Roast Hen with Paprika, Apricot, and Mustard

It’s been a long time since I’ve roasted a Cornish Hen. There area few reasons for this: other meat, even boneless breast-and-rib meat, tends to be a bit cheaper by weight, pan-searing and smoking are quicker than roasting, and boneless meat is a lot more convenient for cutting up bite-sized and adding to a pasta dish or stir fry.

Mostly though, I got bored. When I roast Cornish Hens (or any other bird except duck) I do the same three things over and over again. Roasted plain with mustard powder and salt. Roasted with Guinness (okay, I’ll never get sick of this, but I buy beer maybe 6-7 times a year, so it’s not gonna happen often). Roasted with lemon, garlic, and honey. There’s nothing wrong with any of this, but none of it really jumps out anymore and if there is anything I hate in the kitchen it’s feeling like I’m just making the same darn thing every week.

_IGP9175

Too much time in a mass-producing kitchen only makes this worse. You try to get excited about cooking Cajun spiced fish after baking 1066 of them.

But I like roast chicken. It was just time to do it a bit differently. Good thing I had a copy of A Bird in the Oven hanging around. It’s one of those cookbooks I’ve had for a couple of years but inexplicably only ever use to make side dishes. This time I went looked at the chicken itself, ooh-ing at a few recipes and bookmarking others for possible dinner party use. I finally picked a recipe: roast chicken with saffron, ginger, and golden raisins.

Then, as usual, I changed pretty much everything.

I regret nothing. This is amazing.

I regret nothing. This is amazing.

Ingredients (serves 2)

_IGP9130

1 Cornish Hen

2 T butter at room temperature

6 dried apricots

1 T whole mustard

1 t mustard powder

1/4 t white pepper

1/2 t smoked paprika

1 t kosher salt

3/4 cup white wine

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the spine out of the hen and cut through the breastbone, cutting it in half. Dry the hen well (better yet, dry cure it for a day or two in the fridge). Chop the apricots into about 1/4″ dice.

_IGP9135

Combine the butter, diced apricots, and whole mustard in a small dish.

_IGP9136

Squish together with a spoon until well combined.

_IGP9141

Add the paprika and stir again.

_IGP9145

Using your fingers and/or the back of a spoon, spread the butter mixture underneath the skin of your hen. This will feel gross. Persevere. Place the hens cut-side-down in a cast iron skillet or other oven safe dish and sprinkle the skins with the salt, mustard powder, and white pepper.

_IGP9147

Roast 15 minutes at 400°F. Pop the skillet on the stove, reduce the heat to 350°F, and pour the wine over the chicken.

_IGP9158

Return to the oven to roast another 25-30 minutes at 350°F. If you like crispy skin (and who doesn’t?) crank it up to broil for about two minutes at the end.

_IGP9171

Let it rest just a couple of minutes to soak up a bit more of that wine before serving. Serve with spinach couscous and a plate of olives.

_IGP9179

The apricot-mustard combination is definitely going to come out to play in future recipes. These are two of my favorite things but I never would have thought that combining them would work so well.

, , , ,

Leave a comment

Beet Pot Pie

I think I was overexposed to certain things as a child. Things like ponies and precious little heart-shaped objects and anything pink.

I hate pink. Pink is for little girls and Valentine’s Day cards and Pepto Bismol commercials. It is very rarely allowed to invade my home.

Obviously there’s an exception clause for food. Raspberry tarts and curds, salmon poached in red wine, and anything made with beets can’t help but be pink. If the flavor is assertive enough, I’ll forgive my dinner for looking a bit girlish and twee.

This definitely makes the cut.

_IGP8946

Beets and goat cheese really should never be separated. Puree the two together, bake them in a crust, and you’ve got a delightfully filling vegetarian meal. It is also the most brightly colored pot pie you’ve ever seen.

_IGP8988

The filling and crust can just as easily be made in a 9″ tart or pie tin. I enjoy the deep dish ramekins, but mostly because they provide an excuse to dig in with a spoon.

Ingredients

For the crust:

_IGP8902

1 1/4 cups flour

1 t salt

1/4 t white pepper

1/4 t nutmeg

8 T (1 stick) cold butter

3 T ice water

For the filling:

_IGP8897

3 medium beets

4 oz goat cheese

1 egg

1/4 cup cream

1/4 t white pepper

1/4 t nutmeg

salt, to taste

Directions

First, roast the beets. Rub them with a little olive oil, wrap tightly in foil, and bake at 400°F for an hour or so.

_IGP8900

While those are roasting, make the crust. Combine flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in the bowl of a food processor.

_IGP8905

Pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter in chunks.

