Sunday, January 28, 2007


Salmon filets coated with Tom Douglas Salmon Rub and sauteed on medium heat until done. Served with Garlic Dill Potatoes and steamed broccoli. For the potatoes, boil 2 cubed potatoes until done (20 minutes). Saute 2 cloves of garlic in 1 tablespoon of butter until garlic if soft. Gently stir in potatoes and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill. Serves 2.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Pork with Apricot Chutney

Boneless loin of pork, pan-fried and served with warmed apricot chutney. Served with stuffing and green beans on the side.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Strawberry Jam Cake

6 tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 whole eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add the sour cream. Sift the flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt together. Fold in the sifted flour mixture until barely incorporated. Stir in the vanilla and 1 cup strawberry jam. Mix the batter until fully incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until done. Cool the cake completely and slice into three layers. Using a pastry brush, spread each layer with the remaining jam.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese
1/2 cup strawberry jam
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Using an electric mixer, whip the cream cheese until smooth. Add the jam and mix until incorporated. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Continue whipping until the frosting is spreadable. **If the frosting is too thick, add a little milk. If the frosting is too thin add a little more powdered sugar. Spread a thin layer of the frosting on each layer. Stack the layers and frost the sides and top of the cake.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Chicken Confit

What I Made: Chicken Confit

I've never made duck confit although I've been saving duck fat in order to one day make it. When I saw this recipe for chicken confit, I thought it would be fun to try and it's easier to get chicken legs than duck legs.

What I Did:

3 tablespoons salt
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
6 sprigs thyme
Coarsely ground black pepper
3 chicken legs with thighs
About 4 cups duck fat

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt in the bottom of a dish or plastic container large enough to hold the chicken pieces in a single layer. Evenly scatter half the garlic, shallots and thyme in the container. Arrange the chicken, skin-side up, over the salt mixture, then sprinkle with the remaining salt, garlic, shallots, and thyme and a little pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 days.

Preheat the oven to 225°F. Melt the duck fat in a small saucepan. Brush the salt and seasonings off the chicken. Arrange the chicken pieces in a single snug layer in a high-sided baking dish or ovenproof saucepan. Pour the melted fat over the chicken (the chicken pieces should be covered by fat) and place the confit in the oven. Cook the confit slowly at a very slow simmer — just an occasional bubble — until the duck is tender and can be easily pulled from the bone, 2-3 hours. Remove the confit from the oven. Cool and store the chicken in the fat. (The confit will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.)

Note: The duck fat can be strained, cooled and reused.

Review: The chicken was moist and tender although it worried me at first that the meat was still pink in places. But it was fully cooked and very tasty although hard to get all of the fat off. I scraped away what I could then microwaved it on a paper towel to absorb what melted off. I think I'll stick to duck confit in the end because it was a lot of effort for just chicken.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Plantain Chip-Crusted Chicken with Mango Sauce

What I Made: Plantain Chip-Crusted Chicken with Mango Sauce

Why: After seeing a show about the National Chicken Cooking Contest on the Food Network, I decided it would be fun to enter the 2007 contest. I already had an idea for an original recipe so I did a test run, wrote up the recipe and sent it in. Well, the list of finalists just came out and I didn't make it, but I still think my recipe is worthy.

What I Did:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup flour
4 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 eggs, beaten to blend
2 tablespoons milk
8 oz. plantain chips, finely crushed
8 oz. jar of mango in light syrup
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Combine flour, curry powder, salt and pepper in pie plate. Beat eggs with milk and pour into another pie plate. Place crushed plantain chips in a third pie plate. Dip chicken, 1 breast at a time, in flour mixture then egg mixture then plantain chips. Press chicken into chips to coat each side and ends completely and lay on prepared baking sheet. Bake chicken in middle of oven until cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, make sauce. In a saucepan over medium heat, add mango and syrup, vinegar, sugar, onion, garlic and ginger. Simmer for 20 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and blend until smooth with an immersion blender. Strain sauce through a mesh sieve. Stir in mint and cilantro. Pour over chicken and garnish with green onions. Makes 4 servings.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Chicken and Dumplings

What I Made: Chicken and dumplings from a recipe by Paula Deen minus her dumplings, instead using a dumpling recipe from Emeril Lagasse.Why: Another hearty and warming dish for a winter evening at home. I was pretty sure this would be a hit with my comfort food-loving husband.

