Archive for simple recipes

Chicken Under a Brick

brickckninpan.I’ve mentioned before that my husband takes over the kitchen on Sundays.  His latest addition to the repertoire is “Chicken Under a Brick.”  I’m not really sure that the whole brick thing is necessary; it seems like a bit of a gimmick to me, but if he’s willing to man the stove once a week and turn out delicious vittles, who am I to criticize the method?  Here’s the Recipe, along with a pictorial journey through his steps:

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First, he marinated the chicken pieces:

brickcknprep

Then he seared them in an oven-proof skillet:

brickckncooking

Then he covered the skillet with another heavy skillet laden with bricks, and roasted it in the oven.

bricksinpan They say that the additional weight spreads the heat more evenly and cooks the chicken more quickly and thoroughly. I’m skeptical, but again, the bird was delicious; well-seasoned, moist and flavorful. So if he wants to haul some masonry into the kitchen on occasion and produce such good results, I’m not complaining.

Cookie Dough, Spiked 3 Ways

choccookies

Frangelico Nutella Cookies

‘Tis the season!

I was invited to a “Yankee Swap” last night.  I contemplated the gift options, running through scented candles, bath products, gift cards and wine.  Ho hum.  Then I hit on a brain wave:  Why not make a variety of really special cookie dough that the giftee could slice and bake.  She’d have homemade cookies without the bother of messing up the kitchen.

But I didn’t want to hand over any run of the mill dough–chocolate chips, while delicious, are a dime a dozen, and I wanted to offer something with pizzazz, sophistication and elegance.  Inspiration struck, and I headed to my well-stocked liquor cabinet.

 

booze

 

I made  batches of traditional butter cookie dough, divided them, and concocted the following:

  • Limoncello Cookies
  • Coconut Rum Cookies
  • Nutella Frangelico Cookies

Here’s how:

Makes 1 batch, or about 2 1/2  dozen cookies:

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

optional:  1 tsp vanilla, if you are leaving them plain.  Coarse sugar for sprinkling.  Additional options follow.

Cream butter and sugar in large bowl for about 2 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients, and blend thoroughly.  Divide dough in to logs, about 8 inches long and 2 inches in diameter.  Wrap in greased wax paper and refrigerate 1 hr (or for several days, or freeze indefnitely.)  Slice in 1/4 inch disks, place on parchment lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with sugar if desired.  Bake 10-12 mins at 350 til edges start to brown.

For Limoncello Cookies:

Add zest of one whole lemon, juice of lemon and 3 tablespoons Limoncello to dough.

For Coconut Rum Cookies:

Add 3/4 cup sweetened, flaked coconut and 1/4 cup rum to dough.

For Frangelico Nutella Cookies:

Add 3/4 cup nutella, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, and 3 tablespoons Frangelico to dough.

My fridge looks like this, but it’s all good.  When the sweet tooth strikes, or when I need a hostess gift,  I just slice off a couple of disks and Presto!  Hot, fresh, yummy cookies in 12 minutes or less.

doughlogs

 

And as for the Yankee Swap–the recipient was thrilled.  She’s not a baker, and has three kids who clammer for homemade cookies.   And I came home with a Chanel lip gloss so l was happy, too!

Mexican Caesar Salad

mexicancaesar

I know, the title sounds redundant, seeing as Caesar Salad was supposedly invented in Mexico.  But it has evolved culinarily toward a more Italian palate.  I decided to play around with the traditional Caesar last week when I was serving up a Mexican dinner.  Given that it was a weeknight and time was of the essence, I took a short cut on the dressing which worked well.  Here’s what I did:

1.  Rinse, spin, and tear a head of Romaine.

2. Make dressing: mix 1 part adobo sauce from canned chipotles with 3 parts Cardini’s Caesar.

cardinisenora

 

3.  Instead of croutons, crumble up a handful of tortilla chips.  Add some shaved Parmasan, cotija, jack or cheddar cheese.  Squeeze a lime over the whole thing, add dressing, toss, and serve.

 

Apple Pecan Crunch Cupcakes

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 11.11.30 AM

This is an experiment.  I took a very basic Rachel Roy recipe called My Sister Maria’s Easy Apple Cake and Ice Cream (courtesy of the Food Network), and switched out the yellow cake mix for a gluten-free cake mix from Betty Crocker.

