Not so vegetarian stuffed tomatoes

Right out of the oven

Right out of the oven

So as I mentioned before I went with Italian sausage, basil, parsley and parmesan.  I have not posted the recipe because this is my monthly posting for phillyburbs and I do not want to bite the hand that feeds me! I had a tomato last night after it spent a day in the fridge and I must tell you it was delicious.  I had also tossed in a few toasted, sliced almonds.  When I attempted to eat one right out of the oven (and burned my mouth in the process) I admit that i did not love the taste; but, after an overnight chill, the almonds gave way a bit and provided that delightful little crunch that I simply loved.  The cayenne pepper in the background was just too much to bear it was so good.  These aren’t my mom’s stuffed vegetables! I’ll post the recipe just as soon as phillyburbs puts it up!  Enjoy your Labor Day weekend everyone. I am off to Annapolis where I will be reporting back with crab tales!  Enjoy!

Chicken entree

Chicken entree

Chicken entree

The above chicken dish will be entered into the National Chicken Cooking contest.  Made it this morning at 8AM.  Just finished the above half breast and I have a winner!  Recipe to follow!

OK the recipe has been entered into the National Chicken Cooking Contest. Just 5 minutes ago! Wish me luck!

Thai-Chi-Indian Chicken Curry with Basmati Rice

 

Three cultures collide and result in this explosion of flavor!

 

1 chicken fryer, about 3-4 pounds, cut into 10 pieces (breast cut cross wise into two), trimmed of fat

Wondra flour for dusting

Olive oil

2 cups of sliced onions

3 tablespoons of finely chopped ginger

3 garlic cloves, chopped finely

¼ cup chicken stock

3 teaspoons of curry powder

½ teaspoon dried ginger

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 can light coconut milk

4 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 cup chicken broth

1 small can water chestnuts

1 small can bamboo shoots

Salt and pepper

 

For rice:

 

½ cup sliced onion

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon ginger

¼ teaspoon turmeric

Olive oil

2 cups basmati rice

3 ½ cups chicken broth

Salt and pepper

 

For garnish:

½ cup toasted sliced almonds

Chopped cilantro

Chopped scallions

 

Begin by taking the washed chicken pieces which have been trimmed of fat and salt and pepper each.  Dust with Wondra brand flour on one side-this addition of flour will help thicken the sauce later. 

 

In a large Dutch oven, heat ¼ cup of olive oil and sauté the chicken pieces, a few at a time, to sear and color both sides.  Remove from Dutch oven and set aside in a separate bowl. Searing should take no more than 3-4 minutes on each side.

 

In the same Dutch oven, and over medium heat sauté the onions until they have begun to limp and take on color. Add the ginger, garlic, curry powder, cayenne and the stock (stock will sizzle, but we are doing it to deglaze the pan).  Turn off the heat and cover, while preparing the sauce in the blender.

 

In a blender place the coconut milk, peanut butter, cilantro, and rice wine vinegar.  Blend until smooth.  Add to the Dutch oven. Add the chicken broth and the chicken pieces (along with any accumulated juices), and additional salt and pepper to taste.  Place over medium heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until chicken is done.  Add the water chestnuts and bamboo shoots and keep warm. While chicken is cooking, make the rice.

 

In a saucepan, place about ¼ cup of olive oil, and saute the onions until beginning to wilt, about 5 minutes over medium heat.  Add the turmeric, garlic, ginger and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add the rice and coat all of the grains of the rice with the onion/olive oil mixture.

 

Add the stock, salt and pepper to taste, and simmer until all of the water is absorbed.  To serve, place a mound of rice on the plate, add two chicken pieces per person with the delicious gravy and garnish with chopped cilantro and scallions as well as a sprinkling of toasted almonds.

 

Serves 5 (at two pieces of chicken per person). 

Pork Loin et al

Pork loin with pan gravy and roasted asparagus

Pork loin with pan gravy and roasted asparagus

 

Saturday morning and I’ve already made Pork Loin with a simple pan sauce (recipe to follow), and I am planning on making my Chicken dish which I am going to enter into the National Chicken Cooking contest (that’s for tomorrow).  Monday I am doing the peach cheesecake again and making stuffed heirloom tomatoes which I decided to stuff with basmati rice instead of quinoa.  The quinoa just did not work for me.  Perhaps another time.  By Monday I will have posted another three recipes, so check back often!

Pork Loin with Pan Gravy and Roasted Asparagus

1 (2 and 1/2 pounds) pork loin

Olive oil, salt and pepper

1 bunch asparagus

Salt

1 shallot, chopped finely

1/2 cup red wine (cabernet, whatever you have handy)

1/2 cup chicken broth

Splash Worcestershire sauce

1/2 stick cold unsalted butter

Fresh ground pepper and salt

Working with a meat thermometer is the way to cook pork.  Take the pork out of the fridge and rub down with olive oil, and sprinkle well with salt and pepper. 

Preheat the oven to 400F and place the meat in a large dutch oven as you will be using the dutch oven to prepare the pan gravy.  Roast until a meat thermometer reaches 140 degrees.  While the pork is roasting, prepare the asparagus by breaking them at their natural snapping point and slicing into three piece each.  Toss with olive oil and salt and roast in the same oven for about 12 minutes until beginning to color.  Remove from oven and let cool to room temp, covered. 

When pork has reached 140F, remove from oven and take out of the Dutch oven.  Cover with foil while you prepare the sauce.  The meat needs 10 minutes of resting time and this sauce will be done by then. 

Place the Dutch oven over a medium flame.  Add the shallot to the pan and stir until shallot begins to give off its fragrance.  Add the wine and the chicken broth and the Worcestershire sauce, and stir well, scraping off any brown bits. Simmer for 5 minutes to reduce a bit and then stir in 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, stirring constantly to emusify the sauce.  Check for seasoning, adjust and serve. 

