Sunday, January 30, 2011

Family Recipe: Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore, or "Hunter's Chicken," has always been a family favourite. This recipe is not quite the same as the way my mom makes it, but it was delicious!

Chicken Cacciatore

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 chicken breasts, cut in half
1/2 cup flour
Salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium zucchini
1 1/2 bell peppers
1 can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp. capers

Dredge the chicken breasts in a mixture of flour, salt, and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and once the oil starts to sizzle, add the chicken breasts. Cook on each side until golden brown.

Add the garlic, zucchini, and peppers to the pan and let cook for a few minutes until the zucchini begins to soften. Then, pour the tomatoes, broth, capers, and wine into the pan. Stir and then cover the pan with a lid. When the liquid begins to simmer, remove the lid. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let cook an additional 15 minutes.

Serve over pasta.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Original: Blackberry Cornmeal Scones (Gluten-Free)

For the past few weeks I've been craving scones. I realize that this is very bad for my waistline, but my hope is that these scones will somewhat satisfy my cravings. Since I couldn't find a recipe that sounded appetizing, I decided to experiment a bit to create my own and to try to make a gluten-free recipe while I was at it. My experience with gluten-free baking is limited, so I didn't initially realize that the brown rice flour that I bought probably wouldn't work well without another type of gluten-free flour. I decided to add some arrowroot flour and a tiny bit of xanthan gum to make sure that the scones weren't too crumbly, given that I was also using cornmeal as well.  The scones turned out really well and Nigel couldn't even tell that they were gluten-free. The cornmeal adds a nice crunch and the blackberries (though I realize they aren't in season) allow these scones to stand well on their own, no butter or jam needed.

Blackberry Cornmeal Scones

1 1/3 cup flours (2/3 cup arrowroot flour, 2/3 cup brown rice flour)
2/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup cold butter
3/4 cup cream
lemon zest
1 1/2 cups blackberries (fresh or frozen)

Preheat oven to 450F.

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients with a spoon. Just mix enough to blend the ingredients.

Chop the butter into pieces and mix it into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or two forks. The mixture should be slightly crumbly.

In a separate bowl, whisk together cream, eggs, and lemon zest until egg is blended into the mixture. Create a well in the center of the dry mixture, pour the wet mix into the hole, and blend together using a spoon. Be careful not to overwork the batter. Add blackberries.

Drop batter onto a greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for approximately 15 minutes.

Tip: These tend to become a bit soft when they are stored, so reheat them in the oven to bring back the crunchiness of the outer crust!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Test: Chickpea Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette

The re-inspiration I found on Sunday carried over into the side dish that I made to go with the Kashmiri Chicken. This Chickpea Salad, as seen on Serious Eats but from Mark Peel's New Classic Family Dinners, is delicious and paired really well with the chicken. Again, though I like chickpeas, they aren't usually something that I cook with and I'm generally skeptical of fresh mint in anything, but the combination of ingredients in this salad is really fantastic. The kalamata olives are really smooth and the mint is very subtle. This salad is good as a side or would make a great lunch.

Chickpea Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette
From New Classic Family Dinners by Mark Peel

For the cumin vinaigrette
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

For the chickpea salad
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced lengthwise
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon slivered mint leaves
1 ounce feta cheese, cubed

In small skillet, toast cumin and black pepper over medium-high heat until very fragrant. Transfer to mortar and pestle or spice grinder, allow to cool 5 minutes, then crush. Crumble in oregano (I forgot the oregano, but my salad was still delicious). Tip: use a small food processor to crush spices if you don't have a mortar and pestle.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in skillet over medium heat until shimmering, then add garlic. Cook until beginning to soften, about 30 seconds, then add cumin and spices and cook for additional 30 seconds. Add vinegar and stir to combine, the whisk in remaining oil to create an emulsion. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add chickpeas to skillet and simmer until cooked and soft, 5-10 minutes. Transfer to bowl and combine with remaining ingredients. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Test: Kashmiri Chicken

I've been lacking inspiration in the kitchen lately, but reading through my favourite food blogs today, I came across a few awesome recipes to try out in the next few weeks. (Check out the Sites We Like for some of your own inspiration!) This Kashmiri Chicken from Anjum's New Indian cookbook (as seen on Serious Eats) provided just the challenge that I needed to re-inspire me to get back to the kitchen. I don't normally cook Indian food, but this recipe intrigued me. The last Indian recipe I made (for Butter Chicken), though delicious, also had a lot of cream and extra-calories, so the prospect of cooking something with all of the same flavours, but much less fat sounded great. 

