Pan Seared Chicken with Risotto Milanese

Like every generation before us has said, we live in crazy times. Social media magnifies people’s behaviour, good and bad, and also allows movements to take off like wildfire. The #metoo movement has been such a long overdue and important conversation.

You would have to live under a rock to not hear the conversation. Which makes me wonder about some on social media. I’m in the process of setting up an Etsy shop to sell greeting cards with my photos so I have been doing loads of research and trying to get everything set up so I can hit the ground running. I’m being way more proactive in promoting my brand across the platforms. While I love to connect with people what I’m not looking for is to be hit on. I don’t understand it. Twitter is not Tinder people! Obviously on the scale of what a lot of us women go through it’s mild but I don’t understand that someone thinks this is ok.

Thankfully most treat this connections as above board but it’s just so weird when it happens. Even if I was single I would never dream by starting off by talking about a connection’s physical appearance. Just creepy!

Ah well, good thing I’m not obligated to respond. I’ll just keep cooking!

For this dish I thought I should actually look through my cookery books. They are not just pretty books! I really liked the risotto Milanese from a Williams Sonoma book. A great accompaniment to pan seared chicken. Here is my version.

To start the prep bring 5 cups/40 oz of chicken stock to a simmer. In a small bowl add about a teaspoon of loose saffron threads with a 1/4 cup/2 oz of hot water. Set aside to soak.

I just love that colour. In the large skillet that the risotto will be cooked in, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Season the chicken thighs with sea salt and pepper. Begin browning the chicken.

Finish cooking the chicken in the oven at 375F/190C. Add a 1/2 cup of chopped pancetta and a finely chopped shallot. Sauté until the shallots begin to soften.

Slice a few mushrooms and stir in. Add 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice to the skillet cooking for a couple of minutes. Then add a half cup/4oz of a dry white wine.

Gradually add the stock a bit at a time with the rice on medium heat. Halfway through the cooking add the saffron along with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Near the end of cooking before the liquid is absorbed, toss in 2 tablespoons of butter and about 3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Once the liquid is absorbed serve with chicken and garnish with parsley.

For those that live in the cold climes, trying to get decent photos without natural light can be like trying find a yeti. But this time I tried candlelight. Why I didn’t think of this before. I have no idea.

Steak and Mushroom Pie

It’s time to get in the festive mood! It’s the fun month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Though I’m already over the cheesy modern Christmas music. Just not the same as the standards. My husband and I had a quiet Thanksgiving as our kids were in South Carolina. My aunt very kindly invited us to her place for Thanksgiving dinner. We had a lovely meal and a lovely time. She is an awesome aunt and she’s very good to us.

Even though the weather can’t decide to be warm or cold this season there has been been opportunity for comfort food. And you can’t go wrong with steak and mushroom pie.

In a small bowl, add about 3 oz of flour and season with sea salt and pepper. Mix well. Take a half pound/8oz of stewing steak and cut it into small cubes. Toss in the flour until well coated.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan and start browning the steak.

Coarsely chop a shallot and a couple of cloves of garlic. Add to the pan.

Cut up enough mushrooms to make half a cup/3-4oz. Sauté in the pan then add about 2 1/2 cups/20oz of vegetable bouillon. Bring to a simmer. For seasoning and flavour I added a half cup of dry sherry and a small handful of fresh oregano, chopped. Slow cook on low for a few hours until the steak is tender and falling apart. To thicken the broth, add either a couple of teaspoons of flour or corn starch(flour) to a couple of tablespoons of water to make a slurry. Add this to the saucepan and bring up to a boil to cook the flour and thicken the broth. Adjust the seasoning as needed as sometimes the flour can dull the flavours.

Split the stew between ramekins. I made enough for two. Melt a tablespoon of butter and brush individual layers of phyllo dough to top the ramekins. Broil/grill til the top is nice and golden.

Perfect with a nice deep red wine on a chilly night!

