CHICKEN IN GREEN PIPIAN SAUCE, SOUS-VIDE STYLE

This classic Mexican recipe was featured in Marcela Valladolid‘s show on Food TV, Mexican Made Easy. It pairs a delicious sauce of cooked tomatillos and pumpkin seeds with boneless chicken breasts.  I decided to adapt her recipe for sous-vide cooking, and was very happy with the outcome.  The meat ended up perfectly cooked, not a hint of dryness.  The sauce is simply to die for, if you are a vegetarian, skip the bird, but make the sauce. Roasted cauliflower would be amazing paired with a little pipian…

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CHICKEN SOUS-VIDE WITH GREEN PIPIAN SAUCE
(adapted from Marcela’s Mexican Made Easy)

for the chicken:
4 boneless chicken breasts
4 little pats of butter (probably ok to skip it)
1 large lemon, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the sauce:
1 + 1/4 cup green pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 Serrano chile, stemmed
1/2 medium white onion, roughly chopped
1 + 1/2 cups chicken broth, warmed (I used a lot less)
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, place them in sealable plastic bags, add a tiny pat of butter and a few slices of lemon over each breast. Seal the bags. Place in the water-bath set at

While the chicken cooks, prepare the sauce (can be made a couple of days in advance). Preheat a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot. Toast the pumpkin seeds, stirring constantly, until they have expanded and begin to pop, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a plate to cool. Reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish.

In a medium, heavy saucepan, simmer the tomatillos, Serrano and onions in salted water to cover until the tomatillos turn a dark green color, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatillos, Serrano and onions to a blender and puree with the chicken broth, cilantro, sugar and toasted pumpkin seeds until smooth (the sauce will be a little coarse). Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, slice the chicken crosswise on the bias. Transfer to a serving plate. Spoon the green pipian sauce on top and garnish with the reserved toasted pumpkin seeds.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

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Comments: I am having a great time with my Anova sous-vide gadget. Most recipes I tried were big hits, a few disappointed me, but isn’t that true for any type of cooking?  You cannot win them all. For boneless chicken breasts, it is hard to come up with a better cooking method. I included butter in the bag, but it would probably be just as nice and tender without it. With sous-vide, you will never get the beauty of grill marks or that copper, enticing tone that roasting or broiling would offer.  But, in a recipe such as this one, in which the meat will be served under a sauce, the cosmetic aspect will be taken care of.  Imagine a very delicately poached chicken, boosted with the flavor of a spicy sauce with the crunchy pepitas on top: Mexican heaven, in sous-vide form! No sous-vide around?  Check Marcela’s original recipe using a regular oven.  I am sure it will be amazing too…

ONE YEAR AGO: Classic Shrimp Gobernador Tacos (another Marcela Valladolid’s recipe!)

TWO YEARS AGO: A Walk Towards the Sunset

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Heavenly Home-made Fromage Blanc

FIVE YEARS AGO:  A Perfect Sunday Dinner

THE HEART OF BRAZILIAN COOKING

Heart of palm (palmito) is perhaps not appreciated enough outside Brazil, but back home people love it in many types of preparations: pies, pastéis, filling for pasta, and in its purest form: “salada de palmito“.  Let’s practice those words now, by repeating after me four or five times. Ready?   ;-)
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I’ve always been quite fond of a simple salad along the lines of this one pairing fresh, juicy tomatoes with slices of heart of palm, often adding black olives for color contrast and that boost of brine flavor.  But, a few weeks ago Denise, a Brazilian blogger who lives in the US shared her take on salada de palmito, and I knew I had to make it right away.  Denise blogs exclusively on Brazilian recipes, so if you want to learn more about my home country cooking, stop by her blog, and enjoy the tropical ride!

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HEART OF PALM SALAD SKEWERS
(adapted from Denise’s blog, From Brazil to You)

for the skewers:
6 heart of palm stalks, cut each stalk in half or thirds
8 grape tomatoes
Arugula or spring mix leaves, or any green of your choice
fresh parsley leaves for decoration

for the Lemon-Za’tar Dressing:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon agave nectar
a good pinch of za’tar
salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the salad, assemble 4 salad skewers by inserting and alternating heart of palm chunks, grape tomatoes, salad greens of your choice.

Once skewers are assembled, chill in refrigerator for about 30 minutes, covered with a wet paper towel. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients together well until obtaining a thick and homogeneous dressing.

Drizzle the heart of palm salad skewers with the dressing, and serve sprinkling parsley leaves on top.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

A little trivia about this post: recipe found on May 14th; enjoyed on May 17th; blogged on July 17th. 

