Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Home made marachino cherries with a twist.

These are alcohol free, unlike most recipes I found on the net. It is important that they sit at least two weeks before you eat them. This is a good use if you buy out of season cherries that are too sour or too flavorless, as the sugar brings out the flavor. I used almond extract because I love amaretto and thought it would be similar.

This is in the ratio I used, as I came back from cherry picking only to discover this season gave me 10 pounds of too tart to eat out of hand cherries. 12 cups is enough for a box of pint canning jars. change ratios as needed.

This is too simple. So far i have used them for cookies and to make cherry coke. the syrup can be used for flavoring after the cherries are gone.

12 cups pitted sweet cherries
 1 cup sugar
2 tsp almond extract

And that's it. mix, let sit a while so the sugar can draw out the liquid. Fill jars with cherries and liquid. make sure the cherries are fully covered with liquid, adding water if needed.

Place jars in hot water to seal and refrigerate 2 weeks or more. use as ice cream topping, cake filler, garnish for desserts, drinks, etc.

Chicken Artichoke with a toddler twist.

This recipe made me skeptical because I am not a fan of cooking mayonnaise but it turned out great. It's got a gourmet taste with minimal and economical ingredients. Prep time is short. Cooking time is short. Mess is nominal. I would make this on a weeknight when I need a quick meal.

The other big benefit is that it is easily adaptable to something my three year old will eat, and with veggies and protein. I just take the tenderloins from the chicken breasts and bake them along with the chicken. but remove them after five minutes when they ae cooked through but still soft. Then I chop them into almost invisible pieces, along with a couple of the artichoke hearts. and mix them in with the rice. TA DA! kid friendly adaptation. I add cheese cause Kader loves his cheesy rice.

Artichoke hearts can be spendy per ounce BUT i buy mine at Costco in a big jar, because there are so many uses. Plus Costco's  marinated hearts are super tasty compared to the ones more commonly found at grocery stores. At 10 dollars per giant jar its worth it. Other uses include artichoke dip, antipasto, pasta salad mix in, among others.

You may use boneless skinless breasts but I rarely do. They are too expensive, and usually have lots of additives and such. You can buy bone in breasts and easily remove the bones. do that by scoring the chicken along the breast bone and following the bone with your knife until you can grip the meat. then gently pull the meat away while making small cuts along the rib bone until it is removed. for this recipe, remove the tenderloin and use for the kiddos. I buy a whole chicken because they are the best bargain. I can use the breasts today, save the thighs for tomorrow or later in the week, and i throw the wings in a collective bad until I have enough for a BBQ. If I was as industrious as my sister I would also make stock from the bones but well.... I'm not. I will let her post that if she didn't already.

Here it is. dinner for 2 and a toddler.

2 Skin on chicken breasts. (boned)
1/2 cup Marinated Artichoke hearts, chopped small
1/8 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan cheese.
salt and pepper

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Bone the chicken breasts, leaving skin intact. Lay the chicken flat and carefully slice parallel to the cutting board, until you ALMOST reach the other end. unfold like a book and season both sides. You should have one larger, very thin slice of chicken. Repeat with the other piece. (this is a basic method for butterflying meats and fish)

Mix the artichoke, cheese, and mayonnaise and place about two table spoons in the center of each piece. fold the chicken over on the filling, skin side up. place on an oven safe grill pan* (suggested) or a small casserole. loosen the skin and stuff the rest of the filling underneath, pressing down to distribute evenly. season the skin and bake for about 15 minutes. at 15 minutes raise heat to 425 and bake another 5 minutes, or until golden brown. 

Serve over rice.

* The grill pan is ideal because the chicken releases fat which then evenly sears the bottom of the chicken while it bakes. a casserole may have a less crispy effect.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My New Favorite Fried Chicken Recipe

I discovered something I would never have imagined to be true. Breading on fried chicken is overkill. It adds cooking time, adds fat (through absorption of oil), is more complicated and messy than this recipe, and gets mooshy the next day.

It is important that the sauce is ready in the bowl before the chicken is done, because the hot chicken caramelizes the sauce. this particular recipe is a bbq flavored recipe, because its summer. For a less messy or less sweet version marinate in your favorite marinade BUT be sure to dry it with paper towels before frying or you will not get crispy and you may have explosions. avoid sticky marinades, in favor of say... lemon juice and pepper, or soy sauce with ginger and sesame oil. you can also flavor the finished fried chicken with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and chopped garlic (quickly cooked in a little olive oil). anyway the possibilities are endless.

Lastly it is best to use a small chicken and cut it up yourself. Most grocery stores have fryer packs but the pieces are giant and may not cook thoroughly. organic chickens tend to be small (no growth hormones or salt water injections?) and so are kosher and halal.

Ok here goes.

one chicken, 
cooking oil

1/2 bottle honey BBQ sauce
3 tbsp honey
pinch red pepper flakes (or to your liking)

prepare the chicken. leaving skin on, pat dry. if the breasts are exceptionally large (he he), cut in half. fry in about two inches of hot oil, until golden and very crisp, turn and fry the other side.

mix the sauce ingredients and add hot chicken directly to the bowl. toss to coat.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

fig filled cinnamon rolls

These are sticky and good. they are like traditional sticky buns, with a fruity twist. I am going to experiment with different types of dried fruit, like dates, apricot, and raspberry, as time allows

1 cup warm water
1 tsp dried yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil 
4 cups flour
tsp salt

12 oz dried figs
2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

mix water, sugar, and yeast. let proof (stand) for 10 minutes or until bubbly. add flour and salt and mix, adding oil a little at a time until workable (may not need all). knead for about 10-15 minutes, or until smooth. if the dough is too stiff wet your hand with warm water and continue until it become soft and stretchy.

let rise for one hour. punch down and knead 5 minutes. roll out into a rectangle about 1 foot high and 2 feet wide, or about 1/4 inch thick. let stand.

meanwhile make filling. cut hard stems from figs and rough chop. melt butter and set aside. grind figs in food processor to make a paste, add butter and sugar. mix well and spread over about 2/3 or the dough (leaving a long end dry. from the filling end, roll as tightly as possible into a long log. slice into rolls about 1.5 inch thick. lay out in a 13x9 inch casserole like cinnamon rolls.

heat oven to 400 degrees. let rolls stand for 20 minutes or so and then cook for 20 - 30 minutes or until browned.

cool and serve.

Friday, July 2, 2010

yogurt and feta tarts

These are real easy if you use store bought pie crust. I think it also would be good in puff pastry cups. You can also use any savory pie crust. If you make homemade crust you could add fresh herbs like thyme, basil, whatever you have. This is an adaptation of a Greek recipe so keep that in mind. You may also add a little chopped olive or tepanade. This is the simple version to be used as a template. I used American yogurt, strained overnight. Greek yogurt was too expensive for a tiny cup of it, so i used my imagination.

2 pie crusts
4 eggs
1 cup greek yogurt or strained plain yogurt.
4 oz crumbled feta (flavored if you wish)
2 tbsp  herbs of your choosing
1/2 tps salt

cut out rounds of pie crust with a round object about twice the size of your cupcake tins or vessel. Press them into your cupcake tins like you are making a pie. mix all remaining ingredients together until creamy. fill crusts entirely. bake at 450 degrees until just golden brown and puffy. (they will fall as they cool). serve warm or cold.