French in a Flash: Tapenade-Baked Chicken

RECIPE: Tapenade-Baked Chicken
Tapenade Chicken

Tapenade Chicken

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

Is it wrong to love a shortcut?  I’ve been busy lately, but when it comes to writing my columns, I want to bring the best to my readers.  But then I thought, I bet they’re busy too.

I have become obsessed with this one shortcut I started using about a week or so ago: using spreads or sauces that I can buy, and repurposing them as cooking agents.  Last week, I baked fish in pesto.  And this week, it’s chicken in tapenade.

Think of chicken like a piece of bread.  Who doesn’t love bread with butter or olive oil?  It’s delicious, of course.  But, it’s also simple, and frankly, it feels like a starter.  But when you slather your bread with tapenade, full of olives, anchovies, garlic, and herbs, eating becomes exciting, full of flavor, different.  It becomes a meal.

Tapenade, like pesto, is blended together with olive oil, so in essence, it’s just a highly flavored cooking medium.  Smother chicken in it, and already the meat is coated with olive oil, but also crusted in olives and herbs.  Just bake it in the oven, and just like that, you’ve created something really different, without having to stock your pantry or, frankly, cook.  It just cooked itself.

French food is, I can assure you, at times very labor intensive.  That is the artistry of the cuisine.  But the base flavors of the country are so beloved and developed, that you can skip the labor, and just make use of the best part: how delicious it is.  Dinner in Provence tonight?  And in less time than it takes to book a flight on AirFrance.com?  I’m all for that.

Tapenade-Baked Chicken
serves 2 to 4

Tapenade ChickenINGREDIENTS

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
  • 4 teaspoons store-bought or homemade black olive tapenade

PROCEDURE

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Wash the chicken, and dry on paper towel.  Season with salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence.  Rub each piece of chicken, on all sides, with 1 teaspoon tapenade.  Place all 4 thighs, skin-side-up, on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet.  Roast until the inside of the chicken reaches a temperature of 165 degrees F, about 25 minutes.

 

print this recipe
print this post Posted by Kerry | 3 Comments
Share

Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipes, Series
 

Franglais: The Roquefort Wedge

RECIPE: The Roquefort Wedge
The Roquefort Wedge

The Roquefort Wedge

Get the whole story on The Huffington Post.

If it’s wrong to expound on the beauty and perfection that is the blue cheese wedge, then I’m sorry.  I just don’t care.  To me, it is the snow-capped Everest of salads.  It might even be holy.

Salads can be grueling.  You really wanted a burger, but here you are, with a pile of foliage, and a little pot of fat-free Italian on the side, counting calories.  It is misery itself.  Yes, a halo spins around you head, and your middle names are virtue and penance, but after it all, you know you’re binging at 3 o’clock.

But the Blue Cheese Wedge.  It is the least PC of all salads.  A huge block of the only nutritionally maligned lettuce ever to exist, topped with an avalanche of cheese and creaminess, scattered with, can you believe it, bacon.  What could be more Mad Men-kitsch?  What could be more naughtily on the verge of nice?  It is an unhealthy salad—the only salad you would ever order out of love.

I insist on one a week.

I love that I have to crack it open with a steak knife, and that the last bite makes me feel like a culinary Bear Grylls at the heights of Himalayas.  I could have accomplished nothing else that day; but I at an entire Blue Cheese Wedge.  I love how the lettuce crunches to water in by mouth, and how the blue cheese fills my nose with that pungent stench that is somehow so utterly alluring.  I love it, pure and simple.

Now imagine replacing the nameless blue cheese with one of the greatest blues to come out of the greatest cheese country in the world: Roquefort, from France.  Sharp, almost numbing in its spice, it moves you from Everest to the Alps.  Cheese in French salads is rarely so adulterated as to be converted to a dressing, but try it before you knock it.  Sometimes, it tastes good to be a bit naughty.

The Roquefort Wedge
serves 4

The Roquefort WedgeINGREDIENTS

  • 3 ounces room temperature Roquefort cheese
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons half and half
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 small head iceberg lettuce, cut into 4 wedges, with the core removed
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts

PROCEDURE

In a medium bowl, whisk together the Roquefort, mayonnaise, half and half, vinegar, and pepper.  Leave some lumps.  Place each wedge on a plate, and pour the sauce over the top.  Top with walnuts, extra pepper, and some additional crumbled Roquefort (optional).

