Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Wraps

So, these are from a while ago.... I made them for UFC 143.  Sorry about the time lapse.  But, it is getting very spring-y here in the South.  It is a sweet reminder that real spring is just around the corner and with that means Farmers' Markets!  I seriously can not wait for super fresh and ridiculously tasty local vegetables.
Just veg on the left, with chicken on the right.
Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Wraps
6 12in spinach tortillas
2 6oz containers of roasted garlic hummus
~2 C cooked, shredded chicken
4 lrg bell peppers, roasted and sliced (I used red and yellow, but use your faves.)*
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 med eggplant, in 1/4 inch slices
3 med zucchini, thinly sliced
~6 C baby greens
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

   Toss mushrooms eggplant and zucchini with oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast at 375 deg F until tender.  Mushrooms will take 5-6 minutes and the zucchini and eggplant will take 7-8 minutes.  But whenever they are done to your liking, take them out of the oven.
   Spread 2 oz of hummus over each tortilla.
   Evenly distribute roasted peppers over tortillas.
   On three, lay out the mushroom, eggplant, and zucchini.  Divide the chicken among the other three.
   Top with about 1 C of baby greens, or however much you like.
   Tightly roll up tortillas and wrap with plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Slice and serve.
   Makes 3 roasted veggie wraps and 3 chicken wraps.  Serves 12-16.... or 6 if you are eating them for lunch or a light dinner.

*For roasting bell peppers:  Place rack near top of oven.  Broil peppers on top rack on high until skin blisters and chars.  Turn peppers over while cooking to evenly char skin.  While hot, place in large glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let them cool; then peel and de-seed them.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Indulgent Veggie Pizza

We have a pizza problem in my house.  The problem is we like it a little too much.  I make pizza about every 10 days.  I am constantly trying to come up with new combinations and this one emerged a couple months ago.  It stuck around for several rounds of pizza making, before I had to temporarily retire it in favor of creating new pizzas.  But it will be back!  As soon as the farmer's market is swinging for spring, this will be a staple.  If a veggie pizza can be over the top and indulgent, this is it!  The Boar's Head Horseradish White Cheddar is the icing on the cake... cheese on the pizza.

Indulgent Veggie Pizza
12-14 oz whole wheat pizza dough (~3/4 this recipe)
corn meal
1 C shredded mozzarella
~1/2 C (or a little more) shredded Boar's Head horseradish white cheddar
1/2 lrg onion, sliced
1/2 lrg red bell pepper, sliced
1 med zucchini, cut into half moons
1 C roughly chopped spinach
2 heaping Tbsp chopped kalamata olives
2 heaping Tbsp chopped black olives
1 C crushed tomatoes
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flake

   Sprinkle a pizza pan with cornmeal.  Stretch dough into a ~14 in circle.  Pre-bake for 5-7 minutes at 450 deg F on bottom rack.
   Combine ingredients for sauce.
   Quickly saute onions, bell pepper, and zucchini over med-hi heat in some oil with salt and pepper.  About 3-4 minutes.  They should be just starting to soften.
   Spread sauce onto crust.  Add spinach, then cheese, and top with vegetables and olives.
   Cook in 450 deg F oven on middle rack for 8-10 minutes, until bottom of crust is crispy and brown and cheese is bubbly and golden.
   Serves 4.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Currant and Almond Stuffed Pork Loin w/ Sweet Vermouth Pan Sauce

Last Saturday, I catered my first plated meal!  It was intense and exciting... and went pretty damn well despite a few minor hiccups.
Currant and Almond Stuffed Pork Loin w/ Sweet Vermouth Gravy
Triple Chocolate Torte w/ Raspberry Whipped Cream

If you don't think that sounds delicious, you're an idiot.  I got teenagers (11-17) to lick their plates clean and rave about the food... and you know they are notoriously picky.  Oh, and I wrote the recipe for currants, but when shopping there weren't any.  I used cherry infused cranberries instead.  That was also delicious.  The menu says gravy because cooking for a crowd, the gravy was easier than a pan sauce.... same flavor profile still.

