat down a bit (or move to a cooler spot on the grill if using charcoal) and cook 5-10 minutes until just cooked through.  Brush tenderloins with the reserved marinade (thoroughly heated). Slice and serve with fresh cilantro if desired. Serves 4-6

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Mediterranean Salad with Chickpeas, Black Beans, Quinoa and a Lemon-Cumin Vinaigrette

quinoa to post

I love quinoa most when it is a secondary ingredient so I keep it (cooked) in the refrigerator and toss a few tablespoons in my salad at lunch.   I was pleased to find the recipe for this salad on The Cafe Sucre Farine because it was so chock full of legumes, vegetables and herbs.  I’ve used half regular quinoa and half red quinoa for my salad…you can cook them together and they really taste the same….I just happen to like the color contrast.   This is not only an excellent vegetarian main course, but also the perfect side dish for grilled or roasted meats and seafood.

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For vinaigrette:

1 clove garlic, minced

fine zest of one lemon

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

 For Salad:

2 cups cooked quinoa (according to directions on package)

1 can black beans

1 can chick peas

1/4 cup minced red onion

1 medium red bell pepper, small dice

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well.  Toss all salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Add about 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette to the salad bowl and toss well.  Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.  Reserve any extra vinaigrette.  Can be made ahead and refrigerated….let the salad warm up a bit at room temperature, toss and taste for seasonings before serving.  Serves 6-8

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Minced Turkey Salad with Marinated Artichoke Hearts

chicken salad to post Here’s a recipe for those of us who love the artichoke hearts that you buy in a jar…so silky and tender from marinating in the herb drenched oil.   With a roasted turkey breast from  The Fresh Market, or your local rotisserie, and some bright green vegetables for crunch, you’ll have an excellent springtime dish in quick order.

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2 cups minced roasted turkey breast

1 16-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

2 green onions, sliced

1/2 large green bell pepper, minced

3 stalks celery, minced

2 teaspoons capers, drained, rinsed and minced

1/4 cup mayonnaise

3/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

freshly ground black pepper

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl then season generously with black pepper . (be sure and taste before adding any salt…the artichokes, Old Bay and Capers are all salty so you probably won’t want to add extra)  Cover and chill at least 30 minutes or overnight. Serves 4-5

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Asparagus Salad with Arugula, Fennel, Crispy Potato and a Creamy Italian Dressing

arugula fennel salad to post 2

In this tasty salad, think of the potatoes as you would croutons….not the main focus of the dish but a wonderful addition taste and texture wise. The real stars of this salad are the arugula, asparagus and fennel.  Put them all together with a light and fresh Italian Herb Dressing and you’ve got a dish that can stand on its own as a vegetarian main course, or compliment any grilled meat, poultry or seafood.  It also holds up well so it might be just the right thing to take to a potluck or picnic.

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1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon minced fresh herbs (parsley, dill, tarragon or thyme)

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 teaspoon honey

6 tablespoons extra vingin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed

1 small bulb fennel, quartered, cored and cut into thin strips

3 cups fresh baby arugula, stemmed

6 small new potatoes, peeled and diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

For the dressing:

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, herbs, sour cream and honey.  Then drizzle in the 6 tablespoons of olive oil slowly and whisk until blended.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

For the salad:

Fill a non-stick skillet with a couple of inches of water and bring to a boil.  Blanch the fennel in this water  for about 3 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.  Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook until crisp- tender. (the timing will depend upon the size of your asparagus)  Drain and rinse asparagus under cold water to stop the cooking and preserve its nice bright green color. Cut asparagus on the diagonal into 2 inch pieces.

