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Archive for September, 2009

Chicken Salad au Tomate

Really, it’s just a tomato with the top lopped off, hollowed out, rinsed, and filled with chicken salad, but I had to give it a pseudo-fancy name to make it sound more exciting.

I used a very large tomato, and even though it held only a couple spoonfuls of store-bought deli chicken salad, it was a very, very filling lunch. It was also a bit of a pain to figure out how to eat: Should I eat the chicken salad first and then the tomato? If so, that sort of defeats the point of putting the chicken salad in the tomato in the first place. Cutting the stuffed tomato in to halves, then quarters, then eighths was a little bit of work, but I decided to go that way. I still have very large tomatoes in the fridge, so I think I’ll make the next one with the tomato hollowed out, then cut in to fourths, then with the chicken salad dropped on to each fourth.

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photo by Rachel

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Reuben Casserole

Before we begin, let me tell you: I. Do. Not. Like. Sauerkraut.

Another recipe from midwestern casserole maven JoAnna Lund and her Healthy Exchanges Cookbook.

It all started with a can of Bavarian Style Sweet Sauerkraut with Caraway Seeds that has been in the pantry for who knows how long, and a passing comment from Jim that we should try to use up some of the items in our pantry before we move, whenever that will be. He has said time and time again, he finds the Bavarian-style sauerkraut to be too sweet, and yet here is a can, daring us to use it. I am not a fan; Jim is a fan, having been raised in Pennsylvania Dutch territory: sauerkraut and apple pies are in his blood stream. “The only thing it would be good for,” he says, “is Reuben sandwiches.”

There was a recipe for Reuben sandwiches on the back of the can, but it seemed too work-intensive. It involved honey. The last time I checked, there was no honey on a Reuben sandwich.

What, I wondered, would JoAnna Lund have to say about Reubens?

Knowing that JoAnna Lund was from Iowa, and Iowa is on the edge of a part of the country whose basic ethnic background is German, Bavarian, Slavic, Scandinavian, and Dutch, and remembering in the back of my mind that she once mentioned her Bavarian grandmother in the headnote to one of her recipes, I figured that in the course of two cookbooks, she would have to mention Reuben somethings with sauerkraut at some point (she has a recipe for sausages and sauerkraut, and if I ever cook an Oktoberfest feast, that’s one the recipes I’ll probably employ. But not today). And I was right. In my more-favorite of her books, the spiral bound one, on page 177, is JoAnna’s recipe for a Reuben casserole.

It is simple, it is easy, and it is DELICIOUS. And remember, I don’t like sauerkraut.

(more…)

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This is a version of Giada deLaurentiis’s Turkey Meatloaf with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Feta. I’m not a fan of feta cheese, but I know that crumbled goat cheese, though it is slightly creamier than crumbled feta, can easily substitute. Giada’s original recipe can be found at the above link; I’m giving the modified recipe I used here, below.

1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped garlic-and-herb-marinated sun-dried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prepare a 9×5 loaf pan.

In a large bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, eggs, milk, feta, salt, and pepper. Add the turkey and gently stir to combine. Be careful not to overwork the meat.

Carefully pack the meat mixture into the prepared pan and bake until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and slice. Put on a serving platter and serve.

Next time I am going to use only 1/2 teaspoon of pepper; it was not quite but just barely too peppery for my tastes. I think I also might add a splash of Worcestershire sauce for a bit of savor; it seemed like the turkey was lacking a crucial spice that would make it *just right*.

Makes excellent leftovers.

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When I was little, I was always confused by snickerdoodles — why are they called snickerdoodles when they have nothing to do with the Snickers candy bar or doodling? The most I’ve been able to figure out is that “snickerdoodle” is a corruption of a very long German word (aren’t they all?) meaning “snail dumpling,” or has roots in the Dutch word also for “snail.” Looking at Nigella’s snickerdoodles, which don’t look a whit like the kind you can buy in American bakeries or groceries today, I see and accept that as the root for the name “snickerdoodle.” They have a dumpling-ish, snail-ish appearance.

This is the text of Nigella’s recipe from How to Be a Domestic Goddess, p. 58.

