Monday, October 29, 2012

Pre-Sandy Sunday Supper

I posted yesterday's pre-Sandy Sunday supper on Facebook, and got a few requests for recipes, so here we go.

The menu was penne with golden cauliflower, roasted chicken with shallots and carrots, and Greek-style green beans with tomato.

Penne with cauliflower

I bought a huge golden cauliflower from a farm stand in Lancaster County last weekend -- just a beautiful saffron-colored head.  You certainly don't need the golden variety specifically -- plain white cauliflower will do just fine.  Or green.  Or purple. 

1/4 c olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
2 anchovy fillets (optional, but it adds great flavor)
1 head of cauliflower, washed, and broken into florets
1/2 cup chopped olives (of your choosing -- Spanish olives, Sicilian oil-cured, Kalamata -- they all work fine)
2 Tbp capers
1/2 cup stock or water
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 cup chopped parsley

In a large Dutch oven, warm the olive oil.  Add the garlic, and saute until just starting to brown.  Add onions, anchovies, and bell pepper, stirring gently until softened and slightly colored.  Add florets and stir well to coat all with the oil.  Add stock or water, turn heat down, cover, and let steam until the florets are tender, about 10 minutes.  Add olives and capers.  Taste for seasoning, and adjust with salt and pepper as needed.  Add thyme.  Mix well, and bring to a simmer.  Turn off heat.  Add parsley. 

Toss with 1 lb cooked penne pasta, reserving some of the pasta cooking water.  Add cooking water as needed if the mixture is too dry.  Drizzle with additional olive oil and serve immediately.  Pass grated pecorino or parmigiano cheese and hot pepper flakes at the table. 

Greek-style green beans with tomato sauce

A very simple preparation, and reminiscent of the tender, tomato-y beans you get in Greek diners.  First I make a simple marinara sauce.  (I would halve that posted sauce recipe for this one, or make the full recipe, and use just half for the beans.)  I blanch the beans in salted water until tender (about 6-7 minutes), and drain them.  I then combine the marinara sauce with the cooked beans, and bring it up to a simmer, cover it, and put it on the lowest heat, and let it simmer gently for about 15 minutes, until the beans are very, very tender.  If you're one who likes crisp green beans, this is not the recipe for you!

Be sure to sop up the tomato sauce with lots of good bread.  "Zuppa' nu pan!" [Neapolitan dialect -- soak the bread!]

Roasted chicken with shallots

Not much to tell here -- a 4 1/2-lb chicken, seasoned and dusted with herbs from the garden*, in a well-oiled roasting pan surrounded by carrots, celery, and shallots.  Roasted for about an hour at 375°F.  About 20 minutes in, I added a bit of stock to the pan to maintain moisture. 

Out of the oven, let it rest about 20 minutes, cut it up, and arranged the pieces on a serving platter with the roasted veggies.  I drizzled all with the pan juices. 

The leftover carcass will make a nice pot of stock. 

*In the last few weeks, I've harvested all my herbs, and dried them.  I have herbs for the whole of the fall and winter -- thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, sage.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

Chicken and waffles

Invited Dewey to Sunday brunch.  I'd originally planned to usher in the fall season with pumpkin waffles, but at last minute, decided to go a different direction -- chicken and waffles.

I'll admit I've never eaten chicken and waffles -- fried chicken on top of crisp waffles, and drizzled with maple syrup or other types of (typically sweet) condiments. 

What the heck.

I have a great basic buttermilk waffle recipe from Saveur magazine.  I doubled that recipe for about 8 waffles total.  I also did NOT separate the eggs -- it's just not necessary for a waffle. 

2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
6 eggs
2 cup buttermilk
4 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled

1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a large mixing bowl.

2. Beat eggs in a mixing bowl and add buttermilk and butter. Add to flour mixture, stirring until just combined.

3. Spread batter over three-quarters of the surface of a hot, lightly greased waffle iron, close lid, and cook until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes.

On to the chicken.  The idea of a piece of fried chicken, bones and all, on top of a waffle seemed silly.  Why not a boneless breast or thigh??  My preference is for dark meat, so that's what I used.  I soaked 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs in 2 cups buttermilk for 2 hours at room temperature.  Before you react to the room-temperature soaking, keep in mind that the chicken and the buttermilk were at 40°F when combined, and were cooked immediately after soaking.  Bringing the meat to room temperature before frying assists uniform cooking.

I drained the meat, seasoned it well with "house seasoning" (salt, pepper, garlic powder), then sprinkled a mixture of herbs and seasonings liberally on both sides.  My seasoning mixture was homemade (garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, paprika, cayenne, thyme, rosemary -- but no salt in this mixture), but you can certainly use any good commercially available seasoned salt product.  The meat was then dumped into a bowl of all-purpose flour and tossed to coat well.  I let it sit for 10 minutes, then tossed again to assure complete coating.  Some folks double-dip their fried chicken -- flour, then buttermilk, then flour again -- but I find that doing that creates a very thick, unappetizing coating.  Too much "Colonel," not enough chicken.

The coated thighs were fried in about an inch of corn oil at 350°F, about 5 or 6 minutes per side, until brown and crisp, then kept in a 200°F oven until ready to serve.

Pile a few strips of bacon on top of a hot, crisp waffle, top with chicken, then drizzle liberally with maple syrup or homemade jam.  I also served a plum-apple compote alongside -- an excellent alternative to maple syrup. 

 Crisp buttermilk waffle, bacon, fried chicken, just before the syrup gets drizzled all over.