Thursday, January 28, 2010

Garlic. Lots and Lots of Garlic

Chicken with Lots and Lots and Lots of garlic!!! 40 Cloves. Not bad. I want to play around with the recipe some more, see if I can get more flavor into the chicken--mine was good, juicy, etc, but the garlic flavor seemed to really be only in the sauce. Which is totally ok!

Start by searing some chicken. I used bone-in/skin on chicken thighs. Add some oil to a pan and let the chicken really sear and great good and brown. This will develop flavor, sear in the juice and render some chicken fat out, so make a tasty sauce! Set the chicken to the side and move to the garlic.

While the chicken sits, start to saute 40 cloves of garlic in the fat and with a bit of butter! This is silly crazy good. Awesome aroma. Make sure to keep the garlic cloves moving so they don't burn.

When the garlic begins to brown, add 2 cups of wine. More brilliant aroma! Bring to a boil and return the chicken to the pan. Now watch this...the garlic and wine go from this...fairly clear liquid and cloves to this...

...a creamy, opaque sauce. I have no idea what chemical reaction happened, but whatever it was, it was delicious! You can stop here, or you can thicken the sauce with some flour and enrich it with a splash of cream. I'm not sure it's necessary.

Serve the sauce over the chicken and with some egg noodles if you like. As much as I don't like it, I think some sauted spinach would be good with this. The creamy, garlicky goodness would play nicely with the greens.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
from Anne's Food, by way of Ina Garten

1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
salt pepper
2 TB olive oil
1 TB butter
3 whole garlics - about 40 cloves
2 cups dry white wine
3 TB cognac
2-3 TB flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt, pepper, sugar

Bring a small pot of water to the boil. Add all the garlic cloves and blanch for one minute. Drain and let them cool - they will now be super easy to peel, which is your next step.

Dry the chicken with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper. Heat butter and oil in a heavy pot, and brown the chicken. Start with the skin-side down, and keep the heat fairly high. When the chicken is nicely browned on both sides, set it aside. You have to work in batches, or the chicken won't brown. When all the chicken pieces are done (and set aside), add the peeled garlic cloves to the pot and fry for about ten minutes on medium high heat. They should be golden, but they can burn easily so watch them!

Add the wine and two tablespoons of the cognac. Bring to a boil, add the chicken and cover with a lid. Lower the heat, and cook on low heat for about 30 minutes. Test to see that the chicken is done, and if it is, remove it to a serving bowl and cover with foil to keep it warm.

Scoop out about 1/2 cup of sauce and mix with the flour. Add it back to the pot along with the last tablespoon of cognac, and a 1/4 cup of the cream. Bring to a boil and cook for a few minutes. Add more cream if it seems too thick. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar if the wine you're using is very acidic. Pour the sauce, with all the garlic in it, over the chicken and serve.

1) I used store bought, pre-peeled garlic for this. Not the best way to move forward, but easy!
2) I don't have cognac. I thought about using some brandy, but settled on masala instead. Nice. I could have used some cream sherry. I think something along these lines is necessary for a final flavor note, but if you don't have a shot of liquor, that's ok.
3) I would try to use wine. If you don't have wine or prefer not to cook with wine you can use broth. You'll want some acidity, so maybe add a squeeze of lemon juice.
4) Consider adding some herbs. I had some freshly chopped parsley. Some thyme or rosemary would play very nicely.
5) The final step of cooking the chicken. When the chicken is in the wine/garlic sauce and simmer for 30 minutes, the crisp skin becomes very soggy and nasty. While finishing the sauce, I place the chicken, skin side up, on a baking sheet and place under the broiler in my oven for a few minutes to make the skin crispy. An extra step that is totally worth it!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Steak & Peppers

This dinner should be reserved for a last meal before you hibernate for 6 months. Hefty! But you should try it. Very very tasty. Steak & Peppers with Cheddar Mashed Potatoes.

The inspiration is a Rachel Ray recipe, Steak & Pepper Hash. I started following the recipe, but it just didn't seem right to me, so I stopped and reassessed and did this instead. Basically the same, the flavors are a bit different, but process a touch simplified. But, credit, where credit is due, thanks Rachel for getting me started on this dinner.

1) Mashed Potatoes. Peel and cube potatoes, about 2 medium per person, for a full dinner. Put in a pot with cold water, small handful of salt and bring to a boil until the potatoes are tender. Using a masher, ricer or electric mixer, start breaking the potatoes up. Add butter, couple of tablespoons, mix together. The potatoes will be pretty much broken up at this point, but nothing resembling creamy or mashed. Pour in some heavy cream or milk. Keep mashing to combine. This will pretty much do it. Season with salt and pepper and an additional pat of butter if you like. Taste. Adjust seasoning. For Cheddar mashed potatoes, add about 1/2 cup to 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Mix to combine. If they potatoes seem dry, stir in another drizzle of cream. Keep warm.

