the_plan: (Welcome to the Kitchen)
Last night's adventure in "WHAT DO WE HAVE IN THE FREEZER?"

Chicken thighs are pretty innocuous - you can do anything with them. Sometimes that kind of choice can actually stifle creativity - you can get overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices.

I think I ended up with with a bit of a 'Red' theme, peppers and the port wine comes in a lovely dark red labelled bottle. (Wolf Blass Reserve Tawny Port)

It's been so cool and damp this week I'd been craving something hearty and warm and ... stew like. So I started with chicken thighs, port wine seemed like a nice choice (hey it always is!) and went from there....


Port Wine and Roasted Red Pepper Braised Chicken

6-9 chicken thighs
salt
pepper
basil
tarragon
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion - diced
2 carrots - diced
1 stalk celery - diced (I was out of celery and replaced this with 1 tsp celery seed - it worked but a stalk of celery would be better)
3 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
chili powder
2 roasted red peppers (brush peppers with canola oil and roast in a hot oven, or on a hot BBQ grill, cool, remove skins, and slice thinly)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 cup port wine

season chicken thighs with salt, pepper, basil and tarragon. Heat olive oil in a heavy (cast iron enamel works wonderfully) casserole or dutch oven. Brown chicken pieces in oil, then remove and set aside. Add onions carrots and celery to the pot and cook till onions are softened and translucent. Add the red wine vinegar and stir to deglaze the pan, add garlic, bay leaves, roasted red peppers, and port wine. Sprinkle a light amount of chili powder on the chicken thighs and add them back into the pan. Roast in an 350°F oven for 1 hr.

Serve over fragrant rice like basmati or jasmine, or a broad egg noodle.

Asparagus - blanch in boiling salted water for 5 minutes or just until bright green. Plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking and preserve the colour. To reheat heat 2 tbsp sesame oil in a saute pan over high heat, add asparagus and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Toss in the pan to heat through, add a small squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a sprinkle of course salt.

For dessert I wanted a bit of warm fragrant spice as well, and reworked a simple Chef Michael Smith fruit pudding.

Place 2 cups of frozen mixed berries in a 2 qt sauce pan, add 1 cup orange juice (or as suits - I had orange guava passionfruit.. *shrug*). Add 1 small dried chili, 1 3" piece of cinnamon stick broken into two, 1 tbsp lemon peel, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 3 cloves, 1/4 tsp all spice, 1 vanilla bean pod (open, scraped and cut into two pieces), and 2 tbsp port wine. Simmer over medium low heat for 5-10 minutes or until berries are soft and disintegrating.

Strain mixture through a fine sieve, reserving the juice, and working the pulp to save as much juice as possible. Set aside 2-3 tbsp of the juice, return the rest of the juice to the pot. Add 2 tbsp of cornstarch into the reserved juice - stir well. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the pot of juice. Simmer over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and translucent. Remove from heat. Pour into 4 dessert bowls, and cool in fridge. Serve with a small dollop of whip cream, or a spoonful of vanilla ice cream
the_plan: (Welcome to the Kitchen)
Last week's focaccia bread:


Kinda got me slash dotted when the Food Network community admins posted the picture to their FaceBook account. Cool exposure... but I looked a git when the recipe wasn't there.

The recipe was snagged off Chef Michael Smith's show Chef At Home - so I figured the recipe was already on the website.

Anyway... I'm out of trouble now, and the bread is a real winner. Chef Smith did his with fresh basil, tomato and thinly sliced parmasan cheese. I did mine with fresh rosemary (it was what I had), tomato, olive and asiago cheese.

Took this from Chef At Home - the Birthday Lamb episode from Series 1.

2 cups bread flour
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
1 tbsp traditional yeast
1 generous cup water

cornmeal
olive oil
toppings of your choice

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. (or mix by hand and knead) till smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size. (approx 1 hr). Punch down the dough and then roll out on a well floured surface to approx 1/4 inch in thickness. Transfer the flat bread to a baking sheet that's been generously sprinkled with corn meal (to prevent sticking. Dizzle and coat the top of the bread with a little olive oil, and add the toppings of your choice. Chef Michael Smith used fresh basil leaves, tomatoes, and thinly sliced parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. I used fresh rosemary, sliced olives, tomatoes, sea salt and asiago cheese.... but you can play around with the toppings based on what you have on hand and what you like. Cover lightly with a clean tea towel and allow to rise again (approx 1 hr) till double in size or soft and puffy looking.

Bake in an oven preheated to 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and well set.


I think tonight I'll try it with the basil to celebrate the arrival of a lovely new little basil plant from D*, mostly because the scent of fresh basil in the kitchen again is driving me batty!
the_plan: (Welcome to the Kitchen)
So I've been craving a wings night for a while, and had a bag of cut wings in the fridge in preparation of the opportunity. Last night being 'Pizza and a Movie Night' - we backed it up a day for a) the Feychild being home, and b) the season premiere of Doctor Who - I really thought pizza/wings it's a natural right?

Honestly though, I've not had much success with wings at home, not those nice crispy sticky spicey 'right' wings you get at a good pub. Further, I really wasn't finding any recipes that floated my boat.

I should say I rarely, create completely from invention. Usually my creation method is to tinker with, customize, someone else's recipe. However, I knew what I *wanted* - not being able to find anything close, I made my own.

They were fabulous, perfect, crispy, sticky, BBQ, spicey but not burning so hot to kill the flavour. Everyone loved them.

Problem - I almost never measure, and I never take notes while I'm creating (bad me - I need a kitchen minion to take my notes), so what follows here is a close approximation so as always feel free to add / subtract as you go depending on the flavours you like/don't. There are a couple of critical notes: ketchup - very sweet, the sugars here are what caramelize in the oven to give that right 'stickiness', and thus you DO want to finish em in the oven, the dusting with flour and frying is what gives them the required crispiness.

OK...
wings - cut into 3 (flats, drummettes, tips - throw the tips in a bag in the freezer for making chicken stock) - I had 24 pieces.

into a large plastic baggie (zipper freezer bag works well):
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp smoked paprika (gives that beautiful bbq smell)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
wisk powdered ingredients to mix well

Heat deep fryer, or oil in a deep pan to 375°F
Rinse wings and dry, toss wings in the bag of flour and spices. Do in batches of approx 12 at a time, shake off excess flour and drop into the fryer (do not over crowd). Cook for 8-10 minutes or until toasted coloured and crispy. Drain well. Set side in a bowl lined with paper towel.

Heat oven to 400°F
In a small mixing bowl combine:
3/4 cup tomato ketchup
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
2 tbsp worchestershire sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 tsp ginger/garlic/chili paste (or increase garlic to 4 cloves, 1/2 tsp grated ginger, and 1 tsp well minced fresh chili)
1 tsp english hot mustard (Keens)
1 tsp chipole sauce
1/2 tsp tabasco sauce
(again you can and should tweak the spice mix to your own tastes)

Remove paper towel from bowl of wings, pour sauce over wings and toss to coat. Line a pan with aluminum foil and spray with non stick spray, Arrange wings in a single layer. Sprinkle lightly with large grain sea salt. Cook on middle rack of oven for approx 15 minutes until sauce is sticky and caramalized.

Serve hot with a cool sauce like tzatziki, or blue cheese, or ranch.

P.S: If you try this recipe - do lemme know how it works out for you. I DO Love the feedback. In the meantime I have another package of wings, I'll definitely try it again and see if I can't get more formalized measurements

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