Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Potato Wrapped Haddock (or Halibut or Cod)

Ohmigosh are these are so good, my husband ate three of them LOL. Make the infused olive oil the night before, and please don't skip it. It really makes the potatoes and fish sing! I was going to make a lemon garlic aioli to go with this, but that would have been a mistake, overpowering the other flavors. Serves 4 (usually).

4 6-oz pieces of haddock, halibut or cod, about 3/4" to 1" thick. Don't buy the frozen packages that don't show the actual pieces as they might be too thin for the required cooking time
1-2 Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed
Kosher salt
Parchment paper (Do not use cling wrap! the potatoes will stick to it and you'll have a mess on your hands)

Thoroughly dry the pieces of fish with paper towels so the olive oil and potatoes will stick and sprinkle with salt. Very thinly slice the first potato, using a mandoline or very sharp knife. Lay them out on a piece of parchment paper, edges overlapping, like this:

Brush the potato slices with oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Put the piece of fish on the potatoes

and using the parchment paper to help you, wrap the potatoes around the fish. Press down firmly to get the potatoes to stick to the fish.

Repeat with each piece of fish, slicing the next potato only once you need it. Put them on a plate to chill and set the potatoes, and if you need to do more than one layer, use parchment to separate the layers. Chill for 1 hr but no longer: the salt will draw water out of the potatoes, which will help them to brown, but you don't want them to be sitting in a pool of starchy water, as they would if you leave them longer.

Heat just enough of the oil to cover the bottom of a non-stick skillet, at just over medium heat, until it's hot and rippling. You don't need a ton of oil, and if you use too much, it will splatter like crazy. Season the top of each haddock wrap with salt. Cook the fish a few pieces at a time, so you don't overcrowd the pan, 3-4 minutes per side depending on how thick the fish is, turning carefully with a wide spatula. Use a second spatula to hold the top of the fish in place as you turn it over. Add a couple more TB of oil after the first batch if you need to.

Drain the cooked fish parcels on paper towels and carefully - so they don't fall apart - transfer to plates. Yummy!

Pommes Anna with Infused Oil

Infused oil adds subtle flavor to these brown, crispy, tender potatoes that are better than french fries. I got the idea when making the oil for potato-crusted haddock, and could eat a whole pan of these all by myself. The recipe serves 2, but is easily doubled or even tripled - I'll tell you what to do.

2 russet potatoes, peeled
Infused olive oil
Kosher salt
Optional: freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, or finely minced rosemary

Preheat oven to 425*F
Preheat burner on stove to medium

Brush the bottom and sides of an 8" non-stick oven-proof skillet with the oil. Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, thinly slice the potatoes one at a time (so they don't turn brown before you use them.) Lay the slices in concentric circles in the pan, pressing down each layer firmly, brushing each layer with the oil, and adding salt to every 3rd layer. If you're adding pepper or rosemary, sprinkle them on in the middle layer.

Cook on the stovetop about 5-8 minutes until the bottom layer starts to brown, using the edge of a spatula to peek and then press the potatoes back down into the pan. Pop the pan in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, until the bottom layer is nicely browned.

Drain off all the oil, and using a dinner plate or flat skillet lid, flip the cake over and slide it back into the pan. Continue to bake another 10 minutes or so until the new bottom starts to brown.  Slide onto a cutting board, cut into pie wedge shapes and serve.

Note: if you're doubling or tripling the recipe, use a 10" or 12" skillet, increase the first oven cooking time to about 25 minutes and the second oven time to about 15 minutes. Don't cook more than 3 potatoes at a time in the same skillet; use two if necessary.

Infused (flavored) Olive Oil

Adds tons of flavor in meats, vegetables, potatoes, & can be used for both sautéing and baking. This is Anne Burrell's recipe and is perfect as is. I'm going to use it for Pommes Anna tonight.

1.5 c EVOO
6 medium garlic cloves, smashed
1 thyme bundle or 3 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Zest of 1 lemon removed with a vegetable peeler in wide strips (avoid getting any of the pith - white part)
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 TB fennel seeds

Combine everything in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour, preferably 3 hrs. Strain through a fine sieve and store at room temperature in an airtight jar.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

Ok, 22 cloves, but that's because I only used one whole chicken instead of two. If you've never had this before, the garlic gets cooked until it's all soft and sweet. This is adapted from Ina Garten's fabulous recipe, but you can't just cut it in half across the board, and you do have to change up the ending to accommodate the nature of potato flour. Serves 4-5

1 3-3.5 lb chicken, room temperature, cut in eighths:
- save the neck, back and wings for stock
- cut the breast halves in half again, just above the halfway mark so they'll cook evenly, and you have 4 pieces of chicken breast instead of only 2

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
20+ cloves garlic, peeled (about 2 heads)
2 TB cognac, divided (a miniature liquor bottle will be enough)
1 c dry white wine (aged in aluminum barrels, not oak)
2 heaping tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 scant TB potato flour
1 TB whole coconut milk

Garlic: you can drop the cloves into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds, drain and peel off the skins, or you can smash them with the flat of your knife and peel them. If you choose the second method remember you'll need to brown the garlic a little longer to make sure it's cooked all the way through.

Remove and discard all visible fat from chicken pieces. Dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt & pepper. Heat the EVOO in a dutch oven just above medium heat. Brown the chicken in batches, cooking 3-5 minutes on each side, and remove to a plate as they're browned.

Lower the heat to medium-low and cook all the garlic, turning frequently so they cook through and brown. Add the wine and 1 TB cognac, scraping up all the browned bits. Add the chicken back in and sprinkle the thyme leaves over the chicken. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for 25-30 minutes til all the chicken is cooked through. (If you have quartered the chicken breasts, it'll be closer to 25 minutes.)

Remove the chicken to a plate or platter with high sides and loosely tent with aluminum foil. Put a couple of ladles of the broth into a small bowl and whisk in the potato flour until smooth. Set aside while you add the last TB of cognac and high simmer for several minutes to cook off all the alcohol taste. Then add in the broth/flour and the coconut milk and stir to blend and thicken the sauce. Taste for salt & pepper (you'll probably need both.) Pour the garlic sauce over the chicken and serve.

Note: if you want to double the recipe, using 2 whole chickens, you can use my source, Ina Garten's:
- don't just double all the amounts
- no butter, flour or cream
- be sure to cook the alcohol taste off the 2nd addition of cognac before adding the potato flour and coconut milk!
- you can still cut the breast halves in half again. This seems to be very popular with my guests, since not everyone wants an entire breast half, and they can have both dark and white meat.

Inexpensive Pasture Raised (Free Range) Chicken Stock

Ina Garten has a great recipe for chicken stock, but we can't afford to pay $30-$40 for whole pasture raised chickens and then discard them!! All the vitamins and minerals are cooked out of the meat, and it seems so wasteful to me. Follow these tips and you'll have an excellent quality stock for less than the cost of store bought:

1) Buy whole chickens for your recipes and break them down yourself, saving the neck, wings and backs in a ziploc freezer bag until you have enough for stock, or 

2) Buy a couple of pounds of wings and backs from a trusted butcher. We get them at our local farmer's market for less than $2/lb, or

3) Make a Roasted Broth The collagen is already cooked, so the finished stock won't be gelatinous. What you will have is 'fond', the dark roasty bits at the bottom of the pan and on the carcass/bones, which makes the stock darker and adds a lot of concentrated flavor. Plus, since you've already paid for and eaten the meat, it's practically free, and you won't be paying premium prices for commercially roasted stock. Save all your leftover carcass/bones from your meals, & add them to a ziploc in the freezer until you have the equivalent of 2 chicken carcasses' worth.

I've been stressing using homemade chicken stock mainly because any time you see "natural flavor" in an ingredients list, there's a strong chance it's MSG, and even though the packaging may claim it's "free range" that's no guarantee they still aren't grain- or corn-fed, given antibiotics, or even fed GMOs. Here's my sure-fire variation. Makes about 4-5 quarts*, which I store in the freezer.

2-3 lb pasture raised chicken backs, necks and wings
2 large yellow onions, peeled and quartered
4 medium carrots, peeled and quartered
3 celery stalks, leafy tops included, quartered
15 fresh parsley sprigs, stems included
10 fresh thyme sprigs
15 fresh dill sprigs
1 head garlic, unpeeled & cut in half horizontally, exposing the cloves
1 TB kosher salt
2 tsp whole mixed peppercorns

Combine all the ingredients except the salt in a large stock pot that holds 7-8 qts and fill to about 1/2" below the rim with water. The fastest way I know to bring it to a boil is to use an electric kettle to heat the water in 1.5 litre increments; just keep heating kettles of water to boiling and pour them in. Add the salt now - if you put the salt in the pot in cold water, it could pit the bottom of the pot. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce to a gentle simmer so the bubbles are slowly rising to the top, and cook uncovered for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Do not cook too quickly ~ no fast simmering ~ and do not add more water ~ let it cook down into a rich, concentrated stock.

