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Hawaiian Chicken with Grilled Pineapple Salsa :: Frozen Watermelon Martinis


Hawaiian Chicken with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

Hawaiian Chicken with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

Grilling with fruit is an easy and staple technique in the summertime – it gives fresh flavor to ordinary BBQ dishes and is a healthy compliment to whatever it is your grilling. This recipe is a Spicy Hawaiian Chicken with a grilled pineapple salsa, made of cilantro, jalapeno pepper and onion (if you prefer a less spicy dish, substitute a red bell pepper instead of the jalapeno). The BBQ sauce is spicy and sweet made with honey, garlic, hot sauce, ketchup and soy sauce (you can also make less spicy by adding more ketchup and soy and honey in place of the hot sauces). The dish is rounded out by a side of rice, perfect mixed in with the pineapple jalapeno salsa and grilled chicken. Top it off with a refreshing frozen watermelon martini (recipe following) – made with vodka, fresh juicy watermelon, crushed ice and some cosmopolitan martini mix…now that’s a sweet and savory dinner perfect for a summer night. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1/4 c pineapple juice
3 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Country Sweet sauce
1 tbsp Chili Garlic sauce
1/2 tbsp Cholula hot pepper sauce
Fresh ground pepper
4 chicken breasts (skinless, boneless, preferably organic for plumper breasts)
Cooking spray
4 pineapple slices for grilling, then diced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and deveined, chopped (or 1/2 red bell pepper)
2 cups cooked rice (white or yellow)

Combine the first seven ingredients to make the BBQ marinade and add the chicken breasts, storing in a Ziplock bag or covered baking dish, reserving some of the marinade for basting. Let marinate for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator.

Prepare the rice per package instructions, keep warm and fluff with a fork when ready to serve.

To prep the grilled pineapple salsa, chop the jalapeno pepper, red onion and cilantro into a medium dice, mix together and set aside to add grilled pineapple for serving.

Heat the grill or grill pan over medium-high heat (spray the grates or pan with cooking spray just before grilling). Grill chicken breasts about 6-7 minutes per side, basting with the reserved marinade a few times on each side until the chicken gets a nice golden brown color and grill marks. Grill the pineapple slices about 1 minute until browned and chop into medium diced pieces. Mix pineapple chunks into the jalapeno, onion and cilantro mixture, and serve with the chicken and rice. Garnish with some extra cilantro leaves and salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4.

Frozen Watermelon Martini

Frozen Watermelon Martini

Frozen Watermelon Martini

2 c watermelon, seeded, cut into chunks
1 tray ice cubes
4 shots vodka (less or more to taste!)
4 shots cosmopolitan martini mix (I used Master of Mixes Martini Gold)

In a blender, puree the watermelon into a thick consistency then add ice cubes, crushing to a medium fine mix. Add vodka and cosmopolitan martini mix and blend until thoroughly mixed. Add more vodka or some Cointreau orange liqueur, if desired, and pour into martini glasses. Garnish with a wedge of fresh watermelon.

Serves 4.

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Crunchy and Luscious: Chicken Mushroom Croquettes



Chicken and Mushroom Croquettes

Chicken Mushroom Croquettes

Croquettes are delicious small fried food rolls – crunchy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. They are usually filled with mashed potatoes or minced meat such as beef or veal, poultry, fish, vegetables or shellfish (crab, lobster, shrimp and salmon are common). The ingredients are mixed together with fresh herbs and spices and oftentimes a creamy white sauce, then shaped into cylindrical patties, coated with breadcrumbs and deep-fried (or you can bake these in the oven if you prefer).

Originating in France, the word croquette means “to crunch”. Perfect for a cocktail party appetizer or just a luscious small dish, served with a salad and a glass of crisp white wine. Serve with a remoulade dipping sauce and a splash of lemon.

Croquettes

1 1/3 c chicken, finely shredded (white meat)
2/3 cup mushrooms, finely chopped (cremini and/or white button)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp celery salt
dash of cayenne
dash of nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c canola oil, for frying

Herb Cream Sauce

1/4 c butter
1/2 c flour
1 c. chicken stock
1/3 c cream
1/2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp thyme, finely chopped

Remoulade Sauce

2 c mayonnaise
2 tbsp chopped capers
1 ½ tbsp chopped chives
1 ½ tbsp. chopped tarragon
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped chipotle pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
Tabasco, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste

To prepare remoulade: In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, capers, chives, tarragon, parsley, chipotle pepper, and Dijon mustard. Add Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and lemon juice to taste. Cover and chill until ready to use.

