Wednesday, July 10, 2019

TO SPATCHCOCK A CHICKEN!

There is something that doesn't sound right about that, but having now done it myself I see how innocent it is! Spatchcocking is simply a method for cooking chicken by removing the backbone. This allows the white meat and dark meat to cook evenly. Sometimes when cooking a whole bird, in order for the legs to get completely cooked, the breast meat dries out. It doesn't change the taste, but I believe because it cooks more quickly, with bones still in, it stays juicier and more tender. To spatchcock is to remove the back bone from the whole bird and lay it flat for cooking. Here are some photos to demonstrate.
Clean chicken thoroughly. Dry the chicken with paper towels and lay breast side down on a large cutting board. Rub your fingers along the backbone to identify it. Carefully insert your sharpest knife on one side of the bone and begin making a cut. You can alternatively use chicken shears to cut out the bone.

Continue cutting on each side of the bone until you are able to remove.
Lift and remove the bone and save for soup stock.
Next, cut off wing tips and also save for soup stock.
 
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lay chicken flat on a baking sheet and roast at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and roast for 10-12 per pound or until chicken is done. FDA recommends cooking to an internal temp of 165 degrees F.
I slathered my chicken liberally with olive oil, salt and pepper and then doused with a quick BBQ sauce. These are the ingredients I used. I will leave it to you to decide how much of what to use.

QUICK BBQ SAUCE
Tomato sauce
Roasted Red Pepper paste
Onion salt
Garlic granules
White pepper
Smoked Paprika
Brown sugar
Malt Vinegar
Cook down for about 15 minutes. Cool. Pour over chicken to marinate for 1 hour before roasting. Once the chicken is in, baste every 15-20 minutes with more sauce.

I can't wait to spatchcock a Turkey,
Cornish hen, Duck or other poultry.
I'm going to close today with a few photos from a delightful new restaurant in Portsmouth, NH. I just returned to Ireland from a week long visit with my dear brother, Skip and his wife, Esther. Botanical is an upscale, hip, but casual gin bar serving 32 different varieties of gin along with just about any other spirit you might want, and of course, beer, wine and fabulous food!

Botanica opened in January. It's located in a cool, funky converted warehouse.
Esther chose the Empress gin from Canada.
It is royal blue when poured, but see what
happens once the tonic (or any acid) is added.
 
...it turns purple!
Our server, Nick, was very knowledgeable about the gins.
He suggested I try a traditional martini
made from Nolet's. This family owned distillery
in Holland has been making this gin for
over 325 years. It was clean, crisp and delicious!

 
Skip selected 'The Last Word' made with Dry
Town Gin, Green Chartreuse, Marachino Liqueur
and Lime. Very herbaceous!
I'M BACK IN SPIDDAL AND AS WE SAY HERE...SLAINTE!
 
UNTIL NEXT TIME...
 
 


Sunday, June 16, 2019

BEST EVER BISCUITS!

I found this recipe online (https://thecafesucrefarine.com/easy-cheddar-chive-biscuits/), but believe it originally came from a wonderful magazine published in Vermont called 'Cooks Illustrated'. This is a perfect biscuit recipe rendering a nice crust and velvety interior. 
 

CHEDDAR CHIVE BISCUITS

Ingredients:
1 cup very cold buttermilk
8 Tbsp. butter, plus one more for brushing when done
2 cups flour, more for counter
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup finely shredded cheddar (I used a nice sharp, aged Irish cheddar.)
1/4 cup finely chopped chives, more for garnish (I didn't have time to garnish as Marilyn, my lunch guest was on her way!)
Here's my new friend, Marilyn French St.-George in front of
Ferocious O'Flaherty's 300 year old thatched cottage in Spiddal.
It is now rented as a vacation cottage.
In the 1841 Irish census 40% of the Irish population lived in a one room thatched
cottage, along with the family pig and a bunch of chickens. That's 3 1/2 million people.
Today it is believed that only about 2500 thatched cottages have survived.
A significant aspect of Irish heritage is disappearing.

