Monthly Archives: January 2011

Barely Barefoot Chicken

Back to the Barefoot Contessa for some real food.  Much as I would like to, I cannot live by butter and sugar alone, so I ventured beyond her yummy desserts.

My adaptation of Ina Garten’s lemon chicken was as easy as Ina’s and delicious – substituting limes (from a local tree) for lemons,  basil for the thyme and oregano, and skinless chicken breasts for skinned.

Julia (Child) always warned it’s better to cook with the same wine you would drink; since Riesling is my favorite, I had some for the pot and lots left over for later (and for sipping while cooking).

The Barefoot Contessa suggests making couscous and “haricot vert” to accompany the chicken – too much trouble for me – threw some red potatoes and carrots into the pot, and sopped up the great juices with a rustic bread (from the Farmer’s Market).

The Barefoot Chicken

Mince 9 cloves of garlic and heat in 1/4 olive oil for one minute.  Do not let the garlic brown.  Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup wine, 2 tablespoons dried basil (fresh will not work here), 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (or lemons if you have them).

If you are using a pot that can go into the oven, hurray for you.  Otherwise, pour the sauce into a baking dish that will fit 2 to 4 chicken breasts.  Cut up the limes and tuck under the breasts.  Cut the red potatoes into quarters and place around the breasts, along with carrot chunks  cut on the diagonal.  Spoon a little sauce over the breasts and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Portuguese Cookies That Taste Chinese – from the Gourmet Cookie Book

The hardest part of making these cookies is not eating the cookie dough.   It’s right up there with chocolate chip cookie dough.

When I bought the ingredients, the check-out clerk commented – You are making Asian style cookies? But The Gourmet Cookie Book has them listed as Portuguese – “Almond Bolas” from the 1970s.  They taste like macaroons to me (raw or cooked), but no coconut in this recipe.

So easy…

With my new Christmas present-to-me Cuisinart mini-food processor, I ground 3 cups of blanched almonds, combining with 1 1/2 cups Japanese Panko bread crumbs and 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar.  After whipping up 3 egg whites until stiff peaks formed ( with my other present-to-me 7-speed hand mixer),   I gently folded in egg whites and 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract.

That’s it – no butter, no flour.

Form tablespoons of dough into balls; place balls on buttered baking sheet.  Make a dent in the middle (shaping the cookie around your thumbprint).

In a separate bowl, beat the 3 egg yolks with an additional egg.  Fill the cookie hollows with the 1/2 teaspoon beaten egg, topped with almond slivers (or whole almond).  Top one cookie at a time to catch the yolk mixture before it seeps into the dough.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, or until cookies are golden.    Cool on wire rack.

The Chinese year 4709 – Year of the Rabbit –  begins on Feb. 3, 2011.  These cookies will not last until then – too good.

Peach Cake ala not so Barefoot Contessa

This is what happens when you don’t pay attention – not what the Contessa wrote but close enough – and still tastes good.

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups  flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon  salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 bags frozen organic peaches – defrosted
  • 1 cup pecan halves

Cream the butter and 1 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla.   Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and cinnamon.

Spread half of the batter evenly in the greased glass  8×8 pan. Top with the peaches.  Spread the remaining batter on top, and sprinkle with the remaining sugar and the pecans.  Bake the cake for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

The sugar didn’t seem to want to melt, so I brushed the top with melted butter toward the end – worked well enough.

Serve warm with whipped cream.

For the Contessa’s recipe

If You Can Eat Meat

My mother made her famous meat and carrots meal whenever she was running late, which happened a lot.  It could have been one of those Rachel Ray under thirty minute meals – fast, easy, tasty.  I loved it – still do…You’ll need:

  • 1 lb. good quality ground meat (my mother would have the butcher – or the man behind the meat counter – grind up a filet – much to his dismay), but ground round will do.
  • a bunch of carrots, some garlic, and fresh Italian parsley
  • a sturdy iron skillet and some olive oil

Heat the skillet and then simmer sliced carrots with a little water to soften them. Drain the water and add extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and 2 chopped cloves of garlic.  Add beef and brown over medium heat.  Add the chopped parsley last – after meat is mostly cooked.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Glazed Mini Pumpkin Muffins

My mother was famous for her inedible pumpkin pie, but this recipe from her secret stash is actually pretty tasty – especially with the glaze.

Simmer one 15 oz can of pumpkin – that’s plain pumpkin, not the pumpkin pie filling, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, 1 teaspoon nutmeg until pumpkin starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.   Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup oil (olive works), and beat in 2 eggs.  Add 2 cups of flour with 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon  salt. Also add 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, if you like crunchy muffins.

Bake in mini cupcake tins lined with paper cups. While still warm, glaze with mixture of 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar and 2 tsp water and 2 tsp vanilla.

Don’t skip the glaze; cupcakes are blah without it.