Category Archives: Dinner

Daring Cooks


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Hiya! This is Debyi from http://www.healthyvegankitchen.com I am so excited to be your host for the September 2009 Daring Cooks challenge. It took almost a month to decide which recipe that I wanted to do. I wanted to choose something that could be easily adapted for our GF’ers and other Alternative Cooks, as well as still being tasty for everyone else. So, I finally decided on Indian Dosas from the refresh cookbook by Ruth Tal. I had a lot of fun with this challenge, it brought back some great memories, I hope you enjoy it. 

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My hubby and I had the wonderful pleasure of visiting one of the Fresh Restaurants (www.freshrestaurants.ca) in Toronto, Canada during a business trip. We ate 3 out of our 5 meals there, it was that good. If you ever get a chance to visit, I highly recommend it, they have 3 locations in Toronto. If not, their cookbooks are amazing, everything we have tried has been great.

Requirements: Must be free of animal products, this will be a challenge for you “regular” cooks out there, but its worth it. So that means, no cows milk, butter, meat, poultry, fish, chicken/beef broth, etc. This dish is also 99% oil free, using only what you need to keep the dosas from sticking (I used a quick spritz of cooking spray on the first dosa only), which isn’t too bad with a nonstick pan. You can use a different filling/sauce if you like, but it must be free of animal products. I was just looking at the new Fresh newsletter, and one of the new menu items is Avocado Dosas with a filling of avocados, grape tomatoes, cilantro & hemp seeds with a mango tamarind or cilantro coconut chutney. Might be an interesting way to go too.

Here is my adaptation of their recipe:

Indian Dosas

This recipe comes in 3 parts, the dosas, the filling and the sauce. It does take awhile to make, but the filling and sauce can be made ahead and frozen if need be. You can serve them as a main course with rice and veggies, or as an appetizer. This does take a little planning ahead, so make sure you read the recipe through before starting (I forgot & didn’t start making the rice until everything was ready, oops).

Serves 4

Equipment needed:

large bowl

whisk

griddle or skillet

ladle (or large spoon)

spatula

vegetable peeler &/or knife

large saucepan

food processor or bean masher

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Dosa Pancakes

1 cup (120gm/8oz) spelt flour (or all-purpose, gluten free flour)

½ tsp (2½ gm) salt

½ tsp (2½ gm) baking powder

½ tsp (2½ gm) curry powder

½ cup (125ml/4oz) almond milk (or soy, or rice, etc.)

¾ cup (175ml/6oz) water

cooking spray, if needed

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Dosa Filling

1 batch Curried Garbanzo Filling (see below), heated

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Dosa Toppings

1 batch Coconut Curry Sauce (see below), heated

¼ cup (125gm) grated coconut

¼ cucumber, sliced

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Dosa Pancakes

  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, slowly adding the almond milk and water, whisking until smooth.

  2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray your pan with a thin layer of cooking spray, if needed.

  3. Ladle 2 tablespoons of batter into the center of your pan in a circular motion until it is a thin, round pancake. When bubbles appear on the surface and it no longer looks wet, flip it over and cook for a few seconds. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining batter. Makes 8 pancakes.

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Curried Garbanzo Filling

This filling works great as a rice bowl topping or as a wrap too, so don’t be afraid to make a full batch.

5 cloves garlic

1 onion, peeled and finely diced

1 carrot, peeled and finely diced

1 green pepper, finely diced (red, yellow or orange are fine too)

2 medium hot banana chilies, minced

2 TBSP (16gm) cumin, ground

1 TBSP (8gm) oregano

1 TBSP (8gm) sea salt (coarse)

1 TBSP (8gm) turmeric

4 cups (850gm/30oz) cooked or canned chick peas (about 2 cans)

½ cup (125gm/4oz) tomato paste

  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium to low heat. Add the garlic, veggies, and spices, cooking until soft, stirring occasionally.

  2. Mash the chickpeas by hand, or in a food processor. Add the chickpeas and tomato paste to the saucepan, stirring until heated through.

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Coconut Curry Sauce

This makes a great sauce to just pour over rice as well. This does freeze well, but the texture will be a little different. The flavor is still the same though.

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic

½ (2½ gm) tsp cumin, ground

¾ (3¾ gm) tsp sea salt (coarse)

3 TBSP (30gm) curry powder

3 TBSP (30gm) spelt flour (or all-purpose GF flour)

3 cups (750ml/24oz) vegetable broth

2 cups (500ml/24oz) coconut milk

3 large tomatoes, diced

  1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic, cooking for 5 minutes, or until soft.

  2. Add the spices, cooking for 1 minutes more. Add the flour and cook for 1 additional minute.

  3. Gradually stir in the vegetable broth to prevent lumps. Once the flour has been incorporated, add the coconut milk and tomatoes, stirring occasionally.

  4. Let it simmer for half an hour.

Happy eating!

I served this with a side of coconut tempeh from refresh as well.  Very yummy!

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Recipes To Rival


Recipes To Rival – August 2009 Challenge

I am so excited to hosting the August 2009 challenge. I had a hard time deciding which recipe to choose. I finally decided on:

Asparagus & Lemongrass Risotto

by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero from Veganomicon

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Risotto is a traditional Italian rice dish. It is also one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy. Its origins are in North Italy where rice paddies are abundant. While this is not a traditionally prepared risotto, it is pretty close. You really want to use Arborio rice, but you can substitute any short grain rice and get a similar dish.

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I did make some very selfish restrictions this month – there were no animal products allowed & everyone had to make their own broth. Why? Well, for one, it doesn’t need it. I was watching an episode of No Reservations & he had some risotto that consisted of broth and rice, period. I did indicate the optional ingredients that could be added or left out, or substituted, their choice. I also included a side dish, but they could make whatever they wanted to go with it. I wanted to do a challenge that everyone would be able to eat. All of the soy in the recipe is easily omitted for those who are allergic.

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Asparagus and Lemongrass Risotto

Time: 1 hour 20 minutes Serves 4-6

This one does have peanuts in it, so if you are allergic, just leave them out. Personally, I liked pine nuts in it best. Fresh lemongrass is available in most grocery stores, but if you can’t find it, you can use dried. If using dried, you will want to use a cheese cloth or tea strainer. Place the dried lemongrass, ginger and garlic. Don’t worry about the heat of the serrano pepper, it only adds a nice hint of flavor.

