Tag Archives: Recipe testing

Rowley Leigh’s Chicken Chasseur

When I was out of town, I picked up the weekend edition of the Financial Times.  The real draw was the articles about the young London-based trader who has allegedly engaged in fraud and lost quite a bit of money for UBS.  Having friends who work there, I was curious about the details and how this could have taken place with all the supposedly new, stronger risk controls in place.  Nestled between the several sections of the paper examining this topic was their magazine.  In it, in a section dedicated to food, I found a recipe by British chef and FT columnist Rowley Leigh.

Browning the Chicken

Chicken Chasseur (Hunter’s Chicken) is an elegant take on a pan-cooked chicken dish.  It reminds me a little bit of a French version of Chicken Cacciatore (also Hunter’s Chicken) only a bit more dressed up.  Leigh brings up two points in his comments that should allay any fears in making this for the first time.  Yes, the chicken will cook all the way through, as it is left in the pan to simmer as the sauce builds (this also keeps it juicy and moist).  The second is that in general, cooking a chicken cut into pieces is faster than roasting a whole chicken.  I’ve used this method a few times and always come up with tasty results.

Chanterelles soaking (also known as girolles)

The first time I made this recipe, I realized that despite the simplicity behind it, one of the keys to building the best flavor possible in this dish is to use the highest quality ingredients to make it.  This sounds pretty standard, but it really is best to prepare this when you can get fresh chanterelles (called girolles here) and ripe, meaty, in-season tomatoes.  There is a vendor at the Greenmarket from whom I can get locally-sourced mushrooms.  He also dries them himself, which worked well, too, when making this.  Unfortunately, when I used another store-bought version of dried chanterelles, the results weren’t the same.  I’d strongly advise using fresh ones to make this.

Garlic, Shallots, Tomatoes

Add to the chicken and mushrooms, two ingredients that almost always marry well together, some garlic, shallots, wine, stock, butter, and tarragon.  The cooking process blends these all together into a savory broth with several layers of flavors.  Your favorite mashed potato recipe and a green vegetable help to round this out and make it a meal.  As green beans are also still in season right now, for me, they make the perfect, colorful addition to the plate.  This would be a wonderful meal to put together if you have extra time to prepare supper on a weeknight and would definitely take a weekend dinner to a whole new level of delicious.  It would also be an impressive dish to pull together for a small dinner party.  This one is filled away in my keeper drawer for sure.

Chicken Chasseur with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Buon appetito!

Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey

This is one of those posts that no one ever wants to write.  It is about the loss of a loved one, suddenly, unexpectedly, without warning, for seemingly no reason at all.  This week, the food blogging community was called to rally around one if its own and it did in spades.  Jennifer Perillo of In Jennie’s Kitchen lost her beloved husband Mikey to a heart attack.  You can read more about what happened here at a beautiful, touching post that Shauna of Gluten Free Girl wrote about her good friends.


Today, to honor our fellow food blogger colleague we’ve all been asked to make Mikey’s favorite pie: Peanut Butter Cream.  Bakers and non-bakers alike are setting aside their other posts and plans to prepare this, share it with their loved ones, and put up photos of their creations on Facebook and Twitter.  Even though the context is a sad one, it’s really cool to see how everyone took one recipe and made it his/her own and how much the food writing community can come together to support someone who is a huge part of who we are.  We are basically sending a big hug and “we’re thinking of you” vibes to Jennie and her family today, which is also the day of Mikey’s memorial service.

The Chocolate Shell

What is sort of surreal to me about what happened is that Jennie and I had just been Tweeting back and forth on the Saturday before it happened.  She’d found some local strawberries at the market and was wondering about pickling them.  A few weeks back, I’d had some amazing ones created by the folks at Anarchy in A Jar, and was talking to her about them and how they made them. I meant to follow up with her about this when I saw the news on Monday about Mikey’s death.

The Peanut Butter Filling

I had the chance to meet Jennie at the Eat, Write, Retreat conference in Washington, DC in May of this year.  We met again when she spoke at TECHMunch NYC the next month.  Again, she was so warm and welcoming to someone (me) whom she barely knew but who shares the same passion as she does for food and cooking.  It is this generosity of spirit, echoed by others as well, that I hope sustains her and her family during this time and as they heal.  Making this pie is a small way to send some of what she gives out back to her when she needs it.

