Agristada

A traditional Sephardic egg-lemon sauce typically served with fried fish or brains, but works well with chicken breasts or even vegetables.

I made a Passover version with chicken, using potato starch to thicken the sauce and matzah meal to bread the cutlets, but flour and bread crumbs can be used the rest of the year too.

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts (removed from 1 chicken)
  • 2 TB potato starch
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 lemons
  • matzah meal
  • oil for frying
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Hot paprika (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat a large cast iron skillet or other pot for frying. Add about an inch of oil, enough to come halfway up the sides of the chicken. Bring up to frying temp over medium heat.
  2. Season the chicken well with salt, pepper, and paprika (if using).
  3. In a large shallow bowl, whisk the juice of one lemon with one egg.
  4. In a second bowl, pour in enough matzah meal to coat the chicken, and season with additional salt, pepper, and paprika.
  5. In a medium saucepan, whisk the potato starch with 2 cups of warm water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Season well with salt.
  6. Dip the chicken into the egg-lemon mixture, then dredge in the matzah meal.
  7. Add the second egg and juice from the second lemon into the same bowl used to dip the chicken, and whisk well to combine.
  8. Temper the egg-lemon mixture with a few spoonfuls of the hot cornstarch slurry, whisking constantly to avoid clumping.
  9. Slowly pour the egg-mixture into the sauce, whisking constantly. Bring back to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
  10. Taste the sauce: it should be salty, glossy, silky, and lemony. Add any desired extras at this point (e.g. cayenne, hot sauce, parsley/cilantro, garlic, etc.) and reduce heat to keep warm while the chicken cooks.
  11. Fry the chicken until golden brown on both sides, and cooked through. Use an instant read digital thermometer to make sure that they are at least 130F in the thickest part.
  12. When done, remove the chicken to drain on paper towels.
  13. Optional: to make the sauce richer, add a couple of spoonfuls of the frying oil to the sauce.
  14. Ladle a large spoonful of sauce onto two plates, and place one chicken breast on each. Serve with asparagus or other vegetable that goes well with lemon sauce, and a pinot noir (or white wine).

Notes

Normally when I make chicken cutlets for schnitzel I pound them out thin, season, then dredge lightly in flour before coating with the eggs. Here I left them intact to provide a juicier center when sliced, but it does make it a bit harder to cook evenly and takes longer to cook through. And I put them straight into the egg without coating in flour first, to keep them light and allow the sauce to penetrate better.

Matzah meal is good for frying the rest of the year too, it tends to be crispier than normal bread crumbs, or can be mixed in with panko to provide some variety and provide a more even crust.

Donor Recipes for Reference:

 

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Temper the sauce to prevent the sauce from turning into egg drop soup

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Ready to eat!

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Shishito Peppers

Up until a couple of years ago I’d never heard of these things, then they seemed to pop up on trendy menus everywhere. I’ve had these as appetizers a few times at restaurants, but assumed that they fell into the class of things like tempura, that although theoretically possible to make at home, isn’t worth the bother. This is happily not the case at all, they are super quick and easy to prepare, and taste just like the ones at the restaurant.

Ingredients

  • 1 TB Olive oil
  • 6 oz Shishito peppers
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions

  1. Prep the peppers by rinsing and draining well, then pat dry. Leave them whole with the stems intact!
  2. Heat a 10″ cast iron frying pan over medium high heat (or other pan large enough to hold peppers in a single layer)
  3. Add the oil, and swirl around to evenly coat the pan
  4. Add the peppers and spread out in a single layer
  5. Stir and flip the peppers every 1-2 minutes to cook evenly on all sides
  6. Once peppers are blistered on all sides and begin to soften, remove to serving bowl and toss with salt.

Normally I deseed peppers, but these are not objectionable unless it’s a really large pepper, and even then it’s easy enough to nibble around them. So just leave them whole.

Turkey Bolognese

Do not read this if you are Italian, if your Grandmother was Italian, or if you are expecting anything vaguely authentically Italian. In fact, I should probably call it something else altogether, lest I be sued by Bologna for using their cuisine in vain.
But with that out of the way, let’s move on, because this really is delicious, and a lot easier than the real deal.