What I Did:

2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 chicken legs
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. fresh thyme
2 (14 ounce) cans chicken stock
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of celery soup

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. minced fresh soft herbs, such as parsley, tarragon, and green onion tops
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup milk

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and saute shallots, garlic, celery and onion. Add chicken, bay leaf, thyme and chicken stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer the chicken until it is tender and the thigh juices run clear, about 40 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and, when it is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and separate the meat from the bones. Return the chicken meat to the pot along with the cream of celery soup. Keep warm over low heat.

Prepare the dumplings: In a medium bowl, mix the flour, herbs, baking powder, and salt together. In a small saucepan over low heat, bring the butter and milk to a simmer. Add the butter and milk mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring with a fork until the mixture just comes together. Drop batter by spoonfuls into stew. Cover and simmer until the dumplings are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

To serve, ladle chicken, gravy, and dumplings into warm bowls.

Serves 4.

Review: It was a hit with my husband who declared he could eat it almost every night of the week. It was better than I thought it would be. The only part I didn't like was removing the chicken, waiting for it to cool then shredding it. I took my time though and didn't burn my fingers. This step does make for an easier to eat meal - all you need is a spoon.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Tilapia with Lemon and Capers

What I Made: Tilapia with Lemon and Capers Served with Carrots and Mushy Peas
Why: After the over-indulgence of the holidays, I felt we needed a healthy dinner and that means fish with lots of vegetables.

What I Did

8 oz. tilapia
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. capers
1 tbsp. butter
Juice from one lemon

Heat olive oil in non-stick pan then add tilapia fillets. Cook for 1 minute on each side. Add capers, butter and lemon juice. Simmer gently for 2-3 minutes. Serve with
mushy peas (cook 1 cup of frozen peas according to package directions then mash using an immersion blender) and steamed carrots. Serves 2.

Review: The tangy lemon of the fish contrasted well with the sweetness of the mushy peas and the carrots add color. A flavorful and well-balanced meal (okay, so what if I had ice cream for dessert?). I experimented with the carrots by boiling them in orange juice and a little cumin, but it really didn't add anything.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Pappardelle Bolognese

Why: My Mother knows her books and knows me so for Christmas, she got me Heat by Bill Buford. The author spent time in Mario Batali's kitchen and wrote about the Bolognese sauce made there. I was intrigued. I found the recipe easily enough on Epicurious, but this time, instead of changing the recipe, I pretty much made it exactly as it came. I even made the homemade pappardelle on which to serve it (I won't provide that recipe here; it was a basic pasta recipe). The sauce is mainly meat and contains milk(!?!) and so was unlike any I've ever had.

What I Ended Up With:

1 medium onions, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 medium carrots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 lb pancetta, pulsed in food processor until finely chopped
1 lb ground meatball mix (ground veal, pork and beef)
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Cook onions, celery, carrot, and garlic in oil in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add pancetta and ground meat and cook over moderately high heat, stirring and breaking up lumps, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste, milk, wine, water, and thyme and gently simmer, covered, until sauce is thickened, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Add salt and pepper and remove from heat.

Sauce may be made 2 days ahead and cooled, uncovered, before chilling, covered. Frozen, it keeps for 1 month.

Serves 4 over pasta.

Review: The sauce was good although I knew my husband would prefer a more tomato-y sauce. However, I was very disappointed in the pasta. It was weak and bland. Dried pasta would have been (dare I say it?) better. It wasn't until I finished the book that I found out why I wasn't impressed: it was the eggs.

I would make the sauce again, but with an equal part of crushed tomatoes thrown in. What can I say? I'm an American and I like tomato sauce on my pasta although I'm glad I gave this one a try. And it is easy to make. A good base for a meat sauce.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Gnocchi alla Sorrento

What I Made: Gnocchi alla Sorrentino from Mario Batali's recipe, made by my husband this time.
Why: This is so quick and easy to make and it's one of my husband's favorites.

What I Did: Mario makes his own potato gnocchi from scratch, but I buy mine frozen. He uses fresh buffalo mozzarella, I use regular cow's milk. He makes tomato sauce, I pour mine from a jar. As you can tell, I adapted his recipe for convenience.

