Monthly Archives: February 2012

Chipotle Lime Chicken Tacos

Tacos are a favorite meal in my house and I’m always looking for new ways to make them. Recently, my husband and I finally stopped at the food trucks we’ve always eyed off the highway just north fo where we live. Since then I’ve been hooked on corn tortillas and simple toppings with flavorful meats. This recipe is a mix of what we like best and what I’ve made in the past. We love chipotle peppers and the citrus juice adds a fresh flavor that goes nicely with the kick from the peppers. We like spice so I tend to have a heavy hand with the chipotles but you can you as little or much as you like but definitely use them because they have amazing flavor! The corn tortillas also add amazing flavor and are a healthier choice when compared to flour tortillas.

I cook the chicken in a Le Creuset braiser. They can be pretty pricey but they are magical. They cook evenly and because they are enamel coated the clean up is a breeze. A Le Creuset this size retails for $205+ but I found my at a HomeGoods store for $139. If you don’t have one I highly recommend the splurge! Keep your eyes open at a Marshalls, TJMaxx, or HomeGoods… and you may be rewarded with a deal!

Ingredients:

1lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 chipotles in adobo plus 2 tablespoons sauce
(you can use more or less depending on how much spice you like)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic chopped
juice of 1 ½ limes
juice of ½ lemon
2 cups water

corn tortillas and taco toppings

First prepare the marinade for the chicken. Chop 3 chipotle peppers in adobo and place in a medium bowl. Add the sauce from the peppers, cumin, coriander, olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cut chicken thighs into 4-6 pieces each and add to the bowl. Toss to coat. Transfer to a gallon zip top bag and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°. Heat oil in a dutch oven or other oven safe skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until brown on all sides. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the juice of the limes and lemon and water. Cover and transfer to the oven.

Cook for 1 ½ hours with the lid on. Then remove the cover and continue to cook until the liquid mostly evaporates (about 10-15 minutes longer). Break the chicken up in the pan and serve with your favorite taco tortillas and toppings.

I like to keep it simple with fresh avocado, tomatoes, lime wedges and cilantro. I also use non-fat plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream. I like the tang and it cuts back on some of the fat.

 

Cinnamon-Swirl Raisin Bread

I can’t imagine that there could possibly be anyone out there who doesn’t like cinnamon raisin bread. While I would agree that making it at home might seem like a daunting task, this was surprisingly easy. I am thankful that Lindsay and I decided to make this together because there is a lot of down time waiting for the dough to rise, and we each got a loaf!

Ingredients (makes 2 loaves)

  • 2 cups of dark raisins
  • Canola oil for greasing the bowl
  • 4 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour; more for dusting
  • 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 packet (1/4 oz.) of instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons of fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 7 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened; more for greasing the pans

Mix the Dough

Put the raisins in a small bowl and add enough hot tap water to cover them. Let sit for 5 minutes; drain and set aside.

Lightly oil a large bowl. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, 2 tablespoons each of sugar and cinnamon, the yeast, and salt. Combine on low speed, about 1 minutes. Add the milk, egg, 3 tablespoons of butter, and 3/4 cup room temperature water. Mix on medium speed, scraping the bowl as necessary, until the dough comes together, about 1 minutes. Increase the speed to medium high and continue to mix until the dough is smooth, slightly sticky, and clinging to the hook, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the dough hook with your hand, and remove the bowl. Gently knead in the raisins by hand, just until incorporated.

Let the Dough Rise

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, roll it into a ball, and put it in the oiled bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until the dough looks slightly puffy, about 30 minutes. Pour yourself a nice cup of coffee, and wait.

On a well-floured surface, use your hands to flatten and spread the dough out until it’s about 3/4 inch thick. Fold the dough in half from top to bottom, then in half again from left to right. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and let sit until it has risen slightly, about 30 minutes more. Get that second cup of coffee ready.