To make the croquettes, first shred and chop the warm, cooked chicken (a rotisserie chicken is a fast and easy way to do this or you can use shredded parboiled chicken). Finely chop the mushrooms and mix in salt, celery salt, cayenne and nutmeg, mixing all ingredients together.

Make the herb cream sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and slowly adding flour, chicken stock, herbs and cream together, whisking thoroughly and often until the sauce is smooth and creamy.

Add the sauce to the chicken and mushroom mixture, then add one beaten egg until it has a moist but firm texture; set aside to cool. Shape into cylindrical patties and coat with breadcrumbs. Place croquettes in a frying pan in heated oil over medium high and fry until the croquettes have a crispy, golden brown crust, about 5-6 minutes, and drain on paper towels.

Serve with a side salad of mixed greens with lemon juice and olive oil dressing, a crisp white wine and remoulade sauce for dipping.

Makes 4  servings.

 

Other Croquette recipes you may enjoy:

Paula Deen’s Potato Croquettes

Alton Brown’s Tuna Croquettes

Anthony Bourdain’s Dutch Croquettes

Japanese Beef and Potato Croquettes (Korokke)

Saveur’s Salmon Croquettes

Indochine Kitchen’s Croquettes

Meet the Chef: Jimmy Canora of Valentino’s on the Green


Watch the video as Kristen Hess interviews Chef de Cuisine Jimmy Canora at Valentino’s on the Green – the legendary fine dining Italian restaurant in Bayside Queens. The Chef demonstrates his infamous dish Chicken Breast Valentino with Creamy Polenta, Wild Mushrooms, Roasted Spring Vegetables and Madeira Wine Sauce and discusses his background and history as a Chef and Cookbook Author.

Valentino's on the Green

Valentino's on the Green

Valentino’s on the Green is a romantic fine dining Italian restaurant in a beautiful old mansion in a neighborhood rich in history, culture and style. This elegant establishment pays homage to Italian-born silent film legend and former resident, Rudolph Valentino. Valentino was America’s first sex symbol derived from his provocative roles in films such as The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) and The Sheik (1921). He helped launch the new era of film and film stars and was one of the most iconic figures of Hollywood. Valentino’s on the Green combines this romantic history and Italian culinary expertise into a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

Giorgio Kolaj & Don Pintabona

Giorgio Kolaj & Don Pintabona

Headed by restaurateur Giorgio Kolaj, and renowned chef and cookbook author, Don Pintabona, who helped Robert DeNiro launch Tribeca Grill in NYC, Pintabona has served as Executive Chef for over a decade. Jimmy Canora, an award-winning chef, also formerly of Tribeca Grill and Delmonico’s; has brought his culinary mastery to Valentino’s on the Green and created an exceptional menu for this gorgeous historical landmark.

Valentino's interior

Valentino's interior

Valentino’s on the Green has several dining rooms inside elegantly furnished with chandeliers, grand mouldings, burgundy leather and mahogany furnishings and large windows. They have a gorgeous outside patio for dining in the warmer months, overlooking a golf course and beautiful park. They serve lunch, dinner and brunch on Sundays and have a spectacular dessert menu as well as a special Mother’s Day brunch annually. Reservations are accepted for private parties in the banquet hall with space for up to 220 guests, and catering is also available.

Start your meal with an Appetizer of fresh seafood including Shrimp or Crabmeat Cocktail, Grilled Octopus and Oysters or an Antipasti platter, soup or salad. Their Pasta is fresh made daily – Braised Short Rib Ragu with Mixed Mushrooms, Ricotta and Rosemary and Sweet Pea Mascarpone Ravioli or Lemon Tagliatelle Frutti Di Mare are just a few of their popular selections.

