Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lemon and Garlic Roast Chicken

What is more comforting and more delicious than fresh roasted chicken? To me it conjures up memories of Friday night meals as a kid and of rotisserie chickens my father used to bring home on Sundays. It is simple comfort food at its best and I love it. To change it up a little this time I decided to add some goodies to it like lots of garlic, lemon and white wine. Stuffing a whole chicken with lemon is an old trick but one that I love. The lemon releases its moisture into the chicken while it cooks and makes it super moist and scents the chicken with fragrant lemon smell. The best part of the chicken to me is the part that baked on top of the lemons- those pieces just taste so lemony delicious. If you don't like rosemary you can substitute thyme or leave it out altogether, but make sure you rub that oil mixture well all over the chicken and baste it every once in a while. Enjoy!

1 large chicken, whole
1 head garlic
2 lemons
2 stalks rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbl whole grain Dijon mustard
1 Tbl finely minced or pressed garlic
1/2 cup white wine

Preheat the oven to 400 F degrees. Stuff the chicken with 1 lemon cut in half, the rosemary and half a head of garlic. Mix together the oil, mustard and pressed garlic. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and rub the oil mixture all over the chicken. Place the other lemon, halved around the chicken with the remaining garlic and pour in the white wine. Roast for about an hour and 20 minutes rotation the pan and basting the chicken every so often. The chicken is ready when the juices run clean and not pink when a knife goes in. If your chicken is very large it may need more time. Once the chicken is done you can serve it like that or transfer all the juices to a pan, mash the cooked garlic cloves into the juices and bring it all to a boil. Strain it and serve it as a delicious gravy for the chicken.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rainbow Quinoa Salad

It took a while for me and quinoa to be friends but it has finally happened. I think in the past the issue has been that I have not taken the need to rinse the quinoa thoroughly before cooking seriously. Without rinsing it has this bitter taste that to me is just unbearable, but a few splashes of cold water will take care of that and you are left with a delicious and SUPER healthy berry/seed (yes, it's a berry, even though it looks like a grain) that has a delicate almost asparagus-y taste to it. It has tons of protein in it and lots of good fat and vitamins so you kind of feel good eating it and it can healthily take the place of rice or couscous practically anywhere. Bottom line, I am a convert, and after tasting this yummy salad you will be too. Dried cherries and roasted sweet potatoes with toasted almonds? Even not on a diet I would run for this! The dressing is light and just a little sweet and all together it is delicious, filling, and will last well in the fridge for a few days- a winner! Enjoy!

2 cups quinoa
4 cups water
2 large sweet potatoes, cubed
1 Tbl canola oil
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
2 Tbl agave nectar or honey or sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Toss the sweet potatoes with the oil and season with a little salt. Roast at 375 for about 20 minutes until they are fork tender. Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa very well  under running cold water and drain. Place in a pot with the water, bring to a boil and then cover and let it simmer about  8 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Remove from pot and fluff the quinoa as you would to rice. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the quinoa. Add the sweet potatoes, cherries and scallions and toasted almonds. Toss gently, and serve.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Broccoli Chickpea Salad

Second week of healthy eating-yay! Congratulations to me on making it this far! A record has been broken, now let's see how long I can keep this up. I love broccoli salad but the one I usually make has a mayonnaise dressing that I was trying to avoid so I came up with this. It is light, refreshing, has lots of flavor and textures and is just all around good for you. I have a special place in my heart for chickpeas and adding them to this salad gives it a heartiness that really fills you up. Enjoy!

1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 can hearts of palm, rinsed and sliced
1 large red onion, sliced
1 1/2 pints cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted

1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the broccoli in and let it sit for just a minute or so just to blanch it. Remove from the water and quickly run it under cold water or place it in ice water. Mix the broccoli with all the ingredients except the sunflower seeds. Whisk the dressing together and season the salad. Let the salad marinate for at least an hour before serving. Serve topped with the sunflower seeds.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Low Carb Mashed "Potatoes"

The Pesach vacation blogging break is over! Now it's time to get out of my lazy vacation mode and start cooking. I don't know about you, but those Pesach pounds sure crept up on me this year- but is it really my fault that matzah, cream cheese and jelly is so darn good that it was necessary to eat it 3 times a day? Well, without blaming anyone or anything (the Schmerling's white chocolate and almond bars didn't help the cause either) it's time to shed some of the pounds- so I put myself on a low-carb diet for a week (that's as much as I can do and if I can even make it a week I'll be proud of myself.) First dish up are these mashed "potatoes" which is really mostly mashed cauliflower with a measly potato thrown in but they are so delicious and healthy and really, really almost make you feel like you are eating mashed potatoes. Who wants real mashed potatoes anyway so soon after Pesach, didn't we all eat enough potatoes as it is? So try this low carb version with just enough dairy in it to give it a little richness so you don't feel like you are being deprived and enough bulk to fill you up. Enjoy!

1 large head cauliflower, broken into florets
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into big chunks
3 large cloves of garlic
1 Tbl sour cream (can use low fat)
1 Tbl butter (or smart balance)
1 Tbl cream cheese (can use low fat)
 1/4 cup chopped scallions
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the cauliflower, potato and garlic in a large pot of salted water until the cauliflower and potato are fork tender. Drain VERY well and put the mixture  back in the pot over low heat just for a minute or two to help absorb the rest of the water OR pat the cauliflower dry. Mash or blend (with an immersion blender) the veggies together and while the cauliflower is still warm add in the butter, sour cream and cream cheese. Mix the scallions in by hand. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with more scallions.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

KF(P)C Chicken-Kosher For Pesach Chicken Straight From the Colonel!

Anyone who knows me knows I have a thing for KFC. It started my second year in Israel when me and one of fellow shanna betters (I will not mention names but you know who you are) would trek out to KFC in town at least once a week no matter what the weather (did you know fried chicken tastes oh so much better coming in from a hail storm?) for some good old crispy, crusty, juicy fried chicken. I always opted for the spicy she went for the more mild pieces but together we happily crunched our way to an additional 15 pounds (each). A long time has passed since those nostalgic days and I have mostly stayed away from fried chicken because of gallby, but gallby is now gone (!) and though I still don't want to press my luck I can now occasionally indulge. If Pesach is not the holiday where we slave in the kitchen than I don't know when is so a little extra time making some delicious fried chicken is no big deal. The key here is really the oil temperature. I don't have a deep fryer but I used a candy thermometer which helped me make sure the oil was a the perfect deep fry temperature (about 365 degrees F) the whole time to ensure even cooking, low oil absorption and heavenly crispiness. I actually used this frying opportunity to test a cooking "myth" I have always heard, that deep frying actually helps the food absorb less oil than shallow frying so it is in fact more "low fat". I placed a marker ( a piece of eggplant skin) at the edge of the oil and checked back on it when I was done frying and I kid you not- the oil had not gone down at all= the chicken absorbed only a tiny bit of it. Myth has now been confirmed as true! I will now be deep frying my chocolate, ice cream, and oreos! My husband even commented how not- greasy the chicken was.  Now that I have ranted and raved let's get to the chicken. I coated the chicken in seasoned Matzah meal and then egg and then repeated this process a total of 3 times ending with the Matzah. Though your hand will start to look like some monster hand from all the gunk on it, the result is worth it. Extra dipping equals extra crust equals extra crisp. Bottom Line. You can also do this with potato starch instead of Matzah meal if you don't eat Gebrochst but  I don't think it will be as crispy. Still good, but not as crispy. So get on back into the kitchen and start frying!!

4 chicken bottoms, cut in half
3 eggs, whisked well
3 cups Matzah meal
2 Tbl dried parsley
1 Tbl paprika (spicy or not)
2 Tbl Granulated Garlic
Salt and Pepper
3 liters canola oil or safflower oil for frying

Pour the oil in a heavy bottomed pot and heat until  365 degrees. Season the Matzah meal with the parsley, paprika, garlic and salt and pepper. Whisk the eggs with a little salt and pepper. Dip each piece of chicken in the egg first and then the Matzah meal a total of 3 times ending with the Matzah. Place in the hot oil without overcrowding the pot and cook for about 15-18 minutes depending on the size of the chicken. You can check by piercing a piece with a knife- if the juices run clear and not pink the chicken is cooked. Enjoy!


Sunday, April 1, 2012

*Pesach Recipes*/ Pesto Roasted Potatoes

I know I am not the only one combing every book and website looking for new recipes or how to convert my regular recipes for Pesach. I probably start this process a good 6 weeks before Pesach but I am never happy with the Pesach recipes- I much prefer to take what I would regularly make and make it work for Pesach. Here are a few recipes from my blog that would be great on Pesach-where substitutions are necessary they will be indicated. I've included dairy recipes as well that would be great for Chol Hamoed or for a dairy Chag meal- this year with the second day being two days I know I will be enjoying at least one dairy meal. Enjoy and Happy Pesach!

Appetizers/ Soups
Stuffed Cabbage Soup - (leave out the rice)
Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup

Smothered Caramelized Onion Chicken
Chicken Marbella
Greek Chicken- Not just for Chanukah! Substitute potato starch for flour

Sides/ Veggies:
Pesto Roasted Potatoes
Cajun Potato Wedges
Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Braised Red Cabbage

Mini Frittatas
Greek Salad with Lemon Garlic Dressing
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Stuffed Sole- substitute matzah meal for the bread crumbs
Potato Leek Quiche with Shredded Potato Crust
Cheese Latkes- substitute potato starch for the flour

Pesto Roasted Potatoes

This is more a method than it is a recipe. After years of trying to get perfect crispy potatoes in the oven I finally found the answer. Boiling the potatoes first  until they are about half way done and then seasoning them and baking them ensures crisp potatoes every time. Now that the season of potatoes is upon us (Pesach) I will be making use of this method a lot. I don't understand the food science behind this but I think it has something to do with the release of the starch from the potatoes that helps them to crisp up. Here I just mixed about a pound of potatoes cut up (already half boiled) with 1/2 cup of pesto and seasoned with salt and pepper and threw them in the oven at 350 for about 40 minutes and they were delicious and crispy but feel free to season the potatoes any way you want before roasting them. Enjoy!