Preparation:
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or spray liberally with cooking spray. Measure 1 cup buttermilk and place the cup in the freezer while prepping other ingredients; about 10 minutes.
Melt butter in a saucepan on top of stove (or you can use your microwave). Whisk flour, baking power, baking soda, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add grated cheese and chives. Stir to combine.
Remove the buttermilk from the freezer and combine with the melted butter. Stir with a fork until butter forms clumps or globules. If globules don't form possibly your buttermilk wasn't cold enough. Return the mixture to the freezer for another 5-10 minutes. Stir again and butter globules should form. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until all flour is incorporated and batter pulls away from the bowl. The dough should hold together nicely, but also be soft and pliant. It should not be wet. If it is wet, add more flour 1 Tbsp. at a time, stirring to combine until dough become stiffer.
Generously spread flour over your work surface.  Place the biscuit dough from the bowl onto floured counter and coat all roll around so all surfaces are covered with the flour. Gently knead 5-6 times (about 20 seconds). Flip dough over to make sure all sides are lightly coated. Pat into a 6 inch square that's about 1 1/2 to 2 " thick.
Cut as many biscuits as you can with a biscuit cutter. The number of biscuits will depend on the size of your cutter. You can also use a glass or I used the edge of my 1/2 inch metal measuring cup.
Place biscuits on prepared sheet pan. Knead scraps together a few times until they hold together. Pat into a circle and cut more biscuits.
Place in oven and bake until tops are golden brown and crisp; 10-15 minutes. Start checking at 8 minutes as everyone's oven is different and you don't want to overbake. Melt remaining tablespoon butter and brush on tops as they come out of oven. Sprinkle with more chives. I did not have time to do that as Marilyn was about to arrive!

I cut my biscuits quite small so this recipe made 12 biscuits
plus the scraps that I pulled together into a circle
and scored to make 4 small biscuits (top left).

With the biscuits I served Potato Leek Soup.
Go to: http://cookwithcindy.blogspot.com/search?q=potato+leek+soup 
for the recipe. I make this a lot in Ireland!
Last year we began converting one of our own sheds into an
Irish Cottage. It's sad that thatch is becoming a thing of the past in Ireland.
Next, I'm putting in a rose hedge.
 
Me and Marilyn at the top of the bog.

 
 

THAT'S IT TODAY FROM
COOL AND BLUSTERY IRELAND!
 
MORE IRISH FAVORITES COMING YOUR WAY SOON!
 
TUNE IN AGAIN...
 

Monday, May 27, 2019

OLE MOLE!

I found this recipe on Pati Jinich's website. According to Pati it originated in the late 1600's in the kitchen of the Santa Rosa Convent in Puebla, southwest of Mexico City. Puebla is known for its culinary history, colonial architecture and pottery; particularly Talavera. This is a Mole Poblano recipe with many ingredients (29 to be precise!) and steps to prepare. Mole can be made much simpler with fewer ingredients, but since this was my first time making it I decided to go for the real deal!
From the náhuatl mulli, Mole is a thick sauce or paste made by grinding ingredients together in a molcajete or communal mill. I used a food processor. By gathering and measuring all your ingredients before beginning, this dish will come together more easily, but it still takes about 1 hour to assemble. This recipe uses 4 types of chiles including their seeds. I live in southern Arizona right on the Mexican border so can easily get the ingredients. If you don't live near a Hispanic market you can order the chiles online.
MOLE POBLANO
Ingredients:
1/2 cup lard, vegetable shortening or vegetable oil (I used lard.)
3 oz. chiles anchos; about 6 or 7 stemmed and seeded
3 oz. chiles pasillas; about 12 or 13, stemmed and seeded
3 oz. chiles mulatos; about 6, stemmed and seeded
1/3 oz. dried chipotle chiles; about 4, stemmed and seeded
1/2 white onion, about 1/2 pound, peeled and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
3 Tbsp. raw almonds with their skin
3 Tbsp. raw peanuts, shelled
3 Tbsp. raisins
1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds
4 Tbsp. sesame seeds; more for garnish
1/2 cup reserved chile seeds (I used 1/4 cup.)
5 whole cloves
1/4 tsp. anise seeds
1/4 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 stick cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1/8 tsp. dried marjoram
1/2 pound Roma tomatoes, about 2, charred/roasted
1/3 pound tomatillos, about 3, charred/roasted
2 corn tortillas, sliced into 8 pieces
1/2 Bolillo Telera or day-old baguette, about 2 oz., thickly sliced (I used 4 baguette slices.)
6 oz. Mexican style chocolate or bittersweet chocolate
5 cups chicken broth, more for diluting later on
1 tsp. or more Kosher salt
1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted to sprinkle as a garnish
Preparation:
In your largest skillet set over medium high heat, add 1/2 cup lard (or other shortening). Heat for about 2 minutes until hot. Add chiles in 2 to 3 batches and saute, stirring often. Be careful not to burn them. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a mixing bowl.
In the same oil, add chopped onion and garlic. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring until they soften and release their aroma. Stir in the almonds, peanuts, raisins and pumpkin seeds, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more.
Stir in the sesame seeds, reserved chile seeds, cloves, anise seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon stick, ground allspice, thyme and marjoram. Stir frequently and cook for another 5 minutes until flavors are blended. Make room in the pan, and add the tortilla and bread pieces along with the charred tomatoes and tomatillos. Cook for another 5 minutes.
 