For Main Course, Valentino’s offers classic entrees such as Veal Marsala, Chicken Parmesan, Shrimp Scampi, Grilled Swordfish, Herb Crusted Lamb Chops, Steaks, Pork Braciole “Valdostana”, and their infamous Chicken Breast Valentino, stuffed with Fontina Cheese, Prosciutto and Spinach cooked in a buttery Madeira wine sauce with mushrooms and served with luscious creamy polenta and grilled Spring vegetables (recipe below). Last but not least they have an amazing dish of Spicy Chili Glazed Lobsters, with Spring Onion and Bay Scallop Risotto, Asparagus and Brandied Lobster Sauce that is out of this world.

Appetizers range from $8-29, Soups and Salads range from $7-$13 and Dinner Entrees range from $16-49. They offer a $24 Three Course Lunch Prix Fixe and Mother’s Day Brunches run at $49.50 per person. Reservations are accepted and recommended via phone or OpenTable.com.

Chicken Breast Valentino

Chicken Breast Valentino

Chicken Breast Valentino

Ingredients

6 boneless chicken breasts, pounded ¼” thin
1 c Seasoned all purpose flour
¼ c unsalted butter
¼ c extra virgin olive oil
½ c Madeira wine
1 c chicken stock, as needed
1 c veal stock, or low sodium beef broth, as needed
6 slices Prosciutto Di Parma, thinly sliced
6 slices Fontina cheese, thinly sliced
3 tbsp Parmiagiano Reggiano, grated
6 fresh Sage leaves
1 c cooked mixed mushrooms, (Oyster, Portabella, Crimini & Shitake)
1 small leek, white part only, diced and blanched
2 c cooked polenta, (Mascarpone, Parmesan, Chicken stock, Cream)
2 c roasted Spring veggies (baby zucchini, patty pan squash & baby carrots)
¼ c fresh chopped parsley, garnish
6 springs fresh thyme, garnish

Method

Season and lightly flour chicken breasts, shaking off excess flour.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil/butter, 2 tbsp at a time and when butter starts to foam, add the chicken breasts in batches, sauté until lightly browned about 2 minutes per side. Remove and set aside, and repeat until all chicken is cooked.

Increase the heat and add the mushrooms and leeks and sauté until the release of their liquid and start to crisp, about 1 minute, then add the Madeira wine and simmer to reduce to ¼, adding in the stock along with some more butter, salt and pepper.

Reduce heat to very low and top each chicken breast with a slice of prosciutto, sage, Fontina and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

Return to the skillet until the cheese melts and chicken is warmed through.

Serve with hot polenta and roasted Spring vegetables and sauce each plate with the Madeira Mushroom sauce. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and a spring of fresh thyme for garnish.

Serves 6.

View the Menu

Valentino’s on the Green
201-10 Cross Island Parkway
Bayside, New York 11360
718 352 2300
www.valentinosnyc.com

Grillin’ Up Summer BBQ: Tasty Chicken Burgers and Shrimp Kabobs


Tasty Chicken Burgers and Shrimp Kabobs

Tasty Chicken Burgers and Shrimp Kabobs

Summer is finally on it’s way and along with the warm weather and sunshine comes grilling season! For Memorial Day, my beau and I went to Brighton Beach and soaked up the sun, sand and waves on a gorgeous, relaxing day. We hit the fresh fish, fruit and vegetable markets to pick up some gorgeous iced shrimp and some fresh ground chicken, pineapples, onion, cilantro and broccoli slaw and headed home to Manhattan to stoke up the fires and make some awesome BBQ rooftop-style.

Rooftop BBQ

Rooftop BBQ

Aiming to keep it light, we decided to whip up my infamous Chicken Burgers with my secret recipe made with Dale’s Steak Seasoning (a delicious find I discovered when living in Atlanta and great on anything grilled!) made with soy sauce, garlic, paprika and ginger mixed with some other spices mixed into the ground chicken (garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper and smoked paprika). We also made our signature Teriyaki Shrimp and Pineapple Kabobs marinated in Tavern on the Green‘s tasty Golden Ginger Teriyaki Sauce with ingredients of soy sauce, lemon, red wine vinegar, ginger, honey, and spices with pineapple juice and let them marinade for up to an hour. For grilling, we smoked them up over some Mesquite flavored coals to give the Chicken and Shrimp a delicious charred, smoky flavor. To top it off, we enjoyed a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and some Broccoli Slaw and enjoyed our rooftop dinner watching the stars on a lovely, breezy summer night overlooking the East side of Manhattan. Happy Summer on it’s way!

