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Archive for the ‘Entree’ Category

This recipe incorporates three vegetables that are in season during the summer but are available year round: zucchini, yellow squash, and corn. When I make this dish during the winter, I use frozen corn. As this recipe is my own invention, the cooking and ingredients may vary from traditional paella It’s a little more involved than some other recipes on this site but it’s not complicated and takes me a total of 45 minutes.

iPhone 149For those not familiar with removing kernels from a cob of corn, place the corn standing up on a cutting board, fat end on the bottom. Using your chef’s knife, cut inward at first and down the cob to the bottom. Rotate the cob and repeat until all the kernels are removed. If the knife gets stuck, adjust it so it is not so close to the cob. Beware the kernels will fly off so allow some clearance.

Shrimp Paella – 1 Knife+

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 small onion, peeled and diced
  • 1-2 carrots depending on size, peeled and grated
  • 1 ear corn, kernels removed or 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 cloves garlic (use a garlic press; if not, finely mince)
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1 pound raw shrimp (whatever size you are comfortable with but not too large), peeled (I prefer to remove that tails)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)

Cook:

  • Overview: start by cooking the rice (which includes the onion, carrots, and corn); zucchini and yellow squash are sautéed in a non-stick pan; shrimp are sautéed next; squash and shrimp and seasonings are combined; then rice mixture is added to the pan and tossed around; then it sits in the pan a few minutes to crisp on the bottom.
  • In a 2 quart sauce pan heat ½ to 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
  • When the oil is heated enough, stir in onions and allow to cook slowly until soft and translucent.
  • While the onions are cooking peel and grate the carrot and prepare the corn kernels.
  • When the onions are ready, add the chicken broth, carrots, and corn; increase heat to high.
  • When the broth boils, add the rice, reduce heat to low, and simmer (roughly 20 minutes).
  • Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large 12” non-stick frying pan or sauté pan over medium high heat. If you may trade off pan diameter with a pan of smaller diameter with higher sides.
  • While the oil heats, prepare the squash or you can prep it as your first step. Trim the ends off the squash. Slice each in half length-wise. Cut off the narrow end of the yellow squash, and cut into about ¾ inch dice. Cut the zucchini and the remaining yellow squash in half length-wise again. Dice into ¾ inch pieces. If your zucchini is too thin, adjust accordingly.
  • Press 1 clove of garlic into to the pan. (The garlic tells you when the pan is hot enough.)
  • Add the squashes to the pan and stir around.
  • While the squash cooks, prepare the shrimp. You can lightly season the shrimp with salt if you’d like.
  • Stir the squash as it cooks from time to time.
  • If the timing is working out correctly, when the rice has about 5 minutes to go, the squash should be ready. Place the squash in a bowl and set aside.
  • Add more olive oil to the pan (1 tablespoon) .
  • Press the second garlic clove into the pan and stir around.
  • Place the shrimp evenly in the pan. Cook on one side for about 1.5 – 2 minutes depending on size. Turn and cook for another minute.
  • Add the squash back into the pan.
  • Sprinkle the turmeric and coriander over the shrimp and squash. Toss them all together.
  • Add the rice to the pan and toss together well until all the rice is yellowed by the turmeric.
  • Distribute evenly in the pan and let cook a couple of minutes more so that the rice crisps a little at the bottom of the pan.
  • Serve.
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Here is another dish that I made up on my own which is simple enough to make during the work week. Fresh zucchini is available all year but local zucchini can be found later in the summer in northern regions.

The quantities in this recipe are flexible depending on the size of the zucchini and how much spaghetti you like in a serving. For me, the recipe below makes two generous servings.

