Chicken Avocado Taquitos with Red Pepper Soup

chicken taquitos with green chili
These recipes jumped off the screen last Monday when I was looking for something quick, nutritious and slightly comforting to make for my family.  Both recipes come from the great world of Pinterest and they paired together like old friends.  The first was baked chicken taquitos and I improvised from the original recipe a bit and added avocado (because it improves nearly everything) and green chili powder instead of cayenne.  Both additions worked well and I’ll definitely make this recipe again!

The second recipe comes from a dear friend and fellow food blogger, Becky McGrew of Apronclad.com!  She made this roasted red pepper soup a while back and I have kept it in the back of my head as yet another wonderful soup to introduce new flavors to our little two-year old, Olive.  The soup made a wonderful dip for the taquitos and was obviously wonderful on its own as a starter/side dish for the meal.  It has some Italian herbs in it, which are awesome, but I think next time to match up a little better with the Mexican theme, I think I’d omit the basil and thyme and add in Mexican oregano and cilantro to finish.  Whatever you do, just make this soup.  It’s outstanding!  I didn’t mess with the recipe at all, so just go on over to Becky’s blog and get the recipe there, plus very nice step-by-step instructions!

chicken taquitos

Baked Chicken Avocado Taquitos*

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to ½ inch thickness
½ teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon green chili powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
8 6-inch flour tortillas
1 cup shredded mexican blend or cheddar cheese
1 large, ripe avocado
Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil and spray heavily with cooking spray.

In a small bowl whisk together garlic salt, green chili powder, onion powder and cumin. Rub seasoning into both sides of chicken breasts. Spray a large pan or skillet with cooking spray and cook chicken over medium heat about 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. Chop chicken up into small cubes. Divide chicken evenly among all tortillas, spreading the chicken into a strip down the middle of each tortilla. Top chicken with about 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese and a few pieces of avocado. Tightly roll each tortilla into a taquito. Place end side down on prepared baking sheet. Spray taquitos heavily with cooking spray. Bake 10-15 minutes until tortilla edges begin to brown/blacken and cheese is melty. We dipped ours into the soup and also our favorite – Mexican crema!  Seriously, so much more flavor than sour cream!

*adapted from Creme de la Crumb

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Zucchini Basil Soup with Stove Top Fritters

Zucchini Basil Soup
I’m happy to have resurrected this soup!  Matt and I made it a long time ago when we were still doing the 800 sq ft apartment thing and then again when a friend of ours invited her dad over and we needed to fix low sodium, low fat recipes since he had recently had heart surgery.   Matt’s father also has heart troubles, so it’s always refreshing to find healthy recipes to share that taste as decadent as a full-fat option.  This soup is so perfect for the coming zucchini-overload we all will have soon (as it’s the only vegetable that seems to have no trouble in our awful climate) and basil, the herb that’s also hard to kill.  It’s got all the depth of flavor of a soup that has been slowly cooked with butter and cream only – it has neither!  It isn’t even made with stock – just water!  So the sodium is only what you add for taste.  I bet in one batch, I added a little over a teaspoon of salt.  And it serves six!  Can you tell I’m excited about this soup?!
zucchini basil soup and stuffing fritters
One other merit of soups from a mother of a toddler’s perspective, is that they are a perfect way to get more variety of vegetables and flavors into our newly opinionated children.  Olive has eaten zucchini, pesto, fresh basil from the garden, etc, before, but suddenly, she’s on a suspicious, won’t-try-anything-green bender.  Drives me batty because I KNOW she would like most things if she’d just try them.  Sound familiar?  What does NOT work is forcing, tricking, cajoling, pleading, prodding or manipulating your kids to eat.  They can smell your tricks a mile away and they’ve come prepared with an iron will.  This is pretty natural and resistance is futile.  But soups.  Olive has willingly eaten this soup twice in the past 4 days.  It’s green!  It’s got darker green chunks in it!  Why will she try it?  My guess is texture.  No chunks – pureed and easy to sip from a cup so she has full control.  When Olive doesn’t want to try something, I ask her to just smell it.  If she smells it, 99% of the time she’ll try a bite.  And I’ve learned to be happy with One Happy Bite, as much as it flies against my need to control the situation.

