Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sunday Roasted Chicken with Onions, Apples and Carrots

Our Sunday Roasted Chicken --- going into the oven

We had a lazy Sunday ---just like we like them.   And finally -- there was a little sunshine.  So, even though it was cold, we went out for an afternoon walk, just to get some fresh air after being cooped up all week. 

At the farmer's market the prior day -- it's indoors during the winter at the Corning Visitor's center --- we bought a free-range chicken to roast. 

I defrosted it and dried it off well, then seasoned it with salt and pepper and put sage under the skin and a lemon inside the cavity,

then surrounded it with chunks of onions, apples and carrots

which I coated in olive oil, anchovy paste, garlic and dried thyme. 

Coincidentally, the anchovy paste came out in the letter B.  fyi - No one will know you added the anchovy paste.  But it adds depth.

It was a big chicken, so it took 1 hour 30 minutes  --- assume 15 minutes per pound or until 185 degrees.  I preheated the oven to 475 degrees, then immediately turned it down to 350 degrees for the roasting time. 

It wasn't pretty but it was tasty!
Also, I elevated the chicken on a wire rack underneath to keep the skin as crispy as I could.  You could add potatoes or substitute potatoes for the apples. You could skip it if you don't like sage.  Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. 

It was a nice way to end our Sunday, and now have plenty of leftovers for the week.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies by Colleen

Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies by Colleen
Hi Barb --
Getting a box ready to send to William at college. Including basic oatmeal pecan cookies and a "surprise" for him. Here's the surprise....

Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies
3 sticks butter softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, roasted
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 teaspoons water

Cream the butter with the sugar. Add the vanilla. 

Chop up the hazelnuts in a food processor. You can go to a fine powder or leave some bigger pieces for texture. I use a bit of the 1 cup sugar in the food processor to keep the nuts from getting gummy. 

Add the flour and chopped nuts and salt to the butter and sugar. Blend together. If the mixture is dry, add the water.

Pull together into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and put in fridge for 30 minutes. (You can divide into three "discs" to make rolling out easier.) 

Take out each disc and roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness. You can use a silpat or a board lightly floured. Cut out shapes as desired. 

Put on cookie sheet and put in fridge for 15 minutes before baking. 

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes (it will depend on your oven and how thinly you rolled the dough). Don't over bake. 

Cool on racks and put together halves with raspberry jam or Nutella. Or you can dip an edge of each cookie in some melted dark chocolate and dip in more chopped hazelnuts. Or your can leave plain.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Chez Panisse Almond Torte by Colleen

Chez Panisse Almond Torte by Colleen
Hi again Barb,
Ok, the stress baking continues unabated here. Although this one I won't be sending in a care package to William.   I got this recipe off of Alexandra Cooks blog and she in turn credits it to Chez Panisse.  I would serve it for a dinner party with raspberry sauce or fresh raspberries.    I made the whole thing in the food processor.  Easy peasy. 

Chez Panisse Almond Torte
(from Alexandra Cooks. com)
1¼ cups sugar
⅞ cup (7 oz./200g) soft almond paste
1 cup (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract (optional)
6 eggs
1 cup (4.5 oz/130g) flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
powdered sugar for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Beat the sugar with the almond paste until the almond paste is in fine pieces. Or, better, pulverize it in a food processor. Beat in the butter and the vanilla, then cream the mixture until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the whole eggs, one at a time ― the eggs should be at room temperature ― beating well after each addition so the eggs are thoroughly mixed in.

2. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt, and beat in just until thoroughly blended.

3. Butter a 9-inch spring-form pan and turn the batter into it, smoothing the top evenly. Bake for 1 to 1¼ hours (mine baked for 1¼ hours) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the center feels springy when you push it gently.

4. Let cool for about 20 minutes before releasing the sides of the spring-form pan.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Indian Pepper Chicken by Tom

Chicken Jhalfrazi - Chicken with Onions & Peppers

A week or so ago, Barbara asked me to both cook and consider something Asian.  When she asked me that, I was sitting right next to our cookbooks and glanced over and saw "The Best-Ever Curry Cookbook with over 150 great recipes from India and Asia.  Since we were in the middle of catching up with all of the "Downton Abbey" episodes, and I really like the curry dishes you can get in England, I thought this could be the answer to Barbara's request. 

