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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Skillet Macaroni and Cheese

Although we already have a good mac and cheese recipe in our collection, I'm going to include this one, too. I like the idea of an almost one pan meal (depends on if you want to count supplementary bowls) and I like that this cooks on the stove-top.


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Skillet Macaroni and Cheese                     


Source:  Cook's Country Magazine
Serves: 4-6

2 T unsalted butter
2 slices sandwich bread pulsed in food processor until coarsely ground to equal 2 c crumbs

salt and pepper

3 3/4 c water, plus more if needed
1 (12-oz) can evaporated milk, divided
3 c elbow macaroni
1 teas cornstarch
2  teas hot sauce, or to taste
3 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese

In a 12-inch skillet melt butter over medium-high and add bread crumbs, 1/4 teas salt and 1/4 teas pepper. Cook and stir frequently until the crumbs are deep golden brown. Move to a bowl and let rest.

Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel. Replace on stove at medium-high heat. To the skillet add the water, 1 1/4 c of the evaporated milk, and 1/2 teas salt and bring it to a simmer. Add the macaroni, stir. Cook until macaroni is al dente remembering to stir often. 

In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with the remaining evaporated milk and stir in the hot sauce. Stir this mix into the skillet and continue to simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly, about a minute. Remove from heat and stir the cheeses in, one handful at a time, adding water if needed to adjust the thickness of the sauce. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and serve.

Note:

Because of all the cheese, I believe the amounts of salt called for in cooking may be reduced somewhat.

Also, you could tempt fate and use salted butter on the bread crumbs which would save a step. 

This was plenty cheesy for me, but I realized I used extra sharp cheese which is stronger in flavor. It will be fine if you use what is called for. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Peruvian Roasted Chicken with Spicy Cilantro Sauce

This creamy sauce is quite beautiful and ensures a tasty chicken meal. The marinade and sauce take a bit of time to pull together and you have to allow time for marinating, but cooking the chicken is straight forward and easy.

The original recipe offers substitutes items fairly often found in home kitchens and I followed those suggestions. I didn't want to wait until I could find new ingredients online and wait for delivery. The results were excellent.


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Peruvian Roasted Chicken with Spicy Cilantro Sauce


Adapted from NYTimes Cooking
Serves 4

This can be cooked as either two halves of a chicken or as chicken pieces. I chose to cook pieces and found that when I removed the breast pieces from the oven earlier than the thighs and legs, as advised, the sauce burned on the pan. To avoid the burned mess and smoke, I advise cooking the chicken on two quarter sheet pans (or two cake pans would work) placing the brown meat on one and the breasts and the wings (if you use them) on another. This way, you can place the breasts in the oven 10 minutes after the brown pieces so that everything finishes up at approximately the same time. Additionally, the juice that is released by the chicken as it cooks is very tasty and it is a shame to let it burn away when it would be better to drizzle it on the pieces of chicken just before serving.

For the marinade:

6 cloves of garlic, minced
3 T soy sauce
1 T aji amarillo or another chile paste such as sriracha
1 T lime juice
1 teas aji panca paste or 1 teas pasilla chile powder (I used ground dried mild Hatch chile)
1 teas Dijon mustard
1 teas ground cumin
1 teas freshly ground pepper
1/2 teas table salt

In a large bowl or storage container mix the ingredients above.

For the chicken:

1 (3 1/2-4 1/2 pound chicken) halved or one chicken cut into pieces (I recommend the larger size or you'll have left over sauce)

Place chicken halves or pieces in the bowl or container. Turn until all pieces have been coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 2-12 hours. 

For the sauce:

If you are at all spicy-hot averse, mix the sauce with small amounts of chile and chile paste and taste it after blending. You can always add more jalapeno if you want.

1 cup cilantro, leaves and tender stems
jalapenos, seeded and diced (up to 3-4 but I used just half of one)
1/4 c crumbled feta cheese
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped or sliced
1 1/2 teas lime juice, more to taste
2 teas chopped fresh oregano or basil (or 1 teas of dried oregano)
1/2 teas salt
1/2 teas Dijon mustard
1/2 T aji amarillo or other chile paste (see above)
1/2 teas honey or sugar or agave syrup
1/2 teas cumin
1/2 c olive oil

Place all ingredients except for olive oil in a blender container and run the blender until everything is fairly finely chopped. Scrape the sides. Drizzle the oil through the blender opening while the machine is running until everything is emulsified. Scrape the sides again and run the blender a while to get everything as smooth as possible. Stop the blender and taste the sauce; add more chile, salt, and/or lime juice, if desired. Store in fridge until serving time.

Cooking the chicken:

the marinated chicken
olive oil for drizzling as needed

Heat the oven to 450 F. Take the chicken out of the marinade and blot with paper towels to dry the pieces somewhat. Arrange the chicken skin-side up on an oiled rimmed baking sheet (or two quarter sheets as suggested above). Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and place in the oven. Chicken halves can be roasted for 35-45 minutes (check with an instant read thermometer if you want to be sure it's done; 160F for white pieces and 165F for brown meat). For chicken pieces the brown meat should be done after 35-45 minutes and the white meat after 25-35. I found that both white and brown were much past the target temperatures in the time recommended but they remained tender. Consider my above suggestion and place the white meat in the oven 10 minutes later than the brown since they can overcook and become badly dry. Remove from the oven and allow to sit under loose foil for 5-10 minutes.

Serve the chicken with sauce to pass.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies

A slight bitterness (from the sesame paste) contrasts with the deep chocolate--possibly a more grown-up rendition of this perennial favorite. They also posses an airy crispness at the edge while the middle is chewy.




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Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies


Adapted from: New York Times Cooking
Yield: depends on the size you make them--my cookie scoop yielded 24

Adjustments for baking at altitudes of approximately 4000-6000 feet:

subtract 1 T sugar
add 1 1/2 T flour
use 1/4 teas baking soda
add a second teas vanilla


4 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 c tahini (sesame paste), well stirred and at room temperature
1 c light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teas vanilla extract
1 c plus 2 T unbleached flour
1/2 teas baking soda
1/2 teas baking powder
1/2 teas kosher salt
1 c bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

With a paddle attachment of a stand mixer on medium speed cream butter, tahini, and sugar until fluffy. If you have a Bosch mixer use the cookie attachments. It may take up to 5 minutes. Add the egg and yolk, and vanilla and continue mixing for another 5 minutes at a medium speed.

Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and whisk together. Add this mixture to the butter/egg mixture until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips by hand using a rubber spatula. This batter will be quite soft; don't worry, chilling will make it so you can handle it. Refrigerate for 12 hours at least which will ensure tender cookies.

Heat the oven to 325F and use parchment paper or a silicone mat to line a baking sheet. Use a scoop or spoon to form dough into balls and place on the baking sheet with 3 inches between balls so they can spread. Bake 13-16 minutes until barely golden brown around the edges. The center will be pale in the middle.  Allow to cool on a rack for 20 minutes.

Notes:

You may wonder if the extra 2 T flour is an altitude adjustment since you've seen those from time to time in our recipes. But in this instance the original sea-level recipe calls for a cup as well as 2 tablespoons. For altitude I've added even more, see above.

The original recipe is for a salted cookie. You may find that appealing--I do too, but I'm trying to limit salt intake. The cookies are great without the topping. However, if you wish, sprinkle the cookies with a flaky salt just as they come out of the oven.

You can find tahini in most supermarkets these days.