Use a Chinese strainer to remove the larger pieces of chicken bones and veg to a separate bowl or plastic grocery bag to discard. (My husband picks through them for the carrots and chicken bits for our pets.) Strain the stock through a colander lined with 2 layers of cheesecloth into another stockpot or large bowl. Don't skip the cheesecloth or you'll end up with peppercorns and other bits in your stock. I use a quart measuring cup to scoop and pour the hot stock into plastic quart containers. Leave 1/2" room at the top for expansion. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled; remove all the surface fat; and refrigerate or freeze. 

*I buy my quart containers from Cassandra's Kitchen. They're perfect for freezing stock, soups, chili, etc. Your final stock quantity will vary according to how many lbs of chicken you use, the size of your stock pot, and how much it cooks down. Lower humidity = it will cook down more.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Rosemary Roasted Chicken Breasts with Pan Gravy

Of course there's a pan gravy. Especially when you have lemon, wine, herbs, and roasted chicken juices all begging to be made use of. That, and I seem to have a compulsion to make gravy or sauce whenever possible. This is a fast, easy weeknight dinner, and the chicken is very moist and tender. Serves 4-6

4 bone-in, skin-on pasture-raised chicken breasts

4 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
3 TB fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1/4 c dry white wine (aged in aluminum, not oak, barrels)
1/4 c homemade chicken stock
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

1 rounded TB potato flour

Preheat oven to 375*F

In a Pyrex baking dish just large enough to hold the breasts, combine everything from the garlic to the chicken stock, using a fork to mix well. Rinse, remove any extra fat, and thoroughly pat dry the chicken breasts. Put the chicken breasts in the dish and turn several times to make sure they're well coated. Move any loose chicken skin so it covers as much of the meat as possible. Sprinkle the chicken with salt & pepper.

Put the Pyrex dish on a baking half-sheet and bake in the oven for 35-40 min, basting once or twice with the broth and goodies. Remove from the oven, put the chicken on a plate, loosely tent with aluminum foil, and let the breasts rest for 8-10 minutes.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat 1 TB EVOO and the rounded TB potato flour, cooking and stirring with a whisk for a minute or so until it's thick and bubbling. Slowly add in the contents of the Pyrex dish, about 1/3 at a time, whisking to combine, and cook for 3-5 minutes, until it's the desired thickness. Taste for salt & pepper (it probably won't need much).

Remove and discard the chicken skin (it kept the chicken moist; we don't need the extra fat; and all the flavor is now in the meat and gravy.) Slice the breast across the grain, just as you would a turkey breast, and serve with gravy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Juicy, Brined Pork Chops

These chops are so juicy, tender and flavorful, I"m going to brine mine every time from now on. It's February and too cold to barbeque outside, but come the Spring, these babies will be on the coals! Adapted from an Anne Burrell recipe. We had them with sage-roasted acorn squash.  Serves 3, double the recipe for 6.

3 thick bone-in, pasture raised pork chops
1.5 TB kosher salt
1 TB raw honey
1 TB fennel seeds
1 TB coriander seeds
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced
2 medium cloves garlic, smashed

Put the salt and honey in a glass bowl large enough to hold the chops. Add 1/2 c water hot enough to melt the honey and dissolve the sugar, and stir. Add another 3 cups or so of cold water (so that when you put the chops in, they don't start to cook) and the rest of the brine ingredients. Add the pork chops and more cold water if needed to ensure the chops are completely submerged. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two days (mine were in for three days, didn't hurt them a bit, and probably helped.)

Heat a grill pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Take out the chops and dry them off with paper towels, wiping off the seeds and veg. Cook the chops about 8 minutes per side for medium, then tent with aluminum foil and let rest 5-10 min.

Note: a lot of moisture will come out of the chops as they cook, so you want your pan hot enough to evaporate the water so the chops don't end up braising instead of grilling or frying. Click on the picture and you'll see just how juicy they are! Delish!

Update: We've barbequed since I wrote this post, and they are so tender and juicy hot from the grill! Also, they do Not dry out in the fridge and make wonderful leftovers. If there are any left. Here they are bbq'd with a side dish of  sauteed apples, onions, cognac and thyme:

Friday, February 8, 2013

Orange Almond Spice Cake #1

Loaded with orange and spices, I think this would make a perfect Easter dessert. The almond flour gives it a marzipan cake taste and texture, which I love. I'm naming this #1 because while it's perfect as is, I'm still experimenting with the recipe and may come up with a variation down the road. You could top this with fresh or frozen/thawed berries, or make a simple glaze, but I'm leaving it plain to try in a bread pudding. Besides, it's good enough to eat just like this! Makes one 8" layer, serves 6-8.

