Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Peshwari Pilau aka Spiced rice with nuts and fruit

The New Curry Secret by Kris Dhillon is one of my new favorite cookbooks. And I don't even own it! Nope, the Witch was turned on to this amazing little gem by one of the moms in our playgroup. Like usual we were talking about food and she mentioned that her husband had received a great Indian cookbook for Christmas. After hearing about the wonderful things from this book for months (it was sheer torture, too!) we finally decided to get together and cook from the book.

It was one of the best meals of my life!! So a BIG THANK YOU to Nichole and her husband Mick for having this book and sharing its delicious secrets with the Kitchen Witch. Today I'd like to share with you one of the side dishes, Peshwari Pilau, or better known as Spiced rice with fruit and nuts. Sounds pretty delicious, right?

The spices in play here are cloves, cinnamon sticks and cardamon pods. Combined they create a rich, spicy background flavor, perfect for paring with all sorts of spicy Indian main dishes. The fruit is simply golden raisins. Cooking the raisins with the rice allows them to plump up and their sweet bursts of flavor are absolutely delicious. The crunchy bits of nuts add salty and sweet flavors as well. This rice is about as good as it gets in this Witches' opinion.

Best of all, even a rice challenged Witch can make this, successfully! Oh yes, its true, the Kitchen Witch is very, severely rice challenged. If its not 'minute, instant or boil in the bag' OR made in a rice cooker, chances are good that it won't be good if the Witch makes it. For some unknown reason my rice is notoriously crunchy, not cooked all the way through OR its super sticky (even when a non sticky variety) and pasty and well, frankly unpalatable. Sometimes I'm even able to have both things happen at once, gluey blown apart rice grains that are yet still crunchy in the inside. So when this rice turned out, perfectly, the first time, well I knew I had a winner of a dish and a great cookbook on my hands.

Even if Indian food isn't on your menu give this rice a try. It has a delightful fragrance and is filled with many of the spices we all associate with the holiday seasons. It'd be the perfect side dish for any of your holiday season dinners. Enjoy! Oh and PS, I'll be posting more Indian dishes from The New Curry Secret soon! Stay tuned for those!

Peshwari Pilau aka
Spiced rice with nuts and fruit
makes 4 generous servings
From The New Curry Secret by Kris Dhillon
9 oz (250g) basmati rice, rinsed very well
15 fl oz (450 mL) c water
1 T olive oil
1/4 c golden raisins
2 T blanched almond slices
2 T cashew pieces and halves
2-4 1 inch long cinnamon sticks
6 cardamon pods (green)
6 whole cloves
1 t kosher salt (use 1/2 as much if using table salt)

rinse the rice until the rinse water runs clear.

Preheat oven to 335F.

In an oven safe pan with a tight fitting lid heat the oil over medium high heat. Once oil is hot add the spices and cook about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add nuts and raisins, cook 30 seconds longer, stirring often. Then add the rinsed rice and stir well. Coat rice in the fragrant oil and cook about 1 minute before adding the water.

Add water and salt, stir well to mix. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to the lowest setting on your stove, cover and allow to cook for 20 minutes, stirring 3 times during the cooking process.

~*~Kitchen Witch Tip: When stirring rice use a wide spoon and a folding technique. Do NOT vigorously stir the rice, that will cause the starches to be released and the rice will be gluey and unnecessarily sticky. A quick stir 2-3 times around the pot is all you need, basically insuring that you won't have any stuck on or scorch spots at the bottom of the pan. Resist the urge to over-stir!~*~

After all water is absorbed put the lidded pan into the oven to dry the rice out, about 20 minutes.

Fluff rice with a fork before serving. Remove the cardamon pods, cinnamon sticks and cloves before serving.

Photo Credits: R.L. Long (aka the Witchy Sissy), the spices photos

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving
Calories 325.9
Total Fat 7.8 g
Saturated Fat 1.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 4.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 508.8 mg
Potassium 124.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 57.6 g
Dietary Fiber 1.0 g
Sugars 7.6 g
Protein 7.6 g

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Italian spiced chicken with burst tomato fettuccini Alfredo

A few weeks ago my Sissy was telling me about some meatballs she made and used the dry Italian dressing packet as the seasoning. That sparked my memory about A. how delicious that is and B. how quick and easy it is too!! After doing a quick ingredient check I discovered that there was nothing unapproved (no HFCS or PHO's) in the dressing packet so I grabbed a few. I had no real idea on what I'd do with them, short of making some yummy Italian dressing for salad maybe.

