Friday, March 25, 2011

Chicory smoked chicken

If you've ever had smoked cheese or fish, the flavor is just divine!  Well, I thought I could pull off smoking chicken - even though I don't have a smoker, never smoked anything before and thought it might make a colossal mess.  Ah, the bliss of ignorance.

Well, this recipe had great flavor, but my technique was WAY off.  So, you get to benefit from my experiment.  I used chicory coffee because I didn't have black tea bags on hand and it was better for it.  Have no fear, black tea, chia tea, peppermint, coffee all can work with the recipe.

4-6 breast of chicken
12 bags of tea (or 2 Tbsps of chicory coffee)
1 Tbsp of brown or white sugar
2 tsp Black peppercorns
2 tsp Coriander seeds

1) Roast the peppercorns and coriander seeds on the stove.  When toasted, remove from heat, cool slightly and grind them up coarsely in a mortar.

2) Coat the chicken on both sides with spices, salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for 4 minutes, turn over and roast for 4 minutes.  The chicken should be just cooked .

3) While the chicken is roasting, line a large skillet with aluminum foil.  Place well mixed tea and sugar on the foil and covering the entire bottom of pan.  Place a metal rack above the tea mixture and turn on the stove to a medium to medium-high heat.  Transfer chicken onto the rack and cover the pan with aluminum foil.

4) You should see smoke coming out of the foil within 2 minutes.  Turn down heat slightly, cook for 8 minutes.  Take off the heat, leave the aluminum foil on and continue smoking for another 15 minutes.

5) Transfer to plate with rice or, in my case, couscous with vegetables and enjoy.

Shrimp Stock

We will always buy the frozen shrimp which you have to peel yourself.  I used to be frustrated having to peel all of those shrimp constantly thinking "isn't there an industrial process to remove these shells?"  Okay, well the thought never crossed my mind, but I didn't like having to peel shrimp until I discovered fish stock.  OH BOY, that changed my mind.

Its delicious and deliciously simple.  Put the peeled shells in a colander when peeling shrimp.  Then put about 3 Tbsps of olive oil in a well headed stock pot, add the shrimp shells when the oil is very hot.  Cook the shells, stirring lightly, for about 5-7 minutes.  They should be a deep red color and look well dried.

Quickly 3-4 whole, peeled cloves of garlic, 1 thickly sliced onion, the tips of celery (especially the leaves), lots of pepper plus a generous pinch of red pepper flakes.  Cook until fragrant - about 2 minutes.  Then fill the stock pot with 8-10 quarts of water, add two bay leaves and plenty of salt.  Turn down the heat and let simmer for an hour.

Strain the stock and refrigerate, if using within a couple of days, or freeze, if using later.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mushroom Barley Risotto

This is the last blast of cold air before spring.  Generally, I am no longer interested in the standard winter vegetables, hearty soups and heavy meals.  So, to spice it up some, I changed a familiar recipe - risotto - by using barley as the grain rather than rice.  It was delicious and incredibly good for you as well.  As you can see with the photo, it is also rich and hearty befitting good winter food.

Plus, you'll definitely need the kids' help for this one.  I generally chop the onions which the daughter then browns when I chop the mushrooms and garlic.  She'll start the risotto stirring and I'll finish.  Then, with a flourish, she'll add the cheese.  It is family cooking at its best.

Quart or so of chicken stock (homemade is best, but canned will work)
Still in the Pot!!!

  • 2 tsp butter
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large, diced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced (I used white cap, but any you like)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup Gruyère cheese, optional (can use Edam)

  • Directions
    1) Melt butter in large stock pot on medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until starting to brown (about 7 minutes.) 
    2) Reduce heat to medium.  Add mushrooms and garlic to pot along with olive oil.  Cook until mushrooms are dark in color and beginning to get tender (about 5 minutes.)
    3) Add barley, thyme and oregano to pot; stirring for a couple of minutes to absorb the existing liquid.
    4) Start adding enough chicken stock to cover the barley; bring mixture to boil. Simmer until most of stock is absorbed, stirring frequently, then add more stock to cover the barley.  Simmer, stir, add - simmer, stir, add, until the barley is tender, about 40 minutes.
    5) Take the pot off the heat, add salt, pepper, a little more broth (otherwise the risotto hardens) and the cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted.  Serve right away.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mu Shu Pork

I confess, I've been very bad at keeping the posts flowing.  Mostly because I'm slightly forgetful and will make a meal - like Corned Salmon for St. Patrick's Day - and then forget to take a picture of it for the site.  BLAH to me!

Our kids have recently shown a desire for Chinese food.  I hesitate to make it since the recipes I find will often produce results which are greasy, slimy or generally gelatinous - or all of these traits!  Reading Cook's Country magazine - thanks, Mom for the subscription - which is the magazine produced by the geeks of America's Test Kitchen ( who subscribe to the cooking philosophy of "I can make that just as flavorful with half the fat and ingredients you can pronounce!"  In other words, right up my alley.

I substituted ground turkey for the pork and we loved it, so don't see why you can't do the same.
Picture from Cook's Country magazine
1 lb. pork tenderloin (cut into 1/2 inch strips)
1 Tbsp. Asian chili-garlic sauce
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
8 oz. shitake mushrooms (we used reconstituted dried mushrooms)
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
14 oz. coleslaw mix (cabbage and carrot strips)
1 cup hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp. dry sherry
3 scallions
8 flour tortillas, warmed

1)  Toss pork with chili garlic sauce.  Heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil over medium-high heat until just smoking.
Add pork - watch out for the oil splatter - and cook about 3-5 minutes or till pork is no longer pink.  Alternately: saute ground turkey until cooked and add in chili-garlic sauce; stir well

2) After removing meat from pan, add mushrooms and remaining oil.  Cook until mushrooms lightly browned - 5-7 minutes.  Still in ginger until well mixed add coleslaw mix.  Cook until cabbage is wilted (about 3 minutes)

3) Stir in pork, 1/2 cup Hoisin sauce and sherry, cooking about 1 minute.  Put into serving bowl, top with scallions and serve with warm tortillas.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Delicious Brussel Sprouts - yes!

I have this terrible aversion to Brussel Sprouts going back to when I was knee high to a grasshopper (just wanted to say that!)  My mom who I don't think reads this blog, had a habit of boiling them and then putting butter on them for dinner.  GROSS!

The best way to have Brussel Sprouts in my opinion is the combination of pan fried and roasted.  Start with a pan you can put in the oven.  I love to use my big casted iron skillet which I bought one year with my Xmas money.

Heat the pan over medium-high heat without the butter in it.  Cut the Brussel Sprouts in half.  After 2-3 minutes of the pan heating up, drop in the butter.  It should sizzle right away.

Spread the butter around the pan then lay the brussel sprouts flat side down in the pan.  Let them cook for 5-7 minutes undisturbed (yes, DON'T stir or flip or nothing)  Put the pan in the oven under the broiler for 3-4 minutes (or less) until the tops start to brown.  Scoop  them right onto plate and watch them get eaten!