Saturday, November 15, 2014

Pesto with Chicken and Tomatoes

My wife loves this recipe.


1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 pint tomatoes (grape or cherry)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
White wine
1 lb pasta like ziti or penne


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or tin foil. Lightly coat with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until they start to burst and shrivel. 

Cook the pasta. 

Meanwhile, cube the chicken into smallish pieces. Season with salt and pepper and cook in olive oil over medium high heat until the cubes are browned all over. Add a splash of white wine to deglaze the pan and scrape up all the chicken bits. 

Toss in the tomatoes, pasta and pesto and mix well. Serve immediately. 

Herbed Balsamic Roast Pork

Lindsey Johnson has created a great recipe. The pork came out tender, moist and the perfect amount of sweet. I let the roast cook longer so it shredded with a fork and didn't reduce the sauce. It was awesome for tacos. Don't worry if you don't have a slow cooker, you can use a Dutch oven too. 


One, 3-5 pound pork roast (shoulder or loin are great)
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


Place pork roast in the slow cooker and top with the other ingredients. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 4-6 hours, depending on the size of the roast. (I put mine in frozen and it was done in 4 hours, but I left it for longer so it was more fall-apart tender*.)

Remove the cooked roast from the slow-cooker. Cover and keep warm. Pour the accumulated juices and vinegar into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it reduce by about half. Slice the roast and pour the sauce over the top and serve.

Note: If you let the roast cook even longer, it will shred easily with a fork and makes delicious sandwiches. Don’t reduce the liquid, it will be absorbed into the shredded meat. We’ve done both ways and like them equally. It’s a great thing to make when you’re having company for dinner.

Serves 6-10 depending on size of roast

Preparation time: 10min

Total time: 6hours including cooking time. May take less or more time depending on size of roast and slow cooker settings.

Pork Chops

I never ate pork chops as a kid. Recently, a couple friends and I bought a half of a pig so we have a bunch of cuts that I have never really thought about before. So I googled "how to make pork chops" and found this recipe. It was good and now I like pork chops. Next time, I would let the chops cook longer in the pan to sear and get more browned so they look more appetizing when done.


For the brine (optional):

3 cups cold water, divided
3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt (or 2 1/2 tablespoons table salt)
Optional flavorings: 2 smashed garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 bay leaf

For the pork chops:

2 to 4 pork chops — center cut, bone-on, 3/4-inch to 1-inch thick (about 1 pound each)
Olive oil


Brine the pork chops (optional): Bring 1 cup of the water to a boil, add the salt and optional flavorings, and stir to dissolve the salt. Add 2 more cups of cold water to bring the temperature of the brine down to room temperature. Place the pork chops in a shallow dish and pour the brine over top. The brine should cover the chops — if not, add additional water and salt (1 cup water to 1 tablespoon salt) until the chops are submerged. Cover the dish and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.

Heat the oven and skillet: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Place the skillet in the oven to preheat as well.

Remove the chops from the brine; if you didn't brine, remove the chops from their packaging. Pat dry with paper towels. Rub both sides with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set the chops aside to warm while the oven finishes heating.

Remove the hot skillet from the oven and set it over medium-high heat on the stovetop.

Sear until the undersides of the chops are seared golden, 3 minutes.

Flip the chops and transfer the skillet to the oven.

Roast until the pork chops are cooked through and register 140°F to 145°F in the thickest part of the meat with an instant-read thermometer. Cooking time will be 6 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the chops, how cool they were at the start of cooking, and whether they were brined. Start checking the chops at 6 minutes and continue checking every minute or two until the chops are cooked through.

Rest the chops: Transfer the cooked pork chops to a plate and pour any pan juices over the top (or reserve for making a pan sauce or gravy). Tent loosely with foil and let the chops rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Risotto Cacio e Pepe

This recipe comes from Massimo Bottura via Saveur. The dish was wonderfully creamy and the risotto had a great texture. For some reason, I really wanted to add peas and I think an added garnish of freshly made bacon crumbles would also go very well with this recipe. With the right cheese this dish is special. 

With the right cheese... boy did I learn the hard way. We have always used Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano Reggiano fairly interchangeably in my house for grating. And in small amounts they can have a very similar flavor profile. So I didn't really think twice about substituting Pecorino for the Parmigiano since my grocery store sells a very good Pecorino that I use all the time for grating as a garnish and as the cheese ingredient in Pesto. Well, that didn't turn out so well for this recipe. Pecorino is a sharper, saltier cheese emphasis on the salt, and for this recipe it was way too intense.

