Tag Archives: delicious

Best-ever roasted potatoes

Now, if you don’t like spicy things, I suppose you should just skip this recipe. But oh jeez, it’s amazing! Especially paired with my tomato garlic bisque. These potatoes are fragrant, creamy and a delight to add to any meal. Also, they couldn’t be easier to make! 

 

Best-ever roasted potatoes

2-3 potatoes, washed and scrubbed

cayenne, paprika, garlic powder, ground rosemary and pepper to taste

1-2 tbsp oil

Preheat the oven to 350°F(176°C). Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil. Cut the potatoes into chunks, about two-bite sized. Place them on the cookie sheet, then drizzle with oil (don’t overdo it) and sprinkle on the spices. Using your hands, toss them to coat in the oil and spices.

When the oven is preheated, pop them in and set your timer for 35 minutes. About halfway through, toss them with a spatula to get the other side nice and cooked as well.

When the timer goes off, check with a fork for tenderness (doneness) and, if they aren’t, put them back in for 5-10 minutes. If they are, take them out to cool, and do your best not to eat them until they’re ready to handle.

Enjoy!

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Swiss buttercream chocolate bombs

*Names changed to protect the fabulous

For the past two months or so, I’ve been trying to conquer what I considered to be nigh unconquerable: the evasive Swiss buttercream. A simple enough concoction that’s essentially a meringue with a Paula Deen-approved serving of butter whipped into it, it’s notoriously difficult to master. I’ve seen professional bloggers finally post with glee about it. And pheasants, today, I have done just this: I am Mistress of the Buttercream! I’ve requested M call me this at least once a day for the next week.

From what I’ve seen (and tasted,) the big draw for real meringue-based buttercreams is not only the light and fluffy texture, but the high-gloss shine you get from it, and the fact that it doesn’t crust over the way normal frostings can. It tastes almost deceptively good for you in a light, airy sort of way.

On that note, I can tell you a little somethin’-somethin’ about these mini cupcakes and chocolate frosting: they’re rather addictive. The recipe I made creates two dozen of these little guys, and I’d been planning on a dessert night with our roommate Kamal* tonight. They may not last so long.

I was still making the buttercream when M came home today. As per usual, she immediately dipped a finger in and pronounced it edible. Edible?! I screeched, waving my hand mixer around like a child on speed. I’ve been working for twenty minutes on this! It’d better be tastier than “edible.” She then took one of the little cooling cupcakes from the plate beside me, dipped it in, and popped the entire thing in her mouth. This, she liked. I could see why; the evidence was smeared all over her face!

When it comes to the chocolate bombs, the chipotle puree and Nutella aren’t necessary, but they do bump up the flavor. The mini chocolate chips are also technically unnecessary, but they make the bomb itself very moist and smooth.

The bombs themselves can be made with any cake batter, but the chocolate-chocolate combination was a winner in this apartment.

About the buttercream, I have several tips:

  • Check the egg whites every minute or so while they’re on the double boiler. They should never get hot enough to burn your fingers, or anywhere near, but they will end up an opaque, very meringue white at the end.
  • Once you’ve added the butter to the frosting, it WILL look like you’ve messed up when it falls, and it may turn to soup. Keep whipping. As you add the butter, it will solidify and become the fluffy, gorgeously silky frosting you were looking for.
  • Try out your favorite flavorings, food colorings and additions to it! Experiment, experiment, experiment. There’s really not such a thing as bad frosting, and as long as you aren’t adding heavy items to it, it should hold up just fine.

Pheasant’s chocolate bombs and Swiss buttercream

Yields two dozen chocolate bombs

For the bombs:

3/4 c flour (AP or whole wheat)

1/3 c cocoa powder

1 tsp coffee powder

1/2 c sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 c mini chocolate chips

2/3 c milk minus 2 tbsp

1/8 c vegetable oil (I used soybean)

2 tbsp fat free sour cream

1/8 tsp chipotle puree (optional)

2 tbsp Nutella spread

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350°F (171°C.) Spray a 24-cup (or two 12-cup) mini cupcake tin(s) with Pam.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center and add in the wet, mixing until combined. It should be a rather thick, almost cookie-like batter. Drop by the tablespoonful into the muffin cups. When the batter is all gone, stick the muffin tins in the oven and set your timer for 11 minutes.

Once the cupcakes are done, allow them to cool completely before popping them out of their tins and frosting.

For the buttercream:

2 large egg whites (reserve the yolks for Hollandaise!)