The cooking time for this dish is fairly quick and prep may be done while the water for the spaghetti is being heated. Part of the timing of this dish is dependent on how long the spaghetti takes to cook and how tender you like your pasta.IMG_0353

Oregano Chicken and Zucchini Tossed with Spaghetti – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 5 ounces dry spaghetti, thin spaghetti, or linguine
  • 2 small or one large zucchini sliced into ¼ – 3/8 inch circles or semicircles (for a large piece)
  • 1 pound (or less) boneless skinless chicken breast roughly cut into ½” dice
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed or minced
  • Dried oregano (plenty – 2+ tablespoons?)
  • Olive oil
  • Grated Parmesan cheese to taste (I like a lot on this dish)

Cook:

  • Set a pot of water on the stove to come to a boil.
  • In the mean time, rinse and dry zucchini and trim off the ends. Slice up and set aside (use a plate or bowl to hold zucchini now and the cooked zucchini later).
  • Dice up the chicken breast and season with salt.
  • Peel two cloves of garlic. (mince if not using a garlic press)
  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium high heat.
  • Press one garlic clove into pan and mix around with the oil.
  • Toss zucchini into the oil so all pieces are coated then try to arrange in a single layer.
  • Sprinkle zucchini with a generous amount of oregano. (see photo)IMG_0352
  • Put pasta in the water. Set timer.
  • After a 2-3 minutes turn zucchini over.
  • After 2 more minutes remove zucchini from the pan.
  • Put another tablespoon of oil into the pan.
  • Press in the 2nd garlic clove into the pan.
  • Add chicken to the pan and mix around so pieces are evenly spread.
  • Sprinkle chicken with a generous amount of oregano.
  • After a couple of minutes stir around the chicken. Continue to let chicken cook and occasionally stir the chicken around until it begins to caramelize. Stir in the zucchini; lower heat to low. At this point, the pasta should have two minutes or less remaining. (Raise heat on chicken if you need to speed the caramelization up.)
  • Drain the pasta. Pour a little olive oil into the pasta and mix it around.
  • Add to frying pan and toss everything together. Turn off heat.
  • Serve
  • Top with a generous amount of grated parmesan.

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Here is a dish that I made up on my own. Whenever I make chicken soup, depending on how generous a bunch of dill I buy, there is usually a decent quantity that does not make it into pot. Hating to waste a fresh herb, I have made up some dishes to use the dill in.IMG_0327 cropped

In looking at the ingredients in the list below, you will notice that the measurements are imprecise. How much you use depends on how many people you are serving and how much spaghetti you consider to be a normal portion size. This dish as described will serve two to three people. Personally, I use 1/3 pound of raw shrimp per person and 2.5 ounces of dry spaghetti per person. If I am serving more than 3 people, I up the other quantities as well but you should avoid that until you are comfortable making this dish.

The cooking time for this dish is fairly quick so I like to prep all the ingredients in advance. Some of the prep can be done while the water for the spaghetti is being heated. Part of the timing of this dish is dependent on how long the spaghetti takes to cook and how tender you like your pasta.

Shrimp with Feta and Dill over Spaghetti – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 5 – 7.5 ounces dry spaghetti, thin spaghetti, or linguine (do not use whole wheat pasta)
  • 2/3 – 1 pound raw shrimp (whatever size you are comfortable with but not too large)
  • 2 -3 tablespoons Olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 1 15 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • Juice from 1.5 – 2 lemons (depends on how juicy they are)IMG_0281
  • 3 or more cloves garlic minced (not pressed)
  • ½ cup or more chopped fresh dill
  • ½ cup or more crumbled feta

Cook:

  • Peel and devein shrimp; remove tails.
  • Remove dill from stems, chop up and set aside.
  • Begin to heat the pot of water for the spaghetti.
  • Mince garlic, set aside.
  • Strain the can of tomatoes and set aside to drain.
  • Juice the lemons.
  • If your pasta takes 8 minutes to cook, as the spaghetti water nears a boil, preheat olive oil in a 10 – 12 inch pan, preferably non-stick, using medium high heat. If the pasta takes 11 minutes to cook, wait until the spaghetti is in pot before preheating the skillet. You also must know your pan and your stove. If your pan heats up quickly, allow less time for this step. You do not want to burn the oil.
  • When the water boils, add the pasta and set your timer .
  • Place the shrimp evenly in the pan. Cook on one side for about 1.5 – 2 minutes depending on size. Turn and cook for another minute.
  • Add lemon juice, tomatoes, and garlic. Stir.
  • Check the pasta timer. Depending on the amount of time left, adjust heat on the shrimp pan. You want the contents of the pan to come to a simmer by the time there is one minute left on the timer. I recommend leaving the heat as is and then once you see the sauce beginning to simmer, then you can lower the heat.
  • When the timer gets below on minute left stir in the dill.
  • Drain the spaghetti when it is ready. Distribute to plates or place in a large pasta bowl if serving family style.
  • Add feta to pan. Stir. Turn off heat and spoon shrimp and sauce over the pasta.