 

print this recipe
print this post Posted by Kerry | Leave a comment
Share

Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Franglais, Recipes, Salad, Series, Soup & Salad, Vegetarian
 

Working Girl Dinners: Spicy Penne with Instantaneous Meatballs

RECIPE: Spicy Penne with Instantaneous Meatballs
Spicy Penne with Meatballs

Spicy Penne with Meatballs

Meatballs are so romantic.  I’ve been in love with them ever since I saw Tramp nudge one over to Lady across the spaghetti supper.  I think I’ve been dreaming of re-enacting that scene, sans whiskers and wet noses (or with, who am I kidding?), since I was five (note to Mr. English).

Yes, meatballs are awesome, but they are also complicated to make and a process to perfect.  The best have three types of meat, separately cooked flavorings, and bread soaked in milk.  Italian grandmothers make meatballs on Sundays–even they don’t have time the rest of the week!  I’m guessing you don’t either.

Lady Tramp Spaghetti

So, Mr. English and I kind of look exactly like them. Is that wrong?

I have a secret to making instantaneous meatballs: sausage.  I just buy it, and my meatballs are pretty much done.  Roll the sausage meat into balls between your hands, put them in the oven, and that’s it.  They already taste like garlic and fennel and herbs and spices, and you didn’t have to do anything.  Buy turkey (because it’s healthy) or pork (because it’s delicious), and toss them with multigrain penne, tongue-burning spicy sauce, and sweet peppers and onions.  I’ll take care of the recipe.  But finding a checked tablecloth, candlelight, accordionist, and Tramp (man or dog) are all up to you.

Spicy Penne with Instantaneous Meatballs
serves 4

Spicy Penne with MeatballsINGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound Italian sausage (pork or turkey, not spicy)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 orange, red, or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced in strips
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced in half-moons
  • 1 jar arrabiata sauce (recommended: Mario Batali)
  • 1 box multigrain penne pasta (recommended: Barilla Plus)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional!)
  • Freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional!)
  • Salt & Pepper

PROCEDURE

Bring a large pot of water to boil, covered, over high heat.  Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Make the meatballs from the sausage.  Pull little chunks of meat out of the casing from one end of a link of sausage.  Roll it into a ball, and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Where I buy my sausage, I get 4 ¼-pound links, and each link yields 5 meatballs.  Repeat until all the sausage meat is used.  Discard the casings.  If using turkey sausage, spray the tops of the meatballs with cooking spray.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in sauté pan over medium-low heat until the oil loosens up in the pan, spreads out, and starts to shimmer.  Add the peppers and onions to the pot.  It should sizzle.  Season the veggies with salt and pepper, and stir often for 15 minutes.  The veggies will the soft, and a little golden around the edges.  Add the jar of arrabiata sauce to the vegetables, and cover.

At this point, the water should be boiling, and the sausage meatballs should have been in the oven for 20 minutes.  Salt the boiling water, and add the pasta.  Stir once, and cook according to package instructions until al dente.  Immediately add the sausage meatballs carefully into the simmering sauce and veggie mixture, make sure the meatballs are submerged, and cover.  Cook on low until the pasta is done.

Drain the pasta well, and add it back to its big pot.  Pour the sauce, veggies, and meatballs over the pasta and stir gently until everything is tossed together.  Top with Parmesan, and maybe some parsley, and you’re in business!

TIPS

If you don’t want this dish to be really spicy, use a jar of marinara sauce instead of arrabiata sauce, and add a pinch of crushed red pepper.

If you don't want to cut up anything, just leave the veggies out!

print this recipe
print this post Posted by Kerry | 1 Comment
Share

Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Poultry, Recipes, Series, Watch, Working Girl Dinners
 

VIDEO: How to Make Pesto Sauce

RECIPE: Homemade Pesto
Pesto

Pesto

My mom always made the best pesto sauce.  Growing up in New York, we would spend these long, leafy summers in Woodstock, in a house on a big mountain.  Everything about the place, the whole town, was just summer.  Buzzing bees.  Big swimming pools with decks that gave you splinters in your feet.  Black raspberry ice cream cones.  And the best farmstand ever.  I would buy warm, seedy watermelon juices there every day, and my mom would buy bunches of basil.  What is better than basil in the summer?  She would make homemade pesto sauce, full of nuts and cheese, and toss it with pillows of ricotta-stuffed ravioli.  We would eat on the deck of the wood-sided house as the hot sun sank down.  With memories like that, I’m not surprised pesto is still one of my favorite foods.

