Friday, July 25, 2014

chicken breasts poached in butter...

...with wine & cream sauce + other recipes from Julia Child.
It may not have been the prettiest girl at the dance but it was pretty damn delicious.

For the last several weeks I’ve been working on a labor of love for my niece’s bridal shower, an illustrated collection of recipes, photos and other kitchen anecdotes which boiled all down to family, friends and food.

Simultaneously, I had returned to “Dearie” the biography of Julia Child I’d started last year, then ADD’d elsewhere. I resumed it at the point she gets to France and the germ of Mastering the Art of French Cooking sprouts. She was relentless in getting each recipe perfect, persevering through battles with her co-authors and the rejections from her first publisher. Her determination and goal-oriented stubbornness paralleled  and motivated my drive to finish my project.
She was obsessed. I was curious. Oddly enough, I've never read Mastering the Art of French Cooking, though I had, somewhere,  The French Chef Cookbook I'd picked up a library book sale years ago. I bookmarked a few things

First up: Supremes de Volaille a Blanc or Chicken breasts poached in butter, with wine and cream sauce. A supreme is the skinless, boneless, breast of a chicken removed raw from the whole bird. The recipe calls for 4 "supremes", I cooked 2 fairly large breasts.
The chicken breasts, rubbed with lemon juice, salt & pepper (white pepper-Julia only used white pepper) are oven poached in butter, then a sauce is made from that same chicken juice infused butter by adding broth, wine and cream-I mean seriously what’s not to love about that?

Julia was first and foremost, a teacher and the recipes are fairly idiot proof, even though I bought half and half instead of cream. I thought it was cream, so my sauce never quite emulsified due to the water in the half in half I’m thinking. I whisked really well and it looked beautiful for about 3 minutes then tiny oily globules started to form…well…live and learn. It tasted amazing though. I’m thinking, in part, because I didn’t skimp on the vermouth. By that I mean quality. I used this:

I cooked two breasts that were rather large so they took longer to cook. I may have over cooked them the teeeensiest bit. I guess I could have cut them in half or even sliced them since that’s what I did after they were cooked, but I think leaving them whole produces more juice which in turn flavors the sauce. I used Smart & Final brand beef bouillion-yeah I know-it’s all I had (I'm a huge fan of the Better Than Bouillion brand). Whatever. They were delicious! The sauce, in spite of my half and half debacle was rich and flavorful.

I also made a delicious risotto from the book. It's finished in the oven-- super low-maintenance. You  need to start it in some kind of casserole dish that can go from stove top to oven. Julia’s recipe calls for plain white rice. I had some Arborio left so I used it. Super simple. Dice onion, sauté in butter, stir in rice and cook for a minute, pour in bouillion, an herb bag or a bouquet garni of parsley thyme & bay leaf and pop in the oven for 18 minutes. Fluff. Done & delish.

Recipe #3 was Haricots Verts au Maitre D’hotel-or fresh green beans tossed with butter, lemon juice and parsley.

The green beans are blanched then tossed in a dry pan to remove the moisture then seasoned with salt & pepper, tossed with butter and then a splash of lemon juice and chopped parsley. Great recipe. A great way to cook green vegetables-broccoli, asparagus etc.

Cooking the Chicken Breasts

4 supremes
 ½ teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
Big pinch white pepper
4 tablespoons butter
A heavy, covered casserole dish that can go from stovetop to oven
A round of parchment paper cut to fit the casserole
A hot serving dish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Rub the chicken breasts with drops of lemon juice, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Heat butter in the casserole until foaming. Quickly roll the chicken breasts in the butter, lay the paper over them, cover the casserole, and place in hot oven. After 6 minutes, press tops of suprêmes with your finger; if still soft and squashy, return to the oven for a minute or two more. They are done when they feel lightly springy and resilient; do not overcook them. Remove the suprêmes to a hot serving dish; cover and keep warm while making the sauce, which will take 2 to 3 minutes.

Wine & Cream Sauce:
1/4 cup white or brown stock or canned beef bouillon
1/4 cup port, Madeira, or dry white vermouth
1 cup heavy cream
Salt, white pepper, and lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley

Pour the stock or bouillon and the wine into the casserole with the cooking butter, and boil down rapidly over high heat until the liquid is syrupy. Then pour in the cream, and boil rapidly until lightly thickened. Season carefully with salt, pepper, and drops of lemon juice. Pour the sauce over the suprêmes, sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.


