Coke-Brined Fried Chicken with Biscuits & Gravy

IMG_4098

Springtime brings the obvious pleasures of green grass, flowers, fresh air, eating outside, etc. But every year at my house, we also have a little house finch who builds her nest (with her significant other) next to our door. She sits there so sweetly. She sings. She drives our cat crazy! :)

IMG_3866

We also usually struggle with Canadian geese all over our lawn… but this year our yard has been claimed by a duck couple.  They walk side by side in conversation completely fearless of the real homeowners! They swim side by side on our pool cover. Such a nice change from the geese. I am assuming we will be welcoming ducklings soon. :)

Another springtime event in my world is my husband’s birthday dinner. It requires a lot of thought (on his part), a lot of cooking (on my part), and usually a lot of indulgence. This year was no exception! But, I am going to have to tell you that it was really really good.

My husband grew up in Charleston, South Carolina and has a real love for southern food. It’s just hearty and comforting – and good. :) After he decided on his wish list menu, I searched far and wide for the perfect fried chicken recipe. This Coke-brined version was adapted from Willie Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans, Louisiana by way of John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, Mississippi via the New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton. (Credit needs to be paid when credit is due!) The Coke tenderizes the meat but also results in deep-mahogany brown, sweet, super-moist chicken. I modified the recipe to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs- of course! Delicious- and the leftovers were wonderful cold as well.

My husband’s wish list menu also included biscuits and gravy, macaroni and cheese (a side dish in the South!), caesar salad (yes- there was actually something green), and vanilla bean birthday cheesecake. (I mentioned it was an indulgent meal, right?) I made the fabulous giant biscuits I had made in the past for Fried Chicken Biscuits. Why mess with perfection? The milk gravy recipe was adapted from The Pioneer Woman.com. Yum!

This dish is the “grand finale” of my chicken thigh “festival”!! (for now, anyway…) Happy Birthday, Mr. Brookcook! :)

IMG_3031

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Coke-Brined Fried Chicken:

For the Brine:

  • 5 cups Coca-Cola (I used 3 12-oz cans)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 4 teaspoons mild hot sauce like Sriracha, Crystal, Texas Pete or Cholula
  • 10 to 15 boneless skinless chicken thighs

For the Seasoned Flour:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For Frying:

  • 3 cups peanut oil
  • 1 cup lard, optional, or replace with peanut oil

For Serving:

  • Hot sauce, optional
  1. Make the brine: Combine cola, salt, thyme, garlic and hot sauce in a large glass bowl and stir until the salt has dissolved. Add the chicken thighs, cover and refrigerate 3 to 5 hours. (Longer will break down the meat.)
  2. Make the seasoned flour: In a wide, shallow bowl or pan, combine the flour, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne.
  3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put the peanut oil in a large heavy-bottom pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until it reaches 375 degrees on a candy thermometer. While the oil heats, remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. (I did this in batches.)
  4. Dredge the thighs in the flour and shake to remove excess.
  5. Working in batches of 2 or 3 at a time, carefully lower thighs with tongs into the hot oil. The oil temperature will plummet when the cold chicken goes into the pan; turn up the heat and carefully monitor the temperature. Cook for approximately 3 minutes on one side, 3 minutes on the other, and then a final 2 minutes on the first side. Remove to a wire rack over a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain.
  6. The juices should run clear when the chicken is poked with a knife. If necessary, transfer the browned chicken to a baking sheet and bake until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees on a instant-read thermometer. Serve hot or at room temperature with hot sauce, biscuits, and gravy, as desired.

For the Biscuits:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more
  • 3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cups chilled buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Pulse baking powder, salt, sugar, baking soda, and flour in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until the texture of coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.
  2. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Mix in buttermilk with a fork, then gently knead just until a shaggy dough comes together.
  3. Pat out dough on a lightly floured surface until 1¼” thick. Cut out biscuits with a 3” biscuit cutter, rerolling scraps once.
  4. Place biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush tops with egg. Bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes (on convection) or up to 30–35 minutes.

For the Milk Gravy:

  • 3 T fried chicken pan drippings
  • 2-3 T all-purpose flour
  • 1-2 cups milk (I used 1 percent)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, add pan drippings and flour. Whisk immediately. It should be smooth.
  2. Keep stirring until the mixture begins to brown, 2-3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan.
  3. Whisk in 1 cup of milk. Cook until desired thickness is achieved- adding more milk if desired.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cut biscuits in half and pour gravy over the top to serve.

