Saturday, April 24, 2010

Soup's On!

I was under the weather during the week and decided to make some soup that was healthy but flavorful. Any Asian-style soup is one I have an affinity for. There is nothing like a good hot pot to warm the soul. This recipe caught my attention because it has one of my favorite beans: edamame! I am quite fortunate to live so close to an HMart (a wonderful Korean supermarket) and I bought some other items for some fun stir-fry this week, including Chinese brown rice cake and some firm tofu. I also got some oyster sauce since I saw a recipe for pad thai that Mark Bittman wrote about in The New York Times.

Asian Chicken, Edamame, and Noodle Soup (courtesy of Weight Watchers)

2 cups chopped roasted chicken breast
1 (10-ounce) package frozen, shelled edamame
1 (32-ounce) can low sodium, fat-free chicken broth
1 (3-ounce) package of chicken flavored ramen noodles
1 cup thinly sliced Chinese chives

1) Heat first three ingredients in Dutch oven for 3 minutes.
2) Add soup noodles and spice packet and cook according to directions.
3) Add chives and ladle into bowls. Eat with chopsticks and enjoy!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cooking Light with my Supper Club!

Tonight was another wonderful supper club gathering with the most amazing women who also happen to be amazing cooks. Our theme this month was Cooking Light recipes, and every single dish tasted wonderful. There was so much variety and each dish was decadent. Conversation was enjoyable, as always, and certain subjects came up that were especially pleasing (i.e. Anthony Bourdain)! Here is what we all cooked...most of the recipes are linked to the Cooking Light website.

Jo made Deviled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Herbs. I popped them in my mouth like they were good! I love dill and there was plenty in the seasoning of the egg filling. It was the perfect spring appetizer plate.
Jo also made a wonderful Kofte with a yogurt harissa sauce. Being Armenian, I absolutely loved these and the sauce was a great accompaniment.
Jo made Green Beans with Orange and Hazelnuts, another spring dish that would be perfect along side any dish. The zest of the orange and rich hazelnut flavor were complex and added so much to the beans.
Alex made a Proven├žale Pepper-Chicken Salad that looks even better than the photo does on the Cooking Light website! And oh it tasted so good! The herbes de provence and sun dried tomatoes gave each bite-full such a pop of flavor, and the sweetness of the peppers was delicious.
Alex also made a Spicy Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew that was perfectly spiced; she even made her own Berbere spice mix! I look forward to making this as well...the spices were phenomenal.
Jo made a basmati saffron rice dish with some green onions to compliment the kofte. There is just something about the color that saffron creates that makes a dish even that more enjoyable to eat.
I made a fun dish called Dracula's Revenge that was a garlicky mix of pasta and sausage! I loved that the recipe called for roasted garlic mashed up into the creamy cheese sauce.
Marianne decided on a Fresh Coconut Cake that was so decadent, it was hard to believe it was light! The frosting was heavenly and had a slight meringue taste that made it over-the-top rich and creamy. I could have eaten her entire cake in one sitting.
Stephanie made a dessert I would be too scared to attempt and gave her lots of credit for: sour cream donut holes! They were absolutely wonderful and the maple glaze just made them all the more appealing since I love anything and everything with maple!
I also tackled a cake recipe and absolutely enjoyed both making it and eating it! Its a Nutty Graham Cake that had orange notes. I look forward to eating a slice tomorrow morning with a cup of coffee. I would definitely make it again.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Alice's Chicken

My brother-in-law's cousin, Alice, is an amazing cook. Even she needs a break once in a while after a long day at work and looks to make something quick and easy. She served this once for my sister and brother-in-law, who served it to my other sister (twin), who then served it to me. The recipe goes back to Alice to gave it to my sister who gave it to my twin sister who gave it to me! Its from the back of the Lipton Onion Soup box! I had another packet left over this week after my last recipe and said, why not?

There has been so much going on lately professionally and personally, but this weekend is supper club and I look forward to diving into some more complicated dishes. On deck is a pasta dish with lots of garlic and a nutty graham cake (both from Cooking Light). I am shopping around for a new barbecue and look forward to menu planning once that nice little gas burning baby is on my patio, ready to roll for weeknight grilling!

In the meantime, its cold here again and hence some good comfort food! Many thanks to Alice for taking the time to look at the back of the box!

Alice's Chicken

1 cup of white or brown rice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 packet onion soup mix
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 pound of skinless, boneless chicken (white or dark meat)
pepper to taste
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs

1) Preheat over to 375 degrees.
2) Add rice, olive oil, soup mix, and water to a 9x13 glass baking dish and mix well.
3) Place chicken on top (pepper the chicken to taste) and then dollop the mushroom soup on each piece of chicken, spreading it out evenly.
4) Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then add breadcrumbs on top.
5) Place back in the oven for another 15-25 minutes, until chicken juices run clear, rice is fully cooked, and liquids are absorbed.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Spaghetti Series - Bacon Cheeseburger Spaghetti (#4)

After a long work week, I am craving comfort food.

I wanted to make a spaghetti dish that was easy since I am exhausted, but one I could also indulge in! What could be better than bacon cheeseburger spaghetti? I browsed the internet and found many variations of this, and I pulled ideas from each one. Some really took it literally and added pickles and such, but I was rather skeptical about that element. I also did not want to feel guilty about eating fatty red meat or dealing with the calories of a homemade cheddar cheese sauce, so improvised with ingredients!

The result? A perfect plate of pasta!

