Friday, February 25, 2011

Thai Style Roasted Chicken with Stir Fried Vegetables and Mahogany Rice

I lifted this chicken recipe almost entirely from Smitten Kitchen
Smitten Kitchen is what this blog hopes to be when it grows up. The Photography is awesome.
Me I take snapshots with my phone.
 Deb has a love of baked goods that I don't share but her recipes always look amazing, even when I know it is a recipe I would not personally like.

So tonight I borrowed her Thai Chicken Legs and served them up with mahogany rice, which was new to me and a bag of stir fry veggies with additional baby corn (which my daughter and I love) and water chestnuts (which I love)

I did not really vary her recipe much with one significant exception. I had no hoisin sauce in the house, a situation that must be remedied, but I had to punt. So I made my own hoisin sauce which was delicious, but it's flavor and consistency are the main reason why I think my version of this dish did not jump up and down and say "Hey I am Asian inspired food"

This hoisin sauce is the same as I use on the Hoisin bbq chicken a few weeks back, I just made a much smaller batch and replaced the hoisin in the Smitten Kitchen recipe with mine.

The end result was absolutely delicious. Fish sauce has been absent form my life for a few years for no reason other than I ran out and never remembered to replace it. I adore fish sauce, it's earthy salty taste is almost the definition of Umami. It just tastes good. Again mine did not really scream Thai but I will take an incredible roasted chicken no matter what the flavor profile was supposed to be.

The stir fry was just a bagged stir fry amped up with some garlic, ginger and sesame oil. And the addition of the baby corn and water chestnuts.

The mahognay rice was a new one for me, Kerrie had been reading about it so we bought a bag the other day and tonight was it's maiden voyage. I cooked it in my steamer like I would brown rice and it was really tasty. The color makes it difficult to not think of wild rice when you dig in to it and that is not completely off base. It has a lot of the bite of wild rice but the flavor of brown rice.

All in all it was a darn tasty meal.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Biscuits and scones

A couple months back, I posted a recipe for chicken and biscuits that was pretty tasty. But, the biscuits were missing something. I wanted flaky, buttery, melt in your mouth biscuits and didn't want to use shortening, so I set about doing some research which involved asking a bunch of friends and reading a lot of websites. What I came up with was that I wanted a ratio of 2 c. flour to 1 whole stick of butter, lots of baking powder, buttermilk, and a decent amount of salt. Because I'd like these to be a little less guilt inducing, I went with half whole wheat flour and half white, on the recommendation of a friend. They were amazing! Which makes sense; whole wheat has less gluten which makes bread making more difficult but is great for quick breads like this. I call these CAM Biscuits.

1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. unbleached white flour
1 stick + 2 Tbsp salted butter*
3/4 tsp salt, not kosher
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 c. buttermilk

*if you use unsalted butter, increase salt to 1 tsp. And I use table salt in baking, the smaller pieces mix better.

Cut 1 stick butter into small pieces, and place back into the fridge until you're ready to use it, or in the freezer for a few minutes. Whisk together the flours, salt and baking powder and place in the freezer until you're ready to use.

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Place the dry ingredients in a food processor. Add the butter pieces and pulse a few times, just until the butter is cut in and it looks like coarse cornmeal. Turn the blade on low and pour in the buttermilk all at once, the dough will quickly form into a ball.

Turn the ball out onto a floured surface. Quickly pat the dough out into a 2" thick rectangle, fold in half, pat out again, repeat until you've folded it about 10 times, and then pat out to 3/4" thick. Work fast so the heat of your hands doesn't melt the butter. With a floured biscuit cutter, cut out a dozen biscuits and place into a greased cake pan. I usually need 2 round ones. If you want the sides softer, make sure they're all touching and fill in spaces with dough scraps. If you want taller, fluffier biscuits that are perfect for splitting in half and topping with chicken fricassee, don't let the sides touch.

Melt the remaining 2 Tbsp butter, and brush onto the biscuits before baking.

Bake about 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Flip onto a rack and let cool for a moment before serving. You could probably store these in a ziploc and toast before serving leftovers, but I'm not sure we often have leftovers of these.

Option 2: in my reading, I found that the soft wheat used in the South is different from the hard winter wheat we use up here. White Lily makes a fantastic white flour for use in biscuits, particularly the self-rising flour. My mother in law was kind enough to bring me some from NC for Christmas. I used the same basic recipe, using 2 c. of this flour and skipping the salt and baking powder of course since it is in the flour, but all the other steps were the same. It was fast, easy, and delicious. But...I do like using the whole wheat flour. It feels just a little less naughty.

Option 3: decrease salt by 1/4 tsp and add 2-3 Tbsp sugar and make some delicious scones. Serve with this recipe for microwave lemon curd, with the following modifications as suggested in the reviews: Use 3 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks and increase the sugar to 1 1/4 cup. It won't be two sweet but will mellow out the tartness. And strain the curd through a fine-mesh seive to remove all the white egg bits to ensure a perfectly smooth curd. Be sure to use freshly squeezed lemon juice instead of bottled. You need the lemons for all the zest, anyway.

Baked Lump Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Chipotle Lime Sauce

Some friends and I have recently been into the Skinny Taste blog, and I thought I'd share a few of the recent recipes I've made with you; this one being the most recent. We really liked it, the freshness of the lime juice with fresh cilantro was very appetizing.

Our changes: I forgot to buy scallions so we used chopped red onion; and I used whole wheat Panko bread crumbs instead of crushed Ritz crackers. Mark was thinking it could have used that buttery taste of the crackers, and next time he might brush the tops with a little butter before baking. One of the things I like about this website is that she's not afraid to use a little butter, there's no light butter substitute everywhere.

