You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Recipe’ category.

Big fat “oops” last night. I made what is possibly my best chicken dish ever (other than my roasted bird, which is a recipe for another day) and did not photograph the process. I guess I should be thankful that I took notes, so I can still share it with you. This is easy enough to make without illustration, I promise.

This is very quick, inexpensive, and easy to make, and it’s one of those one pot dinners, so easy cleanup too. I was trying to decide what to make for dinner at the last minute (welcome to my world), and this recipe came out of an effort to use what I had in the house, the object being to make something a bit more interesting than the usual grilled breast. The resulting dish is a whole meal in itself.

Oh, and Ms. Thirty-Minute Rachel Ray? BITE ME! Even serving this with a salad will have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes without an army of assistants pre-washing everything or buying expensive pre-cleaned and -cut broccoli florets. And the end result is very impressive looking. But you can’t know that. Because I didn’t take any pictures. 

Chicken 2345

Cast of Characters:
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
For the marinade:
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed through a press
  • A few tablespoons of olive oil 
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • The leaves off of 4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 dash peperoncino (dry hot pepper flakes)
  • Fresh ground black pepper (a few grinds)
  • 1 tablespoon “Nantucket Off-Shore” Mt. Olympus Rub*
Then:
  • 1/2 can of quartered artichoke hearts, well rinsed, sliced lengthwise to become 8ths
  • 4 tomatoes out of a can of S. Marzano tomatoes
  • 2  handfuls of broccoli spears (heads and stems, 2-3 inches total length)
  • 3 cups cooked barley (I use Quaker Quick Barley, cooks in 10 min)

*Nantucket Off-Shore Rub: I get this at my local Hannaford’s supermarket, it is just a blend of herbs, mostly rosemary and lavender, with dried (but not powdered, never powdered, OK?) garlic. It has a decidedly Mediterranean smell to it. It contains no salt. Use any salt-free herby blend or just add your own rosemary and lavender if you can and amp up the garlic by a few cloves. DO NOT ADD OREGANO or any rub with the words “Italian” in it. It will totally spoil the effect here, trust me.

Method:

Rinse the breasts, remove anything you don’t like, including any fat, and give each breast a few pokes with a fork on each side so that the marinade penetrates. If not using barley made previously (as I did last night), start boiling the water for the quick barley and prepare per box instructions.

Meanwhile, whisk the marinade ingredients together in a bowl large enough to accommodate the chicken and the artichokes. Add the chicken, turning to coat with the marinade and let sit (not in the fridge) for about 10 minutes turning occasionally. Then add the artichokes to the bowl, mix them in and let sit another 5-10 minutes or so. 

In a deep skillet, (hot hot), add the breasts to the pan, leaving the artichokes behind in the bowl with the marinade, and sear the meat on both sides on high heat. When just nicely browned on both sides, turn the heat down to medium, toss in the rest of the marinade with the artichokes and cover the pot. Let that cook a few minutes, then add the canned tomato draping one over each piece of meat. Cover again and let the chicken cook through.

Just before the chicken is done**, toss the broccoli in on top of the pan contents, cover, let cook another 2 or 3 minutes, until the broccoli is just tender, and then serve the chicken over the cooked barley (if the barley was made in advance, you will want to reheat it first) pouring the pan juices and whatever solids over the top of the whole thing.

**I’ve warned you before, my recipes are not for beginners. I have no idea how long the chicken takes (10 – 15 min?), I just know when it’s done.

This dish turned out so well, that even though I was full to bursting, I had to get out some bread to sop up every bit of juice from my plate. And then, as I was cleaning up afterwards, I couldn’t stop myself form picking at the leftovers. I’ll definitely make this again.  Meanwhile, I’m having the leftovers tonight, and because I really really really want you to see it, even if it is a day old and reheated, here it is:

Day Two: Broccoli didn't quite make it but was still tasty

Day Two: Broccoli didn't quite make it but was still tasty

Yeah, the broccoli (the grey stuff on the right) doesn’t look quite as appetizing as it did last night, and its day-two texture did leave something to be desired. But it tasted great. Everything was still delicious, reheated in the oven in its juices and served over barley again. Yum.

