Sunday, November 17, 2019

CHICKEN CORDON BLEU MEETS FLORENTINE MEETS PROSCUITTO!

I love stuffing chicken breasts! A plain, rather ordinary piece of chicken becomes instantly fancy. This time I stuffed with Ham, Parmesan Reggiano, and Spinach; rolled the breasts and then wrapped with Prosciutto before pan searing and baking.

PROSCUITTO CHICKEN FILLED WITH HAM,
CHEESE, SPINACH AND TOPPED WITH
FRIED SAGE AND POMEGRANATE SEEDS

Ingredients:

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to about 1/4" thickness
Salt/Pepper
1 large Tbsp. mayonnaise per breast
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 slices ham per breast. I used a very good quality ham. (not deli ham).
1 cup of spinach leaves per breast
3 thin slices Parmesan Reggiano per breast (or cheese or your choice)
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Sage leaves for garnish
Pomegranate seeds for garnish
 
Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pound chicken breasts evenly to about 1/4" thickness. Liberally salt and pepper both sides of the chicken. Spread a generous tablespoon of mayonnaise (this keeps the chicken very moist) on each breast. Top each breast with 1 clove of finely minced garlic. Lay on 4 slices of ham. Next, add about 1 cup of spinach leaves.
 

Add the cheese and gently roll the chicken breasts stuffing spinach back in the ends if it starts to fall out. Wrap the breasts with prosciutto and secure with toothpicks or tie with kitchen string. The chicken breasts I used were so large I should have used the kitchen string, but I got lazy. The prosciutto is fairly effective in holding the breasts together. Bring a cast iron or heavy bottom skillet to nearly smoking hot. Add butter and olive oil and pan sear the chicken breast on all sides until the prosciutto becomes crisp. Spoon the oil over the breasts as they cook.
 
Place in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the size of your chicken breasts. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that internal temp has reached 165 degrees.

Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.

While cooling heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a frying pan and drop in the sage leaves to quickly fry on each side. Reserve the oil for drizzling over the chicken once it has been sliced. Slice the chicken into 1/2 inch pieces and serve topped with the fried sage and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle the sage oil over the chicken and serve.

Endless variations on stuffing and rolling chicken! That's what makes it so fun!!

UNTIL NEXT TIME...
 
THANKSGIVING IS SO CLOSE AND THIS YEAR WE ARE GOING TO THE BEACH IN MEXICO TO CELEBRATE
OUR FABULOUS DAY OF THANKS, WHICH ALSO HAPPENS TO BE OUR 26TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY!
Here we are in Virgin Gorda, BVI, on our 20th wedding anniversary!


Sunday, October 27, 2019

BEST BIRTHDAY CAKE!

Today is my good friend, Debby Vis's birthday! She had my husband and me over to dinner last week to celebrate and made some fabulous short-ribs. I must get her recipe so I can make them myself and share the recipe with all of you. They were really sweet, tender and delicious. I made her favorite cake...
VANILLA CAKE WITH BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
Happy Birthday Debby!
 
I found the recipe on this site: https://preppykitchen.com/1448-2/. Unlike the author of this blog, I am not a big-time baker so am always a bit trepidatious when undertaking a cake. John had some wonderful tips including using "cake strips" to keep your cake from rising in the center. I bought them online and they really worked. You soak the strips at least 5 minutes in water and then wrap them around your cake pan.
Ingenious! I am not sure, but believe the reason they work is the moisture makes the cake bake more evenly without rising in the center. John's recipe calls for making 3 layers in 6" cake pans. I had 8" pans only. He recommends if using 8" pans to double the recipe, but that seems like a lot of cake to me so I made his proportions and poured into two 8" pans. He also recommends weighing flour, sugar, etc. so you know he is a REAL baker. I used measuring cups, fluffing flour and leveling off with a knife. In case you are weighing, I will include his weights. Here's the recipe..

Ingredients:
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour (200 g)
1 cup granulated white sugar (200 g)
1 tsp. baking powder (4 g, heaping)
1/4 tsp. baking soda (1 g, heaping)
3/4 cup unsalted butter (171 g), room temp. (I used Kerry Gold, my favorite!)*
3 egg whites, room temp
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract (15 mL) Note: Tablespoon; not teaspoon
1/2 tsp. salt (3 g)
1/2 cup sour cream (120 mL), room temp
1/2 cup whole milk (118mL), room temp

* 3/4 cup butter is 12 Tbsp. or 1 1/2 sticks American butter. If using Irish Kerry Gold, keep in mind that the measurements are different as it is packaged differently.
I love how shiny the batter is!

Preparation:
Butter and flour three 6" pans or two 8" cake pans. Wrap the pans with damp cake strips, if using. Preheat over to 340 degrees. Note: 340 degrees; not 350.
Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the wet ingredients together. Add the wet to the dry and mix until combined. John's tip--do not worry if you see little chunks of butter in your batter. They will melt as cake bakes. Divide the mixture evenly into cake pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until the centers are set and springy.
Let the layers cool in the pans for about 4 minutes, then dump each layer onto a cooling rack.

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
Ingredients:
1 lb. confectioners sugar (454 g)
2 sticks unsalted butter (226 g), room temp
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (118 mL)
1 tsp. vanilla (5 mL)
Pinch of salt
Drop of food coloring, if using. I thought making the frosting pale pink would be very "girly".

John decorated his cake with a huge peony. Very lovely. I used fresh strawberries and raspberries.
Beautiful!
Preparation:
Beat the room temperature butter until light and fluffy. Add confectioners sugar, vanilla, food coloring and heavy cream. Mix together until a desired consistency is reached. Transfer to a piping bag. I did not do this. I simply frosted the cake, but here is what John recommends...Pipe buttercream between cake layers. Cover the cake with a thin layer of buttercream. Use an offset spatula to smooth the frosting.
If using a flower to decorate, wrap the stem with floral tape.
 

BIRTHDAYS ARE SUCH A
WONDERFUL CELEBRATION OF YOU!
 
UNTIL NEXT TIME, KEEP ON CELEBRATING!
 
WE HAD A FABULOUS 4 MONTHS IN IRELAND, BUT IT'S GREAT TO BE BACK IN THE SUNNY SOUTHWEST!
Killary Harbour, in the village of Leenaun.
Ireland's only fjord.
 
 



Saturday, September 14, 2019

TRADITIONAL AND UPDATED IRISH LAMB STEW!

Starting to feel a bit of fall chill in the air here in Ireland so what better time to make stew. The first recipe is my own, but please take lots of liberty to change it up.
CLASSIC IRISH LAMB STEW
Ingredients:
1 quart lamb stock (or combination of Chicken, Lamb or Vegetable stock)
1 1/2 lb. Lamb shoulder, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup uncooked barley
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup flour for coating lamb
2 Tbsp. Oil for Browning lamb (or use 1 Tbsp. Fat skimmed off the top of your stock and 1 Tbsp. Oil)
Sprig of sage
A few stems of fresh thyme
Salt/pepper to taste
Parsley to garnish
I happened to have a huge bowl of lamb
stock all made. Look how gelatinous it is!
Preparation:
Place lamb chunks I'm a large plastic zip-lock bag. Very liberally salt/pepper--at least a tsp. Salt and 1/2 tsp. Pepper. Add flour and shake to coat.
In a large soup pot, heat oil (or fat) until bubbling. Drop in lamb and gently stir to brown all sides--about 5 to 7 minutes.
Add 1 quart stock and bring to a boil stirring occasionally.  Reduce to simmer and add carrots, parsnip and celery. Add sage and thyme. Check seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir in 1 cup barley, cover and simmer another 30 minutes.
The stew will thicken as it cooks.  Check to make sure veg is tender. Barley should be tender, but still have a little chewiness. Also check tenderness of lamb. Shoulder can be a little tougb, but has wonderful flavor.  Remove stew from heat and add the cup of peas. I like to make stew the day before serving to really bring flavors together, but you can also eat it immediately!
NEXT, AN UPDATED CONTEMPORARY VERSION...

SWEET POTATO, WHITE BEAN
AND LAMB STEW
This recipe comes from my new Irish cookbook, Wild Atlantic Way. I had made a batch of cannellini beans on the weekend and also had more stock on hand so this stew went together very quickly. 

Ingredients:
1 kg (that's about 2 lbs.) Lamb shoulder, cut into bite sized pieces
10 g plain flour (1/8 cup)
Salt/freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. Vegetable oil
1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
120 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc--I used 1 cup
500 ml (2 cups) chicken or veg stock (I used 3 cups half lamb/half chicken stock)
1 cinnamon stick (I didn't have whole cinnamon so used 1 scant tsp.)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
1 400g (that's about 1 1/2 cups) tin canellini beans, drained and rinsed

To serve: Bread crumbs, crusty bread with creamer butter (I made big toasted croutons and garnished with a little chopped, fresh parsley.)

Preparation:
In a plastic bag, toss together the lamb and flour until meat is well coated. Season with salt/pepper. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the oil over a medium-high heat and saute the onions and garlic until garlic is aromatic. Add the lamb and sear until it is golden brown on all sides, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits that have formed on the bottom of the pot.

NEXT, add the stock, cinnamon, and sweet potato and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let the stew bubble away. Add the beans after 20 minutes, then allow the meat and sweet potato to simmer until they are tender, for about a further 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with toasted breadcrumbs and serve with crusty bread slathered with creamer butter.

Both the sweet potato and cinnamon give this soup an exotic sweet flavor. 

I prefer to make my own beans. Simple, quick and much better texture and flavor than canned. Rinse the dried beans well and check for stones. Bring a quart of Chicken or veg broth to boil. If you are using a very flavorfull well-seasoned broth, no need to add anything else. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook beans until just barley tender, about 1 hour. Cooking time depends on age and size of the bean.

I made a WHITE BEAN, CARAMELIZED ONION AND BLACK PUDDING dish with some of the cannellini beans. This would also be excellent with grilled and sliced Italian sausage, if you don't have blood pudding in the fridge! 😊
I also cooked 1 cup of the cannellini's until very tender, then mashed with a fork, added 1 clove minced garlic, lots of freshly ground black pepper, fresh thyme, a dash of smoked paprika, squeeze of fresh lemon juice and drizzle of olive oil. Place into a small serving bowl, top with a little more olive oil, lemon zest and chunky sea salt (such as Maldon) and serve with crackers, small toasted breads or veg. Delicious bean dip!
THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY!

PLEASE JOIN ME AGAIN 
FOR MORE FUN IN THE KITCHEN!

WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM
Me and my hubby in Copenhagen enjoying a canal cruise.
The Regal Princess showed us a fantastic 11-day
adventure throughout the beautiful Baltic!







Sunday, August 25, 2019

CHICKEN CORDON BLEU WITH A TWIST!

I may have no right to call this dish Chicken Cordon Bleu, but there are so many different variations that I am taking the liberty to do so.
My version of Cordon Bleu is stuffed
with salami, Irish Wensleydale cheese
with cranberries and wilted spinach.
Turns out Chicken Cordon Bleu did not originate in France, as I have always thought, but in Switzerald around the 1940's, although as with much food history disagreement abounds. From what I've learned it has nothing to do with the famous Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, however top chefs are awarded a Cordon Bleu (Blue Ribbon) for their excellence and high standard of cooking. The term Cordon Bleu relates to a special order of French Knights. Originally these Knights wore a wide blue ribbon designating them as the highest order of knighthood instituted by Henri III of France in 1578. Wouldn't this lead you to believe this is a classical French dish? Many regional dishes throughout Europe share the characteristics of Chicken Cordon Bleu--namely chicken, veal or pork (think snitzel) wrapped around meat (generally ham) and cheese. In Switzerland this, of course, is Swiss or Gruyere cheese. In some cases the filet is breaded and deep fried or simply baked. Here is my version.
CHICKEN CORDON BLEU
Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts, pounded evenly to just under 1/2 inch
4 Tbsp. Mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp. per breast
4 tsp. nice, grainy mustard, 1 per breast
10 oz. Bag fresh spinach, wilted
4 slices good quality Italian salami  per breast
Enough cheese to cover filling. I used an Irish cheese called Wensleydale that is infused with  cranberies.
Salt/Pepper
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
Olive oil to coat breasts once they are stuffed and rolled. This technique is known as a roulade. The term roulade is French meaning rolled and stuffed and is used for both sweet and savory dishes.

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375. Rinse spinach thoroughly. Heat a large pot and drop in spinach. The moisture from the rinsing is all you'll need to just wilt spinach, about 2 minutes. Allow to cool and squeeze out any moisture if necessary.  Evenly pound chicken breasts until they are just under 1/2 inch thick. Liberally salt and pepper both sides of the chicken. Lay breasts flat with inside up. Spread each filet with 1 Tbsp. Mayo and 1 tsp. Mustard. This keeps the chicken super moist. Lay 4 slices of Italian salami on each breast. Top with wilted spinach and generous amount of cheese. One of my husband's favorite cheeses is Wensleydale with cranberries. This cheese was originally made in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire by an order of Cistercian monks as far back as 1150. It's a mild cheese and the cranberries lend a delicious sweet/salty combination of flavors. Originally made with sheep's milk, it is now made throughout the UK and Ireland with either sheep or cows milk. This version is from cows milk.

Roll each breast from the long side using your fingers to keep pulling stuffing inside as it tends to slip as you roll. Lightly oil a piece of foil and lay breasts, seem side down in a baking pan.

Top each roulade with a little olive oil and a sprig of rosemary. Place in preheated oven and bake for about 35 minutes. More time may be needed if your chicken breasts are very large. I have become a big fan of testing with a meat thermometer. 165 degrees means you are done!

Let the chicken cool for about 10 minutes. I decided to cut into thick slices and lay on a bed of greens with lightly steamed peapods and pickled beets.
All for today.
Tomorrow we embark on an epic journey 
throughout the Baltic Sea. Can't wait to 
taste treats from Copenhagen, Stockholm, 
Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Warnemunde Germany, Tallin Estonia AND Oslo!

TUNE IN AGAIN SOON...

WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM





Thursday, August 15, 2019

CLASSIC, OLD-FASHIONED BANANA NUT BREAD

I found this recipe on the Simply Recipes site and it is by far the best and easiest Banana Bread I have ever made. Very moist and flavorful and comes together in minutes, and all in one bowl! On their site they claim it is their most popular recipe for over 10 years. No mixer required, which is good since I don't own one here in Spiddal, although that may soon change. I have my eye on a beautiful standing mixer in Galway. But back to the recipe...
BANANA BREAD

Ingredients:
2 to 3 very ripe bananas, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups, mashed
1/3 cup melted butter
1 tsp. Baking soda
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar, more or less depending on how sweet you like it (I used 1/2 cup white and 1/4 cup brown)
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional
Demerara brown sugar and cinnamon for topping, also optional

Batter ready to pop into the oven.

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/175C. Add butter to a 4x8 inch loaf pan and melt the butter in the oven. In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until completely smooth. Stir the melted butter into the mashed bananas. Mix in baking soda and salt. Stir in sugar. Push this mixture to one side of the bowl. Add the egg and beat lightly. Mix beaten egg with other ingredients. Add vanilla and finally mix in flour. The original recipe does not call for nuts, but I added 1 cup chopped walnuts. Add them now, if using. 

Liberally butter your baking pan and add the batter. I also topped the batter with about 2 Tbsp. of Demerara brown sugar and a healthy sprinkling of cinnamon, which the original recipe did not call for.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until top is golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes.
Then remove bread from the pan and let it cool completely before slicing.
Using a bread knife helps keep slices from crumbling. Nice, big thick slices help, too!
I HOPE YOU ENJOY THIS BANANA BREAD 
RECIPE AS MUCH AS MY HUSBAND, 
JERRY, AND I DID!

TUNE IN AGAIN SOON
FOR ANOTHER EPISODE OF...

WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM



Monday, August 5, 2019

WILD ATLANTIC WAY SEAWEED AND PRAWN RISOTTO!

My new Wild Atlantic Way cookbook inspired me to create this recipe.
Ingredients:
1 cup Risotto
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup half and half or cream
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup prawns or small shrimp, thawed if previously frozen
1 cup wild mushrooms, roughly chopped (I used oysters.)
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 cup dried seaweed (I used a seafood mix that I found in my local health food store.)
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
Chives for garnish



Preparation:
In a large saucepan heat chicken stock to a boil then reduce to simmer. In a separate medium size saucepan melt butter. Add risotto and stir to thoroughly coat the rice. Keep heat on lowest simmer. Add salt/pepper. Add mushrooms and stir to coat them with butter, as well. Add chicken stock to rice one ladle at a time stirring rice constantly until all liquid is absorbed before adding additional stock. About 3 ladles into this process add 1/2 cup white wine. Stir until wine is absorbed. Continue adding stock one ladle at a time for 15 minutes until rice just begins to soften.  You may not need all 6 cups of stock. Add prawns, peas and seaweed and continue stirring, adding stock as necessary for another 5-10 minutes until desired risotto consistency is reached. Finish by adding 1/4 cup grated parmesan and 1/4 cup half and half or cream. Continuing stirring for 2 more minutes. Serve garnished with chives. I also added a chive blossom for color.

This is the wine I used in the Risotto. Porcupine Ridge is a bright, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa. The cook enjoyed a glass, too!

There is nothing tricky about making Risotto. Just remember to keep stirring and also to keep the chicken stock simmering the whole time.

THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY 
FROM THE BLUSTERY IRISH COAST!

NEXT UP...
OLD FASHIONED BANANA NUT BREAD

WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM
Galway Bay



Sunday, July 28, 2019

MEDITERRANEAN SWORDFISH!

I recently bought a new cookbook when Deb and Steve were visiting. It is filled with wonderful Irish recipes including this one, which Deb and I tweaked slightly. In the cookbook--"Recipes and Stories from Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way" they call the recipe: BAKED WHITE FISH WITH BLACK OLIVES AND ROASTED TOMATO SAUCE. Earlier in the day we were at the Galway Market and bought some fabulous brined black olives, semi-sundried tomatoes, and very fresh swordfish, which inspired us to put this dish together.
MEDITERRANEAN SWORDFISH

Ingredients:
2 red peppers, seeded and sliced into chunks
1 large red onion (We used white as I didn't have a red onion.)
6 plum tomatoes (Couldn't find plum tomatoes at the Market so we used 3 cups of the sweetest cherry tomatoes.)
Olive Oil, as needed; about 1/4 cup
Generous salt/pepper
1 400 g tin chopped tomatoes (We omitted the canned tomatoes as we had so many fresh cherries.)
75 g pitted black olives (about 1/2 cup Calamata's or other brined olive)
4 200 g skinless, boneless white fish fillets, such as cod, halibut or haddock (We chose 4 large swordfish steaks as they looked the best at the Market.)
Pine nuts or almonds, toasted for garnish
We also added 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped, and about 3/4 cup of freshly chopped herbs: Thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage, basil.

Yes we are cooking in our 'comfy cozies'; aka PJ's!
Preparation:
Preheat oven to 220C (425 degrees F). Arrange the peppers, onions, semi-sundried tomatoes, tomatoes, and garlic in a large casserole. Drizzle liberally with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until aromatic and edges are slightly charred; about 20 minutes.
Here is the sauce after 20 minutes of roasting.
Since we were using all fresh ingredients we roasted the sauce for about 40 minutes in total. After 20 minutes add the minced herbs and olives, and roast for 20 minutes more. Season the fish with salt and pepper, then add the fish filets to the sauce.

Lay the swordfish into the sauce...
 
Cover the fish completely with the sauce.
Cook until the fish filets are cooked through. The swordfish took about 18 minutes more, but it will depend on the thickness of your fish.
Deb toasting the pine nuts.
Me plating. We topped with the toasted pine nuts and chives.
The overall cooking time in the original recipe was less I believe because it used canned tomatoes, which would break down the sauce quicker. I really liked the chunkiness of the sauce and the freshness of the ingredients we used. It was rich and flavorful. We served with a whole wheat French bread slightly toasted with olive oil. Original recipe calls for serving over rice or pasta as that sauce was much thinner than ours. As with so many dishes like this there is much latitude for adjustments!

And here is the wine we served with dinner. Thanks Steve!
I LOVE COOKING WITH OTHERS
WHO SHARE MY PASSION!
 
Today is my birthday and we are heading
into Galway to see the final play of the
Galway International Arts Festival.
It's been a wonderful season of music, dance, and drama!

THIS COOKBOOK HAS INSPIRED ME
TO CREATE ANOTHER RECIPE,
WHICH I WILL SHARE NEXT TIME...
 
SEAWEED AND PRAWN RISOTTO.