May 29, 2010

Grilled Chicken BLT's

As summer approaches, it's only natural that we crave a light summer meal which would satisfy our hunger as well as our taste buds.  Barefoot Contessa's Chicken BLT looked superb with homemade thousand island dressing.  I made a few changes to my BLT.  Instead of white bread, I used lightly toasted fresh baked garlic bread where the garlic was finely chopped and backed right in. (YUM)!  I switched arugula for the green lettuce leaves and I grilled up some boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of using a rotisserie chicken.  To top that off, I added some sliced avocados.  

This was delicious!  

Wine Pairing:  You could go white or red here with a light refreshing Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir.

Grilled Chicken BLT's
adapted from Barefoot Contessa's CBLT's
Makes 4 sandwiches

12 slices smoked bacon
1/2 cup good mayonnaise (I agree with Ina here, that Hellman's is the best)
1/2 cup ketchup
8 slices of good white bakery bread, cut 1/2-inch thick, lightly toasted
a handful of baby arugula, washed and spun very dry
2 large ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced
2 ripe avocados, pitted and sliced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 thin chicken breasts, grilled (or rotisserie chicken)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon on the rack in a single layer.  Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until the bacon is browned and crisp.  Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Combine the mayonnaise and ketchup in a small bowl and spread each slice of bread with about 1 tbsp of the mixture.  Cover that with arugula leaves.  Place 3 slices of bacon on top of the leaves and then add a layer of tomato slices on top of the bacon. Place the avocado slices on top of tomatoes, then place your chicken breast over that. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Spread each of the remaining 4 slices of bread with 1 tbsp of the mayonnaise/ketchup mixture and place, dressing side down, on the sandwiches.  Cut in half and serve.  

This is also fabulous without the mayo/ketchup (thousand island dressing) mixture and simply using the standard mayonnaise that most BLT's call for.  


May 27, 2010

Easy Roasted Beets

Here's a quick farmers market treat that is very easy to prepare and another healthy side dish to add to your repertoire.  I love how roasting this (and any) root vegetable brings out an incredible depth of sweetness that makes eating your veggies a yummy treat.  Especially for all the children in your life.  
We enjoyed these with Blue Ribbon's Northern Fried Chicken.

Easy Roasted Beets

3 medium fresh beets
1 tbsp olive oil

Heat oven to 375 degrees and place rack in middle of oven.  Rinse the beets and trim off any leafy tops.  Wrap in aluminum foil and place in the oven.  Roast until tender and easily pierced with a knife, about 1 hour.  Remove from the oven and let cool.
When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel using a paring knife or by pushing the skin with your fingers.
Slice the beets and drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.


May 24, 2010

Blue Ribbon's Northern Fried Chicken

Chicken is one of the most popular meats in the world and you could find a fried chicken recipe in just about every culture.  There is always a new and updated way to fry up chicken and the combinations are endless in how you want to fry your chicken with so many different batters, coatings, herbs and spices.  Some swear by soaking the chicken overnight in buttermilk.  Others give their chicken a soak in brine or a dunk in beer batter, and a light coating in seasoned flour, or a roll in breadcrumbs, saltines or even crushed cereal.  The only way to discover your favorite method is to experiment with different seasonings and techniques until you find your favorite. 

Now, I'm sure that most of you would agree that a perfect piece of fried chicken should be crisp, greaseless and perfectly seasoned, with a dark brown crust and tender, juicy meat.  This recipe from Bruce and Eric Bromberg's "Blue Ribbon Cookbook", promised all that and I had to give it a try .  It's not everyday that you see a recipe for "Northern" fried chicken.  The matzoh meal is the surprise ingredient which added a great layer of crispness.  

Yes...the South may have the reputation for some of the country's best fried chicken, but this Northern version is definitely worth a try!

Wine Pairing:  We enjoyed with a 2006 Malbec (Barking Sheep)..this nice fruity wine complimented the crisp chicken very well.

Northern Fried Chicken
(Adapted from Blue Ribbon Cookbook)
Serves 4


6 cups of soy oil
1 whole (3-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
4 large egg whites, whisked
1/2 cup matzoh meal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp old bay seasoning
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp salt
1 tsp finely ground white pepper


Fill a large pot with oil.  Heat oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 375 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer.

Rinse chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towels.  Place egg whites in a large shallow dish.  In another shallow bowl, combine matzoh meal, flour, baking powder and next four seasonings.  Dip each chicken piece into the egg white mixture to coat; let excess drip back into dish.  Then, coat each piece of chicken with matzoh mixture to coat; tap of excess.