Cut pork loin into 4 servings, split asaparagus amongst the plates and split the sauce 4 ways!  This is a 45 minute meal…if that. Enjoy!

Serves 4.

Vegetarian stuffed heirlooms

Tonight I will be making vegetarian stuffed heirloom tomatoes.  I think I will try stuffing with quinoa, golden raisins, onion, garlic, some basil and parsley and of course some parmesan cheese to bind the whole thing.  Comments?

On second thought, I will not be using the quinoa.  Just wasn’t working for me.  I am going to go with rice, sausage, parmesan cheese and basil.  That I will do on Monday and also do a vegetarian version with rice, golden raisins, and pine nuts, with maybe even some mushrooms as was suggested to me to pull it all together.  Come back on Monday!

Peaches continued

The perfect slice

The perfect slice

So, I went over to my Aunt Connie and Uncle John’s house to say hello–Thea and Theo as I refer to them. On the way in I saw a peach tree in their backyard that was propped up with wooden supports, this to obviously prevent the hundreds of peaches from breaking the branches of this beautiful specimen of a fruit tree. 

 

My aunt and uncle had just returned from Greece, just in time for the peaches to ripen and just in time to prevent the squirrels from eating every one.  As the story goes, last year, upon their late September return from Greece, long after peach season had ended, they were greeted by hundreds of peach pits on their deck, a result of the squirrels helping themselves to the overly ripe fruit. 

 

They generously offered to me about a dozen peaches from the tree which I promptly placed in a brown paper bag to ripen, and then set out to create the below recipe, which is adapted from Nick Malgieri, one of the foremost authorities on baking and pastry. It’s a basic coffee cake, but it benefits from a layer of fruit in between the cake and the crumbs–in this case, peaches of course. But I wondered what I could add as the recipe on its face, didn’t seem to jump off the page.

 

Ginger and peaches are a natural combination, so I added dried ginger, along with some other spices, to the batter and the crumbs, and some fresh ginger to the peach filling.  As is my usual custom, I added a dash of cayenne to the crumbs for some spice. No one spice here overwhelms, just as in the peach cheesecake.  Never underestimate the power of spices to liven up sweet desserts—used in a subtle way, they offer a great flavor base.  This cake lasted nearly a week on the counter, which is where I suggest you put it, so that the peaches and the crumbs and the butter cake synthesize into one delicious mass.  With a cup of coffee, you’re in peach heaven. Enjoy!

 

Cake:

 

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

1 egg

3 egg yolks

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

Peaches

 

2 pounds soft ripe peaches, peeled and sliced to make about 3 cups of sliced fruit

½  teaspoon of fresh ginger

¼ teaspoon dried ginger

 

 

 

 

Crumb topping

 

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour

¼ cup brown sugar, packed

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Dash cayenne (maybe an 1/8 of a teaspoon)

½ cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, melted

 

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 10 inch round cake pan, line with a round of parchment paper and butter the parchment as well. Alternatively, you can use a 10 inch spring form pan and use the same buttering and flouring technique but omit the parchment assuming you are going to serve right on the base of the spring form.

 

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and set aside. 

 

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the egg and the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping the bowl down to ensure even mixing. Add the vanilla. 

Stir the dry ingredients into the batter and then scrape down the bowl, give it a few stirs to ensure it is mixed well and spread into the pan.  It will not be as thick as a layer cake—perhaps 1 inch thick, maybe less.

 

Stir the peaches and the dried and fresh ginger in a bowl and then place on top of the batter and spread evenly.

 

To make the crumbs, place all of the ingredients except the melted butter in the bowl of a food processor and process until mixed.  Add the butter and pulse until combined. Alternatively you can do this by hand in a bowl.  Sprinkle the crumbs onto the peaches and then pack down a little with your hands to compress the crumbs a bit. 

 

Place in the oven and bake for about 1 hour until a knife tip inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (there still may be a little wetness from the peaches).  Cover with foil if the crumbs are getting too brown. Remove from oven. Let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Run a knife around the rim of the cake.  Turn over onto a sheet pan, remove the parchment, and the re flip onto the serving dish.  Cool completely before serving.

 

Alternatively if you are using the spring form pan and you wish to serve right on the base of the pan, run the knife around the rim, and then remove the rim by unlocking the pan sides.  Then place the cake, along with the bottom, onto your serving dish.

 

Serves 12.

 

 

The BEST Peanut Butter Cookies

Ready to go into oven

Ready to go into oven

The finished cookies

The finished cookies

 

This is the easiest recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies, and I might add, the most delicious. No flour at all so they are great for all of you who are allergic to wheat.  Adapted from Food and Wine this month, I added a few things to really make them sing! As usual, cayenne pepper makes an appearance! Enjoy!

I cup of smooth peanut butter

1 cup of sugar

1 extra large egg

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon baking soda (not powder)

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons minced peanuts (minced in a mini chopper)

1/4 cup chopped bitter chocolate (finely please)

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spray a baking sheet with non stick spray. 

In a bowl, place all of the ingredients except the peanuts and chocolate. Mix well until the egg is blended in well.  Add the chocolate and the peanuts. 

Spoon with a small ice cream scoop onto the prepared tray and then take a fork, and make the cross pattern as you see above, flattening slightly. Bake for about 15 minutes rotating the pans once through the baking process.  Transfer to a rack to cool and then serve (preferably with a tall glass of milk!)

These cookies are just delicious and are going to be making an appearance for Chistmas this year! Enjoy! Makes about 20 cookies using the ice cream scoop, but if you use a tablespoon to form small balls, it may make up to 30 cookies.