The Finished Pie dusted with Cocoa and dotted with White Chocolate Shavings

This recipe is such a typical American concoction to me.  It’s one of those “Ice Box Creations” as I categorize it.  A chocolate and chocolate cookie base with a top layer of peanut butter (the very concept of the latter mystifies my European friends) folded with cream cheese and whipped cream and then chocolate drizzled on top of it (or not, as I did).  It goes into in the fridge to set for a few hours or overnight.

A Piece of Peanut Butter Cream Pie

I opted to balance out the crust to filling ratio in favor of less filling than the recipe called for, so make about half of what is in the on-line link if you are a crust person like I am.  I also made it in a square pan, as that was easier to find at the store when I was shopping yesterday.  I also thought it might be easier to carry to its final destination.  The details aren’t important, however, just the fact that we could all come together to give comfort to someone in need is enough to know that despite all the bad there is still plenty of good in this world we all share.

Buon appetito!

Courgette & Orzo Bake or Baked Zucchini & Orzo

Zucchini & Orzo bake

With the holiday weekend approaching, it’s time to start making those grocery shopping lists to prepare for the barbecue or whatever plans are on tap.  Although I love the stand-bys like potato salad and s’mores, sometimes I feel like we fall into the usual rut of side dishes.  With so much fresh produce coming into season, it seemed appropriate to try to find something new to make.

summer squashSummer Squash

BBC Good Food Magazine, which is one of my reliable recipe resources, had a whole section of courgette (zucchini) dishes in the June issue.  One of them that caught my eye was this Courgette & Orzo Bake.  Fortunately, the Greenmarket has already begun to showcase this summer’s crop of squash, so the basic ingredient wasn’t too difficult to find in every shape and size.  From there, it was really just a matter of prepping everything and throwing it all together in a baking pan (I used a Pyrex one) to cook together.

Grated ZucchiniGrating the Zucchini by hand is tedious but worth it

OnionsSee my tutorial on “How to Chop an Onion

white wineI think that’s just enough wine left for this dish

Vegetable StockYes, it is store-bought stock.  I don’t usually make my own.

Barilla OrzoYep – just go on and dump the whole box of Orzo into the pan

Pre-baked Zucchini & OrzoI ended up using a ladle to transfer the mixture from stovetop pan to baking dish

oven readyOven-ready.  Not to worry, all of that liquid will be absorbed into the dish during the baking process.

Ready for the ovenThe last 10 minutes when adding breadcrumbs and extra Parmesan

Finished dishHere’s the result – Courgette & Orzo Bake or Baked Zucchini & Orzo

This dish has lots of great flavor with the freshness of the in-season zucchini (or courgettes), the nuttiness of the Parmesan, the crisp of the breadcrumbs, and the al dente pasta.  I think that next time, I would follow what one of the on-line commenters said and add pine nuts at that last 10-minute mark to add some extra heartiness to the dish.  I would also sprinkle some chopped basil on top after it comes out of the oven for an additional herbal punch.

These summertime flavors would be wonderful with grilled chicken or burgers or, what really came to mind for me, lamb.  It is fine served hot but even room temperature it would make a splendid side dish for any summer cookout.  I think this one will go it to the recipe “keeper” file.

Buon appetito!

Sweet Potato Cakes from Ottolenghi’s “Plenty”

Sweet Potato Cakes from Plenty

Thank you so much to @VegBoxDiary for pointing out this wonderful recipe for Sweet Potato Cakes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s recent cookbook “Plenty.” This book is filled with so many gorgeous and delicious-sounding things to make that I had no idea where to start. She read my tweets about his book signing in New York and reached out to me to give me a hint as to where to begin.

Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

After I made the Endive with Sweet Potatoes, Bacon, Chives, and Sour Cream a week ago, I still had one uncooked sweet potato left over.  So, I cracked open “Plenty” and started reading the directions.  During the summer months, I tend to eat more vegetarian anyway, so this seemed like a perfect dish to make for a quick snack or, as it ended up being, lunch.  I used one large sweet potato and cut the recipe in half.  This gave me 8 potato cakes (note that I saved half of them to eat later).

Sweet Potato Cakes Cooking

Not having any fresh red chili available, as they can be a bit difficult to find, I substituted a pinch of dried red chili flakes.  This didn’t give it quite the kick that I can imagine the fresh pepper would do, but it had a wonderful flavor all the same.  Using butter, with a splash of olive oil, gave the cakes a nicely crisp exterior that contrasted with their soft interior, like with pancakes or latkes.  The yogurt dip was cool and creamy with a pop of tartness that gave the dish a bit of zing.

Sweet Potato Cakes with Yogurt Dip

I can totally see why these were a favorite cafe snack during Ottolenghi’s university days.  They even tasted good reheated and eaten the next day.  If I didn’t have to make them myself in order to have them, I could see them as an integral part of my regular diet, too!