It was so intense that my wife and I were overwhelmed after eating about half a serving. After making this dish with Pecorino I re-read the article in Saveur, “The broth is slowly stirred into the risotto, taking the place of chicken stock, while the cream is added toward the end of cooking, giving the risotto a luxurious texture and little need for any additional salt.”

If for some reason you cannot get Parmigiano Reggiano and only have Pecorino, then I would make either a half batch of cheese broth and make up the rest with chicken broth/water or make a double batch of risotto (4 cups of rice) by making the regular amount of broth and adding 6 cups of water. That should dilute the Pecorino broth correctly for this recipe.



2 lbs. Parmigiano Reggiano, coarsely grated


6 cups parmesan broth
⅓ cup parmesan cream
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 medium shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Parsley leaves, for garnish


1. Make the parmesan broth: Combine parmesan and 8½ cups water in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-low. When the cheese becomes stringy, remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature, and repeat heating once more. Refrigerate broth 8 hours or overnight. The next day, the broth should have separated into 3 distinct layers: a cream layer, on top; a broth layer, in the middle; and solids, on the bottom. Carefully remove the top cream layer and reserve. Strain the broth, discarding remaining solids (bottom layer).

2. Make the risotto: Heat broth in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat; set aside and keep warm. Heat butter in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic to saucepan; cook, stirring, until soft, 3 minutes. Add rice; cook 2 minutes. Add reserved stock ½ cup at a time, cooking until each addition is absorbed before adding more. Cook, stirring often, until rice is tender and creamy, about 20-22 minutes. Stir in parmesan cream and cracked pepper; garnish with parsley leaves.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Leek and White Bean Gratin

This recipe comes from Food and Wine. I think this would be a good holiday dish. It's cheesy and uses a vegetable that most people don't eat except for during the holidays. ;) Really though it's a good dish and pretty easy to make.

4 medium leeks, dark green tops discarded, white and light green parts halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Two 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese

Preheat the oven to 400°. Brush the leeks with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place cut side down in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons of water to the dish, cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes until tender. Uncover and continue roasting the leeks for 10 minutes until caramelized. Let cool slightly, then coarsely chop and set aside.

Clean out the baking dish and spray with vegetable oil spray.

In a large bowl, toss the roasted leeks with the cannellini beans, garlic, lemon zest, chicken broth and 1/4 cup parsley and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the leek-and-bean mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with the Gruyère cheese and bake for 15 minutes, until bubbly around the edges and browned on top. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Bean Soup with Rice and Tomatoes

This recipe comes from Bon Appetit. I love soup and I love winter because I get to eat soup. I could not get skinless fava beans (hipsters you know who you are) or lima beans at my local super market, so I substituted navy beans. They were very tasty. If substituting dried navy beans that have been soaked overnight, cook them for 40 mins before adding the rice. Pepitas make a good substitute for the so-expensive-I-have-to-sell-my-child pistachios.


2 medium onions, peeled, quartered
4 garlic cloves
½ cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes
8 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
8 oz. dried skinless fava or lima beans (about 1½ cups)
¼ cup short-grain brown rice
⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt
⅓ cup chopped unsalted, roasted pistachios


Process onions and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add cumin, coriander, and allspice and cook, stirring often, until onions start to brown, about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until mixture is jammy, about 5 minutes.

Stir in broth and bring to a boil. Add beans, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, 20 minutes. Add rice and simmer, partially covered, until rice and beans are soft, 30–35 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

Top soup with yogurt and pistachios just before serving.

DO AHEAD: Soup can be made 5 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

Mexican Chicken Soup

Jane Coxwell contributed this recipe to Food and Wine and she deserves some definite props. I loved the cinnamon vibe. I think you could use corn tortillas instead just fine.

10 cups water
One 3 1/2-pound chicken
3 medium tomatoes, cored and quartered
1 medium carrot, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 small cinnamon stick
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
2 small flour tortillas, halved
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice

In a saucepan, combine the water, chicken, tomatoes, carrot, onion, garlic, coriander, cumin, cinnamon and the 1/2 cup of cilantro. Add a generous pinch each of salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over moderately low heat for 30 minutes, skimming as necessary. Discard the cinnamon stick and continue simmering until the chicken is cooked through, 30 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, toast the tortillas over moderate heat, turning once, until crisp in spots, 3 minutes. Cut the tortillas into thin strips.

Transfer the chicken to a plate and let cool slightly. Shred the meat; discard the skin and bones. Return the chicken to the saucepan and reheat the soup. Stir in the lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with the tortilla strips and cilantro and serve.