20 October 2010

It'sa Lemon Butter Chicken, Mes Amichis

UPDATE: Got the pictures to work! Hallelujah!

Sorry, this was supposed to have posted overnight, but Blogger didn't want to cooperate. And apparently the pictures have disappeared. I'm in the process of trying to reload them, so bare with me please.

When the hubby and I first got engaged, we had planned this great trip to Italy for our honeymoon. Then the military called and we had to change our plans. We ended up marrying a year early and taking a much smaller honeymoon to Washington D.C. (its was absolutely gorgeous in October; if you ever have the chance to visit in the fall, definitely do it). As great as it was in D.C., it was still a bit of a letdown to not be able to feast on all of the great dishes that come from the beautiful country.

I wish I had known about this Lemon Butter Chicken Pasta four years ago. We would have been eating it at least once a week for dinner and a couple of times the following days as leftovers. It's oh so bad for you with the bacon and lemon-cream-butter sauce, but as long as you don't actually eat it once a week, you'll be fine.

This one got quite a few changes to it to suit my picky tastes. Obviously, you can still follow the original, and I'm sure you'll have just as good of results as we did. One thing though, if you do follow the original, still add the tomatoes like we did. It truly enhances the tartness of the lemon juice in the sauce and turns it a pretty shade of pink (very appropriate for Breast Cancer Awareness Month).

Lemon Butter Chicken with Pasta
Recipe from All Recipes, adapted by me

Lemon Butter Sauce:
1/4 cup white wine (I used chicken broth, but that's only because the smell of wine makes me sick right now)
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (feel free to use the stuff int he little yellow bottle; I've tried it both ways and didn't notice the difference either time)
5 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup butter, chilled
salt and pepper to taste

Chicken and Pasta:
1/2 pound dry farfalle (bow tie) pasta
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces bacon
6 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I left this and the artichoke hearts out)
6 ounces artichoke hearts, drained and halved (substituted in a can of diced tomatoes, but you can also use a fresh one)
2 teaspoons capers, drained (forgot about these completely this time around, and I'm glad I did; they make it a bit too salty)
chopped fresh parsley for garnish
  1. To make the sauce, pour the wine and lemon juice into a saucepan over medium heat. Cook at a low boil until the liquid is reduced by 1/3. Stir in cream, and simmer until it thickens. Gradually add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time to the sauce, stirring until completely incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Turn down the heat, and keep warm (I do this step closer to the end simply because I had it curdle on me the first time I made it when I did it first; still tasted good, just not as pretty).
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, and set aside.
  3. While boiling the pasta, make the chicken by heating oil in a large skillet over medium heat. In a bowl, stir together flour, salt, and pepper. Lightly coat chicken with flour mixture. Without crowding, carefully place chicken in hot oil. (If necessary, cook in batches.) Fry until cooked through and golden brown on both sides. Remove the chicken to paper towels. Stir the bacon, mushrooms, artichokes, and capers into the oil; cook until the mushrooms are soft.
  4. Cut the chicken breasts into bite-size strips, and return them to the skillet. Stir half of the lemon butter sauce into the chicken mixture.
  5. To serve, place pasta in a large bowl. Stir the chicken mixture into the pasta. Taste, and adjust seasonings. Stir in additional lemon butter sauce as desired. Toss well, and garnish with parsley.

15 October 2010

Meat and Potatoes Kind of Girl

I swear, I meant to post another recipe between my Irish posts, but I haven't been cooking as of late. I'm in a little slump at the moment where standing in the kitchen makes my back and feet hurt so I just haven't been doing it as often. Anyway, I couldn't go back on yet another promise so I dragged my butt into the kitchen and put dinner on the table.

Stew. Who doesn't love a nice hearty, beefy stew? Especially when the weather has finally turned to the chillier side. I live for a good beef stew in the Fall, even more so when I can cook it in the slow cooker all day long. Of course, I didn't use my brain or my slow cooker this time around, but it was still fantastic. Served over a bed of Irish Champ, this stew was everything I had been craving (and apparently, the last time I made Champ, I served it with a different beef stew; go figure).

I'm going to tell you a secret. This stew called for Guinness. I made the mistake of not making this until Sunday when no liquor stores were open. So I substituted with an American dark lager (Amber Bock to be precise). It still tasted really good so don't feel the need to make the extra stop to get the import when the domestic beer was just as good (please, don't send the leprechauns after me for saying that). Slainte!

