Really Eating

Butter Roasted Cauliflower

Posted in Recipes by Bethany on April 6, 2011

Cauliflower is one of the vegetables I never liked. I was often faced with cauliflower at Yoshinoya where it’d sit next to my broccoli, tasteless and utterly unappetizing. I’m not sure why it is so often boiled or steamed beyond recognition, but I recently convinced myself to buy some at the farmers market and am happy I did.

One of my cookbooks (I think it was Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, which is one of THE BEST cookbooks out there… it’s been called “The Joy of Cooking” for our generation) … totally forgot where I was going with that. Oh yes. Cauliflower. From what I remember, Bittman recommends buying cauliflower wrapped in plastic without any brown spots visible on the pretty white florets, and with the green leaves tight around it. I found some that fit the bill at came home to look for a recipe.

I wanted to try something that would make it yummy, but allow the real flavors of cauliflower to come through, and this Smitten Kitchen adapted recipe by Joy the Baker did just that.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2  pound cauliflower florets
  • 2 tablespoons capers, coarsely chopped (I drained mine first to lighten the taste)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

In a roasting dish, toss together cauliflower with capers, garlic, oil and about 1/8 teaspoon salt.  Top with butter cubes and red pepper flakes.

Roast, stirring occasionally, until browned and delicious, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and toss hot cauliflower with lemon and fresh parsley.

Enjoy immediately with crusty bread to sop up the butter juices.

Apricot Chicken

Posted in Recipe Fail, Recipes by Bethany on April 6, 2011

Over the summer, the markets were inundated with yummy yellow and white peaches and nectarines. I’d often get too greedy (or ambitious, if you want a positive spin) at the market and come home with way too much produce for two of us, especially since I’m the only one who really loves eating produce all day long.

This timely recipe popped into my Google Reader mid-July and I finally put it to the test closer to the end of the month. Why the delay? Well, I didn’t have apricots in the house and strangely enough, I don’t really ever buy them. I don’t think I dislike them at all, but I just never found myself attracted to them. I asked Elise (the main blogger at Simply Recipes) if I could use peaches and she suggested I use yellow, so I proceeded with that.

If you haven’t noticed already, this is another Recipe Fail post, so I’ll post the actual list of ingredients and directions found on the original recipe and try to dissect why it was a Fail. A quick disclaimer- I can only blame myself for Recipe Fails. I’m pretty sure most food bloggers only post recipes they’ve tried and love, but I go ahead and alter something (sigh), yielding a sad, far-from-perfect result.

Actually, now that I think back, I’m not sure if this is a PURE recipe fail. I didn’t mind the chicken, but the sauce wasn’t quite right… it had kind of a Chinese taste to it, and I’m not exactly sure if that’s what it was supposed to taste like (based on the comments).

I’d be willing to try it again in the summer with actual apricots instead of peaches and will let you know how it goes.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds apricots, roughly chopped, pits removed and discarded
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 pounds skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
  • Salt
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter (can sub olive oil)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco or other hot sauce (you can add more if you like)
  • Black pepper

Directions

Place the chopped apricots in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and the vinegar. Let sit while you brown the chicken in the next step.

In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, place chicken pieces in the pan, without crowding the pan, and brown them on each side. As the chicken cooks, sprinkle salt over it. Once the chicken is browned, remove the pieces from the pan to a bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and sauté the onion until it begins to brown. As the onion cooks and releases moisture, use a flat edged spatula or wooden spoon to scrape off the browned bits from the chicken (called fond) from the bottom of the pan.

Once the onions have browned a bit, add the chicken stock and lower the heat to medium.

Put about 2/3 of the apricots, along with any juice they have given up, into a blender and blend into a purée. Pour the purée into the pan with the chicken stock and onions.

Add the cinnamon, rosemary and Tabasco and taste. You may need to add some salt. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and gently simmer for 10-20 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, put the chicken and the remaining apricot pieces into the pan and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Serve hot with rice.

Classic Baked Chicken

Posted in Recipes by Bethany on April 5, 2011

I knew I had to try this recipe when I read this: “This baked chicken recipe is one of those recipes that every home cook should have in their repertoire.” I’m a home cook, right? I’m not much of one, but I definitely cook and at home, so that meant I had to try this.

It’s as easy as it sounds. The original recipe includes instructions for how to make gravy after the chicken’s done, but I’ve never been determined/courageous enough to try that part of the recipe. I’ve made it with a handful of different chicken parts (cut up chicken, thighs-only, drumsticks- all bone-in) and it always turns out delicious.

