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Friday, July 23, 2010

TBL Panzanella

I know, I know, I've been a bad blogger lately.  Good Eats: The Early Years was my cookbook of the month for June, and I only ever got one recipe posted in it,w ell, technically two, since the macerated strawberries and the shortcakes were from two different episodes.  But, in my defense, school ended in June and things were crazy then I took off to the lake for two weeks in the end of June and July.  I didn't bring the cookbook with me and the lake has no internet access, so no new recipes for me to blog.  Anyway, this cookbook will travel on into July as the cookbook of the month and I hope to get at least one more recipe out of it before we leave for a week in Chicago.  

We made this as part of our anniversary meal.  Our "real" anniversary meal will be in August, when we have reservations at Table 21 at VOLT.  We called back in October and mid-August was the earliest we could get.  So that will be our anniversary treat, but on the date of our actual second anniversary we decided to open a nice bottle of wine (Fabbioli Cabernet Franc Reserve -- local people should check them out, they are great!), cook up some steaks and spend a nice night at home.  This was the salad we made, and it was delicious.  The bread cubes with bacon drippings - mmmmmm.  We had some great grape tomatoes from our CSA and we picked up a great yellow heirloom tomato at a nearby farm stand.  If you are a bacon lover (as I am) definitely try this salad!

TBL Panzanella

Good Eats: The Early Years, and available on
4-6 servings

4 cups French bread cut into 1-inch cubes
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 cups halved grape tomatoes
2 cups chopped heirloom tomatoes
2 cups chopped lettuce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chiffonade basil


  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread bread cubes on a sheet pan.  Toast in oven until dry, but not browned, around 10 minutes.  
  • Cook bacon in skillet over medium heat until crispy.  Drain on paper towels and reserve drippings.  
  • In large bowl, toss bread cubes in half of the bacon drippings.  Set aside.
  • Sear the halved grape tomatoes in other half of bacon drippings, cut side down, until caramelized, about 5 minutes.
  • Combine red wine vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl, slowly whisk in olive oil in a thin stream until emulsified.
  • Combine all tomatoes, bread, bacon, and lettuce and dress with vinaigrette, toss well, garnish with basil and serve.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sour Cream Coffeecake: Barefoot Bloggers

We made this coffeecake with a few twists.  First, as you can probably tell, a bundt cake pan, not a tube pan; and, second, almonds not walnuts.  Almonds are the nut I use for just about any baking really.  If a recipe calls for pecans or walnuts I generally just substitute almonds.  I just like them better.  It tasted delicious and I believe the leftovers went to the guys Zach works with.  I'd definitely make this to have around for weekend guests, or a brunch get together.  

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
chosen by Gwenn of Cooking in Pajamas

Scalloped Tomatoes: Barefoot Bloggers

This was the one of the two Barefoot Blogger recipes for June.  Yes, I know it's practically the end of July, but I was on vacation for several weeks from the end of June until the middle of July.  We made this in June, but I haven't been able to write it up until now.  It was super!  The tomatoes and bread and basil were all so fabulous.  I think this might be even better to make now, headed into late summer and prime tomato season.  Maybe some yellow, orange, even purple heirloom tomatoes -- yum!  It's a great side dish and I will definitely be trying it again!

 Scalloped Tomatoes

chosen by Josie of Pink Parsley Catering

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Velveted Chicken Stir-Fry

When we got snow peas in our CSA box our first thought was a stir-fry.  I went right to my collection of Cooks Illustrated magazines to study up on the best techniques.  I love Cooks Illustrated for this reason - they painstakingly research every aspect of a recipe so I know it's going to be the best.  If it's not good, chances are I screwed up somehow and it's not the recipe's fault.  So, after reading through a few issues and learning a few pointers and techniques we were ready to make our own stir-fry.  They say a non-stick skillet is actually the best for stir-frys, not a wok.  They also introduced me to the traditional Chinese technique of velveting chicken -- coating chicken pieces in a cornstartch and egg white or oil mixture then parcooking in moderately heated oil.  It really gave the chicken a more authentic texture and flavor.  It was moist, juicy and delicious, not dry or overcooked like stir-frys I have made in the past.  I worked off the recipe for the velveted chicken, but we used the veggies we wanted.  The snow peas were the original basis for the dish.  We saw some great eggplant at the farmer's market we thought would match well.  When we were at the market we also picked up some baby bok choy, garlic scapes and scallions.  Next time I might do either scapes or scallions, but otherwise I think it turned out pretty well. 