Buon appetito!

This dish is in Ottolenghi’s cookbook “Plenty,” which has lots of wonderful-sound recipes so I encourage you to add it to your collection.  I had the pleasure of eating at his Notting Hill restaurant when I was in London earlier this year and thoroughly enjoyed it.  For this recipe, please visit this link to the article in the Guardian UK where it was published in 2007.

Paglia e Fieno or Straw and Hay

I discovered the recipe for Paglia e Fieno, or Straw and Hay, in Diane Seed’s The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces book.  For a while in the mid-1990s, this book was sold at Crate & Barrel, and I used to pair it with wooden kitchen spoons and a pasta fork as a wedding present for friends who got married in that era. It was just after I had returned from studying in Italy for a year, so I wanted to invite them to learn about all the amazing sauces that Italians use with their variety of pastas.  It was at the new peak of the Italian food craze in the U.S., so hopefully my timing was perfect. 

Although it seems like a tiny volume for a cookbook, as it closes out at 123 pages with no photos only illustrations, this is one of those resources from which I’ve pulled many recipes that are in my meal rotation.  She has lots of vegetarian vegetable ones in addition to the ones with meat and seafood.  The headnotes that go along with the recipes are informative and helpful in putting them together.  Most of the ones I usually make are suitable for a weeknight dinner.  I have to confess, I’ve been too scared off by some of the more complex and complicated ones to attempt them (like the Timballo) but maybe that is something that I should add to my resolution list to tackle next year.  If you don’t already have this on your bookshelves, I highly recommend it.  

This dish combines spinach pasta and regular pasta (usually tagliatelle) to make the “straw and hay.”  The sauce is a cream-based one that combines peas, ham or proscuitto cotto, and sauteed mushrooms dusted with parmesan cheese.  It is robust and hearty and very filling.  For me, this is comfort food at its most wonderful.  

It not only brings back memories of cooking in my kitchen in Bologna and learning about how to make good pasta dishes, it also enables me to use ingredients that I can source locally in New York.  To me this is the best of both worlds, being able to take recipes I have from my travels and living overseas and being able to translate them into my current life.  As the weather starts to go from sunny summer and cool fall into dreary winter, I keep this dish and its rich flavors in mind for those days when I need a treat.

Buon appetito!

Kitchen Witch Tips:

At a networking coffee this week, a contact mentioned to me that what she’d really like is for someone to hand her a a guide to the Greenmarket plus some tips on what to make and where to find the ingredients.  I can’t do all of that, but here’s the list of where I sourced everything for this recipe when I shopped there on Wednesday:

Pasta – Knoll Krest Farm (they also have quiches and challah available)
Shallots – Paffenroth Gardens

Mushrooms – Bulich Mushrooms
Peas – Migliorelli Farm (purchased earlier this summer, shelled, and frozen)

Cream and Butter – Ronnybrook Farm Dairy

Eggplant Parmesan

This is what I had for lunch today: Homemade Eggplant Parmesan (from a recipe in the October issue of Food & Wine magazine) on a toasted whole-wheat olive roll.  Now that I no longer have a company cafeteria to rely upon for my mid-day repasts I have to [sigh] fend for my self when it comes to figuring out what to eat every day.  Fortunately, on some days this is easier than on others.

The visual in the magazine was enough to draw me in to attempting to make this.  The mozzarella came from Tonjes Farm, whose product I have used before and really loved.  The basil was also from the Greenmarket, as were the gorgeous in-season eggplant, which I had picked up last weekend.

When the instructions say that it will take two hours to prepare, including the cooking time, they are not kidding.  It is a bit on the fussy side prep-wise, with all the frying up of the eggplant in batches.  That said,  I’m not sure that any eggplant parmesan dish is going to be less so.  The effort put forth, however, is completely worth it when you see the results.

This is a Sunday-supper meal.  In Italy, this dish is actually served as a meat-less secondo, or second course (after the antipasto and primo (pasta) courses).  One bite will tell you why.  It has layers of soft and crispy eggplant topped with gooey, creamy cheese all wrapped up with tangy-tart tomato sauce.  This is a hearty meal that needs nothing more than a cool green salad and some crusty bread to complement it.

I really like this dish and have been looking for a sure-fire, keeper-file recipe for it for ages.  This might just be the one.  Hopefully, if you do make it for your family, you can sneak away a slab of it in reserve so that you, too, can have leftovers to replicate what I had for lunch today.

Buon appetito!