5.28.2016

Chicken Fricassee: Julia Child Style

I have been reading Julia Child's biography of her time in France. As a fellow adventurer; I can understand  her passion and love of the culture and how everything was to be viewed with splendor and awe. I felt that way a lot when I was abroad and every time I visit a country I find something I need to learn how to make. If I had the opportunities that she had to take cooking classes at Le Cordon Blue I am sure I could master an entire cuisine. As such I have to contend myself to being an amateur chef/cook.

I am fortunate enough to have a 1970's copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" vol. 1 in my bookshelf. One of the things that struck me about the book, was the way in which it was written. There were no ingredients list followed by directions. Rather it was a fluid way of writing. In order to know what you needed in the recipe, you had to actually READ it. Its about focusing on the ingredients at hand as they happen and taking care with those ingredients. While I am sure this was revolutionary, her later works did follow a more standardized method. I, personally, am a fan of the ingredients list then the directions, which is how I will post here, as it helps me organize my prep.

I will have to break down this recipe as it does call for a few things and to be honest this is one of those recipes that you will need to take your time with. FYI: This is NOT a healthy, This is NOT a quick recipe, and it IS completely worth it.

The first thing you need to do is READ carefully, and then second, prepare EVERYTHING you need as much in advance as possible. This cuts down on time and you are able to plan things more accordingly. The recipe is directly from her book however I will note where I made changes.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2- 3 lbs of chicken cut up, rinsed and dried thoroughly with a towel
    • I used chicken thighs, as that is what I had in my freezer and  that is usually the most forgiving, though it does produce quite a bit of liquid. More on that in the directions
  • 4 tbls butter
  • 1 thinly sliced onion
  • 1 thinly sliced carrot
  • 1 thinly sliced celery stalk
  • 3 tbls flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper 
    • I added more pepper because that is what I like.
  • 3 cups boiling white chicken stock
  • 1 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
  • A small herb Bouquet (thyme, parsley, rosemary and bay leaf)
    • I had to use dry herbs: 1/2 tsp of Parsley, Oregano, Basil)
  • 16-20 white onions braised (she means Pearl Onions here)
  • 1/2 lb fresh mushrooms stewed in butter, lemon juice, and water

The Sauce

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream (aka Heavy Cream)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Pinch (1/16) nutmeg
  • Two drops of lemon juice
Directions
  1. Prepare the braised onions first either here or the day before.
    1. 18-24 peeled white onions (blanch them in boiling water for 10 sec. to make this easier) place in a sauce pan with 1/2 cup chicken stock, 2 tbls butter, salt, pepper, herbs. Cook for 40-50 min, until tender and they keep their shape.
      Finished Product
  2. Take a heave 10 inch fire proof casserole dish or large stock pot (I had the stock pot only) and heat the butter over low heat.
  3. Cook the vegetables slowly over low heat in the butter for 5 min, or until almost tender but NOT browned.
  4. Push them to one side and raise the heat slightly. 
    1. You should be boiling your three cups of stock at this point if you aren't.
    2. When using a stock pot this is more difficult, so I placed my chicken on top of the vegetable mixture
  5. Add the chicken turn the chicken every min for 3-4 min until the meat has stiffened but does not color.
  6. Lower the heat and cover, cook the chicken very slowly for 10 min, turning once, it should swell slightly but not change color.
  7. Meanwhile mix the flour, salt, and pepper  and sprinkle the mix on all sides of the chicken in the pot.
    1. Because I was using a stock pot I could only cook three thighs at a time so I had to repeat this step twice. It is important therefore, that you do not burn the butter and vegetables.
  8. Remove the chicken and pour the chicken stock in and mix it with the flour (scraping the brown bits of the bottom with your tongs)
    before adding the stock
  9. Add the wine, herbs, and more stock or water so the liquid just covers the chicken and bring to a simmer. 
  10. Preheat oven to 200 degrees and stew the Mushrooms.
    1. 1/3 cup water, salt, pepper, 1 tbls lemon juice. Bring to a boil and let simmer, covered, for 5 min. Reserve 2 tbls of juice then drain.
  11. Cover and maintain a slow simmer for 25-30 min. The chicken is done when the juices run clear yellow when the meat is priced with a fork.
  12. Remove the chicken to a plate and place in the preheated oven
  13. Add 2 tbls of the stewed mushroom juices and braised onion juices to the stock.
  14. Simmer the liquid in the casserole for 2-3 min, skimming off the fat. 
  15. Raise the heat to high and boil rapidly until the sauce reduces  and thickens enough to coat a spoon nicely, Correct seasoning, You should have 2-2 1/2 cups.
    1. This is the part that is most frustrating. While in the book it seems really simple to reduce it down, the reality was that the juices from the thighs added more liquid in addition to the juices from the mushrooms and onions. It would take you about two hours, and I am NOT that patient. So I brought it to a rapid boil and reduced it as much as I could for no longer than 45 min. It did coat a stainless steel spoon but it was WAY more than 2 1/2 cups. I just measured out the 2 1/2 cups and discarded the rest.
  16. Blend the yolks and cream in a mixing bowl with a wire whip. Continue beating and add the hot sauce by small tablespoonfuls until about a cupful has gone in. 
  17. Beat the rest of the cause in a thin stream
  18. Pour the sauce back into the casserole or into a enameled or stainless still sauce pan. Set over moderately high heat and, stirring constantly, reach all over the bottom and sides of the pan until the sauce comes to a boil. Boil for 1 min stirring.
  19. Correct seasoning, adding drops of lemon to taste and a pinch of nutmeg. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve. 
    1. I actually didn't do that because I didn't have a fine sieve. Honestly, its fine and tastes wonderful.
  20. Arrange the onions and mushrooms on a plate and add the chicken over top. 
  21. Pour some of the sauce over the chicken and serve.

