Monday, May 19, 2008

Chicken Gorgonzola Pasta with Balsamic Broccoli

This is a great way to use up leftover chicken, but you can even make it without chicken and just use mushrooms for a vegetarian variation. You don't need to use expensive cheese here; a domestic gorgonzola-style cheese will suffice.

The balsamic broccoli is a really nice touch here. Its sweetness offsets the tangy blue cheese. I love this flavor combination.

You'll need:

leftover or otherwise cooked chicken breast meat (no skin, gristle, etc)-- spices on the meat are fine; they'll make your pasta sauce that much better

pasta of your choice (I used farfalle)

shittake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced (each mushroom should yield about 4 slices)
1 onion, sliced
red pepper flakes

2T flour or Wondra flour
1c milk (nonfat is fine)
1/2c gorgonzola, or more to taste

2T olive oil
2T balsamic vinegar

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Break broccoli into florets and toss with salt, pepper, oil & vinegar. Roast on a baking sheet about 20 minutes, until golden brown (vinegar will make broccoli very dark in spots).

In the meantime, boil salted water and cook your pasta.

While water is boiling and broccoli is roasting, heat some olive oil in a large heavy skillet and saute onion, mushrooms, and red pepper until mushrooms turn golden. Slice chicken very thinly and toss into cooked mushrooms. Toss to warm chicken.

Add flour and stir until it disappears. Add milk and stir; sauce should thicken as milk is absorbed. Turn off heat and add cheese in chunks; toss until cheese melts.

Add cooked pasta and toss to coat. Add roasted broccoli and serve with additional gorgonzola.

(still good without broccoli)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Taco Redux: Leftovers, Two Ways

I have a lot of chicken and tortillas left over from tacos the other night. I've been eating them all week, so I thought I'd post some variations.

1. Breakfast: Mushroom Quesadilla

Slice 1/2 onion and some shittake mushrooms; saute in olive oil.

Melt two kinds of cheese (I used pepperjack & cheddar) on two corn tortillas; you can do this quickly in the broiler or microwave.

2. Lunch: Cheesy Chicken Tacos with Chunky Guacamole

Slice chicken thinly and spread on tortilla. Top with jalapeño slices and bits of cheese. Melt in the broiler or microwave. In the meantime, mix avocado, lime, radish slices, quartered cherry tomatoes, and whole cilantro leaves for a chunky veggie sauce. Add salt, pepper, and hot sauce or salsa to taste. Top chicken tortillas with guac and fold to eat.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Eggs, Pancetta, and Greens on Toast

This is a quick and delicious breakfast. Just heat a heavy skillet and fry the pancetta (in its own fat) over medium heat until crispy, about 3 min/side. Place on a piece of toast. Fry an egg or two in the pancetta's rendered fat, leaving the yolks runny. (Don't add salt; there's enough in the pancetta.) Place the egg on top of the pancetta. Wilt some arugula or spinach in the same pan and place on top.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Spicy Chicken Soft Tacos

I've been away from blogging and from home for the past week, sampling the surprisingly tasty food Boston has to offer. Two particularly notable dinners were at O Ya and Oleana-- definitely try these places next time you're in Boston (though O Ya is pretty damn expensive. Kind of a "try it once" place. Oleana was fantastic and will definitely inspire some posts in the near future).

I really missed cooking while I was gone, so expect some new recipes in the next few weeks (until my next trip!). I just got back this morning, and wanted to make Chicken with Tarragon Cream Sauce, but that will have to wait: it's 80 degrees out and the avocados were $1.25/lb. So here's an easy, quick summer recipe.

You'll need:

spice mix--
3T cornstarch
2-3T each: chili powder, cumin
1T each: paprika, coriander
1t each: garlic powder, salt, cayenne pepper

boneless skinless chicken breasts, cleaned and cut against the grain (the short way) into strips
1 onion, sliced

hot sauce (I like Chalupa)

jalapeño peppers, sliced
tomatoes, chopped
radishes, chopped

corn tortillas

I know this seems like a long list of ingredients, but it's probably stuff you have on hand, and if you don't, you can improvise.

Combine spice mix ingredients and toss with chicken to coat. The cornstarch will absorb any moisture and help the spices adhere to the chicken.

Heat some oil in a cast iron skillet and saute onion over medium heat until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Move onion to the side and saute chicken in batches, about 2 minutes/side, until brown. Remove browned chicken to make room to cook more; remove onions, too, as they start to char.