IMG_4084

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

IMG_4064

Chicken Goulash with Biscuit Dumplings

IMG_3860

This dish was HOT. Super spicy. I was so excited to get my hands on both sweet and hot Hungarian paprika- and then even more excited to find a dish (Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best One-Pot Dish” no less) that incorporated hot paprika. Well, I don’t know if my paprika was just too fresh…

I am a fan of spicy food, but my family had to slather this spicy gravy with sour cream in order to eat it. :/ A lot of water was consumed as well. :/ I thought that the sour cream in both the sauce and the biscuits would temper the heat- or by eating each bite along with part of a fabulously moist and tender biscuit would be enough…

BUT- after saying all of that- this dish was so wonderful it definitely deserves to be made again. Smell- AMAZING. Biscuits- AMAZING. I would modify the recipe by using 1 tablespoon of hot Hungarian paprika along with 1 tablespoon of sweet paprika next time. This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff-favorite” recipe, contributed by Grace Parisi.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces (I used 10 thighs)
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 5 T cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup sour cream (I used light)
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T hot Hungarian paprika (I would substitute 1 T sweet for half of the hot next time)
  • 3/4 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1/2 tsp dry thyme or 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust lightly with flour.
  2. In a deep ovenproof skillet (I used enameled cast iron), melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in the olive oil. Add the chicken and cook over high heat, turning once, until browned on both sides, 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate.
  3. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the 1 1/2 cups of flour with the baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Pulse in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. Whisk 1/2 cup of the stock with 1/2 cup of the sour cream and drizzle over the dry ingredients; pulse until a dough forms.
  5. Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic to the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 minutes.
  6. Return the chicken to the skillet. Stir in the paprika and caraway and cook for 30 seconds. Add the remaining 2 cups of chicken stock and 1/2 cup of sour cream and stir until smooth. Add the thyme and bring to a boil.
  7. Scoop twelve 3-tablespoon-size mounds of biscuit dough over the chicken. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the biscuits are cooked. If biscuits are not golden, turn on the broiler and broil for about 2 minutes, until the biscuits are golden. (I omitted this step.)
  8. Serve the goulash in bowls, spooning the biscuits on top.

IMG_3863

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Grilled Chicken Thighs with Chile-Yogurt Sauce

IMG_3828

One of my friends has been teasing me about my fondness for chicken thighs!  I have several chicken thigh recipes to share and was initially trying to separate them with other posts… you know, to not get teased… ;) Well, I decided to post them all consecutively instead- as a chicken thigh “festival” of sorts! :) They are so versatile and tasty. Enjoy!

This quick and simple recipe results in super moist and tender chicken. The sauce provides the spiciness, so the heat level can easily be adjusted – or omitted (gasp!)- to taste.

We ate this delicious chicken with warm naan, Turkish Bulgur and Vegetable Pilaf, as well as grilled peppers, tomatoes, and red onions on the side. This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine kebab recipe, contributed by Jimmy Bannos, Jr. of The Purple Pig in Chicago. Great!

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika (I used Hungarian)
  • 15 boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat (for kebabs cut each thigh into 3 pieces)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used fat free)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • lemon slices or wedges, for serving, optional
  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk 1/2 cup of the olive oil with the paprika. Add the chicken and toss to coat; let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the yogurt, lemon juice, cayenne, crushed red pepper and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper and mix well.
  4. Light a grill. For kebabs: Thread 3 pieces onto each of 8 skewers. (We grilled the thighs whole.)
  5. Oil the grate and grill the chicken over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  6. Transfer the skewers to a serving platter and serve with the yogurt sauce and lemon wedges.

Note: The yogurt sauce can be refrigerated overnight.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Roasted Chicken with Potatoes, Arugula, & Garlic Yogurt

I love the trend of making a complete meal on a single sheet-pan- absolute genius! This is a wonderful springtime version that has it all… (at least for me!) Chicken thighs, arugula, leeks, harissa, garlic yogurt, and potatoes (for my husband :) ). A complete meal- including salad!