So.  If you have a child who is resisting new textures/colors/flavors, try soups.  I know it seems like a regression back to the baby food days, but if that’s what it takes to keep the flavors and colors changing on your child’s plate, I say it’s worth it.  Children get used to variety if variety is the norm.

Without further babbling, here’s the recipe!  Also, I paired the soup with a not-so-saintly fritter made from leftover Stove Top Stuffing.  No kidding.  They were FABULOUS as a little crispy soup-companion!  I topped them with herbed goat cheese and they tasted downright fancy.  Happy Meatless Monday!

Zucchini Basil Soup with Stove Top Fritters
Zucchini Basil Soup with Stove Top Fritters*

serves 4-6

2 lbs zucchini, peeled, trimmed and cut crosswise into 2″ pieces
1 small onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups of water
1/3 cup packed basil leaves

Cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat in a 3-4 quart stock pot until the onion starts to soften.  Add chopped zucchini and about a teaspoon of kosher salt and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring.  Cover with the water and let it come to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, until the zucchini is soft and easily pierced with a fork.

Add the basil and puree in two batches in a blender (watch out blending hot liquids and make sure it has a vent or you’ve got your hand firmly on that lid!) or, blend directly in the pot with an immersion blender, which is what I do.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with fritters, toast, or as a starter for your three-course fancy-schmancy dinner! 🙂

*taken from Epicurious.com

Stuffing Fritters
Stove-Top Stuffing Fritters

2 cups leftover cornbread stuffing
1/4 cup water
1 large egg
olive oil for frying

In a medium bowl, combine the stuffing, water and egg and if the mixture won’t come together after a bit of stirring, add a little more water until you can form the stuffing into small patties.  I used a medium sized cookie scoop and it worked well.  Heat about 4 tablespoons of olive oil (or any vegetable oil) over medium-high heat and fry the fritters about 3-5 minutes per side until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels and keep the cooked fritters in a 250 degree oven until the rest are done and you’re ready to serve.  This will keep them crispy and warm!

 

How to Make a Patty Melt – without rye bread!

Patty Melt with Beet Chips
My dear sister in law called me last week and asked my advice for making a patty melt at home.  It occurred to me that I hadn’t actually ever made one, before.  I think Matt did at one point, but I wasn’t involved.  So I gave her my best guess-advice and when we hung up, ALL I COULD THINK ABOUT was eating a patty melt.  So, the next day, I went to the store and bought some ground beef and when I got home, I realized I’d forgotten rye bread.  Honey child, you simply can’t call a sandwich a patty melt if you don’t put it on rye.  It becomes a hamburger sandwich.  No go.  However, we had three loaves of homemade bread at home, already, and I felt it would be batty to go buy a fourth.  So I got creative and put the rye flavor IN the patty by toasting caraway seeds and adding them to the ground beef!  Then I added tons of diced onions and grilled the patties and then melted gooey Swiss all over the bun and patty.  It was actually perfect.  Tasted exactly like a patty melt on rye!

I highly recommend you try this method.  Now, it might be easier for you to go buy a loaf of rye than it would for you to hunt through your spice drawers and find caraway seeds, which I’m sure you’ve only used maybe once or never.  If you go that route, you can still follow my recipe – just leave the seeds out of the beef!  Cheers to you all – I’m super hungry, now.
Patty Melt

Homemade Patty Melt
makes four patty melts

1 lb ground beef (85/15 is a good fat ratio for flavor)
1/2 cup sweet yellow onion, diced small
1 TBS caraway seeds, toasted and crushed
salt and pepper for seasoning
vegetable oil for the griddle
8 slices Swiss cheese
8 slices toasted bread – any kind, I used a sweet homemade white bread, which will be blogged about later this week – so good

In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, onion and caraway seeds together until well mixed.  Form four patties from the meat and set aside.  Season both sides of the patties with kosher salt and pepper.

