Thursday, March 29, 2012

40 Clove Garlic Chicken

I've had this recipe bookmarked for years and finally got the chance to make it.  My one hesitation has always been that I didn't want to peel 40 cloves of garlic!  Alas, on a recent trip to Costco we decided to buy the huge bag of peeled garlic cloves and it's been a treat using garlic in everything and not having to deal with the stickiness of peeling it.  This recipe turned out great in the dutch oven - the chicken was nicely browned and even the white meat retained its juiciness.  The gravy really took on the herby flavor of thyme and went great over rice.  One great surprise was that although the dish looked very garlicky, it did not taste or smell overwhelmingly of garlic.  The garlic cloves when eaten individually boasted a lovely roasted garlic flavor, but the rest of the dish didn't resonate that flavor.  I'm not sure if I just got too used to the garlic smell and flavor or if this rings true for others who've done this recipe. 

40 Clove Garlic Chicken
Serves 4-6
Adapted from smittenkitchen

1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
40 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock or canned broth
10 sprigs fresh thyme 
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Place a deep skillet or Dutch oven on high heat and add oil and butter.  When butter has melted and oil is hot, add chicken pieces skin side down and brown until golden brown.  Flip chicken pieces over and brown the other side, about 5 minutes on each side.  Work in batches if necessary so pan does not get overcrowded.  Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.
  2. Reduce heat to medium.  Add garlic cloves to the pan and saute for about 10 minutes.  Add white wine and stock, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  3. Return chicken to the pan.  Add thyme.  Cover and continue cooking about 30 minutes until juices run clear when chicken thigh is pierced. 
  4. Remove chicken from the pan and place on a serving plate.  Cover with foil.  Ladle out about 1/2 cup of the sauce that remains in the pan.  Stir cornstarch into the reserved sauce until no more clumps are seen.  While stirring the sauce in the pan, slowly pour the cornstarch mixture into the pan.  Remove from heat and continue stirring until sauce thickens.  Pour sauce, garlic cloves and all, over the plated chicken.  Serve with rice and veggies.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal

I've recently re-established my love for steel-cut oatmeal.  Its heartiness, creaminess, and chewy texture makes it hard for me to imagine going back to eating the mush of regular oatmeal.  With great versatility, the possibility of add-ins is endless and makes this an easy staple to whip up for breakfast using whatever I can find the kitchen.  This weekend I happened upon some frozen canned pumpkin I stored away in the freezer.  The pumpkin and spices in this recipe conjured up memories of Fall amidst the recent chilly mornings of Spring.  Baking the oatmeal was a great change since I didn't have to babysit and stir the pot the entire time.  The oatmeal is amazingly creamy right when it's finished.  Leftovers can be saved in the fridge or freezer and reheated with a splash of milk (or even coffee creamer for lack of milk) to bring back its wonderful texture.

Baked Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal
Adapted from theKitchn 
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 cups steel cut oats
1/2 cup pumpkin or squash puree
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 375F. In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of butter on medium-high heat.  When butter begins to foam, add oats and stir for about 3 minutes until toasted.
  2. Push toasted oats up against one side of the pot.  In the clear space, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.  Add pumpkin puree into the melted butter and let sit for 1 minute before stirring, leaving the oats on the side.  Add sugar and spices and stir together with the pumpkin for 3-4 minutes until the color darkens slightly.
  3. Pour in the milk and whisk the oats, pumpkin mixture, and milk all together.  Whisk in water, vanilla, and salt.
  4. Place the lid on the pan and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and lift lid, being careful of the rising steam.  Stir oatmeal and it will continue to thicken as it cools.  Sprinkle oatmeal with dried cranberries.  Serve immediately or let it cool to store in the fridge or freezer for later. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Guinness Cheddar Beer Bread

A pack of Guinness beer inevitably found its way into my pantry the week before St. Patrick's Day.  I'm not a great fan of drinking Guinness, but I do enjoy the novelty of baking and cooking with it.  With a few hours of notice beforehand, I made cheddar beer bread to bring to a St. Patrick's Day dinner.  The recipe is quick and easy, unique, and unusually dense.  The loaf felt like a brick and had the moist, dense, chewy texture of banana bread.  The Guinness flavor was evident but still subtle.  The cheese gave it a great saltiness and crispiness at its edges. 

