Guess Who Came to Dinners?

We just had a weekend guest, and sadly, put her on a plane to return to her home last night. This woman prefers to eat healthy, in moderation and occasionally diet. Boy did she come to the wrong place!

We started with some rugelach. I made apple/cinnamon, chocolate and hand pies
chocolate/blackberry. They are very similar except the for filling.  I added an apple tart, (I got to use my new spiralizer so am happy.) Fran and I had some fruit dumplings from Apple Hill (much like my hand pies but bigger, so I added blueberry, apply and blackberry hand pie/filled rough puff pastry dumplings. For dinner we had my homemade pizza margherita: sweet/salty sauce, home made dough (ala pizza 2 Independent Pizza in Seattle), basil and fresh mozzarella, baked 6 minutes at 600 degrees in my gas grill. I added some garlic bread knots to accompany.  It was so good, I made second one for Sunday night.  Unfortunately, we at all the garlic bread knots, so I made some chocolate mousse with pink whipped cream topping. Oh, we also had a salad.

mousse

RUGELACH

INGREDIENTS

CRUST

  • 16 tablespoons (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature (2 T cream cheese = 28g. 3/4 Cup = 12 T, ¾ C = 4oz.)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flourrugelach1

FILLING CINNAMON RAISIN

  • 1/2 cup brown sugarrugelach2
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or currants
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • water for brushing dough

DARK CHOCOLATE:

  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 Tsp unsweetened cocoa power
  • ¼ Tsp cinnamon (optional)

TOPPING

  • granulated sugar or coarse white sparkling sugar
  • milk or cream

METHOD

  1. To make the dough using a mixer: Beat together the butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and salt until smooth. Add the flour, mixing to make a stiff dough.
  2. Divide the dough into three equal portions. Press each gently into a disk. Make the disks as round as possible, smoothing their edges; this will allow you to roll the disks into a perfectly round circle, making the resulting rugelach more attractive.  (Note how :perfect this dough circle is.) Wrap the disks in plastic, and chill the dough for about 1 hour, until it’s firm but not rock hard. Or chill longer (up to overnight), then warm for about 45 to 60 minutes at room temperature, until the dough softens enough to roll out without cracking.
  3. To make the CINNAMON RAISIN FILLING: process the sugar, walnuts, dried fruit, and cinnamon in a food processor or blender until finely chopped and well combined (but not pasty). Don’t have a food processor? Simply stir together the filling ingredients; your filling will be chunky rather than smooth.
  4. To make the CHOCOLATE FILLING: Whisk together 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder; add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, if desired. Sprinkle atop rolled-out dough. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) mini chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate.
  5. Working with one piece of dough at a time, place it on a generously floured surface. Roll it into a 10″ circle and brush it lightly with water. For a flavorful touch, brush the rolled-out rugelach dough with a thin layer of boiled cider, warmed apple or 

    currant jelly, or puréed fruit preserves, instead of water.

  6. Use your fingers to spread about 1/3 of the filling onto the round, going all the way to the edges and gently patting the filling to help anchor it to the dough.
  7. Using a pizza cutter, baker’s bench knife, or sharp knife, divide the dough into 12 equal wedges. Roll each wedge up, beginning with the wide end and ending with the narrow end. Place the rolls point-side down on a baking sheet; lining the baking sheet with parchment will help with cleanup. Repeat with the remaining two pieces of dough.
  8. Brush the rugelach with milk or cream; and sprinkle with granulated or coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Refrigerate the rugelach while the oven is preheating.
  10. Bake the rugelach for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, and cool right on the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  11. Store leftover rugelach in an airtight container at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

APPLE TART

TART SHELLS

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 100 g cold butter cut into small cubes
  • 200 g all-purpose flour
  • 60 g icing sugar (Splenda?)
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 egg (50g)

APPLE FILLING

  • 3 apples (sliced thin or spiralized with skins on)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tsp cinnamon

