PECAN CRUSTED CHICKEN FROM SOUTHERN AT HEART

Some recipes sound quite tasty but disappoint when you make them.  Not this one. Tasted as good as it sounded…  Funny thing is, I wasn’t sure it would be a winner because chicken breasts can be a bit tricky when baked.  However,  the meat was tender and moist, it looked pretty nice when sliced, and I heard “this is really good” several times during our Sunday dinner. It is a bit involved to make on weeknights, but I guess one could spread the preparation, assembling the “roulades” the evening before and keeping them in the fridge without the pecan coating. Next evening, all that’s left to do is coat the meat with crumbs and bake. The recipe comes from Damaris Phillips show on FoodTV, Southern at Heart.  I find her delightful, upbeat and funny. Even though for the most part her style of cooking is a bit too heavy for my taste, every once in a while I find something that calls my name. Like this chicken. Flavorful and quite elegant to boot.

Pecan Crusted Chicken Breasts

PECAN CRUSTED STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS
(adapted from Damaris Phillips)

Four boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and ground black pepper
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 eggs
2/3 cup dried breadcrumbs
2/3 cup ground pecans
Coconut oil spray

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound to 1/4-inch thick. Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Sprinkle the goat cheese lengthwise on one half of each breast; then sprinkle with dill, and orange zest.  Fold in the short ends as if folding a Mexican burrito, then, starting on the half with cheese, roll up into a tight cylinder. Close the seams with toothpicks or tie with kitchen twine.

Whisk the eggs in a wide, shallow dish with 1 tablespoon water. In a separate dish, combine the breadcrumbs and ground pecans. Sprinkle the stuffed chicken with salt and pepper. Dip in the egg mixture and then in the breadcrumb mixture; shake off excess breading.

Place the breaded chicken on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and spray with coconut oil. Bake to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove the toothpicks. Cut in slices and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: I know that goat cheese and dill are a match made in heaven, but you know what made this dish a real winner? The orange zest. In fact, the sweet citric flavor was even more intense two days later when we had leftovers for dinner. I served it with butternut squash “noodles” and asparagus, but of course the chicken would go well with many different side dishes. For instance, Damaris paired it with a Southern risotto, very hearty.

This recipe would be great for a dinner party, as you can prepare it all in advance and place the meat in the oven half an hour before you want to sit down for dinner. Keep in mind not to over-process the pecans, so that you get a bit more crunch on the topping.  In typical Sally mode, I totally forgot that I have some pecan flour in the freezer. I bet it would be great to use maybe 50-50 with the bread crumbs, intensifying the pecan flavor.  Something to consider for next time…

ONE YEAR AGO: Lamb Shanks en Papillote with Cauliflower-Celeriac Purée

TWO YEARS AGO: Chestnut Brownies and a Blog Award!

THREE YEARS AGO: Quinoa with Cider-Glazed Carrots

FOUR YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday: Heirloom Tomatoes Steal the Show

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pain de Provence

SIX YEARS AGO: Golspie Loaf, from the Scottish Highlands

 

 

SPRING HAS SPRUNG WITH SUZANNE GOIN!

Remember that decision of not getting new cookbooks in 2015? I am actually proud of myself because I arrived almost at the end of March without caving. Only one cookbook purchase, which at some point I will talk about here. However, the universe conspired against me. In a perverse turn of events a certain good friend of mine sent me not one, not two, but TWELVE cookbooks. I’ll now pause so that you can close your jaw and regain your composure. Better yet, they were in electronic format, so no trees were harmed. One of the gifts was Susanne Goin’s The A.O.C. Cookbook  which I fell in love with instantly. I do own her other book, Sunday Suppers at Lucques, and have been to that restaurant in Los Angeles twice during our sabbatical a few years ago.  The place has a wonderful vibe, and fantastic food with a country French feel centered on local ingredients.  I was not at all surprised by how much I loved the recipes she chose to feature in A.O.C. Plus, what a clever name for a wine bar, I definitely want to stop by next time we are in L.A.

The recipe I chose to inaugurate the book perked my interest because it’s simple but at the same time quite sophisticated. The different components go together perfectly, the dish satisfies without being heavy, it’s all about balance, harmony, but with contrasting flavors and textures. I think it reflects well what Suzanne’s cooking is all about. Plus, it really looks like spring on a plate…  What could be more appropriate now?

