Monday, May 27, 2013

Blue cheese dip or salad dressing

I make this dip frequently to keep in the fridge for dipping veggies (steamed broccoli is the best), for potato chips, tortilla chips, or, with a healthy dose of hot sauce, to transform a mundane chicken cutlet into a Buffalo chicken cutlet. 

This recipe will be sufficiently thick to use as a dip.  To use as a salad dressing, thin it with 1/4 cup milk or buttermilk.  

1 small shallot, minced (about 2 Tbp)
4 oz crumbled blue cheese
16 oz sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbp vinegar
1 tsp black pepper
6 dashes hot sauce (Tabasco, Frank's Red Hot, sriracha)

In a bowl, combine ingredients.  Mix well.  Refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to bloom.

Sprinkle some chopped scallions, chives, or parsley on top for color, if desired.  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Spatchcocked chicken

One of my Facebook friends requested a recipe for this roasted chicken.

Which became part of this dinner, along with the mushroom rice pilaf.  Sorry, didn't snap a pic of the green salad with roasted garlic-mustard vinaigrette.  You'll have to take my word for it.

A 3 1/2 - 4-lb fryer chicken was seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (I use Paula Deen's 'house seasoning' recipe -- 4 parts salt, 1 part pepper, 1 part garlic powder), dried rosemary, thyme, and marjoram.  Drizzled a bit of olive oil over all, then a squirt or two of red wine vinegar, sprinkled a bit of paprika on top, popped it onto a heavy-duty foil-lined baking sheet, and into a 400°F oven (convection) for about 50 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer in the breast read 145°F.

That said, there was one thing that I did differently for these two birds. (Yes, I roasted two at once, one for dinner, and one for leftovers -- chicken sammiches, a bit of chicken salad...)  Instead of using cut-up chicken, or just a whole chicken, I spatchcocked these birds before roasting.  Yeah, spatchcocked.  I cut the backbone out of the chickens with kitchen shears, then splayed the birds open, pressing down a bit on the breasts to break through the breastbone.  It's the ideal way to prep a chicken for outdoor grilling, and for oven-roasting, it allows for more uniform and quicker cooking, too.  It also exposes all the skin to the heat of the oven, which gives a great crisp exterior as a result.  You certainly don't have to do this to roast chicken, but I recommend it.  Next time, I'll be sure to have someone photograph the process.  It's a bit messy handling the camera with slick chicken hands. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mushroom barley soup

I'm bummed.  I made this soup for Sunday supper a couple weeks ago, but didn't take any photos.  Not only was it a beautiful soup, but it was remarkably delicious.  Mom, Dad, Dewey, and I enjoyed a nice supper together with the soup, bread, and a green salad.

If there's any 'trick' to doing this soup well, it's to make it the day before.  No question that the soup develops flavor and character when it sits in the fridge overnight.  Considering there's barley in it, too, the soup thickens a bit upon standing, which accentuates its texture and makes it seem 'richer' than it is. 

3/4 c pearl barley
1 shallot, chopped fine
1 lb button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
2 Tbp each, fresh sage and parsley, chopped

1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, grated/shredded
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbp tomato paste 
6 cups stock (beef or chicken)

Start with the barley,which you'll cook in copious salted water, drain, then set aside.  The barley will take about 45 minutes to cook until tender, but not mushy. 

In a skillet, melt 4 Tbp butter in 2 Tbp olive oil, and sauté one finely chopped shallot about 2 minutes.  Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until tender and lightly browned.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add chopped parsley and sage.    Set aside.

In a Dutch oven, sauté onion, carrot, garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste, and sauté a minute or two more.  Add stock.  Add the sautéed mushrooms and barley.  Bring to a simmer, lower heat, and let simmer gently for 15 minutes before serving.  

Toss some chopped parsley or minced chives on top of each serving if you want.

Again, this is SOOOO much better the next day.