1/3 c sugar

10 tbsp butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp cocoa powder (or other favorite flavoring)

In a large, heat-proof mixing bowl (I used our Pyrex bowls) mix the egg whites and sugar together. Set a medium sauce pot, half-filled with water to simmer on the stove. Once it’s hot and simmering, place the bowl of egg whites over the water and whisk gently until you can dip (very clean!) finger in and not feel the sugar granules when you test it between your fingers.

Once this is done, using a hand mixer, mix on medium-high until it’s doubled in volume, white, and glossy.

Once you've whipped it well, it should look thick, glossy and beautiful!

At this point, add the vanilla and half the cocoa, as well as one or two tablespoons of butter. Continue to mix until the butter is completely incorporated, then add in the second. The frosting will fall a little as you mix, but don’t despair! It will set up nicely as you beat it. Before adding the last few tablespoons of butter, taste the frosting. If you want it more cocoa-y, add the rest of the powder. If not, don’t!

Once all your butter is incorporated and you’ve got thick frosting, spoon it into a piping bag (or in my case, a zip lock with the tip cut off) and pipe it on! 

Try not to eat them all in one sitting ;D

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Roasted garlic

I love garlic. Everything about it: it’s taste, the texture, the sharp, heady smell of it. It’s beautiful. M loves the smell of my fingers after I’ve sliced into a clove of garlic. She says the smell is sexy. I disagree; I think everything about garlic is sexy. It’s the ultimate flavoring when it comes to soups, sauces and roasts. It can add a sharpness to a vinaigrette like nothing can, and it makes pasta approximately fifteen times better just from basking in its presence.

There is something, however, that regular garlic cannot add that roasted, it does…the sweet, caramel-y flavor of roasted garlic is unmatched. Spread on toast and drizzled with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, it makes for an amazing antipasto treat. Crushed into mashed potatoes, it drives such a comforting American dish up to a level it had never before attained!

I think that roasted garlic can go on or in absolutely anything your mind can dream up, but, more than anything, I love it piping hot from the oven, sweet and warm, spread on a piece of crusty, crunchy crostini. There’s nothing like sitting around on a hot day with your lover eating little swipes of this caramel-colored, sweetly-scented roasted garlic with a nice cup of black tea.

Remember that, when picking heads of garlic for roasting, you want to choose firm, heavy heads with tightly-closed cloves. No sprouts!

Roasted garlic for one

1-2 heads garlic

Olive oil for drizzling (not extra-virgin)

Preheat your oven to 350°F (171°C.) On a 12×12 inch square of foil, drizzle about one tablespoon of olive oil. On a chopping board, cut off the top of the garlic head so that just the tops of the cloves are exposed.

Set the garlic cut side down onto the oil. Drizzle another tablespoon of oil over the garlic and close the foil in a tight package. Set the garlic in the oven and set your timer for one hour.

It is your duty to enjoy the lovely smells as they waft from your oven. Bask in it. Bathe in it!

Once the timer goes off, take out your little packet. Let it sit for ten to fifteen minutes (if you can resist!) Eat it just like that with toast, or let it cool and use it in any recipe you can come up with. Don’t forget to save at least two cloves for my next post, though…or just make two heads. That’s generally what I do 🙂

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Filed under Ethnic, Miscellaneous

Baked chicken á la M

So, here’s the short and sweet about my love life: I may or may not be cheating on my girlfriend with baked chicken. Yes, you can gasp now as I scream it to the world: I lovebaked chicken! But, another confession: I’d never really, truly had it this way until I moved in with my girlf.

This was tonight's beautiful, succulent supper.

The first night she made baked chicken for me, I whipped up an Asian-inspired glaze with anything I could think of, which she spooned over it, stuck into the oven, and baked per my directions. They looked gorgeous, but even better, they tasted like…heaven! Really, truly, honestly, I about scarfed down two whole thighs myself. Seriously, I may or may not have inhaled them whole. They were golden crisp and dark on the outside, tender, moist and succulent (yes, I said succulent) on the inside. Eat your heart out. I died a little inside when I looked down at my plate and realized those beautiful, tender, moist thighs were no longer in this world.

Well, Pheasant said to me happily, Then we just make more, right?

I was wrong. I wasn’t just wrong: I was erroneous, I was counter-factual, I was absolutely, positively incorrect. Because, you see…I’d made the first mistake that any budding cook learns not to make (barring adding salt before you’ve tasted): I didn’t write down the ingredients. Not a single one. Oh, but you say, couldn’t you just remember? Well, of course! But remembering and know the exact measurements are two very different things.