Mustard Grilled Chicken AOC

 

MUSTARD-GRILLED CHICKEN WITH SPINACH, ALMONDS, PECORINO AND SOFT EGG
(slightly modified from Suzanne Goin’s A.O.C.)
(published with permission from Suzanne Goin & Random House LLC)

(for 6 servings)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup finely diced shallots
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
½ cup dry vermouth
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
7 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
6 large chicken legs with thigh attached, boned
1 extra-large egg yolk
1½ tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 lemon, for juicing
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup slivered almonds
6 ounces baby spinach, cleaned and dried  (I used a baby spring mix)

1 recipe Mustard Breadcrumbs

1 recipe Pecorino Pudding

½ cup grated pecorino
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 375°F.

For the chicken marinade, heat a small sauté pan over medium heat for 1 minute. Swirl in the butter, and when it foams, add the diced shallots and the thyme; sauté for about 2 minutes, until the shallots are translucent. Add the vermouth, and reduce by half. Transfer to a baking dish, and let cool a few minutes. Whisk in ½ cup Dijon mustard, 1 egg, the chopped tarragon, and a pinch of black pepper.

Place the chicken legs between two pieces of plastic wrap, and pound them with a mallet to an even ½-inch thickness. Remove from the plastic wrap, and slather the chicken with the marinade, making sure to coat both sides well. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Make the vinaigrette: Whisk the egg yolk in a small bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, the red-wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper. Slowly whisk in ¾ cup olive oil. Thin the vinaigrette with 1 teaspoon water or more if needed. Taste for balance and seasoning.

Light the grill 30 to 40 minutes before you’re ready to cook the chicken and take the chicken out of the refrigerator to let it come to room temperature. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet, and toast in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes, until they’re lightly browned and smell nutty.

Meanwhile, carefully lower the remaining six eggs into a pot of boiling water. Cook for exactly 6 minutes, and cool immediately in a bowl of ice water. When the eggs have cooled, peel them.

Place the spinach, half the almonds, and half the breadcrumbs in a large bowl. When the grill is ready, place the soft-cooked eggs in the oven to heat up.

Drizzle the chicken with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and place it on the grill skin-side down. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, rotating once or twice after a couple of minutes to get the skin crispy. (The chicken will stick to the grill at first, but it will eventually release.) When the skin side is nicely crisped, turn the chicken over, and cook for a few minutes on the other side, until it’s just cooked through.

Pour ½ cup of the mustard vinaigrette over the salad, and season with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon. Toss well, and taste for balance and seasoning.

Spoon the hot pecorino pudding onto the center of six dinner plates. Arrange the spinach salad on top of the pudding, and place the chicken on top. Carefully balance an egg on top of each piece of chicken. Drizzle with ¼ cup mustard vinaigrette, and sprinkle the remaining almonds and breadcrumbs and the grated pecorino over the top.

MUSTARD BREADCRUMBS
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat the oven to 375°F.

Place the breadcrumbs in a medium bowl. Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the butter, and when it foams, whisk in the mustard, thyme, and parsley. Remove from the heat, let cool for a few minutes, and then pour the mustard butter over the breadcrumbs, tossing to coat them well. Transfer the breadcrumbs to a baking sheet, and toast them for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring often, until they’re golden brown and crispy.

PECORINO PUDDING
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1¾ cups whole milk
⅔ cup heavy cream
1 extra-large egg
1 extra-large egg yolk
1¼ cups grated Pecorino Romano
Kosher salt

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Heat a medium pot over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the butter, and when it foams, whisk in the flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, and cook for about 5 minutes, being careful not to let the flour brown. Slowly pour in the milk and cream, whisking constantly to incorporate it. The butter and flour will seize up and get pasty at first. Continue whisking vigorously as you add the liquid, and the mixture will become smooth. Cook for a few more minutes, until warm to the touch. Remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk the egg and egg yolk together in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle the eggs into the cream mixture, whisking continuously until combined. Stir in the cheese, and season with a heaping ½ teaspoon salt. Pour the mixture into an 8-by-6-inch (or equivalent) baking dish, and cover lightly with foil. Place the baking dish in a roasting pan, and add hot water to the pan until it comes halfway up the outside of the baking dish. Place the pan in the oven, and bake for about 1 hour, until the pudding is just set. If you make the pudding ahead of time, be sure to take it out of the refrigerator to reach room temperature. When it does, heat it in a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes, until it is heated through and starts to brown slightly on top.

