Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chicken and Riesling

I have to admit that I love it when the temperature starts to dip down into the 30s. When I get home from work I put on my "play clothes," as Vivi calls them—an old wool sweater, a pair of jeans, and slippers—and flip through the recipe files for a quick and easy stew or braise. I found a Mark Bittman recipe for chicken and Riesling—coq au vin but with white wine. It seemed so easy to make: cook down some onions in oil, add chicken pieces, wine, season and cook for an hour. Fred thought it sounded like boiled chicken, so I adapted it by browning the chicken in oil first, then sauteing the onions with some carrots, garlic and little fresh thyme. Added the wine and cooked it down a little, returned the chicken and juices to the pot and cooked it for 40 minutes. I swirled a pat of butter through right before pouring it over egg noodles. Perfection. And the best part: Vivi even tried a little and didn't say she didn't like it. I take that as a complement.

Here's the "recipe":

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs
(I got mine from Fleischer's in Kingston, NY. I think they were the best thighs I've ever eaten!)
1 medium onion sliced
1 medium carrot sliced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 clove of garlic
2 cups Riesling
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper.

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a glug of olive oil in a dutch oven or heavy pot. Brown chicken in oil, about three minutes per side, or until browned a little.
3. Remove chicken from pan and cover with foil to keep warm. Saute onion and carrot for about five minutes. Add thyme, salt and pepper. Cook another minute or two.
4. Add the wine and cook for about three minutes.
5. Return the chicken to pot, give it a swirl, cover and cook for about 30 minutes.
6. Stir the pat of butter through the sauce and pour over noodles or rice.

This type of dish is really just a matter of putting a piece of meat or chicken in a pot with some aromatics and a liquid in a pot. Play with what you have in the fridge (I had some mushrooms, so I threw those in for the last three minutes) and see what comes of it. You really can't go wrong.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I can't believe it's November

It's been a while since I've posted. Since then, I've harvested the garden and baked zucchini bread and made homemade salsa. But it seems strange to post about end of summer foods as the temperature hovers around 50 degrees and I dream about making stews and roasts.

Since Halloween was last week, I figured I would get back into the swing of blogging again with a simple cookie recipe that Vivi and I made. We spent the holiday upstate this year and didn't want to forget about all the kids in our apartment building in NYC. So we made goodie bags of candy, tucked a homemade cookie in each, and tied them together with tags made with the cookie cutters as stencils. We did a little ring and run throughout the building (trick!) and dropped off the sweets (treat!).

Here are the recipes (courtesy of the All New Good Housekeeping Cookbook):

Classic Sugar Cookies

3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. In separate large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat butter and sugar until blended. On high speed, beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. On low speed, beat in eggs and vanilla, then flour mixture just until blended, scraping bowl with rubber spatula.
Divide dough into 4 equal pieces; flatten each into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or freeze for 2 hours..
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll 1 piece of dough to 1/4-inch thickness; keep remaining dough cold. With floured 3- to 4-inch cookie cutters, cut dough into as many cookies as possible; reserve trimmings. Place cookies, 1 inch apart, on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake until edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool. Repeat with remaining dough and trimmings.
When cookies are cool, decorate cookies with the frosting. Allow frosting to dry, about 1 hour.

Ornamental Frosting
1 package(s) (16-ounce) confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoon(s) meringue powder (see note)
1/3 cup(s) warm water
Assorted food colorings

In bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat first three ingredients until blended and mixture is so stiff that knife drawn through it leaves a clean-cut path, about 5 minutes.
Tint frosting with food colorings as desired.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

locavore dinner

I've been reading Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, about the year she and her family spent eating only local foods. I thought about doing it for the month of August, but then got distracted by work and vacations and all that the end of summer brings (hello Dutchess County Fair--I don't think that fried dough was locally sourced!). We did, however, manage to have at least one dinner this summer that was totally local: the steaks and corn came from Willow Brook Farm in Copake, the peas came from our garden. It was delicious and really made us think about where our food comes from.

It's a serious commitment to live a completely locavore lifestyle. But it isn't very hard to pay closer attention to how our food is sourced. Living in a farm community makes it a little easier for us, and growing vegetables ourselves made it much easier. I've started thinking about next year's garden all ready, and part of the planning involves really trying to feed my family for at least a few months from the garden without having to run to the market every other day. We'll keep up the Saturday trip to the farmer's market to get fruits and those veggies that we aren't growing, and also to keep up with the neighbors and help support the local farmers.