Gingery Stir-Fried Chicken with Vegtables
from Cooks Illustrated, May/June 2004


for Marinated Velveted Chicken:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 cup water
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour

for stir-fry:
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (about a 1 1/2 inch piece)
1 medium garlic clove, minced
peanut or vegetable oil
1 recipe of Marinated Velveted Chicken
2 heads of baby bok choy, cut on bias in 1/2 inch strips
1 small eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 bunch of garlic scapes (8-10), cut into 1 inch pieces


For Marninated Velveted Chicken:
  • Combine soy sauce, sherry and water in medium bowl.  Add chicken and stir to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  • Immediately before using mix sesame oil, cornstarch and flour in medium bowl until smooth.  toss chicken in cornstarch/flour mixture until evenly coated.  
For Stir-Fry:
  • Whick broth, sherry, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch, sugar, pepper flakes and 2 teaspoons ginger in small bowl; set aside.  Combine remaining 2 teaspoons ginger, garlic, and 1 teaspoon peanut oil in small bowl; set aside.
  • Heat 2 teapoons peanut oil in 12-inch non-stick skillet over high heat until smoking.  Add half of chicken to skillet, making sure to not overcrowd the pan.  Cook without stirring but separating pieces if needed until gold brown on first side, about 1 minute.  Turn chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned on second side, abotu 30 seconds.  Transfer chicken to clean plate, repeat with more oil and the rest of chicken.
  • Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to empty skillet, heat until just smoking.  Add bok choy; stir-fry until crisp tender, remove to clean bowl.  
  • Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to empty skillet, heat until just smoking.  Ad eggplant; stir-fry until browned on all sides, 2-3 mintues.  Remove to bowl with bok choy.
  • Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to empty skiller, hear until just smoking.  Add scapes and scallions; stir-fry until crips-tender.  Push to sides of skillet.  
  • Add garlic/ginger mixture to center of skillet and cook, mashing with a spoon until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir mixture into scallion/scape mixture and cook about 30 seconds longer.
  • Stir in bok choy pieces and eggplant, then add chicken back to skillet as well.  Whisk sauce to recombine and then add sauce to skillet.  Reduce heat to medium and cook stiring constantly until sauce is thickened and chicken is cooked through.  Serve immediately.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Potato Salad with Bacon and Balsamic Vinager

I came across this recipe while looking for something to make with the new potatoes from our CSA box.  Cooks Illustrated was the first place I turned since they always have reliable and delicious recipes, not to mention a great amount of knowledge on ingredients.  I read through a "Primer on Potatoes" to see what I could learn about new potatoes.  They recommended using new potatoes as you would any waxy potatoes, and so I decided on potato salad.  I didn't want to make a traditional mayonnaise potato salad since that style has never appealed to me, and Zach doesn't like mayo all that much.  We both love balsamic vinegar though, so we quickly decided on this recipe; plus, it had bacon.  Finding bacon as an ingredient pretty much seals the deal for me.  This was quite tasty.  It had a nice bite from the vinegar, and it paired very well with the new potatoes.  A nice change if you are bored of the same old potato salad.