5.27.2016

Greek Lemon Chicken: One Pot Recipe


The tradition of the one skillet meal is back. I remember in my youth that the most popular thing for moms to do was to make a whole meal in one pot. In particular the crockpot which is such and awesome invention.

I was given this recipe by my mom who got it from another site. The first time I made this, I used brown rice and the product meant the chicken was good but the rice was hard to cook through all the way. The second time around I made it with white rice and the result was SO much better. It is a perfect week night meal. Make a salad and you are good to go!

This is all you need....soooo easy!

Ingredients
  • Chicken Marinade-
  • 5 Chicken Thighs
  • 1-2 Lemons; zest + 4 tbls lemon juice
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp salt


Put all ingredients in a bag and marinate for 1 hour at least but preferably overnight.

Rice
  • 1 1/2 tbls olive oil, separated
  • 1 small onion finely diced
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 1/2 c chicken stock
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 tbls dried oregano
  • salt
  • pepper


Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Remove chicken from marinade, but reserve the marinade
  3. heat 1/2 tbls olive oil in a deep 10' or larger, oven proof pan over medium high heat. heat till the oil Shimmers
  4. Place the chicken in the skillet, skin side down, and cook until golden brown then turn over to cook the underside until golden brown. 
  5. Remove Chicken and set aside
  6. Pour off fat and wipe the pan.
  7. Heat 1 tbls olive oil in the skillet over medium high heat. Heat till the oil shimmers
  8. Add onion and saute for a few min until translucent.
  9. Add the remaining rice ingredients and reserved marinade
  10. Let the liquid come to a simmer. Add chicken on top then place lid over pan and put in the oven for 35 min.
  11. Remove Lid from pan and bake for an additional 10 min.
  12. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5-10 min before serving.



5.23.2016

Quinoa Energy Salad

healthy and filling!
So it is summer and though I am behind on this, time to break out the healthy eating so I can kind of look good in a dress....considering I am the worlds laziest person, this is difficult to pull off.

Anyways this is another creation from Kitchen Stories app, but with my own variations.  One of the things I love about this app is how easy and simple the recipes are. I found this energy salad from there and thought, PERFECT! I can finally start my health kick this week with a salad that won't leave me wanting more.

