Sunday, May 30, 2010

A welcome sticky situation
with Everyday Food chicken wings

Everyday Food magazine's Sticky Chicken Wings (click here for the recipe at the Everyday Food website), from the March 2010 issue was a big hit and definite make-again. It's a family-friendly dish.
   It was also super-simple to make, and you can mix up everything in the baking dish. Fewer dishes to wash!
   I used chicken drummettes in the recipe in order to cut down the work of cutting off the tips of wings.
   In a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, light-brown sugar, fish sauce, fresh lemon juice, and soy sauce are stirred together until the sugar dissolves.
   Fresh ginger (it says to smash it; I just grated it finely), a jalapeno or serrano chile (I used half a jalapeno with the seeds and ribs scraped out, as this is what gives the chile its heat) and the chicken wings are added and the wings tossed to coat in the sauce.
   The wings are baked for one hour at 300 F, then the heat is increased to 450 F and the wings baked for 30 to 35 minutes more until the sauce is reduced and the wings are glazed.

America's Test Kitchen best recipes - in one handy magazine!

America's Test Kitchen, the PBS TV show and publisher of the cooking magazines Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country, recently released its collection of 10th anniversary best recipes.
   I snatched this up the minute I saw it. I've found America's Test Kitchen recipes to be extremely reliable, and was thus intrigued about what it considered to be its best recipes from the past 10 years.
   Many of the recipes in the collection are meticulously re-created versions of classics such as filet mignon, chicken soup, brisket, turkey, spaghetti and meatballs, potato salad, french fries, brownies, chocolate mousse and lemon meringue pie.
   There are two recipes in the collection that I have already tried, and they were definitely deserving of a place in a "best of" collection.
   One is Cincinnati Chili, an extremely family-friendly dish partly flavoured with, of all things, cocoa powder and ground cinnamon. I highly recommend serving this over spaghetti as the recipe suggests.
   The other was Quick Cheese Bread. It was definitely quick, and delicious. It's one for a cold winter night along with a warm bowl of soup.
   I found several other recipes I'd like to try, especially in the desserts section.
Here are the ones I want to take for a whirl:
- Roast Beef Tenderloin. This actually looks incredibly easy. It's a matter of cooking the tenderloin in the oven and then slathering on some shallot and parsley butter.
- Well-Done Burgers. The recipe promises burgers that are cooked all the way through yet are juicy and tender. Sign me up!
- Cider-Glazed Pork Chops. I'm always on the lookout for quick weeknight recipes and this one looks like it delivers, with a simple glaze of apple juice, Dijon mustard and vinegar.
- Grilled Bone-In Chicken Breasts. With grilling season upon us, this recipe, which calls for submerging the chicken first in salted water, looks like a potential winner. It comes with two glaze options: soy-ginger or orange-chipotle.
- Spaghetti and Meatballs.
- Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup. Rather than cream, this recipe relies on white sandwich bread to thicken it.
- Hearty Lentil Soup.
- French Potato Salad. A welcome variation from the usual picnic variety, this recipe uses white wine vinegar and fresh parsley, chives and tarragon.
- From the desserts section: Blueberry Scones; Classic chocolate chip cookies; brown sugar cookies; chewy, fudgy brownies; blondies; key lime bars and summer berry pie.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Panini perfection - with brandy?

Recently I made Carmelized Onion, Gruyere and Sausage Panini (click here for the recipe at the Fine Cooking magazine website), a hearty and delicious sandwich, and the first one I've made that called for alcohol!
   I brought out the panini press for this one, and rather than use slices of crusty, rustic bread as called for in the recipe, I used our favourite panini flatbreads.
   The recipe calls for cooked chicken sausages, but all I could find was uncooked. Of course, I cooked them as directed and went on to use them in the sandwiches.
   The panini's main feature is sliced yellow onions, carmelized in Calvados, a type of apple brandy that I found in the local liquor store.
   The brandy adds a depth of flavour to the onions, which marries very well with the Dijon mustard, Gruyere cheese and chicken sausages nestled in the sandwiches.

Luscious lime rickeys

On the May long weekend, I took Lime Rickeys (click for the recipe) (with cilantro, though I left this out) from the June 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living for a test drive, and was very pleased with the results. I'll be making it again.
   The lime rickeys are from an article on summer pitcher drinks, which anyone who is thinking of hosting a backyard shindig this summer would do well to check out.
   One set of drinks uses limeade as their base. The limeade is made with water, fresh lime juice and superfine sugar (I used Splenda instead.)
   The lime rickeys are made by combining the limeade, sugar (more Splenda, in my case), and fresh lime slices. I put in the lime slices and then took them out shortly after. We have made limeade in the past that had lime peel left in it for too long and the drink was bitter, so I wanted to err on the side of caution.
   After at least an hour of refrigeration, club soda is added and the rickeys are served over ice.
   With that batch of limeade that is the base of the lime rickeys, two other delicious-looking cocktails can be made: Pineapple-Basil Margaritas (made by muddling chopped fresh pineapple with fresh basil and adding tequila) and Kiwifruit Caipiroksa, a variation on the Brazilian caipirinha.
   Also in the pitcher drinks story are three cocktails to make with ginger ale as a key ingredient: Watermelon Cooler (pureed fresh watermelon and vodka), Dark and Stormy (ginger ale and dark rum), and Pimm's Cup (lemonade and Pimm's No. 1.)
   The June 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living promises "60+ Summer Crowd Pleasers." I wondered as I flipped through it if Living's annual entertainment issue, which is in July, been moved up a month. There's are many recipe ideas in this issue, with food stories comprising the bulk of the features.

Here are the other recipes that caught my eye to try:
- Almond-Apricot Tart with Whipped Cream
- Grilled Buttermilk Chicken
- Grilled Steak Sandiwiches

Peach Schnapps - in dessert?

On Tuesday, May 25, after a phone call from my husband from work that he needed a cheesecake for a fundraiser barbecue the next day, I went looking for a simple substitute and found one at Peach Schnapps Squares (click here to see the recipe at the Food Network website) from Anna Olson's TV show, Sugar.
   I picked it because it would have the look and feel of cheesecake, as it had a crust and cream cheese topping, but wouldn't require too much work or overwhelming techniques.
   The result was a delicious square that would be a wonderful afternoon snack with a cup of tea, or this time of year, a cool drink. Later this summer, when peaches are in season, I'm going to make the warm peaches option of this recipe, where sliced peaches are warmed with butter and sugar and served over pieces of the squares.
   The crust was made by blending flour, light brown sugar, salt and unsalted butter in a food processor until crumbly, then pressing the dough into a 9 x 13 inch pan and baking it.
   Over the still-hot crust, peach jam combined with Peach Schnapps is spread.
   Over this is poured a mixture of cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, Peach Schapps, and eggs.
   This is baked, then cooled completely before slicing.