Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chicken Asparagus Rollatini with Red Currant Glaze

This is an inexpensive healthy dinner with a nice presentation and fast prep. time. It might make your grill a sticky mess, but the flavor is worth it!

Ingredients (serves 4):

4 well-trimmed chicken breasts
1 bunch asparagus (the thinner the better)
1/2 cup red currants (sometimes sold as "Zante" currants)
6-8 oz. red currant preserve
olive oil


Pound chicken breasts to 1/2 - 1/4" thick (thickness will effect cooking time and "rollability"),
Brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and set aside,
Trim asparagus and steam approx. 2 minutes then immediately cool down in a cold water bath (this helps to keep them from being overcooked),
Place a small handful of currants and approx. 6-8 pieces of asparagus on chicken and roll tightly,
Secure with kitchen twine or toothpicks,
Brush entire roll with red currant preserve,
Preheat grill to med.-high and cook approx. 5 minutes, flip, brush with preserve and grill for another 5 minutes (or until done),
Plate, remove twine or toothpicks and top with additional red currant preserve

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rosemary Parmesean Biscotti

This is another recipe from our new favorite Wine Bar Food book that looked too good not to try. Being a "fat nazi", I made one big substitution, using non-fat greek yogurt in place of the entire stick and a half of butter the recipe calls for - and it came out delicious, not too dry and with a slight tang from the yogurt.

Rosemary Parmesean Biscotti
Makes about 2 dozen

1 cup all purpose flour + more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (I used 3/4 cup non-fat greek yogurt instead)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs (I used 3/4 cups egg substitute)
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesean cheese
1 cup almonds (I used pine nuts)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon of olive oil (if you're not using the butter)
Using the stand blender, mix yogurt (or butter) with sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one a time until incorporated. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until you have a soft dough. Form into a log and freeze for 10-15 minutes or until set. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Cut biscotti into desired size and bake for another 10 minutes. Flip the biscotti and bake for a final 10-15 minutes (adding more freshly grated parmesean if desired). Remove from oven and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Cool on a wire rack for as long as you can stand - and enjoy! Traditionally these are served with prosecco, but they are delicious alone too.

Negroni Cocktail

Originating in Florence in the early 1900's, this Italian classic has become one of our favorites. Strong and bitter, the Negroni is typically served as an aperitif.

Mix equal parts:

Sweet (Red) Vermouth

Shake well and strain over ice in a rocks or old fashioned glass.

The standard garnish is a slice of orange peel, but we have found that an orange wedge or lemon peel (pictured here) are just as well.

Variations include replacing the gin with prosecco (Milan's "Negroni Sbagliato"), vodka ("Negroski"), or just topping off the regular recipe with prosecco ("Sparkling Negroni").

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Asian chicken & noodles

I had been having a major craving for something noodle-y lately so the other night we finally got to it. We made this dish with chicken, but it definitely would have been just as satisfying and filling without it, due to the delicious mushrooms that we left in big chunks.

We have an affinity for collecting condiments, so this was more of a use-up recipe for some of the asian influenced bottles in the refridgerator, and I'm sure it would be just as good without all of the ingredients, or making subsitutions for items that you have on hand.

Asian-style chicken and noodles

1 large package button mushrooms
1 small head broccoli
1 red belle pepper
1 medium onion (any color)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 green onions (whites and greens)
1/2 package of whole wheat noodles (we used a combination of angel hair and udon)
2 chicken breasts, cut into strips - optional

Any or all of the following:

Toasted seasame oil
Fish sauce
Hoisin sauce
Garlic chili paste
Stir fry sauce
peanut sauce

