Spiedies from Binghamton New York

May 3rd, 2016

Spiedies 1

At a recent get together with the Anderson family (The funeral of General Earl E. Anderson), extended family members from Binghamton, New York brought one of their local specialties; Spiedies. My first understanding was “Speedies”.  What?  Fast chicken and pork?  But I quickly got into the program.  I remembered that the Italian word for skewered meat was spiedini.  How this specialty of Italy made its way to Binghamton is still a mystery to me. I did find out that every August Binghamton holds a Spiedie Rally and Balloon Fest.  There are cooking contests held to see who can make the best spiedie sandwich.  Spiedies are actually skewered marinated meat (beef, chicken, lamb or pork), grilled and served with soft Italian bread which is used to pull the meat off of the skewer.  So forgive the above picture with grilled bread.  To make it authentic that bread should be soft and strong enough to pull the meat off of the skewers.  Add hot sauce or the cooked marinade to make it complete.  Everyone in Binghamton understands the concept.

Spiedies 2V

The recipe I used came from The New York Times.  You can find it here.  With grilling season upon us, you will be happy to have such a flavorful meat entree.  I used pork and chicken.  Do not marinate the chicken for more than 12 hours as it breaks down after that time.  The pork can be marinated for up to 36 hours.

Barb's Kitchen 2

Last week I visited an old friend from college.  She has just built the most charming house on several acres near Black Mountain, just a stones’s throw away from Lake Lure.  I feel so fortunate to have her close by.  We were both newly married attending the University of Florida when we met.  We had an instant rapport.  I am happy to say that Barb and I still have that special connection.  We have been having fun together shopping, lunching and laughing.  I love what she has accomplished with this house.  The farm sink, the color of the cabinets, the sliding barn door and the antique elements all combine to make such a welcoming space.

Barb's Kitchen 1

I could be very happy cooking in this kitchen.

Lilac Bush

Happy May Day a few days late.  My lilac bush in front of the guest cottage has bloomed on schedule.  Growing up in Michigan it was a tradition to make paper May baskets, fill them with lilacs and deliver them to friends and neighbors on May 1st.  The smell of lilacs brings back all of those memories.

Chicken Simply Roasted in a Skillet

March 5th, 2016

Simply Roasted Chicken 1

There are many reasons to love the cookbook Heritage by Sean Brock.  But one of the best reasons is this version of roast chicken.  I have roasted many chickens in my lifetime, but this is arguably the one I love the most.  It cooks very quickly.  It is broken down into 2 halves with the back bone removed, seared over high heat then finished in a hot oven.  The pan sauce with garlic and lemon that goes with it just gilds the lily.

Simply Roasted Chicken 3V

The house smelled of garlic, lemon and crisping chicken skin.  Although there were lots of splatters and heavy pots to contend with, it was well worth the mess.  I have learned over the years that the more you mess up your stove and work space, the better the results on the table.  It might be easier to open cans of already prepared sauces or broths, but the effort to make a dish from scratch is the way we were meant to eat.

Spring Blooms

The flowers of Spring are also reminders of the way things are supposed to be.  Renewal through Spring buds.  We are looking forward to returning to the season in the mountains of North Carolina.  We have a few more weeks in Florida; friends will be visiting next week and then we have to get the house ready for showings.  We are hoping that it will sell this Spring.

Simply Roasted Chicken 2

We really enjoyed this chicken.  Hope that you will give it a try.  Spring is in the air and we are thankful for the change in season.

 

CHICKEN SIMPLY ROASTED IN A SKILLET (Heritage by Sean Brock)

Garlic Confit:
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Chicken:
1 whole chicken (about 3 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil (or 1/4 cup if you brown the chicken in one pan)

Pan Sauce:
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves cut into very thin strips
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

For the Garlic Confit:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut two 12-inch squares of aluminum foil and lay one pice on top of the other.  Place the garlic cloves on the foil.  Sprinkle with the sugar, salt, and pepper.  Pour the olive oil over the garlic cloves.  Shape the foil into a pouch by bringing the edges of the foil together over the garlic and sealing them.  Flatten the bottom of the pouch so it will stay upright in the oven and place it on a baking sheet.  Roast the garlic for about 30 minutes, until the cloves are very soft but not falling apart.  Set the garlic aside in the pouch.  Leave the oven on.

For the Chicken:  Using kitchen shears, cut down along both sides of the backbone, then clip it out.  Cut the wings off at the first joint.  Split the chicken in half.  Use paper towels to dry the skin.  Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.  Place the chicken in a baking dish and let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Place two 12-inch cast-iron skillets over high heat.  When the skillets smoke, add 1/4 up of the canola oil to each.  (I fit the chicken into 1 skillet with 1/4 cup oil.)  As soon as the oil smokes, carefully add a half chicken to each skillet, skin side down.  (Or add to one skillet if they both fit).  Weight the chicken halves with another heavy skillet or pan so it stays flat and browns evenly.  Cook the chicken, with the weights on it, until the skin is crispy and evenly browned, 5 to 7 minutes.  Remove the weights.