Seared Pork with Creamy Cognac Mushroom Sauce

It feels good to be able to sit up at a computer and actually blog.  Which seems a strange thing to say.  The cold going round here knocks you on your backside.  There was barely enough energy to work the remote.  Forget watching anything with a plot as keeping focused was not on the cards!  Which meant silly stuff like Real Housewives.  Please, nothing real about them!  My brain may never recover.

I did find Design on a Dime.  Which is very lightweight but has inspired several ideas for our porch that I want to try out when the weather gets a bit warmer.  I’m looking forward to creating a comfy area to hang out in.

It also felt good this weekend to get back into the kitchen and work on creating dishes.  I had some pork ribs and some root vegetables to use and I wanted to do something on the French side.  There were a ton of recipes using mushrooms and cream.  A combination that I love.

Cognac Mushroom Pork 1 2016

I prepped the roast veg of potato, parsnip, and carrot first and got those cooking.  Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, season the pork with sea salt and pepper, then brown all four sides.

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Remove from the skillet and cover with tin foil.  Finely chop a shallot (these can be potent and make you cry!) and add to the skillet.  Cook for a few minutes on medium heat.  You want the shallots to soften, not brown, then add 4-5 cloves of chopped garlic.

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After another couple of minutes add a few mushrooms that have been sliced.  Then add 1-2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, some sea salt, and pepper.

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Once the mushrooms start to brown add 1 1/2 – 2 cups of chicken stock to the skillet and bring to a simmer.  Add about 4 tablespoons of cognac and a couple of tablespoons of stone ground mustard.

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Put the pork back into the skillet and simmer until the pork is cooked and the sauce has reduced a bit.  Then add a 1/3-1/2 cup of cream.  Taste and add more cognac and mustard if needed.  Sometimes the cream can dampen the strong flavours.

Cognac mushroom pork 6 2016

Serve over the roasted veg and top with the sauce.  You might find you have plenty of sauce left over.  I used mine to make a creamy chicken soup for tonight’s dinner.  Too good to let it go to waste!

Gorgonzola Risotto with Filet Mignon and Sundried Tomato Sauce

Last week I passed the three year mark for blogging.  One of the changes WordPress seems to have made is they now make it very low key.  Basically it’s “So, yeah, you are another year down, don’t forget to take out the trash” tone to it.  I liked how it was before where they gave you a great breakdown on how you are doing, what was a hit, what wasn’t.  I’m ok with a little woot, woot!

And with three years of recipes sometimes it’s hard to come up with something new.  Things have been somewhat calm this past week which would allow me more time to cook.  But then instead of writer’s block, I was having a bit of cooking block.  Broke that on Wednesday!  I wanted a special meal with flavours that wouldn’t be subtle.  We had a couple of filets in the freezer and some sundried tomatoes to use up.  Off to the store to get some gorgonzola and oyster mushrooms and I had a very good idea of what I wanted to do.

Prep the ingredients beforehand for everything.  To add a bit of crunch to the dish I toasted a third of a cup of pine nuts.  Do it in a dry skillet.  And keep an eye on it!  It can take awhile to toast but can burn quickly.

Gorgonzola risotto 1 2015

Remove the pine nuts from the skillet and set aside.  In a larger skillet start the risotto.  This recipe is for 2-3 people.  First by melting 2 tablespoons of butter.  Add a finely chopped small shallot and 2 cloves of garlic.

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Add 1/2 a cup of risotto and saute for a minute or so.  Then add a tablespoon or so of champagne vinegar.  Stir well.

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This recipe needs about 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock.  This current batch I made was the best so far.  So much flavour!  Add about a 1/2 a cup at a time and allow the risotto to absorb the liquid.  At this point, in a small skillet, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter.  When it is hot add the filets to the skillet.  Make sure they are seasoned well with sea salt and pepper.  Baste with the butter as you cook.

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Finish the steak off in the oven at 350F/175C until the desired doneness.  Allow it to rest while you finish the meal. In the same skillet, add a bit more butter then saute some shallots, garlic, and sundried tomatoes.  Saute for a couple of minutes to soften the tomatoes then add a handful of the oyster mushrooms.

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Once the risotto is almost done add a third of a cup of crumbled gorgonzola and about the same of mascarpone cheese to the risotto.

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Mix well.  Just before serving add the pine nuts and a small handful of basil.

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Serve with the filet and top with the mushroom sundried tomato sauce.

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There were a few strong flavours in this dish but it was balanced and delicious.  When I mentioned it to my daughter she said I could make it for them.  Anytime.  I think I can swing that.

PS.  So I started this post this morning but got interrupted by doctors appointments and things.  The whole day went pear shaped and I only just remembered I hadn’t finished this when we were walking the dogs.  My husband called it postus interruptus.  🙂  As we are getting ready for date night I’ll be further behind on reading posts but I promise to catch up!

Spicy Aubergine with Roasted Chicken

I could use this hot spicy dish today given how bitter cold it is.  We’re in a deep cold snap and hopefully it won’t last long.  Guinness is not impressed at all.

Rosemary from Cooking in Sens did a post with spicy aubergine and veal a few weeks ago and I loved the flavours that were in the dish.  I had most of the ingredients and two chicken thighs to use up.  Plus our kids were coming back from Florida and I wanted to make them a nice meal to welcome them home.

Spicy aubergine 1 2015

Use a glass bowl big enough to hold the meat you choose to use.  Finely chop a shallot to give you about 1/4 cup.  Add 4-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped.  Then add 7 tablespoons of peanut oil, 1/8 cup of Sriracha sauce, 1/8 chilli garlic sauce, 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, 1/4 cup of soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Mix well.  Add the chicken and make sure it is well coated.  Cover and set aside for at least and hour in the fridge.

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When it is time to make dinner heat the oven to 350F/175C.  Bake the chicken thighs turning every 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked.

Spicy aubergine 3 2015

While the chicken is cooking add the rest of the marinade to a skillet.  Add a cup of chicken stock and bring the sauce to a simmer.  Allow it to reduce by about a third or so.  If the sauce is too spicy add more chicken stock.  I had to do this otherwise I think I would have blown the kids out of their seats.

Spicy aubergine 4 2015

While the sauce is simmering, cube a cup and a half of aubergine and slice up the cooked chicken.  Add to the sauce and cook until the aubergine is cooked.  Just at the end add a handful of sliced scallion.

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Serve with rice noodles or rice.

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This was very spicy!  This would have a great chance of curing the common cold.  🙂  Which given the season, isn’t a bad thing!

Spicy Crab Salad with Crispy Shallots

When we were in Austin I had the most amazing raw oysters with a spicy cold “broth” that I would love to recreate but I’m not sure how to be honest.  So instead I would use it as inspiration for a crab salad.

We had a get together with friends that we usually do every autumn this weekend. It’s a potluck so we always eat well and there is always too much food!  A good time to try out a new recipe.  🙂

Crab Salad 1 2014

I used the claw meat as it was a lot less expensive than the lump meat and it’s still tasty.  In a small mixing bowl add a few spoonfuls of chilli garlic paste, a few squeezes of lime juice, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.

Crab Salad 2 2014

Chill for a few hours in the fridge.  Just before serving thinly slice a shallot and fry in vegetable oil until golden brown.  I chose not to flour the shallots because several of us are doing gluten free or low gluten.  After frying place them on a paper towel to blot the extra grease and season with salt and pepper.

Crab Salad 3 2014

The crab salad can top anything you like.  I used lentil crackers with sea salt.  Funny I really don’t like lentils but these crackers are delicious.

Crab Salad 4 2014

While not quite the raw oysters this was delicious and easy to make.  Which is perfect when you are getting ready to host a party.  🙂

Irish Luck Was Not With Us But The Lamb Was Delicous

The past couple of weeks have been very difficult.  The kind where having then engine blow up requiring a new one wasn’t the worse thing to happen.  Fortunately things are looking up again and things getting back on track.  I did manage to find time to make an Irish meal for St Patrick’s Day for the two of us.