Last night I had chicken breasts to work with. Pretty boring. The Witch has made a LOT of chicken dishes so it becomes harder and harder to find new and different things to do with them that I haven't already shared with you all. Enter the Italian dressing mix! Running late on time I sliced the chicken into 2 pieces, like butterflying but not leaving them attached. That gives me a few advantages; quicker marinate time as there's less meat to penetrate, quicker cooking time because the meat isn't as thick and more surface to seasoning contact so its more flavorful.

The sauce for the pasta is quick and delicious. Cooking cherry tomatoes causes them to burst, releasing their sweet liquids into the sauce. A combination of white wine, pasta cooking water and half and half yield a rich sauce that just begs for some fresh grated cheese, in this case Asiago. After melting the cheese into the sauce add the cooked pasta and give thanks for the packet of Italian dressing mix. One last thing - beside the great flavor of this dish, its QUICK too! Not including marinade time its done in 20 minutes or less - the chicken and sauce cook while the pasta boils AND if you were really pressed for time you could skip the marinade all together with out a lot of significant flavor loss. Gotta love that Witchcraft!

Italian spiced chicken with burst tomato fettuccine Alfredo
makes 4 servings
2 chicken breasts, sliced width wise so you have 2 thin cuts
1/2 packet Good Seasons Italian dressing (dry)
1 c cherry tomatoes
1/2 c grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
1/4 c white wine
1/2 pasta cooking water
1/3 c half and half
kosher salt
2 T olive oil
1/2 box fettuccine (Barilla brand is the Witches' choice)

Slice chicken breasts into cutlets, so you have 2 thin cuts. Sprinkle each side with kosher salt and most of the Italian dressing packet (reserve about 1/2 t of the seasoning for the sauce). Allow to marinate for about 30 minutes.

Bring a pot of water to boil. Once boiling heavily salt the water and cook the fettuccini according to package (about 12 minutes).

While pasta cook, heat a large sautee pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and cook chicken (160F internal temp), flipping half way thru cooking. Place in a warm oven to hold until service.

In the same sautee pan add the cherry tomatoes and toss to coat in oil. Add the white wine, scraping up the bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow to reduce until you have about 2 tablespoons of wine left. It will be dark, don't be alarmed. The tomatoes should start to burst, releasing their juices into the sauce.

Add the pasta water and remaining 1/2 t of Italian seasonings, stir well and allow to reduce again. When pasta water has reduced by half add the half and allow to reduce slightly. Squeeze any unbroken tomatoes with tongs to release their juices. Add in the shredded cheese and stir well to melt and incorporate cheese. Add drained fettuccine and coat pasta with sauce.

Serve chicken with the fettuccine and a drizzle of the burst tomato sauce over top.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving
Calories 428.0
Total Fat 14.5 g
Saturated Fat 5.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.9 g
Monounsaturated Fat 5.0 g
Cholesterol 85.8 mg
Sodium 484.5 mg
Potassium 421.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 34.2 g
Dietary Fiber 1.9 g
Sugars 0.8 g
Protein 37.4 g

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Miso glazed chicken stir fry with asparagus and scallions

If you're read this blog with any regularity you'll know that Asian flavors are a favorite of the Witch household. Which is why when I asked the Husband what he wanted for dinner, and he promptly replied "Asian" I was not surprised. Rather I was wondering what I could do that I haven't done recently.

The first thing I knew I had to do was get some green vegetable. Last weeks teriyaki lo mein, while delicious, was missing a green veg component and I was bound, set and determined NOT to make that mistake twice. So off to the grocery store we went. Broccoli was my original intent of vegetation, however when I saw asparagus on sale I quickly changed my mind. A comment of "Ooh, asparagus Mom, can we get that please?" from the little Witch sealed the deal. Something Asian with asparagus it was! I also grabbed a bunch of scallions, which were on sale too, and started planning my meal.

