Recipe Review: Creamy Pappardelle with Leeks and Bacon

creamy Linguini with Leeks and bacon

What carnivorous human doesn’t love bacon? Just add cheese and cream and who can resist? Sara Jenkins from Bon Appétit did just this. Searching for something fairly quick and satisfying, I decided to try this out. The first steps in this recipe are to heat the olive oil and add bacon. Sounds of sizzle and smoky flavors filled up our home with a warm welcome for my husband, who just walked in the door. I rarely cook with bacon, so it was a pleasant surprise for him. He swooned over the aroma as the leeks and seasonings were added in and warming up.

This dish kind of sounds like a ho-hum Alfredo sauce. The amount of fat in this recipe could make your heart stop as much as the actual dish if eaten in large quantities. Still we all love the combination of cream and bacon over a bed of grains soaking up all the yummy bits. The leeks here add a sweet twist on the pasta but do not come out in a strong powerful way. If you have never cooked with a leek and are slightly intimidated by it, don’t be. It doesn’t have a powerful destructive flavor nor is it difficult to use. You can play with it after you try a recipe. You will see what I mean. It is a savory sweet addition that adds a layer of warmth to this recipe. Mac n’ cheese may have new competition as a favorite comfort dish.

Needless to say, we enjoyed this dish. My husband, who tends to eat modestly, had 3 full servings! I had 2. My daughter enjoyed it so much that she rolled her sippy over to Bubby’s plate and stole his fork with one hand and grabbed a fistful of his pasta with the other. She is my foodie. At 20 months old, there is a lot of work to be done with her on table manners. My son tends to be pickier, but gobbled it right up. There is a feeling of complete fulfillment when your family enjoys the love you put on a plate.

Here is the link to the original recipe:

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/creamy-pappardelle-with-leeks-and-bacon

The calories per serving of this dish, as the recipe prepared, was 580/serving with 6 servings. My version was only 263 calories/serving with 8 servings or 351/6 servings. Here are the changes I made to the dish:

1. I used 1 slice less of bacon

2. I used Dreamfield’s Linguine Pasta (because of my disorder I choose to use this for a lower-carb option.)

3. I opted out of the butter addition since the dish was pretty creamy and had lots of fat already.

4. I drained the bacon grease before adding the leeks.

5. I used 1 cup of 1% Milk and dash of cream (about 1 tbsp) instead of the 3/4 cup cream and 1/2 cup of water.

6. I added 1 shallot in with the leeks to add another layer of flavor.

7. I took half of the pasta and half of the sauce and saved it for another meal this week.

Advertisements

Recipe Review: Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes, Olives, and Rosemary

Chicy n grapes

In a mad dash for something yummy and quick after a long day, I reached for my Smitten Kitchen cookbook. In her book, Deb Perelman indicates that her desire is to fill the book with uncomplicated ingredients and recipes you were glad to take the time to make. I was looking for one of the quickest throw together recipes the book had to offer and this was it. Initially the name of this dish made me scratch my head. Then I began to think about chicken salad and how well grapes taste in it. The wheels began turning and I decided to give it a chance.

What I love, love, love about her cookbook goes beyond the humbly provocative images of her creations, and reaches to the text. Everything from the way she talks about each recipe to the guidance through cooking them, creates this personal connection showcasing her love for food and even more so the people she serves. This chicken recipe seems like a pretty interesting experiment, but my taste-buds were so not ready for what they encountered.

The sizzle of the chicken and bursting of the grapes, oozing into a nice sauce was just a start. This dish was absolutely the best chicken dish I have ever had or prepared. I make a lot of chicken and it happens to be a meat I cook very well with. This recipe rocked my chicken-loving socks off. The grapes soaked up all the love from the shallots and chicken juices, while giving flavor to the chicken. Then the sauce? Deb encourages cooks to observe how long it takes for others to slurp up the sauce by the spoonful. There is certainly a reason for that. It is killer.

This dish is the kind of dish you expect an amazing dessert after. Only because it demands a good follow up. The dish stands up and declares war on the idea that an upscale dish that serves a family with hugs and rainbows must take hours to reduce and simmer. The flavor is so wonderful you will be excited to see what you will cook next! It is also nice and easy for the inexperienced to gain confidence. The busy family on a budget can also enjoy this meal easily and feel as if they were at a fancy restaurant.

Recipe (According to the book):
Ingredients:
3 lbs chicken parts (thighs, breast, legs, etc.)
Table salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup seedless grapes
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

How to make it:
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees with a rack in the middle. Pat dry the chicken and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet (use cast-iron skillet if you’ve got one) over medium-high heat until it simmers. Working in two batches, brown the chicken, skin side down first and turning them over once, about5 minutes per batch. I like to take a lot of care in this step, not moving the chicken until the skin releases itself and has a nice bronze on it.

Return the pieces to the pan, skin side up, and surround the pieces with grapes, olives, and shallots. Roast the chicken in the oven until it has just cooked and the juices run clear, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken, grapes, and shallots to a platter, then add wine and chicken broth to the pan juices in skillet. Bring liquid to a boil, scraping up any brown bits, until it is reduced by half, for 2 to 3 minutes. Strain sauce, if desired, then pour it over the chicken. Garnish with rosemary and see how long it takes guests to offer to slurp the sauce with a spoon.

Modifications/ Notes:
One note of importance, after you pull the pan from the oven and while making sauce over the stove top, be sure to use a glove. It sounds obvious but the pan is still hot! I have made the mistake, even after reminding myself. It is just habit to grab that handle when making a sauce stove top.

There are some possible modifications you may want to consider. If you want to reduce fat content you can remove skins after cooking in oven, skim some fat off the top of the reduced sauce, or drain some fat before making the sauce. The skin acts like a sealer for the juices and flavor being melded. I also kept the sauce separate and added a little on top of everyone’s chicken after it was plated. You can control the amount you want better this way. For sodium concerns, use low-sodium broth or organic broth and sea salt in place of table salt. You need less of the sea salt for the same flavor. Also I bought a whole chicken and cut it up, as it was cheaper. Use local or organic as you can.

Side dishes could include salads, whole grain crusty bread with olive oil, roasted vegetables, or mashed potatoes. Her recipes are amazing and I encourage you to buy her book and play in your kitchen! You can also visit her blog ( http://smittenkitchen.com/about/ ) for more recipes. Happy Eating!

Recipe Rating: 5 Stars

Cheese Clafoutis Recipe Review

So as I mentioned we recently returned from Disney World. I was on a culinary quest to broaden my taste buds and rekindle my passion for food. I had not lost it, but being a stay at home mom on a budget can sometimes cause the fire to dwindle a bit. Then I walked into Epcot’s World Showcase section of the park and my heart soared feeling immersed in the cultures and smells coming from kitchens preparing for the dinner rush to come.  I waltzed into a small shop in “France” and found an adorable cookbook for just $9 and it had some wonderful staples I wanted to try. I love trying new recipes, if for nothing else but to try a new cooking technique that broadens my creativity in the kitchen.

Last night, a dear friend was in town and we had an impromptu French-themed night. We watched Ratatouille and made cheese clafoutis. This was chosen for the short list of ingredients and relatively easy on the budget. We were able to cut the recipe in half since it was just the two of us eating it. My husband was really enjoying some time to himself, and the kids had already been put down for the night. Of course the smell from the kitchen woke my son up (or maybe the fact that I grabbed the movie from his room) and we shared a few moments with him. He ooed and awed at the sight of Paris first on the screen, as my friend and I did the same over this delicious dish!  It really felt like a special moment of living in good taste for little cost. 

The Recipe:

Cheese Clafoutis from “The French Kitchen Cookbook: Everday cuisine from the French country kitchen”

Image

Serves 4-6   Prep Time:15 minutes    Cook time: 50-55 minutes (35-40 if halved) 

Ingredients:

-Olive oil for greasing    -3 cups Cherry Tomatoes      -3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled     -2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves    -1/2 cup all-purpose flour  – 4 extra-large eggs    -1 1/4 cup whole milk    -pinch of salt    -pinch of sugar

Directions:

One: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Arrange the Tomatoes in a single layer in the dish, then scatter the Cheese and Thyme over them and set aside.

Two: Sift the Flour, Sugar, and Salt into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Break Eggs into the well and use a whisk or fork to blend them together. Add half of the Milk and stir, gradually incorporating the Flour from the side of the bowl until blended. Stir in the remaining Milk until a smooth batter forms. 

Three: Gently pour the batter over the Tomatoes, shaking the dish slightly to distribute the Cheese and Thyme. Place in preheated oven and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the batter is puffed, golden, and set and the Tomatoes are tender.

Four: Remove Clafoutis from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

 

This was absolutely delicious!

A few tips to tweak it for healthier eating:

-Use 2% milk instead of whole

-Use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose

-Limit your serving size. 

Food Snob rating: 9/10

Michael Symon’s Cincinnati Chili Spaghetti Recipe Review

Image

      Every area of the country has a specialty that shows off local flavors and inspirations. In Cincinnati, it is all about the Chili Spaghetti. It is a sweet and spicy sauce made with ground beef over a bed of pasta topped with wonders and magical sharp cheddar. Many natives that move away miss this taste. Micheal Symon from The Chew shared a recipe that comes pretty darn close to the real deal. I made it myself and found it absolutely delicious. Here are some tweaks for a healthier twist so you can still enjoy this dish in your own home.

1.  1 lb of extra lean ground beef and 1 lb ground turkey instead of 2 lbs of beef it calls for.

2.  Whole wheat pasta or Dreamfields spaghetti in place of regular enriched semolina pasta.

3. A vegetarian option could be to use portobello mushrooms or extra beans in place of meat.  

4. Go lighter on the cheese. Use good sharp cheddar and simply use less of it. Great flavor does not need to be in great volume to be treated fairly in a dish. 

5. Choose a smaller plate.

6. Use fresh organic when possible

7. Drain any meat fat after browning! (The excess fat can actually detract from the flavor)

   This recipe can feed a crowd of 6-8 so feel free to invite some friends. You could always reuse the chili sauce for a quick meal later. This meal makes for a great late Sunday Lunch without the cost of eating out.  Plus it is full of fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients that can help you feel good about what you are eating. Your tummy and wallet will thank you.

Here is the link to the original recipe: 

http://abc.go.com/shows/the-chew/recipes/Cincinnati-Chili-Spaghetti-Michael-Symon

Over all Rating: 8/10