Brown Stew with Guinness
Recipe from The Little Book of Irish Family Cooking

1 lb round steak, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces (I just bought stew meat)
1 1/4 Tbs flour to coat meat
Salt and pepper
Olive or vegetable oil for frying
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced (a bag of baby carrots came in handy here)
1 tomato, skinned and chopped (cut a small X int he bottom of the tomato, place in boiling water for 60 seconds, remove tomato to ice water until cool enough to handle, peel the skin off)
Thyme, marjoram, and parsley
2/3 cup Guinness (just use the whole bottle)
  1. Put the flour, a pinch of salt, and some pepper in a plastic bag. Add the meat and shake until all sides of the beef are coated.
  2. In a large pot, fry the meat gently until golden-brown, then transfer to a plate. Fry the onion and carrots lightly in the meat juices. Then add the tomato and Guinness. Add the herbs, reserving a bit of parsley (this is to your taste). Add the meat to the mix. You may need to add a little water to cover everything (I opened a second beer and used that to top it off).
  3. Simmer gently for about 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender. Taste the juice halfway through the cooking. Add more salt, if necessary.
  4. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve with steamed potatoes or pasta shells (or champ!).
Just a heads up, this weekend, my kitchen is turning into a tour of the world. The next three recipes will be from Lebanon and Greece and then the fourth will be from Italy (you're getting double the recipes on my next post cause I love you that much).

06 October 2010

Ireland, I am Coming Home

My parents and some family friends are planning a trip to Ireland and Scotland in the spring. I've been giving them all sorts of tips for Scotland and some fun places they should try to visit while gone. Then, while searching other food blogs today, I stumbled across a post on David Lebovizt's blog about a butter museum in Cork, Ireland. How could I not mention it to my mum? I even told her that she doesn't love me if she doesn't at least try to get a picture of the place.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about Ireland in general and Irish food in particular. You all know by now how much I identify with my Irish heritage and how very proud I am to be able to say that my family came from the Emeral Isle, but I felt very disappointed in myself. I've only got six recipes on this blog tagged as Irish. Where have I gone wrong? I'm not doing a very good job of learning about my heritage if I'm not trying new recipes that my ancestors would have eaten.

So here's what I've got planned. From now on, once a week I'm going to make a full Irish meal. Each one will include at least one element that I've never tried to make myself before. And I'm going to share it with you. Heaven knows, I've got plenty of Irish cookbooks. There will be no excuses as to why I can't keep this promise. If nothing else, it will help me pass along my family's history to my own children and keep it alive for at least another generation. For this first recipe, I'm starting small and bringing you Irish Brown Soda Bread with homemade butter and jam (ok, and some Irish cheddar). Slainte!

Brown Soda Bread
Recipe from Irish Food and Cooking

4 cups wholewheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk (you can use cream of tartar with the dry ingredients to provide acid in place of buttermilk or mix 1 Tbl white vinegar with 1 cup milk as a substitution; obviously, in this case, 2 cups milk and 2 Tbl vinegar)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F and grease a baking sheet. Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir in just enough buttermilk to make a fairly soft dough. Turn on to a work surface dusted with wholewheat flour and knead lightly until smooth.
  2. Form the dough into a circle, about 1 1/2 inch thick. Lay on the baking sheet and mark a deep cross in the top with a floured knife.
  3. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the bread is browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack. If a soft crust is desired, wrap the loaf in a clean dishtowel while cooling.

01 October 2010

Sticky Toffee Pudding

I promised you cake. I also promised that you'd have it last weekend. I'm obviously not very at keeping promises (but I'm working on it). I'm making it up to you now by giving you my most favorite cake in the whole wide world, even though it's not the cake I promised originally (I'm hoping that by sharing my favorite recipe, you'll forgive me for not giving you the other cake).

You see, I was going to make my hubby a cake. It was going to be filled with coconut and pecans and caramel and be in the shape of one of his most favorite things. Sadly, that did not happen. You see, I forgot about inviting his 13-year-old sister to stay Friday night and promising his 9-year-old sister that i would go see her on Saturday and making plans with my mum on Sunday. It was a busy and exhausting weekend, so I did not make cake. I will make it though for our anniversary later this month as a special treat just for him (and of course I'll share it with all of you).

Back to Sticky Toffee Pudding. I don't remember the first time I heard of this cake. I don't remember what initially drew me in. I'm not a pudding fan, and not being English, I just assumed it was like Jello pudding. How wrong was I! It's not that kind of pudding at all (you can look here for a breakdown of what the British call puddings). It's stocky and sweet and best served very warm with either some custard or lightly whipped cream or even vanilla ice cream. Obviously, I'm not picky and will eat it straight from the pan with nothing on top or any of the three I just mentioned. It's like Green Eggs & Ham. I will eat it here or there. I will eat it anywhere! Definitely one of those desserts I could eat after supper every night.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
Recipe from All Recipes, adapted by multiple users from the site

1 3/4 cups dates, pitted and chopped (I used plain old raisins)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/8 cups self-rising flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups boiling water to cover
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a small bowl combine the dates and baking soda. Pour enough boiling water over the dates to just cover them.
  3. Cream 1/3 cup of butter with the white sugar until light. Beat in the eggs and mix well to combine.
  4. Add the flour and date mixture (including water) to the egg mixture and fold to combine. Pour the batter into one 8 inch round baking pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool, slice and serve with warm caramel sauce.
  6. To Make Caramel Sauce: In a small saucepan combine the brown sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla and 1/3 cup butter. Cook over medium heat and bring to boil. Turn heat down and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use immediately (you can do like I did and use the extra caramel sauce to top the slices of pudding).