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Tag: wine

All-From-Scratch Chicken Pot Pie

February 20th, 2010 — 3:25am

A “He Cooks” post from my friend Mike, who goes a little more traditional after sharing his Fried Beer-Battered Pickles and Five Spice Squash Soup recipes.

This is one of my absolute favorite winter meals. The hot chicken and root-vegetable filling is hearty and warming on a snowy day. There are two ways to make this pot pie:  from scratch, or with store bought stock, pie crust, and a rotisserie chicken. The latter is certainly faster and easier, but the former tastes better, and leaves you with a few quarts of homemade chicken stock for the freezer.

I made this one from scratch, and it has been a hit every time I’ve served it.  Everyone is always amazed that there aren’t any herbs or spices besides the salt and pepper. I think that’s the homemade stock, chicken fat, and rich root vegetables coming through.

If you want to make this from scratch I would recommend either starting early in the day or preparing the filling a day or two ahead and keeping it in the fridge until ready to bake.
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4 comments » | Recipes

Risotto Three Ways

July 14th, 2009 — 12:33pm

Risotto had been on our list of things to make for some time, and a few months ago the slow-motion shots of a Venetian chef flipping risotto on Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations finally compelled us to buy arborio rice.

Since then, we've had three very successful risotto endeavors.

Our first effort was a knockout taste-wise, but too ugly to stand alone in a blog post. (The internet can be cruel.) Then Sycamore chef Mike Odette let me borrow his risotto cookbook, which had great information and fun stories, along with delicious sounding recipes. A few notes:

  • “Risotto is a simple dish, with relatively few ingredients. Consequently, each element gets its share of the limelight and sparkles individually on your palate.” — ie. Use butter, homemade stock and real Italian cheese
  • Risotto doesn't like shortcuts. The stock must be added a cup at a time so it is slowly absorbed by each grain. “Continue the game of add, stir, and wait, until the rice is just slightly resistant to the bite.”
  • “Good raw materials. Simple cooking procedures. No unnecessary frills. That's what Italian cooking is all about.”

Before Michael left, we finished off the arborio rice with our highest quality risotto yet. Homemade stock, a whole stick of butter, saffron, shrimp and scallops, and real Parmesan Reggiano.

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6 comments » | Books, Recipes

‘Beard on Food’ and Sardines on Toast

June 10th, 2009 — 1:01pm

beardJust after the James Beard Award semifinalists were announced, I decided it was time to learn more about Beard himself. I made a special trip to the university library to check out one of his books. I’ll add that in seven semesters at Missouri I never needed a library book for class, but since starting this blog, I have checked out nine books and browsed many others on the second level of the West Stacks.

Anyway, back in February I picked up Beard on Food (an unpleasant title to anyone unfamiliar with the man who might have been the first celebrity chef). The book is a collection of his favorite columns and recipes, starting with the

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perfect hamburger and ending with Saltimbocca all’Emiliana, a delicious-sounding dish with spinach, veal scaloppini, prosciutto, sage and Marsala.

The essays were all written before 1974, which means they are filled with reminders of how much has changed over the years. We’ve come a long way since the time when wasabi needed to be called “green Japanese horseradish.” Today nearly anyone will answer “yes” to Beard’s query, “Have you encountered pita?” And let’s be thankful that avocados are no longer called “alligator pears” and are not “a very expensive delicacy.”

At times Beard is quite funny. My favorite line being: “Two of my best friends are a stripper and a zester. In case that raises some pretty wild visions, let me hasten to say that they are not girls but gadgets, and I couldn’t do without them in the kitchen.”

You can tell Beard was a man who had profound appreciation for food. Many of his columns are dedicated to a particular ingredient, and he kept his recipes simple enough for each to shine. One essay was called “The Sardine, a Small Miracle.” He talked about one of his favorite sandwiches, “homemade bread, well-buttered, spread with mashed sardines, a few drops of lemon juice, and a thin slice of onion, eaten with a glass of beer or wine.”

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I thought about sardines. In my head I didn’t think I liked them, but then I wasn’t sure if I ever really had them. Did I actually dislike them? I decided to buy a tin and find out.

I followed Beard’s recipe for wined sardines on toast. If I was going to like sardines, it was going to be with butter, onion, garlic, wine and lemon, that’s for sure. Turns out all those things are delicious with the little fish, and my friend Marissa agreed. She didn’t think she liked sardines either until actually tasting them this way on homemade bread. So if you’re on the fence, as we were, I feel this could open your horizons. And it would probably make the late James Beard proud.

