Archive | August, 2008

My Addiction, or Guilty Pleasure

30 Aug

I have an addiction. An addition so bad that every Saturday, the world stops between Noon and 5 p.m. My addiction, or guilty pleasure : cooking shows.

I make sure all of my chores are done before the Bewitching Hour. I make sure the Sous-Chef has enough snacks to tide her over, and I have plenty of G2 sports drink and a snack. Then its off to the shows.

Noon- Cooking For Real ( Food Network). I like this girl; she’s a lot better than the Semi-Homemade lady, and she has a gourmet edge. I understand she has no real culinary background, but I like her none the less. Her recipes and techniques are easy to follow, and are accessible to everyone.

12:30- Made in Spain ( PBS). Jose Andres’ show is part travelogue, part demo. I like his exuberance for food, and a alumnus of El Bulli, the mecca for all chefs. He is a student of molecular gastronomy; I am working on a story about that now to present to you folks later on.

1 p.m.- Everyday Baking/ Primal Grill with Steve Raichlen ( PBS). I fluctuate between the two; This week, I’ll watch the grilling show since I plan to grill out tomorrow. The baking show is elegant and shot wonderfully. The recipes are both homey and gourmet. The drawback? It’s a Martha Stewart production, and if you don’t know how I feel about Martha , I’ll have to explain my absolute loathing of her.  The grill show is good; and since I am lax on grilling techniques, I watch it to get tips on smoking and grilling.

1:30- Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chef’s (PBS). Just to see my hero ( who passed on my b-day) in all her glory is enough for me. This show features all of my nouvelle cuisine all-star chefs from the 90’s such as Alfred Portale and Jean-Georges Vongerichten

2:00- Complete Pepin (PBS). I love him. He’s old school. He demonstrates cooking techniques and basic culinary skills that will help you gain knowledge and skills in the cooking arts.

2:30- Baking with Julia (PBS). Again, I can’t get my fill of her. I am not a baker, so I use her show a  reference for all of my baking needs. I once saw a show with her and a baker who made a sourdough starter out of grapes! I was blown away.

3:00- 4:00: Lidia’s Italy/Lidia’s Family Table (PBS). Both of these shows by Lidia Bastianich feature rustic Italian cuisine from many regions; but be warned, you wont find Fettuccine Alfredo recipes here.

4:00-5:00: America’s Test Kitchens ( PBS). The recipes demonstrated on this show can be a little complicated, and the host of the show wears a bowtie ( which in itself, is annoying to me) , but I enjoy how they explain how to use the best techniques to achieve the best results.

Tomorrow I’ma putting on a giant slab of ribs on the grill, so I will be incognetus ( thanks, Seth McFarland), until Monday.

Happy Labor Day!!

The Culinary Chick

Simple ways to cook chicken breasts: Chicken Bosciaola with Penne

30 Aug

Chad wrote:

CC – I’m a simple, single man with limited culinary skillz.  I like to eat  chicken breast.  I cube it and fry it in a pan with olive oil, and sprinkle some  garlic salt.  Its getting old.

Do you have any favorite, simple ways to cook chicken breast?  Bake?  Fry?

Why yes, Chad; I do indeed have several simple ways of cooking chicken breasts. I have several recipes on this site which may involve some prep, but are really good. This recipe for Beer-battered chicken fingers with honey mustard is really easy to prepare.  I will simplify a recipe I posted earlier on for chicken parmesan and e- mail that to you in a few days. In the meantime, try your hand at making this recipe: Chicken Bosciaola( BOSSY-OLA)!

Make sure that you familiarize yourself with this recipe before you attempt to cook this. It is easy, but it has a few steps.