Working in batches if necessary, fry chicken until dark golden, about 10 minutes for breast meat and 13 minutes for leg and thigh meat.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.  Mix together salt and pepper and sprinkle over chicken.  If desired, sprinkle your favorite hot sauce and honey over chicken and serve immediately.  

**Bruce and Eric Bromberg's Blue Ribbon restaurant is located in Manhattan at 97 Sullivan St.


May 17, 2010

Capellini With Swiss Chard and Shitake Mushrooms

One of our favorite leafy greens is the swiss chard, which is most often overlooked, but known for it's great source of vitamins and minerals and all around goodness.  My favorite is rainbow chard, with vibrant Christmas red and sunny yellow stems.   Swiss chard is very similar to spinach and beet greens, but has a stronger and more pronounced flavor.  
If you're looking for a quick and healthy week night  meal...give this one a try!

Wine Pairing:  A Pinot Grigio or an unoaked Chardonnay would marry well here.

Capellini with Swiss Chard and Shitake Mushrooms
Serves 4

8 ounces capellini (half a package), cooked and drained 
1/4 cup pasta cooking water reserved
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 bunches of red swiss chard, stems and center ribs finely chopped and leaves coarsely chopped separately
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 lb shitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and sliced
1/2 cup white wine or chicken stock
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
6 basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a big heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallots, garlic, red pepper flakes, mushrooms and chard stems.  Saute all till tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the chard leaves, and white wine or chicken stock along with the nutmeg.  Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 3 minutes.  Stir together and cover for another 3 minutes to ensure all leaves are completely wilted and most of the liquid has cooked away.  Toss with the cooked capellini, and reserved pasta water.  Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese, basil leaves and salt and pepper to taste right before serving.


May 12, 2010

The Sweetest Radishes

When I think of radishes....I think spring and salad bars.  There's nothing like that crunchy peppery bite on crusty bread with some good butter and flaked sea salt.  I also like them dipped in some creamy hummus.  Yum!  It's not often you see them in cooked dishes, but this one is a must try.

If you ever wondered where these little gems came from, this will enlighten you...Radishes are a member of the cabbage family, related to mustard, with the name radish coming from the Latin word radix, or root, representing the part that is eaten. Radishes date back to approximately 500 B.C.E. in China and 1000 C.E. in Japan, with remains of radishes discovered in excavations of ancient Egypt dating back to nearly 3000 B.C.E There are three basic kinds of radishes: red globe, the prototypical red radish; Easter egg, which grow in aesthetically pleasing red, magenta and white bunches; and daikon, long white radishes with a Japanese name.

Those of you who are familiar with this salad bar staple, will be surprised to find how a quick braise with some butter and sugar can transform these little red gems to a side dish that you can't get enough of.  I think that this quick and easy sweet treat will become a family favorite in your house as it is in mine.  

Note:  They are also really good roasted, but I'll save that for another blog.  

The Sweetest Radishes
2-4 servings ( these are so good you may want to double the recipe)


2 bunches radishes, about 1 pound, trimmed of tops and root, small ones left whole, medium ones cut in half, large ones cut into quarters
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp butter, diced
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp salt and pepper each


Place radishes in a skillet with water, butter, sugar, vinegar and salt and pepper.  Cover the pan and bring to a boil.  Uncover the pan and reduce heat to medium.  Cook the radishes for about 10 to 12 minutes or until the water has cooked away and you are left with rosy tender radishes swimming in a sweet light syrup waiting to be indulged.   

May 6, 2010

Brie, Apple, Proscuitto and Arugula Panini

I've missed you, but now I'm back!  Sorry for my lack of posts over the last few months.  We have relocated from New Jersey to California.  After a lot of house-hunting and many boxes to unpack, we've finally found a lovely place to call home. 

California seems to be a mecca of farmers markets galore and with that, many inspirations to bring to my kitchen .  I am excited and looking forward to sharing some great recipes with you in the weeks ahead.  

Wouldn't you agree that any sandwich grilled in a panini press, makes any sandwich even better?
The possibilities are endless as far as fillings for your panini, but this is what I had on hand.  

Wine Pairing:  A white sparkling wine would be great here.

Brie, Apple, Proscuitto and Arugula Panini
Makes 4 sandwiches

1 large ciabatta loaf
3 apples thinly sliced
16 thick slices of soft brie
8 thin slices of proscuitto
1/2 lb fresh arugula leaves
olive oil

Slice the ciabatta loaf in half horizontaly then in quarters.  Fill with brie slices, apple slices, proscuitto and arugula.  Brush olive oil over the top and bottom of each sandwich.  Grill in a panini press for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the tops and bottoms are crisped with grill marks.  Serve hot and enjoy!