Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Orange Balsamic Glazed Chicken served over Lemon Risotto

A few weeks ago, Sweet Harold watched the ever bubbly Rachel Ray make these two dishes.  Usually he'll say while watching Food Network, "That looks good" or "You should make that sometime."  Not this one.  He wanted it printed out RIGHT THEN and has hinted several times about having this one for dinner.

So I'm a little intimidated by risotto.  Have you seen Chef Ramsey scream at the poor souls on Hell's Kitchen because they can't cook risotto?  But then I realized that Chef Ramsey wouldn't be here for dinner and what better test subject than Sweet Harold, so why not give it a whirl.

I'm going to give you some great advice now.  Go to the grocery store and get the ingredients for this NOW.  Rachel Ray hit it out of the park with these two.  Enjoy!

Orange Balsamic Glazed Chicken
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts or any combination of light and dark meat   (chicken tenders were on sale, so that's what I went with for my experiment)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 t. poultry seasoning
2 - 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves chopped
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 chicken stock
2 scallions, whites and greens finely chopped
4 cups baby arugula

In a large pan, heat the extra-virgin olive oil over medium high to high heat.  Season the chicken liberally with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning.  When the oil is hot and ripples, add the chicken and brown for 5 minutes, then turn and sprinkle with rosemary.  Cook until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 5 minutes more.

In a small bowl, stir together the marmalade, vinegar and stock and pour over the chicken.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and becomes a thin glaze.  Add the scallions during the last minute of cooking time.  Serve over Lemon Risotto.

Lemon Risotto
1 quart chicken stock
2 cups water
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 small to medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 cup Arborio rice
2 lemons
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 t. sugar
2 T. butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese (I used parmesan)
2 T. slivered mint leaves
a handfull of basil leaves, shredded
salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot, or large skillet with a rounded bottom, heat the extra-virgin olive oil over medium to medium-high heat.  Add the onions and garlic to pan and saute to soften for 3 to 4 minutes.  Stir in the rice and add the zest of one lemon.  Heat the rice for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the wine and cook until evaporated. 

Mix stock and water in a large pot and bring to an almost boil.  Add in the stock, a few ladles at a time, and stir for a minute after each addition.  This will give time for the starch to develop and the risotto to become super creamy.  Total cooking time will be about 18 - 20 minutes.  Keep adding the hot stock each time the pan starts to become dry around the edges.  While the rice cooks, peel and section the flesh of one lemon and finely chop.  Sprinkle with a 1/2 t. sugar.  When rice is cooked to al dente, stir in the butter, lemon sections, juice of 1 lemon, the cheese and herbs.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Serve immediately.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

French Canadian Breakfast

In honor of the 2010 Olympic Games, I decided an olympian size breakfast was appropriate.  Well, I took huge poetic license with calling this a French Canadian Breakfast.  So let's just say it was delicious and every aspect worked together. 

Orange-Cinnamon French Toast

4 T. butter, melted
2 T. honey
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1/2 cup orange juice
1/8 t. salt
6 thick cut slices of French Bread

In a bowl, combine butter, honey and cinnamon.  Pour into a greased 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan.  Spread to coat bottom of pan evenly.  In a shallow bowl, beat eggs, orange juice and salt.  Dip bread slices one piece at a time into egg mixture and leave for a few seconds to soak in the eggy goodness.  Place into prepared baking pan. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 16 - 18 minutes or until golden brown.  Top with additional honey (or maple syrup) and orange zest. 

Sit back, smile and accept compliments graciously.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gruyere Cheese Fondue

It seems like something as simple as wine and cheese blended together and placed in a pot over a flame would be easy smeasy.  I honestly thought that fondue pots had become "in" again and it would a breeze to pick up one and proceed as planned.  Wrong.  Apparently fondue pots are not "in" in this area.  After spending the morning and most of the afternoon on the Quest for the Fondue Pot, I admitted defeat and decided that the Winter Olympics would not be enjoyed with a pot of melted cheese.  But thank goodness my niece read my plea on Facebook and offered to loan me hers for the Chez Lolly Fondue experiment.

1 clove garlic, cut in half
1 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
1 T lemon juice
4 cups shredded Gruyere cheese (you can certainly use Swiss cheese in a pinch)
3 T all purpose flour
1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 t. ground nutmeg
1 t. Dijon mustard

Rub inside of heavy saucepan with garlic, discard garlic.  Add wine and cook over medium high heat until hot, but not boiling  Add lemon juice.

