Friday, July 31, 2009

Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese for Tyler Florence Fridays

Just when I think I have reached the pinnacle of Tyler's brilliant recipes, I find another gem out there that impresses me all over again. I was lucky enough to stumble across some small bags of fresh local figs at the farmer's market on Saturday, (it pays to get there very early as "finds" like figs sell out fast). We don't get to see local figs here often, (unless you are lucky enough to know someone with a fig tree in their yard), and they are so much fresher and firmer than the ones brought in from the mainland that you can occasionally find in the better grocery stores here. Enjoying some fresh, I wanted to do something wonderful with the rest of them so I looked to Tyler. He has several recipes that use fresh figs, but the one for Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese in Tyler's Ultimate with its variety of interesting ingredients, looked like it would be fun to try. 

You can find this recipe in Tyler's Ultimate on pages 138-139

Tyler says: "Pounding chicken breasts into paillards, which means thin slices, is a great way to use chicken breasts in the summertime for salad. It cooks fast and evenly so the meat stays nice and moist. The salty-sweet combination of figs, pancetta, and blue cheese is dynamite. If you can't get your hands on fresh figs, peaches work just as well."

Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salad and Blue Cheese
Tyler's Ultimate, Tyler Florence 
(Serves 4)

3 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
1 shallot, chopped
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 lb pancetta
extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 lb blue cheese, broken into hunks
1 bunch of arugula, trimmed
1 small basket seasonal figs, halved
tarragon leaves, for garnish

First whisk together all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small bowl and set it aside.

Sandwich the chicken breasts between 2 layers of plastic wrap and pound them very thin with the side of a meat cleaver or a rolling pin. Remove the chicken breasts from the plastic and season well on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Unroll the pancetta so it looks like big strips of bacon. Add it to the pan and fry it like a tangle of bacon until the fat is rendered, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Drizzle a 2-count of olive oil into the pan with the pancetta drippings. Add the chicken and pan fry 3 to 4 minutes on each side to brown the breasts and cook them through. Use a spatula to remove the chicken to the paper towels with the pancetta. Add the vinaigrette to the saute pan and heat for a few minutes, stirring, to deglaze the bits of pancetta and chicken from the bottom of the pan; take the pan off the heat.

To serve, arrange the chicken on a platter. Scatter the blue cheese, arugula, figs, and pancetta over. Drizzle the dressing over everything and garnish with the tarragon leaves.

Notes/Results: WOW!!! This is so good and it is such a gorgeous dish too! I was thinking it might possibly be too many things on the plate and that the flavors might compete with each other, but I should not have doubted Tyler. Everything works so well together; the juiciness of the figs, the sweetness of the honey, the assertive, sharpness of the blue cheese, the peppery arugula, the crisp, salty pancetta, and the lightly anise flavor in the tarragon; they all compliment each other and add a new dimension of flavor to the chicken. In fact, although it was moist, juicy, and good, the one ingredient I wouldn't miss if it were taken out would be the chicken--the salad is good enough to stand on it's own. I made the recipe as written, the only difference was that the pancetta my neighborhood grocery store had was in packages and very thinly sliced. I didn't want to make a trip to Whole Foods, but would have enjoyed a thicker cut in the pancetta, for a bit more substance in the texture. The salad goes together quickly and easily, (you can put it together in well under 30 minutes), making it a perfect hot weather dinner. The dish is versatile enough to be a simple casual supper or impress your party guests. This is a winner recipe. If you get some fresh figs, (or as Tyler says peaches will work too), I urge you to try it. In fact, if I can get more figs at the market this week, I'll be making it again. It will go down as one of my very favorite Tyler recipes so far. Delicious!

Head over to the Tyler Florence Fridays blog (here) to see what our other TFF members selected to make this week and what they thought about their recipe choices. 

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Vegan, Wheat-Free Raspberry Scones from BabyCakes

I confess...I was bad. Although I vowed to get only my semi-annual jumbo pack of toilet paper at Costco, I wandered by the books and started flipping through BabyCakes: Vegan, Gluten-Free, And (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes From New York's Most Talked-About Bakery by Erin McKenna. It was speaking my language and the recipes looked delicious, so of course it somehow ended up in my cart. I tabbed a bunch of recipes to make and started with these Raspberry Scones. (It was a tough call between the scones and the Banana Chocolate Chip Bread, apparently a passion of actress Mary-Louise Parker who wrote a tribute to it in the book. Still the scones won, although there are bananas ripening on my counter that will go into the bread this weekend!)  

