Wednesday, January 17, 2007

White Chili

This one's made on the stove, but you could easily adapt it for the crockpot*.

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup minced onion
3 tablespoons minced garlic
6 teaspoons ground cumin
1 lb ground veal
1 lb ground chicken
1 lb ground turkey
4 cups chicken stock
1 jalapeño chile, seeded and chopped
1 15-oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 15-oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
2 teaspoons dried summer savory

Hot pepper sauce
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Garnishes: chopped green onions, grated cheddar cheese, sour cream
  1. Heat vegetable oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add cumin and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add veal, chicken, and turkey and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until no longer pink, 8 minutes.
  3. Add chicken stock, jalapeños, beans, marjoram and summer savory to meat mixture. Stir well. Add hot pepper sauce to taste. Turn the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until chili is thick, about 1 1/2 hours.Serve chili with green onions, cheese and sour cream.
Serves 8 with lots of leftovers. Chili is always better on the second day, so make a batch and refrigerate it overnight. Serve white chili over turkey or chicken hotdogs for another meal.

*Crockpot notes: If I were making this for the crockpot, I'd sauté the meat first and put it in a 6-quart crockpot. Do not cook onions or garlic, just add them to the meat and stir. Stir in the jalapeño, beans, herbs and cumin and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours. Season with hot pepper sauce before serving.

Wild Mushroom Tart

Another savory tart that is a big hit in the autumn, especially at Thanksgiving.

Pastry dough
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 lb. mixed fresh wild mushrooms: cremini (baby bella), oyster, chanterelle, shiitake,
quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (1/2 tsp dried thyme OK)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup creme fraîche (OK to substitute sour cream)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 whole large egg
1 large egg yolk

Special equipment: 9"x1" round, fluted tart pan with removable bottom, pie weights or raw rice

  1. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into an 11-inch round. Fit into tart pan, trimming excess dough. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
  2. While the shell is cooling, put oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 375ºF.
  3. Lightly prick bottom of shell all over with a fork, then line the shell with foil and fill with pie weights or raw rice. Bake until the sides are set and the edge is pale golden, approx. 18-20 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and weights and bake shell until bottom is golden, 10-15 minutes more.
  4. Cool shell completely on a rack.
  1. Heat butter and oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides. Sauté mushrooms, shallot, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are tender and any liquid released is evaporated, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature.
  2. Whisk together creme fraîche, heavy cream, whole egg, egg yolk, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl until combined.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 325ºF.
  4. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet. Scatter mushrooms evenly in tart shell and pour custard over them. Bake tart in pan until custard is just set and slightly puffed, 35-45 minutes.
  5. Cool tart in pan on a wire rack at least 20 minutes, then remove side of pan. Serve tart warm or at room temperature.
Serves 8 as a first course or 6 as a main course. The tart shell can be baked a day ahead and cooled completely, then kept in its pan and wrapped well in plastic bag (or sealed in a zipper bag), at room temperature. The baked tart can be made 2 hours ahead and kept, uncovered, at room temperature. Serve at room temperature.

Chicken With Creole Mustard-Orange Sauce

This dish is adapted from one made with duck at Brigtsen's in New Orleans. I serve it with brown rice and a tossed green salad, although green beans would go well, too.

5 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup orange juice
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
1/3 cup Creole or whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
Kosher salt
Black pepper
  1. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and sauté until brown, about 4 minutes per side.
  3. Add orange juice and broth to skillet. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  4. Add mustard, honey, and pepper sauce to skillet. Increase heat and boil until sauce thickens, whisking occasionally, about 7 minutes. Sauce should coat a spoon when ready.
  5. Return chicken to skillet. Simmer until heated through, about 1 minute. Transfer chicken to plates; top with sauce and serve.
Serves 5. Can be made in 45 minutes or less.

Friday, January 5, 2007


This is a big hit with my boys. It makes a huge batch and is better the second day.

4 lbs. ground beef
2 medium onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 14-oz. cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 32-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes with chilies
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
2 16-oz. cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Toppings: sour cream, shredded Cheddar cheese, chopped onions

Special equipment: 6-quart slow cooker
  1. Using a large skillet, cook ground beef, in batches, over medium-high heat until it is no longer pink. Stir the meat well so that it crumbles. Drain each batch of meat and place it in the crockpot.
  2. Stir in onions and the next 14 ingredients. Mix well.
  3. Cover and cook on HIGH 5 hours or on LOW 7 hours. Remove and discard bay leaf. Serve with desired toppings.
Makes 15-18 cups.