This recipe can be made vegan if you so choose by substituting broth for water but I find that quinoa needs extra help in getting the flavors just right.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 apple
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 10 cups of spinach
  • 1 tbls raisins or crasins
  • 1/4 cashews or peanuts

  • 3 tsp stone ground mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tbls balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbls olive oil

  • salt
  • pepper


Directions

  1. Rinse quinoa under water and add to saucepan with salted water. Bring to a boil. Then, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for approx. 15 min. until tender. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for approx. 5 min.
  2. Peel carrots. Cut sweet potato, apple, and carrots into bite-sized pieces.
  3. In a large frying pan heat 1 tsp of coconut oil, sauté sweet potato over medium-high heat for approx. 6 – 10 min. until golden brown and tender. 
  4. Add carrots and sauté for approx. 3 – 5 min.
    1. You may need to add more coconut oil at this point, it depends on your pan.
  5. In a large bowl, combine sweet potato, apple, carrot, spinach, raisins, and cashews. Mix well to combine.
  6. Whisk together mustard, honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Drizzle 1-2 tsp over entire salad then reserve the rest for others to add as they feel. 





4.20.2016

Chicken Zucchini Salad

Easy and Tasty
This week is the first week I have been home for two consecutive days in a row. A feat with my schedule; so I decided it was high time I needed to actually prepare meals for the week.

Currently I have been drawing inspiration from an App called Kitchen Stories as they don't post a lot of items but what they post is EXTREMELY good. More upscale than Allrecipes but better at explaining items.

What I love about this recipe is that even though it comes with a dressing, it is perfectly good without it. I also omitted the cashews to save some time.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked couscous (I use Moroccan)
  • 4 chicken fillets
    • I took two large boneless skinless and cut in half long ways. Then placed each one in a ziploc bag to pound to evenness. Try to get them all the same thickness for proper cooking.
  • 4 cups of arugula lettuce
  • 2 zucchini
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Panko for breading


Dressing- If you want

  • 1 tbls Stone ground Mustard
  • 1 tbls balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbls olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbls lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper


Directions

  1. Cook couscous according to package instructions
  2. Halve the zucchini and cut into sticks
  3. Finely chop rosemary
  4. Halve cherry tomatoes
  5. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and fry the zucchini on all sides until lightly browned and set aside.
  6. Salt, pepper, and panko the chicken fillets
  7. Add a little more oil to the pan and fry the chicken fillets till done
  8. Make the dressing
  9. Take a plate, add the arugula on the bottom, sprinkle couscous, some fried zucchini sticks, a few cherry tomato halves and top with the chicken. Sprinkle with the dressing if you want.



3.15.2016

Avocado, Cucumber and Mango Salad

A mouth full of badass-ness (that's a word right?)

This is going to be one of my go-to summer salads this year. I made it in January for my family and we loved it. I am not a dressing person but this recipe came with one so I am providing it here. Honestly, I like the combination of flavors; so adding extra dressing seems a little pointless to me. But, to each their own. I got this recipe from an app called "Kitchen Stories" and while it does call for cashews, you can easily omit that. This is also a perfect sald for your vegan/vegetarian friends that is a little outside the box.

This salad MUST be eaten in a few days. Otherwise the mango and avocado break down to mush. Still good but not very pretty to look at.


Ingredients

  • 1 mango
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 2 stalks green onion
  • 1/2 chili
  • 1/4 bunch mint
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

Dressing (optional)

  • 4 tbls lime juice
  • 1 tbls sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 pinch of salt

Directions
  1. Peel mango, slice off the pit and cut into thin strips. Peel and pit avocado and cut into bite-sized pieces. Slice cucumber and green onions into rings. Finely dice chili and roughly chop mint and cilantro. 
  2. Dice bell pepper into cubes.
  3. Add all ingredients to a large bowl. Whisk together lime juice, sesame oil, sugar, soy sauce, and salt in a small bowl. Add dressing on salad and toss until evenly distributed. Enjoy!

1.02.2016

Congee: A Chicken, Spinach, and Rice porridge

Perfect for Winter!


Well it is 2016. It has been five years since Stacy and I debuted this blog, we mostly did it to keep track of recipes that we loved and wanted to share with one another. Over the years our posts have been few and far in between but the cooking has never stopped.

So I open the new year with a cliche and hope. As usual I have eaten my way into a bigger pants size. So I now have to start my year by militantly watching my calories, fat content and sodium....ah to have a slowing metabolism.

I found a wonderful Congee recipe and have adjusted it to my tastes and am now bringing it to you! Congee roughly means 'rice porridge' and is very popular in Asian cuisine. Many are high in fat and salt content which is what makes it so popular.