I had no particular dish in mind when I opened the book, but the first recipe I looked at caught my eye.  The name of the dish meant nothing to me - Chicken Jhalfrazi.  But in the description it said it was originated by Indian chefs during the British Raj and originated in Calcutta where the East Indian Company was established.  The ingredients looked good and the total prep to table time looked to be about 45 minutes.

So I made it, and I am very glad I did.  Not too spicy and very tasty.  Satisfied the Asian taste desire.  I will make it again.


Indian Pepper Chicken
(Best-ever Curry Cookbook by Mridula Baljekar)

1 1/2 pound boneless chicken breast, cubed in 1" pieces
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 onion finely chopped
1 green bell pepper finely chopped
1 red bell pepper finely chopped
1 garlic clove crushed
3/4" ginger root, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon water
14 ounce can chopped/diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, and a small sprig to garnish the dish on each plate

Serve over basmati rice, or plain white rice if you prefer.

Chop the peppers, onion, garlic and ginger root.  I put them all into a plastic container as they are all cooked together at the same time.

Remove any visible fat from the chicken breasts and cut into roughly 1" size pieces.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil.   Once the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and fry them until they start to splutter.  (This was a new term for me - splutter.  It just means that they start to pop a little bit and the purpose is to infuse the oil with the cumin taste.)  This will take about a minute.

Add the previously prepared chopped peppers, onion, garlic and ginger root.  Saute them for about 8 minutes stirring frequently. 

Add the curry paste and cook for an additional 2 minutes.  You will need to stir this continuously to blend the curry paste wit the sauteed vegetables.

Now add the dry spices (chili powder, ground coriander, ground cumin and salt).  Add 1 teaspoon of water and further cook for another 2 minutes.

Next add the chicken and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  All of the chicken should be browned when you complete this step. 

Add the canned diced tomatoes and the fresh cilantro.

Stir the mixture up well to insure the tomatoes are well incorporated into the chicken and vegetables.

Cover and cook for about 15 minutes until the chicken is tender.  You should reduce the heat to medium in this step.

Concurrently prepare basmati rice per the packages directions.  This typically takes about 30 minutes to cook and rest before serving.

Plate the rice and spoon over it a generous portion of the chicken jhalfrazi.  Add some fresh cilantro as a garnish.  Serve with naan bread if you so desire.  We did!

We had leftovers and ate it the next day as well.  Tasty both times.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chocolate Biscotti with Hazelnuts by Colleen

Chocolate Biscotti with Hazelnuts by Colleen

Hi Barb,

I made this chocolate biscotti recipe by David Lebovitz this weekend, but adjusted it to use hazelnuts. Basically, I omitted the almond extract, and put in 1/2 teaspoon of decaf coffee powder. I also find that you need to use 4 eggs to hold the dough together. It is a bit tricky to work with, but with patience, it works. I made a drizzle of 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips melted with 2 teaspoons of butter and piped it over the cooled cookies. I have also dipped one side of the cookies in a similar glaze frosting as David suggests.


Chocolate Biscotti
(from David Lebovitz)

Makes 50 to 60 cookies

Use a good-quality cocoa powder. You can use natural or Dutch-process for these, whichever one you like. Just remember that the chocolate flavor of the finished cookies is dependent on the quality of cocoa powder you use. So it's worth using a decent one. I used Valrhona. See notes below on ingredients.

If you like extra-crisp biscotti, you can flip each one over midway during the second baking, in step #6. I sometimes smear one side of the cookies with melted dark chocolate. When dipped in a warm espresso, I can't imagine anything better.

For the biscotti:
2 cups (280g) flour
3/4 cups
(75g) top-quality cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup (125g) almonds, toasted and very coarsely-chopped
3/4 cups (120g) chocolate chips
For the glaze:
1 large egg
2 tablespoons coarse or crystal sugar (see Notes)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees.

2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a large bowl, beat together the 3 eggs, sugar, and vanilla & almond extracts. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, then mix in the nuts and the chocolate chips until the dough holds together.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into two logs; the length of the baking sheet. Transfer the logs onto the baking sheet, evenly spaced apart.

