Saturday, February 25, 2012

A little poached chicken with Herbs de Provence

Moving back to the French theme...this is another iteration of the wine poached chicken that I blogged a couple of weeks ago.  I've seen/heard so much about Herbs de Provence on TV I grabbed a bottle and decided to give it a try with a variation of the wine poached chicken.  I liked it as well as the original version but it is pretty different.

Another foodie item that has made the rounds on the cooking shows is creme fraiche which a French version of cultured cream not unlike sour cream but without the sharp tang of sour cream.  Its actually very silky on the tongue and will appear in a few more recipes as I move forward playing around with it in the coming weeks.  It actually is found in a few of the local stores here in LA so it is readily available.  I found it at Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market and can be found at Trader Joes and Whole Paycheck Whole Foods as well.

Chicken Poached in Herbs de Provence

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 cups white wine (I used Chardonnay)
  • 1 T Herbs de Provence
  • 1 T dried onion flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 7.5 oz creme fraiche

Place chicken breasts in a large skillet with lid.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with Herbs de Provence and dried onion flakes.  Pour in wine.  Bring to boil then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook 20 minutes, turning chicken breasts over half way through the cooking.  (The poaching liquid won't cover the breasts completely but that is fine).
When done cooking remove breasts and increase heat to high to bring the poaching liquid to a boil.  Cook 3-5 minute over high heat until reduced to only a couple of tablespoons of liquid. Reduce heat and stir in creme fraiche until dissolved. Return chicken to the sauce and simmer a couple of minutes until breasts are rewarmed.  Serve over rice.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sticky Asian Style Short Ribs

It started out to be such a simple recipe when my wife spotted in a magazine.  It sounded tasty enough so we clipped the article and kept it for reference.  Oddly when I went to actually make it I discovered it called for an ingredient I have never ever seen...pre-cooked beef short ribs.  WTH...with gas over $4/gallon and rising I wasn't about to take off chasing down that ingredient when I had a nice package of Costco boneless beef short ribs ready to go at the house.

So...I next took a look at the "sticky glaze" recipe, saw where it could be improved and used that as the basis for the braise for the short ribs.  Same flavor profile as the glaze was put into the braising liquid and voila...I had my own "pre-cooked" ribs all set to go for the rest of the recipe.

The sticky glazed ribs I also changed up the recipe enough to call it my own.  Let's face it garlic is usually a key component in Asian style cooking and just couldn't make this without adding that wonderful garlicky heat to the glaze and braising liquid.

Speaking of the braise a little tip for you when it comes to the zest of the orange.  Use a vegetable peeler to avoid getting any of the pith in the braise.  It will keep that bitter element out and make it possible to pull out the ribs when done without any extra zest sticking to the ribs making it too "orangey".

Party planning. Yup this would be great for a party.  Cook through the braising and simply put them on a sheet pan until you are ready to glaze and bake off to warm them.  Saves you kitchen time when you should be entertaining your guests.

These are really, really tasty ribs once you are done.  Serve over rice cooked in broth for a bit more flavor, add in some steamed snow peas and you have a meal!

Sticky Asian Style Short Ribs
4 lbs boneless beef short ribs
pepper to taste
2 T vegetable oil
1 T sesame oil
1 onion sliced.
Braising liquid
4 c water
4 t better than bouillon beef flavor
6 cloves garlic
zest of one orange
juice of two oranges.
1/4 c soy sauce
1 T fish sauce
Sticky Glaze
1/3 c orange marmalade
1/3 c hoisson sauce
1 glove garlic minced on microplane
1 1/2 t fresh ginger minced on microplane
1 T soy sauce

Preheat oven to 325F.
In large braising pan heat oils over medium high heat.  Pepper the beef to taste.  Sear all sides until deep golden brown.  Remove beef and add onion cooking until translucent.  Add water and deglaze bottom of pan.  Add braising liquid ingredients.  Return beef to pan.  Cover and bake 1 1/2 hours until fork tender.

Prepare glaze by adding all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until well blended.

Remove short ribs from braising liquid, discard the liquid.  Place ribs on sheet pan.  Increase oven to 350F.
Brush on glaze to the short ribs.  Bake in oven 15 minutes.  Serve hot with Rice.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bleu Cheese Souffle

You will need to get your own copy of "French Classics Made Easy" for the recipe.  It is just a little labor intensive but the book does break it down into simple easy to follow steps.  (I just *can't* violate copyright laws).

I can give you a spoiler about their souffle helps and hints.  Unlike the traditional variations author Richard Grausman introduces tiny, as in tablespoon amounts of starch like good old all purpose flour to stabilize the base mixture so your souffle can't fail.  It works.  I'll admit I was just a little apprehensive about attempting a souffle after years of cartoons and sitcoms showing it failing to rise, or over rising and falling immediately.  Takin' the cue from the dessert folks that little bit of starch takes the error factor away.

Invest in a decent kitchen scale will help with his recipes as well.  In true foody fashion a lot of measurements are by weight in this cookbook rather than dry measure.  Its a result of taking metric recipes and keeping them accurate to how the original was done.  I picked my scale up at a restaurant supply store for under $50 on sale...its an electric digital read out which supposedly is more accurate.  Still $50 isn't bad.

We served this souffle up with a salad of romaine, bears and bleu cheese in a light balsamic vinaigrette on the side.  Add in the bottle of wine to go with it and it was a right tasty romantic dinner.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Angel Biscuits

I almost forgot about these biscuits.  I stumbled across the recipe from High School "Men's Contemporary Living" class that I took my senior year.

Angel Biscuits are an interesting cross between classic baking powder biscuits and a yeast roll.  You pretty much get the best of both worlds, the salty of the powder biscuit with that heady slightly sweet yeasty flavor.  Its all pretty terrific.  Don't worry that it makes a big batch...the dough can be saved for up to 2 week in the fridge and baked off in quantities as needed.

The recipe calls for shortening...I think we used real lard back in the day, but I opt in now for a bit more heart friendly Crisco butter flavor.  You can use whatever shortening you prefer, just keep in mind that my option has a nice buttery flavor before you even butter the warm roll.

Angel Biscuits

  • 5 C flour
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 3 T baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 c shortening
  • 1 pkg dry yeast
  • 1/4 c warm water
  • 2 c buttermilk

Dissolve yeast in water.  Let proof 5 minutes.  Sift together dry ingredients.  Cut in shortening.
Mix yeast and buttermilk.  Add to dry ingredients and mix well.  Knead several times until it becomes an elastic ball.  Put into oiled bowl, covered and let sit in warm place at least 2 hours.  
Slice off what you will need for the batch you are making.  Place on lightly floured board and roll out to 1/2" thickness.  Cut with floured biscuit cutter.

Bake in preheated 400F oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Unused dough can be kept for up to 2 weeks in covered bowl in refrigerator.