Monday, July 25, 2011

Chicken with Risotto

Here is one of those occasions where the Recipe of the Week will be featured on the Brave Astronaut table later this week. Mrs. BA found this recipe on the Annie Eats blog and we are going to work it into the rotation later this week. I'll try and remember to post a review.

Herbed Risotto with Chicken and Caramelized Onions
Yield: about 6 servings

  • 1½ tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 cups Arborio (medium grain) rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh chives
  • Ground black pepper
Add 1½ teaspoons of the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and sugar, stirring to coat. Allow the onion to cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown and caramelized. Remove the onions to a plate and set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the chicken broth and water and bring to a simmer. In the meantime, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet used to cook the onions set over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Transfer the chicken to the heated skillet and cook, turning once, until each side is a light golden brown. Remove from the heat and transfer the chicken pieces to the saucepan with the simmering broth mixture. Let cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165˚ F or until cooked through (no longer pink). Remove the chicken from the broth and transfer to the plate with the onions.

Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to a Dutch oven set over medium heat. Once melted, add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice to the pan, stirring to coat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the grains are translucent around the edges, about 3 minutes.

Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until fully absorbed, about 2-3 minutes. Stir 5 cups of hot broth mixture into the rice. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until almost all liquid has been absorbed and the rice is just al dente, 16-19 minutes, stirring twice during cooking.

Add ¾ cup of the hot broth mixture to the risotto and stir gently and constantly until the risotto becomes creamy, about 3 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan. Remove the pot from the heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Stir the shredded chicken and caramelized onions into the risotto with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, lemon juice, parsley and chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, add up to ½ cup of the remaining broth mixture to add moisture and loosen the texture. Serve immediately.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cupcake Chicken

I am not a big fan of dark meat chicken, but this recipe sounds too interesting not to try. I guess I would also need to get a smoker.

  • 12 medium skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 2 cups Jack's Old South Huney Muney Cluck Rub, or 1 recipe Basic Chicken Rub (see additional recipe below)
  • 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the sauce:
  • 1 cup Jack's Old South Vinegar Sauce or Basic Vinegar Sauce (see additional recipe below)
  • 2 cups Jack's Old South Hickory Sauce or Basic Hickory Sauce (see additional recipe below)
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/4 cups seedless blackberry preserves
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
What you'll need:
  • Poultry shears
  • 1 silicone cupcake mold, with holes punched through each cup (or an aluminum cupcake pan, also with holes punched through each cup)
  • 1 13 X 9-inch aluminum baking pan
  • 1 aluminum baking sheet
Heat a smoker to 300°F.

Using poultry shears, remove the knuckle on each end of each chicken thigh bone. Then trim the excess fat off the skin and meat of each thigh until the pieces are 3 to 4 inches wide, leaving about 1/4 inch of excess skin at the edges of the meat. Apply the chicken rub evenly to both sides of the thighs.

In the cupcake mold, place each thigh, skin side down, in an individual cup. Sit the mold in the baking pan, and pour the chicken broth into the pan, being careful not to pour it directly on top of the chicken. Place the pan in the smoker and cook, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the baking pan from the smoker. Gently flip the thighs onto the baking sheet. Season the tops of the thighs with salt and pepper. Return the thighs to the mold cups, skin side up, and put the baking pan back in the smoker. Cook for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Put all the sauce ingredients into a blender and blend until thoroughly combined. In a medium pan over medium heat, warm the sauce until it is hot but not boiling. Set aside.

Remove the pan from the smoker, and unmold the chicken thighs onto the baking sheet, skin side up. Brush the thighs lightly with the warm sauce. Place the baking sheet in the smoker and cook for 30 minutes to allow the sauce to caramelize into the chicken skin.

Remove the baking sheet from the smoker, and serve the cupcake chicken immediately.

Basic Chicken Rub
  • 2/3 cup chili powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons onion powder
  • 4 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients thoroughly. You can store this rub in an airtight container indefinitely.

Basic Vinegar Sauce
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup sugar
In a stockpot over medium heat, combine the vinegar, ketchup, and hot sauce. Stir together. Pour in all the remaining ingredients and stir to dissolve. Do not boil. When spices are thoroughly dissolved, take the pot off the heat, and funnel the sauce into a bottle. The sauce will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 year.

Basic Hickory Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons smoked sweet paprika
  • 2/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and pulse until thoroughly combined. Pour into a medium pot, and stir continuously over medium heat until heated through. Do not allow it to boil. Remove and use while hot. If reserving for later use, allow the mixture to cool; then pour it into a large bottle or container and store, refrigerated, for up to 1 year.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Quotable Movies

Part of the celebration of the Fourth of July at the launchpad involves the mandatory viewing of 1776. Mrs. BA usually has to leave the room lest she commit murder - she hates when I quote the lines from the movie and that doesn't include the singing.

I will admit that it can be bothersome, but I seem to be gifted / cursed with the ability to memorize (and recall) lines from movies at will and of course recite them while watching any particular movie (I have also noticed this disturbing trait in LBA - when we are watching a Wild Kratts episode for the umpteenth time).

I spotted this article in Time Magazine online and felt I needed to share and invite comment. The article commemorated the 25th Anniversary of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, a movie I can almost recite word for word, start to finish. Then again, these days, I can do that with Cars, Finding Nemo, Stuart Little, Thomas, etc.