Erin McKenna says: "This is as close to a traditional scone as BabyCakes NYC comes. I 86'ed the butter obviously. and played up the sweet, all without abandoning the light-yet-satisfying texture. I find that raspberries, more delicate than currents or other popular berries used in scones, have a tanginess that's a perfect accompaniment to morning tea." 

Raspberry Scones
BabyCakes, Erin McKenna
(Makes 8 Scones)

2 cups whole spelt flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup coconut oil, plus more for brushing
1/3 cup agave nectar, plus more for brushing
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup hot water
1 cup fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the oil, agave nectar, and vanilla and stir together until a thick, slightly dry batter is formed. Pour the hot water into the batter and mix. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the raspberries just until they are marbled throughout the batter.

For each scone, scoop 1/3 cup batter onto the prepared baking sheet. Space the scoops 1 inch apart to allow them to spread. Lightly brush the tops with the oil. Bake the scones on the center rack for 14 minutes, rotating the sheet 180 degrees after 7 minutes. The finished scones will be golden and slightly firm. Remove from the oven and brush with agave nectar. 

Let the scones stand on the sheet for 15 minutes, then carefully slide a spatula under each and transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Store the scones in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Notes/Results: Excellent! They are light and moist with an excellent flavor. Maybe a bit more "muffinish" than scone-like in texture, they are still delicious and went perfectly with a cup of berry-flavored green tea. I realized as I was about to make the scones, that the spelt flour I had was white-spelt, which is a bit lighter textured than whole spelt flour. I don't think it made a huge difference, but I plan on trying them again with whole spelt to see. I will make these again with the raspberries and I think they would be great with blueberries or blackberries too. They are quick and super-easy to make, pretty guilt-free without all the butter, and good enough that even we gluten-eating omnivores can happily enjoy them. I am looking forward to trying the banana bread and some of the other recipes from the book.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tyler's Quinoa Pilaf: A Healthy Summer Side

I almost let the month go by without making our Tyler Florence Fridays optional "Megan's Challenge" recipe, Quinoa Pilaf. Although it is optional, as co-host it seems like bad form to miss it so I threw together a half-batch yesterday. (Very happy it is such an easy recipe). This one is pretty healthy so I didn't make many changes, other than using things I had on hand and adapting it a bit to my tastes.

The recipe is from Tyler's Food 911 show and can be found at the Food Network site here.

Quinoa Pilaf
Tyler Florence
(Makes 4 Servings)

2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon preserved lemon rind, finely diced
1 tomato, finely chopped
1 (15-ounce) can artichoke hearts in water, drained and quartered
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup black olives, pitted
1/4 cup currants
Fresh mint leaves, for garnish

In a small saucepan, combine broth, quinoa, bay leaf, turmeric, salt, pepper and olive oil in a saucepan. Stir in preserved lemon and cover. Simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off heat. Add tomato, artichokes, onion, olives and currants, mix well to combine. Top with mint and serve.

Notes/Results: Good. I don't think it's my favorite Tyler recipe ever and I like my own recipe for Curried Quinoa Salad better, but this is still a flavorful and simple dish and a great healthy side dish. The changes I made; I used a combo of about 1/3 red quinoa and 2/3 regular, just for the color. I didn't have preserved lemon, so I added the zest of a lemon instead. Also I used a mix of dried cranberries and blueberries in place of the currents, as I had them on hand. Finally, I roasted up some pine nuts and tossed them in as I really like the crunchy texture and toasted, nutty flavor they add to a dish like this. If you are thinking the mint leaves look a little different, they are a ginger mint. The herb people at our farmer's market carry a wide variety of mints (pineapple, apple, chocolate, menthol, ginger, etc.), and that happened to be the kind I bought this week. It is a nice combination of mint and a light ginger flavor and worked just fine in the pilaf. BTW--The recipe says it "makes 4 servings" and mine is a half batch that as a side dish would serve four or even more, so Tyler was expecting some mighty big appetites on this one or maybe serves it as a main dish. 

We'll be rounding up the pilafs of those who "took the challenge" at the beginning of the month on the TFF site.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Things I Am Loving This Week

This is my second week of sharing a few "Things I Am Loving This Week". These are things that are mostly, but not always food related, products I have tried and loved, things I think are unique and fun, etc. Basically just a few things that make me happy and I think are worth sharing for the week.

