One woman's foray into cooking for herself, for her family, and for her friends. It's not always picture-perfect, sometimes a little messy,
but it's always delicious. Join me in exploring new recipes, savoring the "résultats" and learning from the "erreurs".


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Garlicky Chicken in Red Pepper Sauce

This is another recipe I received in an email from Fine Cooking in their "Make It Tonight" series. It looked really easy, sounded really delicious.  And it was.  Both easy and delicious.  The chicken was so tender and juicy.  The sauce was so flavorful.  And it all came together so quickly.  I love that!  I didn't have fresh thyme on hand, so I substituted about 3/4 teaspoon of dried French thyme.  One other thing - the next time I make this, I will add more potatoes (at least one more, but probably two). Make sure to have a crusty baguette on hand to sop up that amazing sauce. A little starter salad would be a nice addition to round out the meal.

Garlicky Chicken in Red Pepper Sauce
Serves 4

2 Tbs. olive oil
8 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 lbs.), trimmed of excess fat and skin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 cup lower-salt chicken broth
3 jarred roasted red peppers, drained and cut into 1-inch strips (1-1/2 cups)
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice (1-1/2 cups)
1 Tbs. sherry vinegar
Crusty baguette for serving

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Heat the oil in a large, oven-proof sauté pan over medium-high heat until it’s shimmering. Sprinkle the chicken with 1-1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Add half the thighs to the pan, skin side down. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook without touching until the skin browns and easily releases from the pan, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook for 1 minute. Transfer to a large plate. Add the remaining chicken and cook it in the same manner. Transfer the chicken to the plate. Add the garlic and thyme to the pan and cook until the garlic is lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, red peppers, potato, and sherry vinegar to the pan, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, return the chicken to the pan skin side up, and transfer to the oven.

Braise the chicken, uncovered, until the potato pieces are tender and the chicken is completely cooked through, about 30 minutes.


Source: Fine Cooking

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tamale Pie


The first cookbook I ever owned as a new bride was Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.  I made lots and lots of the recipes contained in that cookbook, many of which remain favorites to this day.  The first few sections introduced me to appliance cooking:  how to use my Crockpot (the Olive Spaghetti Sauce sounds a bit odd but is really good), the Oriental Pork helped familiarize me with my new electric skillet, the Bar-B-Q Meat Loaves (yes, individual meat loaves) made me less intimidated of my little Weber grill.  Coffee cake, Swedish Tea Ring, white bread, pancakes, penuche, Spanish tomato rice (a really tasty rice dish), puddings, pies, roasts, as well as sections on meal planning and ingredient substitutions were the basis of my culinary education.  The pages of BH&G New Cook Book all have the tell-tale splatters of a well-used cookbook in my kitchen.  Admittedly, some of the recipes are dated, but, all in all, I still turn to this cookbook on a fairly regular basis.

In a bit of nostalgia, I decided to look through the book and review some of the recipes I used to make as a novice cook.  The spiral-bound pages are a little worse for wear, but like a neglected grade-school child, one page just fell out of the book as if to say 'Pick me! Pick me!'  The stained page containing the recipe for Tamale Pie floated to the floor, the holes of the page no longer intact to remain in the book of its own accord.

So, Tamale Pie it was.

I actually have a few vivid memories involving this dish.  It was one of the meals I made for my parents when they came from New York to visit their newly married daughter at our first Texas apartment.  Trying to prove to my mother that I could indeed cook, I made this recipe.  Not exactly Beef Wellington, but it came out fine.  Mom and Dad at least feigned approval of my initial cooking abilities.

One time, after simmering the meat and vegetables for the prerequisite 25 minutes, I lifted the pan full of hot ingredients to pour into the casserole dish, and lost my grip.  Hot saucy meat and vegetables went all over the floor of my then-tiny kitchen.  Not pretty.

And I never lift a full pan without making sure I have a good grip on it anymore.  Never.

A couple of changes I made this time (after not making this recipe in easily 15 - 20 years):  I replaced 1/2 teaspoon of the chili powder called for with chipotle chili powder.  It added a wonderful smoky heat to the dish that I really love.  I used a red bell pepper instead of a green pepper (I'm not particularly fond of green peppers...)  The recipe lists a teaspoon of sugar, which I omitted, especially since the red pepper adds its own bit of sweetness.  And I used just a handful of grated Cheddar cheese instead of the 6 ounces used in the original  recipe. (Actually, the original recipe calls for 6 ounces of sharp process American cheese, but I never used processed cheese in the dish.)  The little bit of grated cheese helped bind the meat mixture and was enough for me, but use the whole 6 ounces if it appeals to you.

Retro cooking.  Ya gotta love it!

Tamale Pie
serves 6

1 pound ground chuck
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
1-1/2 cups corn (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup pitted ripe olives, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
Dash black pepper

6 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups cold water
1 tablespoon butter

Cook meat, onion, and bell pepper in a large skillet until meat is lightly browned and vegetables are tender.  Stir in tomato sauce, corn, olives, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, chili powders, and black pepper.  Simmer 20 to 25 minutes or until thick.  Stir in cheese. Turn into a greased 9x9x2-inch baking dish.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Stir cornmeal and 1/2 teaspoon salt into cold water.  Cook, stirring constantly, until thick.  Add butter, and mix well.  Spoon cornmeal mixture over hot meat mixture.

Bake 40 minutes.


Source:  Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, copyright 1968

Monday, May 16, 2011

Southwestern Turkey Wrap


I'm trying to be more frugal these days by taking my lunch to work as often as I can.  Sometimes, that means leftovers if I've cooked something particularly delicious and plentiful (like the General Tso's Chicken of a couple of weeks ago).  But when I happened upon this wrap, it got my attention.  Now, one doesn't normally need a recipe for a wrap. The real recipe here is for the spread that seasons this one.  It's easy, it's delicious, and because of it, definitely takes lunch fare up a notch.  The avocado is optional, but it does add a nice richness and flavor.  Want a satisfying lunch?  Try a Southwestern Turkey Wrap!

Southwestern Turkey Wraps
Makes 4

1/2 cup mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip!)
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 green onion, minced
1 tablespoon minced chipotle
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

4 10-inch flour tortillas (I've used a sun-dried tomato wrap here)
16 ounces smoked turkey
8 ounces pepper jack cheese
thinly sliced avocado
mesclun (or spring mix salad)
12 thin tomato slices

Spread approximately 2 tablespoons of the chipotle-mayonnaise spread on tortilla. Top with turkey, pepper jack, mesclun, avocado, and tomato slices. Roll fairly tightly, cut diagonally, and serve.


Source:  Contessa's Kitchen
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