Dredge cheese in flour.  Gradually add cheese to saucepan about 1/2 cup at a time.  Stir constantly in a figure 8 pattern with a wooden spoon until melted and smooth.

Stir in pepper, nutmeg and mustard.  Bring almost to a boil, stirring gently and pour into fondue pot.   Keep warm over small flame.  Serve with cubed French bread or assorted dippers.  I chose cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, sliced Granny Smith apples and lightly steamed broccoli, zucchini and cubed tiny red potatoes. 

It was fun to sit in the floor dipping goodies into melted cheese over FIRE in the living room.  Especially fun to watch the USA winning gold medals while trying something new!

Adapted from The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook

Culinary Quote of the Week

Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian, wine and tarragon make it French, sour cream makes it Russian, lemon and cinnamon make it Greek, soy sauce makes it Chinese, garlic makes it good. ~Alice May Brock

Friday, February 19, 2010

Culinary Quote of the Week

“Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.”

Sophia Loren (1934--) Italian actress.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

National Crab Stuffed Flounder Day

So today I'm taking an official "DIVA DAY" from work.  There are other boring reasons which you don't want to know the details about, but basically I'm home all by my lonesome today. Those of you who know me well, know that an empty house, a new recipe to try and The Eagles blaring on my Ipod are my favorite ingredients for a wonderful day in Lolly-ville. So what to serve with my Crab Stuffed Flounder? The expected baked potato and salad? Slaw? Some sort of rice? I think I'll go with some buttery, lemony fettuccine and maybe some asparagus? Details as the day progresses!

We both agree, this was very good. Here's the final version:

1 stick unsalted butter
1 rib celery, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
6 oz. jumbo lump crab meat, picked through for any shells
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1 T. lemon juice
course salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 t. Old Bay Seasoning
6 flounder fillets (about 2 lbs.)
1/4 t. paprika
lemon wedges and zest

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish. Using a large skillet, melt 4 T. of the butter over medium heat and saute the celery and onion until translucent (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat.

Stir in parsley, crab meat, bread crumbs and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, and Old Bay seasoning. Divide the crab meat mixture evenly over fillets. Beginning with the narrow end of the fillets, roll each fillet jelly roll style and secure with a toothpick.

Place the rolled fillets seam side down in the baking dish. Melt the remaining butter and drizzle over the fillets and sprinkle the tops with paprika. Bake until fish flakes easily with a fork, about 18 - 20 minutes. Zest lemon over top and garnish with lemon wedges. Serve immediately.

Monday, February 15, 2010

President's Day!

I've decided to either celebrate President's Day or the USA's participation in the Olympics or maybe I'm just wanting to imagine it's warm enough to actually be Memorial Day or July 4th!  Whichever I decide, I like the patriotic feel that our dining room has for the duration of the Olympics.  Kudos to George and Abe for being really cool Presidents as well!

Valentine's Day 2010

We had a wonderful Valentine's at Chez Tolbert!

Yesterday's menu:
Amuse Bouche - Tomato Shrimp Ceviche - Definite Keeper
1 medium red tomato, peeled***
1 T. celery, diced
1 T. cucumber, diced
1 T. red onion, diced
1 t. cilantro or parsley, chopped
1 t. cooked shrimp, chopped
 1/2 t. fresh lime juice
s & p to taste

Peel tomato.  Slice 1/2 inch off top of the tomato and reserve for garnish.  Scoop out inner pulp leaving 1/4 inch shell, season tomato inside and out with S & P and drain upside down on a paper towel.

To the small bowl add celery, cucumber, red onion, cilantro or parsley, shrimp, lime juice, salt and pepper. Marinate 30 minutes then fill the tomato shell. Put the cut tomato top stem side down on a serving plate; place the filled tomato on top; garnish with cilantro or parsley and serve.

***I used small cherry tomatoes to make one-bite servings. 
Adapted from http://www.finedinings.com/

Appetizer - Deviled Clam Mushrooms - Definite Keeper
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp. melted butter
1 tbsp. flour
1 (6 1/2 oz.) can "Snow's Minced Clams", undrained
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
1/2 c. seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. dry mustard

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In medium pan, cook garlic in butter until golden. Stir in flour. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Spoon into 8 tiny baking shells or 8 large mushroom caps.*** Put into shallow baking pan. Bake 6 minutes or until hot.
***I used baby portabello mushrooms.  Next time, I'd brush them with a olive oil and bake for a few minutes before stuffing and baking for the second time. 
adapted from http://www.cooks.com/

Salad - Crab Louie -
Mixed reviews:  Definite keeper for Harold -- Maybe for me
Lettuce, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Fresh Dungeness crabmeat - (I used a 6 oz. packaged lump crab)
Cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced finely
Tomatoes, seeded, diced finely
Green onion, sliced
Celery, diced finely
Fresh chives for garnish

Layer in stemmed glasses lettuce, crabmeat, cucumber, tomatoes, green onion and celery.  Top with Thousand island dressing, dust with paprika, add chives and serve as a salad course for an elegant dinner party or serve in a large bowl for a luncheon with wedges of hard-boiled eggs, julienne green bell peppers, sliced black olives and fresh French bread.