1/3 cup finely minced onions
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup unwashed raw white rice
¼ cup dry white French vermouth, optional
2 cups light chicken stock heated in a small saucepan
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bay leaf (or a small herb bouquet—l small bay leaf, 1/8 tsp thyme, and 3 parsley sprigs tied in washed cheesecloth)


Sauté the onions slowly in the butter for several minutes until soft and translucent. Stir in the rice and sauté, slowly stirring, for several minutes more until the grains, which first become translucent, turn a milky white. This step cooks the starchy coating and prevents the grains from sticking.
Braising. If you are using vermouth, stir it in now and let it boil down for a moment. Blend in the chicken stock, correct seasoning, and add the bay leaf or herb bouquet. Bring to the boil, stir thoroughly, then cover tightly and finish in the oven, baking for 18 minutes. Do not stir it at all during this time. Check to see if there's any liquid at the bottom and return to the oven for another 2 minutes if necessary. Remove the bay leaf or herb bouquet, fluff the rice with a fork, taste & adjust seasoning if needed.

Green Beans

2 pounds of green beans
6-7 quarts boiling water
2 tablespoons salt
3-4 tablespoons butter cut into 3-4 pieces
2-3 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons of minced parsley

Trim the ends off the beans and plunge them into the boiling, salted water. Boil for about 6-8 minutes- I used the skinny French green beans from Trader Joes so they only took 6 minutes to get to a place I like- or until the larger of the beans is tender but still has a slight crunch. This really depends on  the size & quality of your beans. Farm fresh beans will take much less time than beans that have been sitting in the supermarket for a week or whatever. Pluck out a bean, taste it and stop when you like the bite.
Drain immediately and rinse well in cold water. This can be done ahead of time.
When ready to cook, toss the beans in the dry pot over medium heat until any remaining moisture has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and stir in one piece of butter. Alternate additions of butter and lemon juice. Top with parsley just before serving.

I actually watched that episode on You Tube after and learned that it's important to use a big pot of boiling water because it will return to the boil much faster once you've plunged the beans in. The rapid boil and chill is the key to keeping the vegetables al dente and thusly-PERFECTLY cooked!

Old Dog. New Tricks.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Everything Bagel Bombs

These are wicked. A flavorful scallion cream cheese filling is scooped into little balls and frozen, then wrapped in yeasty dough, washed with beaten egg and coated with an everything bagel mix. As the dough bakes and rises the cream cheese explodes.


I came upon this recipe awhile back at The Amateur Gourmet and became quite obsessed with them. Then, as is habit in the little kitchen, I move on, continuously in search of "the next best thing".
Recently I went back over some of my kitchen faves to compile into an illustrated kitchen journal as a gift for my niece's bridal shower. The bagel bombs were re-tested on the family and all agreed this was a keeper. The link to the recipe has some great step photos.


Bagel Bombs
from the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook by Christina Tosi via The Amateur Gourmet
 8 ounces cream cheese (plain, not low-fat)
 One bunch of scallions, green part thinly sliced
 1 teaspoon sugar
 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt + 1/2 tablespoon (for dough) + 3/4 teaspoon for the bagel mix coating
 1 3/4 cups (or 225 grams) flour
 1/4 packet (or 1/2 teaspoon) active dry yeast
 7/8 cups (or 185 g) lukewarm water
 Neutral oil
 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
 1 tablespoon dried onions
 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
 1 egg
Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream it on medium speed, until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the scallions, sugar, and salt and mix briefly to incorporate. Taste and add a pinch more salt if you like. Scoop the cream cheese on to a parchment-lined cookie sheet in 8 even lumps and freeze until solid, 1 to 3 hours.

To make the dough, stir together the flour, salt and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer. Hold the dough hook in your hand and combine the dry ingredients, add the water and continue mixing by hand for 1 minute, until the mixture has come together into a shaggy mess.

Attach the bowl and hook to the mixer and have the machine mix the dough on the lowest speed for 3 minutes, or until the ball of dough is smoother and more cohesive. If the dough is sticky sprinkle in more flour one tablespoon at a time, until the dough releases from the bottom of the bowl.  Knead for 4 more minutes on the lowest speed. The dough should look like a wet ball and should bounce back when lightly poked.

Brush a large bowl with oil and dump the dough into it. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough proof at room temperature for 45 minutes.

Make the bagel mix by mixing together the salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onions, onion powder, and garlic powder. What

Preheat the oven to 325.

