flewellyn: (Default)
So, it's been a good while since I posted a recipe. But, don't think that means I haven't been experimenting! I've been studying and trying culinary things out quite a bit over the past couple of years, and I have more than a few things to show for it.

One of the things I've been doing is reading other people's recipe blogs. One I'm particularly fond of is Budget Bytes, which is a handy guide for making tasty, filling foods that are not terribly expensive. One of the best things about this blog is that the author, Beth, includes photographs of every step of the cooking process, and discusses why she made the choices she did along the way. This way, you can learn which parts are necessary, and which are optional.

I've made several things from that blog as-is, without modifications: the Easy Sesame Chicken, for instance, which is seriously just like the stuff from Chinese restaurants, or the Tandoori Chicken Bites, which should be familiar to anyone who's had "chicken tikka" at an Indian place. I can also recommend the Chili Cheese Beef n' Mac recipe, for a "like Hamburger Helper, but better" experience, or the Yellow Jasmine Rice if you want some amazing yellow rice. Try those out!

But that's not what today is about. Today is about a recipe that I saw on the site, thought looked good, but then decided that I wanted to change. I ended up changing...well...everything, except the core ingredients. The recipe in question is Beth's Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken Thighs, which she does using bone-in chicken thighs, and preparing the pineapple-teriyaki sauce as a glaze to coat the thighs in before baking.

Well, I liked the sounds of this, but I didn't want to do the baking of the thighs thing, for two reasons: first, one of my gamers, Kali (pronounced "Kaylee"), has problems with chicken, but not with turkey, so I usually use turkey, and second, bone-in turkey thighs are damned hard to find at my local grocery stores. So, I had a thought of reworking it to be a simmer sauce, cooking the turkey with the sauce in a skillet instead.

After some experimenting, I came up with this, which has a different balance of ingredients, so I am just going to write everything out.

First, ingredients:

  • 3 pounds of chicken or turkey. Chicken thighs work great, but so do turkey breasts or thighs.

  • 3 cloves of garlic. Or 4, if you want. Garlic is always good, yes?

  • 2 teaspoons of ground ginger paste, or the equivalent of grated fresh ginger. You don't want to use powdered ginger for this. Be advised that if you use fresh, it's probably more potent than the ground ginger paste.

  • 3/4 cup soy sauce.

  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of rice vinegar.

  • 1 tablespoon corn starch.

  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oil.

  • 2 tablespoons of regular vegetable oil. Canola works fine.

  • 2 18 oz jars of pineapple jam.

  • 2 tablespoons of sriracha sauce. This will add a bit of a kick, but not be overwhelmingly hot.

Also, you will want some kind of starch, either rice or pasta, to serve it over. I usually use egg noodles, but you can use other kinds of pasta as well. The sauce is very sticky, so it will have no trouble coating a long pasta, and it will also hold together on top of rice very well.

For equipment, you will need a cutting board, a large skillet, some measuring spoons (or just tablespoons), measuring cup, big kitchen knife, a big stirring spoon, a couple of small mixing bowls, and a bowl to serve with.

First, mince the garlic into small bits. If you're using fresh ginger, grate this finely as well. Keep this in a small bowl. Now, mix in one of the other mixing bowls the soy sauce, rice vinegar, pineapple jam, and sriracha sauce. This can sit for a bit.

Now cut up the chicken or turkey into small chunks, suitable for stir-frying or simmering.

Put the sesame oil and vegetable oil in the skillet and put it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, put in the garlic and ginger, and roast that slightly in the oil for about a minute. Then, add the meat and turn the heat up to high. Brown the chicken or turkey, and then add the mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, jam, and sriracha.

Once that's mixed in, get the corn starch and mix in just enough water to make a slurry, then pour that in to the sauce. Mix it together, and then let it simmer on medium-high for about twenty minutes. This is a good time to make your noodles or rice.

After twenty minutes, take the chicken and sauce off of the heat and pour it into a serving bowl. Let it stand for a few minutes to thicken up a bit, and then serve over the noodles or rice.

That's it! And remember our motto at Cooking With Flew: "Less time cooking means more time eating!"
flewellyn: (Default)
Here at Cooking With Flew, we stand by the motto "Always Avoid Alliteration"!

So I had a wild hair* to make a homemade spaghetti sauce. Y'know, scratch marinara. As with most of my recent experiments, this started out with me looking up recipes, comparing and contrasting, and then deciding on some fundamentals. And then, of course, modifying wildly.

I used as a base a recipe I found on Cooks.com, which I followed almost as directed. When I tasted the results, my reaction was: "You're kidding, right?" It was seriously underspiced, and bland. Not good. So, I went to work modifying. Here, then, is the revised recipe!

  • 1 large onion. I used a large vidalia.

  • 4 cloves garlic. In a marinara, you can always use more garlic.

  • 4-6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil. The original recipe called for 1-2, but why skimp on it?

  • 28 oz can tomato puree.

  • 18 oz can tomato paste.

  • 46 oz of water. This is the "fill the cans with water after you empty them of puree or paste" trick. If you want to make the sauce thicker, consider a bit less water, or just simmer it for longer.

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar.

  • 1/2 cup white cooking wine. A red might have worked better, but I didn't have that handy.

  • At least two TABLESPOONS, not teaspoons, of basil. (Seriously, 1 teaspoon? SERIOUSLY?) Add more if you think it needs it, which it probably does. Be liberal.

  • At least a tablespoon of oregano. Again, be very liberal. It's hard to overdo the oregano (or basil) in a marinara, especially with this volume of sauce to work with.

