Monday, November 30, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore

"In the pan in which the chicken was browned" .... for some reason I just love that sentence!

Every time I reach for my Canadian Cook Book to look up my recipe for cacciatore...I say it out loud. Usually to no one but me.. seeing as I am usually the only one home when I begin supper. Silly me...but, I do... every single time....

I don't make it often enough to remember the ingredients or the actual doing...but, definitely remember that little line...

As usual.... any recipe is just a guideline... unless of course, it is Julia and a French recipe... then, by all means follow it to the letter if you want perfect results every time!

This one is forgiving.... it doesn't even give amounts really... but, I am usually working with about 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs... so here is the exact recipe from my lovely, old, Canadian Cook Book.

Chicken Cacciatore

In the pan in which the chicken was browned, cook 1 thinly sliced onion and 1 clove crushed garlic, until golden brown.
Blend in one cup water, one 8 ounce tin tomato paste, a tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper; cover and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 1 hour. Add 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms and 1/2 cup dry red wine (optional) and cook uncovered for 5 minutes more.

That's it... but,...... I like to add some canned tomatoes and I never use any salt for sure because there is plenty in a tin of tomatoes. I have discovered heart healthy canned tomatoes sans salt though... some days I like to mix half and half.. it's perfect then! I don't like the taste of too much salt. Also... I like to brown my mushrooms in a tiny bit of butter before I do the chicken.. take them out while browning chicken and toss them back in. Add some celery along with the onion as well... some extra oregano, sweet basil or Herbes de Provence spices ..whatever you feel like using on the day or whatever you have handy.

We have it with spaghetti, a bit of Parmesan scraped on and some freshly ground black peppercorns. Yum.'s especially great with a slice of freshly baked Tuscan Peasant Bread toasted .. (that bread makes the absolute best toast !!) with some garlic butter on... just crush some garlic and mix it into a tablespoon of butter... mmmmmmm..........

See why I try to cut back on salts and fats where I can? Because I do like the occasional tsp. of butter.... and I am darn well having real butter on my real breads... beautiful and home made breads! Now that I've learned to bake my own breads... store bought just doesn't cut it...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Naan Bread

I've been wanting to give some Naan a try for years... since long before I got brave and learned to make breads.... and each time I say that I say a quiet thank you to Lewis... whose blog really inspired me and then he even sent me some bread making books. What a guy! He has not been blogging since moving to Italy... probably because there is too much bread baking happening there.

Next time I make them...I think I'll add the dry ingredients to the wet instead of the way the recipe indicated...that way I will have a better handle on the dryness of things. The first time I make a recipe...I follow it to the letter and make notes... but, next time.... I make my own adjustments....

The flavour and texture turned out wonderful...but, I think it might just work better with a teensy bit less flour than they called for and be a bit easier to make it smoother... a smoother looking chunk of bread is all I want from this recipe......see how it is creased here and there? ...not like the picture in the book...which by the way is BREAD by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter ..... could be the weather...the elevation...whatever... but, next time..a bit less flour initially might just do it.

Naan Bread

2 cups unbleached white bread flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 ounce fresh yeast (I used about 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast)
4 TBSP lukewarm milk
1 TBSP vegetable oil
2 TBSP plain yogurt
1 egg
2 - 3 tablespoons melted ghee or butter; for brushing.

Sift flour and salt together into a large bowl. In smaller bowl, cream the yeast with the milk. Set aside for 15 minutes. (I just sprinkled my yeast on the milk, stirred it in.. ... it foamed up nicely after about 15 )...
Add the yeast mixture, oil, yogurt and egg to the flour and mix to a soft dough.
Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. (My dough initially seemed a bit dry to me, but eventually didn't feel too bad).. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise, in warm place, for 45 minutes, or until double in bulk.

Preheat oven to 450F. Place baking sheet in oven to heat also. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface .. punch down. Divide into 3 equal pieces and shape into balls. Cover two of the balls with oiled plastic wrap and roll out the third into a teardrop shape about 10 inches long, 5 inches wide and with a thickness of about 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch.

Place Naan on hot baking sheets and bake for 3 - 4 minutes or until puffed up.
Then place under hot broiler for a few seconds or until the top browns slightly.

Wrap Naan in a dish towel to keep warm while rolling out and cooking the remaining naan. Brush with melted ghee or butter and serve warm.

Makes 3 Naan.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Parsnip Puffs

I had no idea how these would turn out... but.....they have been declared "a keeper" by Mr. BumbleVee...
Without further ado... may I present these tasty little parsnip puffs from the April issue of Recipes Only Magazine.... oh, and I guess I better admit.... it was April 1988 .... told ya I saved things...especially old recipes and mags with recipes in them. Every so often I drag out a handful and peruse...admire the beautiful food photography...and purge ...or not... this one gets to stay. It's a tiny little thing... 5 X 7.. more like a brochure..won't take up any space at all tucked in with my cookbooks.

This is the recipe straight from the book...but, don't forget... all recipes are meant to be toyed with.... I used Apple Jelly as I had some home made from a friend on hand... and I halved the recipe as I only had a pound of parsnips... ...

Parsnip Currant Puffs

2 lbs. parsnips
2 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
salt and pepper
3 TBSP red curant jelly

Peel parsnips, cut into about 6 pieces each and cook, covered, in a small amount of boiling salted water for 10 minutes or until soft. Drain well in a sieve. Place in food processor (in batches if necessary) and puree.
Add egg yolks, ginger and salt and pepper to taste. Process until light and fluffy. (Recipe can be prepared ahead to this point, covered and refrigerated up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.)
In medium bowl, whip egg whites until stiff but still moist. Fold into parsnip mixture.
Divide most of the mixture amongst 8 buttered (6oz./175ml) custard cups or individual souffle dishes.
Make well in each, spoon in one eighth of the jelly and cover with remaining parsnip mixture, smoothing the top. Place filled dishes in shallow pan with boiling water halfway up sides of dishes.
Bake in preheated 325 F (160) oven about 20 minutes or until slightly puffed and set on top. Serve immediately.

I didn't bother with a food processor... I cut them in small pieces.. boiled them.. they mashed up nicely ... I even saved the lovely parsnip-y water with all the nutrients in it. I freeze all water I ever boil a veggie in.. and save it for soups.... you can't believe how much flavour it adds..not to mention nutrition.

I just filled each ramekin half full.. placed a big flat dollop of the Apple Jelly .. and then filled the ramekin with more parsnip mixture.

I served the ramekin right on the plate... it was still pretty hot... but, we were careful... peas, couscous and leftover chicken got a new lease on life with this interesting and pretty little side ....

Friday, November 13, 2009

Frozen berries...

I prefer fresh blueberries when making scones... they don't leave streaks of colour ... but, not many fresh berries around ... we'll take 'em how we can... just to get scones at all.

Days go by and by the time I think about putting some wonderful recipe on here... the moment passes... or it is a day when I haven't done any baking or perhaps haven't made a very exciting meal...or.... as in this day... I baked Blueberry muffins...which are already on the blog... somewhere.... and... Artichoke Chicken... which is also on here.
All of a sudden a month passes... yikes! how it flies...the time that is... not the chicken..

Today I found some old Homemaker magazines in my purging and moving of "stuff". Tomorrow, ...I'm trying parsnip puffs. I've got parsnips... let's see what puffs taste like.

Give the Artichoke Chicken a try's yummy.....