(As the queen of cakes, Betty Crocker surely MUST be able to get gluten-free right?).
Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 11.08.14 AM
My partner in crime Keri, kindly gave me a bag of apples picked fresh from a local orchard so I started googling every apple recipe under the sun.  The caramel apple tartines looked amazing…but seemed to take hours to make.  This Rachel Roy cake took 15 minutes.  But will it taste any good.

I upped the ante on the recipe slightly by adding in my favorite spicy pecans crushed up into little pieces and just tossed these in with the apple cinnamon sugar topping to give it some more oomph.

Well what do you think?

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 11.12.34 AMHmmm.

Jury is out on this one: Cake texture is a little too rubbery.

Gotta give it a go.

Coconut Ginger Blondies

coconutgingerblondies

Our book group met last night and I was asked to bring dessert.   Being foodie bookworms, we usually try to match the menu with the book in some way.  This time it was easy; we had read Heat and Dust, which takes place in India, so the food and venue were an obvious choice.  Member Farah, reknown Indian cook and hostess was drafted, willingly, as is her custom, to handle the appetizers and main, and I was tasked with dessert.

farahsari

I know a billion people can’t be wrong, but I can’t agree with the Subcontinent on dessert.  I find the textures and flavors don’t meet my western palate when it comes to sweets.     But I was determined to come up with something that complemented Farah’s traditional Indian menu while tickling the tastebuds of the group.    I started to think about Indian flavors, and arrived at ginger.  I considered the ginger blondies that we had featured some years back, but I wanted even more of an Indian flavor in the dessert.  These coconut ginger blondies fit the bill; they integrated Indian ingredients and flavors  (coconut, ginger, cashews) while sticking firmly to a western preparation, sweetness level, and texture.  Here’s what I did:

Coconut Ginger Blondies

Grease a square 8×8 inch pan and heat oven to 350.

1 stick butter, melted

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

2 Tbsp dark rum (optional)

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp powdered ginger

3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

1/4 cup chopped candied ginger

1/2 cup chopped cashews (optional)

1.  Mix first 6 ingredients in medium bowl.  Add flour, baking powder, salt and powdered ginger in a heap on top of this mixture.  Give them a few brief strokes to integrate the dry ingredients before blending with the wet mixture.   (alternatively, mix the dries in  a smaller bowl, then add to main mixture—but I hate to dirty another thing!)

2.  Add coconut, candied ginger and cashews.  Blend thoroughly.

3.  Bake 25 minutes until edges are beginning to brown and center is completely set.  Cool and cut into squares.

Note:  my husband gave these raves with one comment:  he thought the cashews were overkill and made the bars a tad too rich.  Everyone else thought they were splendid.

 

Tuna With Green Olive, Caper and Lemon Relish

tunarelish

Thanks to a recipe offered by this month’s Bon Appetit, we enjoyed a delicious, unique grilled dinner last night.  The recipe in the mag was for slow roasted cod, which was interesting enough, but what really intrigued me was the relish topping.  And, as the temperatures were soaring to 80 this week, I wasn’t eager to slow roast anything.   Grill to the rescue.

relishingreients

I headed off to my favorite foodie mecca, Reading Terminal Market, in search of ingredients.  Since I was using the grill, cod wasn’t my first choice, but Lydia of John Yi Seafood steered me toward the Ahi Tuna Steaks.  After stops at Iovine’s for red onions, lemons and parsley; Salumeria for green olives, capers and olive oil, and Termini Brothers’ Bakery for the requisite chocolate cupcakes for my kids, I trundled home with my provisions.

I assembled the relish according the recipe, leaving out the parsley until almost dinner time.   An hour before serving, I removed the tuna from the fridge to allow it to come to room temp.  Thirty minutes before serving, I marinated the tuna in olive oil, white wine, a generous dusting of black pepper and salt.  I grilled it on high for about a minute per side (for rare) and topped it with the delightful relish.

With grilled eggplant and an arugula salad, life was good.

 

 

 

Lemon Herb Flounder, Simple and Delicious

flounderprepped

One of the may joys of spending time at the shore during the summer means easy access to fresh seafood.   We took advantage of this benefit last week with some locally caught, just-off-the-hook flounder.

 

When fish is this good, the simplest preparations work best.  Here’s what I did:

 

Lemon Herb Flounder

Serves 4

Heat oven to 350.

