February 29, 2012

Jam On It Pulled Chicken

2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
12 oz chili sauce (like Heinz)
12 oz grapefruit jam
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 teaspoons black pepper
3/4 teaspoon pecan liquid smoke
1 teaspoon roasted ground ginger
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Add all ingredients to a 2 or 4 quart slow cooker*. Stir. Cook on low in the slow cooker 6-8 hrs on low. When done, meat should shred easily. Remove the chicken to a platter. Use two forks to pull apart. Mash the contents of the slow cooker. Return the chicken to the slow cooker. Toss to evenly coat with sauce. Serve on rolls.

*Make sure that the slow cooker is 2/3-3/4 of the way full. Any less and your food will not cook evenly.

My thoughts:
There was a cute little chicken farm not far from where we used to spend a lot of summer days on the river in the tiny, cold water and outhouse-only cabin my grandpop bought back in the '60s when my mom was a child. Now the the cabin is gone and my parents live there in a modern house and the chicken farm has been converted into a large farm store. They have local produce for sale and a lot of other locally produced items. They still sell award-winning eggs and lots, and lots of poultry. I love shopping there because it like going to the farmers market but it is open every day and I don't have to get up the crack of dawn on Sunday and drive across town. Last time I was there I loaded up on turkey sausage, turkey breast, ground turkey thighs and these tasty chicken thighs.

You all know I love pulled pork and pulled chicken is a good alternative. Thighs shred nicely and unlike breasts, they do not tend to dry out even if you cook them a long time. This recipe is super easy, the chicken stays juicy and it uses up some of the jam that if you are like me, you have been hoarding. I liked it served on rolls but I bet it would make awesome pulled chicken nachos.

February 27, 2012

Ginger Five Spice Brisket Sliders

3 1/2 lb brisket
1 onion, very thinly sliced
1 quart beef stock
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 carrots, halved
6 whole cloves garlic
1 1/2 inch knob ginger
1 teaspoon five spice powder
1 teaspoon sesame oil
I bunch green onion, chopped

Place the brisket, onion, stock, soy sauce, sugar, carrots, garlic cloves and ginger into a large pot with a tight fitting lid. The brisket should be totally submerged. If not, add water until the brisket is covered. Cook over medium-low heat for about 3 hours or until the brisket is easily flaked with a fork and very tender. Remove the brisket, onion and garlic. Slice the meat. Mash the garlic. Toss the garlic with the meat and onion. Stir in 5 spice powder, sesame oil; adding a bit of the braising liquid as needed to moisture. Divide among slider rolls and top with green onion.

My thoughts:
These were amazingly simple, yet delicious sliders. I love making brisket in the slow cooker because it keeps it moist and I don't have to worry about water evaporating or watching something on the stove but there is something to be said about the stove top method. It is quicker, and if you have a heavy pot, it is nearly foolproof. This dish comes out just as lean because you are discarding the majority of the braising liquid. The somewhat nontraditional ginger-five spice-soy sauce combination really permeate the meat and infuse every bite with flavor.

February 24, 2012

Rappafuku Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cornflake Cookies

1 cup flour
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup smashed corn flakes (not powder, just crunched up)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup 63% dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpats. In a medium sized bowl combine flour, and baking powder. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the sweetened butter and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the chocolate chips, cornflakes and marshmallows. Take care that they are distributed evenly. Form cookies by dropping a heaping 1 tablespoon of dough on the sheet 2 -2 1/2 inches apart. Flatten slightly. Bake 12 minutes. The centers still may look slightly shiny. Carefully remove* to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Yield: approx. 1 1/2 dozen cookies

*If there is a lot of marshmallow sticking, move the cookies while still on the silipat or parchment off of the pan and on to the wire rack.

My thoughts:
During a recent trip to the Upper West Side, I went to Momofuku Milk Bar and had one of their lovely buns and brought back one of their famed cookies. It was very good (and chewy!) and I thought I'd like to try my hand at making a similar cookie at home. I've seen some "copycat" recipes here and there but I didn't want to make the exact thing I had at Milk Bar, I wanted to take the concept and transform it into cookie that would be just as tasty but not as fussy, crisp, heavy and well, not as gigantic as the one I had in NYC. Plus one that would be easy to make at home.