Since this recipe uses some less-common spices, I recommend going to a bulk store to buy just enough for the recipe. I was able to buy four of the spices that I needed for less than what one container of spices would cost, which makes it a lot more affordable to experiment. 

From Top Clockwise: Green Cardamom Pods, Black Cardamom Pods, Bay Leaves, and Cloves

Kashmiri Chicken
From Anjum's New Indian by Anjum Anand

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
4 cloves
6 green cardamom pods
2 black cardamom pods
1 small–medium onion, peeled and sliced
1/4 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
Salt, to taste
3/4 teaspoons pure red chile powder (or paprika or Kashmiri chile powder, for color)
1 rounded teaspoon ground cumin
1 rounded teaspoon ground coriander
3 medium–large tomatoes, puréed
1 1/2 pounds chicken pieces or 4 leg quarters, skinned 

Heat the oil in a large nonstick saucepan and add the whole spices; let them splutter for 15 seconds. Add the onion and cook until golden. Meanwhile, using a blender, make a fine paste of the ginger and garlic with a little water. Add to the pan and cook until the excess liquid has evaporated and the paste has fried for 30 seconds. Add the salt, powdered spices and tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until oil is released from the masala sauce, around 10–15 minutes. 

Add 3/4 cup water and bring to the boil, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the chicken pieces and cook, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, around 25 minutes. Take off the lid and add a splash of water from a recently boiled kettle if the gravy has reduced too much or, if necessary, cook off excess liquid over high heat. Serve with rice (optional).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Test: Cheesy Broccoli Pasta Bake

The K&K Test Kitchen is back from a lovely, family-filled vacation to San Jose/San Francisco and Seattle, which means that we are back to work and back to busy weeknights. Nigel found us this Cheesy Broccoli Pasta Bake on BBC's Good Food, and it turned out to be a perfect dish for an easy weeknight dinner.  It only took about a half an hour to make.  This dish also definitely qualifies as comfort food, which is perfect for the cold winter weather we came back to after vacation! Overall, this was a very good dinner, but the recipe could use a little bit of salt and pepper. The cheddar and Asiago combination for the cheese was awesome, but definitely detracted from the "healthiness" of this dish (using skim milk helps though).

Cheesy Broccoli Pasta Bake 
From BBC Good Food

4 cups (1 liter) milk
2 garlic cloves , bashed
2 bay leaves
500g dried pasta
350g broccoli , in small florets
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup plain flour
a little freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp mustard powder
small bunch parsley, roughly chopped (we left this out)
200g cheese, grated (cheddar, Parmesan, Gruyère, or a mixture)- we used cheddar and Asiago

1. Bring the milk, garlic and bay leaves to the boil in a small saucepan, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse.

2. Cook the pasta to al dente following pack instructions (if you're freezing, cook for 1 min less), adding the broccoli for the final 2 mins. Drain.

3. Strain the milk into a jug. Heat the butter in the pan until foaming then stir in the flour for 1 min. Add the milk a little at a time, stirring or whisking constantly to remove any lumps. Bubble for 1-2 mins, stirring constantly until you have a thick, lump-free sauce. (Don't be alarmed if it looks kind of funky as you add the milk, the butter and flour mixture gets fairly thick, but thins out once all of the milk is added.)

4. Remove from the heat and stir in some nutmeg, the mustard powder, parsley, three-quarters of the cheese and seasoning. Combine with the pasta and broccoli and transfer to one large, or individual, heatproof dishes. Turn the oven on to broil.  Scatter the remaining cheese over the casserole, and broil in the oven for 2-3 mins until golden and bubbling. You can also freeze the casserole instead of broiling it for up to three months.  If frozen, defrost in the fridge overnight, then cook at 400F for 30-40 mins until piping hot.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Test: Gordon Ramsay's Beef Wellington

The inspiration to make beef wellington came to me a few weeks ago at Nigel's work Christmas party (a gorgeous affair at the National Gallery!). At the party, one of the hors d'oeuvres was mini-beef wellington, and I scarfed down at least three of them. They were so delicious, I got it stuck in my head that I needed to make beef wellington.  So, we decided to test the famous Gordon Ramsay Beef Wellington recipe from BBC's Good Food for our New Year's Day dinner. This dish is very time consuming, and therefore, should really be saved for special occasions. Apparently, it can even be made up to 24 hours ahead of time. It was absolutely delicious though. I even ate the mushroom duxelles, and I hate mushrooms. We served the beef wellington with buttermilk mashed potatoes.