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Chicken Marsala is a classic dish that is well liked and easy to make.  There are many ways to make it; I have several ways myself.  My varieties almost all have the same ingredients with the difference being how little effort you want to take and whether you want to serve it immediately or not.Plated Chicken Marsala

The recipe follows the common cooking approach of sautéing cutlets coated lightly with seasoned flour, followed by sautéing mushrooms and creating the sauce.  My little twist is that I add diced shallots to the mushrooms.  The variations come into play on the last steps.  Do I do it by the book by correctly sautéing the mushrooms, removing them from the pan, then adding the wine, letting it reduce way down, and then adding chicken stock?  Or do I just start sautéing the mushrooms and throw in the wine after a little while, then let it liquid reduce down until I think it’s ready?  Do I place the chicken in a glass baking dish and throw the sauce (not as reduced) over the top, cover, and place in the oven where the sauce will reduce down or get totally absorbed?  Or do I add butter or flour to the sauce to thicken it so I can serve immediately?  It’s ALL good though some are better.  Experiment.  Because it is a simple dish, over the course of the year try making it different ways until you find what works for you.

A minor note about the wine.  I never have measured the wine when I make this dish.  I just pour until I think it’s the right amount.  If you are uncomfortable with that idea, start with a cup and add more if you think you should.  And yes, I use the cheap marsala but you are welcome to buy a better grade of wine.

Chicken Marsala – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 1½ pounds boneless chicken breast
  • ¼ cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil (extra virgin)
  • ¼ cup diced shallot (1 moderate sized shallot)
  • ½ pound cremini mushrooms sliced (regular white mushrooms will work as well)
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth or stock (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons flour combined with twice as much cold water to make a slurry (optional)

Cook:

  • Peel and dice shallots and set aside
  • Clean and slice mushrooms and set aside
  • Using a sharp knife, trim the boneless chicken, then horizontally slice the chicken to achieve thinner pieces of a more uniform thickness (or thinness in this case).  You may want to cut some of the pieces in halves or thirds to get smaller, more manageable pieces.
  • In a non-stick skillet or pan, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat – enough to sauté the chicken with.  This will vary depending on the size of the pan.  Add more oil before sautéing a second batch of chicken.
  • Dredge both sides of chicken pieces in flour, making sure the chicken is coated but make sure to shake or tap off any excess flour
  • Sauté chicken until lightly golden on each side.  Depending on thickness, you may need to cook a little longer.  Or if you are going to bake the chicken in the oven, you can err on the less done side since the chicken will be cooked further.  As each chicken piece finishes cooking, remove from the pan and place on a plate or a glass baking pan or casserole (if doing the oven approach).  Add more olive oil when you add new pieces to the pan.  Cover the plate with aluminum foil to keep the chicken warm while you prepare the rest. IMG_0213
  • Lower heat to medium.  If necessary, add a little more olive oil to the pan.  Add shallots to the pan, a sauté them for a couple of minutes to begin softening, at which time you can add the mushrooms.

