Saturday, June 13, 2009

Chicken Leek Stroganoff

Yum! Tonight was a tasty dish adapted from a recipe by Jamie Oliver: Chicken Leek Stroganoff. This is my second time making it, but I didn't change much.

The recipe in a nutshell: Cook some rice, simmer some leeks, mushrooms, and chicken in a light cream sauce, dish the sauce over the rice, garnish and enjoy! It's a "19 minute" recipe which invariably takes me longer for some reason, but it's still pretty quick and easy.

I'll put the ingredients I used, you can cheap out if you like.

Chicken and Leek Stroganoff

Kosher Salt
Ground Black Pepper
3 large garlic cloves
1 cup jasmine rice
1 large organic leek
2 big handfuls crimini mushrooms
2 free-range organic boneless skinless chicken breasts
organic extra virgin olive oil
1/2 stick organic unsalted butter
2 glasses of (organic? local?) white wine
1 small glass of water (might as well get it ready) This will affect the final thickness of the sauce; err on the side of less water
1 bunch fresh organic parsley
1 heaping cup organic plain yogurt
1 organic lemon

Cook the rice*. I used a rice cooker. I cheat. Jamie uses packets. He cheats too.

Peel and dice the garlic cloves. Slice the ends off the leek off and save for future stock-making. Slice the rest of the leek twice lengthwise and then slice widthwise about 25 times. You want small leek pieces here. Slice the mushrooms into flat mushroom-looking discs and keep separate. Slice the chicken into fingers and keep separate as well.
If you keep them on the same cutting board it makes it harder to add them one by one... though technically it's okay to keep the mushrooms and chicken together. But is it sanitary?

Hm? Oh, the recipe! Right! Sorry, got lost there for a minute.

Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil along with the butter and garlic in a large frying pan on high heat. Once the butter is mostly melted or starts to sizzle, add the leek and one glass of wine. Do something else with the other glass of wine, maybe drink it? Add the small glass of water and some salt and pepper, stir once lightly, then partially cover it. Give that five minutes while you "finely chop the parsley, stalks and all". Reserve part of the parsley (chopped or otherwise) for garnish.

Add the chicken, most of the parsley, the yogurt, and the mushrooms to the leeks. Bring to a boil, stirring, then reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes or until sauce has thickened to your liking. Squeeze half a lemon's juice into the stroganoff just before serving. Add further salt, pepper, or other seasoning if so desired.

Plate by dishing stroganoff over a serving of rice and garnishing with parsley and lemon wedges. Serve with any remaining white wine.
I also added a dab of yogurt for the sake of photography.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Magical Pizza

My oven's computer crashed, leaving me oven-less for months. I've done some things with the toaster oven in the interim, but now it looks like a new (new as in Craigslist, not new as in new) oven is on the horizon. Not wanting to make my landlord waste his money buying me a new oven that may not work either (such are the perils of Craigslist), I decided to give the oven one last try last night.

The pizza was a bit of a cheat, but here is the recipe just the same:

Asparagus pizza and pasta
1 ball of fresh pizza dough
1 large organic tomato
1 small organic heirloom tomato (stripey)
3 cloves organic garlic
1 large organic yellow onion
Organic extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Italian spices (rosemary, thyme, oregano, etc or premixed)
1 lb. fresh pasta (I used capellini)
Fresh mozzarella to taste
Hard flavorful cheese such as romano to taste
1 bunch asparagus

Place a pizza stone* on the bottom rack of your oven. Remove other racks if possible. Preheat the oven to its highest temperature (mine goes up to 550 F).
Roll pizza dough into a perfect smooth ball with your hands and leave it to sit on the counter for 10 minutes, preferably wrapped in plastic wrap.

*If you don't have a pizza stone, your pizza may end up a big soggy on the bottom. This is what happened to me. It was tasty despite this.

Peel and roughly chop onion. Peel and finely chop garlic cloves. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of a heavy pan on medium high heat until flicked water sputters. Add garlic and push around the pan for one minute, then add the onion along with a large pinch of salt. Stir onions a few times until they are well oiled, then chop tomato and asparagus, keeping heirloom tomato separate.

