Archive for April, 2009

Pomegranate glazed grilled chicken with Middle Eastern nut rice

Pomegranate glazed grilled chicken with Middle Eastern rice with toasted nuts and cinnamon

Let the grilling begin!

I have a bottle of pomegranate molasses in my refrigerator that is a bit past its prime.

Way, way past its prime…

I don’t know why I’ve kept it sitting around for so long – since it adds such an interesting flavor to food. But whatever, it’s been sitting there a long time.

In coming up with a way to use it up, I thought it would go great slathered over grilled chicken. Initially, I had planned on making a thick, sticky, sweet-sour lacquer for crispy chicken skin. A Middle Eastern barbecue sauce, if you will. In the end, I created a lighter, tangy basting sauce. Brushed lightly over grilled chicken, it imparts a fantastically tangy flavor. And neither mouth-puckeringly sour nor cloyingly sweet.

To pair with it…

What would go great with pomegranate glazed chicken? Why rice spiked with toasted nuts and cinnamon of course! A great side dish on its own – the cinnamon really makes it interesting. Sprinkle a little extra over the top when serving just to finish it off. A perfect match!

Pomegranate Glazed Grilled Chicken

Makes 3/4 cup or so of glaze – enough for 2-4 chicken breasts
1/4 cup white wine
2 T minced shallots
1/2 cup chicken broth
Juice of one orange
1 t honey
2 T pomegranate molasses
1 T butter
2 bone in, skin on, split chicken breasts

To make glaze:
1. Combine wine and shallots in small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce until wine is mostly evaporated.

2. Add broth, orange juice, pomegranate molasses and honey. Bring to boil and reduce until 3/4 cup liquid is left.

3. Whisk in butter. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

To make chicken:
1. Start grill. We have a small gas grill that doesn’t have separate burners, so we just light it and let it get to about 450 degrees.

2. Oil grate. Place chicken skin side down on grate. Cover and cook 10 minutes.

3. Flip chicken over. Baste with glaze and cook additional 15 minutes – basting a couple of times..

4. Check temp of chicken. Might need turn it skin side down and cook an additional 3-5 minutes. Might not. Pull off when it is done to your degree of doneness (remember, it will raise maybe 10 degrees after you take it off the grill and let it rest. Give it one more coat of glaze before serving.

Middle Eastern Nut Rice with Cinnamon

Serves 4
1 T oil
1 small onion minced
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
2 cups chicken stock
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used a mix of pistachio and macadamia – cause I had them sitting around)
ground cinnamon

1. Toast nuts: place nuts on a baking sheet and toast at 400 degrees for 7 minutes or until fragrant (don’t let them burn). Take out and remove from baking sheet to stop them from cooking. Set aside.

2. In medium saucepan with a tight fitting lid, saute onions in oil over medium heat until soft – five minutes.

3. Add rice. Stir to coat in oil.

4. Add chicken broth and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil.

5. Put lid on saucepan. Turn heat down to low and let cook for 20 minutes.

6. Check for doneness. If done remove from heat, remove cinnamon stick and stir in toasted nuts. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately sprinkled with dash of ground cinnamon.


Ms. Pantry Raid

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Tuesdays with Dorie - Chocolate Cream Tart  

Tuesdays with Dorie - Chocolate Cream Tart

Imagine my chagrin…

Alright people. How come y’all never told me that Dorie actually READS some of these Tuesdays With Dorie posts and RESPONDS? I had no idea I needed to be on my best behavior! Oh I do hope I haven’t said anything too embarrassing. 

So let’s have a pleasant discussion about this week’s dish – the Chocolate Cream Tart chosen by Kim of Scrumptious Photography (page 352-3 of  THE BOOK). It starts with a chocolate shortbread crust layered high with rich dark chocolate cream and topped off with a layer of whipped cream. The magic of this dish is when all three parts come together. 

Alright alright. Enough of that. It’s brutal honesty time. I had difficulty with the crust. Again. It didn’t come together very well so I had to force it together in the pan. And I didn’t really care for the taste prior to baking. Didn’t really care too much for it after baking either. It’s kind of bitter. So if I were to do it again, I would try another crust. 