Velveting the chicken is my go to method for all Asian inspired dishes. Its really simple, takes 30 minutes of marinade time, and the results are hands down the best way to go. If you love the soft, melt in your mouth chicken you get from Chinese restaurants, you'll love velveting! For more details about velveting please read this post. Best of all, the ingredients you'll need to produce this silky smooth soft chicken are pantry staples, can't beat that! If you don't stock white wine in your house you can substitute 1 T chicken stock and 1 T rice vinegar.

The sauce was next on my list. There was about 2T of my homemade teriyaki sauce left over in the fridge, adding that seemed like a great idea. I augmented the sauce with a bit more white wine, a little water and a big heaping scoopful of white miso paste. Miso paste can be difficult to locate, its taken the Witch years, and I do mean YEARS to find it locally. Finally I found it in the refrigerated section of my health foods store. It was $6 and should last me for at least 4-6 recipes. Not too shabby! If you can't find miso paste locally there are a lot of merchants online that you can order it from. Miso is soybean paste. The texture it gives the sauce is reminiscent of peanut sauce, thick, creamy and delicious. Its flavor is delicate and savory, perfectly matched for velveted chicken and tender asparagus. The lighter the miso, the gentler the flavor: it ranges from the very mild white or yellow to red and brown, getting more intense in flavor as the color darkens.

The Kitchen Witch is beyond pleased with the results of this dish. The flavors were light, delicate and yet bold all at once. The bright green colors of asparagus and scallion paired beautifully with the white chicken and golden sauce. Miso glazed chicken stir fry with asparagus and scallions is one of the best Asian inspired dishes to come out of the Witches' kitchen yet. I do hope you try and enjoy it as much as we did!

Miso glazed chicken stir fry with asparagus and scallions
makes 4 servings
4 scallions, sliced, greens sliced and reserved for garnish
1 carrot sliced thin
1 stalk celery sliced thin
1/2 bunch (.5 lb) asparagus spears, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 t ginger freshly grated
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced fine
2 chicken breasts sliced thin against the grain
1 egg white
3 T white wine, divided
3 T corn starch, divided
1 t kosher salt
3 T canola oil, divided
2 T teriyaki sauce (my recipe is here)
1/2 c water, divided
2 T soy sauce
2 T white miso paste

Begin by marinading the chicken in the velveting marinade:
slice chicken thin (1/8 in) across the grain, place into a medium size bowl
coat chicken with salt, toss with fingers to evenly distribute
next add 1 T white wine and mix again with fingers to evenly distribute
add egg white and mix with fingers, taking care not to froth the egg white
add 1 heaping T of the corn starch, coating each piece using fingers to distribute
finally add 1 T canola oil, using fingers to distribute evenly
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Prep your veggies while chicken is marinading.
Prepare the sauce by combining the teriyaki sauce, 2 T white wine, remaining corn starch, 2 T water and the miso paste. Stir well to incorporate all ingredients.

After chicken has marinated bring a pan of water to the boil. Once boiling add 1/4 of the chicken, stir well to break up any clumps. Once the outside turns white, about 30 seconds, remove from water and reserve. Repeat with remaining chicken until finished.

Heat a large sautee pan or a wok over high heat. Add 2 T canola oil. Add the ginger and garlic, stir fry for about 30 seconds, until very aromatic and it just starts to brown.

Add the prepped vegetables next. Stir well to evenly coat in oil/garlic/ginger mixture. Stir fry for about 1 minute. Add 1/4 c water and cover. Allow to steam for 2-3 minutes.