Wipe out your skillet and return to the burner over med-high heat.  Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and swirl around the pan.  Add the diced potatoes to the skillet in one layer and let cook without disturbing until golden brown on one side.  Toss the potatoes, lower the heat to medium and continue cooking 8-10 minutes, occasionally tossing the potatoes, until tender on the inside and golden brown on all sides.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Place the arugula in a large bowl, add the asparagus pieces and fennel and toss with about 1/2 of the dressing. Add the crispy diced potatoes and toss again.  Taste and add additional dressing and/or salt and freshly ground black pepper if necessary.

Serves 2-3 as a main course or 4-6 as a side dish.

 

arugula fennel salad to post 2

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Grilled Garlic Lime Pork Tenderloin with Jalapeño Onion Marmalade

From Gourmet Magazine, September 1995, one of my favorite recipes for entertaining.  The Jalapeno Onion Marmalade can be made up to two days ahead, refrigerated, then gently reheated.  The pork needs to marinate for at least one day before grilling.  So you can see that this leaves very little work to do on the day you are serving this dish.
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Serves 6-8
For the marinade:
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
cayenne to taste
4 pork tenderloins, about 3/4 pound each, trimmed
For the marmalade:
1 1/4 pounds red onions, chopped fine (about 4 cups)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 fresh jalapeno chilies, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons honey or sugar
3-4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
To make the marinade:
In a blender or small food processor, blend marinade ingredients with salt and pepper to taste.
In a large sealable plastic bag, combine pork with marinade.
Seal bag, pressing out air, and put in a shallow baking dish
Marinate pork, chilled, turning occasionally, at least 1 day and up to 2 days.
Prepare grill.
Let pork stand at room temperature about 30 minutes before grilling.
Remove pork from marinade, letting excess drip off, and grill on an oiled rack turning every 5 minutes until a meat thermometer registers 150-160.  (15-20 minutes)
Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.
Serve with onion marmalade.
To make the Jalapeno Onion Marmalade:
In a large heavy skillet, cook onions in oil with salt and pepper to taste over moderate heat, stirring until softened.
Add jalapenos and cook, stirring one minute,  Add honey or sugar and cook, stirring one minute,  Add vinegar and simmer , stirring until almost all liquid is evaporated.  Add water and simmer, stirring until mixture is slightly thickened and onions are very tender, (the recipe says about 10 minutes but I find that it takes quite a bit longer to get them very tender, about 25 minutes, and I tend to need to add a bit more water as the marmalade cooks down.)  Season with salt and pepper.
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Japanese Grilled Chicken Skewers with Scallions

yakitori to post

You can’t go wrong with a grilled skewer of glazed Yakitori chicken.  This is a fairly traditional recipe that everyone loves.  I used to use chicken breasts  simple because they are so much easier to trim…but I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that chicken thighs are really far superior in this dish.

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1 cup lower-sodium chicken broth

3/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon wasabi paste (or more to taste)

6 slices ginger, smashed

4 cloves garlic, smashed

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces.

2 bunches scallions, cut into 1 -inch pieces.

salt

coarse ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, combine chicken broth, soy sauce, mirin, honey, rice vinegar, lime juice, sugar, sesame oil, wasabi paste, ginger and garlic.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Mix the cornstarch and water until smooth then stir into the hot soy mixture.  Simmer until thickened…another 5 minutes or so.  Remove from heat and strain to remover garlic and ginger.  Reserve 1/2 cup sauce for dipping and the rest will be used to glaze the chicken while grilling.

Thread chicken onto skewers, alternating with scallions.  Brush with oil and season very lightly with salt and pepper.  (if using bamboo skewers, be sure to soak in water for at least 30 minutes before you skewer the chicken)

Over a medium hot grill (charcoal or gas), grill the skewers for 2 minutes on each side and then start basting with the sauce.  Baste and turn the skewers several times to create a thick, glossy surface until cooked through.  The whole grilling process takes about 10 minutes.  Serve with reserved dipping sauce on the side.