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used boneless skinless chicken thighs, Greek yogurt, and modified the plating as well as the cooking time. Easy & delicious!!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 ½ to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (8-10 thighs)
  • 1 ¼ pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes, halved and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons harissa (or use another thick hot sauce, such as sriracha)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest (from 1/2 lemon)
  • ⅓ cup plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 2 ounces baby arugula, or more, as desired
  • Chopped fresh dill, as needed
  • Lemon juice, as needed
  1. Combine chicken and potatoes in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together harissa, cumin and 3 tablespoons oil. Pour over chicken and potatoes and toss to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine leeks, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil.
  4. Heat oven to 425 degrees (I used the convection roast setting). Arrange chicken and potatoes on a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Roast 15 minutes.
  5. Remove pan from the oven and toss potatoes lightly. Scatter leeks over pan. Roast until chicken and potatoes are cooked through and everything is golden and slightly crisped, 20 to 30 minutes longer.
  6. While chicken cooks, place yogurt in a small bowl. Grate garlic over yogurt and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. To serve, scatter dill over the chicken and vegetables in the pan. Place a generous handful of arugula on each plate. Spoon chicken and vegetables over the arugula. Dollop yogurt sauce over the chicken. Drizzle with oil and lemon juice and serve. (I served each plate with lemon to squeeze over the top, as desired.)

IMG_3916

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Mushroom Bourguignon

It’s official… “bourguignon” is my new favorite word! I can’t stop saying it!! AMAZING. :) I’m driving my family crazy…

This “meaty” vegetarian dish is hearty and rich with flavor. A wonderful twist on a classic French dish. I adapted the recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Wisdom from an Obsessive Home Cook by Deb Perelman. We ate it over fresh tagliatelle noodles, but it would be delicious with any other type of egg noodles such as pappardelle as well. An easy and elegant weeknight meal.

Yield: Serves 6 as a main course

  • 3 T (45 ml) olive oil
  • 3 T (45 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 pounds cremini mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, & cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 1/2 cups (172 g) pearl onions, peeled (thawed if frozen)
  • 1 small carrot, finely diced
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 3/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups (352 ml) full-bodied red wine
  • 2 1/2 T (52 g) tomato paste
  • 3 cups (712 ml) beef, chicken, or vegetable stock
  • 2 T plus 1 tsp (18 g) all-purpose flour
  • egg noodles, for serving (I used fresh tagliatelle)
  • chopped chives or parsley, for garnish, optional
  • sour cream, for garnish, optional
  1.  Heat 1 1/2 T olive oil and 1 1/2 T butter in a medium-sized Dutch oven or heavy saucepan over high heat.
  2. Sear the mushrooms and thawed pearl onions until they begin to take on a little color- your mushrooms will make a delightful “squeak-squeak” as they’re pushed around the hot pan- but the mushrooms do not yet release any liquid, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Remove mushrooms and pearl onions from the pan and set aside.
  4. Lower the flame to medium and add the second T of olive oil. Add the carrot, yellow onion, shallot, thyme, a few pinches of coarse salt, and several grinds of black pepper in the pan, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned.
  5. Add the garlic and cook for just 1 more minute. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Add the wine to the pot, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom, then turn the heat all the way up and reduce it by half, which will take about 4 to 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in the tomato paste and the stock.
  8. Add back the mushrooms and pearl onions with any juices that have collected; bring the mixture to a boil- then reduce the temperature so it simmers for 10 to 15 minutes, or until both the mushrooms and onions are very tender.
  9. Combine the flour and the remaining butter with a fork; stir this into the stew.
  10. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to a “coating” consistency. (I boiled mine down for 10 minutes!) Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
  11. When the desired consistency of the stew is achieved, cook the egg noodles according to the package directions in salted boiling water.
  12. To serve, spoon the stew over a bowl of egg noodles, dollop with sour cream (we omitted this topping), if using, and sprinkle with optional chives or parsley.

Note: The stew reheats very well on the second and third days in a large saucepan over low heat.

IMG_3880

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Vanilla Rose Cake

IMG_3810

When my daughter saw photos of a rose cake on The Quiet Baker– she had to have it! The rose cake frosting pattern, originally from I am Baker, I believe, is actually quite simple and seems to be popping up all over the place. I think that the pink sugar pearls were a nice addition. What a pretty cake!