Prep time is about 15 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes. Total time should come in at 35 minutes

You will need:

heavy skillet

liquid measuring cups

dry measuring cups

large ziplock bag

measuring spoons

wooden spoons

cutting board

kitchen knife

large pot for cooking pasta


2 chicken breasts ( try Perdue fit and easy chicken breasts; the are uniform in size and easy to work with)

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/4 c. olive oil

1/2 sliced small onion

1/2 sliced mushrooms ( you can also buy these freshly sliced as well, or buy them canned; drain them before use)

1 tbl chopped garlic ( you can buy this chopped)

2 slices bacon

1/2 cup  diced tomatoes ( Italian flavored ones are great for this dish)

1/4 cup red wine

1 pkg. brown gravy mix

1 tsp. italian seaoning

1 ½ cups penne pasta

1 ½ tsp dried parsley

2 tbl. butter

salt and pepper to taste

Put 2 qts. of water on stove in large container and bring to boil. While waiting for pasta water to boil, measure out flour,  1 tsp. salt and  1/2 tsp. pepper in ziplock bad and set aside. Cube chicken and  add to bag of flour. Close ziplock bag, and shake pieces of chicken in bag. Pull out chicken from the ziplock bag and shake the excess flour of the chicken pieces. Set aside.

Dice bacon, and onions and set aside. Mix brown gravy with water as directed on envelope and set aside.  When pasta water comes to a boil, cook penne pasta for ten minutes and drain. In the meantime, in a heavy skillet add olive oil and heat over medium heat.

Cook bacon , mushrooms and onions for about 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Add tomatoes, wet gravy mix, Italian seasonings, parsley and red wine. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.  Add butter,  and toss desired amount of cooked  pasta into the pan.  Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

You will need

Dirty Rice

28 Aug

Do you like it dirty? Well, do you? MMmmnnnn, you cheeky monkey!

The CC does! But shhhh, my doctor wouldn’t be so thrilled about knowing that. So, the CC made a version of her favorite dish using ground turkey and turkey sausage to achieve the legendary taste that helped put N’Orleans ( Nawlins) on the map.

For those of you that don’t exactly know what dirty rice is, it is a rice dish made with ground sausage, livers, vegetables, herbs and spices. It is the dark appearance of the rice that gives the dish its name. Now, a note to all of you who find liver offensive: COWARDS! the lot of you. Seriously, you can skip the livers but the liver add a component to the dish that cannot be matched.

(Sigh). So if you must, skip the liver and add extra turkey sausage in its place.

You will need

large iron, aluminum, or enameled skillet

Lit to fit skillet

dry measuring cups

liquid measuring cups

measuring spoons

cutting board

chef’s knife

spoons for stirring


3/4 c. green peppers, diced

1 1/2 c. yellow onions, diced

1/2 c. celery. diced

1 tbl. garlic

1/2 lb. ground turkey*

1/3 lb. italian-style turkey sausage**, casings removed

1/2 cup chicken livers, rinsed and patted dry

1 tbl. worcestershire

1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne

1 cup uncooked white rice

2 cups chicken stock

salt and black pepper to taste

2 tbl. fresh parsley, chopped

vegetable oil

Place 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in bottom of skillet, and heat over medium flame. Briefly brown livers on all sides, then remove from pan. Let cool, then chop livers coarsely and set aside. Add ground turkey to pan and let brown, remove from pan and set aside. Add an additional 1/4 cup of oil, if needed and brown sausage stirring to break up in pan. Add peppers, onions, celery, and garlic and cook until softened. Add rice and cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Add ground turkey, bay leaf, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, cayenne, livers and stir until blended. Add stock, turn heat to high and bring to boil. Turn down heat and cover pan. Cook over low heat for 15- 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove covered pan from heat and le stand with lid on for five minutes. Fluff rice with fork and stir in chopped fresh parsley.

Serves four to six persons.

*This dish needs a certain amount of fat to round out the flavor, so don’t use ground turkey breast for the turkey, It is too dry for this dish. Try to find regular ground turkey. Also, ground beef or pork can be used as a substitute

**As for the sausage, I used Shady Brook Farms Italian-style Turkey dinner links for the sausage. I used 2 links for this recipe, Add one more if you plan to sub sausage for chicken livers. However, you can use regular pork sausage for this dish, or smoked sausage will do as well.

Death by Salad???

