Month: March 2010

Chicken Roulades with Mustard Sauce

 - by Elizabeth

I opened the Williams-Sonoma Cookbook again, as it was my husband’s birthday.  As I mentioned before, the celebrations of lots of noise and gifts and crazy fun have ebbed, and have been replaced with a quieter dinner on fine china.  This is a direct result of our nest emptying out.  While I miss (always) the happy parties with lots going on, I think this new tradition works well for us as well–challenging me as a cook to find new recipes.

This is a simple rolled-up chicken breast with a twist: no cheese and ham on the inside.  Instead chopped basil and salt and pepper provide the flavor, augmented by a yogurt mustard sauce.  Sometimes I think I’d like to write a recipe like it happens in my house. . . you know, when it says to pound the chicken fillets to a 3/8 thickness and you think you didn’t yet buy the food mallet, and should you try the one in the garage that you use to pound the paint cans closed?  Instead you rummage through the gadget drawer and find the potato ricer–it’s the right shape and the right heft and it pounds the breasts into fillets nicely.  Or when you go outside to snip the chives from the front flowerbed and you find the 15-year old patch has been weeded to within an inch of its life by the last set of garden workers, but (thankfully) you still find enough to use?  That’s how it happens over here.

Ingredients:
8 ounces plain low-fat yogurt, divided (I used Greek yogurt)
1 1/2 Tbls. Dijon mustard, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
2 Tbsp. melted butter
2-4 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil (I used a little more)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, each about 6 oz each
salt and freshly-ground pepper
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (I use Contadina Italian)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Method:
Pound the chicken breast to 3/8-inch thickness.  I like to lay down two pieces of wax paper, lay the chicken breast on that, then cover with a layer of plastic wrap.  Pound, kind of mashing it this way and that, until it’s uniformly thinner.  Slide your hand in between the two sheets of wax paper, and flip the chicken and its plastic wrap over, peel off the wax paper and replace on the first piece, then repeat with other three breasts.  At the end, you’ll have 4 chicken flattened chicken breasts on their own piece of plastic wrap.

With the divided mustard and yogurt:
1) combine 1/2 cup of yogurt and 1 Tbs. mustard in one bowl, and add in the chopped chives.  This is the sauce. Set aside to come to room temperature while you keep working.
2) combine 1/2 cup of yogurt and 1/2 Tbs. mustard in another small bowl.  This is the coating.

Preheat oven to 400F.  Grease a baking sheet, then cover with a piece of parchment paper. (If you don’t have parchment paper, try to use a non-stick sheet.  If you don’t have that, prepare to scrub your pan at the end.)

In a shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs and the grated cheese. Place the yogurt/mustard coating in another small dish.

Sprinkle about 1 Tbls. (or less) chopped basil lengthwise down the pounded chicken breast; sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Fold in the short ends of the breast about 1/2-inch.  Starting at a long side, roll up the breast, enclosing the basil.  Repeat with remaining breasts.

The recipe says to roll each chicken breast in the yogurt/mustard coating, then roll it in the crumb/cheese coating and place it on the prepared baking sheet.  I found more success in placing the rolled chicken on a plate, smoothing some sauce on it, then sprinkling the crumb mixture over this, all the while making sure the thing didn’t unroll or slip out of my hands.  I then placed it on the prepared sheet.  (The baked rolls are above.)

Drizzle the rolls with the melted butter, then bake until the coating is golden brown and the chicken shows no sign of pink when cut in the center, about 25 to 30 minutes.  Serve hot, with a dollop of the sauce on the side.

This was also good four days later, when we had it for leftovers after a weekend away and I didn’t want to cook.

Glazed Lemon Cake

 - by Elizabeth

I remember the first time I ate this cake.  My brother’s wife, Rachel, served it for one of her parties.  Rachel is the consummate hostess, always perfectly dressed complete with accessories, her house spotless, her children well-mannered, and the table set like you were in a House Beautiful spread.  It was an Occasion–a birthday celebration–and we were invited.  The food was amazing, but when this cake came out, I wanted to drop all pretense of manners and have another piece.  And another.  I think I did eat two.  I could have eaten more, but then I wouldn’t have been a good guest.