Punchdown and flatten the dough on a smooth, dry countertop. Use a bench scraper to divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Use your fingers to gently stretch each piece of dough out into a flat disc between 2 and 3 inches wide.

Put a frozen cream cheese ball in the center of each dough circle. Bring up the edges of each round and pinch to seal so that the cream cheese ball is completely encased in dough. Gently roll the ball between the palms of your hands to ensure the bomb has a nice, round shape. Arrange the bombs 4 inches apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Whisk the egg and 1/2 teaspoon water together and brush a generous coat of egg wash on the buns. Sprinkle a heavy even coating of the bagel mix all over the bagel bombs~every possible inch, except for the bottoms, should be coated.

Bake the bagel bombs for 20 to 30 minutes. While in the oven, the bombs will become a deep golden brown and a few may have cream cheese explosions. Continue baking until you see this happen! Not to worry–serve them as is or use a small teaspoon to tuck the cream cheese back inside the bagel bomb. Bagel bombs are best served warm out of the oven. Store any leftovers <HA!> wrapped well in plastic wrap, in the fridge for up to 3 days.

 *Make ahead up until baking. Freeze them on a sheet pan then transfer to a freezer bag. They can go straight from the freezer into the oven.



Monday, July 14, 2014

Rescue Ramen

It started as soup.
This was a refrigerator rescue I concocted whilst house sitting awhile back. I was a stones throw away from my favorite Asian market, New May Wah on Clement Street & 8th Avenue. I love their amazing assortment of frozen dumplings and other potsticker type bites. Along with the array of sauces and the lure of DirectTV back at the house, I was a hermit for close to 3 days, resurrecting my old New Years Eve tradition of an enormous dumpling appetizer dinner, Cosmopolitans and a Sex & the City marathon. Good times.
The leftovers found their way into the pot.
I had also picked up a bag of ramen noodles, six curly compressed rounds packaged much like rice cakes.There was an unfortunate clamshell of grape tomatoes in my host refrigerator that begged to be rescued. Of course I slow roasted them. I also had a bag of mixed frozen vegetables at home. This was much more dense than my usual 3-1 broth-to-stuff ratio.


bring a big pot of water to a boil-this was 6 quart dutch oven with about 4 quarts of water, then reduce to a simmer.
Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base-about 2 tablespoons- let it dissolve and taste.-just enough that the water takes on some flavor. Add some salt at this point if necessary. Seasoning at this point is more for flavoring the noodles that will cook in the broth.
a garlic clove or two finely chopped & smashed with coarse salt using the side of a knife
add potstickers if you have them-either your leftover cooked ones or frozen (let them cook through for about 7-8 minutes)
   *I used both ramen and potstickers just because I had them-but either one alone is fine
frozen vegetables
a bunch of scallions, thinly sliced, white parts in the pot first-hold off on the greens until the end
any raw vegetables you're trying to use up, diced
ramen noodles-I used one of the cake rounds
add the roasted tomatoes-THIS is what takes the soup up to a brilliant level!!
add salt & pepper to taste
finish with the scallion greens
you can also use up leftover cooked chicken-shred it or dice it.
leftover cooked vegetables work too-dice them up and add them at the end

This particular batch was big and dense. It lasted through the house-sit.  By the last day, most of the broth had been reduced away leaving behind the perfect nest for a couple of poached eggs.
I felt pretty smug whilst OCD'ing on all that foodTV.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Turkey Zucchini Burgers with Sour Cream Sumac Sauce

Another Jerusalem fave. I've made these tasty little sliders several times now and I just can't get enough-they are so flavorful and the sumac sauce just puts it over the top. I double the recipe so I can revel in the leftovers. The first time I made these & packed the leftovers for my office lunch, the aroma wafting from the microwave followed by the visual at my desk had my office mates & bakery peeps mesmerized and fairly disgusted with their $10 deli sandwiches. I made these with the Basmati & Wild Rice in the previous post. This morning I chopped up 3 burgers and tossed the colorful little bites in amongst the rice, nuked it for a minute and topped it off with a poached egg. Needless to say, bliss in a bowl.
The great thing about these burgers and the rice dish is that the flavors are at their best at room temperature or slightly warmed so you can make this ahead of time if you decide (and rightly so) you're gonna make this for guests.