Currant and Almond Stuffed Pork Loin
3.5-4 lb pork loin, butterflied
1 C stale bread, cut into small cubes
1/2 C dried currants
1/2 C chopped raw (or lightly roasted) almonds
1/2 C watered down beef broth*
1/4 C sweet vermouth
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 an egg, lightly beaten
extra oil, salt, and pepper, and broth

   Combine bread, currants, almonds, broth, vermouth, oil, thyme, salt and pepper, and egg.  Let stand for 30 minutes.  Spread on the inside of the butterflied loin.  Roll up and truss (tie) with butchers twine.  Liberally salt and pepper the outside of the pork.
   Heat some oil in a large skillet over med-hi heat.  Sear all sides of pork.  Place in a roasting pan with ~1/2 C watered down broth.  Cover with foil.
   Place in a 375 deg F oven for 45-50 minutes.  Remove foil.  Cook another 25-30 minutes; until internal temperature reads 145 deg F.
   Tent with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes.  Slice and serve.
   Serve 6-8.

Sweet Vermouth Pan Sauce
Pan drippings from searing pork
1/2 C watered down beef broth
1/4 C sweet vermouth
3 Tbsp unsalted butter

   While pan is still hot from searing pork (pork should be removed but heat not turned off), deglaze with vermouth.  Scrape all the bits off the bottom.  Turn heat down to med.
   Add broth.  Reduce by a little more than 1/3.  Melt in butter.  When thick and shiny it is ready.
   Spoon over carved pork.

*Even reduced sodium beef broth become too salty in this dish because of the reduction in the pan sauce and inherent salinity of other ingredients.  Water broth down with a 1:1 ratio of beef broth to water.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nutella Rice Pudding

I hope everyone had a lovely Valentine's Day.  I don't buy into that whole "it has to be fancy and expensive to be romantic".  We had a nice evening at home with Blue Coast Burritos (my absolute favorite casual eating joint, of which I have been a HUGE fan of even before they went full-on franchising with it), a movie (Without Limits), and this delightfully easy yet sinfully good dessert.

Nutella Rice Pudding
1 2/3 C 1% milk
1/3 C heavy cream
1/4 C arborio rice
1/4 C Nutella
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Hazelnut liqueur

   Combine milks and rice in a sauce pan.  Bring to a bubble over med-hi heat.  Reduce heat to med-lo and simmer for 35-40 minutes, stirring regularly.
   When liquid is mostly absorbed into rice, and the rice is tender and cooked through, turn heat off.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients.
   Divide into two serving dishes, cover, and chill for at least 1 hour.  (This can even be made a couple days before, just make sure to lay plastic wrap directly on top of pudding to prevent condensation from dripping into it.)
   Serves 2.  Fresh strawberries are the perfect compliment to this.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Thai Coconut Fish and Stir Fried Broccoli w/ Ginger

Forgoing the fancy restaurant tomorrow but still trying to figure out something to cook for your Valentine?  While easy, this fish dish is different enough for any special occasion.  (Don't like fish?  Try it with jumbo shrimp or even chicken.)  And with the broccoli, it is a much healthier and cheaper option than going to some a la carte steakhouse.

Thai Coconut Fish
1/2 C coconut milk (lite is fine)
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2 heaping tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sriracha (more or less to taste)
1/2 a lime, juiced (~2 tsp)
2 6oz pieces salmon (or other meaty fish like halibut)
1 tsp oil
chopped cilantro

   Combine first 6 ingredients.  Place fish in marinade. And allow to marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour, turning fish over after 30 minutes.
   Heat oil in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat.  Shake excess marinade off of fish.  Cook for about 4 minutes a side (with salmon) for medium doneness (exact time with depend on thickness and type of fish.)  When fish has been on the second side for 2-3 minutes, add the marinade.  Bring to a bubble and allow it to reduce slightly.  Top with cilantro
   Serves 2.  I paired this with rice (1/2 red and 1/2 brown).  The texture of the chewier rice is lovely with the fish and hearty enough to stand up to the sauce.

Stir Fried Broccoli w/ Ginger
2 lrg crowns of broccoli, broken down into large florets (~2 1/2 C)
2 tsp oil
2 tsp soy sauce
1 heaping tsp freshly grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced or grated (~3/4 tsp)

   Heat oil over medium-high.  Add broccoli, cook for 2 minutes.  Sprinkle soy sauce over the top.  Toss.  Add garlic and ginger.  Toss frequently while cooking to prevent burning.  It will take about 4-5 minutes, but just cook until desired tenderness of broccoli is reached.
   Serves 2.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Granny's Chicken and Dumplings

This picture may not look like an exciting bowl of food, but it is one of the most delicious pieces of my childhood/life-in-general.  Granny could never make a pot of this big enough.  Between me, my brother, my four [male] cousins, my parents, and three sets of aunts and uncles we could polish off any amount that was made, and there were always cries for more.