Rachel, while formal and gracious, is warm and inviting.  I always glean ideas for decorating from her house, pick up a new recipe or two, and this was one of those.  I phoned her after we got home and she sent me a copy of the recipe.  It’s from the Silver Palate cookbook, and in her notes at the top, she writes: “Worth owning.”  So I went out and bought a copy.  So should you.

We use a fancy bundt-style pan we call “The Cathedral Pan.”  It makes for a wonderful presentation and no one knows how easy this was to make.  We bought ours from Williams-Sonoma, but I noticed that Sur La Table had some last time I was there.

Be sure to use fresh lemons and real butter for the full effect.  (Of course.)

1/2 pound (2 sticks) sweet butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, stirred or sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 tightly packed Tbls. grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
2 Tbls. fresh lemon juice

Lemon Icing (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt (I just stir them together).  Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture alternatively with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Add lemon zest and juice.

Pour batter into prepared tube pan.  Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until cake pulls away from side of pan and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool cake in the pan, set on a rack, for 10-15 minutes, then gently loosen top edge of cake from pan all the way around.  Invert onto a rack, then spread immediately with the Lemon Icing, using a pastry brush to smooth out if needed.  Below is the cake, fresh from the pan.  At the very top is the cake with the lemon glaze all over it.

Lemon Icing

2 cups (1/2 pound) confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
1/2 stick (4 Tbls) sweet butter, softened
2 Tbls. packed grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Cream butter and sugar thoroughly. Mix in lemon juice and zest; spread on warm cake.  It helps to lay down some wax paper underneath the rack where the cake sits.  This catches the drips from the frosting.  You’ll definitely have some run-off.

Quinoa Spring Salad

 - by Elizabeth

Basic directions for the Quinoa Salad for the Women’s Conference.

While I show the prep work for ONE batch of salad, please keep in mind that yours will be tripled, using the recipe amounts found below.

Thanks in advance for helping us out with the luncheon!

Shopping Preamble & Some Tips:

TIP #1: Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) is a grain that is full of protein and is fairly mild.  You can buy it in boxes at Trader Joe’s (you’ll need 1 and 1/2 pounds or  three cups–check the box for weight; photo is above).

You can also buy it by the pound at Sprouts, up in the Mission Grove area.  Again, buy about a pound and half by the store’s scales; this gave me about 3 cups.  DON’T buy the red quinoa–we want the beige color quinoa.

Trader Joe’s also has shelled edamame, but so does Sprouts (in the back by the produce in the flat freezer cases).
SHELLED Edamame looks like smooth little lima beans. The one above is Trader Joe’s.

This is how the bag from Sprouts looks.  Again, get the shelled edamame.

Please buy MILD Feta cheese in a block and crumble it yourself (see salad directions).  I bought this at Ralph’s–while they have it many places, I couldn’t always find the mild, as many times the feta is flavored.  Don’t buy the flavored Feta.  [Note: if you are desparate, and can’t get to Ralph’s, it is okay if you buy it pre-crumbled–you’ll need a 6 to 8 ounce package.]

TIP #2: When mincing the jalapeno, get rid of all the seeds and the membrane and then wash your hands thoroughly.  Those two parts are the “spicy-hot” parts of the jalapeno.  When I say finely minced, I mean teensy.  We don’t want any observable chunks of jalapeno in the salad.  It’s just for flavor.

TIP #3: Please use good quality olive oil.  Not that light stuff (which is blended with another vegetable oil) or any other cooking oil.  Just olive oil.  If you don’t have any, come see me.  I’ve got vats (I buy if from Costco in bulk).

If you wish to be reimbursed for your expenses, please save all your receipts–I’ll reimburse you that day, after the luncheon is over. However, we would appreciate it if you could donate your salad.