Meal and budget suggestions:

You can add a salad and a nice crusty whole grain bread to round out the meal, but between the broccoli and the barley (which is really filling) you really shouldn’t need to. You could stretch the budget a little by using thighs instead of breasts. My budget busting tip for those of you like me who don’t like dark meat: I get my breasts when they go on sale about 6 times a year at my local supermarket, I buy 20-25 lbs at a time, and then freeze them. I never pay more than $1.90/lb. Approximate cost of this meal for 4? About $2.29 per person (excluding marinade ingredients, which for me are pantry staples). I dare you to beat that!

As with any of my recipes, if you need clarification (writing recipes is not as easy as you’d think), have any questions, or even if you need help with substitutions, please leave a comment asking your question and I’ll get back to you with an answer. If any of you make the dish, please let me know how it turned out, if you think it can be improved, or what modifications you made. I live for this stuff!

Michelle over at Bleeding Espresso has a regular weekly feature called “Love Thursdays” on her blog that she writes from Badolato, Calabria (in Italy for those of you that are geographically challenged).

She’ll usually post a photo of something heart shaped that isn’t usually heart shaped or thought to be heart shaped. Like a christmas ornament or a grape tomato or a pebble or some other love “related” photo or story that usually involves “P,” her other half.

It is really very sweet and not icky at all. Plus she gets a post out of it every Thursday. As far as post topics go, Michelle is the queen of finding stuff to write about.

One night, inspired by one of Michelle’s “What’s Cooking Wednesday” features (I told you she was the queen of blog topics, right?), I set to making an artichoke pasta dish that I now rightly call “Carbonara Michelle” since one of her recipes inspired it (I’ll post that recipe someday too, just not today).

As a second course, I butterflied a chicken breast and lo and behold, this is what happened:

I heart chicken.....

I heart chicken.....

I immediately thought of Michelle and her “Love Thursdays” and took photos and emailed them to her on a lark. I didn’t think she’d actually use them! But she did because she’s extremely cool like that and has mentioned me on her blog more than once. Also because she knows a free post topic when it falls on her lap. So today, she posted my chicken photos, giving me yet another plug on her very widely read blog. Michelle is a true pal, and I owe her.

To boot, I now have a topic for today thanks to her, because it only seems fitting that I now post the recipe for said chicken.

Which I hereby dub “Chicken Bleeding Espresso.” But I promise, folks, that there is absolutely NO espresso in this chicken.

I didn’t think I was going to post this recipe and don’t have a “Cast of Characters” shot so you’ll just have to take my word for it:

  • One boneless skinless chicken breast (multiply by number of servings)
  • A few cloves of garlic
  • A good sized drizzle of olive oil
  • A fat dollop of brown mustard (teaspoon of Guildens is fine)
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • A few squeezes of fresh lemon juice
  • A few turns fresh coarsely ground black pepper

Method:

Butterfly the chicken breast (by cutting in half horizontally) and set aside.

Crush the garlic in a press and into a small bowl, and mix with the oil, the mustard and the thyme leaves (take the leaves off the stem by running your fingers down the stem in reverse, and chop them roughly to release the oils), the lemon juice and the pepper. Brush the chicken breast all over with this mixture and let sit for 20 minutes – not in the fridge. The chicken needs to be close to room temperature when you cook it.

I heart Bleeding Espresso!

I heart Bleeding Espresso!

Cook the chicken using your favorite dry method – on a barbeque, in a hot iron skillet, under a broiler or whatever your method of choice. The chicken is done when it is no longer soft to the touch – a few minutes (3 or 4? never timed it) for each side*.

When done, this is what you get:

Now go check out Michelle’s “Love Thursday” for this week and you get to see the now world renowned Chicken Bleeding Espresso as a vehicle of love….(too corny? too bad)!

* Folks, my blogged recipes are not for beginners. If you don’t know how long to cook a butterflied chicken breast, you need to start somewhere else, not here.