My daughter requested a yellow cake with cream cheese frosting; I aim to please. ;)  I used a yellow cake recipe adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, via epicurious.com. The vanilla cream cheese frosting recipe is from Martha Stewart Living. This cake needs a LOT of frosting… I initially made 1 1/2 times the amount for a standard cake, but had to make even more! The recipe below may yield extra frosting (not such a bad thing)- but better safe than sorry. :)

The frosting needs to be warm enough to pipe, but not so warm that the roses slide down the sides of the cake. I had to repeatedly chill my frosting to prevent this from happening. I guess that is a drawback of warm weather… (Trust me, after this past winter, I’m not complaining!) I used a 1M pastry tip. Lovely. <3

Yield: Serves 12

For the Cake:

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup milk (I used whole milk)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (must be softened)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (on convection).
  2. Prepare 2 standard cake pans by lining with parchment paper and grease with cooking oil spray.
  3. In a medium bowl lightly combine the yolks, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla.
  4. In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend.
  5. Add the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides.
  6. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.
  7. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be about 1/2 full.
  8. Bake 25 to 27 minutes on convection or up to 35 minutes in a standard oven, or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
  9. Let the cakes cool in the pan on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up and cool completely before wrapping airtight.

For the Frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 10 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • sugar pearls, optional
  1. Beat together butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 1 minute.
  2. Reduce speed to medium. Add confectioner’s sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Add salt, milk, and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Note: If not using immediately, cover surface of frosting with plastic wrap. Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week. Before using, bring to room temperature, then beat on low speed until smooth.

To Frost the Cake:

  1. Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate and spread 1 cup frosting on top. Place remaining cake layer on top.
  2. Crumb coat the cake. Chill for about 10 minutes.
  3. Using a pastry bag fitted with the 1M tip, pipe rows of rosettes, starting from the bottom edge and work upwards towards the center of the top. (Piping the side is a little more challenging than piping the top, so try to do a couple of practice rosettes on the side first, then scrape them off  being careful not to take off any crumbs.) (a 2D tip could also be used)
  4. Once the entire cake is covered in piped rosettes, pipe in little ‘stars’ to fill any areas between the roses.
  5. Add on edible sugar pearls, if desired.

Note: If frosting becomes too soft, refrigerate to firm up. The cake can be covered with a cake dome and refrigerated overnight.

**Bring the cake to room temperature before serving.**

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Seared Scallop Bites

We have a few gold standard appetizers in our house. This is one of them- we have made it for YEARS. It is simple and elegant.

I don’t know if it started when we were on a tighter financial budget, but we use half of a scallop on each bite-sized appetizer. The scallops go further- of course- but they also cook faster and are more buttery as well. Why mess with perfection? :) The recipe is adapted from Cocktail Food: 50 Finger Foods with Attitude by Mary Corpening Barber and Sara Corpening Whiteford with Lori Lyn Narlock.

The original recipe provides instructions to make parmesan crisps to serve each seared scallop on. The first time I ever made this dish, I attempted to make these crisps (with much frustration)… never again! From then on we have always used bite-sized melba toast instead and they are absolutely perfect (& much easier!). With slivers of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano topping each toast- spectacular!!

Yield: Makes 12 bites

  • 6 sea scallops, each sliced in half (in height), yielding 12 equal disks
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper or white pepper
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • white truffle oil, optional
  • 12 bite-sized melba toast
  • 1 T finely chopped fresh chives
  • 12 thin slivers of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I use a vegetable peeler)
  1. Dry the surface of the scallops with a paper towel; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Melt 2 T of the butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add half of the scallops (make sure not to overcrowd) and cook until barely cooked through.
  4. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet.
  5. Wipe out the skillet and return to the stove over medium heat. Melt the 2 remaining T of butter in the skillet.
  6. Add the remaining scallops and cook until barely cooked through, about 2 minutes. Set aside with the other scallops.
  7. To assemble: Top each melba toast with a sliver of Parmigiano-Reggiano, then top with a scallop. Drizzle with white truffle oil, if using, and sprinkle with chives.
  8. Serve immediately.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Lemony Butter Cookies

My daughter asks to eat every lemon garnish on the table- yes– off of everyone’s plate. She LOVES lemons!! I made these cookies just for her. <3

I love cookies that incorporate confectioners’ sugar because they have such a light and wonderful texture. The grated lemon zest over the top of the glaze made them pretty as well. This recipe is from Food and Wine, contributed by Kristen Stevens. I refrigerated the dough overnight but brought it to room temperature prior to baking. The recipe made exactly three dozen cookies (a dozen on each cookie sheet) – that never happens! (to me, anyway :/ ) Great!

Bringing this tasty treat to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #67 @Fiesta Friday.net. Enjoy!!

