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:

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Then he seared them in an oven-proof skillet:

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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.

Charred Brussels with Hazelnuts

For Brussel Sprouts Haters Everywhere...

For Brussel Sprouts Haters Everywhere…

 

 

You’ve heard often about our love affair with brussel sprouts.  We’ve featured multiple recipes from friends and families in blogs past.  Once reviled, sprouts have become a trendy veggie, in part because they are fiber dense and reputedly provide cholesterol-lowering benefits, but also because they pair so nicely with other interesting ingredients.

This recipe is a riff on a british recipe I found online.

I adore nuts and always have a variety of nuts in the pantry.  I’ve tried this recipe several times now with macadamia nuts (my favorite), toasted hazelnuts, pine nuts and even almonds with their skins on.  Every one of these works beautifully.

 

Ingredients

Bag of brussel sprouts – washed, remove outer leaves and chop roughly

Smoked bacon

2 tablespoons of sugar (or a couple of tsps of agave syrup if you prefer)

1/2 pint of chicken stock

2 tablespoons of salted butter

1 cup of nuts, smushed up and lightly toasted in a fypan.

 

Instructions

  1. Sprinkle brown sugar on bacon and grill in oven until bacon crisp and caramelized (make sure that the bacon doesn’t catch and burn!)
  2. Chop bacon roughly
  3. Melt butter in frypan and add chopped sprouts and fry until wilted and starting to char
  4. Add chicken stock and simmer until sprouts are cooked to your liking
  5. Add nuts and stir
  6. Add caramelized bacon and stir
  7. Serve as a side to meat or fish.  (Note:  these sprouts are also delicious served cold with cold meats and a baked potato.)

 

 

Delicias, Welcome to South Street

deliciasempanadasHow thrilled were we to learn that the award winning Food Truck, Delicias, opened a bricks and mortar restaurant at 4th and South?  Muy Feliz!  In the esteemed venue that once housed the late, lamented Django, Lynette Gueits has launched a BYO that is worth a visit…and another…and another…Lynette1-683x1024

We started with the empanadas, opting for a beef and a chicken.  The crisp exterior was perfectly executed, housing savory, flavorful fillings, and drizzled with an intriguing mango sauce flecked with cilantro.

We also chose a salad, which was perfectly dressed with a jalapeno ranch dressing, topped with crumbled queso fresco, and liberally laden with an assortment of fresh, crisp produce.

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And we couldn’t resist these yucca fries, which were like a french fry’s crisper, more exotic cousin. The green, cilantro chile dipping sauce was transcendent; I was tempted to pour it over ice with a splash of tequila.

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But that wasn’t necessary; the jalapeno cilantro margaritas mixed with our own tequila were more than sufficient refreshment.

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In addition to livening up the party, the unique drink options in this BYO setting make Delicias an economical option.   The menu offers five different juice-based mixers and recommendations on pairings with various liquors.  For example, rum is suggested to spike the Pineapple Mango Mojito. Patrons are, of course welcome to bring beer or wine as well.
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By the time our main courses arrived, we were getting full; portions are generous and we had been tempted by the apps.  My Masitas de Cerdo–marinated pork, grilled and served with grilled red onions was tender, flavorful, and quite large; I brought over half of it home to the delight of my children, who enjoyed it for lunch the next day.

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My husband had La Robinita:  grilled chorizo with sweet plantains, which he also enjoyed, but again, we took the bulk of it home.

Each of the main dishes is served with Lynette’s justifiably famous arepas.  These hand made corn cakes are like a Mexican pita; they can be filled and eaten like a sandwich, or just enjoyed as an accompanying nibble to the rest of the meal.   Much of the menu is gluten free, including the arepas, and there are chicken, seafood, and vegetarian options available as well.
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We did not sample dessert, but it consists of a selection of gourmet cupcakes from Sweet Box–you guessed it–a reknown food truck.

Delicias is currently open Tuesday-Sunday for dinner starting at 5pm.  We’ll certainly be paying them another visit soon.

