Posts Tagged ‘onions’

Chicken Cacciatore

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

For David’s birthday this year, we had quite a feast. Normally, we spend Wednesday nights watching Glee, (and by “we,” I mean my friends and I, not David. He’s not a fan.) which means that our dinners on Wednesdays are usually more of the quick-and-easy variety than other nights of the week.

Rather than the typical simple fare, I tried for something a little fancier. We sat at the table, for one. Opened a bottle of wine, and had this pasta dish and garlic bread. Finally, topped it all off with Coconut Cake, which you’ll be hearing more about tomorrow. All in all, I think David was happy with his birthday dinner. It did make me wish that we’d do that kind of thing more often.

Pasta was an easy choice when planning a dinner for David, but I wanted to try something new, AND pick something he’d especially like, which is how I ended up with Chicken Cacciatore. Veggies (mostly peppers and onions) and tomato sauce and pasta–I knew he would be a fan. The sauce was made with balsamic and red wine, both of which David loves. It was a natural choice.

Chicken Cacciatore

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 breast halves)
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow pepper, chopped
  • 3 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cups red wine
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 29 oz canned stewed tomatoes, Italian-style
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning (Ours is the Little Italy NYC-Style, from the Spice House)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, snipped
  • 1 13.5 oz box whole wheat spaghetti

Directions:

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Add olive oil and heat. Add chicken breasts and cook over medium heat until browned and juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side.

Add onions, pepper and garlic to skillet. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 2 minutes.

Stir in wine, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve over cooked pasta.

Note: I thought this was good, and I’m sure we’ll make it again. I did add a tiny bit of sugar at the end, to balance out some of the acidity in the sauce. David and I liked this because we really like balsamic, but if you aren’t a fan, I wouldn’t recommend this recipe. Also, I skipped the mushrooms for David, but I think they’d be very tasty in this dish.

Smashed-Down Potatoes with Bacon and Cheese

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

This is one of those recipes that’s so bad for you, you know it’s going to be amazing. It’s a fried potato side dish from Guy Fieri, topped with crispy bacon, shredded Parmesan cheese, and a tangy sour cream topping. The best part is that it starts with whole baby yukon gold potatoes, which are boiled and then smashed down into the best of both worlds: a flat potato that crisps up all around the edges, but with a smooth, creamy, almost mashed-potato texture at the center.

Smashed-Down Potatoes with Bacon & Cheese
Adapted from Guy’s Big Bite

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons white wine
  • 3 pounds baby Yukon potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 3/4 pound bacon, diced
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan (freshly grated, no green cans!)

In small mixing bowl combine sour cream, mustard, and white wine. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In large stock pot cover potatoes with water and add 2 tablespoons salt. Set heat on high and boil until fork tender.

In a large saute pan over medium heat cook bacon and saute onions until caramelized. Transfer bacon and onions from pan on to a paper towel to absorb grease. Distribute evenly on a platter and keep warm. Leave remaining fat in pan.

When potatoes are fork tender, drain, and with a clean kitchen towel, palm smash the hot potatoes to approximately 1/3-inch thick.

Reheat fat in saute pan and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Heat to oil medium heat and place potatoes in oil. Season with salt and pepper and brown on both sides, then transfer to onion and bacon platter. Repeat, adding more oil, until all potatoes are cooked crispy.

Top potatoes with Parmesan and then with sour cream mixture.

Note: Be sure to keep an eye on the potatoes–I didn’t have any trouble the first time I made this recipe, but this time, I think I let them go a little too long. These had a tendancy to start to crumble when I smashed them, which made it harder to fry the smashed-down potatoes intact.

Adobo Potatoes

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

This recipe is so simple, it almost doesn’t deserve to be called a recipe. These are the potatoes I made with the barbecue pork sandwiches. The potatoes were super-easy–but despite so little effort were surprisingly delicious.

I’m not kidding when I said the recipe was simple, I just checked, and it’s so basic I could twitter it:

Recipe: Oil & Onions in pan over med. heat, saute. Add butter, red pot. wedges, Adobo seas. Cook until tender. Add Italian seas. Serve. Yum!