First, the Almejas con Chorizo recipe from The Barcelona Cookbook. Yep, I reviewed this book earlier in the month (here is the review) and loved it. I really enjoyed this super quick and easy clam dish but I couldn't find the authentic smoked Spanish chorizo sausage the recipe called for and had to settle for the soft, mushy kind. I vowed to remake it and after a trip to a specialty foods store here, I had my real chorizo. I made it again and I have moved beyond really liking this dish to loving it.

It couldn't be simpler to make and the flavors are incredible. With a salad and some good bread to soak up the juices it makes a wonderful dinner. (If you want to try it You need to try it and I found the recipe printed online here). I will be making it again this week with the rest of my chorizo. Yum, yum and yum again!

Speaking of Barcelona, one of my very favorite and much-loved chocolate bars is The Barcelona Bar from Vosges. With its sea salt and roasted almonds, it satisfies my sweet/salty cravings. Whole Foods had Vosges line of "Crunchy Chocolate Snacks" and I was happy to see one of them was Barcelona Bombalina Almonds. These are whole, hickory-smoked almonds with Maldon sea salt covered in their deep milk chocolate and dusted with cocoa powder. They are not cheap, the 2.5 oz box is $8.99 here, but they are just a little piece of heaven. When practicing my willpower, I can have 3 or 4 and be satisfied and stretch the box out for several days. If you love smoky-salty-sweet, you will love these as much as I do. I want to try some of the other snacks in this line, (like the organic mangoes with sweet Indian curry covered in dark chocolate), but I can't seem to move beyond the almonds. 

I am really loving all the wonderful fruit I got at the Farmer's Market on Saturday. Not only are we in smack in the middle of mango season, (fresh mango and Greek yogurt for breakfasts this week), I got some very fresh, local figs which are not easy to find here. (You'll see them in my Tyler Florence Fridays recipe pick this week but here is a little sneak peek; it was delicious!)

I also got to try something new for me; the "mountain apple". This fruit is native to the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. It also goes by many other names such as wax apple, love apple, java apple, water apple, rose apple, chomphu (in Thai), bell fruit (In Taiwan), jambu air (in Indonesian), jambu air ("water guava" in Malay), tambis (Philippines), etc. Here is a great little page on the fruit, called `ohi`a`ai in Hawaiian, from a guide to ancient Hawaiian Plants.

I had heard of them and even seen them before but had never tried them. I bought a small bag of about a dozen for $2.00. These bell-shaped fruit grow in a tree and range in color from a light pink to a dark purplish red. Juicier than an apple, they are more like a pear in their crisp texture and the flavor is lightly sweet and well...pear-like. The information I read on them says that they are almost always eaten fresh and chilled, they can be used in salads and made into wine, preserves or pickles. I have mostly been enjoying snacking on them in our humid weather, but I may make something with my remaining few.

Lots to love again this week! What are you loving right now?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Spiced Chicken Dumpling Soup (with Rice Noodles) for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

It's been pretty warm and muggy here the past few days but I made this soup earlier in the week, when the evenings were a bit cooler. The Southeast Asian flavors of the ginger and lime juice keep it refreshing and light, so it works well in the warmer weather. This one comes from the April 2009 issue of Delicious Magazine and is by Aussie Chef Bill Granger. I have a couple of his cookbooks and judging from this recipe and the others in the magazine from his new book "Feed Me Now!", I just may have to add it to my cookbook collection when it makes it over to this side of the pond. 

Granger says: "For a different take on this elegant soup meal, add soaked, drained rice noodles."

Spiced Chicken Dumpling Soup (with Rice Noodles)
Bill Granger, Delicious Magazine
(Serves 4)

800ml chicken stock (a bit over a quart)
350ml canned coconut milk  (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 kaffir lime leaves (or two pieces pared lime rind)
3cm piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced (about 1 1/4")
1 Tbsp each fish sauce and lime juice
1/2 tsp caster sugar, or to taste
4 baby bok choy, halved lengthwise

350g chicken mince (about 3/4 pound)
1/4 cup (50g) drained canned bamboo shoots, finely chopped
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 long red chili, seeds removed, finely chopped
2 Tbsp chopped coriander leaves
2 tsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp cornflour
Sliced red chili, coriander leaves and shredded kaffir lime leaves, to serve

For dumplings, place all ingredients and some salt and pepper in a large bowl. Using clean hands, mix together until well combined. Wet your hands and roll mixture into small balls. Set aside.