Kale with Leeks and Smoked Bacon

Kale with trimmings...

Kale with trimmings…

 

Like just about everyone else, my New Year’s Resolution is to EAT MORE GREENS – especially Kale.  Yukk.

We’ve all tried Farah’s Indian Kale, which is delicious – I’ll give you that;  I’m ok with Wholefood’s crunchy baked kale — although it gets stuck terribly between one’s teeth; I’ve even found a recipe for a salad of uncooked kale, but guess what…?  You have to massage the kale leaves in the vinegar-based dressing in order to make it fit for human consumption.  C’mon now.  I’ve got better things to do than massage kale :(

I invented this recipe because I had some large leeks stinking up my fridge and I wanted them outta there.  It was a dream, especially as I used some heavily smoked Vermont bacon from Keri, which tipped the recipe over the edge completely.

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Try this:

Ingredients

2 cups of chicken broth

2 large leeks very finely sliced

1/2 large packet of kale (preferably pre-washed so you don’t have to do it!)

3 gloves of garlic

8-10 rashers of smoked bacon fried and then finely diced

2 small shallots, finely diced and fried in butter.

Salt and pepper for seasoning

 

Instructions:

  1. Prep all the vegetables and prepare the bacon
  2. Toss a knob of butter in the frypan and fry shallots
  3. Add leeks and cook ’til tender
  4. Add garlic and stir everything up
  5. Add everything else and fry for 2-3 minutes
  6. Add chicken broth and seasoning and cover frypan with lid
  7. Sweat down Kale until it is a soft as you like it (Some like it crunchy, I eat it limp like spinach…)

Serve as a side with meat or fish.

 

 

Mexican Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Pork Tenderloin is an underrated cut.  It’s relatively economical, cooks quickly, and is quite versatile.  When some unexpected company surfaced on very short notice last week, I whizzed out to the store and grabbed a couple of these slabs.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin 3

 

I gave my tenderloins a Mexican rub, and it worked quite well.

Here’s my method:

1.  In a shallow bowl, mix 2 tablespoons cumin, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 2 tablespoons salt, and 1 tablespoon chipotle powder.  (or paprika, chili powder, the powdered pepper of your choice).  Add a tablespoon of olive oil, the juice of a fresh lime, and, if desired (and on hand), a tablespoon of adobo sauce.  Mix thoroughly.

2.  Slather two pork tenderloins with this spice mixture, and wrap them tightly in Saran.  Place wrapped tenderloins in a large ziploc bag and refrigerate for several hours if possible.

3.  One hour before cooking, remove pork from fridge and place in baking dish.  Allow the meat to come to room temperature.  Heat oven to 375 and cook tenderloins 25 minutes until done–check with meat thermometer, pork should register 160.  Allow meat to sit for several minutes before carving.

4.  Slice and serve.

 

A Salad that Everyone Likes!

 

 

 

salad

After the overindulgence of the Holiday Season, replete with roasts, gravies, mashed potatoes, not to mention sweets and booze,  I’ve been craving salad.  Although deep winter is not the best time for fresh, local produce, I’ve managed to find  a combo of  easy to source ingredients that provide a light, flavorful, fulfilling dish, and best of all, it’s a crowd pleaser.

 

I served this to my extended family as an accompaniment to a post-Christmas dinner in late December.  The crowd comprised kids ranging from age 10-17, most of whom are not generally known for vegetable consumption.  A vast majority went back for seconds on the salad, and in recent weeks, this has become a regular on my table.

 

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Here’s what you need :

1 package of your favorite baby greens

1/4 of a red onion, chopped

a handful or 2 of grape tomatoes

a ripe avocado or 2, cut into bite sized chunks

1 or 2 limes

1/4-1/2 tsp salt (to taste)

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp garlic powder

2 tablespoons (or more) olive oil

Toss vegetables into salad bowl in the order listed and squeeze lime over, making sure to give a generous spritz to the avocado chunks.  (If the lime is not juicy, use a second).  Sprinkle salad with salt, pepper and garlic powder, then drizzle with oil.  Toss thoroughly and serve.