Yesterday I posted my recipe for homemade beef broth as a base for the soup recipe I’m posting today. By now you’ve made the broth, you’ve let it sit in the fridge overnight, defatted/descummed and reduced it by half and are now ready for the next step…So lets make soup! 

Cast of Characters:

Now appearing in Only in Maine's production of "Soup" the new must-eat hit of the season!

Now appearing in Only in Maine's production of "Soup" the new must-eat hit of the season!

1/4 cup or less of olive oil

4-5 large sweet onions and 2 medium brown onions

5 stalks of celery* and 5 carrots, chopped small

1/4 tsp salt and 2 large bay leaves

1 lb. lean stir fry beef (optional) cut in small cubes

Parmigiano Reggiano rinds**

1/2 cup Marsala wine

 

Not shown in the photo is the pre-cooked barley and 8-10 cups of your homemade broth.

I use quick cooking barley (15 min), make the whole box in advance, and then freeze whatever I’m not using right away in quart size Ziplocs for later use in other dishes – which I’ll also probably be showing you how to make, but some other time. Use however much or little barley you like in the soup (see photo below for reference). 

You want the broth simmering hot when you are ready to use it so have it in a pot on the stove over a low flame while you are preparing the soup.

Add a small drizzle of olive oil to the bottom of a large soup pot, peel and cut all the onions into very thin half rings, toss into the pot, drizzle a little more olive oil over the top and sauté over medium low heat. You need very little oil here, the onions will give off a lot of their own liquid. Yes these are A LOT of oinons:

Yes, these are ALOT of oinons.

Yes, these are ALOT of oinons.

But do not freak out. They will melt down to nothing given time and heat and pressure (as in “hurry up and melt darn it!”).

Add a pinch or two of salt to draw out the onion juices. Cook slowly, stirring frequently until wilted all the way down and transparent and a soft beige-brown. Sauteeing the onions is the longest process here, everything else is fairly quick, so make sure your broth is simmering at this point.

Add the meat and sauté until browned. Add chopped carrot and celery and sauté just a bit more until just starting to soften (2 minutes, maybe). Seperately combine the 1/4 cup Marsala wine with about 3/4 cup of your simmering beef broth and use this mixture to deglaze the soup pot, scraping up all of the delicious brown bits on the bottom of the pan. If you don’t mix the wine with the broth first the sweet wine will evaporate and burn immediately before you have a chance to draw your next breath. And if you burn the soup at this point you will be mighty unhappy. Trust me. And don’t ask how I know this, I’ll burst into tears.

Add the rest of the heated broth, and stir. Add bay leaf,Parmigiano rinds, celery leaf*, and cook for another 30 – 45 minutes to allow the flavors to meld skimming off any scum or fat with a spoon. Remove from heat, let cool, and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to develop. DO NOT EAT NOW even though you might think it tastes pretty good. You’ve come this far, trust me and wait.

Voila` Zuppa Patrizia!

Voila` Zuppa Patrizia!

The next day, to serve, bring to room temp over low flame then heat on medium low ’til hot (not boiling), add cooked barley, stir and let heat through. Taste and adjust seasoning.

When all is hot and just at a simmer, serve it up with some toasty crusty peasanty or whole grain bread and a nice salad. The soup should be rich in flavor, fairly low in fat, and will warm your toes! And it will be incredibly delicious – so delicious that you will thank your trusting stars that you waited overnight before eating. Be sure to avoid the Parmigiano rind and bay leaves when serving. When you do serve your Zuppa Patrizia, it will look like this (see picture above).  

Then within minutes, this is what happens:

All gone.....!

You should be able to feed 6 for dinner and still have leftovers. This soup is very dense and filling. To recap: Day one, several hours simmering broth. Day two, a few hours reducing broth. To make soup: at least an hour to reduce onions properly, another 30 – 45 minutes cooking once soup is put together plus prep time. Total: Too long for any other recipe but totally worth it for this one. Anyone you feed with it will be your slave for life.

*Reserve any celery leaf whole with their little stems, and add them to the soup with the Parmigiano rind and the bay leaf. Avoid any larger pieces when serving. Adds wonderful flavor.