Place stock, coconut milk, kaffir lime and ginger in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, add the dumplings and simmer gently for 5 minutes or until just cooked through. Add fish sauce, lime juice and sugar to taste. Add bok choy, bring back to a simmer and remove from the heat.

Ladle soup and dumplings into bowls. Serve immediately, scattered with chili, coriander and shredded kaffir lime leaf.

Notes/Results: Really good, but what's not to like about little meatballs in a flavorful coconut milk broth?! I used ground turkey breast instead of ground chicken and used low-sodium chicken broth and lite coconut milk. Since I was in the mood for something "noodly", I took the suggestion of adding the cooked rice noodles to the soup. Because of adding the noodles, I added about a quart more broth and the seasonings to match. I also increased the amount of ginger, lime juice and some chili paste to get the flavor just the way I like it. A good filling, but not not heavy soup.

Since there are noodles and you can eat this soup with a lot of broth or less broth with the dumplings on top of the rice noodles, I am sending it to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by Amy of Very Culinary. 

Let's take a look at who is in the Souper Sunday Kitchen this week:

Chaya at Chaya's Comfy Cook Blog is back and hosting Blogger Secret Ingredient this week and selected broccoli for the BSI. One of the dishes she made with it was this thick and creamy Cheddar Cheese Broccoli Soup. Chaya says to "plop a tablespoon of sour cream on top, if you like adornment and a good taste addition" and to "enjoy every spoonful" of this hearty soup.

Wanting a soup filling enough to satisfy her husband, Kim from Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet went to her fridge and pantry and threw a little bit of a lot of things into the soup pot. The result? Her "Everything Soup". Her husband loved it so much, he wants her to make it again and Kim wants a good name for it, so if you are feeling creative, stop by her blog, check out the recipe and give her some help.

Natashya from Living in The Kitchen with Puppies has had some stormy weather lately and made the most of it with a "fragrant and soothing" Thai Coconut Chicken Soup from Tyler Florence this week. Serving it with some tasty Sesame Breadsticks flavored with a bit of Chinese 5 Spice, she had the perfect meal to warm up the commuters in her house. 

Graziana from Erbe in Cucina is working her garden magic again this week, making this Green Purslane Salad with Eggs. Graziana says, "All my green purslane plants started to bloom and they will produce tiny leaves from now. They will bolt, die and reborn next spring, so this is the last green purslane harvest for this year." Her salad looks like a wonderful way to use up the last of it. 

Loving the "precisely imprecise" recipes and the fact they can be on the table "in twenty minutes max" in "Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express" is Heather at girlichef. Flipping through and looking for a recipe she could make with ingredients from her pantry, Heather found this simple Tuna & Bean Salad recipe. Served with some blanched asparagus, a hunk of good bread and a glass of Chardonnay, she proclaims it, "Delicious!"

Joanne from Eats Well with Others just celebrated her 100th post (Congrats Joanne!) with some barbecued chicken and served with this Warm Tomato Corn and Okra Salad. Making the most of some sweet local corn and tomatoes, Joanne says that if you don't like the stickiness of the okra, you could substitute eggplant for a similar flavor profile. 

Taking a favorite salad and turning it into a delicious sandwich is Debbie at Dining with Debbie, new to Souper Sundays and hailing from Florida. Finding the recipe for this Caprese Panini in Cuisine at Home, she whipped out her new panini press and made it. She says "It’s a classy grilled tomato and cheese!!!!" Debbie is hosting a new event starting August 5th, called Crock Pot Wednesdays, so all you slow cooker fans should head over to her site and get the details (here).

Thank to everyone who contributed their recipes this week to Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays. As usual we have some great and unique dishes. If you have a soup, salad, sandwich or any combination to share, click on the Souper Sunday link on the side bar to get all the details.

Have a great week!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hibiscus Lemonade: A "Simple Saturday Sipper" That's Pretty in Pink

In the hot, muggy summer nothing tastes better to me than a cold glass of tart and sweet lemonade. A favorite restaurant here, Town makes their house lemonade with a shot of parsley juice in it, giving it a nice kick of herbal flavor. Their sister restaurant, Downtown at The Hawaii State Art Museum puts a hibiscus (and maybe strawberry?) syrup in their lemonade, making it a pretty pink color. Since I still have several packages of dried hibiscus flowers left, I thought I would make some Hibiscus Lemonade at home, a perfect "Simple Saturday Sipper."