So, the next time I craved myself a succulent, tender, juicy chicken thigh coated in a most amazing shoyu-honey glaze, I stood myself at the counter, ingredients spread before me, and began carefully, carefully tasting. I tasted for nearly half an hour, y’all. I slowly added more honey, more shoyu, more rice wine vinegar. Everything. I tasted and tasted and tasted, until I could taste no longer. And you guys, it was delicious. It was sweet, salty, slightly tart…beautiful. Now, to put my plan into action. I coated some thighs, stuck them on a Pam’d, foil-lined baking sheet and baked those beautiful chicken parts to my heart’s content. They were gorgeous! Still soft, tender, juicy (can I used those adjectives anymore, in reference to these thighs? I may have used up my quota…) but with that shiny, crackling, “I can thump it with my finger and it makes a hollow sound” crisp skin. Bee-u-tee-full. Here it is, everyone: the lovely, the tender and delightful….

M’s Baked Chicken

3 chicken thighs, cleaned, bone-in, skin on

2 tbsp shoyu (soy sauce. I highly recommend Aloha brand shoyu. It’s not as salty as, say, Kikkoman)

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp rice or red wine vinegar

1/4 tsp curry powder

1/4 tsp pepper (fresh or pre-ground, it makes no difference)

1/2 tsp garlic powder OR 1/2 clove, very finely minced (press it, if you can)

1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

1/2 tsp garlic OR olive oil

PAM

So, you’ll need a little tupperware for this, about enough to hold maybe half a cup of liquid. We’ll be making all of this in the Tupperware! Isn’t that handy? So all you’ll really need to clean up before supper is a little whisk or fork.

Mix all the spices together: garlic powder, curry powder, pepper, and the cayenne, if you’re using it. Mix them, and mix them well. Add in the garlic oil and whisk to form a bit of a garlicky, curry-y paste. Beautiful, isn’t it? If you’re adding fresh garlic instead of powder, mix it in after the oil.

Add the honey, mixing until it’s nice and thick. Add the shoyu and vinegar. Stir them up until everything is super-mellow and cooperating nicely.

Now, you can either set it in the fridge and forget about it until it’s time to make the deliciousness that will be in your Pheasant later, or, you can do it immediately. I like to let it sit, because I feel it gives everything time to mix and blend until it’s absolutely perfect, but that’s just me.

Now, when you’re ready for glory, you have two options:

1) Set the oven to 375° F (approximately 191° Centigrade.) Line a baking sheet (jelly roll, or something with a small lip all around) with foil, then spray the foil with Pam (or the cooking spray of your choice.) Spread the thighs out on the sheet, giving them a goodly amount of room. Make sure the skin is extremely spread out so it gets nice and crunchy-crisp. Hey, chicken skin is loaded with fat. You may as well make it taste good, right? Take out your sweet-salty baste, and mix it up to make sure it’s all nice and incorporated. Spoon a bit over each thigh, making sure it clings and coats it well. Then, when the oven is preheated, slide them in. Ten minutes into the cooking process, take the chicken out of the oven, baste it with a little more of the sauce, and stick it back in. Repeat one more time. Proceed to the section sign.

2) Take the thighs and the sauce, and put them together in a plastic zip-top bag. Let them rest for an hour, maybe two, or even overnight. Once you’re ready to cook, set the oven to 375° F (191° C.) Line a baking sheet (jelly roll, or something with a small lip all around) with foil, then spray the foil with Pam (or the cooking spray of your choice.) You’ll still want to spread the chicken out well, making sure the skin is going to be good and crisp. I like to score the fat to make sure it all drains well, because I hate biting into globs of chicken fat (ew…) Once everything’s all set up and your oven tells you it’s ready to roll, stick those puppies in there. Watch them. And…

§ Around the 30 minute mark, you’ll want to take them out and prick each one (under the skin, not through it!) with a fork or knife. If the juices run clear, great! You’re done. If not, stick them back in another ten minutes. Once everything is running clear, take them out and inspect those babies. If they’re brown and crunchy looking, with a solid “thumk” sound when you flick your finger against them, let them sit out as you finish preparing supper. If not, set them under a hot broiler, watching them carefully, until they reach said doneness. This is sugar we’re dealing with, people. Don’t be stupid. Watch your chicken.

Let them sit for at least five minutes to incorporate the juices back into the chicken (you know, if you can wait that long…) and then…feel free to shove as much of it in your mouth at a time as you can. Relish the delight in your mouth!