  • Two teaspoons of salt. I used kosher salt.

  • A teaspoon or so of black pepper. Well, a number of turns of the grinder, at any rate. Do this to taste.

  • A teaspoon of sugar. This will help enhance the sauce's flavor.

  • Two teaspoons of cinnamon. Yes, cinnamon! It gives the sauce a very interesting undertone.

  • Half a teaspoon of cumin. This adds an interesting body to the sauce.
And that's just the basics. If you want meat in the sauce, add some. I added a pound of ground beef (I think I will use more next time). Sausage? Go for it. Meatballs? Sure! You can also add vegetables, mushrooms, more garlic, more onion, other spices if you want. It's a marinara, they are not easy to screw up.

Equipment needs are minimal for the basic sauce: just a nice big sauce pot, spoons, a stirrer, and a separate pot for preparing the pasta. If you add other things that need cooking, like meat, you'll want a pan for those, of course.

So, basic instructions. Part of this is just cribbed from that Cooks.com recipe, so I will quote that here:

Dice onion and garlic. Sauté onion in the bottom of a large pot in the olive oil. When onion is clear, add the garlic and cook until very lightly colored.

Stir in the can of tomato puree. Fill the empty can with water and add to pot. Add can of tomato paste, fill can with water, stirring with a spoon to mix all remaining paste into the water; add to pot. Add oregano and vinegar or wine.

Bring sauce to a boil, stirring continuously. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook over lowest heat until ready to serve...

This neglects to instruct you to add the basil, so I would do that at the same time as the oregano. Stir it all in, and then taste it. If it needs more basil or oregano, and it probably does, by all means add some. Add the sugar, the salt, and the pepper at this point.

If you're going to add a ground meat, brown it in a pan at this point, while the sauce is simmering. Add the meat with any fat from it right in there, there won't be enough to really make the sauce greasy, but it will add some body. Meatballs, you should cook in a pan first, and then add. Sausage, well, you can probably just chop that up and drop it in.

Vegetables could possibly go in raw, or steamed or lightly pan fried, depending on the veggies. Mushrooms I would definitely sautee in a bit of olive oil and garlic first.

Spices can be added while it simmers, of course. I used cinnamon and cumin, but other good choices would be ginger, allspice, maybe some cloves, a bit of turmeric. You could try coriander or cardamom, if you want. Don't go TOO overboard here, you probably still want this to taste like a marinara, not a chili sauce. (If you DO want it to taste more like a chili sauce, do not think I intend to stop you.)

Once it's simmered for awhile, which should probably be at least half an hour, serve it over al dente pasta. With a marinara, pretty much any pasta that is larger than couscous or orzo is a good choice: I used linguine, but fettucine, rigatoni, tortellini, ravioli, farfalle, rotini**, tagliatelle, and of course spaghetti will do great. This could possibly make a good sauce base for lasagna, as well.

Be advised: you are going to have a lot of sauce! I recommend being ready to save some. It keeps very well in the fridge, or in the freezer. Or in jars or cans, if you're into that.

That's it for this edition of Cooking With Flew, and remember: less time cooking means more time eating!

* As opposed to a wild hare, who is not appearing in this picture.
** Also known as "Jawa pasta": ROTINI!
flewellyn: (Default)
So, today, I'm gonna share a few tips friend Lynn gave me on cooking pasta that make it taste amazingly good. I thought, growing up in my family, that I knew pasta. Turns out I did...mostly.

But! There are a few small things you can do when making pasta, and a pasta-based dish, that go a long long way towards making the dish taste, feel, and look more like a restaurant-quality dish. Turns out that most of the fanciness (and schmanciness) of restaurant pasta is due to these simple tricks.

Trick one is to always salt the water. I used to forgo salt because of my dad's tendency to oversalt things. But, it turns out a little bit of kosher salt in the water, say, a palmful per pound of long pasta, or two pounds of short, makes a big difference. It not only keeps it from sticking together, but also imparts a nice flavor. Pasta by itself is rather bland, and this helps season it. Kosher salt is preferable because it has a cleaner taste than table salt, of course.

Second trick: don't cook the pasta until al dente in the pot. At least, not if you are going to mix it in with a pan sauce of any kind; a "pan sauce" could even just be some butter, or olive oil and garlic, or something. In fact, there's a recipe called "Spaghetti olio e aglio" which is just that: spaghetti with olive oil and garlic. Simple stuff, but oh so good, and here's the trick: about a minute before the pasta would be al dente, take it out of the pot, and put it in the pan with the sauce. Let it finish cooking in there. This gets more of the sauce flavor into the pasta.

Final trick: save some of the pasta water and put it in the sauce pan. Seriously! That salty, starchy water is a great addition, because it helps to not only finish cooking the noodles, but the starch helps bind the sauce together. If your sauce combines water-based and oil-based ingredients, like most do, then the starch will act as a binder, and keep them from separating. Also, it imparts a wonderful smoothness to the sauce.

I've been experimenting with these techniques with recipes I know already, some of which I've posted here, like Mint Chicken. Works very well! But, tonight I got experimental. I decided to try inventing something new. Well, new to me, I can't vouch for its complete originality.

I was having friend Hollee over, and wanted to make dinner. I had some chicken, some tortellini, and some vague thoughts of how to proceed. A few flashes of inspiration later, and...

Tortellini with Chicken and Mushroom Sauce

Some of the ingredients are obvious, but let's go down the list anyway:
  • Chicken, or turkey if you prefer. I used 1.25 pounds.

