Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chicken Club Salad

Martha Stewart's recipes ceaselessly amaze me. They are typically accurate, easy to follow, and delicious.

Ms. Stewart's Everyday Food magazine has something in it for everyone; the issue that this Chicken Club Salad recipe was torn from had numerous other recipes I was interested in - and I've got the stack of them stuck to my refrigerator as proof.

I especially love the Good Things magazines. The 'For The Kitchen' issue is dog eared in multiple places, water stained, crinkle paged, food and sauce splattered, grease marked and very, very well loved.

My husband and I had this salad on a particularly warm evening; I had prepared all of the ingredients beforehand and simply tossed it all together before serving it on a bed of homegrown, fresh from the garden lettuce - delicious.

Chicken Club Salad
From Martha Stewart Everyday Food
Serves 4

6 slices bacon
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6-8 ounces each)
coarse salt and ground pepper
3 plum tomatoes, quartered lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch think, plus 1/2 cup celery leaves (optional)
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
lettuce leaves, for serving

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lay bacon in a single layer on prepared sheet; bake until it begins to render it's fat, about 10 minutes. Turn bacon over, and slide to one side of sheet. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and place on baking sheet. Bake until bacon is browned and crisp and chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate, and let drain; crumble. Let chicken cool completely. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, celery, celery leaves (if using), mayonnaise, and vinegar.

Cut chicken into 1/2 inch chunks, and add to bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Serve chicken salad over lettuce leaves, and sprinkle with bacon.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Edna Lewis's Summer Apple Pie

Happy Father's Day!

We enjoyed a fantastic evening with my husband's family - my mother in law's homemade hamburgers, green salad and baked potatoes; and for dessert, two desserts including this Summer Apple Pie from Edna Lewis. I've renewed The Taste Of Country Cooking from the library three times, and have come to the realization that I must own it. Molly claims to read sections of it at the change of each season, and I understand why.

To tempt:

Another late afternoon feast would be the melons my father had gathered in the early morning from the melon patch while the dew still lingered on them. He would put them in a tub or water or underneath the shrubbery until we were ready to eat them. Before he ever sliced open a melon, he would always plug it - by cutting out a small piece which he would taste to see if it had the proper flavor. If it didn't, he would cast it aside until he found a good one. We would all be served in our turn and we would enjoy each bite, discussing which condiment made the melon even sweeter - salt or pepper. After the feast, the rinds were saved and made into pickle or preserve, and the rest went into the swill for the hogs. Then we would go off to do our evening chores.

Absolutely glorious writing!

I'm looking forward to making this pie again in the fall, when the local apples will be at their peak. The baby and I are sure to come home from the farmers market, loaded down with crisp, sweet apples - this is such an honorable way to showcase their beauty.

Summer Apple Pie
-Edna Lewis, The Taste Of Country Cooking-
Makes 3, 7 or 8 inch pies.

3 cups sifted unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup lard, chilled
1/2 cup ice water

1 1/3 cups sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 pounds apples, peeled, sliced and cooked as below

Place flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the chilled lard, and using your fingertips or a pastry blender, mix well. This blend will not be as dry as a butter mixed pastry. When well blended add all of the water and mix until the water is all absorbed. This will make the dough a bit sticky. Sprinkle over lightly with flour and roll into a ball. Leave to rest in a cool place for about 15 minutes.

To make applesauce, pare, halve, quarter and core each apple. Place them into a saucepan. Sprinkle 1/3 cup sugar and salt over apples. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat. Remove cover. Enough water should have developed to cook the apples - shake the saucepan to stir. Leave uncovered and continue cooking gently until all the juice has dried down and the sauce is thick. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.

Divide the dough into pieces to fit the bottom of each of three pie plates and a little less for the top crust. This is a soft dough and it is best to roll it out and place it in the pie plates, then chill until needed. The top pie crusts can be rolled out, placed on wax paper and set to chill as well. It is important to remove the top crust from the refrigerator ahead of time in order for it to warm up. If not, it will become brittle and break in half. The bottom crust should remain chilled until it is filled.

Add sugar and nutmeg to applesauce. Mix well and spoon 1 1/2 cups into each pastry lined pie plate. Moisten the rim of the pie shell and place on the top crust; seal the two by pressing the rims together. Make 5 or 6 vents in the top of the crust - the more vents there are in a two crust pie the crispier the crust will be. Bake about 45 minutes in an oven preheated to 425C. When done, remove from oven and set on a rack to cool.

When completely cooled, stack all three pies on top of one another. Cut into wedges to serve, along with ice cream or whipped cream.

Note: I found that 3 pounds of apples did not make enough applesauce to fill each pastry shell with 1 1/2 cups, so I made another, smaller batch using 4 apples. This made just enough applesauce. Depending on the type of apples you use, taste the sauce before adding the additional 1 cup of sugar - you may or may not need that much. I used Granny Smith apples and did not need to add a full cup of sugar.