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Wagamama Ginger Salad Dressing

wagamama to post

Yum, yum, yum….I daydream about ways to use this dressing.  It will turn your basic rabbit food into a plate that you can’t put down. Pick up a roasted chicken, shred the meat and toss with a bit of this dressing for an awesome asian chicken salad. (I’m going to try it with Jumbo Lump Crab next!) The possibilities are endless. It will keep for at least 3 days in the refrigerator. Straight out of the Wagamama Cookbook, by Hugo Arnold. Makes 3/4 to 1 cup dressing.

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2 teaspoons finely chopped shallot

1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and grated

1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon tomato ketchup

1 tablespoon water

1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 tablespoons light soy sauce

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Done.

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Just One Perfect Spinach Cheddar Omelette

one more omelette to post

Eggs tend to go from runny to rubbery in the blink of an eye so I have been working on a simple but foolproof omelette.   I heard on PBS radio one day….it was probably The Splendid Table….. how eggs need to be cooked slowly, over very low heat… which meant that I was going to need a good non-stick pan if I didn’t want to use half a stick of butter.  So here is the method and as you can imagine, the possibilities are endless for adapting this with your favorite ingredients. (fresh herbs and goat cheese?)  Don’t be turned off by the lengthy instructions;  it is so quick and easy that I make one just for myself quite often. I’m just trying to be helpful with details but the whole process takes only a few minutes. The key here is that the pan should never get hot enough to color the eggs at all….gentle, slow and steady is the name of the game.

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an 8 inch good quality, non-stick skillet or omelette pan

plastic or rubber spatula

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons butter or olive oil

1 handful fresh baby spinach leaves, stemmed

2 tablespoons finely shredded cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Begin heating your skillet over low heat.  Crack the eggs into a small bowl and beat well with a whisk or a fork. Have the spinach leaves ready and sitting nearby.

Add the butter or oil to the skillet and swirl it around to lightly coat the surface.   Pour the eggs into the skillet and gently tilt it to all sides to spread the eggs out evenly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  The eggs should be cooking very slowly; it will take a minute or two for the bottom to set but when it does, lay the spinach leaves over the top of the omelette (which will still be runny at this point) in a single layer.

Now you are going to flip the omelette over.  Begin by loosening the edges of the omelette with the spatula while gently shaking the skillet to see if the whole omelette will slip around in the pan, signaling that the underside is cooked though enough to hold the whole thing together.  When this happens, it will be quite easy to slip the spatula under the eggs and simultaneously shake the handle of the skillet and flip the omelette to the other side.  ( Imagine someone flipping pancakes in the air to get the idea of shaking the skillet…but of course we are going for a gentle flip here, one that will not send ingredients airborn and is controlled mostly by the spatula)

As soon as the omelette is turned, sprinkle with a light layer of cheese.  The second side will be cooked in less than a minute, at which point you can roll up the omelette, slide it onto a plate and enjoy!

eggs 2 to post

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Vietnamese Pork Stirfry with Garlic, Chilies and Lime

vietnamese pork to post

Don’t let the lack of a syrupy sauce fool you….this quick stir-fry is bursting with flavor!    Try it over rice or noodles, wrap it up in lettuce leaves or rice paper, or use as a topping for an Asian salad with fresh greens and cucumbers. I love the pork tenderloin here but you can substitute chicken as well.

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3 tablespoons peanut oil

1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed then cut into fine strips

4 scallions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 red or green chilies, seeded and finely chopped

1/2 cup shelled, unsalted peanuts (note: if you only have salted peanuts, just rinse under water to remove the salt.  Fish sauce is quite salty so salted peanuts might overwhelm the dish)

grated rind and juice of 2 limes

2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

1/2 cups chopped fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves

 

Heat a wok or heavy pan and add 2 tablespoons of the oil.  Add the pork and sear over high heat until browned. (do not crowd pan…can do in two batches if necessary)  Remove the meat and juices to plate and set aside.

Wipe the work clean and return to the heat.  Pour in the remaining oil and add the onions garlic, ginger and chilies.   When the aromas begin to rise from the pan, add the peanuts and stir-fry for 1 minute.