ENJOY!

to print the recipes, click here

moussebefore

Comments: For the most part, my cooking style is quite simple, reflecting our desire to eat well, but keeping in perspective our work schedule. But on weekends it’s possible to devote a bit more time to prepare a nice menu, even if it’s just for the two of us, which was the case in this particular meal.  I took my time, doing all steps of the recipe at a leisurely pace, then assembled the dish in all its colorful glory!

I used chicken thighs instead of whole legs, considered de-boning them myself, but then went with what I found at the grocery store ready to use, boneless, skinless pieces. The marinade kept the pieces very moist, they stood well to grilling.  I more or less halved the whole recipe, but ended up making the full amount of the pecorino pudding, because I suspected we would love it as a side dish for another meal later. I was right, so if you are making this recipe just for you and your favorite person in the world, go for the full amount of pudding, it’s the same work for double rewards!


mousseThe Pecorino Pudding… absolutely wonderful on its own! 

 Another change I made was using slivered almonds instead of pine nuts. A few years ago I was getting ready to use pine nuts in a recipe and decided to munch on a couple after toasting. They were rancid, even though the bag was stored the freezer.  Have you ever tasted a rancid pine nut? My advice: do not. I know it’s silly to avoid them, but let’s say I’ve been very happy substituting slivered almonds, and did the same for this recipe. I simply did not want to run the risk of ruining our special dinner.

tosted

Please don’t cut corners and use store-bought bread crumbs. No bueno. Go the extra mile and toast your own bread crumbs, keeping them with a coarse texture. As we sat down and savored the meal, Phil said “this dish would be a star in the best Parisian bistrots”.   Mission accomplished, Sally pats herself on the back, although patting Suzanne’s back would be more appropriate. The egg yolk self-transforms into a luscious sauce that envelops the flavorful chicken, and the pecorino pudding underneath provides the exact amount of sharpness, but with a soft and pleasant texture. What a great combination of components!

All things considered, I’m in awe of restaurant chefs, sous-chefs, and prep cooks. Even though I prepared all the components ahead of time, things got pretty frantic close to the finish line. To think that in a restaurant they are able to pull this type of recipe non-stop, is really something! Whenever someone places an order, there they go assembling a perfectly poached egg, a perfectly cooked chicken, and making sure the presentation is flawless. I am stressed just thinking about it…

And now, time for a walk through The A.O.C. Cookbook

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Suzanne opened A.O.C. Wine Bar and Restaurant to mimic the atmosphere of the small wine bar at Lucques, where people would sit, eat hours d-oeuvres, have a great time while waiting for their tables. Her idea was to have a wine bar of sorts, in which people could order a few small dishes and informally share. Before you say “tapas bar”, let me assure you it is not at all the case, and it bothers Suzanne when people insist on defining A.O.C. that way.  Think about more elaborate, bigger dishes that happen to be perfect to share.

As usual for my cookbook reviews, instead of giving you a complete list of recipes, I will offer my favorites of each chapter.

Chapter One: Cheese
A delicious collection of recipes, my favorites probably Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Parmesan, and Torta Gorgonzola with Walnuts in Honey. As Suzanne points out, honey and blue cheese are a match made in heaven, adding walnuts brings the additional textural component that fits right in.

Chapter Two: Charcuterie
I pretty much drooled over each and every recipe, but the Chicken Liver Crostini with Pancetta went to the top of my list, after reading that Suzanne’s intention was to “make the most delicious chicken-liver pate I could”. Cannot beat that endorsement. I also would love to try my hands at the Pork Rillettes with Pickled Onions and Cornichons, because rillette was one of the appetizers I ordered most often while living in Paris. Each place seems to have a slightly different take on it, not only as far as spices, but the way the meat is prepared and shredded.

Chapter 3: Salads
This chapter as well as all others coming after it will be divided by season. Growing up in Brazil, where seasons are not well-marked, it took me a while to adapt to the idea of seasonal cooking. But, it’s something I embraced and now appreciate when a cookbook focus on it.

My favorites of this chapter would be Sweet Pea Pancakes with Dungeness Crab and Red Onion Crème Fraîche…  Fattoush Salad with Fried Pita, Cherry Tomatoes, Crumbled Feta and Sumac… and Roasted Kabocha Squash with Dates, Parmesan and Pepitas.  You can see how Suzanne is very creative with her salads, and you could order two or three of them to make a complete meal, no meat needed. Remember? A.O.C. is all about sharing, a place that seems perfect to go with a few friends.