**Note on the Parmigiano. Only cheese labeled “Parmigiano Reggiano” is the real thing. Anything else is a poor substitute and not worth buying. Really. If you buy that stuff in a green can, skip this recipe altogether and just buy a can of beef barley soup and be done with it. The difference between Parmigiano and that stuff in the green can is that Parmigiano is cheese, and the stuff in the green can is, well, not.

Special Tip: Don’t buy Parmigiano already grated, it goes stale immediately – when you pay that much for cheese, buying it pre-grated is just a low down dirty shame. A whole chunk will last about forever in your fridge, and the best part is that you end up with a rind which you can then save in a Ziploc baggie in the fridge. Add one or two rinds to the pot when making soups, stews, and sauces. The rind doesn’t melt away (it will need to be fished out before serving or avoided when dishing out), but will soften during cooking, imparting the most incredible flavor to whatever dish you are making. It also adds salt, which is why there is almost no salt added in the making of this soup – so please adjust any recipe to which you add a rind accordingly. Any hard cheese rind can be used in this manner.

TA-DA! Finally, the long awaited beef-barley soup, as promised many days ago. I call this soup Zuppa Patrizia, named after my mother. Not because she makes it (far from it, she’s still trying to figure out which appliance in her kitchen is the stove), but because she loves it so. So much that she always wants a cut of every batch, and since she’s such a loyal fan (and wields guilt quite effectively), I very happily make sure she always gets her share – like a tithe!

So without further ado:

This soup is made in 2 stages. Stage one is homemade broth, stage two, at least one day later, is soup made from that broth. This recipe will also be posted in 2 stages (hence the post title). I am very tricky and am not above using any means to get you to keep clicking back to my blog, but enough about me and more about homemade broth…….

There is really no substitute for making your own broth, it is the only way to control the seasoning in your finished dishes. All commercially available broths that I’ve managed to find, even those labeled “stock,” are basically cans of salt. When you figure the per “portion” sodium, allow for reduction in cooking, and then for actual serving size, you are eating a week’s worth of salt at one sitting. Never mind the artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. Making your own broth is really easy and definitely worth the trouble.

Broth needs to be made at least a day prior to use so that it can be properly and easily de-scummed and de-fatted (more on that later down the page) and also so that the flavor has a chance to “bloom.” It can also be made as far in advance as you like and then frozen for future use if need be. Trust me, I’m all about the “easy.”

Tip: You may want to get into the habit of saving and freezing any bones from roasts for future broths – leftover bones with whatever attached meat give additional layers of flavor that raw bones do not.

Cast of Characters:

Cast of Characters from Only in Maine's new production of "BROTH" - the new must-eat hit of the season!

Cast of Characters - Broth

 

Beef soup bones (at least 2) and any other beef bones.

4 or 5 brown onions, halved, whole if small.

4 or 5 celery stalks, cleaned and cut in thirds.

4 or 5 large carrots, cleaned but not peeled, cut in thirds

Optional: a few bay leaves, a few sprigs of fresh thyme, a few allspice berries.

 

I happened to have a leek in the fridge that was close to past its prime, so I cleaned and tossed that in as well. I’m a big believer in using what you have.

Throw everything into a stockpot and fill to within a few inches from the top with cold water. You can leave  any clean brown skins on the onions, which will supposedly add a little color to the broth, but this is not necessary. 

Everyone into the pool....

Everyone into the pool....

Put the pot over a medium flame until it boils, then turn it down and let it simmer for a minimum of 3 or more hours and up to “as long as you like.” The idea is to leach every last ounce of flavor from the beef, the bone, and the marrow. When the bones are removed, they should look like they’ve been bleached by a desert sun for weeks and everything else in the pot should be falling apart.

For those of you that have a dog, well, he’ll be very lucky tonight! Note that the only bones recommended as safe for dogs are the big soup bones (thigh), discard any others, as they can splinter and severely injure your dog. Enough about dogs. Back to the broth.