1/2 lb. frozen gnocchi
2 cups tomato sauce
4 oz. mozzarella, cubed

Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat the tomato sauce in another pot. When the gnocchi are done, transfer them into the sauce using a slotted spoon. Add the mozzarella cubes and stir occasionally over medium heat until melted (about 30 seconds). Serves 2.

Review: Makes a nice change from spaghetti.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Potato & Leek Soup

What I Made: Potato and Leek Soup. I found Alton Brown's recipe on the Food Network website.Why: Leeks are in season and a rainy day like today calls for hot soup.

What I Did:
I skipped the buttermilk originally called for because I never know what to do with the rest (tried buttermilk pancakes once, but nothing can beat my parents' pancake recipe). Also, I didn't have any vegetable broth so I substituted chicken broth and some water.

5 leeks, cleaned and dark green sections removed
2 tbsp. bacon fat
1 tsp. salt
3 small potatoes, peeled and diced small
1 can chicken broth
2 cups water
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Chop the leeks into small pieces.

In a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the bacon fat. Add the leeks and a heavy pinch of salt and sweat for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are tender, approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the potatoes, chicken broth
and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until the potatoes are soft, approximately 25 minutes.

Turn off the heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream and white pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Serves 4.

Review: Delicious and filling with a perfect smooth texture. The cream really makes it, well, creamy. Usually recipes for leeks call for a strict use of only the white part, but with the advent of immersion blenders, it doesn't matter anymore. Using some of the green lends a nice color. Maybe one day I'll try it with a lot of the green.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Cesar Salad

What I Made: Tonight we had a classic Cesar salad for dinner. My husband, Richard, is the one who makes it according to a recipe he found, in a weekly sale flyer from the supermarket, years before I met him. To me it is the quintessential Cesar salad. Of course, it is almost the only Cesar salad I've ever eaten. Thanks to Richard, I've been spoiled for any other. And we don't add chicken or shrimp or steak either. Just the following:

1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp. Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
2 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1 can anchovy fillets packed in oil, partially drained and finely chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 or 2 hearts of romaine, sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 cup croutons

Mash the garlic around the sides of a large wooden salad bowl. Add the olive oil and lemon juice and whisk together until golden yellow. Whisk in the egg yolk then mustard, W
orchestershire, anchovies and grated cheese. The dressing should be fairly thick, but still liquid. About the consistancy of blue cheese dressing. Add more olive oil if needed. Toss in the lettuce and croutons.Serves 2.

Review: Yes, it is a salad for dinner. No, it's not good for you. That's why I can never make it. If I did, I would ease up on the oil and the cheese and it wouldn't taste as good as it does when Richard makes it. My job is to wash and chop the lettuce and to mash the anchovies (Don't be afraid of the anchovies! Use the whole tin!) and to hold the egg seperater over the sink. Sooo tasty!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Lentil Soup

What I Made: On January 1, 2007 I made lentil soup based on an original recipe found on Epicurious which was from the book Memories of a Lost Egypt by Colette Rossant.

Why: I wanted to use up some ham that's been hanging around and the superstition calls for pork to be eaten on New Years' Day to give good luck. My mother sometimes makes Hoppin' John, but I just had to try something different. Lentils sounded more interesting than black-eyed peas (actually, the Black Eyed Peas sound better than lentils, ha, ha!) and the ham would go nicely so I searched online and found this recipe. It had very good reviews on Epicurious.

What I Did: I halved the original recipe and added the ham. Then I added some tasso ham that I discovered in the freezer while I was making it. The soup needed a little color so I added carrots. Here's what I ended up with:

1 medium onion
1 whole clove
1 1/4 cups of lentils (2/3rds of a 1-pound bag)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried marjoram
2 carrots, chopped
1 cup ham cut into 1/4" cubes
1/4 cup tasso ham cut into 1/4" cubes
3 - 14 ounce cans of chicken stock
2 cups water
4 cloves garlic, minced

Peel the onion, stick the clove in it and place it in a saucepan with all of the other ingredients except the garlic. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce the heat and simmer, skimming occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Discard the onion and bay leaf and stir in the minced garlic. Reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly for 10 minutes.

Review: It was unexpectedly good. Very flavorful due to the clove (one is enough) and the use of chicken broth. I'm not sure what the tasso ham added. I didn't want to add a lot because I thought it was very spicy. It wasn't.

If you try it, let me know what you think!