April 27, 2009

Chicken Paillard

Is anyone else enjoying the weather as much as me?? It has been absolutely beautiful in NYC! We spent this whole weekend outside, and I already started today off with a run through the park. Even little Suki seems energized by the weather change. 

With bathing suit season quickly approaching (or here!), I think we could all use a little healthy eating. I know everyone spent the whole winter eating carrots and celery just so they could fit into that itty-bitty-bikini. Ha! I certainly ate my way through winter comfort food, and am now realizing that macaroni and cheese is not, in fact, its own food group. So here's a nice and light dish that is delicious and healthy. I especially love this recipe because after making it once you will practically have the whole thing memorized, ingredients and all. This comes in very handy when you are standing in the grocery store with no idea what to make. Plus it's totally painless and you only have to stand over the stove for a few minutes. Major plus for those of us who don't yet have their AC turned on. 

Chicken Paillard with Lemon Arugula Salad
Adapted from Cooking Light
Serves 2

zest and juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon EVOO
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
2 cups salad greens
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
cooking spray
1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup dry white wine
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the first 3 ingredients, and set aside.
  • Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, and using a meat mallet, pound each out till it is 1/4 inch thick.
  • Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high and coat with cooking spray. 
  • Add chicken to skillet and cook for 4 minutes on each side or until cooked through. 
  • Place chicken on a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
  • Add halved tomatoes and white wine to the pan and cook for 2 minutes, or until the liquid is nearly evaporated.
  • To serve, toss salad greens in lemon juice mixture, and place greens on top of chicken. Top greens with tomatoes.

April 22, 2009

I'm back - and with Spring Risotto

When we were down south in GA and SC, visiting both my parents and the in-laws, I really got to feel like Spring was coming. It was warm and sunny and everything was in bloom. I even got an awful golf tan, which I now have to figure out how to fix because we have 2 black tie events in the next week. Eek! Even though it's still pretty chilly and rainy here in NYC, this spring risotto was a nice reminder of what is to come. Given that it is risotto, it is naturally creamy and heavy, but lightened up with the addition of lemon. Personally, I'm not sure how I feel about lemon and pasta. I think it's a fantastic idea for brunch/lunch, but dinner I generally like things on the more savory side. Regardless, this was delicious. Even the leftovers heated up well. And yes, risotto can be a bit finicky, but as long as you watch it and stir it, it will turn up beautifully. Heck, if I can do it, you should all be pros! 

It feels great to be back into the cooking groove, not to mention a little more on track with my personal life. Did any body else realize that they were a total disaster when they started doing their taxes?? I can now proudly say that our office is a model of organization! :) I can't wait to stop by and see what everyone else has been cookin' up these past few weeks!

Spring Risotto
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics - Ina Garten

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups chopped leeks
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
5 cups simmering chicken stock
1 pound asparagus
10 ounces frozen peas, defrosted
zest from 2 lemons
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan, plus some for serving
  • In a medium sauce pan over medium, heat butter and oil.
  • Add leeks and cook for 5 - 7 minutes.
  • Add rice and cook for a few minutes, stirring, to coat in butter and oil.
  • Add white wine and bring heat down to low, to simmer until most of the wine has been absorbed. Stir constantly.
  • Add chicken stock a few ladles at a time. Add more when practically all of the stock has been absorbed (about 30 minutes).
  • Meanwhile, cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces, and blanch in boiling water for 4-5 minutes.
  • Immediately drain and place in ice water.
  • When risotto is halfway cooked, add asparagus, peas, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.
  • Continue cooking and stirring until rice is tender but still firm.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and ricotta.
  • When risotto is finished, turn off heat and stir in ricotta mixture and Parmesan.
  • Season with S&P and serve with additional Parmesan.

April 2, 2009

Skillet Cornbread

For the past few weeks, I have been absolutely smitten with a new cookbook - The Cornbread Gospels. This lovely book is written by Crescent Dragonwagon, and is the result of years of research and just an all-out passion for cornbread. It is loaded with history, storytelling and of course, many wonderful recipes. This is one of those cookbooks that you read like a novel. By the end, you not only have a greater appreciation for cornbread, but also for the many people and generations that have helped evolve it and add to its rich history.

This book doesn't miss a beat. There are recipes and descriptions for traditional northern, southern and southwestern cornbreads, as well as ones found world wide. It is full of new and eventful ways to use cornmeal, in addition to ways to use up leftover cornbread. Recipes for things like baked beans and cooked greens are included to make sure you have the perfect accompaniment to each and every type.

So where is one to begin? I will admit, there are more little flags coming off of this book than you will find at the UN. Nearly every recipe appealed to me in some way. Most people already have a love affair with cornbread (of some variety), but hearing the history behind each recipe only entices you to try it more. I decided to start in a rather natural spot, with the same cornbread that Miss Crescent served up in her very own restaurant in Arkansas, the Dairy Hollow House.

This cornbread was simple to make using a cast-iron skillet. For those of you a little intimidated to use your cast-iron, this is a great starter recipe. All you do is heat some butter up in the skillet, add the mixture of ingredients and pop it in the oven. The cornbread comes out with a buttery, thin and crisp outer crust that is in perfect contrast to the soft and airy center. If I have ever tasted a cornbread that I would call "authentic" this would be it. It's neither sweet nor spicy, but has a true corn flavor that shines through beautifully. My husband and I alone cleared off half the skillet with dinner, and I finished off the rest with a big smear of butter for breakfast the next morning. If you like non-sweetened cornbread, I would give this a try. And if you are a cornbread fan in general, I would definitely recommend checking out this book.

A big Thanks to Sam over at My Carolina Kitchen for this very thoughtful award. Sam writes a food column for the Murphy, NC paper and has tons of great recipes. She also has been spending time in the south of France, and has some amazing posts on the food and her experiences there. I'm sure you would really enjoy hearing all about it - I know I am super jealous!! :) Over the past months I have made some great friends through the food blog community, so I want to share this award with all of you!!

The hubs and I are taking a little trek down south for all of next week, so I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter! I can't wait to spend some time on the golf course and in the sun, and of course, wear white pants!

Dairy Hollow House Skillet-Sizzled Cornbread

vegetable oil cooking spray
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal (use organic if you can)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup mild vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
  • Preheat the oven to 375℉.
  • Spray a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with oil and set aside.
  • Sift the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt together.
  • In a small bowl, stir the baking soda and buttermilk together.
  • Whisk in the sugar, egg and 1/4 cup oil into the buttermilk.
  • Place the oiled skillet over medium heat, add the butter and cook just until butter has melted and starts to sizzle.
  • Turn the pan so that the butter covers the entire bottom and sides of the pan.
  • Combine wet and dry ingredients, and stir together using as few strokes as possible.
  • Scrape batter into pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until it is golden brown.
  • Let it cool slightly, slice and serve.