Please drop it off at the kitchen before going into the conference, and cross your name off the list, so we’ll know whose salad has arrived.  Thank you in advance for your willingness to help us out–with your contribution, this luncheon will be a big success (and delicious!).

Now to the recipe.

Recipe for Women’s Conference (The Recipe is Tripled)

SALAD:
3 cups dry quinoa
5 cups water
1 and 1/2 16 ounce bags of frozen WHITE frozen corn
1 large red onion (or about 3/4 cup), cut in small dice (about 1/4″ pieces or smaller)
3 red bell peppers, cut in small dice
1 and 1/2 cups cup thinly sliced celery, from the tender inner stalks (about 6)
12 to 15 radishes, sliced
1 and 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen edamame
6-8 ounces feta, crumbled.  I buy the bricks of it at Ralph’s, then crumble it.
1 and 1/2  jalapeño chile, seeds and membranes removed, minced finely
1 cup chopped cilantro

DRESSING:
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes, depending on size) (I have plenty of limes that were given to me.  Holler if you want then.)
3 garlic cloves, finely minced or pureed
1  cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

For Salad:

Bring the water to a boil, add quinoa and cook for about 12 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and you see the white cuticle of the grain. Set aside.

Soak the onion in cold water to cover for five minutes. Drain, rinse and drain again on paper towels.

Place the edamame in hot, but not boiling, water for about 5 minutes to thaw.

Measure out the corn and add it to a very large mixing bowl.  The corn will thaw very quickly. If yours has been kicking around in the freezer for a hundred years, perhaps you’ll want to run it under some hot water to refresh it.  Drain well.

Seed and devein the jalapenos, then mince finely.    I cut the jalapeno into slices, then turn the cutting board 90 degrees, then chop again.  I then go at it again, chopping the bits like I do nuts, over and over.

My hand is there for a guide to how small it is. If you are an experienced cook, I apologize for boring you, but I wanted to be clear on the directions. Place into bowl.

Chop the red bell pepper into fine dice (1/4 inch). Place into bowl.

Drain the onion and the edamame, then place on paper towels to drain again, then place into bowl.

Cilantro is stored upright in the refrigerator in an glass of water, with a plastic produce bag over it to keep it fresh.  When you need some, just whack it off above the twisty-tie; a thumbs-width-worth is about 1/3 cup chopped, more or less.  For a cup, you may need about 1/2 bunch.  To measure, layer the leaves in the cup loosely–don’t pack!!  Or use the guide of three thumbs-width bunches.  Remove any gangly stems before chopping.  Add the cilantro to the bowl.

Choose celery from the inner core of the bunch; the two laying crosswise on top are representative.

Trim off the raggedy ends and cut the rest of the stalk thinly, yielding moon-shaped slices; add to the bowl.

Feta cheese is sold in blocks like this: choose MILD.  Cut off what you need.

Crumble the cheese, then add to large mixing bowl.

One fun thing about this salad is the amount of crunchy vegetables.  Here’s one more: radishes.  We serve this salad all through the summer!  Add these to the large mixing bowl, then toss all ingredients together lightly.

For Dressing:

Smash a garlic clove under your knife to loosen the papery skin; peel off and discard.  You can either mince the clove finely (finer than the jalapeno), or do what I do:

Put it in a garlic press and press it into the bowl.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Please use bonafide, good quality olive oil.  See Tip #3 above.  Toss with the salad. Serve.

Advance preparation: The quinoa freezes well and the assembled salad will keep for a day in the refrigerator. It’s fine to make the whole salad a day ahead and then bring it Saturday morning.  It still tastes fresh.  Please use these proportions; we’ll add more dressing if we need to, but we don’t want soggy salads.

Thanks so much!!

Recipe yield: 45 one-half cup servings.  Yes, we are counting every serving.  We currently have 285 servings coming, so I’ll be making up a batch myself to bring it up to the 300 servings that we need for that day.

