COOKING SOUS-VIDE: TWO TAKES ON CHICKEN THIGHS

I am still having fun and getting more and more comfortable with my Anova sous-vide gadget. Many recipes tried, some will go un-blogged due to photos that did not turn out well. A lobster tail, for instance, was quite spectacular cooked sous-vide, but the pictures did the recipe no justice whatsoever.  I shall re-visit that in the future to share the method in the Bewitching.  But here I am today to show you two ways to deal with chicken thighs. The first preparation uses boneless and skinless pieces, a departure from the classic Chicken Cacciatore that I found on this site, great source for sous-vide cooking tips and recipes. Before I share my recipes, I invite you to take a look at this recent post  from my friend Maureen, at The Orgasmic Chef.  Beautiful caramelized onions, without having to stand by the stove baby-sitting them.  She got her sous-vide toy not too long ago, so I guess we are both newbies at this. Sous-vide sisters!

chicken-cacciatore11

 

CHICKEN CACCIATORE
(slightly adapted from SVKitchen)
 .
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 can (28.2-ounce) cherry tomatoes  (or regular canned tomatoes, coarsely chopped)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus extra for final garnish
4 tablespoons mascarpone
Salt and pepper to taste (about ½ teaspoon each)
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
 .
Preheat the water bath to 152°F (67°C).
 .
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and add the shallot and garlic. Cook until soft and translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes, being careful not to brown. Remove the pan from the heat and add the tomatoes, stirring to combine. Gently stir in the basil and the mascarpone. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool slightly.
 .
When the sauce has cooled, place about a third in a 1-gallon zip-lock bag. Add 3 of the chicken thighs. Add another third of the sauce, the other 3 thighs, and then the remaining sauce. Seal using the water displacement method.
 .
Cook for 2 to 4 hours.
.
If serving immediately, transfer the chicken and sauce to a oven-proof dish or ramekin large enough to easily hold all the ingredients. Heat a broiler to high. Place the casserole under the broiler for a couple of minutes, watching closely, just to brown the sauce.
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ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

served1

Dinner is served! Chicken sous-vide, spaghetti squash, and roasted asparagus…

And now, for a second method, in which the chicken thighs are cooked with skin and bone-in. As the sous-vide will cook the meat perfectly but leave you with mushy skin, all recipes include a final step to crisp the skin up. If you search the net, you’ll certainly stumble on a recipe by Michael Voltaggio that is described by many as “the best chicken thigh ever”. I tried it, I really did, and the mess it made on my stove left me on the verge of tears.  Plus, the whole house smelled like fried chicken for weeks.  Ok,  for 18 hours. Chicken thighs were not going to meet the Anova gadget for as long as I was in charge of cooking.  But, certain ordeals tend to be forgotten as time goes by.  Since I really liked the texture of the meat, I decided to give it another try, using a very hot oven for the final step of crisping up the skin.  Worked like a charm!  The inspiration came from this cookbook by Jason Logsdon, which I own in its Kindle version, but I modified the recipe quite a bit, so I feel ok about sharing it with you. In his version, he crisps the skin on a cast iron pan, evidently, I didn’t.

Neat-freak + Drama-Queen = Cast-Iron-Repudiation

RoastedTomatoSalsa

CHICKEN THIGHS WITH ROASTED TOMATO SALSA
(inspired by Sous-Vide Help for the Busy Cook)

for the chicken:
6 chicken thighs, bone-in
salt and pepper to taste
New Mexico chile powder
1 lemon, juiced

for the tomato salsa:
7 Roma tomatoes, very ripe
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
dried thyme, about 1 teaspoon
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Prepare the roasted tomatoes in advance, they will keep for several days. Cut the tomatoes in half, mix them with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast in a 325 F oven for 2 hours. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.

Set your Anova or other sous-vide apparatus at 148 F. Remove excess skin and fat from the chicken thighs. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle chile powder, and squeeze a little lemon juice over the flesh. Place inside plastic bags and vacuum-seal, three pieces of chicken per bag. Place in the water-bath and cook for a minimum of 2 hours. I like to cook chicken thighs for 5 to 6 hours.

Turn your oven to 450 F.  Remove the chicken pieces from the bags, pat dry.  Place in a baking dish and roast until the skin is brown and crispy to your liking. You can also run them under the broiler for a few minutes if you prefer.  As the chicken roasts, transfer the previously prepared tomatoes to a skillet, cook for a couple of minutes,  add the vinegar, brown sugar, and adjust the seasoning.  Mash the tomatoes lightly with a potato masher or a fork if you like it chunky.  You can also transfer to a blender or food processor, if so inclined.  I prefer my salsa to be on the chunky side.