German-Style Potato Salad with Bacon and Balsamic Vinegar
from Cooks Illustrated, July/August 1994
Serves 6

2 pounds new potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 slices bacon, cut into 1/4 inch strips
1 medium onion, cut into medium dice
1/2 cup beef broth
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced

  • Place potatoes in a 4 to 6 quart pot; cover with water.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer, until tender (15-20 minutes for new potatoes)Drain, cool potatoes slightly and cut into 1/4 inch slices.
  • Layer warm potato slices in a medium bowl; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons vinegar and the salt and pepper as you go.  Let stand at room temperature while preparing dressing.
  • Fry bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until bacon is brown and crisp, 7-10 minutes.  Transfer bacon pieces to bowl of potatoes.
  • Add onion to bacon drippings and saute until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add beef broth and bring to a boil, add remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar.
  • Remove from heat and pour mixture over potatoes.  Add parsley and toss gently to coat.  Serve warm. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Green Chili Sliders with Tangy Tomatillo-Lime Sauce

These were super delicious!  The tomatillo-lime sauce is very addicting!  The combination of cilantro, lime and just a bit of heat from the jalapeno keeps you coming back for more.  The burgers were fantastic too!  I adapted the recipe and made them turkey burgers instead of using ground beef and I think it worked just fine.  I also omitted the cheese, since I felt the sauce would add enough flavor, and it did!  I really loved the poblanos in the burgers, they were just the right pepper, especially after being roasted.  They were sweet yet spicy and perfect.  I was going to do full size burgers, but decided to go with sliders as the recipe was written. We will definitely make these again, another great burger recipe from Rachael Ray. 

Green Chile Sliders with Tangy Tomatillo-Lime Sauce

4 Servings

2 large poblano chiles
4 tomatillos, husks removed and coarsely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1/2 white onion, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup cilantro
1 lime
2 tablespoons honey
11/2 pounds ground turkey
11/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon canola oil
8 slider rolls

  • Preheat the broiler. Place the poblanos on a baking sheet and broil, turning, until blackened. Transfer to a bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel off the skins and remove the seeds; discard. Chop into 1/2-inch pieces.
  • Using a food processor, mix the tomatillos, jalapeno, onion, cilantro, zest of the lime, juice of the lime and honey until smooth; season with salt.
  • In a large bowl, season the turkey with the cumin, salt and pepper; combine. Mix in the poblanos. Form into 8 3-inch patties.
  • In a cast-iron skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Cook the patties, turning once, about 5 minutes for medium-rare.  Dot the roll tops with the tomatillo sauce and assemble the sliders. Serve with the extra sauce.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Buttery Tilapia with Smashed Potatoes

I found this recipe while going through my file of recipes clipped from magazines and newspapers.  I've been a subscriber to EveryDay with Rachael Ray just about since it started.  I love the easy, weeknight meals.  This is one I've had for awhile.  I never really cooked too much with fish before we got married.  Well, except for the occasional fish sticks during lent, and even that was more 're-heating' not cooking.  It always scared me a bit, just because I hadn't really done it before.  Zach is pretty comfortable cooking with fish, so I've definitely learned from him.  

This recipe was quick and easy.  I chose it to use the new red potatoes we got in our CSA box this week, and they were delicious.  The scallion and sun-dried tomato butter that tops the fish was excellent.  We even used some on top of the cauliflower we had with this meal.  It'd also be great as a finishing butter on top of a steak fresh off the grill.  The original recipe calls for halibut, but tilapia is a very similar fish and is what we already had on hand.  The only other change we made was to add a splash of chicken stock and a few tablespoons of parmesan to the potatoes, since after smashing and tasting them, they were a bit on the dry side and needed just a little "something extra" flavor-wise. 

Buttery Tilapia with Smashed Potatoes

4 Servings
Prep 15 min
Cook 20 min

6 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons softened
1 sun-dried tomato, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped scallion
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
Salt and pepper
1 pound small new potatoes
Four 6- to 8-ounce tilapia fillets
2 tablespoons flour
2-3 tablespoons chicken stock
2-3 tablespoons parmesan cheese

  • In a small bowl, combine the softened butter, sun-dried tomato, scallion and garlic; season with salt and pepper.
  • In a large saucepan, add the potatoes and enough salted water to cover. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, then smash the potatoes with 1 tablespoon butter, chicken stock and parmesan cheese; season with salt and pepper.
  • Season the fish with salt and pepper, then coat lightly with the flour. In a large nonstick skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the fish and cook, turning once, until golden and firm to the touch, 7 to 8 minutes total.
  • Transfer the fish to serving plates and top with the tomato-scallion butter. Serve with the smashed potatoes.