Monday, April 29, 2013

Chicken Livers Revisited: Taming a Childhood Savage Beast!

I enjoyed creating this recipe for a couple of reasons.  First off, as a child I absolutely abhorred the idea of eating liver, chicken or otherwise. Alas, I disliked the look, detested the fresh smell, and I could not quite wrap my head or stomach around the iron-y taste.  Ironically, LOL, I got serious into cooking and wanted to revisit old nemeses like liver, scrapple, chocolate cake, Oreos, jello, rice, beans, Ramen noodles and bananas.  Now I really enjoy those items and/or recipes containing them. This brings us to how I managed to become friends with liver as an adult. By marinating  liver for about two hours in sherry or worcestershire, I basically eradicicted all the reasons I  could not stand it. I helped boost it's flavor profile with wonderful aromatics like onion, garlic and celery.  This in turn still may not be enough for some, but it was the answer for me.
1 lb. chicken livers, trimmed and rinsed
1/4 c. sherry or worcestershire
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced on bias
Seasoned flour
oil for frying
In a flat bottomed vessel, add livers, sherry and garlic.  Fold gently. SPST.  Marinate for 1 to 3 hours in fridge until ready to cook.
When ready, heat about 1/8 inch oil in cast iron skillet to medium hot.  Meanwhile, drain, pat dry and toss liver in seasoned flour and carefully add to pan.  Cook for several minutes until golden color reaches up sides of livers and they have reduced in size by about 1/3, about 5 minutes.  Turn livers and add onion and celery. SPST.   Cover for about 3 of the 5 minutes to steam the veggies while frying then, remove cover to finish crisping the livers and slightly brown the veggies.  Transfer to paper towels to drain and serve hot.  Goes great with rice or with sandwich bread and Sriracha.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Latalian Chicken Sandwich w/ Poblano Aioli

I adore the flair and flavors of Latin American cooking as well as Italian cuisine.  This  recipe is a playful mix of ingredients from both.  It is filled with fresh and bright veggies and spices that compliment each other and remind you of several dishes in one, stimulating the senses.  The bread or roll for this recipe is an artisan one called Pan Bigio.  Pan Bigio, also known as "grey bread", is a country Italian bread, usually made with whole wheat flour,  This bread is a bit chewy and sturdy.  It's somewhat nutty flavor profile and characteristics make it great for dipping and sandwich making.  Further, for this recipe, I hull out the bottom portion, making an edible bowl of sorts to hold the wonderful Avocado and Roma Tomato Salad that compliments the Poblano Aioli perfectly.  I found that the Aioli used to top this many-portioned sandwich is best left to be slathered on by the consumer after it has already been cut.  I received positive feedback by all my testers, and one even tried the Avocado salad with another type sandwich and found it satisfying.  I used breaded chicken fillets for this recipe, but feel strongly about substituting  grilled chicken fillets in it's place, to cut carbs as well as shave calories and fat.  Plus, using  grilled chicken adds to the smokiness and depth of the sandwich as a whole.   Provolone is added for both it's mild flavor and melting properties.  The name of this sandwich speaks for itself and you will see what I mean, once you try it!
1 14 oz. loaf Pan Bigio
4 cooked breaded or grilled chicken breast fillets, about 6 ozs. each
1 avocado, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 Roma tomato, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 tbsp. cilantro, rough chopped
1 tsp. parsley, rough chopped
1/2 large lemon
1 tsp. seasoned rice vinegar
Olive oil for drizzling
6 slices Provolone cheese
Poblano Aioli:
3 roasted poblanos, cooled, peeled and mashed
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
1/8 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. chili powder
In a small bowl, combine avocado, tomato, cilantro, parsley, lemon juice, and about 1 to 2 tsp. olive oil and combine.  SPST
Set aside for flavors to marry.
In another bowl, combine poblanos, mayonnaise, garlic and Sriracha to taste mix well.  SPST
Meanwhile, toast bread, both sides drizzled with olive oil, for about 5 minutes or until heated through and  lightly browned.
Hull out bottom portion of bread until about 1/8 of an inch remains.
Place Avocado and Tomato salad in 'bowl' of bottom piece of bread.
 Add layer of chicken.
Add layer of cheese.
Spread small amount of Poblano Aioli over top portion of bread and place atop sandwich.
With a serrated knife, cut sandwich into 4 portions.  Serve with Doritos! or side dish of choice.
Serve remaining Aioli on the side.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hokie Slaw!

