Monday, October 13, 2014

Italian Chicken Stew

Happy Fall everybody!  This is by far my favorite time of year. Cold enough to make soups and stews, chilis and casseroles, but still nice enough to open the windows and let a breeze blow through the kitchen while you're slaving over the stove.

Now, I know I've titled this post Italian chicken stew... but please please please do not mistake this for someone's Nonna's recipe.  This is one of those situations where the ingredients in my refrigerator drove the recipe and what came out looked and tasted "Italian" to me.  I almost called it "Tuscan Chicken Stew" but then I realized that this Irish American Ginger knows as much about traditional Tuscan cuisine as he does about interior design.  That is, he may have seen a couple of people do it on TV, but he has absolutely zero practical experience with the concept.

Now that I've got that off my chest, let's talk about this crazy tasty and filling stew I made for lunch today.

Last night before I went to bed, I pulled a couple of boneless and skinless chicken thighs out of the freezer to thaw in the refrigerator.  The plan was simple... I've been staring at a jar of capers on my refrigerator door for the past few weeks and I had some fresh thyme sitting in my vegetable drawer.  That's what I had in my head as I was falling asleep.
I did my normal internet reconnaissance for "chicken and capers" and paged through a half dozen braises and sautes. None of the individual recipes held my attention for long, but a general concept began to form as I started to apply my pantry to the different methods presented therein.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

So here I was, enjoying a beautiful day off, watching the Food Network and working on a chicken breast recipe that I've been mulling over for the past couple of weeks. I had my tweaks and ideas written down and decided to run downstairs to the kitchen to make sure I had all of the ingredients I needed.  Well, I popped open the fridge... and realized that I had cooked my chicken breasts the other day and instead I had chicken thighs defrosting in there. Bah!

Oh well, at least I had something defrosting to make for dinner. I hopped on here to see what I could whip up with chicken thighs that wouldn't take much work. (By this point, I was a tad hangry. Having my cooking plans thwarted so makes me both hungry and angry.)

To my surprise, I realized that I had never posted this recipe. I've made this dish several times a month since Christmas, as it is yet another dish inspired by something I found in Joe's Cookbook. In his version, he uses whole chicken legs, sunchokes and a fancy preserved lemon gremolata. At this point, about the only thing my recipe has in common with his is the fact that it roasts in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Parmesan-Herb Bread Pudding

I was flipping through the channels the other day and caught the opening sequence of Anne Burrell's Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. In it, she described what she'd be making that day and her herbed bread pudding caught my eye. 

You see, I have been a bread pudding fan for many many years. Sweet or savory, I love 'em. Reading the recipe online brought to mind the sinfully delicious cheese souffle that my friend Paul makes from time to time.  I freaking love that souffle.

So, without further ado, here's my version of this rich deliciousness.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pantry Fish Cakes

Working in a grocery store has given me ample opportunity to muse on various food items, recipes and general merriment in the kitchen. In fact, a good 80% of my work day consists of me daydreaming about what I can make when I get home, my next day off, and/or when I wake up the next day. (I currently work overnights stocking the grocery shelves at the local Wal-Mart. Trust me, my brain is not at all required for anything more than making sure I don't eviscerate myself with a box cutter.)

This daydreaming, however, can get downright weird.

Case in point, recently I have asked myself, on multiple occasions, what WOULD one do with a can of salmon? I ask myself this for two reasons. One, I LOOOOOVE salmon. Two... I absolutely cannot afford salmon. Remember, I bought a meat package. Splurging on more protein at over twice the price just isn't fiscally wise. In fact, it's just dumb. So I daydream about salmon... cheap salmon.

Now, it was immediately apparent that my go-to "sear-on-stove, finish-in-oven" preparation for fresh salmon was inadequate for this particular variant of my favorite seafood. I'd need to think of something new.

In my multiple hours of musing on this particular topic (yeah... I get bored) I had a brief epiphany when I remembered this recipe that I bookmarked months ago when I was daydreaming about a future wherein I COULD afford fresh salmon.

Upon further reflection, I decided that the salmon in the can probably has a decidedly different texture from that of fresh salmon. I imagined the salmon in the can to be more like tuna in a can (as they are both canned fish, I believe this constitutes a wild intuitive leap). I still thought I could make something tasty, even though I'd be straying far from what most people would call a "burger".

And here we are, after several days of mentally writing and re-writing a recipe in my head, I hit on one final dilemma.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Country Style Pork Ribs Pastoral

First off, I want to apologize. I have been cooking quite a bit for the past month, but have neglected to post a thing. This is partially because I have been going back through and revisiting old recipes. This is primarily due to the fact that I have been too lazy to bother taking pictures. Sometimes video games leech all semblance of ambition from my soul.

Fortunately, my ambition was recently bolstered by the Friends & Family Market here in Ellsworth. This fantastic store is a combination gas station, corner store, produce market, deli and butcher. The butcher offers meat packages at a discount. For $30, I completely stocked my freezer with this...
I told my sister that it felt like Christmas in April, unwrapping all of these delightful packages.  Her response... "It's Meatmas."

Meatmas indeed.

In the lower left of the above picture there is 2.5 lbs sweet italian sausage. Along with that came:
3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 lbs. boneless pork country spareribs
2 lbs. chuck stew beef
Some other options for this meat package were:
  • 2 lbs. london broil steak
  • 2 lbs. bottom round roast
  • 2 lbs. beef cube steak
  • 3 lbs. pork sirloin cutlets
  • 2 lbs. italian meatballs
  • 2 lbs. slab bacon
  • 5 lbs chicken thighs
And many many more. At various price points, you can pick 4 - 18 different selections from the list. As you can imagine, I'm already planning my next package... though I won't need one for another two months at least.

In homage to my mother, I separated and re-wrapped individual portions of everything to make "freezer shopping" all that much easier.
Of all of my selections, the only one I had never cooked before were the pork spareribs. Unfortunately, the internet falls woefully short on imaginative recipes for this particular cut of meat.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Faux French Apple Tart

I bought an apple at the grocery store today with the express intent of making this. It's loosely based on Ina Garten's French Apple Tart that I saw her make on television this afternoon.

Instead of making my own dough in my imaginary food processor (I'll admit that I get a little bit peeved at Ina for using hers for practically every recipe,) I used my good old dessert standby: Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry.
The great thing about frozen puff pastry is that you can pull a sheet out of the freezer, let it thaw, cut off how much you want, and then re-freeze the rest. For this one person dessert, I cut off a piece just slightly larger than a 3x5 index card.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Quinoa-Black Olive Cakes

I may have mentioned a big bag of white quinoa that we have sitting in the kitchen.
Well, I finally found a recipe that I wanted to try.

It's delicious. Now, I usually cut recipes down when I'm making them for myself. In the future, I will probably do so with this one too...
Our mixing bowl situation in this house is, shall we say, sparse. So I mixed up the "batter" in this baking dish and realized that (thank goodness) I did not have to cook up all of these at once. I can actually pop the remainder in a tupperware and have the makings for quick, filling, vegetarian superfood cakes any time.
Did I mention that these were delicious?