Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Winter Salad

In the midst of a post-holiday detox (as much I'd like to tell you I didn't eat more than half of the mini gluten free ginger molasses cupcakes I baked recently, let's not kid ourselves), I'd like to offer some fresh winter flavors that won't make you feel like you're underwater when trying to do some moderate exercise.

Nature gives us something fantastic right as cold and flu season rolls around in the form of a super dose of vitamin C.  Time to put that citrus to good use, and I don't mean just for mimosas.  This salad blends peppery arugula, sweet cranberries, tangy tangerines and the crunch of pecans, all topped with a drizzle of homemade vinaigrette.  

Chopped arugula, dried cranberries, pecans, tangerines and the most delicious vinaigrette ever:  

1 tbs white wine or champagne vinegar
½ cup fresh lemon juice (approx 2 lemons, meyer work great!)

¼ cup grapeseed oil
⅓ cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp fine ground pepper
¼ tsp Coleman’s mustard

Monday, December 27, 2010

Herbed Pork Chops

As I cut into a piece of pork flecked with fresh herbs, almonds and salt, the outside cracked and split to reveal a perfectly cooked juicy piece of the other white meat.  Pork cutlets cook fast and have fantastic flavor/texture, and I always loved the recipes that have a crunchy breaded coating. This recipe satisfies my love for both textures, as well as using a bunch of fresh herbs for flavor. 

While this recipe is gluten free, it isn't paleo since I used rice flour, but I'm working on a paleo version that still gives you a crunchy outside coating while keeping your pork juicy inside.

Trim fat and pound pork chops to tenderize a bit.  Salt and pepper, then dip in rice flour, egg, and "breadcrumb" mixture (crushed almonds, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, fresh Italian parsley, garlic powder) coating both sides. Heat about 1/2 inch olive oil in a pan - get it hot but not smoking - and fry pork, about 4-5 minutes each side.

You can really use whatever fresh herbs you may have on hand, feel free to experiment.  If you're using dried herbs, be sure to use less than you would fresh as the flavor can be a little intense. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Poulet Roti, Roast Chicken

My oven sucks. It's true, cooking times are always a bit vague in my kitchen anyways, and in the oven it's a total crap shoot. The chances of me getting a new oven are about as good as me getting a pony for Christmas (Dad, are you reading this?) since my landlord is quite the penny pincher, I'll just have go zen and carry on.  

Roast chicken is something anyone (top chef, wannabe, home cook, microwave extraordinaire et al) who ever sets foot in a kitchen should be able to do.  It's a very simple, low maintenance, cost effective, delicious way to feed yourself and your loved ones.  Heck, it's even great to feed those you can't stand.  It also has many uses - you not only get dinner for the night, but you can use leftovers for chicken salads the next day, or shredded in soup, and you can make stock with the carcass (I suppose I should talk about that in another post).  I like the poulet roti recipe from the Les Halles cookbook, partly because I laugh every time I read it, but also, it lends itself to be sophisticated and simple at the same time.

Wash and dry your chicken - including the cavity - trim off any excess fat and truss that baby up. (This might be the BEST part of Anthony Bourdain's commentary, which includes a Betty Page reference and involves you getting down on the floor, I kid you not). Stuff 1/2 an onion, 1/2 a lemon, salt & pepper and whatever fresh herbs you have on hand inside the bird.  Lay the giblets down with the other 1/2 the onion in your roasting pan (think of this as your flavor 'rack') with a heavy pour of white wine.   Slip a couple pads of butter between the breasts and the skin, but take care not to tear the skin.  Rub the outside of your bird with olive oil, a little melted butter and chop up some of those herbs.  Roast for 30 minutes at 375, then an additional 25 minutes at 450.  You can baste if you like...and if your oven is anything like mine, add 15 minutes and 10 minutes to your cooking time, and rotate that chicken every time you remember. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Curried Acorn Squash with Pears

Great things happen when you plate your food.  It becomes a fine dining experience at your very own dining room table, excluding the wobbly chair (every house has one, we usually reserve it for guests, ha).  I'm going a bit squash crazy, but how can one resist such oddly shaped gourds that are so versatile, tasty and cheap?!?!

I got this idea from Bon Appetit, made a few mods....and voila...a pretty little side. 

Chop an onion and a few slices of prosciutto and saute in (a tiny bit) butter until onions are translucent, add 1 tbs curry powder, 1 tbs garam masala powder*, 1 tbs turmeric, 1 diced pear, a handful of dried cranberries and few tbs of water. Cook until liquid is gone and add 1 tbs cayenne pepper.

Slice squash and remove seeds, brush with melted butter and curry powder.  Arrange each ring on a baking sheet and fill with onion/pear mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (if you have any leftover curry butter you can drizzle it on top), cover with foil and bake at 350 until squash is tender (30+ mins)

*if you have an Indian Market nearby, or even a cook specialty market, stock up on spices like curries, garam masala, cardamom seeds, vindaloo,  pav bahji packets.  I use them ALL THE TIME, and they add depth to so many dishes.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Comfort Food, Spaghetti Squash

There are rare times when food has less appeal to me than an afternoon spent at the DMV, and whilst the thought of prepping and cooking makes me want to join the apathy coalition, my hunger begs to differ.  So I trudge to the kitchen, and when I'm in this sordid mood, 9 times out of 10, I make this dish.  It's easy and comforting, especially after a day that's been less than stellar. 

This humble gourd has been our pasta substitute for some time now, and can be topped with anything you'd put on noodles.  This particular night I made (Semi-homemade Sandra Lee style) meat sauce - translation:  ground beef, onions, zucchini, and a jar of Trader Joe's Marinara.  
The apathy coalition. Join us.  Or Don't. Whatever

Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and bake in the oven at 400 covered in foil until you can pierce it with a knife.  When it's done, use a fork to "rake it" into noodle like pieces, and top with whatever sauce you have handy.  This squash is also great in stir fry and anything that calls for noodles. 


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