Friday, March 26, 2010

Monkey Danish

Success! I have wanted this danish for almost four years. It was my favorite breakfast (along with the ham and cheese croissant) when I was in culinary school. Technically, I was supposed to eat breakfast in one of the school's kitchens, but I was never hungry at 6:30 (aka 30 minutes before my butt was supposed to be sitting in Food Safety). So in between class, my roommate and I would run to the Apple Pie Bakery and grab a danish and an Italian soda for consumption during Gastronomy. 


In the years since I left, I have often thought of this danish. I mentally planned many trips to New York just for the danish. And last summer when I was in NYC I was ready to hop on a train to get it when I discovered the school was closed for the month.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Inspiration and Always Wash Your Vegetables

Today, after a week of full of midterms and learning a new job (and finally getting over the failures of last week), I was finally inspired to cook. I had a pasta dish that in my head sounded good. I wanted to combine braised kale, sauteed mushrooms, parmesan anchovy bread crumbs, and a poached egg on top of spaghetti.  Sounded pretty good. In fact, I even got so far as to start the kale when I encountered a problem.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fails (both epic and otherwise)

Sometimes, nothing wants to go your way. Either you're trying a new recipe or making one up and it just won't work. Hopefully it is confined to just a day. Sometimes though it lasts a week (Please please please let it be just a week).

In the last week I have made at least 3 things that in one way or another didn't work. Only 1 got photographed though so we will discuss that one first.

There is the old adage that "what grows together goes together". I seem to recall reading about a salad (that I can't find anywhere so it would seem I was wrong)of pea shoots, peas, and asparagus all tossed with a buttermilk dressing. Sounded tasty. Unfortunately, it tasted like grass with a really tasty dressing. I did not realize how much I dislike raw asparagus until I ate that salad. It was a stunning salad to look at, not so much on that palate.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Guinness Corned Beef: 2 days late and 2 dollars short

I have problem. Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite (well, one of my favorite) foods is I'm kind of embarrassed to answer. I have a reputation as a food snob (I am not though) though so perhaps if more people knew one of my top 5 favorite foods was corned beef, the reputation would diminish... slightly.

(Look at that! I bought a 6 pack for a recipe that requires 1 bottle. Not to worry, the other 5 found a good home)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Indian Spiced Okra

Before we get to the recipe and lots of parenthesis (one set doesn't count as a lot...this is just the beginning) I have a haiku to share:

Some call you slimy
But I'll eat you in gumbo 
and hell, deep fried too

So, as it happens,  I love okra. It might have something to do with my southern-ness (is that a word? it is now). I've had okra deep fried, in gumbo, in a British curry (completely different than Indian curry), and in Indian food (someday I will try them pickled). I love them all. I can't pick a favorite. 

Ok, I can actually pick a favorite. I love Indian style okra. There is a restaurant near my house, The Clay Oven, that makes some highly addictive Indian food. While I've never had anything bad there, my standout dish has always been the okra. I guess because I thought it was hard to make. Or because its one of those vegetables we just didn't make at home. Well the times have changed because twice in the last 2 weeks I have made okra. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Oscars- A Recap

At my house, the Oscars are one of the biggest events of the year. My mom goes so far as to refer to them as her version of the Super Bowl. I love the Super Bowl, mainly for the food and commercials (and who am I kidding? guys in tight pants). The food of the Super Bowl is hearty, typically greasy, and not at all even in the slightest diet friendly. To me, it is easy food, but still food I love eating and making (maybe someday I will share my recipe for Crack Dip)(oh it got made for the Oscars too because I don't want a mutiny). The Oscars on the other hand, are my time to show off.

I like to show off with my food. For the Oscars this year I spent a whole day going to 4 different grocery stores and the better part of 4 days cooking. The Oscar menu this year included: short ribs on crispy polenta bites, baba ghanouj, crack dip, Zov's Calamari, caramelized pork belly lettuce wraps, mushroom strudel, cheese straws, potato pancakes with smoked salmon, and last put certainly not least...potted chicken rilletes (ps: there will be more on the calamari and strudel soon). With the amount of time I spent doing the savory food I have to admit that I made none of the desserts. Thank goodness my wonderful cousin loves to bake provided some amazing ones.

Back to the chicken rilletes. The rillet definition makes it sound like a cross between a confit and a pate. Which makes me think  that maybe, just maybe this is almost kind of healthier. This recipe for chicken rillets was ridiculously good and best of all can be made up to 5 days in advance. The basic steps to make it are easy enough, but doing them all correctly can take awhile. When it came to the 1 1/2 cups of shallots I got lazy and used the food processor... a short cut I highly recommend. I also used dried thyme because its what we had. It was served on baguettes (I had to go to the store midway through the party for more bread cause we were plowing through it) and was best at room temperature (and straight out of the pan when I was making it). With a salad it would be a delicious light dinner, but it works marvelously on an appetizer buffet.

Potted Chicken Rillets
Adapted from Bon Appetit

Marinade the Chicken

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon dried thyme
4 bay leaves (preferably fresh); 2 finely chopped
2 2.5-3 pound whole chicken
Salt and Pepper

Combine all of the above ingredients. Cover and chill over night.

1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup dry white wine
6 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a heavy, oven safe pan brown chicken on all sides and remove. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook until softened. Add white wine and cook until almost all the wine has evaporated. Return the chicken to the pan, add stock until it comes halfway up the chicken. Cover and bake for 1 hour or until fully cooked. Remove chicken from stock, allow to cool until able to handle. Remove skin and bones from chicken and shred into bite-size pieces. Reduce the chicken stock until only 21/2 cups remain. (Can be done 1 day in advance)

Chicken rillettes:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, divided
1 1/2 (7 to 8 oz) cups finely chopped shallots (in the food processor so I feel better about my laziness)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Shredded braised chicken (from recipe above)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Melt 1/4 cup butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Add remaining 3/4 cup butter to skillet and allow to melt. Stir in tarragon and thyme, then shredded chicken and reserved 2 1/2 cups braising liquid. Simmer until chicken is very moist and tender and liquid is slightly reduced but some liquid still remains, about 5 minutes. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Cool slightly. Mix in parsley and chives. Pack chicken rillettes into large glass jar or divide among smaller jars. Chill uncovered until cold, then seal jar and keep chilled.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 5 days ahead. Keep chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Serve rillettes with crusty bread and pickles.