Success! Despite the sugar and marshmallow, my cookies ended up being less sweet than the original; the marshmallow just made them chewy, not overly sugary. The cookies had a crunch from the cornflakes but the cookies were still soft and not dry or crumbly. I loved the chocolate chips I used. I found them (Guittard 63% Extra Dark Chocolate Chips) at some odd shop that didn't even sell baking goods. No idea why they were there but I picked up a couple of bags and like most Guittard products, they were really good. Dark chocolate-y and held their shape nicely. The darkness of the chips also helped the final cookie from tasting too sweet. I don't think they would be as good with milk chocolate chips. I love the chocolate-marshmallow-cornflake combination just as much but honestly, liked the connecting cookie better in my version. It was a little more flavorful on its own than the Milk Bar cookie. But then, I am partial to a homemade drop cookie.

February 22, 2012

Smoked Trout & Cave-aged Gruyère Bites

12 olive oil "tapas" crackers
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
4 oz smoked trout, flaked
3 oz cave-aged Gruyère, cut into small shapes
12 small bits of fennel fronds
1-2 teaspoons delicata squash oil
1/2-1 teaspoon fennel pollen

Arrange the crackers on a platter. Top each with a slice of egg then divide the trout among the center of the eggs. Arrange the cheese to one side. Place the frond on the other end. Drizzle or dot with delicata squash oil. Sprinkle with pollen.

My thoughts:
I was lucky enough to come into possession of a bottle of delicata squash oil. I am always on the look out for new oils and as you know, I roast the seeds from a lot of squash, not just pumpkin and know how differently they can taste from each other. This oil was rich, dark, nutty and strong tasting. It was awesome in salad dressing but the best use was in this easy, flavorful tapas-inspired appetizer. The richness of the oil complemented the smoky fish and the nutty, complex cheese.

February 20, 2012

My new cookbook: Everything Whole Foods

I am happy to announce that my second solo cookbook, Everything Whole Foods is now available* and shipping from Amazon!

This book includes 300 ALL NEW recipes all using minimally processed ingredients like fresh meats, fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

Chapters include:
The Whole Foods Movement (explaining how and why to use whole ingredients)
Smoothies & Drinks
Breakfast & Brunch
Salads & Sandwiches
Dressings & Sauces
Soups, Stews & Chili
Side Dishes
Grains & Rice
Snacks & Appetizers
Ice Pops, Granitas & Sorbets
Plus: Online resources, a shopping list, weekly meal plan and a list of whole foods for healing

I am excited to see it in print and to share these recipes with you, my readers! Enjoy!

*The official release date is March 17th but it is shipping out this week from online retailers and should be in stores shortly.

February 15, 2012

Sunny Yellow Split Pea Vegetable Soup

1 lb rutabaga, cubed
3 stalks celery, cubed (leaves included)
3 parsnips, cubed
3 carrots, cubed
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
juice and zest of one Meyer lemon
1 lb yellow split peas
2 quarts ham or chicken or vegetable stock (or water, if you have to)
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb cubed cottage ham, lightly browned (optional)

Place the vegetables, lemon juice and zest, stock and spices in a 6-quart slow cooker. Stir. Cook on low 10-14 hrs.Stir in cottage ham, if desired.

My thoughts:
I started out thinking this would be a 4-quart recipe but after I added all of the vegetables my helpful husband chopped the night before, there wasn't room left in the 4-quart for the split peas, much less the stock! So, I quickly switched it to the 6-quart crock* and was good to go. This is a great recipe to use up what ever odds and ends of vegetables are in the bin. As long as you keep the proportions about right, one could use more parsnips and less carrots or turnips (or even potatoes) instead of rutabaga and the soup would be just as good. This is also an awesome recipe if you want to use the slow cooker and will be gone a long time; it really is just as good at 10 hrs as it is at 14 or so. Of course, the longer you cook it, the more broken down the peas will be but it is just as tasty!

As always, I prepped the vegetables the night before. You can also place the split peas and spices in the (closed, cold) slow cooker the night before.

*This is why I love my 3-in-1 slow cooker!

February 13, 2012

Italian Inspired Turkey Meatloaf with a Tomato-Balsamic Glaze

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 lb ground turkey thighs
14 oz canned diced tomatoes, drained
1 egg
1 tablespoon minced green olives (or olive spread)
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/3 cup matzo meal
6 oz tomato paste
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix together the turkey, egg, olives, matzo meal, onion, garlic and spices. Form into a loaf. Place in a loaf pan (or, preferably, a meatloaf pan. Whisk together the tomato paste and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Brush over meatloaf. Bake for 40 minutes or until fully cooked. Allow to sit 2-3 minutes prior to slicing.

My thoughts:
I love using ground turkey thighs in meatloaf because it is more flavorful than ground turkey breast but still much leaner than beef. The tomatoes added a lot of flavor and the glaze sealed in the moisture. A great yet simple change from the every day meatloaf.