Add parcooked chicken. Stir fry about 2 minutes before adding the sauce mixture. Once chicken is cooked thru and veggies are crisp tender, add the sauce. Stir well as sauce thickens quickly. Cook about 1 minute longer. Serve with hot cooked rice.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving
Calories 350.5
Total Fat 12.3 g
Saturated Fat 1.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat 6.5 g
Cholesterol 68.4 mg
Sodium 533.9 mg
Potassium 902.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 23.5 g
Dietary Fiber 4.6 g
Sugars 2.2 g
Protein 47.1 g

Friday, November 12, 2010

Teriyaki Chicken Lo Mein

For a few years now I've been making my own teriyaki sauce. Imagine my surprise when I saw Pam from For the Love of Cooking post a recipe for teriyaki chicken by Ellie Krieger - and the sauce was pretty much exactly the same as mine! Ellie is an awesome cook/nutritionist so when I saw that her recipe mimicked my own, well I was a pretty darn proud Witch. Seeing Pam's wonderful chicken thighs reminded me of just how delicious teriyaki can be and set the wheels of creativity in motion! Thanks Pam for the inspiration!!

The teriyaki sauce in question is not a thick, syrupy sauce like many of use have had in restaurants. While I do not discount the deliciousness of those sauces, I do have to discount the corn syrup that they use. Those thick sauces tend to be too sweet for me anymore, too. The store bought teriyaki sauces don't have enough flavor for this Witch, which is why I started making my own. I add flavorful things like garlic, ginger, honey and red pepper flakes to mine, taking the once syrupy sweet sauce to a new gently sweet, tangy, flavorful delight. Oh sure, the sauce is still sweet, it is teriyaki after all. I've sweetened my sauce with a modest 1/4 c of brown sugar and a touch of honey.

After much thought I decided to make a lo mein type of dish. The little Witch LOVES anything with soy sauce in it and she likes noodles a lot too, so lo mein was a natural choice. Originally I had planned on broccoli making it into this dish as well, however the broccoli had other plans for me, like going into the compost pile rather than into the skillet. I do think that the dish needs something green, pea pods would be awesome, or the afore mentioned broccoli would have been nice too. As always feel free to add or subtract anything that you and your family likes.

I used the velveting method of marinading the chicken, as the Witch is apt to do anymore when making Asian food. It really gives great flavors to the chicken and makes it unbelievably tender. I used a bit of the teriyaki sauce in the velveting marinade which helped build the layers of flavor. The sauce was simply more of the teriyaki sauce and a bit of the pasta cooking water. A handful of cashews at the end added a bit of crunch. I still wish I had something green to add to it, but that just means that I'll have to make it again. The family hopes that I decide to do that soon!

Teriyaki Chicken Lo Mein
makes 4 servings
Sauce: (Makes more than the recipe calls for, so you'll have some left over)
1/2 c soy sauce
1/4 c brown sugar
1 T honey
1/4 c white wine (can use chicken stock)
1/4 c rice vinegar
1 t sesame oil
1 t fresh ground ginger
4 cloves garlic minced
few dashes crushed red pepper

Lo Mein
1/2 box Barilla angle hair pasta or your favorite long pasta
2 chicken breast
1 T white wine
1/2 t kosher salt
1T + 1/4 c teriyaki sauce
1 egg white
1 heaping T corn starch
3 T canola oil, divided
1 bell pepper sliced thin
1/2 onion sliced thin
1/4 c cashews

Prepare the teriyaki sauce by combining all ingredients in a small sauce pan. Stir well to dissolve. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for about 15 minutes. Reserve and allow to cool.

Prepare chicken via the velveting method.
Slice chicken thin across the grain and place in a medium size work bowl.
Using fingers, toss chicken with salt to evenly coat.
Next add the teriyaki sauce and coat chicken.
Next coat chicken with egg white being gentle as not to froth the egg.
Next is the cornstarch, coat evenly.
Finally coat in oil and allow to marinade for a minimum of 30 minutes.

After chicken has marinated bring a pot of water to the boil. Once boiling add chicken (in 4 batches) and stir to separate. Once the outside turns white remove chicken and reserve to cook later.

