Archives for the month of: January, 2012

This week I have been featuring how to cook tender and flavorful chicken with bone-less, skin on chicken breast.  My daughter Maddy loves Chicken Cordon Bleu.  I wanted to make a healthier and lighter version for her with the same salty ham and cheese combo in a white meat chicken breast filet.  I used the first steps in the last two recipes but ended up rolling the filling into the breast, tying it with kitchen twine and baking it.  The result was outstanding. 

Super Tender and Healthy Chicken Cordon Bleu

Gluten Free, Low Carb and Low Fat

2 boneless skin on chicken breasts

4 oz good ham such as Cure 81

8 oz Gruyère cheese or Swiss cheese

 Sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary or sage or all 3

Kitchen Twine

Olive Oil

Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper

1.  Pan sear chicken breast skin side down in a hot pan for 3-4 minutes and pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

2.  Dice ham and cheese and clean and cut herbs.

3.  Lay chicken breast skin side down on a cutting board with the kitchen twin underneath lengthwise and pile cheese, ham and herbs on the skin less side.

4.  Roll chicken breast and tie with twine.  This takes a little time and is just a tad bit difficult but have patience it is worth it.  Spread a small amount of oil oil on the bottom of your baking pan so that the chicken does not stick.

5.  Arrange chicken breasts in pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until skin is crispy and internal thermometer reads 160 in this thickest part of the chicken.  Do not insert thermometer into ham and cheese center but off to this side in the chicken meat for best results.

Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite flavor combinations is the classic greek combination of feta cheese, lemon and kalamata olives.  I am continuing on from my last post on great ways to cook chicken breasts so that they are moist, flavorful and tender.

Here is an excerpt from that post.

The most important part of this recipe is that you are flavoring and cooking the breast meat without having it make direct contact with high heat surfaces.    This ensures success in keeping the meat tender and moist.  First I season the chicken with salt and pepper and pan sear the skin of the chicken breast only and do not sear the skin less side.

Just a quick 3-4 minute sear to add some color to the fat side of the chicken and start the cooking process.  Then lay the chicken on a bed of fresh Meyer lemons and herbs.  This keeps the bottom side of the chicken from making contact with the hot pan in the oven, infuses the meat with flavor during baking and allow the skin up side to get crispy and tasty.

Using this idea I have added red onions to the pan along with lemon and herbs.

This dish is a wonderful gluten free, low carb or just plain healthy way to enjoy chicken that is moist, flavorful and tender.

Super Tender and Moist Chicken with Kalamata Olives, Feta and Fresh Tomato

Low Carb, Gluten Free and Low Fat

2 Boneless Skin-on Chicken Breasts

15 Kalamata Olives pits removed

2 Teaspoons Olive Olive plus more for the pan

1 large sliced Red Onion

1 sliced fresh Meyer Lemon

Fresh Thyme, Rosemary and Oregano about 3 sprigs each

Good Feta Cheese about 1/2 Cup

Sweet Grape Tomatoes about 1 Cup

Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper to taste.

1.  Add sliced onions, lemon and 1/2 of the fresh herbs to baking dish.  Spread 1 teaspoon olive oil spread inside the baking dish.  You only need to put oil in the center where you will place the onions and olives and not over the entire dish.

2.  Pan sear the chicken breasts skin side down in a hot pan for 3-4 minutes.  Do not sear the side without skin.

3.  Arrange the chicken breasts skin side up on top of the onion, lemon and herb mixture.

4.  Top chicken with olives, feta, tomato and fresh herbs.

5.  Bake at 425 degrees until internal read thermometer reads 160.

6.  Let rest for 4-5 minutes and remove skin before serving.

I think you will love the way the tomatoes get all sweet and jammy and the cheese melts and starts to brown.  The bright flavors of the lemon and fresh herbs along with the salty cheese and olives complimented by the sweet onions and tomatoes make this a hit with my family and clients.