February 10, 2012

Rachel's Clam Fettuccine

1 onion, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/3 cup dry white wine
8 oz bottled clam juice
9 oz fresh fettuccine, cooked
50 little neck clams
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon butter, diced

Heat some olive oil in a large, heavy pot (I used my enameled dutch oven). Sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally until fragrant. Pour in wine and clam juice and boil until slightly reduced, 3-5 minutes. Add the clams to the sauce and simmer, covered, until the clams are fully opened. Toss with parsley, butter and pasta.

My thoughts:
I've been in a seafood sort of mood lately. I think it is part of my continued rebellion against winter and winter-related foods. This dish is both light and easy to make but since it uses clams, still seems festive and somewhat special.

February 06, 2012

Shrimp, Radish & Hearts of Palm Salad

1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
14 oz jarred hearts of palm, sliced
1 bunch small red radishes, thinly sliced
greens from one bunch radish, torn (if large)

for the dressing:
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons horseradish
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
zest from 1 lemon
freshly ground black pepper

for the shrimp:
2 lb large shrimp
1 1/4 cup water
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds

Bring the water, bay leaves, peppercorns and mustard seeds to a boil in a large, lidded pot. Add shrimp. Cover and boil until fully cooked. Drain. Allow to cool slightly then peel. Place the shrimp in a large bowl. Set aside to cool further. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside. Add the celery, hearts of palm, radishes and greens to the shrimp. Toss to evenly distribute all ingredients. Drizzle with dressing, toss again to coat. Refrigerate 30 minutes to 2 hours prior to serving.

My thoughts:
As most longtime readers know I am no big fan of winter. Luckily (and I hope I am not jinxing myself) it has been unseasonably mild and snow-free but still, winter in the mid-Atlantic means virtually no fresh, local foods and a reliance on greenhouse goods and squash that was picked in October. I am also not a big fan of "winter" food in general. Give me a fresh tomato any day. So it is always about this time of year that I start looking for something that at least tastes slightly summery yet can be made using ingredients that actually taste good now. Enter this salad. Radishes have been showing up at the store with their perky tops still on and tasting just as good as they do in early spring. I've decided not to question it but instead, to add them to this light, zesty salad. I chose ingredients that had a bit of a bite to them which made it seem slightly more wintery than say, a shrimp and dill salad. It was just what I needed to face another cold, dark day.

February 03, 2012

Cowpoke Beans

1 slice thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cayenne peppers, minced
15 oz canned pinto beans, drained
15 oz fire roasted tomatoes
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon hot paprika

Saute the garlic, onion and peppers in bacon grease or oil until the onion is translucent. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir. Cover and simmer until fully cooked.

My thoughts:
We smoked a brisket Texas-style and Matt suggested I make beans to go along with it. After reading tons of recipes for ranch beans, cowboy beans and gaucho beans (all simultaneously similar yet different) I decided to make up my own recipe. This what I came up with and I am happy to say it did the brisket justice. I used canned beans because it was quicker but dried (cooked) could be substituted. I also made a relatively small batch (most recipes called for 16 oz of dried beans and tons of tomato) but it could be doubled if need be. If you have any end bits from your brisket, they are tasty stirred into the beans as well.

February 01, 2012

Homemade Pastrami

1 corned beef (follow this recipe up to the cooking portion)
3 tablespoons whole coriander
3 tablespoons whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

Soak the meat 15 minutes in cold water. Rub with paprika and sugar. Using a mortar and pestle or other grinder, grind the peppercorns and coriander until broken down but still coarse. Rub into the meat on all sides. Refrigerate overnight.

Place on one rack of your smoker. Place two chimmneys' worth of unlit coals in the coal ring. Add 3 chunks mesquite then add one chimney worth of lit coals on top. Place 3 additional chunks of mesquite on top of the lit coals. Reassemble the smoker. Fill the water bowl with warm water. Smoke for 5 hours keeping the temperature between 225-275.

Smoke for 6 to 6 1/2 hours or until the internal temperature is 165. Wrap tightly in foil and place in a cold oven or cooler for 1-2 hours before slicing.*

*If you can, wait until the next day to slice, the flavors are even better. What we did was make the pastrami to eat the next day one one rack and a Texas style brisket to eat the same date for dinner on the second rack.

My thoughts:
I am more of a corned beef girl myself but there is something to be said about smoked meat. For some reason I thought it would be tricky but it really wasn't. You're basically starting with a corned beef then rubbing it with spices and smoking it. Easy-peasy. I was excited that it came out tasting so much like deli pastrami. It was inexpensive to make my own too, brisket is much cheaper (especially on sale as it is often this time of year)per pound than deli meats and think how much more impressive serving homemade pastrami is!