Another great use for Guinness is in this lamb stew. :)

Guinness Cheddar Beer Bread
Adapted from theKitchn
Makes one 8 1/2-inch loaf

2 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) bottle Guinness beer
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
2 tablespoons dried dill
2 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line 8 1/2- x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, or coat with butter.
  2. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pour in the beer and mix until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Fold in 1 cup of the cheese and dill.
  3. Transfer the batter to prepared pan. Pour the melted butter evenly over top of the dough. Bake about 30 minutes then scatter the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over the top. Return the loaf to the oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
  4. Turn out, slice, and serve warm.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ramen Yamadaya - Costa Mesa, CA

Ramen Yamadaya, with their original stores in LA, recently opened their first Orange County shop in the Costa Mesa area.  Known for their 20-hour tonkotsu ramen, Yamadaya may prove to be some good competition for surrounding ramen spots like Santouka, Kohryu and Mentatsu.  Tonkotsu broth is made from boiling pork bones for many hours and then simmering for many more hours to draw out its deep, rich flavor.  Indeed, the broth itself has a milky color and you can see the small clusters of marrow that result from such a long cooking process.

I ordered the Tonkotsu Kotteri ramen, which comes with an extra "fatty" dose of the broth and fragrant black garlic oil.  The broth was incredibly flavorful and clusters of fatty goodness clung to the spoon after each sip.  The ramen included the typical soft-boiled egg, slices of chasu, bamboo strips, and green onions.  The black garlic oil was good but even better was asking for fresh garlic cloves.  Several peeled garlic cloves came on a small plate together with a garlic press for us to put directly into our soups.  We could put as much garlic as we liked to our hearts' content!  We ordered a combo meal to try out some of the sides.

The chicken karage was nicely seasoned and the dark meat was incredibly juicy and tender.  The croquette bowl came with two potato croquettes over white rice, topped with katsu sauce, Japanese mayo and bonito flakes.  The combination of flavors reminded me of okonomiyaki and we devoured it all.  This is definitely a spot to add into our ramen rotation.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Roasted Asparagus

One of my favorite methods for cooking vegetables is oven-roasting.  It's quick, simple, easy to clean up, and requires minimal ingredients.  Vegetables tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper come out of the oven with intensified flavors and even a light nuttiness.  The asparagus turned out great here, though the grape tomatoes could have used some slow, lower-temperature roasting to really bring out their sweetness.   

Roasted Asparagus
Serves 4

1 bunch of asparagus (about 1 lb)
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.  Rinse the asparagus to clean.  Cut off the tough ends of the asparagus and discard.  (If you take a single asparagus and snap the end, typically it will snap off right where the tough/dry portion starts.  Use this snapped asparagus as your length guide to cut off the ends of the rest of the bunch.)
  2. Place the asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet or foil-covered baking pan.  Drizzle with the olive oil and roll the spears around to make sure they are evenly coated.  Rearrange the spears into a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Place pan in the oven and roast for about 10 minutes until tender enough to pierce with a fork but still slightly crisp. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Beef Bourguignon

After getting my new dutch oven, I soon decided that the first recipe I wanted to make was Beef Bourguignon, in honor of the first official date my husband and I went on where he took me to a Braising cooking class.  I used the recipe we followed in class and it came out delicious, perhaps even better than the first time we made it.  The gravy-sauce was delicious on brown rice and would be great on noodles or even sopped up with a piece of crusty bread.  We enjoyed the leftovers for lunch during the week and even froze some of the sauce to savor later.   My first use of the dutch oven has convinced me that it is my favorite piece of cookware in our entire kitchen.  The pot heats up quickly, meat browns so nicely, and cleanup is so much easier than anticipated! 