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4 comments » | Books, Recipes

Wild Turkey Breast Sandwiches

May 1st, 2009 — 2:26pm

My roommate’s boyfriend has been doing a lot of turkey hunting lately. And since every time he sees me I’m in the kitchen, he figured I’d enjoy some wild turkey breast. I’d never cooked anything wild before, so I did some research. I didn’t want the meat to be too tough or too gamey tasting.

On the Missouri Department of Conservation website (of all places) I found a recipe for a white wine and lime marinade. Sounded tasty and nice and acidic to tenderize the turkey. Then I baked the strips of turkey breast in a pan with some of the marinade to keep it moist.

The result was still a little tough since the turkey was not only wild, but a little older, too. I didn’t notice the toughness at all once I put the meat on a sandwich with tons of fixins. I think sauces and other additions are what make a good sandwich, so we had lots of options:

  • Guacamole
  • Chili-garlic tomato paste
  • Sun-dried tomato cream cheese (from Panera)
  • Mustard
  • Mayonnaise
  • Monterey jack cheese
  • Thin slices of carrots and cucumbers
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Red romaine lettuce

I hadn’t had a good sandwich in a while, so this hit the spot.

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4 comments » | Recipes

Transforming Leftovers

April 19th, 2009 — 3:35pm

leftover-goat-pita1One week after Easter, it was time to finish off the goat meat left over from dinner last Sunday. Michael and I roasted a goat shoulder with garlic, rosemary and marjoram on Easter. It was good, if not slightly overcooked because I didn't have a meat thermometer.

The next day Michael had the idea to braise some leftover meat for our tapas-style dinner with friends. Thinking of Spanish flavors, we added tomato sauce, paprika and white wine. We let that simmer for at least 30 minutes. It made another nice tapa.

Now today there was still some roasted meat in the fridge — enough for one really hungry person. Enter me, who had just worked out. I pulled the meat apart, tossing out some fat, and put it in a small pot. I added a tablespoon

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or two of tomato paste, black ground pepper, red pepper flakes and a few glugs of red wine. I brought it to a boil then let it simmer as I showered. When I came back, I added a little water since there wasn't much liquid left. It tasted too acidic from the wine and tomato paste so I sprinkled in some sugar, let the water cook out, and toasted a pita.

A few minutes later I was enjoying what might have been even better than the goat was a week before. The meat didn't taste like bbq pulled pork, but it reminded me of it because the it was so succulent and a little sweet.

This is my new formula for transforming leftover lamb or goat roasts:

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3 comments » | Cooking Basics, Recipes

Acid Redux

February 18th, 2009 — 4:05pm

acids1In the Los Angeles Times food section today, editor Russ Parsons (also the author of How to Read a French Fry, which I started reading the other day) discussed the benefits of adding acids

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like vinegars to a dish.

How many times have you watched Top Chef, or something like it, and heard the judges say, “It needs more acid” and wondered what exactly that meant? “Needs more acid” used to be my go-to phrase for sounding like a food snob in jest. Then I started to read about more about cooking, and suddenly acid is no joke.

Acidity is sourness. As I mentioned the other day, The Flavor Bible talks a lot about balancing flavors, and sourness is one of those. The book says acid is only second to salt in enhancing flavors. There’s a quote from Sharon Hage, a chef at York Street in Dallas, “We have lemon juice right next to the salt when we cook. Acid is the most important aspect of how a dish tastes — whether it is there as subtle punctuation or an exclamation point!

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The LA Times article focuses on vinegars (balsamic, red wine, sherry, apple cider), but I use citrus fruits a lot. Anything Thai or Latin benefits from a squeeze of lime, as something Mediterranean or Middle Eastern will be enhanced with lemon. Oranges are a lot less harsh than their yellow and green cousins, and orange zest adds depth to desserts, like in an apple-cranberry pie.

Wine is great for awakening dishes too. White wine or sherry in a stir-fry marinade or a dry red in tomato sauce are almost critical to me now.

The point is, when something seems sorta blah, a squeeze of citrus or splash of wine or vinegar could be your redemption. The Flavor Bible tells me so.

4 comments » | Cooking Basics

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