Friday, February 22, 2013

Rachel's Chicken alla Romana

Chicken all Romana a la Rachel

This past week has been a tough one for me, and I am beginning to realize that one of my coping mechanisms is to cook. Duh! Although I have been in a winter funk food wise, I made no fewer than six new-to-me-recipes over the past two weeks. Some were good, one not so good.

Ina Garten's Lemon Chicken with Croutons was a total disappointment. My chicken lacked the flavorful juiciness that was to flow over the crisp croutons. The staff of one national magazine dubbed this recipe "Engagement Chicken" because every staffer who made it for a date ended up engaged to be married. Let's say that I am glad that I've been married for forty-one years.

Next came a scrumptious Orecchiette with rapini and goat cheese from Saveur via David Lebovitz' Pinterest Board which we shared with L and J along with a nice Sauvignon blanc.

One cold afternoon I simmered a Sausage and Pork Ragu for four hours then tossed some with rigatoni and dusted the dish with Pecorino Romano cheese. This was shared with T and J with a lovely Amarone.
No photo of the finished dish--so this is the beginnings of the sofrito base

I've already written about the deliciousness that is Domenica Marchetti's Crema di Pomodoro Soup,  a great addition to any cold-weather soup repertoire.

But my favorite of the week has to be Pollo Alla Romana from rachel eats. Rachel's food is straight forward and quite satisfying. Braising is one of my favorite ways to cook chicken, especially in the winter, and this chicken braise does not disappoint. Using a good chicken, some pancetta, white wine, canned tomatoes and beautifully ripe red peppers you will be able to create a delicious dish. Click on the recipe and start cooking.

Cook's Notes: Instead of a whole chicken, cut up, I used 8 chicken thighs. I used about 2 ounces pancetta, 6 ounces of white wine and a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained. May be made ahead and reheated before serving.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Crema di Pomodoro

As anyone who reads about food knows food fads come and go. Cauliflower has now replaced broccoli  as the darling of the cruciferous family. And, yes, we all know that we must roast our vegetables--it is the only way--it brings out such nuttiness. I'll say. But how about trying these picatta-style cauliflower steaks for your next meatless meal?  Okay, they're roasted, but it's how they're treated next that is the treat. Or try cooking the cauliflower like the Italians do--until it is actually cooked through--add some black olives and toss with your favorite pasta like Rachel does.

Is there any other leafy green vegetable out there besides kale? Seriously?  Tender spinach sauteed in olive oil and finished with some balsamic vinegar and golden raisins is a quick and delicious side dish. Or try my personal favorite, escarole. Escarole is  so versatile and much under utilized. It's great sauteed in olive  oil with garlic and eaten alongside chicken or a veal chop. It can be stuffed, or cooked in soup. Give it a try.

This season the most ubiquitous recipe award goes to tomato soup. The best tomato soup recipe is  everywhere you look. Even I have a best tomato soup recipe, but I only make it at the end of  summer when Jersey tomatoes are at their peak. But now I  think I found a winner for winter.

This recipe by Domenica Marchetti is just what I was looking for for Friday night's dinner, the first Friday in Lent. It ticks all the boxes--simple ingredients, ease of preparation, meatless and delicious! Good quality canned tomatoes are key here. It could be prepared handily after work giving you a hot, fulfilling meal in a little over an hour.
Give it a try!

Cook's Note: It took forever for the thinly sliced carrots to cook. Next time I will dice them. Even if you plan to serve this soup to a group of Lilliputians I doubt that it would serve six. I served grilled smoked Gouda cheese sandwiches with the soup. We were very happy.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Here We Go Again

It's snowing already, and we're now under a blizzard watch. Seriously? It feels like "deja vu all over again."

So I'm finishing up the work on my desk and heading into the kitchen to make a mid-morning cappuccino. After that  I'll be making vegetable soup for lunch today and tomorrow, and maybe I'll throw in some of these grilled cheese croutons.

It's hard to get snowed in when you live in a densely populated county just ten miles outside of New York City, but it will probably be  one of those cocooning weekends in front of the fireplace with some good movies and good books--we're halfway through Netflix's new series, House of Cards.

But just for the fun of it, I'm ordering myself  a new midnight blue swimsuit this afternoon. A girl can dream of sunnier days, can't she?

What are you doing this weekend?

Chickpea  and Spinach Stew with Ginger

This is my spin on a recipe by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 1-inch knob ginger, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
6 ounces fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed, (my favorite brand is Goya); or approximately 4 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup water
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Kosher salt
Sherry vinegar for serving

Drain tomatoes in strainer placed over medium bowl.  Transfer liquid, half the tomatoes and the ginger to blender. Blend on high speed until completely pureed. Set aside. Roughly chop remaining tomatoes and set aside.

Heat olive oil on medium-high heat in soup pot. Add onion, garlic, and parika, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened. Add tomato-ginger puree and stir to combine. Add spinach a handful at a time, allowing each handful to wilt before adding the next. Add salt to taste. Reduce heat to medium and simmer spinach mixture, stirring occasionally, until spinach is completely tender, about 10 minutes.

Add chopped tomatoes, chick peas, 1 cup of water and soy sauce. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Correct seasoning and serve drizzled with a few drops of sherry vinegar.

Serves 2