Saturday, February 18, 2012

Multi-Colored Carrot Cake

Multi-Colored Carrots

Ghee/Clarified Butter

I was hoping using different colored carrots would give me a cool swirl affect, but not so much. Not even a little. Next time I might use only purple carrots. This cake is perfect. It is very dense and very moist and apparently using ghee means it will stay that way since the water has been removed from the butter. Next time I might use half ghee half olive oil. I appreciate the purist that Elizabeth is from Guilty Kitchen. No nuts, no fruit pieces, no coconut. Just carrot cake and a frosting that I didn't make. Click on the link for the recipe.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Green Harissa Chicken with Lemony Whole Wheat Couscous

Onion, garlic and turmeric for the couscous

This is actually a very bright yellow...the camera just wasn't able to pick it up.

I actually cooked the chicken in two different ways. Two of the pieces went on our foreman, and two of the pieces went in a non-stick skillet. I wanted the sauce to be...well...saucy. In truth I have made this kind of herby concoction before and the herbs tend to clump together and separate from the oil in the skillet...very unattractive, but on the foreman I feel like all the goodness (sauce, fat, you name it) drips down.  So I am torn. But ultimately I liked it either way. The foreman is a bitch to clean and so I would maybe do it in the skillet in the future? At least it can cook in the sauce and retain some of the flavor better.
I would recommend cooking the chicken, and than keeping it warm while the couscous cooks. My peas actually over cooked keeping the couscous warm while the chicken was cooking. I am really bad at figuring out how long it takes meat to cook. Hence why I like cooking things for hours until they fall apart. There is no way to overcook it.

Green Harissa
Adapted from Bon Appetite (I know, I know I should find recipes elsewhere)

1 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1 c. chopped spinach
1/4 c. EVOO
1 garlic clove
1 serrano chili
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. cumin

Combine all ingredients, season with salt. I let my Chicken marinate in this for a couple hours.

Adapted from You Know Where

1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 c. minced onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 c. veggie stock
1 1/4 c. whole wheat couscous
1 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. minced fresh chives (I wish I had added this!)
Juice of 1 lemon

Heat oil in pan. Add onion, garlic and turmeric, saute until soft. Stir in stock, bring to boil, add couscous and remove from heat. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir in peas, chives an lemon juice.

Portuguese Chicken

Making a mess

Adding more wine

Beautifully browned chicken breasts



There is also something to be said for the 'set it and forget it' method of cooking. Nothing beats cleaning up the kitchen while food is in the oven. This recipe was different as it called for Port. Never cooked with port before. I thought it would overwhelm the dish but it really didn't. In fact it could have used some more of it! When I added the port to the skillet it made such a sound and and so much stream that I panicked and jerked the measuring cup and spilled port on the stove. Spilled wine is definitely something to cry over. I go through anti-fresh herb phases and I just refused to buy what this recipe called for since half would go to waste. So while the chicken was delicious, the herbs would have been a welcome addition. It needed them.

Portugese Chicken
Adapted from Bon Appetite 

1 c. all purpose flour
1 Tb. sweet paprika
1 3. lb. chicken cut into pieces (I used two chicken breasts)
2 Tb. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 14.5 oz. canned diced tomatoes
4 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
12ish frozen, peeled, pearl onion
2 large roasted peppers, chopped
6 garlic cloves, whole
4 large fresh italian parsley sprigs
4 large fresh bay leaves, bruised
1/2 c, dry white wine
1/2 c. port
1 Tb. dijon mustard
1 Tb. tomato paste
1 Tb. butter (optional, I forgot this! :( )

Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour and paprika in bowl. Dredge chicken in flour. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken, 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate. Add port and white wine to skillet. Bring to boil, scraping up brown bits. Remove from heat. Whisk in mustard and tomato paste.
Put chicken on bottom of dutch oven and cover with can of tomatoes, onion, pepper, prosciutto, garlic, parsley and bay leaves. Cover with wine sauce. Transfer to oven. cook for 1 1/2 hours. Remove and discard herbs.
This part I did not do (but will in the future!): Transfer chicken and toppings to platter. Simmer the sauce until reduced, or add flour/butter paste to thicken.