1-1/2 c almond flour, not almond meal (I use jkgourmet brand)
1/4 tsp finely ground kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground mace
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves
1-1/4 tsp aluminum-free baking powder

2 extra large eggs from pasture raised hens, separated
pinch cream of tartar
1/3 c raw honey
1 TB orange zest
about 1/4 c freshly squeezed orange juice
50 ml coconut oil, melted (I know, the measurement is different but it should be on your measuring cup)
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325*

Using a very light amount of coconut oil, grease an 8" round baking tin, line bottom with parchment paper, and lightly grease the paper.

In a medium bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together. In a measuring cup, pour in the coconut oil and add enough orange juice to make 1/3 c total. In the bowl of a stand mixer, blend all the wet ingredients except the egg whites together, starting slowly and then turn mixer to med-high for another 30 seconds or so. Add in the dry ingredients and do the same, starting slowly and scraping down the sides of the bowl before moving to med-high for 30 seconds.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites in 1/3 at a time. Batter will the very light and high. Pour into cake tin, put tin on a baking half sheet and bake for 25 minutes, till a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.

The cake will settle as its cooling. Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert out of tin to another rack to finish cooling. Store the cake uncovered at room temperature.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pears Baked in Honey and "Cream"

Truly scrumptious! The heavy cream and butter in the classic method is replaced with whole coconut milk, and raw honey takes the place of refined white sugar. I think it tastes equally delicious and is so fast and easy! Great for a quick weeknight dessert or any time you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, at only 120 calories per serving. The recipe is 1 pear for every two people, so just increase the amounts accordingly.

1 Bosc pear, peeled, halved, stem, seed core and bottom bit removed
4 tsp raw honey
4 TB whole coconut milk

Preheat oven to 375*

Prep your pears while the oven is pre-heating.

If you're baking several pears at once, you can use an oven-proof baking dish just large enough to hold all the pears. I like to use crème brûlée dishes because I can serve them right out of the oven. 
Put your dish(es) on a baking half sheet, and put 2 tsp honey and 2 TB coconut milk in each individual dish, or the full quantities if using one dish. Put in the oven for a couple of minutes, just long enough to melt the honey. 

Take out the half sheet and stir the honey/milk mixture with a spoon to combine. Put the pears in the dishes and spoon the sauce over the pears. Keep the dishes on the half sheet as you bake for 10 minutes, baste the pears with the sauce, and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove and let cool enough to handle. Soooo good!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Elegant Veal Birds

Only if it's pasture raised veal, right? I haven''t made this dish in years due to my veal boycott, but remember it as one of my favorites. A real luxury, and elegant enough for a special dinner. The big question now was, would I be able to replicate it using non-bread crumbs and no butter or cream? Would it taste just as good? It's different. There's no substitute for butter. But it's really good, and I'd be proud to serve it to guests (my personal litmus test.) It's very rich-tasting, so I'd recommend a simple green salad to go with it. Serves 4-6
(Sorry the picture is so white, I'm having fits with my camera flash today.)

1.5 lb veal scaloppine, pounded very thin with a mallet between 2 pieces of waxed paper
Kitchen twine

1/4 lb range fed seasoned, ground pork sausage, room temperature
1/2 c "bread  crumbs" (2 parts almond flour to 1 part golden flax seed meal)
pinch garlic powder
pinch onion powder
pinch dried thyme
1 large egg, beaten
1 TB finely chopped fresh parsley
1 TB finely chopped fresh tarragon (don't omit this!)

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 TB potato flour, separated
3/4 c homemade chicken stock
1/4 c dry white wine, un-oaked (not aged in oak barrels)
1 TB minced fresh chives
1 TB Dijon mustard
1 TB whole coconut milk

Preheat oven to 325*F

In a medium bowl, combine all the filling ingredients and mix thoroughly with a fork. Lay the scallopine pieces out on sheets of waxed paper or a cutting board. Put 1 level TB of filling in the center of each piece. Roll lengthwise, tucking in the sides as you go. When they're all rolled and filled, cut two 6" pieces of twine for each "bird" and tie them snugly, cutting off the extra string, like this:

Generously season each with salt and pepper. Coat the bottom of a large, oven-proof skillet with EVOO (about 4 TB) and heat over medium heat. When the oil is hot and rippling, brown the birds on all sides, maybe 4 min per side, using tongs to gently turn them. Don't worry if a little filling slips out, the world won't end ~ you'll just have more flavor in your gravy. 

Remove the browned birds to a plate, lower the heat to medium-low and spoon out all but 2 TB of the oil in the pan. Add about 1/3 c of the chicken stock to deglaze the pan, using the edge of a metal spatula to scrape up all the bits. Add 1 TB of the potato flour and whisk to combine. Pour in the rest of the stock and wine, blending with the whisk. It will not be thick; that's good. Put the birds back in the pan, cover and bake for about 30-40 minutes till they are cooked through and tender. 