Turkey & zucchini burgers with green onion & cumin
from Jerusalem the Cookbook

1 pound ground turkey

1 large zucchini coarsely grated -about 2 cups
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 large free-range egg
2 tablespoon chopped mint
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
About 6 ½ tbsp of sunflower oil, for searing

sour cream & sumac sauce

scant 1/2 cup sour cream
scant cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sumac
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Make the sour cream sauce by placing all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well and set aside or chill until needed.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs except the sunflower oil. Mix with your hands and then shape into about 18 burgers, each weighing about 1 ½ oz.
Pour enough sunflower oil into a large frying pan to form a layer about inch thick on the pan bottom. Heat over medium heat until hot, then sear the meatballs in batches on all sides. Cook each batch for about 4 minutes, adding oil as needed, until golden brown.

Carefully transfer the seared meatballs to a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper and place them in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until just cooked through. Serve warm or at room temperature, with the sauce spooned over or on the side.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

BLTCA pinwheels

This is another one of my office lunch go-to's, a super simple make ahead using either leftover chicken or grill up a chicken breast or two. I cooked up and crumbled some bacon and mixed it with my home made mayo. I added a little adobo sauce to the mayo for some kick, that's why its pink.
Bacon, lettuce, tomato, chicken & avocado.

A great everyday lunch wrap or you can fancy it up by slicing it into pinwheels. Tightly roll, wrap with plastic  twisting the ends. Chill for at least an hour or overnight if you want to make several  up on a Sunday and have one for lunch the next day. This is also a great way to use up leftover salad that's gone wilty.
There's really no recipe for this but here are the components:

cooked chicken breast diced up
cooked bacon crumbled
salt & pepper to taste

Mix everything together in a bowl and set aside.

several leaves of lettuce, stacked and tightly rolled, then sliced into a chiffonade (thin strips)
one tomato-diced
several basil leaves, stacked and tightly rolled, then sliced into a chiffonade
one avocado halved, then quartered-make a bunch of diagonal cuts to, but not through the skin, scoop the  slices out of the skin with a spoon

On a large tortilla spread about a half cup of the chicken over two thirds of the tortilla. On the top third spread out just some of the mayonnaise so the tortilla will stick at the end.
Top the mix evenly with lettuce, tomato, basil and slices of avocado. Finish with a couple of turns of fresh cracked pepper. 
Beginning at the filling end, tightly roll up toward the plain end, you don't need to tuck the sides in.
Tear off a sheet of plastic wrap and lay it flat on your work surface. Place your roll on the bottom edge and center it. Roll it up and then twist the ends tightly. Refrigerate for at least an hour.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Basmati & Wild Rice with Chickpeas, Herbs & Fried Onions

The latest from Jerusalem, the best cookbook I've never owned.
I have problems cooking rice. Seems so simple “follow package directions”. Never fails, it’s usually undercooked and burning to the bottom of the pan before it’s done…just a whisper of a flame and I still end up with scorched rice.
Add more water and I end up with clumpy moist rice. Not good either. Then I came across Jamie Oliver’s method of boiling, draining & steaming rice, now this is how I cook all my grains. This requires a little more attention & the use of a couple of tools but it results in more control and a grain that ideally suits it's final purpose.

The Jamie Oliver Method of cooking white rice:

Get a large pot of salted water boiling.
Add 1 1/2 cups of well-rinsed rice (in a mesh strainer-run it under cold water for about a minute-until the water runs clear)_
when the rice starts dancing around, boil for 5 minutes** from that point on.
Strain the rice in a colander and cover with aluminum foil, pressing it down onto the surface of the rice. Add an inch of water back into your original pot and bring that back to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and place your colander of foil-covered rice back into the pot and place the pot cover back on as well.
Let it simmer and steam for 10** minutes.

**These times will vary depending on the grain-white rice being the quickest cook and farro taking the longest. At the first point, you're looking for the grain to be chewy but still slightly underdone. The grain is finished when you think it's finished-the simmer & steam time can take up to 30 minutes depending on the grain. Taste it every 10 minutes & check that the water hasn't boiled away.

This dish has two different types of rice which require preparation separately. You can choose to go with one type if you want but what works here is the two different textures that are going on. Basmati is lighter & fluffier while the wild rice is firmer.
As I sit here and eat this I’m struck by two things: It’s beautiful to look at, I hope my pictures do it justice. The rice is yellowed from the curry and flecked with loads of fresh bright green herbs and the deep red from the dried cranberries and finally the crispy brown of the fried onions. Ottolenghi loves his fried onions for good reason. They add a level of crispiness and savory complexity. I added a bunch of chives I’d just trimmed the flower off. They were teetering on the edge of the compost bin.