Chicken Burgers

Chicken Burgers

Tasty Chicken Burgers

1 lb ground Chicken (breast meat)
1 lb ground Chicken (thigh meat)
1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder or 1 tbsp fresh chopped Garlic
1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
1 tbsp Dale’s Seasoning
1 tbsp Paula Deen House Seasoning
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1 bunch Cilantro, fresh chopped or 1 tbsp dried
A dash of fresh ground Salt and Pepper
4 Cheese slices, Muenster or Monterey Jack

Mix all ingredients except the cheese together with the ground chicken and mix thoroughly with your fingers in a claw motion until mixed well. Place burgers in a baking dish and cover, let marinade in refrigerator for up to 1 hour. Preheat grill with Mesquite Charcoal. Form meat mixture into 10-12 patties and grill over med-high heat for 5-6 mins each side until no longer pink. Melt cheese slices over burgers last 5 mins of grilling, covering grill to melt cheese. Serve with broccoli slaw and garlic dill pickles.

Serves 4.

Shrimp

Fresh Shrimp from the Market

Teriyaki Shrimp Kabobs

1.5 lb fresh Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 can pineapple chunks, or 1.5 cups fresh pineapple chunks
1/2 large red onion, cut into large chunks
Tavern on the Green Golden Ginger Teriyaki Sauce
1/2 cup Pineapple juice

In a large resealable plastic bag or plastic bowl, combine shrimp with Teriyaki Sesame Marinade and Pineapple juice; cover or seal and let marinate in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours.

Drain and discard marinade. On 8 metal or soaked bamboo skewers, alternately thread shrimp, pineapple and onion. Moisten a paper towel with cooking oil; using long-handled tongs, lightly coat the grill rack. Grill kabobs, covered, over medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side or until shrimp turn pink.

Serves 4.

Asian Broccoli Slaw

Asian Broccoli Slaw

Asian Broccoli Slaw

Recipe by Paula Deen, Food Network

2 bags (3-ounce) Ramen Noodle Soup in Oriental
3/4 stick butter
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 bags (12-ounce) bags broccoli cole slaw (in the bagged salad section of the grocery store)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Chopped green onions, for garnish

Dressing Mix:

3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup brown or white sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 ramen noodle seasoning packet

Directions

Put the ramen noodles in a bag and crush them with a rolling pin while melting butter in a large skillet over low/medium heat. Add the crushed noodles and slivered almonds to the skillet and saute, stirring occasionally (keep temperature at low/medium heat). Meanwhile, whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Place the shredded broccoli into bowl and toss with the noodles, almonds, and sunflower seeds. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Garnish with chopped green onions.
Serves 4-6.

Spring Fever! Spicing It up with Caribbean Flavors


Caribbean Chicken w/ Guava Pan Sauce, Caramelized Mangoes, Black Beans and Rice

Caribbean Chicken with Guava Pan Sauce, Caramelize Mangoes and Black Beans + Rice

Since I have lived in New York City, this has probably been the longest winter known to man. Last week on another cold, rainy, dismal day I started dreaming about going somewhere warm, sunny and tropical. Where the skies and sea are blue, the sand is white and the warm tropical air breezes through the palm trees and you don’t have a care in the world. I started having flashbacks of a trip I took to Jamaica a while back where the islanders greet you with a smile and the pace of life is laid back, jovial and carefree. One of the things I remember most about my experience there was the food and how delicious it was.

parsley and lemonsMango

They use unique fiery blends of spices (typically Jerk which is used as a rub on grilled meats) accompanied by an abundance of tropical fruits such as citrus, bananas, mangoes, pineapple, coconuts, papaya and guava. Caribbean cuisine is a unique blend of hot and cool, savory and sweet, and a refreshing burst of flavors reflecting the tropical climates in the region.

Lemon Infused Olive Oil with GarlicInstant Gourmet Caribbean Isles

I suddenly had a strong urge to cook a Caribbean dish and I wanted to try my new spice blend from Instant Gourmet, Caribbean Isles. This seasoning is a delicious blend of salt, bell peppers, garlic and onion, paprika and chili pepper and some additional spices – it really is great to use as a Jerk seasoning when you want some spicy flavor that isn’t too hot but very flavorful. You should try some of Instant Gourmet’s other spice blends too – they have an Original Spice blend, a Butter, Garlic and Parsley blend, a Spicy Coffee Steak blend, an Italian blend and a Southwestern Spice blend – all delicious and great on everything!