Comments:  This was such a fun way to serve heart of palm! You can change it around in many ways, adding red onion chunks (like Denise recommends in her post), or black olives, maybe roasted zucchini slices. I can even envision some grilled halloumi cheese, making it a “Brazil meets Greece” version.

The lemony, acidic flavor of za’tar makes it a great addition to salad dressings. I added a touch of agave nectar to mellow things a little, but you should play with this basic vinaigrette idea and change it to suit your taste.

Denise, thanks for keeping Brazilian food always in my mind, every new post brings a smile to my face, and a sense of nostalgia for foods of my childhood.

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 This post had been scheduled for a while, but just a couple of days before going live, I learned that Denise got a very well-deserved prize: her blog was chosen as one of 50 of the best Mom-blogs!  You can read all about it here.  Denise, you deserve all the recognition, I am thrilled for you!

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ONE YEAR AGO: Potluck Frittata and Lavoisier

TWO YEARS AGO: Home-made Corn Tortillas

THREE YEARS AGO: Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Peanut Sauce

FOUR YEARS AGO: Brigadeiros: A Brazilian Party!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Lemony Asparagus

 

OUR WORK IN THE NEWS!

Our latest publication in the Journal of General Physiology, made the cover of the magazine, and also got us a press-release online… We are thrilled!  

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For the press-release, click here.

“If we can understand exactly how this acquisition process works, we can design, isolate or identify small molecules that inhibit the iron uptake process. Those are potentially antimicrobial agents that could protect people and animals against bacterial disease.”

 (Phillip Klebba, Professor and Head of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Kansas State University)

WHITE CHOCOLATE MACADAMIA NUT COOKIES

I think I should add a new category to my recipes: PLEASE MAKE ME! This one would go right in, without a shadow of a doubt.  Of course, if you are part of the team that hates white chocolate and rather goes for statements like “it’s not real chocolate“, and “any chocolate connoisseur should walk away from such abnormality“… then, maybe these cookies are not for you.  I am not 100% sure, though.  Something about the marriage between white chocolate and macadamia nuts might shake the convictions of even the most stubborn anti-white chocolate being. Please make these. As Mel described them in her post: these are absolute perfection.

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WHITE CHOCOLATE MACADAMIA NUT COOKIES

(from Mel’s Kitchen)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 ounces white chocolate chips
1 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until the mixture is well-combined.

Add the vanilla and eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy and light in color, 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the flour, salt and soda and mix until just combined; a few streaks of flour remaining are not a problem.

Add the white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts and mix until combined and no streaks of flour remain.

Roll tablespoon (or slightly larger) size balls of dough and place on silpat or parchment lined baking sheets, 1 to 2 inches apart.

Bake for 9-11 minutes.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Growing up, I did not like nuts.  In those days, back in Brazil, they were awfully expensive, something reserved for special occasions, which in our family meant…. December, with Christmas and New Year’s Eve on the horizon.  My Dad would buy walnuts and pecans, still in their shells, and every evening after dinner, would sit at the sofa, patiently cracking them, one at a time. He loved to show off and crack them karate style, much to my Mom’s despair, as pieces of shell would fly everywhere, and sometimes his hand would be hurt in the process.  He never admitted to being hurt, instead acted as if he felt no pain whatsoever. If a nut resisted his blows, he would walk to the door that separated the living room from my bedroom, wedge the nut between the frame and the door, and crack it by attempting to shut the door close. Mom would not approve of that either, as it makes a royal mess on the floor.  As you can see, anything but a real nut cracker was part of the game. Not that we did not have one, I vividly remember a beautiful silver gadget sitting over the table, neglected to a minor decorative role.  Go figure.  Dad probably thought that nut crackers were for sissies. After all that hard work, he would dig chunky pieces of walnuts from the shell, and offer me. Silly child that I was, I promptly twisted my nose.

But now that I am older and wiser, I find myself in love with every single type of nut, oddly enough maybe the Brazil nut is the one I like the least. But macadamia, pistachios, walnuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts… love them all!  Roasted, salted, raw, in sweets, in sauces, in pestos… Dad would be proud.

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Make these cookies sooner rather than later…

 ONE YEAR AGO: Cilantro-Jalapeno “Hummus”

TWO YEARS AGO: A Moving Odyssey (has it been two years already?)

THREE YEARS AGO:
  Hoegaarden Beer Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO:
 Ancho-Chile Marinade: Pleased to Meat you!
 

FIVE YEARS AGO: Shrimp Moqueca

OH, MY GOD! I THINK I SAW SOMETHING….

At the end of a beautiful Summer night we were sitting at the kitchen island chatting about our  day. From the corner of my eye I see something.

“Oh, my God!  I think I saw a mouse!”.