Flip the chicken over, and place the skillet or skillets into the oven.  Roast the chicken for about 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 155 degrees F.  Place the chicken on plates to rest while you make the sauce.

For the Pan Sauce:  Combine the roasting juices and fats from both skillets into one;  set aside.  Place the other skillet or a saucepan if you used just one skillet on the stove over medium heat.  Pour 1 cup of the chicken stock into the skillet or saucepan and stir.  Bring to a gentle boil and cook to reduce by half, about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining cup of stock and set aside.

Place the skillet with the roasting juices over medium heat.  Sprinkle the flour evenly over the juices and gently whisk it in until there are no lumps.  Reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with the whisk; do not let the roux get too dark around the edge.  Whisk in the the chicken stock, making sure to fully emulsify it.  Increase the heat to high and bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-high and reduce the sauce until it coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.  Add the parsley, lemon zest and juice, and 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil from the pouch of garlic and whisk to combine.

To Complete;  Place the garlic and pan sauce over the chicken and enjoy.

Printable Recipe

Double Mustard/Cream Chicken Breasts

January 13th, 2016

Mustard Chicken 2

When something light but still decadent is desired, you can’t do better than a boneless chicken breast smothered with a double mustard cream sauce over baby arugula.  You might call this a juxtaposition of good and bad.  The goodness of lean chicken and vitamin packed baby arugula with the richness of alcohol spiked cream and mustard.

Mustard Chicken 1V

 

While visiting the family over the holidays, my DIL Kristen made a similar dish, sans the alcohol, for dinner one night.  It was amazing watching the children digging into the chicken.  The arugula was also slathered with the sauce and they ate every bit of it.  It is a great way to get your kids to eat vegetables.  We loved it too, so I did a Google search for something similar.  The Pioneer Woman came to the rescue.  Granted her version had a whole cup of brandy in it, as opposed to what Kristen made, but it was really, really good.  I ended up having to substitute Madeira and white wine instead of the brandy.  Inexplicably, the liqueur cabinet here in Florida held no brandy.

Mustard Chicken 3

Be sure to visit Ree’s site for a complete pictorial on how to make this great dish.  It couldn’t be easier.  On its own, this would make a great luncheon dish or a light supper.  Add sides for a more complete dinner.  Hope you give it a try.

The Four Seasons of Pasta

October 7th, 2015

 

Tuscany Countryside

 

Before we left for Italy I was sent an advance proof from the publisher of a new cookbook called The Four Seasons of Pasta by Nancy Harmon Jenkins and Sara Jenkins.  It was released this week.  Acclaimed food writer Nancy Jenkins (The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook ) teams up with her Master Chef daughter Sara, owner of two NY City restaurants (Porsena and Porchetta), to publish this unique book on pasta.  It focuses on fresh ingredients from the four seasons.  Dressing pasta with fresh ingredients results in dishes that celebrate this humble and readily available product.

Four Seasons of Pasta

When Nancy Jenkins first moved to Tuscany in the early 1970’s, she quickly embraced pasta.  Over the years, she and her daughter, while cooking in their Tuscan farmhouse, have been inspired by this “queen of the table” as described by true Italians.  Because it is Autumn, I decided to concentrate on that section of the cookbook.  It includes combinations like Pumpkin and Pumpkin Seed Maccheroncini, Pasta with Crumbled Sausage, Sage, and Winter Squash and Chestnut Ravioli with Brown Butter, Sage, and Fennel.  I chose to make their Zuppa di Pasta e Ceci (Rich Chicken Soup with Pasta and Chickpeas).  It also includes Tuscan kale, which is a great Fall green.

IMG_6593

For this Autumn recipe, it would be wise to make a rich, flavorful chicken stock.  But if you are short on time, a boxed chicken stock will also work.  The authors recommend dried chickpeas, but frankly, I used a can of chickpeas because time is limited right now.  And I am still suffering from jet lag. They also recommend adding diced chicken to the soup.  I roasted a chicken when we returned home yesterday because I was anxious to be cooking in my own kitchen again.  So the rest of that chicken went into the soup.

IMG_6591

We will be enjoying this soup tonight.  The weather has cooled.  We are glad to be home.  But Italy is an amazing country with inspiring cuisine.  There will be more posts about Italy soon.  I highly recommend this well researched cookbook from two  Italian authorities on all that Italy has to offer.  It was a treat to come home and make this easy authentic dish.

ZUPPA DI PASTA E CECI

6 cups Rich Chicken Stock
1 to 2 bunches fresh greens (I used kale)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon finely diced pancetta or thick, country-style bacon
1 garlic clove, lightly smashed with the flat blade of a knife
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cooked chickpeas, well drained (I used one can of chickpeas, drained)
1 cup pasta (small shapes are best, I used mini wheels)
1 dried red chili pepper, if desired
Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano, pecorino sardo, or other firm cheese

Bring the chicken stock slowly to a simmer over medium-low heat.