Serve the crisped up chicken pieces with the salsa alongside.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Crisped

Comments:  So as I promised, here you have two completely different takes on the same type of meat using the Anova sous-vide. If you want to enjoy a saucy, stew-type meal, go for boneless chicken thighs, cooking them in liquid from the beginning. Obviously, in this case you’ll need to use the water displacement method, as vacuum won’t be feasible.  If crispy skin is more what you are looking forward to, season the pieces with dry rubs, and use your oven in the end. The meat will be perfectly tender, very moist, and the skin super crispy.

platedDinner is served!  Chicken sous-vide, cauliflower-spinach puree, and a salad…

I highly recommend Jason Logsdon’s book “Sous-Vide Help for the Busy Cook”.  The recipes are all geared for people who work all day and want to maximize the use of sous-vide to get a nice meal at dinner time.  The main advantage of this cooking method is the flexibility of timing: if you are late to arrive home from work, no problem, two or three more hours at the target temperature will not affect your dish.  Seafood is a bit more delicate and you should probably save that for weekends or weeknights in which you have a couple of hours to devote to dinner preparation.

compositetomatoes
I cannot resist including this photo of my oven-roasted tomatoes, they were absolutely delicious, with intense flavor, but not the unpleasant texture I find in most commercially available sun-dried tomatoes.   In Jason’s recipe, he uses a quicker method to deal with the tomatoes, so if you are at all interested, stop by amazon.com and click away!   ;-)

ONE YEAR AGO: Miso Soup: A Japanese Classic

TWO YEARS AGO: On my desk

THREE YEARS AGO: A must-make veggie puree

FOUR YEARS AGO: Vegetarian Lasagna

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Brazilian Pão de Queijo

CHICKEN MARSALA MEATBALLS WITH MUSHROOM SAUCE

I rarely buy ground chicken, opting for ground turkey instead, but this time I followed the recipe exactly as designed by Giada in a recent show on FoodTV.  The chicken meatballs can be  prepared many hours in advance and kept in the fridge, uncooked. Or you can cook them, make the sauce, and re-heat everything together when you want to serve  dinner.  The mushroom sauce is a perfect complement, all that’s needed is a starchy side to soak it all up.  On her show, she suggested egg noodles.  I went with a golden cauliflower puree and green beans. Now, on a tangent, can I share a little pet peeve of mine? I get a bit irritated when people use “compliment” when they actually mean “complement”. I know, English is not my first language, who am I to point the finger, when I make mistakes on a daily basis?  But still…  the compliment thing annoys me to no end.  A compliment is a flattering remark, a complement complements. The mushrooms are not having a conversation with the meatballs saying “wow, you look gorgeous today!”…  Ok, stepping off my soap box. Back to cooking. ;-)

Pork Meatballs

CHICKEN MARSALA MEATBALLS IN MUSHROOM SAUCE
(slightly modified from Giada de Laurentiis)

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons almond milk, room temperature
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon Marsala wine
1 pound ground white meat chicken
1/4 cup grated pecorino, plus extra for serving
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 large shallot, minced
1 teaspoon cepes powder (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons flour
1 cup chicken broth (slightly more if sauce seems too thick)
 .

In a large bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, almond milk and 1 tablespoon Marsala. Leave it soaking for 5 minutes.  Add the chicken, pecorino, egg, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. Gently mix together the ingredients until just combined. Form the mixture into tablespoon-size balls and place on an oiled baking sheet. Broil for 5 minutes, or until the meatballs are beginning to brown and are just barely cooked through. Flip them around and broil the other side for a few more minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside.
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In a straight-sided skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mushrooms are brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots, the cepes powder, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for another 2 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the flour and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the 1/3 cup Marsala and stir until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the chicken broth and simmer for a few minutes. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for an additional 5 minutes to let the flavors blend, under very low heat.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  We both loved this meal!  One of the important tips for success is handling the meatballs as softly as possible. Wet your hands if you prefer, form the balls and do not pack them tightly, or you might compromise the texture.  I used regular mushrooms, but cremini or a mixture or wild mushrooms could be great.  Of course, having that special cepes powder to splurge only added a touch of sophistication to the meal.  A little bit goes a long way, the smell is terrific!  I know that it is a very unique ingredient I was lucky to receive as a gift, but even without it this will be a delicious meal.

served

I was pleasantly surprised by how well the yellow color of the golden cauliflower was preserved during cooking and mashing.  Shockingly yellow, like a burst of sun in the middle of the plate…

ONE YEAR AGO: PCR and a Dance in the Mind Field

TWO YEARS AGO: October 16th: World Bread Day!