Cook pasta until al dente, drain and reserve.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2T canola oil. Stir fry the peppers and onions about 2 minutes, until onions start to soften and brown. Add the reserved chicken and 2 T of the teriyaki sauce. Stir fry another 1.5 to 2 minutes longer. Add the cooked pasta along with another 2-3T of the teriyaki sauce and cook about 1 minute longer, so sauce thickens and everything is evenly coated.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Teriyaki sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 55.8
Total Fat 0.6 g
Saturated Fat 0.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 902.0 mg
Potassium 80.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 13.6 g
Dietary Fiber 0.2 g
Sugars 12.1 g
Protein 1.1 g

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Teriyaki chicken lo mein
Amount Per Serving
Calories 412.9
Total Fat 14.8 g
Saturated Fat 1.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 7.5 g
Cholesterol 68.4 mg
Sodium 159.6 mg
Potassium 486.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 33.9 g
Dietary Fiber 3.0 g
Sugars 1.4 g
Protein 35.8 g

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spanish rice

Spanish rice has many variations. I have absolutely no idea if this is even remotely close to being authentic, but its what we think of when we want Spanish rice. Its like all the good stuffing part of a stuffed bell pepper with out all the work, 'cause really, who needs more work? It reheats well so leftovers are welcomed at lunch also.

This rice dish is also a great fridge clean out recipe: use what you've got on hand - its very adaptable and forgiving. In the past I've used 2 cups of left over French onion soup in lieu of the chicken stock and onion. If you have any veggies that need to be used up this is the place for it!

And can I talk about health for a moment too? 260 calories people! You can always substitute ground chicken (or turkey if you like that kind of thing) for the beef, making the calorie count even lower. Brown rice is great in this dish even for picky eaters: the reddish gold color from the seasonings and tomatoes mask the darker color of the rice so you sneak in fiber with out them knowing it. Adding finely diced veggies like zucchini, mushrooms or spinach add extra vitamins, fiber and general nutrition to the dish is a piece of cake. I've fooled the most adamant vegetable haters out there into cleaning their plate with this rice. Dad and Ben, you know who you are :-)

Spanish Rice
serves 6
1 lb hamburger, browned and well drained
1/2 onion fine dice
3 cloves garlic minced
1 bell pepper fine dice, any color works
1 can tomatoes with jalapanos or RoTel tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup Instant brown rice
1 T chili powder
1/2 t oregano
1 packet Sazon Arrozo seasoning (found in the Mexican foods aisle of your grocery store) (optional)
1 t ground cumin
dash cayenne pepper
Kosher salt & pepper

In a large covered pan, brown the beef with the onion and garlic. Drain off fat. Return meat to pan, add everything else and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook 20 to 30 minutes or until rice is soft and most liquid has been absorbed.

Serve with shredded cheese.

Nutrition Facts
6 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 260.1
Total Fat 16.0 g
Saturated Fat 6.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat 6.9 g
Cholesterol 58.4 mg
Sodium 616.4 mg
Potassium 345.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 12.8 g
Dietary Fiber 1.1 g
Sugars 0.8 g
Protein 15.4 g

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Blueberry pancakes and blueberry syrup

This past weekend I asked my husband what he wanted for his birthday breakfast. Before he could even answer the Little Witch piped up and said "I WANT PANCAKES!" I don't know about you but when a kid actually asks for something (other than mac & cheese or chicken nuggets) I get all excited and run to the kitchen to make it. Seeing as how it was the Husband's birthday, plain pancakes wouldn't cut it. So the Witch made blueberry pancakes with homemade blueberry syrup.

Believe it or not the syrup is super simple to make and it takes as long to cook as the pancakes take to make. I start the syrup as the skillet is heating for the cakes, and after I've cooked & flipped the entire batch, the syrup is done also! I love to make homemade syrup - its so simple and I know whats in it; a little sugar, no high fructose corn syrup or any corn syrup for that matter, fresh lemon and berries. What could be better, right?

The pancakes are big, thick, fluffy cakes. They get their lift from a LOT of baking powder. The Kitchen Witch HIGHLY recommends investing in a can of Rumford's Non Aluminum baking powder ($3 or so at almost all grocery stores, its in a red can). Regular baking powder has aluminum in it, and while small amounts aren't a health concern, I don't like the metallic taste it leaves. I also don't particularly enjoy the idea of eating aluminum, call me strange. But the non aluminum stuff, its good. You won't get that funky metallic 'baking powder' taste. Well worth the $3!

