Saturday, June 26, 2010

Pain au Chocolat... aka chocolate croissant, my nemesis

I was watching "The Best Thing I Ever Ate - Sweet Tooth" on Food Network the other day. And Chef David Myers waxed poetic about the pain au chocolate at the Tartine Bakery. With a hushed voice it sounded as if he was speaking of a secret lover...

And then all I could think about for the rest of the day was the first pain au chocolat I enjoyed when I was working/living in Geneva, Switzerland. On my walk to work there was a patisserie ... that smelled oh so good!

It became a special treat for me.... on Tuesdays, and sometimes Fridays. (They were closed on the weekends... you see my dilemma!)

Fast forward about 10 years, a french bakery came to my downtown area: A Delight of France: French Bakery and Bistro.

My Tuesday ritual started again. But somewhere along the way life took over and the ritual stopped.

Until I saw/heard Chef David Myers confessing to his favorite sweet tooth treat.

So, can you guess what I did next?!

(silence please... and a hush came over the crowd)

You see, they make the pastry... and before baking it there are pieces of chocolate layered inside, ever so gently. They melt just perfectly. It creates two "tunnels" of chocolate... and makes you long for more.

And the flaky exterior... there are no words...

But don't take my word for it, go find one for yourself!

enjoy your time in the kitchen...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

RECIPE: Not Just Another Pasta Dish

There are no words... literally...

I really struggled with what to call this one... "Chicken and pasta in a creamy tomato sauce" just doesn't do it. It's just so much more than that! So my hero-of-a-hubby helped me with this name...

Just wait until you taste this deliciousness.... is that a word?! (Confession: I don't really care if it is or isn't.)

So, here's where we start...

Oh yeah, and don't forget these...

Chicken: season and grill... inside or out, it's your choice. But grilled it must be. The grilled flavor leaves a smokey nuance that you want! I promise...

Dice and set aside... and then we're on to the next thing, the fun part!

It's veg time... saute time...

And then sauce time... starting with tomato sauce.

And see the inside of the can? You want the rest of that tomato sauce. So... watch what I do... (I bet you've done it too!)

I pour my chicken broth in the can ... and when I pour out the chicken broth it welomes the rest of the goodness to the party...

And some more seasoning: onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes and dried oregano...

Stir well and let it reduce...

About 20 minutes later the sauce will be reduced enough to move forward. So, add the mascarpone and watch the best part of this whole process... watch it melt!

(Silence please...)

See ???

Now we're ready to bring everyone else to the party... pasta and chicken, here we go!

Give it a good stir...

Just enough to rewarm the chicken and then we're ready ... are you hungry?!

You have to make this soon... real soon!

Let me know how it goes... and let me know how much your family loves on you after serving them this scrumptious deliciousness!

Not Just Another Chicken and Pasta Dish
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

1 pound rigatoni
12-15 chicken tenders
15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 can’s worth of chicken broth
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Dash of red pepper flakes
2 roma tomatoes, diced
Half yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt/pepper

Season chicken on one side with ½ teaspoon each of onion powder and garlic powder, and a light sprinkle of kosher salt (once the chicken is on the grill, sprinkle the other side with black pepper). Grill chicken on BBQ or stovetop grill pan until done. Once done, allow to cool and dice into bit size pieces (or approximately the same size as the pasta you are using).

While chicken is cooking, saut̩ diced onions and tomato in olive oil. (I usually salt/pepper the veg while saut̩ing as well Рit helps to pull the water out and break down the veg.) Allow to cook on medium-low until soft/translucent and tomatoes break down a bit, stirring often. Increase heat to medium and add tomato sauce, chicken stock, 1 teaspoon each of onion powder, garlic powder and oregano. Bring to a boil, mix well. Reduce heat slightly and allow to bubble gently. Allow sauce to reduce for about 15-20 minutes (fluid will reduce by about half).

Cook pasta according to directions. A minute before the pasta is ready add mascarpone cheese to the tomato reduction and stir. Enjoy the process of watching it melt, stirring gently into the tomato sauce. Mix well. Add drained pasta and chicken pieces. Stir well to make sure all of the pasta is coated with sauce. Garnish with freshly shaved parmesan cheese. (Feeds 4-6 people... unless you're SUPER hungry!)

enjoy your time in the kitchen...

Monday, June 14, 2010

not just ANY chocolate chip cookie...

This week I read a blog and saw these: Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oh man, that Pioneer Woman! She's a genius! I keep my malted milk powder and my chocolate chips on the same pantry shelf ... and it NEVER dawned on me to combine them into my classic choclate chip cookie!

But as soon as she suggested it, I knew I'd love it! (Confession: every now and then I'll consume a very small tablespoon of malted milk powder ... just for kicks!)

In her blog, Ree notes that these cookies come out 'very thin' - she wasn't kidding. They sure are thin... in fact, when I first laid them out on the cooling rack one of them folded in half and fell through the rack! (Darn, I'll have to clean that up... ahem! Excuse me.)

And like I do with every batch of cookies I bake, I made ice cream sandwiches. It was a warm day... and an ice cream sandwich was a perfect treat!

Put the lid on...

And press down...

I know I don't need to say it, but make sure you consume before the ice cream melts...

So, what are you still doing sitting here? Go make some of these cookies!

enjoy your time in the kitchen...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

An Easy Panini...

Another quick and yummy summer lunch... Bruschetta Panini.

4 ingredients, 5 minutes, 6x more goodness than a plain ol' sandwich...

But don't take my word for it... try it for yourself!

You'll need a cast iron grill pan and a cast iron panini press. And then, honestly, it can't get much easier than this.

Set the heat on the cast iron grill pan on medium-high heat. And then layer your bread with your favorite ingredients. I used pesto, mozzarella cheese and tomatoes. First, take two fresh slices of good sourdough bread... and slathered on some pesto.

You can find my preferred pesto at Trader Joe's. (While I'm thinking of it, a shout out to TJ's: THANK YOU for making my life so easy!)

Then I added cheese on both sides ... putting it on both sides helps to hold the sandwich together (like a really yummy glue holding it all together).

Next, I layered the tomatoes on one side...

And that's all...

There's no real need to add butter (as if you'd do on a grilled cheese sandwich)... just place that sandwich in the hot grill pan and put the panini press on top.

Make sure to press down pretty hard on the panini press... (if you don't want to buy a panini press you could always use a garden brick, or two, wrapped in aluminum foil). Paninis are meant to be smushed together... like my technical terminology?

In about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes, it will be time to turn the sandwich over to grill the other side. See?

Put the panini press back on and press down hard...

1 1/2 - 2 minutes later... you have an easy panini! I could tell mine was just about ready because I heard some sizzling. The cheese was oozing out of one corner and hitting the hot grill pan... oh yeah, baby!


So, there's no real recipe here... just an idea. And maybe my idea will inspire you to use your own ingredients. What are YOUR favorite panini ingredients?

enjoy your time in the kitchen...


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