Basmati & Wild Rice with Chickpeas, Herbs & Fried Onions
adapted from Jerusalem the Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi

⅓ cup wild rice
2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
2 ¼ cups basmati rice
boiling water
2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1½ teaspoons curry powder
1 ½ cups cooked and drained chickpeas (canned are good)
¾ cup sunflower oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 ½ teaspoon all-purpose flour
⅔ cup currants
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoons chopped dill
I added about 2 tablespoons fresh chives-just what I had on hand and not be wasteful=)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Rinse the wild rice in a mesh strainer and place in small sauce pan. Fill with water and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until the rice is chewy then transfer to a mesh strainer or small colander and steam it (as directed above) to it's finish.
To cook the basmati rice, pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil into a medium saucepan with a tightly fitting lid and place over high heat. Add the rice and ¼ teaspoon salt and stir as you warm up the rice. Carefully add the boiling water filling the saucepan about 3/4 full, once the rice is boiling and dancing around, continue to boil for 5 minutes, then transfer into a colander and simmer & steam to it's finish. Turn off the heat, remove the foil and place a clean tea towel over the pot and place the lid back on. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
While the rice is cooking, prepare the chickpeas. Heat the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add the cumin seeds and curry powder. Wait for a couple of seconds, and then add the chickpeas and ¼ teaspoon salt; make sure you do this quickly or the spices may burn in the oil. Stir over the heat for a minute or two, just heat the chickpeas then transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Wipe the saucepan clean, pour in the sunflower oil, and place over high heat. Make sure the oil is hot by throwing a small piece of onion; it should sizzle vigorously. Use your hands to mix the onion with the flour to coat it slightly. Take some of the onion and carefully (it may split) place it in the oil. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown, then transfer to paper towels to drain and sprinkle with salt. Repeat in batches until all the onion is fried.
Finally, add both types of rice to the chickpeas and then add the currants, herbs, and fried onion. Stir, taste and add salt and pepper as you like. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This makes a lot of rice. Perfect for leftovers and cookin’ up for a morning fried rice.

This is really, really good.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Mayonnaise has it's lovers & haters. I was neutral like Switzerland. Lovers are generally divided into Team Hellmans/Best Foods or Team Miracle Whip. Back when I used to purchase commercial mayo I would probably be on the bench for Best Foods, not my go to condiment but useful at times.
A couple of years ago I caught an episode of America's Test Kitchen where Julia was making mayonnaise to go into a potato salad. I thought, "how easy is that?" I had all the ingredients on hand and had just been pondering an egg salad for my morning bagel but had no mayo and I was seriously intrigued by ATK's choice of ingredients using Tabasco & Worchestershire. I subbed Sriracha since I had no Tabasco.
That serendipitous moment propelled the little kitchen to much greater things.
My tweaks to the original recipe continue to be Sriracha only because it'll take me 2 more years to finish that bottle, a squeeze or two of Agave Nectar added at the very end-I like the honey mustard flavors in my finished mayo. I also amp up the Dijon 'cuz I love it. The final steps: add a big pinch of salt & blitz. Taste. Repeat if necessary.
Some tips:
Use a neutral vegetable oil. Olive oil is fine but make sure to taste it first to make sure it's not bitter. My first few attempts at this were foiled by the inexpensive supermarket extra virgin olive oil that I didn't realize was so bitter. It's fine to cook with, but mayonnaise is something like 75% oil-Use something that tastes good on its own.
Use a good quality organic egg if you're freakish about Salmonella. I've made this in the past with cheap supermarket eggs and lived to tell the tale.

Homemade Mayonnaise
adapted from America's Test Kitchen

into your food processor/or mixing bowl:

1 whole large egg
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
dash of Tabasco sauce or Sriracha
dash of Worchestershire Sauce
1/4 teaspoon Dijon-I use a whole teaspoon because I love Dijon-stick with the original measure if you prefer a more neutral mayo. 

Process or madly whisk until it's light yellow.

Sloooowwwwly drizzle in 1 1/4 cup vegetable oil whilst continuing to whisk madly or: see that tiny hole in the middle of the feed tube pusher thingy in your food processor? That's what it's for. Fill that tube with the oil and continue until your measuring cup is empty while the food processor is going.
As soon as the oil is mixed in, taste it. This is where I like to drizzle in some Agave Nectar to give my mayo the honey mustard flavors.
Adjust the taste to your liking by adding pinches of salt, more lemon juice or more hot sauce.
This is great to play around with.