THREE YEARS AGO: San Francisco Sourdough

FOUR YEARS AGO:  A Real Oscar Winner   (Oscar joins our home!)

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pane Siciliano

SOURDOUGH RYE BREAD WITH FLAXSEEDS AND OATS

This is that type of bread that begs for mindful eating. No sitting down in front of the TV grabbing one piece here, another there, or sharing it with friends in the middle of a loud party.  No, this is a bread that deserves attention. It is dense without being overly heavy, and its flavor is quite complex due to the use of assertive flours and flax seeds. The recipe was created by Rosa, from Rosa’s Yummy Yums, a food blog that not too long ago celebrated its 9th anniversary!  Nine years.  No small feat, folks, considering that each of Rosa’s post is a masterpiece: carefully composed text (with recipes in two languages, English and French), matched with her incredibly beautiful photography. Hers is the type of blog that just like this bread, deserves full attention.

Rosa Yum Yum BreadMade July 26th; Blogged October 13th

WHOLE-WHEAT AND RYE SOURDOUGH WITH FLAX SEEDS AND OATS
(from Rosa Mayland’s blog)

(for one round loaf; check her site for full version that makes 2 loaves)

1 heaping tablespoon of flax seeds 1/2 Tbs Flax seeds
150g whole-wheat flour
100g white flour
35g rye flour
35g buckwheat flour
100g active sourdough starter

188-200 g/ml lukewarm water
A pinch of dry yeast
1 heaping tablespoon of olive oil

20g Rolled oats
7g fine sea salt

Put the flax seeds in a small bowl and add 63g/ml of boiling water (this will make them slimy). Stir and leave to cool.

In the bowl of your stand mixer put the flours, sourdough, water, yeast, olive oil, flax seeds (+soaking water).  Mix until all the ingredients are just combined. Let the dough rest (autolyse) for 2 hours.

Add the salt as well as the oats and continue mixing for about 5-8 minutes (add a little flour if the dough is too wet), until the dough reaches medium gluten development.  Transfer the dough to a slightly oiled container and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough ferment/rise, at room temperature, for about 2h30 (or until doubled in size), folding at 50 and 100 minutes.

Shape it as desired (sandwich loaves, boule, bâtard, banneton, etc…). Sprinkle your loaves with flour and cover them with plastic wrap let proof for about 90 minutes or until doubled in size.

Bake at 230° C (450° F) using your favorite method to generate steam during the initial 20 minutes of baking. Total baking time will be approximately 40 minutes.  Leave the bread in the oven for 5 minutes with the door ajar once you turn the oven off.  Cool it completely on a rack before slicing it.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

crumb
Now, if that crumb doesn’t make you sigh, there is something wrong with you… This was a very nice baking project, perfect for a weekend in which we had nothing planned, no social commitments, no need to go to the lab, just taking each hour as the hour shaped up.   If you stop by Rosa’s original post, you’ll see that she coupled this recipe with a text about the importance of slowing down, a praise for idleness. Food for thought, as usual for her posts. It is nice to be able to take a step back and do nothing. Or, if doing nothing seems like too much of a shock for  you ;-)  grab your flours and make this bread. Then, slowly slice it, and close your eyes when you taste it.   Yes, it is that wonderful!

Rosa, thank you for a great recipe, and above all, for the effort you put into your blog, a pleasure to visit every single time!  See you around the blogosphere ;-)

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event…

ONE YEAR AGO: Apricot-Raspberry Sorbet: A farewell to Summer

TWO YEARS AGO: Marcela’s Salpicon

THREE YEARS AGO: Pork Kebabs

FOUR YEARS AGO: Fondant au Chocolat

FIVE YEARS AGOGot Spinach? Have a salad!

ZUCCHINI “HUMMUS”

Once more I shall commit the sin of stretching the name of my favorite dip, traditionally made with garbanzo beans, tahini, and very few other additions.  I think zucchini is one of the most versatile veggies, and this dip proves the point.  Plus, it is delicious! I originally saw it at Angie’s blog Divalicious Recipes in the City, and tweaked her recipe ever so slightly.  Angie has a ton of creative recipes in her site, I actually linked one of her cauliflower concoctions in a recent post, and intend to make it soon. As far as this dip goes, you should definitely play with the amount of tahini, lemon juice, and feel free to even add some garbanzo beans in case you want to get one step closer to the title of the dish.   ;-)

unnamed
ZUCCHINI HUMMUS
(slightly adapted from Divalicious)

2 medium zucchini
1/4 cup tahini
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic (optional)
1/4 cup lemon juice
zest of half lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

Taste and adjust the seasonings. I like to sprinkle a little smoked paprika on top of the dip before serving, but that is totally optional, of course!  Ak-Mak crackers are the perfect carrier for this dip.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

We had a pizza party the other day. My favorite type of get-together, in which I make plenty of balls of dough, and we take turns adding all sorts of toppings, some will be vegetarian-friendly, some loaded with meat, according to the mood of the moment. The house is kept cool because we grill the pizzas outside.   In this type of event, appetizers must be light, and for obvious reasons, cheese is out. Who wants to load up on cheese before facing a pizza dinner?   I prefer to serve hummus, either the traditional version or some variation, like my edamame hummus of the past.  This version with zucchini turned out super light and flavorful, a perfect option for our evening.

If you are a zucchini-lover, don’t skip this one. Winner!

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen – October 2013

TWO YEARS AGO: Bourbon and Molasses Glazed Pork Tenderloin

THREE YEARS AGO: Crimson and Cream Turkey Chili

FOUR YEARS AGO: Taking a break from the nano-kitchen

FIVE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

 

 

 

IN MY KITCHEN – OCTOBER 2014

I don’t participate every month, as it gets a bit too hard to compose a new post on this subject every 4 weeks, but whenever possible, I love joining Celia’s virtual party in which bloggers all over the world invite us over to visit their kitchens. This month, I have a few gifts to smile about…

In our kitchen…

tomatoes
Gorgeous pear-shaped tomatoes, a little larger than those we can find at the grocery store.  These were planted by one of our colleagues. He kept bringing boxes, leaving them in the mail room for anyone to grab a few and enjoy.  This particular batch was still warm from the soil when we got them.

In our kitchen…

Salsa
Two huge bottles of a very special salsa, made by our friend Karl according to a family recipe from his wife, Virginia.  Want to know something super cool? Virginia was the realtor who showed and sold us our home here in Kansas. She is a retired Spanish professor from Manhattan High School, and embraced a second career as a Real State agent, which clearly was a great  move for her.  She is the best, and so is her family recipe for this killer salsa.  When we get low on those, I send a few hints to Karl.  You know, gentle hints.   I never put pressure on anyone. Nagging? Me?  Never.

In our kitchen…

ChilesAnother gift from Karl and Virginia, a can of chiles that she gets in New Mexico (they are not easy to find elsewhere), and uses for chile rellenos.  She also shared her recipe with me, and I made my first batch of this Mexican delicacy last month.  It takes practice, but I’m getting there…

In our kitchen….

MCGiftAmazing hand-made chocolates from San Francisco…  A wonderful gift from a wonderful friend, MC. I imagine lots of my readers are no strangers to Farine, her bread baking blog, but if you haven’t visited her site yet, prepare to be amazed.

In our kitchen….

IMG_5448My gift for Phil, for no special reason other than the fact that he is my favorite human being in this planet of over 7 billion people.  It is a red wine aerator, supposed to make your wine taste like a liquid concocted by angels.

compositewine

Of course, that forced us to cook a special steak dinner in which we sampled the wine on a blind tasting: one glass passed through the aerator, the other straight from the bottle.  Indeed, we both noticed a clear improvement. Once it gets through the aerator, the wine tastes much more mellow and smoother.  A nice little toy to play with.

 In our kitchen….

CreamOnTop
I found this new (to me) type of yogurt and fell in love with it.  These days it is so hard to find full-fat yogurt!  I will spare you of my thoughts on this, but it is irritating.  Anyway, this yogurt is delicious and I think it’s also available with fruit, but I am partial to plain.  I wish they sold bigger containers so I could use it for cooking, but this is better than nothing.

In our kitchen….

compositeCubes
If I remember correctly, I featured these on an IMK post years ago, because they were available in Oklahoma, and I loved them.  I went through a tough phase of withdrawal syndrome, but they finally showed up in one of our grocery stores.  I stock our freezer with these three kinds, and pop a little square in my food whenever the mood strikes.  Great, great product, I highly recommend it.  Rest assured, this post is not sponsored by Dorot. I recommend it because I love it.

In our kitchen….