METHOD

  1. Mix butter with sugar
  2. Add salt then vanilla
  3. Add egg
  4. Stir in flour.
    1. Mix by hand until incorporated
    2. Add 3-5 Tbl water to make dough sticky
  5. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 min
  6. Butter tartlet pans
    1. Roll dough to about ⅛” thick
    2. Lay over tart mold and press into all crevices
    3. Roll top to cut off excess
  7. Prick holes in bottom and sides of formed dough
  8. Add pastry weights to each pan
  9. Bake in preheated oven 350o F (175o C) for 17 min
    1. Remove pastry weights with 5 min left in the bake
    2. Remove pastry shells from pans and let cool on wire rack
  10. Fill cooled tart shell with sliced apples. I put them in a spiral shape but any way will do
  11. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over the apples.
  12. Cover exposed edges of tart with aluminum foil to prevent over browning.
  13. Back at 375 F for 20-30 min. When apples have reduced and mixture is bubbling.
  14. Remove from over and cool on a wire rack.

Sweet and Salty Pizza Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tablespoons (4 large leaves) fresh basil, coarsely chopped

METHOD

  1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over a medium heat until hot.
  2. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper and cook for 8-10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring and mashing tomatoes with potato masher until crushed.
  4. Stir in basil.
  5. Place in small bowl; cool to room temperature This sauce may be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated or up to 2 months ahead and frozen.
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Independent Pizzeria – Seattle WA

You may have read in other posts in this blog that I joined ChefSteps, a food and technology company based in Seattle. Through their app, they provide recipes, techniques and tutorials on a wide range of food to help people “cook smarter.”

I have had outstanding success with a number of their recipes and techniques but The diced-tomatosIndependent Pizzeria‘s crust may be “pizza de resistance” thus far. ChefSteps posted a tutorial with Joe Heffernan showing how to make his amazing crust. While visiting Neil and Maureen in Seattle earlier this month we went to Independent Pizzeria for dinner, 2-half-pizza-doughssampled his pizza (and fresh bread, warm honey and chevre cheese appetizer) and met Joe. For the “right” way to make this pizza dough refer to the tutorial. This post documents what I did, and proves it is possible to make this dough by a home, amateur baker. It is undoubtedly the best pizza dough I ever made. 2-uncooked-pizzas

I made the full recipe, used 1/3 and froze the other two balls, wrapped in heavy Darnel polycarbonate wrap after removing from the fridge the next day. There was enough sauce for two of the full sized pies. We like lots of sauce.

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Independent Pizza Dough

INGREDIENTS

 

METHOD

 

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix bread flour and salt thoroughly.
  2. Combine water and yeast
    1. Using a thermometer, adjust sink tap until it reaches a temperature of 65 °F / 18 °C. Add water to a new bowl.
    2. Add cake yeast and gently stir to combine.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour.
  4. Pour in the water and yeast.
  5. Using a wooden spoon, mix ingredients together until you have a shaggy, rugged mass of dough.
  6. In a stand mixer equipped with the dough hook, mix dough on medium speed for about seven and a half minutes, or until the dough has formed a uniform mass and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.
  7. Dust your work surface with flour.
  8. Turn dough onto the work surface and shape into a ball.
  9. Ferment dough for 5–8 hours in a covered container.
    1. NOTE: Make sure that the temperature of the room is conducive to fermentation. It should be around 65 °F / 18 °C in there.
    2. Using a scale, divide the dough into 230 g portions. Shape each portion into a ball.
      1. Pour a dollop of olive oil into the palm of your hand, and lightly roll each ball on the countertop to cover with oil. This helps the dough retain moisture as it rests in the next step.
    3. Transfer dough to the fridge and chill, uncovered, for 10–30 minutes.
    4. Cover with an airtight lid and let rest overnight in the fridge.
    5. Proof in warm room until dough is relaxed and ready to stretch, about 20 minutes.
    6. Stretch and shape
      1. Each pie should be about 36–40 cm (14–15 in) across.

Sweet and Salty Pizza Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tablespoons (4 large leaves) fresh basil, coarsely chopped

METHOD

  1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over a medium heat until hot.
  2. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper and cook for 8-10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring and mashing tomatoes with potato masher until crushed.
  4. Stir in basil.
  5. Place in small bowl; cool to room temperature This sauce may be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated or up to 2 months ahead and frozen.

 

Chicken Milano-ish

Chicken MilanoWe had a “Use What’s in the Pantry” dinner last night. We bought some thin chicken cutlets during our weekend grocery shopping and wanted to use it soon. Last week I saw a recipe for Chicken Milano and decided to substitute what was in our pantry for what was listed. Not much of a stretch, if you note the recipe below. It resulted in a very flavorful, light cream sauce paired nicely with a glass of 2012 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel. Sorry, there is no photo. It looked remarkably like chicken over fettuccine covered with a light cream sauce.

Chicken Milano

4 Servings, Prep Time: 10 Minutes, Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Description
This is a delicious pasta and chicken dish with garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil. The original recipe called for dry packaged sun-dried tomatoes instead of the tomatoes packed in olive oil. I had neither so used fresh tomato. The sauce can be kept, covered, for one day in the refrigerator; heat again over low heat. Try it with some crusty bread if desired.
Ingredients
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (I used a diced fresh tomato)
• 1 cup chicken broth, divided
• 1 cup heavy cream (I used 2% milk, warmed and mixed with 2 tsp cornstarch)
• 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
• salt and pepper to taste
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
• 8 ounces dry fettuccine pasta
Directions
1. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter; add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and 3/4 cup of the chicken broth; increase to medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender. Add the cream (milk/cornstarch mixture) and bring to a boil; stirring. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
2. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm oil and saute chicken. Press on chicken occasionally with a slotted spatula. Cook for about 4 minutes per side or until the meat feels springy and is no longer pink inside. Transfer to a board; cover and keep warm. Discard the fat from the skillet.
3. In the same skillet, over medium heat, bring 1/4 cup chicken broth to a boil; stirring the pan juices. Reduce slightly and add to the cream sauce; stir in basil and adjust seasonings to taste.
4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add fettuccine and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain, transfer to a bowl and toss with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the sauce.
5. Cut each chicken breast into 2 to 3 diagonal slices. Reheat the sauce gently if needed. Transfer the pasta to serving plates; top with chicken and coat with the cream sauce; serve.

Caramelized Pineapple/Mango Salsa Blackened Choose Your Fish

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. Let’s put it right out front. Fran and I are not huge fans of fish. Living in South Florida the occasional fish dinner is inevitable and recently we have weakened to the level where we make a point of having fish for dinner once per week, and, believe it or not, actually order it out when we dine at a restaurant. In an effort to unfishy the fish I like to season it with a blackening spice and often grill it on the BBQ. Tonight, however , was blackened pan seared Chilean Sea Bass on a bed of romaine lettuce covered with a carmelized pineapple and mango salsa.  All gone!

Put a couple tablespoons of EVO in a medium sized frying pan. Add brown sugar and melt together. Once the sugar is almost melted (be very careful, its easy to burn whenCarmelized Mango Salsa Sea Bass
it’s just EVO and sugar and you might have to start over… start over… crap!) add the drained pineapple and stir a lot.  When warm, add diced fresh mango, a glass of red wine, and simmer until just bubbling then transfer to a small saucepan and set on a warm burner. Technically, there should have been onion added to the brown sugar EVO mixture to produce caramelized onion, but a) we didn’t have any onion and b) we don’t like onion much, so I opted for caramelized pineapple.

Liberally coat both sides the fish with your spice of choice, transfer to the now empty, but still medium hot fry pan, adding a little EVO. Tent the fish with some aluminum foil, cook for 4 min on the first side (thank you Daniel for your expert advice) then flip as the flesh turns white. Add a tablespoon, or so, of water with a couple of minutes left and re-tent immediately. When you think it is done, cook for an extra 30-45 seconds. (I do not like rawish fish. It is almost as bad as rawish chicken.)

Here are the ingredients. (Note I didn’t use any measuring devices. Measurements are all approximate)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup diced onion (if you have one and like onion)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1/2 (15 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 (4 ounce) fish steaks (Mine was Sea Bass, about an inch thick)
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup blackening seasoning

Chicken Scallopini with Whatever You Find in Your Pantry

While grocery shopping this weekend I “impulse bought” a pound of  boneless, skinless, thin-sliced chicken breast cutlets, knowing for the two of us this would be enough for dinner for both of us and one lunch. (If they ended up good, my lunch, if not…)

I found this recipe on AllRecipes.Com but made just a few changes. At the same time I started cooking the onions I added some sliced green peppers, skipped the wine (didn’t have any) and added a teaspoon of capers. I also didn’t measure anything, just added some of this and some of that until it looked about right.

I was going to serve it over a bed or rice, but I forgot to impulse buy any. I had some egg noodles that worked well.

I have lunch today!!

Ingredients (All approximate)

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (I used vegetable oil)
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, pounded 1/2-inch thick
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine (skipped this)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 green pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp, or so of capers

Directions

  1. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt and black pepper. Arrange the chicken in the skillet and pan fry until golden brown, no longer pink in the center, and the juices run clear, about 10 minutes on each side. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Transfer the chicken to a large platter, and cover with aluminum foil.
  2. Return the skillet to the stove and reduce heat to medium. Stir in the garlic and onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the white wine and scrape up any brown bits from the skillet with a spatula. Add the chicken stock, and continue to cook and stir until the liquid has reduced, about 5 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and flour; cook and stir until thickened. Top the chicken with the sauce before serving.

Garlic Chicken with Roasted Peppers

You know, sometimes it pays to look in the back of the fridge. Sometimes its frightening, but once in a while fortune smiles on you. Yesterday morning I found a package of red, yellow and green peppers we bought some time ago for some unremembered purpose. They had been there a while, but not so long as to be liquid. Not being one to waste more than absolutely necessary I washed them and brushed them with a light layer of vegetable oil (not EVO, it has too low a smoke point), tossed them in the convection oven and let them roast until they had a nice black blistered skin. Remove from the oven and put in a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let cool. After 10-20 minutes cut the ends off and slice into 1/2″ to 1″ strips. Use your fingers to slide the skins and seeds off the strips and put aside until…

I had two nice chicken breasts, which I seasoned with salt and pepper and set intogarlic chicken and roasted peppers a large skillet containing about 1/2 cup of chicken broth over medium high heat. Cook, covered, until the chicken until mostly done (15 min or so depending on thickness) then add the peppers and a garlic clove (I used a teaspoon of ground fresh garlic.) Cook another 10 minutes adding a diced roma tomato with 2 minutes left. When you are sure it is done (juice runs clear) sprinkle with mozzarella cheese divide and conquer!

A little long grain rice would be nice, but I just added some extra peppers I had laying around somewhere.

Sautéed Chicken with Goat Cheese Sauce

I heard a recipe for a chicken and Gorgonzola cheese sauce on the radio, then, after my car was safely parked, looked it up on my phone. The URL was for a “recipe of the day.” Unfortunately, I did not copy the recipe down and when I went back, it was another day and another recipe. Deciding to play the home edition of “Chopped” I made dinner with what was on hand, hence the Sauteed Chicken with Goat Cheese.

  1. Coat thinly cut chicken breasts in flour and saute in a pan with a little EVO
  2. Boil water to make some pasta (I love fettuccine.)
  3. While the chicken is cooking (about 3 minutes per side) slice some roasted red peppers into thin strips. (Or use pimentos, sweet peppers, whatever you have.)
  4. When browned and almost done, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  5. Cool the saute pan slightly and add some milk (1/2 cup or so), stir in a small package of goat cheese (I like Laura Chenel, but as we are cooking with it, any brand is probably OK)
  6. Raise the heat until the mixture is boiling. Be careful not to scorch it.
  7. Add some flour to thicken (I probably used a tablespoon, it depends on how much milk you used)
  8. Let the milk/cheese/flour mixture reduce until it is thick and add the chicken back to the pan.
  9. Drain the pasta and add to another saute pan heated to medium high with some EVO added.
  10. Stir in the roasted peppers (or whatever you had, if it was fresh peppers, add those first and let them soften until tender). Stir (or toss which is more fun) until hot. Add a little more EVO until it looks wet, but not saturated.

Place the chicken on a plate, pour some of the remaining cheese sauce over, put the pasta next to it and its supper time!!