Ingredients

  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 carrot, chopped fine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1/4-1/2 cup wine
  • 1 box (750g) Pomi chopped tomatoes (or a 28 oz can)
  • 1 liter box of beef broth
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, freshly grated

Directions

  1. Heat a large (12″) frying pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and butter, and the vegetables once it’s melted.
  2. Sauté for a couple of minutes until onion is translucent and just starting to color. Add the turkey and break up any chunks.
  3. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and stir until turkey is no longer pink.
  4. Deglaze the pan with some wine. (I didn’t have an open bottle so just tossed in a splash of sweet Vermouth).
  5. Add the tomatoes and stir well, bring to a boil.
  6. Add in the broth, it will come close to the top of the pan but should all fit.
  7. Cook uncovered until sauce reduces, and broth is almost completely evaporated/absorbed.
  8. Stir in the grated cheese. It will be quite chunky, and not very “saucy”.
  9. Serve with pasta, tortilla chips, or crusty French bread. And probably a green salad, or some broccoli or something.

I got hungry before it was done reducing, so scooped out the chunky bits with some tortilla chips.

It finally reduced (I didn’t time it, but took forever, likely because I was already hungry)

Turkey with Cranberries and Citrus

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it until the rest of you catch on: turkey is not just for Thanksgiving. And neither are cranberries, for that matter. To prove it, here’s an easy dish that uses both. Along with some some small oranges (I still don’t really undertand the difference between tangerines, clementines, and mandarines – are they different varieties or just different words for the same fruit?), this makes a delicious thick sauce, almost compote-like, with just enough sweetness to offset the bitterness.

Ingredients

  • 2 turkey thighs, bone-in and skin on (about 2 lbs or 1 kg)
  • 2 shallots (or one small onion), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh (or frozen) cranberries
  • 1 cup chicken broth)
  • 1/2 cup white wine or dry vermouth
  • 1 splash (1-2 TB) Campari
  • 2 tangerines, peeled and sectioned
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 4 sprigs fresh sage
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 TB sugar
  • 2 TB maple syrup
  • 2 TB oil
  • 2 TB flour

Directions

  1. Pat dry the thighs with a paper towel and sprinkle with kosher salt on both sides.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F
  3. Heat a 10″ cast iron skillet (or other oven proof pan) over medium high heat.
  4. Add the oil, and sear the thighs on both sides until golden brown, then remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Add the shallots to the pan, and soften for a minute or two.
  6. Add the herbs, and sprinkle the flour, then stir for another minute.
  7. Deglaze the pan with the wine, add the Campari, and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Return the turkey to the pan, skin side up, along with any juices that may have leaked out.
  9. Add the cranberries and oranges, sprinkle with the sugar, and add the broth around the sides of the turkey.
  10. Loosely cover and transfer to the oven for about an hour. Taste the sauce, add the maple syrup, and adjust seasoning and sweetness.
  11. Remove the cover and cook for approximately another half hour, until the liquid is reduced and the turkey thoroughly cooked through.
  12. Taste the sauce one more time, it should be a bit bitter with just a hint of sweetness. Mix to break up the large chunks, or leave as it, and serve under, over, or next to the turkey.

Monkfish w. Olives

Monkfish is a firm fish, sometimes called “poor man’s lobster,” although it definitely tastes like a fish and not a crustacean. But it is relatively inexpensive, and when cooked well is a treat in its own right. Since it is a dense fish, and not flaky like cod, it needs thorough cooking, and is often roasted in the oven. I was too impatient to preheat the oven, so pan roasted it on the stovetop. I combined three different recipes, partially because I didn’t have all of the ingredients to recreate any of them faithfully, and partially because they all seemed a bit bland on their own. I was inspired by Belgian cuisine, although this is far from authentically anything. The good news is that it tasted good, so I’ll call it a success.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb monkfish fillets, trimmed and butterflied if very thick
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 TB butter
  • 2 TB flour
  • Berbere or other fish seasoning of choice, to taste
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup Belgian beer
  • 8 large oil-cured green olives stuffed with sun dried tomatoes, sliced

Directions

  1. Heat a 10″ cast iron pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the shallots and stir for a minute.
  2. Season the fish well (salt and pepper is fine, or spice it up to taste), then dredge lightly in flour. Smear a bit of Dijon mustard on the top of each fillet.
  3. Melt the butter into the pan, add the fresh herbs and the fish, and sprinkle with the garlic and olives.
  4. Cook until lightly browned, then flip and cover the pan.
  5. After a minute or two of browning the second side, deglaze with the beer, and recover the pan.
  6. Cook covered for a few minutes until done. Do not undercook or it will be gross, and do not overcook or it will be tough and gross.
  7. Serve with challah rolls, a thick slice of sheep milk Gouda, and a glass of the Belgian beer.

