Sunday, January 29, 2012

Farro and Roasted Pepper Salad

Lately it seems like I am constantly in search of one-pot meals; soups, stews, casseroles--anything to avoid having to make multiple dishes. I guess that is just a product of having limited time to spend in the kitchen these days. Today, however, I found myself with the opposite objective-- Jason volunteered to make his famous salmon for dinner tonight which meant that I needed to come up with some type of side dish. Side dishes! I'd almost forgotten they even existed. Or how wonderfully delicious they can be. Take this recipe for farro with roasted red peppers. Simple, healthy, and much so that it almost upstaged the entree (sorry Jason).

Farro and Roasted Pepper Salad
Adapted slightly from Serious Eats

1 TBL fresh lemon juice
3 TBL olive oil
1 TBL honey
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup farro
2 red pepper
1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives
3 scallions, thinly sliced
4 ounces crumbled feta

1. To make the dressing, whisk the first 7 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon salt) together. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 475. Place red peppers on a baking tray and cook for 30-40 minutes or until the skin is blistered and peppers are soft. Carefully transfer peppers to a bowl and cover in plastic wrap. Let steam for 10-15 minutes. Remove skin and cut into thin strips.
3. Cook farro according to package directions. When done, rinse under cold water and set aside in a strainer to drain.
4. In a large bowl, combine cooked farro, roasted red peppers, olives, scallions, feta, and dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Lazy Sunday Morning and French Toast

I love lazy mornings-- the kind where it is approaching noon and I am still in my pajamas. These don't happen all that often but the cold, wintery weather we are currently experiencing and the fact that we did our grocery shopping yesterday afternoon have created the perfect conditions. And to top it all off, Jason made French toast for breakfast this morning!

I think I've mentioned before that Jason is a big proponent of weekend breakfasts that go beyond our weekday cereal routine and is, as a a result, the MC of these events. His weekend breakfast repertoire consists primarily of eggs (scrambled, in breakfast sandwich or omelet form and occasionally poached), pancakes, and waffles...mainly because we usually have all the required ingredients on hand. But occasionally he will mix things up and make French toast-- which happens to be my favorite. Usually this occurs when we've gone to the grocery store early in the weekend since, believe it or not, we don't usually have much bread on hand or for special occasions (my birthday, Valentine's Day, etc.). So our well timed trip to the grocery store yesterday meant that I got both a lazy morning and French toast-- what a great way to end the weekend and prepare myself for the busy week ahead.

Jason's French Toast
Adapted slightly from Alton Brown

3 eggs
1 cup milk or half-and-half
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
Cinnamon to taste
6-8 slices of bread (we like to use challah or brioche for added flavor)

1. Heat electric griddle or pan over medium heat, and melt butter or coat with cooking spray.
2. Mix first six ingredients together  and pour into a flat plate or dish (we like to use a small baking dish). Dip both sides of bread in egg mixture and place on hot pan.
3. Cook until golden brown and cooked through about 3 minutes or so per side.* Serve with maple syrup.

* Tips for making sure your French toast is cooked all the way through: 1) make sure your pan is not too hot (this can lead to the outside getting brown before the inside is cooked); 2) resist the urge to cut Texas toast size slices of bread; 3) don't leave  the bread soaking in the egg mixture for too long; and 4) if all else fails, you can finish the toast off in an 350 degree oven for about 3-4 minutes to ensure golden exterior and cooked interior.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I'm Back

Now that Christmas is long since past, I thought it was about time I got back to blogging. I'll be honest-- this Fall really kicked my butt; between long work hours, the holidays, and a general sense of fatigue I did not have much time for writing or cooking. But I'm going to try and be better in the new year and at least keep the five or so of you still reading this thing up to date on what's going on in our lives....with a few recipes here and there to boot.

So what have we been up to lately? Mostly catching up on rest and trying to get a few new things done around the house. Over the last couple of weeks we've tried to make our entryway more appealing (it's my least favorite space in the entire house) and have begun plans for completing our living room area on the main level. More details on both of those to come.

And with the three-day weekend, I actually spent some time in the kitchen-- something that is becoming more and more of a rarity these days. With the cold weather we've been having I decided to give my BFF's chicken pot pie recipe a try. While a bit time consuming, it was not terribly difficult-- especially given I decided to forego the homemade pie dough and opted instead for the pre-made refrigerated variety. My one quibble is the proportions-- the original recipe said it made 4 individual pot pies. I decided to halve it so that it would be just enough for Jason and me to eat for dinner last night. Uh....yeah. I don't know what size of individual pot pie Ina likes to serve, but the halved recipe seemed like plenty for four. It was so much that I had to skip the individual sizes and put it in an 8 inch square baking dish instead. And while still tasty, The crust to pie ratio wasn't quite the same. Oh well-- live and learn. Next time I will quarter the recipe :)

Chicken Pot Pie
Adapted from Ina Garten

Note: This recipe is half of the original; I would say it serves 4

2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1 yellow onion, diced
6 TBL butter
1/4 cup plus 2 TBL flour
5 cups chicken stock
2 TBL heavy cream
1 cup baby carrots, sliced thinly
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen pearl onions
2 TBL minced parsley
1 piece of refrigerated pie dough (or you can make your own)
1 egg

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Place chicken breasts on foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, shred or cube meat and set aside.

2. Heat chicken stock. Meanwhile, chop the yellow onion and carrots.

3. Turn oven up to 375. Heat butter in a large pot or dutch oven. Add chopped onion and cook until translucent, about 7-10 minutes. Add flour and stir constantly for about 2 minutes. Slowly add the warm chicken stock and simmer on low for about 1-2 minutes until thick. Add cream, salt and pepper.

4. Add chicken, carrots, peas, pearl onions and parsley. Turn off the heat. Spoon pot pie filling into either 4 individual ovenproof bowls or an 8 inch square casserole/baking dish.

5. Beat egg with 2 TBL water to make an egg wash. Brush sides of baking dish(es) with egg wash and top with pie dough (if using individual bowls, you'll want to cut the dough so there is about an inch hanging over the bowls). Press the dough around the edges of the baking dish(es) to seal. Brush the top of the pie with egg wash and cut 2-3 slits in the top to allow steam to escape.

6. Place dish(es) on a baking sheet and place into oven. Bake for about 45-60 minutes until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Let rest for 5-10 minutes and serve.