Monday, September 20, 2010

Herby Chicken Salad

In honor of this year's Opera in the Outfield, I scoured the internet and my cookbooks for something picnicky. This salad, which uses olive oil instead of mayonnaise and put our little herb garden to good use, was perfect - bright and delicious. Thanks again, Mark Bittman! My variation below:
  • 1.75 lb. chicken leg quarters (would be fine with pre-made chicken, too), cooked then meat shredded
  • 3-4 shallots (about 4 tbsp.), minced
  • 1/4 cup Kalamanta olives, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 2/3 heaping cup mixed herbs (used mostly basil, with some parsley, chives and thyme), chopped
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to taste (ended up using about 1/3 cup)
  • salt and pepper to taste
If you aren't using pre-made chicken, cook the meat any way you please. (I poached the legs in about 5 cups of water with onions, garlic, celery, carrots, peppercorns, salt and pepper, then reserved the broth for other uses). Shred the meat.

Mix the chicken, shallots, olives, and lemon zest. Add the herbs, lemon juice and olive oil and mix, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Refrigerate till cold, then serve either as-is or over a bed of salad greens. (The leftovers were excellent with couscous the next day, too.)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Seared Tuna with Greens and Ginger Dressing

John and I had no idea what we wanted for dinner. He got some lovely fish and salad greens at the market. The former was a really nice tuna steak, which he marinated in white whine, Bragg's and brown sugar; the latter we mixed with some onion and shaved carrots. When I got home, I was tasked with making the dressing, and decided on a ginger vinaigrette. Have since lost the bookmark, but I remember the proportions. The tang and sweetness of the dressing complemented the salad and perfectly-seared tuna wonderfully. Unfortunately I used some off corn oil, which tasted a bit plasticky, but more vinegar and ginger corrected it. Next time, veg oil for sure, and perhaps some experimentation with garlic and such.
  • 1 tbsp. ginger, finely grated
  • 1-1/2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Mix the first three ingredients till blended, then drizzle in the oil, whisking all the while, till emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve over greens and/or fish.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pasta with Sausage, Cream and Cheese

I was ready to have leftover  split pea soup (made with ham hocks, naturally) for dinner before I came across this recipe. John kindly bought ingredients, and we had a rich, flavorful dinner. Next time: more blue cheese (we could hardly taste it, even after tripling the amount in the recipe). This would also be a good one-pot meal with a bunch of spinach or other leafy greens added. Tweaked version below.
  • 8 oz. pasta
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz. sweet Italian sausage, cut into 1 in. lengths (6 oz. in original)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed basil, chopped (oregano in the original)
  • 1-1/2 oz. blue cheese (1/2 oz in the original)
  • 1/4 cup half and half (cream in the original)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, for garnish  (a treat, as we didn't have Parmesan handy)
Bring lots of salted water to a boil and cook pasta till done. Reserve a half cup or so of pasta water.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and brown, about 5-10 minutes.

Add wine, turn to high, and reduce for about 2 minutes. Add herbs, blue cheese and cream, cooking till the cheese is melted and the liquid has begun to thicken.

Mix with the pasta, adding pasta water or additional cheese till a nice, saucy consistency has been reached. Serve, passing around Parmigiano-Reggiano/Parmesan to garnish.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mirepoix Tomato Sauce

Alright, not quite, since the proportions of onion, celery and carrot are equal. But it's a quick, simple sauce, straight out of Bittman, and its aromatic sweetness was the perfect counterpoint to the chicken breasts in ancho chile sauce that John made to go with it.
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 28 oz. can tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots and cook till tender, 5-10 minutes.

Crush the tomatoes and add them to the pot, with salt and pepper to taste. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook till the tomatoes break down and the mixture is saucy, about 10-25 minutes.

Serve over pasta or meat.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Chicken and Potato Pesto Salad

I'm ashamed to admit that this was our first Nats game of the season, but hey - they blew out the Mets (Espinosa even hit a grand slam, I think the first I've seen in this park) and we had a delicious picnic lunch. Pesto recipe modified from der Bittman's. I've included the chicken cooking here, though ideally this would be made with leftovers.
  • 1.5 lbs. chicken thighs
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • salt to taste
  • 6 small potatoes, brushed (and peeled if you're so inclined) and cut into quarters
  • 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tbsp. - will use more next time though)
  • 2 tbsp. chopped walnuts (will try more next time)
  • about 1/4 + 1/8 cup olive oil
  • salt to taste (I ended up using about a heaping 1/4 tsp.)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
If you aren't using leftover chicken, cook the thighs in water to cover with  garlic, onion, peppercorns and salt. When done(30-40 mins.), put the chicken in a bowl to cool; remove skin and shred chicken. Reserve chicken broth.

Cut potatoes into chunks and cook in the broth till done but still firm (8-12 minutes).

Combine basil, garlic, walnuts, 1/4 cup olive oil and salt in food processor. Pulse till saucy. Add more oil as necessary (I ended up using just another 2 tbsp. or so). Add cheese.

Toss chicken, potatoes and pesto till coated evenly. Adjust seasoning, then refrigerate.