Chicken in Red Wine Vinegar

Last night I made what I can only describe as a french-style version of chicken adobo (no soy sauce), based on a NY Times recipe (https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/5727-chicken-with-vinegar) by Mark Bittman who got it from Jean-Georges Vongerichten who learned how to make it from the chef Paul Bocuse. So good pedigree, and very simple. They cooked the chicken separate from the sauce, I figured it would be better (and certainly quicker and easier) to let it marinate while it cooks. 

It would have been good with some mushrooms, but I had used those earlier in the day for a quiche/frittata thing, so threw in a couple of tomatoes for color instead.

Really complex and sophisticated flavours, the sort of thing you’d get at a nice bistro in Lyon. Serve with a good Burgundy/Pinot Noir.

 Ingredients

  • 6 chicken things (~1 kg) or one small chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 TB butter
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 shallots
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 plum tomatoes

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Pat dry the chicken, and season well with kosher salt on both sides.
  3. Brown the chicken thighs in butter and olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Start with skin side down, then flip once it’s brown and crispy.
  4. Add the chopped shallots and whole tomatoes, and sautée for a minute.
  5. Pour in the vinegar and broth, add the herbs, and pop in the oven until the liquid is mostly absorbed/evaporated and the chicken in cooked through, about 30 minutes.
  6.  Remove the chicken from the pan to a serving platter, strain the pan drippings and separate off the top layer of fat. Drizzle the remaining sauce (there will only be a couple of tablespoons) over the chicken.

Potato Bread

I wanted a potato bread that could be sliced, made from instant mashed potato flakes and not actual potatoes. It came out with a nice crumb, although not quite as silky or fluffy as I would have wanted. I think I’ll try it again though, maybe baked in the bread machine instead of free-form on the baking stone as I did today. And with 1/2 cup of potato flakes.
I loosely followed the King Arthur Flour recipe for butter split-top bread (https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/buttertop-bread-recipe), making a single deep slash instead of the diagonal cuts and slathering it with melted butter wouldn’t have hurt.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup dry potato flakes
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 TB powdered milk
  • 1 TB instant bread yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup almond milk

Directions

  1. Add ingredients to bread machine in the proper order, and process on basic dough setting.
  2. Remove from pan, form into a loaf shape, and allow to rise for about an hour, or until almost doubled in bulk.
  3. Slash with a lame a few times on the diagonal.
  4. Bake on a pizza stone in a pre-heated 350F* oven on the Convection Bake setting for about 40-45 minutes.
  5. Optional: slather the top with melted butter while still warm.
  6. Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing.

* since the dough is rather rich and sweet, high temp will cause the outside to brown too much before the inside is fully cooked though.

Mexican Roast Chicken

Normally I roast chickens with the upright “beer can” holder, filled with aromatic liquid, allowing the outside to get evenly crisp while the inside stays moist and gets an extra jolt of flavour. But the other good way is to spatchcock the bird, and lay it out flat on a bed of aromatics. Today I did the latter. Most people will tell you to cut out the backbone (save for soup) and then flatten it out. I remove the breast cutlets (to use in other preparations, since I don’t really like the white meat roasted as much anyway), with the tasty back now forming the centerpiece.

If you have time, marinate the bird in advance, otherwise just season and slather on the sauce before cooking. I used some leftover chili-tomato salsa as the base for the marinade (using Rick Bayless’s) simple recipe, with some extra garlic and lime and a bit of olive oil.

Then to be really fancy about it, I used the other half of the salsa as the base for a creamy sauce to make this really special.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, spatchcocked (see notes above)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 large plum tomato
  • 2/3 cup chili-tomato salsa (see below)
  • 1-2 TB olive oil
  • 1 lime
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 TB cream

