Friday, October 17, 2014

The Best Way to Grill Corn on the Cob

 Lovey and I ate a ton of roasted corn this summer.

Home from the market I clean the ears up a bit.  I cut off any nasty, slimy silk that is hanging out the top.

 Then I trim all of the dark green, stiff things that are on the end of the outer husks

There now, they look nice and neat.  Also the husks are still snugly attached around the cob.
 I don't like opening up all the husks, pull out the silk, then close the husks back around the cob and secure them with a tie of some sort.  It's so hard wrestling to get all of the silk off.

Nope, I just leave the silk in there. It will come out flawlessly when you are ready to eat.

 Soak them for at least 30 minutes in cold water before putting on the grill.  Throw a handfull of salt in the water if you like.  We don't do that but if you are not worried about sodium content go for it.  Wrap them up in a towel and take them out to the grill.  You might want to turn them upside down to drain any water.

I heat the right side of our grill on medium for about 15 minutes before I lay the corn on the grill.  Turn every so often and when their husks are nicely marked and nave a nice brown coloring they will be done (about 15 minutes)

 Using a T-towel (the corn will be very hot) pull away the husks and you won't believe how the silk comes right off and out from in between the kernels.  No using a brush or fingernails here.  Place the cob on a platter and begin to doctor them up the way you like them.  

We like to have butter, flavored butter and a little Parmesan on hand along with salt and pepper.
Crunch, crunch!  Such a great way to eat corn!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie

It's a definition for comfort food; that's what this is.

When I was living in Midland, Texas during the early 1980's, a co-worker passed her CPP recipe on to me.  The original recipe had more vegetables, like mushrooms and corn kernels, but this was tailor made to Lovey's liking; and it hasn't changed since.  Oh, I've tried to slip things in there that I thought would make it even more superb, but Lovey always called me out on it.  So, this is our chicken pot pie.  You can, as with most any recipe, tweak it to make it your own.

Begin by cooking your chicken.  This will also be the beginning of your broth that will become the base for your sauce.

I use 3 or 4 large chicken breast halves.  You can use whatever pieces you prefer.  Thighs will actually give you broth that is a little more flavorful but, as I've said, this is Lovey's pot pie and white meat he'll get.

Make your broth with carrots, celery with leaves, an onion, bay leaf, garlic cloves, thyme  and whatever else you might have in your vegetable bin that would add a depth of flavor to your broth.

Cover with water and bring to a boil.  Skim off the foam then sprinkle some poultry seasoning over the top.  Add a Tablespoon of salt, cover and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking chop the onion, carrots, and potatoes

When the chicken is done remove from broth and allow to cool.  Strain the broth and discard the solids.  Pour the stock back into the pan and bring to a boil.  Add the chopped onion, carrots and potatoes and boil for about 3 to 4 minutes.  You don't want them (especially the potatoes) to cook through and be mushy; they'll finish cooking in the oven.

With a large slotted spoon remove the vegetables from the broth and set aside in a large mixing bowl.  Return the broth to the stove top and bring to a boil.  Reduce broth to 1 cup and reserve in a measuring cup.  It will be so nice and rich.

Bone the chicken and cut into bite-size pieces.  Add the chicken to the large mixing bowl with the vegetables.

Rinse the frozen peas and add them to the mixture in the large mixing bowl.

In the pot you reduced the broth in, melt butter and add flour to make a roux.  Cook for one minute.

Add the reduced broth and whisk.  Slowly add the half & half and stir until it begins to thicken.  Toss in some chopped fresh parsley.  Now taste your sauce to see if you want to add salt and pepper.

Gently fold the sauce in with the vegetable / chicken mixture.

Roll out bottom pastry and place in the pie plate.

Pour the filling into the pie plate and mound up towards the center.

Roll out top crust and place over filling and crimp the edges.  Cut an air vent in the middle of the crust.  I make a 'K' for our last name.  How cute. 

Bake for 30 - 45 minutes until the filling is hot and bubbly (you'll see it bubbling through the vent hole) and the crust is nice and brown.

After removing from oven allow the pie to rest for 10 - 15 minutes.

Serve a crisp green salad.

Chicken Pot Pie
Serves 6

for crust:
Use your preferred recipe for a 2 crust pie crust.  when I am short on time, I use the refrigerated Pillsbury crust that you simply unroll.  It's easy and makes for a very nice crust when you do not have time to make a dough from scratch.

for chicken & broth:
3 - 4 large chicken breast halves
1 carrot, scrubbed and halved
1 yellow onion, washed & halved (skin left on)
1 celery stalk halved, preferably with the leaves
5 garlic cloves, peeled and whole
1 large bay leaf
1 small bundle fresh rosemary sprigs (tied in a bundle)
2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 Tbsp. salt

for the filling & sauce: 
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4" slices
1 large onion, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 - 10 ounce package/box of frozen peas
 2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup half and half
hand full of chopped fresh parsley
salt & pepper to taste 
1 tsp milk 

Roll out 1 pie crust and place in a 9" deep dish pie plate.  Put in refrigerator to chill.