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Lemongrass Broth:

3 cloves garlic, whole and unpeeled

1” piece fresh ginger, sliced into ¼” slices

1 small stalk lemongrass, or 1 TBSP dried, chopped lemongrass

3 cups vegetable broth

3 cups water

3 TBSP tamari (or soy sauce)

Risotto:

½ cup cooking sherry or white wine (D’Aquino Pinot Grigio is a good choice)

1 lb asparagus

2 TBSP vegetable broth

1 cup basil leaves (Thai, if you can find it), sliced into thin strips

2 TBSP chopped fresh mint

6 large shallots, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 serrano red chile, sliced very thinly (or ½ – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes)

1 ½ cups Arborio rice

1 tsp sugar (optional)

2 TBSP lime juice

Chopped roasted peanuts and lime wedges, for garnish (you can use pine nuts or sliced almonds instead of the peanuts)

  1. If using fresh lemongrass, peel away and discard any brown stems from the stalk. Slice the stalk in half lengthwise and cut into 3” to 4” lengths, then julienne.

  2. Give the garlic and the ginger a could whack with the side of your knife, keeping them whole. Prepare your herb pouch, if using.

  3. Place all of the broth ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the broth, discarding the vegetables and herbs. Pour the broth back into the pot, cover and simmer over as low a heat as possible to keep warm.

  4. Slice the asparagus into ½” pieces, removing any tough parts from the bottom of the stem. Separate the tips from the stems and place each in separate bowls.

  5. In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot, saute the asparagus in 1 TBSP vegetable broth over medium heat until bright and crisp tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the basil and mint, saute for 30 seconds, remove from heat and set aside.

  6. Add the remaining tablespoon vegetable broth to the pan. Saute the shallots and garlic, stirring occasionally, until shallots are very soft, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the serrano and rice, saute for about 8 minutes, until the rice smells slightly toasted. Add the cooking sherry (or white wine) and stir constantly until the liquid is absorbed.

  7. Now, time for relaxation and stirring. Get a glass of your favorite beverage, turn on some soothing music, or a good movie. Ladle about ½ cup of the broth at a time into the rice, stirring constantly until each addition is absorbed. Stir and cook until the rice is creamy but still somewhat firm in the center.

  8. When the broth is almost gone, stir the sugar and lime juice into the remaining broth before adding it to the risotto. You may add more water or vegetable broth in ¼ cup increments if needed. This will take about 35 minutes.

  9. Stir the asparagus stems into the risotto and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the asparagus has reached desired tenderness.

  10. Garnish each serving with the asparagus tips, chopped roasted peanuts, and lime wedges.

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Tangerine Baked Tofu

Time: 1 hour Serves 4

You can sub orange juice, oranges, tangelos, or clementines for the tangerines.

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1 lb extra-firm tofu, sliced width-wise into eighths.

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Marinade:

1 tsp tangerine zest

1/3 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice (2-3 tangerines)

3 TBSP lime juice

2 TBSP tamari (or soy sauce)

1 TBSP agave nectar or pure maple syrup

¼ tsp ground cumin

1/8 tsp ground allspice

Freshly ground pepper

2 TBSP dark rum (or 1 tsp rum extract)

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

  2. In a shallow 11” X 7” glass baking dish, whisk together all of the marinade ingredients. Place the sliced tofu in the marinade. Using a fork, poke a few holes into the cutlets, flip them over, and do the same on the other side.

  3. Bake the tofu for 30 minutes, flipping several times, about every 15 minutes or so. The tofu is ready when the marinade is reduced. Spoon any remaining marinade over the tofu before serving.

I cooked mine for 45 minutes & my marinade was all gone. The tofu tasted great, even without the extra marinade.

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Daring Cooks for August 2009

flame_w125×125.jpgOur host this month is Olga from Las Cosas de Olga & Olga’s Recipes. She has chosen a delicious Spanish recipe, Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish & artichokes by José Andrés, one of the most important Spanish Chefs at the moment. Olga tells us that Jose Andres trained under well-known Ferran Adria at his 3 Michelin star restaurant El Bulli. He lives now in Washington DC & he owns several restaurants in Washington DC area (El Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel…). The recipe is from his US TV show Made in Spain.

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I only made half of the recipe, since just the 2 of us would be eating it (we still had leftovers). I didn’t have to make too many adjustments to the recipe. You can find the original recipe, as well as everyone elses creations here: www.thedaringkitchen.com

Here is what I did:

Rice with mushrooms, white beans and artichokes
Cooking time: 45 minutes Serves: 2
Equipment: 1 Chopping Board, 1 knife, 1 medium saucepan, 1 Saucepan

1 can of Artichokes, quartered

6 cremini Mushrooms, cut into 4ths

1 Bay leaf (optional but highly recommended)

½ glass of white wine

½ can great northern beans, drained & rinsed

“Sofregit” (see recipe below)

1 cups Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra or Montsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. This kind of rice absorbs flavor very well) – about ½ cup per person

3 cups Vegetable Broth (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)

Saffron threads (you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)

Allioli (adapted from Veganomicon) – optional

  1. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable broth in a saucepan, add a bay leaf, artichokes and the mushrooms. Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.

  2. Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom get mixed in, giving it more flavor.

  3. Add ½ cup of sofregit & mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with it.

  4. Add the liquid and bring it to boil.

  5. Add the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in high heat.

  6. Add the saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice & the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only ¼ tsp.

  7. Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)

  8. Remove the pan from heat, stir in the beans and let stand a couple of minutes.

img_3497.jpgSofregit (a well cooked & fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic & onions, & may at times different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)

Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour

2 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped

1 small onions, chopped

½ green bell pepper, chopped (optional)

3 garlic cloves, chopped

½ cup of cremini mushrooms, chopped (optional)

1 Bay leaf

Salt

Touch of ground cumin

Touch of dried oregano

  1. Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.