The Top 10 Quotable Movies
10. Napoleon Dynamite - um, I actually have never seen this movie (I know, it's like you don't know me)
9. Clueless - have seen pieces of this, but again, not all the way through
8. Glengarry Glen Ross - steak knives, anyone?
7. Monty Python and the Holy Grail - "This? Oh, that's just a flesh wound."
6. The Wizard of Oz - parenthetically, there was a story in the Washington Post recently about someone in the DC area who has created Beltway backups - surely driven by a love of this movie.
5. Top Gun - Do you feel it? Do you have the need? You know, "the need for speed."
4. The Godfather - I have meant to watch this movie all the way through, really.
3. Casablanca - my father's favorite movie. He really likes the scene where they sing "La Marseillaise," which he will do for you after he's had a little too much to drink.
2. Anchorman - I don't know if this belongs in the Pantheon of great movies, but it is definitely quotable.
1. The Big Lebowski - the Dude abides.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Perhaps a Summer Home?

For sale: Historic waterfront property with a spectacular, 50-foot-high view of Lake Michigan. Featuring solid, century-old cast-iron construction, painted distinctive red. Comes with its own Fresnel lens for signaling ships.

It would appear the federal government is doing all it can to raise some money (and avoid hitting that debt ceiling). If you needed some ideas for my birthday (which is in December), you could always buy me a lighthouse. The General Services Administration is currently holding an auction (three of them, actually) wherein you can bid on lighthouses in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Lake County, Ohio, and Conneaut, Ohio.

It has been previously noted my affinity for lighthouses. If I am on vacation and there is a lighthouse nearby, I will usually visit it. Someday, I will stay in one (there's a bed and breakfast). Now if you don't want to buy me one, the GSA is making a dozen lighthouses available for free (to public groups that will agree to preserve it). Perhaps JAL Tours should get one?

The lighthouses available for free are:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Strawberry Cake

This recipe is offered despite the fact that it comes from the kitchen of Martha Stewart - it has been adapted slightly by the author from whom I borrowed it. Enjoy.

Strawberry Summer Cake
adapted, only slightly, from Martha Stewart

[from the Smitten Kitten kitchen] I recently picked up some barley flour and fell in love with it. We tend to associate whole grain flours with heartiness and heaviness, but this is neither — it’s silky and delicate, like the best cake flour you’ve ever bought, and it has a subtle creamy, nuttiness to it that goes fantastically with berries. This cake works like a dream with 100% all-purpose flour but if you’ve got barley flour around, swapping it in for half the volume is beyond delicious, adding a real depth to a deceptively simple cake.

I am ever-so-slightly on the fence about the sweetness of this cake. I like it, but I wouldn’t hate the batter itself with 2 tablespoons less sugar (i.e. 7/8 cup sugar instead of a whole one). If that’s your inclination, go ahead and dial it back as well. Leave the sugar on top. It contributes to the berries turning into jam. [/from]
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate
  • 1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour (can swap 3/4 cup or 94 grams all-purpose flour with 3/4 cup or 75 grams of barley flour, see Note)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup (200 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 pound (450 grams) strawberries, hulled and halved
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch pie pan or 9-inch deep-dish pie pan (what I used). I did not test this with a standard 9-inch pie plate but looking at the margin of space leftover in my deep-dish pan after baking the cake, I suspect you’d be safe. This cake would also work in a 9- or 10-inch springform or cake pan. The 10-inch would make a thinner cake than pictured.

Whisk flour or flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer (though I had to overlap a few to get them all in). Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Gooey strawberries on the tester are a given.) Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into wedges. Serve with lightly whipped cream.

Do ahead: Cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, loosely covered, but good luck with that.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Oh you know it had to be Flag Cake

While I am watching my favorite movie that must be watched on the Fourth of July (which is also on the schedule for next year's list of shows at Ford's Theatre - and am very excited for), I harken back to the days of my youth when there was always Flag Cake for the Fourth. July Fourth is also my father's birthday - so indulge me by allowing me to wish him a very happy 82nd birthday.

Happy Independence Day!

Flag Cake (from Betty Crocker)
This patriotic cake is so simple and so versatile! To make this cake easy to take, you can frost and decorate it right in the pan.
  • 1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® yellow cake mix
  • Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
  • 1 container Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy vanilla frosting or Betty Crocker® Whipped vanilla frosting
  • 1/3 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 pint (2 cups) fresh strawberries, stems removed, strawberries cut in half
Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Make and cool cake as directed on box for 13x9-inch pan.

Frost top and sides of cake with frosting. For flag design, arrange blueberries on upper left corner of frosted cake to create stars; arrange strawberries in rows over frosted cake to create stripes. Serve immediately. Store covered in refrigerator.

Makes 15 servings

Friday, July 1, 2011

Best Picture Books

This is a post for all my friends out there with young children. For example, I could write, "In the great green field . . ." and many of you would begin to recite from memory "The Big Red Barn." With LBA now six and a half, we are moving into "chapter" books for him and he is getting better at reading himself every day. SoBA is also improving a great deal and often wants a "bigger" book than the board or picture book.

Nonetheless, when I saw this article in the Washington Post a few weeks ago, I was prompted to share it with you. The gist of the article was whether or not the picture book was still worthwhile and helpful to children. Well, poop on that. We make our way through our extensive library - although there are books that tend to stay in the rotation for extended periods of time.

That is not to say that I wouldn't mind a new book now and then. Like maybe this one. And if it's being read by Samuel L. Jackson, more the better.

Here's the list(s) from the article. I've bolded the ones we read regularly. So what are your favorites?

From Dara Laporte, from Politics and Prose:
Susan Modak’s list (she's from the Noyes Children's Library)
And from Tracey Grant, the WP Momspeak Columnist: