proscuitto, goat cheese, and basil stuffed chicken with mushrooms

the windchill was something like -26 in madison today. you cannot make your fitbit happy on a day like this, because you cannot in your right mind go outside. i should have probably made stew to combat the painful coldness but that would be pretty high in calories, and, since i mainly sat in one place and tried not to freeze today, i went with stuffed chicken with mushrooms (540 calories).

adapted from bon appetit.

makes 2 servings

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 4 pieces proscuitto
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 8 basil leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 4 cups crimini mushrooms, washed and halved
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon red wine

cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise, leaving just the last 1/2 inch connected. salt and pepper the chicken breasts. layer 2 pieces of proscuitto, 1 ounce of goat cheese, and 4 basil leaves on each chicken breast. fold the chicken breast together.

then, roll the stuffed chicken breast and pin together with two toothpicks.

preheat oven to 450. in a pan, melt butter. cook chicken for 8-10 minutes on all sides but without moving them around too much. remove chicken from pan and bake for another 10 minutes in oven.

melt another tablespoon of butter to pan. add shallots and cook until translucent. add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, until brown. season with salt and pepper. add in chicken broth and wine. simmer until liquid reduces, about 10 minutes.

serve chicken with mushroom sauce poured over top and on the side.

ricotta kumquat crepes

i’m typically a savory breakfast kind of person. usually when i’m out to brunch and i order something sweet, i have immediate buyer’s remorse. especially if there are poached eggs on the menu. but this morning felt like a sweet breakfast kind of morning, so ricotta kumquat crepes it is.

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i realize the kumquat is somewhat unexpected, but every year my aunt sends me homemade kumquat marmalade from her fruit farm in san diego. along with that, i usually also receive a crate of fresh kumquats, but those are typically gone within a week or so.

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this recipe is adapted from food52.

makes 5-6 crepes

for the crepes:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • zest of 1/4 of an orange
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

for the filling:

  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • zest of 1/2 an orange
  • 1/2 cup kumquat marmalade (you can substitue other fruits as well) plus extra for serving

whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. make a well for the egg, crack egg into it, and whisk together. add in milk, orange zest, vanilla, and butter. refrigerate for at least an hour (can be made ahead of time).

in a separate bowl, whisk together ricotta and cream cheese. add all other ingredients.

preheat oven to 375. coat a 9-10 inch pan with butter, and turn on medium heat. ladle batter (about 1/3 cup at a time) into pan and immediately tilt to spread mixture. it should be very thin. cook for about 1-2 minutes, until the crepe starts to bubble and turn golden brown. flip briefly (about 30 seconds). remove the crepe, and repeat until you are out of batter.

once all crepes are cooked, scoop ricotta filling into center and fold sides in (or put closer to an edge and roll). you can choose your own adventure.

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pop these in the oven for 15 minutes, to get the filling nice and warm. serve with some marmalade on the side and a good cup of espresso!

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tomato bisque

most of my pre-professional life was spent working in restaurants, and back in college, i spent a good portion of my time at the orpheum in madison, wisconsin. the restaurant has since closed its doors due to lots of unfortunate drama. regardless, for those of us that worked there, there are some things we just can’t forget: tini tuesdays, eating leftover brunches after busy sundays, and the tomato bisque.

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while i’m sure this isn’t the perfect recreation, this is my ode to the tomato bisque soup that so frequently was my dinner during night shifts.

makes 4-5 servings

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups high quality canned tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 tomatoes, largely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill

heat olive oil in large pot. saute onions, carrots, celery, and garlic until soft. add in tomato paste and stir until well mixed. add tomato sauce, water, bay leaf, and honey. season with salt and pepper. cook down for 10-15 minutes, until starting to thicken. add in cream and tomatoes. mix well and cook for 10-12 more minutes. finally, stir in dill. serve with crusty bread.*

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*oh if i could only get my hands on the bread recipe from the orpheum, i would be so very, very fat and happy.

warm beet and orzo salad with some of my favorite accoutrements

beets are an underutilized ingredient, in my opinion. so here’s to beets and pairing them with something salty (feta), something creamy (orzo), something bitter (beet greens), and something crunchy (pine nuts).