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Baked tilapia with coconut curry

How delicious does this look? Trust me, it's ten times better than it looks!

As you can tell, I’m a really, really big fan of fish. I love it, and for good reason: it’s healthy, it’s delicious, and there are so many things you can do with it. That being said, I have another fish post for you, and I really think you’re going to adore this one: flaky, moist fish, nestled inside a rich, flavorful coconut curry sauce. I served mine up with some delightful vegetables mixed in to keep it healthy and filling.

Now, before I go any further, I’d like to address tilapia. What is it? Where does it come from? Why does my dad hate it so? Things like that. So, here we are:

Tilapia isn’t one kind of fish, like red snapper or yellowfin tuna. In fact, it’s a lot like tuna or salmon in that a lot of different species of fish fall into the category. Most of the time, though, tilapia is never labeled as anything but “tilapia.” Tilapia, fish of the cichlid family, can be found all over the world, but for all intents and purposes, unless otherwise stated, assume your tilapia comes from China.

Tilapia are notably low in mercury, and are low fat, low calorie, and extremely high in protein. Even better? They’re cheap. Cheap is good for college students!

That being said, a lot of people have a shared memory that dates back to who knows when, which alerts them that tilapia tastes…muddy. Because wild tilapia are bottom-feeding fish, they do indeed have a muddy aftertaste. Farmed tilapia, however, is totally different: it has a cleaner, more cod-like flavor to it. So, for those of you with reservations about tilapia, fear not! It is tasty!

Now, onto greater and tastier things. This recipe, for example. I’d consider it…very Thai-inspired. It’s creamy, smooth and spiced, with hints of coconut and lime. What more could you want in a supper? Serve it over rice for something beautiful, delicious and easy. M has declared that she doesn’t need the lime to make her love the curry, and so she eats hers without. I absolutely adore the very Asian-tropics coconut-lime flavor, so I go nuts with the limes.

This recipe is SO good. I hardly ever condone using caps for emphasis. That’s how good this curry is!

Tilapia with Coconut-Lime Curry 

2 tilapia fillets (approx 3-4 oz apiece), cut into 1/2×1 inch chunks

4 curry blocks (Vermont or Golden House)

1/2 crown of broccoli, cut into small florets

1-2 carrots, cut into coins

1/3 yellow onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 red bell pepper (optional)

1/3 can coconut milk

5 cups fish stock

curry powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and paprika to taste

cumin to taste (optional)

1/2 lime, cut into small wedges

So, for starters, you can do this recipe two ways: you can brown all the vegetables to start with, or you can just dump everything in and go. If you’re in a hurry, go with the latter. If not, I’d highly advise going with the browning method. It makes everything tastier and more beautiful in the long run. This curry will, however, be absolutely delectable with the quick method too. If you’re going the recommended route, read on. If you’re doing curry in a hurry, though, skip to the third paragraph.

Set a medium to large pot on medium-high and drizzle in a little garlic oil if you have it, butter if you don’t. Let it melt/bubble, then add in the carrots. Try to keep them all in a single layer, so they get evenly browned. When they’re all golden-brown and beautiful on one side, flip as best you can to the other (don’t sweat it if you only get half flipped.) Brown this side, then transfer the carrots out of the pan. Repeat the process with the garlic and onion, as well as bell peppers, if you’re using them. Transfer everything out of the pan and set it to medium.

Once all of this is done, add in the fish stock and broccoli bits. You can cut them small or large, per your preference, but we prefer them large enough to keep a good bite. Simmer the broccoli for about two minutes, then add the curry blocks, curry powder, cayenne, garlic powder, cumin and paprika. Place the carrots, broccoli, onion and bell pepper back in the pot, and stir. Bring it to a simmer and keep it there, stirring every so often to keep anything from sticking to the bottom.

When the curry blocks have melted and the curry begins to thicken, bring the heat slightly higher. We want thick, rich curry here. Allow it to simmer for another few minutes until it has thickened further, then add half the coconut milk and all the fish.

Taste frequently…you want to personalize the curry to your tastes. If you like it thinner, add more stock or coconut milk. If you want it more coconut-y, add more of the milk. It all depends on your tastes.

Cook, stirring infrequently, for about six minutes, or until the fish is flaky when squeezed between your fingers. Transfer it all to a bowl and serve immediately, with lime wedges.

Served with white or brown rice, this makes for a very filling, surprisingly hearty meal. It’s light and summery in flavor, though, which makes it quite pleasing.

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Filed under Ethnic, Seasonal, Winter