Showing posts with label Healthy Recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Healthy Recipes. Show all posts

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Ultimate Comfort Food: Chicken & Dumplings

No matter the time of year, there is a need for comfort food. Winter cries out for hot soups and hearty stews. Fresh produce that had been lost during the cold months is celebrated in the spring. Summer's bounty calls for salads, fresh fruit and bbq. Fall reminds us we are mortal as we say goodbye to fresh produce in a last celebration of corn, figs and leafy greens.

Through all the seasons, I enjoy chicken and dumplings because its rich broth is nourishing. Adding a heap of farm-to-table vegetables brightens and the sweet succulence of braised chicken and wholesome dumplings adds depth and umami to the dish.

What is more, this hearty, flavorful dish is inexpensive and easy-to-make.


The basics are straightforward. Fresh chicken. A handful of favorite vegetables. A cup of white flour. A bit of half and half. A cube of butter. Homemade chicken stock. A few seasonings.

Simmer. Cover. Uncover and serve! Easy-peasy.

Farm-to-Table Vegetables, Chicken and Dumplings

Use a good quality organic chicken and buy farmers market produce when available. 

If you have dried whole shiitake mushrooms, use them. They add a distinctive flavor, different from the delicate flavor of thinly sliced shiitakes.

Use vegetables you love. And lots of them. English peas. Squash rounds. Kabocha chunks. Roasted sweet potatoes. Green beans. Kale. Shredded cabbage. Chopped turnips. My preference is to tilt the balance towards the fresh produce, plating great mounds of vegetables with a leg and a wing or two pieces of breast.

The dish can be covered and served the next day or divided into smaller covered containers and frozen for up to three months.

Yield: 4 servings

Time to prep: 15 minutes (if you already have chicken stock) or 1 hour (including time to make chicken stock)

Time to cook: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes - 2 hours, 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 whole chicken approximately 3 lbs, preferably organic, cut apart as described below
1 medium yellow onion, washed, ends trimmed, outer skin removed, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 cup green beans, washed, ends removed, cut into 1" long pieces
1 cup broccoli florets, washed and cut into 1" pieces or broccoli leaves, washed, shredded
2 cups shiitake mushrooms, washed, stem end trimmed, thinly sliced or 2 cups dried whole shiitake mushrooms, washed
1/4 cup Italian parsley, leaves only, washed, finely chopped
1 garlic, peeled, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 cup celery, washed, ends trimmed, cut into 1/2" pieces (optional)
4 cups homemade chicken stock, as described below
1 large carrot, washed, trimmed, peeled, cut into 1/2" thick rounds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne powder (optional)


Dumpling ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour, white
2 tablespoons sweet (unsalted) butter, cut into fine bits
1 scallion, washed, ends trimmed, green and white parts finely chopped or 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, leaves only, washed, finely chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1/2-1/3 cup half and half, cream or whole milk


Directions

Break down the whole chicken by cutting off the legs, thighs, wings and breasts.

Place the carcass into a large pot, cover with water and simmer covered for 45 minutes. Strain through a colander, reserving liquid in a bowl. Let the carcass cool and remove the meat.

Use what stock is needed for the dish, reserving the rest covered in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for up to six months. The meat pulled off the carcass can be added to the braise or submerged in stock and frozen for later use.

Separate legs from thighs. Separate the three parts of the wings, adding the wing tips to the stock pot. Cut chicken breasts into three almost equal sized pieces. If removing skin from the parts, add to the stock.


In a mixing bowl, add flour, cut up butter, scallion (or Italian parsley), baking soda, sea salt and black pepper. Using a fork, mix well. Slowly add milk, stirring until thickened. The resulting mixture should be like thick batter. If the mixture is too runny, add a tablespoon of flour. Cover and set aside.


For the braise, in a large pot, heat olive oil and sauté the chicken parts. Use tongs to turn the parts until each piece is browned on all sides. Remove and set aside.

Sauté the onions and garlic (optional) in the pot with the chicken fat and oil until softened. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add chicken stock. Return browned chicken pieces to the pot. Stir and simmer 20 minutes.

Add vegetables.


To make the dumplings, use two soup spoons to create small rounds of dough. Drop each dumpling into the simmering liquid. Make room for each dumpling so they do not touch because they will expand as they cook. Add all the dumplings and cover.