There’s your potato recipe in 140 characters…feel free to ReTweet. 🙂 Of course, if you’re looking for a little more guidance, keep reading.

The basic idea for the recipe actually came from The Spice House website. In addition to the awesome spice blends that I talked about in my post earlier this week, the Spice House website includes ideas and recipes for each spice, herb blend, and seasoning that they sell. I found this recipe for Adobo Potatoes while writing my post about our shopping trip to the Old Town location.

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Adobo Potatoes
Adapted from The Spice House website.

I’ve linked to the original recipe above, but here’s how I made them:

  • 1/2 cups sliced onions (you could skip these, if you wanted)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 package of Simply Potatoes red potato wedges, unseasoned (They’re in the refrigerated section of your grocery store)
  • 2 teaspoons Adobo Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning

1. In a large non-stick skillet, saute onions in olive oil over medium heat until they begin to soften. Add butter and potatoes and stir, so that the potatoes are coated in the oil and butter mixture. Sprinkle with Adobo Seasoning. Cover, and continue cooking over medium heat until the potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally, so that the potatoes brown evenly.

2. Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning. Mix to combine and serve.

Note: I know, it’s not complicated, and it doesn’t seem like much–but they were very tasty. There was a lot of “Mmm! Those ARE good!” going on in the kitchen that night.

P.S. What do we call a recipe on twitter? A Twecipe? Twrecipe? Tweetipe? Ridiculous? Take the poll!

If recipes via twitter were actually a thing, what would they be called?

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Company Pot Roast

Monday, February 16th, 2009

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, we had a big family dinner at our place a couple of weekends ago. The centerpiece of that meal was Ina Garten’s Company Pot Roast from the Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook. I am obsessed with this cookbook. I want to make everything I see–it just can’t be helped. The pictures are literally mouth-watering, and everything I’ve made so far has turned out picture perfect and delicious. (Well, except the fish, but that was our fault. We don’t like fish. The fish eater among us liked it a lot).

This pot roast recipe was more of the same. A tasty, elegant spin on a classic dish, with simple instructions and awesome results. The only change I made was that I used my slow-cooker, instead of hogging my oven all day. What can I say? I had cakes to bake, and rolls to make, and I needed my oven. The slow cooker worked well, and I don’t think it took anything away from the dish.

Company Pot Roast
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics cookbook.

  • 1 (4- to 5-pound) boneless beef chuck roast, tied
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 2 cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
  • 2 cups chopped leeks (2 to 4 leeks)
  • 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 cups good red wine, such as Burgundy (I used 1 1/2 cups of Cotes de Rhone and 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar)
  • 2 T. Cognac or brandy
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes in puree
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 3 branches fresh thyme
  • 2 branches fresh rosemary
  • 1 T. butter, room temp.

Pat beef dry and season all over with 1 T. salt and 1 1/2 tsp. pepper. Dredge entire roast in flour, including ends. In large, deep skillet (or dutch oven), heat 2 T. olive oil over medium heat. Add roast and sear for 4-5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn and sear other side and then sear the ends. This should take 4-5 minutes for each side. Remove roast to large plate.

Add 2 T. olive oil to the skillet. Add carrots, onions, celery, leeks, garlic, 1 T. salt and 1 1/2 tsp. pepper and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the wine and Cognac and bring to a boil. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, bouillon cube, 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Tie thyme and rosemary together with kitchen string and add to pot. Put roast back into pot, bring to boil and cover. Transfer to slow cooker on high for 4-6 hours until meat is fork tender or about 160 degrees internally.

Remove roast to cutting board. Remove the herb bundle and discard. Skim off as much fat as possible from the sauce. Transfer half the sauce and vegetables to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. (I used my immersion blender). Pour the puree back into the pot, place on stove top over low heat, and return to a simmer. Place 2 T. flour and the butter in a small bowl and mash them together with a fork. Stir into sauce and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring until thickened. Taste for seasonings. Remove strings from roast and slice meat. Serve warm with the sauce spooned over it.

