Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Chicken Cordon Bleu

This week’s theme is ‘reinventing the classics,’ so I thought I’d update an old school chicken dish I use to eat as a kid. Chicken Cordon Bleu is one of the few things my mom bought pre-packaged, and who can blame her? Stuffing and breading chicken breasts is kind of a pain in my opinion, so I decided to jettison that whole process. I guess you could call my recipe ‘deconstructed’ chicken cordon bleu. I also wanted to use some better ingredients than those old store-brought cordon bleus (which always had a tiny piece of ham in the middle, swiss cheese, breading that got soggy on the bottom), so I grabbed some jamon Serrano, gruyere, and emmentaler cheese from DiBruno Brothers.

½ onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
10 oz. water
3 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
½ lemon
2 bay leaves
10 oz. ice cubes
1 oz. salt
Black pepper
2 teaspoons sugar

In a 12” pan over medium heat, add a little olive oil and sautee the onion, garlic, celery and carrot for about 5 minutes, until softened and the onion slices start to get translucent. Add the 10 oz. water, along with the thyme, rosemary, lemon (squeezing the juice into the brine and removing any seeds), bay leaves, salt, black pepper and sugar. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and add ice cubes.

Transfer brine to large Ziploc bag. Make sure the mixture is cool, and add chicken breasts. Place in a bowl and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

For the chicken:
2 large breasts, brined
4 slices jamon Serrano

Preheat your oven to 425°F. Remove the breasts from the brine and pat dry. Slice in half vertically, and wrap a slice of ham around each half. Place on a baking sheet, and bake for about 25 minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

For the Sauce:
~5 large crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp butter (plus extra for the mushrooms)
2 tbsp flour
1.5 cups whole milk
½ cup emmentelar cheese
¼ cup gruyere cheese
Nutmeg (about 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon)

In a 10” pan, melt some butter and sauté the sliced mushrooms for about 5 to 7 minutes, lightly seasoning with salt. Remove from the pan and reserve. Add 2 tbsp of butter, and once melted add the 2 tbsp flour. Whisk to form a roux. Meanwhile, have the milk heating on another burner (or in the microwave). Add warm milk to the roux about ¼ cup at a time, whisking to incorporate. Once all the milk has been incorporated, add the chesses, along with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste (should only take a small amount of nutmeg – it’s powerful stuff). Add the reserved mushrooms, and bring the sauce to a simmer.

Bread crumbs:
3 sprigs thyme (whole)
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled

In a large pan over medium heat, add a decent squirt of olive oil. Break/cut pieces off the baguette and add to the oil, along with thyme and garlic. Sauté until the bread starts to get crispy, about 5 minutes. Discard thyme and garlic.

Serve the chicken breasts along side the sauce and bread crumbs. Pair with roasted potatoes and blanched asparagus.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bavarian Apple Tart

The baking theme for this week is healthy, so I took a recipe straight out of the “trimmed-down favorites” section of the Taste of Home Baking cookbook. Each slice is 213 calories with 9 grams of fat, and delicious to boot. I really like the pairing of the apples with the cream cheese – it gives this tart a different feel from the same old apple pies. As you can see, the tips of the top layer of apples got a bit burnt - keep an eye on your tart as it bakes.

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter (5 1/3 tablespoons), softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

In an electric mixer or other bowl, add the sugar and butter and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in flour, cinnamon and vanilla and mix to incorporate. Place the dough in a 9” tart pan. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over it, and work the dough until it covers the bottom and sides of the pan. Refrigerate until ready to use.

1 package (8 ounces) Neufchatel or low-fat cream cheese
¼ cup sugar
1 egg
1.5 tablespoons vanilla extract

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla until just combined. Pour mixture into the pie crust.

4 cups thinly sliced peeled apples (about 4 medium; I only needed ~3)
1/3 cup sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Slice the apples and place in a large bowl with sugar and cinnamon. Toss to coat. Arrange apples on top of tart. Bake the tart at 400°F for 40 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the crust is golden brown. Let cool a bit before serving. 