Heat a griddle or skillet over medium-high heat and brush with vegetable oil.  Cook the patties about 5-8 minutes on each side.  Lay a slice of Swiss cheese on top of each patty and place a lid over the patty until the cheese melts all around it.  Toast the bread in a toaster, then lay a slice of cheese on the bread, top with a patty and the other slice of bread.  To gild the lily, melt a tablespoon of butter in a non-stick skillet and toast the bread again on each side.  This further melts the cheese slices and gives everything that super awesome butter flavor.

Beet Chips (I served them on the side and got a request for the recipe, so here you go)

4 large beets, peeled and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 425F.  Slice the beets about 1/8th of an inch thick – if you’re knife skills are lacking, use a mandoline (just watch out for your knuckles). Toss in a large bowl with olive oil and then spread them out on a foil lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes and start checking them.  You’ll need to remove the smaller ones so they won’t burn and leave the bigger ones in so they won’t just be soggy.  Let them cool for about 5 minutes before serving!

Chicken Piccata with Thyme and Mushrooms

Chicken Piccata and Buttered Noodles
This was the first full meal I made on our new gas stove that Matt installed for us last weekend!  He worked so hard rerouting gas lines (scary) and changing out new electrical outlets (scarier) and sawing a bigger hole in our counter top (can’t turn back, now!) and it all ended up totally awesome!  We have wanted a gas stove for years – they just heat so much quicker, they come down from high heat quicker – everything is more precise.  And plus – FIRE!  It’s pretty appealing.  I am tempted to roast marshmallows on this thing.  But I won’t.  I am very thankful for this machine and I swear I’ll deep clean it more than I did our old electric one…
Buttered Noodles
For the first meal, I did a simple chicken piccata with mushrooms and thyme and some soft, buttered noodles.  It was very comforting and yet refreshing at the same time.  I love the bite of the lemon juice and the capers in this dish and so for a twist, I added my favorite herb, thyme, instead of the traditional parsley and I also added some sauteed baby portobello mushrooms.  It all came together great and we thoroughly enjoyed our first meal from the shiny new stove!

chicken piccata

Chicken Piccata with Thyme and Mushrooms
serves 4

3 chicken breasts, butterflied and split in half
1/2 cup flour for dredging
salt and pepper to season the chicken
6 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
1/4 cup capers, drained
1 cup mushrooms, sliced thin
8 oz. long pasta, such as linguine or spaghetti

Heat your oven to 200F.  This is to hold your chicken as you cook it and until the noodles are ready so that everything stays hot until you’re ready to serve.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Salt it.  Salt it some more.  As it’s heating…

Butterfly the chicken breasts by sliding a very sharp knife length-wise into the thickest part of the chicken breast (kinda like you’d cut an english muffin in half) and lay the chicken breast open and cut down the middle, forming two, thinner cutlets.  Do this with the remaining chicken breasts and dry them on both sides and season both sides with a sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat in a large, stainless skillet.  When the butter starts bubbling and popping, coat each chicken breast in flour, shake off the excess and lay floured cutlets on a paper towel until ready to fry.  I worked in two batches – three pieces at a time.  Fry for about 3-5 minutes per side, until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer says at least 160. (It’ll cook some more as it sits to warm in the oven.)  Place fried chicken on a plate and place in the oven to keep warm as you fry up the rest.  For the second batch, add two more tablespoons of butter to the pan before frying the rest.

Remove the chicken and place on the platter in the oven.  Add the lemon juice, chicken stock and capers and thyme to the pan and scrape up the brown bits and season with salt and pepper.  Add the mushrooms and let the sauce reduce for a couple minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk in the remaining two tablespoons of butter and spoon sauce/mushrooms over the chicken and serve with buttered noodles.

To finish the noodles once they are done boiling, add the drained noodles to a bowl, add a splash of pasta water, a tablespoon of butter and fresh cracked pepper and stir to combine.  Garnish with fresh chopped herbs if you like!

Chicken Piccata with Thyme and Mushroom

Peachy Rice – a warming breakfast

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This lovely little bowl of sunshine was a great switch-up in our regular oatmeal routine last week.  Out of Tyler Florence’s wonderful book, Start Fresh, this was in the 9-12 month section as a breakfast or snack option. This is simply an amazing cookbook.  Given to me by my dear friend and fellow foodie, Becky, I have made several recipes from the book and will post a few more favorites before the week is over! This one was an easy and delicious start – Roasted peaches, apple juice, coconut milk, rice and brown sugar?!  Okay, okay, maybe a bit too much sugar to start every day, but for sure a wonderful afternoon snack and really, not THAT much sugar if you leave out the apple juice and substitute water!  We loved it, Olive loved it, and even my dad, who was stopping through on his way to a doctor’s appointment, loved it!  I’d highly recommend it as a new option for the mornings!  If you use brown or basmati rice, it’d be even healthier!

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Peachy Rice*
serves 4 adults or 6-8 baby portions

1 tbs unsalted butter
3 ripe peaches, cut into chunks
1 cup long-grain white rice (I used Asian sticky rice)
2 cups apple juice or water ( I used half water, half juice)
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until bubbling.  Add the peaches and cook until they have released some of their juices, about 5 minutes.

Add the rice and stir until well coated.  Add the apple juice, milk, coconut milk, cinnamon stick, vanilla and salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Fold in the sugar, and stir until well blended.  Serve warm!

*adapted from Start Fresh

Butternut Squash and Celery Root Soup and trying something new

Butternut Squash Soup
This is one of the best soups I’ve made all winter.  Previously, butternut squash soups were borderline too sweet for me – I could never finish an entire batch and would guiltily throw the leftovers down the sink.  I’ve made this version three times, now, and each time, we eat it all!  It doesn’t get boring – the flavors are so complex and balanced, thanks to that crazy looking celery root.  It’s perfect!  It’s also incredibly filling and very low fat, so I think it’s quite possibly the most wonderful food to have when you’re watching what you eat, but don’t want to feel deprived.  It’s also perfect as a baby food!  With just two simple vegetables, it’s a great way to introduce flavors to a little one just starting out on solids, or a toddler who might eat soup better than they would eat a new vegetable.  For toddlers, I think the best way to serve soup is in a small, handled cup.  Fill it half way and let them sip at their own pace.  They love feeling in control and YOU will feel better with limited soup-spills as would occur most certainly if you handed them a spoon 🙂  This soup is also a great way to introduce YOU to a new vegetable!  Who here has bought and prepared celery root?  (also called celeriac)  If you haven’t, you don’t have to be afraid – it tastes like celery with the consistency of a sweet potato!

I’m happy to announce a little cooking segment I’ll be doing this year on my friend, Paul’s PBS show, 24 Frames!  (this soup makes an appearance!)  It’s very exciting to be a part of something creative and I’m deeply flattered that he included me in his show. I love talking about food more than anything, so once I get over the mortal fear of seeing myself talk on camera, I’ll finally start to enjoy watching my own segment.  Please tune in to 24 Frames every Saturday night at 9 p.m. Central on PBS!  The show should be available online very soon for those who don’t live in this area, and when it is, I’ll post a link!

Thank you all for watching and for reading my blog.  It’s very humbling and I hope you can feel a little more confident in the kitchen with every new recipe you try!

Butternut Squash and Celery Root Soup

Butternut Squash and Celery Root Soup
serves 6-8

 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 – 2lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1 celery root, peeled, rinsed and diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock, hot
black pepper and cream for garnish
1. Peel and chop the onion, celery root and butternut squash.
2. Heat the oil in a large stock pot.
3. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.
4. Stir the squash, celery root and salt into the pot and cook for about 10 minutes until the squash begins to soften.
5. Add the rosemary and chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer over medium heat, partially covered, for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
6. Using a blender in batches, or an immersion blender, puree the soup until completely smooth.  Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and thin out with cream or extra stock as desired.  Ladle into bowls and add a swirl of cream and a few dashes of fresh cracked pepper and serve!

