Saturday, August 28, 2010

Baby Greens with Beets, Chevre, Oranges, Hazelnuts and Fresh Orange Vinaigrette

For those who don't like beets, give this appetizer salad a try. They pair amazingly with goats cheese and a fresh orange vinaigrette. This salad is great served before a fancy entree.
I had this salad at Bambara in Salt Lake for my birthday and loved it. This is my re-creation of it.*This recipe calls for sectioned oranges. I did not get around to taking pictures of that while I went, but HERE is a great tutorial for those of you who do not know how to section an orange.

Serves 6

  • 6 cups Spring Green Lettuce Mix
  • 3 Golden Beets, roasted, peeled, and wedged
  • 3 Purple Beets, roasted, peeled, and wedged
  • 2 Oranges, Sectioned
  • 6 oz. Chevre(Goats Cheese)
  • 1/2 c.+ Whipping Cream
  • 1/3 c. Hazelnuts, chopped and toasted
  • 1 c. Fresh squeezed Orange Juice
  • 1/3 c. Canola Oil
  • 1/8 t. Ground Mustard
  • 1 1/2 T. White Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 t. Minced Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 3 T. Honey, plus more to taste

For the dressing: Heat the freshly squeezed orange juice in a small saucepan to boiling. Reduce heat slightly and let simmer until the volume is reduced to 1/4 c. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Place the reduced orange juice in a small food processor or blender along with the oil, vinegar, mustard powder, garlic, honey, salt and pepper. Blend until emulsified. Taste and add more honey, if desired. Keep chilled.

For the Salad: Place the goats cheese in a small bowl. Slowly mix in as much cream as needed to make the goats cheese smooth and thin enough to pipe.
Pipe out the goats cheese(I just use a heavy duty quart Ziploc) onto 6 salad plates, about 6 small dollops per plate in a circular fashion. Then place 3 of each color beet wedge in between the goats cheese, also in a circular fashion.
Place 1 c. per plate of spring greens in the center of the cheese and beet circle. Add 4-5 orange sections per plate to the spring greens.
Sprinkle about 1T. hazelnuts on top of, and around the salad.
Drizzle the fresh orange vinaigrette on top and serve.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Coq Au Vin

This will always be one of my most favorite chicken dishes. We served this dish at our wedding and it was perfect! Coq Au Vin is French for 'chicken with wine'. This recipe calls for white wine, but you can use red also. I like to use Chablis when cooking with white wine, and a Cabernet Savignon or Merlot when using red wine.
*For those who are new to cooking with wine, remember: When the wine is cooked, the alcohol is cooked out with it. No need to worry. And for those who are too chicken to go to the liquor store to purchase wine(which I recommend, it's much cheaper there), you can find it as cooking wine with the vinegars in your local grocery store. Just remember: Cooking wine is much more salty than regular wine, so don't add as much salt to the dish!

  • 1 c. Flour
  • 1 t. Pepper
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 2 T. Olive Oil
  • 8 bone-in Chicken Thighs, skinned
  • 2 c. Mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 c. Baby carrots
  • 1 large Onion, sliced along the grain
  • 1 1/2 T. Fresh Thyme, chopped
  • 2 T. Tomato Paste
  • 2 t. Minced Garlic
  • 1 c. White or Red Wine
  • 3 c. Chicken Broth
  • 2 T. Butter
Combine the flour, pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Add the skinless chicken thighs and coat each one in the flour mixture. Set aside.
In a large, deep sided frying pan, heat the olive oil to medium-high.
Add the dredged chicken thighs to the hot oil.
Brown the chicken thighs evenly on both sides.
Remove the chicken from the pan(but leave the pan on the heat) and place on a plate. Set aside.
Add the mushrooms, carrots, and onion to the hot pan and saute for 2 minutes.
* Try to use fresh thyme with this dish, if it is available. Fresh herbs make such a difference!
Add the chopped thyme to the vegetables and saute for 30 seconds.
Add the tomato paste and the minced garlic to the vegetables.
Toss the vegetables until they are all well coated with the tomato paste.
Add the wine and the chicken broth to the pan.
Place the browned chicken thighs back in the pan, under the liquid. Try and spoon the vegetables over the chicken, so that the chicken is completely submerged in liquid.
Cover the pan with a lid and let simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the chicken does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste.
The chicken is done when the sauce is reduced so that it thickly coats the back of a spoon and the chicken is tender. Add the butter to the sauce and stir until blended. Serve with mashed potatoes to use up all the yummy sauce.

Quick Tip #2 - Shredding Chicken made EASY!

It's such a pain to shred chicken breast by breast with a fork. To shred your chicken in 30 seconds or less, just put your cooked chicken breasts in the bowl of a large electric mixer(I use a KitchenAid), put on a paddle attachment, lock the mixer and turn it to medium-low speed for 20-30 seconds. The chicken shreds perfectly and it takes almost no time at all!!!
I will never use a fork again!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cream Cheese Danishes