Chicken Cacciatore

Ramblin' Mom asked for some crockpot recipes to get her through her busy season at work. Hope you won't find these unnecessarily "taxing".

2 medium onions, sliced thin
8 oz. mushrooms, quartered
3 lb. chicken, cut up or 3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz. canned plum tomatoes
1 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup dry white wine or chicken stock
1 lb. spaghetti

Special equipment: 6-quart slow cooker
  1. Place onions and mushrooms in the bottom of the crockpot.
  2. Place the chicken pieces on top of the onions. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  3. Crush the plum tomatoes in your hands and add them over the chicken. Add the garlic, tomato sauce, herbs and wine or stock.
  4. Cover the pot and cook on LOW for 6 hours or HIGH for 4 hours.
  5. Just before the chicken is finished cooking, boil water for the pasta. Cook the pasta and drain.
  6. Serve the chicken with its sauce over the pasta you have prepared.
Serves 4.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Mesclun Salad With Mandarins, Pecans and Goat Cheese

This is a mixed green salad with mandarins, dried cranberries, pecans, and goat cheese. It is a great beginning for a holiday meal or anytime you want something out of the ordinary. Once again, this recipe is for a big crowd, but it can easily be halved without concern.

2 1/4 cups orange juice
12 tablespoons dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds

6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons vinegar: champagne, sherry, raspberry, balsamic, or white wine
1 tablespoon reduced orange juice soaking liquid
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper

12 cups mixed baby greens or mesclun, washed and dried
3 cans mandarin oranges, drained (rinse and drain if oranges are packed in syrup)
1 1/2 cups pecans or walnuts, toasted

8 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  1. Bring orange juice to a simmer in a heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat. Mix in dried cranberries. Let stand until softened, approximately 30 minutes. Drain well but reserve the soaking liquid.
  2. Put the cranberry-orange soaking liquid back into the saucepan and reduce to 1/2 cup. Reserve this for salad dressing.
  3. Whisk oil, vinegar, and reduced orange juice in a small bowl; blend well. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. (You can prepare the dressing one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
  4. Place greens in a large serving bowl. Gently toss in mandarin oranges, cranberries, and toasted pecans – your hands work best! Pour 2/3 of the dressing over the salad and toss again. Check to see if the greens are lightly coated with the dressing. You may add more dressing to taste.
  5. Add crumbled goat cheese to top of salad and serve.
Serves 12.

Leek and Goat Cheese Tart

For Anne.

Pastry Dough
3 leeks, white part only, sliced thin
3 tablespoons butter
8 oz. goat cheese
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
Pinch of grated nutmeg

Special equipment: 10" round tart pan with removable bottom or quiche pan; rolling pin; pie weights or dry beans
  1. Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin. Roll out pastry dough into an approx. 11" circle. Fold dough in quarters and place the point of the triangle in the center of the tart pan. Unfold the dough and fit into and around the edges of the pan, without stretching the dough. Place tart pan in the freezer and chill for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line the chilled tart shell with aluminum foil. Weight down the foil with pie weights or dry beans. Bake the shell for 10 minutes and let cool before filling it.
  3. Cook the leeks in the butter in a wide saucepan or skillet over low to moderate heat until they are soft but not brown.
  4. Transfer the leeks to the tart shell and distribute them around evenly.
  5. In a bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour this custard mixture over the leeks.
  6. Return the tart to the oven to finish baking, approximately 30 minutes or until the top surface is lightly browned and springs back when gently pressed. Let the tart cool at least 20 minutes before serving.
Serves 8.

: Note: I have made this tart ahead of time and reheated it in a 300º oven. If you do make it ahead of time and reheat, run it under a low broiler for a couple of minutes to crisp the crust and lightly brown the top.

Pastry Dough

This classic pastry dough works well for both savory and sweet pies. I do not use the food processor for this recipe because there is a risk of overworking the dough. I prefer the control of a pastry blender (seen at right).

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening, preferably trans-fat-free
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Special equipment: pastry blender; pastry or bench scraper

  1. Sift together flour and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Blend in butter and shortening with your fingertips or a pastry blender until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
  3. Drizzle evenly with 3 tablespoons ice water and gently stir with a fork until incorporated.
  4. Squeeze a small handful: If it doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring until just incorporated, then test again. (Do not overwork, or pastry will be tough.)
  5. Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 4 portions. With the heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together with scraper and press into a ball, then flatten into a 5-inch disk. Chill dough, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or sealed tightly in a zipper bag, until firm, at least 1 hour. Note: Dough can be chilled up to 1 day.
Makes enough dough for a 9- to 10-inch round shell.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are easy and pretty quick to make from scratch, and they taste so much better. This is a hearty, full-fat version. You can easily substitute reduced-fat sour cream and milk with no difference in taste or texture. The lowest-fat way to make mashed potatoes is to use low-sodium chicken broth in place of the dairy products; however, this will affect taste and texture. I would still use regular butter, if possible.

5 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes (russets are OK, if that's what you have)
1 onion, peeled
1 pint sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 stick butter, softened
Kosher salt
White pepper
  1. Bring 6 quarts of water to boil in an 8-quart stockpot; a pasta pentola* works great if you have one.
  2. While you are waiting for the water to boil, peel and quarter the Yukon Gold potatoes. If you use russet potatoes, peel them and cut them into eighths: cut in half lengthwise, quarter lengthwise, cut again crosswise.
  3. Once the water is boiling rapidly, add 2-3 tablespoons of kosher salt to the pot. Add the whole onion and the potatoes, using a large slotted spoon or a spider/skimmer. Boil for 18-20 minutes.
  4. Drain the potatoes and discard the onion. Pour the cooking water out of the pot, so you can use that pot to mix and mash the potatoes.
  5. Put the drained potatoes back into the warm pot. Add half of the sour cream, half of the milk, and half of the butter. Mash by hand and mix. If you do not have a potato masher, you can use a ricer or an electric hand-mixer to whip the potatoes; do not over-process them. If the potatoes are still dry, add more of the dairy products until the potatoes are creamy but not gluey. Add salt and white pepper to taste, at least a tablespoon of salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Serve hot.
Mashed potatoes can be made in advance and refrigerated until needed. Store and reheat in a covered oven-proof dish. To reheat, add 3 tablespoons of milk to the top of the potatoes and place in a 350º oven for 30-40 minutes until hot.

*Note: Although I own mostly All-Clad pots and pans, I would not necessarily spend $350.00 for a pasta pot. All-Clad now makes a stainless-steel multi-cooker that works just the same and is a great value for the money.

Turkey Meatloaf

3 lbs. ground turkey or chicken, or a combination of the two
1 medium onion
1/2 green or red pepper
8 oz. mushrooms
3/4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon curry powder
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Place the ground turkey in a large mixing bowl. Dice the onions, peppers, and mushrooms and add to the bowl. Mix.
  3. Add the breadcrumbs, curry powder, salt and pepper and mix well. Add the eggs and mix, preferably with your hands, just enough to blend the eggs into the turkey mixture.
  4. Roll turkey mixture into a large ball and place on the baking sheet. Mold into a long, uniform loaf.
  5. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Serves 6 with plenty of leftovers. Makes great sandwiches the next day: spread the bread with mayonnaise and a little Dijon mustard.

Stuffed Peppers

This is my much-requested recipe for meat- and rice-stuffed green peppers. It feeds a small crowd.

10 large green peppers
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 lbs. ground lamb or veal, or a combination of the two
4 cups cooked rice (or two bags of Success white or brown rice, cooked and drained)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz. goat cheese
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup beef broth or red wine
  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  2. Wash the pepper and cut off the top 1/4" to 1/2" below its "shoulder". Carefully remove the seeds and the pith from the bottom of the pepper, without puncturing it. Repeat for the rest of the peppers. Keep each pepper's top with its matching bottom.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the oil and the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are transparent. Add the ground meat and cook until it is no longer red.
  4. Transfer the meat and cooked rice to a large mixing bowl. Stir in Parmesan cheese, goat cheese, and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. The mixture should look well blended and slightly creamy.
  5. Stuff the peppers tightly with the meat and rice mixture and place them in a large baking pan. You might have to use two pans to hold all the peppers. Pour enough broth or wine in the bottom of the pan to cover it. Pour a little broth or wine into each stuffed pepper to moisten the mixture. Place the top on each pepper, matching up the lobes.
  6. Bake for 1 hour, 15 minutes. The peppers should be soft and well-done.