GLAZED CHICKEN

GLAZED CHICKEN

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Glazed ChickenGlazing makes chicken extra tasty and incredibly tender.

For a quick meal, throw it on a bed of spinach, or spoon it over rice. It pairs beautifully with an easy side, such as Corn And Tomato Fiesta Salad, Herbed Whipped Potatoes, or Blanched Broccoli.

It’s the new fast food.

WHAT YOU NEED WHAT TO DO WHY
1 tablespoon finely diced onion, white or yellow
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian herb mix (basil, parsley, oregano)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
For marinade/dressing: In a 3-quart mixing bowl; whisk all together.

Tip: With onion on its side, cut off and discard both ends. Cut in half from pole to pole; peel off any layers that look dry or tough; discard. Place cut sides down and slice to 1/8-inch, holding the pieces together as you work. Cut across slices to dice. Cut a lemon in half at the equator, place cut sides down and quarter. Juice with a citrus squeezer held over a mesh strainer to catch seeds.

Honey imparts a hint of sweetness and acts as an emulsifier (an ingredient that helps prevent the separation of other ingredients). Acids, such as vinegar and lemon juice tenderize as well as impart flavor.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil To finish, slowly drizzle in oil while whisking vigorously. Slowly adding oil while whisking helps create the emulsion.
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed to 1 inch Add to 1-quart bowl, pour two-thirds of the marinade/dressing over top; toss to coat. Set aside 10-15 minutes. Reserve remaining third of marinade/dressing. Small pieces of chicken brown fast and absorb flavor readily. Reserved marinade/dressing will be tossed with spinach leaves and chicken just before serving to add fresh flavor.
Preheat an empty 5-quart tri-ply stockpot over medium heat until water droplets dance across the surface when flicked from the fingertips (2-4 minutes). Evenly distribute chicken and brown first side without disturbing (3-5 minutes). Turn once with a bamboo spatula and continue cooking just until signs of pink have vanished (2-3 minutes). Preheating discourages sticking and promotes browning. A bamboo spatula frees food without damaging the pan.
6 ounces fresh spinach leaves
Sprigs of fresh parsley (optional)
Add spinach leaves to reserved dressing in the 3-quart bowl; toss to coat and plate attractively. Transfer cooked chicken to reserved dressing; toss to coat and then arrange over spinach. Adding the spinach separately from the chicken allows it to stay cool and fresh.

PAN SEARED SALMON

PAN SEARED SALMON

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Pan Seared Salmon

One of our favorite restaurants in California is Don Giovanni, just north of Napa. Every time we visit the valley, we stop in to enjoy yet another delicious dish off the menu. Years ago, after sampling their salmon, I decided it was time to start making it at home. Continue reading “PAN SEARED SALMON”

SHRIMP JAMBALAYA

SHRIMP JAMBALAYA

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Shrimp Jambalaya

What is jambalaya? It is basically a one dish vegetable and rice dish comprised of a variety of pork, chicken and/or seafood carried in a sauce of tomato or broth. Gumbo is similar, but is typically based in a roux, which is a brown sauce thickened with filé (FEE-lay) or okra. It is then served over rice. Continue reading “SHRIMP JAMBALAYA”

SALMON CAKES

SALMON CAKES

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Salmon Cakes

These go wonderfully well with a handful of baby arugula drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil, finished with a pinch of kosher salt. It is a beautiful, tasty way to round out a main with very little effort. I always think of it as “Marcella’s Salad”, because she introduced it to us in Florence, Italy. Continue reading “SALMON CAKES”

LASAGNA

LASAGNA

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Lasagna

The first time I saw lasagna prepared, it was at my friend Scarlett’s house in the mid-1990s. As she pulled all those noodles from the boiling water and placed them neatly on waxed paper, I was impressed and intimidated. Was there not an easier way?

As it turns out, there is. Dry noodles can actually be layered with the sauce in the lasagna pan. I use canned crushed tomatoes for their predictable moisture content. It not only guarantees that the noodles will cook to al dente, but that the dish will set up to the desired level of firmness.

WHAT YOU NEED WHAT TO DO WHY
4 cups (16 ounces) freshly shredded mozzarella Prepare; set aside, covered. If preparing Fresh Pasta, do so now; set aside. Freshly shredded has a smooth melting texture.
1 pound Italian or hot pork sausage, containing fewer than 78% fat calories Meat sauce: Preheat an empty 5-quart tri-ply stockpot over medium heat until water droplets dance across the surface when flicked from your fingertips (2-4 minutes). Add sausage and break into marble-sized pieces with a potato masher. Brown, stirring occasionally with a bamboo spatula (15-20 minutes). More than 78% renders excess fat. A bamboo spatula’s edge offers good coverage and is gentle on cookware.
3 cups (12 ounces) diced white or yellow onion Add to sausage and sauté, stirring occasionally, until translucent (4-5 minutes).

Tip: With onion on its side, cut off and discard both ends. Cut in half from pole to pole; peel off any layers that look dry or tough; discard. Place cut sides down and slice to 1/4-inch, holding the pieces together as you work. Cut across slices to dice.

Holding slices together reduces exposure to eye-irritants.
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon Italian herb mix
(basil, parsley, oregano)
Add to the pot along with the herbs; sauté just until fragrant (1-2 minutes).

Tip: After separating a garlic clove from the head; cut off the root end. Place the broad side of a chef’s knife over top; strike with your fist or palm. Release the skin and discard. Cut in half, place cut sides down; rock the knife over top to mince.

Garlic burns easily and so it is added after the onion.
72 ounces canned crushed tomatoes Stir into the pot to deglaze (release the tasty browned bits). Bring to the boil over medium-high heat; promptly reduce heat to hold at a simmer (195-205°F) while preparing the ricotta mixture. Deglazing uses liquid to release tasty bits from the pot.
15 ounces ricotta cheese
2 ounces (1/2 cup) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon Italian herb mix (basil, parsley, oregano)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Ricotta mixture: Whisk all together in a 3-quart bowl until uniform in color and consistency. Set aside.

Position an oven rack just below center; preheat to 350°F “Convection” (verify with an oven thermometer). Meanwhile, assemble lasagna.

Ovens often run hot or cold, or preheat slowly.
14 ounces dry lasagna noodles or Fresh Pasta lasagna noodles In a 4-quart capacity 9×13-inch square edged baking dish or stainless steel roasting pan layer the following:

3 cups meat sauce
5 noodles (break off parts that are too long)
1 1/2 cups ricotta mixture
3 cups meat sauce
1 cup mozzarella
5 noodles
1 1/2 cups ricotta mixture
3 cups meat sauce
1 cup mozzarella
5 noodles
3 cups meat sauce

Aluminum is reactive with acidic foods, such as tomatoes, which causes unpleasant grey discoloration.
Uncooked noodles absorb excess liquids and are easy to handle.
With the bottom of a spatula, evenly press surface to submerge noodles and eliminate air pockets. Evenly sprinkle the last 2 cups of mozzarella. Noodles not submerged harden under oven heat.
1 teaspoon Italian herb mix (basil, parsley, oregano) Sprinkle evenly over mozzarella. Place dish/pan over a sheet pan and bake until a skewer inserted in the middle penetrates all layers with just a hint of resistance (38-40 minutes). Rest 20 minutes before serving. Resting allows noodles to finish absorbing excess liquids, firming the dish.

Testing Notes: Most lasagna noodles come in a 16 ounce package with 18 noodles. If using an 11×14-inch pan, 6 noodles can be used for each noodle layer.

MUSHROOM MARSALA WITH PENNE PASTA

MUSHROOM MARSALA WITH PENNE PASTA

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Mushroom Marsala with Penne Pasta

This is so satisfying.

One of the things I love about this recipe is its versatility. It makes a lovely entrée or a sumptuous side, and it even steps in as a sauce when the pasta is omitted.

Sometimes I add chives for a boost of color. A little green just makes a more lively presentation.

WHAT YOU NEED WHAT TO DO WHY
1 1/2 quarts water In a 3-quart tri-ply saucepan bring pasta water to a rolling boil over high heat (6-8 minutes). Turbulent water helps prevent gummy pasta.
2 tablespoons finely diced shallot (if a substitution is required, use 4 teaspoons minced green onion, white part only, plus 2 teaspoons minced garlic) Meanwhile, prepare and set aside.
Tip: With shallot on its side, cut off and discard both ends. Cut in half from pole to pole; peel off any layers that look dry or tough; discard. Place cut sides down and slice to 1/8-inch, holding the pieces together as you work. Cut across slices to dice.
A shallot looks like a tiny red onion. Its flavor is a cross between onion and garlic, and its texture is so fine that it virtually disappears into the sauce during cooking.
8 ounces button or crimini mushrooms, sliced Set aside.
Tip: Brush off any soil from mushrooms with a pastry brush. Cut in half from top to bottom, place cut sides down and slice to 1/4-inch.
Washing mushrooms makes them slimy.
4 ounces dry penne Add pasta to the now boiling water; briefly stir to separate the pieces. When boiling resumes, reduce heat to hold at a low rolling boil until pasta is al dente (as per package). Strain thoroughly, return to the pan and cover with a lint-free dishcloth. A cloth keeps pasta warm and moist without holding in excess cooking heat or steam.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter Meanwhile, circulate butter in a 12-inch tri-ply sauteuse/everyday pan over medium heat to evenly coat the base. As it begins to foam (2-3 minutes), add mushrooms in an even layer. Cook until browned and liquid is released, turning just once half way through with a bamboo spatula (6-8 minutes total). Mushrooms cooked undisturbed brown nicely. As they brown, they will give up enough moisture to keep them from burning. A bamboo spatula offers good coverage, and is gentle on cookware.
1/2 teaspoon thyme or marjoram
1/4 teaspoon tarragon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon roughly ground black pepper
1/32 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sprinkle seasonings and shallots over mushrooms. Cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
1/2 cup Marsala (sweet, fine) Drizzle 1/4 cup over mushrooms, let half evaporate (30-40 seconds). Drizzle remaining 1/4 cup, let half evaporate again (60-90 seconds). Unnecessary stirring hurts mushroom texture.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
Gently stir butter into the mushrooms to melt. Gently stir in the cream just until fully incorporated (20-30 seconds). Add pasta to the pan and gently toss until evenly coated. Serve in shallow serving bowls. The final hit of butter and cream give beautiful body to the sauce.

MUSHROOM MARSALA STEAK
If serving these mushrooms as a steak sauce, substitute starting the pasta water with heating the grill. Start searing the steaks on the grill while the sauteuse pan is heating. After the Marsala evaporation, follow with a drizzle of jus (French for “juice”) from the resting steaks; finish sauce as directed. Note: For a greater quantity of sauce, increase Marsala by 1/4 cup and heavy whipping cream by 2 tablespoons. Plate the steaks; spoon sauce attractively over top in a diagonal. Garnish with fresh chives for a livelier presentation.

BRAISED ARM ROAST

BRAISED ARM ROAST

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Braised Arm Roast

When Mark was a boy, his mom always started her roast early on Sunday morning so that it was ready by the time they got home from church. She learned from her mom that a long, low oven temperature yields a truly tender roast.

And here is the bonus. Leftovers freeze extremely well in freezer bags, which are then easily defrosted in the microwave for a quick weekday lunch. Just right on Bread from Heaven rolls or Focaccia.

WHAT YOU NEED WHAT TO DO WHY
1 (3-4 pound) chuck arm roast (commonly labeled as chuck arm, arm roast, pot roast)
1 tablespoon roughly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
If possible, select your roast directly from the butcher instead of selecting prepackaged cuts. The cost per pound is the same and yet the shape and trim is generally superior. To prepare, remove the roast from its packaging and place on a large plate; pat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle seasonings evenly over the roast and massage into the surface. Cover with an inverted bowl; set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes before continuing. Drying the surface assists browning and helps the seasonings adhere.
Taking the chill off promotes even roasting.
Place an oven rack in the lowest position; preheat convection ovens to 250°F (verify with an oven thermometer). Ovens often run hot or cold, or preheat slowly.
6 cups (24 ounces) sliced white or yellow onion Meanwhile, prepare and set aside.

Tip: Place each onion on its side, cut off and discard both ends. Cut in half from pole to pole; peel off any layers that look dry or tough; discard. Place cut sides down and slice to 1/4-inch, holding the pieces together as you work.

Holding slices together reduces exposure to eye-irritants.
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into several pieces Once oven is preheated, place a 6-quart enameled cast iron dutch oven over medium heat and circulate the butter, to evenly coat the bottom. When it starts to foam (2-3 minutes) add the roast fatty side down. Sear 3 minutes. With big tongs, turn and sear the second side 3 minutes; remove dutch oven from heat. Preheating the dutch oven discourages sticking and promotes searing (rapid browning). Searing adds incomparable flavor to meat.
2 bay leaves Arrange bay leaves around roast; follow with the onions. Insert a barbecue thermometer probe (long probe, long cord, digital display) into very center of the roast; cover and br A barbecue thermometer takes the guess work out of braising meat.
Slow braising to 200°F helps preserve reddish pigmentation (myoglobin ) and breaks down connective tissue.
Rest meat at room temperature 30 minutes before lifting the lid. For maximum liquid reabsorption, continue resting until the thermometer registers 120°F. Shred with two forks; transfer to a serving dish. Resting improves color and increases capacity to hold moisture.

Testing Notes: Slowly heating meat to 160-180°F over 1-2 hours dissolves collagen into gelatin with minimal dehydration. If oven settings allow, utilize a 200°F oven to heat meat slowly to 120°F (2+ hours), then increase heat to 250°F to slowly to finish cooking to 180°F (1+ hour). It is similar to temperatures used in smokers.