Mash avocado with lime, salt, salsa, and hot sauce.

Sierra Nevada's Fresh Hop Ale
(Good, but not much better than their regular brew)

Heat tortillas in a foil packet in the oven (or microwave them, wrapped in a damp paper towel). Serve piled with chicken, guacomole, peppers, tomatoes, radishes, and cilantro. Drink beer...

...and watch the sunset.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Cinnamon Swirl French Toast Waffles

What? Is it French toast or a waffle? I got the brilliant idea to combine these two lovely foods from Marisa McClellan on Slashfood, although my friend Julia pointed out that it's actually a Joy of Cooking recipe she's been making for years with leftover challah. I had some cinnamon challah in the freezer (thanks, mom) and had been looking for something tasty to do with it. This was it.

I must admit, as delicious as this was, I do prefer savory breakfasts. I'll take eggs any day over waffles or pancakes. I dream of traveling in Asia and eating rice or noodle soup every morning (though I suppose with some advance planning I could do that here as well). What do you like to eat for breakfast? What'd you have this morning? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

You'll need:

cinnamon raisin walnut bread
2 eggs
splash of milk or cream
2T brown sugar
1t vanilla
pinch of salt

Heat bread in 400 degree oven if frozen.

Slice bread into 1/2" thick slices (you don't want them falling apart on you).

Beat eggs, milk (you just want a splash to change the color and loosen up the eggs), brown sugar, salt and vanilla in a flat dish. Soak bread as long as you can wait (overnight would be best, 20 minutes is fine).

Heat and butter your waffle iron and cook soaked bread as you would waffle batter.

Serve with syrup or cinnamon & sugar.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Spring Garlic Soup with Crispy Bacon

This is a delicious way to take advantage of the delicate flavor of the spring garlic found in the farmers' markets this month. You can make it without the bacon and with veggie stock instead of chicken stock for a vegetarian version.

You'll need:

2 bunches spring garlic, sliced (about 2c)
3 shallots, sliced
4 thick-cut slices of bacon, sliced into 1/2" pieces
8c chicken broth (low sodium)
1/2c white wine or vermouth
1 large yukon gold or russet potato, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves
(optional: parmesan rind or a piece of irrevocably hardened parmesan)
chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish
lime for garnish, optional

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, render bacon slowly over medium heat, pouring out the fat as it pools. When bacon starts to foam, remove and drain on a paper towel. You should have very crispy bacon bits. Set aside.

(Vegetarian version: Heat 1T oil in a heavy-bottomed pot.)

Pour out any remaining fat and wipe any burned bits with a paper towel. Add shallots, spring garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, over medium heat about 5 minutes, until garlic is fragrant.

Deglaze with wine and add chicken broth, scraping to incorporate fond. Add potatoes, bay leaves, and parmesan rind if using. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 1/2 an hour, or until garlic and potatoes are tender.

Remove parmesan and bay leaves. Puree soup with a hand blender, if you want (or just smash the potatoes with a wooden spoon). If you puree, leave a few green garlic bits for contrast.

Return pureed soup to heat. Taste & adjust with salt & pepper.

Serve with bacon bits and cilantro or parsley
and a squeeze of lime.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

New Picture! Be sure to check out the new picture for Ginger Soy Salmon with Eggplant and Rice. It's worth going back to the archives... but you can just click that handy link.

Warm Dandelion Green & White Bean Salad

This is a great way to use those plentiful & nutritious dandelion greens. Their bitterness is tempered by the sweetness of the caramelized onion and the mild white bean. The overall flavor of this salad is sort of lemony. It's good hot, lukewarm, or even cold.

You'll need:

1 bunch of dandelion greens, thick stems removed; washed; chopped
1 can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), drained and rinsed
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1T balsamic vinegar
1T olive oil

Heat oil in a heavy skillet. Saute onions with some salt over medium heat, stirring occasionally. If the onions start to brown right away, lower the heat. After about 20 minutes, the onions should be golden brown but not too dark.

Add dandelion greens; saute until wilted (about 30 seconds).

Add beans. Mix gently. When beans are warm, add vinegar and stir until it's absorbed.

You can serve this with an extra glug of good olive oil if you're serving it warm or cold. Turn it into a complete meal by serving it with rice, creamy polenta, or a short-shaped pasta.

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