Once onions are starting to get soft and tasty, add chopped asparagus to pan, stir, and reduce heat to medium. Put a pot of water on to boil, with a teaspoon of salt stirred in. As if that wasn't enough, flatten the pizza dough on a floured pizza pan (or y'know, cookie sheet) and flour the top of the dough. Stir asparagus until fork tender, add italian spices to taste, then reduce heat to keep warm.

Drizzle olive oil on the pizza, and layer with heirloom tomato, s reasonable amount of the cooked asparagus-onion mixture, and fresh mozzarella (if in small balls, it's fine to leave them intact), reserving mozzarella liquid if any. Slide pizza into super hot oven on top of pizza stone, and check after 10 minutes and then every 2 minutes for a nice, brown, tasty crust.

Meanwhile, add chopped tomato to the remaining asparagus mixture (should be most of what you started with), and stir to incorporate. Grate hard cheese over the top of the mixture, and add mozzarella liquid if so desired. If liquid added, raise heat and stir to reduce while pasta boils. Boil pasta to desired doneness or just below, then drain. If undercooked slightly, you can add it to the "sauce" of asparagus et al to finish.

When complete, combine pasta and sauce if not already combined, and remove pizza from oven to rest for five minutes. Add additional salt if needed.

The pasta turned out really well, the sauce combined well with the cilantro capellini I picked up. The pizza dough I used had sort of a sourdough taste, which added a delicious flavor to the other simple ingredients. I didn't use a pizza stone, but I think this falls under the cardinal rule of pizza, in that there is no such thing as a bad pizza, even if it's soggy. The crust around the edge was perfect, and that makes up for having to eat the rest with a fork.

The magic is that the oven worked at all, though it took a ridiculous amount of time to preheat and made a pretty egregious noise while doing so. I'm going to hold out for a new one.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Oh no, what happened to all my posts??

Some things have changed in my recent absence; notably I now live in a completely different Portland basement than the one I posted from previously. Also, I'm now Cooking With Gas ™.

I have eaten in the interim and taken many pictures, so I'll be occasionally offering looks back into the Lost Months ™, but meanwhile here is what I cooked and ate (in a Portland Basement) last night.

Crumby Chicken

(this is how I cooked it, see below for how I would do it differently next time)

  • 2 large organic boneless skinless chicken breasts

  • 4 sprigs of italian flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 peeled garlic clove

  • 2 tablespoons of butter

  • 1 pinch kosher salt

  • 1 pinch ground black pepper

  • 1 lemon

  • 1/2 cup cracker or bread crumbs

  • 2 tablespoons plain flour

  • 1 large egg

  • olive oil

Zest ze lemon, and food process the zest, garlic, parsley, butter, salt, pepper, and crumbs until the mixture is very fine. Put it on a plate so that you'll be able to dunk chicken in it.

The parsley in my crumb mixture left me with very green crumbs.

Whisk the egg by itself in a bowl suitable for dunking chicken breasts in.
Put the flour on another plate.
Cut some slits in the bottom of the chicken breasts, put them in some plastic (plastic bag, plastic wrap, whatever you've got), then take your girlfriend's prized cast iron skillet and whack the chicken breasts repeatedly.

She won't find out. If you don't have a girlfriend's cast iron skillet to use, a mallet would be okay, or some other big heavy flat implement suitable for chicken flattening. Flat chicken cooks faster and more evenly, as you may know.

Extract the breasts from the plastic, and coat them first in flour, then in egg, then in crumbs. You'll want them fully coated for best results.

Crank the oven way up, put the chicken breasts on a metal cooking dish (cast iron skillet perhaps?), drizzle some olive oil over the top of them, and put them in for 15 minutes.

This is exactly 15 minutes. The black crust is a good thing. Er... did I mention I now use a gas stove?
Imagine that it's really tasty, and the picture starts to look better.
Serve with lemon wedges (if you have any lemons... like say the one you zested) and a green side dish of your choice. I chose a green salad with a vinaigrette.

Results: Tasty. You could also fry the chicken at 5 minutes a side in some olive oil on the stove top, which would probably be even tastier, but more messy. Next time I do this recipe I will probably marinade the chicken somehow first, use more garlic, and less butter (the crumbs were more like a paste). I used bread crumbs here, but the recipe I was going from actually suggested crumbled cream crackers; what's a cream cracker anyhow?