Glazed Red Pepper-Fennel Almonds

August 18th, 2014

Glazed Amonds 2

 

Dorie Greenspan says that everyone should have a favorite flavored nut recipe; a specialite de la maison so to speak.  Nuts on their own are rather bland, but the possibilities are endless for flavoring them.  What would be your specialty of the house?  This combination that I found in Bon Appetit Magazine is certainly a contender in my house.  It starts with simple whole almonds.  They are combined with a sugar, fennel, red pepper and salt mixture.  A little water is added and the mixture is put in the oven so that the sugar will melt and coat the almonds.  I love the kick from the red pepper flakes and the unique flavor of the fennel seeds.

Here are a few of the nut recipes from food authorities.  Dorie adds sugar, salt, chili powder, cinnamon and cayenne to her nut recipe. Ina has a recipe using maple syrup, brown sugar, chipotle powder and rosemary.  Giada has a curried version of nuts that sounds very interesting.

Glazed Almonds 3

 

The next time you have people over for cocktails, why not put out a bowl of flavored nuts;  your specialty of the house .  I would be curious to hear what that might be.

GLAZED RED PEPPER-FENNEL ALMONDS  (Bon-Appetit)

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole almonds
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a heavy baking sheet with foil; spray with nonstick spray.  Combine sugar, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper, and salt in medium bowl.  Mix in almonds and 1 tablespoon water.  Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet in single layer.  Bake until sugar melts and almonds are deep golden brown and glazed, stirring often, about 22 minutes.  Separate almonds with fork; cool completely on sheet.  Transfer almonds to bowl and serve.  Can be prepared 1 week ahead.  Store in plastic bag.

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Chicken and Andouille Sausage Ragu

August 15th, 2014

Chicken and Andouille Ragu 1

 

After spending a few days in a kitchen that left a lot to be desired, it is good to be home in my own efficient kitchen.  I was in the mood for a quiet afternoon of slow cooking.  I love breaking a recipe down and doing all of the prep work, so that I have my mise en place; little bowls of chopped vegetables, meat and herbs.  It is relaxing to chop meat, carrots, onions, garlic and herbs.  At least that is my take on cooking.  Some would find it a chore, but the precision of getting everything ready to cook is therapeutic to me.  It must have something to do with my need to be in control.  Once the grunt work is done, the cooking is a breeze.  Because the weather had been dreary (better now), I felt like a hearty,but not too heavy, stew.

Chicken and Andouille Ragu 2

 

This chicken and andouille sausage stew is not difficult.  The cooking time is not long, so it is an easy week night meal if you do a little prep ahead of time.  The original recipe came from Bon Appetit Magazine but I have adapted it to my own taste.  It was suggested that it be served with pasta, but I liked it better with a bed of rice.  Using boneless chicken thighs and flavorful andouille sausage assures a succulent kick to the chunky carrots and diced tomatoes. The Ragu even improves with a rest in the refrigerator overnight.  I will be adding this to my go-to recipes.

Chicken and Andouille Ragu 3V

 

Enjoy with a Rioja, Syrah or any medium-bodied red wine.

CHICKEN AND ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE RAGU’

6 Boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each cut into 3 pieces longwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 andouille sausages or fully cooked spicy smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup mixed herbs, chopped (I used rosemary, sage, parsley and thyme naturally, it was what I had.)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel, from one whole lemon
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (14 1/2 oz can)  fire-roasted diced tomatoes in juice
1 cup low-salt chicken broth

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Working in batches, saute in pot until brown, about 6 minutes per batch.  Transfer to bowl.  Add sausage to pot and saute until brown, about 5 minutes.  Using slotted spoon, transfer to bowl with chicken.  Add carrots and onions to pot and saute until onions are tender and golden, about 10 minutes.  Stir in herbs, garlic, lemon peel, and crushed red pepper; saute 2 minutes.  Add wine and boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes with juices and broth; bring to boil.  Add chicken and sausage and any accumulated juices from bowl.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Using slotted spoon, transfer chicken and sausage to bowl.  Boil liquid in pot until reduce, about 20 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Return chicken and sausage to pot.  Spoon ragu over rice or pasta.