The secret, and you CAN NOT deviate from it, is Pillsbury blue can biscuits.  You know, the kind that come wrapped in a package of four?  They make the easiest, most delightfully chewy dumplings imaginable!  Those to whom I have revealed this secret never go back to making them from scratch.  I make only two deviation from my granny's original formulation:  I add aromatics to my chicken while it poaches and I add a little bit sage.

Granny's Chicken and Dumplings
8 C cold/room temp water + 2 C
~2 lbs bone-in chicken, skin removed (2 breasts is roughly this amount, but feel free to use chicken thighs or a combination of white and dark meat)
1 small onion, halved
2 carrots, cut into lrg pieces
2 stalks celery cut into lrg pieces,
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
~10 peppercorns
2 cans Pillsbury blue can buttermilk biscuits, biscuits quartered
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
~1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

   Place chicken, vegetables, garlic, bay leaf, 1 tsp salt and peppercorns in a large pot.  Add 8 C water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to med, simmer for ~30 minutes.
   Remove chicken, strain broth.  Keep liquid, discard veggies, peppercorns, etc.  Shred chicken.
   Place chicken and broth back into pot.  Add sage and ground black pepper  Bring to a bubble over med-hi.  You will probably need another ~2 C water, but liquid may be adjusted as cooking goes on.
  Drop biscuits into bubbling broth.  They will float and then sink and then kind of become neutrally buoyant. When they have reached your desired level of doneness and broth has become like a thin gravy, serve.  For me it takes about 10-12 minutes.  Adjust salt to taste.
   Serves 4 (maybe.)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cooking With Balls

Real quick, guys... I'm gonna write a cookbook!  I'm thinking it'll start as a shortened e-book, then if I can get to a real publisher go full scale.  It's gonna be called Cooking with Balls.  That is my idea, and now it is documented and you can't steal it.  It will feature bold, ball shaped food and encourage readers to let their inspiration fly free..... Do not confuse it with the Serbian cookbook about testical cookery.

More details to come.  But I will need recipe testers.....  soooo, let me know if you are interested!

Friday, February 3, 2012

UFC 143 Menu

Right, so I am HUUUUUGE UFC fan.  I'm sure you know that if you read this blog regularly.  I don't want to bore you with details you don't care about concerning Saturday, because if you do care, you already know the details.  Let's just say it is event that NEEDS to be watched.  Interim welterweight title belt on the line... whoever wins this fights the miraculously recovering GSP.

Now to the part you may care about... The menu.  I'm doing a Greek inspired menu (because I had coupons for hummus.)

UFC 143 Greek Menu
Roasted Vegetable and Hummus Wraps
Pastitsio-inspired Meatballs
Crudités w/ Tzaziki
Sugar Cookies w/ Cinnamon Honey Glaze

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tomato and Lentil Soup

Hearty and rustic, this thick soup is made for chilly evenings.  This recipe is adapted from a recipe in my beloved cookbook, Vegetarian by Linda Fraser.

Tomato and Lentil Soup
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lrg onion, diced
1 lrg rib celery, diced (the smaller the better)
1 lrg clove garlic, minced
1/3 C dry vermouth
1 14oz can crushed tomatoes
1 C mixed red and brown lentils
3 1/2 C vegetable or chicken broth (maybe more)
2 tsp herbs de Provence
1/4 C half and half (cream or thick buttermilk will also work)
salt and pepper
chopped parsley

   Heat oil in a pot over medium heat.  Saute onion and celery until soft, about 8 minutes.
   Add garlic and vermouth.  Cook for ~2 minutes.
   Add tomatoes, lentils, broth, and herbs de Provence.  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to medium low.  Simmer for 30-40 minutes, until brown lentils are cooked through.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.  If it seems too thick, add a little more broth.
   Puree half of soup using an immersion blender, upright blender, or food processor.
   Stir in half and half.
   Top with lots of chopped parsley and serve with nice, crusty bread.
   Serves 4.