  2. Taste and salt if necessary.

The Allioli was an optional ingredient. I did add it, although I don’t think it really added that much to the dish. Olga gave us the option of making a traditional one or a new modern recipe. It is served together with the rice, giving it a very nice taste. I did like the added garlic flavor that it gave.

Allioli (adapted from Veganomicon) Prep time: 5 minutes

½ can great northern beans, drained & rinsed

1 TBSP lemon juice

1/8 tsp salt

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 cloves garlic

2 TBSP water

2 tsp ground flax seeds

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

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Olga’s Tips:
(1) In Spain, rice is not stired as often as it is when cooking Italian risotto. You must stir it once or twice maximum. This tip is valid for all Spanish rice dishes like paella, arròs negre, arròs a banda…
(2) When cooking the alternative style you can change the cuttlefish or squid for diced potato.
(3) If you can’t find cuttlefish or squid, you can try to substitute them for chicken or vegetables at your choice.
(4) Sofregit can be done in advance. You can keep it in the fridge or even freeze it.
(5) For more information on how to clean & remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this
video
(6) To watch how Jose Andres cooks this dish click
here.
(8) To tone down the taste when you do it by hand in a mortar, then add an egg yolk. If you want to tone it down in the alternative way use milk or soy milk. Anyway, the best alternative way is the original oil & garlic alone.
(9) Allioli must be consumed during the preparation day and preserved in the fridge before using it.

Verdict: This was simple to make & very tasty. Hubby also really liked it. I did take a couple of shortcuts by using canned artichokes, but this month has been busy, so I didn’t want to add any more to it. I didn’t actually think I was going to get to this. I actually made this with just a few hours to spare. Make sure you check out what everyone else did.

Ugly, but tasty bread – FFTO

This months Fresh From The Oven challenge was hosted by Brooke of Ed and Brooke and she chose focaccia.

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I was very excited when I saw this one. I love Focaccia! We also got to choose our own recipe. But, I have made Focaccia before. I actually made it as Christmas gifts one year. Well, instead of using that recipe, I decided to try a different one from the same cookbook. I made the Grilled Focaccia from The Bread Bible (page 216-219). I didn’t really make any changes, so I won’t post the recipe, you’ll just have to get the book, its a great one!

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The recipe was pretty straight forward & easy to make. I didn’t have any problems until I realized it was a little too thin & a little small. I had planned on making pizza out of it, but it definitely wouldn’t feed the both of us without some sides. Well, I plunged on. I had it shaped & resting on a cookie sheet, then I remembered that I needed to move it to a grill pan. Well, I hadn’t greased the cookie sheet enough & I had spread it too thin, so it was a little hard to get off the pan. It did not fare too well, but still workable.

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Well, I got it onto the grill pan, cooked the one side, flipped it over (pretty easily, actually) & then topped it. Now, it did not look pretty on its own, but it sure made a tasty pizza. Oh, I also over-kneaded it a little. I missed the part where it said to knead for about 20 seconds & I kneaded it for a minute. I am pretty sure that had something to do with my results.

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Verdict: I will be trying this one again, it was very tasty, even if it didn’t look too pretty on its own.

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Oh, the pizza toppings: faux saugsages, olives, artichoke hearts, bell peppers, tomatoes, & onions.

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Daring Cooks

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Our Host: Sketchy, from Sketchy’s Kitchen

The Challenge: Skate, traditional flavors powdered (slightly altered) This is a dish from Grant Achatz, found in the Alinea cookbook – page 230. Skates are part of the family of rays (think manta ray or sting ray). Our challenge this month was based on molecular cuisine.

You can find the original recipe here: http://thedaringkitchen.com/  as well as to see how everyone else did.  Below I have put my changes.

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Skate, Traditional Flavors Powderedwith changes

In place of the skate, I made Tofu Fish Sticks from Vegan Lunchbox.

  • *150 fresh green beans

  • sea salt/kosher salt

  • ¼ banana

  • 75g cilantro

  • 75g parsley

  • 50g dried banana chips

  • 150g better than milk powder

  • 50g cup minced red onion

  • 100g capers (brined, not oil)

* For green beans, slice each beans into very thin rounds (2 mm)

Powders – prepare ahead of time
caper / onion
garlic powder
cilantro/parsley powder
‘brown butter’ powder

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Powders
once dried, all powders should be pulsed in a coffee grinder/spice mill/morter & pestle then passed through a chinois or fine mesh strainer.

cilantro/parsley powder
75g cilantro
75g parsley

I actually found freeze dried cilantro & parsley, so I used that.

garlic powder (my addition)

75g freeze dried garlic

onion powder
50g cup minced red onions

again, used freeze dried
pulse in coffee grinder.

Caper powder
100g capers (get the ones packed in brine/vinegar)

run the capers under cold water for two minutes to remove some of the brine.
I microwaved the capers on a paper towel for 1 minute, then let it sit for a minute. I repeated heating them in the microwave for 30 seconds and resting for 1 minute until they were done. They were in the microwave for a total of 4 minutes.

Once dry, pulse and sift the powder. Mix it with the onion powder.

Brown Butter powder

50g Dried banana chips (unsweetened if possible – many are coated in honey – the freeze dried ones would be brilliant) – I could only find sweetened
150g spray dried cream powder

I did not toast the cream powder.

grind the banana chips in a coffee grinder and mix with the toasted cream powder. Pass this through a chinois and reserve.

* For green beans, slice each beans into very thin rounds (2 mm)

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Plating
Take the tip of a small spoon and make a small mound of the citrus powder, the onion-caper powder, and the cilantro parsley-powder. Swirl these around in a hurricane type pattern. I found that it is easier, and you get finer lines if you lightly shake the plate to flatten out the mounds, then swirl the spoon through it to get the pattern. (I need to work on my swirl work, mine is pitiful) I served this with a side salad & boiled potatoes with garlic pepper.

peel the remaining banana into very think slices (3mm) fan three slices on the plate, place green beans on top and place skate wing portion on top. On the tall edge, sprinkle the brown butter powder.