Note: I had small pieces of veal, so they only took 30 minutes. If yours are bigger, allow a little more time. You don't want the veal to be overcooked, but you do want the pork cooked through!

Remove the birds to a serving dish and put the skillet back on the stove over medium heat. Cut the twine off the birds while the skillet is heating up. Add the mustard, cream and chives, and 6-8 grinds of pepper, whisking to blend.  Taste and correct salt & pepper, but I seriously doubt you'll need more salt. Add in the second TB of potato flour and bring to a high simmer, whisking to thicken. Add a little more flour if you like a thicker sauce. Pour the gravy around the birds and serve.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Salmon Cakes with Creamy Dill Sauce

Oh I am so happy the way these turned out! Very inexpensive wild caught protein, and they'll be great re-heated for lunch tomorrow, too. I made a sauce to go with them, which is really yummy, but then decided to have the cakes with a salad instead. Pictured with the sauce from the next time I made them, at the end of the recipe, easy and goes wonderfully well. Serves 4

3 6-1/2 oz cans boneless, skinless salmon, drained
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced (about 1.5+ TB)
3 TB horseradish
2 TB finely minced fresh dill
4-8 dashes Original Tabasco (you can always shake more on the cooked cake)
1/2 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped (brunoise)
2 large eggs, beaten
2-3 tsp Old Bay seasoning (I prefer 2 tsp; my husband likes 3)
1/2 c almond flour (not almond meal) + 1/4 c golden flax seed meal, well combined in a small bowl (these replace bread or cracker crumbs very well)

3 TB very finely minced shallots (can be omitted)
1.5 TB potato flour
1/3 c dry white wine
1.5 TB finely minced fresh dill, or more to taste
1/3 c chicken or vegetable stock
1/3 c whole coconut milk
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine the salmon, scallions, dill, horseradish, Tabasco, red bell pepper, eggs, and Old Bay. Add 3/4 of the "bread crumbs" and stir to combine. If the mixture is too wet, add the rest of the bread crumbs. Form 8 patties of equal size.

Preheat a large cast iron skillet with 4 TB EVOO, just below medium heat. When the oil is hot and rippling, cook 4 patties at a time, 3 minutes per side (if they're browning too quickly, lower the heat) and drain on 2 layers of paper towels.

For the sauce: saute the shallots in the EVOO over medium heat until translucent. If you're skipping the shallots, just heat the oil and then... Add the potato flour, whisking to combine. The flour will tighten up very quickly. Add the dill, and white wine and chicken stock 1/3 cup at a time, then add the coconut milk. Keep it at a brisk simmer, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens, about 3-5 minutes. You can stop when the sauce is thinner, or cook longer if you like a thicker sauce. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Here they are with the dill sauce:

Friday, February 1, 2013

Moroccan Spice Lamb Chops

This is a very quick, easy entree, and you probably already have all the spices in your cupboard. I started with a spice blend from a Rachael Ray recipe and only made a few teensy changes. This is very spicy, but not really hot. If you want it hotter, use hot smoked paprika instead of sweet. Increase or decrease the amounts proportionately for fewer or more people. Serves 4

pasture raised lamb loin chops, 1-1/2" thick
2 tsp ground cumin
1-1/2 tsp ground turmeric
3/4 tsp sweet paprika
3/4 tsp ground coriander or coriander seeds (I prefer ground)
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat a cast iron grill pan over medium heat. Do not put oil on the pan. In a small bowl, combine all the spices and mix thoroughly. Dry the chops with paper towels and cut off any large chunks of fat. Rub both sides of the chop with EVOO and then coat with the spice mixture, using your fingers to press it in. I do both sides twice because I like a nice thick coating and use up all the spice blend.

For medium chops (still pink in the middle but not red) cook 5-6 minutes on each side. If it looks like the spices are starting to burn, just turn the chop and cook on each non-bone side for the last couple of minutes, one per side.

How to tell if the chop is cooked to medium: palm up, spread out your thumb and fingers on one hand as far as they'll go. Press down on the fleshy part below your thumb with the index finger of your other hand. That's what the chop should feel like: firm, but still able to move the flesh. Now relax your thumb and fingers and press down on the fleshy part. That's what rare feels like.

Remove to a plate, loosely tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Click on the photo to see how thick the chop is, and adjust your cooking time if yours are thinner.

Bonus picture. My husband had already started eating and I thought you should see the interior color of what I call medium. He was kind enough to stop, so I didn't want to make him wait longer for me to clean up the plate.