Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lebanese Chicken

So here's a perfect example of starting out with a perfectly good recipe, reading it through a few times and thinking, "Eh. I can do better than that."

This weekend I finally got around to trying a recipe I ripped out of the December 2005 Goumet magazine...except that I didn't really "try" it - I improvised, as usual.

The result was DE-LISH. Hubster practically licked his plate. Since clove is my favorite flavor (sorry, ginger) I was ALL about this dish.

So if you like spice and are an adventurous cook, here's the list of ingredients and rough instructions:

2 lbs boneless chicken thighs (approximately 8)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp clove
8 bay leaves
Olive oil
2 onions
4 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Season chicken evenly with cinnamon, allspice, cumin, clove, salt and pepper. Add a bay leaf to the top of each thigh.

Halve onions and slice cross-wise, or French. (Just watch your tongue around the sharp blade). Mince garlic.

Add oil to a hot (med-high heat) skillet large enough to hold chicken comfortably.

When oil is hot, add onions. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook until onions are nearly translucent.

Scoot (I learned that term at Le Cordon Bleu) the onions and garlic to the outside of the pan. Add chicken - leaf side down - to the center of the pan. Cover with onions. Lower heat to medium, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Turn chicken and cook, uncovered, for another 3-5 minutes. Serve over rice.

2 cups basmati rice
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
1 tsp kosher salt

Rinse rice. Combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cook 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove stick, leaves and cloves. This rice is AMAZING.

I served the chicken and rice with fresh spinach dressed with extra virgin olive oil (there is no way in HELL you will catch me saying XVOO - sorry) and kosher salt.

Super easy, super fast, super delish.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Not Black-Eyed Pea Cornbread Eggs Pablo

What a stretch for a name. Supposed to be a play on Eggs Benedict but I may have pushed it a bit!

I think there is a Tex-Mex gene, and everyone in this institution has it. We could easily eat Mexican five nights a week, and never get tired of it.

There were five or six pieces of the cornbread (preceding post) left. I split and toasted them, topped each with a poached egg, melted queso from a jar and salsa. Sprinkled fresh cilantro about the plate and we INHALED them.

In fact, it was so good I made another batch of the cornbread for us to have breakfast this long weekend.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Not Black-Eyed Pea Cornbread

City Girl and I have antique dealer friends who are also fun cooks. They LOVE putting out a spread, and are very good at it. A while back they sent me a recipe from a client, for Black-Eyed Pea Cornbread. A couple of times after that they made reference to the dish; having used it for a couple of dinners and things. So yesterday, when I had to cook for The Other Family's Thanksgiving, this seemed like a good idea.

Except, I don't like sausage and this recipe had a pound of sausage in it. I like the IDEA of sausage, and I like most KINDS of sausage, but I don't like country sausage. No idea why...this isn't in my genes...but I don't like country sausage. So off we went.

I knew when I started that I was going to substitute chorizo (I like chorizo), but the rest of the recipe was going to stand. Except then, I remembered that there is a black-eyed pea cornbread recipe in the Neiman Marcus cookbook and when I pulled it out...there were some improvements that could be made. Starting with substituting creamed corn for cream cheese.

And THEN...when I got to Aldi on the Friday afternoon before Thanksgiving...they didn't have black-eyed peas. But they DID have black beans and...that's 50% of the equation so that's what I went with. A wing and a prayer. And this was SOOO good that this morning, I made breakfast out of the leftovers. That's another post.

Chorizo & Black Bean Cornbread
12 ounces chorizo sausage
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cups self-rising cornmeal mix (around here, that's White Lily)
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup grated cheese
1 small can creamed corn (I threw away the can, but I think it's 8 ozs. Or so.)
Canned jalapenos, to taste, I used about 1/2 cup and it was warm
1 14 oz can black beans, rinsed

Brown the sausage and onion in a skillet, breaking the sausage up into a fine crumble. Drain well; I put it into a metal strainer and rested it on four layers of paper towels. Just get the grease out.