How cute is this little Witch?? She was really excited for pancakes :)

I've included a lot of helpful tips on making pancakes light and fluffy in the recipe directions. Its taken the Witch a LONG time to learn to follow her own instructions and let me tell you, when I do, I'm so happy!! I resisted over mixing, hard though it was, and we were rewarded with light, fluffy pancakes that any diner would be proud to serve. Homemade syrup was literally the icing on the cake, or in this case the syrup on the pancake. Enjoy!

Blueberry pancakes and syrup
makes 6 servings, 2 (6-8 inch diameter) pancakes each
1 lb frozen blueberries
2.5 cups flour
2 T baking powder (aluminum free preferably)
1T plus 1/4 c sugar, divided
1/2 t table salt
2 eggs
2 cups milk
1 T vanilla
2 T butter melted
1 T lemon juice
rind of lemon in long pieces (opt)

In a large mixing bowl sift the flour, baking powder, 1T sugar and salt together.

In a separate bowl mix the milk, eggs and vanilla. Mix well to incorporate ingredients. Add melted butter.

Reserve 1 cup of the frozen blueberries for the pancakes. Put the remaining bag of berries into a small sauce pan and add 1/4 c sugar, 1/4 c water and the rind of 1 lemon along with 1T lemon juice. Bring to a boil, stir then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer uncovered while pancakes cook. (about 20-30 minutes)

Preheat a skillet (cast iron is preferable) over medium heat. Oil pan lightly. Once pan is hot add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir to incorporate. DO NOT OVER MIX! A few lumps are fine they will work out in the end. Over mixing develops the gluten in the flour and makes tough rubbery pancakes. Its better to under mix a little than over mix. Batter will start to puff up rapidly as the baking powder is activated by the milk. Batter will also thicken upon standing, resist urge to stir it - the air bubbles again provide lightness to the pancake.

Spoon batter onto hot griddle, about a 4-5 inch diameter spreading it around slightly after pouring. Place about 10 blueberries into each pancake. Cook until golden brown on bottom and dry on edges. Flip cake.

Continue cooking on second side until the bottom is browned. Cooked pancakes can be kept in a 250F oven until they're all cooked. Any leftovers can be frozen with parchment papers between each cake.

Remove the lemon rind from blueberry syrup. Serve with pancakes.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving
Calories 380.6
Total Fat 8.2 g
Saturated Fat 4.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.9 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.3 g
Cholesterol 87.7 mg
Sodium 544.5 mg
Potassium 131.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 66.7 g
Dietary Fiber 4.0 g
Sugars 22.0 g
Protein 10.6 g

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Easy Pot de Creme au chocolat

The end of October into the 2nd week of November is BUSY around the Witch household. All 3 of us have birthdays with in 3 weeks of each other! This past weekend it was the Husband's birthday so I decided to make him a very special dessert, pot de creme. Pot de creme is french for pots of cream - also code for very rich chocolate pudding/mousse hybrid. It can be intimidating - however the Witch is here to quell those intimidations with this awesome recipe.

While looking for a recipe to make my pot de creme I ran across the Pioneer Woman's version which claimed to be 'easy' - something that usually intrigues me. Further reading revealed that indeed this would be easy, there's no baking involved!! WOO HOO thank you Pioneer Woman!

There's great news and horrible news I have to report with the pot de creme. The great news is that they are amazing!! Rich, fluffy, silky, chocolate & mocha flavored pots of creamy goodness. Really they are absolutely amazing!!

So whats the bad news then, Kitchen Witch?

They take less than 5 minutes to make. And all the ingredients are pretty standard in a well stocked pantry. 5 minutes people. This is HORRIBLE news! (to my diet and waistline that is!)

This amazing little treat calls for 5 ingredients: high quality chocolate chips, eggs (again high quality), screamin' hot coffee, salt and vanilla. The extra hot coffee, combined with the friction of the blades, essentially cook the eggs resulting in a french silk type of chocolaty concoction, dense, yet light, smooth and creamy. The hot coffee also aids in the melting of the chocolate. Yes I was dubious about this recipe, after all 5 ingredients and no cooking, how good can it really be??? Believe me when I tell you its amazing!! Treat the chocoholic in your life to a pot de creme. They'll be very happy you did!

