An attorney writes about stuff she'd rather be doing: cooking, eating, wining, dining and traveling.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Not healthy at all, but who cares! Serve with tortilla chips.

1 8 oz. package light cream cheese
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 package frozen spinach, thawed, water squeezed out and chopped
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
Fresh ground pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder

Combine everything except shredded cheeses in a crockpot. Once everything is hot, stir in the cheeses. Keep warm in the crockpot until ready to serve. You can also just microwave everything on high, stirring every 30-45 seconds. Stir in the cheese at the end.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Crockpot Coq Au Vin (chicken in wine for the non-pretentious)

OK, I will admit that sauteing onions at five o'clock this morning made me moderately nauseous for the rest of the day. However, this was so good it was worth it! To cut down on my bleary-eyed prep time this morning, I chopped all of the veggies the night before, measured out herbs and flour into my handy little prep bowls, set up the crockpot and set out the non-perishable ingredients.

Be sure to season the sauce well at the end or pass plenty of salt and pepper.

Crockpot Coq Au Vin
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 smallish carrots, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3/4 lb. white button mushrooms, stemmed and halved
4-6 strips of bacon (I found this to be largely unnecessary)
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
1/2 bottle dry red wine (according to the recipe, white works too for a lighter dish)
1 can chicken broth
Salt and pepper
Pinch of dried thyme or 2 sprigs fresh thyme

The night before:

Chop all veggies and half mushrooms. Place onions, carrots and garlic in one bowl, mushrooms in another. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Measure out flour into a small prep bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set out next to crockpot with the chicken broth, red wine, thyme and salt and pepper.

In the morning:

Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add bacon and fry until crisp. Set aside, allow to cool slightly and chop. (I didn't think this added anything to the dish. I'm sure it imparted some flavor, but I'll probably leave it out next time).

Season chicken with salt and pepper. In the same skillet, brown chicken on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Place chicken in crockpot and sprinkle with bacon (if using).

In the same skillet, add the mushrooms and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the onions, carrots and garlic and saute for about a minute longer. Sprinkle the veggies with the flour, stir to coat, and add veggies to the crockpot.

Return the pan to the heat and use the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown bits. Bring to a boil, add the chicken broth and add the liquid to the crockpot.

Add the thyme and cook on low for 8 hours.

If the sauce is too thin, ladle some of the liquid into a Pyrex measuring cup, add a couple tablespoons of flour and whisk well. Add this roux back into the crockpot, stir well and let cook on low for a few minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste.

Serve over egg noodles and with a green salad. And a nice big glass of whatever wine you cooked with. After all, the only thing lawyers like more than suing people is getting drunk! Enjoy.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Beef Barolo

I am not a fan of pot roast. It was one of my least favorite dinners growing up. However, I've learned that if you braise it in red wine, it's so much better (as most things are).

Beef Barolo
One 2-3 pound chuck roast
Salt and pepper
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic minced
Olive oil
1 bottle dry red wine (you are supposed to use Barolo, but anything dry and red works)
1 can beef broth
4 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick

Sear the meat and saute the veggies:
Season the roast with salt and pepper on both sides.
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy large pot.
Sear the meat until browned on both sides, about 5-6 minutes per side (only flip once so it gets nice and brown).
Remove the meat, set aside.
Add the onion, celery and carrot to the pot. Saute until just softened, about 3 minutes.

Get it braising:
Return the meat to the pot with the veggies.
Add the broth, wine, garlic, cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon stick.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer on low for about 3 hours or until the meat is tender.

**Crockpot variation** Sear the meat and saute veggies as above. Throw everything in a crockpot, dump in the wine, broth and spices. Cook on the low setting for at least 6 hours, 8 is even better.

Make the gravy:
Remove the meat and set aside.
Strain the liquid into a saucepan and discard the solids.
Bring liquid to a boil. When hot, ladle some of the liquid into a Pyrex measuring cup and add a few tablespoons of flour. Whisk this together.
Slowly add the flour mixture back into the pot, whisking constantly. Repeat until your gravy is the desired thickness.

I serve this with mashed potatoes.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

This Week's Menu

Sunday: Beef Barolo (basically pot roast braised in wine) and red potatoes
Monday: Crockpot Coq Au Vin
Tuesday: Grilled Swordfish with Garden Veggie Risotto
Wednesday: Pork roast with sage and apples (in the crockpot)
Thursday: Mufaletta sandwiches on homemade focaccia
Friday: Steve and Jenny's rehearsal dinner!

I was very organized at the grocery store this week. I made sure I have all the ingredients for this week's menu, and I just picked up some fruit, bread, deli meats and a couple other things for lunches, etc. It was far more efficient and budget-friendly to shop that way!

Foccacia Bread

I am normally not big on bread. However, when we were in Italy, we had the most amazing foccacia for breakfast in the morning. It was nice and soft, yet crunchy on the outside, and it had ribbons of olive oil running through it. Yummmmmmmmmm...

I set out to make my own foccacia today. It is REALLY easy. It's as easy as making pizza crust dough. I made two batches: plain, which is in the freezer; and cheese and rosemary stuffed, which is sitting, half eaten, on my counter.

Here is the recipe, which makes two batches:
3.5 c. all purpose flour
1.5 tsp. salt
2 packets active yeast
1.5 c. warm water
1/4 c. olive oil

Light oil 2 8 inch square pans (glass or metal, doesn't matter)

In a food processor, pulse the dry ingredients a few times to blend.
Add the warm water and olive oil and pulse until the dough comes together.

Turn the dough out into a lightly oiled bowl. Place the bowl somewhere dark and warmish and let rise (I usually put it inside the microwave, power off obviously). The dough will double in size, give it about an hour.

For the plain foccacia:
Divide the dough into 2 balls
Simply stretch and pat each ball of dough into the two pans.
Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt
Bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees.

For the cheese-rosemary foccacia:
Divide the dough into 4 balls.
Stretch and press 2 of the balls into each of the two pans.
Sprinkle with dried or chopped fresh rosemary
Top with thinly sliced white mild cheese (mozz, provolone, jack, etc.) - Leave a half inch border from the edge.
Stretch the remaning two balls into 8 inch squares. Place one over the top of the cheese in each pan, pinch top and bottom layers together.
Let rise again for about an hour.
Bake as described above.