Friday, October 26, 2012

Chicken With Red Wine and Mushrooms

Crispy bacon.
 
Dry red wine.
 
Locally foraged mushrooms.
 
And the boneless chicken breast you took out for dinner?
 
It just got a whole lot more interesting.
 
You know a recipe is going to be good if it starts with bacon.  You know a recipe is going to be really good if it also uses the bacon drippings.
I cut two fairly large chicken breasts in half.  Yes, they are thick.  I hate the extra step of pounding them thin.  Besides, I always overcook thin chicken.
Cook the chicken over high heat for exactly 1 minute.  No more, no less.  The chicken will just start to brown......
Turn down the heat to low.  Place a lid on the chicken and walk away for ten minutes.
Turn off the heat.  Do not lift the lid....and in another 10 minutes, you will have perfectly cooked chicken breasts.  Remove the chicken from the pan and keep it warm.

On to the mushrooms.....

These gorgeous cremini and shiitake mushrooms are from Mainly Mushrooms LLC in Doylestown.
 I picked them up at the Wrightstown Farmers' Market last weekend. 
I'm still using the same pan.  Slice the mushrooms.  Crank up the heat to medium.  Add the mushrooms to the sizzling bacon drippings.
Toss in the shallot and thyme, brought to you by Blooming Glen Farm and Milk House Farm Market.  These two farms make regular appearances at the weekly Wrightstown Farmers' Market.  It makes it really easy to shop local and get variety all in one location.

Cook for 5 minutes until nicely browned.
Time to add the wine.  This is Chamourcin wine from Blue Mountain Vineyards in New Tripoli, Pennsylvania.  It is a red wine but one that is not too heavy.
Pour yourself a glass. Sip. Enjoy. 

Pour some wine into the pan with the mushrooms.  Scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add chicken broth.  Crank up the heat for 10 minutes. The wine will reduce and it will pick up the earthy mushroom flavor. 

Make Julia Child proud and add a pat of butter for good measure. 
Return the chicken to the pan.  Spoon the elegant sauce over the chicken.  

Wallow in the glory of a well made dinner. 

Garnish with extra thyme sprigs in a nice pattern.  Okay.  Now you're just showing off.

Chicken With Red Wine and Mushrooms
Print Recipe!
4 slices bacon
¼ cup all purpose flour
salt and pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 ½ cups cremini and shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 large shallot, chopped
3 sprigs dried thyme, plus more for garnish
1 cup Chambourcin wine
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter 
  • Cook bacon in a large skillet.  Remove cooked bacon to a paper towel - lined plate. 
  • Place flour in a large freezer bag.  Season with salt and pepper.  Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cut chicken breasts in half.  Place chicken in bag and lightly coat with flour, shaking off excess flour. 
  • Heat skillet with bacon drippings over medium heat until hot. Cook chicken over medium/high heat for 1 minute until just starting to color on one side.  Turn chicken over.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and continue to let chicken sit, covered, for another 10 minutes. 
  • Remove chicken to a plate.  Tent with foil to keep warm. 
  • Using the same pan, increase heat to medium.  Add mushrooms, shallot, and thyme.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally until browned, 5-7 minutes.   
  • Chop cooled bacon and add it to the mushrooms along with the wine and broth.  Increase heat to high.  Using a spoon, scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Boil for 10 minutes.  Sauce will thicken slightly and reduce by almost half. 
  • Reduce heat to low.  Add 1 tablespoon butter.  Stir until melted.  Return chicken to pan.  Coat with red wine sauce. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Full-Bodied Vegetable Broth

I have a vegetarian son who will not eat a vegetable
Even if it was deep fried and dipped in chocolate sauce
By Jerry Seinfeld himself.

Getting veggies into his diet is a battle.

Fortunately, I am up for the challenge.

Check out these beautiful vegetables from the Wrightstown Farmers' Market. 
I am going to transform them into a broth.

It will be delicious and nutritious;
Full-bodied and 'meaty',  minus the chicken or beef;
Deep and richly hued like chicken broth, yet vegan.

There really isn't a recipe for vegetable broth, per se.  It is more like a guide. Use whatever vegetables and/or herbs you have on hand. 

Break out your big soup pot and get it nice and hot over medium heat.
Add a tablespoon of olive oil and some sliced mushrooms.  Sprinkle with salt.  I am using cremini mushrooms from Mainly Mushrooms, LLC in Doylestown.  The mushrooms add a meaty yet earthy flavor to the broth.  Once the mushrooms release their moisture and start to brown, add a variety of other veggies.  I am using an onion, celery stalks with leaves, carrots and leeks from Blooming Glen Farm.  Browning the vegetables boosts the flavor and color of the broth.
After 10 minutes, add whatever dried herbs you have.  I added a bay leaf,  plus sprigs of thyme from Milk House Farm Market.
Cover the vegetables with water and bring everything to a boil for a good 15 minutes.  Simmer the broth for an hour or a little longer if you have the time.  

Cool to a warm room temperature and strain.  Take a moment to bow your head in memory of these lifeless veggies that gave all their flavor in the making of this broth. Amen.
The more vegetables, the richer the broth.  A good rule of thumb is for every cup of vegetables you use, match it with a cup of water. 
Keep the broth in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for longer storage.
My son ate a huge bowl of vegetable broth for dinner.  It doesn't matter that it was carb loaded with wide egg noodles.  A vegetarian who eats vegetables.  Imagine that!