  • Mushrooms, sliced. I used regular button mushrooms, about 1/2 pound.

  • Tortellini. These can be homemade if you really want to, and if you do make your own, more power to you. I do not. I used frozen, a 3 pound bag.

  • Butter, 1 stick. Yes, really, the whole stick.

  • Garlic, minced. You can use preminced if you want (I did). Two tablespoons worth.

  • Flour. I used Wondra, which is great for sauces. I didn't measure exactly, but it was probably about 1/4 cup.

  • White wine. It can be cooking wine, which is just fine. 1 cup.
  • Your spices: basil, oregano, and pepper. Didn't measure these exactly, either, but I would estimate the pepper to be about half a tablespoon. The basil and oregano are definitely "to taste", but apply liberally. It would be hard to go overboard with them.

  • Optionally, some water, if you think the sauce thickens too early.
Equipment needs are pretty simple: noodle pot, large skillet, measuring cup, a dish, a cutting board, knife, some spoons. You probably have these.

So, first thing, cut up the chicken. It should be in small chunks. Then, get the dish and pour in the flour. Mix into the flour the pepper, basil, and oregano. Coat the chicken chunks with this flour-spice mixture, and set the dish with them aside.

Get the skillet hot and melt the butter in it. When the butter is melted, add a tablespoon of garlic and the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms on medium to medium-high heat, to avoid burning the garlic: roasted garlic is tasty, but burnt is bitter and nasty. This part will take about five minutes or so.

Once the mushrooms are soft, pour in the wine, and add the chicken chunks and the other tablespoon of garlic. Mix this together and don't worry about it being watery at this point. In fact, worry if it's too thick to dissolve all of the flour, and add some water if that's the case. The sauce will thicken as it cooks. Stir the sauce while the chicken cooks. This will probably take ten minutes.

Turn the heat up to medium-high or high. Keep stirring the skillet, while you start the noodles cooking. Tortellini cook fast, so you won't have much time between putting them in and taking them back out, probably a minute or two at most. Make sure the tortellini are still underdone when you take them out.

When you do so, transfer the tortellini to the sauce pan, along with some of the noodle water -- a cup should do it. Stir them in and let them cook in the sauce. Add more basil and oregano if you think it needs it. It probably does. This phase should take about five minutes.

When the sauce is nice and thick, take the skillet off of the heat and serve. You can top it with parmesan or romano cheese if you like, and that is very tasty, but it's not necessary. This dish tastes quite good on its own, with no topping or garnish.

That's it for Cooking with Flew, and remember: less time cooking means more time eating!
flewellyn: (Default)
These are something I came up with this past summer, but just managed to perfect. They're a fun and tasty meal for friends, especially to fortify your RPG group for a night of gaming. (This is my usual testing group for new dishes.) I use ground turkey because it has a lighter flavor than ground beef, and thus doesn't overshadow the herbs.

Your ingredients:
  • Ground turkey. For a group of about five people, I made 24 burgers, so I used 2.5 pounds of it.

  • Chopped fresh basil. The fresher the better! I didn't measure exactly, but I would say at least a good handful was used.

  • Chopped fresh oregano. Again, freshest is bestest! I used the leaves off of several sprigs.

  • Olive oil, preferably extra-virgin. You do have this, don't you?

  • Garlic, minced. You can mince a clove or use the stuff in a jar, like I do. Don't use garlic powder or salt (I really don't see the purpose of those things). I used a tablespoon of it for 2.5 pounds of meat.

  • Balsamic vinegar. The REAL stuff, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale, if you can get it. It might be a bit pricey, but you don't need much. A little goes a long way with this stuff.

  • One egg, large size.

  • Some buns. For slider-sized burgers, I used cocktail buns. Dollar buns work great too.

  • Some condiments. Condiments that I found worked well include dijon mustard, sweet and hot mustard, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and even plain old ketchup. Feel free to experiment with this part.

  • Optionally, other toppings. Italian four-cheese blend, for instance, is lovely on these burgers. So are sliced tomatoes, or little lettuce leaves (Romaine, please; Iceberg is just crunchy water).

Equipment needs are minimal: a knife to chop herbs, a clean surface to chop them on, a bowl to mix the meat, garlic, and herbs, and a skillet to pan fry the burger patties. If you want to separate out the meat into patties before you start to fry them, you can use a cookie sheet for this.

So, start by chopping up the herbs. Then, mix them and the garlic into the ground turkey in your bowl. Get it all mixed up nicely, and then shake on some balsamic vinegar. Don't overdo it! Several shakes is good, but don't pour out half the bottle, it's strong stuff. Mix that in well, and let it sit for about ten minutes to soak through.

Then, mix in the egg, yolk and white both. Get it mixed well so that the egg isn't really noticeable in the meat anymore. This will help bind the patties together; turkey being on the lean side, there's not enough fat to keep them from crumbling into bits otherwise. Don't worry about it affecting the taste, there isn't enough egg present in the meat to be noticeable.

So, once you've got everything mixed, get your pan heated up, and put in some olive oil. I used a decent amount, several tablespoons worth, on the pan. Then, get your patties into the skillet and start frying them. They generally take about five minutes to grill through; give them a flip halfway through to get both sides. Don't worry if they break apart sometimes, that's just going to happen. For slider-sized burgers, the patties should be about two inches in diameter, or so.

PROTIP: Ventilate! The balsamic vinegar will smoke a bit, and if you aren't in a ventilated area, you may set off your smoke detectors.