I applaud the farmers who are now raising tender and tasty all natural chickens in more humane ways.  Here in Colorado my two favorite are Red Bird Farms and Bell and Evans.  If you have not tried either of these chicken products I highly recommend it.  We frequently eat chicken in my household and I have it on the menu at Cal-Wood at least once a week.   I have found a way to make super tender chicken with great flavor and very little fat that is simple, easy and delicious.

A cut of chicken that I use frequently is the boneless, skin on chicken breast from Red Bird Farms.  I do not see this cut at most grocery stores but only at specialty meat counters.  In Longmont we are blessed with a wonderful old style butcher when most butchers have gone out of business.  Your Butcher Frank is a treat and hopefully they will be around forever.  The knowledgeable staff and fresh high quality meats are well worth the trip if you do not live in Longmont.  Whole Foods also carries boneless, skin on chicken breasts.  Ask at your meat counter but stick to an all natural or organic chicken when possible.

The reason I like to use boneless, skin on chicken is the skin will keep the meat very moist while cooking.  I have developed a way to flavor the meat while baking that ensures that the meat stays moist and tender but the chicken is full of flavor.  This easy recipe takes no time at all.

The most important part of this recipe is that you are flavoring and cooking the breast meat without having it make direct contact with high heat surfaces.    This ensures success in keeping the meat tender and moist.  First I season the chicken with salt and pepper and pan sear the skin of the chicken breast only and do not sear the skin less side.

Just a quick 3-4 minute sear to add some color to the fat side of the chicken and start the cooking process.  Then lay the chicken on a bed of fresh Meyer lemons and herbs.  This keeps the bottom side of the chicken from making contact with the hot pan in the oven, infuses the meat with flavor during baking and allow the skin up side to get crispy and tasty.

Put about a teaspoon of olive oil on the bottom of a casserole dish and arrange sliced fresh lemon in the pan and top with fresh rosemary and thyme.  After arranging the chicken skin side up on the lemon and herbs put the chicken in a preheated oven at 425 degrees and bake for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the chicken breast.  Use an internal read thermometer to check is chicken is done.  A good internal read thermometer is the most important tool you can use when cooking meats at home.

This technique allows the chicken to absorb the flavors of the lemon and herb while keeping it protected from the direct heat of the pan.

Let chicken rest for 3-5 minutes and serve.

You can eat the crispy fat or remove it for a lower fat dish.

Tender Lemon Herb Baked Chicken Breast

Gluten free, Low Carb and Low Fat

3-4 boneless Skin on Chicken Breasts

2 Meyer Lemon

3-4 Springs of fresh Thyme and Rosemary

Salt and Cracked Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

Season and sear chicken skin side down in a hot pan for 3-4 minutes.  Slice lemon and arrange in baking dish with herbs on top.  Lay chicken skin side up on lemon and herb bed making sure the chicken is raised above the pan.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until internal read thermometer registers 165 degrees.  Let rest for 3-5 minutes and serve with either the skin on or take it off for lower fat dish.

There are many “no knead bread” recipes on the internet.  I have tried all of them.  Well, maybe not all of them but many of them.  I have finally found the best one for taste. Jonesing for is a beautiful blog written by a chef turned food stylist whose pictures are lovely.   Her no knead bread recipe has a better flavor than any of the others I have tried.  It is not a hard recipe but there is a 2 hour second rise that is not in the “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” recipe that I have been previously using for no knead.  I first made the recipe as it was written in Jonesing for.  Next I mixed in 1 1/2 cups fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano and some minced fresh rosemary.

 I then increased the flour by 1/4 cup and had better success at my altitude.  I am at around 7900 feet.  Bread is effected by many different climate situations.  You should plan to try a recipe several times before giving up when making bread.  Once you understand what the dough should feel like and what works in your area you can whip up a fresh artisan loaf any time you want to. 

If you do not make bread from scratch you should try either the “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” recipe or this one because it is very satisfying making bread and with a little advance planning it came be pretty easy.

31/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 teaspoons sea salt

¼ teaspoon active dry yeast

1¾ cups warm water

Add flour and salt to large mixing bowl.  Add yeast to warm water and stir to mix.  Add water and yeast to flour and mix together until it is a shaggy dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 12-18 hours in a warm place. (around 70 degrees).  After this step the dough will seem like a bubbly mess.