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 baking sheets, lined with parchment or wax paper

“Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

“Combine all the flour, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt, and set aside for a moment.

“In a large bowl, cream the butter with the 1/3 cup of sugar until light in texture and pale in color, then beat in the egg and vanilla. Now stir in the dry ingredients until you have a smooth, coherent mixture. Spoon out the remaining sugar and the cinnamon onto a plate. Then, with your fingers, squeeze out pieces of dough and roll between the palms of your hands into walnut-sized balls. Roll each ball in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and arrange on the prepared baking sheets.

“Bake for about 15 minutes, by which time they should be turning golden brown. Take out of the oven and leave to rest on the baking sheets for 1 minute before transfering to a wire rack to cool.”

Should make about 32.

I dutifully made the dough into regularly-sized balls, but I had expected that during baking they might flatten a little, become, you know, a typical cookie shape. This was before I knew that “snickerdoodle” might have its roots in the word “snail-shaped.” The dough expanded and the balls cracked a little, but they stayed round. I didn’t know at first this was how they were supposed to be, but a bit of internet searching produced pictures from other bakers whose end product was the same golden brown spheres I had ended up with.

Next time: Flattening the balls of unbaked dough a little when arranging on the baking sheets, so they are slightly more like cookies. Also, using half the cinnamon and maybe an extra tablespoon of sugar. These turned out to be quintessentially British cookies, full of spice and great with a glass of milk or cup of coffee, but Jim’s tastebuds are more American and crave a higher ratio of sugar.

Before baking

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After baking — See? Like snails.

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photos by Rachel

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Sweet & Sour Baked Chicken
makes about 4 servings

4 medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
salt & pepper
1 Tbsp. cooking oil
1 8 oz. can pineapple chunks in juice (drain the pineapple and reserve the juice)
1/2 cup jellied cranberry sauce
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar or cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 Tbsp. dry sherry, chicken broth, or water
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 medium green sweet pepper, cut into bite-size strips or pieces

After cutting the chicken, season it with the salt and pepper and cook it two minutes per side, or until slightly browned. Place the chicken in one layer in an oven-safe casserole dish. Place the pineapple chunks in the dish with the chicken.

To make the sweet & sour sauce, whisk together in a medium saucepan the reserved pineapple juice, the cranberry sauce, cornstarch, brown sugar, vinegar, orange juice concentrate, sherry/chicken broth/water, soy sauce, and ginger. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Pour over chicken and pineapple in dish.

Cover dish with a lid or aluminum foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for 25 minutes. Uncover and add sweet peppers, stirring gently to coat with sauce. Continue to bake, uncovered, about 5 minutes more or until chicken is done.

Serve with rice. The sauce thickens as it cools, so if it is too thin for your tastes when it comes out of the oven, let it sit a while. Great leftovers!

from Better Homes and Gardens Hometown Potluck Favorites

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Fun with Kiwis

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photos by Rachel

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Nigella's Rocky Road Crunch Bars

Meghan made these melty chocolaty treats for the premiere of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and I fell in love with the soft chocolate, chewy marshmallows, and crumbled digestive biscuits with a little bit of crunch. I’m not sure which of Nigella’s books this recipe is in, but it can be found here at her website.

I melted this mixture at a very, very, very low temperature to keep the butter and chocolate from burning while my attention was on smashing up some caramel-filled digestive biscuits. I wasn’t thrilled with the way they broke down, so next time I’ll use either plain biscuits, which I won’t have to buy especially since I always have a stash in the pantry, or Rich Tea biscuits as Nigella suggests. The caramel is a nice treat though. She calls for roughly an 8 x 8 pan, but I have a 9 x 9 silicon pan that I used that worked fine, so maybe the bars are a bit less thick than she intended but they look even more delightfully rocky than if they were thicker. I didn’t sift confectioner’s sugar over the lot because frankly, even using 70% dark chocolate, these are sweet enough as-is. Definitely invest in the tin of golden syrup, which if you live in the Northeast should be easy enough to find in the Irish foods section of the nearest grocery.

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