Note: One of the best things about doing this in the slow cooker (aside from freeing up my oven for other ventures) was that I was also able to make the sauce ahead of time. We made the sauce as listed above, and then put the roast and the sauce back into the crockpot until it was time for dinner. Gravy/Sauce making is always a little bit stressful, and at Thanksgiving, was the part that everyone ended up waiting for, so I was glad to have that task done and out of the way. I served this pot roast with mashed potatoes, using the tasty sauce as gravy. It would probably be just as good served over noodles–just comes down to personal preference, I think.

Spicy Taco Burgers with Pico de Gallo

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

The idea for this burger came to me during a discussion about Mexican Risotto and Chorizo. Aside from the Mexican Risotto, my family uses Chorizo as the basis for our taco meat, and has for years. It adds a heat and a flavor that you won’t find in any spice packet. I was trying to think of something new I could make, and that’s when the idea of the taco burger came to me. The burger is made with a combination of Chorizo and ground beef. We topped these burgers with homemade pico de gallo, cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, and a little bit of sour cream in place of the traditional ketchup/mustard/pickles. And the results were pretty tasty.

Taco Burgers

For burgers:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb mexican Chorizo
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 1/2 inch chunks of sharp cheddar cheese.

For toppings:

1. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the first four ingredients and then season with salt and pepper. Mix with your hands until the ground beef and chorizo have thoroughly mixed. Let rest for about 15 minutes, to let the flavors meld. (I used this time to prepare the pico de gallo and other toppings)

2. Cut a portion of the cheese into 1/2 inch thick chunks, about the size of two postage stamps across.

3. Begin to form patties from the hamburger mixture, pressing a chunk of cheese into the center of each patty and then molding the patty around it so that the cheese forms the center of the burger.

4. Divide the meat mixture into 8 equal sized patties and cook the burgers. These could be grilled, if you use clean, oiled grill grates to avoid sticking, but here in Chicago, in January, I cooked these on the stove, using our grill pan. (Similar to the one you see here). It took about 8 minutes on each side to cook these burgers thoroughly. I lightly oiled the grill pan, to avoid sticking. Remember, the Chorizo is pork, and needs to be cooked through completely–longer than you might cook your burgers normally. You won’t overcook the beef, though. The spicy pork sausage brings plenty of moisture to the burger.

5. Serve on toasted buns with pico de gallo or salsa, shredded lettuce, cheese, and sour cream.

Note: These flavors were really, really good. I had a little bit of a problem with the burgers holding together in the cooking process. I believe I could fix that next time by using something to bind them–right now, I’m imagining a little bit of egg and tortilla chips crushed to crumbs in the food processor instead of bread crumbs. Even with the burgers threatening to crumble at the edges, they were still delicious and pretty simple to make. I’ll definitely be trying these again.

P.S. I know I’ve used it here before, but remember, Chorizo is a spicy mexican sausage. You can get it in most regular grocery stores, usually in the meat case with other sausages. It brings a salty flavor to the dish, so go easy on the salt. Spanish style chorizo is also available at some stores, but for this, you want the mexican style. The Spanish Chorizo is cured and smoked, and has a pepperoni-like texture. Mexican Chorizo is an entirely different thing.

“Recipe” for Pico de Gallo

The word “recipe” is in quotes because this is more of a method than a true recipe. Pico is one of those things that can be “right” twelve different ways, and is really dependent on how you want it to taste. So here’s what I did, and feel free to make adjustments to the amount of ingredients as you go.

  • 4 roma tomatoes, diced and seeded
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small jalapeno, finely diced
  • 1-2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1-2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine tomatoes, onion, and 1/2 of the jalapeno in a small mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of lime juice and fresh cilantro. Mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for about 3-5 minutes to let the flavors meld, and then taste again. Add more lime juice, cilantro, or jalapeno, as desired. Sometimes, a pinch of sugar (1/4 teaspoon) can help to tone down the acidity of winter tomatoes.

Note: I skipped the jalapeno. If you like spicy, add as much as you like.

French Onion Soup

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

As I’ve said before, Alton Brown is usually our first stop when looking to make a classic dish for the first time. This post is mostly about David’s adventures in French Onion Soup, since he is the one who likes french onion soup, wanted to make french onion soup, and received a Christmas gift of soup crocks for the sole purpose of making french onion soup.