Goose Egg Quiche

This week’s theme is local ingredients, so I hit up a store which has nothing but local/organic ingredients in search of emu eggs, which they’ve carried before. I guess it’s not emu egg-laying season, because they were all out, but I settled on goose eggs from Newberry, Pa. and proceeded to fork out as much for 2 of these bad boys as 2 cartons of chicken eggs would cost. Luckily, the always fantastic Iovine Brothers produce also had local ingredients, so I was able to get some local squash, mushrooms, and bok choy to add to the proceedings.

The gruyere is the secret ingredient here – this was the best tasting quiche I’ve ever had and the cheese is the reason why. The goose eggs taste like chicken eggs, so don’t waste the money on them unless you’re looking for a novelty post for your food blog…

Tart Shell (Pate brisée):
6 oz. all purpose flour
1 stick (4 oz.) butter
1 to 2 oz. ice water
¼ teaspoon salt

Add the flour, butter and salt to a food processor and pulse. With the processor running, pour in the water – start with 1 oz. (about 1/8 cup) and go from there until a dough forms.

Remove the dough from the processor, wrap it in wax paper, and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Flour a working surface and roll the dough out into a circle big enough to fit in a 9.5” pan. Butter and flour a 9.5” pie pan, and lay the dough into it. Cut off any excess overhang. Place the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 425°F. Place a piece of tin foil over the dough and weigh down with beans or small stones. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and pie weights, and bake for 5 minutes more.

I forgot to take a picture of the tart shell after blind baking it, so this will have to do

2 goose eggs (or 4 chicken eggs)
½ green squash, quartered lengthwise then sliced thin
5 crimini mushrooms, chopped into chunks
1 bunch of bok choy – separate the leaves from the stems, chop the stems into pieces similar sized to the squash, and the leafy bits into a few pieces each
1 clove garlic, diced
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup gruyere cheese
Salt and pepper

Cut your veggies, then preheat a 12” pan over medium heat. Add in 1 tablespoon olive oil and add in the mushrooms, squash, and bok choy stems. Season lightly with salt. Sautee over medium for 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and bok choy leaves and cook for 2 minutes longer.

Add the cooked ingredients to a bowl along with the heavy cream and gruyere. Beat your eggs until all the yolks/whites are incorporated and add to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Bake at 425°F for 25 to 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it at around the 20 minute mark – if you notice the top starts to brown, lay a piece of tin foil over the quiche so the top doesn’t get too dark.  

Goose vs. Chicken

Here's what these bad boys look when they're cracked open - yes I did notice the piece of shell/membrane right after taking this picture.

Other filling ingredients

Before cooking

Fresh out of the oven

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cod with Mustard Cream Sauce and Scandinavian Style Condiments

This week’s theme is Scandinavian food, which I know nothing about beyond Ikea’s Swedish meatballs. So I poked around the blogosphere and found this recipe:, and was intrigued by the strange combinations of foods. I tweaked the recipe (I already had pickled beets in my pantry, so I sautéed some spinach instead of beet greens), but left the elements largely intact. I was hoping that maybe the Norwegians were on to something, but it didn’t turn out to be the case. All of these items are fine on their own, but they never coalesce, and you’re left with a strange smorgasbord.

All the recipes are pretty straightforward, especially if you've made French mother sauces before (I think this technically is a sauce supreme). There’s a lot going of elements to finish at the same time though, so make sure you've got everything timed out. You’ll need to finish the fish before starting the sauce, so allow enough time to do so.

1 filet of cod or other white fish per person
1 celery stalk
2 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 shallot, sliced
½ cup vermouth
Salt and pepper

Fill a large 12” sautee pan with enough water to cover the fish. Add celery, parsley, bay leaf, shallout, vermouth, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer (180°F). Add fish to pan and poach (keep at a light simmer) for 2 to 3 minutes (may need to adjust cooking times based on thickness – my filets were long and flat so they cooked quckly). Remove fish from pan, cover with foil to keep warm, and reserve 1 ¾ cup cooking liquid.

