Sunday, May 31, 2009

Asian Noodle Salad with Chicken and Cilantro

This quick-to-prepare salad is light, refreshing, and flavorful—perfect for lunch or dinner. I used a store-bought rotisserie chicken for convenience, and McHubby took it apart and shredded the meat for the salad.

Source: Asian Noodle Salad with Chicken and Cilantro,
Everyday Food, June 2009

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 jalapeno chile, minced (ribs and seeds removed for less heat if desired)
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup dark-brown sugar
¾ cup rice vinegar
4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded (from 1 whole chicken), room temperature
1 package (8.8 ounces) cellophane (bean-thread) noodles, prepared according to package instructions
1 English cucumber, cut into 3-inch sticks
2 cups fresh cilantro leaves

In a small saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add jalapeno, ginger, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add sugar and vinegar and cook until sauce is slightly thickened, about 6 minutes. Refrigerate until cool, at least 15 minutes (or up to 1 week).

Combine chicken, noodles, cucumber, and cilantro. Drizzle with dressing just before serving.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Barefoot Brownie Sundaes

This month’s second recipe selection for Barefoot Bloggers was chosen by Eva of I’m Boring, who decided on Outrageous Brownies. I’ve made Ina’s Outrageous Brownies many times before—they are my favorite brownies and always a big hit! So for this Barefoot Bloggers posting, I decided to take it a step further and make brownie sundaes.

I started by making the
Outrageous Brownies. Then I made home-made vanilla ice cream, using my new ice cream attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer. Finally, I made the chocolate sauce and assembled the sundaes.

Brownie Sundaes, Barefoot Contessa

¾ cups heavy cream
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 ½ teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
6 brownies
1 quart vanilla ice cream

Melt the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee in a bowl over simmering water until smooth, stirring occasionally. Place a brownie on each plate, top with a scoop of ice cream, and serve with warm chocolate sauce.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Favorite Cheesecake

For my dad’s birthday today, I made him a cheesecake. Walt, a friend of mine (and former chef), gave me this basic cheesecake recipe when I was trying to make one for McHubby’s birthday, several years back when we were dating. I had never made a cheesecake at that time and was looking for a recipe that was tasty but not too intimidating. This cheesecake is so creamy and luscious with a hint of orange flavor, and it's very easy to make! Because oven temperatures can vary, keep an eye on the cheesecake to make sure it doesn’t burn—the top should be a golden brown color.

I topped this cheesecake with chocolate sauce and 1 package of strawberries mixed with 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of Grand Marnier, and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Adapted from: Phil’s Blue Ribbon Cheesecake, The Best of Bon Appetit

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup (1 stick) melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar

3 8-ounce packages (1 ½ pounds) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
½ cup (1 stick) melted butter, cooled
½ teaspoon orange extract (can substitute Grand Marnier for a richer flavor)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Combine graham cracker crumbs, ½ cup melted butter, and 3 tablespoons sugar. Press crumbs evenly onto bottom and about ¾ inch up sides of 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly before adding filling.

Beat together cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Blend in butter and orange extract. Turn mixture into springform pan and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 300 degrees F and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Refrigerate at least 12 hours before serving. Remove sides of pan. Garnish with strawberries and chocolate sauce. Serve chilled.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Easy Ice Cream

Last Christmas, I got a new ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer. I’ve been waiting for warmer weather to take it for a spin. This was my first time making home-made ice cream, but I found it was pretty simple to do. I was pretty excited with each step of the process, because I could really see it coming together. Since this was my first attempt and because I was making this ice cream for Brownie Sundaes, I decided to go with vanilla—honestly, it’s my favorite flavor.

Oh-my-goodness, this ice cream was so tasty! Don’t think for a minute that vanilla was plain or boring, because the flavor of the vanilla was so indulgent, rich, and creamy.

Be sure to save the unused egg whites. You can freeze them in freezer bags and use them later.