Chapter 4: Fish
Maybe my favorite chapter? Not sure, but a serious contender.  Sharing a few favorites: Alaskan Halibut with Carrot Puree, Asparagus, and Pistou… Wild Salmon with Spinach Soubise, Wilted Leeks, and Meyer Lemon Butter (OMG!)… Black Bass with Fennel Puree, Winter Citrus, and Green Olives in Green Harissa.  Notice how long the names of her recipes are? Well, at least you know exactly what you will be enjoying!

Chapter 5: Meat
I am of course very partial to the opening recipe, Mustard-Grilled Chicken with Spinach, Pine Nuts, Pecorino, and Soft Egg, which was featured in this post.  But then there’s also Lamb Paillards with Risotto Carbonara, English Peas, and Chanterelles… or her Grilled Chicken with Fresh Garbanzos, Corn, and Chile-Cumin Butter. If you are feeling adventurous, consider her Braised Duck with Madeira, Kale Stuffing, and Dates. Sounds like heaven to me! If pork is more what you are looking for, she has a great looking recipe for Pork Confit with Caramelized Apples and Cabbage in Red Wine.

Chapter 6: Vegetables
I really enjoyed reading her introduction of this chapter. Quoting from the book: “I feel I walk the line of respecting and showing off the inner beauty and inherent deliciousness of the vegetables, while also giving them a little dressing up or a nudge of sexiness and surprise”.  That says it all. She really shines in her preparation of veggies.

My favorites, pretty hard to pick: English Peas with Saffron Butter and Pea Shoots,… Crushed Corn Pudding with Poblanos and Queso Fresco… Balsamic-Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta… and Turmeric-Spiced Root Vegetables with Kaffir Lime Yogurt and Mint Chutney (OMG #2).

Chapter 7: From the Wood-burning Oven
Must quote her again: “I know intellectually that you can work wonders with plastic bags and vacuum packing; I have tasted sublime creations made with liquid nitrogen, meat glue, and other such things; but personally I want to get my hands in the food, I want to feel and smell the wood burning”.  (this is all music to Sally’s ears…)

My favorites of this chapter: Brioche with Prosciutto, Gruyère, and Sunny-side-up Egg… Roasted Cauliflower with Curry and Red Vinegar… Lamb Meatballs with Spiced Tomato Sauce, Mint, and Feta.

Chapter 8: Desserts
For someone who doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, it’s odd but true: all recipes appealed to me. For instance, her opening Spring option: Frozen Meyer Lemon Meringue Tart with Gingersnap Crust and Blueberry Compote (OMG#3)…  her Chocolate Mascarpone Tart with Pistachios in Olive Oil…  or her Sticky Toffee Pudding with Blood Orange, Tangerine, and Whipped Crème Fraîche. But, if you are going for the kill, take a deep breath and imagine this: Vanilla Pot de Crème with Dulce de Leche, Marcona Almonds, and a Layer of Chocolate. Ok, I am officially done. If you are not howling in gastronomic pleasure by now, there’s something wrong, and well, I feel a little sad for you  🙂

Chapter 8: A.O.C. Cheese
A list of all cheeses you can find at her wine bar. Mind blowing. If you are expecting that boring list found in so many books, “hard cheeses, soft cheeses, blue cheeses”, with a few meager examples of each, be ready to be absolutely amazed.  She lists hundreds of types of cheese, most of them I have never heard of. They are divided by type of milk, and country of origin. Since I’ve never met a cheese I did not like, I bet I would welcome any of them at my table.  Each cheese has a reasonably detailed summary of its “personality”.  A real masterpiece of a chapter to close a great cookbook. A.O.C. brings good  balance between short stories, Suzanne’s thoughts on food, and the detailed recipes are paired with excellent photography:  the icing on the cake.

Suzanne, thanks for giving me permission to publish one of your recipes, and I look forward to visiting A.O.C. in person in the near future!

ONE YEAR AGO: Chai Brownies

TWO YEARS AGO:  A Small Tribute to a Big Man

THREE YEARS AGO: Still got stout?