Hibiscus Lemonade
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen, inspired by Downtown
(Makes about 8 cups)

Hibiscus Syrup:
3 cups water
2 cups (2 oz) dried, sweetened hibiscus flowers or hibiscus or Red Zinger tea bags
1/3 cup sugar, or to taste

In a medium saucepan, combine water, hibiscus flowers, and sugar over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Let cool, strain tea into small pitcher, discarding flowers. Refrigerate until very cold.

2 cups sugar or 1/2 cup agave syrup
2 cups water
2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 13-16 lemons)
Additional cold water and or ice to dilute lemonade mixture

Combine the sugar or agave and water in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until it dissolves. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes, until mixture is slightly thickened.

Meanwhile, squeeze the lemons into a pitcher, discarding the seeds and rind. Stir the sugar syrup into the lemon juice then top it off with 2-3 cups of cold water, or add water to taste. Chill until very cold.

To serve: 
Fill a glass 3/4 full with lemonade. Pour about 2 ounces of the hibiscus syrup on top garnish with lemon slices and a pink umbrella. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: Cold, refreshing, tart-sweet and very pink. I sweetened the lemonade with agave to lessen the amount of sugar in the drink a bit. I like my lemonade on the tart side, so play around with the sweetener to get it the way you like it. If you can't find dried hibiscus, Red Zinger tea will work just fine. With the Vitamin C in the lemons (and the hibiscus), as well as the riboflavin, niacin, calcium, iron and antioxidants in the hibiscus, it makes for a healthy, delicious drink.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Truffle Oil Panini: Sandwich Love for Tyler Florence Fridays

I am sure there are better panini makers, photographers and food stylists than me that have the ability to make a mushroom panini look pretty and delicious, but since I don't have those skills, you will just have to take it from me that this sandwich is really good. Really, really, really good as a matter of fact. If you love mushrooms like I do, you will be in heaven with this one. There is some alchemy between the mushrooms, thyme, goat cheese and truffle oil that just works. Earthy and satisfying, especially on crispy focaccia bread with peppery arugula, Tyler's Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Truffle Oil Panini is the best kind of vegetarian sandwich--one where you won't miss the meat at all. Simple to make, the hardest part was not eating all the mushrooms on bits of the focaccia while waiting for it to cool. 

The recipe is from Food 911 and can be found on the Food Network site here.

Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Truffle Oil Panini
Tyler Florence
(Makes 4 Sandwiches)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 pound mixed mushrooms, such as button, cremini, shiitake or oyster
1/2 pound fresh goat cheese, or other soft fresh cheese
2 tablespoons truffle oil*, optional
1 small focaccia loaf
1 small bunch arugula
*Can be found at gourmet and specialty food shops.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and 2 tablespoons thyme and cook for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until they are browned and soft, about 10 minutes. 

Remove from the heat and let them cool for about 15 minutes. Put the mushrooms into a food processor and pulse a few times until they are finely chopped. (Alternately, you can chop them on a board with a knife.) Scrape them into a bowl. Crumble in the goat cheese and add the remaining thyme. Pour in the truffle oil, if using, and mix well to combine.

Cut the focaccia into 4 pieces, slice them horizontally, and drizzle with some olive oil. On the bottoms place 1/4 of the mushroom mixture and top with some arugula. Put the tops on and gently press each sandwich to flatten it slightly. Drizzle some more olive oil over the tops.

Place each sandwich on a preheated panini press and grill until the bread is toasted and the cheese begins to melt, about 5 minutes. Alternately, preheat a dry cast iron or non stick pan. Place the sandwich in the pan and weight it down with another pan or a clean brick wrapped in foil. Grill 5 minutes, turn the sandwich over, re-weight it, and grill for another 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Notes/Results: I received a little bottle of white truffle oil as a gift and this was a great way to use some of it. If you don't want to spring for truffle oil, it still tastes delicious without it, (Says the girl scarfing down all those mushrooms before they were chopped and then after they were chopped and blended with the cheese before the truffle oil was added, then again after the truffle oil was added...). I used a combination of oyster (from my CSA box), crimini, shiitake and button mushrooms. The focaccia bread I used was a bit thick and although I cut it down a bit, I think next time I would use a thinner bread just to get it even more crispy. I did cut down the oil a bit for this and since I don't have a panini maker, I used my George Foreman Grill which worked just fine. This is a good one, with a salad it makes an easy and yummy lunch or dinner and I will make it again.

