Chicken and Red Kidney Bean Chili

It’s not always practical to follow a recipe, although it may be easier on some fronts.  Certainly, knowing that someone else has tested a recipe increases the chances of success.  On the other hand, when those moments arrive when ‘there’s nothing in the fridge to eat’ but still no space for more food, it’s time to get creative.   Typically, following a recipe is not going to use up the eclectic mix of ingredients found collected in your home and refrigerator.

In these moments, soup is one among many meals that work well for using up odds and ends of things.  However, this needs to be done in a somewhat thoughtful fashion, else the soup becomes a muddy, unappetizing mess – everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sort of mess.  The ingredients should somehow relate to one another.  What I found yesterday in the house were the following… all needing to find a home in a meal.

Red Bean Chicken Chili

Chicken and Red Kidney Bean Chili
olive oil
chicken breast
diced onion
diced green pepper
minced garlic
partial packet of taco seasoning from a taco kit
plus some extra cumin
salt and pepper
salsa
cooked red kidney beans
chicken broth

Heat the oil in a medium stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and peppers and saute until translucent.  Add the garlic, chicken, spices, salt and pepper and saute until the chicken is cooked through.  Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for 30 minutes and either serve or let sit refrigerated for a day to absorb the flavors of the spices.

Annie
Waiting one more day before I go to the grocery store

French Apple Cake – I Wouldn’t Change a Thing!

Most of the time when I follow a baking recipe, I have to change something.  It might be the extract or the zest or the alcohol or the fruit that I change, but I must change something.  When I made this recipe, for some reason, I just followed like a sheep in a herd and I’m so glad I did.  It’s lovely.  It’s delicious.  With coffee, with tea, by itself.  I’m a fan.

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French Apple Cake
Published September 1, 2012,  Cook’s Illustrated.
Serves 8 to 10

The microwaved apples should be pliable but not completely soft when cooked. To test for doneness, take one apple slice and try to bend it. If it snaps in half, it’s too firm; microwave it for an additional 30 seconds and test again. If Calvados is unavailable, 1 tablespoon of apple brandy or white rum can be substituted.
Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 8 wedges, and sliced 1/8 inch thick crosswise
1 tablespoon Calvados
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup (5 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup (7 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg plus 2 large yolks
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil spray. Place prepared pan on rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place apple slices into microwave-safe pie plate, cover, and microwave until apples are pliable and slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Toss apple slices with Calvados and lemon juice and let cool for 15 minutes.
2. Whisk 1 cup flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt together in bowl. Whisk egg, oil, milk, and vanilla together in second bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. Transfer 1 cup batter to separate bowl and set aside.
3. Add egg yolks to remaining batter and whisk to combine. Using spatula, gently fold in cooled apples. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using offset spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges, gently pressing on apples to create even, compact layer, and smooth surface.
4. Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons flour into reserved batter. Pour over batter in pan and spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar evenly over cake.
5. Bake until center of cake is set, toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, and top is golden brown, about 1¼ hours. Transfer pan to wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of pan and let cool completely, 2 to 3 hours. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar, cut into wedges, and serve.

Annie
This is me, not changing a thing

Eating Spring Dug Root Vegetables – Parsnip Latkes

How fun to have both harvested the last of the parsnips on the same day that I planted next spring’s crop.  In playing around with these ivory beauties, I created a couple of new recipes for a column:  Parsnip Latkes, Root Vegetable Soup, Roasted Parsnips and Collard Greens.

Parsnip Latkes

Annie
Gone Digging

Annie on TV! – 207 and Rob Caldwell

Once again, I made my way down to Portland through snow and sleet to do a taping of a Mushroom and Chicken Pot Pie for 207’s comfort food segment.  Rob and the NBC affiliate, WCSH6, as always, was the perfect host and here we are having a good time cooking together.

Mushroom and Chicken Pot Pie on WCSH’s 207

Annie
It’s a quick, fun watch.

Biscuit and Jam – The Biscuit Contract

I woke up this morning to my car cloaked in a glow of pink.  The sun had not yet broken the horizon and my snow-covered car received it’s kiss as it rose to greet the day.