Anyway, once the burgers are done, they're practically self-serve. Get out the buns, the condiments, toppings, and so on, and have at it! If you're topping with veggies, you hardly need a side. Drinks? Oh, I suppose lemonade is always good. Or soda. You COULD try wine, if you're really feeling hoity-toity, but I don't partake.

That's it for this edition of Cooking With Flew, where our motto is: Less time cooking, means more time eating!
flewellyn: (Default)
So, today on Cooking with Flew, here's something I've been experimenting with for the past week or so on a few separate nights. I wanted to make a lemony chicken, with a nice thick, spicy sauce. While Googling on the subject, I found out that a lot of such recipes used mustard as a base for the sauce. I decided to try this out, and add a few touches of my own. So, here is what I came up with.

Here's your ingredients:
  • 2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken. Breasts or thighs work great here.

  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Fresh squeezed is best, but the stuff from concentrate works fine.

  • 1/2 cup of white wine. Cooking wine works great, because you don't need to add much salt.

  • 3 tbsp of Djion mustard. I recommend Grey Poupon (but of course!).

  • 2 tbsp honey. Standard clover honey is just fine.

  • 2 tbsp minced garlic. You can press garlic cloves or use the stuff in the jar.

  • 4 tbsp olive oil. Extra virgin is best. Extra virgin is always best for olive oil. I don't even know why anyone buys the other kinds.

  • Dill weed. Fresh or dry work equally well. This isn't precisely measured, but apply liberally.

  • Black pepper. If you have a grinder, this is preferable. If you don't, good heavens, why not? They're cheap and so much fresher than preground pepper. Anyway, this is, again, not precisely measured, apply to taste.
Equipment needs are small: a skillet, a cutting board, a measuring cup, carving knife, and some spoons.

You will also need something to serve the stuff over, be it rice or pasta. I prefer pasta, of course. For this recipe, a short or long pasta will do fine. I used egg noodles, but the sauce is thick enough when cooked that it can coat a long pasta like spaghetti or linguine just fine.


Start by cutting the chicken up into cubes. Mix up the base sauce in a measuring cup, consisting of the lemon juice, wine, and mustard. Stir that together, then add the honey and stir it in. This is remarkably stable once mixed, and can sit for a bit.

So, let that sit while putting the olive oil and garlic into the skillet at high heat. Sautee the garlic until it's just barely roasted, then add the chicken. Get the chicken browned in the oil and garlic, then add the sauce. Stir it in, and reduce heat to medium. Add the pepper at this point.

Let this simmer for about 15 minutes. During this time, you should probably prepare the rice or pasta, if you haven't already.

When the 15 minutes are almost up, add the dill weed. You don't want to add it too soon, for fear that the volatiles are lost through too much heat. Herbs are touchy that way.

Once the pasta or rice is done, it's time to serve. If you like, add a bit more dill on top, maybe some more pepper. Add salt if you think it needs some.

If you use rice, you'll want to serve the rice plain, then add the chicken on top. If you're using pasta, though, toss the chicken and sauce in with the pasta and stir it up. The sauce will stick nicely to the noodles and coat them.

For a good side, try some steamed broccoli or asparagus.

That's it for this edition of Cooking with Flew. Remember: less time cooking means more time eating!
flewellyn: (Default)
Cincinnati Chili is a regional specialty of Cincinnati, invented by the Macedonian immigrant population. It's a delicious variant of what we commonly know as chili: instead of the Tex-Mex flavor of "standard" chili, it has a much more Mediterranean flavor. It's also served differently, over pasta.

I was introduced to it by my friend Lynn, who I may have mentioned before is an excellent cook. This is one of my favorite dishes she's ever made, and one that I have wanted to try my hand at for some time. I finally managed to get the recipe from her (time to talk about it is a factor), so here we are!

The ingredients list is rather long:
  • 1 lb of ground meat. Beef, turkey, chicken, or even lamb will do. I used turkey.
  • 3 smallish onions, diced. Vidalias are a good choice. Some of the onions you will put in the chili, the others are for topping.
  • 1 cup of barbecue sauce. Specifically, a tomato-based, slightly sweet, somewhat spicy barbecue sauce. Georgia Mustard won't do here. This will be the sauce base. I used Famous Dave's Rich and Sassy.
  • 1 cup of water.
  • 2 cloves of garlic. Or, the equivalent in minced garlic. Do not use garlic powder.
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder.
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper.
  • 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate.
  • 1/2 tsp cumin.
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric.
  • 1/2 tsp allspice.
  • 1/4 tsp cloves.
  • 1/4 tsp coriander.
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom.
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg.
  • 1/2 tsp basil.
  • 1/2 tsp oregano.
  • 1/4 tsp ginger.
  • 1 tsp salt.
  • Optionally, a small can of tomato juice to thin the sauce out if need be. If it gets too thick before it's done, it could burn.
Quite a list, no? Yes, all of that really does go in there.

And that's just for the chili itself. It's served over spaghetti noodles (I would use 1/2 a pound for the measurements given above), topped with shredded cheddar cheese, and optionally with diced onions, kidney beans, and oyster crackers. Those don't take much prep, though.

As long as the ingredient list is, the equipment list is short. You'll need a skillet, a measuring cup, possibly some measuring spoons (although just normal ones do fine, if you know your teaspoons from your tablespoons), a pot to make the noodles, and some bowls to serve the toppings in, if you like.

First off, get the ground meat browned. Once it is, put in some of the diced onions, and sautee until they are translucent and soft. Then, add the garlic and barbecue sauce to the skillet. Stir it all in, add the water to thin it out a bit--don't worry, it will thicken while cooking--and bring it to a simmer. This simmer should be at low heat.