I found the inspiration for this dish on pinterest and it was for a rack of lamb with a mustard shallot sauce.  I couldn’t find a rack of lamb but I was able to find 4 lamb chops which were the perfect size for us.  And as it was a week night I had the added bonus of it being really easy to put together.

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.

Season the lamb chops with sea salt and pepper.  In a skillet heat up some olive oil then place the chops, fat side down, into the skillet to brown.  Brown all sides for a couple of minutes each.

Lamb mustard 2 2014

Roast in the oven until it is cooked to the doneness you desire.  We prefer medium rare heading towards the rare side.  In the same skillet, reduce the fat about half and add about half a cup to 3/4 cup of chopped shallots and cook until softened.  Add a few teaspoons of fresh thyme.

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Add 1/2 cup of veg bouillon, a 1/3 cup of dry white wine, and about 1 1/2 tablespoons of stone ground mustard.  I used the garlic flavoured one that we have.

Lamb mustard 5 2014

Simmer until it’s reduced to about 1/3 of liquid you started with.  After you let the lamb rest for a bit serve with the sauce.  I also served this with roasted potatoes and some yellow beets that were simmered in homemade chicken stock.

Lamb mustard 6 2014

I loved this sauce.  It would be fabulous on all sorts of proteins.  I’ll be trying this on grilled fish once the weather warms up.  The rate we’re going though it will be awhile!

Seared Lamb with Mushroom Rub and Balsamic

I haven’t cooked lamb before but I found some local meat at our co-op and thought I should give it a try.  So I bought some and then wondered what to do with it.  One of the great things about the blogging world?  Inspiration!  I follow the Cooking in Sens blog and she posted a lamb recipe that looked really good.  I liked the idea of broth and balsamic vinegar.  After a trip to the store I came up with this recipe.

The cut of meat I used was a shoulder chop.

mushroom lamb 1 2013

I seasoned with salt then added a dried mushroom rub that contained black pepper.  The mushrooms were porcini and shiitake.

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I set the chop aside for a few minutes while I prepped the rest of the food so the flavours of the rub could sink in a bit.  I then added a bit of olive oil and butter to the skillet and melted the butter.  Once hot enough it was time to sear the lamb chop.

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I seared each side for a couple of minutes and seared the edges as well.  Then set it aside and covered it with tin foil while I made the sauce.  I added coarsely chopped mushrooms, shallots, and garlic to the skillet and sauteed for a few minutes.

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I had my homemade turkey broth on hand so I used about a 1/2 cup of that.  I brought it to a simmer.  Then I added balsamic vinegar to the sauce.  As this is the real stuff you don’t need much.  I used several drops of this.  We brought it back from Italy when we were there on our honeymoon and it really works well in a lot of dishes.

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Once the sauce was done I added the lamb back in to cook a bit more.  We like our meat rare but not blue.  Because this is the first time I cooked lamb I was on a bit of a learning curve to get it to the right doneness but I got there in the end.

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We paired the dish with this wine.  We belong to the Virgin Wine club and every 3 months we get a case of red.  This was a good one and it held up to the earthy taste of the dish.  As a stand alone it was a bit rough.

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I served the lamb with roast potatoes and some corn.

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Overall I was pleased with the flavour but I think I’ll try to find a better cut of meat next time.  This would also work well with steak.

Boeuf Bourguignon

My mum made Boeuf Bourguignon for the Christmas dinner and it was delicious.  Because it wasn’t our turn to have the kids for Christmas they missed out on this so I decided to make it at home.  It’s a wonderful dish that is comfort food with the layers of flavours of a high end dish.