Guava Paste, Wine and Chicken BrothBlack Beans and Saffron Rice

I had some chicken breasts on hand and thought I would pair it with some black beans and saffron rice as a side dish. I also wanted to experiment with some of the tropical fruits from the region and incorporate them into my dish somehow so I decided to get a mango and some guava paste to caramelize and make a pan sauce for the chicken.

Lemon, Garlic, Parsley and Olive Oil MarinadeMarinating the Chicken

I also marinated the chicken in lemon juice, garlic and parsley and used an infused lemon oil in the saffron rice to give it a nice lemony zing to round out the tropical flavors in the dish.

Traditional Jerk Chicken is usually rubbed with a dry spice blend and then grilled over hot coals to give it a crunchy blackened flavor. I decided to saute the chicken instead and make a savory pan sauce with wine, broth and guava paste to drizzle over the chicken and the rice and caramelized the mangoes by sauteing them in brown butter, brown sugar and a dash of salt and pepper. The black beans were canned (Goya brand) but to make them more flavorful, I added some sautéed onions and garlic, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper and a dash of the Caribbean Isles seasoning.

The dish turned out to be a great combination of flavors – the sweetness of the caramelized mangoes complimented the spicy savory flavors of the chicken and black beans and the lemony saffron rice gave it a fresh kick of citrus to round out the dish. It was light, refreshing and a definite departure from this dreary, rainy, cold weather city I live in, a sliver of sunshine for my day – if even for a moment.

Caribbean Chicken with Guava Pan Sauce and Caramelized Mangoes with Black Beans and Saffron Rice

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice plus some lemon zest from 1 lemon
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Instant Gourmet Caribbean Isles Spice blend
4 large skinless boneless chicken breasts
2 tbsp guava paste
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 tbsp butter (1/2 stick)
1-2 tbsp brown sugar
1 large mango, halved, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
Salt and pepper
1 package of Goya Saffron Rice (Spanish style)
1 can Goya black beans
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1 garlic clove, chopped fine
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 green onions, sliced fine

Whisk first 4 ingredients together to make the marinade in a large bowl. Add chicken breasts to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and Caribbean Isles Spice blend on both sides. Cover chicken and chill for 2-3 hours, turning occasionally.

Saffron Rice

When chicken is done marinading, boil a pot of water and prepare the Saffron Rice per the box instructions and cook about 45 minutes until fluffy.

Browning Chicken

Remove chicken breasts from marinade, scraping excess off the chicken. Heat 1 tbsp canola oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken breasts to the skillet and cook until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Wine, Broth and Guava Paste Pan SauceBraising Chicken in Pan Liquids

Add wine and broth to the skillet along with the guava paste and stir until paste is dissolved and blended to the liquids. Bring to a boil. Add chicken breasts to the wine/broth/guava mixture in the skillet and cover, reducing heat to medium and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes (basting occasionally). Transfer chicken to a work surface and let stand for 10 minutes.

In a medium stovetop pan, saute some chopped onion and garlic in some canola oil until lightly browned. Add black beans (don’t drain), and 1 tbsp vinegar and a few shakes of the Instant Gourmet Caribbean Isles spice blend and a dash of salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes and keep warm.

Caramelized Mangoes

Meanwhile, melt butter in another heavy medium size skillet over medium-high heat. Add mango slices, 1-2 tbsp brown sugar, a pinch of salt and stir. Saute until browned, about 2 minutes per side.

Caribbean Chicken, Black Beans and Rice

Boil juices in skillet until slightly thickened and sauce is reduced, about 3 minutes. Drizzle guava pan sauce over the chicken breasts and serve with caramelized mangoes, black beans and saffron rice. Garnish with chopped green onions, parsley and serve with a crisp white wine.

Serves 4.