Source: Easy Ice Cream,
Everyday Food, June 2009

8 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups skim milk
Choice of flavoring (see below)
2 cups heavy cream

Pick your flavor:
Chocolate – In step 1, stir ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder into egg-yolk mixture before adding milk.
Strawberry – Mash 4 cups sliced strawberries with ¼ cup sugar and let stand 10 minutes. Add to ice cream as it churns in ice-cream maker.
Vanilla – After step 2, stir 1 vanilla bean (split and scraped) or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract into custard. If using bean, cover custard and let stand 30 minutes.
Ginger – After step 2, stir a 2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks, into custard. Cover and let stand 30 minutes.
Coffee – After step 2, stir ½ cup crushed espresso beans into custard. Cover and let stand 30 minutes.
Orange – After step 2, stir 6 strips orange zest into custard. Cover and let stand 30 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, off heat, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and salt until blended. Gradually whisk in milk.

Cook over medium, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard thickens slightly and evenly coats back of spoon (it should hold a line drawn by your finger), 10 to 12 minutes.

Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl set over ice. Stir in cream. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until chilled. Churn in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer ice cream to a resealable plastic container and freeze until firm, about 2 hours (or up to 3 months).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Salad with Warm Goat Cheese

This beautiful dinner salad is substantial enough to be its own meal or can be served in smaller portions as a side salad. Use your favorite salad greens, such as mixed baby greens or baby spinach. The mild, sweet tartness from the dressing contrasts against the creamy warm goat cheese rounds. So delicious!

Salad with Warm Goat Cheese, Barefoot Contessa Parties!

1 (11-ounce) log plain or herbed Montrachet
2 extra-large egg whites, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Fresh white bread crumbs

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons good cider vinegar
2 tablespoons good Champagne vinegar
Pinch sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 extra-large egg yolk
1 cup good olive oil
Enough mixed salad greens for 6 servings
Olive oil and unsalted butter, for frying

Slice the Montrachet into 12 (½-inch-thick) slices. (The easiest way to slice goat cheese is to use a length of dental floss.) Dip each slice into the beaten egg whites, then the bread crumbs, being sure the cheese is thoroughly coated. Place the slices on a rack and chill them for at least 15 minutes.

For the dressing, place the vinegars, sugar, salt, pepper, and egg yolk in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and blend for 1 minute. With the motor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube until the vinaigrette is thickened. Season, to taste.

Toss the salad greens with enough dressing to moisten, then divide them among 6 plates.

Melt 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat until just under smoking. Cook the goat cheese rounds quickly on both sides until browned on the outside but not melted inside. Top each salad with 2 warm rounds and serve.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chicken Biryani

I love Indian food, and Chicken Biryani is one of my favorite dishes. Biryani originated in Persia and/or Arabia, but it is found in a number of cuisines today. It is an exotic, aromatic rice dish of layered flavors made with spices, meat, and vegetables. Biryani usually denotes a dish where the rice is cooked separately from the other ingredients. Traditional biryanis are a labor of love, requiring much time and effort to prepare…much more than I am willing to put forth quite yet. I found this simplified recipe in Cooking Light and thought I’d give it a shot.

As I was cooking this dish, adding the spices to my pan, the aroma was tantalizing. It smelled like the biryanis I’ve ordered in restaurants! I was skeptical about the cooking time after adding the rice, and I was right. It took much longer for the rice to become tender than the recipe called for. In the end, the flavor was clearly not the same as those that I’ve had before, but for an abbreviated recipe, this was pretty tasty.

Source: Chicken Biryani, Cooking Light, January/February 2009

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup chopped onion (1 medium onion)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chopped plum tomato (about 2 tomatoes)
1 cup uncooked basmati rice
⅓ cup golden raisins
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup sliced almonds
4 lime wedges

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add onion and jalapeno; sauté 3 minutes. Add ginger, garam masala, cumin, salt, and garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add tomato, rice, raisins, and broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in cilantro. Sprinkle with almonds; serve with lime wedges.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I made gnocchi for the first time about a month ago. For my second go at it, I wanted to try sweet potatoes, which I adore. Working with sweet potatoes as opposed to the russets was just a bit trickier. They have less starch than the russet potatoes and were, therefore, slightly more delicate to roll into the ropes and across the tines of the fork. The effort was worth it, though. Once these babies were cooked, the sweet flavor came through and the texture was light and pillowy.

