Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Parmesan Pepper Roasted Cauliflower (Cacio e Pepe)

Before I apologize for mis-using the term cacio e pepe (an amazing simple pasta preparation with parmesan and black pepper) I have quite a bit of news to announce! It is well into the new year now and I want to share with you what will be upcoming for The Joyous Kitchen. First, the bad news: I’ll be updating with less frequency for a while, probably the better part of the year. However, that is because I will be working hard on two new cookbooks for you to put on your kitchen shelves! That’s right--two cookbooks! Hopefully you’re as excited about my upcoming barbeque cookbook and my upcoming baby food cookbook as I am. I’ll be updating with news on the books from time to time, as well as continuing to share recipes here.

Ok, on to the apology: I am sorry to use the name for my dish of a gorgeous cooking alchemical event whereby the heat from cooked pasta infuses into it the flavors of cheese and spicy sweet black pepper and the starchy cooking water forms a luscious sauce over all. Seriously, if you’ve never tried cacio e pepe pasta, you should. It is difficult to believe that something with three ingredients can be so deliciously sophisticated.

Why have I used the name of this preparation so liberally? Because it struck me just the other day what a sexy combination parmesan and pepper is for roasted cauliflower. Although cauliflower doesn’t exude enough moisture to form a sauce and isn’t porous enough to absorb the flavors in the same way, I still think the combination is good enough that it can borrow the name.

Cacio e Pepe Roasted Cauliflower

Serves 4

One head cauliflower, cleaned and trimmed into florets
1 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 ounce Parmesan cheese
Generous pinch pepper
Salt, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400. Toss cauliflower in olive oil to coat. Season with salt and liberally with freshly ground pepper.
2. Grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment. Lay cauliflower florets in a single layer.
3. Bake for 20 - 35 minutes, or until the cauliflower is cooked through.
4. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. When the florets are cool enough to handle grate cheese over them and toss to coat.

Serve warm.

Monday, January 9, 2017

3 Step Chicken Cacciatore

Happy new year, everyone! I’m posting today to help everyone with their new year’s resolutions--at least the diet related ones. Diet food can be a drag. Bland, or uninspiring, sometimes even downright unsatisfying. Chicken Cacciatore is none of those things! It is a hearty, satisfying peasant dish. More of a concept, really; endlessly customizable, the word Cacciatore simply means “catch.” So it was a stew or a roast made from not only the hunter’s spoils, but also the vegetables one had laying around one’s pantry. That being said, in America Cacciatore (which almost always features chicken) is thought of as something of a specific dish. There are always bell peppers of some kind, and usually tinned tomatoes, mushrooms and/or olives.

Since I've been obsessed with my calorie counting app (especially since the new year) and since you can input your own recipes, I know exactly how many calories this hearty stew is per serving: 337. An excellent number, considering how filling it is.

As i mentioned above, this is a dish that is highly customizable. As such, this recipe is just a jumping off point. Make this dish however you want it to be, however your family likes it. I hope you enjoy my version of it, but don’t be afraid to experiment.

I've made this stew in both my dutch oven and my crockpot. I've used a Dutch oven in this recipe because I find more people have a dutch oven than a crock pot. To cook it in a crock pot simply transfer the sauteed veggies to the bottom of the crock pot between steps 2 & 3. Cook in the crock pot for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low.

Chicken Cacciatore

Serves 8

3 - 3.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 (28 oz) can chopped tomatoes
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup olives
2 medium green peppers, cut into strips
2 medium orange peppers, cut into strips
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. In a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed stock pot over medium heat, saute onions, and peppers in olive oil until they begin to soften.
2. Add garlic, oregano and basil and cook for an additional minute.
3. Add chicken, tomatoes, chicken stock, bay leaf and olives. Season with salt and pepper. Bring stew to a gentle boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 90 minutes.

Serve over pasta (we've tried rigatoni and gemelli, with the latter bring our favorite).