Thursday, May 14, 2009

Leftover Lunch

I marinated some chicken breasts in a cilantro-based chimichurri (Pa is from Argentina, been eating that since I was two as well), the BBQ'd it 3 days ago for dinner.  If you want the chimichurri recipe, just ask. 

The chicken was lovely... and so was the cilantro rice I made with it.   I had an extra breast (I could use a coupla those in real life, actually), so I made a yummy sandwich for lunch with it.

BBQ Chicken Breast Sandwich with Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes
-1 breast, shredded (will make 2 sandwiches, so use half if you are one person eating!)
-2 slices of french bread, toasted
-aioli for 1 (Tablespoon mayo, squirt lemon juice, 1 small minced garlic clove)
-dijon mustard
-Rogue Creamery Bleu, crumbled or any Brie, small squares
-10 to 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
-Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
-1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
- salt & peppah!

The Roasting:  Tomatoes
You can roast the tomatoes in a skillet on the stove if you are in a hurry... but the oven at 400 degrees is tastier.

-put tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper in a small oven-safe skillet
-saute to mix well for 2 minutes (about 5 to 8 minutes if you aren't using oven for roasting)
-place in 400 degree oven for 8 minutes
-take out, put cheese in skillet with tomatoes, mix up until melted

Voila!  Now, make your sandwich.

-Spread aioli on one toasted slice, dijon on the other
-place shredded chicken on top of one side
-pour tomatoes on top of chicken
-close up with other slice
-get a book, a napkin (it's a messy sandwich!), go out on your deck and enjoy!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Rogue's Salad

My Pa (the first cook in my life, the one who fed me martini's and Ridge wine when I was two), introduced me to the Rogue River Creamery a few years ago...  they make cheese, in Oregon.

Gorgeous, delicious cheese.  This recipe showcases their Bleu, a gorgonzola dolce-esq bleu that is very creamy, and not at all on the stinky side.  I always called blue cheese "stinky cheese" - my Pa ate a lot of it, and he was stinky!

It takes about 2 minutes to make this, so you can whip it up anytime, this is for 4.  It is a rare day when I use a pre-made salad dressing, so this one is all my own, not derived from anywhere.

The Dressing

In a small bowl, put 
-2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-2 teaspoons honey
-salt & pepper to taste

Whisk the dressing together and toss with:

- 4 handfulls of fresh baby spinach leaves

Arrange 1 Bosc pear, sliced lengthwise, thinly on 
top of lightly dressed spinach.

Crumble Rogue River Bleu on top.

Drizzle remainder of dressing over the pear.  


Not Your Mother's Meatloaf...

As with every dinner I make, the first ingredient is always wine.   Whether it's in your glass... or on the stove.  For this particular night, a cabernet glaze was going on the meatloaf... and a pre-dinner Riesling was in my glass.  Two-fer is always better than one!

Since the theme for the weekend was rain... I decided that comfort food was on the menu Friday night.  

This meatloaf is not your '50s style loaf.  It is also not from Alice's Brady Bunch kitchen.  It is, in a word, fantabulous.

This is also something that the kids love.  With cheeks full, my eldest mumbled, nodded his head vigorously and stabbed the loaf on his plate as if he were afraid it might run off,  "MMMmmmmm MOM!"                                                                   

Meatloaf with Cabernet Glaze

I got this recipe from my current recipe bible, Food & Wine Cookbook 2009, and because I'm ornery, changed it.  Only slightly, and only to please my husband, who wanted a "real meat", not "baby meat" meatloaf.

The recipe called for ground veal, lamb and pork.  Two "baby meats" and one sort-of-not-so-manly-meat.  So, I replaced the lamb (sorry, Gary) with ground beef.  I have made a similar recipe with the lamb, and it was divine.  So you make your own choice here.  Lamb is incredibly rich and heady, so if you want a fancy, even more fantastic meatloaf, that is the meat to use.