At this point it becomes a "dump and stir" recipe, where you put in each spice, stir it in, and then add the next one. Once all the spices and seasonings are in, let it simmer, stirring it and keeping an eye on it, for about an hour or so. This phase can also be done in a crock pot.

Once it's done, it can stay on warm for some time. You can also transfer it to a crock pot to keep warm. It also reheats very nicely.

Serve over spaghetti noodles, or some other long pasta. Linguine works fine, or fettucine. I already mentioned the traditional toppings, which taste great with it. I especially love piling on the cheese.

That's it for this edition, and remember: less time cooking means more time eating!

PS. If you intend to make more than 1 pound of meat's worth of chili, say, 2 pounds, you can proportionally double the onions, barbecue sauce, water, and garlic. Do NOT double the spices. They're quite potent.

PPS. They should really make air fresheners that smell like a spice rack. I'd buy one that smells of a good garam masala much more readily than floral scents.
flewellyn: (Default)
So, on today's edition, I'm finally delivering on the promise of the Mint Chicken recipe. This is a family recipe that dates back to my childhood, when my father and I invented it one Wednesday evening, while my mother and sister were coming home from my sister's ballet lesson. Normally, we would have just had noodles, and so my mom and sis had bought hamburgers for themselves. But, this time, we decided to surprise them!

And a surprise it was. The mint chicken became quite popular in my family and among our friends, and became noteworthy as one of those "never made the same way twice" recipes, mostly due to randomness of ingredients. But, it's also been experimental for some time.

Tonight, however, while cooking for myself and my friend Sarah, I finally managed to hit on what I think is the perfected form. So, here is Mint Chicken 2010!

You will need these ingredients:
  • Two pounds of chicken, breasts or thighs, boneless and skinless. I used thighs.

  • 8 oz. of fresh button mushrooms. I bought presliced ones, but you can also buy whole ones that you slice. Do NOT use canned.

  • A handful of mint leaves, fresh. You can probably find these among the herbs in the produce section. Though, if you have some growing in your yard (like my family did in New York), you can just pick some of those.

  • Two tablespoons of garlic. I used minced garlic, but pressed cloves are fine too. Do not use garlic powder or garlic salt.

  • Butter, about two tablespoons. You can use margarine if you are some kind of philistine and have no joy in your soul.

  • Cooking wine, white. You will not need much, probably a third of a cup is fine.

  • 6 oz of parmesan cheese. You can use the powder stuff, though grated is better.

  • Something to serve the stuff over, like rice or a short, broad pasta.
Equipment needs are minimal: a skillet, a cooking pot for the noodles or rice, a cutting board, a knife, a couple of stirring spoons, and a measuring cup.

So, first thing to do is cut the chicken up into cubes. If you have whole mushrooms, slice them up at this time as well. It's also a good idea, especially if you're cooking by yourself, to prepare the other ingredients now: mix the white wine in a measuring cup with half a cup of water, the garlic, parmesan cheese, and mint leaves. Try to crush the mint leaves a bit to release their oils. It's good to have this stuff prepared ahead of time, so you can move quickly: think "mise en place".

Once that's ready, melt the butter in the skillet on high heat. When the butter is melted, add the mushroom pieces and cover. You want the mushrooms to reduce a bit in size, and release their liquid.

When the mushrooms are nice and brown, and there's a good amount of liquid in the pan, add the chicken. Brown the chicken in the pan with the mushrooms and butter in there.

Once that's done, put in the rest of the ingredients and stir. You want everything mixed well, and the cheese to melt into the liquid. Stir it until it's well mixed, and then cover and let it simmer for about ten minutes.

After ten minutes, check on it. You'll know it's ready when the sauce has thickened a bit. If it isn't thick enough, you can add some cornstarch or flour.

That's it! Take it off and pour it over the noodles or rice. Good vegetable sides are broccoli, green beans, or asparagus. As for drinks, I can't recommend a wine, but pomegranate lemonade is very good with it.

We hope you enjoyed this edition of Cooking With Flew. Remember: less time cooking means more time eating!
flewellyn: (Default)
So, on this edition of Cooking With Flew, Lynn and I made some puff pastry chicken stuff. It's kind of conceptually similar to Beef Wellington, except it's A) chicken, B) has no foie gras, and C) is a bit more Italian in flavor. We're calling it: Pullet Surprise. Estimated prep time: 45 minutes.

Here's your list of ingredients:

  • Chicken. We used chicken breasts. For a meal, use one per person. For snacks or hors d'ouvres, you'll end up cutting the breasts into chunks.

  • Puff pastry dough. We bought some premade sheets, but you can make your own if you really want. (For the wheat-sensitive folks, I don't know of any gluten-free alternatives, here. Anyone?)

  • Mushrooms. Plain white mushrooms are fine, and it doesn't matter if they're presliced or not. You're gonna chop them up anyway.

  • A medium-sized clove of garlic, or the equivalent in minced garlic. I don't recommend using garlic powder or salt.

  • Butter. You'll need about two tablespoons.

  • Olive oil, extra-virgin preferred. You'll end up using about two tablespoons of this, as well.

  • Parmesan or romano cheese. We used parmesan.

  • Fresh basil. Can't use dried for this! Well, you could, but it wouldn't be as nice.

  • Chives. You can use fresh or dried, we used dried.

  • One egg.