This name of this recipe came just after creating it.  I was working on another recipe for a steak bite chili to  accompany some white meat chicken hotdogs for lunch one day.  The recipe turned out to be a hit. My sister Hollie reminded how having a nice fresh slaw on top would really set the whole deal in motion.  I agreed, but the only cabbage I had on hand was red.  I love the brilliant color of this cabbage and the heart healthy Anthocyanins that make that possible.  Once I finished the recipe, I thought about how the colors of the cabbage and the carrot remind me of a Virginia Tech jersey. Lightbulb!, "Why not call it Hokie Slaw?".  The recipe is quick and easy, the colors are fabulous, and the taste is one in the same.  Even if you are not partial to the team, the slaw will brighten any table-scape.  If you are a Hokie fan, this is perfect for tailgating or any occasion where you can show your Hokie spirit and pride.
2 c. julienne of red cabbage
1 medium carrot, grated
3 tbsp. mayo
1 tbsp. sugar or to taste
1 tsp. seasoned rice vinegar
Add cabbage and carrot to medium bowl and toss until evenly mixed.  Add remaining ingredients in separate small bowl and blend.  Add to veggies and fold to coat evenly. SPST
Makes 2 1/2 cups.

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cheddar, Broccoli and Bacon Souffles

I was out searching for the perfect saute pan for me, when I stumbled upon some gorgeous Le Creuset ramekins at a great price.  I had not tried my hand at making a souffle yet, so I figured now would be as good a time as any!  I used a several souffle recipes as a guide.  My recipe is rather basic and I was proud of the results, but can't wait to go to the lab again and expand and improve.  The individual souffles make for a wonderful presentation and  are perfect for a breakfast or brunch occasion.  I tried them piping hot and at room temperature and found that they seemed more flavorful at room temperature.  Have fun and don't be afraid to use your own creative genius  to develop ideas.
4 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 c. evaporated milk
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
3 eggs, separated
4 oz. fresh chopped broccoli florets
1/4 c. cooked bacon pieces, crumbled
4 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Spray bottom of 1 1/2 quart souffle dish.  In small saucepan over medium heat, and hot butter, whisk in flour and SPST.  Gradually stir in milk, stirring and cooking until thickened. Stir in cheese until melted.
In a small. bowl, beat yolks slightly with a fork.
Temper eggs with cheese sauce, then stir egg mixture into cheese sauce stirring constantly to prevent clumping.  Beat egg whites at high speed until stiff and fold in  in broccoli, bacon and cheese sauce.  Pour  into dish or 6 4 1/2 oz. ramekins.  Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until golden brown.  Place ramekins on baking sheet for ease of handling.  The ramekins will only take about 15 to 20 minutes.  Spray with   olive oil for a fabulous glossy finish!

The inside of the souffle is rather light and flavorful!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Seared Chops w/ Blackberry Citrus Demi Sauce