What You'll Need for a Night of Comfort:

3/4 lb ground beef (or lamb if you are dressing to impress)
1/2 lb ground veal
1/2 lb ground pork
-1 whole onion, diced
-4 minced garlic cloves
-olive oil (recipe called for sauteing onion in butter, but I prefer olive oil)
-1/2 cup milk
-1 cup breadcrumbs
-2 eggs (recipe called for one), whisked together in a small bowl.
-2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
-2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
-pinch of cayenne pepper
-pinch of nutmeg
-2 teaspoons salt
-3 teaspoons pepper 
-3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Saute the onion and garlic until transparent, put in a large mixing bowl.  Add all of the above ingredients, and get your fingers dirty (my daughter loves "mushing the meaties") mixing it all together with the ground meat.

Mound into a roasting pan (9 x 9 or so) and put into a 350 degree oven.  Set timer for 30 minutes, then baste top with the Cab Glaze (ingredients below)  Bake until internal temp reaches 150.

Cabernet Glaze
If you like a nice saucy meatloaf, make twice 
as much, and you'll have enough for sauce
-1 1/4 cups red wine (I used Cab)
-1/4 ketchup (called for sugar, but with the molasses it is too sweet)
-1 tomato, finely chopped (I used diced tomatoes from a Trader Joe's can)
-1 teaspoon unsulfured molasses
-pinch of allspice

In a saucepan, put all of the ingredients, and bring to a slow boil while meatloaf is cooking for reduction and thickening.  When sauce starts to thicken, put it on a small burner and simmer on low.

When your 30 minute timer goes off, baste the top of the meatloaf with some of the glaze

Continue cooking until temp is 150.

Serve with:

Asparagus Risotto 
(Trader Joe's frozen section)
Busy Moms don't have time for scratch 
Risotto on a week night, for cryin' out loud!

Spinach, Pear & Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese Salad (Next Post!)


Rainy Saturday Morning Breakfast

Saturday morning this weekend I woke up to the the sound of pouring rain.  In the Sierra Nevada, rain comes as quickly as it goes... but this storm had started Thursday night and had not let up.  In fact, as I write this on Sunday, it is still raining.

I felt like filling up with something hot and delicious that morning... and my kids were yelling "HUNGER" at the top of their lungs... so it needed to be something that didn't take long to make.

French Toast with Strawberry Compote Syrup
This recipe serves 4.  The most time is taken cooking the dipped bread slices one by one in a skillet...  if you have a griddle, you can do more slices at one time.

From the cupboard:
-8 piece
s of bread (preferably Brioche, or that King's Hawaiian, sliced)
-cinnamon (2 teaspoons)
-nutmeg (2 teaspoons)
-ginger (2 teaspoons)
-sugar (3 tablespoons)
-real maple syrup - not that fake stuff

From the 'Fridge:
-6 eggs
-about 10 strawberries, diced into small pieces
-Strawberry jam
-butter (for browning in pan)
-heavy cream (1/4 cup)
-creme fraiche (spoon full on top of each serving after cooked)
-fresh orange juice & champagne...  mimosas!

Preheat oven to 150, to keep french toast & syrup warm while you make more slices.

Mix eggs, cream, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a bowl.  When well mixed, pour into a 9x9 pan for dipping the bread slices into.

Meanwhile, pour about 1 cup of syrup in a small stainless sauce pan, add the diced strawberries and 1 large spoonful of strawberry jam.  Stir over low heat until jam is melted, heat thoroughly.  Put saucepan with syrup mixture in a 150 degree warming oven

Warm a skillet on the stove, medium flame.  Dip each slice of bread to lightly cover with egg/cinnamon mixture.  Lightly brown on each side, add to plate in warming oven until ready to serve.  For a tastier finish, take a stick of butter, rub it on the hot skillet before browning the bread on each side.

Serve a couple of slices of french toast on each plate, with a dollop of creme fraiche, and the strawberry compote syrup poured lightly over the bread.

You most likely will not need lunch after this richly textured breakfast...  so eat up!