Reader and friend Jenn asked for a video on how to make pesto.  Great request.  It’s one of those things that’s so easy; after someone has shown you how to make it once, you’ll make it a million times.  Here’s my easy pesto rule-of-three: 3 cups of basil, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons pine nuts, 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, and 1 clove of garlic.  Blend it in a food processor, and you have perfect pesto.

If you want a good pesto pasta, boil up some fusilli.  Toss it with the pesto, and add some of the pasta cooking water to loosen up the pesto around the pasta.  But don’t stop there.  Toss some gnocchi with pesto and a pat of butter and extra Parm.  Use this pesto in last week’s Working Girl Dinner, and roast fish or shrimp or scallops in pesto sauce.  Toss pesto into a pot of steaming mussels.  That’s good.  Or spoon a dollop over grilled steak.  Or, one of my college favorites, mix the pesto with a touch of mayo, spoon onto whole wheat toast, and sandwich sliced tomato.

Watch to learn how easy it is to make homemade pesto!

Need a food processor to make your pesto?  Click here to buy the one I like.

Homemade Pesto

PestoINGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and spun dry
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & Pepper

PROCEDURE

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Scatter the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and toast 5 to 10 minutes, until you can smell the nuts in the oven, and they have turned golden brown.  Let them come to room temperature before you use them!

Put the nuts, garlic, and basil in the food processor.  Whiz them up until they are finely chopped.  Add the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Whiz until smooth.  Add in the cheese, and run the machine one final time to combine everything.

TIPS

To save money, use chopped walnuts instead of pine nuts, and substitute spinach for half the basil.

 

print this recipe
print this post Posted by Kerry | 2 Comments
Share

Categories: 15 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Dips, Spreads, Preserves, Easy, Eat, Recipes, Sides, Starches, Vegetarian, Watch
 

French in a Flash: Green Salad with Creamy Goat Cheese Dressing

RECIPE: Green Salad with Creamy Goat Cheese Dressing
Salad with Creamy Goat Cheese Dressing

Salad with Creamy Goat Cheese Dressing

Get the whole story at Serious Eats.

In my slightly undietetic mind, creamy salad dressing makes lettuce worth eating.  I once knew a woman who ate naked salad, and claimed it was because “she didn’t like dressing.”  She was lying!  To me, to herself, and to her itty-bitty waist.  That’s mind over matter.  Her mind could run a marathon around mine.

Normally, I always go for chunky blue cheese.  But lately I’ve been having really wonderful creative cheesy dressings–most recently with cheddar and avocado.  I love salad with goat cheese–the traditional crispy or warm goat cheese Parisian bistro salad.  Who doesn’t love that?  So I made a blue cheese dressing with fresh chèvre instead of blue cheese.  It is tangy and creamy and just ever-so-slightly tart and acidic.  And instead of a blog of creamy cheese, it enrobes every leaf of lettuce in the salad.

With the chèvre poured over torn greenleaf lettuce, topped with garden tomatoes, snipped chives, and toasted walnuts, the salad has a definite bistro feel, but it’s easier to make, light but decadent, and a bit off the beaten track–like the avocado cheddar dressing I saw last week.

Green Salad with Creamy Goat Cheese Dressing
serves 4

Salad with Creamy Goat Cheese DressingINGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 ounces fresh goat cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons half and half
  • 1 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 10 cups roughly chopped greenleaf lettuce (about 2 small heads)
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 4 teaspoons finely snipped chives
  • 6 tablespoons roughly chopped toasted walnuts

PROCEDURE

In a medium bowl, whisk together the goat cheese mayonnaise, half and half, and vinegar until mostly smooth.  Season to taste with salt and a lot of black pepper.

Toss the lettuce lightly with the dressing.  Save whatever is leftover in a closed container in the refrigerator.  Top the salad with tomato wedges, chives, and walnuts.  Serve immediately.

print this recipe
print this post Posted by Kerry | Leave a comment
Share

Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Individual, Recipes, Salad, Series, Sides, Soup & Salad, Vegetables, Vegetarian
 

The Secret Ingredient (Coconut) Part I: Double Coconut Rice Pudding

RECIPE: Double Coconut Rice Pudding
Coconut Rice Pudding

Coconut Rice Pudding

GET THE WHOLE STORY AT SERIOUS EATS.

Down in Florida, we think coconuts are dangerous.  Flying through those gusty summer hurricane winds, they’re like cannonballs or exploded fuselage, flying through the air with the greatest of speeds.  You don’t want to be in a coconut’s way, oh no.  Or standing underneath one when it gets ripe enough to plummet down from its palm and clock you on the head.  That’s for sure.