“No, you didn’t”.

(That type of remark never fails to hit a nerve)

“What do you mean, no I didn’t?” 

“You really think you did? Where?”

“From under the stove, I think it ran and passed through the air conditioning vent at the bottom of the cabinet”

composite4(Phil – reluctantly, I must add – gets up and inspects the vent)

“There is NO WAY a mouse can pass through THAT. Don’t worry, you didn’t see anything”

 (I wasn’t particularly thrilled, but accepted that maybe it was all part of my vivid imagination)

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 TWENTY MINUTES LATER….

I get up to grab a glass of water in the fridge.  I know, I know, it’s always me. Never anyone else.

A gray mouse dashes between me and the fridge, and hides behind the trash can.

 (Insert high-pitched scream here)

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You see? You see? I TOLD YOU!  Why don’t you EVER BELIEVE ME?  You think I’m some kind of a Drama Queen, don’t you? So there you have it: THERE WAS A MOUSE ALL ALONG!  We’ve probably been living with this monster for months, maybe there is more than one, maybe there is a whole family, but NOOOOOO, “you didn’t see a mouse, Sally”.

“Ok, ok, I am sorry. We do have a mouse. I tell you what, let’s get the dogs to take care of him”.

So we devised this perfect plan.  First, Phil stood by the trash can with a broom ready in case the creature decided to run away.  Then, doing my best to stop shaking, I locked Chief in his cage, and brought Oscar and Buck to the war zone. I was actually quite optimistic,  having witnessed more than once Buck retrieving and killing snakes in our backyard.

“Ready boys? Ready boys? There’s a mouse, there’s a mouse, GO GET IT!”

(Phil moves the trash can. No action, apart from my preemptive screaming)

“Where IS the mouse?”

“I don’t know, maybe it went inside the trash can, let’s see”

“NOOOOOOOOOOO!  Don’t open it here, if the mouse jumps out I WILL have a heart attack and die, I SWEAR I WILL. You simply cannot open it here. How can you even CONSIDER doing that?

(I think the husband sighed)

“OK, FINE!  I will carry it all the way to the garage and open it there if that makes you happy.”

I did not care for his tone a bit, but was too terror-stricken to let him have a piece of my mind. Plus, the “all the way to the garage” is a few steps, but “I” am the Drama Queen. How unfair is that, can you even stand it?

As he is moving the trash can, the rodent pops from underneath, runs like Usain Bolt, ignores my crazed screaming, and passes right by Oscar’s nose. Our valiant dog BACKED AWAY FROM IT, as if afraid, disgusted or a mixture of both.  Buck? He was already laying in his bed, oblivious to the whole thing.

Mouse disappeared under the stove.  Five minutes later he pops up out of who knows where over the countertop by the sink, sprints in front of my beautiful salt and pepper bowls, jumps and dives through the opening of the stove burner!

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In a complete state of mental disarray,  I called it a day. Left the kitchen after informing Oscar and Buck that – effective immediately – they were on a diet.

Phil set up a mouse trap with ham and peanut butter and placed it under the stove.   The beast was pronounced dead next morning, around 5:25am, when we entered the premises to have our cappuccino.

Never a dull moment, my friends.  Never a dull moment.

ONE YEAR AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with Hoisin-Grilled Chicken & Soba Noodles

TWO YEARS AGO: The Manhattan Project

THREE YEARS AGO: Carrot “Nib” Orzo

FOUR YEARS AGO:  A Sticky Situation

FIVE YEARS AGO:  The Garden

 

 

FRENCH LEMON YOGURT CAKE WITH POPPYSEEDS

It’s a little hard to believe that it took me 5 years to finally blog on this cake, a classic that I’ve made quite a few times in the past decade to take to graduate students in our lab. The funny thing is that I thought it was already in the blog, so whenever I made it, I never bothered taking a picture. Last month, searching through my index to retrieve the recipe, I was shocked to realize the harsh reality: it was nowhere to be found.   Better late than never, this is the cake-challenged dream.  One bowl, one whisk, absolutely nothing can go wrong. Except of course, if you tip the bowl…

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FRENCH-STYLE YOGURT LEMON CAKE
(from Alpineberry)

for the cake:
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
3 large eggs
1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1/3 cup canola oil

for the glaze:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Line with a parchment circle and butter the paper.

In a large bowl, mix the yogurt, sugar, and lemon zest with a whisk. spoon. Add the eggs and mix well.  Add the flour, baking powder, and poppy seeds. Mix until flour is just incorporated.

Add the oil and mix well. The batter will look curdled at first but it will come together. Pour the batter into your prepared pan.

Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, until your cake tester is clean and the cake springs back when lightly touched.