2 pounds sweet potatoes, cleaned, patted dry, pierced all over with fork
⅔ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus ⅓ cup for the work surface

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork. Bake the sweet potatoes until tender and fully cooked, between 40 to 55 minutes depending on size. Cool slightly. Cut in half and scoop the flesh into a large bowl. Mash the sweet potatoes and transfer to a large measuring cup to make sure the 
sweet potatoes measure about 2 cups. Transfer the mashed sweet potatoes back to the 
large bowl. Add the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and blend until well mixed. Add the flour, ½ cup at a time until a soft dough forms. Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough in a ball on the work surface. Divide the dough into 6 equal balls. Roll out each ball into a 1-inch wide rope. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces. Roll the gnocchi over the tines of a fork. Transfer the formed gnocchi to a large baking sheet. Continue with the remaining gnocchi.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the gnocchi in 3 batches and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the gnocchi using a slotted spoon onto a baking sheet. Tent with foil to keep warm and continue with the remaining gnocchi. Serve with butter or cream sauce.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Blueberry-Buttermilk Scones

I love scones, for breakfast or as a snack. I enjoy making them and eating them, especially with a fresh cup of coffee. I always have my eye out for good scone recipes, so naturally I had to try this one from the latest Martha Stewart Living. These scones have a biscuit-like texture, and the blueberries add a sweet, tart flavor.

The original recipe directions are much more manual than I care to do, so I’ve altered the directions for using a stand-mixer. A good tip provided in the magazine, “if you don’t have buttermilk, you can substitute ½ cup plain yogurt whisked with 2 tablespoons milk.”

Adapted from: Blueberry-Buttermilk Scones,
Martha Stewart Living, June 2009

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cake flour (not self-rising)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup (½ pint) blueberries
½ cup low-fat buttermilk
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg lightly beaten for egg wash
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extractFine sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together flours, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and mix using a stand mixer, until mixture has the texture of coarse meal. Stir in blueberries.

In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, 1 egg, and the vanilla. Drizzle over flour mixture, and mix on low just until dough comes together.

Turn out dough onto a work surface, and gently knead dough once or twice just to incorporate flour. Pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round. Cut into 12 wedges. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 22 minutes.

Transfer scones to wire racks to cool. Scones are best served immediately but can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw, and reheat in a 350 degree F oven to 10 minutes.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fresh Spinach Salad

One of my favorite local restaurants, American Flatbread, supports organic and locally-farmed agriculture; the purity and freshness of their ingredients flavor every bite of their food. They recently had a spinach salad on its specials menu that was so simple yet divine. Their salad is the inspiration behind this one.

12 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves, stems removed, rinsed and spun dry
4 slices bacon
Shaved fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 lemon
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Add bacon to a cold frying pan, placing the strips side by side. (Do not heat the pan first, as that will cause the bacon to shrink and curl more.) Cook over medium-low heat. (Cooking the bacon over low heat will render the most amount of fat out of the bacon.) Turn over the bacon once in a while, to cook it evenly. When the bacon reaches a deep brown color, it is done. Remove from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the fat.

Make the vinaigrette. Whisk together the juice of a lemon, the vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Continue whisking vigorously while slowly adding the oil until well combined.

Put the baby spinach leaves in a serving bowl. Dress the spinach with the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Shave fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over spinach and crumble bacon on top. Serve immediately.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Contessa's Tuna Salad

I must confess that I was less than enthused when I saw this Barefoot Bloggers selection. However, after reading the recipe more closely as well as the online reviews, I realized that this was not the classic mayonnaise-based tuna salad that initially comes to mind. I mean, I've made tuna salad for sandwiches a thousand times, but never have I included such ingredients as wasabi powder, soy sauce, or even avocados, much less cooked my own fresh tuna steaks for the mixture. Now, I was intrigued. (I should have known better not to doubt—after all, this is the Barefoot Contessa!)

This recipe was wonderfully fast and easy to prepare, (which is such a blessing when trying to get dinner together after a full day at work and a rough commute home). I used sashimi grade tuna and low-sodium soy sauce for this recipe. Also, since it seemed to have a bit of an Asian flair, I used Sriracha sauce instead of Tabasco. When ready to serve, I plated the tuna salad atop steaming hot rice. (I use short-grain brown rice, preparing it in my rice cooker.)

