Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blue Cheese Dip

By Paul Briand

So, concerns about the sagging economy wouldn't allow you to splurge on a nice, new and big HDTV for Sunday's Super Bowl game?

Well, here's something you can splurge on instead -- homemade Blue Cheese Dip for your Buffalo wings.

I found this recipe while trolling through a bunch of Associated Press stories one day. Once you've tried this recipe, you'll be hard-pressed to ever go back to the bottled stuff for your wings.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 shallots, minced
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 3/4 cups crumbled blue cheese (such as Gorgonzola or Roquefort)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Pinch paprika

1. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, combine the oil, garlic, shallots and mustard powder. Saute until the shallots are lightly browned and very tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Remove the skillet from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the sour cream, yogurt and mayonnaise. Stir in the blue cheese. Transfer to a serving bowl, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3. When ready to serve, sprinkle with parsley and paprika.

If you really want to splurge (as you should) the recipe recommends crumbling some cooked crisp bacon onto the top. C'mon, you didn't splurge on the TV.
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Garlic and Citrus Roasted Chicken

By Paul Briand

Normally, I get an idea about something, build on the idea, then get the things needed to complete the idea.

Getting to this recipe came in the most bass-ackward form. I bought a roasting chicken, before having a clue just how or with what I wanted to roast it. Then went looking for some ideas. Then I assembled the things I needed to complete the assignment.

Normally, in thinking ahead about a menu of dinners for the week, I would have decided to roast a chicken, then get everything, chicken included after researching my needs.

It was a curious sequence of events on Jan. 14. I came home from grocery shopping, a roast chicken included among the bags. My intent was to spend part of the day looking around for a good recipe because I'd never roasted a chicken before.

At the time I was getting home, a crew from my cable television provider was finishing up the repair of some damage to the cable wire that occurred during the December ice storm. Once they finished, I turned on the TV to check the reception, tuned into the Food Network, and there was Giada De Laurentiis and her show "Everyday Italian" going over her recipe for a roasted chicken.

How's that for karma?

Here is her Garlic and Citrus Roasted Chicken (picture courtesy of Food Network), which was great. The aroma during cooking was tremendous, a true promise of what was to come on the plate:

1 (5 to 6-pound) whole roasting chicken, neck and giblets discarded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 orange, quartered
1 lemon, quartered
1 head garlic, halved crosswise, plus 3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 (14-ounce) cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
Kitchen string or butcher twine

1. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees,
2. Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle the cavity with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with the orange, lemon, and garlic halves. Tie the chicken legs together with kitchen string to help hold its shape. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper,
3. Place a rack in a large roasting pan. Place the chicken, breast side up, on the rack in the pan. Roast the chicken for 1 hour, basting occasionally and adding some chicken broth to the pan, if necessary, to prevent the pan drippings from burning,
4. Whisk the orange juice, lemon juice, oil, oregano, and chopped garlic in a medium bowl to blend. Brush some of the juice mixture over the chicken, after it has baked 1 hour,
5. Continue roasting the chicken until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the innermost part of the thigh registers 170 degrees, basting occasionally with the juice mixture and adding broth to the pan, about 45 minutes longer,
6. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Tent with foil while making the sauce (do not clean the pan),
7. Place the same roasting pan over medium-low heat. Whisk in any remaining broth and simmer until the sauce is reduced to 1 cup, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Strain into a 2-cup glass measuring cup and discard the solids. Spoon the fat from the top of the sauce. Serve the chicken with the pan sauce.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Eggplant Parm Pie

By Paul Briand

In some gastronomical ways, I'm a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Or, at least a meat kind of guy.

When I'm looking to make a dinner, I'm looking for substance, which is why I'm looking for fish, fowl or meat to cook. Given the choice, I'll opt out of veggie only meals.

But this recipe, courtesy of cruising through one day, has the bulk I like in a dinner -- pizza crust, hearty tomato sauce, eggplant and cheese.

2 pounds eggplant, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
Olive oil (for brushing)
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 can (1 pound) crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
Flour (for rolling)
1 pound store-bought pizza dough
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
Extra chopped basil (for garnish)

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand a deep 9-inch pie pan,
2. Brush both sides of the sliced eggplant with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and black pepper. Set them on a rimmed baking sheet without overlapping. Roast the eggplant for 15 minutes or until tender but not falling apart. Remove and set aside to cool. If necessary, roast the remaining eggplant in the same way,
3. Turn the oven temperature up to 425 degrees,
4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the garlic and red pepper. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes. Add the basil and taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper, and the sugar, if you like,
5. On a lightly floured counter, roll the dough to an 11-inch round. Brush the pie pan with olive oil. Lift the dough onto the rolling pin and ease it into the pan, so it hangs over the edges. Trim off any excess. With a fork, prick the dough well all over,
6. Spread 1/3 of the sauce in the dough. Top with a layer of eggplant. Pour in 1/3 of the sauce, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, and 1/4 cup of the mozzarella. Add another layer of eggplant, 1/3 of the sauce, and the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and 1/4 cup mozzarella. 7. Bake the pie for 25 minutes or until the crust is golden, the cheeses melt, and the sauce is bubbly. Let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Spices in the pantry

By Paul Briand

I was going through the pantry the other day making a list of the spices that need to be replenished, and I got to thinking: Is there a standard list of essential herbs and spices that each kitchen should have?

Besides salt and pepper, all home cooks have a bag of tricks they dip into when creating their favorite dishes. But I was curious about a list of what I would consider the standards.

I poked around the Food channel website, and a few others. I found one list that was pretty good at something called Associated Content, but it wasn't nearly as complete as I would have thought ... parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme weren't part of the list, for example.

That paragon of cooking -- Betty Crocker -- has a spice and herb chart in a cookbook we have as part of our cookbook library. It's pretty comprehensive:
Chili powder

But it too is incomplete. Sorry Betty.

So I've set out here to do my culinary duty and pull together as best I could the other essential spices for eats at home:
Bay leaves
Celery salt
Curry powder
Garlic powder
Italian seasoning
Red pepper flake
Seafood seasoning (Old Bay)
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