2) For the steak. Use about a 1 lb steak, mine was a sirloin steak, about 1/2-3/4 of an inch thick, just shy of a full pound. Cut the steak into 2 large strips. Pat dry with a paper towel and season each side with salt & pepper. Preheat a frying pan over medium high heat. Barely coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Place the steak in the pan. About 3-4 minutes per side. When done, remove to a plate to rest.

3) Peppers. Slice 1/2 a red pepper and 1/2 a green pepper. Slice 1/2 an onion. Add 1 tsp olive oil to the pan the steak was fried in. Add the peppers and onions. Toss to coat with oil and saute until they start to sweat. Season with salt & pepper or a shake or two of season salt. Pour 1/4 cup beef broth into the pan. Stir to work up any bits of steak stuck to the pan. Lower heat to medium and allow liquid to start to reduce.

4) Final. Slice the steak into strips. Pile a scoop of potatoes onto the plate and place the steak to the side. Top the steak & potatoes with peppers and onions. Serve hot!

Simple. Easy. FILLING. And totally satisfying.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mulligatawny Soup

Yesterday's dinner was a pot of Mulligatawny Soup. A spicy Indian curry soup. With just a few steps, you too can have a bowl of this exotic soup; warming your belly and clearing your sinuses!

The recipe starts by making an elixir of ginger and garlic. This brings a very robust punch of flavor to the finished soup. I'm not fond of it and in the future, I plan to skip this step. I will maintain the quantity of ginger and garlic, because I like those flavors, but the intention is that they remain uncooked at the end. Uncooked garlic and ginger taste metallic and sharp to me, so I'll pass in the future.

The main recipe starts with butter, onions and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper.

Add garlic and ginger. Stir in some unsweetened coconut and all the spices and flour (to thicken the soup.) A note on the coconut; I can't find unsweetened coconut at my grocery stores. We're not that sophisticated. So I bought the regular, sweetened coconut and steeped it in boiling water and rinsed in hot water. I did this three times. Here's what happened; the extra sweetness was removed, AND the basic essence of the coconut. If you can't find unsweetened coconut, skip it altogether from the recipe. In its place, perhaps add a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of coconut milk to the soup at the end, for flavor.

After you get the spices into the mix, add the broth of your choice. I used chicken this time, as it's what I had on hand. Use vegetable broth to make a vegetarian soup. Simmer until the vegetables are tender. Oh, and there's banana in the soup! It's there for texture and slight sweetness. You don't taste banana when you taste the soup. No hint of banana at all!

After the soup has cooked, give it a whiz through the food processor or in the blender. Serve with rice if you like, dollop of plain yogurt and chopped cilantro. You can also serve with cooked lentils for an authentic, protein rich, vegetarian meal!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Caribbean Stir-Fry?

Last night's dinner was an homage to the tropics. Pineapple & Rum together as one! I will admit, but please don't tell anyone, that this recipe is a Rachel Ray creation. Shhhh. It's a secret.

Pineapple Rum Chicken

To start, cook up some chicken. I seasoned two chicken breasts with "grill seasoning" and some generic season blend. Bold and peppery. Cook the chicken in olive oil until golden brown and cooked through. Remove to a plate and rinse the pan.

The main flavor base starts with onions, garlic and red pepper flakes. For those who are intolerant to spice, please use some red pepper flakes, or you're going to get a mouthful of sweet from the pineapple later. A pinch or two of the pepper will help provide some balance.

A finishing touch will be cilantro and parsley.

Saute the onions, garlic and pepper until translucent. Add the pineapple; then the rum!

Simmer for a bit, then return the chicken-which you've cut into pieces-to the pineapple mixture. Add the cilantro and parsley. Toss to coat.

Serve over steamed rice.

Overall, this was tasty. I'm glad I used a bold seasoning for the chicken, or the dish could have come off as one-note. Instead there was some depth. In my version, I added some grated ginger, which provided some nice aroma and another layer of flavor. A nice alternative for dinner.

Pineapple Rum Chicken
original recipe by Rachel Ray

1 whole pineapple, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
3 TB Olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup spiced rum
1 TB freshly grated ginger
2 cups chicken stock
4 chicken breasts
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 TB cilantro, chopped

Season the chicken and saute in 1/2 the olive oil until browned and cooked through. Remove to a plate. Rinse your pan.

