November 3, 2007

Chicken Tikka Masala

Wanted something different for dinner, but not too complicated. This was in a recent edition of Cooks Illustrated, and seemed like a winner. Turned out delicious! Very good dinner for fall too. Since it's (finally!) been getting chillier outside, I've lusted for things that were warm and filling, and this really fit the bill. I served with jasmine rice and a nice piece of crusty ciabatta bread.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Cooks Illustrated - 9/2007

This dish is best when prepared with whole-milk yogurt, but low-fat yogurt can be substituted. For a spicier dish, do not remove the ribs and seeds from the chile. If you prefer, substitute 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper for the garam masala. The sauce can be made ahead, refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container, and gently reheated before adding the hot chicken. Serve with basmati rice.

Serves 4 to 6

Chicken Tikka

1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp table salt
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts , trimmed of fat
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (see note above)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

Masala Sauce

3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion , diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 fresh serrano chile , ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced (see note above)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp garam masala (see note above)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp table salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

2. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

October 26, 2007

Meatloaf Appreciation Day!

I'm a bit late posting this, as Meatloaf Appreciation Day was October 18th. So, please forgive me. This recipe is another from the wonderful Cook's Illustrated, and is fabulous. So mane meatloaf recipes call for a mixture of beef/pork/and veal, which I'm not too crazy about. This recipe is kind of strange in that it includes powdered gelatin. It's essential though, in that the gelatin mimics the the qualities of it tons of extra moisture, which is key to a great meatloaf. The glaze is awesome too, the coriander and cider vinegar really gives it that extra "oomph!". I wasn't even a fan of meatloaf, wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole, until I came across this recipe. I served it alongside roasted garlic mashed potatoes and steamed green beans. Enjoy!

All Beef Meatloaf
Cook's Illustrated - January 2006

3 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated on small holes of box grater (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 medium rib celery , chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium clove garlic , minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (powdered)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2/3 cup crushed saltines
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound ground chuck
1 pound ground sirloin

1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread cheese on plate and place in freezer until ready to use. Prepare baking sheet--cover a broiler pan or a cookie cooling rack with two layers of foil and punch holes in it so fat can drain. Then put pan or rack in another pan to catch drips and prevent your oven from smoking you out of the house.

2. Heat butter in a skillet over medium-high heat, add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown. Add garlic, and paprika and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to small bowl and set aside to cool.

3. Whisk broth and eggs in large bowl until combined. Sprinkle gelatin over liquid and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in soy sauce, mustard, saltines, parsley, salt, pepper, and onion mixture. Crumble frozen cheese into coarse powder and sprinkle over mixture. Add ground meat; mix gently with hands until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Transfer meat to foil rectangle and shape into 10 by 6-inch oval about 2 inches high. Bake 55 to 65 minutes. Remove meat loaf from oven and turn on broiler.

4. While meat loaf cooks, combine ingredients for glaze in small saucepan; bring to simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring, until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Spread half of glaze evenly over cooked meat loaf with rubber spatula; place under broiler and cook until glaze bubbles and begins to brown at edges, about 5 minutes. Remove meat loaf from oven and spread evenly with remaining glaze; place back under broiler and cook until glaze is again bubbling and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes more. Let meat loaf cool about 20 minutes before slicing.

August 6, 2007

Viva enchiladas!

We just got the new range (dual-fuel baby!) installed on Thursday, so I've been having fun making all our favorites that we haven't been able to have for the past 3 months. DH couldn't decide on what he wanted his first meal that he chose (I had chosen chicken marsala the night before), so I suggested enchiladas. His eyes lit up, and I knew that was a winning suggestion. I got this recipe (I've changed it a bit) from Cook's Illustrated several months ago, and it's delicious. I will add a bit of cayenne to the spices to kick up the heat a bit if it's just DH and I. These will freeze quite well too.

Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chile Sauce

1 medium onion , chopped fine
1 tsp. vegetable oil
3 medium cloves garlic , minced
3 tbsp. chili powder
3 tsp. ground cumin
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 large breasts)
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
3 tbsp. pickled jalapenos, chopped
chopped1 fresh jalapeno, chopped
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
Vegetable cooking spray
1 lime , cut into wedges (for serving)
Ground black pepper

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the onion, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onions have softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water, bring to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

2. Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and the thickest part registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate; set aside to cool. Strain the sauce through a medium-mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing on the onions to extract as much liquid as possible. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces. Toss together the shredded chicken, 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce, 1 cup of the cheddar, the jalapeños, and cilantro, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Stack the tortillas on a microwave-safe plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high until warm and pliable, 40 to 60 seconds. Spread the warm tortillas out over a clean work surface. Place 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of each tortilla. Tightly roll each tortilla around the filling and lay them seam-side down in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish.

5. Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with vegetable oil spray. Pour 1 cup of the remaining sauce over the enchiladas to coat them thoroughly. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheddar down the center of the enchiladas. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until the enchiladas are heated through, 20 to 25 minutes.

6. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese browns, about 5 minutes longer. Serve, passing the remaining 1 cup sauce and the lime wedges separately.

August 5, 2007

Too many tomatoes!

I planted quite a few varieties of tomatoes this year. Most of them are heirloom varieties (Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, Old German, Anna Russian) but I was fortunate enough to find the kind of sauce tomatoes, the San Maranzano. They are very similar to roma (or plum) tomatoes, but are a bit meatier and less acidic. At any rate, I have them coming out of my ears at this point, and decided to make a fresh tomato sauce. With this heatwave we've been having, I diddn't want something too heavy. I decided a fresh tomato sauce tossed with pasta would be perfect. I used penne rigate, that I had cooked just short of al dente. Then, I added the cooked pasta to the sauce and cooked for an additional minute or two. Topped with some good parmigiano-regiano cheese, and some basil for garnish. Ahh, I'm going to miss summer!

Fresh Tomato Sauce
2 pounds fresh San Maranzano or Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped (any tomato will do, I used a large Brandywine in my last batch)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp. kosher salt
8 fresh basil leaves

Heat olive oil until shimmering over medium high heat. Add garlic, and cook 30 seconds. Add fresh tomatoes and salt, and stir. Once the sauce begins to bubble, reduce heat to low. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced to the desired thickness. Tear basil into smaller pieces and add to the sauce in the last few minutes of cooking. Can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

April 19, 2007

We're Moving!

Maryland, here we come! We just bought our first home, closed on it this past Monday afternoon. Actually, it's not that far from where we are in Chincoteague...about 30 minutes. But, it's that much closer to civilization, which is always a good thing. Maryland is my home state, and I'm looking forward to returning to it. While I love the ocean, I have got to admit that I'm a Bay girl at heart. I grew up on the Chesapeake. Boating, crabbing, tubing...we did it all. We'd wake up on a Sunday morning, hop in the boat, and go over to Rod N' Reel in Chesapeake Beach for their breakfast buffet. After breakfast we'd walk the beach below Calvert Cliffs (unfortunately, they don't allow you to do this anymore) and find sharks teeth. Those were such fun trips!

The house is great, a Cape Cod built in 1935. Needs some work, but it's all work that Jon and I can do ourselves. Painting, floor refinishing, kitchen remodeling. Heh, I must admit I'm kind of agonizing over the latter part. The kitchen that is currently in there can I say this? Vintage. I refuse to cook anything in the ancient wall oven that is currently in there. It's so small...I don't think I could fit my damn dutch oven in there! The countertops and cabinets are hideous. So, I think we're going to just say to Hell with it and just totally re-do the kitchen. Cabinets, countertops, range, floor. I just keep looking forward to what it will be like when we're finished. I'll finally have a gas range, it's going to be wonderful! It's just going to take a little time...Needless to say, don't be expecting too much in the food dept. from me in the next month or so. Which sucks, I'm sick of take-out already. On the bright side there is a great italian place that delivers right in town. We tried their pizza the first night, and it was quite good. I think we may get them again tonight, and I'll try a pasta dish this time. They had a damn fine cannoli as well.

Speaking of italian, does anyone watch the Sopranos? Things are really starting to get good...

April 13, 2007

Tangerine-Beef Stirfry

This is a recipe that I tested for Cook's Illustrated last night. It was the first recipe that I was a tester for, and it was delicous. A light tangerine oriental flavor. I served it over Jasmine rice, although next time I think I'll try brown...I think the dish would benefit from the heartier, nuttier flavor that brown rice lends. I hardly ever buy flank steak. For something that was considered "trash meat" 5 years ago, is now close to $9 a pound. But, I broke down and bought some for this recipe. I must say that I really enjoyed it, and will try working with it again in the future. I used more garlic than the recipe calls for, per usual. I also think the stir-fry could use a little more color, the addition of carrot might be nice. All-in-all it was a wonderful, easy, weeknight dinner. Jon and I both really enjoyed it!