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Fitting that today should also be Biscuit Contract Day on our office calendar.  This contract was agreed upon and signed 7 months ago to the day.  The contract follows:

July 20, 2013 – Annie returned to shore after a 4-day cruise and proceeded to heat the entire downstairs with steam as she made batches of jam in 84 degree/humid weather.  THEN she wanted to open the windows to “cool down.”   Ha.  E made Annie promise that 7 months from now, February 20th, that we would have jam & biscuits to make up for it.  Annie agreed.  Annie hereby agrees to make biscuits with Strawberry or Rhubarb Champagne Jam as she has promised.  Signed by both parties.

And here they are, E.  As promised and as delicious.

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Baking Powder Biscuits 
This is a recipe my grandma passed on to me through my mom.  Thank you, Grandma, for being so good at making both biscuits and pie dough.  I think of you every time I make either.

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4  cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  This is an important step because you want to add air to the mixture so the biscuits are as fluffy as possible.  Cut the butter in with a pastry knife until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Stir in any additional dry ingredients here.  Add milk and any additional wet ingredients, stirring until a soft dough forms. Do not overmix.  This is very important; if you overmix you will probably get hard tack instead of fluffy biscuits.  Great for sailors of old, but not so delicious in present time.  Turn out onto a floured board and knead 5 to 10 times, then stop.  Roll or pat out the dough until it is 1/2-inch thick.  Cut with a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter.  Bake on ungreased cookie pan for 12 to 15 minutes.

Makes 12 biscuits

Annie
Keepin’ E happy.  It’s a good thing.

Rosemary Chicken and Dumplings – The Perfect Comfort Food

I don’t know about your area, but it’s been DANG cold here.  Like this cold…

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When it’s this cold, what makes me happiest is pots of simmering goodness on the stove and steaming up windows.  Chicken and dumplings  fits the bill to a tee.

Also, if you’d like to see a demo, here’s me on 207 with Rob Caldwell.  (Next time I’ll get a hair cut!)

Rosemary Chicken And Dumplings
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces (remove the skin if desired; I usually take the skin off the breast and thighs)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 cups chopped onion; about 1 large onion
2 cups peeled and chopped carrots; about 2 large carrots
2 cups chopped celery; about 3 stalks of celery
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic; about 3 cloves
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
3 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock

Dumplings:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
3/4 cup milk

Heat the oil in a large, wide stockpot over medium-high heat.  Toss the chicken, flour, salt, pepper and paprika together until the chicken is coated.  Place the chicken in the heated pot and cook until browned on all sides.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and herbs; cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until the onions are translucent.  Add the white wine and stock; bring it to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until the meat is tender, about 1 hour.

Dumplings:
Cut the butter into the dry ingredients.  Make a well in the center and add the milk.  Mix just until the milk is incorporated.  Drop 1-inch balls of dough on top of the simmering chicken.  Cover and cook an additional 10 minutes. NO PEEKING!

Serves 4 to 6

Magic Chocolate Flan Cake – Thank you, Diane!

Flan is one of those desserts that is sophisticated and elegant like a stylish, urban dress worn with heals that I love but never get to wear because my driveway is lined with gravel and I’ll break something if I strap on heels.  Like the dress that I wish I could wear but don’t, I wish I liked flan.  But I don’t.  It tastes like sugary eggs to me and I’ve never been able to get passed that initial impression.

THIS flan, however, is not really traditional flan (because of the sweetened condensed milk and the cream cheese) and therefore, I find it fantastic.  The custard is smooth and creamy but not eggy or too sweet.

I used a Coffee Pecan Syrup I found hanging around in the back of the refrigerator rather than making my own caramel sauce.  I’m sure the caramel sauce would be just as decadent as the coffee pecan syrup was.

This recipe was given to me by a long time guest.  She only passes on the best of recipes and I so appreciate her discernment.  Thanks, Diane!

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Getting ready to flip…
It's working!
It’s working!
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Easy, sneezy.
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Cake love.
Couldn’t wait.

Magic Chocolate Flan Cake
It’s worth using good-quality caramel sauce, such as Fat Toad Farm Goat’s Milk Caramel (or a Coffee Pecan Syrup that happens to be hanging out in the back of the fridge).  If your blender doesn’t hold 2 quarts, process the flan in 2 batches. The cake needs to chill for AT LEAST 8 hours before unmolding.

Cake:
1/2 cup caramel sauce or topping, microwaved briefly for easier distribution
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (1 ounce) cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Flan:
2, 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
2 1/2 cups whole milk
6 ounces cream cheese
6 large eggs plus 4 large yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake:  Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan.  Microwave caramel until easily pourable, about 30 seconds.  Pour into pan to coat bottom.  Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in bowl; set aside.  Combine chocolate and butter in large bowl and microwave at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, 2 to 4 minutes.  Whisk buttermilk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla into chocolate mixture until incorporated.  Stir in flour mixture until just combined.  Pour batter over caramel in prepared pan.

