Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Grilled Lime Chicken with Black Bean Sauce

Grilled Chicken Ingredients:
Juice of 4-5 limes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup+ (more to taste) chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 red onion, halved then sliced into 1/4” strips

Black Bean Sauce Ingredients:
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained, rinsed
1 quart filtered water
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced and crushed
Stems from one bunch of cilantro, chopped into 1/4” bits (approx. 1/2 cup)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  • Combine the lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, oregano, salt and pepper in a glass bowl and mix well. Trim the chicken breasts, then add to the marinade. Cover lightly and marinate, turning the chicken occasionally, for 2 hours at room temp (or overnight in the fridge).
  • Prepare Black Bean Sauce while chicken is marinating. Place beans in a large sauce-pan or soup pan, and add all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 1/2 hours. Add additional water if needed. Remove bay leaves, then transfer the bean mixture to a food processor. Process well, adding water if needed to make desired consistency. This is where having an immersion blender comes in handy!
  • Preheat oven to 350° F, and prepare grill (gas or hot coals). Place the red onion slices in the bottom of a shallow, oven-proof dish, then cover with chicken breasts and marinade. Cover the dish loosely with aluminum foil, then bake for 15-20 minutes (only until the chicken is opaque). Remove the chicken breasts and onions to a platter (separate them) and set aside. Save the marinade for grilling.
  • Place the chicken breasts on the grill over very hot coals or gas flame, and grill until they are thoroughly cooked but still moist (approximately 2 minutes on each side). Drizzle with remaining marinade while cooking. Remove to platter when grilled.
  • Serve the grilled chicken with the red onions, drizzle with the black bean sauce. Garnish with sour cream, guacamole, tomatoes or fresh cilantro - or serve with a leafy green side salad - as desired.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Panko-Breaded Chicken Fingers

1-1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Few drops of Tabasco or other hot sauce, to taste
Drop of honey, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1-1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut lengthwise into 1-inch strips
Spicy ketchup or honey mustard (store-bought or homemade), for dipping

  • Preheat the broiler, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place panko in a pie plate or other flat rimmed bowl.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, hot sauce, honey and black pepper, and stir.
  • Dip the chicken strips into the mayonnaise mixture, and then roll them in the panko, pressing lightly to make sure the crumbs adhere.
  • Place on the baking sheet, and cook under the broiler, turning once, for a total of 6-10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the panko is browned. Serve with your choice of dipping sauce.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Oven-Crisp Black Bean and Corn Flautas

Serves 6

2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
2 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp chili powder
1 16-oz tub prepared salsa, divided
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
12 6-inch corn tortillas
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Cook onion 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute, or until translucent and fragrant.
  • Stir in beans, chili powder and 1 cup water. Reduce heat to medium low, and simmer 10 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat. Mash beans until mixture is thickened but still chunky, and some beans remain whole. Stir in 1 cup salsa and corn, and season with salt and pepper. Cool.
  • Preheat oven to 425F. Coat 2 large baking sheets with cooking spray. Spoon 1/3 cup black bean mixture down center of tortilla. Roll tortilla around filling, and secure closed with toothpick. Set on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas and black bean mixture. Bake 6 to 10 minutes, or until tortillas are browned and crisp.
  • Meanwhile, combine cilantro and remaining salsa in small bowl. Place 2 flautas on each plate, and top with remaining salsa.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Fresh Strawberry Ice-Cream

Sweet cream base:
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream (or whipping cream)
1 cup milk

1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/3 cup sugar
juice from 1/2 lemon
zest from 1 lemon (optional)

  • Combine strawberries, lemon juice/zest, and 1/3 cup sugar. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Once strawberries have refrigerated, prepare the sweet cream base. Whisk eggs in a bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the sugar and continue whisking for a minute longer. Add the cream and milk, stir until fully combined.Combine the strawberry mixture into the sweet cream base.
  • Pour into an ice-cream mixer and mix according to mixer instructions.
Fresh Berry Tarts

1/3 C. sugar
3 T. vanilla sugar*
1/2 c. butter
2 large eggs
2 1/2 C. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt

*you could also use all regular sugar and add a little vanilla extract to the mixture.

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 8 oz. package reduced fat cream cheese (aka Neufchatel cheese)
1 large egg
1 t. vanilla extract

2 T. vanilla sugar (see note above)
You will need a total of about 3 pints of berries total. The original recipe calls for setting aside 24 perfect berries to put on top of the tarts, but I ended up with more like 36 tarts, so be sure to set aside plenty of berries for topping. You will need at least one pint of strawberries to make the topping, but the other two pints can be pretty much any berry you want.