Tips: depending on the thickness of your meat, you may need to cook it a bit longer. Our meat was very thick and the 15 minutes plus 25 minutes left it too rare for our taste. Using a meat thermometer can help. 

Gordon Ramsay's Beef Wellington
(Takes 2-4 hours to prepare)

a good beef fillet of around 1kg/2lb 4oz (we used Eye of Round)
3 tbsp olive oil
250g chestnut mushrooms , include some wild ones if you like
50g butter
1 large sprig fresh thyme
100ml dry white wine
12 slices prosciutto
500g/1lb 2oz pack puff pastry , thawed if frozen
a little flour , for dusting
2 egg yolks beaten with 1 tsp water

1. Heat oven to 425F. Sit the beef on a roasting tray, brush with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with pepper, then roast for 15 mins for medium-rare or 20 mins for medium. When the beef is cooked to your liking, remove from the oven to cool, then chill in the fridge for about 20 mins.

2. While the beef is cooling, chop the mushrooms as finely as possible so they have the texture of coarse breadcrumbs. You can use a food processor to do this, but make sure you pulse-chop the mushrooms so they don't become a slurry.

3. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil and all the butter in a large pan and fry the mushrooms on a medium heat, with the thyme sprig, for about 10 mins stirring often, until you have a softened mixture. Season the mushroom mixture, pour over the wine and cook for about 10 mins until all the wine has been absorbed. The mixture should hold its shape when stirred. Remove the mushroom duxelle from the pan to cool and discard the thyme.

4. Overlap two pieces of cling film over a large chopping board. Lay the prosciutto on the cling film, slightly overlapping, in a double row. Spread half the duxelles over the prosciutto, then sit the fillet on it and spread the remaining duxelles over. Use the cling film's edges to draw the prosciutto around the fillet, then roll it into a sausage shape, twisting the ends of cling film to tighten it as you go. Chill the fillet while you roll out the pastry.

5. Roll out a third of the pastry to a 18 x 30cm strip and place on a non-stick baking sheet. Roll out the remaining pastry to about 28 x 36cm. Unravel the fillet from the cling film and sit it in the centre of the smaller strip of pastry and brush the pastry's edges, and the top and sides of the wrapped fillet, with beaten egg yolk. Using a rolling pin, carefully lift and drape the larger piece of pastry over the fillet, pressing well into the sides. Trim the joins to about a 4cm rim. Seal the rim with the edge of a fork or spoon handle. 

6. Glaze all over with more egg yolk and, using the back of a knife, mark the beef Wellington with long diagonal lines taking care not to cut into the pastry. Chill for at least 30 mins and up to 24 hrs. Heat oven to 400F. Brush the Wellington with a little more egg yolk and cook until golden and crisp - 20-25 mins for medium-rare beef, 30 mins for medium. Allow to stand for 10 mins before serving in thick slices.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Mama Iuliucci's FAMOUS MEAT-A-BALLS (Italian Meatballs)

I have been searching for a tender, delicious meatball recipe for years. I have come up with many different recipes but I could not find a recipe that was consistently tender each time I made them. So in December I thought I would try again and I googled best meatball recipes and found Mama luliucci's Famous Meat-a-Balls on Since this recipe got great reviews I decided to give it a try. I followed the recipe except for the addition of milk or water to add extra moisture. I am pleased to say that after making these recipe three times that the meatballs were both tender and delicious. On Christmas Eve, I made these meatballs for Meatball Sliders which were awesome and the photo comes from our leftovers used for Spaghetti and Meatballs. All four of my taste testers (Kelsey, Nigel, Tim and Taryn) agreed that this recipe was a keeper. Give it a try and I am sure you will agree!

