Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spatchcocked Chicken With Tomatoes

I get an insane number of magazines every month, but one of the ones that never fails me is Everyday Food. There are always recipes in there that I end up trying (and loving) every month. The magazine is also small and the perfect size to hang out on my kitchen shelf.

I got this month's copy in the mail yesterday, and immediately wanted to try the recipe for spatchcocked chicken with tomatoes. A spatchcocked chicken is essentially a split, then flattened chicken. There's an excellent how-to pictorial in this month's magazine.

This dish was simple to make, cheap, and tasted fantastic. It's a keeper.

Spatchcocked Chicken With Tomatoes

1 whole chicken, spatchcocked
3 unpeeled garlic cloves, smashed
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper, to taste

Preaheat oven to 500 degrees.

Season spatchcocked chicken with salt and pepper and place in a pan breastside up. Add the 3 garlic cloves. Salt and pepper the chicken.
Pierce all of the tomatoes with the tip of a paring knife. Add the tomatoes to the pan, and drizzle with tsp of olive oil (*I used more than a tsp and drizzled it over everything). Salt and pepper the tomatoes (I just added a little bit more s & p to the tomatoes around the edges).

Pour wine and water into pan.

Roast chicken until juices run clear when pierced between breast and leg, or when an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted in thickest part of a thigh, avoiding bone. This will take 30-50 minutes (the magazine suggested 30, but mine took much longer).

Let rest 5 minutes, and sprinkle with fresh basil before carving.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Raid the Pantry! - Hummus

This week's I Heart Cooking Clubs theme was to raid the pantry - so I knew exactly what I was going to make. I had a sad little can of chickpeas sitting in my pantry that had been there forever, as well as a can of tahini that I had bought with the best of intentions, but just hadn't opened. The food processor was out on the counter, I had pita chips on hand, so it was time to make some hummus.

There are many things to love about hummus - it's cheap, it's easy to make, it's pretty healthy as dips go, and the flavor possibilities are endless. You can add all kinds of spices, roasted peppers, and on and on and on. This time around I stuck with his recipe (which was good), but I'll probably kick it up a little next time I make it - maybe some chile powder or a tad more cumin. This was tasty and a relatively healthy snack. Fabulous with pita chips or crudites.

Adapted from How to Make Everything by Mark Bittman

2 cups drained well-cooked or canned chickpeas
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/4 cup sesame oil from the tahini or good olive oil
1 small clove of garlic, peeled, or to taste (could also use roasted garlic)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Tbsp ground cumin, or to taste, plus a sprinkling for garnish
Juice of 1 lemon, plus more as needed
About 1/3 cup water, or as needed
1 tsp olive oil, for drizzling over top

Place everything except water and 1 tsp olive oil in the container of a food processor and begin to process. Add water as needed to make a smooth puree.

Taste and add more garlic, salt, lemon juice, or cumin as needed. Serve, drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with a bit of cumin. Serve with vegetables, crackers, or pita.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bites of Bittman - Vegetable Pancakes

I'm thrilled to be cooking along with I Heart Cooking Clubs, and for the next 6 months, the focus will be on Mark Bittman recipes. I have (and love) both How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

This time the focus was on small bite recipes, and I decided to go with Vegetable Pancakes. I had trouble getting the recipe crunchy - I'll forgot the step of sqeezing all the excess water out of the shredded veggies. Even without being crunchy, though, they tasted great, and are a fabulous way to get picky eaters to eat their veggies. I used zucchini, yellow squash, and carrots. I shredded it all in the food processor (along with the onion), and it was a snap to make. This will definitely become a regular in our meal rotations, especially during the summer months when I run out of ideas for cooking squash and zucchini.

Vegetable Pancakes
1 1/2 lbs grated vegetables (peeled if necessary), and squeezed dry
1/2 small onion, grated; or 4 scallions
1 egg or 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
approx 1/4 cup white or whole wheat flour (more or less)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil, vegetable oil, or butter for frying

Preheat oven to 275. Grate the vegetables by hand or with the grating disc of a food processor. Mix together the vegetables, onion, egg, and 1/4 cup flour, and add salt and pepper to taste. Add a little more flour if needed to hold the mixture together.

Put a little butter or oil in a large skillet or griddle on medium-high heat. When the butter is melted or the oil is hot, drop in spoonfuls of the batter, using a fork to spread the vegetables into an even layer, press down a bit. Work in batches without overcrowding. (Transfer finished pancakes to the oven while the others finish cooking.) Cook, turning once, until nicely browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Meet My New Salad Best Friend

Monday night was cooking club, and we're still working our way through At the Table with Patty Roper. So far, we've all been really pleased with the various dishes we've tried. Nancy over at Casual Cuisine brought the salad this month, and oh. my. gosh. It was goooood. I think she'll post it (hopefully with a pretty picture), but I wanted to share it also. I'll be making it again tomorrow. The key ingredient that brought it all together was cinnamon. Very unexpected, but oh so good.

Spinach and Pecan Salad
adapted from At the Table with Patty Roper

1 cup pecans
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 apples, sliced
1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Stir together pecans, brown sugar, butter and cinnaomn. Spread the nut mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes, stirring often. Cool and break apart; set aside.

For the dressing, mix all ingredients well. Place spinach and apple slices on each plate (or in big bowl). Drizzle with dressing and top with pecans.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sugar Cookie Quest, Part 2

I mentioned my search for the perfect sugar cookie a couple of weeks ago. I received several recipes, and one I still need to try (it's by ATK, so I assume it works well - I just never have the cream cheese on hand to make them). Anywho, since I use King Arthur flour, I decided to head over to their recipes to see if they had anything that would fit the bill. And they did.

If you prefer a really soft, thick sugar cookie, this won't be your favorite. I tend to prefer a thinner, chewy-almost-crunchy sugar cookie (although I'd never turn down a thick one!). That's exactly what this recipe is, and I've made it twice now. It has no baking powder or soda, and I didn't have any issues with puffing up or spreading this time. I also didn't have to put them back in the fridge between cutting them out and putting them in the oven. This is my new favorite cookie recipe.

Holiday Butter Cookies
adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 cup + 2 Tbsp salted butter, room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Fiori di Sicilia (or flavoring of your choice)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used a bit less than they call for)

Combine first 5 ingredients, beating until smooth. Add the flour, mixing until smooth. If the mixture seems to dry, add a tablespoon of water.

Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Remove dough from refrigerator and allow it to soften for 20-30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough and cut as desired. Bake on parchment-lined cookie sheets for 12-14 minutes, until they're barely brown around the edges and set. Remove from oven and cool directly on the pan (or on the parchment paper if you need the pan for the next batch).

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cheddar Crackers

I was inspired by Home Ec 101's Fearless Friday post last week about these cheese crackers. According to several posts, they resemble a certain fishy cracker. I didn't get that from them, but they sure were tasty. Mine were really puffy and light and cheesy and buttery. I'm not going to lie - I ate half of the batch within 10 minutes of coming out of the oven.

The only thing I did differently from the recipe was to add a dash of cayenne pepper to them. The fabulous thing about this recipe is that there are all kinds of directions you could take it - different spices, cheeses, and I'm going to try making them next with at least some wheat flour.

Another thing I'll do next time is only roll out and bake half at a time. They really are best fresh out of the oven, and they take no time at all to roll out and cut with a pizza cutter (I wasn't going for pretty - they're not even close to being the same size or shape). Super-easy afternoon snack for the kidlet and myself.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Parmesan Onion Puffs

I tend to get stuck in a rut with appetizers - I have my usual go-tos, but I wanted to find something a little lighter for Easter lunch. I knew we'd be eating a pretty heavy meal, so these little beauties seemed like a winner. (Plus, they're pretty much my favorite dip - onion souffle - on bread, but with built-in portion control.)

Parmesan Onion Puffs
adapted from The Best of Gourmet

2-2.5 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 small onion, minced
1/8 tsp cayenne (it could have had a little more)
Loaf of white sandwich bread

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (make sure rack is in the upper third of oven).

Stir together cheese, mayonnaise, onion, and cayenne. Set aside.

Using a cookie cutter, cut 2-4 rounds (depending on size) from each slice of bread. Arrange and bake on a cookie sheet for about 4 minutes, until tops are crisp and just golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for a couple of minutes.

Top each toast with a 1/2 tsp (or more, if bigger circles) of the cheese mixture, and spread to the edge of the bread with a knife. Return to oven, and bake for 6 minutes, or until top is puffed and golden. Serve immediately.

The puffs are the front right.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It's getting close...

Can't you just smell summer in the air? The weather is warmer (thank goodness!), the days are longer, and everyone seems just a little more carefree. I'm so ready for the days of grilling, eating outside, and fresh produce.

When those days come, my oven rarely makes an appearance in the preparation of our meals. It just gets too hot. We had our first mostly-not-cooked-in-the-oven dinner tonight, and it was delightful. There are no recipes here - just excited to think about the months to come and how yummy summer foods really are. I mean, really - what I wouldn't give for a quality tomato and some fresh okra right about now...

Shrimp was cooked on the grill, risotto in the bread maker, green beans in the microwave (thank you, Steamfresh), and bread cooked quickly in my small oven.