Lettuce Cups

Mushroom, Cashew and Bell Pepper

Chicken Marinating in Tamari, Scallions and Two Thai Peppers

Completed Cups
There is something to be said for a meal that takes a lot of prepping that can be done ahead of time and cooked in 15 minutes. This took a looong time to prep though. Mincing chicken is time consuming. Maybe it was because my knife wasn't sharp enough. Either way this took me like 2 hours to prep and the recipe said 30 minutes. But that's totally fine. It was a labor of love. Truly. And I had plenty of time.
While I added a few ingredients of my own it was missing something. I meant to add shallot and than forgot (probably consciously....all that mincing!) and I think shallot would have been perfect.

Lettuce Cups
Adapted from Bon Appetite

Butter Lettuce Leaves
Dipping sauce (they call for sweet chili sauce, I used peanut)
1 lb. chicken thigh, minced
6 scallions, minced
2 Thai Chili Pepper, minced
2 Tb. Tamari Sauce
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 Tb. Peanut Oil
6 Buttom Mushrooms (It calls for Shiitake), minced
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 tsp. Minced Ginger
Splash of Fish sauce
Handful of unsalted, roasted Cashews

Mix chicken, scallions, thai pepper, tamari and cornstarch in small bowl. Let marinate for 10 minutes at room temp. (I stuck mine in the fridge for an hour). Heat oil in non-stick skillet. Add cashews until toasty. Add mushrooms and peppers, stir fry (it says 15 seconds but I did it for at least a couple minutes, get the mushroom all soft and squishy). Add garlic, ginger and splash of fish sauce and a few minutes later add the chicken. Spoon chicken into lettuce leaves and serve with dipping sauce.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Blackberry Buttermilk Cake

Covered in Sugar!!!

Artificial Lighting

Natural Lighting (and the next morning at that)
Of course once you buy buttermilk you have to use it up. So, I found this Bon Appetite recipe and was very happy with it. The only crazy thing is that it tells you to cook it for an hour and a half?! Seriously. So, while I did not cook it for that long, it was still a little on the dry side. I am sure the buttermilk and juicy black berries helped keep it moist.

Blackberry Buttermilk Cake
Adapted from Bon Appetite

3/4 c. room temperature butter
2 1/3 c. cake flour sifted, then measured. Plus more for pan.
2 1/2 c. fresh blackberries
1 1/3 plus 1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
3 large eggs, room temp
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest (I used lemon)
1 c. well shaken buttermilk

Position rack in middle of oven, preheat to 350. Butter pan, line bottom with parchment paper, butter parchment. Dust with flour, tap out excess. Arrange berries in a single layer on bottom, top with 1/4 c. sugar.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. In a large bowl beat butter and remaining sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each. Beat in vanilla and zest.
Beat in 1/3 flour, half the buttermilk, 1/3 flour, other 1/2 of buttermilk and finally 1/3 flour. Pour batter over berries. Bake until cake is golden brown. I think mine was in there for an hour or so.

"Perfect" Fried Chicken

Funny story this. Those XOXO pop containers are all well and good until you forget what's in them. A few days after making this chicken I bought flour and when I was refilling the flour container I realized that the pancake mix container looked really really low, and I thought, how strange. Then I realized that I had used pancake mix (it looks like whole wheat flour) for the chicken instead of flour. Oooops. Still tasted good. I think the fact that I didn't suspect a thing shows that right? Right? The spices are actually what really made this taste goooood. And the chicken is so so moist, it's ridiculous. It's once again from Bon Appetite. Their site for perfect fried chicken is pretty neat so check it out!

Red Wine Sauce + Celery/Parsnip/Potato Mash

I think the mashed potatoes might have stolen the scene here. The red wine sauce was pretty spectacular, but the potatoes...never again will I make just mashed potatoes! All it is is equal parts celery root, parsnip and potatoes. You boil them until they are really soft, mash 'em up, add a little heavy cream and a tablespoon of the pink peppercorn butter from the previous post. I don't even know how to describe it...the celery root and the parsnip just added another dimension to otherwise plain mashed potatoes.

Red Wine Pan Sauce:
Adapted from Bon Appetite

1 shallot (I didn't have one on hand so I used a diced onion)
1 c. dry red wine
1/2 c. broth
Pink Peppercorn Butter
Olive Oil

Soften shallot in a cast iron skillet with olive oil. Add wine, boil until reduced by half, stirring often, about one minute. Add broth, boil until sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Whisk in three tablespoons of pink peppercorn butter (or whatever you didn't use in the mashed potatoes). This recipe was written for steak but I used pork tenderloin instead, so spoon over your animal of choice when done.