Thursday, March 31, 2011

Greek Chicken Pasta

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rustic Apple Fritters

So I was blog-hopping Friday night and I found these beauties.  Caleb and I decided we needed to have them Saturday morning.  I love how rustic and simple they are.  They are light and fresh (if anything fried can be considered fresh), and quick to prepare which is perfect for a lazy Saturday morning.  The apple cooks just slightly and is still crunchy, which I enjoyed, but if you prefer a cooked apple, you can bake it beforehand.  

Rustic Apple Fritters:
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1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/4 cup cold water
1 Tbs milk
2 large apples, cored and sliced into medium rounds
oil or shortening for frying

Whisk all ingredients except apples and cinnamon-sugar together in medium bowl.  Let rest 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat oil or shortening over med-high heat in a deep fryer or heavy bottomed sauce pan.

When batter is ready and oil is hot, press apples into cinnamon sugar to coat on both sides.  Dip and coat each apple with batter and place into hot oil, using a chopstick or skewer.  Flip several times, cooking until lightly golden, 2-3 minutes.

Transfer to a plate covered with paper towel and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar immediately.  Serve warm.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have tried many chocolate chip cookie recipes over the years, searching for the "perfect" one.  I know that means something different to everyone, but for me it means not too sweet, soft, and chewy.  I've made chocolate chip cookies with shortening instead of butter, cookies with half shortening/half butter, cookies with vanilla pudding mix added in to make them more fluffy...  All have been good, but none of them great.

As I read various recipes, this one by Alton Brown seemed to be right on.  It uses more brown sugar than white to give it richer flavor and a chewy texture, and bread flour instead of all-purpose, which has a higher gluten content and also contributes to a chewier cookie.  The flavor AND texture were perfect.  This is the recipe I have been looking for, and will be my go-to chocolate chip cookie from now on.

Chocolate Chip Cookies:
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2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 Tbs milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use 1 cup)

Cream melted butter and sugars in bowl of electric mixer.  Add egg and yolk, and mix well.  Add milk and vanilla, mixing until combined.  In small bowl, stir together flour, salt, and baking soda.  With mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Chill at least 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375*.  Scoop cookies with ice cream scooper and place on greased cookie sheet, 6 per sheet.  The original recipe says to bake for 14 minutes.  My ice cream scooper must be smaller than Alton's, because my cookies were brown at only 10 minutes.  I would suggest checking them at 10 minutes, and see if they need the additional 4 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes before moving to wire rack.

And just in case the cookies weren't sweet enough...

Garlic Roast Turkey Breast and Gravy

So I know turkey is usually reserved for Thanksgiving, but my grocery store had turkey breasts on sale a couple of weeks ago.  I am a sucker for a sale, so I decided to give it a go.  I knew I could make turkey stock from the carcass (sorry, I know, gross word), and would have leftover meat, so I would get at least two meals out of it.  Bonus.
I planned to prepare it for a Sunday dinner when I would have my brother and sister with us.  However, my oldest daughter came down with the flu the night before, so we ended up sending tupperwares of food with my sister, and Caleb and I ate ours on the couch while we watched Food Network.  Not exactly the nice dinner I was planning, but delicious all the same!  The turkey was perfectly moist, and the garlic-herb flavor went all through the meat.  It was not your regular old boring turkey!
I used dried herbs because the only fresh herb I had in the house was cilantro, but fresh would be even better.  Substitute in one bunch each of your favorite herbs, chopped.

Garlic Roast Turkey Breast:
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1 turkey breast (mine was 7.6 lbs)
2 Tbs softened butter
2 cloves finely minced garlic
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp oregano
1 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper 
flour and water for gravy

Preheat oven to 425*.
Thaw turkey breast, if frozen (this will take a couple of days in the refrigerator).  Rinse cavity and outside of bird, and pat dry.  Place into roasting pan.  Remember when working with raw poultry to wash your hands and sanitize anything that comes in contact with the meat or any juices.  
Mix garlic and herbs into softened butter.  Gently make a pocket under the skin by separating the skin from the breast along the bottom, but leaving it attached on the sides. Separate all the way up to the breastbone.  Repeat on the other side. Using your hands, spread butter mix inside the pockets, saving just a little to spread on the outside of the skin.  Salt and pepper lightly.  Pour chicken stock into bottom of roasting pan, and place in oven.
Roast on 425*, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Turn oven down to 325* and continue to roast uncovered until internal temperature reaches 170* (for a 7 1/2 lb breast, this was 2 1/2 hours).  If the skin is browning too quickly, you may cover it with foil.  Transfer to serving plate.  Let rest, covered or tented with foil for 15-30 minutes before carving.