23 Aug

So, the CC was webhopping a few days ago and ran across this article about a British celebrity chef confusing a benign herb with a deadly cousin of the nightshade family.  Fat Hen, is supposed to be rather innocuous, while henbane , or stinking nightshade can cause hallucinations, vomiting, and death. His response was kind of a “my bad,” and a retraction from the publication where the interview was published.

Kinda makes you rethink the whole micro greens craze, don’t it?

What are you having for dinner tonight?

22 Aug

The Culinary Chick is in a quandry. I fed the Sous-chef her usual mix of kibble and Filet Mignon-flavored food (yes, the CC knows that the marketing is directed to me, since the Sous-chef usually makes a meal out of her posterior, and really doesn’t care what I feed her), bit I am trying to decide what to fix myself. In these matters of comestibles, I always tend to overthink such things; that’s what happens when you have way too much knowledge in such matters. Maybe I will come up with something and write about it later.

So, what are you having for dinner tonight?

UPDATE: I finally decided on a  BLT for dinner, with some Corn Chowder I made from leftover Maque Choux.

Try compound butters to liven up grilled food!

21 Aug

Hey gang!

Tired of the same old A1© sauce on top of your charcoal grilled steak? Is that marinated grilled chicken boring the heck out of you? Sick of the same old grilled vegetables? Yes, I know.

Have you tried making compound butter before? You should.  It is a great way to add flavor and pizazz to any of you summer food fare. Compound butters are made with softened butter and a choice of herbs, spices, or anything you can think of that will give your grilled food that  certain savoir-fare, and is a great preparation to add to your growing repetoire of culinary tricks. Best of all, they are super easy to make. Below are two recipes for compound butter; one is a classic preparation, the other a sassy little number to bring your steaks and burgers to life.

Both recipes will freeze quite nicely, and can be made in advance.  They keep in your refrigerator for up to one week, or stored in your freezer for up to one month.

You will need for both recipes

bowls for mixing

wooden spoons

cutting board


measuring spoons

dry measuring cups

grater or zester ( for hotel butter)

containers for storage

plastic wrap

Classic Maitre D’ Hotel Butter

This lemony butter is great for chicken, fish and vegetables, or even tossed into cooked angel hair.

1 stick unsalted butter (4 oz)

1 tbl minced shallots

zest of one lemon

juice of 1/2lemon

1/2 tsp. coarse-grind black pepper

1 tbl. chopped fresh parsley

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1  tbl. olive oil

1/4 tsp. sea salt

Soften butter to room temperature until soft and pliable. DO NOT MELT! Add ingredients and mix thoroughly. Store in lidded container, or roll into cylinders using plastic wrap. Either brush on grilled food during the last stages of cooking, or place a small dollop on top of finished grilled food.

Gorgonzola Green Onion Butter

Great on all types of grilled steak. Try  putting a knob of this butter inside homemade burger patties before grilling them for added zing.

1 stick unsalted butter (4 oz.)

6 tbl. crumbled gorgonzola cheese

1/2 tsp. coarse-grind black pepper

1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/4 cup chopped scallions ( tops only)

Soften butter to room temperature.  DO NOT MELT. Add rest of ingredients except scallions, and mix well. Add scallions and mix gently. Put in lidded  container, or roll into a cylinder using plastic wrap.  Either brush on grilled food during the final stages of cooking, or serve a healthy dollop on top of finished grilled food.

Either way you choose to use these butters is ok. Or, try and make your own versions of these recipes. Just remember not to melt the butter or you will have a mess on your hands.


AP reports Mexican Peppers tagged as unsafe long before outbreak

19 Aug

According to the Associated Press, Federal inspectors at the U.S./ Mexico border routinely rejected shipments of peppers months before the outbreak of Salmonella this year. As many as 88 shipments were turned away since January, and it surprised the higher-ups at the FDA.

Using records obtained from the FDA, AP discovered the pattern of rejection from border inspectors. However, according to FDA director Dr. David Acheson, the peepers weren’t a source of concern because they didn’t have a history of carrying contaminants.