Return the meat and its juices back to the wok, then stir in the lime rind and juice, followed by the fish sauce.  Add the fresh herbs and serve.

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Little Roasts of Boneless Chicken with Rosemary, Garlic and Lemon

more chicken to postThis technique, adapted from Fine Cooking September 2008, for roasting boneless chicken breasts produces wonderfully tender, well seasoned meat.  You’ll need an even number of boneless breasts with the skin on.  Since I rarely see this combination prepackaged, I  buy split breasts and cut the meat off the bone (as directed in recipe) reserving the tenderloins to make chicken fingers.  Of course, the butcher at your local grocery store can do that for you… which would make this a very simple dish to prep. This is a great dinner party main course because it needs to be prepped a whole day ahead.  And to dress it up, serve with this excellent Apple and Fig compote.

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4 Tbs. fresh rosemary leaves, minced
6 medium cloves garlic, minced

zest of one large lemon

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 bone-in, skin-on split chicken breasts
2 Tbs. olive oil

Salt and coarse-ground pepper

In a small bowl combine the rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, 2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper.

Cut the chicken breasts away from the bones, leaving the skin intact. With a paring knife, cut out the white tendon on the underside of each breast and reserve for another use. Rub the rosemary-garlic mixture all over the chicken, including under the skin, taking care to keep the skin attached to the meat. Stack two breasts so that the skin faces outward and each breast’s thicker rounded end is on top of the thinner tapered end of the other. Tie the breasts together with butcher’s twine, forming a little roast. Repeat with the remaining 2 breasts. Reposition any skin that may have bunched up while tying and season the roasts all over with 1 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper. Put the roasts on a rack over a small baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight.

Let the chicken sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F.

Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Sear the chicken until dark golden brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes total. Return the chicken to the rack over the baking sheet. Roast until a thermometer inserted in the center of each roast reads 165°F, 20 to 30 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes. Remove the strings from the chicken and carefully slice each roast on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick medallions. Serves 6-8

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chicken roast to post

The Best Ever Salt and Pepper Roasted Chicken with Herbs

 

chicken to post

 

The good news is that my Best Ever Salt and Pepper Roasted Chicken with Herbs is also about the easiest ever roasted chicken!  The bad news is that you can’t have this for dinner tonight.  The secret to a super moist and flavorful bird is to season generously and let it sit in the refrigerator for 48 hours.  Another key factor is to buy the best, small, free range chicken you can find. (I found these at Whole Foods) My technique is based on the recipe for the roasted chicken from Zuni Cafe in San Francisco.

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Two 3-31/2 pound free range chickens

Kosher Salt

Course ground black pepper

8 sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme

Rinse chickens and pat dry inside and out.  (remove the fatty lump in the cavity as well as the packet of innards if present) Gently loosen the skin from the breasts and thighs so that you can tuck an herb sprig between the skin and the meat…being careful not to tear the skin.  Season all over with salt and pepper (around 3 teaspoons salt per bird) being sure to season the meatier parts more thoroughly than the boney parts. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine, cover loosely and refrigerate for 48 hours (and up to 3 days).

Remove chickens from refrigerator 1 hour before roasting.  Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Place a 10 inch cast iron skillet in oven for 10 minutes to get hot.  Wipe the chickens to dry thoroughly with paper towels.  Nestle the chickens into the hot skillet and roast for 40 minutes or until breast meat is between 150-160 degrees.  Let rest for 15 minutes then cut into halves or quarters with a heavy knife and serve on the bone.

Serves 4-6

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Make Ahead Chicken Fajitas for a Crowd

When I make chicken fajitas for the family, I cook the vegetables and chicken at the very last minute.  Maybe it’s not the sizzling skillet served table side but close enough. When I have a crowd to feed, I really want to have the dirty work finished way, way in advance.  Here’s how I do it and still have super-moist yummy chicken.