GenoiseClass
Something super special:  I got a one-on-one class on genoise!!!!  From a pro, who also happens to be a friend. A virtual friend for over 10 years,  Gary spent a weekend in our town, the three of us played a lot of golf, and I got THE BEST lesson on the making of a genoise.  Stay tuned for my performance later on…   Genoise is not for sissies, my friends.  And since we are on the subject of that lesson, I shall confess my first move as a student.

BrokenEggGary wanted the eggs at room temperature, but I don’t think he expected me to smash one on the floor. Obviously,  cake baking in general and genoise in particular stresses me out.

In our kitchen…

BowlGenoise

A new, shiny bowl, that was needed for proper mixing of the genoise batter. It’s called a moon bowl.  I love it!  Beautiful and functional.

In our kitchen…

Spatulas

A heat-resistant spatula (from Vollrath), and a small offset spatula for my future genoise adventures. Gary brought these gadgets in his amazing “patisserie tool box” and I could not resist a visit to amazon.com to get these babies for the Bewitching Kitchen.

And, now it is time to let our furry friends come out and play…

BurrsHello, my name is Oscar, and last night my Mom spent 25 minutes cleaning my body of all burrs. She says I am a wuss because I whine too much and “make it impossible for her”. Anyway, this is how I came back from the backyard this morning, after spending just 5 minutes outside.  I don’t get all her weeping and gnashing of teeth. Do you?

SnakeKiller
Hello, my name is Buck and I am a professional snake killer.  On my walk the other day I noticed a small snake on the side of the street. In a nanosecond I grabbed it, flinched it very high in the air, then killed it, spreading snake blood all over Mom’s ankle.  I don’t get all her weeping and gnashing of teeth, do you?

 and now,  a couple of videos that are worth a thousand pictures…. 

Oscar has been very upset because his brother showed off the rolling over in the last In My Kitchen post.  He insists that his skills are good enough to share with the Bewitching friends…  For his amazing performance, click here.

I close this post with another short video. In one of my long walks with Buck, we go all the way to the university farms where they keep research cows.  They are adorable!  On that day they were following us in line as we walked back and forth the road.  Finally, as we decided to walk back home, I approached the gate for a chit-chat with “the ladies”.  Buck was not too interested in them, but they were very curious about that tiny four-legged creature.  You can see the video on youtube with a click here.

If you are wondering about Chief, he says hi, and hopes to be around next time. He’s been a bit too frail lately to pose for pictures. He is a trooper, though, heading steadily for his 16th Birthday.

I hope you enjoyed the little tour of our kitchen… A huge thank you to Celia for organizing it. If you want to take a peek at other blogger’s kitchens, stop by Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, and look at the side bar where she lists them all.

ONE YEAR AGO: Grilled Steelhead Trout

TWO YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

THREE YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

FOUR YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

FIVE YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

CELEBRATE WEDNESDAY WITH PROSCIUTTO-WRAPPED SHRIMP SKEWERS

This is one of those super simple recipes that deliver a ton of flavor, turning a mid-week dinner into a special event.  Since seafood in general doesn’t need to be marinated for a long time, you can do the whole prep after arriving home from work.  But, if you want to make things even easier, make the marinade, clean the shrimp early in the morning, and keep both items in the fridge until showtime.  Since we have the luxury of coming home for lunch every day, that’s when I normally get this type of prep work done.  A small investment of time at noon, and voilà: painless dinner later in the evening.

ProsciuttoShrimp (Cooked: June 4th – Blogged  Oct 1st)

PROSCIUTTO-WRAPPED SHRIMP SKEWERS
(slightly adapted from a recipe by Rachael Ray)

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 scallions, white parts finely chopped and green parts thinly sliced on an angle, divided
1 teaspoon Hungarian red pepper (or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 jumbo shrimp, tails on and deveined
12 slices prosciutto

Combine the olive oil, scallion whites, red pepper and lemon juice in a medium size bowl. Season the shrimp lightly with salt and pepper, add to the marinade.  Toss to coat, and leave for 30 minutes in the fridge. Wrap each shrimp with a slice of prosciutto and thread onto a metal skewer. If using wood skewers, soak them in water for a few hours.

Grill the shrimp until firm and opaque, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving plate and decorate with sliced scallions, if you like.  I had some fennel fronds in the fridge, that’s what I added.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

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Comments:  The Hungarian pepper I used for this marinade was a gift I mentioned in this post. I love its complex flavor and mild level of heat.  I searched and it is available on amazon.com, but the price made me hyperventilate a little.  Lucky me, I do have very nice friends… Red pepper flakes (or fresh Fresno peppers) can be used instead, of course.

