Recent Recipes

The Poached Chicken Revelation

Comments (0) | Sunday, August 16, 2009

The other day I discovered the greatest chicken secret of all time.
Poached Chicken.
I cannot believe I have never tried poached chicken before. I feel like the universe has been hiding something from me.
It is so incredibly easy. The recipe in Going Solo In The Kitchen calls for 2 cups chicken stock, some tarragon, celery, salt and pepper, and 1 whole chicken breast (skin on, bone in).
I did not have tarragon or celery, and the only chicken in my refrigerator is boneless, skinless breast. I decided to go for it anyway and I am so happy I did. Here is what I did:
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 cups chicken stock
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 cup of onions
Garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste

Place chicken and stock in a pot and bring to a boil. Add thyme and onions. Simmer until cooked through. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper at your leisure. Remove from heat and let chicken cool while still immursed in the broth.

I probably simmered the chicken for 15-20 minutes. One of the nice things about this is that it's pretty much impossible to burn it.

I cheated and made instant mashed potatoes to go with this. They were the perfect side dish, but it would also be good with a different starch and maybe something like broccoli.

I served the chicken (to myself, ha ha) sliced. The cook book recommended spooning some of the broth over the chicken. I did that, but I think it would have been better if the broth was thicker. Luckily I had the potatoes to soak up all the wayward broth.

I also gave the whole meal a healthy dash of Shallot Pepper from Penzeys Spices, something I highly recommend.

This was so easy to make and very tasty. I intended to do this again with the thought that I can use leftovers as lunch meat.

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Several Failures Concerning Scones and Custard

Comments (0) | Thursday, August 13, 2009

I was on a brief scone kick at the end of last week. I made two batches and neither turned out quite right. I used the classic Better Homes & Gardens recipe, but I substituted milk instead of cream. This was an epic mistake. It changed the texture of the scone from awesomely dense to weirdly muffinish. Oh well. The strawberry scones turned out slightly better than the chocolate chip ones.
I have learned two very valuable lessons from the scone debacle: 1. Never substitute milk for heavy cream. 2. Honey butter makes everything extremely delicious.

I also decided to make an Onion and Spinach Custard from Going Solo In The Kitchen, my new single-living cookbook. I'm not really sure what I expected, because I hate eggs and egg dishes. Here is the recipe:

1/3 cup raw rice (or 2/3 cup cooked)
2 tsp. olive oil
2/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup scallion greens (optional)
1 1/3 cups chopped raw spinach
1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (I used basil, thyme, and garlic chives)
1/3 cup cottage or ricotta cheese
2 medium eggs
1/2 cup milk
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I used Fontina).

In a large pot of boiling water, boil the rice for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a heavy enameled or stainless steel frying pan. Add the onion, scallion greens, and spinach. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes, or until the vegetables are slight wilted. Stir in the herbs.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the cottage/ricotta cheese, eggs, and milk. Add the vegetable mixture and rice. Season with pepper and stir in the cheese. Spoon into an oiled 6-cup dish (I used a small Corelle baking dish). Cover loosely with a piece of foil. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 1 hour. The custard should be cooked through. Remove cover and bake another 5 minutes to brown the top. Let sit for 1 minute before unmolding. Serve warm.

It wasn't bad, exactly. It just wasn't my thing. It was too egg-y for one, and it was also sort of bland. In my opinion, it would have greatly benefited from a hearty dash of garlic powder and perhaps some salt.

Tonight, I am going to poach some chicken breasts in the hopes that the leftovers will make good lunch meat.

On less cooking related notes, I am still getting strange visitors after moving out of my parents' attic. Yesterday morning I found a small frog in the middle of my room. It was clear that he had come through the window air conditioner because he was covered in lint. I have no idea how he got from the window to the middle of the floor, though. I felt bad for the little guy, so I scooped him up and set him outside near the downspout. As far as I know he made it, even dehydrated as he was.

I am actually looking forward to winter so that nothing else invades my space via the window air conditioner.

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The end of the Pesto era (plus burns and baking)!

Comments (0) | Thursday, August 6, 2009

I have legitimately cooked quite a bit since the last time I wrote. I made myself a very tasty pizza with pesto, pepperoni, fontina cheese, mozzerella cheese, red onions, and garlic. It looked so good that I took a picture of it:

I love assembling my own pizza. I don't like tomatoes or tomato sauce, so I substitute anything else when I make pizzas myself. Pesto was a very delicious substitute, and one I'll likely use again in the future.

I actually followed a recipe this week, too. Monday night, I made Pesto Baked Chicken from the cookbook I got for Christmas. I had to reduce the recipe to suit one person, but it turned out very well:

1 chicken breast
4 Tbsp. Basil Pesto
3/4 tsp. sour cream
3/4 tsp. mayo
Parmesan cheese
Pine nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 450F. Lay the chicken in a shallow baking dish (I used a pie plate). Mix together pesto, mayo, and sour cream. Spread mixture evenly over chicken. Sprinkle with Parmesan and pine nuts. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

I did the whole thing over a bed of red onions, seasoned with any leftover pesto mixture. It was very good. I cooked it for more like 12 minutes so that the onions would caramelize more, and I actually could have left it in for a few more. The pesto effectively flavored the chicken throughout, even though it was just spread on top. This was very easy, pretty tasty, and worth the extreme burn I got on my right hand middle finger.

Yes, I burned myself taking this dish out of the oven. It was completely my own fault. I didn't put the oven door down all the way, and hit my finger on the inside of the door. It looks awesome. Kind of like I got into a fight with just my finger.

Anyway, between the pizza and the chicken, I finally used up all of the prepared pesto. I'll probably stay pesto-less for awhile. A week, at least.

I also did some baking over the past couple days. My fellow VISTA and her friend came over to my hovel to help bake some standard Peanut Butter Cookies (recipe from Better Homes and Gardens).
The cookies turned out well, especially well considering we used organic peanut butter (unsweetened!), organic sugar, and a farm fresh egg. They were the most environmentally conscious cookies I've ever baked.

Last night I tried my hand at short bread. Short bread is insanely easy to mix up. It consists of flour, sugar, and butter. That's it. You can get fancy like I did and add cinnamon, but it is still crazy easy. The hard part was the baking. I tried to get my dough into a nice circle like the picture in Better Homes and Gardens, but what I got instead was a questionable looking mound. Oh well. The edges got a little too brown, but the rest of the shortbread is pretty tasty. Note to self-invest in a rolling pin.

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