I do really like the chocolate cream though. Who wouldn’t? It’s dark, rich, creamy chocolate. Slathered with a thick coating of whipped cream, I could eat this all on it’s own. I do think an additional spice would do it some good though. Since I normally suggest cinnamon, how about some five-spice powder? Yes, I think that would be a mighty fine addition. 

Hope all you TWDers enjoyed it as much as I did.

Ms. Pantry Raid

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Macadamia Nut Crusted Halibut with Vanilla Bean Butter Sauce

Macadamia Nut Crusted Halibut with Vanilla Bean Butter Sauce

My previous post about the fantastically rich and creamy Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes could only be made more decadent by being paired with Macadamia Nut Crusted Halibut with Vanilla Bean Butter Sauce.

But sadly, we have to start here:

How to reduce that fishy smell?

Answer: you shouldn’t have to (but you can give it a soak in milk for a half hour or so if you really want to get rid of any fishy taste – this won’t work with fish that is already going bad though. Trust me, I tried it).

So I picked up a piece of halibut at Whole Foods. On a Sunday. Big mistake. So when was the delivery?  How long has this fish been sitting out? God only knows, but I knew in my mind I shouldn’t have risked buying that fish. However, Sundays are my big cooking days and I had no choice. The halibut looked the best of the bunch (ok, the Chilean Sea Bass looked best but I thought we weren’t supposed to be eating that??). I got the fish home, unwrapped the package and took a whif. Oy… Ammonia. Should I have taken it back? Probably. Especially considering how much I spent on it (A LOT!). It wasn’t REALLY bad, but it wasn’t good either.

NOTE TO ALL: And this is something I will do from now on, no matter what – ask to smell the fish before they wrap it up. If they give you any hassle, eff them. Then they obviously aren’t selling fresh fish. I spent $18 on a piece of bad fish (that I, um, ate anyway and lived to tell about it. Oh my poor dear husband will freak out when he reads this)!

Gosh, I am drifting off topic, aren’t I? This was supposed to be a happy post about one of my favorite dishes.

Ok, back to fun things! The lovely vanilla infused butter sauce. On Sunday it was drizzled over halibut. Later in the week I tossed it with grilled shrimp. Smashing either way!

Vanilla Bean Butter Sauce

From vanilla.com

2 shallots, minced
1 Tahitian vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups dry white wine
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 ounces cold butter (8 tablespoons, or 1 cube)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place the shallots in a saucepan with the vanilla bean, wine and vinegar. Bring to a boil and reduce mixture until 1/4 cup of liquid is left.

2. Add heavy cream and bring mixture back to a boil.

3. Add the butter, cut into pieces, and mix with a whisk until mixture thickens. Remove from heat.

4. Remove vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm till ready to use. NOTE: If you need to reheat, do so gently as it can separate.

Macadamia Nut Crusted Fish

1 10 oz fish fillet (an ocean white fish works well – I used Halibut)
1/3 cup panko
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts (or other nuts)
pinch of salt
pepper to taste
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted


1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Combine panko, macadamia nuts and salt  in small bowl. Mix in 2 tablespoons butter. Season with a few grinds of pepper.

3. Pour remaining 2 tablespoons butter into shallow baking dish. Place fish in baking dish, turning to coat with butter.

4. Spoon panko mixture atop fish, dividing evenly. Press topping gently to adhere.

5. Bake until fish is cooked through, about 20 minutes or so (depending on thickness of fish). Pop under the broiler for an additional minute or two to brown the topping.  Transfer to plates and serve.

I served atop a ladle of the Vanilla Bean Butter Sauce and accompanied by a side of Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes.


Ms. Pantry Raid

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No words. This was just really good

No words. This was just really good.

This week is all about excess. Fitting that I have chosen to start a diet this week too, no? Perhaps said diet will need to wait for next week since it’s all about heavy cream infused with butter this week. I can already hear my cellulite conspiring against me.


On our vacation last summer, I brought some vanilla beans back with me.  In case you are ready to report me to the authorities, I want to clearly state that I TRIED to report my ill-gotten booty, but the Customs Agent crumpled up my form and waived me through with my husband. Who am I to try and hassle with the authorities now, hmmm??? I felt it was kismet cause I really wanted those vanilla beans.