Best flavor approach:

  • Sauté mushrooms until done.  Remove from pan (place on top of chicken for ease).
  • Turn heat to high and add wine.
  • Reduce to about ¼ cup
  • Add broth and heat to just boiling
  • Lower heat somewhat and stir in slurry, letting it cook a couple of minutes (optional)
  • Reduce heat to low and stir in butter until it melts and is blended in (optional) [the butter and/or slurry are used to thicken the sauce; how thick you want the sauce is a matter of taste; start with the 1 tbsp flour slurry mixture and the 2 tbsp butter, then adjust the next time you make the dish.]
  • If serving immediately, place the chicken and mushrooms back in the pan to warm back up a bit (a minute or two).  Then remove chicken and cover with sauce; extra sauce can be served on the side. IMG_0216
  • If baking, pour sauce over the chicken, cover the dish, and place in low oven until you are ready to serve.  Set oven temperature based on how soon you will be serving.  If an hour or more, then use a low oven (200°); if ½ hour or less, use 300-350° oven. [Hint: do not thicken sauce as much for this method.]

Simplistic approach:

  • Sauté mushrooms until they start to soften
  • Add wine and raise heat to high
  • If serving directly to plate,
    • Reduce liquid until you have the amount of sauce you want.
    • Lower heat a little and add slurry; cook a couple of minutes more so the sauce thickens.
    • Lower heat more and add chicken back to pan heat up and get coated
    • Serve
  • If serving baking in the oven,
    • When the mushrooms have softened and sauce has reduced somewhat, pour sauce over chicken.
    • Cover baking dish and place in a 300 degree oven for ½ hour or longer

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As we move into the holiday season, here is a special occasion entrée from Grandma Grace’s kitchen which can be timed well with entertaining guests and is simple to make.  Think of it as a Jewish glazed ham.  A wild rice pilaf pairs nicely with it.

Corned beef (brisket flat of course) has many virtues.  Foremost is that cooking it is as simple as boiling water.  Another virtue is that the corning process along with air-tight packaging keeps the uncooked meat from spoiling quickly – this allows supermarkets to sell it for less than an ordinary brisket flat.  It can also be stored in your freezer as well.  So buy it on sale and use it when you want.  For this recipe, the grainy texture of the brisket provides another benefit: sticking whole cloves into the meat is effortless.  The recipe calls for a 4 to 5 pound corned beef but you can use a smaller cut if you prefer.

Glazed Corned Beef on Plate

Grandma Grace’s Glazed Corned Beef – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 5 lbs corned beef
  • Whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chili sauce
  • 1 small can of crush pineapple
  • ¼ jar currant jelly
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup honey

Cook:

  1. Follow the cooking instructions on the corned beef package.  Usually you would place the corned beef (fat side up) in a deep and wide pot and cover with water (at least one inch above the meat).  It is probably easiest if you do not add any spices to the water.  Turn the burner on high and bring to a boil.  If you want, you can remove any scum that comes to the top but that is optional.  Lower heat to simmer and cover the pot.  Corned beef usually needs to simmer for about 50 minutes per pound.
  2. When the corned beef is nearly ready, mix the last 6 ingredients together in a bowl.  This can be done well in advance if you are having company.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Place the cooked corned beef on a cutting board and trim off the fat on top.
  5. Place the corned beef in a suitable roasting pan.  Stick cloves into the corned beef, evenly spacing them about.  1½ inches apart should be fine.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  6. Pour the glaze mixture over the corned beef and place the pan in the oven for 45 minutes, basting occasionally.  You can hold off placing the pan into the oven until company arrives or shortly thereafter.
  7. When ready, remember that brisket is sliced across the grain.  Place on a platter and cover with glaze from the pan.  Enjoy!

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The primary reason I kicked off this blog was to help teach cooking-phobes and rookies how to cook.  When I hear about success stories I love it.  “I tried your ___ recipe and it turned out great!” is music to my ears.  Recently, I successfully managed to teach this recipe to a cooking novice and am proud that they embraced the recipe and have even made it their own.

Now I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t point out that asparagus is very much fresh and in season right now.  I am a firm believer in cooking foods that are in their peak and this is a great recipe to highlight the deliciousness that is fresh asparagus.  Just make sure when purchasing that all of the asparagus in the bunch are about the same size – so either all skinny or all thick.  For this recipe I prefer thinner asparagus.