Yes, coconuts are dangerous.  They are also dangerously delicious.  And what better to do with a menace to society than to eat it—take it off the streets for good!  This month I had no idea what secret ingredient to do.  I thought I had no secrets left.  That I had spilled them all.  But then it hit me, like a coconut on the head, and I want to do two months of it.  We’ll see.  It’s one of those few ingredients that really is sweet and savory, and that can taste so all-American, and also so ends-of-the-earth exotic.

Coconut comes in many forms.  This rice pudding uses coconut milk, and dried coconut, plus a few extras like rice and sugar and cream to make this creamy coconut concoction inspired by Thai coconut rice and coconut ice cream.  It’s luscious, not too sweet, decadent, exotic, and comforting.  How’s that for a dessert!

Double Coconut Rice Pudding
serves 6

Coconut Rice PuddingINGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup Valencia rice
  • 1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dried flaked coconut, plus 6 tablespoons
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

PROCEDURE

Put the rice and 3 cups of water in a medium saucepot.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer the rice until tender, about 18 minutes.  Drain in a fine mesh colander.

Put the rice back in the pot with the coconut milk, sugar, salt, and dried coconut.  Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds.  Add the seeds and the pod to the rice.  Cook on the lowest heat, uncovered, until thick: 40 minutes.  Turn off the heat, and stir in the cream.  Remove the vanilla pod, and discard.

Spoon the pudding into 6 serving dish, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Place a wide sauté pan over medium heat, and add the remaining 6 tablespoons dried coconut.  Toast the coconut, stirring often, until just golden, but not brown—less than 90 seconds.  Take out of the pan immediately so it doesn’t burn, and sprinkle over the cups of rice pudding.

 

print this recipe
print this post Posted by Kerry | Leave a comment
Share

Categories: Desserts, Easy, Eat, Fruit, Recipes, Series, The Secret Ingredient, Vegetarian
 

Working Girl Dinners: Pesto-Roasted Chilean Sea Bass with Super-Garlicky Spinach

RECIPE: Pesto-Roasted Chilean Sea Bass with Super-Garlicky Spinach
Pesto Roasted Fish

Pesto Roasted Fish

This week my newly engaged best friend Jamie, medical student and very-beginner-chef extraordinaire, joins me in a make-up free, unscripted session in the Working Girl’s kitchen.  Just to prove to you that you don’t even need to know how to shut off the oven to make the perfect dinner (check out the last minute of the video and you’ll see what I mean).  Just make sure you find someone to shut it off after you’ve eaten.

I love this idea: spoon store-bought (read: good) fresh pesto sauce onto fish before you roast it.  The garlic and basil and nuts have all the flavor already mixed in, and the olive oil roasts the fish so it gets crispy around the edges, and stays so moist.  Plus, the olive oil already tastes like garlic and basil.  It’s no-brainer simple.  To go with it, I show Jamie how to do the world’s easiest vegetable: sautéed spinach with garlic.  When the camera was off, she turned to me in astonishment and said, “That’s so easy.  I could really do it!”  Yes!

Pesto-Roasted Chilean Sea Bass with Super-Garlicky Spinach
serves 2

Pesto Roasted FishINGREDIENTS

  • 2 6-ounce pieces of Chilean sea bass (ask for center cut, skin removed)
  • ¼ cup store-bought fresh pesto sauce (in the refrigerated section of the supermarket)
  • 1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces baby spinach, preferably organic
  • Salt & Pepper

PROCEDURE

Preheat the oven to 475°F.  Take the fish out of the fridge 15 minutes before you want to use it.  When the oven is hot, place the pieces of fish slightly apart on a small parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Season with salt and pepper, and rub all over with the pesto sauce.  Bake until the fish is opaque and flaky, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the spinach.  In a wide skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic, and cook about 30 seconds.  You don’t want it to brown.  Add the spinach; it will look like too much for the pan, but it will wilt down.  Season with salt and pepper, and stir with tongs until the spinach has just wilted, about 2 minutes.

Make a bed of the garlicky spinach on a serving dish, and use a spatula to place the fish on top.  Sometimes, I pour a little of the basil oil that bakes off the fish to the spinach.  Yum.

 

print this recipe
print this post Posted by Kerry | 5 Comments
Share

Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, Fish, Main Courses, Recipes, Series, Watch, Working Girl Dinners