Adjust the heat so the stock simmers but does not boil.

Cook 30 minutes and serve immediately. Place several dumplings into each bowl, adding a protein and a good helping of vegetables with several tablespoons of gravy.

Serve hot.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Go Green for Super Bowl Sunday! Cook Easy-to-Make Roasted or Grilled Artichokes

We are planning a Super Bowl Sunday party. My plan is to serve "picnic" food. Carrot salad, potato salad, Little Gem green salad, Persian salad, crispy fried chicken, brown sugar salmon and roasted artichokes.

Super Bowl Sunday food should be fun, delicious and healthy.

Spring is happening and artichokes are showing up in our farmers markets. The dark green vegetable, prized by cooks, is healthy and easy-to-prepare.
Looking at an artichoke, with its hard exterior and sharp pointed leaves makes me wonder how anyone figured out they would be good to eat. With a small amount of effort, that tough looking exterior gives up the wonderfully savory flavor bits at the end of the each leaf.
Choosing a good artichoke

Whether you find one that is the size of your hand or a larger one the size of a soft ball, give it a squeeze. If the artichoke feels solid, you've found a good one. An artichoke past its prime will be squishy like a child's squeeze toy. Make sure all the leaves are green. Don't buy an artichoke with brown or blackened leaves.
Having a sharp pair of scissors or kitchen shears, a pairing knife and a chefs knife will make breaking down the artichoke easy.

Roasted or Grilled Artichokes

One person can easily eat one artichoke the size of your hand. The larger artichokes will feed 2-3 people as an appetizer or a side dish. 

Serves 4

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 30-35 minutes

Total Time: 40-45 minutes

Ingredients

4 medium sized or 2 large artichokes, washed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup sweet butter (optional)
Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Or, set grill (indoor or outdoor) to medium-high.

Place a large stock pot on the stove on a high flame. Add kosher salt. Bring to a low boil. Cover.

To roast the artichoke sections after boiling, cover the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper, a Silpat sheet or a piece of aluminum foil. Set aside.

Using scissors trim off the pointy end of each artichoke leaf.

Trim off the stem of each artichoke, flush to the bottom. Discard the stems.

Give each artichoke a flat-top haircut. Place the artichoke on its side. Using a chefs knife, trim off the top 1/4" of each artichoke and discard.

Place the artichoke on the cutting board. Using a chefs knife, cut each artichoke in half, from bottom to the top. Cut each half into two pieces. If the artichoke is large, cut those four pieces in half, creating eight segments.

Working quickly, because the inside of the artichoke will discolor when exposed to air, use a sharp pairing knife to remove the fuzzy part on the inside of each section. Rinse the artichoke sections and discard the fuzzy parts.

Place all the artichoke sections in the boiling salted water. Cover and cook 10 minutes.

Using the pairing knife, test one of the artichoke sections. The knife should easily go into the fleshy part on the bottom of the leaves. If the knife doesn't go in easily, cook another 5 minutes but beware not to over cook the artichokes. They should be firm not mushy.

Place a colander or strainer in the sink. Pour the hot salted water with the artichoke sections into the colander and drain.

Transfer the artichoke sections to a mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Toss well to coat.

If grilling, place the artichokes on the pre-heated grill. Turn frequently to avoid burning. Remove when grill marks appear on all sides.

If baking in the oven, arrange the artichokes on the prepared baking sheet, leaving room between the sections.

Place in the oven and cook 15 minutes. Using tongs, turn the sections over and place back in the oven another 15 minutes so they cook evenly.

Remove the artichokes from the oven and serve hot or at room temperature with sea salt, black pepper and small dishes of melted butter (optional).

If serving with melted butter (optional), melt the butter in a small saucepan being careful to avoid burning.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Fast, Easy and Delicious Can't-Resist Salmon for a Meal or an NFL Game Day Snack

Eating healthy makes good sense and doesn't have to take a lot of time. One of my favorite dishes is a dry rub roasted salmon that makes its own glaze.