To prepare the crust, cream sugar and butter together until fluffy. Beat in the 2 eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; pour into the mixer at low speed until blended. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate in the fridge at least a few hours. Can also be chilled overnight.

Next, prepare the topping. Slice any strawberries that will not be used whole, about 1 pint total. Top with vanilla sugar and mix well with a spoon. Cover and refrigerate a few hours or overnight.

Once the dough has been chilled sufficiently, prepare the filling. Mix the sweetened condensed milk with the cream cheese, egg, and vanilla until creamy. Next you'll be rolling out the dough: leaving half the dough in the fridge, roll out the other half very thin - about 1/8 of an inch. If you go much thicker you'll wind up with cookie blobs instead of tarts. You'll also need to flour your surfaces very well - put flour down on the cutting board or counter, then plop the dough down. Sprinkle some more flour on top of the dough blob, flour your rolling pin, then start rolling. I find that the easiest way to accomplish all this is to fill an empty shaker jar with flour. Use a biscuit cutter or wide-mouthed jar to cut out circled that are approximately 3 to 3-1/2 inches across. Carefully drop each circle of dough into a greased nonstick cupcake pan - I used both standard size and mini-cupcake pans, and I found that while both work well, I liked the shape of the smaller sized ones better. Top each shell with 2 T. of the cream cheese filling. Don't overfill. Bake for 15-18 minutes until the crust is golden and the filing is puffy and firm to the touch. Remove the tarts from the pan immediately.

Now you're ready to top the tarts with your whole berries. I ended up quartering some nice-looking strawberries and using two quarters for each tart, along with either a blueberry, a raspberry, or a blackberry, but just do whatever looks good to you. Next, take the strawberry topping out of the fridge. Pour a small amount over each tart - 1/2 to 1 teaspoon. The topping will help hold everything together and adds a nice fresh taste, but if you prefer you can brush on a little of your favorite jam. Once you are done pouring off the syrup for the topping, you will have some macerated strawberries leftover. These are tasty on top of vanilla ice cream, or you can use them to make strawberry ice cream!

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy! These are a lot of work but are very elegant and tasty.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Dill Roasted Salmon

Prep time: less than 5 minutes
Roasting time: 20 minutes or so depending on how thick the salmon fillet is
Serves 2

2 salmon fillets, skin left on
Enough fresh dill to be the base for the salmon
1 tsp olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
½ tsp fresh dill, chopped (more for garnish)
Sprinkle of smoky paprika (brings out flavor and adds even more color)

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a small roasting pan, large enough to hold the fillets so they are not touching each other, place a bed of fresh dill. This should only be enough for the salmon to rest on. Exposed dill will burn at this high temperature.
  • Lay the salmon, skin side down on the dill, drizzle with olive oil, spritz the lemon juice and sprinkle with paprika and a little chopped dill. Bake for 20 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through
  • Slide the salmon off its skin and onto a plate, spritz with a little more lemon juice and garnish with chopped dill.

Optional: serve with lemony dill mayo

big dollop of mayonnaise

1-2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped

Squeeze of lemon juice, to taste

Dill and Cheddar Beer Bread

Basic Beer Bread Mix:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder (make sure it's fresh!)
To Make Dill and Cheddar Bread:
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1 cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
12 ounces beer
Optional glaze: 1 egg & 2 teaspoons water, beaten

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, dill, and cheddar in a large mixing bowl. Slowly stir in beer and mix just until combined. Batter will be thick.
  • Spread in a greased 8-inch loaf pan, brush with egg glaze if desired, and bake until golden brown and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
  • Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool 10 more minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Flavor Variations:
Garlic & Herb: Add 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, and 2 minced garlic cloves (or 1 teaspoon garlic flakes) to the basic mix. For fresh herbs, use 1 chopped Tablespoon of each.
Dill & Chive: Add 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried dill) and 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives to the basic mix.
Rosemary & Feta: Add 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary and 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces) to the basic mix.
Italian: Add 1 teaspoon each dried basil and oregano (or 1 Tablespoon each chopped fresh basil and oregano), 2 minced cloves of garlic, and 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan or romano cheese to the basic mix.
Other Additions: Any dried or fresh herbs; 1/2 cup freshly grated asiago (or other hard cheese); 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped scallions; 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour or 1/2 cup oats in place of 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour. Or practically anything else you can think of--just use your imagination.