Directions

  1. Sprinkle the chicken all over with a generous amount of salt and pepper and garlic powder (I used Goya Adobo seasoning).
  2. Prepare the marinade: mix 1/3 cup of the chili-tomato salsa with a glug or two of olive oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic, the grated zest and juice of one lime. It should be a bit salty, hot, smoky, and acidic.
  3. Slather the marinade all over the chicken, put in a one gallon ziploc bag, and put back in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, but preferably a few hours, or even overnight.
  4. Peel and coarsely chop the onion, seed and cut the poblano pepper into chunks, and cut the tomato into eighths. The pieces should all be roughly the same size.
  5. Put the vegetables in the bottom of a roasting pan (or Pyrex 13″ x 9″ baking pan), and season lightly with salt and pepper. Add a couple cloves of sliced garlic. Then spread out the chicken on top of the vegetables so that it lays flat, skin side up. Add any remaining marinade from the bag around the chicken.
  6. Roast in preheated 425F oven for about 75 minutes. Chicken and vegetables should just start to char around the edges, but be careful not to let it get too burnt.
  7. While the chicken cooks, make the sauce: Seed and finely chop the jalapeno, and peel and mince the garlic. Saute in a teaspoon of olive oil in a 10″-12″ non-stick skillet for a minute or two. Then add the chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce by about half, then stir in the remaining chili-tomato sauce, and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat, and add a couple of spoonfuls of cream.
  8. Cut the chicken into pieces, and serve with a dollop of the roasted vegetables and dish of the gravy. Garnish with lime wedges.

Chili-Tomato Salsa

This recipe is quite simple, with only a handful of ingredients. Feel free to play with the chilis, the original recipe only called for guajillo, but I wanted a bit of smokiness. You can also add a canned chipotle instead of the the darker chilis, or a few chili de arbol for extra heat. I like to remove the seeds and inner membranes of all the chilis because I find them bitter, but that’s where a lot of the heat is, so adjust accordingly.

  • 4 Guajillo chilis
  • 2 morito chilis
  • 2 pasilla chilis
  • 4 medium plum tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. In a hot cast iron pan, roast the unpeeled garlic, turning occasionally until it softens and starts to blacken, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prep the chilies by tearing them up into fourths (half for the smaller ones), removing the stems, seeds, and inner “ribs”. Wear gloves if you using hot chilis.
  3. Add the chili pieces to the pan in a single layer (you may need to do it in two batches), and press down to ensure even contact with the hot pan. After 30 seconds to a minute, flip and repeat with the other side. They should change color and just begin to blacken, but don’t char too much or the sauce will be bitter. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  4. Put the tomatoes on a foil lined broiling tray, and broil close to the flame for a couple of minutes until the skin starts to blister and blacken. Turn over and repeat with the second side.
  5. While the tomatoes cook, pulverise the chilis in a blender until they turn into chili powder. Peel the garlic and add to the blender, along with the tomatoes (skin first and coarsely chop) and any juices that leaked out onto the foil.
  6. Blend until smooth, add salt to taste, and let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. A squeeze of fresh lime juice is also nice.

The salsa is great at room temperature or chilled with chips, or for various tacos, enchiladas, etc. And in the recipe above, it serves as the base for both the marinade and the finishing sauce. It’s a versatile base for a lot of preparations. And once you have the basic technique down, you can mix it up by adding onion, cilantro, tomatillos instead/addition to the tomatoes, etc. But try it the simple way first at least once, with just chilis, tomatoes, garlic, and salt.

Shrimp Boil

This is a variation on the traditional lowcountry or Cajun style boil. See https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1019530-cajun-shrimp-boil for a good example of the latter. I didn’t have corn, so substituted green beans, and added chicken, which makes the broth extra rich and tasty. In the North they tend to use less spice and more variety in the seafood (crabs, clams, etc.) but I didn’t have those either, so ended up with a hybrid.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs chicken thighs (4-6)
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 2 lbs extra large “e-z peel” pre-cleaned frozen shrimp, with shells
  • 1 lb green beans
  • 8 gold potatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1/4 cup Old Bay or other Chesapeake style crab boil seasoning
  • 2 TB cayenne pepper
  • Louisiana style hot sauce (e.g. Tabasco)
  • 1/2 head of garlic (6-8) cloves, unpeeled
  • Remoulade (see below)

Directions

  1. In an 8-quart or other large pot, bring 1.5-2 liters of water. Season with copious amounts of crab boil spice, the bay leaves, the garlic, star anise, and a good amount of cayenne. It should be quite salty and spicy, but adjust seasoning to taste.
  2. Add the chicken and bring back to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, then add the sausage, and cook for another 20 minutes.
  3. Add the potatoes, cut in half or quarters if very large, and add to pot, along with some extra hot sauce. Simmer for about 10 minutes until just barely tender.
  4. Add the frozen shrimp, cook for a minute or three, then the green beans. If using fresh shrimp, reverse the order.
  5. Remove from heat as soon as the shrimp are almost done and the beans still a bit crunchy. Allow to steep covered for a few minutes to finish cooking and encourage the flavours to mingle.
  6. Serve a chicken thigh in a bowl with a sausage, potato, handful of shrimp and beans, and a ladle of broth. Top with a dollop of remoulade.