5. Gently flatten the tops of the logs. Beat the remaining egg and brush the tops of the logs liberally with the egg. (You won't use it all). Sprinkle the tops with the coarse or crystal sugar and bake for 25 minutes, until the dough feels firm to the touch.

6. Remove the cookie dough from the oven and cool 15 minutes. On a cutting board, use a serrated bread knife to diagonally cut the cookies into 1/2-inches slices. Lay the cookies cut side down on baking sheets and return to the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning the baking sheet midway during baking, until the cookies feel mostly firm.

Once baked, cool the cookies completely then store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. If you wish, the cookies can be half-dipped in melted chocolate, then cooled until the chocolate hardens.

  --- Colleen

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Galette Des Rois by Mary

Galette Des Rois

During the month of January, bakeries and boulangeries in France make the galette des rois in honor of the Epiphany or Feast of the Magi.
These cakes are often called “kings cakes” and are made of homemade, almond cream filling in between two, delicate, buttery layers of puff pastry.

In France, it’s customary to place a “feve” or ceramic religious figure into the filling. Whoever is served the piece with the feve is the king or queen for the evening.

In addition to religious figurines, feves can be little cups and saucers and teapots, and they also can depict figures from history, characters from television, sports figures, etc.

The feves become highly collectible and are, in addition to the delicious taste of the almond cream filling, another reason why many galettes are purchased all during the month!

If you’d like to make your own galette des rois, here is a simple recipe….


Galette Des Rois
(also known as Kings Cake)

For the almond cream filling:
· ½ cup whole almonds finely- ground
· ½ cup sugar
· ½ stick unsalted butter at room temperature
· 1 T. all purpose flour
· 1 t. vanilla extract
· 1 egg at room temperature
For the cake:
· 1 17-ounce package of thawed puff pastry sheets (there will be 2 sheets inside)
· 1 egg at room temperature

Combine the first six ingredients until a smooth, creamy paste is formed. Refrigerate this for 30 minutes.

Roll out the sheets of pastry and cut out two 10-inch circles from them on a baking sheet.

Spoon the chilled almond cream onto one of the pastry circles and spread the cream to within 1 ½ inches of the border edge.  

If desired, now hide a fava bean or feve ( can use 2 or 3!) in the almond cream.

Use a second egg with a little water to make an egg wash and lightly brush the pastry border.

Then top with the second pastry round. Crimp or press the pastry edges to seal the cake.

Brush the entire top of the galette with the egg wash. If you want, use a sharp knife to make a decorative pattern in the top layer of the pastry, without cutting through to the filling.

Bake the cake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes or until the cake is puffed and deep golden on top.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the galette to a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes. The galette should be served warm.

Remember about the fava bean/feve so no one consumes it. Whoever gets the piece with the feve is the king or queen.

For decorative purposes, you can put a paper crown on top of the galette.

It serves about 8-10 people.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Buttermilk Cinnamon Scones

Learning to Make Scones

Over the weekend, we took a great class at King Arthur Flour education center in Norwich, Vermont called Basic Bread 101.

During our class we learned to properly knead bread which I will share later, but we also learned some tips for making good scones.
  • The first is to use two sizes of butter: small bits for tenderness, and larger flat pieces for flakiness. You slide the larger pieces between your thumb and your first finger, and leave the "shavings" as is, in the dough.
  • The second was to mix it with your hands just until it comes together, then pat it out into a round, i.e, mix the dough as little as possible to avoid making them tough.
  • The third is to carefully measure your flour by weight. Too much flour makes them tough and dry.
  • Finally, save back some of the liquid in case you don't need it. In the summer when it is humid, you won't need it all. In winter, when it is dry, you will.
Maybe you knew all of these tips, but we didn't and now we are excited to have the skills to make tender scones compared to the hockey pucks in our past.