The pastry recipe is better than anything you've ever made - perfectly flaky yet tender, with good flavor and turns a beautiful golden after baking. It's become my go to pie crust recipe.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Peanut Butter & Jam Bars

I acquired a vintage Sunbeam Mixmaster today. It has a few quirks - but I think we will become good friends...until a KitchenAid hits my countertops.

Our Best Bites posted this retro bar recipe today, and it only seemed right that a retro recipe be used to christen my new to me kitchen appliance.

Both my husband and I enjoyed our taste test - the jammy center is a pleasant surprise to what, at first glance, appears to be a peanut butter cookie square.

I made a few changes to the recipe - you can view the original at the link provided below.

Peanut Butter & Jam Bars
-adapted from Our Best Bites-

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup raspberry jam

2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream shortening and both sugars together until light and fluffy. Add peanut butter and combine. Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Measure out the 1 1/4 cup flour. Add small amounts at a time while mixer is running. When about half of the flour is left add the baking soda and baking powder to it. Combine well and then add to the dough mixture and mix until everything is incorporated.

Reserve one cup of the dough for later use. Take the remaining dough and press it into the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 pan. Spread jam evenly over the dough.

Take the reserved 1 cup of dough and use it to cover the jam layer. Flatten pieces of dough between your fingers or you can also crumble it if you wish. Some of the jam will still show through when you're done and that's fine.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. The top should be set and just barely golden brown. Don't overcook. When done, remove from oven and cool on a rack. Wait until they are completely cooled to room temperature to glaze.

To glaze, mix all glaze ingredients together and whisk until smooth. Spread over cooled bars (double glaze recipe for a thicker glaze) or place into baggie, snip the tip off and squeeze thin lines over the bars. Let glaze set a bit to harden and then slice bars into squares or triangles.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Raspberry Lemonade

Oh my goodness gracious. Have you raspberries in your house? How about lemons?

I've found the epitome of a summer sipper: Raspberry Lemonade.

The baby and I actually walked to a grocery store yesterday, just so we could make this - and I am ever so glad that we did.

Raspberry Lemonade
-from Joy The Baker who adapted it from Simply Recipes-
Serves 6

1 cup sugar (for a less sweet lemonade, reduce sugar to 3/4 cup)
1 cup water to make simple syrup
1 cup fresh lemon juice (approximately 6 lemons)
4 cups cold water
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup raspberry sauce (depending on how much raspberry you like)

Make simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely.

While the sugar is dissolving, extract enough juice from the lemons to make one cup. Room temperature lemons give more juice, and it helps to roll the lemon on the counter, under your palm.

Add the lemon juice and sugar water to a pitcher. Add 4 cups cold water, more or less to suit your tastes. Add the prepared raspberry sauce and stir to combine. Refrigerate 30-40 minutes. If the lemonade is too sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice.

Serve over ice.

Easy Raspberry Sauce

6 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon water

Place thawed berries in the bowl of a food processor fitted with blade attachment. Add sugar and water and mix until the raspberries form a smooth puree. Transfer raspberry puree to a fine mesh strainer fit over a bowl. Press the puree through the strainer.

Joy also suggests making a cocktail with your lemonade: Fill a glass with ice cubes. Fill the glass half full with the raspberry lemonade and top with Prosecco or champagne. Garnish with fresh basil or mint leaves. This is how I discovered Joy's recipe, truth be told - I had a half bottle of Prosecco left over from the weekend, and didn't want it to go to waste. This method was most delicious.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

My in laws have a wonderful garden, that each year, overflows with fruits and vegetables. We happily take their surplus!

The first offering was rhubarb - a favorite of mine. I used half a pound of it to make these delicious crumb bars and decided to use the remainder for this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. I took it along with us to a barbecue with friends and the entire pie vanished.

The recipe you see below is loosely based on an Anna Olson recipe found here. I used pate brisee from the freezer for the crust and decorative topping - if you haven't ever made your own pie dough I highly recommend it. It really isn't that difficult and the quality is far superior to store bought pastry.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
-adapted from Anna Olson-
Makes 1 9 inch pie, 9-10 servings

Pate Brisee (either a double crust for a closed or lattice top or a single batch for crumb or cut out top)

3 cups rhubarb, chopped
3 cups strawberries, chopped
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 400F.

Line a 9 inch pie plate with your pastry, trim and pinch edges decoratively. Chill until ready to fill.

Toss rhubarb and strawberries with sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt to coat. Fill pie shell with fruit.

Top with second pie shell, lattice top, crumb topping or any manner of decorative cut outs using scraps from trimming bottom shell.

Bake pie on a foil lined tray for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F and bake another 40 minutes until filling is bubbling and crust is browned.