Soup - Shrimp and  Lobster Bisque - Excellent !
This recipe may be made with both shrimp and lobster, or with only one seafood.
1 pound shrimp in the shell, chopped
½ pound lobster, chopped
½ cup white onions, fine diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup white wine
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons butter

Peel the raw shrimp or lobster.  Reserve the shells.  In a heavy sauté pan, add butter, shrimp and/or lobster shells, onions, add garlic.  Cook for 7 - 8 minutes until onions are transparent and soft.  Deglaze bottom of pan with sherry. Run through the deglazed mixture through a strainer.  Add liquid to the chicken stock and stir over medium-high heat.  Add shrimp and/or lobster to the mixture. Stirring constantly, reduce volume by half.  Add heavy cream and paprika, bring to a boil and simmer for two to three minutes.

I used both shrimp and lobster.  In my opinion (and that of trusted friends and excellent cooks) this wouldn't classify as a true bisque because this is not a pureed creamy texture.  It IS however, an excellent chunky, thick, creamy bowl of goodness.

Entree - Pan Seared Scallops in Vanilla Cream Sauce w/Angel Hair Pasta
Mixed reviews:  Harold said he would order this a second time if it was in a restaurant.  I would not.  I couldn't get past the vanilla in a savory dish.  It smelled wonderful, was super easy and fast to make, but it didn't work for me.  On the other hand, Harold loves vanilla and he said it made him happy.

6 ounces Angel Hair pasta
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon white onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
salt to taste
white pepper to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
6 large sea scallops, side muscle removed, patted dry
salt to taste
Thyme for garnish

Prepare pasta according to package direction.  In a skillet sauté white onion and garlic in butter over medium high heat without browning until transparent.  Deglaze the pan with wine reducing to half.  Add the cream, reduce again by half; add the vanilla and salt to taste.

In another skillet with oil and butter over high heat, quickly sear scallops for 2 minutes each side, do not overcook.

Spoon sauce onto plates; twirl pasta around a long-tined fork (to make this job easier, I put one serving in a teacup), slip off onto plates atop the sauce.  Add 3 scallops per plate, garnish and serve.
adapted from http://www.finedinings.com/

Dessert - Strawberry Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce - Do I need to review??  It's ice cream with CHOCOLATE!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day Prep

I'm sitting here this morning looking out the window at the remainder of the "once in a 5 year snow" from yesterday.  Everything seems so much more peaceful and quiet when there's a few inches of snow on the ground.  Dozens of all types of birds are breakfasting at the birder feeder right outside the window.  There's not a cloud in the sky and it is a breathtaking blue right now.  I would be perfectly content to sit here with my cup of Irish Breakfast Tea with honey and enjoy the perfectness of this moment.  But .... if the Valentine's Meal is going to make it to the table tomorrow, there's a menu to be made, a grocery list to be written and a trip to the dreaded grocery store. 

Sweet Harold has requested seafood for Valentine's.  So instead of choosing one item of seafood and going with that, I've made an entire meal using his favorites:  clams, shrimp, lobster, crab and scallops. 

Whether you're eagerly anticipating Valentine's to be with the one you love or for whatever reason it'll be bittersweet for you, just remember you can always find someone to tell "I love you." 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Maque Choux

Maque choux pronounced ("mock shoe") is a traditional dish of southern Louisiana.

This is an awesome side dish which starts simply with corn, green bell peppers, onions and tomatoes.  How can any dish with heavy cream as an ingredient be anything but delicious?  I've read recipes which include shrimp or chicken after the mixture has simmered for a bit, but I say why mess with perfection?  Feel free to adjust the ground red pepper to your taste or substitute your favorite hot sauce instead.