You won't need much equipment, just a skillet, a baking pan, a cutting board, a rolling pin (or some sort of substitute, like a wine bottle), and probably a couple small bowls or plates to hold things. Obviously, you will need a stove, and an oven.

Now, let's get cooking!

First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. You don't necessarily have to do this first, but your oven may take time to heat up.

So, the next step is to chop the mushrooms into fine bits. Don't just slice them, mince those suckers. Then, sautee them in butter and olive oil until all the mushroom liquid boils off. Then, set them aside.

Now, brown the chicken breasts in the skillet. You may need a bit more olive oil to make sure they brown. Once they're browned, set them aside as well.

Now we can mix up the filling that will go around the chicken breasts. The mushrooms will make up the bulk of the filling, mixed with parmesan cheese. How much you use is up to you, but there shouldn't be so much cheese that the mushrooms get lost.

The next step is to get out the puff pastry dough, slice it into sections (one per chicken breast), and roll it out until it's large enough to cover the breasts. Place each chicken breast in the center of its dough shell, and put the mushroom-cheese filling around and on top of it. Add a sprinkling of the chives, and then one or two leaves of basil.

Now take the egg and beat it in a bowl, mix it with a teaspoonfull of water, and use this "egg wash" to coat the outer edges of the pastry dough; this will help it stick together. Fold the edges of the dough together to make a pouch around the chicken and filling.

Once you have all the chicken breasts, with their filling, made into little puffy pastry pods, place the pods into the baking pan. Make sure to spray or grease the pan, of course; egg wash has a tendency to stick. (If you have parchment, this would probably be even better. We didn't have any.)

Now, place them in the oven. You'll want to bake them for 30 minutes.

Once they're done, let them cool for a couple of minutes before serving. Serve with whatever sides you like; we just had some steamed broccoli, but a rice pilaf, asparagus, or green beans would also be good.

That's it for this edition of Cooking With Flew! Remember, less cooking time means more eating time!
flewellyn: (Default)
Last night, I took friend Lynn out for dinner, then grocery shopping. While we were eating at Friday's (shut up, I wanted potstickers and steak), we discussed the idea of doing some cooking today. As you readers may know, we often cook together for fun, and we enjoy inventing recipes. So, we started noodling about what kind of food we might put together. I hit on the idea of egg noodles tossed with butter, garlic, and chives as a nice light snack or side dish, and then she said "if you add chicken, you could make it a meal". So, a bit more pondering, and some shopping, and we had our plan.

So, here is our result: Buttered Chicken and Noodles with Tomatoes. It's a quick dish, took us about 20 minutes to prepare, and is very versatile; you could easily make small substitutions of ingredients, while keeping the base the same.

You will need these ingredients:

  • Pasta, obviously. We used egg noodles, but you could also use some other kind of short pasta, like farfalle or rotini, or even penne. It should definitely be a short pasta, though.

  • Chicken or turkey. We used chicken breasts.

  • Tomatoes, preferable cherry tomatoes or small romas. They should be nice and ripe.

  • Butter, lots of it.

  • Extra-virgin olive oil. Really, there is no other kind of oil that you need, anyway.

  • Chives. Fresh or dried is fine, but we used dried.

  • Dill weed, fresh or dried. We used dried.

  • Garlic. You could use fresh cloves, or minced garlic in a jar, like we did. Don't recommend using garlic powder or salt, though.

  • Parmesan cheese. This is to top the pasta with.

  • White wine. You can use cooking wine (we did), or drinking wine.

  • Salt. Well, you might need it, or not. We used a small amount for the pasta.

  • Tabasco or some other pepper sauce, just for a slight kick. You won't use much.

Equipment needs are minimal: stove, of course, along with a skillet, pot to boil noodles, stirring utensils, and a couple of bowls. Tongs for serving are helpful, but not strictly necessary.

So, first, start the noodle water boiling. If you're cooking a lot of noodles, this may take some time, so get it going while you do the rest of the prep work.

Now, cut the chicken into small cubes. It doesn't matter if they're all the same shape, but they should be close to the same size. Heat up the skillet, pour in a few tablespoons worth of olive oil, and then put in the chicken to start browning. Stir them around until they're all nice and brown. Halfway through this, add some dill to the chicken. When it's done, you should remove it from the pan (leaving in the oil) and set it aside in a bowl for a moment.

Your noodle water should ideally be boiling now. Put in the noodles, and get them cooking.

Now deglaze the pan using the white wine and garlic. Mix this together until the wine's boiled off, then add butter and more wine. When the butter's nice and melted, add the chives, then a shot of tabasco. Stir this around until the wine's boiled off, and then check your noodles. If they're ready to drain, drain them and put them in a big mixing bowl. If not, set the pan with the sauce in it to simmer on low heat until they're ready.

Once you've got the noodles in the mixing bowl, pour the sauce over them, and mix it up. Mix in a bit of parmesan cheese at this point. Then, add the chicken and stir it into the noodles. Cut up the tomatoes into sections (quarters for cherry tomatoes), and put them onto the pasta and mix it together. Don't remove the seeds and juice from the tomatoes, you want that to mix in.

That's it! Top with more parmesan, and serve with a side of veggies, like asparagus (our choice) or broccoli. I can't recommend a particular wine or anything, but I drank pomegranate lemonade with it, which was a really nice accompaniment.

Thanks for joining me for Cooking With Flew, and remember: less time cooking means more time eating!
flewellyn: (Default)
So, I've been experimenting a bit with new things to make. This is a simple, but tasty breakfast sandwich that you can make in about ten minutes or so, give or take.