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

FIVE YEARS AGO: Spring Rolls on a Spring Day

 

 

 

MY FIRST FRESH TRUFFLE ADVENTURE: POULET DEMI-DEUIL

Last month I showed you a gorgeous fresh black truffle received from a special reader of my blog, who prefers to stay anonymous. The package also included the right tool to shave it, and a bonus bottle of white truffle oil. I had to come up with a nice recipe to showcase this once-in-a-lifetime goodie.  After spending hours with cookbooks, magazines, and surfing the net, I finally found the recipe: a classic French dish called “Poulet Demi-Deuil“, which loosely translates as “chicken in half-mourning”. Morbid? Well, not really, the name is associated with the black truffle slices showing through the skin, like a black veil.  Let’s say it’s poetic, ok? Chicken DemiDeuil
POULET DEMI-DEUIL  (Truffle Braised Chicken)
(adapted from Fine Cooking magazine)

1 oz. fresh black truffle
2 Tbs. Madeira wine; more as needed
One 2-1/2-lb.chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
4 cups chicken stock (homemade is best)
2 medium carrots, peeled 2 large leeks (white parts only)
2 medium zucchini
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Slice the truffle very thinly using a mandoline or a very sharp, thin-bladed knife and a steady hand. Put the slices in a small bowl, add the Madeira, and let soak briefly to moisten the truffles (making it easier to slide them under the chicken skin and giving them some Madeira flavor).

Strain the truffle in a fine-mesh strainer set over a small bowl. Reserve the liquid. Moisten your hands under cold running water and loosen the skin on the chickens’ breasts and thighs, carefully sliding your hands between the skin and meat.   Slide the truffle slices under the skin of the chicken breasts to cover them, then slide a slice or two under the skin of each thigh. Finely chop the remaining truffle slices and set aside for use in the sauce. Truss the chickens, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight to allow the truffles to flavor and perfume the chickens.

Heat the oven to 400°F. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper, then rub with the softened butter. Set on a rack in a roasting pan and roast for 40 minutes. (The chicken will be underdone.) Pour the stock, reserved chopped truffle, and reserved Madeira into a ovenproof, flameproof casserole large enough to hold the chicken with some room to spare. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the liquid is simmering and cook until reduced to about 2 cups;  about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the carrots and leeks into square segments, keeping them separate. Wash the leeks well. Cut off the ends of the zucchini and cut out the center portion by slicing down its length to remove 4 rounded sides. Discard the rectangular center portion and cut the outer portions into uniformly sized pieces. about 1/4 inch thick. Remove the strings from the chicken and set it in the casserole, breast side up. Add the vegetables, cover and braise at a simmer until fully cooked, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a large serving platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Raise the heat in the pan with the stock and veggies to high, and cook until the broth has reduced a bit, about 5 minutes. Swirl in the cold butter, one cube at a time, to thicken and enrich it. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, Madeira, and/or lemon juice. Spoon some sauce and vegetables over the chicken on the serving platter and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite1 Comments: My hands were shaking as I started slicing the truffle. In a flash-back, I had this vision of my days as a pos-doc in Stanford, around 1988. At some point I needed to use a special reagent: it was an antibody chemically coupled to a gold particle that could be later visualized under the electron microscope. In those days, such reagents were tremendously expensive, and the P.I. of my lab was definitely not swimming in grant money. So, I knew I had to be VERY careful and not make any mistakes once I opened that tiny little container. My hands were shaking, I was hyperventilating, even feeling a bit queasy.  But, back to the chicken, even though no gold-labeled antibody was involved, I went through similar hyperventilation as I worked to stuff the delicate slices under the skin. skinstuffing Phil at first was looking over my shoulder, but at some point he said “I think I should leave you alone with the truffle“. Smart man. The soaking of the slices in Madeira wine is a must, not so much for flavor, but to allow the slices to slide easily under the skin. If you don’t do that each slice will crumble in tiny pieces, and that would make a polka-dot instead of a black veil. You don’t want that. composite2
Of course, for such a special recipe, I had to make chicken stock from scratch, and used my favorite method: chicken wings, carrots, celery, onions, some herbs, a smidgen of ginger. In a little over one hour I had a luscious stock, dense with gelatin, intensely flavored.   It would be a crime to join fresh truffles with something poured out of a can, don’t you agree?