Bacon Cheeseburger Spaghetti

1 pound of 92% lean ground beef
1 can of cream of cheddar soup
1 cup 1% milk
1 packet of onion soup mix
2/3 cup diced tomatoes in juices
3/4 pound cooked spaghetti
Bacon bits for topping

1) In a large nonstick skillet, brown meat over medium heat, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2) In a large saucepan, combine soup, soup mix, milk, and tomatoes. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add in meat and stir well, simmering another 2 minutes.
3) Add pasta to the large saucepan and combine pasta and sauce well.
4) Serve immediately with bacon bits crumbled on top.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I Love Christopher Kimball!

I only got The Cook's Country Cookbook as a gift little over a year ago and already many pages are stained from various sauces and liquids made for dishes from the book. I could watch the dvd's of season one over and over, and finally I am getting around to season two on dvd this weekend since its going to rain here in New York. I love America's Test Kitchen, but there is just something even better about Cook's Country!

And lets face it, who doesn't love Chris Kimball? He is a true farm boy from Vermont with the foodie snobbery of a top New York City food critic. And that bowtie - what a character! I would actually be quite nervous working for him and find he is always giving Jack too much of a hard time with tastes tests. Julia and Bridget are master chefs, though, and just plain hold their own when it comes to Kimball's doubts about a recipe! The cookbook is a favorite gift of mine, as are subscriptions to both Cook's Country and Cook's Illustrated, all from dear friends.

I never eat fried chicken and wish I could, so how could I pass up Chris Kimball's oven fried chicken if he is telling me its crispy and I won't miss the deep fried flavor? No matter what, any foodie worth his salt will tell you that you have to use corn flakes for oven-fried chicken.

And he did.

I served mine with buttermilk mashed potatoes and asparagus roasted with onions and garlic. Enjoy!

Fiery Oven-Fried Chicken (courtesy of Cook's Country)

2 cups lowfat buttermilk
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon hot sauce
6 bone-in chicken thighs (skinless)
1 slice of hearty white sandwich bread, torn into pieces and pulsed in food processor into coarse crumbs
2 1/2 cups crushed cornflakes
1/2 teaspoon ground poultry seasoning (I used Penzey's)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1) Whisk buttermilk, mustard, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the hot sauce together in a large bowl. Add the chicken, turn to coat well, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
2) Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, set a wire rack on the sheet, and coat with vegetable oil spray. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
3) Gently toss the bread crumbs, corn flakes, remaining garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, poultry seasoning, paprika, chili powder, and cayenne in a shallow dish until combined. Drizzle vegetable oil over the crumbs and toss until well coated.
4) Working with one piece at a time, remove the chicken from the marinade and dredge in the crumbs mixture, firmly pressing the crumbs onto the sides of the chicken. Place chicken on prepared baking sheet leaving 1/2 inch between the pieces.
5) Bake until the top is a deep golden brown and the juices run clear, about 35-45 minutes.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Perfect Pesach

This past week is the celebration of Pesach (Passover), and it is a holiday I look forward to each year. Although I celebrate Easter, my best friend and her family celebrate Pesach. Since I consider her my sister in addition to my best friend, her family is also my second family. This year marks what I think is my 23rd or 24th seder with them! As always, it was perfect. Not because of the deliciously good food, but because of the deliciously good company and generous blessings we have. My best friend and her mom did all of the cooking, but I made a flourless chocolate orange cake for dessert. The Pesach meal is one of my favorite meals from start to finish...

The matzoh ball soup recipe comes from my best friend's great grandmother. It is, by far, the best matzoh ball soup I have ever had...and I have tried many! There are some years that when I take home leftovers, I eat it for breakfast the next morning. The matzoh balls (knaidlach) are light, airy, and perfectly textured. Here you see them swimming in a homemade chicken broth with lots of carrots, celery, fresh parsley, and fresh dill!
Gefilte fish gets a bad rap because most people have tasted it out of a jar. Well, not my best friend's mom! She makes hers homemade! It is phenomenal and there is not one iota of fishy taste to it! The horseradish (morror - bitter herbs) is a great accompaniment. I love dipping matzoh into the extra jelly that remains on the plate.
Green bean salad is something I also look forward to each year. It is also referred to as the "vegetarian chopped liver" and it is quite addictive. I try not to fill up on it before the seder meal, but that is impossible. Trust me.
Usually my best friend's mom makes a delicious brisket, but this year she decided to make a leg-of-lamb. Being Armenian, I admit that as much as I love brisket, I didn't miss it this year! My best friend's mom did the usual garlic and rosemary, but basted it as her mother would have: with beer! Let me tell you, that worked!
Here is the traditional seder place. Please read here to learn more about the beautiful symbols that mark this holy plate on the evening of seder.
And here is my dinner plate! The lamb, potato kugel, and roasted asparagus with red onion. Oh, and of course a glass of Manischewitz wine! If you have not tried it, you are not missing much! Its grape juice with a kick! I enjoy many other Kosher wines now after years of B.Y.O.M. (Bring Your Own Manischewitz).
The flourless orange chocolate cake is one I apparently have to make again. I do not consider myself a baker, but this came out well and not one crumb was left. I also candied my own orange slices from a Food and Wine recipe here. Enjoy!

Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake (courtesy of Epicurious)

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
flour, for dusting
6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli)
1 cup of sugar (I used a tad less and it worked perfectly)
zest of one large orange
4 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
10x sugar/powdered sugar for dusting (I omitted this and made candied orange slices)

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Butter and flour a 10-inch (25-cm) round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, then butter and flour the parchment paper. Gently melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Stir the butter into the chocolate to melt, and stir until smooth. Remove from the double boiler and whisk the sugar and orange zest into the chocolate mixture. Add the eggs and egg yolks and whisk well. Sift the cocoa powder over the chocolate mixture and whisk the batter until totally smooth. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for approximately 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top has formed a good crust. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving platter.