Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Comfort Food Chicken

The weather has been rainy and on the cold side here so I decided to make a yummy, cozy chicken dish. I got this from the San Francisco Chronicle several years ago. Here's the link:

It's called Grandmother's Oven-Baked Chicken, it's not my Grandma's chicken but I think she would approve.

I used cut up chicken pieces, Panko breadcrumbs and dried herbs to save time since I work and swim. You can use fresh herbs, make fresh breadcrumbs and a whole chicken, cut up if you like. Mike and I like dark meat so I buy thighs, remove the skin and trim all the fat off.

I also recreated a zucchini dish that Abigail and I had a Italian restaurant in San Anselmo, Cucina Restaurant & Wine Bar.
It's fresh and light. I cook it a little longer than they do but try it your way.

Grandma's Chicken My Way:

1 large clove of garlic
4 chicken thighs, skin and any fat removed
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
About 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel garlic clove, cut in half and remove any sprout inside and cut lengthwise into slices about 1/8-inch thick.

Melt butter in a large casserole dish by placing it in oven for several minutes. Remove from oven.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Pierce surface of each chicken piece with the tip of a knife to make small incisions, big enough to insert a garlic slice. Insert garlic slices inside each piece of chicken. Reserve any leftover garlic pieces.

Combine basil, oregano and breadcrumbs in a wide bowl. Put flour in a separate wide bowl. In a third bowl, big enough to dip the chicken in, use a whisk to whip the eggs with 1 tablespoons water until well blended.

Meanwhile, dredge each piece of chicken first in flour, then in the egg mixture, and finally in herbed crumbs.

Place the coated chicken pieces into the warm butter, arranging pieces to fit tightly. Tuck in any leftover garlic pieces, small or large. Bake chicken for 45 minutes on the middle rack, then carefully turn over each piece of chicken. Bake for 35 more minutes, or until the chicken is well browned and crisped on the edges. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Cucina Zucchini:

3-4 organic zucchini, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large garlic clove, pressed
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
parmesan cheese, freshly shaved or grated
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
fresh ground nutmeg, optional

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick saute pan. Saute garlic until fragrant. Add almonds and cook for another minute or two. Add the zucchini and cook for 1 minute. (At the restaurant they do not cook the zucchini.) Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg. Top with parmesan cheese.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sesame Chicken and Asparagus Pasta

My friend, Zoe made this for me maybe 20 years ago. I have loved it ever since. It is from The New Basics Cookbook by Julie Rosso & Sheila Lukins. They had a shop in Manhattan and wrote 2 other good cookbooks, The Silver Palate and The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. I still enjoy and use their books.

We love to wait for asparagus season and look forward to it every year. I know you can buy it almost year round but there is really something to be said for eating things in season.

I made the peanut sauce this winter and served it with broccoli and brown rice. Abigail prefers it with tofu over chicken.

My version of Sesame Chicken and Asparagus Pasta:

3/4 lb. linguine
3 large cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons peanut butter
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
6 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, approximately 1 lb.
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
1 lb. organic asparagus
3 organic scallions, sliced thinly, white part only
1 small organic cucumber, peeled, quartered, seeded, and sliced (I use a melon baller to get the seeds out. Also works on butternut squash seeds.)
kosher salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Coat with olive oil. Roast until done, approximately 7 minutes per side. Let cool and cut into bite side pieces. Turn oven down to 350 degrees.

Fill large pasta pot with water. Add salt. Turn on high heat and bring to a boil.

Break off the ends of the asparagus.

Place the garlic, vinegar, brown sugar, peanut butter, red pepper flakes and soy sauce in a food processor. Blend for 1 minute. With the motor running, slowly add the sesame oil through the feed tube, and process until well blended.

When the water comes to a boil blanch asparagus for 1-3 minutes. Let cool and cut the asparagus into 1-inch lengths. Put into bowl with chicken, cucumbers and green onions. Toss with half the sauce.

Cook the linguine according to the instructions on the package. While it is cooking toast the sesame seeds for 3 minutes.

Drain the linguine and add to the bowl with other ingredients. Toss with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Toss to coat.

If you are doing part chicken and part tofu, do not add chicken to the other ingredients. Put chicken or tofu in individual bowls and put the rest of the dish on top. Stir together in the bowl.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Hamburgers and fixins

Sometimes nothing beats a hamburger, especially when you grill them at home. You have more control over what does and doesn't get invited to the party. Nothing fried, no huge portions.

I got some good ground beef from Bryans Fine Foods, whole wheat buns, some decent tomatoes from CA, a sweet potato and shredded cabbage for cole slaw. I bought the cabbage already shredded since I was swimming this evening and needed things to come together quickly.

Mike and I like to grill with mesquite and use a chimney to light it and make coals. While Mike handled the grill I sliced a red onion thinly and put them in a pan with olive oil to saute and get soft and sweet. Get the onions started first because they take the most time. I also roasted sweet potato slices and made cole slaw.

The cole slaw dressing is from my friend Zoe and it is also wonderful with broccoli slaw. It has a slight Asian flavor which makes it different and refreshing.

Abigail was not home but she would have probably had a Boca burger or marinated portobello mushroom. She also likes pesto on her bun. That's the beauty of these kind of meals you can make substitutions easily.

1 red onion, thinly sliced
olive oil
kosher salt and pepper

~3/4 lb. good ground beef
slices of cheese like pepper jack
1 ripe tomato sliced
avocado, sliced
lettuce leaves, washed
Dijon mustard
pesto or whatever other burger toppings you love

Roasted Sweet Potatoes:
1 large sweet potato (not yam), sliced
olive oil
1-2 teaspoons cumin
kosher salt and pepper

Cole Slaw:
Shredded white & purple cabbage, carrot mix
1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon mayo
squeeze of lemon or lime juice
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Heat the olive oil in a large non stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion slices and stir. Let cook until they become soft and translucent. Turn down the heat to low and continue cooking until they begin to brown and get sweet, about 20-30 minutes. The onions can stay on low heat a long time. Just stir occassionally and add more olive oil if necessary.

Preheat oven to 375. Slice the sweet potatoes into approximately 1/4" slices. Toss with the remaining ingredients. Arrange slices on cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Cook for approximately 15 minutes. Turn over each slice and re-arrange depending on how you oven cooks. Spin the sheet in the opposite direction if necessary so that the slices cook evenly. Bake another 10-15 minutes and repeat until the insides of the potatoes are soft and fluffy and the outsides are beginning to brown, approximately 30 minutes total.

Combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk to combine. Toss with cabbage and carrots. Feel free to add green onions, bell peppers or even a jalapeno to the mix. If you like it hot add hot sauce too.

Meanwhile, grill the burgers to your desired doneness, add cheese if you want a cheeseburger and warm the buns off to the side. Assemble your dream burger. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pasta with Fresh Peas

I have been making this for Abigail since 1998 when she was 6. She still asks for it every spring. It's light, delicious and pretty! I have to start taking pictures. This is from Food & Wine and Alice Waters. Here's the link:

You can serve it with roast chicken or I cooked spinach chicken sausages since I needed something quick and easy after swimming. You don't really need anything else but maybe some crusty bread.

My version of pasta with fresh peas:
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, pressed
~1 lb. fresh English peas, shelled
3/4 lb. linguine
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 crumbled ricotta salata (you can substitute feta but it will taste very different)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook over low heat, stirring, until very soft and golden, about 3 minutes. Add marjoram. Remove from the heat.

In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, blanch the peas until just tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer the peas to a bowl. I use a large Chinese strainer.

Add pasta and boil until al dente. Remove the pasta with the strainer and add to skillet with olive oil and garlic and approximately 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Add the peas and toss together. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle in the cheese and serve at once. This pasta would be nice with a dry wine like Viogner.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Happy Spring!

One of the many pleasures of spring in Northern CA is fresh CA asparagus and salmon. Tonight Mike and I indulged in both. Abigail had a meeting at Starbucks so she ate a snack before she left but I cooked another pleasure of CA spring for her-fresh artichokes! I steam trimmed artichokes in salted water for about 20 minutes, depending on their size. I then season them with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, olive oil, vinegar (in this case balsamic) and garlic. They're wonderful leftover because they marinate. For the salmon and asparagus see below.

Salmon season is open in CA but they have not fully made the migration north but I found some wonderful salmon from Alaska.

Grilled fresh wild king salmon:

kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed

Season each piece of salmon with the ingredients 10-15 minutes before cooking. Start charcoal grill-we prefer natural mesquite. Cook over indirect heat approximately 3 minutes per side. Serve immediately.

Roasted asparagus:

~1 lb. organic asparagus
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse asparagus and trim by breaking off ends. They will naturally break about off about 1-2 inches from end.

Toss with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes. Check asparagus. Toss again and rearrange until all pieces have even chance for cooking. Roast an additional 10 minutes until desired doneness. We like the tips crispy and the stalks cooked through. Place in bowl and toss with feta cheese.

