December 30, 2006

Roast Cornish Hens with Sage Butter

Roast Cornish Hens with Sage Butter
from Gourmet Magazine

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons crumbled dried sage
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt

two 1 1/2-pound Cornish hens, rinsed and patted dry

In a small bowl blend together well 2 tablespoons of the butter with the sage,the zest, and the salt. Loosen the skin covering the breast meat on each hen by slipping your fingers under the skin and sliding them between the skin and the meat. Divide the butter mixture between the hens, inserting it under the skin of each hen and smoothing it evenly by rubbing the outside of the skin, and season the hens with salt and pepper. Tie each hen's legs together with kitchen string.

In a large ovenproof heavy skillet or small flameproof roasting pan heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter over moderately high heat until the foam subsides, in it sauté the hens, breast sides up, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the underside is golden brown, and roast them in the middle of a preheated 450°F. oven, basting them with the pan juices every 10 minutes, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the fleshy part of the thigh registers 180°F. Let the hens stand for 5 minutes and discard the string.

Notes: I was inspired to try this after watching an episode of Jacques and Julia at Home where they roast a whole chicken and rub herbs under the skin. I've never attempted this before and I think I would have liked a more even distribution. But it was very savory and extremely tasty. I need to remember, though, that the packages lie about how long it takes to thaw such things and give myself an extra day or two ahead to leave it sitting in the 'fridge.

Posted by Jennifer at 10:29 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack
December 29, 2006

Vermont Maple Syrup Pork Chops

Vermont Maple Syrup Pork Chops
from the Boston Globe via

6 pork chops
Oil as needed for browning
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt to taste
Flour as needed to thicken the gravy

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly brown the pork chops in a small amount of oil, then place them in a flat baking dish with sides.

Combine the other ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until warm; pour over chops. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, basting occassionally.

Place the pork chops on a warming platter and pour the sauce into a saucepan. Thicken it slightly with flour to make a gravy, salt to taste, and serve it over the chops.

Serves 4 to 6, depending on the size of the pork chops.

Notes: This is a fairly easy recipe but the sweet and sour taste combination is quite tasty.

Posted by Jennifer at 2:13 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack
December 26, 2006

Portabello Lasagna

Portabello Lasagna (recipe provided by the sister-in-law and served alongside Christmas Turkey)

Ricotta Filling:
1 lb ricotta cheese
6 oz chopped spinach (1 box) squeezed
1 egg
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (or 1 TBSP dried)
2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley (or 2 tsp dried)
1 tsp Italian spice
1 tsp kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp regular salt)
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp dried tarragon

Combine all ingredients and whisk together. Set aside and keep chilled.

Portabello Filling:
2 TBSP butter
1/2 cup diced onion
2 TBSP minced garlic
1/4 cup white wine
1 TBSP lemon juice
parsley, basil, tarragon, Italian spice, salt, pepper (all to taste)
4 or 5 portabello mushrooms, sliced

Melt butter in large skillet. Add onions and garlic and sautee for 5 minutes, until onions are soft. Add white wine and lemon juice. Reduce over high heat for about 2 minutes. Add all spices and herbs and mix well. Add half the mushrooms and mix gently with spatula and allow to cook down several minutes. Add rest of mushrooms and mix until done. Chill if not using immediately.

Lasagna Assembly:

Prepare marinara sauce. Cook 1 lb of lasagna noodles according to package directions. Layer as follows in 14x9x2 dish:

4 oz. marinara
4 lasagna strips
4 oz. marinara
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella w/ 2 TBSP parmesan
4 strips lasagna
4 oz. marinara
mushroom mixture
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella w/ 2 TBSP parmesan
4 strips lasagna
ricotta mixture (spread evenly)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella w/ 2 TBSP parmesan
4 strips lasagna
6 oz. marinara
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella w/ 2 TBSP parmesan

Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Turn pan 180 degrees and bake for additional 25 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Posted by Jennifer at 7:31 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Spiced Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar

Spiced Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar
from Bon Appetit (November 2002)

Scented with grated orange peel and spices, this dish is a combination of classic holiday flavors. You can make it a day ahead and reheat it on the stove top or in the microwave.

6 8-ounce red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams)

1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cinnamon sticks (optional)
Orange peel strips (optional)

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 400°F. Pierce sweet potatoes in several places with fork; place on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until tender when pierced with fork, about 55 minutes. Cool slightly.

Cut potatoes in half. Scoop out pulp into large bowl; discard peel. Add brown sugar, butter, lemon juice, grated orange peel, ground cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg to sweet potato pulp. Using electric mixer, beat until mixture is smooth; season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, or cover with plastic wrap and rewarm in microwave oven on high until heated through.)

Mound sweet potatoes in serving bowl. Garnish with cinnamon sticks and orange peel strips, if desired.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

This was actually the Thanksgiving dish this year. For Christmas, I revisited Sweet Potatoes and Pears which was fairly well-received. However, Sweet Potato and Orange Puree with Almond Streusel was still voted the current favorite of the experimental sweet potato dishes.

Posted by Jennifer at 6:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
December 8, 2006

Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie (based on Nany Neiss' prize-winning recipe for the National Pie Championships)

1 9" pie crust
3 large eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 TBSP butter, melted
3 TBSP bourbon
1 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. in a medium-sized bowl, beat eggs, slightly. Add sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, and bourbon. Stir until well-blended. Stir in pecans. Put chocolate chips into pie shell and cover with pecan mixture. Cover edge of pie to prevent over-browning. bake for 25 minutes. Remove shield and continue baking another 25 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean.

9" Pie Crust (from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook)

1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening
cold water (TBSP by TBSP)

In large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly and shortening is the size of small peas. Add water 1 TBSP at a time until it forms a ball in the bottom of the bowl. Roll out and place in 9 inch pie plate.

Notes: For the future, I will melt the chocolate ahead of time and mix it into the rest of the mixture to get a better consistency. Otherwise, I really liked how this came out.

Posted by Jennifer at 9:16 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack