Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chicken Satays with Spicy Peanut Sauce

I  was told that today was national food on a stick day.  If that is the case then I must share the Chicken Satays that I made this last weekend.  We had been invited to a friend's home for an "appetizer" dinner. It is always fun and there is always a variety of foods. I had never made Chicken Satays and decided that it would be a great addition to the meal.  I wasn't disappointed.

Chicken Satays with Spicy Peanut Sauce
adapted from The Best of Fine Cooking:  Appetizers, 2007, page 90

Yield:  24-32 individual hors d'oeuvers

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 Tbsp  soy sauce
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp curry powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup crunchy natural peanut butter
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1-2 tsp light brown sugar
Pinch cayenne
About 32 bamboo skewers, soaked in  water for at least 30 minutes

With a sharp knife, cut the breasts lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices (you should have about six slices per breast).  Cut each slice in half crosswise to make  about 24 pieces total.  If you have tenders, cut those in half, too.

In a medium bowl, combine 1 Tbs of the soy sauce and 1 Tbsp of the lemon juice with the oil, garlic, curry powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of pepper.  Add the chicken; toss well to coat.  Let he chicken marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes and up to 24 hours, refrigerated.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1 Tbsp soy sauce and 1 Tbsp lemon juice with the peanut butter, coconut milk, brown sugar, cayenne, and 1/8 tsp salt.

Position an oven rack as close to the broiler as possible and heat the broiler to high.  Thread one chicken piece onto the end  of each skewer.  Broil in a single layer,  turning the skewers once halfway through, until the chicken is lightly browned and cooked through, about 7-8 minutes.  While the chicken cooks, warm the sauce gently over medium-low or low heat, whisking the ingredients together.  If the sauce seems very thick, thin it with about a Tbsp of water.  Let the chicken cool slightly and then serve the satays with the peanut sauce for dipping.


This is a great stand-by appetizer!  The little bites are quite tasty dipped into the flavorful sauce!

I am participating in Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Designs by Gollum.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monique and Linda's Perfect Lemon Tart

Making fresh lemonade didn't begin to put a dent in the huge bowl of Meyer lemons that I harvested from our tree this year....I still had an abundance!  I had pinned a picture and recipe earlier this month from La Table De Nana.   Monique has a wonderful blog, her recipes are always delicious and her artful presentation of each post on her blog never ceases to amaze me.  "sigh"  I do not usually make tarts but Monique inspired me to do so...This was an easy and delicious tart....the name says it all...The Perfect Lemon Tart!

This recipe is pictured on the cover of Luscious Lemon Desserts by Lori Longbotham and was sent to Monique by Linda at How to Cook a Wolf!  Thank you ladies for bringing spring into my kitchen!

After pre-baking the crust, look for any cracks that the filling could seep through.  Make a paste of about 1 teaspoon of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of water, and smear it over the cracks with your fingers to seal them.

Serves 10

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 pinches of salt 
6 large eggs
1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
Confectioner's sugar for dusting

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F.  Have ready an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp of the zest, and let stand for 5 minutes.  Whisk together the flour, 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl.  Pour in the butter mixture in a fine stream, stirring with a fork, and continue stirring until the dough begins to come together when a small bit is pressed between your fingers.  Transfer the mixture to the tart pan and press it with your fingertips evenly up the side and into the bottom.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is light golden brown.  Let cool on a wire rack while making the filling.

Process the remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar and the remaining 1 Tbsp of zest in a food processor until the zest is finely ground.

Whisk together the eggs, the sugar and zest mixture, the lemon juice, and another pinch of salt in a medium bowl until smooth.

Beat the cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed in a medium bowl just until it forms soft peaks.  Whisk the cream into the egg mixture just until blended.

Place a baking sheet in the oven, place the crust on the baking sheet, and pour the filling into the still warm crust.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the filling is just set in the center.  Let the pie cool on a wire rack.

Just before serving, generously sift confectioners' sugar over the tart.  Cut into wedges  and serve.


I can't think of a more delicious way to use lemons!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lemonade or Lemon Drop Martini?

What does one make when faced with an abundance of lemons...lemonade or a lemon drop martini?  Why both, of course...along with lemon tarts,  lemon pie bars, Chicken Picatta, (the newest version),  Linguine with Shrimp Scampi and trays of frozen lemon juice!

I must admit that I had never made fresh lemonade.  Why, I have no idea, I just hadn't.  After making two pitchers of it....just for me, I know I will always be making it fresh!  Goodness...three ingredients:  lemon juice, water, sugar....and it doesn't require much time.

Fresh Lemonade

Yields:  2 quarts

3 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 20 lemons)
1 1/2 to 2 cups superfine sugar
4 cups water
Lemon slices

Option:  Sliced strawberries

Pour the lemon juice through a sieve (to catch pulp and seeds) and into the pitcher.  Add 1 1/2 cups sugar to start, stir until dissolved.  Stir in 4 cups of water and some ice.  Taste.  Add the additional sugar if desired.  Garnish with fresh lemon slices and/or strawberries.

Actually, I don't think that there is anything that can compete with fresh lemonade!

I decided that making a Lemon Drop Martini would be a great idea and, why not?  
I had plenty of lemons!

Lemon Drop Martini

Yield:  1

1 1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz orange liqueur
1 tsp superfine sugar or to taste
3/4 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Ice cubes
Superfine sugar for dipping glass rim
Twisted peel of lemon

Mix the vodka, orange liqueur, sugar, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice;  shake well (about 40 times to blend and dissolve sugar).

Pour strained drink into sugar-rimmed martini glass and garnish with a twisted peel  of lemon.


I learned that I am not a bartender.  My Lemon Drop was not very good at all.  It was way too strong for me and not sweet enough....

Monday, March 19, 2012

Chicken Fajitas for The Secret Recipe Club

We have a favorite Mexican restaurant that we enjoying visiting...especially on Margarita night or on Friday's when it is Fajita night (once I discovered how great they are!)  I love the way that they are brought to the table on the cast iron grill and then there is the sizzling when the lime is squeezed over the chicken, peppers, tomato and onions!  What could be better than to end the work week with Fajitas and a Margarita?

While I enjoy fajitas, I had never made them until I was given by blog assignment for March for the Secret Recipe Club.  I was assigned Cook with Sara.  Sara lives in the midwest and began her love of cooking early, in elementary school with her then famous dessert, Cookie and Fruit Plate!  Sara loves to cook and bake...that is evident when you visit her blog.

Mr. T and I searched her blog looking for that special recipe!

As you can see we selected Sara's Chicken Fajitas!  I made a couple of changes from the original recipe. I omitted the cheese and added a few ingredients such as tomatoes, cilantro, avocados and guacamole!
With Mr. T out of town, I was cooking for one and adjusted the recipe accordingly.

Chicken Fajitas

1 clove garlic
1½ tsp seasoned salt
1½ tsp cumin
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lime juice

2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
3 green bell pepper (I used 1/8 each of a green, red and yellow pepper.)
2 medium onions (I used about 1/4 of a medium onion.)
1 tomato, quartered
1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced
Flour tortillas, warmed in the oven of microwave for 30 seconds
Avocado slices and/or Guacamole, for topping
2 Tbsp chopped Cliantro, for topping
Salsa, for topping
Sour Cream, for topping
Shredded Mexican cheese, for topping,
1 lime, cut into wedges, juiced for topping

Combine all marinade ingredients in a small bowl.  Place the chicken in a resealable plastic bag and add the marinade.  Toss to coat and refrigerate for two to three hours.

Prepare the grill for grilling over medium heat.  (I was cooking for one so I used the George Foreman Grill, :-)

Place pepper and onions in a grill basket or foil packet.  Grill chicken for 6-8 minutes per side or until juices run clear.  (I checked and removed the chicken after 5 minutes in the GF Grill.)
Grill the vegetables for 10-15 minutes until tender.  I put 2 Tbsp oil in a skillet and when hot added the vegetables except for the tomatoes.  I cooked them until they were crisp tender and added the tomatoes just at the end to warm them.

Place the chicken and vegetables on a hot plate or a hot cast iron skillet, squeeze lime juice over the mixture and sprinkle with cilantro.  Serve immediately with warm tortillas and any of the accompaniments.


I loved the marinade ingredients and when Mr. T is here we will make these again.  I know he will be disappointed to have missed out because we selected the recipe together.  :-(  Next time, Mr. T.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Medieval Stew with Stout and Other Fine Irish Dishes

When I made this dish, I posed the question, "What makes a recipe "medieval"?  While I have read and read and not found a definitive answer, I can synthesize and make a general statement that it is the simplicity of the dish and the basic ingredients that give it the name.  It has traditional ingredients:  potatoes, carrots, onions, beef, stout...a classic Irish dish.  Also, currents seem to appear in medieval stews whereas this stew features a cousin, raisins.  Beef stew laced with stout is a dish with national identity.  In countries where there is not a wine-growing tradition, beer becomes the favored drink and is used in cooking to enhance the flavor of the foods. James Joyce once called Guinness "the wine of Ireland".

This recipe comes from Chef Frankie Sheedy, who was chef at Ballinalacken Castle, in Doolin, County Clare.  It was printed in The Irish Spirit, a compilation of recipes inspired by legendary drinks of Ireland.  It can be previewed on Google Books.

Medieval Stew with Stout

Serves 6-8

2 Tbsp canola oil
2 pounds lean beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 large onions, sliced (I used two.)
1/4 cup flour
4 stalks celery, thickly sliced
8 cups homemade beef stock or canned low-sodium beef broth (I suggest adding six cups to start, adding additional if needed.)
1 cup Guinness stout
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 Tbsp raisins
1 Tbsp  tomato puree (I used tomato paste.)
Sat and freshly ground pepper
8 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
2 Tbsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Boiled potatoes for serving (I threw the potatoes into the pot!)

In a stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil.  Add the meat and cook, stirring constantly, for 5-6 minutes, or until browned on all sides.  With a slotted spoon, remove the meat and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions, and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until soft but not browned.  Add the flour and stir to coat the onions.  Return the meat to the pot and add the celery, stock or broth, stout, caraway seeds, raisins, tomato puree, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 2 hours, or until the meat is nearly tender.  Add the carrots and cook for 30-40 minutes longer, or until the meat and carrots are tender when pierced with a fork.

To serve, ladle the stew into shallow bowls and sprinkle with the parsley.  Serve with boiled potatoes and bread.  A traditional Irish Soda Bread would be a good addition.

We liked the stew but there are some changes I would make.  I would not add the full amount of broth unless it was needed.  I want to taste more of the stout.  I would also add some herbs to the mix.

Today I am participating in Cuisine Kathleen's fourth annual blog crawl so I would like to highlight some other fine Irish dishes that I have made.

Do take some time to visit Cuisine Kathleen to see what everybody is cookin' for St. Patrick's Day!  It is always a great blog crawl!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cheesy Rice with Garlic and Thyme

When I got this month's Fine Cooking, I knew I was going to be kept busy for a few weeks!  There were so many recipes that I wanted to try.  The first one to peak my interest was the Cheesy Rice with Garlic and Thyme.  Mr. T and I both loved this side dish.  I had to agree with the note with the recipe, it is a risotto crossed with macaroni and cheese...kind of.  It has little pieces of mushroom mixed in which adds a slight earthiness to the dish without taking over.  It is doesn't take long to prepare and I know we will be making it goes on the rotation!

Cheesy Rice with Garlic and Thyme
adapted from Fine Cooking, April/May 2012

Serves 4

1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms  (I used shitake because that is what I had on hand.)
Kosher salt
1 cup Arborio rice
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 medium clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme, additional for garnish
4 oz. (1 cup) coarsely grated fontina
3/4 oz. (1/2 cup) firmly packed, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano; more for serving
Freshly ground white pepper

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a 3-4 quart saucepan over high heat.

Pulse the mushrooms in a spice grinder until they're about the size of raw oatmeal flakes.
Add the mushrooms, 1 Tbs salt and the rice to the boiling water.  Reduce the heat to medium to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is al dente, 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in an 8-inch saute pan over medium-high heat, swirling continuously until it turns a deep golden-brown being careful not to burn it.  Immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the garlic and thyme.  Set aside.

Set a large, fine strainer over a bowl and strain the cooked rice and mushrooms catching the broth in the bowl.  Return the rice mixture to the pan over low heat.  Stir in the cheeses and the butter mixture and moisten the rice with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the both.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and cook another 2 to 3 minutes.   Sprinkle additional cheese and thyme sprigs for garnish.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Not Just Any Irish Soda Bread!

When I first tried Irish Soda Bread I was less than impressed.  It was served at one of our gourmet dinners many years ago.   I am not certain what I expected but it certainly wasn't the flat, blah taste that I encountered.  Since then, I have been on a quest:  Find a recipe that I like!  So, each year I seem to try a "new" recipe for Irish Soda Bread...well, new to me.  Being a traditionalist, I of course go looking for the traditional Irish Soda Bread, not just any.

For the last couple of years I have made Mrs. O'Callaghan's Soda Bread.  It was featured in the March 2010 issue of Bon Appetit.  It had a very nice taste and baked up nicely.  It was a no nonsense recipe worthy of repeating.

This year I stumbled upon another recipe for Irish Soda Bread said to be traditional.  It moves up the ladder in front of Mrs. O'Callaghan's Soda Bread.  I now have a new favorite!  The original recipe came from  Melinda broadcasts a radio program called Food News.  It was definitely news to me that I would find such a great soda bread!

Now, I guess I must fess-up about the cooking adventure.  I was having a great time prepping the ingredients for the bread.  Everything was pre-measured and ready to go or so I thought.  The dough was thick, I spooned it into the skillet, admired the little pats of butter on top, popped it into the oven and anticipated the results!  I started to clean up and noticed the sugar canister...when...oh,  no....I did not remember measuring out any sugar.  I grabbed a potholder and pulled the bread out of the oven and dumped it back into the bowl.  (I should tell you that it was only in the oven three minutes.)

I added the sugar and mixed it in along with the butter that had been on top and was partially melted.  I spooned the dough back into the pan, dotted the top with little pieces of butter, once again...and popped it back into the oven.

So, my recipe has a little bit more butter than was called for and it turned out just great!  What's a little extra butter?

Irish Soda Bread

Makes 1, 10" round loaf

6 Tbsp sweet butter, softened (divided use)  (I used an extra 2 Tbsp of butter.)
3 cups unbleached flour (all-purpose)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups dried currants
1 Tbsp caraway seeds
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, well beaten

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Smear 2 Tbsp of the butter evenly in the 10" road cake pan or cast iron skillet
Line the pan with a circle of parchment and grease with the remaining butter.

Melt another 2 (or 4 if you like) Tbsp of butter and set aside.

Sift together the dry ingredients, except currants and caraway seed.
Add currants and caraway seeds to the dry ingredients.

Whisk together wet ingredients:  buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, mixing just until blended.

Spoon batter into prepared pan or skillet and gently smooth the top.  Dot the top with the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter.

Bake about 60 minutes until golden and puffed.  (Skewer inserted into center of loaf with come out clean.  (If using a cast iron skillet check the bread at 45-50 minutes.  I removed mine at 50 minutes.)

Cool slightly, then turn out soda bread from its baking pan onto a cake rack to cool completely.

Note:  Cast iron pans really hold the heat and will continue cooking the bread.  Remove the bread right away if using cast iron.

Bread may be returned to the pan for serving, if desired, cut into wedges.  May be warmed gently before serving.


The bread was great.   It had a hint of sweetness, a hint of caraway, which I wasn't certain I would like....but combined with the currants...yum.)

I am participating in Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Designs by Gollum.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hasselback Potatoes

I love the look of Hasselback Potatoes on the plate.  They seem  sophisticated, fancy and "uptown"!

I was curious about how they got their name and did a little research.  A Hasselback Potato is the Swedish version of a baked potato.  It takes its name from the Hasselbacken Hotel Restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden.  It was that simple!

This recipe is adapted from one that Emeril Lagasse prepared.  It is simple and delicious!

Hasselback Potatoes
adapted from Emeril Lagasse

2 small-medium baking potatoes, about 3/4 pounds total
2 Tbsp melted butter
1/3 cup chicken stock (Add additional as needed.)
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp  salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp Panko bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Peel the potatoes.  You may wish to cut a small slice off of the bottom so that the potato lays flat and doesn't roll.  Place two long handled wooden chopsticks on each side of the potato lengthwise. Use a sharp knife and slice each potato crosswise, making 1/4-inch apart slices, cutting down vertically. The chopsticks will prevent the knife from cutting entirely through the potato. You need to leave 1/4-inch of the bottom of the potato intact.

As you finish cutting each potato, drop them into cold water to prevent discoloring. Gently flex the potato fans open while rinsing under cold running water. This rids the potatoes of excess starch that can impede fanning. Dry potatoes well before baking.

Brush the potatoes with the melted butter and place them in a small baking pan.  Pour the chicken stock around the potatoes and sprinkle them with the thyme leaves.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast until the potatoes are half cooked, about 25-30 minutes, baste every 10 minutes with the butter-stock mixture.

In a small bowl combine the grated cheese and bread crumbs and divide the mixture evenly between the tops of the two potatoes.  Continue roasting without any further basting until the potatoes are crispy on the outside and cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Times may vary based upon the size of the potatoes!

We enjoyed the "fancy" potatoes with our delicious meatloaf!  "grin"


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ganache-Filled Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Bailey's Irish Cream Frosting

What to do with the lone bottle of Guinness sitting in the refrigerator?  

Why, make cupcakes, of course!

Let's see, doesn't really seem like a match but I was feeling adventurous and after thinking about it, I was really looking forward to making these cupcakes.  It was my niece's idea, really.  She was commenting about what she might make to get rid of the Guinness in her refrigerator...she thought the recipe looked great and I must admit, I did too.  I was lucky that I had a lone bottle available!  

The Guinness deepens the flavor of the chocolate, the ganache filling is fabulous and with Bailey's Irish Cream smeared all over the top....oh, my.

Ganache-Filled Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Bailey's Irish Cream Frosting

1 cup Guinness or any stout beer
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp butter, room temperature
1 to 2 tsp Irish whiskey (optional)  (I omitted the whiskey.)

Bailey's Irish Cream Frosting
3 to 4 cups confectioners sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 to 4 Tbsp Bailey's (or milk, half and half or heavy cream)

Make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Line 24 cupcake cups with liners.  

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring 1 cup stout  and 1 cup butter to a simmer.  Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth.  Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 tsp salt in a large bowl to blend.  With an electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another bowl, to blend.  Add stout-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine.  Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed.  Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined.  

Divide the batter among the cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 full.  Bake them until the tester inserted into the center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17-20 minutes.

Remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool completely on a rack.

Make the filling:
Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heat-proof bowl.  Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate.  Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth.  (If the chocolate is not sufficiently melted, it may returned to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains; or it may be heated in the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds, watch closely!)  Add the butter and whiskey (if you are using it) and stir until combined.

Fill the cupcakes:
Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped.  Meanwhile, using a 1-inch cookie cutter, cut eh centers out of the cooled cupcakes.  You want to go down about half way into the cupcake.  (I marked the top of the cake by twisting the widest pastry tip and then I used a grapefruit spoon to carefully remove the center.)  Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes to the top.  (Judge the depth of the hole in relationship to the amount of ganache that you have.)

Make the frosting:
Whip the butter in the bowl of the electric mixer,  for several minutes.  You want to get it very light and fluffy.  Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.  (Adding the sugar slowly will  make the frosting less grainy and it will thicken more quickly.)  When the frosting is thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Bailey's (or milk) and whip it until combined.  (Again, judge the amount of frosting you need in relationship to the number of cupcakes.  I had to make an additional half to have enough frosting.)

Frost the cupcakes and enjoy!


My niece found a keeper recipe!  She got it from The Mess Pot who got it from The Smitten Kitten.  I will make these again.  They were very rich and delicious.....thank you, Jessica!  

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday, hosted by Michael at Designs by Gollum and Sweets for a Saturday hosted by Lisa at Sweet as Sugar Cookies.