16 ears fresh corn on the cob
1 T. unsalted butter
1 T. vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 t. freshly ground pepper
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
2 cups chopped tomatoes
3 t. heavy whipping cream

Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels from the cobs and scrape to obtain the milky pulp, producing about 8 cups. In a heavy skillet, heat the butter and oil and cook the onion and bell pepper until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the corn and peppers, cooking until the corn begins to stick to the bottom, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt and cream.  Cook until thick, about 10 minutes.  Serve hot.

Culinary Quote of the Week

It's Valentine's Weekend so this one seemed especially appropriate!

“Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”

Harriet Van Horne, Vogue 10/1956

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Super Bowl Sunday

Can't wait until tomorrow!  Lots of friends coming over with all sorts of dips, goodies, crawfish pies and gumbo......there will even be a Praline King Cake & Who Dat cupcakes!  If you're puzzled by what "Who Dat?" means....you need to google!  Who Dat Gonna Beat Them Saints????  Geaux Saints Geaux!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Culinary Quote of the Week

Red meat is not bad for you. Now blue-green meat, that’s bad for you! ~ Tommy Smothers

Spaghetti & Meatballs

On cold, rainy February days like this I long to be home in my kitchen.  I want to be chopping, dicing, simmering and tasting.  I want my kitchen to smell of garlic and tomatoes and basil and oregano.   But in the alternative, I'll post my recipe and some pictures and you can try really hard to imagine the smell. 

Spaghetti and Meatballs a'la Lolly

Ingredients for Meatballs:
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
1 pound ground veal (or pork)
½ cup Italian style bread crumbs
4 - 5 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs - lightly beaten
1 small yellow onion, minced
4 ½ Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
4 ½ Tablespoons grated Romano cheese
3 - 4 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
3 - 4 Tablespoons minced fresh basil
Salt and pepper - to taste
Olive oil

Combine all ingredients and loosely shape into 1 ½ inch balls. Heat olive oil in large skillet and brown one meatball and when cooked through, taste. This is where you can adjust the seasonings if you want a little more or a little less of one particular flavor. Then continue browning meatballs in 3 or 4 batches. You don’t want them too close together or they won’t get a beautiful brown, they’ll be a steamed blah brown. Nobody wants a steamed blah meatball.

Note: These can be made ahead, cooled and frozen in resealable plastic bags, then added to sauce and heated.

Ingredients for Sauce:
2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 10 oz. can tomato puree
1 14.5 oz. can petite-diced tomatoes
1 6 oz. tomato paste seasoned with basil, garlic and oregano
Fennel seeds – crush them using a rolling pin
Fresh Oregano and Basil leaves, chopped (adjust to your taste level)
Red pepper flakes (1/4 – 1/2 t.)
1 – 2 T. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
8 oz. sliced mushrooms

Heat all the canned tomatoes together until boiling in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add crushed fennel seeds and oregano, basil and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to simmer and stir occasionally.

Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic, onion, pepper and mushrooms and cook until softened. Add to the sauce which by now should be simmering away happily in your favorite Dutch oven. Sometimes, according to my mood, I may leave out the onions, peppers and mushrooms and just go with a more simple sauce but that doesn't happen often.

Add meatballs and turn heat to low and let simmer for several hours. Adjust seasonings and add additional salt/pepper if needed. The longer you cook, the better it’s going to taste. Plus, as always, there’s that lovely smell that floats all through your kitchen and into every part of the house.

Serve over spaghetti (cooked according to package directions). Top with grated Parmesan/Romano cheese and freshly chopped parsley. Oh, and serve with lots of yummy bread.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cumin Cheese Puffs

If you want to make a lot of new friends, and I mean friends for LIFE, make a batch of these little pieces of heaven. 

Cumin Cheese Puffs - from Chocolate and Zucchini

6 T. unsalted butter, diced
½ t. fine sea salt
1 cup flour, sifted
4 large eggs
½ t. ground cumin
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups freshly grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese

Combine butter, salt and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Remove from heat, add the flour all at once and stir quickly with a wooden spoon until well blended. Return the pan to medium low heat and keep stirring until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Let cool 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring well between each addition, until incorporated. Sprinkle with cumin and pepper and fold in the cheese. The batter will be thick. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or up to a day).

Preheat oven to 400º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the batter from the fridge and use two teaspoons to shape small balls of batter (about 1 inch in diameter) that you will plop onto the baking sheet leaving an inch of space between each.

Bake for 20 minutes, until puffy and golden. Do not open the oven door during the first 10 minutes or baking or they will not rise well. Turn off the oven after 20 minutes, open the oven door just a crack and leave puffs in for another 5 minutes.

Transfer to a cooling rack for 5 minutes and serve warm, or let cool and serve at room temperature.