Savory galette makes a fantastic meal

Savorygalette010415-2

Happy new year! Last month I treated myself to a new cookbook: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Smitten Kitchen blog, it’s a great one, filled with well-composed photos and recipes that are manageable for the average cook. Sometimes I head there when I’m looking for inspiration.

The first recipe I tried from the cookbook was the recipe for a Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette. While the galette didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped—I halved the recipe and forgot to use half the olive oil, so that overpowered the flavors and made it oily—I loved the recipe for the pastry part. It had a lovely flakiness about it. Since I still had half of it in the fridge, I decided to make my own combination with leftover chicken, spinach, and Parmesan. It was fantastic.

I’ve never had a savory galette before, but I figured the pastry wasn’t sweet and could be used with a different set of ingredients. In all honesty, I liked my combination better than the one with butternut squash because it wasn’t as heavy or sweet.

Keep in mind that I mostly cook for myself, so this galette could serve up to three — or you could have leftovers, which is what I did. I enjoyed every bite.Savorygalette010415

Pastry
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons ice water

In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Filling
One chicken thigh, baked with lemon, chopped
1 packed cup of fresh spinach, torn into smaller pieces
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
Pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a floured work surface or between two pieces of parchment paper, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Spread filling over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the edges of the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. If you want to give it that shiny edge, you can make an egg wash by whisking one egg and two tablespoons of water together and brushing the mixture over the top of the pastry.

Bake for 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Advertisements

Not your basic breaded chicken

mustardchicken110214

When fall rolls around, I tend to haul out my cookbooks and start looking for recipes I haven’t tried. The colder weather makes me crave savory soups and roasted meats, and I’m always looking for new ways to keep it interesting. I pulled out my copy of “Foolproof” by the Barefoot Contessa. I was shocked to realize that, although it was a gift I’d received last Christmas, I had yet to try any of the recipes.

Since it was a Tuesday after work, I wanted to keep it simple and use things I had on hand. Despite living pretty close to a grocery story, once I’m in my apartment and out of the rain, I’m reluctant to go outside again. I settled on this recipe for Crispy Mustard-Roasted Chicken.

It’s a pretty basic breaded chicken recipe, but the dijon mustard takes the flavor to the next level, so you really don’t need anything else to jazz it up. It was a perfect dinner for a weeknight and one I’ll definitely turn to again.

Ingredients
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups panko (Japanese bread flakes)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup Dijon mustard, such as Grey Poupon
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) chicken, cut in eighths

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the garlic, thyme, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the garlic is finely minced. Add the panko, lemon zest, olive oil, and butter and pulse a few times to moisten the bread flakes. Pour the mixture onto a large plate. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the mustard and wine.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle generously all over with salt and pepper. Dip each piece in the mustard mixture to coat on all sides, and then place skin-side down only into the crumb mixture, pressing gently to make the crumbs adhere. Place the chicken on a sheet pan crumb-side up. Press the remaining crumbs on the chicken pieces.

Bake the chicken for 40 minutes. Raise the heat to 400 degrees F and bake for another 10 minutes, until the crumbs are browned and the chicken is cooked through. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Deconstructed BLT salad is easy to assemble

IMG_1420.JPG

This protein-packed salad is a filling meal that’s easy to assemble if you prepare each component ahead of time. It’s like a deconstructed BLT or club sandwich, and just as delicious. It’s another gem from “Raising the Salad Bar,” which I’ve been using a lot more lately for fresh salads for weeknight dinners.

I’ve found that I enjoy salads for dinner instead of lunch because I can assemble them instead of combining them in a tupperware to sit for hours before lunch rolls around. Heartier salads such as this are a great meal to come home to after a long day.

Ingredients
1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
5 slices bacon, cooked
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup pesto
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 1/2 cups garlic croutons (optional)

In a large bowl, mix the mayonnaise and pesto until well combined. Add the chicken and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the tomatoes, bacon, and croutons. Add lettuce and toss thoroughly.

Taking a gamble on taquitos

1taquitos022314

I like taquitos. You know those boxes of them that are sold in the frozen food aisle? Yes, those. But I had never thought to try making them from scratch until a few months ago. I had a bag of tortillas and some chicken that I needed to use, so I went forth without looking up any recipes online, just to see what I could conjure up without any guidance.

I knew I needed to cook the chicken so it could be easily shredded, so I chose to bake it just until it hit 165 degrees then let it rest for 5-10 minutes before mashing it with a wooden spatula. Then I added flavors I wanted to be included in the mix, filled the tortillas and baked them. That’s it.

They turned out better than I hoped. While I could have used a couple more tortillas so the six I made weren’t so over-stuffed and hard to keep closed, the flavors were perfect. I’ll definitely be making these again, perhaps trying them with another meat next time.

2taquitos022314Ingredients
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped into small squares
1 package boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1.25 pounds)
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons jalapeño sauce
8-10 white corn tortillas
Dash of white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Dash of garlic powder or 1 clove minced garlic
Canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Rinse chicken and put in a dutch oven or oven-safe dish. Cook in oven for 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked all the way through and temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Remove from oven and let cool. Keep oven on.

Line a cookie sheet with foil.

Once chicken is cool enough to handle, use a wooden spatula to mash it, until it is nearly completely shredded. Add red pepper, cheese, jalapeño sauce, white pepper, salt and garlic and mix together until blended.

Heat a bit of canola oil in a small frying pan on medium-high heat and briefly cook tortillas, one at a time on each side, until they are soft enough to fill and roll.

Take each tortilla and fill it with about 1/4 cup filling or more, if desired. Roll the tortilla around the filling and put each one seam-side down on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until tortillas are slightly crispy. Serve warm with sour cream or salsa.

Chicken cutlets ready for any night of the week

parmesanchicken1

Growing up, my family ate a lot of chicken. Mom would make Jamaican jerk chicken, lemon chicken and everything in between. My brother and I went through a phase where we complained any time it was put in front of us. “Again?” we’d ask. But mom likes chicken, and still does. Like most moms, she wanted to put something good in front of us and tried to mix it up once in a while.

I was searching for good make-ahead dinners when I saw this recipe in the March edition of Bon Appétit. I had once made Parmesan chicken and wasn’t terribly impressed by the recipe I used. This one, however, looked easy enough to put together and sounded like it would have a nice crust.

parmesanchicken2The panko and Parmigiano-Reggiano combination lends itself to a well-made crust that is packed with flavor. If you don’t have panko, regular breadcrumbs will do, though the finished cutlets won’t have as much of a crunch to them.

These freeze surprisingly well. I portioned them and kept some in the freezer for about two months. I was worried the breadcrumb mixture would turn soggy once they were defrosted, but they didn’t. They are ideal for weeknight meals. If you take them out of the freezer and let them defrost in the fridge, they will be ready to go by the time you return home. It was nice to come home during a busy work week and have something ready to toss in a pan.

This post is dedicated to moms such as mine, who work to put dinner on the table night after night, with or without thanks. Happy Mother’s Day.

parmesanchicken3Ingredients
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tablespoon mustard powder
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
4 small skinless, boneless chicken cutlets (about 1 1/2 pounds total), pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 lemon, halved

Place flour in a shallow bowl. Beat eggs in a second shallow bowl. Combine panko, Parmesan, and mustard powder in a third shallow bowl and season mixture with salt and pepper.

Season chicken with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour, shaking off any excess. Transfer to bowl with beaten egg and turn to coat. Lift from bowl, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Coat with panko mixture, pressing to adhere.

Chicken can be breaded 3 months in advance. Place between pieces of freezer paper or waxed paper and freeze in resealable freezer bags. Thaw before continuing.

Heat 6 tablespoons oil in a large heavy skillet or a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, cook cutlets, adding remaining 2 tablespoons oil to pan between batches, until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer cutlets to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt. Serve with lemon.