You can see what recipes our other Tyler Florence Friday participants selected and what they thought of them by going to the TFF site here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Peach Mango & Blueberry Crumbles Made A Bit Healthier--Barefoot Bloggers

Our second Barefoot Bloggers recipe is Ina's Peach and Blueberry Crumbles, selected by Aggie of Aggie's Kitchen, and of course I wouldn't be me if I didn't do something to "healthify" it. Now I really don't have anything against butter, I swear I don't, and if someone made me a piece of homemade fruit crumble or crisp, I would happily eat it without any complaints. Still, I have tried to get myself into the habit of lightening up the dishes I cook at home and making them healthier choices whenever possible. That means cutting back on the fat, sugars and salts and looking for ingredients to replace them that still give me a great tasting dessert. In this case, I removed all the butter and some of the sugar from the crumbles. In fact I removed the peaches too and replaced them with mango. Not because of the health aspects, it's just that really good peaches are not easy to find here and with mango season being upon us, great mangoes are in abundance. My changes (amounts are for a half batch) are in red below. 

You can find this recipe in the Barefoot Contessa at Home (pages 197-198)

Peach Mango and Bluberry Crumbles
Barefoot Contessa at Home, Ina Garten
(Serves 5-6) (Made 1/2 batch which made 5 small crumbles)

For the fruit
2 lbs firm, ripe peaches (6-8 peaches) (Used 1 large mango for 1/2 batch)
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar (used 1/8 cup for 1/2 batch)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 pint)

For the Crumble
1 cup all-purpose flour (used 1/2 cup white-wheat flour for 1/2 batch)
1/4 cup ground blanched almonds
1/2 cup granulated sugar (omitted)
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed (used 1/3 cup brown sugar for 1/2 batch)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 lb (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced (subbed 1/2 cup naturally sweetened applesauce)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until their skins peel off easily. Place them immediately in cold water. Peel the peaches, mango, slice into thick wedges, and place in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into ramekins or custard cups.

For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Combine the flour, ground almonds, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Work the applesauce in by rubbing it into the flour mixture with your fingers until it is in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. 

Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 40 to 45 30-35 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature. If you want to make these early, store the unbaked crumbles int he refrigerator and bake before dinner. Serves 5 to 6.

Notes/Results: Delicious! The fruit is warm and bubbling, the topping crumbly and nutty and they are perfect with a scoop of vanilla fro-yo. Because both my mango and blueberries were quite sweet, I was able to cut a good amount of the sugar down in the filling and using the applesauce in the crust allows the sugar to be cut there too. I added the ground almonds for the texture and nutty flavor, but you could leave them out if you want a lighter textured crumble. A great recipe to use up fresh, ripe fruit, I'll make it again. 

Thanks to Aggie for a great, summery pick! You can see what the other Barefoot Bloggers thought of their crumbles by going to the BB site here

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Creamy, Dreamy (and Healthy!) Chicken Picatta Fettuccine

Some people want lasagna when they go to an Italian restaurant, others want spaghetti, or ravioli, for me it is Chicken Picatta. There is something about the combination of the lemon, garlic and capers that I just love, but I don't always love the butter and oil in the sauce that comes along with it. Preparing it at home, this time I thought it would be fun to make it into a pasta dish, with bite-sized pieces of well-seasoned chicken and a creamy lemony sauce but wanted it to be a healthy dish too. With a small amount of olive oil and a sauce thickened with a mixture of low-fat milk and brown rice flour, it is possible to have a creamy, flavorful, decadent tasting pasta dish without a lot of fat. Served over multi-grain fettuccine, this Creamy Dreamy (and Healthy!) Chicken Picatta Fettuccine is bright, tangy and not too heavy, making it good even in the warmer weather.

Creamy, Dreamy (and Healthy!) Chicken Picatta Fettuccine
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 4-5)

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lbs)
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 Tbsp dried thyme
1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
1/2 Tbsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, separated
1 medium onion, cut lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 shallots, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp capers, drained
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and halved
1/3 cup low-fat milk
2 Tbsp brown rice flour
fresh lemon juice and zest from 2 lemons
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish and separated
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 package whole grain dried fettuccine cooked according to package instructions.