Flan:  Process all ingredients in blender until smooth, about 1 minute.  Gently pour flan over cake batter in Bundt pan and place pan in large roasting pan.  Place roasting pan in oven; pour warm water into roasting pan until it reaches half way up the side of the Bundt pan.  Bake until toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean and flan registers 180 degrees, 75 to 90 minutes.  Transfer Bundt pan to wire rack.  Let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours, then refrigerate until set, at least 8 hours. (Remove roasting pan from oven once water has cooled.)

To Unmold: Place bottom third of Bundt pan in bowl of hot tap water for 1 minute.  Invert completely flat cake platter, place platter over the top of Bundt pan, and gently turn platter and pan upside-down.  Slowly remove pan, allowing caramel to drizzle over top of cake.  Serve.

Serves 16

Annie
P.S.  E and I might have had a bite (or two or three) straight from the plate when we unmolded it.  We dare you to resist!

Cook the Book: Zucchini and Genoa Salami Deep Dish Pizza

Zucchini and Genoa Salami Deep Dish Pizza

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 zucchini, roughly chopped
2 summer squash, roughly chopped
1/2teaspoon salt
1/2teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound Genoa salami, cut in medium-thick slices
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese

1 Crusty Peasant Bread dough recipe.  You can also use the pre-made bread dough you can find in most grocery stores – you’ll need 2 bags.

Olive oil to brush over the crust
Dried basil, Italian seasoning, oregano – whatever you like – to sprinkle on the crust

Oil a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, summer squash, salt and pepper. Sauté until tender. Divide the dough roughly in half; make one part slightly larger than the other. Either roll or use your hands to stretch the larger piece until it’s big enough to overlap over the sides of the baking pan by about 1 inchSpread half of the Parmesan cheese evenly over the dough. Add layers (in order) of half each of the salami, mozzarella, ricotta, zucchini and summer squash.  When you transfer the squash to the pizza, use a slotted spoon to drain the excess liquid.  Repeat. Stretch the remaining half of the dough out enough to overlap the top of the pan, then pinch the two layers of dough together neatly. Brush the crust with the olive oil and sprinkle with the herbs. Preheat oven to 350°. Let the pizza rest and rise for 30 minutes, then bake until golden brown (about an hour).  Cool 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Serves 8-12.

Cook the Book: Black Bean and Corn Salad

Black Bean and Corn Salad

This salad is best if you can grill the corn, though you can use steamed or boiled corn in a pinch.  I sometimes roast the corn when we are on a lobsterbake – just stick them on a roasting fork and turn them over the fire.  You can also use it as a summer salsa for grilled chicken or fish.

4 ears of husked corn
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup loosely packed, fresh, chopped cilantro
1/4 cup diced red onion
Small clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Brush the ears of corn with olive oil and place the ears directly on a hot grill.  Cook until brown and tender, turning often, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly and use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off the cob. Toss the corn with the remaining ingredients and serve.

Serves 4-6.

Cook the Book – Bourbon Street Bread Pudding

Bourbon Street Bread Pudding

This is one of my favorites – and I don’t even like bread pudding!

Pudding:
Day-old French bread, sliced 1-inch thick, enough to cover the bottom of a 9-inch square pan.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
5 eggs
2 cups heavy cream
Dash of cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cup raisins

Bourbon Sauce:
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
Dash of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup water
1/4 cup bourbon

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a 9-inch square baking pan. Arrange the sliced bread in one layer in the bottom of the pan.  If there are large gaps cut some pieces to fit. Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, cream, cinnamon, vanilla and raisins and mix well. Pour the mixture over the bread and let stand for at least 5 minutes. Turn the bread over and let stand another 10 minutes. Cover the pan with foil and place it in a larger pan filled halfway with warm tap water.  Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  The custard should still be soft when done. Remove the pudding from the oven and the water bath and allow it to cool a few minutes. While the pudding is cooling, combine all the sauce ingredients except for the bourbon in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Continue to boil until the sauce has thickened so it coats the back of a spoon.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the bourbon.  Keep warm. Cut the pudding into squares and serve with the warm sauce.

Makes 9 servings