You will need:

  • Some bread. I used white bread, but whole wheat or Jewish rye will do just fine. Pumpernickel is a bit too heavy, and the flavor will drown out the other stuff. GF types will want to substitute a bread made from a GF grain, of course.

  • Ham or something like it. I used turkey ham. It should be sliced into sandwich slices.

  • Eggs. You can use whatever size you want, but I prefer jumbo, because really, life is too short for small eggs!

  • Olive oil. Extra-virgin is good. Extra-virgin olive oil is always good. You could use butter, but really, why would you, when you have healthy and tasty extra-virgin olive oil?

  • A tiny bit of pepper sauce. Tabasco works great, but do not overuse.

  • Optionally, cheese. Sharp cheddar, mozarella, jack, or whatever you like.

  • Optionally, some mushrooms. If you're gonna use these, though, they should be sliced and then precooked a bit, with some butter. This will add a bit to your cooking time, but only about ten minutes.

  • Optionally, some dill weed. Fresh is best, if you can get it.

First thing you will do is make yourself some scrambled eggs, either plain or with the optional ingredients. If using jumbo eggs, you should use one or two (depending) for each sandwich. Whip 'em up, scramble them nicely, and cook quickly with a tiny bit of pepper sauce shaken into the pan. Make sure not to use too much! If you want to mix in cheese and dill (which goes great with sharp cheddar!) to make a mixed scramble, make sure the cheese is nicely shredded. You can also add other things like mushrooms, but see above.

If you have more than one frying pan, you can do this next step at the same time as the eggs. Otherwise, you'll have to set the eggs aside once they're done. Take the olive oil and dribble a small amount (say, half-dollar sized) into the pan. When the oil gets hot, put in the ham slices and fry them until they're a bit browned on each side. If they're thin slices, they might even get a bit crispy on the edges.

Now, once this is done, you have your two main ingredients. All you need is the bread. Toast it in a toaster to taste (or you could fry it a bit in the oil or some butter!). Then just make sandwiches with the toast, ham, and eggs.

For condiments, you have a whole list of choices. Personally, I like either ketchup or a nice sharp stone-ground mustard. Both is probably overdoing it.

Bonus cooking tip: do not fry things in oil when not wearing clothes.
flewellyn: (Default)
My friend [livejournal.com profile] parrhesia was talking about her attempts to make homemade pizza, which is an endeavour I can truly approve of. After all, pizza is a divine food, and all the tastier if you make it yourself (and cheaper, too!). However, if you try to go from scratch, it can be a hassle to make your own pizza dough. It's not really HARD, per se, but it is a bit messy, and it takes time. Time that could be spent eating delicious pizza! Obviously, I had to find a better way.

So I shared with her my family's recipe (sort of) for "pita pizza", which is pizza made on top of pita bread. Since I think you folks might also be interested, I've copied what I wrote here. Pita pizza, you see, is very quick, easy, cheap, and tasty. I generally find that, between prep and cook time, a set of pita pizzas takes about 20 minutes, tops.

Pita bread comes in several sizes at the grocery store, at least at the ones I shop at. Get the larger, 8-inch pita pockets, and cut them around the circumference, so that you get two circular "pita halves", each of which is used as a surface for pizza sauce and cheese, as well as seasonings. The pizza sauce can be plain tomato plus things like basil and oregano, or you can use preseasoned sauce. Don't spread it too thick, though, since the "dough" is rather thin itself.

Then you spread on some cheese. I like to use a mix of cheddar, mozarella, and parmesan or romano, though I've sometimes substituted provalone or pepper jack for the cheddar. Any other toppings should be used sparingly: again, you don't want to overload the pitas. But you can put on things like sliced mushrooms, olives, already-cooked ground beef, or I suppose even pepperoni and ham slices, if you really want to.

Then, just put on a cookie sheet, pop in the oven for about 15 minutes on 350 (you did preheat your oven, right?), and take 'em out. They'll be nice and crispy, but not burnt, and you'll have good melty cheese on the sauce. They might need a minute to cool enough to handle, but since the pitas are thin, it doesn't take too long. Since they're relatively small, and crispy, you can eat 'em like big pizza crackers!

Oh, you can also make other "pizzaish" things than straight pizza this way; you can put pretty much anything on them and cook it. I have done this with things like olive oil and a bit of garlic, with sliced tomatoes on top, or a spread of pesto and parmesan cheese. Just remember that the pita crisps up quickly, so you shouldn't put meats that need awhile to cook on there, or you risk burning the pitas; precook things like chicken or beef. Also, the pita is load-bearing, so you don't want too much weight on top.

That's this edition of Cooking With Flew! Remember the Cooking With Flew mantra: "Don't cook for too long, I wanna EAT!"
flewellyn: (Default)
Lynn and I had come up with an experimental idea for a steak recipe, using lemon juice to marinade and then pan-frying it.

I experimented a little, and here's what I came up with.

Lemon butter steak with noodles

You will need:

  • Steak. I recommend a lean cut, like top round chuck; I used a 16 oz steak for this.

  • Lemon juice, fresh or from concentrate. For every 8 ounces of meat, you should use 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Obviously fresh-squeezed will taste better, but concentrate is just fine.

  • Olive oil, extra-virgin, in equal measure to the lemon juice.

  • Garlic. Minced from a jar or freshly grated. I used a tablespoon, so figure 1/2 tbsp per 8 ounces of steak.

  • Dill weed. You can buy the really fresh stuff if you want, but I get good results with the stuff in the shaker.

  • Black pepper.

  • Butter. Lots of it. You're going to use at least a stick of it here.