Chop chicken breast into bite size pieces. In a Ziploc bag, thoroughly combine flour, thyme, oregano, lemon pepper pepper and 1/2 tsp salt. Place chicken pieces in bag with flour mixture and shake. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off excess flour mixture and place on a plate. Put 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large nonstick skillet and heat on medium to medium high, so skillet is hot but not smoking. Add the chicken pieces and cook about 6 minutes, until lightly browned on all sides and cooked through. Transfer to a clean serving plate and cover with foil to keep the chicken warm. 

Adjust temperature to medium-low and heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Place onion in pan and cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add shallots and cook for about 2 minutes, then add garlic, cooking for another minute, stirring constantly. Add capers, white wine and chicken broth, bringing it to a simmer and then add artichokes. In a small cup mix milk with brown rice flour, stirring until smooth. Add to pan and simmer about 2-3 minutes, until sauce thickens. Add lemon juice, zest, and 2 Tbsp of the parsley simmering another minute or two. Add chicken pieces and then season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Place cooked, whole grain fettuccine on individual plates or serving platter, top with chicken and sauce mixture and garnish with the remaining parsley and a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve and enjoy.

Notes/Results: Excellent! I am so happy with how this turned it out, it totally satisfies my cravings for creamy and tangy, mixed together into one. The low-fat milk with the brown rice flour makes the sauce nice and thick but still smooth and creamy, so it only tastes rich and fattening. The dried herbs seasoning the flour give the chicken lots of flavor--just make sure you don't over-cook it so it stays nice and moist. I like a lot of lemon, garlic and capers, so if you don't, you can cut those down a bit. The recipe goes together pretty quickly so if you start the pasta cooking straightaway, it is possible to have it ready in about 30 minutes or so. I am happy that I made enough for leftovers and I will be making this again. 

I am sending this dish to Presto Pasta Nights, being hosted this week by the lovely Pam at Sidewalk Shoes. Be sure to check out the round-up on her site Friday to see all the delicious pasta recipes.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Superfood Breakfast Treats: Blueberry Lemon Chia Seed Muffins

I am still experimenting with my recently purchased Chia seeds and wanted to try them in baked goods. Power-packed with tons of Omega-3s and fiber, (read my post about drinks made with Chia here for more details about these tiny nutrition powerhouses), these little seeds that you might be used to seeing sprouting green "hair" on a Chia pet, have a similar texture to a poppy seed when dry. I thought they would make a great replacement in a lemon-poppy seed muffin and having leftover big, ripe, fresh blueberries added in makes these little white-wheat muffins a tasty breakfast treat, full of good health. Since I was out of eggs and didn't want to run to the store, I looked at a couple of vegan muffin recipes for inspiration for this one.

Blueberry Lemon Chia Seed Muffins
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 12 Muffins)

2 cups white-wheat flour + 1/8 cup for blueberries
2 Tbsp wheat germ
1 Tbsp baking powder
4 Tbsp Chia seeds
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup vanilla soy milk or your favorite milk replacement
1/3 cup agave syrup (or 1/2 cup sugar)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 heaping cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 and prepare a muffin tin or cupcake pan by either greasing it lightly or using cupcake liners. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients through salt, mixing together thoroughly. Making a well in the center, add soy milk, agave, lemon zest and juice, canola oil and vanilla. Mix gently until wet ingredients are moistened and mixed through. Mix blueberries carefuly with 1/8 cup flour so they are lightly coated and gently fold into the batter.

Fill the muffin tin with batter, about 3/4 full and bake for about 25 minutes, or until muffins are lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean of batter. Let cool about 15 minutes in pan, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Notes/Results: Really good! With the white-wheat flour, wheat germ and seeds, this is a hearty little muffin, but still moist and lightly sweet with all the blueberries. Because my blueberries were so sweet and ripe, I deliberately reduced the sweetener, using a half cup of agave syrup. With blueberries that are more tart, you may need a bit more sweetener and of course you can add whatever sweetener you like. I wasn't sure how baking would effect the texture of the Chia seeds, but they stay crunchy and do give the same effect as poppy seeds in a muffin. Good and good for you with all the healthy stuff packed in them, I will make these again.