Vegetable Broth
Print This Recipe!
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup cremini mushrooms or your favorite mushrooms
salt to taste
1 large onion, skin on, halved
2-3 stalks of celery with leaves, roughly chopped
3-4 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
1-2 leeks with leaves, chopped
9 cups water
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled and smashed under the flat side of a knife
1 bay leaf
6 sprigs of thyme or your favorite dried herb
salt to taste

Warm a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add olive oil and heat until shimmering.  Add mushrooms and salt.  Let mushrooms cook, stirring occasionally until lightly browned.

Add onion, celery, carrots and leek.  Season with a little more salt.  Cook until nicely browned.  Add water, garlic, bay leaf and thyme.  Stir.  Bring to a boil for 15 minutes.

Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1-2 hours.  Let cool to warm.  Strain vegetables. 

Use broth right away or cover and store in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for longer storage.  Makes 2 quarts of broth.

The Wrightstown Farmers' Market will run until the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  There is also a Winter Mini-Market that will be held on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month from December 8 until April 28, 2012.  For details, check out the Bucks County Foodshed Alliance.
 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pumpkin Bread With Milk Chocolate Tweed

I can turn down any store-bought treat,
 
No matter how billowy the frosting,
 
Or clever the packaging.
 
I will not be tempted;
 
But bake me something homemade,
 
And all bets are off.
I picked up a stack of mini loaf pans from The Cookery Ware Shop in Lahaska.  I love that these are 'bake and take' loaf pans.  Perfect for gift giving and no loaf pans to wash.  It is a beautiful thing.
The unique part of this recipe is grated milk chocolate.  It not only adds an interesting flavor to the pumpkin bread....
it also adds a pretty tweed like effect.  It is fashionable yet tasty.
The pumpkin is locally grown at Bobwhite Acres.  Check out how to make your own pumpkin puree here.  Although,  you can totally use the canned pumpkin.  Whatever you choose, it will be delicious.
Pumpkin Bread with Milk Chocolate Tweed
Print This Recipe! 
4 oz. milk chocolate
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ cups light brown sugar
1 cup safflower oil or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups pumpkin puree
4 large eggs
Glaze
2 ounces milk chocolate
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 8 mini loaf paper molds (4x2x2) on a cookie sheet.
  • Grate chocolate and refrigerate while preparing the other ingredients.
  • Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar into a large bowl.  Stir.  Add brown sugar and stir.
  • Add the oil, vanilla, and pumpkin to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  • Fold the chilled grated chocolate into the batter.
  • Fill loaf pans ¾ full with batter.
  • Bake 40 minutes or until bread springs back to the touch.  Let cool.
  • For Glaze:  Chop chocolate and place in a small bowl with butter.  Melt slowly in the microwave in 20 second blasts at half power.  Stir until smooth. Drizzle over cooled pumpkin bread.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pork Tenderloin with Apple Cider Shallot Sauce

Embrace the flavors of fall
By making a restaurant-quality dinner
In less than 35 minutes
Without the need for a rotisserie chicken shortcut.

The star of this dish is apple cider from Bobwhite Acres in Coopersburg.
Dinner begins with quickly browning pork tenderloin in a frying pan. Slicing the pork speeds up the cooking process. The pork is finished in a high temperature oven while I make the sauce. The biggest flavor boost comes from the brown bits of pork left behind in the pan.
I tossed a chopped shallot right into the hot pan,
And cooked it just long enough to get some color.

I added apple cider, vinegar and brown sugar to the pan with a sprinkling of sea salt. A good stir and a little scraping to release those carmelized pieces of pork from the bottom of the pan......

then I cranked up the heat.

The cider reduced down to a beautiful sauce in no time. A few tablespoons of butter at the very end........


and dinner was served!

 

Located on the border of Upper Bucks and Lehigh counties, Bobwhite Acres is a family owned farm with an impressive showing of produce, honey, and apple butter.  It is also where my children spent many a summer afternoon picking strawberries, blueberries, and peaches.   They have a huge selection of pumpkins for decoration and eating, as well as gourds and various squash.  Tractor hayrides to the pumpkin patch on weekends in October makes the the whole jack-o-lantern experience a memorable one for the little guys.
Pork Tenderloin with Cider Shallot Sauce
Print This Recipe!
2 Tablespoons olive oil, not extra virgin
2 (1 pound) pork tenderloins, cut into 1 inch slices
salt and pepper to taste
1 larger shallot or two smaller shallots, chopped
2 cups apple cider
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Season pork with salt and pepper. 

Heat a large frying pan over medium/high heat.  Add olive oil.  Heat until the oil shimmers. Add enough pork slices to fill the pan without overcrowding.  Cook until browned on each side, but not cooked through.  About 2 minutes per side.  Continue browning the rest of the pork. 

Remove pork to a foil lined cookie sheet.  Tent with more foil and cook in the oven for 15 minutes or until cooked to 145-150 degrees. 

In the meantime, reduce heat to medium and add the chopped shallot to the frying pan.  Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally until shallot starts to brown. 

Add cider and vinegar.  Stir, loosening any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add brown sugar and a little more salt, to taste.  Increase heat to high, and bring cider to a boil.  Continue to boil for another 15 minutes until sauce is reduced to ½ cup.  Reduce heat to low and add butter.  Stir until melted. 

Spoon sauce over warm pork.  Makes 4-5 servings.
 
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