Turn dough out on to a floured surface (this works best with a dough scraper) and fold into a ball adding flour if needed.  The dough will be a bit sticky and wet.  After forming ball lay the dough back into an oil bowl and cover with plastic wrap or lay it between two floured tea towels.  Let dough rise for another 2 hours. 

 After 1 ½ hours pre-heat oven to 425 degrees with a dutch oven inside.  Remove dutch oven carefully when oven is pre-heated.  I have also made this recipe using a sheet of parchment paper on top of a pizza stone

If using a dutch oven spray the pot with non-stick spray and place dough inside and close with lid.  Bake for 30 minutes and then take off the lid and bake another 20 minutes or until browned.  You dough will be done when it reaches an internal temperature of 190 degrees. 

If you are using a pizza stone then flour the dough and put it on a sheet of parchment on a pizza peel.  Make sure you stone has been preheating in the oven and slide the dough onto your pizza stone.  Bake for 30 minutes and check to see if the crust is browned.  You may cover the loaf with foil if the crust is getting too browned and cook for another 20 minutes or until the loaf reaches an internal temperature of 190 degrees.

Let dough rest for at least 1-2 hours before cutting.  This allows the flavor from the crust to seep into the inside of the dough and the crust to soften a bit.  It is hard to smell fresh bread baking and not dive into it right away but the patience is worth it because the flavor is greatly enhanced during the cooling phase.

I doubled the recipe and took off part of the dough before baking.  About 1/3 and put it in a gallon size bag and refrigerated it until the bread was done.  Then when the oven was still hot from baking the bread I rolled out the chilled dough and made a quick pizza for the kids for lunch.  It was delicious. 

I bake cookies for the guests at Cal-Wood every week.  As with all of the food I prepare I like to make sure it is the best.  I balance healthy foods with indulgent foods with the goal of making everything from scratch.  This cookie recipe is a favorite among the staff and guests.  It is a flavorful sugar cookie with a hint of warm spices and fresh orange zest.  The cookies are usually packed in a backpack and taken out on the trail so it is a good sturdy cookie that usually makes it to snack time still intact but it is not hard.

This cookie is delightfully crispy outside and chewy inside.  Because it is made with whole wheat flour you can also tell yourself it is healthy.  Just ignore the sugar and real butter….

For smaller batches just divide amounts by 4.

Whole Wheat Sugar Cookie with Orange Zest

Crispy and chewy cookies made with warm spices and fresh orange zest.

1 lb unsalted butter, soft

2  lbs sugar, granulated

4 Large eggs

4 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

2 lbs flour, whole wheat

4 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp salt

2 tsp nutmeg, fresh ground is best

4 tbs orange zest

4 oz turbinado sugar or sugar in the raw

2 tsp cinnamon, ground

1. Cream butter and sugar for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy.

2. Add eggs, vanilla and milk.  Mix well.

3. Sift together dry ingredients and add in 3 batches to the creamed mixture and blend well.

4. Add orange zest.

5. Mix together turbinado sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon together.

6. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Scoop cookies out with a #40 scoop or 1 oz scoop (you may also use a teaspoon) on a parchment lined sheet pan.

7. Flatten lightly and sprinkle with cinnamon and turbinado sugar mixture.

8. Bake for 8-10 minutes turning the pan around 1/2 way through.

9. Let cool for 5 minutes and transfer to a rack to cool completely.  Store in a air tight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Yield: 96 Cookies

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Tips

Fresh grated nutmeg really enhances the flavor.

Make sure to use a good cinnamon such as Saigon cinnamon.

Using a mico-plane zester makes citrus zest easy.

Try adding lemon zest and candied ginger minced finely instead of warm spices and orange for a different taste.

What is it with Cauliflower?  This frequently overlooked veg is fabulous.  When treated with love and respect Cauliflower will reciprocate with a sweet flavor that just cannot be beat.

At the store recently I was confronted with a particularly lovely head of organic cauliflower.  I gazed upon its creamy white head.  Ah so beautiful.  Looked at the price and said “ouch”.

I walked away but kept thinking about the lovely cauliflower.   I came back and grabbed it.  My veg budget was skewed but I was happy.

At home I cut up the veg and tossed it with some olive oil and sea salt.  Laid it out on a foil lined sheet pan and cranked the oven up to 425 degrees.  Added some fresh cracked pepper over the top and tossed it in the oven.  Turned on the oven light and sat down to keep an eye on it.  After about 10 minutes the cauliflower was browning nicely on the very top edges and on the bottom side that was connected to the hot pan was browned perfectly.

I brought it out of the oven and impatiently waited while it cooled.   As soon as the veg was cool enough to handle I grabbed a floret and popped it in my mouth.  OOOOOOhhh….

So very yummy.  Sweet, salty and tender.   I grated some white sharp cheddar cheese on top and let it melt.  I used a Dubliner Irish Sharp Cheddar from Costco.  Delightful.

If you have not roasted cauliflower before please do so,  you will not be disappointed.  It was even wonderful cold, straight from the fridge later that night.

If you like food porn one of the best blogs for this is http://userealbutter.com.  This avid cook and photographer always has a post that makes me drool.  She made a Cuban Pork Sandwich that stayed in my mind for a couple of weeks before I made a version of her recipe.  Since I am cutting down on carbs I decided to make her recipe but without the bread.  I made the marinated Cuban Pork Roast but served it with sautéed bell peppers and onions and some steamed green beans.  Very yummy.

I picked up a pork bootie(Pork Butt) at Costco.

Grabbed some mango juice at Whole Foods.

Marinated the bootie in mango juice, orange juice and a sliced orange, cumin, garlic and some rum.   Lots of rum.

After I let it marinate overnight I put it in the oven at 425 for 1/2 an hour.  This gave the pork a good browning.  Then I slow roasted it all day at 250 degrees.  All day….

I started the roast at 10:00 am and took it out at 7:00 pm.  It was tender and yummy.  When I put a fork in the roast it just fell apart.

I took some of the pan juices and sautéed the onions and bell peppers.  Served the pork roast drizzled with some hot sauce.   The hubby enjoyed the roast over rice but I abstained from the carbs.  Yay me!

With the start of the new year upon us healthy cooking is usually at the front of everyone’s mind.  It certainly is for me.  This month I will feature recipes that are mainly considered healthy in one way or another.  I will feature recipes that are low carb, gluten-free and low-fat.  I am cutting out many carbs from my diet personally so you will see lots of low carb recipes.  I will also post the regular baking and cooking recipes that I prepare for clients as well.

Cooking greens is a clear favorite of mine for eating healthy.  Greens can be cooked ahead of time and frozen for up to 3 months.  Greens retain most of their vitamins and re-heat great after being frozen.  Since greens are cooked for a long time they do not lose textural appeal when freezing.  Some recipes call for  sauteing greens lightly but for this purpose we will be cooking the greens in a long braise.

First start off with some lovely greens.  I use collard greens, kale and mustard greens for most recipes.  A combination of the three is always tasty.

Trim off the thick stems.

After you have trimmed the thick stems then cut the greens up as much as you prefer.  I like a large chop.

To flavor the greens I will render the fat from thick sliced bacon and pour most of the fat off.

Let the bacon cook down for about 10 minutes.  Drain most of the fat off and add onions and peppers finely diced.  Cook until veggies are soft and drain off more fat.  Add minced garlic at the last-minute to avoid overcooking the garlic.

Add chopped greens and about 2 cups chicken stock or water.  Cook greens until tender.  I will often use my pressure cooker and the greens only take about 15 minutes.  For stove top greens it will take up to 45 minutes to simmer then until tender.  When done this dish is not beautiful but the bitter flavor will dissipate and the soft greens will be delicious.

Serve greens topped with vinegar, olive oil or chopped hot peppers.  Great with corn bread.

Greens are high in vitamin A, C and K.  They also have great fiber content and magnesium.

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