Verdict: While this challenge was definitely a challenge & I learned a lot, I would not make it again. Hubby did give it a good try & liked the tofu fish sticks & the salad & potatoes that I served with it. He tried the sticks with each of the powders, as well as banana & green beans with each bite, he wasn’t sold on it. The bananas actually complement the raw green beans very well. The tofu fish sticks turned out really good. I would use more kelp granules next time though. Thank you so much Sketchy for this interesting challenge, it was something very new for me. It was nice to learn how to make the powders. This is an adventure, it is fun to try.

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Just wondering how subbing potatoes would work with this?

June R2R – Beef Wellington


Recipes 2 Rival – June 2006 Challenge

Our challenge this month is Beef Wellington! My first thought was, hmmm, not something I have ever wanted to eat. But isn’t that what these challenges are all about, making things you wouldn’t normally make, giving new things a try. So I read on.

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According to wikipedia, Beef Wellington “is a preparation of beef tenderloin coated with pâté (often pâté de foie gras) & duxelles, which is then wrapped in puff pastry & baked.”

Okay, my next hmmm was with the pate. I knew I could find vegan puff pastry (albeit with hfcs), I could even make it if I had the time (which I didn’t), but I wasn’t sure I wanted to try to find or make pate, which isn’t hard, its just a texture issue. Luckily, I kept reading & realized that it was optional.

This months host is Mz Kitchen of Madame Chow’s Kitchen. After doing quite a bit of research & experimentation, she put this recipe together. It’s based on the Ultimate Beef Wellington by Tyler Florence, but I added a couple things & eliminated a couple others.

We had to use the puff pastry, some type of protein & the duxelles. Seitan would work well, as would tempeh. Tofu was not recommend because of its high water content & moisture is the enemy here! I chose to go with tempeh because I like the flavor more & it has a very low moisture content. Here are some more tips from our host:

Cook the duxelles on low heat so that you have a chance to evaporate the liquid, but so that you don’t burn the mushrooms & shallots. If you like your meat rare or medium rare, I suggest keeping the seared beef in the refrigerator until just before you put everything together – it took so long to brown my puff pastry, that the beef was well done. It was still moist, but using cold beef means that it will take longer to cook, giving your puff pastry the time to brown.”

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On to the recipe, which I cut in half:
Beef Wellington
For the Duxelles:
3 pints (1 ½ pounds) white button mushrooms
2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil used vegetable broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Beef:
1 (3-pound) center cut beef tenderloin (filet mignon), trimmed used tempeh
Extra-virgin olive oil did not use
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only used dried
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Flour, for rolling out puff pastry
1 pound puff pastry, thawed if using frozen (follow directions on the package)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten didn’t use
8 ounces mousse pate, available in specialty cheese & appetizer cases of larger markets (optional) didn’t use pate

Directions
To make the Duxelles: Add mushrooms, shallots, garlic, & thyme to a food processor & pulse until finely chopped. Add butter & olive oil (veg broth) to a large saute pan & set over medium heat. Add the shallot & mushroom mixture & saute for 8 to 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt & pepper & set aside to cool completely. This is really good, a great topping for burgers too!

To prepare the beef: Tie the tenderloin in 4 places so it holds its cylindrical shape while cooking. Drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt & pepper & sear all over, including the ends, in a hot, heavy-based skillet lightly coated with olive oil – about 2 to 3 minutes. I skipped this step, didn’t need to do it with the tempeh.

Using a rubber spatula cover evenly with a thin layer of duxelles. Season the surface of the duxelles with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves. When the beef is seared, remove from heat, cut off twine and smear lightly all over with Dijon mustard. Allow to cool completely.

From our host: “I made the duxelles and seared the tenderloin about 10 hours in advance, and refrigerated both of them. It is important that these items are cold because you will be working with puff pastry, and if they’re warm, they may cause the dough to melt before you get it in the oven.”

About an hour before you plan to serve the Beef Wellington, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to about a ¼” thickness. Depending on the size of your sheets you may have to overlap 2 sheets and press them together. I used just one piece per serving.

Spread the duxelles mixture down in a column down the middle of the rolled out puff pastry. Thinly slice the mousse and cover the duxelles with it – every square millimeter doesn’t have to be covered, but you’re trying to make sure that every serving gets beef, duxelle, and mousse.

Remove beef from refrigerator. Set the beef in the center of the pastry and brush all the edges of the pastry with egg wash. Fold the longer sides over the beef, and seal. Trim ends if necessary then brush with egg wash and fold over to completely seal the beef – saving ends to use as a decoration on top if desired. Place the beef seam side down on a baking sheet. I didn’t use the egg wash.

Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash then make a couple of slits in the top of the pastry using the tip of a paring knife – this creates vents that will allow the steam to escape when cooking. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until pastry is golden brown and beef registers 125 degrees F (rare) on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from oven and rest before cutting into ¾” thick slices. I baked it for 20 to 25 minutes.

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Verdict: We really enjoyed it. Hubby would’ve preferred tofu, he just likes the flavor better, tempeh is too strong for him. We both were glad I didn’t use the pate, it would’ve been too soft/mushy in texture. I served it with huge artichokes, which tasted great.  A nice salad & some green beans would’ve tasted amazing as well.  I have some puff pastry left, so I am going to try this again using seitan. It really doesn’t take that long to make, most of the time is inactive, so you can be doing something else as well (like making some Rustic Bread). Great challenge! Thank you Mz Kitchen of Madame Chow’s Kitchen.

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Daring Cooks #2


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It’s the second installment of The Daring Cooks! Our host this month was Jen from use real butter, what recipe did she choose? Well, she thought it might be a good time for us to try our hand at something that looks daunting, but is actually pretty straightforward.

The Challenge: Chinese dumplings/potstickers (aka gyoza in Japanese)

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Jen tells us, “It’s a basic concept: a filling inside a dough wrapper, sealed, & cooked. This delicious theme runs through many cultures & is among the more popular bites at Chinese restaurants – especially dim sum. The recipe I provide is based on my family recipe. There is a lot of wiggle room & I encourage you to explore. If you’ve made them before – great! Now try something different!” The process goes a little like this:1. Choose a filling 2. Choose a dough 3. Choose a cooking method (boil, steam, pan-fry)

We had to make our own wrappers, we were not allowed to use pre-made ones. Not too hard, just takes a little patience & practice. For the filling, she gave us a couple of choices, the most common being pork or shrimp. You can fill dumplings/potstickers with just about anything, even blueberries or alomondella. Jen also tells us, “You can make them with other ground meats (beef, chicken…) or vegetarian (tofu, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, glass noodles, Chinese chives – oh yum!). The important thing to keep in mind is that the filling needs to “stick” to itself or else you will make your life incredibly miserable wrapping up filling that keeps falling apart. I think if I were to make vegetarian dumplings, I would sauté the cabbage & mash up the tofu for a better cohesiveness. It’s up to you how you want to fill your dumplings.”