Recipe inspired by a Bon Appetit recipe for Guava-Stuffed Chicken in Tastes of the World, 2008

Find out more about Instant Gourmet spices online at www.instantgourmetspices.com

A Taste of Tuscany


Essentials of Tuscan Cooking

Eggplant Crostini

Tuscany (Toscana) is probably one of the most beautiful and scenic regions of Italy and the most popular places to visit, known for its rolling hills, mesmerizing sunsets,  rustic landscapes, vineyards, farmhouses and olive groves. I have not had the opportunity to visit there yet, but I love the cuisine and it’s first on my list when I plan my next trip to Italy.

Tuscan cuisine is a simple and earthy way of cooking, which centers around fresh and local ingredients from the farming region such as olive oil, greens, poultry, beans, beef, pork, rabbit, lamb, and sausages. Crostini is a famous antipasti which are little toasted breads spread with toppings such as olive tapenade or chicken liver pates. Bruschetta is also a popular antipasti made with rustic bread, fresh chopped tomatoes and garlic. Other popular dishes from the area are Panzanella (bread salad), Minestrone soup, Pasta Fagiole (cannelloni bean and pasta soup) and Ribollita.

Because of the ample farm land in Tuscany and areas surrounding Florence, there is a large production of olive oil, grapes and wine, and a variety of fruits and vegetables and herbs such as pears, oranges, thyme, rosemary, tomatoes, wild mushrooms, artichokes, asparagus, spinach and beans – all main ingredients in Tuscan cooking. Risotto is an earthy dish that incorporates many of these vegetables and cheeses from the region. Fennel is another ingredient often used in salad and sautéed with meat dishes. In Florence, Pecorino (a salty sheep’s milk cheese) tends to have herbs, garlic and red pepper added for flavor and is served shaved in salads or as cut in chunks served with grapes, olives and rustic breads like Foccacia bread with rosemary and olive oil.

Almond and Anise Biscotti and Oranges in Marsala Glaze are standard desserts and most of the wine that originates in the area is Chianti, aged in small oak barrels. Another popular white wine is Vernaccia, ranging from light and crisp to full-bodied, made in a small medieval town known as San Gimignano.

The following is a sampling of some of my favorite Tuscan recipes that use rustic and earthy ingredients originating from a Tuscan Cooking class I took at the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC. If you’re interested in learning more about Tuscan cooking there are a variety of cookbooks sold online, as well as cooking excursions in Tuscany with local chefs and other sites dedicated to Tuscan cooking.

Mushroom Risotto

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom stock:

½ lb. cremini mushrooms

½ lb. white button mushrooms

½ lb. shitake mushrooms

2 quarts chicken stock

½ c. dried porcini mushrooms

4 tbsp butter

3 oz. Madeira wine

Risotto:

3 tbsp butter

2 shallots, finely minced

4 c. Arborio rice

¾ c. white wine

Mushroom stock (reserved)

1 tbsp. minced chives

1 tbsp. Italian parsley

¼ c. grated Pecorino Romano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the mushroom stock, wash and trim the stems of the fresh mushrooms. Reserve the stems and slice the mushroom caps for use later in the recipe. (Make sure to dust of the dirt first and don’t soak the mushrooms).

Combine the chicken stock, stems, dried porcini mushrooms in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes over low heat. Strain through a cheesecloth and reserve the liquid for the risotto.

Heat a large sauté pan and add 4 tbsp of butter. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until browned. Deglaze the Madeira and reduce until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Reserve the mushrooms. (Try to let the Madeira glaze sit, don’t stir).

For the risotto, heat a wide pot or rondeau (flat bottom pot with tall sides) over medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp butter. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir the mixture together to coat the rice with the shallots and butter.

Add the white wine, lower the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine has evaporated. Begin adding the mushroom stock, a large ladleful at a time. Continue to add the mushroom stock (slowly and continuously), stirring constantly until the rice is just cooked through and all the stock has been absorbed, about 20 mins. The rice should be slightly al dente but have a creamy consistency and not dry.

Stir in the reserved mushrooms, the remaining tablespoon of butter, chives, and parsley. Top off the risotto with Pecorino Romano and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6.

Pork Chops with Fennel

Pork Chops with Olives and Fennel

¼ c. extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, crushed

4 pork rib chops, bone in

Salt and black pepper to taste

1 tbsp. fennel seeds, crushed

1 c. white wine

2 fennel bulbs, cored and quartered or cut into eighths

6 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, roughly chopped

¼ c. Gaeta olives, pitted

1 spring rosemary

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet with sides over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it turns brown, and remove the garlic. Season the pork chops with salt and add them to the pan. Cook until one side is brown, then turn and brown the other side. Remove and reserve until later. Add the fennel seeds to the pan and cook for 1 minute (toast them lightly to release oils and flavor, watch closely to not  burn them).