Curried Potato Pockets with Lemon Dill Cream

curry potato puffs with dill cream

This was an incredibly flavorful dinner for us last Tuesday night.  It was one of those meals that came from a lack of motivation to go to the store.  I had two large potatoes, an onion and some puff pastry and I knew – there’s a meal there, somewhere.  With just a little prep, I had a meal on the table in about an hour.  I made these with left-over pie crust, as well, but everyone, including Olive, preferred the ones with puff pastry.  Buttery and flaky with that smoky curry spice went exceptionally well with the tang of the yogurt and dill.

This meal included one of those moments where I wasn’t giving Olive any sort of chance and declared that she wouldn’t like the yogurt sauce and so I didn’t offer her any.  After we had eaten a few bites, she said, “I want the sauce?!” and so I put some on her plate and she ate it all!  Yet another lesson in giving your kids a chance to prove you wrong. You never know when they’ll surprise you!

curried potato puffs

Curry Potato Pockets with Lemon Dill Cream
makes 9 puff pockets with plenty of filling to spare

2 medium russet potatoes, cleaned, skinned and diced small
1 large yellow onion, diced small
4 tbs butter
1 tbs curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed and cut into 9 squares
2 tbs cream for brushing the pastry
1/2 cup plain, full fat yogurt
squeeze of one lemon
2 tbs chopped fresh dill
salt to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and once it starts to froth, add in the onion and potato.  Stir around until the potato begins to soften and then cover with a lid and cook for about 10 minutes.  Remove the lid and add in the curry, cumin and salt and pepper.  Continue cooking over low heat until the potatoes are completely soft.  Remove mixture from stove and set aside.

Set your oven at 400F.  Mash the potato/onion mixture in a bowl until mostly smooth and adjust the seasoning as desired.

Cut the puff pastry into 9 squares and put a heaping tablespoon of filling in the middle of each square.  Dip your finger in the cream and dab along the edges and pinch/fold them together into little letters – really, however you pinch and fold is up to you, as long as they have a fighting chance of staying closed while baking! Place on a greased cookie sheet and repeat until all the squares are filled.  Brush the tops with the remaining cream and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

For the yogurt dipping sauce: simply chop the dill and squeeze the lemon into the yogurt and stir till combined.  Adjust with a little salt and serve along side the pastries.  Personally, I don’t like this sauce on its own, but with the curry pockets, it’s just an amazing balance of flavors.

Enjoy!

Creamy White Bean Soup

White Bean and Celery Cream Soup

 

So these days, I’m either making soups, roasting something, caramelizing something, or melting chocolate.  Tis’ the season, right?  I found another gem in Homemade Winter of an incredibly filling, rich soup loaded with protein, fiber and veggies.  As a pureed soup, Olive had no problem drinking it from her little soup cup, and as I’ve said before, I think soups are THE easiest and most efficient way for toddlers to try a myriad of vegetables, flavors and colors.  And how easy they are to convert to “baby food”!  Back when I was making baby food, I would make a batch of vegetable soup, and after pureeing it, I could fill nearly a dozen jars.  Try buying a dozen jars of baby food in the store vs. a butternut squash and some chicken stock.  The price difference says it all!

Olive has been very into “sauce!” lately, no matter what it is.  She covets it, even though she doesn’t like any of it except “tomato sauce” (ketchup).  Any time we have Srirracha or Tapatio or mustard – whatever – she wants it.  So we give her tastes of anything she requests.  She usually raises her eyebrows and fusses a bit, especially if it’s spicy, but hey, that’s how she learns!  This soup has a smoky chili oil drizzled on top, and I thought it was a genius addition.   I didn’t have any celeriac, and it was one of those super cold days where I didn’t want to run out to the store for one ingredient, so I used the celery I had in my fridge, and I thought it worked great.

More, yes, MORE post from Homemade Winter to come.  It’s so perfect for this season, it’s unbelievable.  Enjoy this soup!