Mustard and Cream Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 ¾ cup reserved fish poaching liquid
1/3 cup heavy cream
¼ cup Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper (if needed)

Melt the butter in a small saucepan then add flour and whisk to make a roux. Once the flour and butter are incorporated, slowly add the 1 ¾ cup cooking liquid left over from poaching the cod, whisking to incorporate. Once it’s all added, add the cream and Dijon mustard, mix and adjust for taste by adding salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer.

1 medium Yukon gold potato per person, roughly chopped into 1” chunks

Bring a pot of well salted water (seriously, taste the water and make sure it’s salty) to a boil and add the potatoes. Lower to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of your pieces. The potatoes are ready when they can be pierced by a fork, but are not falling apart.

1 slice per person

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, place bacon on top, and bake for 17 to 20 minutes, until bacon reaches desired crispiness.

1 to 2 garlic cloves
Spinach leaves (more than you think)
Olive oil

Dice your garlic, preheat a pan to medium and add in a tablespoon of olive oil. Add garlic, and cook for 45 seconds. Add spinach (just throw a whole bunch in – if you’re not familiar with cooked spinach, add more than you need as it will cook down significantly) and sautee for about 2 minutes.

Pickled Beets:
I had some of these canned already, but here’s a good recipe to follow:

Hard boiled eggs: 

Place eggs in a medium pot and add enough cold water to cover by an inch. I like to add a splash of white vinegar (in case the shells crack – keeps the egg from leaking out) and ½ teaspoon of salt (allegedly makes the eggs easier to peel). Bring to a boil. Let boil for a minute (I turned off the heat on my electric burner, and the residual heat kept it at a boil), then cover and remove from heat. Let them sit undisturbed for 12 minutes, then remove eggs to a bowl of ice water to cool.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Blueberry Cobbler

It’s summertime and blueberries are abundant, so what better way to use them than a Thomas Keller recipe. This particular recipe comes from Ad Hoc at Home. I didn’t have any vanilla ice cream in my freezer, but that would be a perfect accompaniment spooned on top.

1 ¾ cup flour (8 ounces)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk

4 pints (8 cups) blueberries
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Cinnamon Sugar:
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Topping:
First and foremost, preheat your oven to 350°F. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar and beat on medium for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until each is completely incorporated into the mixture. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk in 2 batches. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

For the Filling:
Wash your blueberries than add to a large bowl with the sugar, flour, and lemon zest. Toss to coat.

Pour the blueberry filling into a 9” x 13” baking pan. Spoon the topping as 9 mounds with a little space between each. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top of the batter. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and the juices of the blueberries are bubbling. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Avocado and Shrimp Salad Roulades

This is my attempt at a recipe in the Eleven Madison Park cookbook, with a few changes based on what I had on hand. It’s important to note that you should use ripe but still firm avocados for this recipe – the ones I used were a little softer than I liked, but were the best I could do at the local grocery store.  You can also check out a video of EMP’s Daniel Humm making this dish here:

Poached shrimp:
1.5 lbs shrimp, deveined and deshelled
1 cup white wine
1 cup orange juice
2 cups water
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black pepper

Add everything but the shrimp to a medium pot, bring to a boil, add the shrimp, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp. Remove the shrimp from the liquid, and chill in the fridge.

Shrimp Salad:
Poached shrimp
1.5 tbsp mayonnaise
1.5 tbsp greek yogurt
½ Granny Smith Apple, peeled
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 teaspoons salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
Avocado pieces

Cut the shrimp into pieces and add to a bowl. Dice the apple into small pieces and add to the bowl, along with the lime juice, mayo, yogurt, salt and cayenne. I held off adding diced avocado until it was time to prepare the roulades, since I wasn’t sure if they’re oxidize in the interim.