I have to say that McHubby and I both thought this dish was delish! I will definitely make this one again and again. Thanks to Kate of Warm Olives and Cool Cocktails for selecting this recipe and forgiving my initial hesitation!

Source: Tuna Salad, Barefoot Contessa

2 pounds very fresh tuna steak, cut 1-inch thick
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black, plus extra for sprinkling

2 limes, zest grated
1 teaspoon wasabi powder
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (3 limes)

2 teaspoons soy sauce
10 dashes hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)

1 to 2 ripe Hass avocados, medium diced
¼ cup minced scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)

¼ cup red onion, small diced

Brush the tuna steaks with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the tuna steaks in a very hot sauté pan and cook for only 1 minute on each side. Set aside on a platter.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the olive oil, salt, pepper, lime zest, wasabi, lime juice, soy sauce and hot sauce. Add the avocados to the vinaigrette.

Cut the tuna in chunks and place it in a large bowl. Add the scallions and red onion and mix well. Pour the vinaigrette mixture over the tuna and carefully mix.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Grilled Chicken with Toasted Chiles, Coconut Milk, Lime, and Crushed Peanuts

McHubby takes the credit as the primary cook this time. He selected the recipe and did most of the work to prepare the dish, which was delicious! After making the sauce last night, we were able to grill the chicken tonight and quickly assemble the dish.

I have to say that the sauce required the most time and effort in preparing this recipe. The sauce is the key element of this dish—it’s where the flavor is. It has a delicate, smooth, buttery sweet flavor. The gorgeous orange-red color comes from the blend of the
chiles and turmeric. The peanut-cilantro garnish perfectly complements the flavor of the sauce in this tasty dish.
For the sauce:
3 dried New Mexico chiles
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil, such as canola
1 small red onion, coarsely chopped3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
¼ cup canned cream of coconut
Juice of 1 lime, or more to taste
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the chicken:
¾ cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:
Heat your grill to high or heat a heavy skillet on the stove.

Place the chiles on the grill and toast on each side for 20 seconds. Remove from the grill, discard the chile stems and seeks, and coarsely chop the chiles. Leave the grill on if you’ll be cooking the chicken right away.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft, about 7 minutes; do not brown. Add the turmeric and cook for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk, cream of coconut, and chiles and cook for 10 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth, or use a handheld blender in the pot. Add the lime juice and honey and blend again. Strain the mixture into a bowl and season to taste with lime juice, salt, and pepper. (The sauce can be made a day in advance, covered, and kept refrigerated. Rewarm before serving.)

For the chicken:
Heat your grill to high.

Combine the peanuts and cilantro in a bowl and toss together. Brush the chicken on both sides with oil and season with salt and pepper.

Grill the chicken until browned and firm, about 3 minutes. Turn the breasts over, reduce the heat to medium or move to a cooler part of the grill, and cook until just cooked through, about 3 minutes more.

Remove the chicken to a platter or serving plates and drizzle with the sauce. Sprinkle the peanut-cilantro mixture over the chicken and serve immediately.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Caprese Sandwich with Bacon

Inspired by the Insalata Caprese (Caprese Salad), which is one of my favorite spring and summer salads, I used the same ingredients to make this sandwich. Then I topped it with bacon, (because everything is better with bacon). These sandwiches were super easy to assemble—just a matter of cooking the bacon, cutting the tomato and mozzarella slices, chiffonading the basil leaves, and building the sandwich layers. The result is a colorful, fresh, light sandwich with contrasting flavors from the salty bacon and the sweet tomatoes and balsamic vinegar.

For a vegetarian version of this sandwiches, simply omit the bacon.

4 slices bacon
2 fresh club or hoagie rolls
1 large or 2 small Roma or plum tomatoes
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
6 fresh basil leaves
Balsamic vinegar

Add bacon to a cold frying pan, placing the strips side by side. (Do not heat the pan first, as that will cause the bacon to shrink and curl more.) Cook over medium-low heat. (Cooking the bacon over low heat will render the most amount of fat out of the bacon.) Turn over the bacon once in a while, to cook it evenly. When the bacon reaches a deep brown color, it is done. Remove from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the fat.