Make the Cinnamon Filling

Generously grease two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pans with butter. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 4 tablespoons each of cinnamon and sugar; set aside. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Divide the dough in half. Roll each ball into a rectangle large enough to fit into your pan when rolled. Once you have two rectangular pieces of dough, brush each with the melted butter and divide and sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Grease the bread pans. Roll the dough to form a log and place in each bread pan.

Let the uncooked loaves rest at room temperature for 60 – 90 minutes. By this time you might be getting impatient with all of the waiting. I suggest drinking something stronger than coffee to help pass the time, like a nice bottle of wine.

Bake the Bread

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375.

Bake the loaves, rotating and swapping the positions of the pans halfway through baking, until dark brown and hollow-sounding when thumped on the top, about 30 – 35 minutes. The bread will be very hard. Don’t get scared. Transfer the loaves in their pans to a rack and brush with the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter.

When cook enough to handle, remove the loaves from the pans.

Source: Fine Cooking Magazine – Feb/March 2012

Orange Chicken with Scallions

If you are like me, you are constantly on an endless quest to find a consistently good Asian delivery place. Just when you think you have found a great place, you get sesame chicken that tastes like cardboard. I am starting to think that we can categorize great Asian take-out food with the Loch Ness Monster and a husband who can empty the dishwasher and put everything in the right place. They just don’t exist. I recently decided to bite the bullet and buy myself a rice cooker, dust off my wok, and make the food myself.

I have used my new rice cooker twice and it has already become one of those things that I don’t know how I lived without in the kitchen. I love it! If you don’t have one, I highly recommend that it be your next purchase in kitchen toys. One of the biggest things to remember when cooking with a wok is that everything happens very quickly, so make sure to do all your prep before you start, and have everything within an arms reach.

Ingredients

  • 1 large navel orange
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of light brown sugar
  • 1/8 of a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup of cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons of canola or peanut oil
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (Keep the whites and greens separate)

Using a vegetable peeler, shave the zest from the orange in long, wide strips. If necessary, remove any large patches of bitter white pith from the zest using a paring knife. Juice the orange into a small bowl and mix with the soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, and red pepper.

Sprinkle the chicken cubes with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. In a mini food processor, process the egg white, cornstarch, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt until smooth. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the cornstarch batter.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet or large stir-fry pan over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Using tongs, transfer about half of the chicken to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, flipping every minute or so, until the chicken browns and crisps all over and is firm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes. With clean tongs, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet (use more if you need it) and repeat the cooking process with the remaining chicken; transfer to the plate.

Put the orange zest strips in the skillet and cook, stirring, until they darken in spots, 15 to 30 seconds. Stir the orange juice mixture and add it to the pan. Let it boil for about 10 seconds and then add the chicken and the scallion whites. Cook, stirring often, until the sauce reduces to a glaze and the chicken is just cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the scallion greens with white rice.

Source: Fine Cooking Annual: Volume 3

Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Chutney

Mahi Mahi is probably the weirdest edible fish I’ve ever seen, but let me tell you, it tastes delicious! Wait, I take that back, monkfish is the weirdest edible fish I’ve ever seen but mahi is a close second. I love reicpes that keep the fish simple and compliment it with bright flavors. This dish took me back to Key West with every bite and I love when a meal can evoke fond memories and bring me back to a place I love to visit.

Sometimes when I’m having cooking-block and I’m in need of some inspiration I’ll look back to past issues of my go to magazines and that’s where I found this one. It came from Cooking Light Jan./Feb. 2010. I like the way the recipes in Cooking light add a lot of flavor without going overboard with oil, butter, or salt. And it looks really pretty on the grill pan.

On a side note, mahi mahi is considered sustainable by Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guide. Sustainable seafood is generally abundant, well-managed and caught or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. If you want to learn more about how to make good seafood choices visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium website by following the link or download the Seafood Watch app for your area on your phone or tablet.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced seeded habanero pepper
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 cup gold rum
  • 3 cups fresh pineapple, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • Cooking spray
  • 6  6-ounce mahimahi filets
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and next 4 ingredients (through garlic); stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add rum to pan; cook 20 seconds or until liquid evaporates. Stir in pineapple, sugar and juice; bring to a boil. Cook 15 minutes or until liquid thickens. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Stir in cilantro.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle both sides of fish evenly with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and black pepper. Add fish to pan; cook 6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with chutney.

Photography by Chris Davis


Roasted Tomato Soup with a Sunny-Side-Up Crouton

As a child I always remember hating soup with a passion. I can’t recall what my nonsensical reasoning behind that was, but I just started giving soup a try again a few years ago. My first attempt at homemade soup was Ina Garten’s Tomato Basil soup. It was amazing, but had lots of cheese (Stilton…I snacked on quite a bit of it while cooking, and may or may not have sucked on the wrapper after it was gone) and cream. While I love a nice creamy soup, my stomach doesn’t always agree, so I started looking for recipes that were broth based, instead of cream.

It was a cold snowy day, and Gwenny was napping, so I grabbed a stack of old cookbooks and snuggled up on the couch with a nice mug of hot chocolate. I was skimming through At Home with Michael Chiarello when I read the title of this recipe, and I felt my mouth start to water. Although tomatoes are not currently in season, I did somehow manage to snag some juicy ones that would just have to do because once I saw this recipe, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Ingredients:

  • 12 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to drizzle on bread
  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 head of garlic, top sliced off to expose all of the cloves (~1/4 inch)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 finely chopped yellow onion
  • Vegetable Broth or Water
  • 2 cups of fresh basil leaves
  • Loaf of Italian bread, sliced into thick slices
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Eggs – 1 per serving

Preheat the oven to 500.

Core and quarter the tomatoes length wise. In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with 1/4 cup of olive oil, the balsamic, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Spread the tomatoes in a roasting pan with high sides so that the moisture does not cause the liquid to over flow (which happened to me). Put the garlic in a small ramekin and drizzle with olive oil, making sure each part of the garlic is coated. Cover the ramekin with tin foil. The recipe has you add the garlic in with the tomatoes, but they did not really roast because of all of the liquid that was accumulating in the pan. You can still toss them with the tomatoes if you’d like, but I feel they would be even better roasted separately. Put the ramekin and the roasting pan in the oven.

Roast the tomatoes for 35-40 minutes. I pulled the roasting pan out after about 25 minutes and removed the skins off of the tomatoes. They were nice and soft and just slipped right off. You can leave the skins on if you’d like, but I wanted a silkier texture to my soup. Return the roasting pan to the oven. Once the garlic is nicely browned, after 35-40 minutes, take it out of the oven. Remove the tomatoes after they are starting to slightly brown.

In a dutch oven, or large skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Raise the heat to high and add the tomatoes using a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan. Reserve the liquid. You want to add 2 cups of liquid total to the soup. Pour the liquid from the roasting pan into a measuring cup and add as much vegetable broth or water as you need to make 2 cups. Add the 2 cups of liquid to the dutch oven. Carefully squeeze the roasted garlic out of the head and add it into the soup. Bring the soup to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and blend with an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender.

While the soup simmers, toast slices of bread in the 500 degree oven for ~6 minutes. Once nicely toasted, remove them from the oven and drizzle with olive oil and lightly season with salt. Set a non-stick pan over medium high heat, large enough to accommodate as many eggs as you have servings. Melt 1-2 tablespoon of butter, depending on the size of your pan and the number of eggs, into the pan. Gently crack in the egg/s and cook until the white is mostly set. Occasionally tilt the pan and collect some butter in a spoon and pour it over the yolk. This will help set the top of the egg without having to flip it, which can be a terrifying experience.

To serve the soup, place the bread in the center of a shallow bowl. Spoon the soup around the bread. Place an egg on the top of each bread slice and garnish with fresh basil and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

Source: At Home With Michael Chiarello