While the noodles are boiling, cook mushrooms in olive oil until they are dark brown (this takes about 5 minutes over a high flame as long as you don't salt them). Remove mushrooms and brown chicken pieces in the same pan with a little more olive oil. Remove cooked chicken and add pepper, onion, broccoli and garlic to the pan along with a few tablespoons each of the sauce(s). Cook 6-8 minutes until veggies are cooked through but still have a little bite (add chicken stock or water during cooking if the mixture becomes too dry) and mushrooms and chicken back into the mixture and heat through. Serve immediately over noodles and garnish with sliced green onions. Noodle craving kicked.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pita Bread

I know, "authentic" pita bread doesn't actually have the delightful pocket in the middle that we all know and love, and I was perfectly happy making non-pocketed pitas, but after accidentally leaving the pizza stone in the oven a few weeks ago while I was preheating it for some pita, I decided to try cooking these on the hot stone and, voila - pitas with pockets!

This recipe is based on one from my all time favorite bread book 100 Great Breads by Paul Hollywood. When cooked on the pizza stone these come out with a great chewy texture and pocket that is perfect for stuffing with anything you can think of, or just dipping into greek yogurt like my husband and I enjoy these.

Pita Bread

2 cups bread flour

1/2 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon yeast

1/2 - 3/4 cups warm water

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined. Using the dough hook of an electric mixer, knead dough for 3-4 minutes, adding additional flour as necessary to make sure the dough is elastic and no longer sticky. Place in a warm spot and let rise for about an hour. Preheat oven to 475 and place a pizza stone one position from the bottom.

Cut dough into 3 or 4 pieces, depending on the size pitas you want, and roll each one to about 1/4 inch thickness. Place dough pieces directly on the preheated stone. Bake for 4-5 minutes on the first side, then flip and bake another 3-4 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes.

And I promise, my husband and I really do cook things other than carbs...hopefully we'll be posting some more recipes soon!

Red Grape Foccacia

During a recent trip to Barnes and Noble my husband and I spent our usual hour or so perusing the wine and food sections respectively, and stumbled across this amazing book called Wine Bar Food by Cathy and Tony Mantuano. Tony is a chef-owner at Spiaggia in Chicago and he and Cathy opened the South Beach Miami location last year. The book has recipes from their travels in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece. The first receipe I had to make was the Red Grape Foccacia, not only because I love making bread, but the picture and description sounded so amazing.

I amended the recipe slightly omitting some of the oil and adding a little fresh ground black pepper for contrast and the result was a fantastic combination of sweet and salty. It came out fluffy on the inside and crispy and delicious on the outside. My only complaint (if you can call it that) was that this made an entire cookie-sheet sized "loaf", which is too tempting to have around - so we cut it into four blocks and froze 3 for later...I'm curious how it defrosts with the red grapes in there. Next time I may add a little fresh rosemary for another twist, but it's perfectly tasty without it.

Red Grape Foccacia

Adapted from Wine Bar Food by Cathy & Tony Mantuano

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

Pinch of sugar

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

2 cups warm water

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 cups bread or all purpose flour

2 teaspoons course sea salt (plus more for sprinkling)

12 ounces red grapes (about 42)

Stir yeast, sugar and water in a small bowl and let sit about 5 minutes or until bubbly. Put the flour, salt and pepper in an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Pour yeast mixture into the flour and mix on low speed until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 3-5 minutes.

Transfer the sticky dough to a cookie sheet sprayed with olive oil cooking spray. Pat the dough to form a rough rectangle and let rest about 5 minutes. Stretch the dough in each direction until it fills the pan; fold the dough over itself in three like a letter, arrange to fit on the cookie sheet. Spray with oil, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about an hour. Flip the dough over and stretch so it fills the pan completely. Let rise for 30 minutes. Stud the dough with the red grapes, 6 across and 7 down, spray with more oil and sprinkle with more sea salt to taste (the more the better for us!) and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees and place rack in the middle position. Once heated, lower the oven to 450 and put in the dough. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning the bread halfway through cooking. Remove when golden brown and spray with more oil for a softer crust, or leave dry for crispier crust. Cool for 5-10 minutes on a wire rack and enjoy!