Cut the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese into ¼-inch slices. To cut the basil in a
chiffonade, stack the leaves, roll tightly, and cut across the roll to produce ribbons.

Spread a thin layer of pesto on the bread. Place the cheese slices on the bottom piece of the sandwich bread. Layer the tomatoes next. Evenly sprinkle the basil chiffonade on top of the tomatoes. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar next. Then top with 2 of the bacon slices on each sandwich and serve.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rainbow Chopped Salad with Orange-Oregano Dressing

Nutritionists say that we should “eat the rainbow,” and this recipe puts the rainbow on your plate. This lettuce-free salad is so pretty and colorful with a crunchy texture. The dressing has a fresh, light flavor, accented by the sweetness of the orange juice. This salad is a beautiful dish!

Rainbow Chopped Salad, Orange-Oregano Dressing,

1 ½ cups bell peppers, chopped
1 ½ cups broccoli florets, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots
½ cup radishes, diced
Orange-Oregano Dressing, (recipe below)
1 tablespoon red onion, minced

Place bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, radishes, Orange-Oregano Dressing, and onion in a medium bowl. Toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Orange-Oregano Dressing
½ teaspoon orange zest, freshly grated
½ cup orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped, or ¾ teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Place all ingredients in a jar. Cover and shake to combine.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Strawberry Shortcakes

I was pretty sick for about a week, and McHubby took great care of me, even going so far as to squeeze fresh orange juice every day for me. To thank him, I made this special treat tonight.

Shortcake is a sweet biscuit, made as a dessert. These shortcakes are a lovely golden brown color, crumbly and lightly sweet. This recipe pairs the little cakes with strawberries, but any sweet seasonal berry could work. Also, I used vanilla sugar instead of regular granulated sugar to enhance the flavors.

Source: Strawberry Shortcakes d’Amour,
Bride and Groom First and Forever Cookbook

3 cups cake flour, plus more as needed
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

2 cups hulled and quartered strawberries
1 tablespoon raspberry preserves
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Whipped Cream:
⅓ cup cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Powdered sugar for dusting
6 mint sprigs

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with vegetable-oil cooking spray.

To make the shortcakes:
Sift together the flour, the ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, the baking powder, and kosher salt in a medium bowl. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the butter and pulse 3 or 4 times at 2-second intervals until the dough resembles coarse meal. Add the cream and process until the dough begins to come together, a few seconds more. It will still be crumbly at this point. Do not overwork or the shortcakes will be tough.

Transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle it with more flour. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangle about 12 inches long. Fold the left end to the middle and the right end up over the left end to form 3 layers. Roll out the dough to ¾-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch-wide biscuit cutter, cut into 3 individual cakes. Gather the scraps, roll out the remaining dough, and cut out 3 more cakes.

Place the shortcakes at least 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops lightly with the beaten egg mixture and sprinkle with the 2 teaspoons granulated sugar. Bake until the shortcakes are light golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the strawberries:
Stir together the strawberries, raspberry preserves, granulated sugar, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Put 1 cup of the mixture in a small bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. Add to the strawberry mixture and set aside.

To make the whipped cream:
Combine the heavy cream, sour cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. The cream should slowly fall over forward when lifted with a whisk. Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer.

To serve, using a serrated knife, cut 2 shortcakes in half horizontally and place the bottom halves on each of 2 plates. Top with the strawberries, dividing evenly. Add a dollop of whipped cream and top with the remaining shortcake halves. Dust with powdered sugar and garnish with the mint sprigs.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, we cooked chicken enchiladas for dinner at home tonight. (It beats fighting the crowds to get a table at a local restaurant!) I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly these came together. McHubby helped by shredding the chicken for me and making the Spanish rice and beans side dishes. The enchiladas were flavorful and spicy, with a touch of contrasting sweetness from the corn and tomatoes. This recipe makes 16 enchiladas, so you can easily cut it in half.