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

For the Cookies:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • Finely grated lemon zest, for garnish

Make the Cookies:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° (on convection) and position racks in the upper and lower thirds. (I used 3 racks.)
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter with the confectioners’ sugar until very smooth, about 2 minutes.
  3. Beat in the lemon zest and juice, then beat in the flour and salt until just incorporated; scrape down the side of the bowl as necessary.
  4. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Arrange the balls 1 inch apart on 3 baking sheets and, using your fingers, gently flatten each cookie.
  5. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned on the bottom and just firm; rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking.
  6. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Make the Glaze:

  1. In a bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar with the lemon juice and butter until smooth.
  2. Spread (I used a butter knife) the lemon glaze on the cooled cookies and garnish with finely grated lemon zest.
  3. Let stand until the glaze is set, about 15 minutes.

Note: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

IMG_3647

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Hunter’s Chicken Stew

What a fabulous one-pot stew! Wine, mushrooms, garlic, and herbs with (my favorite) chicken thighs. This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff-favorite” recipe, contributed by Mimi Thorisson. I used a dried wild mushroom blend and bone-in chicken thighs instead of dried porcini mushrooms and a 4-lb chicken cut into pieces; I also increased the shallots and garlic. We ate it with roasted potatoes and Sautéed Haricots Verts with Mushrooms and Scallions on the side. So versatile and delicious.

Bringing this one to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #67  @Fiesta Friday.net. Enjoy!!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • all-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 large shallots, sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoons tomato paste
  • One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed (I used dried mixed wild mushrooms)
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, halved, quartered if large
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish
  1. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust with flour. Add half of 
the chicken to the casserole and cook over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until browned all over, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Repeat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and chicken.
  4. Add the onion, shallots, garlic and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper to the casserole and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the wine and tomato paste and simmer until slightly reduced, 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stock, porcini, thyme and bay leaf and bring to a boil.
  6. Nestle the chicken in the sauce, cover and simmer over moderately low heat until nearly cooked, about 20 minutes.
  7. Stir in the cremini mushrooms and cook, uncovered, until 
the chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes.
  8. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Transfer the stew to plates, 
garnish with parsley and serve.

Note: The chicken stew can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently before serving.

IMG_3582

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Penne with Vodka-Cream Sauce

This year, my son qualified to compete in our County Championship swim meet for the first time! :) The swim club hosts a HUGE pasta party the evening before the meet begins. Many many families bring pasta for all of the swimmers and their families to share. You have never seen so much pasta in your life!! Incredible.

I decided that in order to make it “fair,” I would bring my daughter’s absolute favorite pasta dish, so that the evening was special for her as well. The mistake was that – by appearance only (of course!)- it was indistinguishable from any jarred sauce… if the crowd only knew that it was made with the coveted recipe from Chicago John of one of my absolute favorite blogs From The Bartolini Kitchens… Well, it left more delicious penne a la vodka for us! Yay! ;)

I made this fabulous creamy red sauce including both pancetta and red pepper flakes- but it is just as delicious as a vegetarian and/or non-spicy version. It is particularly fabulous served with garlic bread and green salad. A crowd pleaser. Simple and perfect!

  • olive oil
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1/4 – 1/3 lb. chopped prosciutto or pancetta, optional
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup vodka
  • 1 28 oz. can tomatoes, diced or crushed (preferably San Marzano)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 T fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 T fresh basil, chopped
  • coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • reserved pasta water
  • Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  1. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over med-low heat.
  2. Add pork product and slowly render the fat. Do not cook until crisp.
  3. Increase heat to med-high. Add butter, then onion, and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. If needed, add some olive oil.
  4. Season with salt & pepper; add the red pepper flakes (if using) and the garlic, and continue sautéing for another minute.
  5. Remove pan from heat, add vodka, stir to combine, return to heat. Have a pan lid nearby to smother the flame should the vodka ignite. Allow to reduce for about 3 minutes.
  6. Add tomatoes, cream, parsley, season with salt and pepper, stir thoroughly, bring to a boil, and reduce to a low simmer.
  7. After sauce has simmered for 20 minutes, begin heating a large pot of salted water in which to cook the penne. Cook the pasta per package directions, cooking until about 2 minutes before al dente.
  8. Reserve a cup of the pasta water, strain the penne, and add the pasta to the tomato sauce.
  9. Continue cooking the combined pasta and sauce until the pasta is done to your liking. Add some of the reserved pasta water to the pan if the pasta becomes dry during this last step of the cooking process.
  10. Just before serving, add the basil, mix well, and garnish the serving platter with grated pecorino romano cheese. Serve immediately.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Black & White Crème Brûlée

