Archive | December, 2013

Culinary Resolutions

27 Dec

We all have culinary resolutions at the beginning of each year: “I resolve to eat healthier. I vow to cook more meals at home. I resolve to not order takeout unless necessary.” Usually, these are promptly followed by “I will work out more.” But then the boss gives you a huge project and boom, no time for those good intentions. That’s when takeout and fast food are much more appealing than taking the time to cook.

“To help keep on track, plan your meals ahead of time for the week if you can,” said Linda Haynes, ACE Bakery’s co-founder. “Cook a bit more than you might need and either take the leftovers to work the next day for lunch, or freeze them for an on-the-fly meal option for a busy night.”

Quick to prepare and easy to follow recipes come in handy, and you can start with these two that are great served on their own, or paired-up for bigger meals.

Roasted Chicken on a Bed of Potatoes

Roasted chicken on potatoes by Yvonne Duivenvoorden

Roasted Chicken on a Bed of Potatoes, Mushrooms and Shallots

One-dish meals are great for family dinners and casual weekend entertaining. They can be served right from the roasting pan, or when company is coming, spoon the vegetables onto a favorite serving dish, arrange the chicken on top, and decorate with sprigs of rosemary.

Three ¼-inch thick slices smoked bacon, cut in ¼ -inch cubes

9 to 10 large garlic cloves, peeled

2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 to 4 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. fresh minced rosemary

1½ tsp. kosher salt

⅛ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 large or 4 medium Portobello mushrooms

20 to 25 mini potatoes, 1½ to 2 inches in length

12 shallots, peeled

3 sprigs fresh rosemary plus more for garnishing the finished dish

3 chicken legs

3 chicken half breasts with bone in

12 to 16 cherry tomatoes (optional)

Coarsely ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Sauté the bacon over medium heat until it has rendered its fat and all the cubes are cooked through. Drain and reserve.

Finely grate 3 to 4 garlic cloves in a small bowl and mix with the lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil, minced rosemary, 1 tsp. of the salt, and pepper.

Thoroughly rub the mixture into the chicken and let marinate at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 1½ to 2 hours while preparing the vegetables.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Bring the chicken to room temperature if it has been in the refrigerator.

Scrape the black gills from the insides of the mushroom caps using a teaspoon, and cut the mushrooms into 1- to 1½ -inch pieces. Cut the potatoes into halves or quarters, depending on size. Mince 6 garlic cloves.

Toss together the shallots, mushrooms, potatoes, 3 small sprigs rosemary, ½ tsp. salt, 2 to 3 Tbsp. olive oil and the minced garlic cloves. Spoon into a shallow baking dish large enough to hold all the chicken in one layer.

Place the chicken legs on the vegetables and roast for 10 minutes. Add the chicken breasts and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken pieces. The chicken is cooked when the juices run clear, not pink.

Transfer the chicken to a dish and loosely tent with tinfoil to keep warm.

Put the vegetables back in the oven until the potatoes are cooked through, another 10 to 15 minutes. This will also allow the chicken to rest. Add the cherry tomatoes, if using, in the last 5 to 7 minutes of cooking time.

Discard the cooked rosemary sprigs and serve the chicken directly from the baking dish or spoon the vegetables onto a serving dish with a small lip. Put the chicken on top of the vegetables and top with the bacon, some fresh rosemary sprigs, and a sprinkle of coarsely ground sea salt and black pepper.

Serves 6 with a generous amount of vegetables

Tip

If you decide to roast just chicken breasts, remember to add the “leg time” of 10 minutes to the roasting of the vegetables.

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Photo by Yvonne Duivenvoorden

Cauliflower soup by Yvonne Duivenvoorden

Cauliflower Soup with Spinach and Indian Spices

If you think Indian cuisine means spicy, you’ll be surprised at the fragrant, subtle flavorings of this soup. The turmeric gives a lovely saffron hue, and the spinach leaves turn a glossy green for a fresh color boost.

3 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil

6 green cardamom seeds

2 tsp. ground coriander (the flavor will be fresher if you grind your own)

1 tsp. ground turmeric

pinch of cayenne

½ cup finely chopped cooking onion

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 head cauliflower, washed, drained and coarsely chopped

2 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes, cut in ¼-inch dice, approximately 2 cups

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

6 to 8 cups light chicken stock

2 tsp. kosher salt

Freshly ground white pepper

1 very large handful baby spinach, washed

Yogurt to garnish

Heat the oil in a pot large enough to accommodate all the ingredients. Add the cardamom seeds and sauté about 1 minute until they give up their oils. Skim the seeds out of the oil and discard them. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the coriander, turmeric and cayenne. Sauté for about 20 seconds until you can smell the aroma of the spices.

Add the onion and garlic. Sauté about 5 minutes, or until the onion is wilted. Lower the heat if the onion starts to brown. Add the cauliflower, potatoes and mustard. Toss until the spices coat the vegetables and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the vegetables are slightly roasted.

Pour in 6 cups of the stock and simmer, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

If you have time, cool the mixture. Purée it in a food processor or blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. If the purée is too thick, add an extra 1 to 2 cups of stock.

Reheat and taste for seasonings. Stir in the spinach just before serving. The spinach will turn bright green and have a slight crunch. Pour into bowls and garnish with a dollop of yogurt.

This soup can be made ahead to the point just before you add the spinach. It will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days or in the freezer for 2 months. The spinach, once added to the soup, will keep its color for 2 days, but it will lose its crispness.

Makes 12 cups

Tip

Try to buy your spices for this soup at an Indian grocery. You’ll be able to buy smaller amounts and they will be fresher. Green and white cardamom seed come from the same plant, a member of the ginger family. Cardamom seed is naturally green, but is more often found in its bleached white form.

©These recipes are from The ACE Bakery Cookbook by Linda Haynes.

Baccala Mantecato and Peperonata Bruschetta for Christmas Eve

22 Dec

Erica De Mane

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Recipe: Baccalà Mantecato and Peperonata Bruschetta

In the last week or so several people have asked me about baccalà mantecato, knowing that I always make it for Christmas Eve. This salt cod preparation is not my usual Southern Italian fare. It comes from Venice, and it’s essentially the same as Provençale brandade. I’ve had versions of it in Liguria, too. It’s fluffy (mantecare means to whip) and mellow. People who say they don’t like baccalà almost always like this. It’s traditionally been the opener to my big Christmas Eve fish dinner. It’s a perfect fit with couscous-stuffed shrimp, spaghetti with clam sauce, zuppa di pesce, orange and fennel salad, or whatever I decide on for any given year.

Christmas Eve has always been my favorite holiday meal. Its food incorporates many of my favorite flavors, such as baccalà, and is pure joy for me to prepare. Lots of fish…

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