Strain the solids from the liquids. Do not taste the broth, do not try to season the broth, and do not be alarmed that it looks like greasy dirty dishwater – this is what you want. Let it cool, and refrigerate (I place the pot in my unheated garage with outside temps below 32 degrees). You cannot skip this overnight step. Because the next day, when you remove the pot from the fridge (or your frozen garage), all the fat will have risen to the top bringing any scum with it and will have formed a nice soft crust that you can lift off like a loose layer of wax, using a slotted spatula. Toss this layer in your fat jar for later disposal (when it gets to room temperature it will liquefy so probably not best to toss directly into the trash unless you are absolutely sure that your bag won’t develop a leak). If any bits of fat or scum are left, skim off with a spoon. You will end up with a broth that is virtually completely fat free with very little effort. I told you, I’m all about the “easy.”

After de-fatting, back on the stove it goes over medium heat until it comes to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium low and let simmer until it reduces by half or you end up with about 8 to 10 cups of liquid. It will darken a bit as it becomes more concentrated.

Voila, beef broth. It will smell better than it tastes. This is fine. Remember that this is basically just watered down extracted beef flavor with virtually no seasonings – so far not even one milligram of salt. This is what you want, don’t worry. You will be adding all the seasonings while making the soup. Which will have to wait until tomorrow, after all your fat rises to the top, solidifies in the cold, and you remove it with a slotted spatula. Isn’t it too bad that this fat removal method doesn’t work on humans?

 

See you tomorrow!

Any questions or need clarification on the finer points? Leave your question in the comments section and I’ll get back to you.

My sister-in-law, bless her, makes her own homemade Limoncello. Something to do with alcohol, lemons and a back porch – I don’t want to know. What I do know is that she gives it away generously and it is delicious.

I’m really not much of a drinker (I’d rather “spend” the calories on food) and so I have developed a little drinkie recipe with the Limoncello that allows me to hang on to my glass, sipping, for a good long while without having to pour another to keep up.

I offer you this quickie cocktail recipe in lieu of the beef-barley soup recipe you would have gotten today had things gone as planned. I know that a quick drink recipe is a poor substitute for a delicious fully homemade beef-barley soup recipe, but the result is just as flashy, and a lot less work on my part while I recover from my injury (I’m pleading “the foot“).

Ingredients:

Cast of Characters

Limoncello Cocktail: Cast of Characters

1 part Limoncello,

Ice,

1 part cranberry juice,

And about 2 parts soda water.

Optional Garnish (looks nice in a punch-bowl or pitcher): any citrus fruit slices – lemon, lime, orange – leave the peel on.

I’m sure you’ve all noticed that that Limoncello bottle is almost empty. That’s how good it is. I serve this cocktail with appetizers any time I have guests for dinner and it is always a big hit. More importantly I hope my dear sister-in-law in Maryland, who should be reading this, notices how empty that bottle is (not so subtle hint-hint)!

Method:

Mix all ingredients together, serve.

I know that may be too complicated for you but try to follow along. Once more:

Mix Limoncello and ice in appropriate receptacle.....

Method: Mix Limoncello and ice in appropriate receptacle.....

Start with a glass (for one serving) a pitcher (for when your 401k bottoms out) or a punch-bowl (for when the end is nigh).  As you can see here, my 401k has bottomed out.

Add Limoncello.

Add Ice.

This is where it may get dicey so watch closely…..

Add cranberry juice to Limoncello and ice mixture....

Add cranberry juice to Limoncello and ice mixture....

Add Cranberry Juice

Just look at that color!

And now for the grand finale…..

Add soda and citrus slice garnish to Limoncello, ice and cranberry juice mixture....

Add soda and citrus slice garnish to Limoncello, ice and cranberry juice mixture....

Add soda and citrus slice garnish to the mixture and stir.

Taste, and adjust to your liking.  Then, keep tasting.

Ooops.......(*burp*)!

Ooops.......(*burp*)!

Until the glass/pitcher/bowl is empty.

Now that you know how to make it, you can make more!

Enjoy, but please hide your car keys before you play with this stuff. It tastes harmless, goes down like spring-water, and packs one heck of a whallop.

And I need you back here tomorrow for my next post (after I recover from sampling the recipe….)