We opened a bottle of Spicerack Vineyards 2007 "Punchdown" Syrah from the Sonoma Coast. This is a wine from Jonathan & Susan Pey. It was phenomenal with the salmon. Beautiful evening and great food, wine and company. See the Marin Wines link. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Abigail Cooks

Abigail worked at Starbucks tonight and came home wanting to make her own dinner. Mike and I had gone out earlier and she did not want us to bring her anything. She used the leftover barley from the barley and cabbage salad to make her own salad. It looked delicious so I thought I'd share it. The measurements are approximate.

Abigail's barley salad

cooked pearled barley (see instructions in earlier post)
~1 cup frozen edamame out of the shell, cooked
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 oz baked tofu
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup silvered almonds, toasted
~1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, pressed
kosher salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients. Stir to combine. Thanks Abigail.

Smoked Trout Salad

Abigail and I went to Zazie in San Francisco last night for an accepted student reception. She is going to Eugene Lang The New School in the fall. Zazie was lovely and although we didn't eat dinner there we had some lovely appetizers. I tried their signature cocktail which Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noir sparkling wine, soju (a Japanese vodka) and lemonade. Very refreshing and festive!

I didn't cook dinner since we were out (we ate at Park Chow) but I had a delicious salad for lunch yesterday from Comforts Cafe in San Anselmo. I've tried to duplicate before and it is doable. This salad is wonderful in the summer when the tomatoes are at their best and you don't feel much like cooking, all you have to do is steam the beans.

Smoked Trout Salad for 2

~ 3/4 lb. smoked trout, flaked into pieces
2 large handfuls of green beans, trimmed and steamed
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
~ 3 - 4 large handfuls arugula, washed and stems removed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
small squeeze of anchovy paste
kosher salt and pepper to taste

Combine trout, beans, tomatoes and arugula. Make vinaigrette by combining olive oil, vinegar, garlic, mustard and anchovy paste. Season with salt and pepper. Toss salad with vinaigrette. Serve with some crusty bread and white wine. Enjoy!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Double Broccoli Quinoa with Parmesan Chicken

There's a blog I love called She has posted some delicious recipes and I've had good luck with the ones I've tried. Tonight I'm making her double broccoli quinoa, one of Abigail's favorites. Mike and I love it too. You use half of the broccoli to make a pesto. Yummy!
Here's the link to her recipe:

Abigail likes it with goat or feta cheese, tofu or avocado. It's great leftover at room temperature. She usually gets up from the table and immediately puts some in a container to take to school the next day. I think she's afraid we might eat it all.

I'm from NC and most people from the South like mayonnaise except me (Abigail doesn't like it either). Mike, who's from TN loves it so I usually I have some around. One day when I was looking for a new and different chicken recipe I found this one from Best Foods. Even someone as mayo-phobic as me likes this recipe. It keeps the chicken very moist.
Here's a link for their recipe:

This is the way I make the double broccoli quinoa:

2 cups quinoa cooked per instructions on package
~5 cups raw broccoli, cut into small florets and stems
3 medium garlic cloves, split and any sprouting removed
2/3 cup slivered almonds or pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
kosher salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup half and half

Cook quinoa and set aside.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add broccoli and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer the broccoli to a strainer. Set aside.

Add approximately half of the cooked broccoli to a food processor with the garlic, the almonds or pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, salt, and lemon juice. Process amd then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil and half and half. Scrape down the sides and process until smooth.

Toss together the quinoa and remaining broccoli florets with the broccoli pesto in a large serving bowl. Taste and add a bit more salt or a squeeze of lemon juice if needed. You can garnish with more almonds, avocado or goat or feta cheese.

This is my version of Parmesan chicken:

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Note: Use your favorite herbs or Herbes de Provence.

Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine mayonnaise with cheese, garlic and herbs in medium bowl. Dip chicken in bowl and coat with mayo mixture. Put chicken in baking dish coated with vegetable spray. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the bread crumbs.

Bake 15 minutes and turn over the chicken breasts. Sprinkle with the other 1/2 of the bread crumbs. Bake 15 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked and top of the chicken is golden brown.

This dinner comes together pretty quickly. If you like one dish dinners add cooked chopped chicken to the quinoa mixture or keep it vegetarian by adding avocado or cheese or tofu.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Barley with Red Cabbage and Feta

While Abigail was visiting her grandparents Mike and I played and I didn't cook. Abigail is back so I'm making another dish she likes.

I got this recipe from the March issue of Food & Wine. Here's the link:

Here it is my way.

Thyme Scented Barley:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups pearled barley (farro, brown rice, spelt, wheat berries)
1 small red onion, diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
kosher salt

In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the barley and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly toasted; the grains will turn slightly opaque just before browning. Add the onion and thyme and cook over low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over very low heat until the water is absorbed about 30 minutes and the grains are tender. See link for cooking times and liquid requirements for different grains.

