Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dover Sole En Papillote

My niece Abby and her boyfriend Jared were visiting from Brooklyn a few weeks ago. They are both busy professionals who eat out a lot, so rather than go to a restaurant, we decided to just have a quiet dinner party for four at our place. Jared is vegetarian, with certain eating no-nos, so I confirmed with Abby, and with my sister Alta, as to what could and could not be served, and I decided upon an easy to make – and beautiful to present – one-dish meal - Dover Sole En Papillote.

This meal is the classic marriage of British and French Cuisine. Well, not really, but Dover is in Great Britain, and En Papillote is French, so kind of. As Julia would tell you, cooking “en papillote” is a method of baking your food within a parchment paper – the sealed parchment paper creates a mini-contained oven in which the flavors blend and infuse your fish (or poultry or pork) and the porous-ness of the parchment paper allows the steam to escape, so you’re baking, rather than steaming.
I didn’t have any parchment paper, so I thought about using wax paper – but a quick Google search on the internet confirmed what Brian had cautioned me of – the heat of the oven will melt the wax, causing it to burn on your pan and fill your oven, and kitchen, with nasty smoke.

So what’s a person to do, short of running to the store to buy true parchment paper? Substitute aluminum foil. You will in essence be steaming your meal, but it’s still tasty as can be.

This recipe is for 4 servings – it can be adjusted easily to accommodate more or less.

1 – 1 ¼ pounds Dover Sole filets (if you have 4 filets total, cut the filets in half – but my Trader Joe’s frozen filets were smallish, and only one had to be cut in half)
½ pound fresh Mushrooms, sliced
3 – 4 Italian Squash, sliced (I used 1 green Italian (zucchini) and 2 yellow Italian – but really, any squash will do).
6 cloves Garlic, sliced.
Thai Yellow Curry Sauce from Trader Joe’s (or any other flavoring sauce you prefer).
Lemon or Lime juice, preferably fresh squeeze.
Chinese Noodles – or any thin, delicate noodle of your choice.

Boil and drain your noodles, according to package directions. Set aside.
Cut 4 large sheets of aluminum foil – approximately 18x18 inches. Lay them out on your counter.

Place a serving of noodles just slightly off center – just a bit to one side – on each piece of foil.

Arrange slices of squash and mushrooms on top of the noodles. Lightly salt and pepper.

Lay two small filets, side by side, on top of the vegetables. Top with slices of garlic, drizzle a bit of oil over the filets (or small pats of butter), salt and pepper, squeeze of lime juice, then pour a splash of curry sauce over the filets.

Arrange a second layer of squash and mushroom slices on top of the filets, salt and pepper.

Fold the foil gently over your tower of food, leaving room to tent, and then seal the edges by crimping the foil.

Place the foil packets on a ridged baking pan (to catch any juice that may escape the packets), and put in a preheated oven at 375 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes; remove from the oven.

CAREFULLY open the foil packets – be ware of hot, hot steam that will rise from the opening. Gently slide the contents to individual plates or shallow bowls, keeping the layers intact. Enjoy immediately.

We rounded out this meal with a simple salad, a baguette from Champagne, and delicious Tart Lemon Pie – with crusts that I actually pressed to the sides of the pans so they didn’t collapse like they did in my blog post – AND, I halved again the lemon-filling amount, so the pies were deeper than the first go-round. This meal was oh-so-delicious – and Jared didn’t get sick from any food faux pas.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Simple Baked Curry Chicken, with Cauliflower Rice

You don't need much for this recipe, but once you're done, you'll be glad you tried it.

You'll need:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or more if you want)

Seasonings, to taste

Steamed Cauliflower

And that's about it.
In an oven proof dish, lightly oil one side of chicken breasts. Season with salt, pepper, garlic, cummin, curry powder and ground cayenne pepper. Turn, lightly oil the other side, and season with the same yummy seasonings. Set aside to come to room temperature.

In your favorite rice cooking machine, fix rice. If you have a favorite rice cooking machine, you'll know what to do. If you don't, then just fix some rice. Are we clear?