_IGP8907

Pulse in 1-2 second bursts until the dough is the consistency of damp sand. Add the water and run the machine until the dough comes together.

_IGP8909

Sprinkle the counter lightly with flour and turn out the dough onto it.

_IGP8911

Roll it about 1/8″ thick in a vague rectangle shape (or round if using a pie/tart pan). Butter two 10-oz ramekins (or 4 6-oz ones, or a pie tin).

_IGP8912

One could line things neatly. Or, if one is not talented at doing things neatly, just flop the dough into the prepared bakeware, call the draping parts rustic, and have done with it.

_IGP8918

Put the ramekins in the refrigerator while you make the filling. The food processor is useful again here, so I’m afraid you’ll have to wash it. Put the roasted beets in the bowl.

_IGP8920

whirr

_IGP8923

This is not pink. It is a delightful deep red.

Add the goat cheese and process until uniform in color.

_IGP8925

Now it’s pink. Lament.

_IGP8927

Add cream, egg, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

_IGP8930

Give it another whirl to combine.

_IGP8933

Pour the filling into the crust and bake at 350°F for 45 minutes.

_IGP8939

Serve with green beans sautéed with dried cranberries. Just trust me. It’s a weird combination but oh so good.

_IGP8955

This is just as good as a hot dinner or a cold meal the next day. The filling is very soft. If you feel it would be improved by a bit of crunch, throw a handful of chopped walnuts on top or fold them into the filling before baking.

, , , , , ,

2 Comments

Broiled Tilapia with Cajun Boiled Potatoes

Cajun food scares me.

I don’t know the first thing about Cajun cooking. It seems to involve a lot of shellfish and pots large enough to boil small children in their depths. People argue about whether to call the creepy-crawly things crawfish or crayfish or crawdads or mudbugs. They pronounce “boil” as “berl.” They insist that the only possible way to “berl” anything is with Zatarain’s Crab Boil, and they do not want to hear that I won’t be putting a single crawbeastie into the mix.

paddles

These are for stirring giant murky cauldrons of crawdads, apparently, though I suspect they’d do in a pinch to paddle a small canoe.

 

You can’t boil tilapia. I mean, you can try, but I’m betting it’ll fall apart. So the fish here gets broiled or smoked, and the potatoes get boiled–er, berled.

This hardly qualifies as a recipe. It’s insanely easy. Thank goodness for that.

_IGP8779

Ingredients (serves 2)

For the fish:

_IGP8772

2 tilapia fillets

1/4 t white pepper

1/4 t steak seasoning (essentially black pepper and garlic)

1 1/2 T hot paprika

salt to taste

2 T smoker chips (if smoking)

For the potatoes:

_IGP8771

8 small red potatoes

1 1/2 quarts water

1/3 cup Zatarain’s Crab Boil seasoning

2 t salt

Directions

For the fish:

Mix the white pepper, steak seasoning, paprika, and salt together. Rub the tilapia generously with the spice mixture. If using a stovetop smoker (which I highly recommend), add the wood chips underneath the drip tray and smoke on medium-high for about 15 minutes. If broiling, heat the oven and broil about 5 minutes per side.

_IGP8774

For the potatoes:

Add salt and seasoning to the water and bring it to a boil. It will be terrifying and murky. Add the potatoes. Boil 15 minutes or until fork-tender.

_IGP8775

Add a side of steamed vegetables and voilà, dinner.

_IGP8784

A word of warning–hot paprika isn’t all that hot, but this fish uses a lot of it. If you’re not a fan of spice, sweet paprika will do nicely in its place.

, , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Asparagus Tart

I’m a big fan of savory tarts. The broccoli cheddar tart is a winter favorite around here, and quiches filled with spices and greens crop up quite often as well. If I have a few scraps of cheese and a couple of different vegetables in the fridge, there’s a good chance they’ll be thrown together in a tart without any real recipe or planning.

All these things are delicious. Cheese, flaky crust, eggy filling; who could say no? But they aren’t exactly healthy. And that’s a shame, because there’s no reason they shouldn’t be.

_IGP8851

So I tried for healthier. No more all-butter crust: I went with whole wheat flour, olive oil, ricotta cheese, and loads of vegetables. It could be leaner, with low-fat ricotta and broth or low fat milk instead of cream, but I didn’t go there. Honestly I’ve never bought a low-fat cheese in my life and don’t intend to. This recipe is easy to modify. Don’t like asparagus? Try greens, mushrooms, carrot coins, squash, or whatever else strikes your fancy.