Beef Bourguignon
serves 6-8

2.5 lbs beef chuck, cut into 2" cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
12 mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced
salt and pepper
2 cups beef stock
1 1/2 cup red wine
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons cornstarch, more if needed
  1. Coat beef chuck pieces lightly with flour.  Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter.  Working in batches, sear the beef pieces so each side is nicely browned.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Discard oil.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the same Dutch oven.  Add mushrooms, garlic, and leeks and saute lightly. 
  3. Return beef to the pot and season well with salt and pepper.  Add stock, wine, bay leaf, and thyme.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover pot and simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours.  Taste meat for tenderness. 
  4. After the meat reaches desired tenderness, skim off excess fat from the sauce.  Transfer beef to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.  Remove about 1 cup of the sauce and mix well with cornstarch.  Pour cornstarch-sauce mixture back into the Dutch oven to thicken the sauce.  Taste and correct seasonings as desired. 
  5. Serve with noodles or rice.  Place a few pieces of beef on noddles or rice and spoon sauce over the plate.  This dish can be prepared beforehand and reheated or frozen for another meal. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spinach and Roasted Bell Pepper Strata

Last week, we decided to make a strata for Saturday brunch.  The ingredients were easily compiled on Friday night and left overnight to sit in the fridge.  On Saturday morning, we simply preheated the oven, popped the dish in, and an hour later we had a delicious morning meal.  With only two of us, the delicious leftovers served us for breakfast for several days after. Yay for easy-to-prep meals with leftovers!

Spinach and Roasted Bell Pepper Strata
Adapted from smittenkitchen
Serves 6-8

10 ounces fresh spinach (or frozen spinach that's been drained and chopped)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed French or Italian bread in 1-inch cubes (1/2 lb)
8 ounces coarsely grated mozzarella (3 cups)
6 ounces roasted red bell peppers, diced (from a can or jar)
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  1. Saute onions in butter in a skillet over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and nutmeg and continue cooking for 1 minutes.  Add spinach and stir until spinach is fully cooked down.
  2. Lightly grease a 9x13 glass baking dish with butter.   Spread half the bread cubes into the bottom of the dish.  Top with half the spinach mixture and half the shredded cheese.  Repeat with the second half of the bread cubes, spinach and cheese.  On the top layer, evenly spread the diced roasted red bell peppers.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, mustard, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.  Pour mixture evenly over the strata.  Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 8 hours or up to one day.
  4. When you are ready to bake the strata, remove it from the fridge and let stand in room temperature for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350F.  Bake uncovered for 45-55 minutes, until strata is puffed up and golden brown.  Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.  Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge and reheated in the microwave. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Garlic Chips

Garlic chips add a wonderful flavor as a topping to sauteed vegetables, pasta, mac and cheese, and other side dishes.   They can be a bit tedious to make as you have to watch them carefully so they don't burn, but the results are definitely worth it.  The cooking method is a bit different in that you add your olive oil and garlic slices to the pan before turning on the heat.  This way, the oil and garlic gradually heat up together, preventing the garlic from getting burned quickly as it would if you added it directly to hot oil.  We used garlic chips to top sauteed spinach, adding flavor as well as some crunchiness.

The next day we took leftovers of spinach, garlic chips, Costco rotisserie chicken, grape tomatoes, and pesto to make a quick pasta for dinner.

For those hardcore garlic lovers, it's hard to resist eating the garlic chips straight on their own.  My husband actually loved the garlic chips so much that he asked to make his own batch as a snack to bring to work.  Be forewarned that these will definitely give you garlic breath!   

Garlic Chips
Recipe from Pioneer Woman

5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced very thin
3 Tablespoons olive oil
  1. Pour olive oil in a large skillet and add garlic slices in a single layer.  Turn the stove on medium heat and let the oil and garlic heat up together. 
  2. As the garlic starts to bubble, stir the garlic to cook on both sides.  (Or if you're meticulous like my husband, flip each slice individually to cook the other side.)  
  3. Remove garlic from the oil with a slotted spoon when it reaches a golden brown color.  Place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain the oil. 
  4. At this point, you have fragrant garlic-infused oil left in the skillet.  This would be great for sauteing vegetables, pouring over pasta, or mixing with balsamic vinegar as a dipping sauce for bread.