Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Brandy Street Chicken

I love trying to make up new recipes to see if they will even taste half as good as I envision them to taste in my head. This one did!!! I took some pork chops out to thaw and noticed how thick they were and decided to stuff them. I wanted to do something completely different and went for a Cajun theme since we are close to the Superbowl and of course they are gonna be in New Orleans!! This recipe turned out fantastic! Hope you all enjoy!

5 pork chops, boneless about 1 to 2 inches thick
4 andouille sausage links, casings removed and diced
2 shallots, diced
1 celery rib, diced
1 cup French bread, diced
¼ cup cotija cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp white wine
Parsley for garnish

Creamy Cajun Mushroom Sauce

8oz package crimini mushrooms, sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup brandy
¼ cup beef stock
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp Cajun spice
1 tsp corn starch
1 tsp water
For the pork chops, I started out with frozen chops. When they were almost thawed, but still a bit hard, I cut a little pouch into them (coming in from the side) so that I could stuff them…being careful not to slice them in half. I let them continue to thaw the rest of the way. For the stuffing, in a Dutch Oven or a large cast iron skillet, add extra virgin olive oil, sauté the shallots until wilted. Add the celery and sauté until wilted as well. Add the andouille sausage. Most of the sausages I found were already cooked through so this was just pretty much a browning process for me. However, if you find andouille sausage that is not fully cooked, make sure you do cook it all the way through.  Stir in the French bread and deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up the bits and wilting the bread. You don’t want any liquid in the stuffing so you want to make sure the wine has evaporated before you begin stuffing your pork chops. Remove the pan from the heat momentarily. Stir in the cotija cheese. If you can’t find this cheese, you can substitute feta. Eyeball your stuffing. If you think you are going to have any leftover…portion out a bit into a bowl so you don’t cross contaminate because you will be touching raw pork. Scoop a good size portion of the stuffing into your pork chop. I kind of pushed it in and made sure the pork chop was nice and filled. I repeated the process with each chop and then to make sure none of the stuffing fell out, I wrapped the chops with string. Preheat your oven to 350. In the empty Dutch oven, or cast iron skillet bring back up to heat. Sear the pork chops on both sides for about 5 minutes until nice and brown. Place the Dutch oven/cast iron skillet into the oven and continue to cook the chops have an internal temp of 160 degrees.

For the sauce, pull your pork chops out and immediately put the pan onto the stove and turn the heating element on. Remove your chops to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Add a touch of olive oil, because you should have some grease from the pork chops. Add your mushrooms and sauté until wilted. Add in the garlic and continue to cook until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with the brandy making sure to scrape up all of the pork bits. Add the beef stock and bring up to a simmer. In a cup, mix together the corn starch and water until there are no lumps and add mixture to the mushrooms. Stir until it starts to thicken slightly. Add your Cajun spice and heavy whipping cream. Bring up to a simmer and cook for about 5 – 7 more minutes. Serve over the pork chops. Garnish with parsley.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Nutella Muffins

Do you ever open something up, food wise, you have every intention of eating it....but then it gets shoved to the back and you forget about it? Well, that is what happened to our poor jar of Nutella. I happened upon it this morning and went on a quest to find a recipe using up the Nutella. I happened upon a Natasha in Oz's blog that had a recipe for Nutella muffins, and they looked so yummy, I thought I would give them a try. They turned out fantastic. They aren't very sweet, and have a hint of the Nutella flavor that we all love. Hope you all enjoy!

2/3 cup butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 c. white sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp. of vanilla
1-3/4 c. of all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
16 tsps. of Nutella

Preheat the oven to 325F.  The batter, including the Nutella , is much easier to work with if ALL of the ingredients are at room temperature.  So make sure they are before you start making the batter.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture. Continue to mix the batter together, until your batter is smooth.  The batter is quite heavy in order for you to be able to “marbleize” the Nutella into the batter without it falling through. Fill your muffin tins with paper muffin cups. Since it is quite cold up here, even room temperature, I found the batter to be a bit stiff. In a small cup, I took a heaping spoonful of the batter and added 1 tsp of the Nutella. I swirled the two together then transferred to the muffin tin. I continued until I ran out of batter. The muffin cups should be about ¾ of the way full.   Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bacon Cheese Bread

OK...who doesn't love Pinterest!!! I was poking around Saturday morning and found this just yummy beautiful recipe for bacon cheese bread and decided I had to try it. Now, I am not a big fan of bacon...I don't eat it regularly, but the two boys I cook for on a regular basis ADORE it!!! My hubby and my BFF. So I though why the heck not! I mean, who can go wrong with bacon and cheese? Now, grant it, I am not a photographer, so the picture is by all means not the prettiest, and the one thing I would definitely do different is add the cheese probably during the last 15 minutes of baking instead of putting it on throughout the whole 30 minutes of baking, but the bread turned out scrumptious. I found by baking the cheese for the full 30 minutes, the cheese ended up burning a little. Now there are those of you who absolutely adore burnt cheese, BUT, it doesn't make for pretty bread. I found the recipe on this blog Happy Home Baking and converted the metric measurements for you. I hope you all enjoy! If you actually read her blog, she had a hard time with the rising...I have to agree with her. It took a while for the bread to rise and it still isn't the size I think it should be. But grant it, the weather right now is a warm 5 degrees when I was trying to bake this...and inside our house it was a balmy 62 degrees...so that may have had something to do with it!! I also agree with her recommendation to use a bread machine. I did that and saved myself a lot of elbow work!! Now if you do happen to visit the HHBs site, please don't compare her pictures to mine :) I never said I was a professional photographer!! (giggling)