Buttermilk Cinnamon Scones
(King Arthur Flour recipe)

 2 1/4 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
6 T. (3 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled
1/4 cup cinnamon chips
1/4 cup currants
2 t. sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
3/4 cup (6 ounces) buttermilk
Coarse sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
Cut chilled butter in small pieces and blend quickly and lightly into the flour, using your fingertips or a pastry cutter.
Stir in the sugar and the chips and currants.
Separate the egg and place the yolk in a liquid measure, adding buttermilk to reach 3/4 cup. Reserve the white for brushing on top of scones.
Lightly stir the buttermilk into the dry ingredients until just mixed.
Pat into a nice flat round on parchment paper on a baking sheet.
Cut into 8 triangles and pull apart slightly to allow airflow. Beat the egg white and brush over scones.
Sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until lightly browned.

Variations: Substitute anything for the currants and chips. Butter can be increased or decreased by 2 T. cream or milk can be substituted for the buttermilk but you should replace the 1/2 t. of soda with baking powder. Pumpkin can be substituted for the buttermilk, molasses for the sugar. Whole wheat or cornmeal can be substituted for half the flour.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Salad Greens with Pomegranate Dressing

Salad Greens with Pomegranate Dressing
This is a simple way to dress delicate greens to make an elegant salad for a special occasion or just for yourself.  It was one of my experiments from Christmas which turned out well. 

Salad Greens with Pomegranate Dressing

Serves 2

Fresh, ripe pomegranate
Good quality olive oil
Champagne vinegar
Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
mix of salad greens, washed and dried
grated Parmesan cheese

In your salad bowl, break off a big section of a pomegranate and knock the seeds into the bottom of the bowl, capturing the juice, too. 

Add about 1.5 T. of good quality olive oil, and about .5 T. of Champagne vinegar, and a teaspoonful of Dijon mustard. 

Add salt and pepper, and whisk together well, breaking down some of the pomegranate seeds.

Tear the salad greens into bite sizes.  Salt the greens lightly.  Add grated Parmesan. 

Mix just before serving, coating all of the leaves with the dressing.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Cornish Game Hens with Toasted Pistachio Raisin Rice

  Roasted Cornish Game Hen with Toasted Pistachio Raisin Rice
Cruising through my cookbooks, I ran across a recipe for stuffed game hens in Capital Classics (an old Jr. League cookbook from Washington, D.C.) and thought I could adapt it to make it less soggy.  Rice stuffings are frequently too wet and mushy to my taste. 
The rice turned out great and we will make it again to go with basic roasted chicken.  The Cornish game hens were messy to eat, but tasty.  As we ate them, we laughed about needing bibs, like you get when eating lobster.  Doubt I will buy them again.  (They were an impulse purchase.) 

Cornish Game Hens with Pistachio Raisin Rice
(adapted from Capital Classics)

Serves 4

1 Cornish game hen person, or ½ if large
2 shallots, peeled and cut in half
Oil or butter to coat the birds
Salt and pepper
½ cup golden raisins
¼ cup cognac

1.5 to 2 cups of cooked basmati rice
1/2 t. salt added to the cooking water

½ cup toasted pistachios, chopped

1 large or 2 small shallots, peeled and chopped
2 T. butter

¼ cup fresh chopped parsley or chervil, or dried if necessary

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the giblets and wash and dry the birds well, inside and out.  Pat dry with paper towels if necessary to remove all the water.  Season the insides with lots of salt.  Oil the skin outside well, then season well with lots of salt and ground pepper.

Place half of whole shallot inside the cavity , then place them breast side down on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan.  Roast for 1 hour or until the juices run clear.

Meanwhile, place the golden raisins and cognac in a small pan, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and let it simmer until the liquid is reduced by at least half.  Take off the heat and let the raisins stand, at least 10 minutes to absorb the cognac.

Toast the pistachios, let them cool, then chop roughly.

Rinse and spin dry the parsley or chervil.  Chop.  Or use dried.  Just don't leave out the herbs.

Cook the rice in salted water and have it ready for when the games hens are done.

While the birds rest,

sauté the shallots in 2 T. of butter until translucent and fragrant. 

Place the pistachios, raisins, parsley or chervil in a serving bowl, add the rice and mix together until thoroughly combined.

Serve under the Cornish game hens or as a side.  And a nice salad for simple, but elegant meal.

Note:  Turn the game hens over so the breast side is up when you serve them.  You can brown them under the broiler briefly if you prefer a crispier skin.  (I should have done both of these things.)

The rice is really delicious!