Heat the remaining olive oil until shimmering and hot. Add the onions, garlic, pinch of salt and pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the onions start to become translucent. At that point, add the pineapple and ginger and up to 1/2 cup of reserved pineapple juice. Stir to incorporate. Remove the pan away from the stove and add the rum. Carefully return the pan to the stove. Depending on how much liquid is in the pan before the rum, the pan may flambe! Stir gently and cautiously. Let the liqour cook for one minute. Add the chicken stock and simmer until reduced by half.

While simmering, cut the chicken breasts into slices or 1 inch pieces. Return to the pan with the pineapple and sauce and cook until warmed through. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the parsley and cilantro. Toss. Serve over rice.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


The other evening I made a quick batch of rich mole sauce which I applied to some enchiladas filled with chicken, peppers and onions. All very tasty. A nice fast meal.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Market Bliss

I have never been to Wegman's, but I understand it is foodie Nirvana! I'm very excited. Since we moved Eat With Me headquarters in February 2008 we have been hearing of the arrival of a nearby Wegman's. Two year's later we have a clearer idea of when that will be.

October 2010 in Landover/Largo, Maryland.

I'm very excited. I'm guessing I'll need a new job to afford my new grocery bills!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lunch Lady Land

Who needs a can of "Manwich" sloppy joe mix, when you can make your own deliciousness.

Ground beef, onions and green peppers. You can make do without the green pepper if you don't have one, but if you do, use it. The onion is necessary. Brown the ground beef, get rid of most of the fat, leave a little for fun if you like. Add the green pepper and onions. If you like you can use other ground meat...turkey, pork, chicken. Also, if you want a low-fat ground beef version...brown the beef, the dump the whole mess in a fine mess strainer and run under hot water to rinse the fat away. You won't have fat free, but you will have lower fat.

Mix in a variety of seasonings, tomato paste, water and a bit of cider vinegar and/or Worchestshire sauce. Simmer for awhile, or turn the pan off and let sit until you are ready to have dinner. Serve on soft buns. Add cheese if you like. Just like Lunch Lady Land...only better!

Originally posted here.

Slightly altered here...

Sloppy Joes
1 lb ground beef
Hefty pinch of salt
Few shakes of Mrs. Dash

1 medium onion, diced finely
1 bell pepper, diced finely

1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 TB brown sugar

1 tsp cider vinegar
1/8 tsp Worchestshire sauce

1 6 oz can of tomato paste AND 1 1/4 cup water
2-3 TB tomato paste, 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water

In a large pan, brown the beef, while browning season with a little salt and Mrs. Dash....I always give my ground beef a little season, even if more is seasoning is coming'll just taste better. Drain of most of the fat. Add the onions and peppers and cook for about 5 until the onions and peppers soft. When they are done, add in the spices and stir for about a minute. Add the water, cider vinegar and tomato paste. Allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes until hot, sloppy and bubbly.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The General's Chicken

After a long day of shopping, going to the movies and then finally starting my laundry, I wasn't in the mood to make dinner. But when all was said and done, I'm happy I did. I was very satisfied.

When we did the menu planning for the week, I had Sunday night blocked for homemade General Tso's Chicken. It was good. Better than the last time. I made a few changes and simplified the recipe some; due to my lack of desire to cook!

General Tso's Chicken
The first change was which the chicken. For this recipe, the chicken is covered with a mixture of egg whites and cornstarch. With some salt and pepper thrown in for kicks. To bring some more heat to the party, I also added about 1 teaspoon of Sriracha hot sauce. That potent red bottle you find in a variety of Asian restaurants! I'm happy I did. The extra heat and little tang brought a nice bit of attitude to the party.

Other changes... The last time I went to my grocery store, they didn't have fresh ginger. But, they had pre-grated fresh ginger you can buy in a tube. I bought it. Not an ideal situation, but it works in a pinch. And I didn't have to peel or grate the ginger. The other change; also the last time I went to the store, they didn't have fresh green beans, so I bought frozen. Both changes worked well and helped speed dinner along. Pleased as punch. The last change; I used 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper instead of 1/2. Again, more heat help cuts through the sauce and make for a nice hot dish. The Sriracha and extra crushed red pepper are purely personal choices. If you don't want the heat, feel free to alter the quantities or omit altogether.

Sauce and beans are done. Add the chicken back to the pan.

Stir to incorpate the sauce and coat the chicken.

Serve with rice. Now, with the exception of using the rice cooker, this is a one-pot meal and fairly quick! I'll continue to make this.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Dinner Rolls


We were invited to our neighbor's house for dinner and I wanted to bring something. But I wasn't up for grocery shopping and we didn't really have much in the house. So I decided to make some bread! But I wanted to try something a little different. I wanted to try making rolls instead of a loaf.

Success! I used the Simple French Bread recipe from Mark Bittman.