If you want to make this for your family, the amounts for a single batch can be found if you click **here**.

Two-can Tomato Soup

 - by Elizabeth

Every once in a while I get a craving for really good tomato soup, that is, cream of tomato soup.  Of course we all know that the best kind is made in summer when the tomatoes in the garden–that you’ve managed to keep watered, keep the birds and pests away from–ripen into some glorious explosion of flavor and then you could eat that fresh tomato soup version forever.

But I usually want this soup on a cold day, when the tomatoes in the grocery store look like waxed pink balls and are fairly flavorless.  So I hit on this idea: what if I got some really good canned tomatoes, added my own spices and cream and made a go of that? So I tried it and it worked, so here’s the recipe.  You’ll be eating it 20 minutes after you start. I paired mine with some breadsticks (in honor of our time in Prague, where we had a really delicious tomato soup in a small cafe overlooking the city (photo below) and some foccacia from the local bakery. I garnished this with some chopped avocado, but that’s really not necessary.

Now for the recipe.

Buy one of each of these cans: 14 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes (there’s many brands out there–my store just happened to have one) and a 14 ounce can of chopped tomatoes that have been flavored in some way.  I usually go with S & W’s petite-cut tomatoes with onions and garlic.  Dump into a saucepan, stir, and let them warm up over medium heat.

Now open your cupboards and add:
a shake of soy sauce (all shakes are about 1/4 teaspoon)
a shake of Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (haven’t tried it with the bottled stuff)
3 drop of Tabasco sauce, depending on the heat of your fire-roasted tomatoes, you may need more
1/8 teaspoon powdered cloves (apparently the secret ingredient to Campbell’s Tom. Soup)
salt and pepper to taste
dash of cayenne pepper

Simmer for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a blender or food processor in batches, whirling it almost smooth (I don’t mind a little chunkiness here and there–blend it to your liking).  If you have an immersion blender, use that instead.  Return it to the pan after blending, but remove from heat.  Now add a swirl of cream to your taste, blending it as much as you’d like.  I think I used about 1/4 cup for this batch.  Eat!

Orange and Ginger Chicken

 - by Elizabeth

Who knows how I happened on this recipe, but given the fact that we live in the area where naval oranges are in abundance, it only made sense for me to find something to do with them besides squeeze them for orange juice. I like this recipe because it makes a lot, quickly, and it’s always a hit.  I’ve modified the originally published recipe with some of my own quirks–isn’t that how we all do things?

Ingredients
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
All-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange peel

*Note: I store my ginger root in the freezer, a trick taught to me by Susan Jones, an old friend.  When I need some, I peel/scrape off the skin using a paring knife, then grate the frozen ginger using the fine-hole section of my box grater to get the amount I need.  It’s shown above with the peeled garlic, ready for mincing or putting through a garlic press (I do that interchangeably).

Since I believe that the chicken breasts these days have gotten out of hand, size-wise, I always “fillet” them by cutting them horizontally into thirds, as shown.

Lay out the pieces on a double-layer of wax paper.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; dust with flour.

Turn over and repeat on other side, shaking off excess flour before transferring to pan. Melt butter with oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add chicken; sauté until brown, about 3 minutes per side. (They’ll cook some more in the next step, so no worries if the chicken is a little pink in some parts.  I like to use my non-stick skillets for this step.

Transfer chicken to a stove-top lidded casserole pan, or other pan with sides. Add ginger to the original skillet; stir 1 minute. Add brown sugar and mustard and stir to blend into drippings. Add orange juice and orange peel. Cook until all the bits and little pieces have released from the skillet into the sauce and it is slightly thick, about 3 minutes.  Pour over the chicken in other pan and simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thick enough to coat spoon.  Keep spooning it over chicken while it thickens up (anywhere from 6-10 minutes—don’t overcook chicken). Season sauce with salt and pepper. Transfer chicken and sauce to platter.

Originally published in Bon Appetit Magazine; this recipe can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.