Remoulade:

Mix together the following, then refrigerate for at 30 minutes prior to serving.

  • 1/2-1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1-2 TB Dijon mustard
  • 2-4 cornichon pickles, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Old Bay
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • Grated horseradish or wasabi powder
  • dash of Worcestershire and Tabasco

Based on https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1019531-remoulade

 

Cheese Grits with Red Eye Gravy

As with most Northern people, almost everything I know about grits is derived from the classic film “My Cousin Vinny.” A bit of research reveals that there are 3 main levels: instant, quick, and old fashioned. Very similar to oatmeal. (For a detailed explanation of how grits relate to corn meal and polenta, look elsewhere because I’m still a bit fuzzy the whole thing, and defer to the label on the packaging to differentiate between the three.) There seems to be universal agreement that the instant version is trash, and not worth it, because the quick cook ones really do only take a few minutes. And unless one is a real connoisseur, there seems to be little benefit to the traditional method of tediously stirring a pot of gruel for an hour just to obtain a pot of porridge at the end that is virtually indistinguishable. The Modernist Cuisine cookbook has an elaborate “time saving” method of pressure cooking the grits to reduce the time by 2/3, but it still seems like way too much work. Maybe you Instant Pot aficionados would like to try, but for now I will stick to the time honoured method of using the microwave oven.

As you may have noticed if you’ve ever tried them, grits on their own are terribly bland and boring and it’s really hard to see the appeal. But doctored up a bit, they serve as a wonderful canvas for a delicious breakfast/brunch.

First, use chicken broth instead of water. Preferably homemade, with some character. Mexican style with epazote, oregano, garlic, culantro, achiote, and a bit of heat is ideal. But you could also start with broth in a box and add some black pepper, cayenne, onion and garlic powder, ground oregano, etc.

Second, to create a silky texture, melt in some American cheese. Velveeta is also popular, but tastes too artificial, and real cheese doesn’t dissolve as well. But feel free to experiment if you want it extra cheesy.

Third, the grits need some protein as a garnish. I like a sunny side up egg, but shrimp & grits is a wonderful combination as well.

Finally, a sauce is needed to elevate the whole thing from a bowl of bland mush into a complete dish. This one is adapted from the Modernist Cuisine cookbook. If done right, the end product is the perfect balance of sweet, salty, and depth of flavour.

Ingredients (for two servings)

  • 1/2 cup quick cooking (aka 5-minute) grits
  • 2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 4 slices American cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/4 cup dark roasted coffee beans
  • 2-3 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1-2 tsp butter

Directions

  1. Grits: In a large microwave safe bowl, stir the grits with the chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 minutes.
  2. Remove bowl from microwave, stir well, then add the cheese and cook for another 2-3 minutes depending on how cold the broth was to start with and how strong the microwaves are. Stir halfway through to incorporate cheese and break up any clumps, and add time in 1 minute increments if too soupy. Adjust seasonings depending on how salty/spicy the broth was to start with.
  3. Gravy: Heat the remaining 1 cup of chicken broth in a saucepan with the star anise until it just starts to bubble.
  4. Add the coffee beans, maple syrup, a generous sprinkle of smoked paprika and a dash of cayenne.
  5. Stir to incorporate, and simmer gently for 5 minutes while the grits cook. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  6. Remove from heat and swirl in the butter. Strain the sauce and keep warm.
  7. Assembly: Fry the two eggs in butter or bacon grease sunny side up until just barely set. I like to use relatively high heat to get the edges of the whites a bit crispy, and spoon the butter over the top to cook evenly. Spreading the egg out in the pan also helps it to cook through quickly, leaving the yolk nice and runny while avoiding gross undercooked egg white (which is why I normally prefer my eggs over easy, but the presentation is worth the extra effort here).
  8. Divide the grits into two bowls, top each with an egg, and spoon the sauce around the egg.