Monday, January 29, 2007

Cooking Light: Apricot Lamb Chops

Okay, so I've never been a huge fan of apricots, even the fresh ones.  My dad absolutely loves dried apricots, but there's just something wrong with that wrinkly texture in your mouth.  And once you bite down, they're way too sweet.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, the fresh apricots never seem to ripen, so all you get is hard, sour flesh. This is a no-win situation.

However, I do love lamb chops, and if that means I have to smear them with sweet apricot spread in order to get my family to be open-minded about eating them, that's exactly what I'm going to do.  And these are terrific.  So good I almost reached over onto my mom's plate.

Apricot Lamb Chops
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine, June 2005

½ cup apricot preserves or jam
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
8 lamp chops, trimmed of excess fat
Olive oil

Combine first five ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Sprinkle lamb chops with salt, cinnamon, and pepper on both sides. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle with olive oil and add lamb when hot. Cook for five minutes on each side (for a little bit of red in the middle) or longer for well done. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the apricot mixture on top. Turn the chops in the mixture to make sure they are well-coated. You can set the pan over the warm burner briefly to melt the jam and thin the sauce a bit. When serving, spoon the excess sauce over the chops.

Makes 4 servings

Friday, January 19, 2007

Tapas: Pollo con Limón y Ajo (Chicken with Lemon and Garlic) and Champiñones al Ajillo (Sautéed Garlic Mushrooms)

So here we are with tapas, take two.  I didn't get crazy with some blood sausage (mostly because I couldn't find any), but I did make some pretty delicious lemon chicken and garlic mushrooms.  The mushrooms especially had some pretty nice liquid to sop up with a piece of good bread.  These two dishes could really make a meal themselves, flamenco guitar not included.

Pollo con Limón y Ajo (Chicken with Lemon and Garlic)
From Tapas: Traditional and Contemporary Tapas Dishes

4 large skinless boneless chicken breasts
5 tablespoons Spanish olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Grated rind of 1 lemon, finely pared rind of 1 lemon, and juice of both lemons
4 tablespoons chopped fresh flatleaf parsley, plus extra to garnish
Salt and pepper
Lemon wedges and crusty bread, to serve

Using a sharp knife, slice the chicken breasts widthwise into thin slices. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottom skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

Add the sliced chicken to the skillet and cook gently for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the ingredients are lightly browned and the chicken is tender.

Add the grated lemon rind and the lemon juice and let it bubble. At the same time, deglaze the skillet by scraping and stirring all the bits on the bottom of the skillet into the juices with a wooden spoon. Remove the skillet from the heat, then stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer the chicken in lemon and garlic, piping hot, to a warmed serving dish. Sprinkle with the pared lemon rind and garnish with parsley sprigs. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over the chicken, accompanied by chunks or slices of crusty bread for mopping up the lemon and garlic juices.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Champiñones al Ajillo (Sautéed Garlic Mushrooms)
From Tapas: Traditional and Contemporary Tapas Dishes

1 pound white mushrooms
5 tablespoons Spanish olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Lemon juice
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
Lemon wedges, to garnish
Crusty bread, to serve

Wipe or brush clean the mushrooms, then trim off the stems close to the caps. Cut any large mushrooms in half or into fourths. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottom skillet. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until lightly browned. Add the mushrooms and sauté over high heat, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have absorbed all the oil in the skillet.

Reduce the heat to low. When the juices have come out of the mushrooms, increase the heat again and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the juices have almost evaporated. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley and cook for an additional 1 minute.

Transfer the sautéed mushrooms to a warmed serving dish, then garnish with lemon wedges and serve piping hot or warm. Accompany with crusty bread for mopping up the juices.

Makes 6 servings

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Cuisine at Home: Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Sage Butter Sauce

Cuisine at Home really wants you to try their magazine.  It's all I can think about after coming across their initial "free" issue every time I turn around.  Half Price Books must have a whole collection at this point.  But their Parmesan Crusted Chicken just looked too good to put down, so I gave in and made it.  And the recipe turned out a delicious piece of slightly tart, savory, crusty chicken goodness.  So I guess all those free issues did their job after all.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Sage Butter Sauce
From Cuisine at Home magazine, October 2002

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Juice of ½ lemon
1 loaf Ciabatta bread (to yield 1 cup coarse, dry bread crumbs)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
Sage Butter Sauce

Cut Ciabatta bread into large cubes and process in a food processor until fine crumbs form.  Dry the crumbs on a baking sheet for 10 to 15 minutes in a 200°F oven until completely dried by not toasted.

Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise.  Pound flat in a Ziploc bag with a small amount of water added.  Breasts should be an even thickness.

Blend egg whites, cornstarch, and lemon juice with a fork in a wide shallow dish; set aside.  Combine bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, salt, pepper, and zest in a second wide, shallow dish.  Dip chicken breasts first in egg sauce and then crust with breadcrumb mixture.  Let chicken rest at room temperature on a rack for 20 to 30 minutes to set crust.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Heat a frying pan with olive oil.  Add chicken breasts and brown first side, approximately 3 minutes.  Turn over and brown other side, approximately 3 minutes.  Transfer to oven-safe dish with small amount of olive oil in bottom.  Heat in oven for 8 to 10 minutes.  Serve with sauce.

Makes 4 servings

Sage Butter Sauce
3 tablespoons minced shallot
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon lemon juice
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed, divided use
1 to 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
Salt and white pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste

Sauté shallot in 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over medium heat just until soft, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add wine, cream, broth, and lemon juice.  Simmer until reduced by half, 8 to 10 minutes.  Whisk in remaining butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly.  Do not add more butter until previous addition has melted completely.  Finish sauce with sage and seasonings.  Keep warm in a water bath until ready to serve.