This recipe is completed with the Tangy Walnut Vinaigrette posted on this site.  I’ll repeat the recipe and ingredients so you don’t have to bounce between recipes or print out extra pages.  Just know if you like the dressing the recipe is available on its own.

Asparagus and Wild Rice Salad – 1 Knife (Adapted from The New York Times “Getting Your Grains – and Greens, too”)

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 cup wild rice or wild rice blend
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1/3 cup shelled walnuts (optional)
  • ground black pepper (optional)
  • salt (optional)

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ cup walnut oil
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Prep:

  1. Wash the asparagus and trim off the tough ends, usually about 1-2 inches up the bottom of the stalk.  Discard these.
  2. Cut the asparagus into 1 inch pieces.  Set aside.
  3. Chop the walnuts roughly into pieces and set aside.

Cook:

  1. Cook the rice according to the directions.  To add extra flavor use chicken or vegetable stock instead of water.
  2. While the rice cooks remove the skin from the garlic and chop into a fine mince, or use a garlic press to smash the garlic.
  3. Add the garlic to a bowl, measuring cup, or jar (really whatever container of your choice).
  4. Add to the container the lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and mustard and whisk until combined.  If you don’t want to use a whisk you can use a fork for whisking.
  5. Add the oils to the container and whisk until everything is combined.  Set aside.
  6. Steam the asparagus over 1-2 inches of boiling water in a steamer basket in a covered saucepan for about 4 minutes or until tender.  If you do not have a steamer, boil the asparagus for a few minutes in water until slightly tender – just be careful not to overcook and strain the asparagus from the water immediately after boiling.
  7. When the rice has finished cooking combine it in a bowl with the asparagus, walnuts, and the dressing.  Stir so that everything is coated in dressing.
  8. Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste if preferred and stir well.
  9. Serve the salad and enjoy!

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Thanksgiving dinner can be the most intimidating meal all year to cook.  There is a lot going on from all of the sides and desserts, not to mention cooking a giant turkey.  I hope to demystify this dinner, at least a little, starting with the turkey.

Turkey is surprisingly easy to cook; you just need a roasting pan or any pan big enough to hold it.  You can also use an oven bag to cook the turkey, just be sure to follow the directions on it.  You can cook a turkey of any size, or just a turkey breast, following this basic rule: 325° Fahrenheit for 20 minutes per pound of bird.  Also you want to make sure the meat has reached 165° by checking it with a meat thermometer.  The little button thermometers that come with the birds cannot be trusted and often pop pre-maturely.

When it comes to the seasonings, you want to use enough to evenly sprinkle them over the whole bird.  Since bird and breasts can vary in size significantly I did not list measurements.  Use your best judgment as to how much to use.  When in doubt more is probably better than less.  Otherwise cooking a turkey is as simple as the instructions below.

 

Basic Turkey – 2 Knives

Ingredients:

  • One turkey or turkey breast, thawed
  • 1½ cups orange juice (2 cups for a whole turkey)
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Black pepper
  • Salt (for whole turkey only)
  • Room temperature butter (for whole turkey only)

Prep:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325° Fahrenheit.
  2. Rinse the turkey in water, removing anything inside, like organ packets.
  3. If cooking a whole turkey rub the skin with the butter.
  4. Place the turkey in the roasting pan breast-side up.
  5. Pour the OJ over the turkey, allowing some to get inside the cavity.
  6. Sprinkle the paprika, garlic powder and black pepper over the bird so that it’s evenly covered.  If using a whole turkey also use salt.

Cook:

  1. Place the turkey in the oven.
  2. Baste every 30 minutes by pouring the bird’s drippings back over it.  If you don’t own a baster you can use a large spoon.
  3. When you have reached the approximate time that the bird should cook, check the temperature using a meat thermometer.
  4. When finished remove the bird from the pan and place on a cutting board to rest for about 20 minutes before carving.  While the meat is resting it’s a good time to prepare gravy with the drippings or save them to serve as is.
  5. Carve the turkey, serve and enjoy!

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