After the bread dough has risen the first time, I kneaded the dough to get the air out and redistribute the yeast. I then divided the dough equally, I think I had about 10-12 small pieces. Roll the pieces of dough into balls. These will need to rise for an additional 2 hours. Take a muffin tin and line it with a clean cotton towel. Push the towel into each muffin cup. Dust with flour. Place the dough balls into the towel lined cups. Cover with a warm, damp towel and let rise for two hours.

When you are ready to bake the dough, pre-heat the oven to 450.

Remove the top towel you are covering the dough with. Then flip the muffin pan, gently, onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Carefully remove the towel that was lining the muffin pan. If you need to, gently re-form the dough into balls.

Using a sharp knife, cut a cross pattern into the top of each roll. This will help the bread to rise and steam to escape.

Using a misting bottle, spray the inside of your oven with water. Place the dough in the center of the oven. For the next ten minutes, spray water 3 times. This will help give a crisp crust to the final rolls.

After the first ten minutes, turn the heat to 350 and bake for 30 minutes. The rolls will be golden brown. You can use a thermometer to check the internal temperature; it should be 210.

Allow the rolls to cool, then ENJOY!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Your Peanut Butter is in my Chocolate

I was craving a sweet treat during the holidays and thought I would get myself together and make some Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls. I haven't had them in years. They were always available during my family's Christmas get-togethers. To make them, I took several recipes and mixed them together to this version. They are good, exactly the way I remember them. But I need to fix one thing. The chocolate didn't have a snap when you bite into it, it was very soft. Could have been the chocolate? A guest at our house said it was the missing paraffin wax...could be. I remember it being used. Will try that next time. In the meantime...

I pulled out my fancy Double Boiler to melt the chocolate and keep it smooth for dipping.

After mixing the peanut butter together, I used a small scoop to make round balls, then I inserted toothpicks to make coating the balls in chocolate easier. Remove the picks when you set the covered balls on the wax paper and dab some chocolate over the hole.

Keep the treats in the fridge, or they become soft and may become melty; especially if you have a warm house.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls

2 cups Peanut Butter (I prefer Skippy Extra Crunchy)
1/2 cup Butter, room temperature
1 TB Brown Sugar
1 cup Crisp Rice Cereal, crushed
2 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
2 cups Milk Chocolate-Chips or Blocks
1 TB Shortening (or maybe food grade paraffin wax?)

Mix the peanut butter, butter and brown sugar until well blended. Add the crushed rice cereal, blend well. Mix sugar until smooth.

Scoop peanut butter mixture into small-ish balls, no bigger than an inch wide. Roll into balls. Insert a toothpick into each one and place in the fridge to firm up. 30 minutes to an hour.

Melt chocolate and shortening in a double boiler or in the microwave until smooth. Keep warm, but off of the heat.

Using the toothpick and a spoon, dip and cover each ball with chocolate. Allow excess to drip off; place on a wax paper covered sheet. Place in the fridge to chill and allow the chocolate to fully set. When chocolate is firm, covere with wax paper and plastic wrap to keep fresh.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

THIS is what I covet

This is what my dreams are made of...

The Matchbox Meat Pizza: pepperoni / spicy italian sausage / crispy bacon / zesty tomato sauce / mozzarella

Smoky. Cheesey. Meaty. Spicy. Effin' amazing. Nearly perfect*.

But a meal at Matchbox can't start without the Angus beef sliders topped with onion straws.

Seriously, I dream about this.

Matchbox DC
Vintage Pizza Bistro
Two locations: Chinatown & Eastern Market/Capitol Hill

*I say nearly perfect, not perfect. The outer crust of the pizza was charred and crisp, exactly the way this type of pizza should be. The inner crust was a little weak and wasn't able to hold up to the amazing toppings. No worries, I still devoured the pizza. Perhaps it waited a minute to long to be served; but if they can ensure a crisp crust from the rim to the middle, we'd be talking pure perfection!

Panic Room

If I were to have a panic room, it would be stocked with lots and lots of peanut butter. This is MY peanut butter. There are more jars in our pantry of another, LESSER QUALITY brand spouse prefers. But yeah...I had four jars here...a few a work. I'm set for the apocalypse, or the snowpocalypse we had in December.

Such a Ham

Christmas Dinner

Guess now is good a time as any to start catching up with my posts. This is our Christmas Dinner. I did the Cola & Cherry Preserve Glazed Ham. I served with some cheese slices and soft rolls. That's it. It was delicious. We just kept noshing while playing board games. Ham served/cooked any other way just isn't as delicious. Oh, one differences. The recipe calls for some OJ. Didn't have any, but we did have Pineapple Juice. Of course it was wonderful, as the way I used to make ham was with pineapple slices, cloves and cherries. This is a more delicious, fancy, yet simpler version of that old school classic!