This recipe takes blackberries to a whole new height.  I found this wonderful bottled cider at a local, family owned grocer called Vista Foods.  They have an outstanding select stock of veggies, which is where I like to get mine, and also some of if not the best market ground in the town of Altavista. The prices are amazingly fair and worth it, as per quality. Vista Foods is also a go to for me for local goodies like honey, flours, and cornmeal from surrounding counties.
Blackberries offer a plethora of noteworthy benefits literally for the mind and body.  Anthocyanins, which lend blackberries their brilliant dark color, have been shown to aid in preventing the deterioration of the memory.  They also contain ellagic acid, a phytochemical found in select plants, that have been shown to reduce tumors and growth of certain cancerous cells in lab mice.
Ellagic acid may also help to reduce the harmful estrogen that produces breast cancer cells. Soluble and unsoluble fiber, vitamins A and C, salicylic acid, which is known to numb certain pains, as well as some heart healthy omega 3's are also components of this amazing little antioxidant rich berry!
This cider is put out by Hillside Orchard Farms situated in Tiger, Georgia.  I spotted this Gem and immediately wanted to hit the lab and get some ideas going. About two months ago, I initially thought to try pairing it with some gorgeous chuck eye steaks, also purchased at Vista, but I ended up shelving it until about 2 weeks ago, and pairing it with the beautiful chops for this recipe. The sauce may be used with any number of proteins and is incredibly easy to achieve.  Chicken broth balances out the sweetness, especially when reduced to the amount desired for this recipe.  Super Simple, Simply Delicious!
2  1 inch bone-in pork chops, about 1-1 1/4 lbs.
2 tsp. chili powder
Olive oil for drizzling
3 cups blackberry cider
1 cup chicken broth (depending on protein, may substitute beef or veggie)
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 lemon
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Rinse and pat chops dry.
Season chops with 1 tsp. per chop of chili powder, divided between both sides and season liberally with kosher salt and pepper.
In oven safe saute pan, sprayed or drizzled with olive oil, sear chops over medium high heat until golden, flipping once, about 4 minutes per side.
Transfer to oven and bake until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees,  about 10-15 minutes.  Let stand for about 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
Meanwhile, place cider and broth in a medium sauce pot and bring up to a boil.  Add garlic and reduce heat  to medium and reduce liquid to about 1/4 c., about 20 minutes.  Squeeze in juice of the lemon and stir.  Transfer to a squeeze bottle and keep very warm until ready to use. Drizzle over sliced chops.
Serves 4 to 6
Chops shown here with another recipe from my blog, Shrimp and Broccoli Stuffed Poblanos!

Shrimp and Broccoli Stuffed Poblanos!

This recipe was inspired by Chile Rellenos that I originally  tried at Cancun Restaurant and Bar and Grill in Hardy, Virginia.  The traditional recipe involves stuffing a Poblano with  shredded beef or other meat and cheese, dipped in  egg and fried, then covered with a red sauce.  The following recipe has a twist with influence also from Asian  cuisine flecked with wonderful, fresh broccoli, meaty bite- sized pieces of shrimp, complimented by the ever fabulous fish sauce, sweet chili sauce and garlic, suspended in cream cheese filling.   I received  fabulous reviews from all the family who tried it, about 10 people , except for one person who  felt it needed something else, I figure  texture wise, and I  decided it would definitely benefit from a hearty helping of rich and buttery breadcrumbs atop.  The implementation of the bread crumbs would cater to the aesthetics of the dish as well.  Thanks for being straight forward brother in law, that helps me to improve and grow!  The overall recipe is subtle and pleasing to the palate and may be served a la Carte, or alongside your protein of choice.  For smaller portion sizes, simply increase the number of chilies.  For meatless vegetarian fare, simply omit the shrimp and replace with an equal amount of more broccoli or chopped Portobello or button mushrooms.
6 Poblano chilies
1 8 oz pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
12 oz. fresh steamed  broccoli, rough chopped
1 lb. 21 -24 fresh shrimp, chopped
1 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. sweet chili sauce
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1  egg, slightly beaten
Olive oil  for drizzling
Bread crumbs, optional ( about 1 cup, sauteed in a little butter)
Preheat oven to 400*F.
Roast Chilies on foil lined  baking sheet until slightly charred, about 10 minutes,turning occasionally.
Let cool enough to handle carefully peel . Make a cut down the length of the chili and remove seeds with a spoon.
Reduce oven heat to 375*.
In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients in a folding fashion. and stuff Poblanos with shrimp filling.
Bake in an oven safe dish sprayed with cooking spray and bake until filling is set and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, about 45 minutes.
Let rest before plating.  Serves 6.
* I used baby chard from my herb garden for garnish!
Poblanos pictured here with another recipe featured on my blog, Seared Chops with Blackberry Citrus Demi  Sauce!