Creamy White Bean Soup* – START THIS SOUP A DAY AHEAD
makes a lot

1 1/2 cups dried white beans
1/4 cup olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts, washed well and finely chopped
4 stalks of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
6 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)
2 tsp  minced fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp dried
salt and ground black pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
drizzle of chili oil – I bought mine at an Asian Mart, but I think you could find it in the Asian section of any grocery store

Soak the beans overnight in enough water to cover them by 2 inches.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or stock pot and add the leeks and celery.  Saute, stirring constantly, until the leeks are soft.  Add the garlic, stir for a bit, and then add the broth.

Drain the beans and add them to the saucepan.  Add the rosemary and season with salt and pepper.  Slowly bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and let the soup simmer over low heat with the lid partway on for 2 hours.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in several batches in a regular blender (why on earth haven’t you bought an immersion, yet?!)  Stir in the lemon juice and taste for salt and pepper.  Serve hot with a drizzle of chili oil or Srirracha would be great, too!

*Homemade Winter adaptation

 

Citrus Cured Salmon

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It’s Monday – time to scale back.  Drink more water, take a walk after dinner.  Eat lighter, eat simpler.  Undo what might have been done over the weekend of eating out with friends, drinks with co-workers or quick meals eaten on the run out of paper bags.  I am currently in a very scaled-back mindset.  This blog obviously has the most popularity when I post sugar and flour concoctions (don’t worry, there’s plenty in the queue) but for this week, I’m going to write about simple, clean, mindfully healthy recipes that are also incredibly fulfilling and delicious.

Over the weekend I dipped into Michael Ruhlman’s cookbook, “Ruhlman’s Twenty” and tackled the citrus cured salmon.  This is not the type of recipe that calls my name. I love cured salmon in the form of lox, but this type of do-it-from-scratch recipe is a direct influence of my husband.  He has made me see the joy in cooking for cooking’s sake.  Not just eating the food, but enjoying the process.  I can honestly say I thought he was crazy when I first heard him say, “I don’t even need to eat what I made, as long as I taste it and see that it came out well, I can move on.”  I used to think this was ridiculous because I used to be a quantity over quality type eater.  I used to think more was more.  More mediocre food is better than less high-quality food.  This is a mindset of an over-eater.  As Matt taught me the joy of the process of cooking, I began to see what he meant.  Just tasting that something you spent hours making came out well is beginning to be enough of a pay-off for me. And when you don’t eat as much, you have more to share.  Which puts you in the middle of what food should be: communal.

I know what you’re thinking: this stuff is pretty easy to buy in the store.  However, I never want to buy it because how old is that fish, anyway?  And where did it come from?  All these questions  are answered simply if you just do it yourself.  So, we bought a pound of salmon from the fresh fish counter, I grated lots and lots of zest and dumped kosher salt on it.  24 hours later – perfectly cured salmon with a HUGE citrus flavor.  Amazing with cream cheese and capers and diced shallots on top of Matt’s homemade, toasted bread.  This is eating simply and without regret!

Happy Zesty Monday.

Citrus Cured Salmon

Citrus Cured Salmon*

1.5 lb salmon filet
1 tsp orange zest
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lime zest
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar

In a small bowl, combine the salt and sugar and stir to distribute the sugar throughout the salt.  In another bowl, combine the citrus zests.  (Buy a Microplane.)

Lay a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to extend beyond the length of the salmon.  Spread a third of the salt mixture in the center of the foil to serve as a bed for the salmon.  Place the salmon skin-side down on the salt.  Distribute the zest evenly across the salmon.  Pour the remaining salt mixture over the salmon.  It should be covered.  Fold the foil up to contain the salt.  Place another sheet of foil over the salmon and crimp the sheets together firmly.  The idea is to have a tight package in which the salt mixture is in contact with all surfaces of the salmon.

Set the foil package on a baking sheet.  Set another baking sheet or dish on top of the salmon and weight it down with a brick or a few cans from your pantry.  This will help press the water out of the salmon as it cures.  Refrigerate the salmon for 24 hours.