Easy Pot de Creme du Chocolate
makes 6 servings
From The Pioneer Woman
1 12 oz bag high quality chocolate chips
4 whole eggs at room temperature
8 oz very hot very strong coffee (I used Starbucks VIA Italian roast)
pinch salt
1T vanilla
OPTIONAL 2T liquor like amaretto, Grand Mariner, or other flavored liquor
Fresh whipped cream (optional)

In the carafe of your blender add the chocolate chips. Add the eggs, vanilla (and optional liquor) and salt.

Blend on low speed for about 30 seconds.

With the stopper top open SLOWLY add the very hot coffee to the eggs & chocolate. Blend on low until chocolate starts to melt then increase to medium. Blend about 1 to 2 minutes. Mixture will double in volume and the chocolate will be completely melted when the mixing is done.

Pour into 6 ramekins or tea cups. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 3-4 hours before serving.

Top with fresh whipped cream if desired.

~*~Kitchen Witch Tip: If you're nervous about the eggs you can use pasteurized eggs or an egg substitute product. I've never tried this recipe with an egg substitute (egg beaters or the like) so I make no promises on how it'll turn out. I buy only high quality organic eggs so I'm pretty comfortable about them, and the very hot boiling coffee cook the eggs essentially. However I eat raw cookie dough often and nothings happened to me so I'm ok with them here. Use your judgment and do whats best for you and your family!~*~

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving
Calories 316.5
Total Fat 18.5 g
Saturated Fat 10.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 141.7 mg
Sodium 68.7 mg
Potassium 60.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 38.3 g
Dietary Fiber 0.0 g
Sugars 30.3 g
Protein 4.2 g

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Potato and bacon soup

Have you ever bought an ingredient and had high hopes for it only to be let down by the results? I think everyone has. Isn't it ironic then that this soup was developed on a failed product? Well it is! How's that even possible Witch? I'll tell you!

The product in question is called "Pork and Bacon sausage" and its made by Farmland. I've had their bacon before, its delicious. I've had their sausage in link form too and we enjoyed them very much. So when I found "Pork & Bacon" I said HOLY COW! I must have this! According to the ingredients list "Pork & Bacon" is just that: ground bacon and ground pork. Sounds good to me! The first time I made it I didn't brown it enough and it was pretty gross, the texture wasn't right. So when I ran across this little gem the next time I thought about it. Really thought about it, and came up with this recipe for soup.

Potatoes and bacon are a natural pair, their flavors are just delightful together so why not try the ground bacon in soup? While I love the flavor of bacon in potato soup, its always as a garnish on top to avoid the dreaded soggy bacon syndrome. The Witch thought "gee what if I really browned up the ground bacon and added it to the soup? Then you'd get bacon flavor and pieces of bacon in each bite with out the dreaded sogginess." I decided to use 1/2 the roll of meat and finely crumble it and brown the living daylights out of it. Ah that looked a LOT better than my first attempt, the fat has rendered out completely and the meat is crispy.

I cooked my onions and garlic in the rendered bacon fat for added flavor. I also used said fat to make a roux with flour to aid in thickening of the soup. The bacon did lose its crispness in the soup, but since its ground it doesn't have the stringy problem that regular strip bacon has when it gets soggy. It was really delicious to have a bit of bacon in each bite of soup. I'm quite pleased with the results I got from the Bacon & Pork this time around. I'll defiantly try it again, I have visions of a bean & bacon soup dancing in my head :)
PS Apologies for the poor color and quality of photos, I have to 'relearn' to get decent shots in low light - I forgot how difficult it is to get good pictures in fall/winter!

Potato and Bacon soup
makes 6 large servings
4-5 russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 lb 'bacon and pork' sausage
2 cups chicken stock
4 cups milk
1 onion diced fine
3 cloves garlic minced
1/3 c flour

Brown the bacon & pork sausage in a large soup pan. Once browned & crumbled remove from pan.

In the sausage fat the onions and garlic, cook until edges start to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and reserve with the bacon.