Measure the cornmeal mix into a large bowl. Add the grated cheese, creamed corn, sausage & onion, and black beans. Don't stir. Put the jalapenos, eggs, oil and buttermilk in a blender and process until the jalapenos are finely chopped. Add to cornmeal mixture and fold with a rubber spatula.

Pour into a greased 13x9 pan and bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mushroom Pate

When we lived in Decatur, Betty Sims had opened Johnston Street Cafe and it was a wonderful place to go. They served this, and 20 years later it's still one of my favorites. She served it on curly red lettuce with Bremner wafers.

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Sherry to taste

Soften the gelatin in the cold water in a small glass cup for five minutes. Place the small cup in a larger cup half filled with boiling water, stirring until the gelatin is dissolved. Saute the mushrooms in the butter in a skillet; drain well. Combine the mushrooms, gelatin, cream cheese, sherry and garlic salt in a food processor. Process until smooth; chill thoroughly.

(I added the sherry, and it might be smart to let the sherry be part of the 1/4 cup that you can add to taste.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Roux-less Gumbo

And while I would love to say this is my's not. The original recipe came from the Neiman Marcus cookbook's a keeper. Not cheap, but you can have a LOVELY dinner around this, with a salad, good bread and a special dessert.

Seafood Gumbo

28 ozs crushed tomatoes
8 strips bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
14 ozs stewed tomatoes
8 ozs clam juice
1 cup dry white wine
1 T lemon juice
1 T fresh basil or 1 t dried
1 T cayenne
Bay leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 T Worcestershire
1 t salt
1/2 pound cut okra (fresh or frozen)
1 pint oysters, rinsed and cut in half
1 lb scallops, cut in half if sea scallops
3/4 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 lb crabmeat
10 ozs whole baby clams
1 T file

Thaw frozen ingredients. Cook bacon until crisp. Remove from the pot and set aside. Saute onion and garlic in bacon fat over medium heat until golden. Add green pepper, tomatoes, clam juice, wine, lemon juice, basil, cayenne, bay leaves, parsley, Worcestershire, Tabasco, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add reserved bacon, okra, oysters, scallops, shrimp, crabmeat and clams. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in file. Cover and let stand for 10 mintues. Remove bay leaves. Serve hot over rice, with French bread.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fall Weather Soup

Supper is almost ready. And it's 9:18 in the morning.

Last night because the leaves are beautiful, and since this is Alabama we're running the air conditioning in the daytime and the heat at night, we had turnip greens with smoked sausages, black-eyed peas and baked sweet potatoes. And when I got up this morning? I stole an inspiration from Southern Living. I haven't SEEN the inspiration, but it involves soup and my sister-in-law told me about it. (Which is the point at which I realized that this months SL? Is in a pile somewhere.)

The Soup

2 cups cooked black-eyed peas
2 cups turnip greens
12 oz smoked sausage
28 oz crushed tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 pkg frozen seasoning blend (onions, peppers, celery)
1/2 pound smoked & shredded Boston Butt

I didn't even get cute...just dumped it all in the pot when I got up this morning, left it on low while I took the kids to school, and came home to heaven. I had a bowl for breakfast. Tonight? We'll have hot soup, crusty artisan bread and red wine.

I just love it when that happens.

I just threw in a can of whole kernel corn. Because.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Just a reminder

There haven't been any recipes lately because...WE'RE NOT COOKING. Between the winter-time crud and too many hours at work and holidays and elections...who has time?

But when I looked back over the week I realized...y'all need to make sure you have the baked ham and cheese squares, the ones with the crescent rolls, in your repertoire. For real. Too, too easy and too, too good. We throw them together for dinner once a week...leftovers go great in lunchboxes. (Did you know lunch at the private school is THREE DOLLARS AND SIXTY CENTS? By the time you buy drink and ice cream? It's only $1.25 at the public school but it's inedible.)

The other dependable, and this one we do three to four times a week, is the artisan bread. I just keep it going, in an inverted cake carrier, in the refrigerator. Haven't washed the carrier just keep mixing in the same container and the little yeasties get better and better. Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Well worth the price of the book, but you DO need a baking stone.

Maybe after this holiday weekend, we'll get back on schedule.