Jen also tells us, “Time: Prep for the filling takes me 30 minutes – longer if peeling & de-veining shrimp. It will depend on your proficiency with a good sharp knife. Rolling & wrapping several dozen dumplings takes me 1 hour by myself. My parents can crank through it in 30 minutes when 1 person is rolling wrappers & the other is wrapping dumplings. Might be fun to get a second person to help! Cooking: I have to cook mine in batches. When steaming, I can cook a dozen at a time in about 10 minutes. Potstickers: 15 minutes per 2 dozen determined by the size of your pan. Boiling – 6 minutes per dozen or so depending on size of pot.”

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You can find the original recipe here: http://thedaringkitchen.com/

Here is my changes:

Chinese Dumplings/Potstickers

vegetablefilling:
4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
3 stalks green onions, minced
7 shitake mushrooms, minced
½ cup bamboo shoots, minced
¼ cup ginger root, minced
3 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP corn starch

  1. Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl & mix thoroughly.
  2. Cover & refrigerate until ready to use (up to a day, but preferably within an hour or 2).

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dough: (double this for the amount of filling, but easier to make it in 2 batches – or just halve the filling recipe)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup warm water
flour for work surface

  1. In a large bowl mix flour with 1/3 cup of water & stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water 1 teaspoon at a time & mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.
  2. Knead the dough about 20 strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes.
  3. Take the dough & form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 2“ wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 1” pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking – about 1/16“. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper & fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side. I found it easier to pleat first, then fill. Keep all unused dough under damp cloth so it doesn’t dry out.

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dipping sauce:
2 parts soy sauce
1 part red wine vinegar
chili garlic paste (optional)
minced ginger (optional)
minced garlic (optional)
minced green onion (optional)

dash mirin

  1. Stir together to combine.

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To pan ‘fry’ (potstickers): Place dumplings in a dry frying pan. Heat on medium-high & ‘fry’ for a few minutes until bottoms are golden. Add ½ cup water & cover. Cook until the water has boiled away & then uncover & reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat & serve.

To boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil & add dumplings to pot. Boil the dumplings until they float.

To steam: Place dumplings on a single layer of napa cabbage leaves or on a well-greased surface in a steamer basket with lid. Steam covered for about 6 minutes.

To freeze: Assemble dumplings on a baking sheet so they are not touching. It helps to rub the base of the dumpling in a little flour before setting on the baking sheet for ease of release. Freeze for 20-30 minutes until dumplings are no longer soft. Place in ziploc bag & freeze for up to a couple of months. Prepare per the above instructions, but allow extra time to ensure the filling is thoroughly cooked.

To serve: Serve dumplings or potstickers hot with your choice of dipping sauce combinations.

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I chose to pan ‘fry’ mine. I actually made a similar recipe last year for Recipes To Rival

& I boiled those. Personally, I like them better pan ‘fried’. I will make these again, I always love some potstickers.

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For dipping, I made the suggested dipping sauce, straight hoisin and a mixture of chinese mustard & soy sauce. Hubby’s fav was the suggested dipping sauce. The hoisin was too sweet, but I really liked the mustard mix, nice & spicy.

These do take a good chunk of time, but the more often you make it, the quicker it gets.

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Recipes To Rival – May 2009

img_3274.jpgThis month the challenge was all about chickpeas. Our host this month was Lori from www.lipsmackinggoodness.blogspot.com. She chose Chickpea Fries and/or Falafel. She also reminds us that “beans have such benefits. They help reduce cholesterol, cost relatively little, offer more fiber in your diet & are environmentally friendly. By that I mean, people don’t realize that there is quite a cost in eating beef for instance. They are pretty heavy animals that have to be cargoed around to graze or be moved before & after slaughter. So for this reason it is quite expensive & detrimental to the environment.” She also challenged us to make pita bread to go along with our falafel, since I have made pita bread before, I decided not to do it, just to save time. If we made the fries, she wanted us to come up with a sauce to dip them in, which I forgot about & didn’t used a sauce at all. We also had the choice not to make the sauce or the pitas & make both the falafel & the chickpea fries, I went with that option. Don’t forget to check out everyone else’s wonderful creations: http://recipestorival.blogspot.com/

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Here are the recipes:
CHICKPEA FRIES by Mark Bittman, How To Cook Everything; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
neutral oil, like grapeseed, corn, for greasing and frying
1 cup chickpea flour, sifted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP water with 1 tsp ground flax seeds
Finely grated Parmesan cheese for garnish nutritional yeast

1. Grease a baking sheet or pizza pan with a rim & set aside. I used parchment paper. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Gradually add the chickpea flour with a large pinch of salt & pepper, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Reduce to a gentle bubble, stir int he olive oil & cook for just a minute.
2. Scoop the chickpea mixture onto the prepared pan & spread into an even layer. Let cool for a few minutes & then cover loosely with parchment or plastic. Refrigerate until chilled through, about 30 minutes (but up to a day, covered tightly, after it’s completely cool).
3. Put 1/8 to ¼” oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, cut the chickpea flour mixture into 3 x ½” cutter. I just cut by hand, then baked on 375 for 15 minutes. Gently put batches of the fries into the hot oil, rotating them gently for even cooking & browning on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Drain the fries on paper towels & immediately sprinkle with salt, lots of pepper & a good dusting of Parmesan if you like. Serve hot or at room temperature with lemon wedges.
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Falafel: Chickpea Patties Recipe by Madelain Farah, Lebanese Cuisine, Four Walls Eight Windows, 2001
*  1 pound dried chickpeas
* 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, crushed
* 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes, optional
* Salt and pepper, as needed
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
I baked mine

Sandwiches:
* 6 to 8 pitas, tops sliced open and lightly toasted
* Shredded lettuce, as needed
* Tomato wedges, as needed
* Sliced red onion, as needed
* Sliced cucumbers, as needed
* Tahini Sauce, recipe follows

1. Make the Falafel: Soak the chickpeas in cold water in the refrigerator overnight.
2. Drain the chickpeas & place them with the onion in the bowl of a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the oil. Mix well. Process the mixture a second time. Form the mixture into walnut-sized balls & deep-fry or pan-fry in hot oil.
3. Make the Sandwiches: Stuff the pitas with lettuce & nestle the falafel patties inside. Top with the rest of the ingredients & drizzle with the tahini sauce. Serve immediately.