Remove the pan from the heat and deglaze with wine. Return the pan to the heat and cook until wine nearly evaporates. Add the fennel pieces, tomatoes, olives and rosemary.

Bring the liquid to a simmer and add the pork chops back to the pan. Cover the pan and cook for 15-20 minutes more or until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F. Remove the chops and if liquid is too runny, reduce until it coats the back of a spoon.

This recipe can also be made with veal chops, and for extra flavor and to ensure juicy chops that won’t dry out, soak them in a brine overnight made out of 2 quarts of water, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of salt and throw in some chopped up herbs such as rosemary or thyme.

Makes 4 servings.

Pollo alla Toscana

Pollo alla Toscana (Tuscan Chicken)

2 c. dried navy beans, soaked overnight (or canned beans drained and rinsed)

1/3 c. diced slab bacon or pancetta

2 (4 lb.) chickens, cut up into 8 pieces each

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Flour for dredging

1 medium yellow onion, diced small

2 celery ribs, diced small

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup white wine (dry and crisp, such as Chablis)

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tsp. freshly minced rosemary

3 canned plum tomatoes, chopped

2 tbsp freshly minced parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Drain and rinse the soaked beans. Discard the liquid.

In a medium saucepan, over high heat, bring 5 cups of water to a boil and add the rinsed and soaked beans. Cook them until they are soft, but not mushy. Drain the beans, but reserve the cooking liquid.

Cook the bacon in a large rondeau or Dutch oven until just browned. Using a slotted spoon put the bacon on paper towels to drain, reserving the fat in the pan.

Pat the chicken pieces dry, season with salt and papper and dredge in flour, shaking off any excess. Heat the bacon fat over high heat and when it is hot, add the chicken and cook, in batches, turning the pieces once, until the skin becomes golden brown and crisp. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Add the onions, celery and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and deglaze with the wine. Return the pan to the heat and bring it to a boil, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and reduce by 1/3. Return the chicken and bacon to the pan, add the beans, thyme, rosemary, tomatoes, and 2 cups of the reserved beans cooking liquid (liquid should come half way up the pan, use more or less accordingly). Cover, place in the oven and cook for about 40 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink and most of the liquid has absorbed. You may have to add more liquid if it looks dry.

Season with salt and papper to taste and garnish with parsley.

Makes 8 servings.

Cipolline Onions

Cipolline Agro Dolce (Caramelized Cipolline Onions)

2 lbs. Cippoline onions

6 tbsp sugar

½ c. red wine vinegar

8 sage leaves

¾ c. extra-virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside.

Blanch the onions for 2 minutes in boiling water. With a slotted spoon, immediately remove the onions and place them in ice water. Remove when cool and peel removing the stem and first layer of skin.

In a large baking dish, mix the onions, sugar, vinegar, sage, olive oil, and salt making sure that onions are coated evenly (this makes a lot of liquid so you don’t need to use it all).

Bake in the oven for approx. 60 mins, or until the onions are well caramelized. Make sure to turn the onions and watch them while in the oven, taking care to not let them burn.

Makes 6 servings.

Pear and Fennel Salad

Pear and Fennel Salad

2 fennel bulbs, cored and cut into thin slices

8 cups mixed salad greens (red leaf, Bibb, Boston and Radiccio), washed and dried

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon

3 red Bartlett or Bosc pears, cut in half, cored and thinly sliced

Combine the fennel with the salad greens. Refrigerate until ready to toss.

When ready to toss, add the salt and pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. Toss gently and arrange on individual plates or a platter. Top with the pear slices and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Glazed Oranges and Biscotti

Oranges in Marsala Glaze

6 large navel oranges, peeled and pith removed (save one peel with pith removed)

¼ c. sugar

¾ c. sweet Marsala wine

½ c. Cointreau (orange liqueur)

12 mint leaves

In a small saucepan with boiling water, simmer the orange peel over high heat for 5 mins; drain and set aside. When cool, slice into julienne strips.