_IGP8859

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

For the crust:

_IGP8824

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 t salt

1/2 t white pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

3 T ice water

For the filling:

_IGP8831

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

4 oz goat cheese

1 egg

1/4 cup cream

1 lb asparagus

about 1/2 t salt

parmesan, to taste

Directions

For the crust:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix the flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the olive oil.

_IGP8825

Stir with a spoon until the mixture is uniform.

_IGP8827

Add the water and knead until the dough forms a ball.

_IGP8828

Press the dough into a buttered tart pan or pie tin. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.

_IGP8829

Boil the asparagus for 3-5 minutes while the crust is baking.

_IGP8832

When the crust is done, spread a layer of ricotta across the bottom of it.

_IGP8834

Crumble the goat cheese over the ricotta. Mix the egg and cream in a small bowl.

_IGP8836

Pour the egg and cream over the cheese, and top with the asparagus. Sprinkle the tart with salt.

_IGP8838

Bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes.

_IGP8853

Serve immediately.

_IGP8857

This crust is different, very crumbly and complex. I didn’t expect to like it; ordinarily I don’t even keep whole wheat flour in the apartment, because the texture annoys me. The simplicity of it with the olive oil, and the soft, rich filling offset that enough to make me go back for seconds on this one.

, , , , , , ,

1 Comment

Maple Brown Butter Crispy Treats

Rice Krispie treats are for summer. I mean, sure, you can make them any time, but some desserts are just designed for summer. They’re light (so you don’t feel quite as wrong putting on a bathing suit after having one). They’re quick and simple (the sun sets late in summer, leaving less time to make dessert). They leave the oven off and only use the stove for a moment (so you don’t boil alive just from making dessert if you’re living in the South in mid-August).

_IGP8843

So you may be wondering why I’m writing about them on a rather chilly evening in February. Maple syrup, folks. Any dessert can be made to suit cooler months with  maple syrup and a little nutmeg.

_IGP8840

I’ve seen people try to tweak Rice Krispie treats before. I’ve seen red velvet ones and Nutella ones and a lovely Dulce de Leche version brought to parties. Inevitably, people try them. The comments tend to include phrases like “how unique!” or “I never would have thought of that!” but no one goes back for seconds, and eventually someone will just admit what they’re all thinking: “It’s not quite the same as I remember. “

So knowing that, why would I try yet another version? First of all, it’s winter. Regular Rice Krispie treats aren’t right for winter. Secondly, it’s Deb’s fault. (Can I just start saying that about everything from now on? Okay, thanks.)

_IGP8846

This recipe is adapted from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. Go buy it already. Yes, it’s that good. Her version isn’t maple flavored and contains no nutmeg, but there’s browned butter in hers and the combination of all three is what really makes these treats perfect.

Ingredients (makes an 8×8 pan, about 16 servings)

_IGP8807

1 stick (8 T) butter

1/4 cup maple syrup (grade B if you can find it)

1/2 t nutmeg

pinch salt

1 10-oz bag marshmallows

6 cups Rice Krispies

Directions

Place the butter in a large pot over medium heat.

_IGP8809

Melt it.

_IGP8810

Keep it on the burner. It will froth and begin to brown. Once it starts to smell a bit nutty and reaches a rich amber color, remove the pot from heat.

_IGP8812

Add the maple syrup. It will bubble like mad.

_IGP8813

Add marshmallows. Stir them in until they melt. This is faster with the mini mallows, but use any kind you like.

_IGP8814

Add salt and nutmeg and fold them into the marshmallow mixture as well.

_IGP8816

Pour on the cereal and fold it into the marshmallow mixture until it’s all thoroughly coated.

_IGP8817

Press the treats into a buttered 8×8 pan.

_IGP8820

Let them cool and set for at least an hour or so. Cut into squares and serve.

_IGP8844

I don’t mean to brag*, but these treats? People went back for seconds. And thirds. And demanded the recipe. there may have been gushing. Not a bad result for a 5-ingredient dessert made in 10 minutes.

_IGP8839

*Okay, that’s a lie. Totally bragging.  Seriously though, look at this nutmeggy close-up. You can’t stay mad.

_IGP8850

, , , , ,

5 Comments

Mustard Milanese

The Smitten Kitchen cookbook arrived in the mail a few weeks ago. Really good cookbooks present a problem for me, because once I get them I get so excited about everything that I can’t just choose a recipe and make it. Instead I declare that I want a four-course meal of everything in the book and then realize that even I can’t juggle that many burners at once. So I waffle about which recipe to make until 10PM and then it’s too late for proper dinner so we have plain pasta.

_IGP8804g

The SK cookbook is a really good cookbook. I try not to make too much fried food, but any recipe with mustard in it is completely irresistible to me, so out came the frying pan and oil. Then a week later, we made it again. It’s that good.