Tahini Sauce: I cut the recipe in half
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice

1. Mash the garlic and salt together. Add the tahini, mixing well. The sauce will thicken. Gradually add the water, blending thoroughly. Then add the lemon juice. Blend well.

Note: This can be a thin or thick sauce, depending upon the use and preference. Simply adjust with lemon juice and water. This can be used with vegetables or in combination with other recipes.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings


TIPS from Lori: In regards to falafel, I have made it many times & it has always fallen apart on me. I usually end up putting an egg in it as a binder. This time I am not, come what may, because I know others have had success without egg. I will say if you do not want to go the deep fry route, you can place little mounds in a muffin tin & do it up in the oven at about 375F. But the oil really does something magical to them. Again, your choice. Don’t you just love all the choices this month?

You are not required to do Tahini Sauce, it is just a suggestion. Also the chickpea flour can be found at Indian Markets (called Besan there) & Italian Markets & Health Food Stores.

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The fries were good & I usually love falafel, but this was not my favorite recipe. Hubby does not like falafel & this did not convert him. I actually liked the falafel better crumbled over a large salad. M-I-L really liked the fries!  I do love all things chickpeas & both of these were good, just not great.

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Daring Cooks #1!

 flame_w125×125.jpg Yes, I have joined another group! The Daring Cooks. The Daring Bakers have branched off into the savory & I jumped at the chance (I know, like I need one more thing to do). So, what is the amazing first challenge?

 

Ricotta Gnocchi!

Our hosts this month are none other than our fearless leaders: Ivonne of http://www.creampuffsinvenice.ca/ and Lisa of http://llcskitchen.blogspot.com/

They chose a recipe from the stunning cookbook by Judy Rodgers, named after her restaurant, The Zuni Café Cookbook.

“On the surface, this is a very straightforward recipe. The challenge is in the forming & handling of the gnocchi. What you do with the recipe, in terms of variations, is up to you.”

For those of us that are Alternative Daring Cooks , Shelly from Musings From The Fishbowl is here to lead us, encourage us, & answer our questions. Thank you so much Shelly! On to the recipe:

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Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi

Source: From The Zuni Café Cookbook.

Yield: Makes 40 to 48 gnocchi (serves 4 to 6) mine made about 30

Prep time: Step 1 will take 24 hours. Steps 2 through 4 will take approximately 1 hour.

Tips:

– If you can find it, use fresh ricotta. As Judy Rodgers advises in her recipe, there is no substitute for fresh ricotta. It may be a bit more expensive, but it’s worth it.
– Do not skip the draining step. Even if the fresh ricotta doesn’t look very wet, it is. Draining the ricotta will help your gnocchi tremendously.
– When shaping your gnocchi, resist the urge to over handle them. It’s okay if they look a bit wrinkled or if they’re not perfectly smooth.
– If you’re not freezing the gnocchi for later, cook them as soon as you can. If you let them sit around too long they may become a bit sticky.
– For the variations to the challenge recipe, please see the end of the recipe.

Equipment required:

– Sieve didn’t use
– Cheesecloth or paper towels didn’t use
– Large mixing bowl
– Rubber spatula
– Tablespoon
– Baking dish or baking sheet
– Wax or parchment paper used a silpat
– Small pot didn’t use
– Large skillet used 2 small ones
– Large pan or pot (very wide in diameter & at least 2“ deep)

For the gnocchi:

1 pound (454 grams/16 ounces) fresh ricotta (2 cups) used 1 lb super firm tofu
2 large cold eggs, lightly beaten used Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) unsalted butter used 1 tsp
2 or 3 fresh sage leaves, or a few pinches of freshly grated nutmeg, or a few pinches of chopped lemon zest (all optional) used basil & nutmeg
½ oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (about ¼ cup very lightly packed) used nutritional yeast
about ¼ teaspoon salt (a little more if using kosher salt)
all-purpose flour for forming the gnocchi

For the gnocchi sauce: didn’t use, used homemade spinach pesto & a store bought mushroom marinara

8 tablespoons (227 grams/¼ pound/4 oz) butter, sliced
2 teaspoons water

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Step 1 (the day before you make the gnocchi): Preparing the ricotta.

If the ricotta is too wet, your gnocchi will not form properly. In her cookbook, Judy Rodgers recommends checking the ricotta’s wetness. To test the ricotta, take a teaspoon or so & place it on a paper towel. If you notice a very large ring of dampness forming around the ricotta after a minute or so, then the ricotta is too wet. To remove some of the moisture, line a sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels & place the ricotta in the sieve. Cover it & let it drain for at least 8 hours & up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can wrap the ricotta carefully in cheesecloth (2 layers) & suspend it in your refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours with a bowl underneath to catch the water that’s released. Either way, it’s recommended that you do this step the day before you plan on making the gnocchi.

I skipped this step & made it all on the same day.

For the ricotta, I used the Basil Tofu Ricotta from Vegan With A Vengance. I highly recommend this recipe, it was great! I followed Shelly’s advice & added ¼ cup of vital wheat gluten to the tofu mixture, it really helped to hold it together.

Step 2 (the day you plan on eating the gnocchi): Making the gnocchi dough.

To make great gnocchi, the ricotta has to be fairly smooth. Place the drained ricotta in a large bowl and mash it as best as you can with a rubber spatula or a large spoon (it’s best to use a utensil with some flexibility here). As you mash the ricotta, if you noticed that you can still see curds, then press the ricotta through a strainer to smooth it out as much as possible. (didn’t drain or press the tofu, just used super firm, as is)

Add the lightly beaten eggs to the mashed ricotta.