1 cup walnuts, toasted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely diced
1 pound red cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces (4 cups)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 cup water
2 cups Thyme-Scented Short-Grain barley
1 cup feta or goat cheese, crumbled

1.Preheat the oven to 350°. Toast the walnuts for 12 minutes, until golden. Let cool, then coarsely chop.
2.In a large skillet, melt the butter in the oil. Add the onion and cook over high heat, stirring, until softened, 4 minutes. Add the cabbage and vinegar, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is barely wilted, about 6 minutes. Add the thyme and the water, cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender and the water has evaporated, 20 minutes. Stir in the Thyme-Scented barley, cheese and toasted walnuts. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

This is a good side dish for grilled sausages, roasted chicken or tossed with firm tofu. You can microwave leftovers for lunch. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Goat Cheese, Citrus and Avocado Salad

Abigail is headed down to SoCal tonight to see her Dad's parents in Ventura County for Easter break. I made this salad recipe she found online for dinner. I included the crab for Mike and I. Abigail doesn't like it.

Goat Cheese, Citrus and Avocado Salad with fresh cracked Dungeness crab

1 8 ounce log of goat cheese
1/2 cup flour
1 large egg
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tangerine, peeled and separated into sections
1 pink grapefruit, peeled and separated into sections
1 small shallot, finely chopped
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
arugula, stems removed
2 Haas avocados, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. fresh cracked Dungeness crab

Slice goat cheese into 6 rounds and pat into compact rounds. Place flour in one small bowl, the bread crumbs in another and the egg in a third with 2 tablespoons water. Whisk together egg and water.

Coat goat cheese in flour. Tap off excess. Then dip cheese in egg mixture
and finally in the panko bread crumbs. Place cheese on plate and refrigerate at least for 30 minutes.

Whisk together the shallots, 3 tablespoons orange juice and the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss together the arugula, orange sections, grapefruit sections, sliced avocados and crab with the dressing.

Heat the canola oil in a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Cook the goat cheese rounds until golden brown, approximately 2 minutes per side. Place warm cheese on top of the salad. Serve immediately.


Happy Easter Brunch

There are lots of changes coming in my house. My daughter, Abigail, is graduating from high school in June and will off first to Amsterdam and then to New York City in the fall. The next few months will probably have lots of Abigail-centric recipes. Case no. 1: today's brunch menu. Her favorite kind of pancakes are the Buttermilk-Lemon Souffle Cakes from Bradley Ogden's Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner. Still available on Amazon, new or used.
I also served mini chicken apple sausages and fresh CA strawberries. The CA strawberries are getting very good and need nothing. Abigail doesn't eat red meat and is just beginning to eat some chicken after going vegetarian for a few years. The little sausages won her approval.
Case no.2: tonight's goat cheese salad but more about that later. Now the pancake recipe my way.

Buttermilk Lemon Souffle Pancakes

1 cup unbleached flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons sugar
kosher salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
4 eggs, separated (keep egg whites cold)
4 tablespoons lemon juice
grated zest of 3 lemons
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter, melted
powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat your oven to warm or about 200 degrees. You can use it to hold the pancakes as they are being cooked or you can dole then out as they are done.

Prepare your pan or griddle. I use a large flat griddle that straddles 2 of my gas burners. I spray it with vegetable spray and turn the burners on low to slowly heat it up as I prepare the pancakes.

Optional: I chill the beaters. I find having cold eggs and chilled beaters makes sure that the egg whites beat up nice and fluffy.

Melt butter in small pan. In a large bowl sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. In another bowl mix together buttermilk, 2 egg yolks, lemon juice and zest, and vanilla extract. Add melted butter and combine until well blended.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and add wet mixture. Whisk until ingredients are just moistened. Do not overmix.
In a small clean bowl beat the 4 egg whites until soft white peaks form. With a spatula gently fold in about 1/4 of the egg whites into the other ingredients and repeat with the remaining egg whites. Do not overmix. A few traces of the egg white will be visible.
Turn up the heat under the griddle to medium. Put about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the pancake batter on the hot griddle. Repeat. Cook until bubbles start to pop on top and the bottom is browning lightly. Flip over and cook until other side is golden. Sometimes you will need to add more vegetable spray depending on how well seasoned your pan is.

Serve immediately the pancakes or they can be kept warm briefly in the oven. Garnish with sifted powdered sugar. Mike likes his with maple syrup but Abigail and I don't understand why. These are so light, delicious and refreshing they don't really need anything. Thank you Bradley.

The pancakes are wonderful with fresh fruit and turkey bacon or chicken apple sausages. You can use the leftover egg yolks to make frittata or scrambled eggs.