Types of vanilla beans

Just so we are all on the same playing field here, there are three types of beans: Bourbon (Madagascar), Mexican and Tahitian. All beans contain tons of tiny little seeds – which you will most likely scrape out into whatever it is you are flavoring. Bourbon beans accounts for 3/4 of all beans – and are most likely what you are purchasing. Mexican are the strongest in flavor, but are becoming more scarce. And Tahitian are long, slender, very floral tasting and somewhat milder than the other two. 

The vanilla beans we are talking about today are of the Tahitian variety. Sadly, those lovely vanilla beans of mine weren’t stored as properly as they should have been and weren’t exactly pliable anymore. So the question is…

Can you re-hydrate dried vanilla beans?

I tried a few methods of reviving them. First, I wrapped them in a damp paper towel for about half an hour. Result? Eh, not so much. Next, I tried wrapping them in a damp paper towel and zapping them in the microwave for 15 seconds. Result? Yep. That works. In case you ever find yourself in this predicament, give it a try. Also, try poaching it in the liquid you are trying to infuse flavor into, then scrape the beans. Whatever you do, don’t toss them out. And don’t think that dried out beans are relegated to making vanilla sugar.

The French influence on Tahitian cuisine is extensive throughout the islands. Fish with vanilla sauce was my favorite dish and I partook every chance I got. It’s only taken me, oh, 10 months to finally make this dish at home.  But more on that later. Right now we are making Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes to go with our fish with vanilla sauce. Swoon!

Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Serves four


1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes 

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons heavy cream

1 Tahitian vanilla bean (NOTE: since Tahitian beans are pretty mild, if you are using another type of bean, maybe 1/2 bean would do?)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

kosher salt and white pepper to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Put the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until tender, about 1 hour.

2. Remove from oven and let cool until warm enough to handle. Peel and discard the skin.

3. Put the potatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the butter.

4. Meanwhile, pour the cream into a saucepan, add the vanilla bean and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for five minutes.

5. Remove from heat. Use tongs to fish out the vanilla bean. Split the bean and scrape the seeds into the cream.

6. Pour the mixture over the potatoes in the processor.

7. Puree the potato mixture until smooth.

8. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep covered and warm until ready to serve. NOTE: Reheats beautifully in the microwave.


Ms. Pantry Raid

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A little booze in the dough makes a crispy crust.

A little booze in the dough makes a crispy crust.

Speaking like we are best buddies or something. Sadly for me, we do not run in the same circle. Shoot, I’m not sure I run in any circle. 🙂

Anyway… Michael Ruhlman declared this week National Homemade Pizza week or something of the sort. While I don’t think his declaration carries as much credence (sorry! I mean that in the nicest way possible) as the government’s declaration of April as National Grilled Cheese month, I am certainly willing to play along.

Amending previous pizza fail

Alright, I need to save face cause awhile back I posted a disasterous recipe for Mario Batali’s pizza dough. Due to my errors in translating fresh yeast to dry, I somehow managed to invent a pizza dough that mysteriously disappeared before your eyes. Too much yeast literally ate away at the dough. Perhaps I could learn something from Ruhlman’s new Ratios book?  Oh wait, was that what I was SUPPOSED to do for this challenge? There I go again – not following directions!

Keeping it simple today

Sooo…we had already planned to have pizza on the menu this week due to an open bag of pre-shredded mozzarella (yeah, that’s right) so stepping up to Ruhlman’s request was no problem. Alas, no interesting toppings this go around. I mean, I COULD slap a fried egg on top just to be trendy. But I’m not dying to be part of the in-crowd. So it’s strictly pepperoni today because I have to make it to my 7pm spinning class.  


I learned a neat trick from Sarah Moulten whilst watching PBS this weekend that I was wanting to try out – she rolls out her dough on a board using a little bit of olive oil under the dough instead of flour. AND she uses a rolling pin. Hey, this is new to me. I keep trying to convince myself that I can be part of a pizza dough tossing contest, but my results are usually disasterous.  Since one of my biggest hurdles is stretching out the dough without it snapping back in my face, I thought I’d give the rolling pin method a shot. Lo and behold, it works pretty well. 

She also parbakes her crust. Of course, this is only possible when baking in a pan. I used to do this before I got my pizza stone. But now I have a stone and the world is a different place.