Add the flour to the fat in the pan, whisk well and cook about 2-3 minutes or until it starts to lightly brown and smells nutty.

Whisk in the chicken stock, whisking well to avoid lumps. Scrape up any cooked on bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the milk and stir well.

Add the diced potatoes and cooked bacon sausage and onion/garlic back to the pan. Season with salt & pepper. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to avoid the potatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Once potatoes are cooked through and soft taste for seasoning. Add more salt & pepper if needed. Garnish with cheese and sour cream.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving
Calories 295.6
Total Fat 7.0 g
Saturated Fat 3.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.9 g
Cholesterol 22.2 mg
Sodium 493.3 mg
Potassium 801.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 46.3 g
Dietary Fiber 4.5 g
Sugars 9.1 g
Protein 12.3 g

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

Quick breads are so yummy. My mom used to make them for us often when I was a kid. There's nothing like the aroma of baking cinnamon and pumpkin to really usher in fall. Ever since the beginning of October the blogosphere has been overwhelmed with pumpkin recipes. Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cakes, pumpkin breads and pumpkin waffles. The last 2 mentioned the Witch is guilty of as well. But really, is there anything wrong with an abundance of pumpkin recipes? If you're a pumpkin lover then the answer is heck no! Bring them on! (If you aren't a pumpkin lover then I apologize. The pumpkin train will be departing soon!)

So after searching countless blogs and recipe sites the Kitchen Witch ran across one pumpkin recipe that stood out from the rest. I really don't know what it was about Megan's recipe from What's Megan Making, maybe the amazing photographs. Maybe the simple straight forward flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove mixed with pumpkin. Maybe it was Megan's confession that she will be making these into muffin size for portion control in the future! Whatever it was I bookmarked it and made it today. And let me tell you, I'm one happy Witch that I did!

Being Andrea the Kitchen Witch I (of course!) had to deviate from the recipe. I added applesauce for half the fat, to cut back on calories and add moisture. I also added a cinnamon sugar topping, the same one that was such a hit with my banana bread. I also cut back on the overall sugar by 1/4 a cup, not a lot but every little bit adds up and I don't like an overly sweet quick bread. With all the changes I'm happy to report that the baked up tall and beautiful just as expected.

Now for the all important taste test. Sweet, yet spicy and gently flavored from the pumpkin. The pumpkin makes the loaf very moist and gives it a very tender crumb. This pumpkin bread is a family pleaser, the little Witch had 4 slices yesterday and deemed it "yummy Mommy". I'll take that any day!

Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from recipe at What's Megan Making?
makes 2 loaves, approx 12 servings per loaf
2 cups white sugar
3/4 c brown sugar, divided
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
4 eggs, beaten
1 can (15oz) pumpkin
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
fresh ground nutmeg, about 1/2 t (if using dried use 1 t)
2 tsp cinnamon, divided
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 2 loaf pans with non stick spray and then line bottoms with parchment paper, leaving edges to hang over like a hammock. This will assist in removing the bread from the pan when baked.

Finished loaf with the parchment hammock attached, the ends hung over the loaf pan, removal was as simple as lifting it up out of the pan!

In the work bowl of your stand mixer add the applesauce, pumpkin, eggs, oil, white sugar and 1/2 c of the brown sugar. Mix well until thoroughly incorporated.

Meanwhile mix the flour, 1 t cinnamon and remaining spices, baking soda & powder and salt together.

Add the 1/3 of the flour mix to the pumpkin mix, then add 1/2 of the water. Repeat with flour and water, ending with flour as last addition.

Evenly distribute the batter into the 2 prepared loaf pans.

In a small bowl mix the reserved 1/4 c brown sugar with the reserved 1 t cinnamon. Mix well and even distribute over the top of both loaves.

Bake at 350F for about an hour or until bread tests clean.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving
Calories 218.1
Total Fat 5.6 g
Saturated Fat 0.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.0 g
Cholesterol 35.4 mg
Sodium 333.6 mg
Potassium 95.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 42.1 g
Dietary Fiber 1.2 g
Sugars 27.0 g
Protein 3.1 g
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