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this recipe is adapted from food52.

makes 3 main dish servings, 6 side dish servings

  • 3 large beets with beet greens, cleaned and peeled and greens chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium sized red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 4 ounces feta cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

boil water in a medium pot. once boiling, add beets. cook for about 15-20 minutes, until tender. meanwhile, cook orzo following instructions on packaging.

in a medium sized pan heat olive oil and roast pine nuts for about 5 minutes. transfer pine nuts to a bowl and add onions and garlic to pan. cook until they start to brown. add in beet greens and cover for about 5 minutes.

once beets are tender, remove from pot and chop into medium sized pieces. add to beet green mixture and toss around to coat. yes, everything will be very very red. salt and pepper the vegetables to taste.

transfer orzo and vegetable mixture to bowl with pine nuts. mix well. lastly, stir in feta. serve warm as a main dish or a side. or, eat as cold leftovers for lunch (that’s my plan for tomorrow).

sweet potato and chickpea burgers

something tasty and healthy for this monday evening – vegetarian burgers made from sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and a little something else.

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this recipe is adapted from ambitious kitchen.

makes 4-5 burger patties

  • 1 medium sized sweet potato, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup chickpeas, no juice
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/8 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 egg
yogurt sauce
 
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoon tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • pinch of salt

boil water and cook sweet potato for 10-12 minutes, or until soft. meanwhile, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until browned. transfer onion and garlic to food processor. add in all seasoning, chickpeas, and herbs. once sweet potato is cooked, chop up into smaller pieces and add to food processor. pulse several times until mixture is consistent and small. transfer to a bowl and add cooked quinoa. mix thouroughly.

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form patties using your hands. it should make 4-5 depending on the size.

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place burgers on baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to help keep form. meanwhile, make yogurt sauce by combining all ingredients and mixing.

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heat olive oil in pan. whip up egg in a small bowl and brush patties on both sides with egg wash. add patties to pan and cook on medium for 3-4 minutes each side.

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serve on a bun or baguette with your favorite accoutrements and the yogurt sauce.

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bouillabaisse

i bookmark recipes on a daily basis, but every once in a while you come across one that you need some extra support to accomplish. i wanted to make bouillabaisse, a french fish stew which requires (recommends, for ultimate triumph) the making of your own fish stock using fish bones obtained from a seafood market which you have to call ahead for. i mentioned this to my friend anne, who teamed up with me to spend the majority of a sunday afternoon cooking dinner for ourselves and husbands/future husbands.

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we used the recipe outlined by the amateur gourmet, sticking pretty closely to it. it breaks the process into four parts:

  • the fumet
  • the marinade
  • the aioli
  • and the actual bouillabaisse

each piece builds upon the last, until you have a classically complex french meal. the fumet is the fish broth, which is made by boiling down fish bones with a vide variety of vegetables and a hint of pernod. it starts out like this:

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the marinade is simple, and can be made relatively quickly and set aside. the aioli is to die for – so garlicky but you could eat it by the spoon full. and then the bouillabaisse itself starts with a solid-free portion of the stock and then gets a healthy dose of vegetables and of course, the mussels, clams, and fish:

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in between the prepping and boiling down you get to enjoy a little bit of champagne. this part is not required but highly recommended:

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and in the end, you get to serve this:

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with some good hearty bread and good friends, it’s the ultimate culinary accomplishment.

new york style bagels

last month, i made mini bagels with a pretty simple recipe. today, i wanted to try something a little different and more authentic, a bagel recipe that requires boiling the bagels before baking them. this, i’ve learned from the internet, is how new york style bagels are made.

this recipe is adapted from sophisticated gourmet.

makes 12 bagels

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup room temperature water
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • toppings of your choice (salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc)

in a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup water, yeast, and sugar. let sit for 5 minutes. stir until fully dissolved. in a large mixer, mix together flour and salt. make a well in the middle of the flour and add in yeast mixture. mix until well integrated. then start adding in water 1/4 cup at a time until a firm dough forms. you may need to add a little extra water, so watch the dough. knead by hand for 10 minutes or in mixer for 5.

slightly oil a large bowl. transfer dough to bowl and cover with a damp cloth. let sit in a warm place for one hour. punch down dough (without folding) and let sit an extra 10 minutes.

cut dough into 12 even pieces. roll each piece into a ball. the dough should be smooth, if not, you’ll have some wrinkles in your bagels (i know i did). using your finger, poke a hole through the center of the dough ball and stretch hole. slightly oil a baking pan (or use parchment paper) and place bagels on a baking pan. cover with damp cloth and let sit for 10 minutes. preheat your oven to 425.

in a large pot, boil water. reduce heat and use a slotted spoon to drop bagels into the water. boil bagels for one minute, then flip with spoon, and boil for another minute. remove from water and place back onto baking dish. do as many bagels as will fit into the pot at a time (i only did 3).

if you are going to use toppings, egg wash the bagels and sprinkle with topping. if you have a convection oven, bake the bagels for 20 minutes. if not, spray the sides of the oven down with water with a spray bottle for more moisture (this will help the bagels brown), then bake for 20 minutes.

chick stew

when i lived in spain, i used to eat chickpeas out of the jar with a spoon, about half a jar at a time. that was six years ago, and while the urge is still there, i decided to put them to better use. chicken and chickpea stew – which i’ve cutely nicknamed ‘chick stew.’