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Montaluce Winery

August 11th, 2014

Montaluce 1   Spending a day visiting wineries is always a pleasure.  We loved the wineries in the Loire Valley when we were in France last year.  We also spent an idyllic week in Napa Valley a few years ago.  I have great memories of the beauty of the acres of grape vines, the wonderful food that seemed to be an extension of the wine experience and the stately wineries where the tastings were held. North Georgia has more than 12 different wineries.  It just so happens that the Blue Ridge Mountains of Northern Georgia have the perfect terrain and soil to produce wines very similar to the wines produced in Italy’s Piedmont Region.  I have been wanting to visit there since I read the post that Sam of My Carolina Kitchen wrote a few years ago.  The fact that we have wineries of this caliber so close to home makes me very happy. Montaluce 2   I chose to visit Montaluce Winery because of the beauty of The Tuscan style tasting villa.  The winery abuts the Etowah River and the Chatahoochee National Forest.  It is just outside of the college town of Dahlonega, Georgia. Montaluce 3   It has sweeping views of the vineyards where they grow 10 different varietal European style grapes.  This is the view from the table in the dining room where we had lunch.  The restaurant, Le Vigne, was the other reason I wanted to visit.  Executive Chef, Austin Rocconi, has designed his menu around the organic ingredients grown in the Montaluce garden and from purveyors participating in the Farm to Table movement. Montacuce 5   My lunch was something I could not resist.  It was a BLT, but not just any old BLT.  It included Benton’s bacon.  Yes, that’s right Larry, the bacon from your neck of the woods in Tennessee and your very favorite.  Also on the sandwich were some of the best fried green tomatoes that I have ever had.  It was further garnished with heirloom lettuce and a delicious ramp aioli.  The bread was also made in house.  A very good BLT indeed.  Right up there with the sandwich that David Scott and I made from the Benton’s bacon that Larry gave him. And you are not seeing double, triple or more.  I had a flight of 5 different Montaluce white wines.  I especially liked their 2012 Viognier. Montaluce 4 David was not too hungry because he had stopped for a late breakfast after trout fishing.  He had a small plate of house cured smoked salmon, creme fraiche, whipped goat cheese, pickled okra and smoked blueberries. But he did end up eating 1/4 of my sandwich and several of my house made chips.  Plus sips of my wine flight since he ordered just one glass of the Viognier. Monteluca 6   Here is a view of their outside eating area.  Since it was a hot day, we ate in their beautiful inside eating area. Montluca 6   This is a view of the the tasting area. Montaluce tasting area   Another view of the tasting room.  We had a tour of the winery after lunch and only wished that it was harvest season, which will start in a few weeks, to see the activity of the pressing of the grapes. Montecuce 7   After leaving the winery we visited the organic gardens.  There are still green tomatoes on the vine. Monteluca 8   The garden is in transition now between summer and fall crops. Montaluce vineyard   It was a special day and we came away with good feelings about the direction that this area of our country is going.  The fact that exceptional wines can be produced from land in Northern Georgia is a promising development.  Terroir is a word that sums up what is happening here. Loosely translated it means a sense of place.  The combination of soil, climate and geology of a region results in crops that are unique to that particular place.  The wines of Northern Georgia have won awards for their excellence.

Trout Fishing in America

August 7th, 2014

Trout Fishing in America 1

 

We are on a short trip in Northern Georgia.  I wanted to find a cabin in the woods away from everything so that we could totally relax for a few days.  David wanted to try his hand at fly fishing.  Trout Fishing in America is the name of a book by Richard Brautigan written in the 1960′s that became a cult classic for a generation of young people.  We still have our copy on the bookshelf.  The book had very little to do with trout fishing.  But I liked Trout Fishing in America as the title to this post because it has everything to do with trout fishing.

Trout Fishing in America 2

 

We have trout streams all around us in North Carolina, but David has only fished them once or twice.  Since the cabin we rented was on a trout stream, he decided to gear up and give it a try. This trip was supposed to be about complete relaxation after all.  Notice the hot tub in the background.

Trout Fishing in America House

 

The stream is below the cabin.  We loved listening to it, but it was not the best stream for fishing.

Trout fishing in America 3

 

It was too small.  David was able to find better fishing on a larger stream.  Unfortunately he had no better luck there.  But never fear.  He retreated to Betty’s store in Helen, Georgia and came home with these beautiful dressed trout.  I seasoned them inside and out and put lemons and bacon around the outsides.  The recipe came from Nancy Fuller from the Food Network.

