Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chicken Galliano

Well... I had never heard of Galliano liquor up until last week. It is a Toscan herbal liquor from the late 1800s. Amongst the many herbs and spices you can taste Star Anise, vanilla, ginger, lavender... You may think of Pernod, or Sambucca, but the vanilla really gives Galliano its sweetness.

As i was browsing through a few recipe, decided on trying something entirely new, I came upon this recipe in Saveur Magazine, which I have adapted a bit.

Chicken Galliano

Serves 6

6 large chicken breast. skinless
16 oz plain goat fresh goat cheese (1 1/2 log), at room temperature)
12 slices of prociutto
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 sprigs rosemary


12 oz assorted mushrooms (crimini, shiitake...) sliced
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
3 cups chicken broth

5 Tbsp butter
olive oil

Butcher twine

Butterfly the chicken breasts and pound until 1/8-inch thick.

In a bowl, cream the goat cheese. Add about half the garlic, and half the rosemary, finely chopped.

Spread the goat cheese mixture evenly on the chicken breasts. lay 2 slices of prosciutto on top of the cheese and roll the chicken tightly.
Tie the rolls with the twine.

Heat about 2 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter in a large saute pan. Add the mushrooms, and cook without stirring, about 5 minutes. When browned, stir and cook until tender, 5 minutes more.
Transfer to a plate.

Dredge the chicken rolls in flour. In the same saute pan, heat another 2 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter. Add the chicken and sear all sides until golden brown. Cover and cook until cooked through, about 12 more minutes. Transfer to a plate.

In the same saute pan, add the chicken broth, the remaining garlic and rosemary,  and the Galliano. Reduce by about a third, 7 - 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms, and the chicken. Turn to coat until heated through.

Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

Serve with rice.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Lamb Kebabs

Lamb is one of our family's favorite meat. We do make a whole leg of lamb on occasion, or grill a butterflied leg of lamb too. This time, as the weather is getting a bit warmer, and we are starting to grill again, we made Lamb Kebabs.

Lamb Kebabs

Makes 16 kebabs

3 lbs boneless butterflied lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp ground ginger
3 Tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 Tbs ground cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp Ras El Hanout (northern African mix of spices)

2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces

16 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least one hour

In a bowl, mix the oil and the spices and mix well. Pour over the diced lamb and let marinate in the fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Assemble the kebabs, alternating the meat with the peppers and the red onion.

Grill  and cook to medium rare, and serve with couscous.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mini Chocolate Cupcakes with Butter Cream Frosting

Easter...First signs of Spring...and a good excuse to indulge your sweet tooth!!! We celebrated at the Cicalis this year, although for me the celebration was short as I had to work and close the restaurant. Nonetheless, out of boredom (no internet or cable!), and maybe too because I wanted to try my new camera lens, I decided to make cupcakes. Easter calls for chocolate of course and I went to my "Cupcakes" by Martha Stewart for inspiration.

Mini Chocolate Cupcakes 
with Butter Cream Frosting

Makes about 50 mini cupcakes

3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
3 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt (I used my homemade yogurts)
1/3 cup safflower oil (or regular vegetable oil)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract (again I used my homemade vanilla extract)
1 1/2 cup warm water

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Line 2 mini cupcake pans with paper liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk,  mix together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and baking powder, and salt.
Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs, the buttermilk or yogurt, the oil and the vanilla extract. Add the warm water. Mix until well combined and smooth. The batter will be somewhat liquid.
With a ladle, divide the batter evenly into the lined cups, filling them to about 2 thirds.
Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. remove from oven and unmold as soon as possible to prevent further cooking.

To decorate the cupcakes, divide the buttercream and color with food coloring using only a few drops at a time until you achive the desired color.

Pipe the frosting on top of the cupcakes and enjoy!!!

Swiss meringue buttercream

This buttercream is a lot easier to make that its name leads us to believe, and well worth the work.

5 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
a pinch of salt (except if you use salted butter)
1 lb butter (I do use salted butter...!) at room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla extract (I used homemade)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the egg whites, sugar and salt. Set over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved.

Fit the stand mixer with the whisk and start to slowly whisk the egg whites mixture. Gradually increase the speed and whisk until stiff peaks form. Continue whisking until it becomes glossy and completely cool, about 10 minutes.

With the mixer at low speed, add the butter, a couple of tablespoons at a time. When all the butter has been incorporated, add the vanilla extract. Switch from the whisk to the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until all there are no more air bubbles.

You can keep for up to 3 days in the fridge, or a month in the freezer, in an airtight container.
Bring to room temperature before using.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Three Layers Lasagna

Hello and yes, I am back! Happy New Year to all of you!!! It seems that my New Year resolution, year after year, is to update my blog more frequently. And I really try! But I have to admit that I have not had that much time to cook lately. The restaurant takes up a lot of my time, and I do not eat at home very often anymore, as I close most nights. But I will try again!
My first recipe of the year is a Lasagna dish. Bob's favorite and a real cold winter not comfort food.
Yes, it is time consuming, but so worth it!

Three Layers Lasagna

Serves 10

2 celery sticks, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 onions, sliced

4 bags fresh baby spinach

3/4 lb assorted wild mushrooms, cut in half

3 lbs lean ground beef
8 hot Italian sausages, casing removed

2 large cans crushed tomatoes

1 cup red wine

1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper (or more to taste!)

1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 head garlic, minced

20 leaves of fresh basil, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

25 lasagna pasta (cook according to box directions.)

Place a cheesecloth in a strainer and add the ricotta cheese. Let drain until ready to use.

In a large sauté pan or Dutch oven, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the carrots, celery and onion. Cook until tender, remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add more oil and sauté the spinach, on medium heat. Add a teaspoon of garlic. When done, transfer to a colander and allow to drain while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Again, in the same pan, add a little oil and the mushrooms. Add a teaspoon of garlic. When tender, transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Without adding any oil, add the meats to the hot pan and sauté until all cooked. Season with salt and pepper. When done, transfer to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. There will be some liquid left in the bottom of the pan. Discard if too fatty, otherwise reserve for the tomato sauce.

Heat the canned tomatoes in the pan. Add the wine, the remaining garlic, the Cayenne pepper, salt, the carrots, celery and onions. Add the basil and set aside.

Assemble the lasagna:

Ladle a thin layer of tomato sauce at the bottom of the baking dish. Pace a first layer of pasta. Cover with half the meat. Sprinkle wit h mozzarella cheese.
Place another layer of pasta. Spread the drained spinach evenly. Spread the ricotta on top of the spinach. Grate some nutmeg on top and sprinkle with mozzarella.
Place a layer of pasta on top. Cover with the remaining meat. Add the mushrooms and ladle  some sauce on top. Sprinkle with mozzarella.
Place the final layer of pasta on top of the meat/mushroom layer and cover with more sauce. The amount of sauce you add varies according to each individual taste.

Bake at 375F for about 45 minutes, until bubbly. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and retur to the oven until melted.

Let stand a few minutes before cutting to let the juices settle.

Bon appetit!!!