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this recipe is adapted from bon appetit.

makes 4 servings

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 chicken thighs, skin optional
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

in a large pot, heat olive oil. place chicken thighs in pot and heat until they start to sizzle and turn brown. flip and repeat on other side. the chicken doesn’t need to be fully cooked at this moment, just browned. remove from pot.

add garlic to pot and cook in the chicken’s juices and olive oil. add cumin, tomato sauce, red pepper, salt and pepper. it should form a paste. add in white wine, bring to a boil. add in chicken broth, bay leaves, and return chicken to the pot. turn heat on low and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

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remove the chicken once again. into the pot, add chickpeas and red pepper. on a cutting board, shred the chicken using two forks. i find this to be remarkably therapeutic, i don’t know why. add the chicken back into the pot, for the third time. don’t worry, you will not have to take it out anymore.

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add in lemon juice, and let the stew cook on low heat for another 10 minutes to combine all the flavors. sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with a baguette (we still have baguettes left over from my accidental over-estimation of necessary dough, the recipe for which you can find here.)

spinach, sweet potato, and pasta casserole

i skimmed this recipe from love & lemons a couple weeks back and didn’t think much of it. sweet potatoes and pasta? seems unnecessary. but the picture was pretty, so i flagged it. then i read a little more carefully – the sweet potato becomes the base of the creamy sauce. creamy pasta? that sounds delicious.

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i adapted the recipe to be vegetarian instead of vegan, because i have no problem with dairy. and made a couple other minor tweaks.

makes 4-5 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 5 sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces fusili pasta (i used whole wheat)
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

preheat oven to 350. heat the olive oil in a large pot. add in shallots and cook down for a couple of minutes. next, add garlic, potatoes, broth, and heavy cream. salt and pepper the mixture. bring to a boil, lower the heat, and let it reduce for 20 minutes.

meanwhile, cook pasta to al dente. drain and pour pasta over spinach, so spinach begins to wilt.

once the potato mixture is nice and thick, pour it into a food processor (you’ll need kind of a big one). add in mustard and syrup. blend until you get a smooth, creamy mixture. place pasta and spinach mixture in the bottom of a baking dish. pour potato mixture on top.

*the sweet potato cream is so good,  i licked the food processor blade. and then i thought of what my mother would say if she saw me do that…

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finally sprinkle scallions and bread crumbs. cook for 20 minutes and then broil for 3 on high at the end.

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eggplant mozzarella (f.k.a. eggplant parmesan)

there are a million eggplant parmesan recipes in the world. and at the basic level, they aren’t all that different. when making this dish, i realized that i use significantly more mozzarella than parmesan, so i’m renaming it to be more appropriately descriptive.

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my inspiration for a new eggplant moz/parm recipe came from the amateur gourmet. he made one really smart observation – why are all eggplant parmesan recipes so focused on the cheese and not the eggplant? why cut it up into thin slices and make it lose all it’s delicious eggplanty-ness? for that, i thank him, because he is right. the key to this recipe is nice, thick pieces of eggplant with a hint of the other ingredients. okay, so there is a decent amount of cheese in this, but still.

makes 3 servings. but, i’m not going to lie, i ate half of this my myself while watching the biggest loser. i don’t know what that says about me.

  • 1 medium to large eggplant
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 can peeled, whole tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • handful fresh basil leaves, chopped into medium sized pieces (or torn, if you’re feeling dangerous)
  • 4-6 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (you can use other bread crumbs, i just really love panko)

preheat your oven to 450. combine onion and garlic in a large pot with some olive oil. heat until it starts to brown. add in carrots and thyme. stir and let it took down for about five minutes. add in tomato paste and canned tomatoes (with juice). let it cook down for about 25-30 minutes, stirring frequently. oh and of course, salt and pepper the thing.

while that’s cooking down, slice your eggplant into nice thick pieces. they should be about half an inch to an inch thick. spread some olive oil on the bottom of a pan and lay the eggplant flat (use two pans if needed, don’t layer). bake those for 30 minutes.

once your eggplants are done, add the chopped (or torn!) basil to the tomato dish. remove it from the heat. you want the basil to wilt a little. now start building your tower of delicious eggplant mozzarella. put half the eggplant on the bottom of the pan, spoon half the tomato mixture on top. now layer your mozzarella. now the second half of your eggplant! it’ll look like this:

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you’re almost done – use the other half of the tomato mixture to cover the eggplants. sprinkle your parmesan and panko on the top. and bake for 15 minutes.