When my husband works at night, he is home with me during the day. It is the best! Not only are we able to do yard work and other things around the house (fun!?!) together, we occasionally also go out for a special lunch while the kids are at school. Recently, we had an amazing lunch and splurged on dessert as well- it was a black and white crème brûlée- SO delicious. Such a nice surprise to have the taste of chocolate underneath the classic custard. It had to be recreated at home! :)

I started collecting recipes while living in Charleston, South Carolina- many years ago. Southern Living was my absolute favorite recipe resource. I had saved this recipe for many many many years and was so happy to have found it! (My crazy recipe collection payed off!) It was similar to the delicious dessert we had enjoyed. I adapted the recipe to decrease the portion size, adjust the cooking time, to incorporate dark bittersweet chocolate, and to torch the brown sugar topping.

The chocolate layer is baked first. When I poured the custard topping over the chocolate layer, some of it rose to the top. I don’t think that the baking time needed to be adjusted- next time I would pour the custard layer even more slowly over the top? I’m not sure if it would make a difference, but it certainly didn’t affect the flavor. SO rich and delicious! This recipe was adapted from Southern Living. We enjoyed it on Easter this year; it is perfect for a dinner party or special occasion because it is made a day ahead.

Yield: 8 servings (using 4 to 5 oz ramekins)

  • 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 5 oz dark bittersweet chocolate (I used 71% cacao Valrhona chocolate), finely chopped
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
  1. Cook 1/2 cup whipping cream and chocolate in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Pour into a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together remaining 2 cups whipping cream, yolks, sugar, and vanilla until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth. Whisk 1 cup egg mixture into chocolate mixture until smooth. Cover and chill remaining egg mixture.
  3. Pour chocolate mixture evenly into 8 (4 to 5-ounce) custard ramekins; place ramekins in a 13- x 9-inch pan and a 8- x 8-inch pan. (I placed a silicone square underneath to prevent the ramekins from shifting in the pan.) Add hot water to pan to a depth of 1/2 inch.
  4. Bake at 325° (I used convection) for 15 to 20 minutes or until almost set. (Center will be soft.)
  5. Slowly pour remaining egg mixture evenly over custards, and bake 20 to 25 more minutes or until set.
  6. Cool custards in water in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan; cover and chill at least 8 hours.
  7. Sprinkle each custard with 1 tablespoon brown sugar.
  8. Using a handheld propane kitchen torch, brûlée the topping until caramelized. Let stand 5 minutes to allow sugar to harden before serving.

Note: Make the custard a day ahead and torch the topping at the last minute.

IMG_3503

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Asparagus and Fava Beans with Toasted Almonds

IMG_3491

This is the ultimate springtime side dish. The asparagus and fava beans are blanched, so they stay really fresh and crisp. The lemon zest adds brightness to the dressing and the toasted almonds give a wonderful contrast of color and texture. Lovely!

Fava beans are quite a bit of work- but worth it for a special meal. (Thank goodness my mom helped me shell them all!!) We enjoyed this for our Easter dinner this year with Salmon with French Lentils and Mustard-Herb Butter. Fresh peas could be substituted for the fava beans in a pinch. This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living; I doubled the asparagus. The leftovers were delicious cold as well.

I am bringing this side to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #66 this week- Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh fava beans, shelled
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pounds asparagus, tough ends removed
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds, toasted and chopped
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. (I used a toaster oven.) Toast the almonds for 2-4 minutes, or until fragrant. Set aside.
  2. Blanch fava beans in a pot of salted boiling water just until tender, about 1 minute. Transfer to an ice-water bath.
  3. Blanch asparagus in pot until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes; transfer to ice-water bath. Drain vegetables.
  4. Remove outer skin from fava beans (you should have 1 cup). Pat asparagus dry.
  5. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Swirl in oil, then add garlic and fava beans and season with salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is softened, 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer beans to a plate with a slotted spoon.
  6. Let skillet cool slightly, then whisk lemon juice into oil in skillet; season with salt and pepper. (Add more oil if dressing is too tart.) Add asparagus; toss to coat with dressing.
  7. Combine almonds and lemon zest in a small bowl.
  8. Transfer asparagus to a platter, top with fava beans, and drizzle remaining dressing in skillet over top. Sprinkle with almond-zest mixture and serve.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

my foodgawker gallery
my photos on tastespotting

Community

Top Posts & Pages

Archives

Recipe Categories

Foodista Food Blog of the Day Badge
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 458 other followers

%d bloggers like this: