Butternut Squash & Black Bean Chili

I’ve cooked plenty of chili before – the turkey kind, the beef kind, and the bean kind – but never with squash. For lunch this week, JP and I are eating a vegetarian squash & black bean chili.  I got the recipe from the February issue of Bon Appetit.

I started the chili by sauteeing onions, then adding garlic, chili powder and ground coriander.  Then I added fire-roasted tomatoes, dried black beans, chipotle chiles,  oregano, and water.

I let this simmer until the beans were tender, almost 2 hours.  Then I added the squash and bulgur and let it simmer another 30 minutes.

When done, I topped the bowl of chili with red onion, cilantro, smoked cheddar cheese, and yogurt (in place of sour cream).

Velvet Chicken & Pho Ga

No, I haven’t disappeared.  I wanted to take a short break in January – from blogging and from cooking labor-intensive dishes.  I spent the first two weeks of the year detoxing with JP, and there really wasn’t much excitement to report on with a diet free of meat, wheat, dairy, sugar, and so on…

Then I wanted to go through ALL of my 50+ cookbooks and create a big long list of all the dishes I want to cook, without the restriction of it being totally new (that was so 2010), before I started blogging again.  Turns out, it takes a reallllly long time to go through 50+ cookbooks.

So here it is, late-February, and I haven’t posted anything in weeks!  Well, that changes now.  This blog may not be about all new-to-me things, but it will be about new-to-me recipes.  I occasionally felt limited last year by my own resolution to cook only entirely new things, so this year, I’m focusing on working within my cookbooks and utilizing them to the best of my ability, and trying as many of the recipes as I can.  This is especially poignant since last year’s goal caused a huge increase in the number of cookbooks I own, so now I’m getting down to the business of using them.

So, it’s time to get back on the blog-wagon so to speak.  Helping me with my quest this year is my new favorite website Eat Your Books.  I gave myself an annual subscription for Christmas and I couldn’t be happier.  I use it to search all of my many cookbooks for recipes, by ingredient, dish type, ethnicity, and so on.  It’s truly genius for anyone who loves to cook.  And, it’s really helping me go through all of my cookbooks.  I’m “bookmarking” recipes as I go through for things I want to cook at some point.  I’ve only gotten through half, but already, I have found over 150 recipes that I need to try because they are entirely new to me. Between these recipes, a new subscription to Bon Appetit, and the wonderful Gourmet Live app for iPad, I will have plenty to work with for the blog in 2011.

It was through the Gourmet Live app that I found the recipe I decided to cook this week for the blog: Velvet Chicken.  After a wonderful dinner out on Valentine’s eve, I decided to cook this dish for our quiet Valentine’s dinner at home.  This dish couldn’t be more simple.

I started with a whole chicken (from Open Meadow Farm in Lunenburg, MA, purchased through the Mass Local Food Cooperative).

After rinsing and drying the chicken, I brought the following to a boil:

  • 2 (14-oz) cans low-sodium chicken broth (3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1 cup Shaoxing Chinese rice wine
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 6 (1/4-inch-thick) round slices fresh ginger
  • 4 (3- by 1-inch) strips fresh orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 dried red chile
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sichuan or black peppercorns

Once the pot was simmering, I added the chicken, breast side down.  I let the chicken simmer for about 20 minutes (it was bigger than what the recipe called for), then turned off the heat and let it sit in the poaching liquid for about an hour total, flipping it once.

Once it was done (minus a wing tip which fell off):

We carved the chicken and served it, topped with some poaching liquid, with Chinese broccoli, braised mushrooms, and brown rice.

One of the best parts about this recipe was the leftover poaching liquid.  It had incredible flavor and gelled like a great stock.  We re-used it later in the week to make Pho Ga.

I heated the broth, which was like Chicken-Soy Jell-O, and mixed it with water (a lot of soy in there after all).

Meanwhile, I soaked some rice noodles, sliced the leftover chicken and prepped the remaining ingredients: onion, cilantro, scallion, red jalapeno, bean sprouts, and lime.

To assemble the Pho, I submerged the soaked noodles in boiling water for about 30 seconds.

After adding the noodles to the bowl, I topped them with chicken, sliced onion, cilantro and scallion, before adding the broth.


I added sprouts, lime juice, jalapeno and more cilantro and scallion to my liking, plus sriracha, of course.

This was a fantastic use of the leftovers, and I still have enough broth left to make more pho, so it’s hanging out in the freezer until the next craving attacks.

It’s good to be back.

Wrapping Up a Year in Food

As 2010 winds down, I’m thinking about what 2011 means for this blog.  I’m sure I’ll still be cooking and posting, but probably without the need for it to be all new. I did manage to collect some phenomenal cookbooks this year, and I want to be able to cook anything and everything from them!

But first, I’m thinking about where 2010 has taken me.  I committed to making this year about food – cooking more, trying new foods, visiting new restaurants, etc. – and it has been quite a success.  JP and I have travelled and eaten in some of the best restaurants in the country, I am now working my dream job as the Director of Marketing for L’Espalier & Sel de la Terre, and as you can see below, I successfully held my end of the deal and learned how to cook more than 52 totally new-to-me ingredients and/or recipes!

I am in debt to my husband especially (just think of all the cleaning which came along with all that cooking), my family, my friends, and everyone who ever visited this blog which kept me going through the year.  Thank you!  I’ll hopefully still see you all here in 2011! Happy New Year!

Pork Rillettes

In preparation for our annual holiday party, I made pork rillettes to be part of the charcuterie board.

Week: 52 of 52

Cookbook: The Blue Ribbon Cookbook by The Bromberg Brothers

I started by tying herbs (parsley, bay leaf, peppercorn, thyme) in cheesecloth and placing them in the pan with chunks of pork shoulder, slab bacon, garlic, and salt. I added water and covered everything with a “parchment lid”.

I braised the whole mixture in the oven for a couple of hours.  Once done, I removed the garlic and the herbs before transferring the mixture to a stand mixer bowl and whipping the meat.

Once the meat was the right consistency, I transferred the mixture to a couple of glass jars and capped off the mixture with the fat I could capture from the pan. The rillettes was great as part of the charcuterie board with toasted bread, whole grain mustard and cornichons. I also included the remains of our duck prosciutto, a wild boar sausage from Creminelli and a homemade rabbit pâté.

Ingredients:

  • Boneless Pork Butt
  • Slab Bacon
  • Kosher Salt
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Bay Leaf
  • Black Peppercorns
  • Water

Croque Madame

Who doesn’t love a good sandwich?  How about a grilled sandwich topped with an egg and Mornay sauce?

Week: 51 of 52

Cookbook: Bouchon, Thomas Keller

I started with slices of my homemade brioche and covered each slice in ham and grated Gruyère cheese.

I toasted the bread slices in a frying pan before moving them to the oven to melt the cheese.

I put the halves together and topped each sandwich with a fried egg before spooning Mornay sauce over the top.

Ingredients:

  • Brioche
  • Ham
  • Gruyère Cheese
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Mornay Sauce

 

Bread Pudding

In the last post, I made brioche.  To start this week off, now that we’re caught up, I took that brioche and made bread pudding.  But not a sweet one, a savory bread pudding. Specifically, I made Thomas Keller’s Leek Bread Pudding.

Week: 50 of 52

Cookbook: ad hoc at home, Thomas Keller

I started by cutting the brioche into cubes and toasting them.

Meanwhile, I melted the leeks with butter.

I mixed the croutons with the leeks, along with some herbs.

I spread the bread & leek mixture in a baking dish and sprinkled with grated Gruyère cheese.  Then I poured a mixture of eggs, milk & cream over the bread and let it soak for 15 minutes. Finally, I sprinkled more cheese and put it in the oven.

I served the bread pudding with roast chicken and brussels sprouts, and it was really good.

