Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tomatoes Provençales

The best tomatoes I have ever had were the ones we used to buy in Naples, Florida. We used to live not far  from this incredible farm stand that sold homegrown produce. They even had an iguana in a cage, a sure hit with our three then very young children!
Back to the tomatoes...As soon as you arrive inside the small market, you could smell them. They were displayed as a pretty!
And back home, we would serve them in a salad...often with mozzarella and basil. The taste was so incredible...a real tomato taste!!! 
Nowadays I am always disappointed in the tomatoes we buy...They do look good, but have little or no taste at all...
But if you bake them at low heat for a long time, after seasoning them, they do become sweet and melt in your mouth!

Tomatoes Provençales

Serves 8

12 ripe tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, chopped really fine
1 1/2 Tbsp herbes de Provence*
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Wash the tomatoes and take the core out. Be careful not to take too much out! Then cut them in half and place in a baking dish (or two).

Mix together the olive oil and the herbes de Provence.

Brush the mixture on top of the tomatoes, generously.

Sprinkle the garlic on the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for at least one hour. The longer they bake, the better they are...

* You will find herbes de Provence in practically any supermarket!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pollo alla Fiorentina

The weekend on cape Cod, if cold, was a nice one! We got a lot done in the yard...Bob took the "Wild Thing" out (aka. the chain saw) and cut down some trees and branches. I was at the pit burning all the debris! And on Sunday, more raking! Yard work never ends! But we are now ready for spring, if it ever shows up!...Yes we had snow on Monday!
After the weekend's labor came time for Sunday night dinner. I tried something I had never made before...Chicken Florentine! Dylan helped me make the oven roasted tomatoes voila!!!

Chicken Florentine

Serves 8

4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
8 slices of prosciutto
1 lb fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1/2 bag fresh baby spinach
Salt, pepper
Olive oil

Slice the chicken breasts horizontally. Pound each cutlet until thin (about 1/8th of an inch).
Place the cutlets flat on a board. Place a slice of prosciutto on top of it, then cover with the mozzarella and finish with a handful of spinach. Season with pepper (hold on on the salt as the prosciutto and the mozzarella may already be salty).

Roll the chicken on itself. Transfer on an oiled sheet pan, or other baking dish. Brush the "roulades" with olive oil and bake at 375F for about 20 minutes.

Serve with Tomatoes Provencales.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Paupiettes de Veau aux Champignons

Paupiettes de Veau are veal pockets filled with just about anything you wish. I always like to try something new and this was a perfect weekend recipe. A real success too! The challenge here was that the veal cutlets were too skinny. The solution? Place two cutlets next to each other to make a wider area, and fold the sides like you would do with a regular larger cutlet.
I served this dish with a white rice and the extra filling I reheated.

Veal Bundles with a Mushroom Filling

Serves 6

6 veal cutlets, about 5 1/2 oz each
12 oz fresh assorted mushrooms, chopped finely
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 medium onion, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tsp Piment d'Espelete + 1 tsp to sprinkle
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup white wine

Cooking string

Gently pound the cutlets until thin (about 0.2 inch). Set aside.

In a heavy pan, melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook on high heat until they render water. Cook for another couple of minutes to allow the water to evaporate. Add the onion, garlic and walnuts. Cool for another 3 minutes. Add 3/4 of the cilantro and the Piment d'Espelette. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and set aside.

Cut 24 pieces of string, about 8 inches each.
Count on using 3 per bundle: Take 3 strings and tie them in the middle with a knot.
Place the knotted strings flat on a working surface and place the cutlet in the center. Place about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of mushroom filling in the center of the cutlet and fold the cutlet on itself. Tie opposite strings together on top of the bundle. Repeat until all the "Paupiettes" are made.

Heat the oven to 350F.
Place the paupiettes in a baking dish. Pour the white wine in the dish. Add the bay leaf.
Sprinkle the paupiettes with the remaining 1 tsp Piment d'Espelette. Drizzle with the olive oil.

Bake for about 25 minutes.

Serve with rice.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chicken in a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Can you tell I still am on Caribbean time?? No more cabbage, root vegetables or anything remotely wintry!

I made this chicken dish during the week. The marinade serves to....marinate the chicken before grilling and also as a base for the sauce.

Chicken in a Spicy Coconut Sauce

Serves 8

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

one bunch fresh cilantro
2 limes
2 oranges
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp safflower oil
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp chili-garlic sauce (in the Asian aisle of your supermarket)
1 can lite coconut milk

Chop the cilantro finely. Transfer all but 2 Tbsp to a medium bowl.
Grate the zests of the limes and the oranges. Add to the cilantro. Add the juices of the limes and oranges.
Add the oils, the sesame seeds and the chili-garlic sauce. Mix well. Divide in two, one half for the chicken and the other for the sauce.

Pound the chicken breasts and place in two zip-loc bags. Divide the chicken marinade evenly between the two bags and let sit for at least one hour.

Heat the grill.
When the grill is hot, cook the chicken as you would normally do.

While the chicken is grilling, heat the coconut milk. Add the lime marinade and cook a little longer, about five minutes.

Plate the chicken with rice and snow peas, and pour the sauce over it and sprinkle with the fresh cilantro.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pork Roast with Garlic and Rosemary

Yesterday was another cold day here in new England...even though the meteorological Spring has begun!
Cold but clear enough to see something quite amazing...The space shuttle and the space station following each other in an orbit around the Earth. Incredible!

But enough small talk! Back to dinner.
By the end of the winter it gets hard to come up with new ideas. I am tired of the stews, but I am not yet ready to grill every night...(although lets be fair...I do usually sent Bob out in the cold to grill!).

We had a bunch of pork roasts in the freezer...When Roche Brothers has a whole loin on sale, we buy one, cut it in three roasts and freeze them...I have cooked pork in a lot of ways, often with fruits, or with tomatoes and onions...This Epicurious inspired recipe is very traditional in tastes and cooking method, but also original in delivery!

Pork Roast with Garlic and Rosemary

Serves 8

1 3-lb pork loin
6 large cloves of garlic, minced
5 sprigs (about 1/3 cup) rosemary, minced
2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 cup white wine
2 Tbsp butter

Combine the garlic and rosemary together. Add the salt.

With a long and thin knife, make an incision in the center of the side of the roast, piercing the roast in its center lengthwise, all the way through. With the handle of a long wooden spoon, enlarge the incision. Stuff the roast with all but 2 Tbsp of the garlic-rosemary mixture. When done, rub the roast with the remaining mixture and let sit for about one hour.

Heat the oven to 300F.
Place the roast in a baking dish, season with pepper and pour one cup of white wine at toe bottom of the dish.
Cook in the oven for approximately 1hour and 10 minutes. Transfer the roast form the dish to a cutting board; cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, scrape the juices form the dish, adding a bit of wine if necessary. Add the butter and keep warm in the oven - turned off.
Slice the roast thin and serve with either potatoes, green beans...