1.  Day before (early):  Make marinade, Cut up onions and peppers, Marinate chicken for 3 hours.

2. Day before (later):  Cook vegetables, Cook Chicken Breasts, Cool then refrigerate together, in a large pan, covered tightly overnight.

3.  Day of party early:  Slice chicken, mix with vegetables in large Pyrex dish or roasting pan and cover tightly with foil. Wrap flour tortillas with foil and set aside. Get condiments ready.

4.  Party time:  One hour before serving place pyrex dish with chicken (still covered tightly) in 325 degree oven for 45 minutes then put the foil wrapped flour tortillas in the over as well to warm through…about 15 minutes.

Fajita Marinade 

5 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tablespoons Lowry’s Seasoning Salt

3 tablespoons ground cumin

2  1/2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

5 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 6 limes)

Combine all ingredients and whisk well.

For the Fajitas

8-10 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of any fat and pounded gently to create an even thickness.

4 large sweet onions, sliced

4 large red bell peppers, sliced

Olive oil

Flour Tortillas (or corn tortillas for gluten-free option)

Sour Cream

Salsa

Lettuce

Shredded cheddar cheese

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in your largest, heaviest skillet, cast iron is best, over medium high heat.  Saute onions and peppers, together or separately depending on the size of your skillet, until they are softened and just beginning to caramelize.  Remove to a large pan or pyrex dish and let cool while you cook the chicken.  Add a bit more oil to the pan and cook the chicken in batches, until golden brown on both sides and just cooked through.  I like to use an instant read meat thermometer to eliminate the guess work and I pull them off the heat between 150 and 160 degrees.  Pile the chicken breasts, as they are cooked, on top of the vegetables and when they are all finished, let cool then cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Early on the day you plan to serve the fajitas, slice the chicken into pieces, 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick then return them to the vegetables and toss to combine all, making sure to coat the chicken with the wonderful juices that will have settled to the bottom of the vegetables overnight.  Cover tightly with foil and return to the refrigerator until you are about an hour away from service.  It will take 45 minutes to an hour to warm the chicken mixture slowly, and tightly covered, in a 325 degree oven. Serve with warm flour tortillas, sour cream, salsa, lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, avocados and any other condiments you might like to add.  Serves 25

Sesame Chicken Tenders with Ginger Soy Dipping Sauce

This recipe just might keep you out of that Chick-fil-A drive thru line for good.  At the very least, you’ll never buy frozen chicken tenders again.  When I ask my family to pitch ideas for dinner, this is what they ask for 8 out of 10 times.  It can also be a wonderful Sesame Chicken Salad when you use the sauce as a dressing…. the chicken stays crunchy and tastes great at room temperature.

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1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon toasted Asian sesame oil

3/4 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated finely

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 package chicken tenders (about 16)

1/4 cup white sesame seeds

1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs

salt and pepper

Oil (canola or peanut)

In a small bowl, whisk together first 6 ingredients and set aside.  Place chicken tenders in second small bowl,toss with 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce mixture, and let marinate for 10-15 minutes.  Reserve remaining soy sauce mixture to use as the dipping sauce. On a large plate, mix together sesame seeds and panko bread crumbs and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Coat each chicken tender with the panko mixture, patting gently to help the crumbs adhere.  Set tenders in a single layer on waxed paper until ready to fry.  (this can be done hours in advance…just keep the tenders in a single layer and put in the frig)

Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in large skillet (non stick works well here) over medium high heat.   Test temperature by dropping in a tiny piece of the panko….it should sizzle immediately.  Fry chicken tenders (in batches unless your skillet is enormous) until golden brown on both sides and cooked through.  This will only take 2-3 minutes per side then remove to a wire rack. (This will keep them crunchy.  When you drain things on paper towels, they tend to soak the oil back in and get soggy on the bottom)  You can stick them in a warm oven if you are not quite ready to serve.  Serve hot with reserved soy ginger sauce.