The AP reports that, according to the Department of Agriculture, 84% of all peppers consumed in the U.S. come from Mexico.

This makes my case for eating locally even more convincing.

Earnings of Celebrity Chefs

16 Aug

The Culinary Chick ran across an interesting slide show of the top ten celebrity chefs and what their earnings are. Sous-chef and I read this with our mouths agape at who was the top earner on this list. If i was Queen of The Universe, I would send this person to my Fantasy Culinary Olympics, and have my ex-roommate box this person in Foodie Boxing. Some of the entries weren’t surprising, but…I don’t know…you tell me what you think of this list once you look at it.

Top-Earning Celebrity Chefs

I think I’m gonna lie down and ponder this for a moment…

Maque Choux

15 Aug

About a week ago, I bought some local corn from the grocery store. I only bought four ears, because I live alone, and Lucky doesn’t like corn. Who is Lucky? Well, she is my 11-year-old Dalmatian mix, and is my sous-chef. Sous-Chef will be her nom-de-plume in this blog henceforth. But I digress.

Well, to celebrate my birthday, I decided to make myself a special dinner. I ended up making Maque Choux, a traditional Creole/Acadian side dish from Louisiana. I poked around the old larder, and came up with the ingredients to make myself a little Maque Choux. This dish contains corn, bacon, tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic and spices. Many recipes call for the addition of cream, milk and/or butter, but I feel that is somehow gilding the lily. I just prefer the freshness of the flavors, and the natural thickness thaty this dish achieves when cooking under its own power. Do yourself a favor and use fresh corn for this dish; it is indeed worth the work.

You will need:

Bowls for storing cut corn

cutting board

chef knife

liquid measuring cup

dry measure

measuring spoons

saute pan

wooden spoon


4 ears corn, about 4 cups

3 slices thick-sliced bacon, chopped

6 tbl olive oil

1 cup diced tomatoes (canned is ok)

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 large green pepper (1/2 to 3/4 cup)

1 tbl (generous) chopped garlic

2 tbl dried parsley

1 tsp coarse-grind black pepper

1 cup chicken stock

1/2 tsp tabasco (optional)

1/2 tsp. sea salt (optional)

Cut raw corn off the cob, reserving 1/2 cup. Place whole kernels in bowl, then chop the reserved 1/2 cup corn kernels and place chopped kernels and any liquid in separate bowl. Set aside.

In saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add bacon. Cook bacon over medium heat, stirring constantly until bacon is browned, lowering heat if necessary to prevent burning. Add peppers, onions and garlic, and sweat for 5 minutes or until aromatic. Add whole corn, tomatoes and saute for another 3 minutes. Add stock, increase heat and heat until almost to a boil. Add chopped corn and reduce heat to simmer, and gently cook uncovered for ten minutes or until liquid has thickened. Add parsley and pepper, and salt if desired.


This can be made without bacon. If desired, use 1/2 cup smoked turkey meat, or omit meat altogether and add 1/4 tsp smoked paprika to add a smoky flavor.

This Week (so far) in Restaurant Shenanigans

13 Aug

The Culinary Chick saw two interesting item in the news over the past three days, and decided to enlighten you folks. If you haven’t heard about this first incident, then let me tell you.

Apparently, A cook in an Indiana steakhouse received six months in jail and three years probation for tampering with food. The cook, unhappy with a customer’s complaint about over-cooked food, took it upon himself to add something extra to the man’s replacement steak: Hair. And, according to a co-worker, the cook told him it was hair from his nether regions. The customer found the hair in his steak, and called the police. Needless to say, Skippy is done as a cook in that town.

Incident number two has to deal with a Burger king employee videotaping another employee taking a bath in the utility sink. I have included the video, so you can see this for yourself. It caused such a furor, that the guy taking the bath, the camera girl and the manager on the tape were all fired.

I find myself making excuses all of the time for this kind of behavior; so much so, that I wrote about it on my old blog. The sentiments expressed in that posting remain the same; these people have no place in the restaurant biz.