Saturday, April 23, 2011

Verde Chicken in Red

Claire and both her boys were sick today, so instead of cooking with Claire, today, I cooked for Claire. Claire still managed to contribute chocolate chip cookies and homemade croutons, as well as a loaf of bread, so today's session still deserves its own entry.  Fortunately for me, my sister and her fiance came over to help with child wrangling and cooking. We finished all our dishes in about 2 1/2 hours, not including things like simmering time and tossing the salad before serving. Not too bad.  Several people have suggested that I add a recipe index on the side.  That should be coming soon. 

Pollo Rojo  (previously Verde Chicken)

Claire and I had decided on making this last week. She says that if she ever wrote a cookbook, this recipe would be in it. Since she was not here today, I was kind of on my own, but I already had all the ingredients so I went ahead and made it.  She forgot to tell me not to add the tomatoes listed in the original recipe, which is why my chicken turned out red and not at all green.  Hence, the new name.  The chicken is great served with tortillas and Cowboy Caviar (see below) on the first night.  The leftovers can be used the next night for chicken quesadillas.  If there are any leftovers after that, try making Mexican Chicken Soup.

2 T olive oil
1 medium chopped onion
4 cloves chopped garlic
4 large chicken breasts cut in half vertically
1 cup salsa verde
½ c. chicken broth
1 T chili powder
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 can diced tomatoes with juice (optional!)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Heat oil in the pan.  Add the chicken and sprinkle with flour.   Let it brown, remove temporarily and saute the onion and garlic until soft.  Add the chicken back to the pan, turn a few times.   Add the salsa verde, tomatoes, and broth.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer 20 min.  Add more broth if necessary. Shred the chicken as it simmers.  Garnish with cilantro.

Cowboy Caviar

This recipe is from my co-worker Dawn.  It's amazing.  Don't let the shoepeg corn throw you.  It's just canned white corn. Although, for some reason, I picture long-toothed cartoon hillbillies wearing overalls and worn-out boots.  This is great as a fresh salsa, on burgers, with chips, or as a stand-alone side dish.  You can adjust the jalapeno pepper to taste.  Dawn uses 1 small pepper or 1/2 large pepper, and I omitted it for the kids.  It's better with at least a LITTLE jalapeno.

¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic
¼ tsp. pepper
¾ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 can black eyed peas – drain
1 can shoe peg corn – drain
1 bunch chopped cilantro (approx. ¾ cup)
1 bunch green onion (approx. ¾ cup)
Diced jalapeno pepper (to taste)
2 diced roma tomatoes
2 diced avocados (add right before serving)

Add all ingredients together and stir.  Allow to marinate for about 2-4 hours.  Add the avocado right before serving. 

Slow-cooked Cannellini Beans and Sausage
(adapted from Williams-Sonoma recipes online)

The original recipe is a little different.  It calls for beans soaked overnight, and whole kielbasa sausages. I wasn't prepared for this, so I used canned beans instead.  We also sliced the sausages and served it more as a stew/soup. I am also terrible with slow cookers- we started this in the slow cooker, but ran out of room.  After a couple of hours, I moved it to a large pot and finished the cooking there. It was delicious.  Serve with crusty bread.  It's a lot of ingredients, but mostly things that you probably already have in your pantry or fridge.

2 T olive oil
2 lbs. sausages (I used chicken kielbasa, with sundried tomatoes and spinach), sliced into 1 inch pieces, diagonally
1 large onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 Tbs tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, chopped
Red pepper flakes, to taste
2 cups chicken stock + 2 cups of water
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp sage
3 cans cannellini beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes, including liquid
1 c fresh breadcrumbs (better with homemade larger ones rather than the finely ground premade ones)
1 T butter, melted
1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped
2 cups chopped fresh spinach

Brown the sausage in a pan with the oil. Add the onions and garlic, cook until onions are soft.  At this point, transfer to a slow cooker.  Add tomato paste, stir.  Stir in the chicken stock, water, and spices.  Add the cannellini beans. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Stir in the red bell peppers and let it cook another 20-30 minutes. 

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, 1 T olive oil, the melted butter, and salt and pepper.  Saute in a pan until crispy.  Take off the heat and stir in the parsley. 

Stir the chopped spinach into the stew until it's wilted.  Serve in a big bowl topped with bread crumbs, and a side of crusty bread.

In progress.  The breadcrumb topping finishes it off!

For lunch, I scavenged some things from the fridge and counter:  1/3 lb. ground turkey, 1 1/2 lemons, 1/4 red onion, and a handful of grape tomatoes. I came up with this Melange Pasta, which by definition has limitless possibilities, and served it with our favorite salad.

Melange Pasta

1/3 lb ground turkey
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 T chopped onion
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp sage
salt and pepper
4 T olive oil
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
juice and zest from 1 1/2 lemons (1 or 2 lemons okay too)
1/2 package cooked pasta (spaghetti)
1 cup chopped spinach

Toss the tomatoes and red onion slices with 1 T olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and broil for about 3 minutes on high until browned. 

Heat 1 T olive oil in a large saute pan. Add garlic and onions. Add the turkey, rosemary, sage, and salt & pepper.  Once cooked, add the cooked & drained pasta, the roasted tomatoes and onions, and the lemon juice and zest.  Toss with the rest of the olive oil and the spinach.  Add a little more lemon juice to taste.  

Our House Dressing
1/4 tsp finely chopped garlic
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup lemon juice (to taste)
1/4 tsp salt

Whisk it until emulsified.  My husband puts it into a small plastic container and shakes it.

Homemade Herbed Croutons

Homemade croutons are a mixed blessing.  They are awesome on salads or soups, but you have to make at least twice as many as you need, because it is impossible to not snack on them after they're ready.  Impossible. The following is an approximate recipe that we both use, although we both generally wing it.   These are also great over soup.

Stale bread (preferably sourdough)
1/3 c olive oil (depends on how much bread you have)
garlic powder
pinches of assorted spices (sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, whatever)
salt and pepper

Toss cubed bread with olive oil and spices, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Bake at 350 for a bout 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Roasted Mini Sweet Peppers

This doesn't even need a recipe because they're so simple, but I made them, and they're delicious.  I just like to eat them plain but they would be great on a sandwich with chevre cheese and scallions. So, here you go.

10 sweet mini peppers
Drizzle olive oil
coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

Trim the tops off the peppers, slice in half, and remove the ribs and seeds. Lay out on a baking pan and drizzle olive oil over the peppers.  Sprinkle salt and pepper. Broil on high, for about 4 minutes or until they are golden.  The baking sheet should be close to the top burner, about 4 inches or so.  

I dropped off salad, cannellini and sausage stew, and a loaf of bread for Claire and her family for dinner, only to find that she had been busy baking chocolate chip cookies, bread, and croutons.  (Crouton recipe above.)  I've included a link to the bread recipe, as well as posting it here.  Cookie recipe follows.  Wouldn't want to forget dessert!

No-Knead Bread Recipe 
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1 5/8 c water
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

One delicious 1½-pound loaf.

World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's a pretty bold statement, but these are hard to resist.

1 c white sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 c butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
3 c white ap flour
12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips

Place sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla in kitchen aide mixing bowl. Mix 1 min.  Add dry ingr.  mix 30 sec and chocolate chips mix 15 seconds.  Drop rounded tablespoon onto greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake 375 for 10-12 min>  Remove from cookie sheets and cool on wire racks.

You can also make 1 batch and freeze half of the dough for later.

Please let us know if you try any of the recipes, and leave us a comment!

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