I based my recipe on one from a cookbook called 500 Main Courses.  Doesn’t sound like much but they have a ton of great recipes to make.  I changed it of course as their recipe would have served about 10 even though it said 6.  I cut it in half and we had enough for about 5 people.  But as it was delicious we finished it off.  🙂

Boeuf Bourguignon 1 2013

We don’t have a stove to oven dish at the moment though it will be in the near future when we get one.  So I had to use a skillet then an oven dish.  I chopped up about 5 slices of streaky bacon and sauteed them until slightly crispy.  I then put them into the oven dish.  Next I floured the beef.  I used about 3/4lb of beef and it needs to be cubed.  I was able to find some really good tender stewing steak at the local co-op.  I made a slight mistake, I tossed in the beef into the bacon fat prior to reducing the amount of fat.  So while the dish was great it was a bit too much fat as the flour absorbed quite a bit.  The bacon fat lends a lovely buttery quality to the meat but you can make this dish without the bacon.  The meat isn’t as buttery but you do have the layers of flavours you want with this dish.  My mum didn’t make it with bacon and everyone loved the dish.

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After the beef is browned and set aside with the bacon I tossed in the shallots.  I quartered them rather than finely chopped them for this dish.  I then coarsely chopped about 5 cloves of garlic and about a cup of mushrooms.  The recipe called for 2 tablespoons of butter but as we had enough bacon fat I just added a pat of butter.  I sauteed all the veg for about 5 minutes then added it to the bacon and beef.

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I then prepared the sauce.

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To the skillet I added about 2/3 cup of veg broth (recipe called for beef broth) and just under 2 cups of red wine.  You want to use a decent wine!  It is a large component to this dish.  Plonk won’t do.  While this was heating up I added fresh thyme, dried oregano, sea salt, pepper, and a bay leave.  I had to use dried oregano as my garden is under several inches of snow!

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Pour the sauce into the oven pan.

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Put into the oven heated to 160 C/325 F/Gas 3 for about 2 hours.  Make sure the pan is covered.  Let cool once done and put in the fridge.  The next day reheat for about 1/2 hour and serve.

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It makes a difference if cooked the day before.  It allows all the flavours to mature and work together.

Stuffed Mushrooms 1920’s style

I have a good friend that allows us to descend upon her house every Halloween.  She throws a party and the kids relieve the neighbors of their candy.  It’s a great night.  This year she had a theme of the Roaring Twenties.  As it is potluck I dug out my 1926 “The Boston Cooking School Cook Book” by Fannie Farmer.  I love old cookbooks and I have several of hers going back to 1897.  I would love to get my hands on the 1896 one!

So I picked Stuffed Mushrooms and this is what the book said:

“Brush twelve large mushrooms.  Remove stems, chop finely, and peel caps.  Melt three tablespoons butter, add one-half tablespoon finely chopped shallot and chopped stems, then cook ten minutes.  Add one and on-half tablespoons flour, chicken stock to moisten, a slight grating of nutmeg, one-half teaspoon finely chopped parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cool mixture and fill caps, well rounding over the top.  Cover with buttered cracker crumbs, and bake fifteen minutes in a hot oven.”

I used this as a guideline as I didn’t have parsley,  really don’t like buttered cracker crumbs, and didn’t want to open a jar of chicken stock for this.

So I destemmed several mushrooms, as many that would fit into the baking pan.

I chopped the stems are realised that I needed more so I chopped up another mushroom.  In hindsight I should have chopped more than one.

Then I melted 3 T of butter.  While that was melting I finely chopped a shallot and fresh thyme and added them to the butter.

After a couple of minutes simmering in the butter I added about 1/2 cup of marsala wine to the mixture.

I let it simmer again for a few minutes then add 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and about the same for panko bread crumbs.

I then stuff the mushrooms.

I liberally apply fresh parmesan cheese to the mushrooms.

I decided it would be best to bake them at the party so once I got there I put the oven to 400 F.  I assumed that would be a “hot oven” like the cook book said.  I let them bake for about 15 minutes.

They came out well so I’ll be making them again as they are really easy to make.