Sunday, September 16, 2012

Morning Buns

I started watching a show on PBS called Cooks Country.  It is put together by the same people that do Cooks Illustrated.  The recipes are more down home and often, updates of recipes from the past.  Last week there was smothered pork chops and apple fritters.  This week the episode featured Morning Buns and Morning Glory Muffins. 

The buns are a croissant type dough with a cinnamon filling.  As the episode aired I realized I had all the necessary ingredients and decided to give it a try.  I am still working on my homemade pastry skills and Cooks Country made a complicated recipe - croissants - simple.  It is time consuming as I started at 10 am and the buns were not finished until about 7 pm due to all the rising.  However, putting it together is pretty simple.  

Word of caution:  there is so much butter in the dough that you should put the muffin tin on a cookie sheet to catch any melted butter.  

These were FANTASTIC.  I ate one (or two) while warm and I am hoping these are just as good at room temperature, as a croissant would be.  They are flaky and sugary.  No icing is needed.  These would be perfect to make the night before and then bake in the morning. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chicken Sofrito

I love when I learn a new cooking technique from a recipe. The new technique is starting on the stove and finishing in the oven.  I used my Dutch oven even though the recipe called for a skillet.  I think the only problem with the pan substitution is that in the Dutch oven the chicken sunk down a little so the skin was not as crispy as it should have been.  Similarly, the Dutch oven prevented more crisping during the broiler phase.  I did not mind as I planned this dish for left over lunches and the microwave re-heating would not result in a crispy chicken skin.

The new recipe that I learned so much from is Chicken Sofrito and it was delicious.  The rice was flavorful and creamy with a spicy hot flavor.   You must be cautious of over-seasoning when a dish calls for several layers of heat.  In this one there is chili powder on the chicken, a diced jalapeno (de-seeded), cayenne pepper and I substituted Rotel for the canned tomatoes.  My dish ended up perfectly spiced because I used a light hand.  You would always rather add more spice at the end instead of wondering how much milk you will have to consume to put the flames in your mouth out.

The chicken was tender and mild and perfectly paired with the spicy rice.  I used a large onion because I wanted all those pieces to mix with the rice like a risotto.  The rice is a star in this dish as if simmers in the sofrito.  From Wikipedia:  Sofrito is a combination of aromatic ingredients which have been cut in very small pieces, and slowly sautéed or braised in cooking oil for 15–30 minutes.  In Spanish cuisine, sofrito consists of garlic, onion, and tomatoes cooked in olive oil, and is used as the base for many dishes. Similar preparations are used in the cuisines of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, and also some Latin American countries."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken

I have been craving something easy and light and with rice.  Every now and then I get on a rice kick.  This recipe for Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken fulfilled all of my requirements. I prefer dark chicken meat so I used boneless, skinless, chicken thighs.  I laid them on top, as per the recipe.  After 6 hours, I opened the crock pot and I was able to "shred" the chicken just by stirring it.  This was much simpler than removing it, letting it cool, shredding it and returning it to the pot.

The flavor, using the exact recipe, was very hot and spicy.  Fortunately, the rice cut that a bit, however next time I will use half of the cayenne.  You can also add more at the end, when you taste it!  I did use the entire bunches of both cilantro and green onions and it was fine.  Both almost cook away after 6 hours.

This is a hearty, one-dish meal (except for the rice) with many fresh flavors.  It will also freeze beautifully.