Note: It’s one of those recipes where having an instant-read thermometer is super helpful because certain parts of the chicken cook faster/slower and you don’t want to end up with some pieces overcooked and others still pink.

As a sidenote- I was always a little wary of chicken with bones in it and/or skin; I think I only cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts for much of my time in college. While yes, white meat is “healthier,” I now better understand how chicken cooks differently on the bone, how it changes the flavor, and how it costs much less at the grocery store. Seriously! I rarely see boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1/pound, but you’ll find drumsticks, thighs, and legs for $1 or less somewhat frequently.

Ingredients

  • Bone-in, skin-on chicken (6 thighs, 8 drumsticks, or whatever you want)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Rinse chicken pieces in water and pat dry with paper towels. Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with olive oil (I used a rimmed baking sheet). Rub some olive oil over all of the chicken pieces in the roasting pan. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Arrange the pieces skin-side up in the roasting pan so the largest pieces are in the center (the breasts) and there is a little room between pieces so they aren’t crowded in the pan.

Cook for 30 minutes at 400°F. Then lower the heat to 350°F and cook for 10-30 minutes more (approximately 14 to 15 minutes per pound total cooking time) until juices run clear (not pink) when poked with a sharp knife or the internal temperature of the chicken breasts is 165°F and the thighs 170°.

Remove roasting pan from oven. Remove chicken from roasting pan to a serving plate. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Refer to the original recipe for instructions on how to make gravy with the drippings/oils/yummy goodness.

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Two Tools

Posted in Equipment by Bethany on April 5, 2011

I have yet to put my Lodge skillet or can openers to use, but I realized that sometimes I buy equipment knowing I want to use it, but not actually using it until much later.

Case in point: instant thermometer. I bought this back in the summer of 2009, but I don’t think I really ever used it until a few months ago. Some of the more precise blogs/recipes will give you actual temperatures to aim for when cooking/baking and I’m starting to realize that it’s way easier than accidentally under/over cooking something and trying to fix it later.

Here’s the one I have:

I probably wouldn’t recommend it because I’ve had a couple issues with it, like the reviewers on Amazon. Pick one of the many other cheaper options and voila! Perfectly cooked meat.

The other handy-dandy tool I have is my Microplane zester.

Every blogger/cook/writer had it in their list of top kitchen tools so I felt obligated to buy it when I started getting more serious about my baking and cooking. It comes in handy when a recipe requires lemon zest or dealing with ginger. I don’t use it too often, but it’s a good friend to have. Unlike the thermometer, I think Microplane is THE brand for this type of tool- so make sure to save yourself the heartache and buy the right brand.

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Pioneer Woman Spicy Lemon Garlic Shrimp

Posted in Recipes by Bethany on April 4, 2011

I don’t really love shrimp. I didn’t like it growing up because, like lobster and crab, shrimp reminded me of animals swimming in the ocean… and the Little Mermaid. And seriously- how can you eat seafood while thinking about the Little Mermaid?! If you’re not following, maybe this scene will refresh your memory:

Much to my surprise, I discovered I didn’t HATE shrimp when I tried delicious huge tiger prawns at Pomelo on Judah (a great little spot, by the way!). I’ve been more open to eating shrimp or nibbling on it here and there, but don’t cook it very often.  However, I realized that while chicken is great, sometimes a little variety would be good for our dinners, and this PW recipe seemed like a can’t-miss. Garlic, butter, lemon, parsley… how can that go wrong?? And no, this is not a “Recipe Fail” post :)

It was super easy to prepare, with ingredients I had on hand… definitely make sure you have freshly baked (or warmed) bread to go with it.

Recipe here: Spicy Lemon Garlic Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Raw Shrimp, Deveined, Shells On
  • 2 sticks Cold Unsalted Butter Cut Into Pieces
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Peeled
  • ¼ cups Fresh Parsley (no chopping necessary- that’s what a food processor is for!)
  • ½ teaspoons Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1 whole Lemon, Juiced

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse frozen shrimp to separate, then arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. I usually line my baking sheets with foil to minimize the mess, and it worked fine.

In the bowl of a food processor, add cold butter, garlic, lemon juice, salt, parsley, and red pepper. Pulse until combined. Sprinkle cold butter crumbles over the shrimp.

Bake until shrimp is opaque and butter is hot and bubbly.

Serve with hot crusty bread. Peel and eat the shrimp, then dip the bread into the butter in the bottom of the pan.

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