Pointers for success:  First, do the truffle stuffing under the skin 24 hours before you plan to make the dish. You get a much more intense flavor of truffle through the meat by doing that. Do not skip this advice.  Second, soak the truffles in Madeira wine for the reasons I specified.  Third, make your own chicken stock.  Those are three simple details that will make this recipe really shine.  And you don’t want to cut corners when dealing with such delicacy…

tastybite
Even though the truffle flavor is present in every bite of the chicken and in the sauce that must be spooned all over your side dish of choice, when you get one of the actual slices in your mouth, it is heavenly! I found it quite interesting that the smell of the fresh truffle, especially as the days went by, was almost unpleasant. Strong, and pungent, like a Pont l’Eveque or a ripe Camembert. But the taste… sublime!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, my secret friend!  In the near future I will share two more recipes using the special gift you were so kind to send me…

ONE  YEAR AGO: My Rio de Janeiro: A cookbook review
TWO YEARS AGO: Hearts of Palm Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette
THREE YEARS AGO: Watercress Salad
FOUR YEARS AGO: Curried Zucchini Soup
FIVE YEARS AGO: Chocolate Bread

PRIME RIB ROAST, MEXICAN STYLE

A prime rib is not cheap. Actually, I should be glad that we live in Kansas, where meat is of excellent quality and, compared to other places in the country, quite affordable. Still, it would be terrible to mess it up, something easy to do if you over-cook it.  I normally keep seasoning to a minimum, but for our dinner last Christmas we went with a recipe from Marcela Valladolid, that gave the roast her unique Mexican twist.  Yes, it is March.  Yes, it took me three months to blog about it.  Better late…. than never!  😉

Prime Rib Roast

PRIME RIB ROAST, MEXICAN STYLE
(from Marcela Valladolid)

1 (4 rib) prime rib roast with ribs  (9-10 pounds)
Salt as needed
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup assortment of ground peppercorns
1 tablespoon ground chile de arbol
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoon ground rosemary
Beef broth as needed

Heat oven to 400°F. Let roast stand for 1 hour at room temperature.  Season the roast heavily with salt.

In a separate bowl, mix the rest of ingredients (up to rosemary)  to form a paste. Rub all over prime rib roast.

Place prime rib roast on a roasting rack, add 2 cups beef broth to the roasting pan. Roast for about 30 minutes, until it is browned. Remove from oven, and reduce heat to 350°F. With aluminum foil, form a tent over the prime rib roast to cover it. Make sure the aluminum foil does not touch the prime rib, since it can damage it crust that it is forming. Return to oven and roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until thermometer registers 110°F. Add broth to the pan while roasting if liquid begins to evaporate.

Remove from oven and let rest, uncovered, for a least 20 minutes before carving and pour pan drippings into a separate bowl, reserve and set aside for gravy. Internal temperature of meat should rise to 130°F for medium rare.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

What to serve with it?  You can go simple with a humble veggie like green beans decorated with toasted almonds, or you can tell  yourself what I did: there’s only one month of December in the year, and December means festive…  Therefore, green beans were out, cheese souffle was in.  However, there is also a single month of April in the year. May? Another only child.  Those are important things to consider when planning a side dish. In case I convinced you to indulge, follow this link for my default cheese souffle recipe.   😉

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This was a wonderful meal, the prime rib was perfectly cooked, with a delicious spicy coating, not so strong as to mask the flavor of the meat.  I strongly advise using a meat thermometer because just like Beef Wellington, a prime rib must be cooked medium rare and a few minutes longer in the oven can pretty much ruin it.  Marcela Valladolid did it again, another winner recipe at our table!

plated

 Dinner is served! 

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Sourdough Bread with Walnuts and Dates

TWO YEARS AGO: Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Apricot Glaze

THREE YEARS AGO: The Real Vodka Sauce

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pork Tenderloin and Blue Cheese

 

SALMON WELLINGTON

I have the great pleasure of introducing another guest post by my beloved husband!

Although I’d like to say that Beef Wellington is everyone’s festive delicacy, that’s surely a falsehood, because for many, many people filet of beef is a profanity, and its accoutrement, foie gras, is an atrocity. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but  Sally and I don’t share those sentiments. We love the Wellingon! We love it so much that we sought other variants.  The one that we found, or in this case it’s even fair to say “invented,” is Salmon Wellington. Concocting a salmon Wellington is a bit like making an exquisite ham sandwich: you can garnish it with cheese or mustard or lettuce, or all three and more.   So, we created our own variation of the dish, that includes Alaskan snow crab and a phyllo dough shell.  It’s a light, …(OK, lighter)  and a fresh experience that’s still rich with flavor.
plated111SALMON WELLINGTON
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

2 pieces of center-cut filet of salmon, skin removed
1/2 cup of Alaskan crab meat, cooked and shredded
1 Tbsp grape seed oil
1 celery stalk, finely minced
1 shallot, finely minced
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp fresh dill, minced
salt and pepper to taste
6 sheets of phyllo dough, thawed
melted butter

Heat the oil in a small skillet and saute the shallots and celery in medium-low heat until translucent and fragrant, about 4 minutes.  Add the lemon zest and turn the heat off.  Transfer to a small bowl and allow it to cool to lukewarm or room temperature.   Mix the veggies with cooked crab meat, add the ginger and dill, mix well and season with salt and pepper.

To prepare the fish,  buy a thick piece of  fresh atlantic or wild salmon and cut it into 3″ by 4″ pieces, or a bit larger if you desire.   Remove the skin with a sharp knife (I prefer a ceramic knife for this) and carefully scrape away the central vein of dark, oily meat.  Rinse the filet under running water and dry it on paper towels.

Open the sheets of phyllo dough, 2 at a time, and brush them lightly with melted butter (you can also use olive oil if you prefer). Lay 6 sheets on top of each other and place half of the crab mixture over the center, leaving a large border all around.  Try to spread the crab mixture to cover more or less the same area that the salmon will occupy.   Lay the salmon filet on top, season with salt and pepper, and squeeze a small amount of lemon juice over it.  Wrap the phyllo dough around the filet.  Invert the package, so that the crab is on top, and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Cut away any excess dough.  Brush a little melted butter on top of the phyllo, and bake at 375 F for 25 minutes, until golden brown.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  As Phil said, we LOVE the Wellington, it is probably our “signature dish”, the one we turn to when we want to make a special meal. In fact, it was the first recipe we cooked together when we started dating, we even made the puff pastry from scratch.  Fun times… 😉 This variation is quickly becoming my favorite, though. Salmon and phyllo dough make a winning combination, and the crab meat doesn’t hurt either.  Over the years,  we’ve made Salmon Wellington with many different toppings. Once, while living in Paris we made it for our Valentine’s dinner.  Phil came up with a topping using a citric fruit similar to clementines, that was in season at the time.  It was outstanding!  Come to think of it, Valentine’s Day is not far away, and this would be a great meal for the occasion!

sliced22

ONE YEAR AGO: The Green Chip Alternative

TWO YEARS AGO: Weekend Pita Project

THREE YEARS AGO: Let it snow, let it snow, eggs in snow

CELEBRATE WEDNESDAY: HEIRLOOM TOMATOES STEAL THE SHOW

Ideally, my Wednesday special meal will catch Phil by complete surprise, but this time he had been snooping around the depths of our fridge. Just as I was getting ready to cook dinner, he asked me with a big smile “we’re having scallops tonight for dinner, aren’t we?”.  Bummer. Just could not get him this time.

I had the inspiration for this meal when I brought home a couple of heirloom tomatoes, and was blown away by how juicy and delicious they were.  I went right back to the store and bought some more.    They turned into a fantastic sauce, paired with leeks and a thinly sliced fennel bulb.  Scallops crowned the meal with their touch of class, always welcome. Another Wednesday evening made ultra-special!

PASTA WITH SCALLOPS IN HEIRLOOM TOMATOES AND FENNEL SAUCE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 Tbsp olive oil (+ a little more for searing scallops)
1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced, frowns reserved
3 to 4 heirloom tomatoes, depending on their size
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp orange zest, divided
8 sea scallops
¼ tsp ground fennel
spaghetti, or pasta of your choice

Boil the water to cook the pasta.

Core the tomatoes and cut them in large chunks, but don’t seed them.  Reserve.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, then saute the leeks and the sliced fennel for about 5 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper.  When they are soft and starting to get some golden color, add the tomatoes and half the orange zest. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes start to melt and release a lot of juice.  Cover the pan, and keep at a simmer.

Cook the pasta, and when it’s 5 minutes from being ready, heat a non-stick skillet on high heat, add olive oil just to coat the surface lightly.  Pat the scallops dry, season lightly with salt, pepper and ground fennel, and sear them, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

Reserve some of the pasta water, drain the pasta and add to the tomato/fennel pan, increase the heat slightly, and let the pasta and the sauce cook for a minute or so together. If needed, add some of the pasta water to the sauce.  Add the remaining orange zest, the scallops on top, and sprinkle with minced fennel fronds right before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

If you make this dish with “regular” tomatoes, it simply won’t be the same, so try to find these funky looking babies, they are superb, particularly the brown ones.  We could not get over the flavor of this dish, so few ingredients, but they work together beautifully, and the scallops (make sure you get a nice sear on the outside) are not overpowered by the sauce.

Normally I reserve the pasta water to adjust the consistency of a pan sauce, but in this case it was not necessary to add any.   The tomatoes did their job providing all the moisture to coat the pasta strands.

If you don’t like scallops,  shrimp could be a good option, or chicken breast filets.  If you want to keep it vegan,  maybe grilled tofu could work too.  But don’t mess with the heirloom tomatoes!

ONE YEAR AGO: Pain de Provence

TWO YEARS AGO: Golspie Loaf

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CELEBRATE WEDNESDAY: CRISPY HERB-CRUSTED HALIBUT

Most people are preoccupied and busy during the week, so weeknight dinners lean towards the quick and simple.  But,  every once in a while it’s nice to create a special meal, and Wednesday’s my favorite day to do it, because it’s right in the middle of the exhausting road to the weekend.  It’s HUMP DAY!   After reading  a  comment from Lisa, I decided to include such special dinners in a  category  called “Celebrate Wednesday.”  They will  focus on recipes  that are easy to prepare and sure to bring festivities to the table.  Today  it’s a  delicious  recipe from Anne Burrell,  that turned a cloudy, chilly Wednesday this past week into a warm, relaxing evening.

CRISPY HERB-CRUSTED HALIBUT WITH CURLY CELERY
(adapted from Chef Anne Burrell, recipe available online here)

6 celery ribs
Kosher salt
1 lemon, halved, divided
1/2 pound green beans,  cut in 1/2 inch pieces
Extra-virgin olive oil
1  garlic clove
Pinch of red pepper flakes
4 (6-ounce) halibut fillets, skin removed
1/2 bunch thyme, leaves chopped
1/2  bunch chives, minced
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, leaves finely chopped
1 cup instant mashed potato flakes
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water (egg wash)
olive oil

Using a sharp veggie peeler, shave the celery to get long, thin shavings. Put the celery shavings in ice water with half a lemon and its juice and let sit for at least 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator. The celery will get very crunchy, and all curly. Before you start preparing the rest of the meal, drain the celery and dry it well (preferably using a salad spinner). Reserve.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil,  and set up a bowl of ice water. Toss the green beans in the boiling water and cook until they beans are tender but still firm. Remove the beans from the boiling water and plunge immediately into the ice water and let them cool. When they are cold and still vibrantly green, remove them from the ice water and reserve (can be prepared the day before).

Heat your oven to 375 F.

Season the fish fillets with salt. Combine the herbs and the potato flakes in a shallow dish. Place the egg wash in another bowl. Dip the flesh side of each fillet into the egg wash and then press them into the herb/potato flake mixture. Put on a sheet tray with the crusted side up.

Coat a large saute pan with olive oil and heat it over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the fish, crusted side down. When the crust has become golden and crispy, flip them over, then transfer the fish to a baking sheet lined with a cooling rack and put in the preheated oven for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the filet is flaky and cooked through.

Remove the oil in the saute pan and add new oil. Toss in the garlic and crushed red pepper. When the garlic becomes golden and aromatic remove it and discard. Toss in the reserved green beans, and toss them around the pan to heat them through, without overcooking.  Turn off the heat, and add the crispy celery on top. Squeeze the juice of the other half of the lemon all over the veggies, divide them between 4 serving plates and top with the fish.

ENJOY!  (I know you will…  😉 ) 

to print the recipe, click here

 I don’t normally buy instant mashed potatoes, but when Anne Burrell asked me to, I complied. It took me a while to even find them at the grocery store. They come in a box and they hang around their buddies like boxed mac and cheese,  and hamburger helpers.  Now I must find some other uses, because the box is huge! (sigh)

The celery deserves a paragraph for itself.  The ribbons, after a few hours in the icy, lemony water, turn into crispy creatures, absolutely delicious! They were a pain to shave, but that’s probably due to my poor skills with the veggie peeler. I halved the recipe (used two fish filets only), but still went through 6 celery stalks to have enough good looking ribbons. At any rate, I advise you to make more than you think you need. Add it to a salad next day, or munch on them straight from the fridge. It’s addictive stuff!

This was a superb meal, one that I would make for company anytime.  And had the desired effect on my beloved, who was expecting leftovers from the evening before for his dinner.  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Almond Butter Cake

TWO YEARS AGO: Bonjour!  (makes me miss Paris!)

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