Melt the tablespoon of butter. As it melts, add in the sage if you’re using it. If not, just melt the butter & add it to the ricotta mixture. only used 1 tsp

Add in any flavouring that you’re using (i.e., nutmeg, lemon zest, etc.). If you’re not using any particular flavouring, that’s fine. used basil & nutmeg

Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano & the salt.

Beat all the ingredients together very well. You should end up with a soft & fluffy batter with no streaks (everything should be mixed in very well).

Step 3: Forming the gnocchi.

When forming the gnocchi using tofu, you don’t have to be gentle with it at all. You need to use a firm hand. I didn’t test one, just dropped them all in (I was hungry). I used a 1 TBSP cookie scoop, dropped into flour, & shaped.

Fill a small pot with water & bring to a boil. When it boils, salt the water generously & keep it at a simmer. You will use this water to test the first gnocchi that you make to ensure that it holds together & that your gnocchi batter isn’t too damp.

In a large, shallow baking dish or on a sheet pan, make a bed of all-purpose flour that’s ½” deep.

With a spatula, scrape the ricotta mixture away from the sides of the bowl & form a large mass in the centre of your bowl.

Using a tablespoon, scoop up about 2 to 3 teaspoons of batter & then holding the spoon at an angle, use your finger tip to gently push the ball of dough from the spoon into the bed of flour.

At this point you can either shake the dish or pan gently to ensure that the flour covers the gnocchi or use your fingers to very gently dust the gnocchi with flour. Gently pick up the gnocchi & cradle it in your hand rolling it to form it in an oval as best as you can, at no point should you squeeze it. What you’re looking for is an oval lump of sorts that’s dusted in flour & plump.

Gently place your gnocchi in the simmering water. It will sink & then bob to the top. From the time that it bobs to the surface, you want to cook the gnocchi until it’s just firm. This could take 3 to 5 minutes.

If your gnocchi begins to fall apart, this means that the ricotta cheese was probably still too wet. You can remedy this by beating a teaspoon of egg white into your gnocchi batter. If your gnocchi batter was fluffy but the sample comes out heavy, add a teaspoon of beaten egg to the batter & beat that in. Test a second gnocchi to ensure success.

Form the rest of your gnocchi. You can put 4 to 6 gnocchi in the bed of flour at a time. But don’t overcrowd your bed of flour or you may damage your gnocchi as you coat them.

Have a sheet pan ready to rest the formed gnocchi on. Line the sheet pan with wax or parchment paper & dust it with flour.

You can cook the gnocchi right away, however, Judy Rodgers recommends storing them in the refrigerator for an hour prior to cooking to allow them to firm up.

Step 4: Cooking the gnocchi.

Have a large skillet ready to go. Place the butter & water for the sauce in the skillet & set aside.

In the largest pan or pot that you have (make sure it’s wide), bring at least 2 quarts of water to a boil (you can use as much as 3 quarts of water if your pot permits). You need a wide pot or pan so that your gnocchi won’t bump into each other and damage each other.

Once the water is boiling, salt it generously.

Drop the gnocchi into the water one by one. Once they float to the top, cook them for 3 to 5 minutes (as in the case with the test gnocchi).

When the gnocchi float to the top, you can start your sauce while you wait for them to finish cooking.

To sauce the cooked gnocchi, I added the pesto to one small skillet & the marinara to another, then just dropped the drained gnocchi into the sauces & gently stirred. It is best to let it sit a bit, to let it firm up.

Place the skillet over medium heat & melt the butter. Swirl it gently a few times as it melts. As soon as it melts & is incorporated with the water, turn off the heat. Your gnocchi should be cooked by now.

With a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi from the boiling water & gently drop into the butter sauce. Carefully roll in the sauce until coated. Serve immediately.

Variations: For the gnocchi, you can flavour them however you wish. If you want to experiment by adding something to your gnocchi (i.e., caramelized onion, sundried tomato), feel free to do so. However, be forewarned, ricotta gnocchi are delicate & may not take well to elaborate additions. For the sauce, this is your chance to go nuts. Enjoy yourselves. Surprise us!!!

Freezing the gnocchi: If you don’t want to cook your gnocchi right away or if you don’t want to cook all of them, you can make them & freeze them. Once they are formed & resting on the flour-dusted, lined tray, place them uncovered in the freezer. Leave them for several hours to freeze. Once frozen, place them in a plastic bag. Remove the air & seal the bag. Return to the freezer. To cook frozen gnocchi, remove them from the bag & place individually on a plate or on a tray. Place in the refrigerator to thaw completely. Cook as directed for fresh gnocchi.
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Verdict: I was a little nervous about the texture. I have had things with vital wheat gluten in them before that hasn’t set up & the texture was awful!!! So, I was a little nervous, but I had nothing to worry about, it was great! I let it sit for about 15 minutes before we ate it. My hubby actually had 2 helpings, that is saying something. I liked the pesto better, hubby liked the marinara. Thanks to Ivonne & Lisa for this great challenge & to Shelly for all the great tips! I served this with a side salad & some baked pita chips.

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Recipes to Rival April 2009

April’s Challenge went classic: Coq Au Vin

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This recipe is from Anthony Bourdain’s cookbook Les Halles

Now, I know that Anthony Bourdain is no lover of anything or anyone vegan/vegetarian, but I still love, love, love watching his show No Reservations on the travel channel. He speaks his mind, no wishy washy talk here. Needlwss to say, no matter what the recipe was for this month, if it was from Tony, I was hooked. I loved what our host this month, Temperance,
had to say,
I have never had a cookbook swear at me before or call me names, I quite enjoyed it. What i also enjoyed was the fact he didn’t assume I knew what I was doing but still expected me to do it right (after all he was telling me exactly what to do).”

She goes on to say thatCoq au vin is a peasant recipe, As Anthony Bourdain has said ‘Coq au vin is an old, tough bird you have to drown in wine to get it to taste good. That’ll be $28.95 please.’ This it one of those recipes that is deceptively hard, with a little prep work it is easy as pie, maybe even easier. The secret is the mise en place. do it all ahead stuff it in the fridge & throw it all together when you are ready.