While the stock is heating, prepare the greens, stripping away the tough center stalks where necessary and slivering the leaves.  You will have 7 to 8 cups trimmed and slivered greens.

Combine the oil and pancetta in a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat.  Cook until the pancetta fat starts to run and the the little cubes begin to brown and  crisp.  Add the garlic and continue cooking, raising the heat slightly, until the garlic has browned on all sides.  Remove the garlic and set aside.  Add the greens to the pan with the water clinging to their leaves. (You may not be able to get all the greens in at once; let the early ones cook down a bit, then add another handful, and keep doing that until all the greens are in the pan.)  You may wish to add about 1/2 inch of boiling water to the pan to keep the greens from scorching.  Cook the greens until they are thoroughly limp, adding salt and pepper to taste.

By now the stock should be simmering.  Add the greens and pancetta to the stock.  You may add a tablespoon or so of liquid left in the bottom of the greens pan, but don’t add a lot more because it may darken the clear, rich color of the stock.  If your wish, chop the reserved garlic  clove and add it to the stock.  Stir in the chickpeas and pasta, along with as much or as little or the dried red chili as you wish. (Add the diced cooked chicken, if available, at this point.)  Let simmer until the pasta is done, 8 to 10 minutes.

Serve immediately, while the soup is hot.  Pass the grated parmigiano at the table.

Reprinted by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Nancy Harmon Jenkins and Sara Jenkins, 2015.

Printable Recipe

Pearl Barley Salad with Harrisa Chicken

August 5th, 2015

Pearl Barley Salad 1

When the weather gets too steamy, dinner inside becomes a haven of cool comfort.  But I still like to putter in the kitchen and a multiple step salad is the perfect solution.  All of the ingredients in this dish need your separate attention.  The broccoli needs to be blanched and put on ice.  The zucchini is sliced in long strips, cooked on a grill pan and then diced. The pearl barley needs to simmer until done.  The chicken needs to marinate a while in the fridge before placing on the grill pan to cook.  The almonds are best browned in a pan.  The rest of the work is just chopping and mixing.  But the end product is worth the effort.  Put on a little music, gaze at the hummingbird feeder outside your window occasionally, and enjoy the time spent.

Pearl Barley Salad 2

In my effort to try grains other than white rice, I found that pearl barley is a nutritious substitute.  It is rich in fiber and essential minerals.  I’m sure this salad would have been even better if I had the called for harrisa pasta in which to marinate the chicken.  Harrisa is a Moroccan paste made from hot peppers and spices. I plan to make this again when I can make it to a Middle Eastern market or my friendly Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.  Since it only called for 1 teaspoon, I felt safe in leaving it out this time.  I did add spices to my marinade to give the chicken some extra flavor.

Pearl Barley Salad 3 Close

This is a colorful salad with lots of flavor.  It is perfect for a quiet summer evening at home when you have time to chill out in the kitchen.

PEARL BARLEY SALAD WITH HARISSA-SPICED CHICKEN (Adapted from What Katie Ate by Katie Quinn Davies )

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast fillet, cut into thirds lengthways
1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds
1 cup pearl barley
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 head broccoli, broken into florets
1 zucchini, trimmed and cut lengthways into then strips
3 scallions, trimmed and finely sliced
1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
large handful arugula or other greens to scatter over top

Marinade:
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon store-bought harissa paste
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch sea salt

To make the marinade, place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.  Put the chicken into a shallow container and pour the marinade over, making sure the chicken is well coated.  Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, place almonds in a small saute pan and cook over medium heat shaking occasionally until almonds are browned.  Set aside.

Place the pearl barley in a saucepan and cover with 3 cups cold water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 35 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water, then set aside in a bowl to cool slightly.  Place the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil and some black pepper in a small bowl and whisk together, the pour this mixture over the pearl barley, stir to coat and set aside.

Cook the broccoli in a saucepan of simmering water for 2-3 minutes, then drain and plunge immediately into a bowl of iced water.  Drain again and set aside.

Brush each side of the zucchini strips with a little olive oil.  Heat a skillet or grill pan and cook the zucchini strips on both sides until light golden-brown.  Leave to cool slightly before dicing finely.

In the same grill pan over medium high heat cook the chicken with its excess marinade for 10 to 12 minutes or until the chicken is caramelized on the outside and cooked through and the marinade is bubbling.  Remove the chicken and juces an set aside, covered, to rest for 5 minutes before slicing each chicken strip very thinly.

Place the chicken, almonds, pearl barley, broccoli, zucchini, scallions, and tomatoes into a large bowl and mix thoroughly to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Scatter with arugula leaves and serve.

Printable Recipe

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