Place chicken, carrot, onion, celery and garlic cloves in a 5-1/2 quart Dutch Oven.  NOTE:  you can add any other vegetables you want that will contribute to your broth.  \Cover with water.  Bring to boil.  Skim off the nasty-looking white foam.  Turn heat down to a simmer and season with the poultry seasoning.  Allow chicken to simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is done (about 20 minutes).

While chicken is cooking prepare  the potato, carrot and onion and set aside  in a mixing bowl.

When chicken is done, remove the breasts and vegetables from broth with a large slotted spoon, leaving the broth in the pot.  Throw vegetable solids away (unless you want to munch on them; especially the garlic, yum!) and set the breasts off to the side to cool.  Strain the broth and return to the pot.  Bring to a boil and add the bowl of cut up vegetables you had set aside.  Bring to a simmer for about 3 to 4 minutes. With a large slotted spoon remove the vegetables from the broth and set aside in a large mixing bowl. Return pot with the broth to the burner and turn to high.  Boil until the broth is reduced to 1 cup.  Strain into a measuring cup and set aside

While broth is reducing & chicken has cooled de-bone and cut into bite-size pieces.  Add the chicken to the bowl with the vegetables.

In a colander, rinse the frozen peas and add to the vegetable/chicken mixture.  NOTE:  At this time you can add other things that you might like such as fresh mushrooms, frozen corn, etc.).  Gently fold all of your vegetables and meat together.

In the same pot you have been using, melt the butter or medium heat.  Add the flour and whisk together to make a roux.  Whisking, allow to cook for a minute to remove the flour-y taste.  slowly add the broth and whisk until smooth.  Add the half and half and stir until slightly thickened. Add the parsley and taste.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside to slightly cool off.

Pour the sauce over the vegetables & chicken.  Gently fold until everything is thoroughly coated.

Remove pie plate from refrigerator and pour the filling into the bottom crust and mound in the center (if you do have filling that won't fit, just put it in small single-serving ramekins to eat in the future.

Roll out the top crust and drape over the filling.  Fold edges under the edges of the bottom crust and crimp all around.  Cut slits in the center of the pie crust for venting.  With a pastry brush, brush the top crust with a light coat of milk.  Place in refrigerator for about 10 minutes for the top crust to firm up a bit.

Preheat oven to 425°.  Place pie plate on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  After the 15 minutes, turn the heat down to 350° and bake until the crust is a nice golden brown (anywhere from 30 - 45 minutes).

Allow pie to cool on a cooling rack for 10 - 15 minutes before cutting.

Serve with the tossed green salad for a nice complete dinner.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Putting up the Basil

I did some Fall clean-up in the garden yesterday.  Cleared out a small bed readying it for pansies and one of the plants I pulled out was my basil.  Before it was dug up I stripped it of every basil leaf I could.  

Now, what to do with all those verdant, fragrant little photosynthesis machines?

I have enough pesto in the fridge so here's what I did......
Basil Butter, Preserved Basil Leaves in Olive Oil and Basil Salt.

This year I planted a Cinnamon Basil plant.  I wasn't that crazy about it.  I didn't notice a big difference in the taste but I didn't like the feel and texture of the leaves.  They weren't big and smooth like I prefer.

they had harsh ribs on them and felt rough like an elm leaf.  But the important thing was that they had a good flavor.  Next year I'll plant a different variety.

 This was only a quarter of the leaves I picked.  The first thing I did with all of the cuttings was wash them thoroughly in cold water.  I washed them while they were still on the stems, picked them off, spun them around in a salad spinner then let them finish drying completely on a towel.

Basil Butter

Mmmm.  I love flavored butters

So simple.  1/2 cup butter, 2 Tbsp. finely minced basil leaves & 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice.  That's it.

 I find it easy to mince by rolling up a stack of leaves and slicing into thin ribbons

Now you have a nice chiffonade, which, in French, means little ribbons.

 mince your little ribbons until you have tiny little pieces

 put everything in the food processor and pulse until you have a smooth, well blended mixture

 plop your butter onto a piece of wax paper.

form into a log (about the size of a toilet paper tube), roll up, twist the ends, secure with twisties and put it in the fridge.  Done.