This recipe has all the skin and most of the fat removed. However you want to have the bone in there to impart flavor into the water. You can add any other stew or soup veggies to the mix if you like.

Have a healthy and prosperous 2016...I will now go contemplate about going to the gym.


Ingredients

1 half chicken with bone in but skin and most of the fat removed.
3-4 carrots peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
1-2 stalks of green onions sliced or one half a white onion thinly sliced
2-3 sprigs of cilantro
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp of white wine
1 scant tsp of sugar
1  scant tbsp of kosher salt
1 tbls black pepper
2/3 cup long grain rice
3 cups of fresh spinach
3 3/4 cup water + 3/4 cup later


Directions


  1. Add 3 3/4 cups of water, wine, carrots, onion, garlic powder, sugar, cilantro, salt and pepper, and the skinless chicken half in a 3-5 quart pot. 
  2. Bring all ingredients to a boil and then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer for 20 min. 
  3. After 20 min remove the chicken from the pot and add the rice. add the remaining 3/4 c water and Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 15-20 min.
  4. Take the cooked chicken and shred it off the bone. If not everything is cooked all the way through that is fine.
  5. Once the rice is done add the chicken and spinach then bring back to a boil and then simmer for 10 min more.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

10.23.2015

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce- A Spera-Crassweller Family Recipe

My Favorite part of the finish product....TASTING!

For as long as I can remember, my mom has always made her own sauce for pasta. As with anything homemade, it is always better than store bought and you know exactly what is in it. This recipe is passed down from my great grandmother to grandmother to my mom and now my brother and I. My Grandmother was one of ten children and each one had their own way of making the sauce. Some members like to use chicken instead of sausage, others didn't use any meat at all but more herbs. No two sauces will ever be alike. I am sure that as I get older I will be adding different items to make the sauce my own.

While the recipe is super easy; it takes A LOT of time. However the most labor intensive is the first 1-2 hours depending on if you do any prep work the day before. The recipe below is for a 16 qt. pot, I do not expect most to have access to anything larger than a 4-5 qt. stock pot, so keep this in mind when you are making yours.

Ingredients (For a 16 quart stock pot)
  • 6-12 uncooked sausage links (can use chicken/pork/beef depending on your preference.)
  • White or Sweet onions diced 
    •  *For any sized pot you want the onions to cover the bottom by 2 inches. That is about the length of your index finger from tip to first knuckle. Do not do this in the pan as the oil will be VERY hot.
  • 1 head of garlic minced
  • 3 cans of Tomato Paste
  • 3 cans of Crushed Tomatoes
  • 6 cans of cold water
  • Salt to taste (try not to over salt, start with 1 tbls and see how it goes)
  • Pepper
  •  1tbls Basil
  • 1 tbls Oregano
  • 1 tbls Thyme



Directions


  1. Place the pot over medium heat on the stove. wait a few min until the bottom gets hot. Add the sausage links to the pan (do not over crowd!). Brown the sausage for approx. five min a side.
We like to use Hot Italian Sausage as it adds a nice flavor and bite to the sauce
Leave fat for the flavor!
  1. Remove the sausage and set aside in a paper towel lined bowl or plate for later. If there is a lot of fat at the bottom drain about a tablespoon or so. Don't drain all of it as you want it to barely cover the bottom of the pan. 
  2. Add your onions to the bottom of the pan and reduce the heat to medium low. Cover and sweat the onions 20-40 min until translucent; stir occasionally.  
  3. Your onions should look pretty close to this.
  4. Add Salt, Pepper, and Garlic and Stir for 1 min.
  5. Add in your Tomato Paste, Crushed Tomatoes and 6 cans of cold water (For every 1 can of tomato paste use 2 cans of cold water.) 
    1. Set heat to medium-high and stir.
    2. Bring to a SIMMER. Cover and let sit for 4-5 hours.
      1. Add the meat back in to cook the whole way through
      2. Do Not Boil. Tomatoes have sugar and can easily burn
    3. Add Basil, Oregano, Thyme; stir and let cook for another 10 min. 
    4. Remove the sauce from heat and let cool.


    Translate this recipe!

    Follow us by Email!