Buon appetito! Kim

36 meatballs
• 2 lbs lean ground beef (I used 1 1/4 lb. lean beef and 3/4 lb. ground veal)
• 8 -10 slices white bread, broken into small 1/2 inch pieces (or you can use rolls or any stale bread you have and want to use up....I used stale french loaf and grated it so the chunks were not as big))
• 2 eggs, slightly beaten
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or to taste)
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or to taste)
• 2 teaspoons parsley flakes (or to taste)
• 1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or Locatelli)
• 1 -2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• olive oil or vegetable oil (for frying)
1/2 cup milk or water ( my addition to recipe)


Prep Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Mix all ingredients gently in a large bowl until well combined.
2. Roll meatballs 1 1/2- 1 3/4" in diameter.
3. Heat about 1/4" of oil over medium heat in a large frying pan.
Fry meatballs in oil, rolling frequently, until evenly browned and juices run clear.
Drop meatballs in your favorite sauce and let simmer for a while to flavor sauce or just serve with your favorite pasta and sauce.
Tip: You can also bake or broil these if the frying part is too much of a hassle-- I use my broiler pan if I bake them, so the fat drips down and away from the meatballs.

We have a winner!

Congratulations to Dawn, the winner of the apron and potholder! Thank you to all for entering the giveaway and for being such loyal readers! Love to all and a happy 2011!

Dawn - I will bring you the apron when I come out to visit next week!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cookbook Test: Buttermilk Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

For Christmas, my mom gave me a new cupcake cookbook, "Holiday Cupcakes" by Annie Rigg. The book is full of gorgeously decorated cupcakes, but unfortunately, I will have to wait until next year to decorate my cupcakes like the Christmas trees, "Snow-ho-ho-men," and little Santas. However, the book does have a few basic recipes that can be used as a base, so I decided to test out the buttermilk cake and the vanilla buttercream recipes. While the buttermilk cake batter looked lovely and fluffy when it was uncooked, it turned out fairly dry. This confirms my suspicions that the best cake batter is made with vegetable oil instead of butter (see Mint Chocolate Cupcakes). The buttercream was great, although I had to add red food colouring, since the butter made it a boring yellow colour.  My recommendation is to skip the buttermilk cake (or maybe try to tweak it somehow), but to definitely use this buttercream for your future icing endeavours. At least my cupcakes looked pretty!

Buttermilk Cake
From "Holiday Cupcakes" by Annie Rigg

12 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk, beaten
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy.  Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the side of the mixing bowl from time to time. Add the vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and add to the mixture in alternate batches with the buttermilk. Mix until smooth, then turn to the relevant recipe.

Vanilla Buttercream 
From "Holiday Cupcakes" by Annie Rigg

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
A few drops of pure vanilla extract (I actually use white vanilla extract in order to keep the icing white)

Put the butter in a large mixing bowl and, using a freestanding mixer or electric whisk, cream until really soft. Gradually add the sifted confectioners sugar until pale and smooth. Beat in the vanilla, if using.

**The apron giveaway ends Sunday, Jan. 2 at 3 pm EST! To enter, like the K&K Test Kitchen Fan page and write a comment for the giveaway post.**

Happy 2011! Good Luck Black Eyed Peas

Eating black eyed peas on New Year's Day is a tradition in my family. The peas are supposed to bring health, prosperity, and good luck in the new year. I've never actually liked black eyed peas very much, and only ate them due to superstition. For 2011 and my first time making the peas myself, I wanted to be sure that I made them as tasty as possible (though I was doubtful they could be anything but disgusting).  The recipe I made is similar to "Hoppin' John," a traditional Southern dish, although my version didn't have rice in it. It turned out well enough that I ate an entire, large serving and Nigel liked it as well. Here's to a 2011 full of good luck!

Good Luck Black Eyed Peas

6 slices of prosciutto
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
16 oz. dry black eyed peas
3 cups water
12 oz. diced tomatoes
Fresh ground salt and pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper

Cut the prosciutto into slices, then cook until crisp in a large sauce pan on medium-high heat in one tablespoon of olive oil. Once crisp, remove the prosciutto and place on a paper towel.

Add the second tablespoon of olive oil to the pot along with the onions. Cook the onions for a few minutes before adding the garlic. Brown the onions and garlic, scrapping the browned bits left from the prosciutto off the bottom of the pot.

Add the water, peas, tomatoes, and spices to the pot. Cook on medium heat for about an hour or until the beans are cooked, but not mushy.

To serve, top the beans with the crispy prosciutto.

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