Thursday, December 31, 2009

Texas Cavier - My Favorite Way to Eat Black Eyed Peas

Happy New Year, Y'all! Many new recipes coming soon - in fact I promise to stuff your faces! In the meantime, try this Texas version of a deconstructed hummus, or bean dip.

Texas Cavier
* Serve as a dip with pita chips or tortilla chips (the 'Scoops' kind work well with these so your beans don't go rollin' on you...)

1 (15.5 oz) can black eyed peas, drained and lightly rinsed
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 tablespoon fresh seeded, deveined jalapeno pepper, minced
2 tablespoons drained canned corn
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup canola oil or olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large handful fresh cilantro, chopped

Mix all together in a medium bowl (or to save extra washing up - you can go ahead and do it in your serving bowl.) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Will last for 2 days looking pretty (a great thing to pull out of the fridge with a bag of chips to shut up hungry guests or family while you cook) and will still taste good the third day but by that point won't win any beauty contests... Oh and freshly squeezed lime juice would be delicious on this as well but if adding do so just before serving and remember the acid will toughen the beans so leftovers will probably go out the window.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Thai Chicken in Coconut Milk with Basil

This is lovely and festive and comes together in about half an hour, assuming you've been able to do your chopping ahead of time. It's also hip-friendly if you use light coconut milk, although not quite as marvelous as with regular. This is one recipe where you actually don't want to brown your chicken in the pan - once each side reaches that white cooked look, turn them over in the pan to the other side. If you brown them, the breast meat will dry out, so just a gentle cooking procedure in this step before you add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. And no need to be scientific - I actually use a big spatula and scatter the meat around the pan for about 8 minutes until every piece is that ugly, ghostly white. Sacrificing beauty now will mean tender chicken in the long run.

Oh and use the remaining lime zest to season a pot of rice to go with it.

Thai Chicken in Coconut Milk with Basil

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
kosher salt and black pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
salt and pepper to taste
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 heaping tablespoon yellow curry paste
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
couple shakes coriander powde
1 can coconut milk (you can use light if you're watching your bulges)
zest of 1/2 lime
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce

1/2 cup frozen peas
Couple handfuls of fresh basil, roughly torn

Add 2 tablespoons oil to a large dutch oven and bring to medium heat on your stove. Add your onion and ginger, seasoning with a little salt and pepper and saute, stirring every once in a while for about 4 minutes. Add your chicken chunks, seasoning again with salt and pepper. Stir around for a few minutes until every piece is opaque white, but not browned - about 8 minutes depending on how well your pan conducts heat and wether you're using a gas or electric stove.

Add in the pepper strips, seasoning with a little more salt, then the brown sugar, curry paste, curry powder, and coriander. Stir around to incorporate, then pour in the coconut milk, lime zest, and fish sauce. Stir well and bring to a boil. While boiling, stir well making sure nothing has burnt at the bottom, then lower the heat so that the mixture calms to a gentle simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes (you can put a lid 3/4 of the way on during this.) Stir in the peas and let heat thru until they're that beautiful 70's green color. Stir in the basil just before serving, and serve over jasmine or regular rice seasoned with lime zest.

Christmas-y Chocolate Chip Cookies with Cranberries and Cinnamon

I got this recipe from the McCormick site years ago and thank goodness - it's no longer there!

Having tweaked it over the years, I now consider these my version of holiday biscotti. In other words - this is the ideal cookie to have in the morning with coffee to power you up for a day of holiday shopping. Between the chewy oats and sweet cinnamon followed by a punch in the taste buds from the dark chocolate, even I feel up to fighting the tourists crawling all over the city. (Although if I have to go back to Soho again on a Saturday - I might rip off someone's fanny pack and throw it into oncoming traffic.) Lord give me strength...

Chunky Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cranberries and Dark Chocolate

1 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
1 stick salted butter, room temp
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chunks (cut up good quality bar or chocolate buttons)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla - beat well. Add flour mixture in 3 parts, mixing until just blended after each addition. Using a spatula, stir in oats, dried cranberries and dark chocolate.

Using an ice cream scoop, drop into evenly scooped rounds onto an ungreased cookie sheet, spacing well apart.

Bake 11-15 minutes JUST until light golden brown (these will stay lighter than other cookies so don't be alarmed). Let cool on baking sheet 1 minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I've been a bad blogger. Can I make it up to you with Pumpkin Gnocchi?

Who else is already overwhelmed by the most precious season of the year?

Luckily, I do feel the Christmas spirit alive and well within my heart, but Good Lord the holiday seems like more to manage than ever before for some reason this year. Tell me if anyone out there feels this too?

Anyway, I had ambitious plans for a chicken curry tonight but after a day of Christmas shopping, tree hunting, and house cleaning, those fell by the wayside. A glass of red wine and quick dinner were what was called for.

Luckily I had the best cook's crutch in the whole wide world - Murray's Cheese. A package of their homemade pumpkin gnocchi along with some goat cheese from Vermont Butter and Cheese Company and I was on my way.

Gnocchi, if you've never had it, means 'lump' in Italian and are pillowy little lumps of either potato, wheat, or flour dough. They are best homemade though this doesn't have to mean by you. Your favorite Italian restaurant or deli/bakery will do just fine. Gnocchi are one of those whimsical ingredients that delight you in their cooking. When you add them a pot of boiling water, they sink to the bottom like free weights. But after a few minutes, they gracefully rise to the surface peeking their heads out of the water to shout 'I'm done!"

Please don't think that just because these particular gnocchi are pumpkin flavored means this is a sweet and savory dish. It's not. In fact, just to show off pumpkin's versatility I like to add extra fresh cracked black pepper and a hit of red pepper flakes to the final product.

Finally, I feel a little guilty adding this recipe to my 'all star' list seeing that the gnocchi was made by Murray's. So I tell you what - I promise to get to the bottom of their recipe and share it with you, deal?

PS - If you dislike goat cheese, you can sub ricotta. But then I'd also add a handful of grated parm to give SOME sort of bite.

Fresh Pumpkin Gnocchi with Goat Cheese, Basil, Pine Nuts, and Lemon Zest

16 Oz Fresh Pumpkin
handful sea salt or kosher salt, for pasta water
drizzle olive oil
fresh grated nutmeg
zest of 1 lemon
good grating fresh cracked pepper
2 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 bunch fresh basil, rinsed and roughly torn - about 1/2-2 cups
sea salt to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste

Put a medium pot of water to boil over high heat. Once boiling, add a handful of sea salt or kosher salt and let come back to a boil if it weakens. Add the gnocchi, keeping a close eye on it. It will only take a matter of minutes, though once they rise to the surface I like to wait an additional 2 minutes to be sure they're all done.

Meanwhile, have all of your other ingredients at the ready. When the gnocchi are done, use a slotted spoon or spider to strain them into it, then drizzle with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Grate over the lemon zest, fresh cracked pepper, and nutmeg, giving a good stir. Then add the cheese, pine nuts, basil, and sea salt to taste along with red pepper flakes. Serve immediately - gnocchi doesn't get better with age.