Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Crunchy Fried Chickpeas with Garlic

On the face of it this dish is exceptionally simple. It only has five ingredients after all, and two of those are salt and pepper. And it is simple, but the reason I felt compelled to share is because they are just too delicious! Pan frying allows the chickpeas to form a crunchy crust and softens and fluffs the rich, nutty insides. Adding garlic and salt paste toward the end just absolutely perfects it and makes the chickpea insides taste kind of sweet. For this reason and because we can't get enough of them, my fiancee calls them candy. We never end up with leftovers, no matter how many times I've multiplied the recipe. In fact, I recommend doubling the recipe (seriously, there just never seem to be enough) and it multiplies beautifully, so long as you cook it in small enough batches to have a single layer at the bottom of the pan with space in between chickpeas.

Crispy Fried Chickpeas with Garlic

1 can of chickpeas, rinsed under cold running water and drained

1.5 Tablespoons olive oil*

1 clove of garlic

salt, to taste

black pepper to taste, freshly ground

1. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil enough to cover the bottom of the pan and slightly creep up the sides.

2. When the oil is so hot that a tiny bubble or two starts to form,** add the chickpeas.

3. Shake the pan over the heat to coat the chickpeas, then leave them alone for 3 minutes, to allow that side to sear. Shake the pan to turn the chickpeas to a new side for searing and leave the dish alone for 3 minutes. Repeat one or more times, until the outside of the chickpeas has turned a darker color and has started to look crispy all around.

4. When the chickpeas have about 3 minutes more, toss some salt on a salad plate to cover with a very thin layer and crush a garlic clove into a paste using the back of a spoon or fork and bracing the garlic with the salt. When the garlic has been mashed into tiny pieces and the salt is incorporated the paste is ready to add to the chickpeas.

5. When your timer set for 3 minutes goes off, turn off the heat under the chickpeas and scrape garlic paste into the pan with the chickpeas. Stir to incorporate. Let dish sit in still-hot pan for another minute, then move to serving dish.

6. Serve while still warm.

I served it alongside a lemon and butter roasted chicken, a butter lettuce salad with a garlic-y dressing and some long grain brown rice (not pictured, but it was yummy together).

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

*Use enough to cover the bottom of your large saucepan. More may be needed. You want enough oil to pan fry in and get some crispiness creeping up along the sides of the beans

**I know olive oil has a low smoking point, but we're pan frying the chickpeas and olive oil is ok for pan frying.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bacon Fat Roasted Potato Chips w/ Blue Cheese, Bacon Bits & Spring Onions

Ahh, leftovers. After I made those yummy scones I had plenty of Gorgonzola and a few spring onions lying around. What to do with it? Well, I had two large russets and a hankering for chips and this recipe was born! I hit upon rendered bacon fat as a means to make the chips a little bit more decadent and also because hello, bacon!

Good things start with rendering the fat from bacon!

I'm once again including the photo of the finished chips (from last post) to remind my readers of the deliciousness!

Bacon Fat Roasted Potato Chips w/ Bacon, Scallions and Gorgonzola

2 medium russet potatoes, thinly sliced*
6 slices of bacon, chopped into 1/2" pieces
2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled finely
4 Spring onions, white & light green parts sliced finely
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In an 8" heavy bottomed skillet over medium-low heat, render bacon fat from chopped bacon.
2. Grease 2 cookie sheets with the bacon grease, lay potato slices singly in even layers. Brush bacon grease onto the tops of the potato slices.
3. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until edges start to brown just a bit.
4. In a bowl toss still-warm chips with black pepper.
5. Top with Gorgonzola, crispy bacon from the skillet and spring onions and serve.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

*This is easiest with a madolin

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Grilling Season + Upcoming Recipe

Happy Easter and general spring season, everyone! Just a quick update to let you know what we've put in the works this lazy Sunday.

The weather was fine so we decided to grill. There you see our juicy beef burgers grilling alongside zucchini squash and onions.

This Tuesday's blog update with include a recipe for these bacon fat roasted oven chips with gorgonzola crumbles, crispy bacon and spring onions

They were fabulous!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gorgonzola & Spring Onion Scones

Scones. Perfect, tender scones are the subject of today's post. Now I know that perfect scones which demand anything less than precision and coddling are virtually unheard of, but I'm here to share a great big secret about scone making for dummies: cream cheese. Cream cheese is a magical mystery ingredient that gives most any dough that combination of airiness and richness found in things like puff pastry. These qualities will be present in the finished product virtually no matter how much you work or re-work the dough. This combination was inspired by a bunch of garlic chives my friend gave me from out of her garden. Sadly, when I went to prep them I noticed that they'd spoiled (our warmer weather must have been too much for them to be stored out of the fridge; d'oh!), but those garlic chives inspired my next blog post, so I'm thankful instead of sad. Besides, green onions (or scallions, if you prefer) make a great substitute and are much easier to find. :)

I served these scones alongside some kale sauteed in olive oil with a splash of apple cider vinegar, and some buffalo style spicy roast chicken drumsticks.