Roasting a salmon filet is perfect for a family meal, NFL game day or a party entree. For a pot-luck dinner last weekend with friends, I  made roasted salmon and a Little Gem lettuce salad with carrots. Healthy, nutritious and delicious and oh so easy.
To get the salmon from refrigerator-to-table, all I needed to do was season the filet with dry rub and place it in the refrigerator. Overnight the mix of sugar, salt and aromatics drew moisture out of the fish. The dry rub turned into a wet slurry that became the base for a sweet-heat savory glaze. 

The filet takes 30 minutes to cook in the oven. The glaze takes 5 minutes to cook in a saucepan.

Because the salmon is best served at room temperature, the dish can be cooked ahead of time and served when everyone is ready to eat. Which makes it ideal to make ahead when you know you will be busy before the meal.

For brunch, the salmon can be served with toasted bagels and cream cheese and with scrambled eggs. For lunch, dinner or watching a football game, add a green salad and pasta and you have an entire meal.

Dry Rub Salmon with Brown Sugar Mushroom Glaze

Adding tomato sauce to the glaze mellows the flavors. You can use canned tomato sauce but making your own will taste much better. Roasted tomato sauce is so easy to make, I would encourage you to make a lot and freeze the sauce in 6 ounce air-tight containers. That way, when you want to make a pasta sauce you will have roasted tomato sauce in the freezer.



Yield 4-6 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Marinating Time: Overnight

Cooking Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour + marinating overnight

Ingredients

2 - 3 pounds fresh, skin-on salmon fillet, preferably wild not farm raised, washed

Dry Rub

2 1/2 - 3 cups brown sugar, depending on the size of the filet

1/3 cup kosher salt

1 tablespoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

Glaze

1/4 - 1/2 cup dry rub wet slurry from overnight refrigeration

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon raw onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley or kale

2 large shiitake or brown mushrooms, washed, pat dried, stem end trimmed, finely chopped

1 large tomato to make 1/4 cup roasted tomato sauce

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 500 F. Remove the stem from the tomato. Place the whole tomato on a Silpat sheet or parchment paper on a baking tray.
Roast 20 minutes. Transfer the tomato and any juices from the baking tray into a food mill or a fine mesh strainer. Press the tomato to collect the juices and pulp. Reserve skin and seeds to make vegetable stock or discard. Set tomato sauce aside or refrigerate in an air-tight container. The sauce can be frozen if made ahead.
Inspect the filet and remove any bones. Trim off small fins if there are any and discard. Pat dry.

In a bowl, mix together the dry rub seasoning.

Measure a piece of plastic wrap that it is longer than the filet by 5" on all sides. Lay the plastic wrap on a flat surface.

Spread half the dry rub on the plastic wrap. Lay the salmon filet on top, skin side down. Spread the remainder of the dry rub on the salmon.

Fold over the ends of the plastic wrap so the salmon and dry mix are pressed against each other.  Put the package into a plastic bag and seal.

Place the plastic bag on a baking sheet in case of leaks. Refrigerate.

The next day, remove the salmon filet. The dry rub will have become a wet slurry.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

To make the glaze, place the bag in a bowl. Remove the salmon from the plastic bag and plastic wrap being careful to capture all the liquid. Use your hand to scrape off any dry rub that clings to the filet or the plastic wrap. Mix together any remaining dry rub and the wet slurry.

Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and place a small wire rack on top of the aluminum foil. Place the salmon filet on the wire rack, skin side down. Place in the oven.

In a small sauce pan, heat olive oil and sauté onion, mushrooms and Italian parsley or kale until lightly browned. Add dry rub slurry and roasted tomato sauce. Mix well. Simmer 5 minutes. Set aside.
After the salmon has been in the oven 20 minutes, remove. Place a generous amount of the glaze on top and return to the oven another 10 minutes. Reserve any extra sauce.
Remove from the oven. When the salmon is cool enough to touch, use a pairing knife to help remove the filet from the wire rack. Keep the skin on the filet.  When transferring the salmon to a decorative plate, be careful not to disturb the toping.

Serve at room temperature with the extra sauce in a small bowl.

Friday, January 13, 2017

When You Don't Have Time to Cook But You Still Want a Home-Cooked Meal, Do This!

Home cooked meals are definitely better for you and less expensive, but sometimes cooking seems too difficult and time-consuming.

