Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chicken Marengo

The restaurant I worked at while in college, Michael's Grill, used to have this dish on their menu. Then I was watching Food Network on Saturday and their new host Melissa d'Arabian made her version on Ten Dollar Dinners. So I figured I would finally try this dish that supposedly was first made for Napoleon Bonaparte after the Battle of Marengo. (A little history lesson for you along with a recipe.) Here is my version.

3 Chicken Breasts, sliced in half to make into cutlets
salt and pepper
All-Purpose Flour
Olive Oil
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 (12-ounce) package of sliced button mushrooms
1/2 cup dry white wine, like Pinot Grigio
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 to 1/2 cup black olives, sliced (optional)
handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and lighly dust in the flour. Heat about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the skillet and brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.

Return the skillet to the heat. Add a little more oil if needed, throw in the onion, yellow pepper, and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. You want the vegetables to still have a little firmness. Add the wine and let cook for a couple of minutes. Once the wine cooks out, add the chicken broth and tomatoes to the pan. Return the chicken to the skillet along with any juices and simmer in the sauce for 5 to 10 mintues. Once the chicken is cooked through, finish with olives and parsley.

Serve over cous cous or rice.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Blue Cheese Pasta

I am a lover of all cheeses, but blue cheese is one of my favorite, so this dish is right up my alley. It is deliciously creamy without any cream or milk. It is great as a side dish to accompany a steak, like we had tonight. However, with the meaty mushrooms in it, it could be served as a main course with a little side salad and crusty bread. Recipe courtesy of the Mr. Food Cooks Pasta cookbook.

1 pound spaghetti
4 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 and 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup minced scallion
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti al dente, according to the package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, place the butter, blue cheese and chicken broth. Stir until the mixture has thickened slightly (enough to coat the back of a spoon), about 5 minutes or so. Add the mushrooms, scallion, lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes more. Pour the sauce over the spaghetti and toss to blend thoroughly. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spinach Pie

This recipe is very versatile. It would be great for a brunch, lunch, main dish or as a side dish. You could also really change it up by adding different ingredients like bacon, onions, different types of cheese, etc. I made it for a barbecue the other day and everyone loved it.

4 eggs
2 packages of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeeze out the excess water
2 garlic cloves, squeezed through a garlic press
12 ounces shredded cheddar cheese, I used a white cheddar
1 refrigerated pie crust
parmesan cheese
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unroll the pie crust and place in a pie place. Make the edges wavy using your fingers, or you could use a fork to make little tines marks.

In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, spinach, garlic, cheddar cheese, nutmeg, and salt and pepper until well combined. Pour into pie crust and smooth the top. Sprinkle evenly with a little grated parmesan reggiano cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the crust and parmesan cheese are golden brown. Let cool a bit and enjoy!

Carne Asada

My husband made this delicious carne asada a week or two ago. It is a marinated flank steak that is then grilled. Great to make into fajitas with sauteed peppers and onions. We sliced the steak thin and then served on tortillas with cheese, sour cream and guacamole. Flank steak is great because it is inexpensive and can serve a crowd. The key is marinating it overnight. It allows the meat to get really tender.

2 pound flank steak
olive oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 large handful of fresh cilantro, leaves and stems finely chopped
salt and pepper
2 limes, juiced
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup olive oil

Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Place the steak into a sealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the steak. Seal the bag, letting all the air out. Toss around to coat the meat. Refrigerate over night.

Remove the steak from the bag. Season with salt and pepper. We don't have a grill, so we cooked it indoors on our grill pan by heating a little olive oil first, then grilling the steak for about 5 minutes per side. It is very important to not overcook the meat. Medium-rare is ideal. Thinly slice the meat across the grain. (The grain is the lines running through the meat. Slice the opposite way the grain runs.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Cookware: French Oven

I have been wanting a Dutch Oven for some time. Something I can take from stovetop to oven, so I can make dishes like Beef Bourguignon and braise things. My husband surprised me this Christmas with a beautiful cast iron French Oven (the French version of the Dutch Oven). In fact, it is so French the website is written all in French. It is a beautiful blue and I have already broken it in (with pot roast). It is a great piece of cookware. Cooks evenly and is surprisingly easy to clean.

New Ritz Crackers

A few days before Christmas I received a package from the fine people at Nabisco/Ritz. They have a new flavor of crackers - Brown Sugar Cinnamon - and they sent me a box to try out along with some recipes. I unfortunately didn't have time to plan a dish using them for any of my festivities, but I did try them out and shared with some friends. Overall consensus? Great!

I had my annual dinner party with friends the day I received the package so we opened them up and all tried them. Everyone really liked them. The crackers are sweet, but not too sweet, and not overly covered with cinnamon and sugar.

I also took them over to my parents on Christmas Day because I knew my sister was bringing over a wedge of brie and I thought the crackers would go great with my favorite cheese. I was right, a great combination.

Here is a link to one of the recipes Ritz sent me to try these crackers with - Raspberry Apple Danish Spread.