  • Noodles of some kind. You could also use rice, but I used noodles. Egg noodles specifically, though you could use another type of short pasta as well. I don't recommend a long, thin pasta like spaghetti or vermicelli.

Get a waterproof container of some sort (I used a ziplock bag), and put the steak in it. If you have a big steak (like my 16oz), cut it into halves. Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, and some black pepper, and put it into the container with the steak. Leave it to marinade for about half an hour.

Once it's marinated, get a pan ready on the stove. Take out the steak and put it in the pan. Don't bother to save the marinade, it's not reusable, and you don't want it in the pan with the steaks; you're grilling these, not sauteeing. While the steaks are grilling, put up the water for the noodles, you'll want them ready for when the steaks are done. Grill them to taste, then put them on a plate for a moment.

Now, deglaze the pan with some water. You can add a bit more pepper, garlic and dill at this point if you like (I do). When the water starts to boil, start adding butter. When that butter melts, add more butter. Keep adding butter. If you skimp on butter, you are doing it wrong. While doing this, put the noodles into the noodle water (it should be boiling by now).

The sauce will be ready when it starts to bubble and thicken a bit. Take it off the heat and set it aside for a moment, while the noodles finish.

When the noodles are done, drain them, and put them in a serving bowl. Cut the steak up into small chunks and mix it in with the pasta, and then add the butter sauce. You can add salt to taste, though I really don't see how you'd need any.

With a 16 oz steak and at least that much pasta, this should serve 2 or 3. Good vegetable sides are steamed broccoli or green beans.

Your taste buds will thank you, though your cardiologist may not. :-)
flewellyn: (Default)
Today, since it was Mother's Day, I was left...well, with not much to do. Fortunately, my good friend Lynn, from the Social Club (Mental Health Association of North Dakota's psychosocial center for Fargo), didn't have anything to do either. So, we hung out today, declaring ourselves (and our friend Eric) the Orphans' Club. None of us have living mothers, you see. So, rather than spend the day moping, we hung out and did stuff.

We made it a cooking day, where Lynn taught me an awesome recipe for chicken. It can be done with turkey, too, without much modification. Keep in mind, this is a Flew-style recipe (she cooks the way I do), so there are no real measurements.

Lemon Chicken with Tarragon in Cream Sauce

First, get some chicken. Chicken breasts work best for this recipe. You can use turkey breasts too, but you'll need more of each other ingredient, since the meat has more mass to it.
You will also need some tarragon, about a pinch (fresh is best, but the kind in the little spice jars works fine), and some lemon juice, about half a cup (again, a fresh squeezed lemon is best, but you can do with concentrate and have it come out fine). Final necessary ingredients are flour, butter, and a bit of oil (olive preferred, though canola does okay), as well as a small container of sweet cream and some red pepper. You'll need a saucepan with a cover to cook in, and a plate.

First off, mix up some lightly seasoned flour (season it with the red pepper for a bit of spice), and coat the chicken breasts with it. Meanwhile, melt some butter (a teaspoonful will more than do) in the saucepan, and mix it with a bit of oil. Once the butter is melted, and mixed with the oil, put the chicken breasts in the skillet and cook them on medium heat for about 10 to 15 minutes. You want to brown them on the outside, and make them just barely done on the inside. Also, you don't want them to get dried out, so one trick that's useful for this is pouring in a bit of water and putting a cover on the saucepan, to steam the chicken. Once it's approaching "barely done", remove the chicken from the saucepan and put on a plate, covered.

Now, get some more butter, and the cream (you can omit the cream, but you'll need more butter then, and more lemon juice), and pour the cream into the saucepan on medium heat. You want to slightly reduce the cream, and get the butter melted. Once this is done, mix in your lemon juice and the tarragon, and put the chicken breasts back in. Cover the saucepan and let it simmer on medium heat for another five minutes. You'll know it's done when the sauce is nice and thick.

If you did it right, the chicken and sauce should be nice and creamy, with the tarragon spicing it up nicely, and a quick bite of lemon when you chew. If you use turkey instead of chicken, the recipe is the same, except you'll need more lemon juice and a bit more tarragon. Don't overdo the tarragon, though!

You can serve the dish with a side of rice (either white basmati, or curried), or some pasta. Angelhair pasta or egg noodles work wonderfully. A good vegetable to go with is lightly steamed broccoli. You can also do carrots or brussel sprouts, if you want.

We hope you enjoyed this edition of Cooking With Flew, and enjoy the food! Save me some!
flewellyn: (Default)
I thought that, as something a little different, I might share with you all an old family recipe...well, "old" as in "my parents invented it back in their starving college student days". It's a simple but tasty dish called Egg Spaghetti!

Here's how you make it:

First off, hardboil some eggs. About two or three for a small serving for one person, add more for more people. When they're done, peel them, then put them in a bowl and crush them with a fork, yolks and whites together. It doesn't have to be a particular consistency, so don't worry about chunks of various sizes.

Second, cook up a bunch of spaghetti noodles.

When the noodles are done, put them in a large bowl (something you can mix stuff in, and serve stuff in) and coat them with a bit of olive oil (a small drizzle should do), garlic (garlic powder or salt will do fine), dill weed, and some pepper.

Pour the crumbled eggs onto the noodles, and mix.

Sprinkle on parmesan cheese to your liking. I like a good heap of the stuff!

Viola! (Well, cello, anyway.)

We hope you enjoyed this edition of "Cooking With Flewhead". Next time: mint chicken!


flewellyn: (Default)

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