1st Step:
3 slices of bacon; finely chopped
1/2 tsp black pepper

2nd Step:
1 cup bread flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1 cup water, lukewarm
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter

3rd Step:
3 tbsp grated mozzarella cheese
1/8 tsp black pepper
some dried parsley

Pan-fry finely chopped bacon over low heat, until brown and crisp. Drain off any excess oil and mix in the black pepper. Set aside to cool. Place all ingredients in the second step, except the butter, in the pan of the bread machine (according to the sequence as stated in the instruction manual of your bread machine). Let the machine knead the dough for you. I let it go through the entire kneading process. About mid way through, add in the bacon and black pepper mixture and the butter, and let the kneading process continue until it has completed. Stop the machine and remove dough from the bread pan. Shape the dough into a smooth round and place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, cover bowl with a towel and let dough rise till double in volume for about 80 - 90 mins. Remove dough and give a few light kneading on a lightly floured work surface. Press out the trapped air as your knead. Shape into a round dough and cover with cling wrap, let the dough rest for about 15 minutes. It will expand slightly. Flatten and roll out the dough into a rectangular shape, the size of your loaf pan. Roll up swiss roll style and pinch the seam in place. Place dough in a loaf pan, lined with parchment paper, both bottom and sides, seam-side down. The parchment paper is important!! This will enable you to just lift the bread out of the pan when it has completed baking. Cover with a towel and let dough proof for 50 - 60 mins or until the dough reaches about 90% of the height of the pan. Sprinkle top with grated cheese, black pepper and some dried parsley. Bake at preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 30 mins until the bread is golden brown all over. Remove from oven and unmold immediately. Let cool completely before slicing.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie

Have you ever had this overwhelming need to make something...something that for the life of you, you never remember having? But you just have a craving for it? I felt that way about my latest dish. Chicken Pot Pie. I have no idea why, I found out my father can't stand it so I know he never made it for me growing up...but for some reason, I wanted to make it.To cut down on carbs and calories, I have these cute little ramekins that I used instead of making a huge pie and using pie crust as the base and topping. Also to cut down on time, I purchased a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, instead of actually cooking a chicken. But the results were quite yummy. I looked up a couple of recipes online and most of them had some kind of liquor in the broth, brandy, cognac, sherry, but if you choose you can omit that part of the recipe and I am sure it will turn out just as tasty! I also used milk, but if you want a more creamier sauce, you could use heavy whipping cream. The combinations are endless!!!!

I hope you all enjoy!!

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 leek, chopped
2  potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 medium carrots, cubed
10-12 oz. mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup dry brandy
1 cup white wine
2 tsps dried parsley
2 tsps dried thyme
2 tsps dried sage
3 tsps salt
1 tsps black pepper
3 tbsps butter
3 tbsps all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
5 cups chicken, cooked (roasted or poached) I used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, and shredded the chicken instead of cubing it.
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
4 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg yolk egg wash
extra salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425°F. In a stock pot or Dutch oven, add the olive oil. Add the leeks, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and a few pinches of salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender; about 10-12 minutes. Deglaze the pot with the brandy and add the wine. Let simmer for about 5 – 7 more minutes and stir in all of the spices. In a cup, smash the butter in with the flour and combine well. Pour the flour butter mixture into the vegetables and let cook together for about 2 – 3 minutes so you cook out the “raw” taste of the flour. You will almost create a paste. Add chicken stock and milk. Combine well and bring to a simmer for about 2-minutes, stirring until mixture thickens. Stir in the chicken and the peas and combine well. Transfer to the ramekins. 

Cut thawed puff pastry 1" larger in diameter than the ramekin. Center cut puff pastry over dish and crimp down around edge of dish to seal. Brush top of pastry with “scrambled” egg. Bake in 425°F oven on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then cover lightly with aluminum foil and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cioppino - Phaedra style

 I have always wanted to make "fish stew." That is basically what Cioppino is in Italian, fish stew. Well, we had a fondue for New Years dinner and we had some left over fish. We added a bit more fish (clams) to it and made this wonderful fish stew this evening. I hope you all enjoy.

3 tbsp olive oil
2 small fennel bulbs, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
4 small carrots, chopped
7 garlic cloves, chopped
3 potatoes, cubed
1 jar tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes in juice
½ cup of dry sherry
1 ½ cup dry white wine
3 cups fish stock
1 jar clam juice
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 ½ dozen shrimp, uncooked peeled and deveined
1 lb clam meat
1 lb fish (whatever you prefer)
1 tbsp fresh parsley

Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, shallots and potatoes, carrots and salt and sauté for about 10 minutes. Deglaze with the dry sherry and add the white wine. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, the bay leaf and the fish stock. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for about 15 – 30 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.  Add the tomato paste and stir thoroughly. Bring back up to a simmer. Taste…add more salt, crushed red pepper and cayenne pepper to taste.  About 8 – 10 minutes prior to serving add the seafood. The seafood doesn’t take that long to cook and you DO NOT WANT TO OVERCOOK THE SEAFOOD!!!.  Stir in the fresh parsley.