Monday, November 14, 2011

Chicken/Chik'N Dijonnaise: a Flexitarian recipe!

One of my favorite fall recipes from back in my meat-eating phase was chicken dijonnaise. Ryan has also made it with pork, too. I've tried it with tofu, but something about the mustard and the jus didn't work quite right- so this time, I used some frozen seitan "chicken breasts", to much better result! I'm not the biggest fan of the smeats, but sometimes, they are necessary additions to meals!! Whether you make it with real chicken or not... enjoy!

dijon mustard- about 2-3 tbsp
a grainy mustard- 2 tbsp
a third- spicy, champagne, etc- optional, 1 tbsp
white wine- a healthy pour
chicken (veg) stock- about 1/4 cup
fresh/dried herbs- thyme, sage, rosemary, chopped finely
salt & pepper
1/2 tbsp butter
heavy cream- for sauce

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. In a bowl, stir together the different mustards, the butter, herbs, stock, wine, and salt and pepper.
3. Pour the mixture over the chicken/Chik'N and turn several times to coat
3. Bake 30-40 minutes.
4. When done, remove chicken/Chik'N pieces to a baking dish and put in low oven to keep warm. Carefully pour juices and scrape mustard mixture from baking dish into saucepan over low heat. Pour some heavy cream into mixture, and a little more wine. Reduce over medium heat, salt and pepper to taste. You will know it's good to go when it turns a darker color, and by the smell. You should be able to smell the wine cooking through the cream.

Serve with green beans and red new potatoes or other sides and pour the sauce on top!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

So, after I cooked up a whole pumpkin, I had... whole lot of pumpkin. I used some of it for pie, I used some of it Curried winter squash soup (check it out here), and I still had some leftover. So I did the only other pumpkin-y thing I could think of. I made bread!!

You can use any squash or sweet potato in place of the pumpkin!! Preheat to 350 degrees.

In a medium-sized bowl combine & whisk, then set aside:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice

In a separate bowl combine and set aside:
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Cream in a large bowl by beating until fluffy:
3/4 stick of butter (6 tblsp)
1 tsp mayonnaise (seriously- keeps it moist for-ev-er!)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar

Beat in one at a time:
2 large eggs

Then beat in:
1 cup pumpkin or other squash puree

Then add in the flour mixture slowly, and drizzle in the milk each time. Fold in 3/4 cup of chocolate chips at the very end.

Bake in a loaf pan, about 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pumpkin Pie: Updated for 2011!

I've been making pumpkin pie for several years now. It's been a pain sometimes, but I've learned how to make it easier over the years- and I am embarrassed that I once said canned was just as good- I'm NOT going back to Libby's.

So, here is the new and IMPROVED 2011 pumpkin pie recipe!

This time I decided to try a local Long Island heirloom pumpkin variety, known as the cheese pumpkin. The name is not a comment on flavor, but on the shape and color- which resembles a wheel of cheese. (Sure, if you squint.) So we'll see how it turns out!

To make the Pumpkin Puree:

Step 1: Cut it- Cut the pumpkin in half, and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Cut into several (4-6) large chunks. Use a fork to punch some holes in the skin. Lightly oil and place on a baking sheet, flesh up or to the side.

Step 2: Cook the Crap out of it. I roasted it at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. You want to be able to peel off the skin and easily scrape out the flesh with a spoon. Make sure it is nice and soft before you pull it out. I know it is possible to steam it, too, but I have never tried. And I think roasting adds a little flavor.

Step 3: Peel out the goo. Sexy.

Step 4: Puree with blender. I use a magic wand, but the goal of a smoother, silkier texture can be achieved with a regular blender. (HIGHLY recommend the wand, such a major time saver!!)

Step 5: Let sit in a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl for about 30 minutes to drain off any water.

Step 6: Make the pie

1 1/2 cups pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
5-6 tablespoons ice water

Combine flour & salt with a whisk. Add in butter and combine with a fork until crumbly. Drizzle water and shape into a ball. Refrigerate in Saran wrap for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. (My oven runs HOT. Some folks do this @ 425)

2 eggs (no clue why I ever used 4 in the past- way too many!!) Whisked
2 cups pumpkin puree
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

(Tip: If it's dried out, moisten your hands and hold for a minute and it will soften up! Or for a larger quantity, moisten a cutting board and let the dried out pieces sit on top for a few minutes!!)

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground clove or allspice (Or 2 1/2 tsps of pumpkin spice)
1/2 tsp salt
Splash of Vanilla

Mix the ingredients together with a hand blender or beater. Line pie shell with dough. Make sure to use any extra dough around the edges- for this particular pie, they tend to burn more easily. I taste the batter at this point, and adjust seasonings if need be. Pour batter into the pie shell.

Bake for 45-55 minutes @400 until a toothpick comes out clean from the middle.

If you still have some extra crust, which I usually do, go ahead and make some 'crust cookies'- mine are usually heart shaped- and throw them in the oven to get golden and crispy for the last 20-30 minutes the pie bakes. Then serve the pieces with fresh whipped cream and a crust cookie. Yeah. That's where it's at.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pickled Peppers

1 pound fresh jalapeno, italian peppers or sweet peppers, washed
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups vinegar (I used white distilled vinegar, it is definitely pucker-y, next time I might try cider)
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons coarse salt, such as kosher
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons black peppercorns

1. Stab each pepper several times with a sharp paring knife or cut into slices and place them in a large glass preserving jar.

2. In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the other ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes.

3. Remove from heat and pour the brine over the peppers. Place the lid on the jar and let cool. Once cool, refrigerate for at least a week before using, if possible.