New and improved (well, for me) recipe:

Mario Batali’s Pizza Dough

This makes a nice, crisp, thin crust (2 big, 4 individual). I usually do an overnight rise cause when I get home from work, I want to eat PRONTO.
 1/4 cup light red wine or white wine
 3/4 cup warm water
 1 package dried yeast (converts to 2.25 t)
 1 tablespoon honey
 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
 2 1/2 cups double zero flour and 1/2 cup AP flour, sifted together


1. Combine the wine, water, and yeast in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. I usually let it sit for 5-10 minutes.

2. Add the honey, salt, and the olive oil and mix thoroughly.

3. Add 1 cup of the flour and mix with a wooden spoon to make a loose batter. Add 2 more cups of the flour and stir with the spoon for 2-3 minutes to incorporate as much flour as possible.

4. Bring the dough together by hand and turn out onto a floured board or marble surface. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until you have made a smooth, firm dough.

5. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. NOTE: this is the point where I put it in the fridge for an overnight rise. If you do this, bring to room temp the next day. OTHERWISE: Set aside to rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for 45 minutes.

6. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F for at least a half hour.

7.Cut the risen dough into 4 equal pieces if you are making individual pizzas or two for larger ones. Knead each portion into a round. Cover again and let rest 15 minutes.

8. Shape, top and bake for about 10 minutes at 450 degrees.


Ms. Pantry Raid

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Delete raisins. Add cinnamon, salt and some chocolate chips!

Delete raisins. Add cinnamon, salt and some chocolate chips!

Lauren of Upper East Side Chronicle selected this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie dish. I figured this was one I could FOR SURE pull off. Not much to screw up here. “To the kitchen!” I proclaimed.

Raisins in my chocolate? 

I glanced at the recipe and decided to forego the dried fruit. Yes, I am one of those odd people who cannot stand Oatmeal Raisin cookies. Don’t  know why really cause I like them in other capacities. But raisins do not make an appearance in my desserts. Well, generally.  Yer outta here raisins!

You know what would be nice?

Maybe a little cinnamon.Cause I like cinnamon with my chocolate (well, and chile pepper, but I didn’t want to go THERE). So I added 1/2 t cinnamon to the custard. In retrospect, maybe some chocolate chips mixed in with the bread would have been nice too – just for a little burst of chocolate here and there. Oh and I added some salt cause it seemed weird that there wasn’t any. 

So alright, what could I possibly have screwed up?

The bread pudding is baked in a water bath. That is all fine and good unless you accidentally slosh the pan when you put it in the oven. Curse you pizza stone for making a tight squeeze between my oven racks!!

The verdict

Overall, I thought this was pretty good. Nice flavor without being too sweet. But I think without the dried fruit it was a little boring. Again, those chocolate chips or a drizzling of chocolate sauce might be nice!

One final thought…

Next day leftovers out of the fridge trump eating it right out of the oven!

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Parsnips and potatoes pureed with a ton of dairy fat.

Parsnips and potatoes pureed with a ton of dairy fat.

 Haute cuisine circa 1998

Throughout our lives, there are moments we all remember when we were introduced to something new – something eye-opening. I remember one such moment from a visit to Cafe Boulud in NYC in the late ’90’s. I was maybe 18 at the time and just starting to realize that I loved food and everything about it. The two things I remember most about this meal were the super attentive waitstaff (mostly the table crumbing device) and the trio of pureed vegetables.

The dish was highly recommended by our waiter. Pureed carrots, parsnips and…oh, let’s be honest, I have no clue what the other puree was because of the other two. The carrots were memorable for their vibrant color and the parsnips for their wonderful taste. I had never had a parsnip before and as a normal, midwestern 17 year old, I was wary. I was so unbelievably surprised.  A little sweet, a bit gingery and silky smooth. We’ve all grown up with mashed potatoes, what took us so long to experiment with other vegetables? 

While this is no longer innovative cuisine, pureed parsnips are still tasty. I served it for Easter dinner with a grilled pork tenderloin and shredded brussels sprouts. Next time, I might try roasting them first.

Potato Parsnip Puree

Straight from epicurious. I halved the recipe cause there’s just two of us and there were tons of leftovers.

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