4 flounder filets (this would work with any other mild white fish)

1 small onion sliced thinly

2 lemons; 1 sliced thinly and one for squeezing

1 tablespoon canola oil (or other mild flavored oil)

a handful of fresh herbs–I used sage, thyme, parsley and oregano

salt and pepper

a few pats of butter

1.  Drizzle oil in bottom of baking dish and line with onion and lemon slices.

2.  Lay fish on top and sprinkle with remaining ingredients.  Squeeze lemon over fish.

3.  Bake 30 minutes or less until fish flakes and is cooked through (it will look white and opaque.)

We served it with this quinoa dish and a simple green salad.

 

 

Tilefish in Wine Sauce

tilefish

 

There’s nothing quite like fresh fish.  We rambled into the fish market at the shore last weekend and asked the fishmonger for a recommendation.   He suggested tilefish, which had just arrived off the boat that day.  Tilefish is a  local species commonly caught off the Jersey coast.  If I had to describe it, I’d say it’s comparable to a mahi-mahi or grouper.  It has a large flake and a mild, almost sweet flavor.  We had a lovely dinner featuring this gorgeous catch.

Tilefish for 4

4 tilefish filets lightly sprinkled with salt and pepper

oil for pan

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 stick butter, softened, mixed with 3 cloves mashed garlic

fresh parsley or cilantro

1.  In skillet, heat oil and saute seasoned fish til cooked, about 8 minutes total.  Be sure fish is cooked through.

2.  Remove fish from skillet, put on plate, cover it to keep warm.

3.  Pour wine into skillet and deglaze pan, scraping bottom and allowing wine to boil and reduce, 2 minutes.

4.  Add butter to wine and melt.  Pour sauce over fish, garnish with fresh herbs, and enjoy.

Serving suggestion:  The sauce on this is just glorious, so be sure to have some good bread to sop it up, or serve rice with the meal so you can pour the sauce on top.

 

Steak Fries

steakfries

As we planned dinner at the beach for a crowd last weekend we surveyed the larder. Chicken was marinading in a yogurt and soy blend in preparation for the grill, there were greens aplenty for a salad, but what to do for a starch?

The five pounds of potatoes in the drawer presented a plethora of options, and my sister suggested steak fries. I cringed, envisioning endless chopping and careful monitoring of deep friers. “No, no,” she said, “we’ll do them in the oven. I do them all the time for my kids. They’re super easy and everyone loves them.” Her claims were proven true.

Here’s what we did:

1. Heat oven to 450.
2. Slice potatoes into wedges; each whole potato made either 4 or 6 fries. (figure a max of 2 potatoes per person)
3. Spread wedges in single layer on rimmed cookie sheet and toss them with olive oil, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.
4. Roast in oven for 1 hr, checking periodically to ensure even cooking.  When mostly browned and crispy, remove from oven and serve immediately.

NOTE: paprika or other red pepper can be substituted for the cayenne, or omitted entirely.

Spring Potato Salad

Potato salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

Often times, necessity is the mother of invention in the kitchen.  I had purchased several bunches of beautiful spring herbs at last week’s Farmers’ Market, and they were burning a hole in my crisper.  They were starting to be less beautiful with each passing day, so I had to put them to use, STAT.  Dinner was slated to be grilled salmon and a salad, but that lacked a certain something.   Namely, a carb, for my carbaholic self.   Alongside the herbs in the crisper lay 5 or 6 white potatoes just begging to be used.  Who am I to ignore the wordless pleas of some aging spuds?
Here’s the result, which was quite delectable.

Herb Potato Salad

Serves 4

herbpotatosaladprep

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 or 6 white potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces (leave skin on, or peel if you wish)

3/4 cup assorted fresh herbs, chopped roughly (I used 1/2 cup parsley, 1/4 cup each basil and mint)

2  scallions, white and green part, sliced

juice of one lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1.  Boil potatoes in salted water for about 20 minutes until just softened.  Drain and run under cold water to stop cooking.  Plunge into ice water or sprinkle with ice cubes to cool if you are in a rush, or chill in fridge if you have time.

2.  Mix herbs, scallions, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl.

3.  When potatoes are chilled, mix with herb dressing.  Chill again, and serve.

NOTE:  it’s best not to blend the boiling hot potatoes with the herbs–chill the cooked potatoes first.  If not, the potatoes will “cook” the herbs and wilt them.  One of the lovely things about this dish was the crunchy freshness of the chopped herbs.

 

This was lovely with our grilled fish and green salad, but it would complement just about anything.