Meanwhile, slice up your cauliflower flourets, and put on some plastic wrap, sprinkle a little salt and pepper and water, wrap up and microwave for a minute or so. The plastic will puff up, then suck in on itself - set aside.

Broil the chicken in your convection oven - for about 5 minutes on the first side, then turn and broil for another 3 minutes on the other side. Remove from the oven, and set aside.

Mix the rice with a little bit of butter, salt pepper and some of the cauliflower and put in a bowl. Add one chicken breast on top...
AND ENJOY for dinner with your favorite dinner beverage - I suggest a gin and tonic.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bob's Norweigian Crepes

Here's a BONUS BLOG - I know I teased you with talk and a couple of photos of these incredibly delicious crepes that Bob fixed for us when we were visiting Phoenix, and now, here's the recipe, direct from the Norwegian himself!
And best of all, Bob couldn't even email it to me - he had to MAIL me a photocopy of the recipe, and now, because I care, I'm typing it for you, my 20 followers......
How Nordic is that?! Here's what Bob claims he did:
1 Cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon salt.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend/mix/process for 10 -15 seconds, or until smooth (I know this sounds all fancy-like, but if you look at the photo - throw it in a blender and mix for a bit!) Next, the "recipe" says to scrape the sides of the bowl and process for 5 to 10 seconds more. Transfer the batter to a medium size bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour... but that's what the "official line" calls for. What Bob did, in reality, is he scraped the sides of the blender, beat it a bit more, then covered the blender and put that directly into the fridge for an hour... no need to dirty another bowl!

Heat a crepe pan or small skillet over medium heat until hot, or until a few drops of water sizzle on the surface (in other words, heat your skillet!). Lightly grease the pan.

Pour about 3 tablespoons batter onto the pan, tilting to coat the bottom evenly. Cook for about 1 minute or until the edges look lacy and begin to pull away from the pan.

Before turning the crepe, lift the edges to check that the underside is lightly browned. Turn the crepe and cook for an additional 15 to 30 seconds, or until the underside is lightly browned.

Transfer the crepe to a sheet of waxed paper, repeat with the remaining batter, greasing the pan as necessary.

NOTE: Crepes can be made ahead - stack completely cooled crespes, wrap with foil, and refridgerate up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature, and no matter what you do, don't forget to ENJOY !

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chili Cheese Potato Casserole

This is one of the ultimate comfort foods, and oh-so-easy to make. And if you are adult enough to admit it, you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry and fridge.

First, the preparation:
Dice 6 medium potatoes
Dice 2 medium onions
Chop 6 cloves garlic
Open 2 cans Chili
Open 1 can diced jalapeno chilis
Open 1 can sliced mushrooms
Open 1 small container sour cream
Grate (or open your pre-grated) Sharp Cheddar and Jack Cheddar cheeses - about 1 cup of each.

Putting it all together:
Grab a big bowl and mix everything together - the potatoes, onions, garlic, chili, jalapenos, mushrooms and sour cream, and lightly salt and pepper the mixture. Then fold in the grated cheese, reserving just a bit to top the finished product. Lightly spray your casserole dish with non-stick spray, then spoon your delicious casserole goop into the casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top of the casserole.

Cook it all up:
Cover and bake in oven (convection if you want to save energy) at 350 - 375 (depending how hot your oven really gets) for 50 - 60 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake for another 10 minutes - to brown the top layer of cheese.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 20 minutes .... just enough time to toss a green salad....

and VOILIA - a delicious "budget" ( i.e. trailer-trash) comfort casserole to enjoy while watching the Vancouver Winter Olympics (pretend like there really is snow, and it's cold outside, and THAT'S why you're enjoying this yummy casserole.) I know, you're mocking me, saying to yourself "Oh, I would NEVER eat that kind of food" - but if you do, you'll love it.

And if that's not your kind of diet - well then just enjoy the Secret Mormon Family Recipe Bloody Marys - see recipe above.

Sister Bunny's Secret Mormon Family Recipe Bloody Mary

Pssst.... here's a little secret I'm going to let you in on.

Some mormons (the bad ones, NOT the good ones) enjoy a bloody mary as much as the next person. But because they just got home from church, and are short on time, and need to get the casserole in the oven, they don't have time to blend all the delicious ingredients to make a bloody mary from scratch.

Not to worry - just use a shorthand version.

Start with your standard "quick and easy" bloody mary fixings: Gin, Mrs. T's Bloody Mary Mix, glasses, and ice. Don't fill the glasses more than half full with ice - you'll need room to stir. Pour in the amount of gin your enjoy, then add in the bloody mary mix. Leave about 1 inch of room to the rim of the glass.

Here's where the secret recipe comes in.

Have ready the following:
Worcestershire Sauce
Grated Horesradish
Lime Juice
Celery Salt
Garlic Stuffed Olives (or simple pimento stuffed, if that's what you have)
Olive juice
Cleaned celery stalks.
To your stirred bloody mary base, add a few squirts of Worcestershire sauce; splashes of Tabasco (to taste); a scoop of Horesradish; squeeze of Lime Juice; a couple drops of Olive Juice; and a couple sprinkles of Celery Salt. Stir well, then add more bloody mary mix, if necessary, or more ice to almost fill the glass.

Put two Olives on a toothpick and stick the toothpick to the Celery Stalk (this will let the Olives soak in the bloody mary without having to dig them out later - as you drink the bloody mary down, the Olives will miraculousy appear for you to enjoy). Garnish with the Celery Stalk - and serve.

WARNING - these tasty beverages require a bit of "love labor" to create, and don't think that your honey will be satisfied with just one. If he/she wants more than two - have him/her make their own plain bloody mary with just gin and mix - and give him/her the number of the nearest Betty Ford Detox Center in your local area.
And be sure to keep the gin away from the kitties - you know how they can get when they think they're not being watched.

Enjoy ! In fact, enjoy it with the Chili Cheese Potato Casserole recipe posted just a few moments ago !

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Phoenix Foods

I know I posted photos of food we ate last week, but no recipes or other preparation ideas.

I know I used the fact that we were traveling for Utah Ute Gymnastics as an "excuse."

I know I posted Ethel's diet the week before, with no recipes or other preparations.

I know I used the fact that we were traveling for Utah Ute Gymnastics as an "excuse."

Guess what?

This week's blog will focus on food we enjoyed over the weekend in Phoenix, while we were attending... YES, a Utah Utes Gymnastics meet! And YES, there will be no (or minimal) preparation ideas.... this week. C'mon - a fan has to support his team, right? Next weekend we're staying home, and I promise to post a recipe, simple as it may be.

And if we're lucky, because of this Phoenix Food post, we will have a "guest food artist" to share his version of crepes, Norwegian style, in the near future!

Our hosts in Phoenix were Bobbie and Jimmi - great friends from Salt Lake who retired to Phoenix several years ago. When we travel to the Valley of the Sun, they always welcome us to their beautiful home, and turn it into so much more than a fancy B&B - because the food part of "B" includes Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Bobbie is the cook extraordinaire, who loves to please. We arrived on Friday and Bob served homemade beef stew that was so good I forgot to take a picture of it while I was snarfing it down.
Saturday morning Bobbie made bacon, eggs and hash browns, BEFORE going off to work for the day,

while we visited other friends in the area and explored the new light rail line running through town...

...and Georgia lounged poolside with Minnie and Mod

Saturday night, instead of our usual run to the local Mexican place a few miles from their house that we love so much, Bobbie prepared a home cooked meal (AFTER he got home from work) of Tamales smothered in Chili.

Sunday morning we were treated to Bobbie's delicious Norwegian Crepes with Lingonberry butter and Canadian Bacon (a truly international meal);

with Chicken Salad Sandwiches for lunch before our flight home to Hollywood.

Who's going to make dinner for us when we get home?

SO much good food, great company, and much fun!