Separate each orange into sections, removing all membrane between sections. Place sectioned oranges in a large bowl, cover and chill.

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, Marsala, and Cointreau. Bring to a boil over medium heat until the mixture has reduced by half or until it becomes syrupy. Add orange peel strips to the syrup and chill. To serve, spoon orange sections into individual dessert dishes. Top with Marsala glaze. Garnish with mint leaves.

Tip: this dessert is delicious topped over Vanilla ice cream and served with Almond and Anise biscotti on the side.

Makes 6 servings.

Other Tuscan recipes you might enjoy:

Panzanella (Bread Salad)

Peach Bellini

Crostini with Roasted Eggplant

Olive Tapenade

Chicken Liver Pate

Pasta e Fagioli

Minestrone

Ribollita (Bread Soup)

Bistecca alla Florentine (Tuscan Steak)

Almond and Anise Biscotti

On The Menu: Roasted Chicken w/ Pinot Noir Sauce and Garlic-Smashed Potatoes


Roasted Chicken and Garlic-Smashed Potatoes

Whenever I have a day off, I normally feel the urge to sleep the entire day and forget the world. After thoroughly cleaning my apartment, getting my laundry together and paying bills all afternoon, I worked up a healthy appetite for a really nice dinner.

However, after exhausting all my energy on mundane activities all day, I wanted to make something simple but delicious, and a dish that I could make with all of the ingredients I had on hand: chicken, wine, garlic and potatoes. The thought of actually having to leave my apartment to go to the grocery store and expending more of my precious energy walking up four flights of stairs bewildered me.

I found this recipe for Roasted Chicken Breast with a Pinot Noir sauce and Garlic-Smashed Potatoes and decided to give it try because it sounded interesting (red wine sauce on chicken?) yet elegant. The chicken came out absolutely perfect; crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside – flavored with rosemary and thyme, and sauteed in a light, seasoned searing flour before roasting in the oven giving it a nice browned flavor. The wine sauce is the trickiest part – you want to cook down the wine in the sauce until it turns into a thick glaze and watch it so it doesn’t burn, stirring often.

The potatoes were pretty amazing – buttery, garlicky, crispy on top but creamy underneath the browned crust. The recipe suggests topping the potatoes with sour cream and chives when serving which I omitted, but instead I added a drizzle of Wegman’s basting oil, flavored with garlic, thyme and parsley on top before I put them in the broiler to give them a little extra flavor and crispier crunch.

I highly recommend a glass of red wine to accompany – and a side of crisp sauteed green beans or sugar snap peas for some extra veg. All in all, it turned out to be the perfect meal for a perfectly exhausting day off.

Roasted Breast of Chicken with Pinot Noir Sauce

Ingredients

2  teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2  teaspoon salt, divided
1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2  teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
8  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4  cup all-purpose flour
1  tablespoon olive oil, divided
Cooking spray
3  tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2  cups pinot noir
1 1/2  cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
3/4  teaspoon sugar
3  tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Sprinkle thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and rosemary evenly over chicken. Dredge chicken in flour; shake off excess flour. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 chicken breast halves to pan; cook 2 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over; cook 1 minute. Remove chicken from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining chicken. Arrange chicken in a single layer on the rack of a roasting pan coated with cooking spray; place rack in pan. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160°. Remove from oven. Cover and let stand 10 minutes.

3. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shallots to saucepan; sauté 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Stir in wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Increase heat to high; bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until wine is reduced to 1 cup. Add broth; cook 16 minutes or until broth mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and sugar. Gradually add butter, stirring constantly with a whisk until smooth. Serve sauce with chicken.

Serves 8.

Source: Cooking Light, Oct 2010

Garlic-Smashed Potatoes

Ingredients

1 3/4 pounds small unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes (about 16), scrubbed
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Preparation

Generously butter glass pie dish. Cook potatoes and garlic in medium pot of boiling salted water until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; let stand 5 minutes. Discard garlic. Arrange potatoes close together in prepared dish. Using wooden spoon, smash potatoes coarsely until they split open. Drizzle with oil; dot with butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Preheat broiler. Broil potatoes until crisp and golden, watching closely to avoid burning, 8 to 10 minutes. Top with dollops of sour cream; sprinkle with chives.

Serves 6.

Source: Bon Appetit, Feb 2009

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