Ingredients:

  • Brioche
  • Leeks
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Cream
  • Thyme
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Gruyère Cheese

 

Brioche

And moving on…

Week: 49 of 52

Cookbook: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

I started the dough with a mixture of yeast, salt, honey, eggs, and butter.

To this, I added flour until the dough was formed.

After rising, it looked like this:

I let it chill overnight.  Then I worked with the dough to form it into a ball and stretch it into an oval, and placed it in a greased loaf pan.  I let the dough rest for an hour and then brushed it with an egg wash, and then baked it for 35 minutes.

In the next two posts, I’ll show you what I did with it!

Ingredients:

  • Yeast
  • Salt
  • Honey
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Flour

Crêpes

When I studied abroad in college, my mom would email every day.  And if there were days when she was away from her email, she would come home and send me one email for every day she was gone.  Since I’m a couple weeks behind on posting, I’m about to do the same thing…

Week: 48 of 52

For “this week”, I made crêpes.  I made a whole wheat crêpe batter by mixing all-purpose and whole wheat flours with salt.  To this, I added a mixture of butter, eggs and milk, then put the whole batter through a fine mesh strainer. End result:

I cooked the crêpes in a small frying pan until they bubbled, then flipped them.  I definitely screwed up a few, but got the hang of it after a bit.

Meanwhile, I made a filling of smoked salmon, cream cheese, scallion, capers, and lemon juice.  I filled the crêpes and served them with a small salad.

Ingredients:

  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Butter

Duck Prosciutto

This week’s recipe is still in process, but here’s where we’re at so far with my attempt at home curing duck prosciutto.

Week: 47 of 52

I started the process by covering a duck breast in Kosher salt and refrigerating it for 24 hours.

After 24 hours in the fridge, the dish looked the same…

…but the duck didn’t.  Here is the duck before and after the salt process.

After the salt was rinsed off and the duck breast dried, I wrapped it in cheesecloth and tied it with twine.

And since then, it has been hanging in the fridge, suspended between two beer glasses, as I don’t have a cool, safe place to hang it in our condo.

Per Michael Ruhlman, it needs to lose about 30% of its weight to be finished. It started out at about 12oz. so it needs to lose about 3.5oz. So far it has lost 1.1oz in a week.  We’ll see how long it takes to be done, and hopefully the end result is a good one!  I’ll update this post with the results.

UPDATE: It worked!!

One end got a little dried out, but once we got past that, it was all really good.

Cassoulet

One of my all-time favorite cold-weather dishes is cassoulet.  While Julia Child’s version involves 3 days of work – time I didn’t have during a very busy and stressful week – I found a recipe from Gourmet which worked just fine.

Week: 46 of 52

I started by soaking the beans for 12 hours.  The beans were then simmered in water, beef broth, tomato paste, onion, garlic, and a bouquet garni of celery, thyme, bay leaf, and black peppercorns until almost tender.  Stewed tomatoes were mixed in for the last 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, I took two confit duck legs and separated the skin and fat from the meat.  The fat was rendered and the skin fried to a crisp in the fat and removed to drain.  Following that, sliced sausage was browned in the rendered duck fat.  The sausage was added to the duck meat.

Once the beans were done, I added the browned sausage and duck meat to the mixture and seasoned with salt and pepper.

The cassoulet mixture was ladled into a casserole dish and before baking, topped with a bread crumb topping which included garlic sautéed in the rendered duck fat, bread crumbs, the crispy duck skin, parsley, salt & pepper.  There was a little extra liquid which didn’t fit in the casserole dish.  I simmered this and reduced into a sauce while the cassoulet baked.

After baking at 375 for about 40 minutes, the top was lightly browned and bubbling.  I served the cassoulet with bread and drizzled with the reduced liquid.

Ingredients:

  • White beans
  • Water
  • Beef stock
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Tomato paste
  • Celery
  • Thyme
  • Bay leaf
  • Clove
  • Black peppercorns
  • Stewed tomatoes
  • Confit duck legs
  • Smoked pork sausage
  • Bread crumbs
  • Parsley
  • Salt & pepper