These danishes make the best breakfast. I mean, who doesn't want to eat a flaky pastry filled with sweetened cream cheese in the morning? And you will love them because they are SO easy to make. Here are a few tips to help you along:
  1. Set your frozen puff pastry in the fridge to thaw overnight. It will be thawed by morning time and easy to use. Puff pastry is sticky and difficult to work with when defrosted in the microwave.
  2. Set your cream cheese on the counter to soften overnight. It will not go bad, I promise ;) This was a trick I learned in cooking school where large amounts of soft cream cheese were often needed. The softer your cream cheese, the smoother it will be when blended with the other ingredients and the better it will melt in your pastry.
  • 1 sheet Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/3 c. Sugar
  • 3/4 t. Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 t. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 T. Sour Cream
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 T. Milk
Makes 6 servings.
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and sour cream in a mixing bowl. Cream the mixture until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Unfold the puff pastry and lay it on a floured cutting board. Lightly roll out the pastry until it looks more like a rectangle that a square. Roll the pastry so that the two lines left from the folds are elongated and running vertically. These lines are important for the next step.
  3. Your pastry should have three even sections running vertically. The center section is where you will place the cream cheese mixture. With the other two sections, use a sharp paring knife make 1/2" slices going horizontally down the pastry.
  4. Spoon the cream cheese mixture onto the middle section of pastry and evenly spread it out. It should look like you have fringe running down each side of the cream cheese. Take each strip of pastry and fold it across the top of the cream cheese to the other side of the pastry, alternating sides until you reach the bottom. Secure the last strips of pastry underneath the pastry and transfer it to a greased cookie sheet.
  5. In a small bowl, beat the egg and milk until blended. Brush it onto the top of the pastry using a basting brush.
  6. Bake your pastry for 20-25 minutes, moving to the very top rack for the last 5 minutes of cooking to help the top achieve a nice brown color. Remove, cook slightly and slice into 6 pieces.

Pretty things....

I LOVE LOVE LOVE finding treats like these at the grocery store. Golden Raspberries. Aren't they lovely? My daughter ate every last one of them, so tempting were they. Anywho, Just wanted to share my beautiful find.
So sorry for the lack of posts lately!!! I have been up in Utah visiting family for the last week or so. But I am BACK and ready to share some more great recipes with all of you, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Seared Flank Steak with Pear Puree and Pancetta Hash

Are any of you Hell's Kitchen fans? I admit that this season, I have HAD to watch it. I love watching the challenges the contestants are faced with. Everything always looks SO amazing and I often wish that I was eating what they are cooking as I watch the show. Last night, the remaining contestants were challenged to recreate one of chef Ramsay's dishes that he had prepared for them, going only off of the recipe. It was venison with a pear puree and pancetta hash with a beef glaze drizzled around it. It looked AMAZING.
I have been craving that dish all. day. long. So I decided to recreate my own version, using flank steak instead of the not so readily available venison. I honestly have no Idea what was in the dish besides the meat and puree, so I just guessed on the rest.
It turned out fantastic and the funny thing is, it only took me about 20-25 minutes to make!
Give it a try if you would like something unique and delicious, but fast and easy.

  • 2 lb Flank Steak or London Broil(let sit at room temperature 30 min. before searing!)
  • Kosher Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Herbs De Provence, to taste
  • 2 c. Beef Stock
  • 1 Russet Potato, Peeled and cubed
  • 3 Anjou Pears, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 T. Butter
  • 3 T. Heavy Cream
  • 1 Carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1/2 Sweet Onion, finely diced
  • 1 Anjou Pear,peeled and finely diced
  • 3/4 c. Pancetta, finely diced
For the Steak: Coat both sides of the steak liberally with salt, pepper, and the herbs. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the Flank steak and sear on both sides. Cook to medium rare or medium. *flank steak is best cooked to this degree. Any more done and it will be tough.
Remove the steak from the pan and tent with foil on a plate. Let the steak rest for 5-10 minutes. To serve: Slice on an angle into thin strips, going against the grain.

For the glaze: Pour the stock into a small saucepan and heat to simmering. Let it continue to simmer until it is reduced to about 1/4 c. Remove from heat. The glaze should be thick and syrupy. You only need a little bit to accent the dish.

For the Pear Puree: Add the cubed pear and potato to a large saucepan and cover with water. Heat on the stove until the water is boiling. Continue to cook the potato and pear until they are both tender. Drain the cooking water off of the pear and potato and put back on medium heat. Let the dish cook until all the remaining liquid is cooked off. Remove the pan from the stove and add the butter, cream, and salt to taste. Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until it is smooth and creamy. Keep warm until service.

For the Pancetta Hash: Heat a saute pan to medium high and add the pancetta. Cook for 2 minutes, then add in the carrot, onion, and pear. Saute the mixture until the ingredients begin to caramelize. The carrot should be soft.

To serve: Spoon the pear puree onto the plate and top with several thin slices of beef. Spoon the hash across the center of the dish and then drizzle the glaze around the edges. Enjoy!!!

A few tips:
  1. You should be able to cook all the dishes at once, as long as you have a stove with four burners. Keep items that are finished cooking before others warm in an oven set to 170 degrees.
  2. If you can not find or do not have an Herbs De Provence mixture, use a blend of thyme and oregano.
  3. When making this dish during the Fall season, substitute the carrot for sweet potato or squash to make the most of Autumns vegetables!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Swiss Parmesan Salad

This salad is one of summers easiest and best. It's so simple with a simple dressing to boot. Garlic and Lemon give it the zing while toasted slivered almonds add the crunch. Whenever I make this for dinner I find myself snacking on the leftovers for at least two days. Yes, it is so yummy that I will eat it even if the lettuce is a bit soggy. I think it's the bacon.

  • 1 head Iceberg Lettuce, washed and chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 12 oz. Smoked Bacon, diced and cooked until crisp.
  • 1/2 c. Slivered Almonds, toasted
  • 2 c. Swiss Cheese, grated
  • 2 c. Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
  • 3/4 c. Canola oil
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 c. Lemon Juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
For the dressing: In a seal-able container, combine the oil, lemon juice, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Cover tightly and shake until the ingredients are combined. Chill until ready to use.

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, bacon, almonds, tomatoes, and Swiss cheese. Pour half the dressing over the salad and then toss with tongs until the ingredients are well distributed and the dressing coats the salad. Add more dressing, if desired.