Add the sautéed chiles and pour in the chicken broth. Stir and once it comes to simmer, add the chocolate pieces and salt.

Mix all ingredients well and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, cover and let the mix rest for at least 1/2 hour to completely soften the chiles.
In batches, pure the mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth.
You can store this Mole, covered in the refrigerator for up to a month, or freeze it for up to one year.

When ready to eat, dilute a cup of Mole with 1/2 cup chicken broth or water in a saucepan. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until combined. Serve with rice over cooked chicken or other poultry. Or get creative and serve with enchiladas, savory empanadas, or potatoes!

Pati got the Mexican Rice recipe from head chef Jesus Ley on the Chepe train (formally known as the Chihuahua al Pací­fico) traveling with her family through Copper Canyon. Here is the recipe:
https://patijinich.com/red_rice_from_el_chepe/ I did not use peas or serrano peppers. I also added a few strands of saffron giving it that beautiful deep yellow color.

THAT'S IT FOR TODAY!
THE NEXT TIME YOU HEAR FROM ME I WILL
BE IN BEAUTIFUL SPIDDAL
COUNTY GALWAY,
IRELAND OVERLOOKING GALWAY BAY!





 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

A TRIO OF DELECTABLE DESSERTS!

PANNA COTTA
This was the dessert I served at Easter along with 2 little bunny (sugar) cookies. Here's the recipe for the cookies. http://cookwithcindy.blogspot.com/search?q=sugar+cookies I make them for lots of special occasions. They are relatively easy for rolled cookies and dress up well!

Panna Cotta in Italian means "Cooked Cream". The texture was perfectly smooth and creamy, but they didn't set up as well as I would have liked. My main refrigerator in the kitchen was bursting at the seems with food so I placed the Panna Cottas in my small under-counter fridge that is outside to chill. It was an unusually hot day so that fridge wasn't quite cold enough to set them properly, but no one complained and they tasted delicious! I increased the recipe by half-again since I was serving 10.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 Tbsps. (which is 1 1/2 envelopes) unflavored gelatin
3 Tbsp. cold water
3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Preparation:
In a small saucepan sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand about 1 minute to soften. Heat gelatin mixture over low heat until gelatin is dissolved and remove pan from heat.
In a large saucepan bring cream, half and half, and sugar just to a boil over moderately high heat, stirring so it doesn't scorch. Remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture and vanilla. Divide cream mixture among 10 (1/2 cup) ramekins and cool to room temperature. Chill ramekins, covered at least 4 hours or overnight. Next time I will make the night before serving!

To serve: Dip ramekins, 1 at a time, into a bowl of hot water for 3 seconds. Run a knife around edge of each ramekin and invert ramekin onto the center of a small plate. I served them in small, crystal bowls with about 4 Tbsp. of Raspberry Coulis on the bottom of the bowl and also topped the Panna Cottas with additional sauce and a few fresh raspberries. A coulis is simply a strained puree of fruit or veg. Panna Cotta is very mild since it is mainly just cream so this vibrant sauce was the perfect spark for this dessert.

I found this recipe online (https://thecafesucrefarine.com/easy-raspberry-coulis/) and thought it interesting that frozen raspberries are recommended over fresh. According to this Blogger they render a more intense raspberry flavor and ensure a deep, rich red color.
Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. water
12 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed
I nabbed this photo from their website as I
didn't have time to take one of my own while serving.

Preparation:
Combine sugar and water in a 1 cup microwave-save cup or bowl. Stir to combine. Mixture will be very thick. Cook in the microwave on high power for 2 minutes. Stir for 5-10 seconds to dissolve sugar crystals.
Combine frozen raspberries and hot syrup in a blender. Blend until mixture is smooth and pureed. Pour the puree through a fine mesh sieve set over a medium-sized bowl. Pouring does not really occur as the mixture is quite thick. You will need to stir and push the solids with the back of a large spoon or rubber spatula until all of the liquid has been pushed through. This will take several minutes and was, by far, the most difficult part of putting this Coulis together, but worth every minute! Discard the seeds. Store in the refrigerator up to a week or in the freezer for 2-3 months.

Next up...
DARK CHOCOLATE AVOCADO MOUSSE
 
This is the most unlikely combination of ingredients, but I happened to have 2 very ripe avocados that I needed to use so went to the web to look for something different. You would never know there are avocados in this decadent chocolate dessert and I recommend taking the word "avocado" out of the title and presenting as a DARK CHOCOLATE MOUSSE! Very 'moussey', sublime texture and intense chocolate flavor with NO hint of avocado!

Ingredients:
2 large very ripe avocados
4 oz. 70% cacao baking chocolate melted
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup Almond milk (I used Coconut Almond milk)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Sea Salt

Preparation:
In a food processor, combine avocados melted chocolate, cocoa powder, maple syrup, almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon and a pinch of Sea Salt. Puree until creamy. Spoon the mousse into 4 small ramekins and chill for at least 1 hour.
 

I think this would be really yummy served with a coffee whipped cream with slivers of chocolate or toasted nuts for texture contrast.

We'll finish today with a...
MANGO SORBET
Ingredients:
4 1/2 to  cups very ripe mangos (about 2 lbs.) peeled and diced
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar*
1 tsp. fresh lime juice (more or less to taste)
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt (more or less to taste)
* The mangos I used were very sweet so I used less sugar.
Preparation:
Pack diced mangoes in a blender with water and blend on high speed until very smooth. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a large measuring cup, pushing puree through strainer with a spoon until you have 3 cups of puree. Reserve the remainder for another use. (Great in a smoothy!)
Transfer strained puree into a large bowl and whisk in sugar until well dissolved. Whisk in lime juice and salt adjusting flavors. Chill the puree in the fridge until very cold; 2-3 hours or overnight. Churn in ice cream maker according to your machine. Mine takes about 20-25 minutes for both ice cream or sorbet.
Transfer to an airtight container and chill in freezer at least 4 hours before serving.
 
WE'RE HEADING BACK TO IRELAND IN LESS THAN 2 WEEKS, BUT BEFORE I GO WANT TO SHARE ONE MORE RECIPE FROM SOUTH OF THE BORDER...MOLE!
 
STAY TUNED...
 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

"WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS, MAKE LEMONADE!"

Or in my case...
LIMONCELLO

Limoncello puts a smile on your face!
This was much easier to make than I expected and only took 4 days to cure! The flavor is bright and refreshing. I cut down on the recommended sugar so not too sweet. It was a perfect ending to our Easter feast. And thanks to my friend Leslie Jackson these lemons were freshly picked!

Ingredients:
10 lemons
1 (750 ml.) bottle vodka
2 cups sugar
2 cups water

Preparation:
Using a sharp pairing knife remove the skin from the lemons in long strips. Reserve the lemons for another use. I juiced them to make the Lemon Sorbet. Trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith.
This can be done by scraping the inside of the lemon peel with the pairing knife. Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap. Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for at least 4 days at room temperature.
Make the simple syrup:
Stir 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water together in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Pour the simple syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Transfer the limoncello to bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to a month.

I let my lemons steep in the vodka for 5 days. After doing a little research I learned that 4 days is the magic number and although you can let it steep longer there is no significant benefit; meaning it has become as lemony as it will be after only 4 days.

The palate cleansing course I served for this year's Easter dinner was a...

LEMON SORBET

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups water
3 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preparation:
In a large saucepan bring sugar and water to a boil stirring until sugar melts; about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the lemon zest and 1 1/2 cups lemon juice to the sugar water mixture. Cool completely in fridge for an hour or overnight. Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker for about 20 minutes or according to your manufacturers instructions. The mixture will be quite thin, but comes together nicely in the freezer.  Place in the freezer and chill for at least 4 hours.

If you don't have an ice cream maker you can freeze this in a shallow pan in the freezer stirring every 20 minutes with a fork until crystals have formed; about 3 hours. It then becomes a granita rather than a (churned) sorbet, but just as delicious!

If you were making this as a dessert you'd want to add a bit more sugar. As a palate cleanser it was perfect!

Next time I will share the Easter dessert course
...a Classic Italian Panna Cotta.
 
Until then, keep enjoying life in the kitchen!
 