It's been amazing watching Vivian interact at the farmer's market and at the farms we've visited this summer. She is becoming aware of where her food comes from and that the chicken she petted at the farm will become someones dinner, and the cute lamb in the field will have the same fate. She asks questions of us and of the farmers, most of them leaning toward the gruesome: "did you chop his head off?" "did the blood go all over the place?" But I'm happy that she's thinking about it. Fred and I joke that she may become a vegetarian one day, but more likely she'll want to go to the slaughterhouse to see how her food was prepared. I haven't gotten to that point yet, but am working towards it. If I can raise a 5 year old who thinks about where and how her food was grown and slaughtered then I think we're moving in the right direction.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A most refreshing treat

Nothing beats the heat better than an ice cold treat. And nothing brings a smile to a little girl's face faster than a frozen pop.

When I worked at Cookie, we did a web story about frozen fruit pops, and I tested these raspberry yogurt pops. It was a big hit for the adults and the little girl last year that I had to make them again this summer. And I have to confess that when the temperature was 85 degrees at 8 in the morning, these became breakfast! C'mon it's just yogurt and fruit.

Here's the recipe (courtesy of Susan Ott and cookiemag.com):

Raspberry-Lime-Swirl Pop
Makes 4 pops
16 ounces low-fat or nonfat vanilla yogurt, preferably Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
8 ounces fresh or thawed frozen raspberries
4 tablespoons granulated sugar

1. In a blender or food processor, puree the yogurt with 1 tablespoon of the lime juice until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.

2. In the blender or food processor (no need to clean), puree the raspberries with the remaining lime juice and sugar. Pass the puree through a fine sieve to remove the seeds; you should have about 1/2 cup. (Don't skip this step. You don't want seeds in your pops.)

3. Pour the yogurt mixture and the berry puree in layers into 4 large popsicle molds or 8-ounce cups. Using a wooden Popsicle stick, swirl the layers together. Insert sticks, then freeze the pops for at least 6 hours, or until they're solid.

To unmold the pop: Run warm water over the bottom three-quarters of the mold. Let it stand for 10 seconds (if you can wait that long!), then gently pull out the pop. Serve immediately or wrap each pop individually in plastic wrap and freeze until ready to serve.
The Popsicles will keep, wrapped and frozen, for at least one week.


The last of the peas

We grabbed the last big batch of the peas before heading back to the city (even though it seemed like a lot of pods, it turned out to be about half pound of actual peas). Pea plants don't like really hot weather, so we lost some pods during the last few weeks of steamy temperatures. I also got most of my plants in the garden late, so we are enjoying peas about two months after their traditional harvest.

I wanted to make a fresh pea puree, and I saw some scallops at the market and thought the two would be perfect together. I had no idea it would be as easy to make as it was. Fred found a recipe for the puree on epicurious.com. It called for curried scallops, but we went in a more purist route: pan seared with salt and pepper.

This is how we made it (adapted from epicurious.com)

about half pound of fresh peas
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 scallion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 pounds sea scallops, tough ligament removed from side of each (about 9 or 10 scallops)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. Simmer peas on stovetop with water for about 6 minutes (do not drain). Add butter, scallions, lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a coarse purée with an imersion blender. Don't puree for too long, keep it a little lumpy for texture.

2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot, then sauté scallops, turning once, until browned and just cooked through, about 5 minutes.

3. Put a scoop of the puree on each plate and top with the scallops. Give it a little squeeze of lime right before serving.

Summer porn

Do I really need to say anything about this? I think the picture sums it up: the bounty of summer. A fresh tomato sliced with salt, pepper and a basil leaf. I love August.

Friday, July 23, 2010

braised radishes

Well the radishes in the garden are pretty much done. OMG, did we grow too many of those things. Fred suggested that we not grow them next year, and I had to agree. Although the peppery bite is tasty, there is a limit to how many radishes two people can consume.

Eating them raw with butter and salt didn't turn to be as exciting as we had hoped, so we turned to braising them. A farmer at the Millerton Farmer's Market suggested this, so I found the recipe at thekitchen.com. A combination of shallots and balsamic vinegar make this really delicious. The vinegar cooks down to a syrupy consistency while the shallots caramelize, and the radishes lose some of their strong, peppery flavor. This is definitely a grown up dish. Not really the flavors that most kids would like.

Now that the radishes are done we've moved on to the other spring vegetable that we are harvesting in the middle of summer: peas. I plan to pick a bunch this weekend and make a simple pasta of peas with mint and some sort of cheese. Feta? Goat? Not sure yet.