Tangerine Stir-Fried Beef with Onions and Snow Peas
Serves 4

To make slicing the flank steak easier, freeze it for 20 to 30 minutes. If flank steak is unavailable, replace with sirloin tip steaks (also called flap meat) or blade steaks, trimming any excess fat and gristle before slicing thinly. If using blade steak start with a pound of meat in order to compensate for any loss during trimming. Serve this dish with rice. Orange can be used in place of tangerines. If available, substitute 1 teaspoon toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns for the hot red pepper flakes.

4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
12 ounces flank steak, cut into 2-inch-wide strips with the grain, then sliced across the grain into 1/8-inch-thick slices (see note above)
3/4 cup juice plus 1 teaspoon grated zest from 2 tangerines
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 medium garlic cloves, pressed through garlic press or minced (about 1 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon Chinese black bean sauce
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, halved and cut pole-to-pole into 3/8 to 1/2-inch wedges
10 ounces snow peas, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons water

1. Combine 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 teaspoon sugar in medium bowl. Add beef, toss well and marinate at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour, stirring once. Meanwhile, whisk remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, tangerine juice, sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch in medium bowl. Combine tangerine zest, garlic, ginger, black bean sauce, red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon oil in small bowl.

2. Drain beef and discard liquid. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add half of beef to skillet in single layer, breaking up any clumps. Cook, without stirring, for 1 minute, then stir and continue to cook until beef is browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer beef to medium bowl. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in skillet, and repeat with remaining beef. Wipe out skillet using paper towels.

3. Add remaining tablespoon oil to now-empty skillet and heat until just smoking. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently until beginning to brown and soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add snow peas and continue to cook until spotty brown, about 2 minutes longer. Add water and cook until vegetables are tender but still crisp, about 1 minute. Push vegetables to sides of skillet to clear center; add zest/garlic mixture to clearing and cook, mashing with spatula, until fragrant, 15 to 20 seconds. Stir to combine zest/garlic mixture with vegetables. Return beef and any accumulated juices to skillet and stir to combine. Whisk sauce to recombine, then add to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and evenly distributed, about 30 seconds. Transfer to serving platter and serve.

April 5, 2007

Chicken Marsala

I found this recipe for Chicken Marsala from Cook's Illustrated a few years back. Over the years, I've made some adjustments. I think I've got it down to just about perfect now. If you like a thicker sauce, prepare a slurry of cornstarch and cold water, the add that to the sauce after you've melted in the butter. Serve atop a bed of fettuccine, with a side of fresh sauteed green beans. Absolutely delicious! Recipe can easily be halved by just using 2 chicken breasts instead of 4. I'd recommend using the same amount of sauce though. Enjoy!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
kosher salt
ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices of bacon or pancetta, chopped
2 cups white or cremini mushrooms
2 large garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tbsp.)
1 tbsp. minced shallot
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 1/2 cups Marsala wine (sweet)
1 1/2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (1 small lemon)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter cut into 4
pieces, room temperature
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place large heatproof dinner plate on oven rack, and heat oven to 200 degrees. Heat 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until very hot (you can hold your hand 2 inches above pan surface for 3 to 4 seconds), about 3 minutes. Pat chicken breasts dry. Meanwhile, place flour in shallow baking dish or pie plate. Season both sides of chicken cutlets with salt and pepper; working one piece at a time, coat both sides with flour. Lift breast from tapered end and shake to remove excess flour; set aside. Add oil to hot skillet and heat until shimmering. Place floured cutlets in single layer in skillet and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip cutlets and cook on second side until golden brown and meat feels firm when pressed with finger, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to heated plate and return plate to oven.

2. Return skillet to low heat and add pancetta; saute, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits until pancetta is brown and crisp, about 4 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towel--lined plate. Add mushrooms and increase heat to medium-high; saute, stirring occasionally and scraping pan bottom, until liquid released by mushrooms evaporates and mushrooms begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and shallot Saute for 1 minute. Add cooked pancetta and tomato paste. Stir while sauteing, until tomato paste begins to brown, about 1 minute. Off heat, add Marsala; return pan to high heat and simmer vigorously, scraping browned bits from pan bottom, until sauce is slightly syrupy and reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes. Off heat, add lemon juice and any accumulated juices from chicken; whisk in butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in parsley. Pour sauce over chicken and serve immediately.

February 20, 2007