My package of prosciutto came with only 10 slices, so some of the shrimp (I actually cooked 14) went to the grill naked. They did not seem to mind, and we definitely did not mind either.  I grilled those for about 30 seconds less on each side. I also like to use a double skewer, a trick that prevents the shrimp from spinning around and makes flipping a lot easier.

Most recipes would call for bacon instead of prosciutto, but I don’t quite get that.  By the time the bacon is properly cooked, seafood will be severely over-done.  I find that prosciutto works much better, as all you need is to get some grill marks on it, so the timing can agree with the seafood wrapped inside it. Alternatively, if you prefer the flavor of bacon, you can pre-cook before wrapping delicate seafood with it. Check Melissa’s method with a click here.

Our dinner that evening was a nice take on surf-and-turf…  Juicy shrimp, and deliciously grilled hanger steak. Light, flavorful, and a breeze to prepare!  Cannot beat that.

ShrimpDetail

ONE YEAR AGO: Linguine with Cauliflower Pesto

TWO  YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: A Tribute to Daniel

THREE YEARS AGO: Nutella Drop Cookies

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Dreaming of butternut squash

FIVE YEARS AGO: Simply Elegant: Salmon Curry (one of my very favorite dishes!)

SPIRALIZER FUN

In five years of blogging, I probably mentioned this before once or twice: I am not too wild about cooking fads, and usually avoid them.  For instance, that one from years ago, foams.  You could not go to a restaurant that considered itself slightly upscale without foams bubbling around your plate.  Then we have the more recent bacon-mania. Because 90% of humans adore bacon, all of a sudden bacon started popping up in every single culinary item.  Chocolate-covered bacon?  Yes, it is out there!  Bacon ice cream?  Why not? Well, if I have to explain it, I guess we are from different planets. And let’s not get me started on the fried egg topping everything lately. I guess this fad is still in its exponentially growing phase. Having said all that, I am heavily into the spiral cutter thing. And I insist, this is not a fad. It is a nice way to treat vegetables, easy to use, fast to prepare, and a ton of fun to eat.  Zucchini is by far my favorite target,  and I’ve shared one of the ways we enjoy it almost weekly, uncooked, bright and fresh. Strands of zucchini can get mushy very quickly when cooked, but now I think I hit the perfect method to deal with them.

ZucchiniPasta1
LEMONY ZUCCHINI NOODLES & WHOLE-WHEAT SPAGHETTI
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

Whole-wheat spaghetti (1/3 of your regular portion)
3 medium zucchini, ends removed, cut in a spiral cutter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced (substitute tomatoes, spinach, anything you feel like)
lemon juice and zest
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. As the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil, saute the shallot and red bell pepper until the shallots are translucent and with a little bit of color, and the red bell pepper starts to soften. Season lightly with salt, add the zest of the lemon on top of the warm mixture, cover the pan and let it rest while you finish dealing with the pasta.

Ten seconds before the end of cooking time, add the zucchini strands to the pot.  Time ten seconds and immediately drain it, reserving a little of the cooking water.  Return it to the hot, empty pot, add the sautéed shallots and red bell pepper, squeeze a little lemon juice,  toss it all gently, and adjust with pasta cooking water if necessary.   Taste for seasoning, adding ground black pepper if you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

One of the things I love about this type of recipe is that you can vary the amount of pasta in it according to your mood or goals.  In the recipe I shared today, zucchini was prominent, pasta played a secondary role.  The resulting meal felt light and bright. A few weeks ago, I went the opposite way, and made the zucchini stay in the background. At that time I added wilted kale and sun-dried tomatoes to the dish. It was slightly heavier, and quite appropriate for the sorry evenings ahead, when the temperature will fall below 90 F, and I will go through a few boxes of Kleenex to deal with it.

zucchinikalepasta

If you are over the fence about getting a spiralizer, jump to the right side, the side where I am ready to play with you. You will not regret it, especially if you have kids who are over the fence about eating their veggies.  They might profess zoodles – like this tasty version from Mike’s blog –  their favorite dish ever!

ONE YEAR AGO: Beer-Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak

TWO YEARS AGO:  Secret Recipe Club: Corn Chowda

THREE YEARS AGO: Page-A-Day Calendar (Pits and Chief 5 minutes of fame…)

FOUR YEARS AGO: Home Sweet Home (our beloved Pits in one of his last photos)

FIVE YEARS AGO: Marbled Rye