Gorgonzola & Spring Onion Scones

Makes 12 scones

2 cups plus 1/3 to 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cold butter, chopped into small squares
1 egg, beaten to a froth
1/2 cup half n half
6 ounces cream cheese, softened to just before the melting point*
4 - 5 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, finely crumbled
8 spring onions, dark green parts discarded and the light green and whiter parts sliced finely

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sift together 2 cups of the flour and the rest of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
2. In a separate mixing bowl add half n half, cream cheese, then gorgonzola with the frothy egg. Stir in green onions.
3. Add butter to dry ingredients and pinch flour into butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.
4. Add wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
5. Turn out onto a floured work surface and sift in up to an additional 1/2 cup of flour while gently kneading. Only add flour until the dough barely sticks to your hands.
6. Press the dough into a 9" diameter circle and cut into twelve wedges.
7. Arrange on a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet** and bake for 15 minutes at 400, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
8. Serve the first few warm.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

*Warmer than room temperature, and practically liquid throughout, but not hot enough to cook the egg when it is added
**An optional step before baking them is to brush an egg wash over the tops composed of 1 teaspoon water, 2 teaspoons half n half and one whipped egg.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tea Poached Chicken Salad w/ Toasted Walnuts, Apples & Raisins

Have you ever craved chicken salad without having any leftover roast chicken with which to make it? I have and rather than longing for it I usually decide to poach some chicken for the salad. I typically use bay leaves, peppercorns and a few whole pieces of the veggies in mirepoix to flavor the broth, but lately I've been thinking about which dishes might be good with tea. I recalled some lovely tea-poached chicken wings I'd had at a chain called Saint's Alp and the idea for tea poached chicken salad was born. To heighten the depth of the flavor profile I wanted to add toasted walnuts, which led to apples, which led to golden raisins, which (naturally) led to the addition of celery. This is essentially a tea-poached spin on Waldorf salad with chicken as the star. I enjoyed it alongside some homemade baked salt and pepper potato chips. If homemade chips aren't your thing I recommend kettle cooked chips alongside a sandwich piled high with this yummy salad!

And I have a hunch that tea might be the new gourmet flavor of the year. I certainly love its flavor in chocolate truffles--seriously, Earl Grey truffles are fabulous!

Tea Poached Chicken Salad

For the poached chicken:

3/4 lbs. organic skinless and boneless chicken breast
3 bags of black tea of choice (I used English Breakfast; I had it on hand)
2 cups water
1 whole clove (the sweet spice)
4 peppercorns, gently crushed
1/2 lemon sliced width wise

For the salad:

3 small celery heart stalks
1 honeycrisp apple, chopped finely and tossed in the juice of about 1/2 a lemon to avoid browning
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 large stalk outer celery stem, chopped into large-ish pieces
1/4 cup toasted walnuts*, minced
4 Tablespoons mayonnaise, homemade or store bought

1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small pot, then remove from heat. Add tea bags and steep for 4 minutes. Remove teabags and set tea aside to cool.
2. While tea is cooling fit chicken snugly in a single layer in the bottom of a heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Cover with lemon slices and top with the tender celery stalks. Sprinkle pepper and clove around the edges of the chicken.
3. When the tea has cooled to room temperature add it to the pan with the chicken until it just covers the chicken. Bring tea and chicken to a boil, then mostly cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for ten minutes.
4. When the chicken has been simmering for 10 minutes, remove pan from heat and allow the chicken to sit for another 15 - 20 minutes in the hot liquid.
5. Remove chicken from poaching liquid and pour liquid into a mixing bowl; try to avoid adding the solids from the poaching liquid, if possible.
6. Shred chicken between two dinner forks and add to mixing bowl with liquid. Allow this mixture to cool and the chicken to absorb more of the poaching liquid.
7. Squeeze the excess liquid off of the chicken before adding it to a larger mixing bowl. Add the salad ingredients and mix to incorporate. Serve on crusty bread.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

*To make toasted walnuts cook walnuts in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet in an oven preheated to 375 for 5 minutes, or until you start to smell walnuts in the house; remove promptly, because walnuts are easy to burn

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Balsamic Roasted Zucchini & Summer Squash Soup w/ Ginger Yogurt

Spring has sprung and our corner of the world is blossoming before our eyes. The allergy sufferers are in misery and the skies have opened up a torrential downpour on us, the better to nourish spring's buds. All this is to say that it is soup weather once again. This soup weather calls for a lighter, squash-based soup which is perfected by a dollop of savory ginger yogurt. Glazing the squash in balsamic and roasting it with onions gives the soup a surprising depth of flavor.

I served this along with my smoked trout and citrus salad and some fabulous zesty lemon & thyme chicken drumsticks.

Zucchini & Summer Squash Soup

For roasting the squash:

3 Medium Zucchinis, quartered lengthwise
4 Medium Summer Squash, quartered lengthwise
1 Medium yellow onion, quartered
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped off & woody stems discarded
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the soup base:

1 Bayleaf
1 leek, chopped finely
3 carrots, chopped finely
2 stalks celery, chopped finely
3 Tablespoons butter
1/2 Teaspoon olive oil
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups water
salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the yogurt:

1/2" x 1" piece of ginger, peeled and grated
3/4 cup unsweetened greek yogurt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a mixing bow combine all roasting ingredients, then toss to coat. Spread squash and onions in a shallow baking dish in a single even layer. Roast for about 25 minutes, or until completely squishy (the more you overcook your squash, the smoother the consistency of the soup). You may want to remove the onions before 25 minutes are up; start checking on them every 5 minutes at 15 minutes.
2. While the squash and onions are roasting combine the yogurt and ginger and chill in the fridge in a covered container until the soup is ready to serve.
3. When the squash and onions have been roasting for 15 minutes, melt the butter for the soup base in a large heavy-bottom skillet (or whatever you intend to make your soup in); add in olive oil, leek, celery, carrots, salt, pepper and bayleaf and saute until tender over medium heat.
4. When the zucchini and summer squash have roasted until their melting point, remove from oven and allow to cool somewhat. Puree onions and squash in a blender until completely smooth.
5. Add chicken stock and water to your mirepoireau* in the pan and bring to the beginnings of a boil.
6. Mix in pureed veggies and cook another 3-5 minutes, or until all ingredients have reached the same temperature.
7. Serve with a dollop of ginger yogurt and garlic rubbed crostini.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

*Your soup base; get it? n_n