Ingredients (serves 2, adapted from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook)

_IGP8791

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 3/4 lb)

1/3 cup flour

3/4 cup bread crumbs

1 egg white

2 T mustard

salt and white pepper to taste

vegetable oil for frying

Directions

Place the chicken breast between two layers of saran wrap.

_IGP8786

Fold a kitchen towel over the chicken.

_IGP8787

Hulk out. No, really, just lay into it with a rolling pin or other blunt object that isn’t likely to break. You want smashed chicken breast no more than 1/4 inch thick.

_IGP8791

Pour some oil into a frying pan and set it over medium-high heat. Mix the mustard, egg white, salt, and pepper in a dish and ready dishes for the flour and bread crumbs as well.

_IGP8792

Dredge in flour, then mustard mixture, then bread crumbs. Fry about 3 minutes on the first side.

_IGP8793

Fry another 2-3 minutes on the second side.

_IGP8796

Serve with a salad with an extra-tart vinaigrette.

_IGP8801g

A bit of lemon juice at the end does improve this, but isn’t necessary if you always seem to be out of lemons. It also goes well with roasted artichokes and couscous.

_IGP8802

 

, ,

Leave a comment

Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s New Year’s Eve. I’m in New Orleans. There’s a huge shindig down in Jackson Square, at least two masquerade balls, and I have no doubt that Bourbon Street is in full swing. Closer to home, I hear fireworks, and at least one of the bars in walking distance is having some kind of event.

Also a drive-through daiquiri place, because apparently we're classy like that around here.

Of course there’s more than one bar within walking distance of my apartment. There’s also a drive-through daiquiri place up the street, just in case you need a daiquiri while driving, I guess.

This city takes its holidays seriously, enough that even I feel like I might be missing out on something by staying in tonight. I mean, a masquerade? How do you pass that up? Especially given that I own a lovely venetian mask which I never have occasion to wear. But honestly, it’s a relief. There’s no need to caffeinate to keep energy up until midnight, no crowd of party-goers to shout over. And if I’d gone to a masked ball, I’d have missed out on and evening lounging on the couch in purple argyle socks, watching Blade Runner and eating seared duck and couscous.

Ma

I concede that a formal masked ball may well serve duck, but is likely to frown on the purple socks.

On an unrelated note, I made chocolate chip cookies during the insane holiday baking spree a couple of weeks ago. I never make chocolate chip cookies. Really. This is the second time since high school that it’s happened. But after all this time, I still remember exactly how it’s done.

Apparently making these cookies is like riding a bike. Even after almost ten years, muscle memory just kicks in.

Apparently making these cookies is like riding a bike. Even after almost ten years, muscle memory just kicks in.

Ingredients (makes 2 dozen)

_IGP8394

16 T (2 sticks) butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 T vanilla extract

2  eggs

2 1/4 cups flour

1 1/2 t baking soda

1 1/2 t salt

1/2 t nutmeg

3 chocolate bars, preferably all different

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cream butter in a mixer. Add sugars and continue to mix until thoroughly combined.

Forgot to take a picture with the sugar. oops.

Forgot to take a picture with the sugar. oops.

Add eggs and vanilla and mix just to combine.

_IGP8400

Add flour, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg, and mix again to combine.

_IGP8402

Chop the chocolate bars. The size of the chunks is really up to you. I prefer them about 1 cm².

_IGP8405

Add the chopped chocolate to the batter. . .

_IGP8406

. . .and fold it in.

_IGP8407

Then just drop the batter in about 1 1/2 tablespoon blobs onto parchment lined cookie sheets. I don’t measure. I just estimate blobs to approximately the size of a golf ball.

_IGP8409

Bake at 375°F for 10-12 minutes. As soon as they come out of the oven, add a small pinch of kosher salt to the whole batch. It sounds crazy, I know, but just go with it. Salt is delicious.

_IGP8411

These ones spread a bit too much. That’s okay. Ugly cookies are my specialty.

If you’re baking cookies to ship halfway across the country, do not attempt to get them bagged and shipped five minutes after they come out of the oven, even if the post office is closing in twenty minutes. You will get chocolate everywhere.

_IGP8418

Don’t tell the recipient of your cookies if you used a nonstandard flavor of chocolate bar, either. It’s amusing to hear about an office arguing over whether the hint of flavor in the cookies is orange or coffee. It was coffee, incidentally. Coffee goes with nutmeg. If I were using orange peel or orange oil, I’d swap the nutmeg with anise and then never ever share the cookies because that combination is amazing.

_IGP8419

Happy new year!

, , , ,

1 Comment

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 105 other followers