When you're tired and hungry, it seems easier to stop for take-out on the drive home, order in or nuke those Trader Joe's frozen Shrimp Soft Tacos you bought last week.

But with a little effort (not much) and even less time (minutes), you can prepare two easy-to-make vegetable dishes that combine well with a charred steak, sautéed tofu or roasted chicken breasts which cook in no time at all.

Salt-boiled vegetables

Salt boiling cooks vegetables quickly. Cook them as little as possible so they have a crisp, fresh taste. Like pasta, vegetables should be eaten al dente, with a little firmness.

How long a vegetable should be cooked depends on its density and the size of the pieces being boiled. A 1" zucchini round will cook faster than a 1" carrot round. A 2" carrot round takes longer to cook than does a 1" carrot round.

Adding kosher salt to the water gives the vegetables a sweet-salty flavor.
Broccoli florets prepared this way cook in 2 minutes. The bright green flavor bites are so delicious, we eat them hot or cold, as a snack, side dish or, cooled, added to a salad.

Oven-roasted vegetables

Another easy-to-master technique is oven roasting vegetables. As with salt-boiled vegetables, they should be cooked al dente. How long the vegetables take to cook depends on the density of the vegetable and the size of the pieces.
Fingerling potatoes are an especially good side dish to serve with a grilled or baked protein. They are delicious with a steak grilled on an outdoor grill or charred on a carbon steel pan. Before baking, toss the cut fingerlings with Italian parsley, olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

If you enjoy onions, sprinkling a handful of finely sliced onions or shallots over the vegetables before baking adds a delicious sweetness.

Salt-Boiled Broccoli

Buy broccoli that is deep green in appearance. Do not use broccoli with yellow florets or ones that feel limp because that means they are old and will not taste good.
Besides broccoli, the technique works great for spinach, carrots, English peas and green beans. Each requires a different length of cooking time. Spinach (30 seconds), peeled carrot rounds cut 1/2" thick (3-5 minutes), shelled English peas (30 seconds) and green beans cut into 1" lengths (3 minutes).

Use only kosher salt or sea salt. Do not use iodized salt because of the metallic after-taste.

Serves 4

Time to prep: 5 minutes

Time to cook: 3 minutes

Ingredients

2 tablespoons kosher salt

4 large broccoli crowns, enough to make 10 cups, washed, stem ends trimmed

Directions

Using a pairing knife, cut the florets (the bud or flower of the broccoli) off the stem. Cut each floret in half and set aside. Using a chefs knife, cut the stem into slabs, 1/2" thick, 1" long. Set aside.

Add kosher salt to 4 quarts water and bring to a boil.

Place stems in boiling water first. Cover. Cook 1 minute.

Add floret halves to water. Cover. Cook exactly 2 minutes.

Strain broccoli in the sink. Place cooked broccoli into bowl and serve.

Oven Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

If fingerling potatoes are not available, baby Yukon or Sierra Gold potatoes are also good.
Use a Silpat sheet so the potatoes do not stick to the baking sheet. If not available, use parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Serves 4

Time to prep: 5 minutes

Time to cook: 30 minutes

Ingredients

2 pounds fingerling potatoes, washed

1 cup Italian parsley, washed, leaves only, finely chopped

1 medium yellow onion or 4 large shallots, skins, stems and root ends removed, washed, cut into thin slices

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F.

Line a large baking sheet with a Silpat sheet.

Cut each potato in half, the long way, then into 2" pieces. Place them in a mixing bowl with the olive oil. As the cut potatoes are added to the bowl, toss to coat with olive oil to prevent discoloration.

When all the potatoes are in the bowl, add parley and onions. Toss well. Season with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Spread on the Silpat sheet lined baking sheet so the pieces have some room. They will acquire more browning if they are not piled on top of one another.

Place in oven.

After 15 minutes, toss for even cooking. Check after another 15 minutes. Toss. Taste. Adjust seasoning and cook longer if needed. When the potatoes are cooked through but not too soft, serve hot with a protein. The potatoes are delicious with a grilled steak, sautéed fish filet or charred chicken breast.

Ready. Set. Go. Time to Think About Thanksgiving and Electric Knife Sharpeners

Thanksgiving was my mother's favorite holiday, a time when family and friends gather together, share a meal and talk about what they hop...