Source: Chicken Enchiladas, Tyler Florence

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ pounds skinless boneless chicken breast
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon Mexican Spice Blend
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
5 canned whole green chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 canned chipotle chiles, seeded and minced
1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
½ teaspoon all-purpose flour
16 corn tortillas
1 ½ cups enchilada sauce, canned
1 cup shredded Cheddar and Jack cheeses
Garnish: chopped cilantro leaves, chopped scallions, sour cream, chopped tomatoes

Coat large sauté pan with oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken over medium
heat, allow 7 minutes each side or until no longer pink. Sprinkle chicken with cumin, garlic powder and Mexican spices before turning. Remove chicken to a platter, allow to cool.

Sauté onion and garlic in chicken drippings until tender. Add corn and chiles. Stir well to combine. Add canned tomatoes, sauté 1 minute.

Pull chicken breasts apart by hand into shredded strips. Add shredded chicken to sauté pan, combine with vegetables. Dust the mixture with flour to help set.

Microwave tortillas on high for 30 seconds. This softens them and makes them more pliable. Coat the bottom of 2 (13 by 9-inch) pans with a ladle of enchilada sauce. Using a large shallow bowl, dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce to lightly coat. Spoon ¼ cup chicken mixture in each tortilla. Fold over filling, place 8 enchiladas in each pan with seam side down. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven until cheese melts. Garnish with cilantro, scallion, sour cream and chopped tomatoes before serving. Serve with Spanish rice and beans.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Oyster Po' Boys

I noticed the farmer’s market opened again this past weekend, but I got there late. Most of the vendors had already left, and the two that were there were packing up. I promised to show up on time next weekend, but before I left, one of the vendors generously gave me two loaves of bread—a baguette and ciabatta loaf—and made my day! With my new unexpected gains, I wanted to make something really good, and decided upon oyster po’ boys.

Usually, oyster po’ boys are constructed on a hoagie roll or French bread, but I used the ciabatta loaf. I also used green leaf lettuce instead of iceberg. These sandwiches were so tasty! The fresh Chesapeake oysters were sizable and delicious, and the chipotle mayo was a perfect flavor accent.

Oyster Po’ Boys, Gourmet, October 2001

½ cup mayonnaise
1 ¼ teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
6 cups vegetable oil
1 large egg
¼ cup whole milk
2 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups cornmeal
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 cups shucked oysters, drained (about 36)
1 (12- to 14-inch-long) loaf soft-crusted bread
3 cups shredded iceberg lettuce

Make chipotle mayonnaise. Whisk together mayonnaise, chipotle, and lemon juice. Chill mixture, its surface covered with plastic wrap.

Heat oil in a deep heavy pot (preferably a cast-iron Dutch oven) over high heat until it registers 375°F on deep-fat thermometer, about 12 minutes.

While oil is heating, whisk together egg, milk, and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Shake cornmeal, remaining 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and pepper in a plastic or paper bag until combined well. Working in batches, add oysters to egg mixture, then lift out, letting excess drip off, and transfer to cornmeal in bag, shaking to coat well.

Carefully transfer to oil, knocking off excess coating, and fry, turning occasionally, until golden and just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Coat and fry remaining oysters in same manner, returning oil to 375°F for each batch.

Halve loaf crosswise and horizontally, cutting all the way through, and spread one cut side of each piece with mayonnaise. Sandwich oysters and lettuce between bread, pressing gently.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Spring Asparagus Risotto

Risotto is one of my favorite comfort foods. This recipe incorporates fresh spring-time asparagus. I added some baby peas as a complementary vegetable in this dish—just add a cup of frozen peas after the liquid is absorbed with the rice and reduce the amount of asparagus by a cup. I also drizzle white truffle oil on top just before serving to add a rich finishing flavor. Simply delicious!

To make this a vegetarian dish, just substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

Source: Spring Asparagus Risotto, Cooking Light, April 2009

4 cups (1-inch) slices asparagus (about 1 ½ pounds), divided
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, divided
1 ½ cups water
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)
2 cups uncooked Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
½ cup dry white wine
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place 1 cup asparagus and 1 cup broth in a blender; puree until smooth. Combine puree, remaining 2 cups broth, and 1 ½ cups water in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in rice; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add ½ cup broth mixture; cook 2 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining puree mixture ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 30 minutes total). Stir in remaining 3 cups asparagus; cook 2 minutes.

Stir in ¾ cup cheese, cream, salt, and pepper. Transfer risotto to a bowl. Serve with remaining ¼ cup cheese.