I, personally, am not a big fan of onions. I used to avoid them altogether, but now I can use them sparingly and pick around them. I don’t even mind the flavor of them, most times. I would say that I’m growing into them. I can certainly get behind the traditional cheesy crouton topping on french onion soup.  Still, onion soup is a lot of onions. So this one was all David.

A month or so ago, David set out to make french onion soup. He watched the appropriate episode of Good Eats, printed out the recipe from Food Network, bought Mayan Sweet onions, Italian Fontina, and our favorite sourdough bread at Costco, and was all ready to make them, until we realized that our Corningware ramekins weren’t safe to use under the broiler. That disappointment made broiler-safe soup bowls the perfect Christmas gift for David.

Shopping on behalf of my grandmother, I purchased four soup crocks for David the weekend after Thanksgiving, and they’ve been wrapped up under the tree ever since. Of course, in the spirit of Christmas, I didn’t mention them, and David’s desire for french onion soup waned. That is, until David and I went out with my parents for dinner at a fancy-pants steakhouse, and David ordered their Baked 5 Onion Soup as a starter. My mom, who had been shopping with me after Thanksgiving, turned to David while he was eating his soup and said “How did you like your little soup things?”

A week before Christmas.

With the proverbial cat out of the bag, David began looking forward to making his own french onion soup. Fast forward to the week after Christmas. Soup crocks in hand, David got everything together to make French Onion Soup yesterday, and this time, it was a success.

Alton Brown’s French Onion Soup
Makes about 8 bowls of soup

Ingredients

  • 5 sweet onions (like Vidalias) or a combination of sweet and red onions (about 4 pounds) (We used Mayan Sweet, and they were very sweet)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups white wine (we used a dry chardonnay)
  • 10 ounces canned beef consume
  • 10 ounces chicken broth
  • 10 ounces apple cider (unfiltered is best) (We used organic apple juice, because cider wasn’t available)
  • Bouquet garni; thyme sprigs, bay leaf and parsley tied together with kitchen string
  • 1 loaf country style bread (We used Boudin sourdough bread)
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Splash of Cognac (optional) (We used brandy)
  • 1 cup Fontina or Gruyere cheese grated (We chose Fontina, yum!)

Directions

Trim the ends off each onion then halve lengthwise. Remove peel and finely slice into half moon shapes. Set electric skillet to 300 degrees and add butter. We do not have an electric skillet, and did not buy one just for this recipe. This step worked just fine in a stock pot on the stove over medium-low heat. Once butter has melted add a layer of onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Repeat layering onions and salt until all onions are in the skillet. Do not try stirring until onions have sweated down for 15 to 20 minutes. After that, stir occasionally until onions are dark mahogany and reduced to approximately 2 cups. This should take 45 minutes to 1 hour. Do not worry about burning.

Add enough wine to cover the onions and turn heat to high, reducing the wine to a syrup consistency. Add consume, chicken broth, apple cider and bouquet garni. Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.

Place oven rack in top 1/3 of oven and heat broiler.

Cut country bread in rounds large enough to fit mouth of oven safe soup crocks. Place the slices on a baking sheet and place under broiler for 1 minute.

Season soup mixture with salt, pepper and cognac. Remove bouquet garni and ladle soup into crocks leaving one inch to the lip. Place bread round, toasted side down, on top of soup and top with grated cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbly and golden, 1 to 2 minutes.

Note: As I said, I don’t like onions. However, this soup was quite good. It had a rich, flavorful broth, and the one slice of onion I ate tasted fine. I guess. For an onion. It was mostly mental at that point, really, because the soup was good. I especially like the part where it’s topped with a tasty crouton and melty, bubbly cheese. I love cheese.

I bet we’ll make this again. I know David enjoyed it, and I liked the broth well enough to dip my roast beef panini (my backup, in the event that I didn’t care for onion soup) in it. I thought that this version tasted better than the one at Morton’s, actually. The flavors of David’s soup were a little more layered and complex than the Five Onion Soup, and David’s was definitely sweeter.