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Seared Steak Salad with Arugula and Red Onions

With just a few simple high quality ingredients, you can throw together this beautiful and flavorful meal in 15 minutes flat.  The recipe is adapted from The New Cook, by Donna Hay.

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1 tablespoon olive oil

2 red onions, thickly sliced

4 small beef filets

cracked black pepper

5 ounces baby arugula, trimmed

1/2 cup parmesan cheese shavings

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, slivered

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over media heat.  Add onions and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until will browned and set aside.  Slice each beef filet horizontally, creating 2-3 steaks (depending on the thickness of your steaks) each about 1/2 inch thick.  Season steaks lightly with salt and more generously with pepper.  Increase heat to high and cook the steaks for 30-60 seconds on each side or until they are seared and done to your liking.  To serve, toss together arugula, parmesan, basil, balsamic vinegar and olive oil  Place 1 piece of steak on a serving plate.  Top steak with a little of the arugula mixture and another steak.  Add more salad and finish with a couple of the fried onions.  Serves 4.

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Butter Roasted Potatoes

In the photos below, I am making butter roasted potatoes to serve 6-8 people.
3 1/2 pounds red potatoes
5 tablespoons melted butter
salt
coarse ground black pepper
12×17 inch heavy rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
To peel or not to peel?  That’s easy.  If your potatoes look like this
Don’t Peel!
On the other hand, if your potatoes look like this…
Peel!
Cut potatoes into 1 1/2 inch pieces.
Put potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Let boil one minute then…
Use a slotted spoon to transfer potatoes to a rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle with melted butter and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to make sure potatoes are evenly coated then arrange them in a single layer with the largest flat side down.  (if the potatoes are unpeeled, make sure that they are arranged cut side down.)
Potatoes should be no closer together than this in order to roast properly.
Let potatoes roast undisturbed for 40 minutes or until dark golden brown on the bottom.  (If you try to  toss them around before this bottom crust is formed, they will stick to the pan) Remove from the oven and let sit for 2 minutes then toss them around with a spatula.  At this point, you can either taste for seasonings and serve right away or put them back in the oven for a few minutes.  In any case, they are at their best piping hot out of the oven.
Variations:   Before roasting….season with fresh rosemary and or garlic
                    After roasting….toss with fresh either fresh parsley, chives, or slivered basil
                                             toss with freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Baked Chicken and Orzo

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This is one of only 3 casseroles that have a place in my recipe binder.  Now, I love casseroles, I grew up on them in small town Mississippi.  But they just never went over very well with my eaters.  And if I did make a “casserole”, I was always careful to rename it.  For example, a chicken noodle casserole might become Roasted Chicken with Linguini.  This Baked Chicken with Orzo was a hit, I believe, because of the extra large pieces of chicken breast that become melt-in-your-mouth tender while baking in the silky buttered tomato sauce.  Recipe from Casseroles, Classic to Contempory, by Nina Graybill and Maxine Rapoport.
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6 chicken breast halves, skinned and cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons olive oil
28-ounce can plum tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
6 basil leaves, torn into small pieces, or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons butter (original recipe calls for a whole stick of butter…go for it if you dare)
salt and freshly ground pepper
8 ounces orzo
2 cups chicken broth, heated to boiling
Brown the chicken pieces in the oil  While chicken is browning, simmer the tomatoes, butter, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper in an uncovered saucepan for about 20 minutes until somewhat thickened.
Place chicken in a 3-quart ovenproof casserole with a lid.  When tomato sauce has cooked down a bit, pour over chicken and place covered casserole in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes. Add orzo and boiling broth to the casserole and mix gently.  Cover and return to oven for 30 more minutes.  The recipe notes that you can add more hot broth if the dish seems dry before the orzo is tender but I have never had to do that. Serves 6
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