Lemon oil:
Zest of ½ lemon
2 tbsp canola oil

Place in a ramekin or small dish and let sit for at least 10 minutes to infuse

Greek Yogurt Sauce:
¼ cup greek yogurt
¾ teaspoon lime juice
Pinch salt
Small pinch cayenne

2 avocados
Shrimp salad
Lemon oil
Yogurt Sauce
Parsley (for garnish)
Purple Basil (for garnish)
Smoked paprika (for garnish)

You’ll need ½ to ¾ of an avocado per roll. Remove the pit from your avocados, then quarter and peel. Use a mandolin to slice into very thin slices. Arrange the slices on a piece of parchment paper (use the slices from near the center of the avocado; the ends can be chopped and added to the shrimp salad), overlapping each other. At this point, the recipe calls for the avocados to be vacuum sealed – I don’t own an industrial grade cryo vac, so I placed another piece of parchment over top of the avocado and used a rolling pin to help the pieces stick together. Don’t apply to much pressure, or you will squash the avocado (like I did).

Spoon the shrimp salad on a piece of plastic wrap, and roll into a roulade. Un-roll on top of the avocado, so the salad sits in the middle. Carefully bring up the back of the parchment paper and roll the avocado over the filling, creating a cylinder. Brush with lemon oil.

Place a spoonful of yogurt sauce on the plate and drag a spoon through it. Garnish the avocado roll with parsley and purple basil. Sprinkle some smoked paprika on the plate for color.

Maybe the rolling pin wasn't the best idea...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Baked Huevos Rancheros

For the sake of doing something different, I decided to make baked huevos rancheros, which are traditionally made by frying the eggs. I checked a few different sites with similar recipes, and all had a cooking time of 15 to 20 minutes for the eggs. I took my eggs out of the oven at 15 minutes, and one of the yolks was completely cooked through, and the other was almost to that point. So keep an eye on your eggs! Also of note: the salsa recipe here is slightly spicy, but not overwhelmingly so; feel free to add or remove chilis depending on your heat preferences. I purposefully held back a little since there is a decent amount served with the eggs, and I didn’t want the chilis to be overpowering.

Salsa (yields about 2 cups):
7 small tomatillos (about 8 oz.)
1 15 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes
1 large shallot
2 cloves garlic
3 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce

Remove the tomatillos from their husks, wash them and halve them. Remove the papery skin from the shallots and halve them as well. Place on a baking sheet along with the garlic (left whole, in its skin), and put under a broiler. Broil everything for a few minutes a side, until it gets some color on each side. Keep an eye on everything, as the garlic will finish faster than the tomatillos and shallots.

Remove the garlic from their husks (they’ll come out very easily after roasting) and add to a blender along with the tomatillos, shallot, fire roasted tomatoes, and chilis. Blend until smooth. Season with salt, and add water if the consistency is too thick. Pulse to incorporate.

Tortillas (makes 8):
1 cup masa harina
¾ cup water

Mix the two ingredients and knead together with your hands, as if you were making bread. Add extra water if the consistency is too dry and crumbly or masa if the dough is wet and sticky. Cut into 8 equal sized pieces. Cover with a towel/plastic wrap.

Take one piece of the dough, and form it into a ball with your hands. Place on a piece of plastic wrap, then place another piece of plastic wrap on top. Use a flat bottomed heavy object (I used an enameled dutch oven), and flatted the dough into a disc about 4 to 5” in diameter.

Preheat a cast iron skillet/griddle to slightly higher than medium. Place the tortilla on the center of the skillet, and cook for 45 seconds a side, until each side starts to brown. Remove, and store in a warm place (I set my toaster oven to 150°F, placed a plate inside and kept my tortillas in there). Repeat process with remaining dough.

To Finish (for 1 serving):  
A few spoonfuls of salsa
2 eggs
Corn tortillas
Cotija cheese
Cilantro, for garnish

Preheat your oven to 400°F. In a ramekin or small dish suitable for an oven, spoon in a layer of salsa. Crack the eggs on top, and salt lightly. Crumble cotija on top, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro, and serve with tortillas.