Flavored butters make nice gifts too.  You can tie the ends with cute twine, decorate the wax paper with washi tape, or whatever.  They freeze well too.  They're great to use on steamed vegetables, pasta or a little pat on your steak.

Preserved Basil Leaves in Olive Oil

You get a double treat with this.  You can pull out basil leaves to use in a recipe and you'll also have some nicely flavored olive oil.  

 Basil leaves, olive oil and a little salt.

I used a pint jar and used about 2 cups of whole basil leaves.  You can make as little or as much of this as you like.

 sprinkle a little salt in the bottom of the jar

 Add a layer of leaves

 pour on a little olive oil to cover the leaves.

 Repeat this process until your jar is as full as you want it.  Put a lid on it and stick it in the 'fridge.

 Basil Salt

This was the easiest of all

1/2 cup kosher salt

2 Tbsp. finely minced basil.   Mince the basil as described in the flavored butter above.  

NOTE:  Even though you are mincing up dried leaves, the mince will be very moist.  Let the minced leaves completely dry out; I let mine dry over night to make sure it was good and dry.

mix your salt and dried basil together in a small bowl then transfer to your container. 


Monday, September 29, 2014

Giving the Leftovers a Makeover


 For the most part I love leftovers.  Sometimes, however, foods aren't nearly as good as they were at their original cooking.  Take for instant a baked potato.  The white meat of that tuber will never be soft and fluffy as it was the night before.

corn on the cob is hard to get excited about as it was when you took it off the grill last night.


this is how I rescue leftovers to give them a second life.

peel the baked potato and slice in 1/2 inch slices, then slice those in half

slice the corn kernels off the cob

slice up half a yellow onion

and slice up a couple cloves of garlic

Melt the butter until browned then add the onions.  With a wooden spoon or utensil of your choice, delicately separate the onions.  Cook these over medium low heat until soft and limp.

Add the corn

Add the potatoes and the garlic

Sprinkle a pinch of smoked paprika over the top and gently stir.

Salt and pepper to taste.

With your wooden spoon scrape up the fond that will accumulate on the bottom of the pan and fold it in with the vegetables  This will really add flavor to the vegetables.

Mmmm.  The potato becomes creamy, the corn still pops and lends a little sweetness, the onions and garlic lend their flavor and the paprika gives it a little smokiness

Leftover Veggie Hash
Serves 4

3 Tbsp. salted butter
One medium baked potato
1 medium roasted corn on the cob
1/2 medium yellow onion
2 to 3 small garlic cloves
pinch of smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Mise en place:
  • slice off butter and place in saute pan
  • peel baked potato and slice cross-wise into 1/2 inch slices, then cut those in half
  • shuck corn and with a sharp knife slice down cob from top to bottom to remove kernels
  • peel and slide 1/2 yellow onion, slicing this from the side, not the end
  • peel and slice garlic cloves
Heat butter in saute pan.  When the butter begins to turn brown add the onions.  Cook over medium low heat until they become limp and start to brown.  Toss in the corn and combine.  Then add the potatoes and the garlic.  

Allow the vegetables slowly heat up and take on a nice color.  Sprinkle the smoked paprika over vegetables then salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Grilled Butterflied Chicken

This grilled chicken method is part Julia Child, Bobby Flay and Cook's Illustrated.  I've taken a little but of advice, technique and instruction from each of them. 

I also like to brine the chicken when grilling it; whether whole or parts.  It leaves your chicken so juicy.

To 8 cups of water, add 1 cup of Kosher salt

1/2 cup of sugar

 a whole bulb of garlic, halved and, if you like, about 10 peppercorns

Bring to a boil, whisking the mixture ever so often to help dissolve the salt and sugar.  Remove from heat and allow to cool. 
Good to know if you want to save some time:  Bobby Flay uses half the water but adds 4 cups of ice cubes after the salt and sugar are dissolved.  This helps cool the brine quicker.

Now, you want to butterfly your chicken, which means you are going to splay your chicken out flat.  Grilling chicken this way cuts your cooking time and the cooking is more even between the dark meat and the white meat.

 The first thing you want to do is cut out the back bone of the chicken.  To do this you will need a good pair of kitchen shears.  I found these scissors at an estate sale.  The markings show that they are stainless steel made in Italy.  I don't really know for sure if they were made to be used in the kitchen; but I'll tell ya, they are heavy duty.  To me, they look like something that is used in the operating room.

Turn the chicken breast side down.  Begin cutting up one side of the back bone.

 Cut up the other side and remove the backbone.  Freeze this to use in a future broth.