Excerpt from the Les Halles Cookbook, by Anthony Bourdain…
Another easy dish that looks like it is hard. It is not in fact, this is the kind of dish you might enjoy spending a leisurely afternoon with. There are plenty of opportunities for breaks. It’s durable, delicious, & the perfect illustration of the principles of turning something big & tough & unlovely into something truly wonderful. Knock out your prep one thing at a time, slowly building your mise en place. Listen to some music while you do it. There’s an open bottle of wine left from the recipe, so have a glass now & again. Just clean up after yourself as you go, so your kitchen doesn’t look like a disaster area when you start the actual cooking. You should. with any luck, reach a Zen-like state of pleasurable calm. And like the very best dishes coq a vin is one of those that goes on the stove looking, smelling & tasting pretty nasty, and yet later, through the mysterious alchemical processes of time and heat turns into something magical.

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Coq au vin (I halved the recipe)
from the  Les Halles Cookbook, by Anthony Bourdain, Serves 4
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1 bottle plus 1 cup red wine I used The Other red wine (around $8.99 at World Market, not cheap, but tastes amazing!)
1 onion, cut into a 1-inch dice
1 carrot, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 celery rib, cut into ½ inch slices
4 whole cloves I wasn’t sure if this was whole cloves or garlic, I used garlic)
1 tbs/14 g whole black peppercorns
1 bouquet garni
1 whole chicken, about 3.5 lb, “trimmed” – meaning guts, wing tips & neckbone removed I used chicken style seitan
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbs/28 ml olive oil omitted
6 tbs/75 g butter, softened Earth balance, but only 1 TBSP
1 tbs/14 g flour
¼ lb/112 g lardons tempeh “bacon”
½ lb/ 225 g small, white button mushrooms, stems removed I used dried shiitake
12 pearl onions, peeled
pinch of sugar

Equipment:
3 large, deep bowls
plastic wrap
fine strainer
large Dutch oven or heavy –bottomed pot
tongs
wooden spoon
small sauté pan
small sauce pan
1 sheet parchment paper
whisk
deep serving platter

DAY ONE
The day before you even begin to cook, combine the bottle of red wine, the diced onion (that’s the big onion, not the pearl onions), sliced carrots, celery, cloves, peppercorns, & bouquet garni in a large deep bowl. Add the chicken & submerge it in the liquid so that all of it is covered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap & refrigerate overnight.
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DAY TWO
Remove the chicken from the marinade & pat it dry. Put it aside. Strain the marinade through the fine strainer, reserving the liquids & solids separately. Season the chicken with salt & pepper inside & out. In the large Dutch oven, heat the oil & 2 tablesppoons of the butter until almost smoking, & then sear the chicken, turning it with the tongs to evenly brown it. Once browned, it should be removed from the pot & set it aside again. Add the reserved onions, celery, & carrot to the pot & cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are soft & golden brown. That should take about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables & mix well with the wooden spoon so that the vegetables are coated. Now stir in the reserved strained marinade. Put the chicken back in the pot, along with the bouquet garni. Cook this for about 1 hour & 15 minutes over low heat. Have a drink. You’re almost there…

While your chicken stews slowly in the pot, cook the bacon lardons in the small sauté pan over medium heat until golden brown. Remove the bacon from the pan & drain it on paper towels, making sure to keep about 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan. Saute the mushroom tops in the bacon fat until golden brown. Set them aside.

Now, in the small saucepan, combine the pearl onions, the pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, & 2 tablespoons of butter. Add just enough water to just cover the onions; then cover the pan with the parchment paper trimmed to the same size of the pan. (I suppose you can use foil if you must.) Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, & cook until the water has evaporated. Keep a close eye on it. Remove the paper cover & continue to cook until the onions are golden brown. Set the onions aside & add the remaining cup of red wine along with salt & pepper & reduce over medium-high heat until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

Your work is pretty much done here. One more thing & then it’s wine & kudos…

When the chicken is cooked through – meaning tender, the juice from the thigh running clear when pricked – carefully remove from the liquid, cut into quarters, & arrange on the deep serving platter. Strain the cooking liquid (again) into the reduced red wine. Now just add the bacon, mushrooms, & pearl onions, adjust the seasoning with salt & pepper, & swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Now pour that sauce over the chicken & dazzle your friends with your brilliance. Serve with buttered noodles & a Bourgone Rouge.

Tips:
1. An old bird is best, hard to find though. Ideally you are looking for a stew chicken or an old rooster, I recommend a Kosher or Halal meat market (remember they have no pork though).
2. Bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs usually tied together with string, most recipes include parsley, thyme & bay leaf
3. Lardon may refer to different pork products cut from a pig’s belly & used for larding in French cuisine. In this case you are looking for slab or country bacon, cut into small oblongs (lardons) about ¼ by 1“. I used salt pork, which did not smell like bacon cooking but tasted pretty good. Either way a good thick bacon with alot of nice fat & not alot of additives is what you are looking for.
4. the wine should be red, other than that pick what suits your pallet & wallet. But here is a helpful guide as well, Wine With…Coq au Vin

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Further tips, tricks & things to help the budget:
– Frozen pearl onions are cheap, easy & just as good as the ones you peel yourself (though nothing beats homegrown)

– Instead of buying 2 bottles of wine to get 1 liter & 1 cup wine use water for the extra cup.
– Instead of using a whole chicken get precut chicken so you can do portion control (it will also make it easier to marinade)
– don’t use non stick pan, this recipe is all about the brown bits.
– when marinading, you might want to weigh the chicken down to keep it covered.
– If you go to a Halal market take pictures if you can’t speak the language.

 

I totally forgot to get the mushrooms, so luckily I had some dried shiitake’s in the pantry. I served mine with noodles & broccoli.

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Verdict: We both really liked this one. The one change I would make next time would be to just leave the seitan out, it didn’t really add much. I used to make a dish called Balsamic Chicken with Thyme that was pretty similar to this. I would make it again.

 

Here is the recipe: http://recipestorival.blogspot.com/2009/04/coq-au-vin-aprils-challenge.html

Check out everyone else’s results here: http://recipestorival.blogspot.com/