*Yes, you can just use one skillet, if it has a lid and steeper sides.  Transfer the browned chicken to a plate, then add back to the cooked sauce and cook as above.

Confetti Pasta Salad-Women’s Conference

 - by Elizabeth

Basic directions for the Confetti Pasta Salad for the Women’s Conference.

While I show the prep work for ONE batch of salad, please keep in mind that yours will be tripled, using the recipe amounts found below.

Thanks in advance for helping us out with the luncheon!

Shopping Preamble & Some Tips:

This is Orzo.  It’s a type of pasta that looks like large rice.  You’ll need a fine wire mesh strainer of some sort for draining after its cooked–it washes out of a typical colander’s larger holes.

It doesn’t much matter which brand of black beans that you buy.  I’ve used both a name brand and store brand and found both to be fine.

Here’s the basic round-up.

NOTE: Please use good quality olive oil.  Not that light stuff (which is blended with another vegetable oil) or any other cooking oil.  Just olive oil.  If you don’t have any, come see me.  I’ve got vats (I buy if from Costco in bulk).

If you wish to be reimbursed for your expenses, please save all your receipts–I’ll reimburse you that day, after the luncheon is over. However, we would appreciate it if you could donate your salad.

Please drop it off at the kitchen before going into the conference, and cross your name off the list, so we’ll know whose salad has arrived.  Thank you in advance for your willingness to help us out–with your contribution, this luncheon will be a big success (and delicious!).

Salad (The recipe is already tripled):

1 and 1/2 pound boxes of orzo  [NOTE: 1/2 box is about one and 1/4 cups of dry orzo.]
3 cans black beans (15 oz.), drained & rinsed
2 bags frozen WHITE tender corn, approx. 16 ounces
3 red bell peppers, finely diced
1 and 1/2 cups of red onion, finely diced (pieces are about 1/4″ size or smaller)
about 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Bring a large pot of water to boil; add orzo.  Cook until nearly tender (not mushy, but not crunchy).  Drain, using a fine wire mesh strainer.  This may have to be done in batches.  Place drained orzo in a large mixing bowl.  You’ll continually add ingredients to this bowl as you chop and prepare them.

Drain the cans of beans, and rinse until water is clear.  Add to bowl, along with both bags of white corn–no need to defrost. Add the rest of the ingredients:  chopped red pepper, minced onion.

A cilantro bunch is kept in a glass of water, upright and covered with a plastic bag.  To use just whack off just above the twisty tie.  It will keep like this for at least a week or two (change water as needed).  I find a thumb’s thickness yields about 1/3 cup, chopped.  To measure, place LOOSELY in a measuring cup, or use the thumb-measure method.

Add chopped cilantro to everything in the large mixing bowl; pour one batch of Lemon Vinaigrette dressing over the mixture and stir gently to mix.  This can be made one day ahead.  Please cover tightly and refrigerate.

Lemon Vinaigrette:
1 lemon (to yield about 4 tablespoons juice)
1/2 – 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard (do NOT substitute other mustards)
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence (you can buy this in the grocery store, or see me)
salt and pepper to taste

First, squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into a medium bowl.

Add the Herbes de Provence, a few grinds (or shakes) of salt and pepper, water and sugar.

Whisk to blend, then add the Dijon mustard (a healthy squirt) and whisk again.

Keeping that whisk going, dribble in olive oil until it starts to thicken, then add some more.  I probably use about 1/3 to 1/2 cup in total.  Cconcentrate on it going from watery looking to slightly thicker as it emulsifies, while you are continually whisking and dribbling.  The success of this is in the two actions: dribbling and whisking.  It takes about a minute or two.

Recipe yield: 45 one-half cup servings.  Yes, we are counting every serving.  We currently have 285 servings coming, so I’ll be making up a batch myself to bring it up to the 300 servings that we need for that day.

If you want to make this for your family, the amounts for a single batch can be found if you click **here**.