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Garlic Sauteed Swiss Chard with Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta

22 Jun

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This was a decadent tasting but relatively healthy lunch that I enjoyed immensely. The creamy polenta works well with the texture of the Swiss chard stems. The tangy flavor of the goat cheese compliments the slightly sweet, slightly acidic flavor of the balsamic. Both are balanced out by a generous helping of spicy crushed red pepper flakes and a healthy dose of garlic. As an added bonus, this dish is really pretty thanks to the colorful Swiss chard stems and bright green leaves. If you wanted to make this more substantial, a poached egg on top would be a welcome addition to the flavor party.

Garlic Sauteed Swiss Chard with Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta

Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta:

3 cups water

1 cup polenta

3 tbs. goat cheese

1/2 cup milk

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Whisk in polenta, and reduce heat to medium low. Whisking frequently, cook until polenta is cooked through and most of the water is evaporated, about 20 minutes. Add goat cheese and milk and whisk to combine. Cook another 5 minutes until milk is absorbed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garlic Sauteed Swiss Chard:

1 bunch Swiss chard

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium spring onion, chopped

1 tbs. olive oil

1 tbs. butter

2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 tbs. balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Prepare the Swiss chard for cooking by cutting off the tough ends of the stems. Line up the ends of the stems of the Swiss chard and cut every 2-3″ width wide. Set aside.

Heat olive oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add Swiss chard and saute, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Add crushed red pepper flakes and balsamic vinegar. Cook another 30 seconds to one minute, until balsamic is mostly evaporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve Swiss chard over cooked polenta.

Roasted Cauliflower and Feta Lemon-Thyme Quinoa

17 Mar

Roasted Cauliflower and Feta Lemon-Thyme Quinoa

Though relatively easy and quick, this dish is packed with unique and bright flavors.  The acidity and slight bitterness of the roasted lemon works wonderfully with the nuttiness of the quinoa.  Cauliflower really takes on a new dimension of tastiness when it’s roasted, giving it a nice hint of sweetness from the slight caramelization.  The feta adds a perfect saltiness without overwhelming the rest of the flavors.  Finally, the herbaceous flavor of the thyme really ties the whole dish together.

I particularly loved how healthy this was.  Quinoa is high in protein and low in fat, olive oil is chock full of good fats, and the lemon juice has loads of vitamin C.  Though cheese is never the healthiest thing on a dish, there is a relatively small amount of feta.

Roasted Cauliflower and Feta Lemon-Thyme Quinoa

Adapted from Bueno Vida

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets

1/8 cup plus 1 tbs. olive oil, divided

1 lemon, thinly sliced

5 sprigs fresh thyme

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1 lemon, juiced

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup feta, crumbled or roughly chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350º.

On a tinfoil-lined baking sheet, toss together 1 tbs. olive oil, cauliflower, thyme, and lemon slices.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.  When done cooking, remove lemon slices and thyme.  Pluck 2-3 of the thyme sprigs of their leaves and set aside.

Meanwhile, rinse quinoa with cold water.  Bring 2 cups of water to boil.  Add quinoa.  Turn down to medium low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed.

While quinoa is cooking, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, thyme leaves, and pepper flakes.

In a large bowl, toss together cauliflower, quinoa, feta, and dressing.  Serve at any temperature.

Red Wine and Mushroom Risotto

21 Jan

Red Wine and Mushroom Risotto

It’s been way, way too long since I’ve posted.  First it was finals, then a new kitten (check after the jump for super adorable kitten pics) and the holidays and moot court brief writing, then we went on our belated honeymoon to Toronto, then it was a mad rush to finish our brief, and then classes started and I went back to work and we started oral argument practice for moot court … basically, life happened.  And unlike my usual “life happened” scenario, this one did not involve cooking.  Zak took the reins in the kitchen because I was often home late or eating at one of the few options around school as my teammates and I were locked in the moot court room brief writing until midnight or later (basically, a lot of Subway and a couple times of treating ourselves to pizza and salad or burgers when the thought of another six inch sub made us want to cry).  I actually made this a week or so ago, because risotto is perfect to make when you want something mindless but wonderfully satisfying.  I stood by the stove, reading other competitor’s briefs and stirring, stirring, stirring until the risotto was as creamy as could be, then added some mushrooms and … yum.  A nice bowl of simple comfort food, with a hint of red wine flavor lurking behind the umami of the mushrooms and herbiness of tarragon and rosemary.

Normally, I am not quite as fastidious about stirring when I make risotto as I was this time, and in retrospect I regret it.  This was absolutely divine because it was super, super creamy.  Since I have no shame, I will admit to you that I actually licked my bowl.

Red Wine and Mushroom Risotto

1 1/2 cups red wine

4 cups water

1 cup tarragon, on the stem

2-3 sprigs rosemary, on the stem

4-5 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

Salt and pepper

1 cup arborio rice

2-3 tbs. olive oil

8 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced

2 tbs. butter

Parmesan cheese, to taste

In a medium sauce pan, combine red wine, tarragon, rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil and boil for 2-3 minutes.  Reduce heat to a simmer.

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Once shimmering, add arborio rice.  Cook, stirring frequently, until rice is opaque.  Reduce heat to low.