Allow cake to cool in pan on a rack for about 15 minutes. Remove cake from the pan and set on a rack to cool completely.

Combine the lemon juice and powdered sugar and spoon it gently over the cake. The glaze will be thin and will soak in like a syrup.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Such a perfect little dessert or morning treat with a cup of cappuccino.  Not too sweet, not too rich, poppy seeds are of course optional, but they add a very unique flavor, and look pretty cute in their random distribution through the cake.  If you have kids, it will be hard to find a recipe more appropriate for their first lesson in baking. By starting them early enough on this path, they won’t turn into cake-o-phobes like certain food bloggers you may know ;-)

 

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Disclaimer: No bowls were tipped during the making of this cake.
Isn’t that something?

 

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen – July 2013

TWO YEARS AGO: Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies

THREE YEARS AGO: Ina Garten’s Banana Bran Muffins

FOUR YEARS AGO: Beer Bread with Roasted Barley

FIVE YEARS AGO: Tomato Confit with Arugula and Zucchini

SOUS-VIDE PORK CHOPS WITH ROASTED POBLANO BUTTER

Cooking certain cuts of pork in the Bewitching Kitchen can be a bit tricky. No matter how many chefs, cooks and food bloggers recommend cooking pork medium or even medium-rare claiming that it’s safe and tastes better, we prefer our pork to be fully cooked, approaching well-done.  Sorry, folks, it’s a matter of taste… At that point, the less marbled pieces will end up dry.  So, I pretty much abandoned center-cut pork loin chops in favor of other cuts. Pork tenderloin is my number one choice, and for braises and low-roasting I go with pork shoulder.   Let’s bring sous-vide to the scene.  Now I can cook the meat to the point we enjoy it, ending with a piece of meat that is both tender and juicy.  This recipe, by the way, was the one that really sold the sous-vide concept to Phil.  He was amazed by how perfectly cooked these turned out!

Pork sous vide

 

PORK LOIN CHOPS WITH ROASTED POBLANO BUTTER
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the compound butter:
2 sticks of butter at room temperature
1 small poblano chili, roasted and peeled, seeds removed
1 Tbsp minced cilantro
zest of 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste

for the brine:
2 cups water
2 Tbs salt
1 Tbs sugar

for the meat:
4 center cut pork chops, boneless
1 tablespoon butter (probably a bit less)
grated ginger to taste
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon lime juice

Make the compound butter earlier in the day or several days before. Mix all ingredients well, form the butter into a log shape over parchment paper, rolling it tightly.  Place the roll in the fridge for several hours, cut in slices when ready to use.  Freeze leftover slices in a plastic bag.

Make a brine by dissolving the salt and sugar in 2 cups of cold water.  Place the pork chops in the brine, refrigerate for a couple of hours.  Remove the meat from the brine, rinse briefly and pat dry.  Add a little bit of butter and grated ginger on top of each piece of pork, and place two chops inside each sealable bag.

Seal the bags and place in a sous-vide bath set for 140F for 6 hours.

When the time is almost up, mix the soy sauce, honey, mustard and lime juice in a small bowl.  Remove the meat from the bag, brush the pieces with this mixture and grill very quickly on a hot grill just to char the surface, a couple of minutes per side.

Serve with a piece of compound butter on top.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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If you’ve never made compound butter, that’s a nice cooking project for a Saturday afternoon. You can flavor it with many different fresh herbs, the traditional kind uses minced parsley.  I went with a lot of roasted poblano, a small amount of cilantro and some lime zest. Using a bench scraper helps a lot to get the butter shaped as a nice roll, but next time I will add a layer of plastic wrap underneath the paper. The butter must be very cold when you serve it, so that it slices easily. It is hard to make compound butter using less than 2 sticks, so you will have plenty of slices to save in the freezer for later. Just remove what you will use a few minutes before dinner time.

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We both really loved this meal. Take a look at how juicy the slice of pork turned out! We served it with mashed cauliflower and sautéed broccolini.  A perfect way to end a Sunday!

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If you do not have a sous-vide, the exact same recipe can be made on the grill, simply brine it before, brush with the soy mixture (add the ginger to the rest of the ingredients) and grill, preferably with indirect heat to prevent the surface from burning too fast. If you are anti-butter, I feel a bit sorry for you, but the sous-vide pork will be ok on its own.    ;-)

ONE YEAR AGO: Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet

TWO YEARS AGO: Amazing Ribs for the 4th of July!

THREE YEARS AGO: Baby Back Ribs on the 4th of July

FOUR YEARS AGO: Blueberry Muffins

FIVE YEARS AGO: A Pie for your 4th of July