To make gravy, place roasting pan with juices on the stove over med-high heat.  Combine equal parts cold water and flour (this is called a slurry--the amount will depend on how much juice your turkey made and how thick you like your gravy.  You can start with about 1/4 cup each), and whisk until smooth.  When pan juices are boiling, pour slurry through a sieve or fine mesh strainer into roasting pan.  Whisk constantly while pouring, and cook until desired thickness.  Taste and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Serve alongside turkey. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sourdough Bread

I am a bread-lover.  I LOVE bread.  So when I found this sourdough recipe, I knew I had to have it.  I did some research, and learned that you can substitute whole wheat flour for some of the bread flour in sourdough, but for these first loaves, I just wanted plain, white, sourdough.  So there may not be a whole lot of nutrition here, but let me tell you, this bread is worth it!  It has perfect texture and perfect flavor.  I may have found a new everyday bread (although then I WILL have to start subbing in some wheat flour :) )! The final raise of this bread is 8-12 hours, so I started making the dough at 4:00 pm, and the timing worked out perfectly to bake it at 7:30 the next morning.

 The Starter
Sourdough starts out with a basic "starter".  It ferments and gives the bread its sour flavor.  There are many different starter recipes, and if you already have one, it will work great for this bread.  Here is the one I used.

Sourdough Starter:
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2 cups warm water
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs active dry yeast
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Pour water into 2 quart glass bowl or jar.  Stir honey to dissolve.  Mix in yeast.  Gradually whisk in flour, stirring until smooth.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set in a warm, draft-free spot.  I left mine on the kitchen counter, and it did great.

Leave starter to ferment for 2-5 days, stirring once a day.  When the bubbling has ceased and a sour smell is present, cover and transfer to the refrigerator.  It is now ready to use.

Your starter is now a living creature in your refrigerator, and it needs to be maintained.  Some people even recommend naming it :)  Fortunately it is a low-maintenance creature and only needs to be baked with or fed every two weeks.  For every one cup of starter that you use, simply stir one cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water back into the starter and let rest at room temperature for 12 hours before placing back in the refrigerator.  This is "feeding".  If you do not intend to bake with it for over two weeks, simply remove one cup of starter and discard it.   Follow the same "feeding" process as above.

Toffee Shortbread Bars

I don't typically buy store-bought sweets, my motto being, if it's not in the house, I can't eat it.  I do, however, keep a very well stocked pantry--which means I just bake every time I feel the need for a sweet treat.  Such a time came earlier this week when I needed my "something sweet" after dinner and had nothing.  I went to one of my favorite food blogs, Annie's Eats, and found these delicious bars.  Shortbread and toffee?  Yes please!  They are the perfect little "something sweet" for after dinner or while the kids nap :)

Toffee Shortbread Bars
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For the shortbread:
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

For the topping:
6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (I only used about 4 oz, I wanted to enjoy the toffee flavor)
1 1/2 cups toffee bits

Preheat oven to 375.  Line a 9x13 pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Combine butter and sugars in stand mixer bowl.  Beat on high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl if necessary.  While mixing, combine dry ingredients in small bowl.  Add vanilla into butter mixture and stir to combine.  With mixer turned on low, add dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Stir in 3 oz chocolate.

Press into prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes, dough should be bubbling.  Remove from oven and sprinkle 6 oz chocolate on top of shortbread.  Place back in oven (turned off) for 3-4 minutes.  Using an offset spatula, spread melted chocolate evenly across shortbread.  Evenly distribute toffee bits on top of the chocolate and press down gently with hands.

Let cool completely.  Once cool, they may be put in the refrigerator or freezer to speed up the hardening of the chocolate.  Once hardened, remove from pan and cut into bars.

Yield: 30 bars
Source:  Annie's Eats, adapted from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chicken Chili

Perfect Shredded Chicken

Once every week or two, I cook up a batch of chicken to use in a variety of recipes.  The best part?  I also get a great start to chicken broth for soups or sauces!

Olive oil
Bone-in chicken breasts
1 Tbs salt
1 tsp pepper
1 onion quartered
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 tsp dried oregano
(if I have a specific Mexican dish I will be using the broth for, I add cumin and chile powder)

Heat a large stock pot over high heat, with a drizzle of olive oil.  Place breasts skin side down in hot pot.  Sear until golden brown.  Cover with water, and add seasonings, scraping brown bits off the bottom of the pan.  Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.  Cook for 45 minutes to an hour or until chicken is plump and cooked through.  Remove the chicken to cool.  Strain chicken broth and place in the refrigerator until the fat hardens on the top.  Skim off the fat, and store until ready to use.  Remove skin from chicken breasts, and shred.  Also freezes will in Zip-locks.



Welcome to Will Cook for Food!  I am excited to share my favorite recipes with you!  I will start with the basic recipes that I use often, especially in other recipes, to avoid backtracking.  Enjoy!