Unwrap the salmon and remove it from the cure, discarding the foil and the cure.  Rinse the salmon and pat dry with paper towels.  To remove the skin, place the salmon skin-side down on a cutting board.  Holding a sharp, thin, flexible knife at about a 30-degree angle, cut between the flesh and the skin.  When you can get a grip on the skin, pull it back and forth against the knife to separate it from the flesh.  Set the salmon on a rack or on paper towels on a tray and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours, to allow the salt concentration to equalize and to dry the salmon out further.  Wrap the salmon in parchment and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Serve sliced extremely thin on crackers, bagels, or with scrambled eggs for a hearty breakfast – the options are up to your tastes!

*adapted from Rhulman’s book in that we could only find 1.5lb filets of salmon and his recipe called for 2-3lbs.

lox

Chicken Fricassee, Deconstructed

chicken fricassee 2

Chicken Fricassee was one of the first meat dishes I made for Olive when she was a baby, just starting out on solids.  (The first meat she had was homemade beef ragu – I kinda threw the rule books out when it came to feeding her and I haven’t regretted it a single day.)  I made the dish from that month’s Martha Stewart Magazine and took a little bit of each component and blended it up with a little extra chicken stock. Olive consume it with a great fury.  The flavors are so simple and so rich – it truly is a comfort food dish.  And if you think it’s “fancy” because it has a French name, fear not – it’s basically a chicken pot pie without the pie.  All those amazingly comforting flavors of chicken soup, thyme, carrots, peas, cream gravy, butter – they’re all there.  You serve it over rice or pasta and revel in the comfort.  It’s not difficult and it tastes like pure love.

I’ve made that Martha Stewart version several times, but for this recipe, I worked out of the Bonne Femme cookbook and decided to deconstruct it because Olive is able to eat each component just chopped up small, but not big enough to tackle chicken still on the bone.  So I cooked the chicken, shredded it after it had cooled, and then assembled, garnishing with the pan gravy at the very end for an easy to eat version that everyone really loved.

chicken fricassee

chicken fricassee 3

chicken fricassee 2

Deconstructed Chicken Fricassee*
serves 4

2.5-3 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken parts (legs, thighs, breasts, whatever – I used the whole chicken in pieces)
salt and pepper
2 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 a white onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine (or more chicken broth, if you don’t have any)
1 bay leaf
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 x 2″ sticks
1/2 cup frozen pearl onions
2 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs AP flour
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk
2 tbs chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbs fresh lemon juice

Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper on both sides.  Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or stock pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers.  Add the chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until brown on all sides, 10-15 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and drain off all but a tbs of fat from the pan.

Add the onion to the pan and cook briefly, stirring, until fragrant.  Add the chicken broth and wine, stirring to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Return the chicken to the pan.  Add the bay leaf and bring to a boil, then reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.  Then, scatter the carrots and pearl onions around the chicken; cover and simmer until the chicken is done (internal temp should register 170 on an instant read thermometer), about 15 minutes more.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken and vegetables to a large bowl; cover with foil to keep warm.  Discard the bay leaf.  Pour the pan juices into a measuring cup and set aside.  Melt the butter in the pan over medium heat.  Stir in the flour with a wire whisk to make a smooth paste.  Cook and stir for one minute.  Slowly add the pan juices back to the pan, stirring with a wire whisk until smooth.  Cook the mixture until it boils and thickens, then continue to cook for one minute more.  Whisk in enough milk to make a sauce of the desired consistency and bring to a simmer.  Stir in the tarragon, parsley and lemon juice.

I then shredded up the chicken by hand, scattered an equal amount into each bowl over a heap of rice, arranged the vegetables on top of the chicken and then spooned my pan sauce over everything and cracked a lot of black pepper on top of that!  There’s something magical about fresh black pepper and a rich chicken dish.  It’s just perfect.

Enjoy!

*adapted from the Bonne Femme cookbook, which is perfect