1/4 to 1/2 cup at a time, add in red wine and herb mixture.  Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until liquid is nearly absorbed.  Repeat, stirring continuously or very frequently, for about 30-45 minutes, until rice is creamy and nearly cooked through.

In a medium sauté pan, add butter.  Melt over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.  Pour, with any excess liquid, into the risotto.  Stir to combine, and continue cooking risotto by adding liquid and stirring, until rice is cooked through.

Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

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Coriander and Garlic Roast Chicken with Focaccia Dressing

10 Dec

Coriander and Garlic Roast Chicken with Focaccia Dressing

So, during finals I have this problem.  I decide to cook relatively elaborate meals even though I really shouldn’t take the time to do so.  Because cooking de-stresses me, and I need to be de-stressed during finals.  Luckily, the end result of my problem is delicious comfort food – in this case, roast chicken, homemade gravy, cranberry sauce, and delicious dressing.

Sure, I have about 3 1/2 lbs. of roast chicken left over – but it was so worth it.  This chicken is very flavorful, with pronounced garlic and coriander flavors.  It is also incredibly moist and well-seasoned thanks to the brining, with delicious crispy skin thanks to the overnight rest and butter basting.  As usual, I followed the basics of my perfect roast chicken recipe, altering some of the ingredients and the roasting style a bit by using a roasting pan and cooking the bird on top of a bed of simple aromatics.

This was the world’s easiest stuffing – I didn’t bother pre-cooking any of the vegetables.  I just mixed everything together and hoped for the best, and it worked out beautifully.  They veg had just a hint of crispness to make for an interesting variation in texture, but everything was tender and flavorful.  The focaccia is a nice choice for dressing because it holds up its texture well, but absorbs flavor and moisture to create a nice balance.

Coriander and Garlic Roast Chicken with Focaccia Dressing

Coriander and Garlic Brine:

1 4 lb. whole fryer

2-3 cups water per lb. of chicken

1/2 cup kosher salt per lb. of chicken

1/2 cup white sugar per lb. of chicken

2 tbs. whole black pepper corns

2 tbs. whole coriander seeds

2 tbs. garlic powder

1 tbs. dried parsley

1 tbs. dried oregano

1 tbs. dried basil

3 bay leaves

3 whole cloves

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

Aromatics Base:

3 celery stalks, cut into 1″ pieces

2 carrots, cut into 1″ pieces

1 small yellow onion, cut into 1″ pieces

Butter Spread:

2 tbs. butter

1 1/2 tbs. garlic powder

1 tbs. ground coriander

Freshly cracked black pepper

To begin, in a medium or large saucepan heat water.  A little at a time, add kosher salt and sugar while whisking until dissolved.  It may be necessary to add more water to the saucepan in order to dissolve all of the salt and sugar.  Once the salt and sugar are dissolved, transfer the water to a container large enough to hold the brining solution and chicken.  This can be done in a large ziplock bag, though I prefer to use a large stock pot.

Add all other brine ingredients and allow brining solution to cool to room temperature, placing solution in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes or adding more water or ice if necessary.  Once the solution is room temperature or cool to the touch, add the chicken to the solution.  Place the chicken in the refrigerator and let soak in brining solution about one hour per pound (round up to the nearest hour).

Remove chicken from brining solution and discard brine.  Rinse chicken under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.  Transfer chicken onto a wire rack on top of a plate.  Transfer to the refrigerator and let rest overnight.

When ready to begin cooking, preheat oven to 475º.

Place aromatics on the bottom of a roasting pan.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in garlic powder, coriander, and black pepper.  Using a pastry brush, brush breasts, legs, and wings of chicken with butter mixture.  Transfer to the roasting pan on top of the aromatics.

Transfer to oven.  Cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350° and roast 20 minutes per lb., or until temperature in the thickest part of the thigh or leg reaches 165°.  Baste occasionally if desired.  If the chicken becomes overly brown, tent with a piece of tinfoil.

Focaccia Stuffing:

1 1/2 cups focaccia bread, cut into 1/2″ to 1″ cubes

1 stalk celery, sliced into half moons

1 carrot, peeled, halved, and sliced into half moons

1/2 cup vegetable stock

1 tbs. butter, melted

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. dried sage

1 tsp. poultry seasoning

Mix together all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Transfer to a casserole dish.  Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes until crunchy on top.

Chipotle and Tomato Braised Collards and Swiss Chard

28 Oct

This is a flavorful and unique way to serve nutritious collard greens.  The spice of the chipotle and the tangy, fermented flavor of the sauerkraut balanced each other really well.  This can be served as is for a flavorful side dish, but I put it over some creamy polenta with a few slivers of parmesan for a hearty vegetarian main course.

Chipotle and Tomato Braised Collards and Swiss Shard

1 lb. collard greens, center ribs removed and roughly chopped

1/2 lb. Swiss chard, roughly chopped

1 tbs. butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 chipotles in adobo, roughly chopped

1 qt. canned chopped tomatoes

1/3 cup sauerkraut

Salt and pepper

In a medium Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook thirty seconds, until fragrant.  Add collards and Swiss chard, season with salt and pepper, and sauté 6-8 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients.  Cover and simmer over medium heat for forty five minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid from tomatoes is mostly reduced and greens are tender.

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