And here are a few more shots from our celebration!
Deb giving the Creamy Parmesan Orzo with Asparagus a mighty stir.
Dorita and Karen relaxing before dinner is served.
The main event: Lamb stuffed with spinach,
feta, pine nuts, bread crumbs, and herbs.
 
Glasses awaiting vino.
Our angel vessel...a loving anniversary gift from my dear husband.
 
 




Friday, May 3, 2019

CATHERINE DE MEDICI'S TUSCAN CHICKEN LIVER PATE!

In Italian, fegatini means livers. This humble dish using left-over and inexpensive ingredients is found throughout Italy.
CROSTINI DI FEGATINI or CROSTINI TOSCANI

This is an ancient recipe from Pellegrino Artusi's 120 year old cookbook, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. Some believe the original recipe is from Florentine noblewoman, Catherine de Medici. When she married Henry II in 1533 she brought this family recipe with her to France where the French reinterpreted it to become what is now their recipe for foie gras. Artusi's recipe calls for chicken livers and because in Italy livers are often sold with hearts you can also add the hearts to the pate. I found this recipe online (www.emikodavies.com/blog/artusi-may-tuscan-chicken-liver-pate/ where measurements were added as Artusi simply lists ingredients, not amounts. I increased the recipe by half and added a few of my own ingredients (capers, anchovies, brandy) and this is what I came up with.
Before serving I topped the pate with finely chopped chives.
This is not a smooth pate, but I did use the hand emulsion blender to combine ingredients. The recipe calls for chopping all ingredients, once cooked, with a mezzaluna or large kitchen knife, which would leave the pate even more chunky. You could also place all cooked ingredients in a food processor and then push through a fine mesh sieve to get a really smooth consistency. I liked it a little rough since pate is the quintessential rustic dish of Italy! The original recipe does not use anchovies, capers or brandy, but as I did more research realized that every family throughout Italy has their own recipe for pate with slightly different ingredients.
Here are most of the ingredients for the pate.
Ingredients:
1 1/2 shallot, roughly chopped
1 stalk of celery, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 slices of pancetta, chopped
4 Tbsp. butter (or olive oil)
1 1/2 lbs. chicken livers, cleaned
1 cup chicken stock
About 8 pieces of dried porcini mushroom, soaked in warm water to soften and finely chopped
2 Tbsp. Panko bread crumbs
Juice of one lemon
3 Tbsp. brandy, bourbon, or cognac (I used brandy.)
4 drained anchovies
1 Tbsp. capers
Salt/Pepper to taste

Loaf of bread, such as a baguette for the crostini (day old is what they would use in Italy)

Preparation:
Finely chop the shallot, celery, carrot and parsley and saute these gently in pan with the pancetta in the butter.

Season with a pinch of salt. When the vegetables are soft, add the whole chicken livers and continue cooking, stirring occasionally to brown them, about 3-5 minutes. Add the brandy, if using, and watch as the brandy may flame up.

Livers all cleaned and porcini mushrooms soaking.

Once browned remove the mixture from the pan and place on a chopping board together with the softened porcini mushrooms, anchovies and capers, if using, and finely chop everything with the mezzaluna or, as I did, blend right in the pan with a hand blender.
Return the chopped pate mixture to the pan, add the stock, breadcrumbs, lemon juice and season to taste. Continue cooking on low, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes more. This mixture should be quite tender and juicy so do not allow it to reduce too much so that it becomes dry. Add more stock if needed. The pate will firm up as it cools.

In the meantime slice the baguette in 1/2 inch pieces and gently warm in a low oven until dry to the touch. You can make the pate a day ahead of time. It keeps well in the fridge for 5-7 days.
I served the pate with additional capers, a nice French Dijon mustard and a delicious onion and apricot jam.

ONION AND APRICOT JAM
Ingredients:
1 cup shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup leek, white part only, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. vegetable or other mild oil
1/4 cup white wine
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. honey
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. Apple Cider vinegar
4 Tbsp. chicken stock
1/2 cup dried apricots, sliced
1/4 cup water, more or less

Preparation:
Saute shallot and leek in oil over medium high heat until tender and slightly caramelized, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a low simmer. Add white wine, lemon juice, honey, sugar, vinegar, chicken stock and apricots. Cook gently for another 10 minutes until all ingredients are well combined. Add water by the tablespoon to loosen jam to desired consistency.
PATE IS A PERFECT STARTER FOR ANY OCCASION
AND IT WAS A BIG HIT AT THIS YEAR'S
EASTER CELEBRATION!

UP NEXT:
LIMONCELLO and LEMON SORBET