Anyway, I won't reprint the recipe but just link to it:

Baked Lump Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Chipotle Lime Sauce

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sweet potato, rosemary and pancetta waffles, rosemary roasted pork tenderloin and a maple mustard sauce

So waffles eh? That seems to be a trend I am hearing about in the last few days. First Kerrie tells me about a conversation she had with her mom about falafel waffles and brownie waffles, the Cooking Channel Blog is all about waffles,  a couple weeks back I was thinking about Alton Browns Sweet Potato Waffles, and just last week my favorite local bar had fried chicken on special which led to a chicken and waffles discussion.

It seemed waffles and I were heading for a collision course.I just had to figure out where we were going to collide.

I decided to give sweet potato waffles a try but I wanted to go full on savory rather than attempting to make breakfast waffles with a twist. I have a fantastic waffle recipe that I love and don't really need to mess with (no it isn't posted yet, yes I will get around to it.)

I looked over Alton's recipe and started formulating some ideas, then I found this recipe on a blog called Food With Legs

I must say the author did most of my thinking for me on the waffles. I really only made one change and that was baking the sweet potatoes instead of steaming. Roasting the requisite garlic at the same time just makes sense. I think baking them brings an additional layer of flavor that you don't get from steaming.

One other note of caution about the recipe. It calls for 6 beaten egg whites about midway through the instructions but does not show them in the ingredient list. Just be sure you have them on hand.

The end result was delicious. The rosemary, sweet potatoes and garlic really played off of each other. Contrary to the authors opinion I think the pancetta was a bit too mild and got lost in the mix. It was a nice crunchy textural element but I think a little smokiness would have been welcome. I may try it again with sliced pancetta instead of cubed.

Now of course the next step was what to serve with it. I have to make a confession, I have never made fried chicken. I love fried chicken and I seek it out wherever I can. I just have never gotten around to making it myself.  It shames me. I would have tried to make it tonight but it just seemed like too much, and too much fat. So I started thinking of alternatives and I remembered this maple mustard pork chop recipe I made once upon a time and a recipe was born. Instead of chicken and maple syrup I would make roasted pork tenderloin with the maple mustard bbq suace.

The sauce comes from an often used cookbook called BBQ USA: 425 Fiery Recipes from All Across America. Every recipe I have tried has been a winner. You will need

1 Tbsp Butter
2 slices bacon cut into 1/4 inch slivers (replaced with pancetta today)
1 small onion finely chopped ( about 3/4 cup)
1 clove garlic minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
3/4 cup maple syrup (grade b if you can find it)
6 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onion garlic and bacon. Saute until the bacon is crispy then add the tomato paste. Stir for a minute or two then add the mustard, syrup and vinegar. Bring to a boil then reduce hit to low and simmer 10- 12 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. You can serve it hot or at room temp

Since I was using it as maple syrup I just drizzled it on the waffles at room temp.

The pork tenderloin was pretty simple, I had a couple of big flavors going already so I just wanted to the pork to taste like pork. I coated it in a little olive oil, salt and pepper, I jammed a branch of rosemary in each end then seared it on all sides. 2 minutes a side or so. Then I put it into a 375 degree oven and baked it until it hit a temp of 150.

Slice up the pork, lay it on a waffle and drizzle with the sauce. It was a great combination of savory and sweet. If you love chicken and waffles then you really should try this. If chicken and waffles has always sounded crazy then try this and you may reconsider.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I long overdue update, I hope it's worth it.

I have been on the road a lot since the beginning of the month so cooking has not been easy. I went all Sandra Lee on a pork tenderloin last week and it was great (Kerrie said I was being too hard on myself but it started with a bottle marinade). Venison pot roast graced the table last night and while the meat was delicious I didn't do anything special. Tonight on the other hand I served hoisin barbecued chicken.

The original recipe comes from a cookbook book I love called The Wine Lovers Cookbook

The recipe is designed for game hens and done on the grill, it also has a Chinese style vegetable recipe that I did use last summer when I did the grilled game hens. It was an excellent accompaniment.

It was too cold and snowy to grill and I didn't have any game hens so a nicely butterflied chicken got the treatment. The BBQ sauce is really the star. The sauce needs to cool to room temp before use so you can do this well ahead. For a whole chicken I doubled it but the orginal measurements are

1/2 cup reduce salt soy sauce (this sauce leans towards salty even with it so be careful)
1/4 cup Mirin, sweet sake or riesling ( I used a semi dry vidal I had on hand)
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp fermented black beans ( I have not seen fermented black beans outside of an asian market, I found a nice versatile substitute in a black bean sauce with garlic, just reduce the garlic to one clove if you use it. It is readily available)
2 tsp sesame chili oil ( this is a staple in our house, it is the key in the spicy mayos you see in sushi, if you have regular sesame oil and some crushed red pepper and go ahead)
2 tsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp ground ginger
1/3 cup chopped cilantro

Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 7-8 minutes.

Once it cools, use it as a marinade for whatever meat you are going to serve. For chicken or game hens it should be at least 3 hours or longer.

After you remove your meat from the marinade add the marinade to a sauce pan and bring it back to a boil, simmer for at least 3 minutes before using as a basting sauce.

If using this on the grill you want to use indirect heat and baste frequently, if you are oven roasting the you will want to keep the heat at about 375, with all the honey and sugar in the wine it will burn easily so you want to keep the temp a little lower. Baste each side frequently, every 15-20 minutes or so.

The skin will wind up this incredible dark mahogany color that will lead to a fight over tasty skin bits. I really should have taken a picture tonight.

Serve with the same wine you use in the sauce and enjoy.