Fish Pie with Saffron Mashed Potatoes

Infuse a few saffron strands in your milk before adding to your mashed potatoes

Infuse a few saffron strands in your milk before adding to your mashed potatoes

My dad’s a keen fisherman so I’ve learned both how to handle, and how to cook, fish proficiently.  I’m proud to say that I can even gut fish — although I’d rather someone else did it for me.

Fish pie is a great way to get kids to eat fish as you are working with filets and you are pretty much guaranteed to get a bone-free dish because the recipe involves cooking and flaking the cooked fish before you add it to the pie dish.

The secret to cooking fish is to go slow – and use milk.  Believe it or not if you gently cook even the smelliest fish (such as smoked haddock) in milk, the milk absorbs the smell and seems to neutralize some of the fishy flavor.

Ingredients

1 large white fish filet ie cod

1 large salmon filet

1 cup of milk

Parsley and fresh thyme; salt and pepper for seasoning

Beck’s Angel Dust for seasoning

2 sticks of celery finely diced

Small yellow onion finely diced

4 slices of proscuitto

1 tbsp of olive oil

2 cups of white or bechamel sauce

4 cups of mashed potato

 

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1.  Precook your fish fillets.  I roasted the salmon filet and gently boiled the cod filet in the cup of milk.  Remove fish to separate plate and flake into large pieces

2. Fry up onion, celery and chopped proscuitto with tablespoon of oil, until onions are browned and proscuitto is crispy.  Add flaked fish and gently stir.

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3. Add your white or bechamel sauce to the mixture and again stir very gently.  Add all your choice of seasonings at this time too. (We love Beck’s Angel Dust because it is both spicy with a fennel and cumin undercurrent and goes great with fish of all kinds.)

4. Transfer to ovenproof dish and then cover completely with your mashed potatoes

5. Bake for one hour at 350 degrees

6. Serve with a side salad or a green salad.

 

Skillet Turkey Parmesan with Crisp Polenta

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This is one of those 15 minute recipes that is a lifeline when you are pressed for time.

I was never a huge fan of polenta until a friend of mine introduced me to coconut milk polenta and suddenly the penny dropped, and I now understand why people get excited for this reconstituted cornmeal mush.

Polenta is both quick to rustle up and it’s nutritious – two watchwords for me in the kitchen!  This recipe calls for a ready-made tube of pressed polenta; slice the polenta thinly and throw in the frypan for a few minutes and e voila!

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • cup(s) seasoned dried bread crumbs
  • 4 (4 oz) skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves
  • 2 tablespoon(s) olive oil or large knob of butter
  • 1 (about 16 oz) tube polenta, cut in 12 slices
  • 1/2 cup(s) packaged shredded mozzarella with Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) bottled marinara sauce
  • Garnish: chopped fresh basil or parsley
  1. Whisk egg in bowl and sprinkle breadcrumbs and shredded cheese on a separate plate
  2. Bash turkey breasts until they are nice and thin and even, then dip each breast separately in egg mix and then press into breadcrumb coating
  3. Melt butter/oil in frypan then cook turkey until coating is crisp; remove from pan and drain on kitchen towel.
  4. Slice polenta and add fresh oil to pan and fry polenta on both sides until browned remove from pan.
  5. Add marinara sauce to pan and heat until bubbling and return turkey breasts to pan and coat with sauce.  When bubbling fiercely, arrange on plate adding fried polenta rounds.  Garnish and enjoy!

 

The skillet cutlets are delicious, with or without the marinara sauce.

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For a gluten free version of this recipe, check out Ian’s Panko Breadcrumbs (Italian flavor) from Wholefoods.

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No-one will be able to tell the difference – we promise!

 

Happy New Year!

Best Wishes for a delicious 2014!  We’ll be back next week.

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Merry Christmas!

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We wish you a Merry Christmas and a festive holiday season.  We’ll be back in January with lots of new food adventures to share.