Trout Fishing food 1

I need to offer a word here about renting get-away cabins.  It is always wise to bring your own skillet and knives.  Unfortunately I did not follow my own advise this time. There was not one skillet in the cabin big enough to cook the fish, let alone bacon and eggs for breakfast. The skillets that were here were small and useless.  I tried to fry our eggs one morning and I defy anyone to make an over easy egg in what I had to work with.  The knives were a joke. And did I mention the can openers that did not work?   What I can’t understand is how this cottage has not addressed these issues.  Surely someone before me has complained.  Doesn’t anyone cook anymore?  But in spite of my handicaps, I managed to put some really good trout on the table.

Trout fishing food 2

I think I worked harder on this dish than David did trying to catch it.  By the way, he loved it.  It was a really good trout recipe that may need some tweaking.  My bacon was not totally crisp the way I like it. I think it would be good to cook the bacon briefly before wrapping it around the trout, although you want it to be still pliable.  The seasoning on the inside of the trout was spot-on.  I am hoping that when I am home and have better cooking equipment, I will make this trout even better.  We are off to The Montaluce Winery in North Georgia on my next post.  Now it is my turn to indulge.

BACON WRAPPED TROUT

Two 8-ounce rainbow trout, butterflied and dressed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives and thyme
1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon, plus 4 thin lemon slices
4 slices bacon

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Sprinkle the inside and outside of the trout with salt and pepper.  Combine 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the herbs, capers, garlic, lemon juice and some salt and pepper in a small bowl and divide the mixture between the two trout.  Fold the trout back onto themselves, lay 2 lemon slices on top of each fish, and then wrap each trout with 2 slices of bacon holding the lemons in place.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and coat lightly with the remaining tablespoon olive oil.  Place the trout, lemon-side up, in the pan and cook for 3 minutes, then place in the oven.  Roast, flipping halfway through roasting to ensure the bacon is crisp, for 20 to 25 minutes.

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Creamy Corn Chowder with Bacon

August 4th, 2014

Corn Chowder 2

 

We have dear friends from Iowa who have a log cabin in Lake Lure.  They built their cabin here after staying at our rental cottage a few years ago.  They fell in love with Lake Lure and now have their own stunning get-away retreat.  They arrived from Iowa last week with fresh picked corn from home.  You can’t get any more authentic than corn from the heartland of America.  What to do with the bounty?

Corn Chowder 1

 

Why, corn chowder of course.  We have had cool, rainy weather AGAIN!  This was the perfect summer soup.

I have a long history with sweet corn.  It was one of the crops that dotted our farmlands in Michigan when I was growing up.  As teenagers my friends and I spent time in corn fields.  I guess that makes me kind of weird.  What were we doing in corn fields you may ask?

1. It was a great place to park.  Any couple who wanted privacy could find a hide-away under the full moon, hidden next to the stalks.  Very romantic.

2. Carloads of girlfriends loved to stop the car  on the road and run to the fields and gather a few ears to eat.  We usually ended up with field corn meant for cattle.  We were once attacked by a wild pig, but darn it was fun.  We laughed and considered ourselves daring.

3. Corn fields were just a part of our environment.  Still today, I measure the height of the corn by the old adage ” The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye” and know when it is ready to pick. Growing up in corn country, you just knew.

Corn Chowder Cropt

This corn chowder is hearty with a depth of flavor.  I simmered the shorn corn cobs in the vegetable broth mixture for a while to release as much flavor as possible.  Give it a try when you have lots of corn.  It can easily be doubled.

CREAMY CORN CHOWDER WITH BACON

3 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1/4 cup flour
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
6 to 7 ears of corn, kernels removed and a few cobs saved to flavor the stock
1 1/2 cups cream, 1/2 and 1/2 or milk
Several sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
4 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled for garnish

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion, red pepper and garlic and cook until onion is soft.  Add the flour and cook 2 minutes stirring frequently to slightly brown the flour.  Add the vegetable broth and 4 of the reserved corn cobs and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, partially covered.  Remove the cobs and add the celery, carrots, potatoes and corn kernels.  Cook over low heat until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.  Add the cream, thyme and salt and pepper to taste and cook gently for another 15 minutes.  Serves 6.

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.

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