I did not do this step today, but if you want to, make a slice down the middle of the white breast bone that is exposed.  It will make it a little easier for you to break the breast bone in the next step.

Flip your bird over, breast side up.   Now, give the breast bone a good whack to break it and some of the ribs; you want to flatten it out.

Just a couple more things to do before you're done.

 See these little tips on the elbow of the wing?  Clip those off and tuck the wing underneath the chicken.

 There's a lot of loose skin between the leg and the breast.  With a paring knife make a slit in the skin

Tuck the end of the leg through this slit.  Repeat with the other leg

 And there you have a butterflied chicken.  You also might hear of this method referred to as spatchcocking a chicken.  It is really so simple and after you do it once, it will seem so elementary and is such a great way to grill, or even roast in the oven, a whole chicken.

Once the brine is cooled off place the chicken in a large bowl or baggie and pour the brine over the chicken.  Place in the refrigerator from 1 to 4 hours.

While the chicken is in its brine mince your garlic and mix with the butter.  Both are the same but one you will keep room temperature until it's time to melt and the other you'll place in the refrigerator.

 NOTE:  If you elect to brine, be sure you use unsalted butter.  You will not need the extra butter.  If you don't brine, use salted butter.

After brining period is over, rinse the chicken well under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.  Place the chicken on a rack over a baking sheet ( used a broiler pan) and place uncovered in the refrigerator for 1 to 4 hours to dry the skin out.

 set the chilled chicken on the cabinet at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling.  Spread the chilled garlic butter underneath the skin over the breast.

Preheat your grill.

Melt the other portion of the garlic butter and brush over the breast side of the chicken. 

Place the chicken, buttered breast side down.  I place two foil covered bricks on top of the chicken just to discourage any bowing or folding up the edges might want to do.

 After 10 minutes turn the chicken over and place over the indirect heat.  Cover the grill and allow to finish cooking until a thermometer registers 165 degrees F. (about 30 minutes)

Place on serving platter, light tent with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Grilled Butterflied Chicken
Serves 4


8 cups water
1 cup Kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 head garlic
10 black peppercorns
 1 - 3-4 pound roasting chicken
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, divided

In a saucepan mix water, salt and 1/2 cup sugar.  Cut the head of garlic in half and add to the brine water, along with the peppercorns.  Heat mixture, whisking until salt and sugar are dissolved.  Remove from heat, set aside and allow to cool completely

To butterfly chicken turn chicken breast side down.  With a good pair of kitchen / poultry shears cut down one side of the back bone and then cut down the other side, removing backbone (bag it and throw in freezer to use in a future stock).  Turn chicken breast side up and pound the breast bone with your fist to break the collar bones and some of the ribs.  Get aggressive with it; you want that chicken flattened.  Cut off the little tips on the wings' elbows.  Tuck the wings behind the shoulders.  With a sharp paring knife make a slit in the skin that is on the sides of the breast.  Take a leg in your hand, slightly push the leg up towards the thigh and insert and ankle of the leg through the slit.  Pull down to secure.  Repeat with the other leg.

When the brine is cool pour in a large bowl or plastic bag then place the chicken in the brine.  Refrigerate from 1 to 4 hours.

Peel and dice the cloves of garlic.  Mix 2 Tbsp. of the room temperature butter in a small bowl and place the other 2 Tbsp. of butter in another bowl.  Mix half of the cloves with 2 Tbsp. butter.  Cover and place in refrigerator.  Mix the rest of the diced garlic with the last two Tbsp. butter.  You can leave this set aside on the cabinet top.

After the chicken is finished brining, rinse the chicken under cold water and pat the chicken dry.  Discard the brine.  Place chicken, skin side up on a cooling rack that is set inside a baking sheet.  Allow to sit uncovered in the refrigerator for 1 to 4 hours to allow the skin to dry out.  You will get a crispier crust this way.

Remove chicken and compound butter from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to putting it on the grill.  When the butter begins to soften, gently separate the skin from the breast and spread the chilled butter/garlic compound underneath the skin being careful not to tear the skin.

Melt the other butter/garlic compound in the microwave until you hear the garlic begin to sizzling and brown.

Heat all  burners for medium direct heat for about 15 minutes.

Brush the skin side of the chicken with1/2 of  the melted butter/garlic.  Place chicken, breast side down over the two left burners until brown and crispy; about 10 minutes.  Turn the far right burner off and place the chicken, breast side up, on this burner to finish cooking on indirect heat.  Brush the chicken with the rest of the melted butter/garlic.  Cover grill and cook for about 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the thigh.

Place chicken to carving platter and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.